SPG: November, Part 4/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

St. Paul Grimoire is a weekly serial that updates on Mondays. Each month will cover a self-contained story told over four parts.
It will not be overly edited, and character arcs and plotlines could be adjusted with your feedback! PLEASE let me know what you think!

They went out the back door of the shop, following a path of least resistance, the way Oceanus might have taken.

“Poor guy,” said Valene.

“We don’t know if anything’s wrong,” Dakotah snapped, his own stress leeching out at her.

“He’s probably scared,” she said. “Let’s split up. Pete and I can take Dunlap.”

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” said Dakotah.

Val rolled her eyes as they split from the boys.

“You’re welcome,” she muttered. “He acts like he don’t need us.”

Pete’s hand tapped a rhythm on her leg. “He’s figuring stuff out,” she said distractedly. Why were they even looking here? Oceanus was in Other St. Paul, not here.

She wondered if she, a Hero, could shift into Other St. Paul. Dakotah could now do it without a thought. She did sometimes have the double vision, the ability to see past fey glamour to the true form of something. But she’d never been able to do it without Dakotah present.

Valene had been unimpressed with the Hero classification completely. Probably because Pete had yet to show any sign of fey power, or whatever Heroes were supposed to show. As they walked, she tried to flip them into the fey world, but everything remained bright and cool and rainy.

Maybe Dakotah could give her a lesson. She sighed when she thought about Oceanus. He was so chill, why was he having all these problems?

Instead of a big thing like switching into Other St. Paul, she tried for the double vision. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, she spotted a splash of gold, almost hidden among the gold leaves. Pete clapped her hands over her ears to reduce distractions and stepped quickly over to the splash.

As she walked, she saw more and more, a trail of gold in splashes that had frozen over like ice.

“What are you doing?” asked Val.

“I think I’ve got his trail,” she said, then pressed her hands tighter over her ears. She kept the image of Oceanus forefront in her mind, kind of how she had kept Belfast in her mind when she and Dakotah had taken the Lake to Everywhere there.

“How do you know it’s—” Val stopped talking abruptly as they rounded the corner to to face a chorus of angels.

Pete’s vision went crazy, flipping back and forth between her world and the fey world. It felt like the lights were being flicked on and off, the angels before her losing and gaining their wings with each flip. Then the world shuddered to halt, and they stood in shadowy Other St. Paul. The chorus of shining angels stood in a loose circle around Oceanus, who sat on the ground.

One angel turned, and she recognized Pratum.

“Heroes,” he scoffed. “Notorious meddlers.”

The rest of the angels ran the spectrum from male to female, though most were somewhere in the middle with beautiful androgynous faces. They looked with apathy at Pete and Val.

“Get away from him!” Pete said.

“Jesus, Pete,” Valene whispered. She grabbed the other girl’s arm. “There’s like, twelve of them.”

“He’s under Guardian protection!” Pete went on.

Pratum rolled his eyes. “He’s left the Sanctuary. Don’t you know anything? The magic doesn’t work anymore.”

“That’s not true!” Pete bluffed.

“Oh, my god, Pete,” Val begged. “Don’t antagonize him.”

“The Guardian can still protect him if he wants.”

“The Guardian should mind his own business,” an angel snarled.

Pratum nodded. “Hero, this is an angel problem. We will solve it.”

“Why can’t you leave him be?”

“Because angels must be perfect.”

Pete didn’t see who spoke, but all the others nodded in agreement.

She did not need to ask what they meant. She had spent a whole afternoon with Oceanus. He was too quiet, too fixated on his toy. He wasn’t as polished as these angels before her.

“But if he just left the chorus—”

A ripple of horror moved through the watching faces.

“You are suggesting he become a fallen angel?” Pratum said. “Death would be preferable

“Maybe to you,” Val managed to say.

“You do not understand our ways,” Pratum snapped at her.

“I understand they’re stupid if you have to kill anyone who’s different,” Val snapped back. “Even I get that that’s fucked up.”

“Enough,” said another angel. “They cannot stop us. Take care of Oceanus, Pratum.”

Pratum turned his back on the girls. He lifted an arm. His fist crackled with flickering lightning.

“Oceanus!” Pete yelled. The angel lifted his head a bit. “Do you want Dakotah to protect you?”

Barely a beat passed, but for Pete it stretched on and on. Then he inclined his head. Pratum threw his arm. His heat lightning-like magic shot froward, crashing into Oceanus—and bouncing off.

“Shit!” cried Val. “It worked!” She squeezed her arms around Pete.

Her next sound was an eep of terror as Pratum turned to them.

He lifted his arm, lightning cracking again at the end of it. His face was a mask of rage. Before he could bring his arm down, though, he was blasted sideways.

“Dakotah!” Val shouted, her relief tinged with an edge of panic.

Pratum stumbled, losing his electricity for a moment. Dakotah squared off in front of him, while Phin burst through the circle of angels to take Oceanus by the arm.

Pratum shifted, and as he regained his balance he swung, releasing another bolt of lightning. Dakotah brought his arms up, blocking the lightning and releasing a blast of his own magic.

“Come on,” Pete said, and she and Val ran to help Phin. Oceanus kept his head bowed at they hurried to stand by Dakotah. Not close enough to be in the line of fire, but enough to let everyone know they were being protected.

Pratum paused with lightning crackling on both fists. “This isn’t your job, Guardian.”

“I’ll keep that in mind for the future,” Dakotah growled, not leaving his defensive stance.

“You overstep. So did Icarus. Neither of you knew where a human’s responsibility in our world ends. I am not surprised he chose a successor like you.”

“Thank you,” said Dakotah.

Pratum tried once more. “You do not know enough of our world, Guardian. You think you save him but you curse him. And when you overstep you run the risk of ending up just like Icarus.”

The energy on Dakotah’s hands flared up. “It’s time for you to go, Pratum. I’ll explain everything to Oceanus. He’ll decide for himself if he wants to leave the chorus.”

Slowly, Pratum lowered his arms. The lightning wound down and flickered out. He shook his head. “You will learn, Guardian.”

He jerked his head at the others. “Come.”

They stretched their pure white wings and lifted off, flying away into the foggy gray sky.

Dakotah took a deep breath, closing his eyes. When he opened them, they were all back in St. Paul.

They made their way slowly back to the shop.

“What was that?” asked Pete, catching up to Dakotah. Val and Phin walked behind, on either side of Oceanus.

“Weird shit,” he said. “Something happened, and I knew exactly where you were, and how to get there almost instantly. Then, when Pratum started using his power—then I could, too. Not exactly the same way, but I could replicate it.” He examined his hands. “I don’t know if I can do it again or not.”

“Well, it was awesome,” she said.

He grinned at her.

By the time they’d made the short walk back to the shop, he was exhausted. The stone cats meowed concernedly, and he pat their heads comfortingly. The magic fight had drained him, leaving a weird blank feeling in his chest.

The moment they entered the shop, he noticed the book on the checkout counter.

“Hey!” he said, quickly circling to take a closer look. The cover bore no title but was ornate, tipped in gold and with stylized painting on the leather. He flipped through a few pages. It was not written like a normal book. Text was handwritten and wandered the page, separated by ink drawings–close-ups of wings or eyes, diagrams of flight patterns, pictures of different types of clouds.

As he flipped through, his frown deepened.

“What is it?” asked Phin. “What’s wrong?”

Dakotah sighed wearily. “It’s in French.”

The AMAZING cover to my forthcoming novel, TURQUOISEBLOOD, will be revealed December 1st! Check back here tomorrow to see it first!

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