Interlude: No SPG this week

No installment of St. Paul Grimoire this week because it’s the fifth Friday this month. Check back early next week for pictures of my travels, and next Friday for the next installment. Thanks for following!

 

My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!

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SPG: April, Part 4/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

“The Seelie lost prince,” Phin clarified. Dakotah thanked him for that. He didn’t need a lost Unseelie prince to add to his problems.

“That’s right,” said Yolanda. “He is, of course, a human. A boy stolen at birth by the Seelie Queen and King.”

“So the Unseelie queen Samantha is looking for the lost prince because he could unite the scattered Seelie and overthrow her.”

“Or at least try.”

“So why would an enemy of the Seelie court want to find the lost prince’s changeling?”

This was another good question from Phin. Dakotah’s brain was going so fast he’d practically forgotten about Caitlin. But by now there wasn’t much doubt she was working against the Seelie court. To what extent remained to be seen.

“I doubt the Seelie will rally behind the untried changeling, but certainly there is a bond between the two. If one wanted to find the Seelie Prince, the changeling would be a way to do it.”

Dakotah sighed. “Thanks Yolanda.”

~*~

Back at the shop, they regrouped around the front counter.

“We need a plan,” decided Dakotah. “To get Caitlin off Roland’s trail.”

“And the hell out of here,” Pete added.

“I want to go home,” said Roland suddenly. He hadn’t spoken for an hour.

An awkward silence settled over the group.

“You…can’t,” Dakotah managed. “You aren’t safe. Caitlin would’ve found you eventually. The Unseelie think they can use you. And anyway, you can’t go back looking like…that.”

Roland’s wings twitched in distress. “I don’t understand any of this.”

“Join the club,” Dakotah snapped.

“What Dakotah means,” Pete said with another glare at Dakotah, “is that we only found out about all this fey stuff in September. We just try and figure things out together. We didn’t mean to drag you into anything but you believe you’re in danger, right? We’re trying to help.”

These assurances finally began to register with Roland. He took a deep breath. “Ok, fine. So you’re a Guardian?”

Dakotah nodded.

“And Caitlin is…”

“A fallen Guardian. We don’t know if she’s working for the Unseelie or not. We don’t know where her magic comes from now but she can do magic. We don’t know how she planned to use you to find the lost prince.”

“What do you know?” Roland asked peevishly.

Dakotah laughed unexpectedly.

“Weirdo,” said Val. “What you laughing for?”

“I don’t know,” said Dakotah. “It’s just funny to be the one who knows more. Finally.”

“We still dunno shit,” Valene reminded him. “So think.”

Phin spoke up. “We could wait for Caitlin to get back and try confronting her. Maybe that will scare her off. Like, it might be too early in her plan or maybe she’s not working with the Unseelie and she’ll just have to leave because she can’t fight us off.”

“What ‘us‘?” Dakotah asked. “She’s been teaching me magic, so I know how powerful she is. What if she knows I’m no threat, and takes me down?”

“Pretend you want in,” Pete said.

“Like what? Like I’m a fallen Guardian, too?”

“Yeah,” Val agreed excitedly. “Like you know where Roland is and you’ll give him up for a price.”

Phin frowned. “Will she fall for that? She’s been training you, she knows what you’re like.”

Dakotah considered. “She also knows I used to run with a different crew. And I’ve complained about Guardian powers. Maybe I can make her think I want more magic abilities.”

Before they could discuss any further, a voice called from the front gate–“Hey Dakotah, lemme in!”

The view to the front gate was partially blocked by stacks of shop merchandise and signs in the window, but Caitlin’s voice was clear.

“Damn,” said Dakotah. “She’s back.”

“Well, a magic lightning storm did announce we’d found Roland,” Val pointed out.

“K, well, I’m gonna try it,” Dakotah decided.

“We’re pretty slapdash around here,” Pete said to Roland, clearly trying to lighten the mood.

“Fake it till we make it!” Val said.

Dakotah rolled his eyes at Phin.

“Stay out of sight,” he instructed as he left.

“Heya,” Caitlin greeted him, her hands on the closed gate. It was full dark out but the lampposts cast plenty of light. His cats stood at attention.

“I tried to take the Lake right in but it looks like you locked down the House. What happened?”

“I found Roland Cunningham,” Dakotah said figuring there was no need to be coy.

Caitlin’s face was still. “Who’s that?”

“Ain’t you been looking for him?” Dakotah’s voice grew harsh and he wasn’t sure anymore about pretending to be a fallen Guardian. She’d been living off him for months with free range over the House. Not only that, what was with all the fallen Guardians? He’d only met four other Guardians and half were bad guys! Would Ike have pretended to be a fallen Guardian?

Probably, because he’s smarter than you. But Dakotah’s pride wouldn’t let him.

“Well, you can stop looking,” Dakotah said. “He’s been six feet under for a few years now. We’ve got more important things to talk about.”

He’d made it to the gate by now, so only the rusted wrought iron separated them. Iron, and a hundred years of Sanctuary magic.

“What’s this?” he asked, holding up the blackened chunk of (formerly sky-blue) Belfast crystal.

Her lips pursed. “I don’t know.”

“Well you fucking should. It’s the crystal from your House, the Sanctuary you promised to protect. Do you know what it means when it’s all broken like this? It means you’re not a Guardian anymore.

Caitlin figured out the jig was up and dropped her act. She sneered. “Took you long enough.”

“Yeah, don’t worry, I know what I’m doing now.”

“I doubt that, Guardian Dakotah. You think you know about the Unseelie–”

The cats yowled and Dakotah sprang back automatically from the gate. Caitlin did, too, in the other direction.

The cats had saved them both from a hail of arrows shot toward the gate (though Dakotah noticed none actually got through the Sanctuary barrier).

He flipped into Other St. Paul just as the street flooded with fairies. They carried bows and dressed in a ragtag style, though each was marked with a yellow cloth armband.

Caitlin hissed as they raised their weapons again, all aimed at her. She raised her hands add if intending to do some magic, but Dakotah felt a ripple go through the air as he opened his gate. The ripple held a clear warning–all fifteen of their combined magic against one of her.

The fairies started to advance on her.

Another current of magic caused the air to flex again–but this time, a cloud was blooming in the middle of the street. When the cloud took up half the street it stopped growing. The middle of the cloud crackled with lightning and then started to separate. Through the flickering clouds was not the other side of the street but another place entirely.

Dakotah had been so busy watching the cloud he forgot about Caitlin until she leapt for it.

“Hey!” called a fairy warrior, but she was already pulling herself through. A warrior ran up but lightning forked out of the clouds, striking him down.

Caitlin, safe in the cloud’s embrace, turned back to scowl at them. As the cloud began to fold back in on itself, Dakotah could make out another person’s shape, a moon-faced fairy with six-pronged anters coming from her head. Lightning crackled around her. But then the cloud folded in on itself, and Dakotah and the warriors were left staring at each other.

My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!


Turquoiseblood-300x200

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. 

Get your copy on Amazon today!

SPG: April, Part 3/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

Nobody had much time to react. As soon as the glamour was off, lightning forked in the sky. The night had been clear, now clouds billowed and began to pour rain.

Dakotah knew he’d made a mistake. “To the Lake!” he yelled. He raised the Lake and they piled into the canoe. Roland was still staring in shock. His only movement had been to raise his fingers to his eyes. Dakotah grabbed his wrist and pulled him into the canoe.

No rain fell on the Lake, and the sounds of rolling thunder faded as they paddled into the fey world. Dakotah handed his paddle to Phin and turned around to Roland.

“Listen, man, I’m sorry. I thought you were hiding something. I had no idea…” He trailed off.

Roland blinked several times. “Am I high?”

“I mean, maybe,” Dakotah joked lamely. “But this is all real. I’m a Guardian in the fey world. We came to protect you. You really didn’t know you’re a fairy?”

“Is that what this is?” Roland asked, eyes still on his fingers. Dakotah could understand why Roland couldn’t take his eyes off them. He had changed completely. He’d lost a foot in height and his body had thinned. Gone were his broad African features, instead his face had a sharp, wary, fey beauty.

Dakotah always pictures fairies like flowers. Roland looked more like a tree. His skin was dark and rough and patterned as bark, his fingers spindly branches, his hair many shades of green. Dragonfly wings lay flat down his back.

“He sounds bad,” Pete said. Her voice was taut. There was no way to move around in the canoe, so she twisted to look back at them. To Dakotah’s surprise, she was glaring at him.

“I think he’s a changeling,” Val offered.

“What’s a changeling?”

“It’s when a human baby is stolen and replaced with a fey one.”

Phin was the only one paddling now, which was making their progress slow. Not that it really mattered, they’d get there whenever the Lake wanted. “Why would a fey steal a human?” He was thinking of Eyerusalem kidnapping Leal.

“If they think it’s beautiful. They’ll keep it young in the Seelie court forever.”

This Dakotah understood. Fey loved beauty. “So there’s a real–another Roland out there. But we don’t know what happened to him since the Seelie Court has disbanded.” He thought about this. “Ok, we need the full story on the Seelie Court. Let’s go to the shop, I have to pick something up. And then we’re gonna visit Yolanda.”

~*~

He’d rescued Yolanda’s chest from the golem only a few days before. This was as good an excuse as any to visit the friendly older fey…and ask her about the Seelie Court.

“Maybe Roland should stay in the shop,” Pete suggested.

Dakotah shook his head. “Caitlin could come back. Until I know her game, I don’t wanna get her suspicious.”

Yolanda greeted them effusively. It was later in the evening and Morticia’s was closed to customers, so they sat in an old-fashioned drawing room.

Pete put her hand on Roland’s arm but he pulled away.

“Icarus would’ve been so proud,” Yolanda said as she settled the chest in a corner.

Dakotah grimaced at the thought of Ike. The old man was probably berating him for pulling off Roland’s glamour so abruptly.

“Yeah, well, like I said, it only makes bigger trouble for me to have to clean up the Seelie Court’s messes. That’s why I wanted to hear the whole story about the fall of the Seelie Court from you.”

Yolanda steepled her fingers as the brownies served tea and cookies to the guests.

“A small price to pay for your assistance with my chest, Guardian, but where to start?”

“My friends don’t know anything much about the fey world. Start from the very beginning. Give lots of details.”

So she did:

~*~

As you may have guessed, there has never been a peace between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. That being said, we used to live in a relative truce. If one had a problem with the other (usually the Seelie court objecting to the Unseelie’s actions) it was settled without escalation.

Much of this was because the Unseelie had no leader. None could hold that tumultuous throne for too long. But with the rise of Sunil, things changed. Sunil wasn’t interested in the Unseelie throne himself, he had no interest in splitting his power, or of the chaos the Unseelie like to create. He wanted to be the ruler of his own orderly world. The Unseelie himself probably wouldn’t have had him. They despise humans in general, and seek to make your lives more difficult.

But Sunil’s rise distracted the Seelie court–and Guardians like Icarus–and so a fey was able to take over the Unseelie. Her name is Samantha. She defended the Unseelie court from Sunil and eventually brokered a deal that kept Sunil out of Unseelie affairs. For this, the Unseelie gave her as much loyalty as their small hearts are capable of.

Samantha used this loyalty to further her goals–whether or not this move was included in her deal with Sunil, we cannot know. But while the Seelie court fended off Sunil in some parts of their territory, Samantha attacked from the unguarded edges. She was relentless and her troops ruthless, and after some time the Seelie court was devastated by its two enemies. Those left alive fled and went into hiding. Even those who had not fought, but who had lived under Unseelie protection, were targeted. Icarus defeated Sunil, but the Seelie King and Queen were trapped by Samantha. She has them prisoner to this day. Without their power, the Seelie court is unlikely to rally and overthrow Samantha’s rule. I hesitate to eve say “rule”. Samantha has done what any Unseelie leader would: let chaos reign. The only things she worries about is ensuring the continuation of her reign by taking down even the slightest threats.

~*~

Dakotah had a lot of questions after that, but Pete beat him to the punch.

“And who’s Roland?” she asked.

Yolanda couldn’t help her eyes flicking over the faery at Pete’s side. “Roland is the lost prince.”

My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!


Turquoiseblood-300x200

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. 

Get your copy on Amazon today!

SPG: April, Part 2/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

“He could be in danger,” Dakotah said.

“Roland?” Pete asked, as if she hadn’t heard clearly. She didn’t think she had. “How could Caitlin want him? Is he involved in the fey world?”

“You tell us,” Val said with a snicker.

“How long have you two been together?” interrupted Phin. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“We’ve just been texting a bunch…he only asked me out last week.”

Dakotah was less interested in the dating side of things. “Has he ever said anything to you? About the fey, or maybe being followed?”

“No!” Pete responded a little louder than necessary. “He’s got nothing to do with…with…” She waved her hands at the shop, and by extension at the fey world.

“Well, I gotta talk to him,” decided Dakotah. “Where’s he live?”

Pete pursed her lips. This was not okay. She’d never seen a conflict with helping Dakotah with his secret problems, and leading a normal life. The only time the two things had intersected was when Phin and Leal had been kidnapped. And then, like now, she’d been jarred out of her comfort zone. Helping Dakotah, being a Hero, it was like a game only they played. Roland couldn’t be involved.

“Pete,” snapped Dakotah. “Do you get he ain’t safe? We gotta figure out his deal.”

She sighed. “Yeah, ok. We can walk there. I’ll text him we’re coming.”

~*~

On their walk, Val went over a few of the things she’d learned from the Guardian grimoire.

“So, that’s why I don’t think Caitlin has any Guardian powers. Sunil either, maybe. If the Heart of the House is destroyed they–you–can’t access the magic.”

Dakotah shook his head. “So how’d she teach me magic?”

“She learned magic as a Guardian, so she probably understands things that way. But I’m saying the source of her power is different.”

“Too bad,” said Dakotah. “I was hoping we could control her with the Belfast crystal or something.”

Val laughed. “That’d be easy. I’ll look it up, see if I can find an explanation of the crystals.”

“We’re here,” Pete called. She led them through a few backyards and now they stood in the dark outside Roland Cunningham’s house. He lived in another typical Summit-area house, not a mansion but influenced by Victorian style. They waited on the grass beyond the screened-in back porch while a light flicked on inside, and finally Roland stepped outside.

In the beam of the garage floodlight and porchlight, Dakotah recognized him.

It was hard not to. Roland had starred in the lead role in Guys and Dolls a couple months ago. His picture had been on all the posters. He was black but albino, with a wide, smiling mouth. His hair was short, shaved neatly at his temples and not too much longer around the rest of his head. This style was in.

Dakotah had no questions about how Roland and Pete had started texting. Even though she was only a sophomore, Dakotah could bet they had the same perfect grades, extracurriculars…Probably met at a National Honor Society meeting, he thought with a smirk.

Roland looked a little confused to see so many people at his door. “Hey, Pete, Val…Phin?”

Phin nodded. “Nice to meet you.”

Roland looked at Dakotah.

“Dakotah,” Dakotah said.

“Ah, right, hey man,” said Roland with a look of comprehension.

“Hey.”

“Sooo,” said Roland.

Dakotah was about to step up when Pete did.

“Rol, this is kinda weird, but Dakotah got some info and heard someone might try and…I don’t know, hurt you?”

Roland’s eyebrows went up. He looked at Dakotah. “You did? Who’s gonna hurt me?”

“Do you know an Irish chick named Caitlin?” Dakotah asked. “She doesn’t go to Central. She, like, twenty-four.”

A shrug. “No. What does she want?”

Pete explained that they didn’t know much, and asked if Roland had noticed anything weird lately. While he answered, Dakotah slipped into Other St. Paul. In Other St. Paul, even though it was kind of like being in a constant fog, he could still see more clearly. Fey glamour was stripped here, magic revealed itself.

And Roland was lit up like a torch. He burned in Dakotah’s vision, lighting up the whole area around himself.

Dakotah flipped back into the human world. “Stop lying,” he barked at Roland.

Pete flinched at his tone, stopping mid-sentence. “Dakotah, what–”

“He’s got a powerful glamour on. You think I don’t see that?”

Roland put up his hands. “Dude, what the f–”

“Tell me what you know about the fey,” Dakotah said. “Everything you know.”

“What are the fey? Is that a band–?”

“Oh, Jesus,” said Dakotah. He shielded his eyes and turned back into the fey world. He tried to swipe the glamour off but it didn’t work like it usually did. Frowning, Dakotah probed the shield of magic with his mind. He felt holes in the glamour, not like chinks in the armor but like keyholes. Seizing those holes, he pulled at the glamour again.

It came away suddenly, causing both Dakotah and Roland to stumble. His friends gasped and when Dakotah looked again, he saw why–Roland was gone, and in his place stood a fairy.

My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!


Turquoiseblood-300x200

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. 

Get your copy on Amazon today!

SPG: April, Part 1/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

His grades might be bad but Dakotah knew he was no idiot. He had brought Caitlin to this place, this hideout of the few remaining Seelie. Barely two hours later, it had been razed to the ground.

With no plan in mind, he raced back to his shop. He stowed the chest in the front entryway before entering. The ground floor was dim and empty. He was about to run upstairs when he noticed he’d gotten a text.

Caitlin had written: Gone to see Arturo in Mexico City. Back next week.

Dakotah sighed, sagging against the front counter. He had a few days to figure out what the hell he was going to do. To figure out what the hell she was doing. With another sigh (this one resigned, since he knew he wasn’t getting to sleep anytime soon), he set off for Belfast.

~*~

The next day he gathered Phin, Pete, and Val and told them everything that had happened.

“Shit,” Phin declared. The four of them sat in a circle of antique chairs at the back of the ground floor of the shop.

“Lock her out of the shop!” Val said. “We can’t let a murderous psycho into a Sanctuary. She killed Inkar, remember? We should’ve known then!”

“Inkar was evil,” Phin reminded her. “Dakotah obviously wouldn’t suspect someone who killed a vampire, he thought she was trying to help.”

“Inkar tried to warn me of something,” Dakotah said. “Do you think he knew Caitlin was a rogue Guardian?”

Phin muttered, “What’s with all these rogue Guardians, anyway?”

“Can’t you tell, Dakotah?” Pete asked with a frown. “Wouldn’t you know if she’d…like if her Guardian-ness was corrupted?”

Dakotah spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness. “Guardian powers are useless.”

Val sighed. “You probably just don’t even know where to look! This grimoire is the useless thing!” She slapped her purse with the hefty Guardian grimoire stuffed inside it.

Dakotah reached in a pocket and produced the piece of sky-blue stone shot through with black cracks. It was from the Belfast Sanctuary’s Heart. He had picked it up the first time he’d been to Belfast. Last night’s trip had revealed nothing else. “Sunil admitted to destroying the Belfast Sanctuary. I bet he thought Caitlin was a rival. Another Guardian who wanted more power. She pretended to die and came back when he was gone and she could pretend to be a victim.” Dakotah shook his head. “Ike would’ve known.”

“It’s fine,” Val said. “Now we know. And we can lock her out of here.”

“That’s a bad idea,” Pete interrupted. “If we do that, she’ll know we’re on to her and we still have no idea what she’s doing. How would killing those faeries help her?”

“She wants to make sure the Seelie court doesn’t come back and challenge her power?” Phin guessed.

“What power?” asked Pete. “She’s living off Dakotah right now. I don’t know, she’s kinda slimy. She doesn’t seem like a leader to me.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Dakotah said. He took his feet off the table and sat up. “We can’t lock off the house until we know what she’s doing.” He turned to Val. “It’s time for you to finish that grimoire.”

~*~

Three days later, March was sliding into April and spring break started. Dakotah helped customers at the shop, flinching every time someone entered since he always expected Caitlin to come breezing in. He started to worry about Arturo but couldn’t think of a reason to check in on the other Guardian.

A search of the room she stayed in had revealed nothing. Caitlin barely owned anything, which made sense since she’d been chased out of her Sanctuary.

Dakotah’s leg bounced on his chair as thoughts of Sunil circled. Whatever Caitlin was, Sunil had been able to breach her Sanctuary and destroy her Heart. How had he done it?

Sometimes Dakotah missed Ike, and sometimes he cursed that old man’s bad planning. Why the hell was he having Dakotah stock shelves when he should’ve been learning how to be a Guardian? Caitlin could stroll right into his Sanctuary, and not only that, she knew better than him how to use it.

The thought gave him an idea. He left a cat at the front counter in case someone came in. Then he went downstairs and unlocked his treasure room.

He almost never disturbed this room. The piles and piles of money never gathered dust but he certainly never touched them. In fact, now that the shop turned a slight profit each month, he practically forgot he was a millionaire (billionaire?). His accountants had probably used this money to cover expenses in the early days.

Today his goal was the same as always: the huge purple crystal spar in the middle of the room. Dakotah placed his hands on the crystal and breathed deep, connecting to the House.

He could feel it breathing, expanding far beyond the rooms he knew of. He’d never walked all of the House and maybe never would, unless he made it to be as old as Ike.

With all the shit I’ve gotten into, I dunno if that’s gonna happen.

Focusing, he asked, “Show me things Caitlin’s been doing. Secret things.”

He didn’t sink into the crystal like he had when he’d Ascended. Instead, images appeared on the flat plane. What followed was like a supercut of Caitlin stealing his shit.

Okay, he had to admit the shop was a little messy, and he hadn’t noticed things vanishing. With Caitlin’s experience, he had no doubt she knew what was valuable and what wasn’t, and had taken some powerful stuff. He shook his head in disgust and paid special attention to how she used magic to hide the stolen things.

The last scene was Caitlin hunched over a piece of paper, writing a few things, and then burning it.

“Go back,” Dakotah commanded. He squinted at the paper. He couldn’t make out much, except for the name at the top: Roland Cunningham. Dakotah frowned. Did he know that name?

A pounding, and someone calling his name. Still connected to the House, he could feel his friends come in, and Val’s voice, as if they were right next to him.

He disengaged from the House and went upstairs.

“I’m so close to finishing!” Val declared, slamming the Guardian grimoire onto the counter. “I have so much to tell you.”

“Awesome,” said Dakotah. “Who’s Roland Cunningham?”

Immediately, Val started to giggle. Pete hit her arm.

Phin’s brow creased. “Isn’t he in theater?”

“He goes to Central?” Dakotah asked sharply.

Val’s giggle got louder. “He’s also…Pete’s prom date!

Pete blushed furiously.

What?” Phin demanded.

Dakotah waved his hand to get everyone’s attention. “Well I’ve got fucking bad news then. Caitlin’s looking for him.”

My YA fantasy novel TURQUOISEBLOOD is out now! Get your copy here!


Turquoiseblood-300x200

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. 

Get your copy on Amazon today!