SPG: March, Part 4/4

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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.

“Guardian.”

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!


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: March, Part 3/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

SPG o’clock!

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.

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

SPG: March, Part 2/4

CeceliaIsaac_StPaulGrimoire

You know what to do.

Caitlin arrived twenty minutes later. Dakotah had called her right after telling Yolanda he could help find the golem. He couldn’t (at least he wasn’t sure at all how to go about it), but he did know Caitlin could help him start.

He was exploring the perimeter of the burned funeral home. The old Victorian was mostly intact. The fire had started in the basement and burned fiercely down there, blackening the windows. But as far as Dakotah could tell, the house wasn’t in danger of falling over, and the fire hadn’t spread upstairs.

Yolanda looked strangely at Caitlin as Dakotah brought her up to meet the mortician.

“Sunil destroyed the Belfast Sanctuary,” Dakotah explained. “So Caitlin’s been staying with me.”

“Ah,” said Yolanda. “Well, I’ve told Guardian Dakotah everything I know. My chest contained my personal powerful objects, and a few objects of the deceased, if it was their wish to be buried with a possession.”

“And you’ve confirmed the chest is gone? Not burned?”

Dakotah nodded. “We looked. It was definitely moved.”

Caitlin chewed a hangnail and considered. “Are you sure it’s about the chest? Golems are sent to avenge wrongful deaths. I don’t even know if they can be sent on robberies. Who was being prepared for burial currently, Yolanda?”

“I only had three: Stynnys, an elf. He was a bit of a recluse. My fees weren’t paid by family, he had arranged everything himself for a private burial with no ceremony. Then there was Ribirt, a malevolent spirit banished from a house a few days ago. And then…”

She paused.

“Well?” demanded Caitlin.

Dakotah frowned at Caitlin’s tone.

“We have to know,” she said, half-defending herself to Dakotah, half-insisting Yolanda talk.

“Runlu. A fallen member of the Seelie Court.”

“What Seelie Court?” Caitlin asked sharply. The Seelie Court was supposed to have disbanded.

“Former member,” Yolanda corrected herself. “For some, it isn’t enough that the court is gone. They must hunt down the old members.”

“You mean he was murdered?” Dakotah asked.

Yolanda shrugged. She seemed intentionally noncommittal. “I can’t say anything for certain.”

“Well,” said Caitlin, “Runlu seems like the obvious choice, but we’ll check them all out. Where did they live before?”

~*~

Caitlin suggested taking the Lake to Everywhere, but Dakotah wanted to walk through the surrounding area and look for clues.

“I should’ve watched Making a Murderer,” he muttered to himself. He hadn’t watched Netflix in a long time. He didn’t have time for anything beside his Guardian duties, the shop, and keeping up at school to get his mom off his back.

“You know,” Caitlin said, “I don’t care if we do this, but we don’t have to. Guardians are really supposed to deal with their own Houses, and that’s it.”

“Is that how you did it?”

She shrugged. “I thought it would be cooler than it is, you know? Enough fuggin’ trouble finds you at your own shop. I never went looking for it.” She lit a cigarette as they walked. “Practically killed someone to become Guardian, turns out it’s less magic and more arguing with sprites over zoning regulations.”

Dakotah laughed appreciatively. Actually, he quite liked the sprites. Ever since mediating a dispute within a tribe, they all knew who he was and greeted him respectfully when he happened to pass by.

“Here we go,” Caitlin said. She turned off the sidewalk just before the bridge over Ayd Mill Road. Dakotah followed her onto a packed dirt path, and then into the high grass. Everything was brown and dead even in the fey side of St. Paul, but the grasses and brambles grew high enough to allow a reclusive elf to live in peace.

They almost walked right by his hovel. The home was made of plants braided together, the entrance barely as high as Dakotah’s knee. Once he noticed the shape of the home, he saw a few others. This one, however, was set apart.

Caitlin bent and peered inside. “I have no idea what I’m looking for.”

“Can a golem fit in there?” Dakotah asked jokingly.

She rolled her eyes.

Straightening, she said, “There’s no chest, though I don’t know what a dead elf would do with that. Let’s interview the neighbors.”

Only one neighbor came to the door, and he didn’t know much of anything about Stynnys.

“We didn’t really think it was him, anyway,” Caitlin said as they walked away. “Let’s check out that malevolent spirit’s last haunting, then move on to our Seelie knight.”

 

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

SPG: March, Part 1/4

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READ IT!

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.

“Guardian! Guardian!”

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!”

“What’s wrong?”

“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.

“Show me.”

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.

“Guardian Dakotah?”

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 what?”

“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!


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!