Manuscript Title: Grimm Remains
Series Name: Warlock of Rochester
Author: Eli Celata
Sometimes the fairy tale’s end is just the Grimm beginning.
Back Cover Blurb:
Mammon’s summoning turned Rochester into a beacon for the denizens of Hell. As demon activity increases, Jon settles in for a new academic year, and Jordan moves in as the city’s protector. Unfortunately, the young warlock of Rochester might not be around long if the Devil’s marine legion has a say. Havfine, demonic mermaids, don’t often leave deep lakes and ocean waters. They’re better known for drowning mortal sailors than hunting magic users, but something has sent them upstream from Lake Ontario. When three orphans vanish from a magical sanctuary in Toronto, their caretaker – the Wizard Monday – dredges up a part of Jordan’s and Jon’s father’s history that Jordan would have rather forgotten. In this race against the Bane of Hamelin, more than three souls may be on the line.
Eli Celata was born in Rochester, NY and currently attends Binghamton University as a doctoral student in Biological Anthropology. When she isn’t studying bones or working on interdisciplinary experiments, Eli writes science fiction and fantasy.
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I drummed the coin against the table. Three fast, one slow, then repeated. My foot tapped. Jitters ran down my legs, and every few minutes, I’d hold still. Not even a breath would escape. Then I’d begin again. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the sun dip lower, inch by inch, in the sky. It trickled down like a waterfall of gold sinking below the darkening cityscape. The steady warmth of summer faded with each vanishing ray though August – in name alone – would remain for another few days.
“Come on,” I whispered.
The sky shifted. My leg stilled. Metal paused, hanging above then falling to sit against the wood. As the sun fell down below the horizon, the Void Hours came in spades. Evening turned to night inside the bookshop, but I still pressed into the rising tension. A figure shifted down the street, but I kept my eyes straight ahead. The street lights buzzed and flickered on. Lemniscates shimmered over the window panes. From one side of the glass to the next, the sideways figure eights connected one into the next like linked chain. Inhaling, I let my eyes shut as the world hummed around me. Then the angel rang, and the door opened as if by a gust of air. The whole shop stretched out in the same breath and eased back with a sigh as the door locked. Fingers tapped the chalk remnants on the door before unhooking the ringer.
I smiled, opening my eyes. “Welcome back to the States.”
Flexing my fingers, I considered what to do. This was more space than I’d ever been given reign over. Music – I needed music. The air hummed. Drums and horns blared. Jordan’s eyebrow rose, but he remained silent. All the world around me churned with summer heat. Deeply inhaling, I moved. One arm raised, and a strip of pure water rose along with it. The droplets stretched, dispersing throughout the air into beads, trailing and orbiting me like a sphere. Whenever any drew near to Jordan, they flowed through him as though he was not even there. Light glinted off the spheres. Beneath us, the water flowed. I sent the heat along beside it. Degree by degree the temperature dropped, but though my breath became visible, Jordan seemed not to breathe at all.
Soon, crystals formed within the held vapor. Tiny balls of ice hung in the air. Fish panicked and swam quickly on as a thin layer of ice formed over the river within the dome. Millimeter by millimeter, I pushed the cold deeper. Magic crawled along my body weaving as much inward as outward. My hair curled, and when I caught my reflection in the water around me and the ice below, the stray touches of golden brown throughout had darkened. The change distracted me. I had enough concentration to keep what I’d done, but my focus moved from around me to within. My hair’s wave matched my mother’s, but the stray bits of red and gold had been a mark of my father.
My reflection stared up at me from the ice below. It was as if all the gold in my hair had drained into my eyes. They burned like the hot metal of Jordan’s old bike. Streaks of light carved into the ice. In my mind’s eye, I could see the steam rolling. A single word dripped and spelled in the twisted remains of Jordan’s motorcycle: Mine. There was more I didn’t know about Jordan than did. Secrets surrounded him, but this was one I doubted would have a pleasant answer. The Devil had called to Jordan like a child to play, but his son had burned with possessive spite, though I couldn’t tell if the word had been a claiming or a warning. Neither seemed safe.
Beneath the ice, a shadow dove. I leaned closer, trying to get a better look. The droplets fell and clanked against the surface’s frozen water. Running over the ice with a hand, I stared beyond my face into the waters below. When a face came into view, it wasn’t like the havfine I had seen earlier. However, it was just as disturbing. Milky white eyes stared up from a gray face. Blackened lips swelled from sunken cheeks as the dark rimmed eyes appeared almost purple in hue. Its long blond hair was braided multiple times over and wrapped tightly around its throat. Reaching into my pocket, I grabbed my lighter when something hit me. There were runes tattooed along the clavicle.
“Jordan?” I called.
Careful to avoid fire directly over the body, I melted the ice. Chunks floated out and off downstream, melting in the August heat. With a sweep of magic, I brought her above water and held her with magic. She was missing her right arm from the elbow. Her ankles had been bitten by fish and who knows what else. Shoes still on, the woman had been dressed in shorts and a basic cotton short-sleeved shirt. A scabbard at her waist indicated she had a sword somewhere, but there was no telling where it’d gone. Panic flooded me.
“Jordan!” My voice cracked. Sparks jolted down from my fingers, but I held them back and held to her.