Day 21 – Chapter 12 – Marin – 16

            We made our way out of the arboretum and back to the concrete pathways of the lakes plaza.  As we drew closer to the library, our shoes crunched on broken glass and I could see deep gouges scraped into the concrete.  My lips thinned.  “Some of them chased J.T. and Drew and Carolyn here,” I said quietly, toeing some of the glass away from one of the deeper gouges.
            “What were they doing out here?  Looting the library?”  He gestured toward the windowless ruin.
            I shook my head slightly.  “No.  Carolyn—the fairies—Carolyn—”  I fumbled for the words until Phelan touched my arm with a knowing smile.
            “I saw the little one on her shoulder.  She sees them clear as day, doesn’t she?”
            I swallowed and nodded.  “Yes.  She always had…glimmers…of them even before this all happened.”  I started to walk again, and he kept pace with me.  “Still came as a shock, though.”
            Phelan grinned.  “Sometimes, these things do.  So what were they doing out here when they got attacked?”
            I pointed ahead of us, at what was left of the Shakespeare garden.  He paused, rocking back against his heels, eyes widening slightly.  “Oh,” he said quietly, then left my side and strode forward, like some kind of knight-protector or avenging angel.  For half a heartbeat, I could see him in leathers with a bow and a blade, hair cropped short and wind-blown, a bright, intricate tattoo gracing the back of his neck, half hidden under a thick twist of metal around his neck.  The image faded as he crossed through the hedgerows into the garden.  I exhaled and followed him.
            “They ripped this place apart,” Phelan said quietly as he drifted through the garden, looking at the shattered plants and broken bits and pieces of wood and stone, scattered leaves and other natural debris.  There was deep pain in his voice as his fingers brushed over the remnants of what had clearly been the fairies’ dominion here on campus.  “I know that there’s no love lost between creatures like the camazotzi and the wee ones of the air, but this…this borders on the barbaric.  There was no reason for this.”
“Except for the fact that they joined us,” I said quietly.  “It was the end of the first week.  They started to come to Carolyn, then they kind of started to stick around us more, I guess.”  I put my hands back into my pockets, watching him and feeling helpless.

            He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, shaking his head.  “There’s too much hate here for it to have just been that,” he murmured, still looking around.  His eyes drifted toward the space beyond the hedgerows, toward the ruins of the PAC and the makeshift graveyard we’d begun on its lawn.  His voice came softly.  “That’s where you’ve buried your dead, isn’t it?”
            I nodded slightly, drifting closer to him.  “Yeah.  There were, uhm, yeah.  Quite a few bodies.  Mercifully not as many as we were afraid of, but still.  Enough.”  I chewed my lip and stared at the churned earth, at the clear signs of our work there.  Maybe someday we’d be able to put stones over that space, erect some kind of memorial. Until then, the turned soil and disturbed grass were the only testimony to the dead, to those we’d lost.
            I looked at him slowly, my stomach doing a slow turn in my belly.  “Why?”
            “I wonder,” he said softly, “if that didn’t have something to do with it.”
            “To do with what?”  I stared at him.  “To do with…with what happened here?  With what they did to the garden?  What could our dead have to do with that?”
            He frowned, sitting down on the grass cross-legged, ignoring the dampness.  “There’s power here, though it’s not necessarily a nexus point.  It echoes one, though—once upon a time, there might have been one here, which is probably why the wee ones chose it for their home, but it feels like it’s drifted since then—eastward, I think, likely toward that great mess of a river.  There’s a major line buried under there, you know.”
            “I know.”  Too many Native American mounds along the river for there not to be something like that going on.  “I could feel it.  There’s minor lines through the ravines.”
            A smile ghosted across Phelan’s face.  “More than minor ones, my dear.”  He waved a hand slightly.  “In any case, to answer your question about the burials and the garden, it seems to me that your lost are more than a little restless.  They’re still here.”
            I stared at him, dread coiling in my belly.  “I know that they are.  Jay sees them.”
            Phelan stared at me for a moment.  “Does he, now?” he said thoughtfully, nodding to himself.  “That certainly explains his dreams.  And his reticence to discuss the nature of the mists you all kept referencing during your description of your first real battle with the camazotzi and the gremlins.”
            “You got that out of the description of the fight?”  I asked with an arched brow.  Phelan simply shrugged.
            “Hints of that, anyhow.”  He leaned back against his hands.  “You said that the first attack by the camazotzi happened here, then?  On he and Carolyn and Andrew?”
            Did he just call Drew Andrew?  How did he know that—no.  That’s not important right now, right?  Right.  “Yes.  It was the first time any of us had seen them, I think, since that day Thom and Drew and I ran into the one down in the ravine months ago.”  I exhaled quietly.  “There was a group of them, and they chased the three of them all the way back to the ward lines.”  I hugged my arms across my chest.  “That was about two weeks ago.  It was part of how we started to realize that something was mucking around with the wards.”
            Phelan nodded slowly, eyes focusing distantly for a moment.  “I don’t think the attack on this place is unconnected to the burials over there.”  He nodded toward the gravesite.  “I wonder if perhaps the camazotzi’s aim was to divert your attention away from the graves and to this garden.”
            I just stared at him.  “What?”
            He pushed himself to his feet.  “We’ll need to ward that ground.  Consecrate it.”
            I kept right on staring at him.  He grinned at me and took my hand.
            “You managed to take me at my word for everything else, and now you look at me like I’m crazy?”
            “Yes,” I said firmly.
            His gaze and his voice softened.  “Regardless of what you or any of us may believe, Marin, any ground you bury the dead in needs to be hallowed and protected.  Especially this close to a place of such great power.”
            “Why?”  I shook my head slowly.  “Phelan, I don’t understand.”
            “I know,” he said softly.  His calloused thumb played across my knuckles.  “And I’m sorry that you don’t, I’m sorry that no one teaches any of you this anymore.  There is a simple truth when it comes to the dead.
            “Just because they have ceased to live doesn’t mean that their souls are beyond the reach of those who would turn them into tools, for good or for ill.”


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One Response to Day 21 – Chapter 12 – Marin – 16

  1. Friday has more of Phelan and Marin. Stay tuned!

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