The Doom that Came to SLO-Town

Episode 26: Ever After

Late March

There was a foul wind in the air and there was a sense of imposing dread that came across the town of San Luis Obispo. Accidents were becoming more common, emergency vehicles were strained and police were on the lookout as the sudden uptick in strange behavior seemed to take hold of the city. A doom was certainly coming to SLO-Town.

War was coming with the Castalanta Family. If that was not bad enough, Raphael Castalanta seemed to be their prisoner, which compromised what Lilith Marid and Emma Lee Raines were willing to do.

Devon Lauer remained in Emma Lee’s house, looking for something to help fight the dragons. He knew that Emma Lee’s mother, the once great hunter, had to be able to have some kind of resource that would have harmed the creatures. Fortunately for him, he did find something – a small silver lance that he suspected would destroy the monsters. He took it, knowing that he would make great use of it in the war to come.

After the attacks on friends and family that has been perpetrated by Yasmine Castalanta, Lilith decided that measures had to be taken for those around here. With her mother still in the hospital, she called Giselle Babineaux to send her to the hospital under the guise of watching her mother but truthfully it was aimed at keeping Giselle in a safe place among many others, figuring that Yasmine would be hard pressed to reveal herself and cause so much damage in a public place. Simon Parker, taking a page from Lilith’s book, convinced Marisol Garza to do the same, telling her to get out of town as there was danger coming. At first she was hard to convince but when Simon stated it was ‘El Chupacabra,’ Marisol decided to flee town as fast as she could for La Jolla.

Molly Sterling, desperate to break the curse that Mahala Kindt had placed on her, began researching the ways in which to end Mahala’s spell, a powerful magic that turned Molly into a dangerous bomb that would slay the dragons in its radius. Whether or not Molly would have agreed to the plan was irrelevant – she did not approve of being a pawn. However, there was no answer to how to undo the spell. But that is when Mahala arrived at her window, floating in, carried by the powerful magic she possessed.

Mahala was angry, explaining to Molly there was no way to undo the curse and Mahala was resentful at Molly’s attempts to even try. Mahala reminded her that there was a war coming and that the forces in the city were destined to destroy one another and would kill Mahala if given a chance. The bomb was the only way to save herself from the wrath of the dragons even though she had been responsible for some of the bad blood that had developed between them. It was then that Molly, perhaps exhausted with the back and forth between them, not to mention the deception, decided to end things with Mahala. Mahala, like a woman or witch scorned, took great offense to Molly’s decision, promising she would regret such a foolish course of action . . .

But Molly had lost so much, become a corrupted soul, and felt there was a need to get out from underneath everything that was happening. The desire to run away and never again return was a feeling that pierced her heart. But even if she did cast all this aside, she would need to pull through and accomplish this one final task.

When the group got back together, decided the best course of action, they came up with the decision that before they could confront either Carnamagos or the Castalantas, they would have to do their best to evacuate the city. The plan that they came up with involved starting a gas leak at the high school and hoping that emergency responders would displace large numbers of people before whatever war occurred would claim to many lives.

Increasingly desperate and increasingly worried that their plans would be laid low, Lilith asked Molly if she would again go to the Ebony Statue and attempt to speak with her father, the demon, Aslam Khan. They would go to the art gallery, try to commune with the demon and then go to the school to execute phase one of their plan. But it was then that Molly admitted that she had broken up with Mahala, a decision the others said was the worst possible timing for it. But Molly stood by her decision, telling them she was at a low place in her life with the death of friends and family as well as the possession of Betty Swain by the wicked Sophie Wessel. She did not want to hear their complaints at the moment and said they could do all of this on their own. Upon arriving at the gallery, Molly cast the incantations to get herself into the statue and then worried about what she would say as her last experience with the demon did not go as well.

Upon entering the Ebony Statue, Molly traveled for what seemed like hours until she encountered what could only have been the demon, Aslam Khan. The demon showed itself first as a man, the image the teens had been familiar with from Emma Lee’s mother’s research. However, Molly was more powerful than the last time she had come and she could see through the illusion. Khan was a massive nest of tentacles and viscera that hid behind the fog as well as hide behind the guise of an attractive man. When Molly attempted to negotiate and find answers for Lilith, she discovered that Khan had long term plans of his own. Before Molly could even pose substantive questions, Khan explained that he had designs for Lilith and she was part of a greater prophecy. When he extended his arms to her and inserted a tentacle down her throat, he stated that she would be given a gift to hand over to Lilith. Before Molly could respond, she fell unconscious as the horror and shock was far too much for her.

Upon coming out of the statue, the rest saw Molly as incoherent and disoriented. When she explained her story to them, they thought the worst and Devon suggested that the demon could possibly have impregnated her but they did not have time to consider that. The group cleaned up Molly, went to the high school and set off a chemical reaction that would result in an explosion. On their way out, they blew up the statue of Carnamagos that watched over the school’s courtyard. Lilith then called Mahala to tell them they were ready for their confrontation with Carnamagos but Mahala did not answer. Clearly she was jilted over her experience with Molly. It looked as if they were going to have to do things on their own.

Arriving at the House of Dust, the group first saw Minerva Mink outside. The group wasted no time in attacking the servant of Carnamagos but upon Devon striking her upside the head, she fell over, revealing the illusion that had been cast upon her. It was not Minerva, but Georgia Campbell of Sister Sadness. Distraught, Molly went to her side but it was too late – she was dead; another victim of this senseless war the group had found themselves in.

Determined and angry, the group went inside, led by Emma Lee’s heroism and passion, where they went to the very room where Carnamagos could normally be found. It was there that they attempted to summon his presence and then began to burn the sacred and evil texts associated with him. It was then that they each felt a silver of the dying god attempt to get inside of them, hiding and waiting for another time. But now the group knew he was defeated but not destroyed. At this point they would have to engage Mahala as her magic was the only option they had available. They hoped, however, that she would be able to cast the demon out of them and do something to stop Carnamagos forever. But they were unsure how she was to react with regards to Molly, warning her that she may have to take Mahala back if it came down to it.

Broken and exhausted, the team finally made it back to the suburbs, fighting their way through the numerous emergency vehicles that were on the road. A quick call to Giselle, confirmed to Lilith that things were still as fine as they could be under the circumstances at the hospital.

Arriving at Mahala’s house, she and her puppets seemed very defensive, as if they thought there was going to be a physical confrontation. However, when there was none, words did become heated over the role Mahala was supposed to play and the fact that she seemed to back out of the deal over what Lilith called ‘petty reasons.’ Then, the information came out that Carnamagos may have tried to escape but that he splintered himself and seemed to make his way into the teens. They needed to know if Mahala could expel him. She agreed but took a thunderous tone when she insisted that they abide by her rules and follow her plan to specifications, including destroying the Castalanta family. Lilith and Emma Lee again tried to see some diplomatic solution but that made Mahala even angrier. However, for now, they wanted the Carnamagos expelled. Mahala managed to cast a spell – which she stated would be dangerous – and took the pieces of the god and placed him inside of a vessel that she had prepared. Now, they insisted, Mahala was to use her magic to summon Raphael from his prison and bring him unharmed to Mahala’s house.

As Mahala went to hr basement to make the preparations for the summoning spell, Sage Castle and Major Kindt came to Emma Lee with a request – they needed to be killed. They could no longer live as puppets under the witch Mahala’s control for the rest of eternity. They needed to be released from the bondage she had placed on them. They asked Emma Lee if, when this entire affair had reached the conclusion if she would return and do what needs to be done. Emma Lee certainly agreed.

When Mahala used her magic to draw Raphael from the confines of the Castalanta dungeon, he was weak but unharmed. When he and Lilith had some words, she revealed that they were working with Mahala who was the notorious Consag, which infuriated Raphael who reiterated this was an age old family enemy. By working with her, Lilith and her friends were doing what was everything his family fought against. However, when she told him that his family was hell-bent on killing them, he told Lilith she had his consent to do what needed to be done to save themselves as despite working with the Consag, they were the innocents in all of this. Mahala agreed to take Raphael to the hospital and wait for them all there. Of course, they were unsure if this was a tactical plan on her part or a subtle threat she had levied against them.

The trip to the Castalanta house was filled with dread. After seeking an audience with Ferdinand Castalanta, the teens tried to negotiate but it was clear that he and his entire family were obsessed with seeking out and finding Mahala, the Consag. They would take nothing less and would certainly not even consider an alternate food source other than the town without her brought as a sign of good faith. However, this was not something that Lilith and Emma Lee could agree to. So when it seemed as if Ferdinand was about to have his family pounce, Molly came in and unleashed the power that was waiting inside of her, laying waste to all the dragons that were present, each of them dying in a horrific and grotesque manner for their hubris and unwillingness to negotiate. And with that, the lives of many ancient beings were suddenly snuffed out and, as it seemed, the danger was over as both the Castalanta family and Carnamagos were dealt with in ways that left no doubt that the teens would never see them again.

Meeting up at the hospital, Emma Lee and Lilith relieved Giselle of her vigil and stayed with Sabrina Marid to ensure she was fine. Mahala and Raphael came in, curious as to how things went, with Raphael having mixed emotions over the entire incident. Just as Emma Lee assured Mahala things were over, the looming shadow of something flying appeared at the window and the entire room exploded with a fiery bolt. It was Yasmine Castalanta in her dragon form!

The fight was vicious but brief. Yasmine was certainly a powerful force but the friends had grown powerful together. Before any real damage could occur, Simon appeared and showed the power of the holy he had been saving, smiting the powerful dragon. What was about to be a slaughter of everyone present, turned into a victory for the teens as they were able to drive Yasmine off. But each of them would certainly be watching over their shoulders as there would no doubt be a reckoning at some point . . .

Finale

The weeks passed and normalcy slowly began to return to San Luid Obispo. Certainly, there were investigations into the numerous kinds, missing and dead, but wounds healed, and eventually the nastiness that came before became a distant memory. Perhaps it was the arcane forces of the area that acted as a shroud for the mysteries and supernatural, perhaps people did not care like they used to.

Devon had a heart to heart with his father, desperately wanting him to get more involved in protecting the town, but Mr. Lauer revealed that he had an ally, an unlikely and untrustworthy ally in the Consag, the mysterious witch in the area. Devon knew that this was potentially bad but also knew he had some leverage over her.

It may have been the first time in months that the friends were able to get together at a high school party. Few of them had spoken until then and this was the first time they were able to really talk. They discussed Quintin Castle and how he and his family moved back to Wolf Valley after the death, reappearance and subsequent death of Sage. They all talked about how nothing strange had been happening and no sightings of Yasmine. However, as Molly pointed out, there was still the matter of Betty being possessed by Sophie. Molly realized she had to talk to Mahala in order to try and get out from underneath the ugly situation that had transpired.

But, as it turned out, Molly was just a little too late, as it turned out.

A few days subsequent to the party where the teens reminisced and congratulated themselves of a job well done, tragedy struck. When Simon Parker went to meet Marisol at the gym after her workout, he came across a grizzly site. Betty Swain, still possessed by Sophie Wessel, was stabbing her through the heart as one last insult to those that had tried to stop her. Molly was too late in contacting Mahala to do something about the insane cult leader. Simon cradled the dying Marisol in his arms and the two of them disappeared, never to be seen again, one last mystery that would go unsolved.

Molly Sterling, wracked by guilt over what she thought had happened, fueled by Sophie’s taunts, went to Mahala and had her cast a spell that could expel Sophie from Betty. The spell worked and wherever Sophie went was unknown but Molly had her friend back. But it was at that point that Molly vowed to never use her magic again and would try to change her life by joining the convent. She contacted the Lourdes Convent in San Rafael (of all places) and transferred away to a private Catholic school to live out her days until graduation.

As a result, Emma Lee Raines knew she was alone in her fight as her allies were disappearing. A deep conversation with Mahala indicated Mahala’s doubts that Molly would stay with her and knew of her plans to go to the convent. Mahala indicated she would likely leave San Luis Obispo, never again to trouble the locals and likely take her brothers too Las Vegas where they would set up a casino and brothel and live out their days at the penthouse of Four Seasons. But she had a confession she had to reveal. She was the one, in a fit of anger, who had cast an illusion on Georgia to make her look like Minerva. She was angry at Molly and angry at everyone. It was that kind of behavior Emma Lee insisted that Mahala stop. This was Mahala’s one pass from Emma Lee and that the sooner she left San Luis Obispo the better. If Emma Lee was going to be a savior and protector, honoring not only the memory of her mother but also that of Simon who had helped train her, it was this kind of thing that would not be tolerated.

Devon Lauer knew he had talent but needed that extra special push to get him over the top. Lilith gave him the gifts to be noticed, adding to his already potent abilities in music. It would not be long before he would be an indie superstar, joining the ranks of the best bassists in the country.

Lilith Marid, content to stay her days with Raphael and planning out a life of luxury needed some alone time. The object she had gotten from Molly before she left town that Aslam Khan had given her was nothing more than a small pearl. Lilith spent more time in the library of her mother’s new house where she had transferred the Ebony Statue and knew her father was waiting, perhaps anxious for the day that she could uncover what the pearl did and communicate with her father.

And free him . . .

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Episode 25: Decisions, Decisions

Mid March

While still at Mercy Hospital, the teens were still debating over what to do with the evil forces that were inhabiting their city. Lilith Marid made her way to the parking lot with Mahala Kindt. Lilith, interested in hearing more about what had happened to the puppet-slaves of Mahala’s who were slaughtered at her house discovered that whereas Mahala was clueless on what happened, she was concerned that Carnamagos had found her. Fortunately, since he was still weak, she felt that she had some remaining time to get rid of him. Lilith made sure that Mahala knew she wanted all the cards on the table if they were to trust her.

When Lilith came back inside, Molly Sterling recounted in great detail what they were to do, especially after Molly’s harrowing encounter with the Castalanta clan, especially the bargain proposed by Ferdinand Castalanta. The group debated the best course of action and decided that whereas they would try to negotiate with the dragons, they would have to do so carefully, as it was clear this family was wily and ancient and would broker no foolishness or tricks. But Emma Lee Raines was convinced that she could get Raphael Castalanta to help them in their negotiations.

When Devon Lauer attempted to contact Yasmine Castalanta, this prompted Lilith to become upset, leading to an argument between the two that saw Devon storm off after discussing whose family had made the greater sacrifice in this fight. Lilith knew she was being a bitch but her emotions were getting the better of her. After all, it was her boyfriend, Raphael, who was at the center of this even though it was Emma Lee who seemed to show more concern over what was happening to him.

When the group finally came back together and Emma Lee convinced Devon and Lilith to work together, they decided that they would have to interview Sophie Wessel/Betty Swain. It seemed that Sophie had information about Lilith’s father that had been twisting for months. But has as the group decided they were going to visit, Emma Lee get a text from her ex-boyfriend, Drake Straker, who wanted to meet her at Carnamagos High to talk to her. Emma Lee suspected some kind of trap and convinced Devon and Simon Parker to go with her for back up, while Molly and Lilith decided to visit Betty’s house.

Upon arriving at Betty’s house, Molly and Lilith received a cold reception, to say the very least. They began to ask Betty/Sophie her involvement with Lilith’s father, and of course, she denied any knowledge, saying it was the Patron that gives all the orders, especially regarding the strange cloth she placed in Lilith’s locker some months ago (taken out by Solomon Kane, under the orders of Mahala). It was then that the girls demanded to speak with the mysterious Patron.

When Betty finally pulled out the candles and began the summoning ritual for the Patron, she stabbed a knife through Molly’s hand, for no apparent reason, other than spite. Molly recoiled in pain and horror but her pain was soon overcome by awe as the shadowy figure of the Patron came into view. Molly spoke with the strange shade as it whispered in her ear, only things that Molly could hear. Through her conversation, she negotiated information from the Patron, learning that she was not who Sophie and the Cult of Vesta thought she was. Rather than being some kind of spirit dedicated to feminism, she was some kind of demon and sexual partner or Aslam Khan and was doing his bidding by duping naive teenager girls to do his bidding by slowly trying to free him or, at the very least, bring him into contact with his daughter, Lilith.

Meanwhile, as Emma Lee, Devon and Simon showed up at the school, it was dark and there were few cars in the lot. When Emma Lee got out of her car, she saw Drake on the roof of the school and when he hailed her, Devon immediately took to the shadows to see if he could get a better vantage point on any would-be assailants. When Emma Lee shouted to Drake she would come up there, he panicked and shouted back down to her that she should run. At that moment, before anyone could react, a bolt of flame came from behind him, engulfing him. He was dead before he hit the pavement. Reacting to the shock, Emma Lee went into defensive mode as she saw Yasmine Castalanta come from behind where Drake once stood and transformed into a dragon, swooping down for further attacks. Quick thinking on everyone’s part made the difference between life and further death. Emma Lee used a magic favor from Lilith to shield herself, Devon managed to jump on Yasmine’s back as she flew by and Simon used his holy word to repel the creature. As Yasmine flew off, Devon snapped and began to embrace the darkness within, unleashing furious attacks on her. She managed to throw him off into the trees before escaping. After Emma Lee and Simon found him and took him back to Emma Lee’s house, they contacted Lilith and Molly.

In return for Molly’s dealings with the Patron (or whomever she was), Molly had to agree to give up her body to the Patron for 24 hours, something Molly was uneasy with. But, for the good of the rest of the town, and for Lilith, she agreed. However, as Molly considered pressing her luck for more favors and information from the Patron, she knew these would lead to more problematic bargains and she and Lilith left, especially getting the text from Simon over what just happened at the high school.

The group then met back up at Emma Lee’s house and agreed to meet for breakfast the next day. Emma Lee, in desperate need of some physical contact, sought out Deputy Cody WInters for a romantic interlude.

The following day they met at the diner and were somewhat shocked to see Mahala there. After reminding them that whatever Molly knows, she knows, she then told them again she was committed to helping rid the town of the evil, ignoring the fact that a good argument could be made that she, herself, was evil. With the anguish over the numerous deaths that had happened recently, Mahala reminded them that she did have the power to restore real life, as opposed to mere puppets and that she was sick of hearing all the whining about death when the ability to change that was right before their very eyes, even though, as Emma Lee pointed out, it would require the death of someone else; a life for a life.

When the discussion came around for making a truce between Mahala and the Castalanta family, Mahala again stated that while they were welcome to try, it was not advisable. It was then that she mentioned that she was responsible for ending the dragon’s line by many years ago not only stealing their precious eggs but also making the entire family infertile, which created a massive setback in their plans to make peace but they were committed to at least trying. In fact, Mahala went so far to agree that if they could make some kind of peace and become victorious, Mahala would put the option of Lilith making contact with her father back on the table

Emma Lee gets a vision of Raphael and determined that the family had him chained up as a prisoner within their dungeon, likely as a counter measure for him helping either Emma Lee or Lilith. Whether or not he was in immediate danger was unclear but when asked if Mahala could help in this, she agreed that she could, but it would take all of her strength to pull him out, which could weaken her with the other arcane assistance she was needed to provide. When the group left, determined to figure out a way out of the crisis, Mahala bestowed on Molly a deep kiss, which Molly determined was some kind of bestowal of power or energy. But before they left, Mahala warned them that whereas she was an ally, she was prone to doing things, seemingly wretched, in her own self-interest. Very soon they would see just exactly what she was referencing.

Lilith had the radical thought of going to another potential ally on the table; the infamous ‘Grandmother Dandy,’ mother of the deceased Hollis Dandy. They suspected for quite some time that the Dandy’s had access to some kind of voodoo magic and decided that if they were going to act on any hunches, this would be the right time to do so.

In speaking with Grandma Dandy, they determined that she could provide some assistance, as she knew full well the war between the three factions (but she was ignorant of the machinations of Aslan Khan). She told them she wanted no part of this war as she wanted to protect her granddaughter, Astrid Dandy, since her son, Hollis, had recently disappeared (not knowing, but now suspecting, that Emma Lee had something to do with it).

Curiously, Grandma Dandy stated that when she looked at Molly, the girl was infused with some unusual power and when she looked closer, she determined that Molly was the recipient of some kind of spell that, when triggered, would destroy all dragon-kind nearby. The teens were livid that Mahala would resort to such tactics, but as Molly reminded them, Malaha warned them this is exactly the kind of thing she would do.

However, the time for pondering decisions was over. It was now time to act, and engage in a final showdown with the forces of evil in San Luis Obispo.

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Episode 24: The Garden Does Not Get to Choose

Mid March

After the harried events earlier in the evening, the teens regrouped at the home of Emma Lee Raines. They had been in car accidents, killed Hollis Dandy as well as dispatched several dragons, members of the Castalanta Family. It was at this point that Simon Parker realized there was information to be had but he had to be at the brink of death, or just slightly beyond, in order to access memories. In an effort to trick Yasmine Castalanta, who wanted to see the heroes dead, they decided to trick her and have Devon Lauer crack Simon upside the head, appearing as if he had been killed. But in reality, Simon slipped into a death-state, accessing visions and memories that had gone on before.

Flashback

Simon back back to the moment when he initially died – or at least close to it. Back at Carnamagos High, Simon found himself walking down the hallway of the school where the cheering squad was still practicing. As Simon went down the hall, he noticed a strange figure, going through the locker of Lilith Marid. But of course, he knew all this as it happened before. But it was the identity of the individual going through the locker that he was unable to discern before. But now, the memories were clear. Simon watched as the mysterious Solomon Kane emerged from the locker, holding a strange black cloth in his hands. Immediately, Simon sprung to action to an attack, even though in the back of his mind, he knew that this would end in his inevitable death.

The fight between Simon and Solomon was fierce and entered into the street as Simon chased after the arcane drug dealer, living these memories again but remembering them for the first time. As he chased Solomon into an alley, he turned the corner and found himself face to face with not only Solomon, but also Mahala Kindt and her four jackal brothers. Solomon handed over the cloth with Mahala commenting that this took much more effort than she would have expected and how she did not want Lilith to get hold of this item as it was some item that would create a connection or message from her father, the mysterious Aslam Khan. But as Simon knew what was coming, Mahala ordered her jackals to pounce. As the group left, leaving Simon to die – and return to life – it was Devon Lauer that found him, bringing the story full circle.

End Flashback

When Simon awoke, he immediately told Devon what he had seen as well as the relationship Mahala and Solomon had in his death as well as the mysterious cloth that had been found in Lilith’s locker.

Meanwhile, upstairs in Emma Lee’s home, Lilith, Emma Lee and Molly Sterling went through the materials that had been left behind by Emma Lee’s mother. Going through some private journals, the girls hoped to find some connection between Emma Lee’s mother and Lilith’s father, Aslam Khan. However, as the girls began looking, it was at this point that Lilith brought up the difficult conversation of how Lilith suspected that Emma Lee’s mother was responsible for Aslam’s death/disappearance.

Upon finding the journals, they were disturbed to find they were written in some kind of arcane code. Asking Molly to decipher the journals, Molly agreed but was still weak from her dark depression she had entered into the death of her sister, Melody Sterling. Yet Molly soldiered on, concentrated and began to break and read the code. Whereas she was able to read it, her carelessness brought upon something into her presence and opened herself up to some dark force that was now aware of her.

As Molly read the journals to the other girls, she discovered that Emma Lee’s mother had been a warrior and hunter of evil supernatural forces. She had dispatched werewolves, vampires and ghosts that had been plaguing the town of San Luis Obispo, determining that the town was some kind of nexus for such activity. At some point, the journals state, she discovered the existence of Khan, writing that he was a demon and a seducer of women. She found his power enticing but dangerous and her mentor, Fr. Rudolf Fuentez, attempted to aid her in destroying the creature, but he had already become intimate with Lilith’s mother, Sabrina Marid. When the two discovered that the demon could not be destroyed in a conventional way, they turned to an arcane figure in the area, the notorious Consag (now known as Mahala Kindt).

So there it was. The Consag and Emma Lee’s mother managed to form an alliance to dispatch of Lilith’s father. According to the notes, the Consag provided a spell that would imprison the demon inside of an Ebony Statue, specifically the Ebony Statute that was sitting in Sabrina’s gallery, the Louver. It was at this point that Lilith wondered if Molly had the power to undo the spell but she admitted, reluctantly, she could not. But it was apparent that The Consag/Mahala was involved in their lives so deeply and for so long. But it was then that Molly revealed the worst part of the journal – in order to get the spell to stop Khan, Emma Lee’s mother promised The Consag the soul of her first born, that is to say, Emma Lee, herself.

While Simon and Lilith were alone, as Emma Lee had gone up to shower away the wretched feeling she had, Devon wanted some food and Molly continued to research, he shared with her the events that had occurred in his flashback. He explained to her how Mahala was doing whatever she could to prevent Lilith from knowing the nature of her father. As the tow shared this important moment, the two of them embraced one another and engaged in a tryst that was not only satisfying but also invigorating.

Molly, meanwhile, had an encounter of her own. Outside, the jackal, Berisalv appeared, one of Mahala’s brothers. He stated that Mahala was interested in where she was. But Molly quickly dispatched the animal, stating she did not want to be bothered at the moment.

As Lilith and Simon lay on the bed, Lilith had her own vision. Trying to see or know who it was that placed the black cloth in her locker to begin with, she had a vision of Sophie Wessel, the leader of the Cult of Vesta. It was not a stretch to determine that Sophie would know, as her power was arcane and dark. It was slightly more obfuscating to know what she wanted to warn her but Lilith determined that likely it was a piece of leverage Sophie had been hoping to hold over Lilith. She also knew that if she wanted to release her father, they would have two options – go to Mahala and have her reverse the spell or go to Carnamagos and have him cast a spell. Neither option was palatable but the group later determined that they would be better off going to Mahala.

On their way to visit Mahala and try to negotiate with her to release Khan, they notice emergency vehicles and police cars in a frantic pace. Getting a bad feeling, they followed and discovered that the action was going on on Lilith’s block. Arriving, they discovered half the neighborhood was on fire, with ground zero being Lilith’s house. It was clear that Yasmine Castalanta, the dragon, had followed through on her threat. Finding that Lilith’s mother and Sharon Lake had been taken to Mercy Memorial Hospital, the group called Mahala and asked her to meet them there but not before putting a blindfold and headphones on Devon as they knew that Yasmine was using him as a vessel to spy on them.

Arriving at Mercy Hospital, the group went to the lonely chapel where Mahala was waiting. First Lilith went to viist her mother who was unconscious but stable. Then Lilith joined the others in the chapel where she was out of patience but made it clear there were four things she wanted:

  • Have Devon released from his curse that allowed Yasmine to spy on him
  • Release her father, Khan
  • Release Emma Lee’s soul
  • Provide a counter-spell for the disasters that would be brought down on San Luis Obispo by the Castalanta family

In return, Lilith promised to provide Mahala the book she had been so interested in getting her hands on.

In the end, Mahala stated she would do three of the four things as she made it clear that releasing Khan, the demon, was dangerous and not something that they knew they were getting into. However, as a sign of good faith, she did release Devon from the spell Yasmine had placed him under. Mahala seemed to know that Lilith would have to choose between releasing Emma Lee or releasing Khan.

However, as Molly attempted to cast some kind of spell, things went horribly wrong and she disappeared, only to reappear in the presence of Ferdinand Castalanta, his son, Ricard Castalanta and other members of the dragon family.

Back at the chapel, Mahala was livid and distraught, castigating the others for allowing Molly to continue to do irresponsible acts. Mahala regretted allowing Molly to be a full partner in her arcane arts, saying that she tried to bring her on as an apprentice but Molly’s hubris, likely fueled by Lilith and Emma Lee, showed Molly pushing for a full partnership. Mahala admitted to being in love with Molly and wanting to give her whatever she wanted, but realized it was a mistake to elevate Molly to full partner status. But she also knew that her love and adoration of Molly would likely result in her destruction or undoing as she was somehow blinded by her love for her.

Meanwhile, Molly was face to face with a corrupt family of dragons who were increasingly showing themselves to be the sinister antagonists to Molly’s story. When she pressed them for their motives, Ferdinand admitted that they were not cruel people but they had to eat. They had to survive and that he viewed San Luis Obispo as a garden and larder. Molly, admitting that the garden never gets to choose its own fate, she understood their predicament. Molly, in a bold move as she was completely out of her element, suggested that the Castalantas consider another target of useless of evil people, such as a prison or mental institution. The Castalantas seemed intrigued at the idea but had their own offer: they knew that Molly had some kind of relationship with the Consag, who they thought was dead. This shock to them caused them to demand that Molly hand over the Consag to them. They said they would consider Molly’s offer if she were to hand the centuries old witch to them. Molly left, exhausted over the negotiations, thinking they would kill her, and called the others to pick her up.

In the final negotiations with Mahala, unaware that Molly was talking to the Castalanta family, Lilith agreed to give up on hew quest (for now) to see her father. So Mahala stated she would release Emma Lee, work on a spell to prevent the Castalanta’s destruction and, of course, release Devon from his curse. In return the group handed over the book to her.

Devon went to get Molly and upon bringing her back to the chapel, they had a discussion of what to do. Mahala had stepped out for a moment, so they had the ability to speak in private. After deciding the course of action, they brought Mahala back in and proposed their idea: could Mahala bury the hatchet with the Castalanta family and turn their attention towards Carnamagos, instead? Perhaps Mahala and the family of dragons could set aside their ancient feud to destroy a greater evil. Mahala said she could do that but it would require the others going to the infamous House of Dust to take the fight to the ancient demon.

Final decisions were being made and a showdown was soon underway . . .

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Episode 23: Don't Look at that Face!

Mid March

Devon Lauer, who was still living with Emma Lee Raines (in secrecy) was digging through the strange possessions once owned by Emma Lee’s mother, hoping to find some clues or some connections between her mother and his father, Tony Lauer. Whereas he did find some documents that suggested that the two had been very close (just how close was unclear), there was nothing of grave importance, like weapons or spells or anything that could be further help against the powers of Carnamagos. But just as he was ready to give up, there was a tapping at the window – the third floor window.

Looking up, Devon saw Yasmine Castalanta floating in the air, smiling. Devon, knowing that this girl was nothing but bad news, left the room, getting out of visual contact with her but did not avoid the phone call she placed. Yasmine told him to let her in as they needed to talk. He wondered what she wanted to talk to him about she responded with an explanation that she needed his help and that she saw something in him that was different than what the other ‘degenerates’ lacked – a true and powerful bloodline. She suggested that she could help him in more ways than one. Against his better judgment, he opened the window and let her in. It was then that Yasmine seduced him and the two engaged in a dirty passion right there on the floor of Emma Lee’s house.

As Molly Sterling entered the home of Mahala KIndt, she immediately knew something was amiss. There seemed to be signs of a struggle. It was then that she approached the back patio and pool and found a scene of carnage. What she saw was Mahala by the pool covered in blood, holding an axe. Around here were the hacked bodies of Lizzy Ashbury, Tony Malone and Davey Jones, all her servants and puppets. As Mahala tried to explain this was not her doing, Molly managed to take control of the situation. At first, Molly did not believe a word Mahala was saying and then quickly used the situation to leverage control over Mahala. It was at this point that Molly told Mahala, in no uncertain terms, that she wanted to no longer be an apprentice, but she wanted to be a full partner in the world of the arcane arts. Mahala readily agreed, stating that was her intent all along as she wanted Molly to be a part of her world and wanted to explore the power at their disposal for years to come. Molly then provided some instructions to Mahala on how to clean the mess up and then told her she was going to gain allies in their final war against Carnamagos.

Emma Lee knew where she could find Minerva Mink, the dread servant of Carnamagos. She went to Club Karma with the full intent of confronting the demon-girl and telling her to back off everyone she cared about. But things spiraled out of control very quickly as Minerva lost her cool, let whatever passed for a temper get the better of her and attacked Emma Lee. But before long Simon Parker and Lilith Marid appeared to help Emma Lee deal with the situation. However, as Minerva became enraged at being ganged up on, she suddenly rose through the air and began using hellfire to incinerate everyone around her. Tragically, as the altercation took place and chaos and fire exploded from every corner of the building, one victim in particular would prove to have dire and tragic consequences – Melody Sterling, Molly’s sister.

Back at Emma Lee’s house, Yasmine and Devon, both spent from their passionate encounter, turned to one another. Yasmine stated that she wanted him to help her kill some of the others, specifically Lilith, who had become more trouble than she was worth. After all, her antics had led to her cousin, Raphael Castalanta, almost being killed. But Yasmine wanted more than a a simple agreement. She wanted a promise. And Devon wanted a sign of good faith. Yasmine seemed to suggest that if he was playing her, he would regret it, but came through with her side of the bargain – she stated that his family was hiding out in a place called the ‘Fae Forest.’ This was what Devon needed as a start to finding out where his family was. With that, Yasmine left, as there was more to do, apparently. As events would unfold, it would prove to be a busy night, indeed. Unfortunately for Devon, there was no way to know that Yasmine had cast a spell on him, allowing her to scry upon him as she wished.

As Simon, Emma Lee and Lilith tried to save as many as they could, they did manage to deliver some nasty blows to Minerva, either killing her or forcing her back to the netherworld. However, the group took some nasty damage of their own and quickly had to escape before answering questions to the police and EMTs that would surely come. Worse, they had to somehow find a way to break the news to Molly what had happened. They quickly went to Molly’s house, after calling Devon to meet them there as they knew this would be a rough evening, emotionally.

Molly had just arrived home, trying to determine what angle she would take in approaching her friends in forging a plan than would suit her own needs as well as those of Mahala’s. However, she was woefully unprepared for the news her friends delivered. Minerva had gone insane at Club Karma and killed several people before burning the place to the ground and unfortunately Melody had been one of her victims. To say that Molly reacted poorly was an understatement. Lashing out at those around her and allowing the darkness inside of her to consume her, she attacked Emma Lee, withering her to appear that of a 70 year old woman, perverting the common catch phrase of Emma Lee, “Don’t look at that face!” When Devon tried to interfere, physically, she bound him in curtains, preventing him from moving at all. It was up to Lilith and Simon to do something. Simon did what came naturally to him and began to comfort Molly who had gone into a fetal position, allowing her to cry into him, unleashing her frustration and anger in, at least, a non-dangerous way. Lilith knew the danger had only temporarily subsided. There was no telling when Molly would snap again.

As Molly’s fury subsided, she did manage to reverse the spell she had placed on Emma Lee, as well as released Devon from his binding. However, Simon knew she was still on edge and Lilith suggested she take a relaxing bath. Of course, without anyone else noticing, she also enhanced her experience with a bottle of vodka she had hidden under the counter. It was at that point that the group decided to call Mahala and tell her what had happened. Mahala stated she would be over shortly. Meanwhile, Lilith did what she could to alter her appearance with her own magic in order to talk to the police who had come to deliver the bad news. Lilith, as Molly, agreed to contact Victor Sterling to tell him the bad news as well.

At this point Devon made it clear he had enough of playing defensively with these forces. He asked Emma Lee what could be done. Emma Lee made it clear she would do what it took to end the evil that had been plaguing them, but wanted to do what she could to spare Raphael, who she felt was not really a part of the deviousness and evil of the Castalanta family. Emma Lee reveals she has something that would help – a gift from Carnamagos, a stone disk that when placed in the home of the Castalantas would kill them all. As Devon grew more intrigued, he also positioned himself to try and make some kind of move on Emma Lee, but he was interrupted as he detected an evil presence that was hanging over him – whatever this presence was knew every word he was saying and every move he was making. It was from here out that he tried to slyly communicate via notes. But in the back of his mind he knew who was behind this – Yasmine.

Mahala arrived, along with her servant, Gunner Holz, as she felt a familiar face may help the situation. Lilith balked at the idea of Mahala talking to Molly in the bathroom alone but eventually relented. Mahala instantly knew Molly was drunk and was livid that the others allowed this to happen. But she calmed herself and gently suggested to Molly there was some hope. Mahala could use a spell to bring Melody back to life. It was when Mahala informed of her the ‘catch’ that someone else had to die, that Molly became enraged. Whether it was the alcohol, the indignity of the situation or the pressures that had been mounting, Molly cast a hex on her partner and had her thrown out of the bathroom. At this point Mahala realized there was not much she could do tonight with regards to Molly, blaming the alcohol on her poor decision making, suggesting the others were to blame to allow things to go this far.

Before she left, the others demanding to know what they could do about the threat of Carnamagos. Mahala stated that there were very few options at their disposal. They balked at the notion that Mahala, a powerful witch, had no way of doing anything even with the Tome of Destiny that risked so much to obtain. Mahala stated that they collectively had little power or influence over the dark god and said they could speak more in the morning. However, she asked Emma Lee to walk her out to her car to suggest one dark possibility,

On the way out to her car, Mahala explained to Emma Lee that there was a ritual in the Tome of Destiny that would allow them a shortcut of sorts. However, the shortcut, to get power over Carnamagos to defeat him, would involve human sacrifice (a really, really common theme with Mahala, it seemed). Disgusted, Emma Lee demanded to know if there were any other options. Mahala told her that it was the long way, which would be dangerous, or the short way which would be filled with moral black and grey areas. It was for her and her friends to decide.

As Emma Lee explained to the others what Mahala had said, they were turned off by the possibilities, but nobody flat out said, ‘no.’ In a stroke of brilliance, Emma Lee thought that perhaps the disk given to her by Carnamagos would be the answer as an entire house full of dragons might be able to fuel the spell they needed. However, Devon reminded her that they were being spied on, likely by Yasmine. Tragically, they realized the very person that they needed to hide the plan from now likely knew. Emma Lee confirmed it when she had a vision of Yasmine spying on them from a distance. She knew the curse that she had placed on Devon was during their sexual encounter and the only way to break it was for them to engage in sexual congress yet again.

Lilith called Mahala to see if she could help get the disk but either because she was overly cautious or a coward at heart, she explained it was too dangerous for her as the Castalantas would find her if she was involved, since Devon was foolish enough to get himself scried upon.

The group, panicking, packed up Molly and loaded her into the car. Devon was the only one to make his way by foot, knowing her could get there just as fast. But on the way over, they were seized with yet another obstacle. Simon was targeted with a spell that prevented him from moving. Since he was the driver, he locked up and whereas Lilith thought quickly and tried to take control of the vehicle, it was inevitable that the car wrecked, hurting everyone. Molly, shaken out of her drunken stupor, used her magic to determine what had happened. She knew that Hollis Dandy was responsible for this, likely working with the Castalantas and likely seeking reprisals for the theft of his book.

Bruised, battered and drained of most of their strength, the group made their way to Emma Lee’s house to secure the item. But waiting on their front lawn were two members of the Castalanta family as well as Hollis Dandy. The group simply demanded the disk or they would kill everyone. Emma Lee, however, had a plan. She agreed to give it to them but since she knew there was no way she would get to use the disk for its intended purpose, she decided to use it to target the enemies on her lawn, suspecting it would send a powerful message that Ferdinand Castalanta, himself, would read loud and clear. Before her enemies knew what happened, Emma Lee brandished the disk and vaporized them instantly, but it caused the disk to crumble, its one use gone.

Whatever ambiguities existed before, it was clear now. It would be war with the Castalantas.

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Episode 22: Perilous Alliances

Early March

Molly Sterling and Mahala Kindt continued their work in the arcane arts. Mahala, tutoring Molly in some of the finer points of magic, showed that she was as powerful as she suggested. But Molly could not shake the feeling that there was something sinister and dangerous about her new friend. She asked questions about how much Molly trusted Simon Parker, Emma Lee Raines, Devon Lauer and Lilith Marid. Perhaps Mahala was trying to undermine the relationship, perhaps she was getting at something else. Either way, every time Molly looked into her eyes, she saw something dark and whereas she saw a true kinship forming between the two, she also knew that Mahala would stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

The two began a sexual relationship as the study of the arcane arts brought them closer together. Molly felt a true bond forming but she also began to realize that she may well be a horrible person. She had betrayed every relationship she had been in and she seemed to use people to get what she wanted. Whether or not she would ever reverse course on the path she was on was coming. The crossroads she currently was at was one where she would have to make a decision on what route she would take.

For the time being, at least, for as dangerous as Mahala seemed, she at least seemed as if she was a true friend – and lover – of Molly’s. But Molly stopped short when Mahala offered to teach her a powerful spell that would give her even greater power. But Molly feared the cost would be too great. Instead, Mahala left her with a small magic item – an onyx – that would be consumed for a small burst of arcane energy when Molly would need it.

Lilith used her powers to change her form into that of Sharon Lake, her mother’s best friend. She then took the key to the safe deposit box Sharon had given her and decided to pour through the photos and articles Sharon left behind. Examining the photos, she saw pictures of her mother and the man who was supposedly her father, Aslam Khan. But what was most unusual was in several of the pictures there was a woman in the background, giving Lilith the distinct impression that perhaps this woman had been stalking her mother, Aslam or both. Was this woman the cause of Aslam’s break-up and disappearance?

In an encounter with his brother, Evan Parker, Simon was shocked to learn that Even seemed to have fallen under the sway of Minerva Mink, the devilish girl that once was an ally of Emma Lee’s and the current puppet of Carnamagos. Simon was taken back by this revelation and decided that no good would come of this. If Evan was making a bad decision, he had to be convinced otherwise. If he was somehow under Minerva’s sway, more drastic measures had to be taken.

Emma Lee, using her skills as a hunter, watched the Castalanta home, seeing who would come and go from the house. She discovered, not truly to her shock, that few people came and went from the house.

During one of the arcane sessions between Mahala and Molly, Mahala stated she had to leave, suddenly, explaining that someone was summoning the Consag and she had to make an appearance to grant a wish or engage in a bargain. Molly remembered, of course, that Mahala was the source of this strange legend all along so Mahala suddenly leaving to meet with someone was not unusual. However, once Mahala was gone, Molly did not take the opportunity to go through the house, but instead went into a trance, used her mind’s eye to see what she could discover and to her shock, saw a vision of Lilith and her mother dead, their bodies being pulled from a burning house, the cause of the fire no doubt due to he machinations of the Castalanta family.

The following day the group circled back together to convince Molly that she had to help them steal the Tome of Destiny which would be delivered to the home of Hollis Dandy that night. They suspected that the best opportunity would be to somehow intercept the book before it reached the destination. Molly agreed to help, determining her magic would be a key resource they could use. It was at this point that Simon told everyone of the budding – and eerie – relationship between Evan and Minerva. Emma Lee decided she was in the best position to deal with this.

The altercation between Emma Lee and Evan did not go the way Emma Lee suspected it would. When confronted, Evan was angry, lashing out by saying that Minerva was his best shot at a girlfriend, getting laid, happiness and anything else that came to mind, emphasizing each point by pushing Emma Lee, in an increasingly violent manner. Emma Lee tried to explain that Minerva was extremely dangerous but Evan would have none of it, saying, likely due to Minerva’s magic, that she was one of the only friends he had left since everyone else was so self-absorbed in their own lives to pay attention to him. However, Emma Lee used everything at her disposal and every ounce of leverage she had over Evan as well as Minerva’s powers to convince him to give her a rest for a few days. But she knew this victory was fleeting, to say the very least.

That afternoon, Molly used her clairvoyant abilities to gaze into the darkness and see what route the delivery would use to get the Tome of Destiny to Hollis Dandy. She had a vision of an armored car and a vision of several guards that would handle it. This led to the unorthodox plan to recruit Raphael Castalanta. However, Lilith stated that the best way for him to be brought in would be for Emma Lee and Lilith to both seduce him at Diamond Cove. Both girls agreed, perhaps both knowing that the seduction was likely not needed but they both seemed to secretly want this as an extra benefit.

Meanwhile, Molly and Mahala had their own plans. The two girls contacted one another, mentally and Molly, wanting to stay in good with Mahala, revealed the plan. Mahala was both stunned and curious at the boldness of the group and suggested to Molly her own secret plan. But it would involve meeting up. Unfortunately for Molly, she was with Simon, so Mahala suggested meeting up at the local Barnes & Noble where Mahala would pass off a fake book that Molly was to switch in the confusion and cover of darkness. Mahala stated she would distract Simon.

When the two arrived, Simon somewhat leery of ‘emergency research’ having to be done at the local Barnes & Noble, Simone was indeed distracted as Mahala had taken the form of Marisol Garza. While Mahala/Marisol distracted Simon with her endless charms, Molly found the book in question and took it, realizing she could switch it later and deliver the real item to Mahala.

Meanwhile, Emma Lee and Lilith met up at Diamond Cove where they engaged in a sexual liaison with Raphael, Emma Lee being brought to the ultimate pleasure as she was reminded how satisfying it was to be with Raphael in every possible way. It was after the encounter that the two girls posed to Raphael how much he was needed and how his unique abilities – as a dragon – could be used to distract and destroy the armored car that would be delivering the Tome of Destiny. Fortunately, Raphael was so taken with what had happened that he did not bother to ask why or what they were hoping to steal. Nevertheless, Emma Lee had the foresight to bring with her the Amulet of Carnamagos with her, knowing it was a shiny distraction that could be used to prod Raphael along. Besides, ever since she had taken the item from Annabell Starr, it had brought her nothing but bad luck.

However, as Emma Lee dug through her house, looking for trinkets with Lilith along side her, Lilith could not help but notice a photo sitting on a desk. The photo was of Emma Lee’s mother and it was the same woman Lilith had seen in the photos stalking her mother and Aslam Khan. Without knowing it, her anger seethed and something inside of her caused the frame to melt and the photo to catch fire.

That night, the heist against the book went off, more or less as planned. However, in the altercation, Molly was not able to take the book as she wanted and Raphael was suddenly hurt by some powerful weapon one of the guards had. Emma Lee used all the energy she could to push the mortally wounded Raphael to soar back home where he would be safe. But the vicious and ruthless attack against him did not look good. In the meantime, the group made off with the book, Simon wounded as well but able to drive. As Molly communicated with Mahala that she was unable to get the book, Mahala resorted to a more daring plan, sending officers to go pull them over. But Lilith’s quick thinking disguised herself as the police chief caused enough confusion that Mahala’s plan sank, resulting in one of the officers shooting himself in the head as he could not reconcile the two opposed orders he was getting.

Simon dropped off Emma Lee and Lilith at Emma Lee’s car and the two immediately went to the Castalanta mansion where they could see what they could do. Lilith, still terrified at the notion of entering the house, could not bring herself to do so. But as Emma Lee threw caution to the wind and entered, she was confronted with the extended Castalanta family, with the family patriarch, Ferdinand Castalanta trying to forbid Emma Lee’s involvement.

Outside the house, much to Lilith’s surprise, Mahala showed up in a hoodie sweatshirt. Lilith knew Mahala was desperate to arrive at the home of her enemies because if they found her, her disguise would likely not hold up. Mahala begged, threatened, negotiated for the book, all for naught. It was not until Lilith threatened to make a scene as well as burn the book that Mahala backed off and slunk back into the darkness, but not before playing her hand, slightly, that made Lilith suspect Molly could have been involved in some way and perhaps was a threat to the plan all along.

When Emma Lee did everything she could inside, she found that using the magic amulet of Carnamagos, was, with great irony, the very thing that saved the life of Raphael. However, she was shocked that the family did not seem to appreciate her efforts the way in which she suspected they should. Instead, they unceremoniously kicked her out. Emma Lee thought that the thanks she got was likely that they did not simply kill her.

The following day, Molly had to explain to Mahala what went wrong and why she did not get the book. Mahala seemed to understand and appeared to hold no ill will towards Molly. However, when Molly brought up coming clean with Lilith, Mahala was slightly more hesitant. She was concerned Lilith would not react well but gave Molly her blessing to see what she could do.

When Molly approached Lilith and she got a strange feeling, she decided that she would explain to Lilith that whereas she was on her side, she was also working with Mahala to bring about a better, safer, world. Lilith seemed suspicious that Molly could work with herself as well as Mahala as Mahala would eventually lead them down a path that they could not return from but Molly reasoned that Mahala was still the best of several bad options.

Lilith, growing increasingly frustrated with Molly’s indecision and shifting alliances, finally had enough and told Molly she would no longer he manipulated by shitty people and there was so much that Mahala was likely not telling them.

It was at that moment that Molly felt something interesting, her strange feeling returning. Lilith had the same feel and sensation that the being inside the Ebony Statue had when Molly had gone inside. What did this mean?

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Episode 21: A Can of Wyrms

Late January

It was finally time. Lilith Marid had finally gotten Sharon Lake to tell her what she knew about Lilith’s father. Sharon admitted that she did not know a great deal but the man who was most likely her father was an individual named Aslam Khan, an exotic foreigner who had a wild and passionate relationship with Sabrina Marid all those years ago. They met when Sabrina had just opened her original arty gallery and came after a long string of unusual and failed relationships. Sharon explained that the two spent a lot of time together but something happened that sent him away. Sharon theorized that perhaps the revelation that Sabrina was pregnant was what drove him away but after he was gone, Sabrina never really spoke about him and over the months found that Sabrina seemed to completely forget about him, focusing on other things. Sharon did, however, collect what few things she did know about him and placed the information in a safe deposit box, giving Lilith the key if she was interested in looking.

Meanwhile, across town, Emma Lee Raines arrived at the home of Mahala Kindt, after having been invited. Mahala, enjoying drinks and refreshments at the pool, serviced by several of her wards, including Gunner Holz, Lizzy Ashbury and Sage Castle, welcomed Emma Lee as a a dear friend. Mahala explained that there were few people who she trusted and she wanted to thank Emma Lee for her help against the Castalanta family as well as Carnamagos. In return, she had something very special for her. She handed over a small container of lipstick, which, as Mahala explained would help with her current problems. She stated that the lipstick, if used on Raphael Castalanta, would rekindle all the lost feelings he had for her and send him back into her arms. However, she also warned that it would have to be used soon as the magic would certainly fade in time. Hesitant, Emma Lee took the lipstick, unsure whether she would use it or not.

The following day at Carnamagos High as Lilith and Raphael were enjoying time together in each others’ company. Once Simon Parker and Emma Lee arrived, Lilith waited for Raphael to leave and she told them about what Sharon had told her about the mysterious Aslam Khan. Simon suggested seeing what could be found at The Library as the strange tomes there always seemed to have the answers that were needed. Further, the group decided that if they were to find and uncover the Tome of Destiny, they had a small window of opportunity to take it before it fell into the hands of Hollis Dandy, at which point it would be much harder to get hold of.

Slyly, the group approached Astrid Dandy, live-in niece of Hollis Dandy, who was attempting to find cigarettes for Marisol Garza. They positioned their questions cleverly, trying to discover whether Astrid would allow them to have a party at her uncle’s house. Astrid seemed cold to the idea, stating that her uncle and grandmother were usually hesitant of having strangers in their home, especially unruly teenagers. Besides, as Astrid pointed out, she thought that her grandmother could have some kind of strange voodoo powers. But the conversation fizzled when sparks flew between Marisol and Emma Lee and Simon’s patience got the better of him as he had tart words for Emma Lee, as well.

After school Simon and Lilith went to The Library to see what they could discover about Aslam Khan, but Lilith was not as effective as she thought she should have been, making the trip a wash. They decided to cut out of school the following day after Arden Rice’s funeral and come back but Simon would take over the research duties. Meanwhile Emma Lee took Lacy Cartwright’s homework to her since the girl had missed a few days of school grieving the loss of her boyfriend, Arden. While there, things were awkward to say the least, as Emma Lee spoke to her friend who seemed increasingly despondent. Little did she know, Lacy’s older sister, Bree Cartwright was listening in to the whole conversation.

On the way back from The Library, Lilith felt something strange attempt to overtake her. A sinister power was trying to compel her to suddenly attack Simon but she fought it back. She suddenly realized it was the Cult of Vesta led by Sophie Wessel (Betty Swain) who was behind the attack. As far as Lilith was concerned, enough was enough. At that point, they decided to the House of Dust where they suspected the cult was hiding, in order to confront them. They stopped to pick up Emma Lee as they knew she would need her help in dealing with these sinister girls.

Finding their way to the House of Dust, they encountered Minerva Mink, the former ally of Emma Lee. Since Minerva, in the service of Carnamagos, could taste her revenge on her former ally, she threw some insults at the group but was surprised when they not only fought back but managed to drive her off before determining exactly what she was doing here. But in a short of amount of time, they would discover why she was present.

Gaining entry to the house, they found the gathered Cult of Vesta led by Betty and backed up by her trusted associates, Piper Stevens and Giada Broadchurch. In a short amount of time, the gathered cultists decided they had enough of the interference from Simon, Emma Lee and Lilith and unleashed their terrible magic. But things began to get far more complex when Caramagos unleashed an avatar of darkened tentacles to strike out at his enemies and former servant. As Emma Lee displayed excellent martial prowess, Simon demonstrated amazing bravery and Lilith kept her wits about her, they managed to fend off not only the Cult but also the horrific avatar. But in the chaos, the entire Cult, with the exception of Sophie, was dragged into oblivion.

Emma Lee did not escape unscathed, however. She was hurt badly and was in desperate need of rest. She was dropped off at her house and when she emerged from her hot shower, she was shocked to see Garret Larson in her bedroom. Emma Lee, knowing that an intimate encounter was exactly what she needed to get back in sorts and erase the memories of Raphael Castalanta. However, as she made her move to seduce him, she realized his eyes seemed glassy and before she could react, the trap was sprung. Annabell Starr and Bree Cartwright entered the room, demanding the amulet that Emma Lee had taken a few days previously. Before she was forced to make a violent act or defend herself, Simon arrived, almost as if summoned, and help intimidate them into leaving without an altercation. But it was clear Annabel was not finished and would remember Simon’s interference. But Emma Lee’s desire for passion and sexual contact allowed her to give herself to Simon for a night of carnal pleasures which suddenly had the same effect as if it were Garret.

After their sexual encounter, the two of them shared a vision. They both saw what had really happened to Arden Rice. He had met with Yasmine Castalanta who subsequently killed him for what he knew about the supernatural activities that were going on in San Luis Obispo.

The following day was the funeral for Arden Rice. Most of the school had come to pay their final respects to someone who was well respected by his friends. After the funeral, Simon and Lilith returned to The Library to see what they could find about Aslam Khan.

On the other hand, Emma Lee found Yasmine in the parking lot and was desperate to find out if the two of them were ‘good.’ Yasmine assured Emma Lee that the two of them were good. After all, Emma Lee was no longer dating her cousin, Raphael, something that Yasmine could never approve of. If the two of them were still together, there would have been a problem because, as Yasmine put it, Emma Lee was not worthy of the Castalanta line. Yasmine made it very clear that if something had happened between the two of them and Emma Lee had gotten pregnant, Yasmine, herself, would have ‘dug the mongrel out’ with her own claws if need be. Emma Lee suddenly realized she was dealing with a dangerous – and insulting – individual. Before she left, Yasmine left Emma Lee with another request – tell Lilith that she should end the relationship with Raphael sooner rather than later or else she, Yasmine, would be forced to deliver a dire and definitive message, something that would be drenched in pain and suffering.

At The Library, Simon and Lilith did eventually find references to Aslam Khan. They discovered the only reference was to an ancient sorcerer-king in what is now Turkey, from over 1500 years ago who disappeared at the end of his reign. Could this somehow be the same man that Lilith’s mother had a relationship with? Was this possibly Lilith’s father?

That evening the group got together at Lilith’s favorite pizza place and Emma Lee pulled Lilith aside to explain what had happened with Mahala. She stated that Mahala had given her the lipstick that would cloud Raphael’s mind. Not only was she not going to use it but she suspected it was some kind of trick or trap. Whereas Emma Lee stated she has grown to like Mahala, she simply does not trust her.

Later the group discussed a variety of possibilities in getting their hands on the Tome of Destiny. They felt the best plan was not to get inside of Hollis Dandy’s house, but rather to somehow intercept it from whomever was delivering it. For this, they felt, they needed Molly Sterling and her arcane powers.

When Emma Lee returned to her house she saw, almost as if it were some divine intercession, Mahala sitting on her doorstep. Mahala came inside with Emma Lee and explained that there were few people in Mahala’s life that she trusted and liked. She valued Emma Lee’s friendship and needed someone like her on her side when the final war came. Emma Lee did not seem to understand but Mahala did what she could to impress upon Emma Lee the dangers that were ahead. Between Carnamagos and the Castalanta family, the town would likely be destroyed in a short amount of time and only Mahala and her powers, with the help of her new apprentice, Molly, would be able to spare the city. Strangely, this seemed to be new to Emma Lee and the realization of the dangers these other posed had a strong impact on her. Why then, would Mahala be interested in getting Raphael to fall in love with her (Emma Lee) again? Mahala said that perhaps he could be spared and since he was important to Emma Lee, it was something she was willing to do. With that, Mahala further confessed that she was, in her own way, in love with Emma Lee but knew that love would never be returned but if she could make Emma Lee happy, then she would be willing to make that sacrifice.

Finally, Mahala asked for the lipstick back when she found out that Emma Lee was never going to use it. Mahala stated that it was an item that she might be able to give to someone else. Emma Lee reluctantly returned the lipstick and with that Mahala left. But after she was gone, Emma Lee could not help but think that Mahala’s arrival was nothing short of miraculous with regards to timing.

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Episode 20: The Heartifact

Mid January

The morning started out as an early drive for Emma Lee Raines. With the intention of getting an early start by taking a long stroll on the beach, Emma Lee made her way, along the scenic route to the ocean. However, her trip was stopped short as papers flew against her windshield, prompting her to stop. It was there that she notice, over a sandy ridge, a car and a body along side it. It did not take long for her to get to the bottom of the hill and notice that the body was that of Arden Rice, a classmate. His body was mangled and had an unmistakable bite mark on his side. The bite mark looked closer to that of a shark than it did a dog or a wolf. Just as Emma Lee was prepared to call Deputy Cody Winters, Lilith Marid appeared, out of nowhere, to see how she could help. As the girls began collecting the papers that had gotten free, it seemed that some of them contained notes on a story he was working on regarding the occult and one paper in particular was an old, tattered playbill for Cheap Thrills, the haunted amusement park.

Flashback

Before Devon Lauer and his family had to flee San Luis Obispo, he was packing up his car after a long day at school. It was Arden Rice, who seemed interested in asking Devon questions about a story he was working on. Arden’s story involved occult activities that had been going on in San Luis Obispo and whereas the story may not be perfect for the school paper, the Carney Crier, it was certainly a driving passion of Arden’s. When the questions came to the topic of Devon’s father, Tony Lauer, suggesting that he may have seen something in the woods, while tending to an illegal pot farm, Devon reacted by knocking his head against his car, ending the conversation most decisively.

End Flashback

It did not take long for Deputy Winters to show up, secure the scene and ask some questions before letting the girls go. It was at that point the girls met up with Simon Parker and Devon at Lilith’s house to discuss what they had found. Devon revealed that he had a conversation with Arden two months ago on what he may have been researching and Lilith, for her part, revealed that the bite mark on Arden was that of a dragon. She stated that in a vision she had seen Arden on the beech, calling out to something in the darkness which quickly resulted in a dragon swooping down from the sky, quickly killing him. What Lilith could not provide was whether it was Raphael Castalanta, Yasmine Castalanta or someone else entirely.

In an effort to make sense of what had happened and get to the bottom of what Arden had been looking into, they scoured his social media profiles and tried to hack some passwords. In the end, they thought their best course of action was to go to Lacy Cartwright’s house, as Lacy was not only on the newspaper staff but also seeing Arden. Breaking the news to her would be rough but it had to be done. They then decided they would eventually make a trip to Cheap Thrills to see what he had uncovered there.

The first stop involved the Cartwright home. They first encountered Bree Cartwright, one of the more successful girls at Carnamagos High. who seemed suspicious of their arrival but she sent them upstairs to her sister. Giving the news to Lacy Cartwright about what had happened to Arden was heartbreaking. She had not yet seen what had happened on the news and seemed to have been avoiding her phone. But she explained that Arden had been involved in looking at the some local legends involving werewolves, vampires and other cryptozoology entities and the things he had been uncovering seemed to have some merit. She reluctantly gave all his research to them and they went back to the car to review what he had uncovered, leaving Lacy alone with her loss.

The next step was to pick up some food at the local Ralph’s but while there, they had a nasty surprise altercation with Minerva Mink who made veiled threats. While the girls were inside the grocery store, Simon and Devon went through the research documents they had gotten from Lacy Cartwright. The uncovered the following:

  • Arden was tracking rumors of a sexual relationship between Emma Lee secretly dating Lacy’s sister, Bree, but later discovered that Bree was actually in a relationship with Annabell Starr.
  • Looked at his last appointments. Strangely, his last appointment was at 4 AM that morning with Yasmine Castalanta.

It was at this point that they continued on, taking on Simon’s idea that they approach one of the Spanish missions nearby, Mission San Jorge. They knew they would have some time to pass before going to Cheap Thrills as they figured that the entities that existed there would likely only appear at night.

Approaching the mission, everyone in the car had the same surreal vision: a strange horizon over the building and a looming creature on the skyline. The creature, determined to be a dragon, as it came into focus, strafed the structure with a massive barrage of fire. For what reason the creature attacked was unknown, but possibly due to the important items that lay within which were dangerous to it and likely, the dreaded Castalanta family.

Getting inside, the surroundings were dreamlike. They met the man in white and the man in black who introduced themselves as Cain and Abel and whereas Emma Lee and Lilith had no knowledge of them, they seemed to to Simon and he they. Without much discussion the group went to the archives that were stored in the basement in an effort to uncover what mysteries lay at their feet.

It was here that they found references to the Tome of Destiny as well as the Heartifact. They uncovered secrets of things that they had and things that they felt they needed to get their hands on. However, the hours flew by and they were met with a warning by Cain that it was best if they left before it got dark as things in the mission changed once darkness fell. With that they left, as it was time to go to Cheap Thrills.

As the group made their way to the abandoned amusement park, they knew what was waiting for them. Cyprus March, the sinister emcee of the park was welcoming when they encountered him. He freely admitted to seeing Arden Rice the prior evening and mentioned that Arden was looking for information about the supernatural activities in San Luis Obispo.

Whereas the main focus of the group was finding answers to the Tome of Destiny – the very item that Arden had also mentioned wanting – Cyrpus made it clear nothing was for free adn any information had to be paid for. Cyprus stated that Arden had made a sacrifice – he was about to bring Lacy Cartwright as a blood sacrifice to the park. This would allow Cyrpus and his ghoulish associates one night out on the town. But since Arden was dead, the deal seemed off the table, disappointing the sinister ringmaster.

However, Simon was able to pull a trick on Cyprus, suddenly brandishing the doll he had been given the last time they were here and used the power to force Cyrpus to answer a question – the question being the location of the Tome of Destiny. Reluctantly and angrily Cyprus revealed that the text was soon in the hands of Hollis Dandy. He would have the book in his hands shortly but the man would likely be disinterested in sharing it.

Upon making their exit from the haunted amusement park, they went to their car and left. Upon arriving home, Emma Lee used her abilities to divine the relationship between Annabell Starr and Carnamagos, finding that Annabell is a sworn ally, looking for more and more followers with Lacy Cartwright being one of them.

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Episode 19: The Bargainer

Late January

Emma Lee Raines met up with Raphael Castalanta, just to talk, but her motives were unclear. Was she intending to convince him to return to her, reassure them they were friends or was it to see if his family posed a threat to her? Regardless, she did express her devotion to their friendship and assured him not only was she accepting of he and Lilith Marid’s relationship but she assured him that no matter what happened, he would not be impacted by her war on the diabolical Carnamagos. Unfortunately, he could not assure her of the same as there were individuals who wished her harm, specifically, his cousin, Yasmine Castalanta.

Simon Parker and Molly Sterling both took the opportunity to attend church services that Sunday morning, but both did so for vastly differing reasons. Molly, in an attempt to placate her older sister, Melody Sterling, and Simon with a desire to feed off the fears of some of the most conservative and hellfire congregations, both wanted something different. While Simon consumed the fears of the congregants around him, Molly was surrounded by the peace – if not boredom – of the faithful. Even though she took an opportunity to dress the part of an ostentatious icon from the 1960’s, there was someone else in the back of the church who surely tried to outdo her: Mahala Kindt.

While Simon was curiously questioning the conservative Baptist minister, Molly approached Mahala after Mass to see what she was doing. Mahala suggested, rather directly, that Molly come over that evening so that they could begin their studies, as Mahala saw in Molly an apprentice in the arts.

Meanwhile, Lilith Marid had Sunday brunch with her mother, Sabrina Marid and Sabrina’s dear friend and roommate, Sharon Lake. Things went well until Lilith brought up the topic of her family. Directly, Lilith was interested in the lineage of her father, the unknown and never spoken about figure in her life. Whereas it was clear that Sabrina did not wish to discuss the matter, at all, Sharon seemed slightly more open about the idea – once Sabrina had left the room. Sharon revealed that she had some information – though not much – and would tell Lilith soon. But Sabrina must never know of the conversation.

After Sabrina and Sharon left, Emma Lee came over to Lilith’s house to tell her of the conversation she had with Raphael, wanting to be open and up front with her. When Emma Lee suggested that perhaps Raphael should know about Mahala, the Consag, Lilith flat out refused, stating this was a terrible idea as the only leverage Mahala had in this affair was her secrecy. To inform the Castalanta family now, would likely destroy Mahala and create a vacuum.

It was decided, via phone, that there would be some value in the gang getting together. When the idea was proposed that they meet up at the art gallery, owned by Sabrina Marid, the Louver, they all agreed since Lilith was interested in showing those who had not seen it, the Ebony Statue. Lilith knew there was something mystical and mysterious about the statue but wondered if Molly, with her connection to the occult, would have some greater insight.

As the group arrived, they noticed the cafe across the street was host to Giselle Babineaux and Sage Castle. Knowing that Sage was in the service of Mahala, they approached, and it was Emma Lee that discovered that Sage was there to learn as much about Giselle as possible. Naturally, Mahala’s motives were suspect and Sage quietly mentioned to Emma Lee that Mahala was just curious. But since trust was not high with Mahala, a subtle warning was issued to Sage that no harm should come to Giselle lest there be consequences.

After spending time investigating the Ebony Statue, it was Molly who first discovered the ability to unlock the secrets. She, and she alone, found that she could enter the statue, like a portal into a void of black nothingness. Shortly after entering, she made contact with an entity. The entity, as Molly quickly discovered, was named the Bargainer. Molly came to understand that due to her arcane abilities, she had a special ability to communicate with the entity. The entity, the Bargainer, offered her information on the war between the various factions in San Luis Obispo but when she wanted more, the Bargainer made it clear that it would provide to her whatever she wanted in return for the essence of various individuals around town, starting with one of the members of the wolf clan. At this point, Molly knew that she had to break off the conversation and think about it, returning to her friends in the gallery. But Molly at least came away with a better understanding of the delicate relationship between Carnamagos, the Castalanta family and Mahala.

As Molly’s first inclination was to bind the Bargainer to her will, the others suggested this would not be the best plan. After all, the creature was not going anywhere as it was stuck inside the statue. They all had other plans for the time being and decided to go their separate ways for the day, and meet up later that evening at the weekly bonfire party held by Drake Straker and his brother, Matt Straker.

Upon leaving, the ever-studious Simon went to the library, finding as much as he could about The Bargainer. There were conflated and confusing stories that seemed to link back to the Consag, as a local legend, which was not what he wanted. But he found an article from 1999 (before any of them were even born) that showed the Ebony Statue in the background of a photo taken at the Grape Festival from that year.

Meanwhile, Molly pressed her luck by using the arcane arts to see if she could spy on Mahala. Her spell was successful and she was able to see through Mahala’s eyes. She saw Mahala addressing her puppet subjects, suggesting that the plan she had would soon be coming to the apex and that tonight she would begin initiating her own apprentice, Molly. Whereas there seemed to be no threat relevant to Molly, there was certainly a sinister overtone.

Later, when Molly arrived at Mahala’s house, she began to initiate her into the basic spells of the dark arts, acting as a mentor. However, in one of the more grotesque displays of the order, Mahala kissed Molly, which allowed something crawly and creepy to leave Mahala’s mouth and enter Molly’s, crawling down her throat. This lead to a rather foul exchange between the two but with Mahala telling Molly to simply trust her as it was a symbol of power that had entered her.

Later, the group began to converge on the bonfire party at the Straker house. Emma Lee arrived with her cousin, Quinn Raines and her knew bestie, Dusty Keppler, both girls immediately wanting to set out distributing drugs as party favors. Simon, holding resentment to those who deal in narcotics, immediately began to pressure Quinn to get closer to him. The ploy worked, until Quinn began to accuse Simon of being a ‘narc.’ It was not long after that which revealed Quinn trying to explain ‘Lifesaver Parties’ which were popular at the school she was from, wondering why nobody knew what they were in San Luis Obispo. Of course, it did not take long for Quinn to begin explaining what they were, in gory detail.

At the party, Drake began to question Emma Lee about perhaps trying to get back together and start things where they had left off. Emma Lee was suspicious, leery and flattered but ultimately disinterested, suggesting that maybe Drake would have a better time engaging in Quinn’s ‘Lifesaver Parties.’ Whereas Drake was intrigued, he coyly suggested that he would be satisfied with just one color of the rainbow if it was with Emma Lee. The line, which may have been one of the worst Emma Lee had ever heard, did nothing to convince her. However, he did mention that he was no longer seeing Marisol Garza, the popular and brassy Latina girl as he found out that she was only interested in using him to make Simon jealous, something that he could not actually get his mind around. He swore Emma Lee to never tell Simon (and Emma Lee told Simon the first opportunity she had).

Meanwhile, Simon, dejected and sullen over the way Quinn had treated him, took to drinking more than his fair share of high end bourbon at the party. He began to stare into the darkness and he was shocked and horrified at what he saw. He had a horrific vision of him feeding on Marisol Garza, so savagely that he chipped his teeth on her spine as he gorged on her tender flesh. This, a vision that he never wanted, was broken as he was snapped back to reality, with Marisol in front of him, asking what he was staring at. Simon, unsure how to react based on the vision, tried to pull himself together by engaging Marisol in a passionate embrace.

Whether Molly actually understood what Lilith intended or whether she misunderstood the concept, Molly took from a conversation with Lilith that Molly should use her powers to to do something about Quinn’s blatant promiscuity. Molly, trying out some arcane powers that she felt she had mastered after coming from Mahala’s tutoring sessions, decided to hex Quinn, making her feel illness and revulsion every time she thought of carnal activities. After casting the spell, immediately it reaped dividends as behind the bushes there came a sound of gagging and coughing, followed by vomiting and C-Monster screaming he had been vomited on, which Molly attributed as being an added bonus. Of course, Emma Lee came to her cousin’s rescue and took her upstairs to clean up. Whereas Quinn was unsure of what had happened, she was certainly clear that Molly was responsible as her hex was somewhat sloppy.

Marisol and Simon, alone on the beach behind the Straker house, continued on their walk, holding hands, but when the moonlight struck them, passion took over and the two began making love on the sand, with Simon seeing a most terrible vision – the next time he lost control of himself, he would likely make his target, Marisol, as there was something in his psyche that desired her in so many ways. Despite his increasingly angelic nature, he could never forget that there was something terrible and primordial still deep inside of him.

As Emma Lee was upstairs, tending to her cousin, Molly basked in her success. But it was short lived as she was confronted by Annabell Starr who seemed to have a chip on her shoulder. There was something darker and more sinister about the cheerleader that made Molly step back and take notice. Confronting, almost accusatory, Annabelll was aggressive, suggesting that Carnamagos was watching Molly and her friends. It was then that Molly noticed who was with her, Garret Larson, a lover Emma Lee had felt strongly about until recently, even though the deep feelings never truly faded. When Emma Lee returned from the house and saw Annabell and Garret together, she completely lost her mind, instantly screaming and showing how hurt and livid she was, that Garret was with Annabell, telling Annabell – in no uncertain terms – she would ‘end’ her. Within moments, however, things managed to devolve even further as Annabell and Molly came to serious blows but in the struggle, Emma Lee managed to take a trinket from around Annabell’s neck – a symbol of Carnamagos. Whereas the item burned in the palm of her hand, she kept it close, knowing this could be a way to thwart the deranged god.

But time would soon tell. And time was running out.

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Episode 18: Pulling the Strings

Mid January

Molly Sterling was in the hospital room of Marisol Garza. As she saw the sick girl laying there, some sympathy came over her. Certainly, she and Marisol had their differences in the past few months but Molly knew that whatever illness had overtaken her, it was something that went beyond the troubles the two had. Marisol, through her fevered speech, mumbled to Molly that ‘the wolves were coming’ and they would tear the town apart. This ominous statement had Molly rethinking her plans.

First, Molly removed the psychological curse she had placed upon her months ago and then she reached deep down inside to attempt to pull off a ritual that would cure her. Surprising even herself, Molly was successful at what she did and Marisol immediately began to feel better, whatever magical curse had been placed upon her, apparently lifted.

Meanwhile, across town, Devon Lauer had almost made it back to San Luis Obispo after almost 2 months of being on the run. His father, Tony Lauer and his mother, Summer Lauer, had been left behind in Oregon, and they may or may not have gotten away from the wolf clan that had chased them down. Devon’s only hope was to get back to San Luis Obispo and find allies who could help protect him. But in the forest north of town, he could almost see the road when the wolves sprung out of nowhere, finding him, catching his scent and beginning to chase him down. His only hope was to get to the road and find a passing motorist. As he ran to the road, luck was on his side (more or less) and he was able to find a car – one driven by Mahala Kindt. She took him into the car and sped back to her house, asking where he had been and if anyone knew he was back. He was hysterical but she promised to take care of him and give him food, a shower and clothes and they they would straighten everything out.

Returning to Mahala’s house, Devon was surprised to see Sage Castle present, as she and he had a romantic relationship over a year ago. Mahala took Devon upstairs, gave him coffee and some food and and a shower. Upon getting out of the shower she was waiting with cigarettes and more coffee but it was not long before Sage arrived, aggressively interested in rekindling their relationship. In an evening of passion that followed, Sage showed herself to be sexually adventurous and almost bestial as was her apparent nature, Devon unwittingly being in danger twice over; first her relationship to the very wolf pack that was chasing him down and second, her mystical nature he was not yet informed about.

But towards the end of their romantic interlude, something happened. Devon froze up, unable to move and Sage’s eyes turned black. She began to speak with a voice that was not her own and shortly thereafter, Mahala entered the room, looking far more in control than Devon had ever seen her. She explained that she and his friends (Simon Parker, Molly Sterling, Emma Lee Raines and Lilith Marid) had a difference of opinion recently as they thought – incorrectly – Mahala was the bad guy in the situation and she was about to use Devon as leverage to reopen the conversation. Devon was unable to move as Mahala left in order to enact the next phase of her plan. He could only speak and he was able to use his supernatural abilities to question Sage, mostly regarding her greatest fear. Her response was the same as that of Devon’s: Carnamagos.

Across town, Emma Lee Raines was with her cousin, Quinn Raines, who had only recently moved to town and started school with her. Quinn wanted to know what the situation was, the dating scene, school gossip and so on, with Emma Lee more than happy to fill her in. For better or for worse, Quinn had made at least one friend, the drug dealer, Dusty Keppler. But that is when they were interrupted by a call from Mahala, who stated that things had changed since last they spoke and she had something that might bring everyone back to the bargaining table – Devon. Mahala suggested that Emma Lee round up the others and come over to her house so they could continue the discussion. Within a few moments, Emma Lee had called Jeremy Lakota to come over and take Quinn out shopping as a distraction and then called the others. Simon agreed to pick everyone up and get over to Mahala’s house.

However, on the car ride over, the cracks in the friendship continued to deepen. Lilith accused Molly of being ‘too close’ with Mahala and Molly shot back with Lilith being a ‘dragon fucker’ in reference to her relationship with Raphael Castalanta, who several of them knew to be a dragon in human form – all of which was news to Simon, who was trying to get his mind around it.

Finally, arriving at Mahala’s house, they noticed that the grounds were being guarded by Mahala’s brothers, the Coyotes. This served as a not-so-friendly reminder that they were in a specific kind of danger even though Mahala seemingly invited them under the banner of peace. As they went inside, they were greeted by Tony Malone, one of Mahala’s puppets, as well as Sage Castle, Gunner Holz, and Lizzy Ashbury, all loyal to Mahala as they were reanimated dead, serving her.

It did not take long for Mahala to send for Devon, have him brought down and have the paralysis spell removed from him. However, throughout the conversation, Gunner and Sage made eyes towards their respective former friends and lovers, showing that whatever humanity they still retained – if any – was very convincing. There seemed to be some kind of light inside of them, indicating that Mahala was extremely powerful or she was very convincing in keeping the illusion seem real.

Mahala stated her case for an alliance. She wanted the others to join her in destroying the Castalanta family as well as Carnamagos, and in addition, dealing with the new factions that seemed to have appeared – the werewolf clan as well as the Cult of Vesta. She further explained the war that had been going on for centuries stating that she was, at one time, along with her family, servants of Carnamagos until he abandoned them with the dragons of the Castalantas came. For that reason, she and her remaining family had to go underground and hide, swearing revenge on both Carnamagos as well as the Castalanta family. Further, whether she was bluffing or telling the truth, she revealed that she knew who Lilith’s father was, a question that had been with her for quite some time. This was the first opportunity that Lilith ever had to even possibly learn about her heritage and now that Mahala claimed to know, it made her a valuable ally, at least temporarily. Further, Mahala also dropped the message that Devon’s father, Tony, as a supernatural beast, used to work with Mahala as the Consag. This was an interesting revelation that Devon knew would come up again soon, especially seeing as Mahala suggested that he, Devon, could take his father’s place.

In the end, the teens agreed to think on Mahala’s offer and get back with her in 24 hours. But for the time being they planed to stay at Emma Lee’s house where they would discuss and examine the items in the abandoned wing of Emma Lee’s home, the items that once belonged to her mother, as she was a warrior against darkness. This was a mantle that Emma Lee was increasingly embracing for herself.

Molly, returning to her home was confronted by Mahala, who had magically appeared in her bedroom. Molly was taken back and completely turned off by her sudden appearance, especially when Mahala suggested that Molly become her apprentice. To say that Molly took this the wrong way was an understatement. However, upon leaving, Mahala seemed to have dropped some kind of curse of her own on Molly, suggesting that the wolves would find her far more delicious than any of the others. With that, Molly knew she had to get with the others.

Simon and Devon made a quick stop to Devon’s house where the band, the Dick Nixons were using as a practicing area for their music. Whereas Devon was happy to see them and they were surprised to see him, they had to cut the conversation short as Devon knew the wolves would not be far behind. Unfortunately, there was little of value present that his family left behind, but he ushered J.J. Ross, Sachamo Luke and Harley Morningstar to safety with the promise he would catch up with them later.

Arriving at Emma Lee’s house, she showed Lilith the abandoned wing of the home. It was here that the two had a true heart to heart talk, mostly about Raphael Castalanta. Lilith tried to convince Emma Lee that her initial conversation with Raphael was one to convince him to take her back but one thing led to another. They discussed the complications of loving the same person, a person who was truly not a person at all but instead was an ancient being. Lilith, of course, was curious was to why Emma Lee was not more aggressive in trying to win him back. However, her response was that with everything happening, Emma Lee felt as if she had to grow up and take on more serious responsibilities for the time being.

Once the others arrived, Emma Lee assured them they would be safe here. Molly recounted her encounter with Mahala – one that she was not pleased about. Devon and Emma Lee scoured the area for items that would be helpful. An item that her mother had hidden – an Ivory Dagger – was said to be a weapon against the Consag; Mahala. Devon, on the other hand found a stick that would prove as a weapon against werewolves. Most interesting was the note that came with it. The item was clearly given by Devon’s father, to Emma Lee’s mother and with it was accompanied by a note with the suggestion that the two were at one time very close, perhaps even romantically linked.

While this was happening, Simon, detecting the appealing scent from Molly, puled her to the side, and went to the kitchen looking for food but the two shared a moment of intimacy while alone.

Upon their return, they discussed the pros and cons of dealing with Mahala and her brothers in the war against far more nefarious enemies. They would, if they decided to work with Mahala, insist that no matter what happened, they would not attack Raphael. Certainly, they did not trust her, at all, but she was seemingly the best option of the bunch. It was agreed by the group they would work with her but not trust her as she was the least evil option they currently had.

The following day at school, none of them could shake the feeling that Mahala’s puppets were watching them. Everywhere they turned the eyes of either Mahala or her undead servants were among them. Lilith did, however, get an opportunity to talk to Raphael, who mentioned that when she was not around, he thought of her and found himself missing her when she was gone.

That evening they returned to Mahala who was accepting of their offer for an alliance. She provided them the names of her undead servants, promised to not kill anyone new but was allowed free reign to take those who had died. She explained that due to the sympathies some of them had with the Castalantas, they could deal with that faction later turning their attention to Carnamagos first. However, in order to neutralize the god, they would have to deal with his newest chosen servant, Annabell Starr. This was something the group was sqeamish about doing but they convinced Mahala to at least let them try another way before killing the girl. Mahala agreed.

But she was skeptical. Very, very skeptical.

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Episode 17: Anagnorisis (Critical Discovery)

Early January

Subsequent to the attack by the Coyotes on Molly Sterling’s New Year’s Eve party, Dante Rocha was still in the hospital, police investigated and of all things, the Bare Teddies had become a YouTube sensation as their music played during the Coyote attack went viral. But in the couple of days that passed, Simon Parker and Emma Lee Raines were able to bond, as Simon took an active role in helping her train, based upon Emma Lee’s Letter that he mother had left behind. However, an important conversation came up. Simon looked at Emma Lee and told her to consider how dangerous he was and how dangerous he could be. Part of Simon’s interest in training her was to do what needed to be done, to him, if needed. Simon did not want to hurt any of his friends and needed Emma Lee to promise to take him down if that is what it took to prevent his friends and family from being harmed.

The training at Emma Lee’s house was interrupted by Mahala Kindt, who arrived and mentioned that while she was at the hospital, checking in on Dante, she had noticed Marisol Garza had been admitted and she was muttering out, asking to see Simon. This was somewhat unusual as Simon thought she was no longer interested in him and interested in Drake Straker instead. During their conversation, Emma Lee asked about Dante and Mahala admitted that his behavior had been somewhat unusual lately. When asked about the puppet, Mr. Mumbles, Mahala reluctantly agreed to hand it over to Emma Lee. She could come over that evening to pick it up. But Mahala would need it back soon as Dante would no doubt be looking for it. After Mahala left, Simon and Emma Lee discussed destroying the terrible puppet as they suspected it was behind some of the evil activities that had been going on in San Luis Obispo.

When Mahala left, Simon took the opportunity to go to the hospital and check in on Marisol Garza. She was unconscious and her injuries were not visible, instead she was suffering from some kind of viral infection, the cause of which nobody was able to determine. When Simon entered a state of meditation, gazing into the unknown, he saw a horrible vision of the infamous Consag swearing vengeance against not only Carnamagos but also the Castalanta family. In this vision, as she spoke to her brothers, the Coyotes, she mentioned that she would use the power at her disposal to take on the form of another and slowly worm her way into the trust of her enemies and bring them down from within. However, something with the vision went awry and Simon snapped out of it, knowing the Consag saw him through time and space. Whomever she was, she was well aware that he was spying on her.

Meanwhile, Molly Sterling approached her sister, Melody Sterling. Since Molly’s father, Victor Sterling, had wanted the two girls to have a better relationship, Molly knew she would have to start having a better, healthier relationship with her. Melody’s main interest was getting Molly to reconsider the lifestyle that she considered dangerous – drinking, drugs, easy sex and maintaining a relationship with other girls, specifically Georgia Campbell. Whereas Molly was more than a little offended at the premise, the two girls agreed to let the past be the past and move on with a better understanding of one another.

Just as the sisters were finishing up their conversation, Molly got a call from Lilith. Lilith had in her possession, the infamous Testament of Carnamagos and wanted Molly, with her arcane talents, to come over and look through it to see if they could find anything out about reanimation magic or anything about controlling the dead. Molly agreed, got on her bike and decided to cycle herself to Lilith’s house. However, en route, she was stopped by Solomon Kane and his men. They offered her a ride to Lilith’s but clearly wanted a conversation with her about something else, as well. Molly agreed to the ride and the conversation revolved around Kane wanting Molly to get the infamous DVD from Emma Lee’s house. No tricks. No substitutes. No copies. The original. Molly agreed, figuring getting out from underneath Solomon Kane from his help in disposing of Gunner Holz’s body would be worth it.

Upon arriving at Lilth’s house, the two girls set up candles, drew a magic circle and played some of their favorite dark music to get Molly in the mood in order to aid in deciphering the Testament of Carnamagos. What Molly discovered, upon examining the chapters on death and reanimation, was that the wizard could turn the dead into puppets. By slicing open their backs, stuffing them with an infused amount of sawdust and other parts, they could bring the dead back, resembling something close to life. The puppet master could only really control one at a time, with the others, moving through their days listlessly. Of course, with all this magic at this disposal, they immediately suspected Dante Rocha, the puppet master as well as his dummy, Mr. Mumbles. There seemed like there had to be more than mere coincidence . . .

It was decided that Simon, Lilith, Emma Lee and Molly would get together that night to investigate the DVD. Emma Lee was hesitant to bring over the DVD but Molly was desperate to get her hands on it in order to fulfill her bargain with Solomon Kane. After some negotiation, Molly agreed to just having a few of them over in her father’s viewing room and at that point she would perhaps make a switch with the DVD.

First, however, the group decided to examine the DVD. Molly determined that while the DVD itself was not magical, someone had attempted to cast some spells upon it but had failed. When she tried to cast a spell upon it, herself, she was immediately possessed by some kind of spirit, perhaps the Consag, herself. The possession was but a mere moment in time but when it disappeared, they knew the Consag was aware of their plans.

Watching the DVD over and over again, they could not see what was so special. Everything seemed normal. But then Emma Lee began looking for a specific person – and did not find her.

Mahala Kindt was nowhere to be found in the DVD at all.

Upon coming to this revelation, she mentioned this to the others and they quickly rounded up Molly’s middle school yearbooks. Mahala was not present there, either. But each of them had distinct memories of the girl from their youth. But then Molly suggested that powerful magic could possibly implant those memories. Was Mahala a witch? Was she the infamous Consag?

As Lilith began texting Mahala, suggesting they should get together, Mahala agreed, stating they should come to her house. Molly, meanwhile, cast an ill-advised spell on the DVD which backfired. This energy backlash against her was just enough for the evil forces to make an alteration to the DVD, later learning that the Consag/Mahala was then able to put the images of herself on the DVD.

Arriving at the home of Mahala and Major Kindt, they quickly discovered the charade as Major greeted them at the door, listless and in a zombie-like state. Entering the parlor they encountered Mahala and sitting next to her was Sage Castle as well as Mahala’s apparent brothers, the Coyotes lounging in the room. Accusations flew and angry words were said but in the end, Mahala asked them to see her side of the story. Yes, there were many dead people around town that were her puppets, but in reality, she killed very few of them. It was Molly who killed Gunner and Emma Lee was not without sin either. Mahala explained that she was a powerful witch that not only opposed the Castalanta family – who intended to destroy the town, incidentally – but she also strongly opposed Carnamagos as she once was his servant. This was a delicate eco-system, she explained, and if they attacked and removed her, there would be little to stop the other two forces.

Mahala implored for the group to be an ally of hers as she could help them in preventing the cycles-old destruction of the town and prevent Carnamagos from taking retribution. Whereas Simon and Emma Lee were disgusted, Lilith seemed open minded and Molly was absolutely intrigued . . .

Yes, Mahala was behind so much of the things that had happened – Lizzy Ashbury, Solomon Kane and others. But she was no worse than Lilith, Molly, Simon and Emma Lee and certainly no worse than the Castalantas and Carnamagos. She stated that they could be strong allies but whereas she did not want to be enemies, she certainly would be up for the task if the characters made it so.

The group left, despite the fact that Mahala wanted them to stay in order to convince them to throw their lot in with her. Instead, the group decided they needed another option. None of the three power factions seemed to appeal to them but after a brief conversation, it was suspected that perhaps the Cult of Vesta would be an option. They clearly had a powerful entity whom provided them magic or abilities or something so maybe their goddess would be an avenue they could go down. But of course, this meant that they would have to deal with Betty Swain/Sophie Wessel who was tied and bound at in the basement of the House of Dust courtesy of Molly.

The group headed out to the House of Dust and Simon, still angry and confused over what he had recently learned, waited in the car, allowing the girls to take the lead on the interrogation/negotiation/planning.

Approaching Sophie, the girl was more than willing to talk or negotiate for her freedom. Initially, she stated that her ability to contact the Patron that the Cult venerated was impossible to contact. However, she stated she was willing to try if they promised to free her – which they did. She ordered Molly to draw a chalk circle, light some handles and put some markings in the circle and then ordered all the girls to strip, herself included. She began by intimately kissing Lilith while inside the chalk circle. That is when the Patron appeared. The negotiations were difficult but at one point the group needed Lilith to negotiate, so the intimacy with Lilith ended, and Emma Lee stepped in so that Lilith could come out and speak with the Patron.

The Patron seemed unwilling to help at first, as well as disinterested in the entire war that was being played out between the Consag, Castalantas and Carnamagos. The Patron ended the conversation with the order to release Sophie so that she could return to the Cult of Vesta and oust Minerva Mink, who had taken over the Cult in Sophie’s absence. In return, The Patron agreed that perhaps an alliance could be forged or that help could be granted in these troubled times.

Either way, the teens had a lot to consider as they had just come across a massive revelation. But now they knew who the players on the table were as well as their motivations.

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