The malevolent spirit had haunted a Summit mansion. Dakotah’s eyebrows arched as he saw the address.
“Whoa, whoa,” he said as Caitlin strode boldly for the front. “What’s our plan?”
He knew nothing of the kinds of people who lived in these old houses, but the picture of a snobby old white woman—inexplicably dressed in some kind of olden-days ballgown—rose to mind.
Caitlin flipped her hair as she looked back at him. “You’re about to see some professional Guardian work, grasshopper. Come on, I’ve done this routine a thousand times.”
An old white woman did answer the door, but she didn’t look like Dakotah had expected. She had long gray hair growing wild and braided with beads and hemp. She wore a lumpy gray dress that looked handmade. A shawl seeming to be made entirely of fringe covered her shoulders.
She peered at them. Daylight savings hadn’t begun yet but it was staying lighter later into the evening. “Yes?”
“Madam,” said Caitlin, loudly. “I am Sinead O’Connor—no relation—And this is me associate, Red Fox.” Dakotah struggled to keep a straight face. Caitlin’s normal Irish accent had deepened to become an almost-unintelligible brogue. “We’ve come aaallll the way from the Emerald Isle to investigate homes in the States that may be inhabited by—The Unknown.” She gave a significant nod at the woman.
Unbelievably, Dakotah saw the woman’s eyes light up. “Really?” she asked.
“We always leave our camera crew behind during these first encounters,” Caitlin went on, stepping closer to the doorway so that the woman was forced to give a little ground into the house. “To better feel the presence. May we take a look around? If your home is also home to an Unknown, it may be featured on our show, which is currently all the rage in Ireland.”
The woman looked crestfallen. “I did feel a strange presence—an Unknown—but I had it exorcised just last week! If only I’d known—”
“Yes, we would’ve done it for you free of charge after the filming.” Caitlin was nodding in fake sympathy. “We specialize in traditional Irish Catholic exorcisms, of course. But no matter, because there may still be vestiges left in the very fabric of your lovely home. If we may…?”
The woman’s energy had picked up again at the realization she may yet be featured on TV. She stepped off down the hall with Caitlin in tow; Caitlin asking questions about the “nature of the disturbance.”
Dakotah shifted into Other St. Paul as he followed. The mansion had a high front entryway with an ancient chandelier shining dimly above them. The woman had clearly made no attempt to modernize the mansion and it had a comforting weight. Shrouded in the light of Other St. Paul, he looked for signs of fey. He quickly realized the house was layered in powers and, in Caitlin’s words, vestiges of power.
Dakotah had learned the fey loved beauty. That was one of the many ways the human and fey worlds overlapped, because the beauty humans created attracted them. This house was one such place Dakotah was not surprised attracted fey.
Still, my shop is better, he thought pridefully.
“We’ll be in touch, ma’am, don’t fret. Luck o’ the Irish be with ye now.”
Caitlin’s voice was coming up the hallway. Dakotah shifted back into the human world so he wouldn’t get distracted.
Caitlin jerked her chin toward the door and Dakotah turned and went out. It took Caitlin another minute to disentangle herself from the enthusiastic woman, and then the two of them were back on the street.
“What did she say? Did you see something fey?” Dakotah asked.
Caitlin shook her head. “The woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about. The only reason she noticed a spirit at all is because she’s loopy as all hell and lives completely alone. My guess is the malevolent spirit wasn’t a long-time resident, it just picked what it thought would be an easy target. Anyway, I got the name of the exorcist if we needed, but I’m still banking on that Seelie courtier.”
They took the Lake to Everywhere to the Seelie courtier’s dwelling. He had lived in Como Park, too far up Lexington Ave to walk.
Quite a few people were walking around Lake Como despite the chill and the early dark. They exited the Lake on the edge of the lake and looked around to get their bearings. Following Yolanda’s instructions, they arrived at a copse.
Rays of dying sunlight gilded the trees and Dakotah’s breath in the air. They switched into Other St. Paul together, and immediately Dakotah picked up the sense of fey.
He couldn’t see much of anything besides the nature around them. But it wasn’t like when they’d visited the elf. There, they had felt ignored. Here he could feel the weight of attention on them.
“Come out, courtiers,” Caitlin demanded in a ringing voice.
The breeze rustled dead grasses, but that was all.
“We’re Guardians, we know you’re watching.”
Dakotah wasn’t sure she was taking the right tack. She sounded accusatory and demanding. He held up a hand before she could speak again.
“My name is Dakotah,” he said to the bushes and trees.
“They know who you–”
“We are here to solve a murder. If anyone of you has information about the death of your…comrade, please do not hesitate to contact me.” Dakotah paused, then added, “Guardians are impartial. I will not place blame, but I will be investigating every angle of this.”
The breeze picked up again, this time strong enough to shake the branches of trees. And this time, Dakotah heard words on the air.
Age…carried our friend away…No blame here…Guardian…Look elsewhere for the monster…
He remembered that voice. Or voices, many-in-one. The speaker sounded like the one that had led him to safety on his first night as Heir. However, that night the voice had surrounded and uplifted him, filling the area with light. Here it was a pale, weak echo.
Caitlin scoffed. “You expect us to just believe that?”
Dakotah frowned. She had talked loudly and he worried he’d missed the last of the feys’ words. But the breeze was already fading.
“Thank you,” he said.
Caitlin looked at him in surprise. “Dakotah–”
“They said he died of old age. We were wrong. Time to look somewhere else.”
Looking displeased, Caitlin followed.
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