Grimoire Girl: Chapter 2 part 1
Pierre arranged the tea and plate of cucumber sandwiches on the tray, before carefully lifting it and moving back out into the library. As much as his great grandmother - may she forever rest in peace - would object to bringing a meal into the library, he preferred this to Victoria wandering anywhere near his private quarters and the many valuable books hidden therein.
A small black puff of soot like substance appeared just in time for Pierre to walk blinding through it. The librarian stumbled slightly, coughing away from the tray that wobbled a bit in his hands.
“Flea, what have I told you about-”
“How much longer is she going to be here?” The clump of soot, about the size of a small bird, demanded, hovering around Pierre’s head.
“She is our guest, don’t even think about pulling off another prank in my library,” Pierre returned through gritted teeth. Flea shrunk slightly in size at the barely disguised anger in the sorcerer’s tone, and the accusing look in his eyes.
“How was I to know she would ruin the book-” the cursed apparition wandered off through the book shelves muttering darkly.
In his previous life, which he spent stealing and causing mischief, Flea had managed to slip past the barrier only to die a particularly grim death when he triggered a booby trap by opening a very nasty book. That was over 500 years ago, and Flea had been stuck inside the library every since, providing each generation of Everlast’s Librarians with a constant reminder of the dangers lurking inside.
Pierre placed the tray before Victoria on the sofa. The girl instantly seized up a sandwich and started choking it down, using the warm tea to unclog her throat when she couldn’t breath. Lips tightening in disapproval, Pierre uncovered a chair and dragged it over, managing to snatch up a sandwich before the plate was emptied.
“I have classes and a meeting tonight, will you be alright here by yourself?” he asked, before taking a more appropriate size bite. After a few more moments of chewing, two sips of tea, Victoria shrugged.
“No one else can get in right without a librarian’s approval, right?” she asked quizzically.
Pierre thought of Flea, the only exceptions to this rule, and nodded.
“The bracelet will let me know if any trouble is coming,” Victoria added confidently wiping the crumbs on her gloves against her pants. They fell onto the floor where Flea appeared, small red eyes glowing out from under the couch in annoyance.
“I shouldn’t be gone all evening. You’re ring will be ready by morning-”
“Kicking me out so soon?” Victoria asked in a teasing tone. It was an act that Pierre saw through, she was tired and worn out.
“You’re welcome to stay till we find a safe enough place for you to go,” he answered, trying to ignore the ‘librarian’ voice in the back of his head screaming protests. “As long as you’re careful,” he couldn’t help but add.
She smiled, a rare thing, before turning her head to cough out more bread crumbs that had gotten lodged in her throat. Turning back with watery eyes, she glared past Pierre’s head. A quick turn brought him face to face with Flea who was vibrating in anger, red eyes glaring right back at Victoria.
“Both of you had better behave yourselves,” Pierre ordered in a wary tone. As one they both looked away from each other and pretended to be fascinated by the random books stacked around them. The prickly silence was mercifully cut off by an old black phone ringing somewhere behind a stack of Aramaic scrolls. “That would be work,” Pierre announced as the phone rang two more times before going quiet.
Rising from the couch, hoping he had enough time to grab a salad on the way, Pierre headed back towards the kitchen, opening the door on the left leading to his bedroom. Grabbing the already prepared satchel of books and papers, he returned to the library.
Flea was gone, no doubt back in the black magic section. Strange his fascination with the spot where he died. Victoria was laid out on the couch, sock feet dangling over the arm rest, her tussled hair resting on the other. Need to do something about those clothes if she’s staying here, Pierre reminded himself. Praying that his home would still be in one piece when he came back, he checked the barrier and charms built into the front door, before heading to his VW beetle.
A tingle on his neck stopped him halfway into the car. Placing the satchel in the passenger seat he gave a causal look around, checking the gargoyles along the wall that separated the library from the wooden country side and distant neighbors. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary, but the sense of being watched did not lessen.
After getting in and closing the door, Pierre started up the car and pulled away. He’d know soon enough if this watcher’s interest was in him, or something in the library.
* * * * *
Pierre pulled up in front of the black iron gate, tipped in gold paint, and smiled at Nate, the doorman.
“Running a little late aren’t ya, Professor?” Nate nodded, stroking his long brown beard, sharp dark eyes flicking over Pierre to the road behind him.
“Thought I might have a little unwanted company,” Pierre explained casually.
“Well I’ll be sure to get a name if they come to close,” Nate responded naturally as if they were discussing the weather. “Get along now, don’t keep your student’s waiting.” Pierre smiled and drove through the still closed black gates, the VW beetle vanishing on the other side.
Thistle Grove was a wildlife preserve by all appearances. It was only by entering through one of three gates, that one could enter Thistle Horn College, an underground place of learning for those gifted with magic.
He parked in his usual spot, nodding casually to the raven gargoyles who kept a constant watch at the college entrance. Satchel pressed tightly to his side, Pierre weaved past a group of middle aged and elderly women who appeared to be mounting a protest against the misuse of some poor magical creature: again.
Once safely inside his class room he beamed a brief smile to his students of varying age from twelve to fifty. They all hastily adjusted their seats towards the center of the class room where his desk waited. A choirs of “Professor” broke up with timid urgency.
“If you did not complete your assigned project do not bother with excuses, use this class time to go to the library and finish as best you can. Better to turn in something then nothing,” Pierre answered them all loudly. The students went mute quickly, several of them gathering up their bags and slowly inching towards the door.
No enthusiasm whatsoever.
A single hand remained raised on his right side. Pierre turned towards the raven haired girl, Alice, bracing himself for the worse.
“Yes, Miss Keegan?”
Alice smiled, poison to any man who didn’t know better, and crossed her hands carefully on the desk before answering.
“Now that we’ve completed the Verimac language, can we perhaps move onto something a little more challenging?” she asked, dark blue eyes narrowing in as if to pin him to his desk.
“What language did you have in mind, Alice?” Pierre asked with a practiced smile. Why is your brother so determined to use you and me for his damn treasure hunt?
“Something older, a little bit dangerous even,” Alice returned, the innocence fading from her smile as a look of pure hunger spread across her face. Of course to some, the expression might have been considered seductive, but it chilled Pierre to the bone.
“You’re referring to the Yalvic language no doubt?” Pierre returned bluntly. The few students who had completed their assignment, and thus still remained in the class room, stiffened and grew silent.
“Only for those of us prepared for such a challenge of course,” Alice returned, throwing a haughty glance at several of her class mates. Most of them quickly ducked, and looked away; except for Zack Belt, Pierre noticed with a twinge of pride.
“What practical use would a student have for learning Yalvic?” Zack asked, as if feeling Pierre’s gaze on him. Eye lashes dipping with a faint flutter of irritation, Alice turned her gaze away from Pierre to the nineteen year old boy, one year her junior.
“What practical use is magic to a pig boy at all?” Alice sneered. Zack tensed, but did not look away. Deciding now was a good time to step in and take control as their teacher, Pierre cleared his throat.
“We will be studying Turmiac next, those of you who finished your projects may turn them in and head to the school library for your resource material,” Pierre announced. Alice shot him a look of seething disappointment, while Zack obediently stood up with the other students to turn in his project.
When the last, rather poorly scribbled, paper had been placed on his desk Pierre tucked them inside his satchel to take home and grade. The room was empty, except of course for Alice, who waited by the door for him.
Persistent, just like her brother.
Nodding casually he made to move past her, only to be stopped as she moved abruptly in front of him, close enough for his arm to graze her chest.
“Turmiac is a lower class demon language, hardly worth wasting the time and energy on,” Alice snapped. “I thought your job was to train us so we could protect ourselves. Who would even bother to fight a Turmiac demon?”
“It’s the responsibility of the Coven to hunt rebel demons, not students,” Pierre answered evenly, refusing to move back as much as he resented her closeness, particularly the smell of her perfume. “When you’ve entered the Coven and found a Yalvic demon that needs exterminating, I’ll be happy to teach you the appropriate incantation to do so.”
“What are you so afraid of Librarian?” Alice chided with a smirk.
“A repeat of your great-uncle’s mistake,” Pierre responded with a measure of satisfaction as the smirk fell from her face to be replaced with cold, undiluted, wrath. “I have a meeting to attend if you’re done wasting my time.”
She clearly didn’t want to just let him walk away, so Pierre pushed past her instead. The contact was something he would prefer to avoid, but using magic on his own student would turn too many heads. Not bothering to glance back he headed down the hall, up two flights of stairs, and into the Coven’s headquarters.
Alice’s brother Leo was waiting inside with the rest of his Coven. Leo Keegan, once a class mate of Pierre, now his superior in everything but forbidden languages. And therein lay their conflict. Leo’s position as head of the Coven gave him rights to everything except the knowledge held by the Everlast library and kin. Knowledge that Keegan’s predecessor’s had failed to pass down that now made Pierre an invaluable asset to the Coven and other groups of the council.
“Everlast, hope we didn’t steal you away from anything important,” Isaac Ronan, second in command, greeted him cheerfully enough. The rest of the Coven continued their drinking and noisy chatter with little regard for the ‘book worm’.
If only they knew..
“Let’s get this meeting started then,” Leo ordered gruffly, earning the respectful silence of the rest of his men. Pierre took his seat, and prepared for another over exaggerated account of this months demon sighting and slaying. Each coven member made his report, except for the newer members who worked in pairs, and reported to their seniors. Nothing out of the ordinary, meaning no need for Pierre to become involved.
Nothing out of the ordinary also meant Victoria had probably not been followed to his home. Pierre frowned, recalling the eyes he had felt outside his library, puzzling over the unknown interests of his watcher.
The meeting ending an hour later, and Leo dismissed his men with reminders to be alert and take no chances. Pierre rose to leave, feeling a rather hungry tug from his stomach.
“Everlast, a word before you go,” Leo stopped him, rising from his seat and moving towards Pierre.
“I actually need to get back-”
“Won’t take very long, I promise,” Leo smiled, a firm hand pushing Pierre back into his seat. The same dark blue eyes, with the same lack of respect bored down into him.
“If this is about Alice, I’m simply following the guidelines set down by the council,” Pierre explained forcefully, hoping to end this conversation before it started.
“I heard you’ve been asking some very strange questions about a book written in the Zue language,” Leo commented casually. “Questions you apparently didn’t want me to hear about?”
Pierre stiffened, something Leo instantly noticed through the hand still locked into the young librarian’s shoulder.
“Is there anything you want to tell me, old friend?” Leo asked, with a faint smile that melted into the icy stare of his keen eyes.
Leo was the last person he wanted to know about Victoria.
“Just a question an acquaintance put to me, some rumor about a book he saw in Germany,” Pierre lied swiftly. Leo looked faintly disappointed and doubtful, but removed his hand.
“Zue is a rather old language isn’t it. I didn’t think there were any books written in that language,” Leo puzzled with a frown.
“I’m sure he was probably mistaken, old eye sight and all,” Pierre offered with a grin. “I just thought I’d ask around in case it was anything more then a rumor.”
“I’m sure it’s got you curious, something that old and rare possibly resurfacing,” Leo nodded, running a hand absently through his scruffy dark hair. “What was this friends name?”
“Ah- Arthur, Arthur Pedlock,” Pierre answered, praying the old professor would be lost on another one of his voyages. Leo scoffed in disbelief.
“That ancient piece of work. Surely even you have better things to do then follow rumors that old goat spreads,” Leo sighed, now simply disappointed and bored with the conversation.
“Yes, I imagine you’re right about that,” Pierre nodded, standing up and heading for the door. Once two fights down and on his way to the school library, he allowed himself a sigh of relief. Nothing like walls of books, and the scent of parchment to calm his nerves.
Sorry for the lie, Pedlock. Hopefully nothing bad will come of it..
He wondered briefly what his old professor was up too since retirement from the council. Probably still trying to rebuild his collection of books. Pedlock came from another old line of librarian’s, unfortunately his library had been demolished in Alice’s great uncle’s search for power. Something Pierre was prepared to do anything to prevent from happening again.
The tingling sensation returned once more as Pierre rummaged through the restricted section of school library, hoping to find an older scroll on the Zue language. He looked up through the opening he’d left on the book shelf into Alice’s unfriendly blue eyes, and offered a faint smile before retreating to his office to work.