The War of Summer's Ending

Chapter 25 - To Grandmother's House We Go

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After the battle with the Stimmies, Captain Mollymawk brings the Brotherhood of the Willow to safe anchor in the marina at Dinner Key, in the shadow of Miami City Hall, not far from the University. Officer Rico Stallone (a handsome Autumn courtier who they’ve seen but never introduced themselves to) arrives to pick them up in his squad car. Taking them back to campus, he tells them that the war isn’t going as well, after the Trayvon Martin case. The city is being throwing off wrathful glamour in the wake of the shooting, giving the Court of Wrath an unforeseen edge in the conflict.

Rico says that thanks to the fistfights and petty assaults which have gripped Miami in the shooting’s wake, Prof. Goldstein is now too busy at the hospital to treat even members of his own Court. They’re swamped with injuries of all stripes. Instead, Jack is rushed to the University, where he’s treated by Granny Smythe, using a poultice developed from various Goblin Fruits by a young Autumn courtier named Donna Bellagio. While she’s treating Jack’s wounds, Jim shows her the corpse of a Stimmie he kept in his jacket; she comments that Stimmies were driven ashore back in ’28, just before the Big Blow.

While he’s under sedation, Jack receives a dream visit from Dame Dob, telling him that she has some mystical training for him. Surprisingly, she says that she’s also got some instruction for Jim, if he wants to come along. She says that she’s doing it “as a favor to Morrigan”, but won’t elaborate on who Morrigan is. (She also says that Alex and Caden can come too if they like.) When Jack wakes, Granny is stuffing the other members of the Brotherhood with Crawfish étouffée. Alex is busy reading up on the Trayvon Martin case. He doesn’t like what he sees. “This could explode all over us,” he observes.

Before heading to the Everglades for their meeting with Dame Dob, the Brotherhood stops by True Spring, to tell Espina about the meeting they arranged with Admiral Finn. On the way, they run into Naamah in conference with Rico Stallone and Donna Bellagio. They tell her about the meeting with the Admiral. Naamah says that Mollymawk’s excuse for taking them through the Deep, saying that the harbor was full of glamour-mines, is the dumbest idea she’s ever heard. “There’s no such thing as Glamour-mines,” she claims, but she still agrees to meet with Finn (if for no other reason than the Neptune Society will make good meat-shields when the storm comes in from the sea.) Naamah assents to the meeting but reminds them that “You’ve still got Espina to convince.” “That’s what Jim is for,” says Jack, patting the giant’s arm.

They proceed to check on the progress of the Yuletide celebration. Not well, as it turns out: Queen Espina is somewhere between put-out and frustrated: True Spring is badly out of practice with throwing parties. They’ve been living hand-to-mouth in the ’Glades for several years. They’re arguing about waste and cost and secrecy and security for the party, and nothing can be agreed on. Selena points out that, as immature as they are, Shimmering Spring (a.k.a. Vichy Spring) does have more experience throwing parties. “She always loved her mother’s parties," she observes to no-one in particular.

Finally, the Brotherhood makes their way to the Aboretum, and Jim’s Hollow. There’s just one problem: the entrance has moved! Jim is, naturally, quite upset, but manages to find the entrance only a few yards away from where he left it. They pass into his Hollow, only to find Dame Dob waiting for them! She laughs at their surprise, and counsels Jim to double-check his security: the Ward he placed involved killing a turtle, and as such it will admit Beasts. The entrance, mole-like, will continue to burrow around, moving the entrance to his Hollow in an unpredictable fashion. Jim vows to discuss it with the Widow Mactan.

Jack introduces her and explains how he came to meet her, and Caden makes a surprising revelation: he met a similar woman during his escape from Arcadia, though he met a White Lady, not a Crone like Jack. After this, Jim reveals that he, too, met a mysterious lady on his return, a warrior-woman who called herself Mother Morrigan, and taught him how to be human again. (Alex looks at them all a little mistrustfully, saying that he never met anyone like they’re describing.)

Dame Dob offers to teach them “bits and pieces” of stronger magic and lore, which could save their hides in a fight. She offers to teach Jack “Contracts of Light,” and Jim “Contracts of the Stalking Cat.” It takes two days, but the Brotherhood of the Willing learns well under her tutelage, and return to the Trident stronger (and more tired) then when they left it.

Epilogue: As they walk out of the Arboretum, Officer Stallone stumbles across them, and has his sidearm half-drawn before he realizes it’s them. While they’ve been gone, the city has exploded: there’s been another attempt on Queen Espina’s life, and George Zimmerman has been shot by protesters on his way to his bail hearing. He’s been taken to University of Miami Hospital, which rioters have surrounded. Even now, they’re beating down the gates, baying for his blood, being whipped into a frenzy by Summer’s courtiers.

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