St. Paul Grimoire is a weekly urban fantasy serial.
Val and Dakotah took a minute to put on their coats, but Pete was out the door. She kept the cell phone extended in front of her. A loose grip was all she needed to feel the pull. Val and Dakotah caught up moments later.
“We don’t know what we were walking into,” Val said in low tones to Dakotah.
He kept his eyes on Pete’s back. “We gonna figure it out like always, V.”
As they walked, the pull on the phone got stronger. In Dakotah’s pocket, the necklace’s pull got stronger, too.
Eventually the pull of the magic caused Pete to start to jog. Dakotah and Val picked up their pace with her. Snow had begun to fall lightly. Val pulled up her hood and dug her fingers into her pockets. She ran that way, a little awkwardly. When she took her gaze up from the icy sidewalk, she frowned.
“Are we going to Central?”
Their high school rose into view as they approached the busy intersection of Lexington and Marshall.
“Can’t tell yet,” Pete answered. She tapped her foot at the red light. The stream of cars surprised her, reminding her it was only eight at night. She wondered what other dramas were happening in those cars. If anyone looked at her and could tell she was missing two siblings.
The light turned, and she sprinted across the intersection.
The pull of the phone led her right up to Central’s front doors. The massive building had lights on all around, but she didn’t hesitate to run forward and grab at the door handle.
“Fuck!” she yelled.
“Chill,” said Dakotah.
She whipped around to glare.
“I’m gonna get us in. But once we’re in,” –he met her eyes– “you gotta slow down. We don’t know what the fuck fey fucker’s gonna be waiting.”
“Yeah, fine, whatever.”
Dakotah took a deep breath and switched them all into Other St. Paul. The effect was immediate: streetlights became dim and blurry, the snow fell in slow-motion. Most noticeably, the cars vanished from the street.
Dakotah reached out and pulled the doors of the high school open.
They moved slowly through the halls, made unfamiliar by the silence, the gloom. The seeking charm led them into a back area of the school where students weren’t allowed. In the back of the pump room, they finally came upon an ancient door, cobwebbed shut and barely noticeable behind some pipes.
“It looks like part of a castle,” Val said.
Dakotah put his hand on the handle. “We ready?”
“Do it,” said Pete.
He pulled the door open.
“Are you going to try to fight me again, Hero?”
Phin had stood with Leal in his arms. The memory of the last fight—the two seconds of it he’d been conscious—were clear.
“You can’t have Leal.”
Eyerusalem laughed. “Do you know how long I’ve been alive? I have been taking human babies since before this country existed. The murders of people trying to protect them—that’s just been icing on the cake. Please, do put up some fight. It’s always laughable when untested Heroes try to use their powers on my kind.”
She took a step toward him and Phin scrambled back—but a sound caught them both off guard. The door creaked open.
Out of the shadows stepped–
“Inkar?” Eyerusalem said in surprise.
The vampire came fully into the room.
Phin frowned. He’d heard that name recently. Then it clicked. The vampire staying at Dakotah’s shop.
“Eyerus,” Inkar said with a formal head nod. “I did not know you were in this area also.”
“No Seelie Court for years now,” she explained. “An easy hunting ground.”
Eyerus surveyed Inkar. The two vampires seemed familiar but not close. “And you? Still searching for your less bloody fountain of youth?”
“I have been staying with the young Guardian. He has been helping me.” Inkar nodded toward Phin. “I am afraid you have overstepped, Eyerus. You have taken his friend. They have your necklace, the one from Toledo. He’ll be here soon.”
Eyerus laughed. “Icarus’s replacement, you mean? The boy? One so young is no threat to us, Inkar, why could you never see that? Look there–” she pointed a finger at Leal. “See that child? Look, and remember how it could revive you from this pitiful state you’ve sunk to.”
But Inkar had stopped and was looking at Leal. His tongue flicked out over his fangs.
“Stop fighting your nature, Inkar. This is what you are now. Tonight is the perfect night to reclaim your power–”
Phin leaped for the door, slamming it shut behind him. He hadn’t expected the darkness of the hall outside and had to slow down, jogging with one hand outstretched and one hand around Leal.
Behind him, the door banged open and Eyerusalem’s voice called, “Can you see in the dark, Hero? I can…”
Phin cursed Dakotah and Ike and every fey he’d ever met. His heart was racing and Leal was wailing, leaving them no chance of hiding. In desperation, he tried to shift Other St. Paul. It worked, surprisingly, the first time he’d accomplished it without Dakotah’s presence. The shift actually made the hallway lighten, and he spotted a door just ahead.
Unfortunately, he didn’t hear Eyerusalem’s approach. She grabbed him by the shoulders, fingernails raking across his collarbone.
“Stop!” someone screeched.
The arrival of Dakotah, Valene, and Pete was enough of a surprise to Eyerusalem that Phin was able to sprint forward and join his friends. When he turned, Eyerusalem was standing with her arms folded.
“Senora…?” Dakotah said, confused.
“Eyerusalem,” Pete finished. “You’re Phin’s teacher!”
“I’m not surprised to see that Icarus’ Heir has also taken to meddling outside the Sanctuary,” Eyerusalem said. “But really, Guardian, you have all the magic of the fey available to you, and all you brought to this fight was more kids?”
She moved then, not waiting for an answer. Her leap was at quantum speed, claws outstretched, straight for Leal.
Dakotah blocked her, moving at the same speed and hitting her with his shoulder. The force slammed her into the wall.
“Run!” yelled Dakotah. The others took off. He moved backward quickly, flexing his fingers. As before, he was flooded with the same abilities of the fey he was nearest to. That meant he had all the abilities of a vampire. Unfortunately, getting all new abilities was never very helpful because he never had time to learn them all, or figure out the best way to use them.
Eyerusalem sprang from the ground. She hit him hard, and they both tumbled backward into one of Central’s main halls.
They fought viciously. Dakotah managed to scramble to his feet. Eyerusalem rolled to a squat and hissed at him. Her eyes were wild.
Dakotah drew back his own lips and hissed in return.
She lunged again, and this time her nails ripped into Dakotah’s neck. His blood sprayed over his clothes and over Eyerusalem. She laughed victoriously.
Pete and Val screamed.
Dakotah stumbled back a few steps, head down. He looked at his bloody hands.
Then he reached up and wiped the blood from his neck. The savage wound was already healing with vampire magic. His skin stitched itself back together as they watched.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” he said.
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