Tuesday, 21 May 2019, Morning
Paxwood, Whatcom County, Washington, USA
Eyewitness: Kerry

The bed-and-breakfast Mx. Cardoso recommended to Rowen was on my way to school, more or less, so I swung by Tuesday morning to check on her. I wouldn’t be driving over to pick up Char—still no car—or riding my bike to Char’s to ride along with her to school, so I had to fill the time up with something.

This bed-and-breakfast was Native American owned and operated, and it showed in the decor. As I rode up, I spotted Rowen standing on the open wooden porch out front, sipping at a cup of something warm. She reached out and traced her fingers over the surface of one of the porch’s intricately-carved support pillars.

And somehow, right then, right there, Officer Adrien Morgan, in uniform, arrived.

“Ma’am, please respect the posted signs and do not touch the artwork,” he said, pointing past Rowen to a laminated, if slightly dampened and worn, letter-sized piece of paper posted beneath the front window.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, pulling her hands back. “Is the artist local?”

I hung back because I didn’t want to make the situation worse—and if he saw me, it almost definitely would make matters worse for Rowen. She didn’t know, after all, who the artist was.

“Cyrus Morgan, passed away just this January.”

What he didn’t say was that the artist was his recently deceased uncle. I carefully wheeled my bicycle toward the next building over, trying to stay in earshot but out of Adrien’s line of sight.

“The symbolism is local Native American?”


“Is it like other local… I want to say Salish? Is that right?”

“Ma’am, I’m not a tour guide. I’m only asking you to leave the art alone.”

Rowen smiled. “I understand. The protective symbols drew my attention, that’s all. Is there anyone who could tell me a little more about the craftsmanship and the symbolism?”

“If you ask at the local history museum, they should be able to point you in the right direction.”

“One last thing. Are you wanting me to leave it alone because of the art, or because of the protective enchantments?”

Adrien took pause at that. “Hunter?”

“Something like that.”

“Ah. Chosen One. Plan to be here long?”

“If you have the time to join me for some coffee, I can tell you my plans. You’re a local guardian of some kind. The artist was, too?”

“I don’t like outside trouble coming to town. This land has had to endure more than enough of that. Just… leave the town defenses alone.”

Adrien turned with that, heading down the street. I spotted his partner at one of the other businesses. Maybe what I missed was his partner checking in over the radio. That would have been too soft for even my keen ears to catch.

When Adrien was a sufficient distance away, I rolled my bicycle up to the bicycle stand, left it there unlocked, and hopped up the stairs to the porch.

“What’s your take on Officer Morgan?” I asked Rowen.

“He’s a protector, and… Ah. Morgan. The artist is Cyrus Morgan, so they’re related.” Rowen paused, thoughtful. “He said the artist passed away in January. Only a few months ago. He might be new to his call.”

Overprotective, overbearing, out of line to bother Rowen about touching a pillar that guests touched on the regular.

“He’s been on my case about everything I ever investigate, pretty much since I was in middle school,” I said.

“You’ve been sticking your hand in supernatural bee’s nests for a while, then. He might have been keeping you safe this whole time. Prickly, though.”

“I got my car keys taken away because of him,” I grumbled, though it sounded so petty in the moment. I thought back to that night, the wolf’s howl, the way he appeared and ushered us off.

“So, you’re saying… he and his grandfather are magic.”

“Depends on how you define magic. Some taxonomists apply magic to only the specific sort of arcane work that mages like Alex perform. Some Chosen callings come from the divine, or from the innate will of the people, a sort of communal psychic energy that coalesces to fulfill a need.” Rowen sipped her coffee. “I won’t get offended if someone calls me magic because I’m a Chosen One, but it’s best to go with whatever the person tells you.”

“But he’s not just full of himself. He’s actually got some reason he acts that way.” I gestured toward the carved pillar as an example of what I meant.

Rowen nodded. “I don’t have a magical sixth sense to help me find Chosen Ones, but I’ve been around enough of them to recognize a few of the signs. Granted, he’s a cop, so that could feed into it, but he confronted me specifically about this pillar that anchors an enchantment. He guessed I was a hunter, and in context, he meant someone who hunts down supernatural threats. He’s in the loop, at the very least. And if he’s been keeping you out of trouble, that’s a sign that he might have a calling.”

I frowned at the thought that Adrien Morgan might actually have some kind of authority beyond the badge. That he had a reason to show up and turn me back, time and time again, when I was following the trail of a story. Even if he’d been saving my life this whole time, getting me grounded repeatedly was a pretty awful way to go about it.

“That’s not why you came to see me before school, though,” Rowen guessed.

“Right.” I shook the thoughts of Adrien out of my head and focused on Rowen. “You got my insider information, and I’m sure you’re working on a plan for Wednesday’s City Council meeting presentation. What can I do to help?”

“You’re a high school junior, and I’m trying not to make a terrible impression with your mother, so go to school.” Rowen winked. “You already helped a lot, though. The City Council office hours today will give me some more in-roads. Depending on the timing, I might also swing up to Silphium’s Northern Cascades Resort and Spa. Know your enemy and all that.”

“Their lawyer is an actual vampire. Will you be safe on your own?” I furrowed my brow.

Rowen glanced down at her prosthetic arm, then back up at me, her expression smooth. That wasn’t what I’d meant, but I could see how she got there.
“I know how to make sure someone’s watching my back, even when I’m on my own,” she assured me. “I’ve got this.”

“Right.” My phone buzzed in my pocket—a little alert I’d set so that I wouldn’t dawdle too long if Rowen proved to be too interesting. I reached mentally for safe ground to smooth things over.

“You’re… totally right that I want you to tell me your story. And you’re right that I need to keep my mom in a good mood so she’ll be open-minded. So I’d better get to school.”

We swapped goodbyes, and I hopped onto my bicycle. Next stop? I had just enough time before first period to check in on Mx. Cardoso.

18: Protectors, Hunters, and Chosen Ones

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