SPG: December, Part 3/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

St. Paul Grimoire is an urban fantasy serial that updates weekly. 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! Let me know what you think!

The week passed slowly. Everyone was gearing up for winter break, getting excited even though they still had two days of school the next week.

Phin was frowning when Val and Pete came up to him at the end of the day. Pete was taking a respite from winter sports, and the lack of snow meant the Nordic ski team couldn’t practice with skiis. It still wasn’t that cold out but it was, weirdly for Minnesota, raining a bunch.

“What’s up?” asked Pete. The halls had cleared out quickly on a Friday afternoon.

“Dakotah wasn’t at school today.”

Val remembered hearing that phrase before. Dakotah used to show up to school whenever he wanted to. When he had shown up, he hadn’t gotten much done. But ever since he’d become Guardian–and a little before, she reminded herself–he’d been doing a lot better in school. Now the words “Dakotah wasn’t at school” meant something a little sinister to the three of them.

“Let’s go to Ike’s,” Pete said, and the others didn’t argue.

~*~

They crouched together behind a leafless bush. Through the dark and dripping branches, they watched a strange scene.

Slim green sprites rode on the backs of prowling cats in every color. They hunkered outside the gate (hissed at by the two watch-cats), or perched on neighboring windowsills, or paced on the sidewalk. The largest cat, a gray one with delicate white paws, had a rider barking orders to all the others.

“I bet that’s Florelle’s mum,” said Val. “She’s trying to get to Florelle!”

“And she’s trapped Dakotah inside,” muttered Phin. “ I think the House is under siege.”

“So now what?” asked Pete. “Will they attack us if we make a move?”

“Only one way to find out,” said Phin, taking a step forward.

“No!” said Val, grabbing his arm. “They’ll definitely kidnap you. They are scornful of humans, they think we stole their land.”

“How do you know that?” Pete demanded.

Val puled the sprite grimoire from her bag. “I read it here. Dakotah just needs to call a mediation—when the Seelie Court is not there to mediate, a Guardian has the right to do so and the sprites have to obey.”

Pete frowned. “Did you take that book from Dakotah?”

“Well…yeah. To help Florelle.”

Phin sighed. “Well then how will he know he has the right to call a mediation?”

“…Shit,” said Valene.

~*~

And so Pete snuck Val around the back of the House while Phin created a distraction. Pete had never entered the grounds from behind, but she knew the Guardian law allowed people without ill intent to enter the House. Helping the Guardian must qualify. They crouched in the sluchy snow behind the neighbor’s fence and lilac bush.

“Wait,” said Pete sternly as Val shifted anxiously.

A cat yowled.

“Go!” said Pete, and they dashed for the fence.

The fence around the backyard was high and wooden, surrounded by more lilac bushes.

“Shit,” said Val. “The fence is too high!”

Pete was half-distracted by shouts behind them. She turned back to Val. “I’ll boost you. Come on!”

Val stepped into her Hero friend’s linked fingers. Pete hoisted, and Val grabbed for the top of the fence. She swung her leg over, hampered by her shoulder bag, while Pete swayed under her.

“Holy shit,” said Val as she laid on the top of the fence.

“Drop down!” called Pete. “I’ll be there in a minute!”

“Fuckin’ A,” Val muttered as she swung, then squeaked as she dropped.

The backyard was a foreign land. It was as riotously overgrown as a jungle, but with brown and barren Minnesota plants. The little grass visible between the snow grew over the edges of a brick pathway.

But the feeling—the silence. No animals. No sounds from the fight beyond the fence. She strained to look through the branches of a pine tree—but she couldn’t make out the neighboring houses.

Shaking off the feeling of isolation, she booked it to the House.

~*~

She burst through the back door into an unfamiliar room, but the House guided her feet to the front shop.

Dakotah, Florelle, and Obie turned in surprise to look at her.

“Val?” Dakotah asked, incredulous.

“Val!” yelled Florelle.

“Call a mediation!” Val demanded.

Dakotah obeyed without hesitation.

“I call a mediation between Florelle and her mum.”

The simple words took on magic in the Guardian’s mouth. The earth shifted like planes of space sliding around, before Val settled on a low antique sofa. She didn’t know how she’d gotten there—she’d never seen this living room before. But somehow she and Dakotah were seated together on the sofa. A glass coffee table was before them. On one side of the table sat Florelle and Obie. On the other, a tall, fierce sprite with blazing eyes in a toadlike face. Her giant grey cat sat behind her sofa.

“When did that cat get so big?” Dakotah gaped. The sprites, too, were closer to the humans in size.

Does this part of the House exist in my world? Val wondered. Or is it for fey only?

“I’ll be clear,” interruped Florelle’s mum in a booming voice. “I have your Heroes captive. I will release them…if you give me Florelle.”

My novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out soon! Learn about it here!

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