, , , ,

When the indigo door closed, Amber let out a breath that sounded like she’d held it for the last ten minutes. I grinned at her.

“Why,” she began, “do you have a demon in that room?!” Her voice got louder as she spoke, and more high pitched.

“I didn’t think he was in there,” I said, trying not to laugh. “Sorry about that.”

“I don’t believe you!” Amber said angrily. “Are you just messing with me? What am I going to find behind the violet door?”

I shrugged. “Dunno, it’s been years since I’ve been in there. Probably not a demon though.”

“Why?” she said again, plaintively.

“There was never a reason,” I said. “Gale held the key and he didn’t need my help.”

“Not that,” Amber said. “Why do you have a demon in that room?”

“Oh, Jackie? He’s hiding.” I started walked towards the violet door beside us. I didn’t want to ignore her freak out, but it we still had a lot of stops to make before we could get back to the others. Especially if she wanted to see her room.

I stood in front of the pale purple door before I realized Amber hadn’t followed me. She was still standing in front of my door, staring at the soft colour covered in fine silver lines as if it might bite her.

“Are you coming?” I asked.

“Not unless you can promise me there’s no demons behind it,” Amber said. “Or anything else that wants to attack me.”

“Jackie didn’t want to attack you,” I said, but the argument didn’t seem to hold much weight. She stared at me, arms crossed over her tiny form and her feet planted on the ground. I sighed. “I really can’t promise that. I’m ninety-nine percent certain that Gale didn’t leave you any demons though. He didn’t like using summons.”

“But he could have?” she pressed. “I could open that door to a demon and neither of us would have a clue why it’s there?”

“That’s… Extremely unlikely,” I said. Our previous wind expert had been more inclined to summon fae, but I didn’t think that was likely to reassure Amber at all. Not that many fae would have bothered to stick around this long. Unlike demons, summoned fae were much more fickle about the deals they’d make, and the minor fae had a tendency to bore easily.

“Can we please just go, Rachael?” Amber said, practically begging. “I don’t want anything behind there.”

“That’s because you don’t know what’s in there,” I said gruffly. “There’s at least weapons and armour. Gale was good with a bow.”

“I’m not,” she pleaded. “I’d be even more of a threat to our own team.”

I sighed, giving one last look to the violet door. The large door was covered in pale, muted shades in ombre patterns, like tendrils of fog or mist crept over a lavender field. On top of it, silver lines etched out feathery patterns. In the centre, there was a small, indented circle, with two silver wings wrapped around it. I supposed the mysteries within would have to wait another day.

“Fine,” I said, walking back to the stairs. “Let’s go take care of your cats.”

“Thank you,” Amber said, falling into step beside me. She had to rush just to keep up with me.

“I still think you’re over-reacting,” I muttered.

Amber sighed as we walked past the red door and started heading up the steps. “Well, you picked me to make the decisions when it comes to the violet key and I’m deciding that we have enough trouble for one day.”

She pushed past me to head up the stairs first, and I grunted as her black leggings vanished up the spiral staircase. These kids were learning way too quickly for my tastes.

“Give me the car keys,” I said as soon we were out of the library. “I’ll drive.”

She tossed me them without question. Back in the car, I tossed the sword into the back seat, grabbing my purse from underneath. I pulled out my phone, scrolling through names until I’d found the name of our most recently retired librarian. I found him quickly enough, Gale Philomel, and started to call him. Amber looked at me from the passenger seat.

“Shouldn’t we go?” she asked as the phone rang.

“It’s dangerous to use the phone while driving,” I said, listening to the phone ring again.

“Is it important?” she asked.

I stuck the keys in the ignition while listening to another ring. “You think it is.”

She leaned back in the seat, scowling.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I said. “You should know what’s in your arsenal if we’re going to be getting into fights. And we are going to be getting into more fights.”

The phone went to voicemail and I cursed at it, passing it to Amber. “Text this guy, ask him what’s in the room. And then maybe place a pick up order for some pizza.”

“Do you have an app for ordering pizza?” Amber asked, fingers already flying across my phone’s touch screen.

“Why does everything have to be an app these days?” I asked, turning on the car and pulling out onto the road. “Why not just call them?”

“Well, do you know what you want?” Amber asked, still fiddling with the phone.

“No,” I grumbled. “Download the app if you insist.”

She proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes on the road asking about pizza topping, only pausing to give me directions to her apartment.

“Anything else?” she asked as we pulled into her driveway.

“Make sure you get some root beers for Mark,” I said, turning off the car.

She hit a few more buttons. “And done. Are you coming in dressed like that?”

“Preferably,” I said, grabbing the bastard sword out of the back.

“We’re just feeding some cats!” she exclaimed. “You don’t need a sword.”

“I could wait in the car if you’re sure it’s safe,” I offered. I could see her hesitate. Probably remembering Jackie in my room. It was easy to forget the supernatural weirdness while placing an order for pizza.

“Just tell people you work at a Ren faire if they ask,” Amber said blushing, getting out of the car. I grabbed my sword, snerking. Scared, but definitely not stupid.

Amber didn’t need to worry anyways. We didn’t pass another soul as we headed through the back stairs to her apartment.

“I hope you’re not allergic to cats,” Amber said as she unlocked the door. “I haven’t had a chance to vacuum.”

“It’s fine,” I said as she pushed open the door. A blur of black and white fur darted out instantly rubbing up against my boots.

“Well that’s an enthusiastic greeting,” I said to the purring cat.

Amber pursed her lips. “Yeah…”

She stepped into the house and I could see that the she really hadn’t cleaned up in awhile. clothes littered the hallway and her shoes scattered the entranceway. From the other room, I could hear the other cat meowing eagerly. Amber looked uneasy.

“Something wrong?” I asked, closing the door behind me and the cat.

“It wasn’t this messy when I left,” she said quietly.

The cat was still twining between my legs. “Maybe they missed you?”

“So they knocked down the pictures?” she asked, gesturing to the fallen frames in a living room that looked like a tornado had come through.

“I’m guessing you aren’t this messy?” I muttered, pulling my sword out of it’s sheath. She shook her head no and I pushed her behind me.

I stepped carefully over a spilled vase on the floor, heading towards the noisy cat. Amber’s home looked like it would be pretty nice normally, if a little small. The meowing was coming from the bedroom. I went inside.

The first thing I saw was the orange tabby cat crouched in the middle of the room. The next thing I saw were the long, gossamer wings they had pinned beneath them.