"Stars of the sky and spirits of the land, we call upon your aid."

120 2 0

It's nearly eleven by the time Eli gets to Zoe's place, mostly care of him taking a good twenty minutes trying to figure out how to change back into a human. When he finally gets it, he's surprised how . . . wrong the shape feels; too small and too fragile and too smooth. Widow Adeline just laughs at his discomfort, feeds him another plate of bacon and sausages, and sends him on his way.

Eli's head is in such a spin by the time he's standing at Zoe's front door that he's almost forgotten why he's supposed to be here. His eyes keep drifting to the sky, at the blue peeking between silver clouds. He could be up there, right now. Just him and the wind. It's a strange thought; makes him feel restless and uneasy.

The Chungs are not early risers, so Eli gets offered breakfast for the third time. Mr. Chung is making crepes, stuffed with mascarpone and berry compote and smothered with maple syrup. Eli loves Mr. Chung's crepes, except today something about the smell of the syrup and berries makes his stomach turn. He tries one anyway, minus the syrup; the crepe is like eating paper and the berries are so sweet it makes his teeth hurt. The mascarpone tastes okay, so he eats as much as he can, then pushes away the rest with a muttered apology about having already eaten.

"Your loss!" Zoe announces, and promptly devours everything he didn't.

Today, Zoe is in her Supernatural outfit; a cute black dress and little blue tie underneath a long tan duster. Her earrings are two little black feathers, which Eli finds somewhat ironic when he pulls the tattered peryton feather from his satchel.

Zoe's eyes go very, very wide. "Is that—?"

"Yeah," Eli confirms. "I found it on the way home last night. It can't be from a regular bird, right?" He's practiced this story on the way over, while he was busy fetching the feather from the festering remains of the peryton he ki— he destroyed. It's not that he doesn't want to tell Zoe how he really got it so much as he keeps hearing Widow Adeline's warnings in his head. He doesn't want anything to happen to Zoe because of him. Not ever.

Zoe takes the feather with awe. "No way this came from a bird. It has to be the peryton. Ee, you're a genius!"

Eli has the bruises to prove it, though doesn't say as much.

Zoe puts the feather aside and pulls out her grimoire instead. She opens it to a page full of her overly ornate, loopy writing curled around some kind of sigil. At the top of the page, Eli can read the title: To traſe a Warlocke by his ſpells.

"You spelt 'trace' wrong," Eli points out, earning a withering glare for his efforts.

"So I was thinking," Zoe says, pointedly, "that we don't actually really want to find the peryton at all, do we?"

"No," says Eli, trying not to think of the mangled corpse behind Widow Adeline's.

"Right. What we actually need is to locate whomever summoned it in the first place. So I did some research, and I've found a spell that should do just that." A pause. "I think."

"Okay," says Eli. "How does it work?"

So Zoe explains. She talks a lot about ley energies and astral resonances and things that Eli would've assumed were nonsense, this time last week. Today, he's spent all morning as a dragon and is less prepared to dismiss Zoe's ramblings out-of-hand. He still remembers the flash of light from the amulet she made, the crackling smell of power as the peryton had bounced off the magical shield.

He helps Zoe carry her equipment out into the woods behind the house. She has an altar set up here, on an old, mostly flat stone. Things hang from the branches of the trees around them; feathers and shards of glass, old beads and little dolls made from twigs. Even if the magic doesn't work, at least the setting is appropriate.

The Dragon of Rosemont HighWhere stories live. Discover now