“Oh, bite me!”
Kylian gazed over at me, arching one brow over those glinting eyes of his, sending shivers down my spine.
I raised my chin. “What? I know it’s a common expression, so don’t look at me like that.”[divider]
Blue Moon Rising (The Patroness #1)
17+, some content may not be suitable for younger readers
We’d ended up south of the river Seine, and now I was running towards Notre Dame as fast as I could, crossing a small, cast-iron bridge, leaving Kylian and Chastel a little stunned behind. Excitement rushed through me, and a strange, tingling feeling that quite often had showed that I was on the right track. I was heading for the east side of the cathedral, the long, exterior apse. As I passed the big rose window I began to call out for our possible witness.
“Quasi? Quasi, are you there? I need your help.”
I waited a little. In the meantime Chastel and Kylian caught up with me looking rather intrigued.
A hunched creature appeared on the roof, his dark silhouette standing out against the moonlit sky. He took a great leap and landed on a flying buttress, one of the many arched exterior supports and also a hallmark of gothic architecture, to get a better look. “Maiwenn, is that you?” He asked in a gravelly and husky voice, as if using it very seldom – which was actually the case.
“Yes, it’s me. Can we come in?”
“Sure, I’ll open the door.” And as suddenly as he’d appeared, he was gone.
“Let’s go”, I whispered to the guys and we took off to the big and famous western facade of Notre Dame, with its rose window and two towers. Of the three heavy and richly ornamented doors, the one to the right was opened as promised and so we went inside.
Thanks to the lights, illuminating the cathedral on the outside, it wasn’t exactly pitch-black inside, but my eyes still needed a moment to adjust to the darkness that greeted us.
Quasi was hiding in the shadows, always careful of straying beams of moonlight falling in through the leaded windows. I’ve known him ever since I was a child and have seen his face only once, and even that was by accident. No idea why he wanted to hide it. Quasi wasn’t ugly, in fact he was rather handsome in an exotic, different kind of way and if he drew himself up to his full height, instead of walking around as if carrying a heavy load on his back, he would be rather tall. Probably reaching six-foot-six. Well, kicking habits wasn’t easy. And Quasi had been around now for quite some time, although I didn’t have a clue as to for how long exactly or what the heck he even was.
“Maiwenn, nice to see you again. It’s been a long time.”
“Only two weeks, Quasi,” I reminded him softly.
He sounded surprised, “Really? Ah, time is an indecisive thing. Sometimes it just flies by and marches on, other times it crawls at a snail’s pace.”
I smiled at that. “May I introduce to you, Kylian Tremaine and Jean Chastel.” Turning around to the guys I announced, “This is Quasi.”
“Nice to meet you,” Kylian said, whereas Chastel looked at me with wide eyes. “Quasi? As in Quasimodo?”
I nodded and grinned. After introductions were made, Quasi cut to the chase. That was one of the things I really liked about him. Though he was a lonely man – sometimes deliberately so, sometimes not – he didn’t waste his time with unnecessary stuff. Well, at least not when I needed his help.
“How can I help you, Maiwenn?”
“There’s been a murder on Rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre. Did you happen to see someone in that alley, say in the last forty-five minutes?”
“I’m afraid not. I’m sorry. I’ve been in the garden, checking on the roses. But maybe the gargoyles did. You know they see everything.”
I grimaced. The gargoyles. I’d really hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but Quasi was right, they saw everything. Because I couldn’t chuck away that chance for information I nodded, “Okay, I’ll speak to them.”
Quasi turned around, quick as a flash, and led the way to take us upstairs.
While we were climbing up to the top of the towers, Chastel whispered from behind me, “The gargoyles? If you are going to do what I imagine you’re going to do, then I don’t see how they could help us. They look out to the west, right? How could they have witnessed a murder that happened in a street southeast from here?”
Over my shoulder I whispered back, “Because gargoyles are one of the oldest species still around, and so is their magic. Don’t search for logic where it isn’t welcome, the only thing you’ll get is a bad headache.” I turned to look at the guys, really appreciating the fact that for once I wasn’t forced to look up at both of them thanks to the few steps separating us. “Now both of you, shut up! Let me do the talking and, please, don’t say a word. I really mean it, they don’t like interruptions.” I admitted I was a little on edge and harsher than I meant to be, but the prospect of talking to the gargoyles always had that effect on me. I could never know what would happen up there.
“This situation is just so surreal. I’m even too stunned to remind you of the futility of ordering me around. Must be that suicidal urge of yours,” Kylian commented.
Now it was my turn to be stunned. “Let me see, if I got that right. A man like you, that turns himself into an enormous animal, finds the existence of Quasimodo and a nearing conversation with stone waterspouts surreal?” I just shook my head in disbelief and went on climbing the stairs.
Once arrived on top of Notre Dame I had to admit the view was spectacular, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time to enjoy it.
As always Quasi didn’t waste time, so he began to rumble something in an unknown language that sounded a lot like stone grinding on stone, piercing marrow and bone.
Slowly two of the gargoyles began to scrunch and to move. With a deep sigh a cloud of dust escaped the old walls of the cathedral, which was immediately whirled around by a sudden gust of wind. As the breeze died away and the dust settled on the ground the two rudely awakened gargoyles turned and flew towards us with two quick flaps of their small wings. Although they weren’t stone-still anymore, they were still stone, as if they consisted of liquid cement. They looked a lot like Yoda, just in gray and with wings and bigger teeth.
I cleared my throat, holding my fingers crossed that my muse was around here somewhere. “Did you by any chance, shot at the incident in the little passageway a glance?”
One of them answered in a mean, but also child-like voice, “Maybe we saw someone, maybe not.”
“That depends on you, a lot,” the other added.
They always did this, not only speaking in end rhymes, but also finishing one another’s sentences. Well, we all had our little quirks and whims, and considering their age it probably stood to reason.
“In exchange for what you know, I’ll give you whatever equally good I owe.”
The gargoyles turned to each other for a moment, and then nodded as if silently coming to an agreement. They looked back at me, setting their conditions, one beginning a line and the other one ending it, as usual.
“For what you’ll be told
you’ll have to protect someone dear we hold.
From his deep sleep he will soon awake,
putting both your lives at stake.
Not only protection but also guidance he’ll need,
so if you accept, the vow with blood you have to feed!”
Oh, for crying out loud. They wanted me to play bodyguard? That meant another full-time job, 24/7 – and that for the rest of my life, thanks to the blood vow that would bind me to this mystery person. I already had enough on my hands as it was. Dammit. Who the hell did they want me to protect anyway? Gargoyles protected churches, reminding humans of evil and harmful spirits with their grotesque faces. Why would they want someone to be protected by me? They were observers and not participants. Did they want me to protect a human? But why would a human be of such importance to them?
The gargoyles were waiting for my answer, and their set faces made it clear that they wanted it now. It was take it or leave it. I had to make a decision. At least gargoyles were good creatures, we were on the same side. I hoped that hadn’t changed. Although I tried to avoid giving my blood for stuff like this as much as possible, they had my attention. Now, I was intrigued as to whom I had to protect and why they’d take an interest.
So I pulled out Cutter. “Your request, I accept.”
About Natalie Herzer
I’m a 26 year old aspiring indie author living in France.
The love for words has always been there, much like my beloved travel bug, but is thankfully a lot easier to satisfy. Though I guess in the end books are just another form of traveling, of wandering worlds, seeing places and finding friends.
Twitter username: nherzerauthor