Magic and mayhem!
By the time they made it back to the shop, night had fallen. They decided to renew their hunt the next day, and Dakotah left.
He had intended to go straight home, but instead turned his steps to the hill where the elves lived. The mystery was nagging at him. He believed the Seelie courtier wasn’t murdered, and though the malevolent spirit had been forcefully exorcised, Dakotah couldn’t believe anyone had set a golem to hunt for revenge for a spirit.
That left the elves. He didn’t know much about them, beside that they preferred to live in forests. Sprites did better mixing in the human world especially because they were smaller.
Arriving at the side of Ayd Mill, Dakotah knocked at the door of the neighbor he and Caitlin had talked to earlier. The door was made of sticks tied together with grass and the rest of the mound was made of braided grass. Now that he was up close, Dakotah saw the braiding was done carefully and with a certain pattern, though it looked haphazard at first.
To his surprise, the voice came from beside him. Not just one neighbor, but several elves were gathered to his left.
“Hey,” Dakotah said. “There are more of you.”
“Greetings, Guardian,” said one elf. He couldn’t tell if it was male or female, because all the elves were small with delicate features. Their outfits were just as natural as their homes. “We hoped you would return.”
Dakotah opened his mouth to ask a question when a flare of light distracted them all.
Just feet away, one of the neighbor’s houses was on fire. Even though melting snow had made the grass wet, it was burning quickly.
And illuminated by the light was the golem.
It was massive. Made of river mud, its form was vaguely human, but slapped together. The mud was wet and sliding off in places. Rushes and other river plants stuck out from its body. Its mouth was a gaping hole and so were its eyes, but in the eyes burned bluish flames in place of eyeballs. Three Hebrew letters were written across its forehead.
“Shit!” yelled Dakotah.
“Water!” someone else cried.
And then—”Corsoo is still inside!”
An elf rushed forward with a pail of water, but when she approached, the golem swiped a huge arm to keep the water from hitting the fire.
“What do we do, Guardian?”
Briefly (as usual) the thought flicked across Dakotah’s mind that he had no fucking idea what to do and he was not qualified to be there. But nothing spurs a Guardian like a cry for help, and so he whipped out his phone.
He googled “how to stop a golem” while the real golem bellowed again. A quick look revealed a lot of Clash of Clans tips, a wordy but useless Wikipedia page, and a website on Jewish history. There were a few suggestions on how to kill the golem, but Dakotah latched onto one—erase the first of the three letters on the golem’s forehead.
“Good enough,” he said, clicking his phone off.
The elves were in a panic, not understanding why he wasn’t doing anything.
“Gimme that,” he said, grabbing a pail for someone’s hand. He shifted into the fey world as he approached the golem. Caitlin had taught him this would enhance his abilities. Both the golem and the elves had a range of powers for him to choose from. He didn’t want to make it complicated though, so he enhanced himself with the elves’ speed.
When he went to toss the water on the blaze, the golem lunged for him. Dakotah leaped forward into the golem’s arms. A wet hand seized his wrist but Dakotah was already bringing his hand forward, scraping the rightmost letter from the mud.
As soon as he drew his hand back the lights in the eye sockets flickered out. The golem crumpled like a robot powering down. Its legs kept it upright but the rest of the body sagged.
Dakotah pulled his hand from the muddy circle of the golem’s fist. The elves swarmed around, putting out the fire as it tried to spread.
The original dwelling had burned to the ground. The sticks and grasses were no match for the fire.
Nor, apparently, was its inhabitant. The blackened body of an elf lay on the earth. Dakotah cleared away the wreckage.
“Corsoo,” said an elf beside him. The elf’s voice wasn’t sad. “He killed Runlu.”
“What?” Dakotah’s head snapped around at the sound of the reclusive elf’s name. “He killed Runlu? And you knew?”
The elf nodded. “They have been arguing for years. Corsoo took something of Runlu’s. Runlu tried to get it back. Corsoo finally killed him. But you see Runlu had his revenge.” Here the elf gestured at the golem, which was already sliding into the earth, looking more and more like a mound of dirt.
“You think Runlu enchanted a golem before he died?” Dakotah thought of the theft at Morticia’s. “To steal back his things and kill Corsoo?”
“I am almost certain of it. Their blood feud is common knowledge.”
“Then why the hell didn’t you tell the—the—” Dakotah paused before he could say the word “police”.
The elf’s head shook in resignation. “Without the Seelie Court, there is no force to compel the fey to order. These are dark times.”
“Shit,” muttered Dakotah, wondering what chaos the fey world was in and how much more trouble it would cause. “Well, why didn’t you tell me?”
“We may have gone to you eventually. We should have known to trust Icarus’ Heir.” The elf’s smile faded. “But we were afraid of her bad energy.”
“Her?” asked Dakotah with a frown. “Caitlin?”
The elf shrugged. “Whoever accompanied you today.”
“She’s a Guardian!” Dakotah protested.
“No,” said the elf. “I do not think so.”
A quick look into Runlu’s home revealed the golem had deposited Yolanda’s chest there.
“I’ll take it back,” offered Dakotah, leaving the elves to clean up the damage from the fire.
The chest wasn’t too big, so he wrapped his arms around it and carried it hugged to his body. Once he was back on the sidewalk, he hesitated. It was too late to go to Yolanda, but he didn’t want to go all the way back to the shop.
Ok—the elf’s words disturbed him, and he didn’t want to see Caitlin just yet. Giving in to his discomfort, he turned and entered the Lake to Everywhere.
Lake Como was deserted now that night had fallen. Dakotah shifted the chest in his arms (He didn’t know what would happen if he left it waiting in the canoe).
He’d only gone a few feet when he came upon the copse. Only a few hours ago, a stand of young trees and bushes had hidden the fey from him. It had been obliterated. Black marks scored the earth, where someone had used magic to blast down the trees like many strikes of lightning.
Dakotah could not feel a single fey presence.
The chest sagged in his grip. “Fuck.”
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.