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7 mos ago
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9 mos ago
If anyone wants to do more to help the #blacklivesmatter movement, here is a doc with resources!…
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3 yrs ago
Conspiracy Theory: Mahz will never return from vacation.


I’ve been on and off the Guild for 9 years now, since before old guild died. It’s been many years and I’m still not over it. Anyways, hi.

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“There’s a server room on the main hallway, ten minutes walk from here.”

Eli’s attention was on Keaton. While the others displayed some quiet form of anger, Keaton’s expression was flat. Eli listened to her speak as she tried to gauge how she was feeling. Was she numbed by what she read in this room? How many little implications had her power confirmed as she noticed the remains in the cell? While the information she was giving them about their next move was a blessing, Eli was sure that in this room Keaton’s ability was a curse. Yet as Eli watched her gather more papers, more evidence, Eli knew that Keaton felt the same way as herself.

A quick walk to a server room and they’d be able to make use of them. It was going to be tough given the expression on their faces. Eli wondered how her own expression looked. It certainly didn’t stand out as much as Natalie’s or Lynn’s, but she was sure that it was darker than Keaton’s. If anything, she hoped that whatever emotion she displayed would give her friends stability. They’d need to keep it in check for just a little longer. Just until their final move on this station.

“Then let’s go, please.”

Eli looked at Archie and gave him a nod. He was doing well, given the circumstances. His pace was even and there had been no beeping from his watch yet. Eli turned her focus onto the hallways before her as the group headed deeper into the Spire. She walked as if she’d been to the Spire before. She kept her head high, and took the inner edge of the circle so that Lynn would be hidden behind her height. If anyone even looked their way she moved to block their view of Lynn. She only gave subtle glances towards their tour guide when she needed to know where to go next, but for most of it she stared straight ahead. At the moment she couldn’t give a fuck who walked by her, how old they were, how depressed or proud they were of their job, or if they had a shoelace untied. These people- no matter how true their intentions- were here because they were okay with the fucked up things that happen behind all of these closed doors.

They might have been taught to feel this way at a young age, but that doesn’t make it an excuse. These people chose to accept it. They decided that parahumans were a disease on their own terms. They were wolves in sheeps clothing.

They arrived at an elevator and Eli was relieved to immediately board it. The less time they spent standing still the better. She positioned herself at the front of the group, offering the personnel that joined them a professional nod before staring ahead. They were doing great. No suspicious eyes so far. Still, a part of her worried that they were just rats in a maze. Was the staff already aware of their little break-in and they were just seeing how far this group could go?

They finally made it to their floor. Eli felt like she could breathe again as she stepped into the hall. She looked over at Keaton. Her eyes most likely displayed her growing anxiety. The fire from before was still within her, but that elevator ride certainly smothered a few embers. She needed to keep moving. She was just about to ask Keaton how much farther they had to go when the first alarm went off.

Eli’s heart immediately jumped into her throat, but she didn’t falter in her steps. She heard Archie’s monitor faintly beneath the louder alarm overhead and looked his way. He had that look in his eyes. She knew the predator was aching to come out, but she could also see him fighting against it. Her eyes remained on him as the announcement began. Her heartbeat was loud in her chest. What would they do now that they were caught? They were floors away from their exit. There was no sense in turning back. Plus, they were so close to the server room. They only needed a bit more time!


Eli’s heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t for them. The alarm was meant for someone else. Some other unfortunate soul. She looked around at her group and could see that they were barely keeping it together. The other employees were scuffling by, and her friends were standing like deer in headlights. She wanted to tell them to hurry, but she wasn’t sure if they’d snap if she yelled at them. Archie might snap.

To her surprise, though, Archie made the first command. She stepped back to let him move past her, but followed closely behind him. He was changing already. The lab coat looked shorter than before. He was beginning to look a lot like the night he carried her from the forest. Not as dramatic as a change as the loading bay, but he was getting there. They were on the door to the server room in seconds. Eli wasn’t sure how the others were doing now that they made it. Her eyes were still on Archie. He was acting fine, but he didn’t look fine. His eyes... his eyes weren’t his own anymore. Eli couldn’t even process the crude joke Lynn made to Nic. In fact, she knew Lynn was making jokes this entire time but had no time to react to them. This was nothing like their usual roast sessions. This was life or death. Lynn’s humorous coping mechanism wasn’t working. She wasn’t even distracted by the team’s effortless collaboration. She wanted to feel pride for them, but all she could feel was worry.

“Uh, Eli…” Lynn’s voice was low.

Eli knew what she had to do, but could she do it under this amount of pressure? Could she take herself to a peaceful place amidst this chaos and bring Archie with her? The alarms were loud intrusions into her mind. The halls were empty and yet the chaos still lingered. Her fear was achingly present and was growing with every step she took towards him. Her hand was inches from his arm. She’d have to give it her best shot if she wanted to bring him back from the edge. If she shared the chaotic buzz that was inside her head he would surely lose it. She closed her eyes. He’s not there yet… It’s still Archie.

It was just Eli and the alarms now. In her mind, she was standing alone in the halls. Lights were flashing different shades of red around her. She could feel an ominous presence just around the corner. Not sure exactly what it was, but knowing that it was coming. Her body was tense and her heart still racing. She needed to go somewhere else. She tried to go to the place she’d been before with Archie, but she couldn’t picture it again. Not like this. She needed to find her own peaceful place. It only took her a few seconds, but she was there. Her physical self pressed her palm against Archie and suddenly he was next to her.

Eli looked up from where she stood in a large expanse of sand and dirt. Little desert fauna littered the ground, and every now and then a Joshua tree was standing tall. Eli moved her eyes away from Archie and turned her head to the sky. It was dark out, but the light of the stars and Milky Way band illuminated the desert in a way the sun never could. A warm breeze brushed past them and they felt goosebumps from the chilly night air. Nearby a lizard scuttled over a rock and into the safety of a desert bush. It was a peaceful night in the Arizona desert.

Eli’s heart slowed until she could breathe evenly again. She looked back to Archie and gave him a little smile even though she could still see the reptile in his eyes.

“We can stay here as long as you need to.”

On the outside of her little safe space, Eli’s eyes were still closed. Her hand pressed to Archie’s arm as if it were a lifeline. She had complete control of what was going on inside of Archie’s mind, but her effect on the area around her was stronger given her erratic emotions when she began. Her anxiety of producing a hallucination was leaking into the minds of those closest to her, unknowingly. In a way it might have helped her teammates, but it could also affect them negatively. The sudden whoosh of air flowing past them or the scuttling feet of the lizard might alarm them. Their vision could be clouded by a haze of twinkling stars on top of their view of the broken door before them.

Eli was blissfully unaware of this. She wasn’t thinking about the papers tucked into her coat’s pocket and how they needed to be shared with the world. She wasn’t thinking about the alarms or the Spire. She was still surrounded by her own visionary illusion for Archie’s sake.

“Well, Miss Matthews, everything came out okay with your scans. No major tears or fractures to be seen, but you’ll need to follow the usual treatment for dislocations.”


The doctor before her set down a small stack of instructional and medical papers. Arabelle glanced over them quickly. Fortunately for her, she wouldn’t have to come back for any treatment. She didn’t see anything about seeing a physical therapist but she had an inkling that at least one appointment would be recommended. Arabelle would politely refuse.

“You’ll only need to wear the sling for a few days. I want you to wear it for two nights while you sleep with a pillow tucked under your arm for support.” The doctor continued as she helped Arabelle stick her arm into the fabric trap. Arabelle couldn’t feel a thing in her shoulder, but she knew that it would have hurt to move it without the painkillers.

Once the sling was properly secured, the doctor held up a bottle before slipping it into a paper bag, along with her instructional papers. [b] “Take one pill in the morning and one at night with water and crackers for your stomach. There should be enough to last you until your shoulder is doing better. The papers have information and resources for physical therapy, but you can also look up treatment exercises online through our website.”[/color]

“Unless you have any further questions, I think we’re all wrapped up here.” The doctor finished with a smile. Arabelle nodded before pushing herself onto her feet.

“I don’t have any questions now, but if I do I’ll contact a PT.” She smiled at the nurse and took her goody bag, stuffing it into the hand that poked just barely out of the sling. “Thank you, Doctor.”

The doctor returned the smile. “It’s my pleasure, Miss Matthews. Let me help you with your cardigan.” Arabelle watched her with an awkward silence as the doctor turned to the chair by the door. She took a step forward, just in time to prevent the doctor from also picking up the (super fucking weird) ram skull hidden underneath.

Arabelle cleared her throat and scooped it up with her good arm before clutching it to her chest. “Sorry, it’s a- um, a family heirloom. Just want to make sure it doesn’t fall.”

I can never come back here again. Arabelle thought as the doctor raised an eyebrow.


Yep. Never coming back.

The doctor placed her cardigan over her shoulders, said a short goodbye, and led her far enough out of the wing that Arabelle could find her own way out. Arabelle would have flushed in embarrassment if she hadn’t seen Ezra down the hall.

“Let’s go before they admit me to the psych ward.” Arabelle muttered to Ezra before she continued towards the exit. Whether Ezra or Nisha followed didn’t matter. She wanted to get this ram skull back to the estate as quickly as possible.

Arabelle returned to the estate with too much on her mind. As she walked inside, her body shaking without her coat to protect her from the winter night, Arabelle immediately headed for her coat in the closet closest to the door. Thankfully Ezra was busy helping Nisha into the guest house, and missed the awkward display of Arabelle shuffling the coat over her shoulders. She wasn’t sure how she was going to manage wearing a sling for four days if it was this difficult to wear for an hour.

She could hear the whistle of a kettle from the kitchen. Tea time, right. Who would be making tea without a servant to help? Arabelle figured it was Georgie. She never missed tea time. Arabelle headed down the hall and towards the kitchen, but it seemed that she’d just missed the Vanburen sister. Maybe it was best that she missed the beginning of the meeting. What she had to say would be enough to explain why the cult attacked in the first place. Well, unless Ezra explained it for her before she made it out there. Into the cold, cold night. Arabelle sighed and made herself a hot mug of tea with honey to sweeten it. She sipped it for a few moments to warm up before joining the family meeting.

Arabelle stepped into the freezing air just in time to watch Ezra literally hold Nisha back. She could see the frustration on his face. It was a little funny to see him this way. Only a little bit.

Arabelle stood a few feet from the circle with her back to the warm light of the estate home. She listened to Ezra speak. She didn’t know what the others said before this, but she had to agree with Ezra’s point. It sounded like the Vanburen’s wanted payback. That was understandable. A full on assault on their cult grounds was not. Nisha spoke up again and Arabelle took this as a moment to sip her tea. Her eyes glanced between the Vanburen’s faces that she could see.

“-I instead lead them to a mirror? then Arabelle and I can pull them through-”

Arabelle almost spit her tea out. She swallowed what was left and held the mug away from her mouth. What the hell was with this woman? Did any of them even realize how Arabelle had escaped? Why would she bring her into this plan without asking first? Arabelle had an incredulous look on her face when Ezra actually agreed with her.

Arabelle sighed and put her mug into her sling hand. She then stepped her way into the circle, reaching for the ram skull under her arm. She held it out into the center of the group as soon as she’d taken her place among them.

“This is what they came here for.” Arabelle stated plainly as she looked at each of them in the circle. “The Horned God is sealed within this skull.” Just saying his name sent shivers down her fingertips, up her arms, and to the back of her neck. He was still trying to convince her to set him free.

“A girl within the cult spoke to me before I escaped. She is against this Morgana and the Triple Goddesses plan to release him. She gave this to me for protection.”

She turned towards the Liao ghost detective.

“If this girl is truly against their plans, she may know a way to stop them without violence. She may know about this goddesses weakness too. I think we should try to contact her.”

“Alright, I’m sure you’re feeling much better now but take one of these for the pain.”

Arabelle turned her head over to see the EMT handing her a bottle of water. The woman handed her a tiny paper cup with a pill inside next. Arabelle nodded her head like a child that couldn’t yet speak for themselves and took the cup first to pop the pill inside of her mouth. Once she’d set the cup down she took the water and began to gulp it down as if she hadn’t had a drop to drink in days. She was grateful to have the care of the EMT. Her arm was feeling a lot better, and she felt safe within the walls of the ambulance, but she still felt shaken by the attack on the estate. She couldn’t even tell the EMT how she was truly feeling.

Once she’d taken more than half of the water in she stopped to catch her breath and finally thank the EMT. She heard Nisha’s voice nearby and looked her way. Arabelle was surprised that the woman had stayed back for this long. Arabelle then noticed Ezra was walking her way and she realized that this was just a reason for Nisha to meet him. Unfortunately for Nisha, Ezra pushed past her as if they were strangers.

Arabelle’s eyebrow rose. Ezra certainly wouldn’t brush past someone he knew. Especially if it was a potentially new addition to the Vanburen family. Then again, Arabelle wouldn’t put it past the first born son of James Vanburen to do such a thing. There were enough Vanburens already.

Ezra approached the van and Arabelle watched his gaze rest briefly on the skull. Arabelle pressed her lips together. She couldn’t tell him here.

“How is she? Are you okay?” Did Ezra just show concern about her wellbeing?

“Did one…”

Arabelle’s eyes widened. He was about to blow her cover story. The EMT would definitely want to know what really happened. It was the perfect opportunity for Nisha’s voice to interrupt again, even if Ezra ignored it, and it was the perfect time for the EMT to explain what Arabelle should do next. Arabelle recognized the look of relief on Ezra’s face and felt relieved herself. He hadn’t blown her cover- well, their cover.

To go to the hospital for a checkup sounded like the reasonable thing to do. Especially if the estate was still in disarray. She didn’t want to take the skull back to her apartment, but she didn’t trust it at the mansion either. She felt personally responsible for it’s safety now. Until she found a completely safe place for it, she didn’t want to let it out of her sight. Even if she didn’t feel safe with it either.

Arabelle refocused on the situation before her in time to see Nisha embrace Ezra in a sort of happy-cry smothering. Arabelle instantly felt uncomfortable again. She returned Ezra’s discombobulated stare with one of exasperation. They didn’t have time for a family reunion. Not with these cultists on the loose. The object they were looking for was still poking into her ribcage. Didn’t Nisha understand that there were other troubles at hand?

Still, Arabelle felt sympathy for the woman. She must have been terribly lonely to have looked for love and kinship in the Vanburens. Arabelle couldn’t let Ezra treat a member of his family this way. And if Nisha was faking the connection to James Vanburen she’d be sent right back to where she came from.

So, Arabelle took a deep breath and nodded her head to Nisha. “Ezra, this is Nisha. She said you’ve been in contact with her, and that you were to meet her here at the cafe before I hurt my shoulder this way.”

The EMT was moving to shut the doors, and it looked like her window to think was closing too. Arabelle turned to the EMT next to her.

“I think it’s best that I check the ligaments for any spraining or underlying damage. It really was a nasty fall.”

She looked towards Ezra.

“Ezra, I would appreciate it if you met me at the hospital. I’ll see you there as soon as possible, yes?”

Hopefully Ezra could determine if Nisha was trustworthy enough to come along, or to go to the mansion and wait for their return. Arabelle didn’t have time to stand around and let Ezra determine that. She gave Nisha a brief smile and let the EMT help her into the back of the ambulance.

"Take care, Nisha."

Arabelle couldn’t stand to be in the bathroom any longer. She inhaled through her nose and pushed her way out of the bathroom, only to see that Nisha had begun to hold the door open for her anyways. She walked straight towards the door and avoided eye contact with anyone in the cafe. With this woman rambling on beside her, it would surely gather more attention than Arabelle wanted in her current state. The patrons inside would begin to wonder if they’d seen Arabelle enter the cafe at all, or how could she have dislocated her shoulder in the bathroom of a coffee shop. She was especially nervous that someone in the room would notice the skull and have the same intentions as the thief from weeks ago or the wiccans. She was all alone outside of the estate, and while Nisha seemed genuine she wasn’t sure if she would help her out any further than this.

As if this was even helping her. Nisha demonstrated her own self-defense technique and Arabelle flinched as if Nisha would accidentally strike her. Her eyes widened as she listened to Nisha’s story. What the hell happened to this girl? The flash of mischief across Nisha’s face was enough to send her heart racing. Arabelle began to shake her head, her mouth opening to protest loudly because this girl seemed like the type to just do even if Arabelle didn’t want to- but she was in luck.

The flashing lights outside caught Arabelle’s eyes and the wails of the ambulance sounded like heaven’s choir. Arabelle almost fainted in relief. She was utterly exhausted and felt like crying in a hot shower. In her relief she completely forgot to thank Nisha for what little help she provided, but Arabelle figured that she’d have time for that later. For now, she just needed to fix her shoulder and swallow the strongest painkiller they had in the emergency vehicle.

When the EMT asked how she hurt her shoulder, Arabelle offered a weak excuse that she’d slipped on a wet floor in the bathroom. They took her to the back of the ambulance, but Arabelle insisted that she sit down on the edge instead of being lifted inside. An EMT offered to take the skull, her face just as confused as Nisha’s was, but Arabelle refused to let anyone touch it. She wasn’t sure what would happen if a Blind human were to touch a sealed apparition, and she wasn’t going to find out. Not with a cult of extra-normal women after it.

So Arabelle held the skull tightly with her left hand as the EMTs did their job. She shut her eyes tightly when it came down to relocating the displaced shoulder and tried her best not to grind her teeth together as they began to move the arm. It was searing hot pain one moment, a sudden POP back into place, and suddenly Arabelle felt much much better.

Now she just needed Ezra to come get her.

“Sorry, batteries dead. Would have no signal either way.”

Arabelle watched Nisha wave the phone around. Her patience was wearing thin. She was just about to politely push- ask Nisha to move out of her way. What was with this girl? Any normal human would have rushed her to the hospital at this point. What if she was keeping Arabelle here to stall? The only thing that kept Arabelle from speaking her mind was that Nisha offered another way to get in touch with him. Arabelle nodded and moved to follow her, but let the door close behind Nisha anyways. She released the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding the moment she was alone. Truly alone.

With the say-so Vanburen gone, Arabelle set the ram skull down on the counter of the sink and rubbed as close to her shoulder as she could without it hurting. It felt strange to have her limb hanging there like that. She almost wanted to take her cardigan off to use it as a sling, but she didn’t dare try to slide it off of her arm. She leant against the doorway on her good shoulder and cracked the door. From where the bathroom sat, she could see Nisha up at a desk with the phone to her ear. She could even hear what she was saying. She caught the conversation just as she told Ezra she loved him. Arabelle’s eyebrow rose, and she let the door shut before Nisha could return. If they’d just met, how could they already exchange that type of intimacy between them? Had Ezra known of this extra Vanburen for long?

She wasn’t going to let her guard down either way. Arabelle picked up the ram skull again and put it back under her arm. She wasn’t going to let this thing out of her grip again.

“Release me, girl.”

Man, this apparition was getting annoyed. It was probably the most action it had gotten in a while, and she wasn’t even acknowledging it. What the hell was she going to do with it anyways? Would the family continue to keep it at the estate with those lunatics after it? She was lucky to have gotten it away from them in the first place. The Vanburens were lucky she was even there.

Nisha was back just as quickly as Arabelle had picked up the skull and leant against the sink counter. She even had a cookie. Arabelle took the cookie even though she couldn’t eat with her stomach in knots like this. She just held it in her hand and stared at Nisha. An ambulance and Ezra? It was her lucky day.

Arabelle wasn’t sure if she should tell the truth or to lie. The truth wasn’t even believable, really, but Arabelle figured that if this girl was a Wiccan she already knew, and if this girl was a Vanburen, she would find out. If she was a Wiccan, she wouldn’t let her out of this bathroom until her friends arrived.

“There was a break in at the estate.” Arabelle began and she stood straight. She watched Nisha closely as she started to move towards the door. She wanted to be outside when the ambulance arrived, if it was coming.

“One of the robbers dislocated it before I could escape.” Arabelle set her hand on the door handle and began to pull it open, her eyes still on Nisha. Could she really be trusted?

The moment Madison started looking her up and down, Lyss knew what her sister was going to say next. She sighed softly, prepared to explain that she was going to help in any small way possible, but the Director responded with a relieving answer. Lyss would have time to rest. Her legs almost gave out at the thought of it, but she kept her balance. The look she gave Madison after Alcott spoke said it all. A few days to recharge would be fantastic after this fight.

Lyss nodded in agreement to the Director, and turned to give Madison a weary salute as her sister took off. While she was glad to know Madison and Maya were alright, she was hoping that Emily, Vashti, and Herik had escaped in time. The coven couldn’t take any more losses. It felt like their numbers had withered away during the past few months. The image of Kayla’s and Izzy’s bodies among the mass of flesh that made Annabelle still burned freshly in her mind.

They wouldn’t be forgotten.

As she made her way into the helicopter, she gave the wreckage one last look. Her speedster was somewhere out there. Probably underneath one of these rich pricks tesla. She shook her head before taking a seat within the helicopter. She could see the medics working on Meifeng where she sat. It looked like they were stabilizing her, but would she survive the ride to their base? Would she ever return to the field?

Lyss looked out of the side door to the helicopter at Tampa’s remains. Where would the Coven go now?

Lyss took the next few days to recover. The DENs base was cushy, even if she wasn’t allowed access to half of the building. The DENs still didn’t trust her, after all that she did for them? She blamed it on the fact that Meifeng was still in the ICU. Maximillian could vouch for her all he wanted, but Lyss had a feeling that Alcott knew of their… engagement.

Which hadn’t been a problem for a while since Maximillian was injured by the Forgiven, but now that they were living under the same roof? Well… they’d spent some time together during their mutual recoveries. It still wasn’t a good idea, at least that’s what her head was telling her, but it felt great to unwind before they’d face Saul and… whatever that thing was on the roof.

That thing led Annabelle to them. Had it known she would perish, or had it brought Annabelle to them to destroy them instead? They knew so little of Saul and his Forgiven, but how much did he and his friend know of the Coven? Only a few of them agreed to take the Forgiven on, but were the ones who chose not to safe?

These thoughts were the only thing to ruin her little vacation at the DENs. By the time the briefing was called Lyss was feeling stronger than ever. The only thing that could hold her back now was her fear.

She arrived at the briefing room at the same time as Maximillian, which would appear pretty incriminating even if they hadn’t seen each other since yesterday. Lyss simply tried her best to act nonchalant as she walked inside with him, but as soon as she realized Director Alcott was not there she couldn’t help but smirk.

She didn’t stay by his side long. Instead, she chose to stand next to Madison as she arrived. Her eyes moved over the map of the Forgivens compound. The fact that the place had hidden passageways and sacrificial altars wasn’t at all surprising, but she felt a twist in her stomach at the mention of prisoners. Were these prisoners nothing but sacrifices to Saul? And children too?? Her hands curled into fists by her side.

Lyss glanced at Alcott to see her reaction, and was relieved to see that the Director felt the same way.

Going in as a small team was wise. Lyss couldn’t be more confident in the team around her, and yet…

“Any questions?”

Lyss had many, but her sisters asked a few of them for her. She would have been proud if those questions weren’t the least of her worries.

“I’m also hoping we could go over those details, but there is something else that worries me.” She began, moving her attention from Maximillian and onto Director Alcott.

“Saul has a powerful friend with him. They led Annabelle to our home. Do you have any intel on this entity? What is our plan if this being knows we are coming?” They could very well be walking into a trap. It wanted them dead before, but why?

Arabelle was growing more and more impatient with this woman. She was about to take a step towards the door when Nisha blocked her path. Or at least would have made it extremely uncomfortable to squeeze by her and out of the bathroom. So, Arabelle gave Nisha an incredulous look and pointed at her arm.

“I hate to be so stern with you, Ms. Nisha, but I don’t care if you come along or not.”

“In fact, I would really appreciate it if you would give me a ride. Either to a doctor or to the estate. Plenty of the Vanburen boys have had dislocated shoulders, so they could help me too.”

As for the ram skull, Arabelle had no intention of giving Nisha any hint of what it really was. She kept it snugly beneath her left arm and almost didn’t answer Nisha’s question about it. Yet she figured that Nisha would need an explanation eventually if she needed to live with the Vanburens. Surely, if she was a Vanburen, she had to leave her old life behind because of their curse.

“As for the skull, I’d really rather not tell you until we’re on Vanburen grounds.”

With a sudden sigh, Arabelle looked up at the ceiling to wonder if there were any grounds to return to. She took a deep breath before looking back at Nisha.

“You must have Ezra’s phone number, right? Could you give him a call?” She checked her pockets as best she could with one arm, but her phone was nowhere to be found. “I left mine behind.”

Arabelle stood wincing in the bathroom as her companion tested the mirror to make sure it was real. She inhaled slowly through her nose and out through her mouth. Not only was her arm in pain, but she now had a small headache because of the portals. She listened to Aileen as she asked if the skull was the reason for the attack and Arabelle nodded. She was just about to pull away from the Vanburen before the girl could come near her arm when she heard the toilet flush and the door to the stall behind them creak open.

Arabelle froze, her head turning to look at the woman who came out. Had she seen them? Arabelle had no time to check if the bathroom was empty before she emerged. Usually she would listen for movement before choosing to, but in the rush to leave the estate Arabelle had taken the empty looking bathroom as an okay to go.

Arabelle stared at the girl indignantly, as if challenging her to make an already bad day worse by freaking out on them. Hell, what if she was a wiccan too? Had they been followed by the girl with the portal abstraction? She stepped backwards from the woman as she moved to the sink and glanced at Aileen. If they needed to bolt, she was closest to the door. Arabelle would have to push the woman aside to follow Aileen out.

“So that’s a cool little trick you have there.”

Arabelle met the woman’s eyes in the mirror. She pressed her lips together and stuck her chin out. This woman wasn’t a Blind because of how she was acting, but what was she? Arabelle had not read enough of James’s journals to differentiate between the types of extra-normals. If that was even possible. Arabelle watched the woman touch her hand to the glass, but she was distracted by the opaque blue arm that reached for a towel. So Arabelle was right. This woman knew of magic.

“Don’t worry, if there’s a string of burglaries around here I’m not gonna be the one to rat you out to the police.”

Arabelle almost laughed. Instead she raised an eyebrow as the girl continued to ask questions about her abstraction. Maybe this girl wasn’t hostile at all?

Then the woman recognized Aileen. Arabelle looked just as confused as Aileen did. Another Vanburen? Why was Ezra the only one aware of her? If they knew each other so well already, Ezra would have mentioned her a long time ago. Arabelle had never seen her at the estate before either. Not even when James was alive. So, how did she end up working at this cafe in Araminta without a proper introduction to the family? Had she come to Araminta because of the curse?

Arabelle almost choked on her own spit when Aileen called her Miss Matthews. She wasn’t a goddamned nanny. Neither was she the full time caretaker. At least Aileen was trying to find a way out of this… situation. Which was growing increasingly more tiresome the longer she stood there. She needed to get her arm fixed, and then they could get to her apartment until it was safe to go back to the estate.

“I need to get to a doctor.” She winced as she took a step towards the door. Now.

She looked at Nisha and gave her the best smile she could despite the pain in her arm.

“It was nice to meet you, Nisha. I hope to see you at the estate one day so that Ezra can properly introduce you to the Vanburen family.”

She hoped that Nisha would pass off the edge in the tone of her voice for her pain instead of unfriendliness.

Lyss stood tall as she stared back at the director even though sitting down would feel amazing. She pressed her lips together as she expected a harsh comeback, but she was relieved that the director agreed with her at all. Everything the director said made sense. It still wasn’t enough, but Lyss understood why it had to happen this way. Lyss suddenly understood the bigger picture as soon as the director mentioned Saul. Lyss frowned. The bastard was the reason this all happened. The reason Max was battling The Hunger all on his own. Annabelle had been lured to their beach house by Saul’s master. He was next in line to be taken down.

The explosion from behind drew Lyss’s attention. She turned back to face the mushroom cloud of dust. Was that it…? Had Maximillian killed himself in the process of destroying Annabelle Heart. She could feel her chest growing tighter and her knees growing weaker.

Then she heard the director’s cheerful voice. Lyss sighed softly in relief and let her shoulders loosen. It was over. Max was safe. Lyss looked back at the director, glancing at the helicopter before Madison put a hand on her shoulder. She nodded along to what her sister was saying, and even cracked a smile at her last comment.

“I’m sure you could find me if I did.” She teased.

Someone called out for herself and Madison and Lyss looked over to see Maya coming their way. Lyss smiled, her heart full now that she knew most of her sisters had survived this shitshow.

“You look like shit… I guess I missed a lot.”

Lyss pursed her lips and shrugged. “We understand why you ran off. We were able to distract Annabelle until Maximillian arrived with the cure. Agent Liao is critically wounded, but she’s getting help right now.”

She glanced at the director before looking back at Madison and Maya.

“Madison is going to look for Emily and Vashti. You can go with her, or you can come with me into the helicopter. I’m going with them to finish the forgiven.”

She just needed to rest, and she could do enough to help the DENs with that fight.

Arabelle was relieved to see Aileen follow her into the room. It was easy to get the Vanburen into the room, but now Arabelle would have to face the difficult part of this escape. It was going to be hard enough to bring a sealed apparition through a mirror and into a different location before, but now she had to bring a friend with a dislocated shoulder. Her arm was numb where it hung next to her. It already took enough energy to ignore the pain and to focus. She fumbled with the ram skull in her left hand and stuck it under her armpit.

“You’re in pain. I can help you with that.”

Arabelle groaned. It was a tempting offer at present, but she knew better than that. She reached out with her left arm, careful to keep the ram skull between her arm and ribcage, and grabbed onto Aileen’s hand.

“Get im, boy!”


“No time to explain. This is going to feel weird!”

Without waiting for another wall to be destroyed by a hellhound, Arabelle plunged into the depths of the mirror. Her body disappeared first, and as her arm disappeared it continued to pull Aileen into it. Arabelle felt her head spin as she pulled the other woman inside with her, but once Aileen was inside the pocket dimension she felt better.

Next to her, an opening in the expanse appeared as Arabelle envisioned the room she would exit into. It led into the bathroom of a coffee shop in Araminta. She’d used this mirror plenty of times to grab coffee before, but she never expected it to be an escape route. She glanced back at the opening that they came from and was glad to see that the hellhound hadn’t burst into the room yet. It wouldn’t be ideal for the mirror to break, especially with a guest inside of it.

“Jump through this one, okay?” She smiled at Aileen briefly before turning to face the opening.

She pulled Aileen along again with a wince, still making sure the ram was secure in her arm, and leapt towards the opening to the cafe’s bathroom. If Aileen followed suit, and the hound didn’t break the mirror upon entry to the room, the girls would find themselves safe and sound miles away from the estate. Hopefully someone in the coffee shop this late at night was a nurse, too.
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