Dakotah walked in Other St. Paul. Light emanated from all sides, dimmed by the foggy air. The March weather was chill, and it seeped into the places where the fey world overlapped the city. However, he didn’t really need his winter coat.
Nearby, long fingers cracked the ice of a pool.
“Come for a ride, Guardian…” someone said sibilantly.
“Yeah, hard pass,” he answered.
The kelpie chortled wetly. Dakotah walked quickly on.
Caitlin had told him that his Guardian-ness protected him in many ways. The kelpie wouldn’t dare attack him outright. And yet, there were still myriad ways for him to die here.
If I don’t kill myself by accident first, he thought as he sidestepped a deep hole in the ground. That hole probably didn’t even exist in St. Paul, but not all of Other St. Paul was an exact twin of the city. There were dangerous additions lurking around every corner or within every placid pond.
Phin and Pete were both in sports and Val had joined French Club, so he was left alone until 6 PM most days now. Not that it mattered. He had Caitlin to learn from.
In the distance, he heard pixies laughing. He’d talked to some last time he’d gone walking. Weird things. Cluricauns were funny. Hags were intimidating. One of the houses had a huaca in its backyard–an ancient guardian stone. He preferred his fetches (the cats who guarded his front gate) but the stone had emanated a calm power, almost like the Heart of his Sanctuary.
In reality, the wandering souls disturbed him more than anything else, even malicious kelpies. Wailing women, ghosts left on the battlefield long after their bodies were removed, vibrant sparks of child spirits…all made him shudder.
He turned with frown. These voices did not sound like they wanted to lure him anywhere. He waited as two brownies approached at a run.
“Come quickly, Guardian! You must come!”
“It is Morticia’s, Guardian. Someone has set it on fire!”
They spoke like he should know who that was, but he decided if a building was on fire, he could ask questions later.
The brownies turned and raced back the way they came, Dakotah on their heels.
A few blocks away, a house that looked much like his shop was on fire. Dakotah caught sight of the plume of smoke–visible only in the fey world–and sprinted ahead of the brownies.
A chain of fey were handing buckets off to each other and throwing them onto the blaze. One naiad blasted water onto the flames. Dakotah reached into himself as Caitlin had taught him, connected with the naiad’s power, and shot water at the house as well.
With his help, the flames were under control, and then put out.
He wasn’t aware of how much time had passed, but he was sweating under his coat. Luckily, part of his lessons had been lessening the effect of borrowing fey power, and he wasn’t as mentally drained as he’d been in the past.
He moved through the small crowd, checking in on people. They all seemed to know him, something that did not surprise him anymore. Even if they hadn’t heard of him, most fey could sense the Guardian power, and they had all known Ike.
He looked up to see a stately older woman dressed in black lace. She looked vaguely human, but she had elfin beauty, with sharp cheekbones, big, slanted eyes, and pointed ears. Her hair was straight and black.
“Morticia?” he asked.
She chuckled. “Just Yolanda will do. We’ve not been properly introduced, I do apologize for the oversight. But yes, I am the owner and operator of Morticia’s, the funeral home.”
His eyebrows arched. “A fey funeral home?”
“We die too. Just not as quickly.”
“Right, of course.”
She reached out and pulled him away from the crowd that still stood around, talking in hushed voices.
“I did not send my brownies for you to help put out the fire, though I do thank you for the assistance.”
“Then why did you want me?”
She sighed. “I saw who set the fire.”
This surprised him even more. “Who? Did you stop them?”
Yolanda shook her head. “I could not. It was started by a golem.”
She seemed to think this held some significance for him, but he just frowned in confusion.
“A golem, Guardian. A vengeful monster controlled at a distance by someone.”
“You think your enemies wanted to burn down your funeral home?”
“Perhaps…but I think it more likely the fire burned through my protective spells. You see, I keep a chest of powerful objects in the basement of Morticia’s. I am certain the golem has stolen it to deliver these objects to its master.”
“And you called me to…”
“I have heard you are a more involved Guardian, as Icarus was.”
Dakotah shrugged. “I don’t have anyone to compare to.”
“If it would not put you out, I’d like you to find out who is controlling the golem…before it strikes again.”
My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!
When the dangerous rogue dragon Anya crash lands in an isolated mountain village during a snowstorm, Kiri saves her life. Anya awakens seemingly cured of her madness and in thanks offers to show Kiri the country outside her village.
What starts as a simple pact quickly becomes something more as Kiri becomes embroiled in the intrigue of the royal court and the hunt for a murderer.
Meanwhile, 200 years in the past, Pristina fights to stop a rising civil war.