The Angel of the Owl House - Chapter 45 - OwlHouseAngel (2024)

Chapter Text

Over 4 long months passed following the Day of Unity. A grand total of 20 weeks in which Luz, King, and the Hexsquad had been completely stranded in the Human Realm with no way back, despite their best efforts. It had been a chaotic time with a lot of new experiences both good and bad, with everyone missing their homes in the Demon Realm (or at least the people they’d loved from there), but being made to feel extremely welcome with Camila and Vee, who’d pulled out all the stops to make sure the kids were happy and healthy, with a little help from Masha, Gray, and Rebecca. Thus far, all attempts to make a new portal had failed miserably; even with King’s blood, they didn’t have access to the materials needed to make a properly functioning portal, and since they didn’t have Belos’ old notes with them, they hadn’t even been able to cobble together a halfway decent temporary portal. Their one semi-successful attempt had only opened a path to the In-Between Realm, but when Boscha had volunteered to try and walk through it, the portal had almost immediately broken down upon contact and promptly exploded. Boscha was protected at that last minute by Skara using a wind barrier, but the whole experience had proven fruitless; they simply didn’t have the necessary materials for even an incomplete portal and the haphazard attempts they could make were just too dangerous and couldn’t even be entered.

They had then turned their attention to the Portal Gate that Camila and Manny had used to go to the Demon Realm. Since Camila had tossed the keystone back through it into the In-Between Realm before it closed, the Hexsquad had investigated how to make keystones and why the keystone had been buried in Gravesfield to begin with. Upon investigating the Rebus (which Camila still had stored away), they’d realised it had been made by Belos thanks to Luz piecing things together. The other side of the Portal Gate was Evelyn’s old garden gate, and Evelyn had found the keystone buried on her side, then carved it into the bird like shape that Camila had described. It had only been charged with enough magic for a couple of uses, enough to get Evelyn to the Human Realm and back, and that had led to Caleb and Philip getting to the Demon Realm too. The stone had run out of charge and closed the gate while Philip was still passing through, leading to Evelyn and Caleb being stranded and Philip being spat out of the closest Demon Realm Portal Gate that still had power. Sometime later, Philip had stolen the keystone and charged it with Titan Blood that he’d found, but since the Gate was a part of Evelyn’s property now and she guarded it closely, he’d had to make his own portal home instead. He’d linked this portal to the abandoned house in Gravesfield, which the Hexsquad discovered was the Wittebanes’ former home, then buried the keystone and Titan Blood near the inactive Portal Gate, before creating the Rebus and hiding it in his old home, writing a message in broken Angelic Script (no doubt learned from books he’d recovered in the Demon Realm) so that any Angels who discovered it would learn of his mission and find their way to the Demon Realm to help him. Naturally that had led to Camila and Manny finding their way there instead and they all knew what happened from there.

Unfortunately, the Portal Gate soon proved to be a bust as well; Camila didn’t know how to make a keystone as they and the Portal Gates were closely guarded secrets of the Crest Orders, but she did know that it was supposed to be impossible to sync a new keystone with a Portal Gate whilst the old one still existed, so unless the keystone she’d thrown away years ago had been destroyed somehow, this was another dead end.

The last option the Hexsquad could think of was finding a way to the Divine Realm and then appealing to the Angels to have them send them back to the Demon Realm, but while Luz had been receptive to the idea, the Hexsquad had steadfastly refused. They were certain that if the Angels didn’t just destroy them on sight for being witches, which Camila insisted wouldn’t happen, then they would demand payment for the use of their gates, probably in the form of either Luz or Camila joining the Crest Orders. With Luz being a 14 year old Arch-Angel with some Titan power flowing through her, Camila knew she’d be highly desirable to the Crest Orders and had admitted that the Hexsquad was probably correct in their fear, so any chance of going to the Angels for help was killed stone dead.

With their only three options essentially dead-ends, hope of getting back to the Demon Realm had dwindled. They hadn’t given up and were experimenting with Angelic Teleportation Circles, Glyph Combos (like the one Philip had used to teleport), and King’s Titan Blood frequently, but as the days faded into weeks and then into months, the Hexsquad became more and more resigned to their lives in the Human Realm, which were actually pretty good thanks to the efforts of Camila, Vee, and the Cabin Seven Crew.

Not long after they’d started living in the Human Realm, Camila had rallied them all to work on renovating the Noceda Home AND the abandoned house. Using magic, the former was expanded and made bigger on the inside without it being visible from the outside. New guest rooms were created upstairs so the kids weren’t all bundled into the basem*nt and Luz’s room. The new guest rooms were designed for two kids each to have their own personal space, and Camila had assigned the rooms by gender and to ensure that Luz, Amity, Skara, and Boscha weren’t sharing rooms with each other. Camila trusted them to be responsible, but having spent a few years living with her own boyfriend before they became adults, she understood the temptation and took no risks. Amity and Boscha became room-mates, as did Skara and Willow, Gus and Matt, and Hunter and Lyra, who were allowed to share despite being opposite genders due to their sibling relationship and both being more comfortable when the other was close. King remained with Luz and Vee, getting his own nice and cosy portion of the room. Camila had also built a small greenhouse (bigger on the inside, naturally) in the backyard for Willow, Luz, and herself to grow plants in, both for potions ingredients and food, and simply for Willow to have fun in.

Camila had legally purchased the abandoned house that had once belonged to the Wittebanes, and fully renovated it with the kids into a sort of clubhouse and school for them, where they could perform their portal experiments and hang out, as well as where Camila could teach them as much of her own magic as she could. She only had 13 years of formal education in the Divine Realm, but she’d picked up a lot in the years she spent in the Demon Realm, and then through self-study in the years since, so she had a lot to instruct them all in! They’d also renovated specific rooms in the clubhouse for each of them to ply their craft. Amity and Boscha had their own labs for abominations and potions, with chemistry supplies and Camila’s old alchemy gear serving as their equipment. Skara and Gus had studios for practicing their music and illusions, and the former was loaded with musical instruments, CDs, cassettes, vinyl discs, and music players of all kinds, as well as mountains of sheet music, while the latter had a projector screen, and tons of DVDs, VCR tapes, Blu-rays, and human technical manuals and “For Dummies” books. Since Willow already had the greenhouse back at the Noceda home, she’d turned her own work room into a gym for physical exercise and a duelling ring for magical training, where everyone spent a lot of time, while King got his own study room for practicing with his Glyphs, as all but the darkness glyph would work in the Human Realm now that Luz had bonded with them. Hunter and Matt had workshops, with Hunter’s being focused on woodwork and Matt’s being focused on stone and metal (Camila had managed to hook him up with some actual forge equipment, much to his joy). Lastly there was Lyra, who’d turned her work room into a small shrine full of incense and various trinkets that could calm the mind and help her spirit feel more comfortable (Masha was a BIG fan of this room, likening it to a fortune teller’s tent).

With their own spaces to live, work, and learn in, King and the Hexsquad felt right at home and soon settled into a comfortable life.

Boscha began to really work on her Transmutation Magic, using humanity’s extensive knowledge of chemistry to be able to transmute all manner of materials and medicines, as well as compensate for and replace the ingredients she could no longer get from the Demon Realm. She earned her keep by providing these medicines and potions to Camila’s Veterinary Clinic, saving the Clinic thousands of dollars in drug costs. She also became extremely into human sports, especially American Football and Baseball. Boscha (along with Willow and Skara) went to every football game they could, and began holding casual baseball games in the park and at Gravesfield High School. None of the Hexsquad kids attended the school, instead taking lessons from Camila and her illusory clones when she was at work, but despite this Boscha quickly became respected by the popular crowd. Her involvement in Gus, Matt, and Hunter’s Cosmic Frontier obsession also meant she had an in with the less popular crowd, leading the three-eyed girl to become weirdly popular with the teens of Gravesfield; a stark contrast from how she’d been in Hexside, where her cruelty and power had earned her respect but no love. And true to what Boscha had said before, she and Rebecca became pretty good friends, often discussing sports and wrestling, which was another human thing that Boscha came to enjoy.

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Skara extensively studied human music and began discovering what each song would do when turned into a Bardic Spell, finding a whole plethora of spells that she’d never imagined in the Demon Realm. She also began putting on public shows to get some money to help support the Nocedas (the family was actually pretty well off since they used magic to cover a lot of normal costs like electricity, water, and heating, but Skara felt the extra money was only fair). The girl became fairly popular, as her Demon Realm songs (sans magic) were totally unheard of in the Human Realm, and her immense musical talent meant she could play any human song she’d heard before upon request. Camila had helped her refine her vocal range too, and taught her some Choir songs to see how they would work with Demon Bardic Magic, and while the spells seemed to be a little wonky, the songs themselves were beautiful. Lastly, since Boscha had no real grasp of romance, Skara had taken the reins of their new relationship and had done a lot of organising dates and other such things. She was mindful to give them a mix of things they liked, like attending a musical or going to a football game, as well the more conventional dates like going out to dinner, to various festivals, and to the movies. However Boscha liked to surprise her sometimes by taking her on dates she’d planned on her own, and while they were rarely the perfect romantic encounters that Skara would have arranged, the sheer effort Boscha put into them made them all the more special. The two were as kissy and cuddly as Luz and Amity, much to the others’ amusem*nt.

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Matt practised his Construction Magic with as much enthusiasm as ever, taking inspiration from the Human Realm’s diverse architecture that was made almost entirely with metal and stone, unlike many Demon Realm buildings that used bones, flesh, and other organic materials. He’d refined his use of earth magic to include metal too, and through magic and the wonder of YouTube tutorials, he’d begun to get pretty good at smithing and sculpting. With Camila and Gray’s help, he’d set up a website to where he could sell his creations for money (much of which he either gave to Camila or spent on cool Human stuff), and he’d also created a persona for himself around Gravesfield as an independent Handyman. As Repairing Magic was a sub-section of Construction Magic, Matt was pretty good at fixing things, and after using an illusion to make himself look older, he was able to get hired to fix issues and aid in construction around town, both refining his magic and earning some more cash in the process. His personal time was spent hanging out with Gus, and occasionally Hunter and Boscha when it came to their Cosmic Frontier activities, and experiencing as much as he could about the Human Realm and its culture. He may have originally only gotten involved with the HAS because he’d thought he could take it over easily, but since hanging out with Gus as a real friend, Matt had gained a real appreciation for the realm! He also found himself talking with Camila a shocking amount, as his love of architecture was similar to Michael’s, and Camila had learned a lot from him in the past.

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Gus’s magical education mostly came down to refining his illusions, his water and ice magic, and ways to incorporate them together, as well as practicing with the Amplifying Mirror he’d won from Adrian. He learned a little more from Camila, though since Illusions were fairly similar in both Divine and Demon Realm Magic, there wasn’t much she could show him, especially since he was a better illusionist than her by a wide margin. Instead, Camila indulged his love of the Human Realm by teaching him more about it, to the point that within a month of living in Gravesfield, Gus could fairly easily pass as an actual human! This gave him more time to study Human things for his illusions and his hobbies, and pursue his own way of making money and supporting their makeshift family; making internet videos! With the power of illusions allowing Gus to make any visual or sound effect he wanted, Gus was able to make any kind of video he wanted, limiting himself only to what could reasonably be possible with the special effects budget of a student (though admittedly stretched a little). His videos were all based around Luz’s previous “Magi-Ranger” disguises from the Raven Beast incident, which Gus dubbed the “Neo Magi-Rangers”, in which he and the Hexsquad played a new generation of the Magi-Rangers from before, with Luz, Amity, Vee, and King roped in to play their own descendants. It was wildly successful and Gus had over a million subscribers after three months of work, making his the most lucrative of the kids’ part-time jobs. He also had a smaller following for his Cosmic Frontier videos, which were basically him and the other CF fans in the group acting out their own fan fictions, with Camila being happy to take part from time to time.

Willow, unsurprisingly, put her focus into studying and cultivating the plants of the Human and Divine Realm. Camila was better with fauna than flora, but she was still good with plant magic, so she had a lot to teach Willow when it came to the flowers and vegetation of the Divine Realm, and the girl absorbed it all like a sponge. She’d quickly stepped up to the role of “big sister” to the entire group, and struck up an easy friendship with Rebecca. She didn’t do much in the way of conventional money making to help support everyone, instead being the main one in charge of growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs… in fact it was thanks to Willow that Camila now only had to buy meat, eggs, and various other raw ingredients at the grocery store! If it could be grown, then Willow could grow it! Her supply of herbs had also further built her odd friendship with Boscha; the two would always deny that they were friends and would frequently bicker and argue, but their rivalry had become a lot more even and amicable, with Boscha helping Willow train her body and magic in return for potions ingredients and help with styling her hair for her dates with Skara. Willow had picked up hairdressing as a skill in the past, and had used it quite well to help keep the Hexsquad’s hair tidy. Hunter was especially appreciative of this, as when his hair got longer he began to look a little like a fresh-faced Belos, and it freaked him out a lot. His attempts to cut his own hair in the dead of night had not been very good, and Willow had come to the rescue. It was also Willow who provided the wood for Hunter to carve, so they spent a lot of time together… perhaps more than would be warranted for such an arrangement. Willow had also taken up playing baseball with Boscha and Skara, and gained a hobby in photography, building whole scrapbooks of pictures of the Hexsquad’s time in the Human Realm.

Hunter and Lyra were perhaps the two to have the most dramatic change in their life styles though.

Hunter had begun to receive blessings from Camila and Luz, as well as Lyra, so he could begin learning conventional magic as well as the magic he performed with Flapjack. He was eager to learn anything and everything he could, but his special interest had definitely become the arts of Palisman Carving and Beast-Keeping. His carving skills had led to Luz and Camila needing to heal his hands more often than they’d like, but he’d improved so much after months of work that Luz and King had commented that their Grandpa Dell would be proud of his work, and Camila, Vee, Masha, Gray, and Rebecca had all expressed a desire to have Palismen of their own carved by him. Outside of his studies, Hunter had truly begun to open up to the group and grow more comfortable with himself and who he was, uncaring that he was a Grimwalker. Not even Luz or Camila treated him differently, despite their relation to Michael, and the young man really started to come into his own. Camila had even taken him as an apprentice at the Vet Clinic, where Hunter absolutely adored spending time. He fell in love with the Human Realm’s creatures, especially its wide variety of dogs, and when the local zoo had called Camila in to take care of an injured wolf, Hunter had just about squealed in delight! Hunter also helped out by becoming the tailor of the group; mastering Camila’s old sewing machine and becoming adept enough at making and altering clothes that he knew Darius would be proud! And of course, he’d founded a Cosmic Frontier fan club in Gravesfield and spent a lot of time with Willow, helping her organise the Hexsquad into pick-up games of Flyer Derby!

Lyra was very similar to Hunter, in that she spent as much time learning magic from Camila as possible to expand her repertoire. Since she couldn’t use Oracle Magic around Luz and Camila, she had expanded into other areas too, though she didn’t take to any of it as well as she had Oracle Magic, and as she had access to Angelic Magic, she joined Luz in lessons with Camila. The older Angel had taken Luz and Lyra out one evening to sit under the stairs and perform the ritual that would allow them both to connect to the power of the Celestial Bodies, which was the first step to learning Divination Magic. As expected from an Oracle prodigy, Lyra picked it up remarkably fast, while Luz’s ability was about average; good enough for casual use but not enough that she’d find herself using it often. When it came to supporting the family, Lyra had gotten a job with Masha at the Gravesfield Historical Society; Masha had been promoted to the Curator since the owners couldn’t find someone better, and Masha had then hired Lyra as the new assistant. It was technically a volunteer position so she didn’t get paid, instead making money with an “Authentic Gravesfield Fortune Telling Experience”, in which Lyra would use her powers to read tarot cards and tea leaves and other such things in a fancy tent beside the museum. It was being sold as a historical re-enactment, so Lyra had to keep it to historically accurate forms of divination and fortune telling, with her having to dress up in different themed outfits like Greek Oracles, Roman Auguries, and so on depending on the day of the week. It was fairly successful for what it was, and since her predictions were often accurate, Lyra got many repeat customers!

Outside of work and lessons, Lyra began to find her own place in the Hexsquad, meshing with each of the other members in different ways; Boscha was a little awkward, worrying her rough nature would be too much for Lyra’s sensitive nature, but they found a form of quiet companionship at times, and Lyra was also the most successful at breaking up her bickering with Willow since neither girl wanted to upset the young Angel. Skara helped Lyra with her singing and her lyre playing, and the two often performed together at the Historical Society for special shows. Matt was very blatantly acting as a “wing man” for Gus (not that Lyra understood that yet), and also helped her build her “sets” for her different themed tents. Gus naturally spent as much time with her as he could, and frequently took her with him on his trips to see new things in the Human Realm (which totally weren’t dates, he insisted). Willow treated Lyra like her own kid sister and was a font of sisterly advice whenever Lyra needed assistance with something and didn’t want to go to Camila for some reason. Amity made good on hers and Luz’s earlier idea and introduced Lyra to the Good Witch Azura, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, Lyra became as hooked on it as Luz and Amity! She’d joined their book club and began using some of her wages to build her own collection of memorabilia. King had basically declared Lyra to be his cousin, since she was being considered a cousin to Luz, and had been generous enough to teach her how to use glyphs in return for plenty of belly rubs, back scratches, and head pats. She didn’t have the natural ability with glyphs that King or Luz had, but she was still good and helped King with his experiments, seeing as Shade could activate an untested combo and then become incorporeal and avoid being hurt in a mishap. Then there was Luz… Luz was as kind to her as always, and acted almost as much like an older sibling as Hunter and Willow, and made a special point to make sure Lyra was okay whilst talking Azura with her or introducing her to other books, shows, and games. However due to Luz’s own problems, there would be days where the girl would barely say a word to Lyra (or anyone really), making the Dark Angel wish she could help.

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Amity had spent her four months in the Human Realm in a very similar way; studying and improving her magic in preparation for their return to the Demon Realm, trying to find a way back, enjoying what the Human Realm had to offer, and even finding a place to work so she could help out everyone. Her studies were naturally focused on Abominations, with some studying in Oracle Magic on the side with Lyra, but the environment of the Human Realm and the lack of ambient magic made it significantly more difficult to make Abominations from magic alone, and the lack of ingredients made them outright impossible to make any other way. Thankfully Amity had already begun working on a method to use her affinity for Light Magic to create a new kind of Abomination, and Camila had been helping a great deal by showing her every Angelic Alchemy Technique she knew, to see which ones Amity could adapt to her own magic. Progress was being made, albeit slowly, which helped keep Amity’s spirits up! Plus if she succeeded in creating this new kind of magic, she could share it with her girlfriend too! Amity spent as much time with Luz as possible, and they’d gone on countless dates and enjoyed so many new experiences that Amity’s head still span with it all! Going to the pool, the movies, cute cafes, book stores, shopping in general, and so much more! If if weren’t for the fact they were trapped and worried about the Demon Realm, Amity would have called it a dream come true! And of course, like the others Amity had found herself a job! Abominations weren’t really something she could exploit, so she had instead settled for a nice quiet job at the library, just like she’d done in Bonesborough. She had also been hired as an assistant at the daycare run by the local church, after Camila and Luz had given recommendations for her to the Pastor. Amity didn’t know what to make of Father Edwards at first, considering he followed the same faith as Belos, but he was exceptionally kind and didn’t turn his nose up at anyone. He’d even congratulated Luz on getting herself a nice girlfriend when Luz had introduced her, despite some of his congregation giving them the stink-eye. Amity was exceptionally popular with the children, and quickly became a welcome sight at both the church and the library (though Father Edwards had teased her a little about sharing the Azura books with the kids, some of whom had parents who weren’t too keen on the idea of a “Good Witch”).

The last of the newcomers, King, was also the one who had the hardest time fitting in under normal circ*mstances. Being a Baby Titan, he needed to do more than change his ears (and third eye in Boscha’s case) to fit in, so Camila had worked with Luz and Gus to make him a proper Concealment Stone that he could wear as part of his neckerchief (which he never took off, having Camila clean it with magic while still around his neck). The stone made him look like an 8 year old Human boy with a similar skin tone to Luz and his Tia Cammie, thick black hair that was similar in style to Lyra’s or Luz’s when it was cut short, and amber eyes. He also had adorable little fangs and had a cute Titan-themed hoodie to wear, with Hunter and Camila even making him a real one so it could be touched when he was out playing with other kids. And King did play with other kids a lot; he’d learned fast that he couldn’t be as rough as he could with Demon and Witch kids, but he’d still been able to play and have fun! He’d even made some friends with the local kids, and became a little crusader against bullies, using some subtle glyph combos to make sure he could measure up to any bigger kids pushing him or his friends around. In his own words, King had gone from a little Tyrant to a benevolent Overlord who looked after his subjects! If he wasn’t playing with his new friends, then he was staying close to Luz, or in lessons with Camila, who wanted to continue what Eda had been teaching him about potions. On the rare occasions they were all busy, he’d hang out at the daycare with Amity, sneak into Gravesfield High with Vee to play pranks, or hole up in his room at the clubhouse and fiddle with the broken shard of the Collector’s mirror, trying to find a way to fix it. He had no idea how to do that without the other pieces, but he was sure that if he could do it then he could contact the Collector, free him, and perhaps get them all back home! He hid it well, but King really missed his Mom, Tia Lily, and Titi Raine, and longed to see them again.

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Of course, life hadn’t just changed for the nine newcomers to the Human Realm; things were different for Vee too. Vee was actually pretty happy to have such a big extended family now staying with her (though naturally she wished the circ*mstances were better), and did everything she could to repay them for their acceptance. It was kind of funny that she was a Basilisk and thus the weirdest one in the group, yet the one that fit in best in the Human Realm. Since she was still attending high school disguised as Luz, she’d passed off the real Luz (who now looked surprisingly different with her longer hair, her new lean build, and her increased height), Lyra, and King as her cousins, who were staying with them for a while, so Luz and Lyra didn’t need to totally change their looks as they went around town. The Hexsquad accepted Vee and the Cabin Seven Crew with open arms, and Vee often found herself invited to their different activities, and even being met with a little bit of disappointment whenever she had to decline! It felt so good to be wanted! Skara and Hunter were the two that spent the most time with her (besides Luz, King, and Amity), with Skara having been the closest in the group to Vee’s fellow Basilisk Treble, and Hunter being both fascinated by her nature as a Basilisk and deeply apologetic for what Belos had done to her and her fellow Basilisks. Vee had insisted he wasn’t to blame, but Hunter still made it his mission to make sure Vee was always doing okay.

Lastly, there was Luz and her situation could be best described as… not doing great.

Despite technically being the only one in the household to have been born and raised in the Human Realm, she was the one who had the most trouble being trapped there, in part because of her past traumas and in part because she blamed herself for the whole situation. Learning about her true origins had only compounded her issues, and the girl had fallen into a depression that seemed to ebb and flow depending on how strong Luz’s willpower was on any particular day, and how well her friends caught on to it. On her good days, Luz was indistinguishable from her old self; peppy and full of spirit and energy, ready to work her butt off and have fun with her friends! She’d play baseball with Boscha, play her Ocarina with Skara, practice her Earth Magic with Matt, act in Gus’s videos, tend the greenhouse with Willow, play video games with Vee, help out at the vets with Hunter, talk Azura with Lyra, go on dates with Amity, play and practice glyph combos with King, or just sit comfortably with her Mami and talk. On her more neutral days, Luz lacked her usual energy but made up for it with stubborn determination, throwing herself into work in the form of Angelic Magic training with her Mami, some tutoring with Vee (Camila wanted her to keep up with a Human Education, but didn’t dare try to send her back to school in her current state), or working on a method to get them back to the Demon Realm. Depending on how the day went, Luz could transition to a good day, or a bad day. The bad days were awful for everyone; Luz would be visibly exhausted and miserable, unable to do anything but get out of bed and eat, both of which she did solely to keep people from worrying about her more than ever. On those days, she struggled not to cry and drown in her guilt and self-loathing, and depending on how bad it was, she’d either isolate herself completely and take her Palisman Egg to her Fathers’ graves and stay there all day, or she’d end up smothered in blankets and plied with hot cocoa and ice cream by Amity, who’d simply sit beside her in silent companionship. Thankfully, while Luz could have streaks of good or neutral days, her bad days tended to be one and done, and not resurface for at least a week after that. Pretty much the whole family and Hexsquad agreed that Luz sorely needed therapy, but with their current situation, they had to make do with what they had. Luz also still had the Palismen souls within her body, but they had all gone dormant. Without the ambient magic of the Demon Realm to absorb, they had begin feeding on Luz’s magic to maintain their individuality and prevent themselves melting together like they’d done inside Belos, and so to save Luz from having her magic drained, they had placed themselves in a deep slumber within the depths of her being. Luz could still feel them there sometimes, especially when she pet her Palisman Egg and spoke to her unborn partner, but they no longer responded to her. It was honestly a little lonely at times, which didn’t help Luz’s mood.

And so, the weeks passed and their lives moved ever onward. No changes and no progress in getting home was made… but as the end of April fast approached, the status quo finally shifted and the stranded Hexsquad got their chance.

King was currently alone on the porch of the clubhouse, guarding it to ensure Luz didn’t go in. The next day was Luz’s 15th Birthday, and while Luz didn’t want to have a Quinceañera without the entire family together, the residents of the Noceda House were still planning to throw her a surprise birthday part! Not a full Quinceañera, but still a party! Camila was currently keeping Luz (who was having a neutral day) busy by having her help at the Vet Clinic, while Vee and the Hexsquad were spending the day in Gravesfield buying the supplies for the party being set up in the clubhouse. Since King was the one who’d be least useful carrying party supplies, he’d instead been stuck with guard duty…

“Bored…” King groaned as he lay on his back and kicked his feet in the air. He was surrounded by glyph notes, but he’d gotten bored of playing with them so now they just lay scattered around him. Reaching into his neckerchief, King pulled out the sliver of silvery glass that was once part of the Collector’s mirror.

“If only I could figure out a way of fixing you. Then I could free the Collector and we could all get back home! That’d be the best birthday present ever for Luz!” King sighed to himself. He’d tried everything to fix the mirror; he’d tried using his breath, his fur, his blood… he’d even made himself throw up once to try and get bile, but it hadn’t worked and he’d freaked Tia Cammie out when she’d come running at the sound of his retching.

Hopping to his feet and deciding to at least try drawing some new glyph combos in the dirt, King suddenly felt the air around him shift. The Human Realm always felt different to Magic Users due to the lack of magic in the air, but King was suddenly feeling it all around him, almost like a wind from the Demon Realm had just blown through. The morning sky began to turn an orange red, almost like the sun was setting, and the sunlight itself seemed to change from white to gold.

“What the heck!? What’s happening!?” King cried, looking up at the sky in a panic. A strange silver thread, or seam of some kind, spread across the sky and then began to widen into something like a stitched wound. The stitches then tore open, turning it into a silver edged window in the sky, with bizarre silver threads of magic flowing around it like the frayed edges of torn fabric. King gasped as he saw the familiar sight of the Boiling Isles through the hole in the sky, looking almost exactly as he remembered it, with the exception of some strange glowing lights at various points on his Dad’s body. King was just about to excitedly try and fly up to it, thinking this had to be some kind of portal, when he stepped on one of his drawn glyphs.

A burst of shadowy magic exploded out of it, causing King to stumble backward with a cry of “WEH!?” as he landed on his backside. He quickly scrambled back to his feet, eyes wide at the shadowy tendrils he’d created and which faded fast in the light. He quickly found another darkness glyph and slapped it, causing more shadows to emerge.

“Mama’s last glyph is working! But that has to mean the magic from the Demon Realm is leaking into the Human Realm!” King cried excitedly. He hoped the others were seeing this too!

King began to fly up with his little wings, but he barely cleared the treeline before more of those silver seams appeared in different parts of the sky, then began ripping open. Most of these seams either showed the Boiling Isles again or showed the In-Between Realm, but a few showed something totally different; a colossal city of the likes King had never seen. It was a city of white and gold, with buildings that looked distinctly different from any King had seen in either Realm he’d visited… the city also seemed to dwarf any in the Boiling Isles! In fact, if the rips showing this city were showing it from the same distance as the ones showing the Isles, then it meant this city was as big as the Isles themselves, if not bigger! King could think of only one place these rips could be showing…

“The Divine Realm!” King gasped.

The young Titan looked between the various rips in the sky and began to wonder; what on earth was happening!? What was causing this!? He’d never seen anything like it, and after spending four months trying to get home, he was both excited and suspicious. Deciding to take a chance, King continued to fly up into the sky, using wind glyphs to help him fly faster, until he reached the closest tear that showed the Boiling Isles. He stopped in front of it, then gingerly reached out with his paw, wanting to see if it was an actual way home but not wanting to risk getting trapped there without his sister and their friends. A single one of his claws brushed against the tear and caused the whole thing to ripple like the surface of water, while King felt his claw tingle strangely. King then pushed his paw into the tear completely, only to find himself ripping through it. It was like the images in the sky were just posters, and rather than entering it, King had just put his claw through it. He could feel the magic flowing out from the tears, but it seemed nothing could flow back in. Or at least nothing physical.

Pulling his claw back and seeing the rest of the Human Realm sky through the hole he’d just made in the tear, King shuddered.

“I guess I should’ve known it wasn’t gonna be that easy…” he grumbled. “Still, I wonder what these things are of how they work… and what’s causing ‘em?”

He couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary in the Divine Realm tears, and the Demon Realm ones were largely the same too, only with what appeared to be white, black, and gold lights swirling around at specific spots, which King noted were the locations of his Dad’s Primordial Wellsprings. He wondered it these lights had something to do with the tears, and suspected the Divider was responsible in some way. King then decided to take a closer look at the other tears, and after finding that he couldn’t enter the Divine Realm ones either, he touched one that showed the In-Between Realm.

Almost immediately, King heard a familiar voice cry out to him from his other paw, the one holding the shard of the Collector’s mirror.


“WEH!?” King yelped in surprise, dropping the shard and moving his hand from the tear. Realising what he’d done, he freaked out and dove down to catch the shard.

“What the heck was that!?” he cried; “That voice was the Collector’s! And it came from this!” he held the shard up to his face but couldn’t see or hear anything more. There was no way he’d imagined it, so why had the mirror suddenly talked?

“Could it be…?” King wondered aloud, looking back up at the tears in the sky. The mirror had talked when he touched the In-Between Realm Tear, where the Collector was trapped; perhaps that was what caused the mirror to activate?

Deciding it was worth trying it again to find out, King flew back up and put his paw against the rip, and sure enough, the shard of the Collector’s mirror regained some of its lost shine and the eyes of the shadowy form of the Collector appeared on its surface.

“King!” the Collector cried.

“Collector! Oh man, am I glad to see you! Do you know what’s going on!? Or how we can get back to the Demon Realm, or at least the In-Between Realm to find you?” King asked quickly.

“I’m glad to see you too, King! Your Mama and Pops are with me! They’ve been keeping me company since that bully Divider sent you away! Oh, one second.” the Collector replied, before looking at something behind him. He then turned back and asked; “Did you hear that?”

King shook his head; “I only heard you. Can’t see anything but you either.”

The Collector frowned; “Oh shoot… I guess the mirror only shows me. But that was your Mama and Pops; they say hello and that they love you. “

“Tell them I love them too!” King said.

The Collector did so, then turned back to King; “Listen; your Mama has been watching you with the Portal Seeds here, while your Pops has been watching the Demon Realm. Stuff is going really weird in the Demon Realm! The Divider is trying to do something crazy! He’s dividing people from the bad and weird stuff inside them, and making them his servants. And he’s making these weird towers! All the towers just turned on and it’s what’s making these sky holes! I don’t know what they do; the Divider won’t let your Pops watch him directly so we don’t know his plans!”

King scowled; “So the Divider IS behind all this! Listen, do you know a way for us to get back home, or to get to you so we can free you?”

The Collector smiled brightly upon hearing that his new pal still wanted to save him, but sadly his smile fell as he shook his head. “Sorry, but I don’t know how… If I was free, I could just make portals really easily, or if you had all the right stuff I could show you how to make one and link it up! But the connection is only strong enough to talk while you’re touching that sky hole, and you don’t have all the junk you need… even if you used Luz’s Daddy’s tree for the Palistrom Wood and pulled out you’re own eyeball, it wouldn’t work; your eye is too small.”

“Cutting down that tree to get enough wood for the door is out of the question anyway.” King said seriously; it had never occurred to any of them to do something like that, and there was zero chance any of the gang would even suggest it or allow it… heck, the only one who might is Luz, and that would just add more guilt to her burden.

“Sorry King…” The Collector frowned, looking tearful. He then looked distracted as one of King’s parents spoke to him. “Oh! That’s true! I don’t know if it’ll work though… okay, I guess it’s worth a try!” The Collector turned back to King; “Your Mama says that if portals are like doors between realms, then these sky hole thingies are like windows. You’re not really meant to go through ‘em but if you figure out how to open or break it, you can just climb through!”

“But how am I meant to do that? I put a hole in one of them; should I try and destroy a whole tear?” King asked.

“Your Pops says that wouldn’t work; you’re not breaking the tear, you’re just breaking the image of it? Or something? I don’t really get it… but he says that if magic can come through the holes, then you can probably do something with it! Like, if you force more magic through, the tear might rip open completely!” the Collector said.

“So pour magic in, or draw more out? I don’t know if it’ll work or even how we’d do it, but I guess we can try!” King decided, giving the Collector a confident smile.

The Collector smiled back, before becoming distracted again. His eyes then widened; “Oh no! King, your Pops says that the tower thingies on the Boiling Isles are shutting off! The tears are gonna close any second now!”

“What!? No! I need more time!” King cried.

“Your Pops said the holes are a “test run”, whatever that means. He thinks there will be more! But we won’t be able to talk for a while!” the Collector said, clearly upset that he was going to have to go so fast.

King truly hoped the holes did appear again, but at least this gave him time to find the others and come up with a plan. He looked back to the tear he was currently touching and saw the edges begin to knit themselves back together as the walls between the realms repaired themselves.

Realising he was almost out of time, he turned back to the Collector; “I’ve gotta go, but I’ll try to talk to you again when the holes appear again! If they appear again… tell my Mama and Dad that I love them, and I promise I’ll find a way to free you!”

The Collector beamed; “I will! And thank you King… you and I are gonna be best friends forever once I get out! We’ll have lots of fun! I promise!”

King nodded, then removed his hand from the tear, causing the mirror to go dark again. The tear then sealed itself up completely, and the rest of the tears followed suit, before the sun and sky returned to normal. Once it was sealed, King hovered there for a moment as he held onto the mirror shard with a tightened grip.

“Okay… gotta be smart now. Think like a King! I guess the first thing I should do is gather my advisors; AKA Vee and the Hexsquad!” King declared. He was clever for a 9 year old, but the “for a 9 year old” part was a pretty big qualifier, so he needed the older kids to help him figure out exactly what to do next!

“KING!” he suddenly heard Amity’s voice crying out from down below. King looked down and saw the lavender haired girl down running up the path to the clubhouse, so he swiftly flew down to see her. Aside from getting a little taller and growing her hair out a little, Amity hadn’t changed much since coming to the Human Realm.

“Amity! Did you see the crazy light show in the sky!?” King asked as he landed in her outstretched arms.

“Of course I did! They were covering the sky for miles around! I even tried flying up to examine them with Ghost, thinking they’d be a way home, but I just tore a hole in one when I tried putting my foot through.” Amity replied.

“Same! But get this; touching the ones of the In-Between Realm let me connect my mirror shard to the Collector! I was able to talk to him and come up with a plan! Or at least the start of one.” King quickly explained.

Amity gasped and a huge smile split her face; “That’s amazing! Good job King! Let’s call the others and have them meet up at Camila’s place; that way Luz won’t see the party set up at the clubhouse.” Amity said, summoning her scroll to begin calling the others. “I really hope the sky tears didn’t freak out the humans too much… there could be a real panic happening in town right now.” she worried. She’d already been on her way back when the tears appeared, so she’d been away from any crowds and hadn’t seen the reactions.

Amity only ended up needing to call Willow, who had already begun summoning everyone back to the house, having the same idea as Amity. After dropping off the party supplies she’d bought in town at the clubhouse, she and King hurried back to the Noceda House and found they were the second to arrive, as Vee and Masha were already there. Both had seen the tears too, and had flown up (with Masha held in Vee’s arms) to get a good look, though they’d found the same thing Amity and King had (though Masha had gotten a kick out of finally seeing the Demon Realm). Rebecca, Willow, Boscha, and Skara arrived next, followed by Gus, Lyra, and Gray, then finally Matt and Hunter.

“So we’re just missing Luz and Camila now?” Amity asked.

“Yeah, I couldn’t reach their scrolls OR their cellphones.” Willow frowned.

Hunter piped up; “I managed to get through to Carmen at the Vet Clinic; Aunt Camila and Luz are performing surgery on a dog that got some sharp bones trapped in its stomach, so they were shut away. I don’t think they’re even aware of the sky tears yet.”

“We’ll have to fill them in later.” Vee said.

“Yeah, if they don’t hear it on the news first. Those tears stretched on for miles!” Amity replied.

“Actually, I wanted to mention something about that.” Skara began; “Rebecca, Willow, Boscha, and I were picking up the stuff to make a Human Cake, and I’m still freaked out that they don’t use spiders or bugs of any kind… but anyway, even though we were in a busy part of town, there was no reaction from the humans!”

Rebecca nodded; “Yeah, it was weird! It was like no one noticed! In fact, people looked at us like we were weird and reacting to nothing!”

“The same thing happened to us!” Matt cried; “Some old guy laughed at me and said “What, never seen the blue sky before?” and then something about me being glued to a screen? I didn’t get it, but the sky was definitely not blue! It also looked like that weird holey cheese, but the holes had a Titan Corpse and a Golden City in them!”

That surprised everyone, especially the ones that hadn’t been around the other humans. “Wait… so could humans just not see the tears?” Lyra frowned.

“I saw them fine.” Gray frowned.

“Ditto.” Masha and Rebecca said together.

“Then maybe it’s not a human thing, but a magic thing?” Gus suggested; “You three have blessings from Camila, Luz, and Lyra after all, so you have magic. That must be why you could see them but other humans couldn’t.”

That was met with murmurs of agreement, since no one had any better ideas. Boscha then said; “So that gold and white city was totally the Divine Realm, right?”

“We’d need Camila to confirm, but I can’t imagine what else it could be.” Amity said; “But we can ask her later! For now, we’ve got great news! King thinks he finally has a lead on getting us all home!”

There were gasps of delight as everyone turned their heads to King. As much as they’d enjoyed their time in the Human Realm, this place wasn’t their home (barring Vee and the humans of course). King nodded and quickly told everyone exactly what the Collector had told him, both about the Divider’s actions and about the potential way to turn the tears into portals by breaking them open completely. Once he’d finished explaining, the Hexsquad began exchanging looks.

“So we need to pour more magic into the tears? How exactly does that work?” Hunter asked.

Amity rubbed her chin; “From the sounds of it, these “tears” are windows between the realms, like the Collector said. The boundaries between the realms are being stretched thin enough that we can see through them…”

“Oh, like how gum gets more see-through as the bubble gets bigger and more stretched?” Rebecca suggested.

“I guess so?” Amity tilted her head, not certain; “If so, then if we push more magic into the same spot then the boundary will become so thin that it tears open completely! Then we can go through!”

She got some nods from Boscha, Masha, and Hunter, but the rest of the group still looked a little confused. Hunter decided to help by providing a visual aid; he grabbed one of the balloons they’d bought for Luz’s birthday, then showed it to everyone.

“Look at this balloon. See how it’s totally opaque and a solid purple? You can’t see through it at all, right?” he said. He got some nods, so he continued; “Well think of this balloon as the boundary between worlds. Now watch this.”

Taking a deep breath, Hunter began to inflate the balloon. As it got bigger, the material stretched and became a little bit translucent. Once it was about as stretched as Hunter dare make it, he stopped. “Now look at it. It’s still not transparent, but you can see through it a little, right? Well imagine that the air inside it is magic. We poured magic into it and the material got thinner until we could see through it. Then if we pump in more…”

Hunter put it back against his mouth and blew in more and more air until eventually, the balloon popped entirely. Hunter yelped at the sudden pop, as did the other Demon Realm kids, making the humans laugh. Once they’d composed themselves, Hunter finished his point; “If the boundary between worlds works the same way, then when we pump in enough magic, it’ll burst.”

“Wouldn’t that be super dangerous though?” Vee asked, not sure about this plan; “I mean, if the boundary pops entirely, what happens to the Realms? Do they get mashed together?”

“We can’t be sure.” Amity said, “Though if the Divider is causing this, that might be his plan; to break down the boundaries between our worlds.”

“Why would he want to do that?” Gus frowned.

Amity shrugged; “No idea. All we can do is speculate and turn it to our advantage.”

“But if we try to burst a hole through the realms boundary, won’t we be helping him? We could end up destroying this world!” Vee argued. She really didn’t like this plan so far.

King tried to calm her; “My Mama and Dad were the ones who suggested this was our way back. They wouldn’t have done that if they thought it would be bad for us or the world.”

“That’s right. Besides, we’re only tearing open a hole big enough for us to pass through, while the boundary must spread across the whole universe of this realm.” Hunter said; “Using the balloon as an example, that’d be like poking a hole in it that’s like the size of an atom! Way too small to make the whole boundary burst.”

That relaxed most of the Hexsquad and Cabin Seven Crew, though Vee was still clearly a little nervous about the whole idea. Still, she had no better ideas and didn’t want to make a fuss by trying to argue against the plan, so she just kept quiet and resolved to bring up her concerns with her Mama and sister when they got back. If anyone would know more, it’d be them. However Boscha then raised a good point.

“How exactly are we going to open the tear anyway? The Divider is super powerful if Luz is right about those Ten-Winged Seraphim, or Sephiroth or whatever, so it makes sense that he can do it, but do you really think all of us pumping our magic into one spot will be enough?” Boscha asked.

“Well we do have King, who’s a Titan, plus an Arch-Angel, a Dark Angel, a normal Angel, and seven Witches who all have Palismen and are pretty strong. Plus if we use potions and Power Glyphs to make ourselves stronger, we should be able to punch right through!” Willow grinned.

Again, most of the group looked convinced, at least until there were a pair of simultaneous “Uhh…”s from Amity and Matt.

“Hate to rain on your parade, but I’m still not very good at making Power Glyphs. The ones I make will be enough for a decent boost, but they don’t last long and I don’t think they’ll be enough.” Matt said, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly as Pebbles sat on his head and patted him with his tail.

“And also… I don’t want to include Luz in this yet.” Amity said nervously, already expecting some push back from the others.

She got exactly the response she’d expected as everyone looked at her like she’d grown a second head. The lavender haired girl was quick to explain; “Hear me out. We all know that Luz has been taking being stuck here really hard, and she blames herself for just about every bad thing that’s happened…”

The group looked down sadly, nodding or murmuring in agreement with Amity. “And we know that all our failed attempts to get home have all just led her to having one of her bad days, and no one wants that, especially with it being her birthday tomorrow…” again, she was met with nods and a few shudders. Everyone hated Luz’s bad days; they were so used to their friend’s sunny personality that seeing her like that was almost physically painful.

“…so I was thinking that we keep this from Luz, just for the time being. If this turns into another dead-end, it’ll ruin her birthday tomorrow. But if it works, then it’ll be the ultimate birthday surprise! She’ll be so happy! She might finally feel good enough to go back to her old self!” Amity smiled wistfully, “And if it turns out to all be for nothing, then she’ll never know. What do you say guys think?”

“We’re in!” most of them said immediately. King, Vee, and the Cabin Seven Trio were the only ones unsure, but King soon decided that it was better to keep Luz in the dark for now; he couldn’t bear to see his sister’s self-loathing any more! He hated that the girl who meant so much to them all seemed to hate herself as much as they all loved her!

Vee protested though; “I really don’t think this is a good idea! Sure it makes sense when you phrase it like that, but don’t forget that the only reason Luz doesn’t already know is because she and Mama just so happened to be shut away indoors when the first wave of tears appeared! Whose to say we’ll be that lucky again? If she sees them, you know she’ll do something and when she finds out we already know and purposefully didn’t tell her…?” the disguised Basilisk shuddered, and the others shuddered too. Luz would definitely assume the worst.

Amity was adamant though; “That’s a risk we’ll just have to take! We only need to keep her in the dark regarding the tears until at least the day after tomorrow, assuming our plan doesn’t work. If we’re clever about it, we can keep her distracted and inside as much as possible! Then if we’re still stuck here, we’ll just pretend we haven’t seen the tears before!”

“I don’t want to lie to her!” Vee argued back.

“Vee, we understand. We don’t want to lie to her either, but we’re lying for her own good.” Willow said soothingly, trying to cool things off. Vee and Amity both loved Luz and wanted what was best, and that was quickly leading them towards a fight.

Vee looked at the floor and muttered sadly; “Mama lied to Luz for her own good too. Look how much that hurt her.”

That was like a slap in the face to the whole group, especially Amity who actually stepped back as if she’d been slapped. The Hexsquad began to look unsure about their plan, though Boscha did try to defend it half-heartedly; “W-Well we don’t actually have to lie, right? We just don’t have to tell her the truth…?”

She realised immediately that the distinction didn’t make it sound any better, making the three-eyed girl wince before huffing; “Okay, we all know I suck at this sappy feelings stuff, but come on! Surely Luz would understand! If we get found out, we’ll just tell her the truth that we wanted to spare her feelings if it turns out we screwed up!”

Sensing the tension growing, Masha decided to come to the rescue by being the neutral party; “Maybe we should put this to a vote? Everyone who wants to tell Luz, raise your hand. Those who don’t, keep them down. We then all agree to stick to the agreed upon decision, okay? Can we all agree to that?”

Seeing as they weren’t making progress otherwise, everyone agreed. Then on Masha’s signal, those who wanted to tell Luz raised their hands. Vee, Gray, Rebecca, and Masha themselves all raised their hands, as did a shy Lyra and a guilty looking Skara. The remaining six members of the Hexsquad kept their hands down, making it a tie… but as King was also reluctantly keeping his hand down, the group in favour of not telling Luz won out. No one was particularly happy about it, but those who’d chosen that path genuinely believed it would spare Luz’s feelings in the end. Vee looked extremely torn between defying the vote to tell her sister anyway, and sticking to it because Masha was the one to suggest the vote…

In the end, the young Basilisk compromised.

“Fine, we won’t tell Luz. But we HAVE to tell Mama! She needs to know in case everything goes wrong, and I refuse to keep it from her.” Vee said, unwilling to shift on that point.

“But what if she tells Luz?” King asked worriedly.

Vee shrugged; “We’re all living in her house rent free. She doesn’t touch any of the money you guys give to her and you know it, so if she thinks telling Luz is the best thing for her daughter, then fine. But I won’t stop you trying to convince her not too, so long as we DO tell her.”

There was no arguing to be done; Vee would tell Camila even if everyone refused, so King and the Hexsquad would have to accept the compromise.

Following that, Hunter called Carmen at the Vet Clinic to check if Camila was out of the operating theatre yet, and upon being told she wasn’t, he asked Carmen to pass along a message that Camila should call him or Vee as soon as she was done. Carmen agreed, so the kids decided to go back to the clubhouse and continue working on the party set up for the next day. They worked together in a somewhat awkward fashion, the argument from earlier causing some minor tension. Vee and Amity both made a point to work together as much as possible, and both apologised for any hurt feelings they might have caused; both understood the other’s viewpoint even if they disagreed, and while neither changed their minds, they did agree to have no hard feelings. Vee had even sealed the deal by jokingly saying Amity was her future sister-in-law, so they shouldn’t fight. Amity had, of course, blushed crimson and chased Vee around the clubhouse in a playful attempt to tie her up like a pinata, making the others laugh and easing the tension.

A short time later, Hunter got a callback from Camila, and after asking if she can talk somewhere Luz couldn’t hear her, Hunter had put her on speaker and placed his borrowed cellphone down in the middle of the clubhouse’s main room.

“Hello everyone. How are the preparations coming along?” Camila asked, assuming that was why they’d called.

“Good, though we didn’t get everything we needed in town. We got kinda… distracted.” Amity answered. The tears in the sky had cut their shopping trips short.

“Oh, that’s alright. If we’re still missing something, I can pick it up later or even conjure it if needed. Are you alright Cariño? You sound a little nervous.” Camila replied.

Amity flushed and began to feel guilty even before telling Camila the plan. Thankfully Hunter cut in; “Some stuff happened that we need to talk to you about. It’s not bad; in fact it could be amazing! But we need to run something by you first. By the way, how is Luz? Is she doing any better?”

“Mija seems to be smiling a little more than she was this morning! The surgery was supposed to take an hour, but with magic we had it done inside a minute so Luz got to spend the rest of the hour while we hid from the staff just playing with the dog. Some pet therapy must have done the trick!” Camila chuckled. Since no one in her clinic knew she could use magic, Camila would just pass the extra time a surgery was supposed to take by playing with the animals in question; something that was very helpful to Luz’s mental health.

The others were relieved to hear that; it meant Luz was probably going to have a good day tomorrow, barring any nightmares. Amity made a mental to note to sneak into her room and cuddle with her tonight; that always kept Luz’s nightmares away!

“So, what is this thing you wanted to talk about?” Camila continued.

Everyone looked to King and Amity since this was their plan, and they reluctantly took deep breathes and began to explain, telling Camila about the tears, the talk with the Collector, the plan to completely break open one of the tears, and their decision to not tell Luz, which Amity made a point of saying Vee didn’t agree with.

There was a beat of silence, before Camila spoke again. “My dears, I truly am grateful that you’re all taking Luz’s feelings into consideration here. I don’t think the plan is a bad one; quite the opposite in fact, and I’m happy to help… but I strongly advise you tell Luz. Keeping a secret from her, even for her own good, blew up in my face spectacularly. Our relationship has only remained strong because Luz’s self-deprecation is so bad that she blames herself for me keeping the secret in the first place…” Camila’s voice was sad and bitter at that admission, “… I’d hate to see this secret tear you all apart, or break Luz’s heart further.”

The Hexsquad began to doubt their plan even further, but they were still adamant. The best case scenario of getting a way home, giving Luz the best birthday surprise ever, and finally getting her back to her happy self was just too good to pass up! And the worst case scenario would just require them to come clean to Luz about their reasoning for keeping her in the dark! She’d surely understand, just like Boscha said… right?

“M-Maybe you’re right.” Amity said softly, “But I really think we should try to make this is a surprise. Or at least wait until after her birthday? Please?”

Camila was quiet again, then said; “Amity dear, I know you love Luz as much as I do and would never willingly hurt her. Because of that, I’ll agree to help hide this from Luz until Monday. But I strongly urge you to just tell Luz the truth. Until you do, I’ll try to keep Luz’s eyes away from the sky.”

“Thank you, Camila.” Amity said in a small voice.

“You’re welcome, Cariño. All of you keep me posted and I’ll see you later for dinner.” Camila said.

“Bye Mama/Camila/Aunt Camila/Tia Cammie!” the group chorused before Camila hung up the phone.

With Camila now in the loop, the gang got back to work preparing for the party and steadfastly not thinking about their plan or the potential consequences of it. Amity was especially quiet, though she worked fast and with a kind of frantic energy that Vee tried to calm with comforting glances and friendly gestures, which the older girl appreciated.

They all made good progress on the party, but then exactly two hours after the previous distortions in the boundary appeared, the sky once again began to turn sunset red and the sun shone with a richer golden colour. Silver seams began to appear in the sky, and the Hexsquad knew it was time to get to work!

“Okay guys, remember the plan! We all fly up and pour as much magic into that thing as possible! Once we prove we can force open one of the tears, we’ll be able to do it again later with Luz and get to the In-Between Realm! Then we get King to the Collector, free him, and with that we’ve got a portal between the worlds back in our hands!” Amity declared.

King and the Hexsquad all cheered, while Vee gave a determined little nod as the Cabin Seven Trio grinned and flexed their fingers. Since they couldn’t fly and had limited magic via the blessings, they would instead be tasked with using illusions to make sure no one noticed the pack of flying teenagers in the sky! After all, humans may not be able to see the distortions in the sky, but they’d see the Witches and Demons shooting magic all over the place!

At Amity’s signal, Masha, Gray, and Rebecca worked together to cast a wide area illusion around the forest and the sky above. Once the illusion was in place, the Hexsquad (minus Lyra) got onto their staves and flew up, while Lyra (wielding Waffles normally), Vee, and King flew up with their wings. Vee shifted back into her full Quetzalcoatl Basilisk form since she felt most comfortable flying in that form, and hovered alongside the others. Matt and Skara then combined earth and wind magic to create a floating platform of rock for the non-winged members of the team to stand on, so they could use their staves.

“Alright, is everybody ready?” Amity asked, pointing Ghost at a tear into the In-Between Realm.

“As we’ll ever be!” King said, brandishing glyph combos in both hands and clearing his throat.

The others agreed as well, so Amity said; “Than on the count of three, channel all you’ve got into the tear! One… two… THREE!”

Immediately, all ten of them blasted as much magic as they could at the tear. Eight streams of different coloured magic was fired from the Palismen staves of the Hexsquad, while all eight elements were blasted out from King’s glyph combos. King also continuously shot his sonic roars into the tear, roaring with every exhale, then taking the shortest breath he could before roaring again. Even Vee, whose spell-casting as a Quetzalcoatl Basilisk was limited, twirled her fingers and even the tip of her tail to create as many spell circles as she could, each one firing beams of raw magic into the distortion. Each and every spell, glyph, and roar was absorbed into tear, making it ripple like the surface of a still pond, but absolutely nothing else was happening. The tear showed no signs of ripping open into a full portal, or even being effected at all!

After five minutes straight, all the kids started getting exhausted and were forced to stop casting when Matt and Skara lacked the magic to keep their floating rock perch in the air. They all sat on their staves again and panted in frustration, while King rested on Skara’s head and Vee sat on the back of Amity’s staff. The floating rock slowly sank down to the forest below, where Gray turned it to rubble with his blessing.

“No! Why isn’t it working!? Don’t we have enough power!?” Amity cried, weakly shooting spells with her fingers until she started to get a little pale, causing Vee to gently grasp her arm to stop her.

“I think it’ll take a lot more magic than we have to rip open this distortion fully. I mean, it took a Godly being to do this, and all of us together don’t even come close to that level.” Vee said regretfully.

The others all groaned and looked down dejectedly. “Well then what the heck do we do now? This can’t really be another dead end, right?” Lyra asked, looking a little desperate. “Maybe I can try my shadow travel? If I can travel through this tear via the shadow world, that could still work! I’d only need to take King too so I wouldn’t need much strength.”

Hunter nodded; “Give it a try, but be careful.”

Lyra smiled, then used her magic to leap into the shadow that Amity was casting on Vee’s wing. However upon arriving in the shadow realm, she found no windows that showed the other side of any of the tears, meaning even the shadows of the realms were divided by the boundary. She re-emerged and began to fly with Waffles to rest her wings as she gave a reluctant shake of the head to the others. They were disappointed, but they hadn’t gotten their hopes too high over such a sudden plan, so it was bearable.

Amity scowled at the tears; “This can’t be it! There has to still be something we can do!”

But no one else had any ideas… at least until Vee shyly raised her hand. “I-I might be able to do something.”

“What is it, Vee?” Willow asked.

“Well… we were trying to tear open the boundary by forcing magic into it from our side, but what if we instead forced magic out of it?” Vee suggested.

King’s eyes widened; “The Collector did say something about that!”

“Are you saying you’re going to use your basilisk powers to suck enough magic out of the tear to make it tear open!?” Gus cried; “Can you even eat that much!?”

“A Basilisk can eat as much magic as they want. I just… I don’t know what it’ll do to me. Eating a lot of magic can trigger an evolution, like when eating Luz’s Arch-Angel Magic turned me into a Quetzalcoatl Basilisk. The amount I’d need to eat would definitely do something to me… But it’s looking like that’s our only choice.” Vee said, looking nervous.

“Vee, you don’t need to do this if you don’t want to. We can find another way. Maybe we can repeat some of other failed experiments? Who knows, they might work while these distortions are open!” Amity said, looking extremely uncomfortable with this idea.

“I want to do this. You guys are all my friends… you accepted me even though I’m a Basilisk. I want to repay you by helping you get home! I’ve got to at least try.” Vee implored.

The Hexsquad exchanged looks once more, silently debating the idea. None of them were happy about it, but they were getting more desperate with every failed attempt; perhaps this was a risk worth taking.

“Alright Vee. Just… be careful.” Amity said.

Vee smiled and nodded as she flew off from Amity’s staff; “I will. Who knows, maybe eating the distortion magic will give me the power to open my own any time I want?” she half-joked whilst inwardly wondering it that would actually work.

The young Basilisk then flew towards the tear and took a short, preliminary taste of the magic flowing from it and the boundary itself. Immediately, she recoiled a little; the taste was NOT palatable at all! It tasted a little bit like Luz’s Angelic Magic, which was normally pretty delicious, but it had been tainted somehow. It felt thick and cloying, like hot caramel, and was overly sweet in a similar way, like Luz’s magic turned up to 11. However there was also a distinctly gross aftertaste that was almost metallic, like blood. It was extremely unsettling; like something Vee recognised as something she liked, but corrupted until it turned her stomach. She really didn’t want to eat more of this…

Vee briefly looked over her shoulder and saw the hopeful looks of her friends, all relying on her. She then looked down and saw the faces of her Human friends, all three of whom looked back at her with confident smiles. Masha was especially smiling at her with that same smile that made Vee want to push herself to the limits even as it offered her comfort and reassurances that she could stop whenever she wanted. Vee Noceda did not want to let them down!

Steeling herself for the mother of all stomach aches, Vee clenched her fists, exhaled slowly, then took the biggest, longest breath she could as she began to furiously devour the magic of the tear. Thick streams of gold, silver, white, and black magic poured from the tear and down Vee’s throat, filling her with the strange distorted magic. Vee’s eyes watered and her stomach turned at the taste, but she just shut her eyes tight and kept devouring, fighting back the nauseous feeling it caused her. Her wings began to glow in the same colours of the magic she was eating, and Vee’s scales began to lose their lustre as she gained a sickly pallor. When she finally couldn’t inhale any more in one go, Vee panted a little then covered her mouth and swallowed hard to stop herself throwing up.

“Vee!” the others cried, flying closer.

Vee put a hand up to stop them; “I’m… not… done!” she panted out, before forcing herself to calm down and begin eating again. This continued for a few minutes, until the tears began to close. The Hexsquad watched in disappointment as the tears disappeared one by one, until finally the tear Vee had been eating from closed up too, without ever showing signs of breaking open. She had devoured significantly more magic than the Hexsquad had been able to pump out into the distortions, but it still wasn’t enough…

“No… even that didn’t work?” Amity whimpered dejectedly.

“I-I’m sorry.” Vee winced, looking awful. She was clammy and breaking out in a cold sweat, while her scales had lost their sheen entirely. Her wings weren’t glowing any more, and in fact looked rather ragged now. They were barely supporting her weight and it was clear Vee was struggling not to fall from the sky, so Hunter quickly flew over and pulled her onto his staff.

“Let’s get back on the ground and give Vee some time to catch her breath.” he said.

The others nodded and they all flew back down to join the Cabin Seven Crew, who dropped the illusion. Masha immediately took Vee from Hunter and cradled her to their chest.

“Oh Vee… Are you okay?” Masha asked.

“I-I will be, I think. Just give me a minute… that magic was awful!” Vee whined, once again swallowing hard to stop herself from throwing up.

Gray looked to the Hexsquad; “I’m no expert, but it didn’t look like it worked at all.”

They all shook their heads; “We’re strong for our ages, but we’re still just a bunch of teenagers and a Kid Titan!” Matt complained (both Gus and Lyra had turned 13 in the last 4 months, so King was the only non-teen amongst them now). “Like it or not, we just don’t have the strength to punch a hole in the boundary between realms… we’re gonna need to come up with another plan.”

“You know me; I love plans! But we’ve burned through more than we can count! At this rate…” Skara looked down miserably, “ this rate, we might end up just having to wait until the Divider lets us come home. He did say he would once his work was finished…”

“It’ll be too late by then, Skara.” Amity said, “You all heard what King learned from the Collector; the Divider is changing people to fit his idea of paradise! If we don’t get home before he’s done, then everyone we know and love will be changed forever!”

Skara averted her eyes, while Boscha pulled her to her side protectively while scowling at Amity; “Lay off, Amity. Don’t you think we all know that? But what more can we do? We’ve been working on this problem for four months without any progress! Believe me, if you’ve got an idea than I’d love to try it! But right now? We’re stuck.”

Willow came between Amity and Boscha, putting her arms up to calm them down; “Okay, let’s not fight. Boscha, we all know what situation we’re in. And Amity, we all know what’ll be waiting for us if we just wait it out. We need to find a solution, but we need to do it calmly and as a team. So let’s turn some of that energy towards our heads and use our buff brains to figure this out!”

The others all nodded, while Amity and Boscha sighed and mumbled apologies to each other. However Rebecca cut in before they could decide what to do next.

“Guys! Vee really isn’t doing so hot!” she cried, looking up from where she was knelt beside Vee and Masha.

Vee was sweating a lot, and seemed to be suffering an awful stomach ache. Masha was freaking out and trying to use some cooling magic to dab at Vee’s forehead and make her a little more comfortable, but they were running out of ideas.

“We need to get Vee to Camila!” Masha yelled, “She and Luz are the only ones who might know how to make Vee feel better!”

The Hexsquad scrambled to do just that; Hunter called Camila to find out exactly where she was, while Gus and Matt cast illusions over Vee to hide her true form, since she was in no position to be transforming herself. Willow and Rebecca then loaded her onto a stretcher that Amity made by stretching some abomination slime between two long branches found by Gray. Hunter reported that Camila was still at the Vet Office with Luz, but was going to leave Luz to watch over the clinic while she hurried home, so the gang headed straight for the Noceda home. They arrived at the same time as Camila, who took one look at Vee and gasped.

“Get her inside and onto the kitchen table! I’ll grab what supplies I have!” Camila ordered.

The kids obediently rushed to lift Vee onto the kitchen table and then cleared out of the way (leaving only Masha to hold Vee’s hand and stroke her hair) so Camila could easily reach her. Hunter had already told Camila what had happened when he’d called her, so Camila was quickly able to get to work with both magical and mundane methods of diagnosis, checking Vee thoroughly while also making sure to give her some relieving treatment in the form of a stomach soothing spell and a cooling charm. These spells eased Vee’s suffering but didn’t stop it completely, and Camila soon came to a conclusion why.

“Vee’s body isn’t integrating the magic she ate. I’ve studied her physiology a lot since she became my daughter, and I’ve learned a lot about how it works; a Basilisk possesses a kind of second stomach that is designed specifically for rapidly breaking down magic and incorporating it into her body. However she can’t digest whatever distorted magic makes up those tears and the boundary.” Camila said gravely, reaching into her bag of supplies and pulling out a small potion filled with a clear liquid.

“So what do we do!?” Masha cried in a panic.

Camila put a soothing hand on their shoulder; “It’s okay. If she can’t digest the magic, she’ll just need to throw it up. I’ve already prepared an emetic potion that I designed just for Basilisks. It’ll purge her magic stomach without doing anything to her more standard one. But, uh… well you might all want to stand back. Throwing up isn’t fun and I’m not sure what’ll happen to all that magic now that the tears are gone.”

The others didn’t need to be told twice; everyone except Amity and Masha cleared out of the kitchen and hid outside the room, peeking in just a little so they could be ready to act if something went south. Masha kept her grip on one of Vee’s hands, while Amity made an abomination that she shaped into a large basin that Vee could throw up into. Camila uncorked the potion bottle and helped Vee sit up, then said;

“This won’t taste or feel too great at first Cariño, but it’ll help you. Bear with it for me, okay?”

Vee nodded; “Y-Yes Mama.”

She then accepted the bottle pressed to her lips and gulped down the emetic, which tasted like it had been distilled from one of Rebecca’s old gym socks. The taste alone had her retching, but that soon gave way to full on vomiting into the abomi-basin that Amity had made. The others had expected to see streams of magic come flying out, similar to when they’d made Subject Zero throw up her stolen magic back when she attacked Hexside, but instead Vee was throwing up liquid magic. It filled the basin and immediately looked bizarre; it looked like Vee had thrown up a portal! It had the same nebula-like appearance, causing everyone in the house to come out of hiding and take a closer look.

Vee immediately felt a lot better, and after eating a little regular magic, courtesy of some conjured plants from Willow, she felt in tip top condition again! Basilisks were hardy creatures after all! She then joined the others in looking into the basin.

“Wow… that definitely looks a lot prettier than it felt. Y-You don’t think this is an actual portal, do you?” Vee asked.

“If this whole mess gets resolved by you literally puking up a portal back home, then I’m going to scream.” Boscha shuddered; “I do not want to touch that…”

That feeling was mutual to most of the group, and Camila even opened her mouth to tell everyone to stay away from it, but King acted first. The little Titan had few scruples, so he just declared; “Let’s give it a try!” before dunking his paw into the liquid magic.

In a flash, the liquid began to swirl around his hand like he was the epicentre of a whirlpool, and sparks of electricity began to zip out from the liquid. Amity felt her magic lose its connection to the abomination, causing it to promptly melt and spilling itself and the liquid magic all over the kitchen floor. Everyone except King leapt onto chairs or flew into the air with their Palismen, while King just found himself stood in the puddle like it was nothing. The sparks of electricity were still shooting out in all directions and the puddle was still swirling, but King wasn’t passing through. He was just about to call it a dud when Vee hovered down and sniffed the magic.

“It smells different now… I think it reacted to King and his Titan Blood!” she declared.

“Really!? Then we must be getting somewhere! Can you pass through it, Vee?” Skara asked.

Vee shrugged and gingerly lowered her tail down to touch the swirling magic. The instant she did, she felt something briefly connect to her spirit, before the connection broke immediately and she recoiled away. Camila caught her before she could hit the floor, then Vee yelled out; “I-I couldn’t get through, but something is coming!”

Everyone braced themselves, before the liquid began to bubble and expand, seemingly ready to explode. Camila acted fast, grabbing King out of the puddle than yelling to the kids; “GET BACK!”

The teens all darted out of the room, while Matt had just enough time to throw up a barrier around the puddle before he ran too. The magic promptly exploded, badly damaging Matt’s barrier but thankfully not breaching it, saving Camila’s kitchen from a lot of damage. The explosion shook the house, and once the shaking stopped, everyone peeked back into the kitchen to find the barrier dome full of smoke and a mass of indecipherable shadows. There were sounds of groans coming from inside the barrier, but with no way for the smoke to escape, no one could see through it.

“Matt, drop the barrier. Everyone else, be ready to fight! We don’t know what just appeared but it might not be friendly.” Camila declared, brandishing her Chancla in preparation.

The witches all pointed staves or spell circles at the barrier while King prepared a roar, and the human trio backed off to stand with Vee and Camila. Matt dropped his barrier and Skara used wind magic to blow the smoke out through the open kitchen window. Once the smoke was clear, they all finally got a good look at what had been summoned, and gasped at what they saw.

It was a pile of Basilisks! And not just any Basilisks; these were Vee’s fellow subjects! The ones made by Belos!

Subject Zero, now reduced back to a regular Greater Basilisk again, was at the bottom of the pile and appeared to be unconscious or at least dazed, while Subjects One, Two, and Four were all twisted up together on top of her, groaning and looking around blearily, wondering what had happened. Then, at the very top of the pile, was Treble. He looked a lot less stunned, but his tail was wrapped tightly around the only non-Basilisk in the pile; Hanu the Macaque Demon.

“Hanu!?” Willow cried.

“Treble!” Skara cried also, smiling brightly.

The two looked up and saw the girls, then looked around and saw the rest of the Hexsquad. “You guys! B-But I thought the Divider trapped you in the Human Realm!?” Treble cried, leaping off of the pile of Basilisks and gently putting Hanu down before rushing to hug Skara.

Skara giggled happily; “It’s so good to see you! And you thought right; you’re actually in the Human Realm right now!”

Hanu and Treble both gaped at that news, and looked around at the Noceda’s kitchen while the rest of the Hexsquad kept an eye on the other Basilisks, who were still trying to shake off their shock.

“This is the Human Realm?” Hanu asked softly, creeping over to the kitchen window and peering out, mindful not to anger any one. Upon seeing the blue sky and unfamiliar buildings, as well as the green grass and trees, the girl let out a shriek like a frightened monkey and leapt to hide behind Willow. “This is so freaky!? How did we get here!? We were hiding out in Spriggan Manor a minute ago!”

“We’re not totally sure. A lot has happened, but I think we accidentally summoned you?” Skara said with a shrug; “It’s a long story, and we have a lot of questions too!”

“Yeah, like what’s happening to our families back home, and what the Divider is up to.” Amity chimed in.

Treble nodded; “We’ll tell you everything we can. But first… is that…?” he looked towards Vee, who smiled nervously and gave a little wave.

“Um, hi? It’s Treble now, right? Do you remember me? I was Number Five, but I go by Vee Noceda now.” Vee said with a shy grin.

Treble blinked slowly, then gasped as he fully registered her; “Number Five!? Uh, I mean, Vee!” he slithered over to hug her; “Look at you! I remember Luz showing me pictures of you, but seeing you in person is way different! You’re still kinda small compared to the rest of us, but look at those wings! It’s so good to see you again!”

“It’s great to see you too, Treble. I’m not totally sure how we summoned you, but this is the first real clue to getting home that we’ve had in months!” Vee beamed.

“I wouldn’t try getting home if I were you.” Hanu shuddered; “Things are not going great back there. We’ve been keeping our head down, but we’ve seen strange things. The entire sky suddenly transformed into a massive image of a golden city one day, and Angels have been flying down from it constantly! Sometimes these weird shadowy people and monsters even get sucked up into the sky and disappear!”

The Hexsquad exchanged looks; it sounded like the distortions, only bigger and with creatures actually able to pass through. Was that the fate that awaited the Human Realm too? Would the distortions grow bigger until people were being sucked in!?

Before anyone could ask any more questions however, there was a minor commotion as the other Basilisks finally snapped out of their daze enough to realise where they were and the fact that they were surrounded. Subject One took a single look at the staves being cautiously pointed at her and her siblings and began to shudder. She had gotten some meat on her bones since they met at Unity Plaza and no longer looked emaciated, while her underbelly had lost the sickly green tinge and become a healthier cream colour. However she still shook like a leaf and hugged her own tail in fear. Subject Four, the one that looked most like Treble, growled lowly at the Hexsquad, while the more serpentine Subject Two looked back and forth between Vee and the Humans with caution. For a moment, no one was sure what was going to happen next. The Basilisks looked ready to bolt or attack, while the Hexsquad wanted to try and talk them down and reassure them that they’d be safe so long as they didn’t attack.

The awakening of Subject Zero brought a swift end to that.

Without warning, the Greater Basilisk’s eyes shot open and she suddenly slithered around into a sitting position. The entire Hexsquad were startled and shot some spells to try and stun and restrain her, but Subject Zero devoured the spells in one gulp, before beginning to inhale. Lyra, acting fast, grabbed her brother and King then fled into the shadows, though she was sadly too slow to save anyone else. Amity, Willow, Gus, Matt, Skara, and Boscha all had their magic completely sucked out of them, making them groan and fall to the ground, becoming pale and listless.

“Guys!” Vee cried, before lunging at Subject Zero. The Greater Basilisk flicked her large tail at Vee and smacked her into the wall, making her cry out.

Camila saw red and swiftly smacked Subject Zero hard in the face with her Chancla, making the Greater Basilisk hiss and recoil. Seeing this, Subjects One, Two, and Four promptly fled from the room, and Camila heard the sound of glass breaking as they jumped out of the nearest window just as Vee had done months ago.

Subject Zero rounded on Camila, but since the woman was still in her work uniform and human disguise, the Basilisk was confused by her. “A human…? You smell like food, but you have no magic!” she then looked at Masha, Gray, and Rebecca, who were helping Vee up. “They are the same… smell of magic, but look human. Is the smell from these morsels…?” she grabbed Gus by the back of his collar and picked him up.

“Let him go!” Camila roared, leaping up and smacking Subject Zero hard in the face with her Chancla. Again, Subject Zero recoiled and gave Camila a look like she was utterly insane. Before she could do anything though, Vee had recovered enough to leap at the larger Basilisk, wrapping her tail around Subject Zero’s neck and scratching at her face with her claws. Subject Zero shrieked and pried Vee off before tossing her, but Treble sprang forward to catch her, while Hanu used her plant magic to produce a foul smelling pollen.

Subject Zero screamed as her nose and eyes began to leak due to the awful odour, and with her eyes closed, the large Basilisk slithered out of the kitchen as fast as possible and fled for the nearest source of fresh air; the window her fellow Basilisks had broken. She forced herself out and swiftly slithered away, disappearing into the forest nearby. Camila, Vee, and Cabin Seven Trio chased after her, but as soon as they saw she’d fled the house entirely, they turned back to deal with the drained Hexsquad.

Lyra emerged from the shadows with Hunter and King, and immediately looked guilty; “I-I’m sorry for not helping! But when I saw what that Basilisk was going to do I-”

Camila cut her off with a pat on the head; “No dear, you did the right thing. If that Basilisk stole your magic too, then we’d be in an even worse spot. Let’s tend to the others, then we can worry about finding the runaway Basilisks.”

Vee nodded, cracking her neck after the hard impact she’d suffered moments before; “Mama’s right. Besides, this is the Human Realm and other than Luz, every bit of magic within miles of this place is right here. Subject Zero will probably come back here on her own eventually to find food, and we can track the other Basilisks soon. They aren’t really dangerous to humans, so what’s the worst that can happen?”



Jacob Hopkins sat in the dark, staring at his screens. He rarely did anything else these days; not since the evil presence in Gravesfield had made itself known and gotten him fired from his job at the Historical Society. He’d only been trying to do what was right and unmask those Unholy Martian Witches, and yet everyone treated him like he was crazy! A pariah! It was unfair, but Jacob would show them all! When he revealed his proof to the world, no one would be able to doubt him again!

He briefly glanced around at his home… or rather, the RV that he lived in. It was a recent arrangement, but one that served a purpose in his plan to expose the Witches! With it, he could freely move around the town of Gravesfield and maintain his network of cameras! Sure it wasn’t as comfy as his old apartment, but he’d had to give that up thanks to those rotten witches!

It had all begun back in September, when the Witches had lost control of that pet Raven Monster and caused a ruckus in town, using their Martian Mind Control to brainwash people into thinking it was all some tacky TV show being filmed. Jacob had donned his best Anti-Witch gear and rushed to save the townsfolk, only to be completely ignored and shoved aside. Then when he’d tried to confront the Witches, that Noceda Woman that worked at the Vet Clinic had brutally attacked him when he wasn’t ready, and left him trapped in a dumpster after destroying his very expensive and totally authentic armour!

After that, he’d tried to keep an eye on the Noceda House with his cameras, though he was forced to splurge on higher quality ones that could be set up further away, as those set up too close were found or disabled with their Martian Technology. It hadn’t worked very well, as the Noceda Woman, her Skin-Changer Daughter, and the three oddball friends that visited frequently were all on the look out for him, ready to silence him! The other Noceda Daughter disappeared for a couple of months, and Jacob had feared she’d been eaten by the Skin-Changer once her uses were expended, and soon after Jacob had found himself fired from the Historical Society! He was sure the timing was suspicious; the Nocedas must have done something to his bosses to make them do their bidding! There was no other possible reason! After all, who cared if he made a few changes to the exhibits to reflect the truth of the world, and not the sanitised version that the Witches and Hell-Spawn made up to control the populace?

The fact he’d soon been replaced by that creepy Goth kid who was friends (and possibly lovers?) with the Skin-Changer only served to prove his belief that the Nocedas wanted him out of the way!

Realising his life might be in danger next, Jacob had sold his apartment and all unnecessary possessions and moved into his Dad’s old RV, which he turned into his mobile command centre and the hub of his intelligence network!

Only a little while later, in December, the original Noceda Girl had seemingly returned from nowhere and brought along a whole gaggle of new kids. Jacob had thought these nine new children were brainwashed victims for some kind of evil ritual, or they were being harvested for their teeth so the Witches could power their time machine, but he’d soon learned they were twisted and evil too! The little boy frequently ate out of trash cans when he thought no one could see, one of the girls had a third eye that she sometimes forgot to hide with her hologram necklace thingy, and one of the girls was obviously either another skin-changer or just a straight up clone of the Noceda Girl! Clearly these fiends were up to no good too!

The only direct contact Jacob had with them since their first meeting back in September was when he’d caught the original Noceda Girl out on her own. She was lethargic, obviously downcast, and clearly not her usual self, so Jacob had wondered if the brainwashing on her was wearing off! If she really was an Angel like her mother claimed, then she had to be good deep down! Jacob had caught her trudging off to the old cemetery, likely being forced to rob graves for teeth, and stopped her. He’d done his best to convince her to trust him, to come with him in his RV, and let him help her escape the corruption of those Witches…

The look she’d given him would haunt his nightmares until the day he died.

Jacob didn’t know what happened after that… the last thing he remembered was golden glowing eyes, a blood-curdling scream of rage, and then pain. He’d woken up in the ER after allegedly suffering a bad electric shock from working on his computers. Needless to say, Jacob did not approach the Noceda Girl ever again… he’d just watch from a safe distance.

And that watching would pay off today! He’d noticed that the Hell-Spawn were all roaming around town buying party supplies, no doubt for some hedonistic ritual, when they’d all gotten freaked out by something in the sky and run home. Jacob couldn’t see what scared them, but they’d then gone into the woods near their clubhouse and disappeared behind a hologram, before running out again with the Skin-Changer looking in rough shape. Jacob had watched his camera feeds closely in hopes of discovering its weakness, and saw the Noceda Woman hurrying home too. He saw nothing for a while, then noticed smoke coming from one of the windows of the house, before three more of the Skin-Changer monsters burst through another window and fled in different directions. Jacob then saw a much bigger one jump out moments later and flee into the woods.

His mind raced; what was going on? Had that first Skin-Changer given birth and that’s why it had been in bad shape? Had it divided itself into clones? Had some of the Hell-Spawn been Skin-Changers that lost their forms and went wild? Jacob didn’t know, but he did know that four dangerous monsters had just run away into his town, and thanks to his camera feed, Jacob would be able to find them and even identify them if they stole someone’s shape!

Donning himself in a leather duster coat and grabbing a combat knife, a mechanical crossbow he’d bought online, a taser, and some zip-ties, Jacob smiled and stepped out of his RV. It was time for Jacob Hopkins, Demon Hunter extraordinaire, to make his heroic debut!



Inside the Noceda House, Camila, Vee, the Cabin Seven Trio, King, Hunter, Lyra, Treble, and Hanu were busy moving the magically drained members of the Hexsquad onto comfortable seats around the living room. Camila had cleared the pollen from Hanu’s spell and repaired the broken glass of the living room window after seeing that there was no blood on them for the others to use to track the Basilisks. She then gave each member of the Hexsquad a check-up, but aside from them being too exhausted to move (and barely having the energy to talk), they were in okay physical condition.

“Ugh… this sucks.” Boscha groaned as Camila gave her a small blessing to help her a little healthier.

“You’ve got that right Babe. Vee and Treble really make it easy to forget why Basilisks are so dangerous…” Skara agreed, having already gotten her blessing.

Willow nodded; “At least the other three Basilisks just ran off.”

“So what do we do now? Even with Camila giving us magic, we’re not in any state to go out there.” Gus said.

“Leave that to us.” Rebecca grinned; “Masha, Gray, and I have magic that those Basilisks won’t see coming!”

Gray nodded; “We’ll go find them. But how exactly did they get here?” he asked, looking to Hanu and Treble.

“I’m not really sure.” Hanu answered nervously, holding onto her tail like it was a lifeline. “I was just going around Spriggan Manor and tending the plants when I heard the Basilisks all start screaming. I ran to where Treble was and found him being sucked into a weird whirlpool of sparkly black and gold liquid on the floor. I grabbed his tail to try and pull him out but got sucked in with him.”

Treble nodded; “I don’t know much more either. I was just going down the hall when the floor beneath me began leaking that liquid, and then sucking me in. I bet it was the same for the others since we heard them screaming too.”

Amity put a tired finger to her chin; “So you weren’t all together, and Hanu was only sucked in by accident… I think I have a theory.”

“Lay it on us, ‘cause I’m stumped.” Matt sighed.

“I don’t know how it happened exactly, but the distortion magic that Vee ate and then threw up must have reacted with King to make some kind of weird summoning portal. When Vee touched it, the portal must have locked on to everyone like her and then dragged them through.” Amity said. “It’s like the Summoning Circle Belos used to kidnap Luz on the Day of Unity, only because it used the magic of the boundary between realms and Titan Power, it was much more powerful.”

Hunter nodded; “I was thinking the same thing. Plus, Belos’ circle was able to summon Luz because of the power of the Eclipse and because Belos had Luz’s blood. Vee is probably genetically similar enough to the other Basilisks made by Belos to be able to summon them, while the distortions in the sky weakened the boundary between realms enough to not need the Eclipse.”

“That means we could potentially do the same thing again to summon other stuff too! Perhaps if we use Luz’s Portal Key, we can summon the actual Portal she made! Then we could use the Collector’s Mirror Shard to get him to give us the linking spell to get us home, or just use it to go into the In-Between Realm and finally free him!” King grinned excitedly.

That idea perked up everyone, except Hanu and Treble, who both looked a little reluctant. Even Vee, who’d have to suffer that nasty magic again, was more enthusiastic about it.

“Say… would we have to go back with you? Or could we just camp out here in the Human Realm?” Hanu asked.

Willow raised an eyebrow; “You want to stay here? Why?”

“It’s not that we want to stay in the Human Realm specifically… We just don’t want to be in the Demon Realm right now. Things there are kind of… scary.” Treble shuddered.

“What exactly is going on there?” Lyra asked, “You mentioned you were living in Spriggan Manor with the other Basilisks, but how did you end up there, and why?”

Treble and Hanu exchanged looks, silently asking each other who would start the story. Everyone eyed the two of them curiously, while Masha had a sly grin as they noticed the two had edged their hands together and where practically holding hands.

“Well…” began Hanu, “It started with the Divider sending all the CATTs back to Digale Island while he remained on the Boiling Isles to clean up after the Day of Unity. We didn’t know anything was weird at first, but after a few days people began to get upset. I know Eda was one of the biggest ones to get mad. She beat up these metal birds and knights that the Divider sent to the Isles, then the Divider himself showed up. Treble and I ran away to hide while the rest of the CATTs attacked. We didn’t see what happened, but the Divider won and began ordering some of the CATTs and his knights to take people off Digale Island. He took the Coven Heads we’d locked up too, including Terra…”

Hanu bit her lip, so Treble continued; “Those who didn’t fight were allowed to go back to the Isles too, but without the Divider casting whatever weird magic he has on them. The Divider asked Hanu if she’d like to receive Spriggan Manor as a present for her service to him by helping him and King when they went into the In-Between Realm. She said yes and asked if I could go with her, so the Divider took us there. He also gave us a bunch of Emperor’s Coven Members as guards and staff… They were really creepy; they were super friendly and happy all the time and would do anything we asked because “Lord Divider ordered us to serve you”. I snapped at one to jump out a window once when he stepped on my tail by accident, and he actually did it! I was lucky Hanu was nearby to save him…” Treble shuddered.

“Everyone who defies the Divider ends up like that. The Plant Coven was already gone when the Divider brought us there. He also brought Subjects One, Two, and Four to live with us, thinking they’d be more comfortable with their own kind. They’ve mostly avoided us though; Belos really did a number on them psychologically. Aside from that, we’ve been isolated from the rest of the Isles and the CATTs. We know the Divider has been building something, and the sky began showing a golden city a few weeks ago, with Angels coming down from it, but we haven’t heard any fighting. It looked like the Angels were on the Divider’s side. Though we don’t know where he is either; one of our guards said he’d left for the stars, whatever that means.” Hanu finished the story.

“What about the big basilisk? Subject Zero was it?” Camila asked.

The two newcomers shrugged; “No idea. She wasn’t with us at the manor.” Treble said.

“She must have been summoned from somewhere else.” Hanu said, before paling; “Oh no! You don’t think the Divider will come looking for us here when his people notice we’re gone!?”

“I don’t think so.” Treble replied, looking unsure. “But anyway, that’s all we know. So is it okay if we hide out here? We don’t need you to take care of us or anything; we can make out own way. We just want to stay in the Realm.”

Camila and the others all nodded; “Of course. And for the record, you’re welcome to stay with us until you feel like leaving.” Camila smiled, “I won’t turn away a guest in need.”

Treble and Hanu sighed with relief and melted into their seats; “Thank the Titan… So, where is Luz? It’s weird not to see her with you guys.” Treble pointed out.

“She’s at the Vets.” Willow said.

“That’s like a Pet Healer. Aunt Camila works there, and Luz helps out.” Hunter added, seeing the pair’s confusion.

“Oh.” Hanu murmured, “Well should you go get her and let her know what’s happening? If Subject Zero runs into her, it’ll be really bad!”

Most of the group nodded in agreement, but Amity still shook her head. “No, we should try and take care of this by ourselves! We’ve had a set back but we can still recover and stick to the original plan!”

“Amity, I think we’re past that now! The Basilisks are running around Gravesfield and six of us are basically out of commission with our magic stolen!” Boscha protested; “I was onboard with not telling Luz at first, but we’re going to need her help! Or we at least need to keep her out of the way so Subject Zero doesn’t snack on her magic and become an even bigger threat! Vee evolved with just a little of her magic! Imagine what Subject Zero would become with all of it!”

This time, everyone was in agreement with Boscha. Willow spoke up next; “We agreed with your plan to keep Luz out of it, because we were just as worried about everything going wrong as you were. But the situation has changed, and it’ll now be much worse if Luz stumbles into one of them whilst unprepared.”

Amity bit her lip and looked down, and the rest of the gang felt sorry for her, knowing how determined she was to avoid letting Luz be hurt further and giving her a nice surprise to cheer her up on her birthday tomorrow. But her desperation was only going to put Luz at risk now.

“I don’t get it; why are you so against telling Luz? Isn’t she super powerful?” Treble asked.

“Things with Luz have been really rough. I was afraid of getting her involved in this mess and then making everything worse!” Amity said miserably.

Her friends all knew exactly what Amity meant of course; they knew she was talking about Luz’s depression and the fear that them failing would make it worse… but unfortunately not everyone listening understood that. Treble and Hanu both looked concerned, but that concern morphed into horror as they noticed the front door of the house open.

Everyone spun around in time to see Luz take a step into the house, dressed in the sweatpants, sneakers, old green jacket, and beanie that she’d taken to wearing a lot lately. One look at the girl’s expression was enough for everyone in the room to instantly know that she’d heard most, if not all of their conversation. The young Angel had bags under her eyes, and the golden eyes themselves were dull and full of sadness, while her mouth was twisted into a small but clearly forced smile.

“L-Luz!” Amity cried, trying to get to her feet. She stumbled due to her weakness and fell, but Luz was there to catch her and gently put her back in her chair.

“Hey, Sweet Potato.” Luz said kindly, “I see you guys have had a run in with the Basilisks.”

“W-When did you get back?” Amity asked nervously.

“After Mami rushed off so suddenly and left me in charge at the clinic, I got worried. Carmen saw me worrying and said she’d watch the clinic instead and let me go home. I only got back a moment ago, when I heard Treble asking where I was.” Luz explained, before giving a tired smile to Hanu and Treble; “It’s great to see you both, by the way.”

The two smiled back awkwardly, murmuring that they were happy to see her too. Everyone else looked at each other guiltily; that meant Luz had heard about them intentionally keeping the plan from her, and what Willow and Amity had said. It was no wonder her eyes were full of hurt and resignation!

“Luz, listen. What you heard… it wasn’t what it sounded like. Please let us explain.” Willow began, only for Luz to smile sadly and shake her head.

“It’s fine, Willow. You guys don’t need to explain yourselves to me. I get it.” Luz said.

“Y-You do?” Amity asked, full of hope.

That hope was dashed when Luz averted her eyes; “I can’t blame you for not telling me. You’re right; I probably would have ruined things and made everything worse. I’ve got kind of a record of messing things up.”

“No! Luz, that wasn’t it! We never wanted to hurt your feelings, we were just-” Amity was cut off by Luz placing a gentle kiss on her lips.

“I know, Amity. You were trying to spare my feelings. But it’s okay… I know I screwed up a lot. I’ll… I’ll get out of everyone’s way for a bit. I’ll fly around up high and see if I can spot the Basilisks, and if I do I’ll call Hunter so he and the others can deal with them.” Luz said, before turning around and rushing out of the house. Everyone called after her, and King, Vee, and Camila even gave chase, but neither could hope to catch Luz once she took to the air and flew away, making it a fruitless endeavour. When the Nocedas were forced to give up and return, they found Amity in tears and being comforted by Masha and Willow, while the rest of the Hexsquad looked horribly guilty.

“Oh Cariño…” Camila sighed, taking Masha’s place at Amity’s side; “There there. We’ll talk to Luz when she comes back, and explain the situation to her properly.”

“B-But what if she doesn’t come back!?” Amity sobbed; “What if she thinks we don’t want her around and decides not to “bother” us any more!? I’ve ruined everything!”

“We. We ruined everything…” Gus said dejectedly; “Most of us went along with the idea. We’re all to blame.”

Lyra, one of the ones who’d voted against the decision in the first place, shook her head and rubbed Gus’s back; “You had the best of intentions. Luz just misunderstood. Once we tell her the truth, she’ll understand.”

“B-But we made her think we didn’t trust her! That we think she’s a screw-up! The whole reason I didn’t want to tell her was because I was afraid of making her feel worse about herself if things went wrong, and now it HAS gone wrong and she feels even worse!” Amity buried her face in her hands as she cried.

Vee frowned and looked around at everyone. Treble and Hanu were stood awkwardly off to the side, not knowing what to say, while everyone else looked to be either drowning in guilt or trying to comfort the others. Even Camila looked miserable and was trying to hold it together for the kids, but was clearly regretting not just telling Luz the truth like she’d wanted to. Once again, keeping a secret had blown up in her face. Vee felt bad too since she’d ultimately relented to keeping the secret, but she knew they didn’t have time to waste on self-loathing! Her sister was upset and her fellow Basilisks were lost and confused in an unfamiliar world; she needed to do something.

“Everyone, we need to stop sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. Believe me, I know how tempting it is to run away and hide from your problems, but the time for that is done!” Vee declared, taking charge. “Hunter, King, Masha, Gray, Rebecca, and I will go out and try to find the Basilisks. We’ll be the most likely ones to spot them, we won’t be in danger if they try to eat our magic, and King can use glyphs to help us, as well as to make Newtangerines that we can turn into Glamour Rot Juice.”

Hunter and King, a little surprised by the usually timid girl taking charge, immediately snapped out of their slump and nodded obediently, while the Cabin Seven Crew all smiled proudly and quickly agreed. Seeing this, Vee smiled and looked back to her Mama and Lyra.

“We don’t want you two losing your magic as well, so you stay here and protect the others while they’re weak.” she said.

“Yes Ma’am!” Lyra said, her old Silver Sentinel instincts kicking in and making her give a salute. That earned a chuckle from the others, and made Camila pat the girl’s head before shooting a proud look to her adopted daughter.

“Alright Vee, I’ll hold down the fort. But be careful out there! And if you run into Luz, please send her home to us so we can talk this out properly.” Camila told her.

Vee nodded, feeling warm and fuzzy at the proud look she was receiving. “I will Mama! You can count on me!”

“And on me too.” Treble chimed in; “The others are my siblings; the Divider himself told me that I shared blood with Numbers One, Two, and Four; if anyone can get them to come back without a fight, it’s me.”

Vee blinked and was about to ask if that included her too, but Treble seemed to realise what she was thinking; “Sorry, but you and Zero were both made from DNA from different fossils. You’re pseudo-related to us because of the extra junk Belos added to complete our DNA, or so the Divider said, but you’re not blood related to us or Zero.”

“Huh… well whatever; that still makes us cousins! Besides, I’ve got a Mama and Big Sister already, so I’m not upset.” Vee grinned, then looked to Hanu; “Do you want to come too? That trick with the pollen earlier could come in handy again.”

Hanu hesitated, especially when she saw that Willow (the girl who’d bested her before) hadn’t managed to succeed against the Basilisks, but Treble gently took her hand and smiled, making the Macaque Demon feel a little better.

“Okay. I’ll help get Treble’s siblings back.” she agreed.

Vee and the others cheered, and Masha threw an arm around Vee’s shoulders; “Alright then! Time for Operation Sibling Search to get going!”

The Hexsquad wished them all luck, and Amity especially gave Vee a watery smile; “Good luck, Vee.”

“Thanks Amity, and don’t worry; we’ll find Luz and fix this. I promise!” Vee declared.

With that, Camila altered one of the Hexsquad’s Concealment Stones to hide Hanu’s Macaque features and make her look like an ordinary (and beautiful) blond girl in a pale green sundress, and King used the plant glyph to make some Newtangerines he could squash for juice. With their supplies in hand, they moved on to actually working out how to find the Basilisks. Vee and Treble could probably sniff them out, but with them likely taking disguises, it’d be difficult to lure them out of a crowd and identify them (which was partly what the juice was for). So to avoid suspicion, King had a plan.

“Hey Gus, mind if we borrow some of the costumes you and Hunter made for your show?” King asked.

The tired illusionist blinked in surprise, then nodded; “Sure. Hunter knows where they are. Why?”

“Because if things go south, we’ll need to be able to fight back! So we’re going to use the same trick Luz used when we fought Tia Lily! It’s time for the Magi-Rangers to make another public appearance!”



If there was one thing Belos had learned in his 400 year long life, it was patience. He had waited hundreds of years for the Eclipse so he could use his Day of Unity Plan, and he’d exercised a huge amount of patience in his conquering of the Boiling Isles and the installing of its isolationist policies to keep the other nations of the Demon Realm away long enough for him to prepare their destruction. If there was another thing he’d learned, it was survivability and adaptability; he’d been wounded and suffered more indignities than he cared to admit (for humility was one thing he hadn’t learned), and yet he’d survived it all. So when the Day of Unity had failed, he’d lost his borrowed wings, and been promptly destroyed by the vengeful Angel whose wings he’d borrowed, Belos had not given up… though he’d nearly had no choice.

The agony those hateful Witches (and the Angels they’d corrupted) had inflicted on him had been terrible, as had the feeling of being literally blown to pieces and vaporised bit by bit. It was pure luck that a tiny fragment of him had flown through the portal after he was splattered, and this fragment escaped the destruction of the rest of him. Belos had still felt the agony of the disintegration though… he’d never forget it!

It had taken him a few days after that before his mind had managed to properly piece itself back together within the tiny fragment that survived, but thankfully the remnants of his body, now free of that sigil his treacherous Grimwalker had branded him with, had acted on pure instinct to survive. The tiny globule of rotten slime had devoured insects that came to feast on it, and even possessed one once it had enough strength. From there it was just a matter of working his way up the food chain. A rabbit ate his host and soon became his new host, and then a fox had come along and done the same, giving Belos a body that was at least durable enough to last a while. He’d devoured many rabbits, decaying their bodies down to augment his own and rebuild himself bit by bit… he doubted he’d ever again regain his human shape, but that didn’t matter! So long as Belos could destroy the Demon Realm, he would accept any fate!

It had taken four months, but Belos had finally gotten large enough that he could possess deer, and had worked his way through a herd of them until he was now the proud owner of a Buck’s body… he now had enough strength to possess one of those foul witches, should he get the chance! He’d seen them… strutting about his world and even turning his childhood home into a den of sin! Well he’d show them! They thought he was dead and gone, but he would show them their folly before he sent them to Hell! And now he’d finally have the chance!

Belos had been as shocked as the Hexsquad when the tears appeared in the sky, so he’d followed them to the edge of the woods in his stolen body and watched the house they were squatting in until he’d suddenly seen his old Basilisk creations jump out! One had fled towards town, one had fled north to the old quarry, and one had fled into the woods, followed not long after by Subject Zero herself, somehow reduced back into a Greater Basilisk again. Belos couldn’t believe his luck; if he could possess a Basilisk body, those witches would be doomed! He’d steal their power and perhaps even have enough magic to possess either Luz or Cassiel!

Deciding to go for the smaller Basilisk that fled into the woods, Subject Two if he recalled correctly, Belos began to head deeper into the trees. He had to be careful not to be seen, as the flesh of his current body was beginning to rot and slide off the bones already, and any one who saw him would think him a monster. So Belos moved slowly, using his stolen vessel’s sense of smell and incredible hearing to slowly track the Basilisk. It ended up taking him longer than he’d anticipated, as the Buck’s body began to decay more rapidly as Belos’ slime consumed it in his excitement. After almost half an hour of tracking, he suddenly heard a strange snap, the sound of a wire rubbing against wood, and then a short scream from the Basilisk. Curious and fearing one of the Witches had somehow caught up and caught the Basilisk before he could, Belos abandoned his Buck body (which didn’t really have enough muscle and sinew left to move quickly anyway) and instead began to slowly ooze forward beneath the undergrowth.

By the time Belos finally reached Subject Two, he was shocked by what he’d found. The serpentine Demon had been caught in a giant net trap that was hanging from the branch of a tree. The Basilisk was whimpering and desperately chewing at the net, but its two sharp, snake-like fangs weren’t designed for chewing and were only sharp at the tips, making them useful only for puncturing flesh. Belos was briefly nostalgic for the time he and Caleb had set traps in the woods to get fur and meat with which to survive… though they’d never left such large traps! Had the one who set this up hoped to catch a deer or something? It seemed too big for a normal forest creature.

As Belos was thinking about this, the question of who set the trap up was soon answered as a human in spectacles and a strange black leather duster coat came rushing through the trees, a strange black rectangle in one hand that he kept looking at, and a knife in the other. This human reached the Basilisk and beamed with delight.

“Ha! I caught one of you! Finally, I knew if I watched the monsters at the Noceda House long enough, I’d eventually nab one of you Hell-spawn!” the man yelled, grinning manically.

Subject Two whimpered as the man put his knife close to their face; “P-Please! I don’t want to cause any trouble! I don’t even want to be in this realm! Those people summoned me! I just want to go home and be safe!”

The human sneered; “A likely story! You can’t fool me, Demon! I’ll expose your kind to the entire Human Race, and then lead them in destroying you!”

Belos couldn’t help but smile; finally after 400 years, he’d encountered someone who understood these monsters! A proper kindred spirit! And the perfect helper for his plan!

Taking a gamble (and being fairly certain the human couldn’t kill him in his current state), Belos emerged from the bushes and forced himself to take on the closet thing to a human shape he could manage. He was still very obviously made of dark green slime, but at least he had a functioning mouth in this form. Both Subject Two and the Human turned to him in shock, the former screaming while the latter brandished his knife. Belos shut up the Basilisk by lashing out and striking them across the mouth, leaving behind some slime to bind their mouth shut. This surprised the Human, whom Belos nodded to.

“Hold there, Brave Soul. I understand how horrifying I must appear to be to you, but I am not your enemy. In fact, I am an ally.” Belos said politely, his voice rasping from disuse.

The Human glared and didn’t lower his knife; “My ally? And why should I believe you!?”

Belos pointed to the Basilisk; “I shut up that creature, didn’t I? Believe me, I have nothing but hatred for these Demons.”

“You talk like you aren’t one too!” the Human countered.

“Because I’m not. I am a human who was corrupted by these creatures and their foul magic. I was diminished to this form when I tried to destroy their homeland.” Belos explained.

Hearing that and recognising the scent of the slime made Subject Two recognise who Belos was, causing them to turn pale and begin freaking out and trying to get as far from him as the net trap would allow. The Human noticed this and raised an eyebrow.

“This thing really does seem scared of you… Alright, I’ll bite. Who are you?” he asked.

Belos bowed politely; “I am Philip Wittebane, a Witch-Hunter from this town.”

The Human gasped and a big smile crossed his face; “The Philip Wittebane! You and your brother are heroes! You have a statue in the park commemorating your fight with an evil witch!”

“My brother and I are venerated?” Belos asked, incredibly pleased to hear that. “I am glad Caleb and I were not forgotten after we were lost in the realm of monsters and Demons!”

The Human nodded excitedly; “You know Caleb’s name too! Oh man, that proves it! You have to be the real deal! Almost no one around here knows your names any more; the statue plaque wore away, and I only know because I worked at the Historical Society, before that Demon Lover got me fired and replaced me!”

Belos was disappointed to hear that, but this gave him even more of an advantage in convincing this human! He knew him, respected him, and had a grudge against his enemies! It was perfect!

“Might I know your name?” Belos asked.

“I’m Jacob! Jacob Hopkins, Demon Hunter!” Jacob answered with a proud grin.

“Jacob… a wonderful name.” Belos grinned; he’d had a couple of Grimwalkers named Jacob, and only one of them had betrayed him! This must surely be a sign from the Lord!

“Jacob, I wish to offer you my power. I was able to steal some of the Demons’ magic for myself and if you allow me to possess your body for a bit, I will grant it to you too. I won’t try to control you either; you have my word that you and you alone will be in control.” Belos promised, being (mostly) genuine for once.

Jacob seemed a little suspicious of that and then said; “Show me some of this magic.”

“Very well. I’ll teach it to you.” Belos said, before using his slimy finger to draw a fire glyph in the dirt. “Remember this pattern, for it can summon fire according to your will!” he said, before touching it and producing a fireball. He extinguished it quickly then gestured to Jacob; “You try it. You don’t need my power to do it.”

Jacob eagerly dropped to his knees and used his knife to draw the fire glyph, then poked it with the blade. A fireball appeared on the tip of the knife, and Jacob grinned maniacally as he launched it into the sky and made a small explosion.

“It works!” he cried excitedly.

“Indeed… and I know three more such glyphs. Allow me to hitch a ride in your body and I will teach them to you.” Belos promised.

The Human hummed and rubbed his chin for a moment, before smiling; “Alright! I accept!”

Belos’ slimy face twisted into a rotten smile; “Excellent! Now hold your breath; this will be a tad bit unpleasant.”

Jacob obediently took a deep breath and then held it as Belos leapt at his face and poured his slimy body into Jacob’s mouth and nostrils. The man’s body burned, and he felt slimy and disgusting, like he had bad congestion all throughout his body. Jacob didn’t fight it however, and since Belos was just hitching a ride rather than trying to forcibly take control, Jacob didn’t suffer any negative effects once the nasty feeling settled down. He then heard Belos’ voice in his head.

“You and I are going to do great work together, Jacob! Let us start with taking this Basilisk some place more secure, and tracking down the others. They are defenceless against non-magical beings, and they’ll make the perfect bait to draw out the rest of those foul witches.” Belos said.

Jacob nodded; “You got it, Philip! I know just the place! I set up some cells in the old abandoned quarry just in case I could nab one of these Hell-Spawn freaks! It’ll be the perfect place to hold them!”

“And I saw one of them flee in that direction too, so this is perfect! Let us go, Jacob.” Belos replied, greatly enjoying someone using his true name finally.

Using his knife to cut the rope holding the net in the tree, Jacob dropped the bound Subject Two to the floor and began dragging them away to the north. They had some more Basilisks to hunt!



Hunter wasn’t sure if he felt excited or embarrassed to be roaming around Gravesfield in his Neo Magi-Ranger uniform, alongside Gray. The original Magi-Rangers devised by Luz had all been birds, but the Neo versions made for Gus’s web show were based on several different animals, with Hunter’s costume being that of Gold Wolf, while Gray’s was Grey Hound (who was his long lost twin in the web show).

The two were wandering around the quieter neighbourhoods of Gravesfield, away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre, and trying to spot anyone acting out of the ordinary… for reasons besides seeing a pair of Power Ranger tributes walking around. Some of the little kids in the area had begun to follow them on their “patrol” and frequently urged them to do poses or cool stunts, which Hunter always caved to. His Golden Guard training left him well prepared for a lot of the stunts they wanted, and Gray was good at casting augmenting spells on himself and performing similar feats.

After entertaining the latest group of kids with some coordinated back flips and poses, Gray had whipped out some disposable paper cups and the flask of Glamour Rot Juice he’d brought along to offer the kids a drink and ensure none of them were Basilisks in disguise. As the kids happily drank the juice (and their watching parents had okayed it), Hunter knelt down to speak to them.

“Alright citizens, the Neo Magi-Rangers need your help! We are on the look out for some frightened creatures! They can transform into any person or animal they want, so if you’ve seen anyone acting oddly, please let us know!” Hunter asked, making it look like part of the show.

Most of the kids just cheered and promised to tell, but one little girl raised their hand; “I saw Father Edwards climbing around on the church roof! That’s weird, right?”

Hunter narrowed his eyes behind his wolf helmet; “That certainly could be! We’ll go talk to him! Thank you for the tip, young lady!”

The little girl preened at helping the heroes, then she and the crowd of kids followed the pair as they headed to the church. Gray hadn’t missed Hunter’s stiffened shoulders at the mention of the priest… Thanks to Belos, Hunter was fairly distrustful of Father Edwards, as his preaching reminded him too much of his false uncle.

“Are you gonna be okay, dude?” Gray asked softly. “You can let me do the talking if you’d like. My Mom is friends with Father Edwards; they do all the charity and community stuff together.”

Hunter nodded stiffly; “I’d appreciate that. I still don’t trust that human.”

“You know not all people who believe in God and the whole church thing are evil, right?” Gray said.

“I do. And I know even Amity warmed up to Edwards… I just… I was fooled for 16 years by a man I thought loved me, but actually saw me as a tool he could use and throw away. I guess I just don’t trust people who claim to talk to God…” Hunter sighed. He knew he was being a little unfair, but he couldn’t help the way he felt.

Gray didn’t seem to blame him either; “I get it man. Though to be honest, anyone can talk to God; that’s what prayer is. He just doesn’t normally talk back.”

Hunter snorted; “I guess you’re right. By the way, you and your Mom go to church on Sundays, right?”

“Yup.” Gray said casually, popping the P. “Mom’s super religious. Her family has been for generations; it’s important to her.”

“So does that mean you believe in God?” Hunter asked, feeling philosophical as the Church came into view.

“Never thought too much about it.” Gray admitted, before humming for a moment and answering; “Sure.”

Hunter was surprised by his blasé and casual response; “You know, you’re the most laid back person I’ve ever met!”

Gray chuckled; “I get that a lot. But I’m just chill; I never saw the point in worrying about stuff you can’t control. If there’s something I can do about a situation, then I’ll do it. That’s why I’m out here helping you. But if I can’t do anything, well then why worry? Whatever will be will be.”

“Your entire attitude is the opposite of mine. I’m not used to living life so… loosely?” Hunter said, trying to find the right word. His childhood had been defined by strict rules, training, protocol, and the desperate panic of always trying to be better, stay ahead, and worrying about danger around every corner, so the idea of a boy who had few, if any, worries was totally foreign.

Gray just looked at Hunter and while his Grey Hound helmet concealed it, Hunter could have sworn he was grinning; “Not used to living life loosely? You don’t say.” Gray said sarcastically.

Hunter huffed, and despite himself, chuckled.

Moments later, they arrived at the church and sure enough, Father Edwards was clambering around on the roof with a hammer in his hand, nailing down some new roof tiles. He was rather spry for a man in his sixties, being a slender man with pale grey hair, a clean shaven face, bright blue eyes, and sun-kissed skin. He’d traded in his usual priestly frock for some overalls and a simple flannel shirt, and had a straw hat on that made him look more like a farmer than a father, though he’d kept the signature collar of the priesthood. Hunter and Gray told the kids to stay put, then found the ladder and climbed up, all while Flapjack (who’d been glamoured to appear gold) protested that Hunter should just fly up and entertain the kids even more.

When the pair got onto the church roof, Father Edwards tipped his hat to them. “Good day, gentleman. How can this old man help you?”

“Hey Father. We’re just here on patrol, looking for problems to help out with.” Gray said casually, removing his helmet now that the kids couldn’t see him. “Entertaining the kids and all.”

Father Edwards chuckled; “I see! I’m glad to see you are making more friends. I know you weren’t sure about Summer Camp, but it clearly did you some good.” he then looked to Hunter; “Nice to meet you, young man. I’m glad to see you young people using your hobby to do good around the town. Why, just the other week young Amity came to the daycare in her Pink Dove outfit. The children got quite a kick out of that!”

Hunter laughed nervously and took off his own helmet; “Thank you, Father. We do our best.” he said awkwardly.

Father Edwards eyed Hunter’s scars with a slight frown, but was quickly distracted by Gray, who offered him some of the Glamour Rot juice, just to be thorough. “Here Father, have a drink on us.”

“Oh! Thank you! Much obliged, boys.” the old man smiled, taking the drink. “Hmm, never had something quite like that before. It’s good though!”

“It’s Mrs Noceda’s home-made Exotic blend.” Gray answered, putting the flask away again and preparing to put his helmet back on now that they’d confirmed Father Edwards was indeed the man himself and not an imposter. “We should get going; we’re supposed to meet up with our teammates soon.”

“I understand. It was nice to talk to you, Gray. You too, young man.” the priest smiled at Hunter.

Hunter nodded back awkwardly and prepared to put his helmet on and follow Gray, who’d begun climbing down the ladder. However, he hesitated as his curiosity got the best of him. Turning back to the priest, Hunter asked;

“What would you do if you suddenly learned witches were real?”

Gray went very still, while Father Edwards blinked in surprise, obviously not expecting such an odd question.

“I’m curious what made you ask such a question! But I suppose my answer would be… well it depends. Are the witches doing anything bad?” Edwards asked.

Hunter shrugged; “Let’s say some are and some aren’t.”

“Then what makes them different from any other person? Besides witchcraft?”

Again, Hunter shrugged; “Nothing, I suppose. They’re just people who use magic.”

Edwards hummed; “Well then, I suppose my answer would depend on the witch. If they’re doing evil, sinful things then I would try to stop them and make them see the light. If they’re helping people and doing good things, then I would praise them. If they were just quietly living their lives, then I would treat them as I would anyone else.”

Hunter looked at him suspiciously; “But don’t your people find magic and witches to be inherently evil?”

That made the priest sigh as he eyed Hunter’s scars more closely; “The world hasn’t been very kind to you, has it child?”

Hunter averted his eyes, so Father Edwards lifted up his hammer; “You see this? This is a tool that I’m using to fix a hole in the church roof. But around 2000 years ago, the same tool was used to crucify the Son of God. A tool is just a tool; it is the hand that wields it and the intent with which it is wielded that is good or evil. If a witch is just a person, and magic is just a tool, then I don’t see why they’re any different than me with this hammer. I don’t believe there are inherently evil tools, or inherently evil people. Evil is a sickness; a creeping weed cultivated by the poor choices and prejudices inside people.”

Hunter’s eyes widened a fraction; “So, would you choose a good witch over an evil human?”

Father Edwards chuckled; “Oh yes, any day for any reason! I’ve taken a look at those Good Witch Azura books that young Amity and Luz are always gushing over, and I see no evil there no matter how much some of my flock like to bleat about it. The Lord only knows some of them could stand to be more like that Good Witch! I like to think He prefers to be ignored by a good man, than praised by an evil one.”

Despite himself, Hunter felt a little lighter. “I see… thank you for answering my question. I’ll get out of your hair now; I still have a job to do.”

He put his helmet back on and began following Gray down the ladder, before Father Edwards called out to him; “Gold Wolf! If you want to speak again, you’re always welcome to come by. We even have a confessional if you’d like to keep it between us and God.”

Hunter nodded gratefully, then continued to the ground and followed Gray as they began to walk to their next search area. They walked in silence for a moment, the kids having grown bored and wandered off when they took too long on the roof. Finally, Gray spoke;

“So, do you feel better now?” he asked.

The Grimwalker boy nodded, though he seemed contemplative; “Yeah… but I just realised that I was being prejudiced. Father Edwards really is a nice guy, but I distrusted him just because he’s a priest.”

“You had your reasons. But you changed your mind after talking to him; that’s more than most people do.” Gray said casually.

“You’re right. I wonder if Belos ever tried that; just talking to Witches and Demons. I wonder if he’d still have hated them if he’d given them a shot from the start.” Hunter said wistfully.

Gray shrugged; “I don’t know, but I doubt it. I’m no expert on this guy, or some kind of shrink, but I don’t think Witches and Demons were ever actually Belos’ problem. Dude seemed like a crusader type; he needed some enemy and big cause to make himself feel important, and witches were the particular boogeyman he landed on. Didn’t help that an actual witch showed up, and well… Masha wasn’t wrong; big bro Caleb got himself a hot witch girlfriend and little bro Phil got all angsty. Belos was going to end up hurting someone no matter what… some guys are just rotten like that.”

Hunter went quiet for a moment as he registered everything Gray had said, then smiled beneath his mask; “I think you’re right. Belos made his choices and he chose to be hateful and hurt people. And I choose not to.”

Gray slapped him on the back; “Right on, brother. Hatred is such a drag…”

The two walked a little further towards town, when Hunter casually said; “I still hate Belos though.”

Gray replied; “Yeah, I think that one’s a freebie.”

The two boys laughed and continued their walk into town, wondering if the others had more luck than them.



The trio of Vee, Treble, and Hanu walked together through the centre of town, in the very busiest part of Gravesfield. Hanu had been given Willow’s Neo Magi-Ranger uniform; that of Green Bee, and was shyly walking alongside the two undisguised Basilisks. Both Vee and Treble were in their true forms, hoping that if the other Basilisks saw them roaming about freely, they might come out of hiding and trust them. The humans were all giving the trio strange looks, but seeing as Hanu was obviously in costume (resized to fit her thanks to Hunter’s skill with tailoring and magic), they all assumed the Basilisks were just costumes too. Some children and other teenagers approached them, occasionally asking for pictures or just getting excited and trying to convince the trio to play, but they were otherwise not bothered.

As they neared the park, Vee and Treble both caught the familiar scent of a Basilisk and began to look around. One of the others was nearby, just as they’d hoped! However with it being Saturday and in the middle of the day, the entire place was packed with families! There were people having picnics, running around playing sports, or just lounging around in the refreshing Spring sunlight, while a nearby playground was full of little kids all making a lot of noise in their fun. All those people made it very hard to distinguish who the smell was coming from, and the Basilisk could be disguised as any one of them.

“How are we going to find them in all this? Should we start handing out that juice?” Treble asked nervously as more eyes turned towards them.

“We don’t have enough for all these people! I’d need a place to hide and make more.” Hanu replied softly, feeling a little more confident with her hero disguise.

Vee patted them both on the back; “Don’t worry; just follow my lead. Hanu, remember the stuff I told you to say?”

The disguised Demon nodded slowly, and Vee’s smile widened. “Great! Just wait until someone asks you the question I warned you about, then give that answer. It’ll help.”

Hanu nodded once more and then followed Vee as she slithered into the park and began using some simple spells that could be passed off as regular special effects to the Humans. Fire spells that made fireworks, water spells that made little fountains from her finger tips, and so on and so forth, until she had attracted quite a crowd. Hanu joined in, performing strange movements that Vee had shown her and which looked like the actions of a street magician in order to disguise her spell casting as she conjured some simple flowers to give to people. Treble didn’t have any magical abilities besides shapeshifting and eating magic, so he instead got attention by using some musical skills he’d learned from Skara back during his time on Digale Island, and which he’d practised in the four months since the Day of Unity (he didn’t exactly have a lot else to do). He played a pan flute borrowed from Skara, and combined with Vee and Hanu’s magic, they drew a huge crowd right in the middle of the park.

It was hard to tell with all these people, but Vee and Treble could smell the Basilisk scent getting stronger, so the one they were looking for must have gotten caught up in the crowd, which meant they were watching just as Vee had hoped.

Bringing an end to their brief show, the three bowed to the audience as they received a round of applause. After a supportive look from Vee, Hanu nervously declared; “T-Thank you, kind citizens of Gravesfield! We of the Neo Magi-Rangers are happy to entertain you! But we did not come to put on a show; we are looking for some dear friends who have become frightened and are hiding amongst the people of this town. Dear friends who look a lot like my friends here.” she gestured to Vee and Treble, who both smiled somewhat bashfully and waved with both their hands and their tails.

There was some more applause and murmuring from the crowd, and Vee noticed a few different people looking nervous. At least one of them must be the Basilisk!

The children, who had all pushed their way to the front of the crowd so they could see past all the adults, began raising their hands and excitedly shouting questions and requests. They asked Hanu to do various tricks and poses, or asked Vee to cast one of her firework spells again, or asked questions about the other Neo Magi-Rangers, and the trio did their best to oblige them as much as possible. Eventually, one slightly older boy finally asked the question Vee had expected.

“Aren’t those snake things monsters? Aren’t the Magi-Rangers supposed to fight them?” he asked, eyeing the Basilisks warily.

Hanu perked up, glad Vee had predicted this; “Not at all! My friends here are Basilisks, and some are good while others are bad, just like humans. We fight the bad Basilisks and other bad monsters, but the good ones are our friends! They help us fight evil and we protect them.”

“There are good monsters!?” one small girl gasped.

“Of course!” Vee smiled, leaning down to pat the girl’s head; “My friends and I are good guys! I love this world and want to protect it, and I want to help my friends! They recently came here from a very scary place, so now they’re hiding. We want to find them and show them they’re safe here.”

There were some gasps of amazement from the kids, and a few smiles from the parents. The adults undoubtedly assumed this was some kind of anti-bullying “don’t judge someone by their appearance” life lesson thing, and that was exactly what Vee had been hoping for! She’d been in the Human Realm for almost a year now and between being an overachiever at school, a Basilisk skilled at blending in, and a very happy camper from Camp Reality Check, Vee had grown adept at understanding the way humans think. With that, she’d been able to predict people’s reactions and prepare Hanu and Treble for them, whilst also sending a message to the hiding Basilisks that they’ll be accepted.

Treble continued Vee’s line by saying; “My younger sister, as well as my two older siblings are currently lost and scared. I know we must look scary to you all, but we’re honestly not bad Basilisks! So if you see one of them, please help them find their way to us!”

The younger kids all gave a chorus of “OKAY!”, and a few of the really little ones tried to touch Vee and Treble. Their parents stopped them, but after making sure the kids asked permission, Vee allowed them to touch her tail, or fluff her hair, or stroke her wings. They were quite gentle (baring a few who got a big overexcited), and seeing Vee so at ease made Treble agree to allow the kids to pet him too.

“These monsters aren’t very scary.” one boy said.

“Can you really call them monsters if they aren’t scary?” another replied.

“Yeah! They’re more like snaky people!” a third boy grinned childishly as Vee patted him with her tail.

“They’re cute! I want one!” an older girl giggled as she pet Treble’s head.

The audience began to chatter happily and coo at the sight of the children playing with the Basilisks, and Vee quickly noticed someone on the edge of the crowd. It was one of the people who’d looked nervous before, and the last one who still looked nervous. She appeared to just be a regular young woman, with the kind of plain appearance most people wouldn’t give a second glance. She was also looking around shiftily, as if trying to see if anyone was watching her.

Vee made eye contact with this woman and gave a kind, reassuring smile. In response, the woman seemed to relax and while everyone’s eyes were on Hanu, Vee, and Treble, the woman’s form rippled and she began to transform, revealing the true form of Subject Four, the second youngest of the Basilisks. She looked a lot like Treble, only with more yellowy coloured scales, blue eyes, and brown hair, as well as more fin-like ears.

Vee and Treble looked delighted to see her, and Hanu even gave a happy little clap, causing people to turn around to see what had gotten their attention. They gasped upon seeing Subject Four, but since they already assumed the other Basilisks were just people in costumes, they easily believed this one was too, and her appearance was just part of the show. The kids had shown acceptance of the good monsters, and it had made the other good monster come out of hiding; it was something the adults could easily dismiss as a cutesy life lesson for the children.

The crowd parted to let Subject Four slowly slither over to the others, where Treble immediately hugged her.

“Sis! Thank goodness you’re okay! You scared me when you ran off like that!” Treble whispered, smiling tearfully.

“I-I’m sorry.” Subject Four whispered back; “It’s just… I was sucked into a portal and then suddenly we had staves being pointed at us and Zero was there… Then Two freaked out and starting running and One was frightened too and I didn’t know what to do… I didn’t want to be captured again so as soon as I saw a chance, I ran.”

Vee patted her on the back; “It’s alright; you don’t need to feel bad. You wouldn’t be the first Basilisk to freak out and jump through Mama’s window! I did too, and she forgave me and still took me in.”

Subject Four blinked; “Y-You did?”

“Yep! I’ve got a home here now, and you guys can make a home here too if you want. But we really need to gather everyone together so we can talk about it.” Vee replied.

The older Basilisk looked unsure, but then saw a small girl looking up at her from the crowds. The child had one hand in her mouth while the other was making grabby hand motions towards Subject Four. Cautiously, Subject Four moved her tail towards the girl and let her stroke and pet it, making the child giggle. The other children took this as an invitation and was soon petting and stroking Subject Four just as they had Vee and Treble, and the Basilisk had no idea how to react. She’d spent her life being regarded as a freak or some disgusting science experiment, finding acceptance only from her fellow Basilisks and Hanu… yet now these humans were accepting her! They seemed to actually like her!

“A-Are all people here like this?” she asked.

Vee shook her head; “Sadly not. There are good people and bad people just like in the Demon Realm. But if you look for them, you’ll find the good ones just like I did. Come home with us, and we’ll introduce some! Those witches from before are friends too; they won’t hate or fear you, I promise.”

Subject Four thought about it for a moment, before nodding; “Alright. I’ll trust you, Five.”

“I go by Vee now. We should probably think about getting you and the others names too. But we can talk about that back at the house.” Vee smiled.

Subject Four smiled and nodded, and held hands with Treble as Hanu raised her hands to get the crowd’s attention; “Please excuse us, everyone! We thank you for helping us find one of our missing friends, but we need to take her home now! You will all see the Neo Magi-Rangers again another day!”

There were a few cries of “Aww” of disappointment and a few cheerful waves and farewells, but the crowd began to disperse, allowing them to begin heading back to the Noceda House. Wanting to avoid having their identities exposed, Vee led them through an alleyway to some quiet backstreets where Hanu could change out of the Green Bee outfit and the Basilisks could disguise themselves as humans. However only a few minutes after entering the backstreets and finding an isolated place to transform, the Basilisks all went still.

“I smell magic!” Treble said, suddenly turning and sniffing the air.

“Me too. And another Basilisk…” Vee added, looking around for signs of life.

Hanu didn’t have the same sense of smell so just looked around curiously, but Subject Four went deathly pale, freezing in terror. She could smell the magic too, and unlike Treble and Vee who’d not smelled this particular magic before, Subject Four had smelled it a lot… it was the rancid smell of corrupted magic, something she’d been force-fed a few times in the lead up to the Day of Unity.

“I-I smell the Emperor!” she whimpered, curling in on herself.

The others turned to her with widened eyes, but they didn’t get a chance to say a single word before Subject Zero suddenly slammed down on top of them from the nearby rooftop. The Greater Basilisk landed on Treble and held him down beneath her bulk, while her tail slammed down on Subject Four and stunned her. Vee had avoided it and prepared to lunge at Zero, only for a hand of rotten slime to shoot out of the shadows and wrap her up. It bound her arms to her sides and covered her hands and wings in slimy gunk, leaving her helpless. She couldn’t even scream or try to inhale magic, as the gunk wrapped around her mouth and sealed it shut.

“Treble! Vee!” Hanu screamed, beginning to draw spell circles. This proved in vain however, as Subject Zero promptly sucked her magic completely dry, leaving her to collapse to the floor, barely conscious. Treble tried to scream, but both he and Subject Four were shot in the mouths with more of the green slime, silencing them and keeping them from devouring any magic too (not that they were keen to try and eat the magic in this foul slime).

Vee could do nothing but struggle with wide eyes, as the source of the slime emerged from the shadows. Her eyes narrowed as she saw Jacob Hopkins grinning down at her, with his eyes gleaming blue and his arms coated in the same rotten slime that made up the corrupted Belos. He also had Belos’ antler-like horns emerging from the top of his head like Devil horns, and had trails of green slime spreading down from his eyes and from his lower lip, covering the old chinstrap beard he’d had.

“Finally! Now I’ve captured all of you Skin-Changing Hell-Spawn! Thanks for gathering the last three together for me “Green Bee”. Your tacky little show might have actually helped save the world after all!” Jacob smirked, his voice carrying an echo that sounded like Belos’ voice.

“W-Who are you…!?” Hanu gasped out.

“Jacob Hopkins, Demon Hunter. I’m guessing you’re one of the Humans that were given an Angelic Blessing by the corrupt Angels, right? My new partner Philip told me all about it! You’re lucky I saved you from these Demons before they betrayed and ate you!” Jacob smirked down at Hanu, flicking her helmet.

Hanu’s first instinct was to correct him, but seeing as she was a Demon too she was sure that telling the truth here would just get her killed. Hanu looked around; with all her back-up currently captured, she was totally helpless! She also noticed that Subject Zero had some kind of rotten slime collar around her neck, which was glowing with various odd symbols in a complex pattern. That must be how Jacob was controlling her!

Jacob’s eyes then flashed and he looked distracted for a moment, before nodding; “Right right, I remember Philip.” he said to himself, then looked back at Hanu; “I’m going to be taking these Skin-Changers with me to the quarry to the north of town. You’ve got one hour to bring the Baby Titan, the two Grimwalkers, and at least one Palisman to me there, or I’ll start killing these creatures. I’ve been dying to dissect one of them, so I wouldn’t recommend keeping me waiting! Oh, and if I see even the slightest hint of anyone else showing up too, I’ll kill all the Skin-Changers!”

Hanu gasped while the three captive Basilisks went deathly pale. Jacob clearly meant business! The deranged (and apparently possessed) man waited for Hanu to reply, which she did by nodding frantically. The man then smiled and used his free hand and the slime that covered it to grab Treble and wrap him up just like Vee, then hoisted both Vee and Treble onto his shoulders and climbed onto Subject Zero’s back, while the Greater Basilisk kept Subject Four wrapped up tight in her tail.

The Demon Hunter then had Subject Zero slither away with himself and his prisoners, shouting over his shoulder to Hanu as he went; “Remember kid; one hour! Or we’ll find out exactly how much it takes to kill a Skin-Changer!”

With that final chilling declaration, the man and the Basilisks disappeared onto a nearby rooftop and out of sight, heading back to the quarry in the north. Hanu, feeling her heart pounding even as she struggled to stay conscious after having her magic drained, waited only long enough for Jacob to be out of sight before she forced herself to roll over onto her front and begin desperately crawling over to the nearest wall, which she used to force herself back onto her feet and keep herself standing as she began dragging herself in the direction of Noceda House. She prayed she’d have time to reach it and warn everyone before an hour passed, though in her current state it wasn’t looking good.

She ended up basically dragging herself forward for ten minutes, before she heard a familiar voice crying out to her. “Hanu!?”

The disguised Macaque Demon turned around and saw three figures running towards her; it was the little Titan King and Vee’s two Human friends. King was disguised as a human and wearing his old Black Crow Magi-Ranger outfit, while Masha was dressed as the Purple Bat Magi-Ranger and Rebecca was dressed as the Cyan Ox Magi-Ranger. The latter two took off their helmets as they hurried over to help Hanu and remove her own Green Bee helmet, while King took off his Concealment stone altogether as he pulled out some healing glyphs.

“Are you okay!?” Rebecca asked urgently; “We heard about the ruckus in the park and tried to call Vee, but she didn’t answer so we came looking!”

“Ugh… I’m not doing so hot. We found Treble’s sister, Four, and convinced her to follow us, but we were ambushed by this freaky Human with green slime powers. He said his name was Jacob, but he kept talking to someone called Philip in his head. He’s enslaved the Greater Basilisk and used her to steal my magic, then he kidnapped Treble, Four, and Vee!” Hanu cried frantically.

King dropped his healing glyph notes, knowing they’d be useless at restoring lost magic, and began to look very nervous; “A guy called Philip with freaky slime powers!? That sounds like Belos!”

“What!? But he got blown up by that Divider guy, right?” Rebecca gasped.

“Well apparently some of him must have survived, and now he’s teamed up with Hopkins! And more importantly, he’s got my Vee!” Masha fumed, gritting their teeth.

If the situation hadn’t been so dire, Rebecca or King might have teased them for saying “My Vee”, but right now they had bigger fish to fry! Hanu recounted the rest of what happened to the trio, and Masha nearly combusted with fury, while Rebecca cracked her knuckles and King began to mutter dark thoughts.

“We should meet up with the others and get back to the house.” King said, trying to keep his cool; “Hanu needs some place to rest and we need to plan… but I bet the others aren’t going to take this well.”

As it turned out, that was an understatement by King.

Masha called Gray to have him take himself and Hunter back to the Nocedas’ place. They’d also tried to call Luz, but she wasn’t answering her cellphone and Hunter’s attempts at a scroll call were similarly unanswered. When they got back to the Nocedas’, Hanu was given a blessing by Camila to help ease her lack of magic, then she and the others retold the story of what just happened. The result was an explosion of rage and disbelief.

“He’s ALIVE!?” Hunter roared, looking ready to pop a blood vessel from fury; “We watched the Divider blow him to bits and turn the slime to ash, and he survived!?”

“Some of his slime must have gone through the portal when he got blown up.” Lyra fretted; “If it was in a different Realm, it probably wasn’t caught by the disintegration spell!”

“But why wait until now to do something like this?” Skara asked fearfully; “Has he been biding his time all these months!?”

Amity shook her head; “I doubt it. If a piece of him survived and flew through the portal, it must have been small enough to not be noticed by Masha, Gray, and Rebecca, who would have noticed if something larger came through. Belos was probably too small to do anything and has spent the last four months building back his strength.”

“I’m more shocked he can survive in his current state! Then again, he’s not exactly human any more.” Boscha said derisively. “I bet he’s just a soul clinging to slime thanks to all the twisted stuff he did to himself.”

Hunter shook his head; “The hows and whys don’t matter now! Belos is back and we need to kill him before he causes any more misery! He’s already kidnapped Vee, Treble, and the others! We can’t hesitate! We take him out even if it means taking out Hopkins too!”

Camila moved to put a hand on his back; “Hunter, I understand why you’re so upset but we need to try and stay calm. Belos is a cold, calculating, and utterly ruthless monster. There is nothing he won’t do to get his way, so we need to be careful.”

Hunter wanted to argue, but aside from Lyra and Luz, Camila was the one person he knew who probably wanted to kill Belos as much as he did. The fact one of her daughters had been taken captive by him while the other was missing and not answering her phone was clearly tearing her up inside; Hunter could see it in her eyes.

“Y-You’re right. I’m sorry. I just… Lyra and I have a real family now. I don’t want to see Belos hurt any part of it.” Hunter said.

Camila smiled kindly and hugged the boy, and Hunter practically melted at the motherly embrace. When Camila finally pulled away, her smile became cold and sharp; “I know Hunter. Trust me, we are going to make Belos hurt, and if Jacob is willingly helping him…? I’ll give him more than a taste of La Chancla!”

That got some grins from the others too, and helped Hunter relax enough to control his emotions and let his more calculating side out. “If it’s okay with the rest of you, I’d like to take the lead on this.”

Everyone agreed, since Hunter did have the most battle experience, so the boy looked at the clock and said; “We have 40 minutes; more than enough time. I have a plan… Belos is crafty, but he’s also arrogant. He’ll let his guard down the instant he thinks he’s won, and that’s when we’ll strike. Lyra, King, and I will go to see him just as he and Jacob demanded. However we’re going to exploit a weakness of his; for 400 years he has wielded the stolen power of an Angel, but he doesn’t have it any more. That means he’s vulnerable to Oracle Magic!”

Lyra’s eyes widened and without being told to, she summoned Shade and placed him inside a crystal ball she’d conjured. She then tried to scry on Belos, and grinned widely as she saw his and Jacob’s combined image appear in her crystal ball.

“It works! You were right, Hunter!” she cheered, moving the crystal ball so everyone could see through it. They all glared at Jacob, who was sharpening a knife while chattering away to himself (or more accurately to Belos inside his head), and took note of his surroundings. He was sat at a desk in the abandoned foreman’s office at the quarry, and there was a cellphone on the desk that he occasionally glanced at and which showed his camera feeds.

“It doesn’t look like he’s got many weapons… but this is Belos we’re talking about. His slime body and knowledge of glyphs can still make him dangerous.” Willow pointed out.

“Yeah, but he’s only got my Dad’s glyphs! We can use three of my Mama’s too, plus the darkness glyph if those tears open again.” King grinned.

“Also, since we aren’t getting any interference in the scrying, Luz can’t be anywhere near Belos. She’s probably scanning from the sky in a different part of town.” Camila sighed with relief.

“But that also means she’s choosing not to answer our calls…” Amity frowned miserably, “… and has no idea Belos is back. If we see her, we need to tell her immediately. I’m not making that mistake again!”

The others nodded quickly, shuddering at how upset Luz had been earlier. Masha then asked; “Can you show us Vee and the others?”

Lyra nodded and cast a spell on her crystal ball. The image became grainy and distorted as it suddenly shifted to different section of the quarry, where several old blocks of stone had been left behind. They had been haphazardly assembled into rudimentary cells, each bare and with the only entrance being a wire fence, which had an old generator hooked up to them to electrify them. The Basilisks were trapped in these cells; with One and Two sharing a cell, Treble and Four sharing another, and Vee alone in the third. The cells didn’t look very secure either; without the electricity from the generators, the flimsy wire fence would have been easily shredded. As it stands, the only reason Vee hadn’t escaped on her own was Subject Zero, who was laying atop her stone cell and watching for signs of defiance.

The picture began to get grainier, and Lyra frowned; “Shade, are you alright?”

The Winged Basilisk radiates weak Angelic Magic. My own magic burns and twists as it gets close.” Shade answered. “It is a mere sunburn compared to the flames of a true Angel’s magic, but it is still difficult to deal with.”

“So Vee is resistant to Oracle Magic too… I don’t suppose you could detect Luz by finding the blind spot in your range?” Camila asked.

Shade hissed as he emerged from the Crystal Ball; “My magic will not reach the south or far east parts of town. I suspect the Arch-Angel is to the east… the gate in the south still thrums with dormant power.”

“So the closed Portal Gate also disrupts your magic? I’ve never noticed that before.” Lyra frowned, a strange look on her face.

“That’s not important right now.” Camila frowned; “The eastern part of town is too large to search for Luz, so we’ll need to do this without her for now. Hunter, you said you had a plan?”

Hunter nodded; “Yes. We’re going to use Shade to get Masha, Gray, and Rebecca to the Basilisks while King, Lyra, and I distract Belos and Subject Zero. To prevent Belos from knowing you’re coming, Lyra will hide you in the shadows and have Shade release you behind Belos and Subject Zero. Then while you three rush Subject Zero from behind, King and I will rush Belos, and Lyra can pull the Basilisks to safety through the shadows.”

“Won’t Zero smell them?” Hanu asked.

Lyra shook her head; “Not inside the Shadows. She won’t smell them until they’re released.”

“Then what about me?” Camila asked, not wanting to be left on the sidelines.

“Shade can’t move you through the shadows since you’re an Angel and repel him, but Lyra herself can. She can hide you outside the quarry, and if Subject Zero drains the magic from Masha, Gray, or Rebecca then Lyra can evacuate them to you and you can give them more magic with a blessing. That way Lyra doesn’t have to use her own magic and can keep fighting, and you’re not at risk of being drained if we need emergency healing.” Hunter explained.

Camila smiled; “I see, so I’m the Chief Medical Officer and Lyra is the Transport Officer, while you, King, and Cabin Seven are the Away Team!”

Hunter nodded enthusiastically; “Exactly! We’ll beam the Basilisks to safety and then put down the alien threat!”

“I like it! I wish I could fight Belos myself, but this plan gives us the greatest amount of wiggle room. Good Job, Captain Avery!” Camila praised, making Hunter beam.

Lyra turned to the Humans; “Are you three okay with this plan?”

“I’m on board! Let’s kick Witch-Hunter butt!” Masha grinned viciously.

“I’m finally gonna get the chance to punch that Jacob scumbag in the face! Heck yeah I’m okay with it!” Rebecca agreed.

“I’m in too. Without Vee, I’m the token sane one, and I’m not ready for that kind of pressure.” Gray said, as casual as ever.

“Perfect! Then we have a plan! Lyra, can you have Shade scry for Jacob’s cameras? We can’t risk disabling them, but we need a blind spot that Aunt Camila can hide without being spotted before we spring the trap.” Hunter said.

Lyra obediently put Shade back in the crystal ball and found a good spot, whilst also finding a path towards the quarry that the Cabin Seven Crew could take to avoid being spotted without wasting magic on invisibility or remaining in the shadows for the whole walk.

With their plan now set, the team of Hunter, Lyra, King, Masha, Gray, Rebecca, and Camila prepared to leave the house. Hanu and the magically drained members of the Hexsquad wished them luck, and promised to come running the instant they got their magic back. The team then headed out, with Camila flying while invisible, the Cabin Seven Crew taking the roundabout path to avoid the cameras (with Shade guiding them), and the trio of King, Lyra, and Hunter taking the straightforward path to the quarry, with Flapjack on Hunter’s shoulder as the Palisman Jacob had demanded (Waffles accompanied Shade and the humans).

They made good time and arrived at the quarry with ten minutes to spare, and were immediately greeted by the snarling of Subject Zero. The Greater Basilisk wasted no time in trying to steal Lyra’s magic, but King used a barrier glyph combo to block her attempt, leaving her slobbering and snarling in confusion over not being able to eat the magic of the barrier. Her snarling caught the attention of the other basilisks, but before Vee could use Zero’s distraction to escape, she was quickly tied up in decaying slime as the possessed Jacob came walking out from behind the cells. He’d obviously seen the Grimwalker Duo approaching with the cameras and came out to meet them.

“So you two are the Grimwalkers; a fake human made to look like a Witch, and a fake Angel whose wings rotted black. You’re just like Philip described… though I don’t personally see the big deal.” Jacob said, smirking triumphantly at the two, before looking to King; “And there’s the Baby Titan! You’re gonna be our ticket back to the Demon Realm! Then Philip and I can finally end the threat to humanity once and for all! You won’t be harvesting any more teeth!”

In a flash, all the angry glares from King, Hunter, and Lyra were replaced with confusion. What was Jacob blabbering on about?

“Teeth? Trading in teeth is illegal on the Boiling Isles. It’s also really gross.” Lyra deadpanned.

Jacob blinked, then growled; “Don’t try to trick me, you Martian Puppet! You’re just the evil clone of an Angel those Demons corrupted!”

“Martian? Oh right, Masha warned you were a weirdo conspiracy nut.” Hunter mocked, making Jacob actually stomp his foot like a child.

“I am NOT! I’m the good guy trying to save humanity!” Jacob screamed.

King snickered; “Wow, you really do have a screw loose if you think you’re the good guy! Normally my family says that weirdos stick together, but you’re a whole different brand of crazy!”

“Yeah! News flash jerk; the side trying to commit genocide is never the good one!” Lyra declared.

Jacob’s entire face began to turn red with anger, and he very nearly exploded when Hunter made a shooing gesture at him; “Why don’t you go away and let your puppet master talk. We know you’re in there, Belos!”

The possessed human screamed in fury and ran at the barrier with his knife out, only to stop after a few steps as his body convulsed. The green slime on his arms and face began to expand a little more, and the man took a deep breath and stood up straight, his eyes now glowing in the same way Belos’ had.

“I apologise for that. Good help is so hard to find… Jacob here has the right spirit, but he is lacking in the details of what Witches and Demons are really like. Thankfully he has a rather strong body; it appears he was training himself to fight Cassiel after she humiliated him.” Belos said, his own voice now coming out of Jacob’s mouth, though with a weird echo to it.

“Belos… you really are a co*ckroach! I’d never imagined you’d survive given the sorry state you were in before.” Hunter spat.

Belos sneered; “Ignorant boy! I will live until I complete my grand purpose and purge the Demon Realm!”

Lyra narrowed her eyes, then noticed Shade creeping around the rocks and abandoned equipment in the quarry, working his way to the Basilisks’ cells. They just needed to keep Belos’ attention a bit longer.

“And how exactly do you plan to do that? I doubt you demanded Hunter and I show up for a family reunion Uncle!” she scowled.

“As if you and your defective brother would ever be family to me! You three are here to get me back to the Demon Realm! I’ll take Hunter’s body for my own after purging the soul from it, and I’ll use your corpse as materials, Lucy! I’ll rip off your black wings to get back some Angelic Power, and use the Palistrom Wood in your bones to make a new portal key! Your Palisman will be a nice snack to restore more of my life force too! And you, little Titan…” Belos looked viciously at King; “I’ll harvest your blood, bile, and your eyes to make me a new portal door!”

King blew a raspberry at him; “Oh please! Without your stolen power, you’re just a weakling! Everything you can do with the glyphs, I can do better!”

Belos’ eye twitched at the insult; “Do not underestimate me, brat! I had your pathetic people turning on each other and dancing in the palm of my hand! And if you three make even a single hostile move, I’ll crush the life from your precious winged serpent!”

He clenched his fist and the slime coating Vee tightened and made the girl whimper in pain, causing the trio to grit their teeth.

Lyra used her connection with Shade to telepathically order him to decay Belos’ slime with her Darkness Magic before taking Vee into the shadows, but he would likely notice immediately. The timing would need to be extremely precise to avoid hurting the Basilisks! She began trying to see if she could subtly use Oracle Magic to transmit her thoughts to King and ask him for a light glyph distraction, but thankfully that became unnecessary as the sky began to change colour again.

Belos looked up suddenly, watching as the tears in the sky began to open. He glared at what he saw as defilement of his home realm, but this proved to be a mistake. In an instant, King lowered the barrier and roared at Subject Zero, knocking her back with his Sonic “Weh!”. At the same moment, Hunter flashed forward, turning Flapjack back into his staff and coating him in lightning magic before slashing at Belos’ face. His slash bit deep into the flesh of Jacob’s cheek, inflicting a wound on him that mirrored Hunter’s own scar, and causing Belos to scream in pain, feeling the agony of his host. Lyra then used her own magic to decay the slime binding Vee, while Shade promptly released Masha, Gray and Rebecca. The Cabin Seven Trio were still in their Neo Magi-Ranger uniforms as they leapt at Subject Zero while she was stunned and began to use fairly simple magic to restrain her as best they could. Shade then took Vee and the other Basilisks into the shadows, then released them again on the edge of the quarry and away from the fight.

The whole thing had happened in the space of a few seconds, and now Belos was left clutching his bleeding cheek (which he was trying to cover up and patch with his slime) and fuming as the Greater Basilisk struggled in her restraints.

“Oh, and for the record… my name is Lyra now.” The Black-Winged Angel smirked as she summoned Waffles back to her side in staff mode.

“I am going to tear those wings from your screaming carcass! I’ll rip Luz’s finger bone straight out of you!” Belos screamed, suddenly warping one of his slime arms into a blade-like shape and lunging it at Lyra with incredible speed. King and Hunter’s eyes widened as the blade sank into Lyra’s chest, only to be filled with relief as Lyra’s body turned black and melted, while her shadow rose from the ground and became the real Lyra. The real Lyra had swapped places with her shadow before even leaving the house earlier, and a simple illusion was all it took to make the shadow appear to be the real thing.

“Sorry Belos, but you won’t be killing any more Grimwalkers!” Lyra declared, before mimicing Belos’ own attack. She coated her arm in shadows and launched it like a spear at Belos’ head. She didn’t want to kill his host though, so just slashed him across the face with it, giving him a cut over the bridge of his nose; the same place he had scarred her and Michael before her.

Belos screamed in pain and fury, and green slime coated the fresh cut to stem the bleeding and numb the pain, making the wound look worse in the process. He then lunged towards Lyra, shaping the slime on his palm into a fire glyph that he used to shoot a gout of flames at the Dark Angel. Lyra tried to absorb the flames into her darkness, but the flames refused to be erased and instead pushed through, forcing Lyra to dive into the shadows. Belos briefly smirked, thinking he had her on the run, but then King suddenly appeared directly beneath him and between his legs, having snuck their under an invisibility glyph note. King then unleashed a sonic roar directly into Belos from below, making him cry out in agony as he was launched skyward a good several feet. While in the air and totally helpless, Hunter then flashed above him with Flapjack and cried out;

“Have a taste of your own medicine, you monster!”

Hunter then unleashed a blast of yellow electricity down on Belos, making him scream in agony has he had once done to Luz and many others. Belos hit the ground hard, breaking a leg in the process, though his own slime painfully twisted it back into place and fused the bone together. Lyra, King, and Hunter almost felt bad for Jacob, having his body put through the wringer like this, but he’d appeared to be in his right mind when he’d talked about murdering and dissecting the Basilisks, so their pity well was pretty much bottomed out.

Subject Zero was having an only slightly easier time; she’d broken free of her restraints after a few moments of struggling, as the Cabin Seven Crew weren’t experienced enough to judge how strong they were supposed to make them and had conserved magic and made them too weak as a result. The instant she’d been free, she’d gone to inhale the magic wielded by the trio, though she only managed to catch Gray, as Rebecca had whipped out one of King’s barrier glyph notes just in time, and Masha had been close enough to her to be protected too. Thankfully, since magic wasn’t basically synonymous with stamina for humans, Gray wasn’t left exhausted by the theft of his blessing, so Shade was able to rush in and pull him out of the fight via the shadows while Rebecca and Masha distracted Subject Zero.

Rebecca, who found herself most talented with tree-based plant magic, coated her torso and arms with tree bark and began pummelling Subject Zero, dealing several heavy blows that actually managed to inflict some damage to the creature, while Masha was better with Dark and Ice Magic, which they used in tandem to summon icicles from the shadows to pelt Subject Zero. The icicles mostly broke against the creature’s sturdy scales, but they still hurt when they hit, causing Subject Zero to thrash and roar as she tried to catch Masha and drain her magic. She succeeded only in draining Rebecca’s blessing, but since the girl’s bark armour was still in place and she hadn’t been using magic to augment herself, this did absolutely nothing to stop the pummelling. Worst still for the beast, Masha raised a pillar of ice out of Rebecca’s shadow in order to launch her into the Basilisk’s chin, allowing Rebecca to unleash the mother of all uppercuts, causing Subject Zero to land flat on her back with the mother of all aching jaws. Gray returned a moment later, having received a new blessing from Camila, and since he favoured Earth Magic, he was quick to lift some of the stone blocks that made the makeshift cells and use them to try and pen the Greater Basilisk in.

Both Belos and Subject Zero were being pushed back and brutalised, unable to keep up with the teamwork being unleashed on them. However Belos wasn’t done yet! He still had an ace up his sleeve! Forming a light glyph in the palm of his slimy hand, Belos suddenly slammed it down on the ground and created a monumentally bright flash that blinded everyone in the quarry; even the Basilisks and Camila watching from their respective hiding spots. Since Belos had been prepared for it though, he was able to close his eyes in time and avoid being blinded. He lunged at Lyra while she was blinded and used Jacob’s taser to zap her, making her scream and briefly spasm, unable to flee into the shadows. Belos then tossed her directly at Subject Zero (since Basilisks need live prey) and since the creature could still smell her, she began to immediately devour Lyra’s magic, sucking out every last drop.

“NO!” Hunter and King both cried as they regained their vision just in time to watch Subject Zero toss Lyra aside. The poor girl was now ashen skinned and her black wings had lost their lustre and become dull, while Waffles turned back into her bird form and fluttered around her in a panic, tweeting loudly.

Belos smirked as Subject Zero shuddered, her body now containing a large amount of Angelic magic from both Lyra and the stolen blessings. Hunter wiped that smirk off his face quickly though, using some Beast-Keeping magic to turn the nails on one hand into razor sharp claws, which he raked across Belos’ face at lightning speed. The man screamed in agony, and King promptly used his monster glyph note to make a giant Titan fist that punched Belos straight into Subject Zero, stunning the former and winding the latter. Masha, Gray, and Rebecca then immediately began applying restraints of stone, tree roots, and ice to keep them contained, while Hunter flashed to Lyra’s side.

“Oh no! She’s fading fast!” Hunter panicked. Being an Angel, having zero magic was causing her body to shut down! She’d die if she didn’t get more magic soon!

Gently picking her up, Hunter then flashed to where Camila was hidden, and the older Angel wasted no time in gently cradling Lyra and giving her a blessing. The blessing restored Lyra’s skin to a healthy colour and made sure she wouldn’t die, but the sudden shock of losing her magic had made her pass out and the relatively meagre blessing wasn’t enough to rouse her back to consciousness, much to Hunter and Camila’s concern.

“I can give her another blessing, but after blessing the others so many times, my magic isn’t at full capacity. I don’t have enough to get her back in the fight.” Camila frowned.

Hunter bit his lip, then shook his head; “No, let her rest for now. She got her licks in against Belos; leave the rest to King and I!”

Camila nodded, then watched as Hunter prepared to flash back into the fight. She had offered him a blessing of his own earlier to replace the last one he’d used up, since he was the only Hexsquad member without magic of his own, but he’d refused… Hunter had wanted to defeat Belos without the use of Angelic Magic, to prove that unlike the Emperor, he didn’t need the power of the Divine Realm to achieve his goals!

With that, Hunter ruffled his unconscious sister’s hair and gave Camila a nod, which she returned before he flashed back onto the battlefield. He arrived just in time to see King throw up another barrier glyph note to stop Subject Zero from draining the Cabin Seven Crews’ blessings, though Hunter immediately noticed that the Basilisk’s eyes were flashing between gold and purple in a rather unsettling way. Belos, who had limped away as the Basilisk attacked the kids, noticed this too and smirked.

“Who needs that old puppet? I only need her magic, and since she doesn’t have it any more, I might as well pick the new owner instead!” Belos chuckled to himself, before removing his slime body from Jacob. He’d drained enough life force from the human that Jacob now looked emaciated and had scars on his body where Belos’ slime had covered him, with a lot of them focused on the injuries he’d suffered to his face. The man groaned and slumped to the floor weakly, while Belos (who’d now almost regained his human-like slime form) leapt at Subject Zero the instant she stopped trying to eat magic and needed to exhale.

The Greater Basilisk flinched and screamed as Belos forced his way inside her nostrils, avoiding her mouth for obvious reasons, and began trying to drive his slimy tendrils into her brain and the rest of her body. King and the teens all looked on in horror as Subject Zero sprouted Belos’ slime antlers and gained patches of his rotted form all over her face and body, while Belos’ blue was added to the gold and purple that her eyes were flashing.

“Ha ha ha! Now this is a superior body! So durable and overflowing with magic!” Belos cackled, his voice now echoing out from Subject Zero’s body; “With this, I’ll be able to… to… Urk!”

The man’s boasting gave way to retches as he suddenly doubled over, Subject Zero’s body spasming a little as he tried to assert control. “W-What is… happening!?” Belos groaned out. He couldn’t control this body! Something was draining the life force straight out of him and causing him to weaken!

“Enough!” Subject Zero suddenly roared, speaking in her own voice once again. “I’m tired of being used as a puppet by you pathetic morsels! I’m so hungry, and you little snacks have been teasing me for so long, never letting me have my fill or stealing the food right out of my mouth! Well now I’m done! No more appetisers!”

Hunter and King exchanged shocked looks, while the Cabin Seven Crew and the distant Basilisks looked on in confusion. Belos was trying to tame her again with the glyph combos he’d left on her neck with his slime, but they’d been damaged by all the attacks Zero had taken, and now the control wasn’t working!

“Zero is fighting back against the Emperor!?” Subject One hissed in surprise.

Treble sniffed the air; “Her scent is changing too… what’s going on?”

Vee’s eyes suddenly widened, realising what was going on; “She’s evolving! She’s eaten a ton of different magic, including a Dark Angel’s and whatever magic Belos still had! Get back, now!”

The others didn’t need to be told twice, and they all retreated just in time to see Subject Zero force herself to vomit up Belos, causing the disgusting slime ball to splatter on the ground at her feet, his slimy, skeletal face the picture of shock and horror. He looked weaker, and his slime was both looser and smaller, as much of his magic had been drained. Thankfully, his slime form was maintained at least partially by glyph magic, so Subject Zero hadn’t managed to get all of his magic, leaving him enough to survive and drag himself over to Jacob, whom he possessed again to give himself a semi-functioning body.

No one moved to stop him, too distracted by Subject Zero now seeming to warp and mutate. Her body became lumpy in some places and baggy in others, as if different parts of her were growing or shrinking while her skin remained the same size, becoming both tight and loose in different spots. Subject Zero felt sick and weak during the process, as strange and unfamiliar sensations racked her body. Every one watched as the skin on her tail began to split, and Subject Zero grabbed it and pulled it off, beginning the process of shedding and revealing her new form. In doing so, she also shed the Emperor’s Coven Sigil branded onto her back, which was no longer anchored to her thanks to the evolution changing her body and allowing her to remove her old skin.

It became immediately clear that her new shape was about 50% larger than the previous one as she swelled as soon as the old skin was pulled away, and her tail was much longer and more snake-like, no longer possessing fins and instead being long and smooth all over. Her scales were pitch black while her underbelly was a sickly pale purple, almost like a tainted form of lilac. Then she shed the skin from her upper half and the real magnitude of the changes became obvious; her humanoid upper body was now skeletally thin, looking literally like a human skeleton with some black scales and pale purple skin stretched over it. Her arms were similarly bony, but also unnaturally long, being almost twice the length of her upper body and ending in skeletal hands with exceedingly long fingers and razor sharp claws. Her face had changed too and become almost like an angler fish, with a huge mouth lined with thousands of needle-like teeth and very tiny eyes that were quite far apart and appeared to be pitch black with only a ring of purple around the edge to make the eyes stand out from the black scales on the top part of her head. Her hair, which had also become black, was now long and damp looking, like a horror movie character that just crawled out of a well. Lastly, sprouting from her back was a cluster of writhing, slithering tentacles, each one tipped in a poisonous purple barb.

With her overly large mouth twisted into a hellish grin, her skeletal torso, her tentacles, and her exceedingly long black tail, Subject Zero now looked like something that just crawled out of a deep sea trench in the middle of Hell.

“What in the Goddess’ name is that thing!?” Masha cried out. They normally liked spooky and scary stuff, but this was one freak show too far!

“T-That’s an Abyssal Basilisk!” Hunter gasped in horror; “I read all about them when researching Basilisks back in the Demon Realm! They’re a form of Greater Basilisk that has eaten huge amounts of both Dark and Corrupted Magic! Eating Lyra’s magic and then some of Belos’ must have triggered the evolution!”

King gulped; “So, uh… how bad is this?”

Hunter chuckled grimly; “Well I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that an Abyssal Basilisk can’t drain magic by sucking it up like other species… It instead needs to devour its prey’s flesh, which it converts into more magic than it’d get just by sucking it up.”

“What’s the bad news?” Rebecca asked fearfully, shuddering as Subject Zero stretched out and grew accustomed to her new body, before eating her own discarded skin.

“The bad news is that it is VERY good at devouring its prey, to the point that they’re supposed to be on par with Greater Rank Dragons!” Hunter cried.

The Humans all paled; Greater Dragons were the third highest grade, beneath only Grand and Supreme Grade Dragons.

King summed up everyone’s thoughts in two words; “Oh farts.”

Subject Zero cackled, her voice now sounding even more twisted; “No more appetisers… now it’s time to feast!”

She lunged at Masha, nearly grabbing them in one of her long, creepy arms. Masha barely evaded it by throwing up ice blocks around them, stopping Zero from closing her fingers and allowing Masha to then quickly dart out of the way before Zero crushed the ice. The Abyssal Basilisk then used the fistful of ice chunks as projectiles, tossing them at the three humans with incredible force. Gray raised a wall of earth and stone to protect them, then Rebecca conjured some thick tree roots to try and bind the Basilisk. However Subject Zero just stabbed these roots with the barbs on the ends of her tentacles, causing them to be injected with a purple venom that had them rapidly decaying.

“You’ll need to try harder than that, little snacks!” Zero laughed madly, before closing her overly large mouth and bulging her cheeks, building up a cloud of poisonous gas that she then blasted down onto the trio. Hunter flashed towards King and then flashed the Baby Titan towards the humans, stopping between them and the gas. King immediately used a wind glyph to blow the poison gas back at Subject Zero, but she just cackled and attacked through the gas, whipping her tail at the group. The teens were caught unawares by the rapid counterattack and sent flying, landing in a heap a short distance away with some badly bruised ribs. Only King avoided damage, as Hunter had let him go when he’d gotten swiped, sending the little Titan flying and allowing him to catch himself.

“You want a snack!? Try these!” King yelled, using some monster glyph combos to summon a pair of large Titan Arms to grapple the Basilisk, keeping her busy while he flew down to the injured teens and quickly used healing glyph combos to fix them up.

As Rebecca was being healed, Masha noticed Belos trying to sneak away while everyone was distracted. “Guys, the creep is getting away!” they yelled.

“No he’s not! I’ll deal with Belos; you four keep the Basilisk busy!” Hunter said, gripping his staff a little tighter and then flashing over to Belos. The fleeing Witch-Hunter sneered at having his escape route cut off and formed some of his slime into a sharp blade to fight with, while Hunter brandished Flapjack and charged him with lightning.

King didn’t get to see where the rest of that fight would lead however, as Subject Zero made short work of his Monster Arms. The Abyssal Basilisk had tried biting a chunk out of one, but the Titan Magic that made it up was still dangerous for her, so it burned her throat and made her spit it out, instead opting to decay the arms with stings from her poison tentacles. Once she was free, she immediately lifted her tail to her mouth and ran her tongue along it, coating her tail in a layer of poisonous purple liquid that dripped from the end, decaying the earth and stone it touched.

“We can’t let that stuff touch us!” Rebecca frowned as she and the others got back to their feet.

“Then let’s use a little fire to keep her back.” Gray said calmly, producing a ball of deep red flames. He tossed it at the Basilisk to make her back off a little and give him and his friends a chance to get some distance. The flames burned Subject Zero, but the damage was superficial and she just licked her wound, causing her poison to coat it and actually begin regenerating the damage.

“Oh no fair! Her spit heals her and damages us!? I’m calling hacks!” Rebecca cried, before yelping as she was forced to block a smack from Subject Zero’s tail. The bark armour she still wore prevented the poison from touching her directly and the blow wasn’t as hard as the last one, but it still sent Rebecca tumbling to the ground and desperately trying to remove the bark armour before the poison ate through it. Subject Zero then leapt at her while she was prone, but Masha used this opening to cause tendrils of ice to burst from Rebecca’s shadow and wrap around her to form a sharp icicle directly above her. Subject Zero had been aiming at Rebecca mouth first, so ended up getting the icicle directly into her jaw as she landed, while King used the darkness glyph (since the tears were still open in the sky) to make Rebecca sink into her shadow and re-emerge beside him, so she wasn’t crushed when the icicle buckled under Zero’s weight.

Subject Zero howled in pain and when she sat up, she had the icicle impaled through the inside of her mouth, spearing her tongue in the process and breaking several dozen teeth. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but the poison in her mouth just melted the ice and then filled the wounds it had inflicted, causing Subject Zero to regenerate immediately. Even her teeth popped back out like they’d never been missing, and the black blood of the Basilisk was spat onto the Cabin Seven Trio. Masha blocked it with some ice from their shadow, but the instant the ice appeared and obscured their view, Subject Zero lashed out with her tail again and smashed through the ice and hit Masha, as well as Gray who’d been preparing to help out behind them. Both were sent flying and had wounds inflicted by the poison on Subject Zero’s tail, but King acted fast.

“Use these and grab Gray!” he yelled to Rebecca, tossing a pair of glyph notes to the buff girl while he used two himself. The first was a new combo he’d developed; a short range warp spell that used the light, wind, and lightning glyphs to warp the user to any spot they could see within roughly 100 feet (though the experience was rather unpleasant for the person using it). With it, King warped directly to Masha’s side and caught them by the back of their shirt, then gently lowered them to the ground and used the second glyph note (a healing one) to repair the damage they’d suffered from the poison.

Rebecca followed suit and warped up to grab Gray before he fell out of the sky, then used the second note (also a warp) to get back to King’s side so he could heal Gray too. The instant Rebecca and Gray were by his and Masha’s side, King slapped a light glyph over his own muzzle and used his Titan Roar to activate it, turning his normal wave-like roar into a beam of concentrated light. The light beam burned off one of Subject Zero’s tentacles as she dodged, giving King a chance to draw a quick barrier combo to keep himself and the Cabin Seven Crew safe while he healed Gray and they regrouped.

“We’re completely on the ropes here!” Rebecca frowned, “I never knew fighting with magic could be so hard!”

Masha smirked; “You should try getting a taste of that poison. It burns like me after a day at the beach without sunscreen.”

“Would be really nice to not have to deal with it again… think we should tag out with Hunter? I figure Belos would be easier to deal with right now.” Gray commented tiredly; he did not have the level of energy needed for keeping up with this much excitement!

King shook his head; “He’s got some stuff to work out with Belos, so I don’t think getting in the way is a good idea. Besides, we can beat this thing by ourselves! I think?”

The Cabin Seven Crew did not like the doubt in King’s voice, but before they could comment, Subject Zero had recovered enough to attack them again, this time stabbing all of her tentacles and their barbs into King’s barrier. It didn’t have any effect at first, but Subject Zero just pulled the barbs back and stabbed them again, repeating the process over and over until her tentacles were moving almost too fast to see and the barbs were starting to crack the barrier. King panicked; it wouldn’t take long for his barrier to shatter entirely, and then he and the Cabin Seven Crew would be the next target of those tentacles. The four of them tried to come up with a plan, but before they had a chance to think of something, King’s barrier finally broke. Gray immediately tried to shoot a fireball at Subject Zero’s face, but she just batted it away with one of her tentacles and launched the others at the kids.

At that moment, there was a flash of golden light as something blasted out of the forest and collided with Subject Zero’s face. King, Masha, Rebecca, and Gray all gasped, seeing Camila with a look of cold anger on her face, her wings out behind her as her fist, coating in golden magic, had just socked Subject Zero in the jaw. Her blow came with a thunderous crack as the Basilisk’s jaw was dislocated entirely, before the full momentum of her punch seemed to pass through her and into her victim, sending Subject Zero careening backward with a cry of pain.

“Stay away from my nephew and my daughter’s friends!” Camila snarled, golden magic coating her fists. She then turned to the kids with a gentler smile; “Are you four okay? Sorry I didn’t get involved sooner; I wanted to stick to Hunter’s plan, but once I realised this thing couldn’t suck out my magic any more, I decided to jump in.”

“We appreciate the save, Tia Cammie! And we’re fine! Mostly!” King chuckled nervously. “But what about Lyra?”

“I left her to be watched over by Shade. He can’t really do much without her anyway, so they’re both sitting out.” Camila answered, before looking to the humans; “Are you three hanging in there?”

Masha nodded; “Yeah. I mean, my life has been flashing before my eyes pretty much since we started fighting, and our opponent looks like if Cthulhu had a baby with the chick from the Ring, but I am weirdly okay with this.”

“Speak for yourself. I don’t think I can ever eat Calamari again.” Gray shuddered, his eyes on Subject Zero’s tentacles as the Basilisk pulled herself out of the quarry wall she’d been knocked into. She fixed her dislocated jaw with a sickening crack, then regenerated the damage done and began slithering back towards them again.

Rebecca laughed as she gave herself some fresh bark armour; “That’s a shame Gray, because when I’m done with this thing, I’m gonna make some Calamari out of it!”

Camila cast a strength-enhancing spell on Rebecca, who immediately ran at Subject Zero and punched her in the ribs. The Basilisk growled and doubled over, allowing the wrestling girl to grab her by tail and spin her around, before releasing her into the air. King used a warp glyph to get above Subject Zero, then roared to blast her back into the ground, leaving quite a crater. Masha then tried to restrain her with shadows while Gray tried to trap her in a dome of rock, but Subject Zero just burst free with a roar and the flailing of her tentacles and tail. Camila shot her in the eye with a light blast then delivered another magically enhanced punch, but again, Subject Zero just regenerated herself; the battle was far from over!

Vee watched the battle from the edge of the quarry, with Treble at her side and the other three Basilisks cowering behind her. She’d initially kept out of the fight to protect them, but now seeing her Mom, Titan Cousin, and three best friends fighting for their lives, Vee desperately wanted to jump back into the fight. However Subjects One, Two, and Four were absolutely terrified and holding onto her tail for comfort, and when she tried to pull away to go help the others, they would whimper and beg her not to go. Even Treble looked terrified and reluctant to jump in, and Vee couldn’t fault him; Subject Zero had been horrifying before becoming an Abyssal Basilisk, but now? Now the mere sight of her had the other Basilisks shaking.

“Guys, you need to let me go! That’s my family and friends fighting down there!” Vee pleaded, “They came here to save us! We need to help them!”

“If we go down there, we’ll all die!” Subject One whimpered.

“We’re no match for that thing! We don’t have poison or regeneration!” Subject Two hissed, shaking their head vehemently.

“That’s right! And we can’t cast spells either! We can eat magic and that’s it! We’re not like you, Subject Five.” Subject Four said.

“My name is Vee! I am not just the number that monster Belos gave me! I’m a person and a Quetzalcoatl Basilisk; Vee Noceda!” Vee declared; “And if a coward like me can fight, then so can all of you!”

The three nameless Basilisks all scoffed or shook their heads in disbelief; “Coward? You were the bravest of all of us!” Subject One cried.

Vee blinked; “What!? B-But I ran away!”

“Yeah, and Two and I were too stupid to do that. We got caught and the Emperor did horrible things to us, all while planning to sacrifice us!” the eldest of them said bitterly; “We were basically mindless back then. We weren’t brave, just too stupid to realise we should be scared.”

“And we ran, but we weren’t smart enough not to get caught.” Subject Four said sullenly; “You were smart enough to find a way to the Human Realm where you were safe, then you got strong enough to fight and brave enough to want to go fight Zero! But us? We aren’t strong or smart or brave like you. We’re the Emperor’s rejects; the only reason we’re even as smart as we are now is because Belos experimented on us until we were smart enough to obey his orders!”

Vee winced; “What Belos did to you is awful… you all suffered while I escaped, and it isn’t fair to you. Any of you.” she said, looking to Treble. “But the truth is, I’m not brave at all. I don’t want to fight because I’m brave! I want to fight because I’m terrified! I finally found a home, a place I belong, and a family that loves me even though I shouldn’t exist… I’m more afraid of losing them than I am of fighting.”

Vee hugged herself for a moment; “Believe me, I want to run away and hide! I want to pretend this isn’t happening… but I’d rather die than lose Mama!” she pulled her tail free from the other Basilisks; “So I’m going to go and try to save my family. I may not be an Angel, but I still want to help!”

The nameless Basilisks looked shocked by her impassioned words, while Treble felt inspired.

“I want to help too!” he declared, despite his shaking; “Zero stole Hanu and Skara’s magic! Skara was one of the people to save me and forgive me for what I did as the Emperor’s spy, and Hanu has cared for me and been my rock through the last several months! I won’t let Zero get away with bullying them!”

He reached out and took Vee’s hand, squeezing it to both give himself comfort and to reassure Vee. The Quetzalcoatl Basilisk returned the squeeze with a shaky, clearly frightened smile, then she and Treble leapt out from their hiding spot on the edge of the quarry and began to move towards Subject Zero and their friends. They arrived just as Subject Zero had managed to swat Camila out of the air and make her land in a stunned heap on the floor, while her tentacles kept King and the humans at bay. Subject Zero raised a bony finger and thrust it forward to impale Camila through the stomach, but Vee got their first, casting a rudimentary wind spell to make her fly faster and crash into Subject Zero’s arm and knock the thrust off course.

“Vee!” Camila beamed, before her panic at seeing her daughter in danger flooded her. “Be careful!”

Vee smiled at her Mama as she wrapped her body around Subject Zero’s wrist and the end of her tail around her outstretched finger, before constricting as tightly as she could. There were two loud cracks as Vee broke Subject Zero’s wrist and finger, causing the Abyssal Basilisk to howl in pain. As she howled, Treble immediately darted up her body and wrapped himself around her neck and began to constrict as well, trying to choke Subject Zero into unconsciousness. It almost worked too, but Subject Zero was still able to coil her tail and use it like a spring to launch her away from her other attacks, giving her a chance to have her tentacles stab at Treble whilst she used her free hand to pry Vee off of her. Vee protected Treble by conjuring a fireball and manipulating it so that it struck the mess of tentacles on Subject Zero’s back, giving Treble a chance to uncoil himself and escape before the tentacles recovered. Unfortunately, since she’d opted to protect Treble, she hadn’t been able to stop the hand coming towards her and Vee soon found herself being pulled off of Subject Zero’s wrist and slowly crushed.

“Little Traitors! I’m going to clip those wings and devour you!” she hissed, her broken wrist and finger snapping back into place and regenerating as she moved to pinch one of Vee’s wings and rip it off.

“Stay away from her!” Camila snarled, aiming a light blast at Subject Zero, only for the evil Basilisk to sneer and hold Vee up like a shield while one of her tentacles moved to point its barb at Vee’s neck.

“Careful now, morsel. I can enjoy eating this little worm even with my poison pumping through her!” Zero threatened.

Vee struggled a little, but as she turned her head a little to try and see where her other friends were (King was giving Treble some glyph combos while her human friends were slowly surrounding Subject Zero), Vee noticed something.

There were burns on the tentacle pointed at her throat, and they weren’t regenerating at all. Could Subject Zero not heal a burn wound? Perhaps the flames cauterised the area enough that her regenerating poison couldn’t flow out of the wound? It gave Vee an idea, though she’d need to find a way out of her current predicament first.

Before Vee could find a solution though, there was a commotion as Masha screamed out in horror and outrage. Everyone turned to them and saw Subject One stood behind them, having just sucked out their Angelic Blessing. Vee and Treble couldn’t believe their eyes, and their shock only grew worse as Subject Two did the same thing to Gray, and then Subject Four drained Rebecca as the girl tried in-vain to summon roots to restrain her.

“Oh? What is this? Did you three come to steal my meal!?” Subject Zero hissed dangerously.

“No!” Subject One cried; “W-We know you can never be defeated, so we seek safety by serving you! We thought we’d drain these appetisers so you can enjoy the main course!” she pointed to Camila, who looked furious at the betrayal.

Vee and Treble looked heartbroken too, but Subject Zero cackled; “Finally, someone who knows their place! I am the Apex Predator around here, and it’s about time someone respected that! Very well; I’ll accept you whelps into my service! Now grab the other traitor!”

Subject Four leapt to obey, slithering over to Treble and wrapping herself around him. King looked read to stop her, but a glare from Subject Zero and the Basilisk’s barb moving closer to Vee’s throat stopped him. Instead he just glared at Subject Four, who oddly enough winked at him whilst subtly taking one of the fire glyphs that King had given to Treble.

King’s eyes widened, and Subject Four then darted their eyes towards Subject Zero’s tentacles, and then back to King, making the Baby Titan follow her gaze. He had to muffle a gasp as he saw that the tentacle he’d destroyed with his Light Roar earlier were still gone, and many tentacles had burns from Vee’s fireball attack before. He came to the same conclusion as Vee about the burns, then decided to play along.

“Oh no, I guess we’ve got no choice but to surrender or poor Vee will be torn apart!” King gasped dramatically, before flying over to Subject One and landing in front of her with his hands behind his back. He held a fire glyph note there, and Subject One subtly swiped it and wrapped him up in her tail to restrain him, then placed the note over his snout with the glyph facing inward.

“A gag will keep this one from roaring.” Subject One said.

Zero smirked; “Excellent work. I think I’ll keep that one alive; I can’t eat a Titan’s magic yet, but if I can consume enough magic and evolve again, I might just manage it! Hopefully by then he’ll be big enough for a worthy feast!”

But while Subject Zero was gloating over her inevitable victory and meal, King’s obvious acting clued in the others that something was going on. Vee especially tried to make eye contact with Subject One, who couldn’t do anything but stare back without alerting Subject Zero. There was a determined spark to her gaze that made Vee gasp softly; they weren’t betraying them at all! Vee felt a little bad for thinking they had, but at least if they’d tricked even her, they’d definitely tricked Subject Zero!

Subject Two, the last one without a hostage, slithered over to Camila and looked up at her, unable to reach and restrain her in the air. Subject Zero saw this and began to slowly twist one of Vee’s wings, making the girl whimper and forcing Camila to land and accept being bound lest her daughter be hurt. Subject Two wrapped around her, but Camila immediately noticed the grip was weak enough that she could easily escape, though she acted like it was tight enough to make breathing difficult.

“Excellent! Now I wonder if it’s worth eating the humans. They’re not very tasty smelling without that magic in them. Perhaps I should let the little rats go and see if they bring me more snacks to try and rescue their Titan friend?” Subject Zero grinned maliciously. “Hmm, I’ll see how I feel after a nice Angelic Buffet!”

Reaching out, Subject Zero snatched up Camila and let Subject Two slither up her arm to her shoulder now that they were no longer needed. Camila struggled, but Subject Zero’s grip was tight and she still had Vee in her other hand to discourage any escape attempts, so the woman could do nothing but wait and hope the Basilisks’ came through with their plan. Subject Zero lifted Camila towards her mouth and opened it wide, preparing to devour the woman whole, but at the very last moment, Subject Two swung their whole body out as hard as they could and slammed into the front of Subject Zero’s throat. Subject Zero made a strange gurgle as her airway was suddenly closed by the impact, but before she could do anything else, Subject Four released Treble and both Basilisks pointed fire glyphs at the mass of tentacles on Subject Zero’s back, dousing them with a flamethrower-like stream of fire. At the exact same moment, Subject One held King up in the air as the little Titan screamed “WEH!”, unleashing a Sonic Roar into his fire glyph “gag” which resulted in his roar becoming a dragon-like breath of flame aimed at the arm holding Vee.

The flames struck Subject Zero and made her scream, with many of her tentacles going up in flames and writhing painfully, while she was forced to drop Vee due to her now burning arm. With Vee no longer in danger, Camila didn’t hesitate to blast flames of her own onto the arm gripping her, allowing her to escape too and fly to Vee’s side while Subject Zero screamed.

“Vee! Are you alright!?” Camila asked, hugging her adopted daughter.

“I’m okay Mama! But Subject Zero isn’t done yet! Let’s find out if it’s possible to steal the food right out of her mouth!” Vee declared, turning to the snarling and writhing Basilisk and darting towards her. Vee flew right onto the Abyssal Basilisk’s snout so she could lean her head over her mouth without being bitten, then took a deep inhale. To her delight, the magic that Subject Zero had eaten since coming to the Human Realm came pouring out in streams of differently coloured magic, causing Vee’s wings to begin shining in all the colours of the Rainbow, making her look almost like a real Quetzalcoatl. The magic did not make her evolve (likely because she was already an evolved species), nor did it reverse the evolution on Subject Zero, but the loss of so much magic did make Subject Zero shrink and become the same size she’d been originally; that of a Greater Basilisk.

With her perch now shrunken, Vee leapt from Zero’s face and flew over to her Mama, feeling the magic of the Hexsquad (plus Hanu) swirling around inside her. Unlike in the past when she’d eaten magic from multiple sources (something she hadn’t done since she was Belos’ prisoner), Vee didn’t feel all the magic inside her as a single mass; but rather as a tightly bound ball of different magic types, with each person’s having a distinctive edge, from the dark but pure feeling magic of Lyra, to the smooth and loving magic of Amity, and even to the corrupt and cloying feeling of Belos’ twisted magic. Feeling all this gave Vee an idea… she was a Basilisk that evolved to have some Angelic powers; wings that generated magic and let her fly, and limited spell-casting abilities… but what if they could give her another power of the Angels? The power of a blessing?”

Subject Zero began to snarl and tore off her own burnt arm, aiming to regenerate it freshly from an unburned section of her shoulder, while her unburnt tentacles began tearing at the burnt areas of her other ones. It was obvious she’d be back in the fight soon, so Vee decided to test her theory! She flew over to Masha, causing the others to gather around them too, and focused her borrowed magic into a ball in her hands, creating an orb of white, gold, and pink flame.

“What’s that, Vee?” Masha asked, admiring the beautiful flame.

“This is Amity’s magic; I’m going to lend it to you as a Blessing! If I’m right, this will grant you all of Amity’s powers!” Vee declared.

Masha grinned excitedly; “Oh Goddess yes! I am in! You always give me the best presents, Vee.” they said with a flirtatious wink.

“I-It’ll only be temporary; I’ll need to take it back after we’re done. But you’re welcome?” Vee blushed in return, suddenly a lot more self-conscious about pushing the orb of magic into Masha’s chest. Masha’s eyes glowed pink and she smiled as Amity’s power filled her, along with many of the instincts that Amity had honed and which had become embedded into her magic. It was a lot like getting any other Angelic Blessing, coming with the instincts of the person who gave it.

Masha felt amazing, and the instant Subject Zero recovered and regenerated to come roaring back into the battle, screeching incoherently out of rage, Masha drew a spell circle that allowed her to conjure her own Abomination slime. It was tough, but with the distortions still in the sky, she was able to make it just like if she was in the Demon Realm, and the dark purple slime rose up into the form of an abomination and literally slapped Subject Zero to the ground.

“Oh, this is gonna be fun! Time for some payback for bullying my Vee!” Masha smirked viciously, coating themselves in some Abomination slime to give themselves a dark purple witch-themed outfit.

Vee blushed crimson at their words while the others grinned, then Camila kissed her cheek; “I’ll go help them. Power up the others, then we’ll take Zero down together!”

With that, she flew in to join the battle, while King flew in after her, playfully singing “Vee and Masha sitting in a tree!”

Vee huffed at her cousin’s teasing, then turned to Rebecca and Gray and conjured two more orbs of the Hexsquad’s magic; one with orange accents and the other with green ones. She passed the green one to Rebecca and the orange one to Gray; “These are Willow’s and Matt’s magic! They’ll suit you best.”

The two Humans grinned gratefully, then began casting spells. Gray conjured a huge pillar of rock beneath Subject Zero, sending her flying into the air, while Rebecca easily conjured a massive tree that used one of its branches to smack Zero back to the ground.

“Wow! Willow’s magic is way more than just a blessing! I knew that girl was tough!” Rebecca chuckled.

“Matt’s magic is pretty strong too. It feels like he’s worked on it a lot. I’ll have to use it well.” Gray said, feeling a little more inspired and energetic than normal. He and Rebecca headed forward to join the battle proper, leaving just Vee and the other Basilisks.

“Alright guys, I’m going to give you some magic too. If given as a blessing instead of eating, you should be able to use it to cast spells. But it might also make you evolve; are you okay with that?” Vee asked.

“If it’ll make us strong and feel less afraid, then I’m okay with it.” Subject one said immediately.

“Me too. I don’t want to be afraid any more!” Subject Two agreed.

Subject Four nodded; “Me too! I want to be free like you and Treble!”

Treble grinned, then winked at Vee; “You don’t even need to ask, Cousin.”

Vee beamed, then created four blessing orbs from the rest of the magic inside her (excluding Belos’, Camila’s from the stolen blessings, and Lyra’s). Hanu’s magic was green like Willow’s, while Gus’s was pale blue, Skara’s was silver, and Boscha’s was red. She immediately offered a choice between Hanu’s magic and Skara’s to Treble, and he chose to take Hanu’s with only a moment’s thought. The remaining three were then given to the other Basilisks at random, since they had no special affinity with any of the Hexsquad. Subject One took Gus’s magic, Subject Two took Boscha’s, and Subject Four took Skara’s.

As the four Basilisks took the magic into themselves, they each felt a whole swarm of new sensations. The blessings didn’t feel like eating magic, but it still provided the feeling of satisfaction and satiation that eating did, along with a warm and comforting tingle throughout their bodies. But this tingling sensation soon overcame them completely and all four began to droop as a sudden weakness hit them, and their bodies began to shift and swell within their skin, signifying that they were indeed evolving. Basilisks could evolve just by eating a lot of specific magic, but they evolved faster when directly receiving the magic via the blessing, likely due to it being applied directly to their systems rather than needing to be digested and slowly integrated like food. It was like the difference between taking medicine orally or via a shot. All four Basilisks felt the skin on the tails split, and began to pull at the split, tearing away their old skins to reveal what the gifted magic had evolved them into. It was also notable that the Coven Sigils for the Bard and Healing Covens, which had been branded onto Two and Four, had been shed along with the rest of their skin, freeing them from the sigils.

Subject One had undergone the mildest change compared to the others, but she had still changed a lot. Her torso and head were largely the same as before (though appeared to be a healthier weight), but she now had sleek metallic looking fins that went from the side of each wrist all the way to her elbows, almost like blades. Her scales had turned a pale, almost white silver colour, and her underbelly had turned completely white. Her hair and had turned a darker silver with crystalline tips (which extended to her ears too) and had grown much longer, while her eyes had become similar to Vee’s, only with silver irises instead of gold. Her serpentine tail had also grown much larger, more reminiscent of a Lamia than a Basilisk, and rather than fins on the very end of her tail, she now had a single extremely long and sleek one that started on the back of her neck and ran down her spine to end at the tip of her tail. The way Subject One moved in this new form was almost like liquid; slithering and curling back and forth like a river or stream.

Subject Two’s change was definitely the most drastic of the four evolutions, as not only did their previously serpentine body become much thicker, but they also gained actual legs, making them almost drake-like. Subject Two’s body became thicker and more muscular, though retained its androgynous shape, and their previously stubby and emaciated arms had grown to be proportional, well-muscled arms that suited the similarly muscular legs. The orange colour of their scales now only existed on their bottom jaw and underbelly, while the rest of the scales on their body became black and craggy, resembling plates of volcanic rock, with glowing red and orange veins throughout that made Subject Two look like they could blend in perfectly in a volcano. Their face became a bit wider, like a Salamander’s, and their eyes became a burning red with no visible iris or pupil. Lastly, their tail had become thick and lizard-like, losing any amphibious qualities. It was almost like Boscha’s fiery magic had converted Subject Two into a lesser species of Fire Drake.

Subject Four had also gained new limbs, though the rest of her changes were a lot less drastic than Subject Two’s. She had gained a second pair of arms beneath the first set, and both sets were totally covered in sleek black scales. The rest of Subject Four’s scales had become the same shiny black, like obsidian or the shells of black beetles. The scales had also extended to cover her underbelly up to her chest, where a single patch of softer white scales remained, shaped vaguely like the body of a violin. The end of Subject Four’s tail now had an oval shaped rattle, and she had no fins whatsoever, instead just having sleek black scales. There tips of her claws were very sharp, and she had three short spikes on the side of each of her four forearms. Lastly, her eyes had gone from blue to white with black slits for pupils, and her hair had became silvery white, long, sleek, and extremely dainty looking, looking a little bit like the gossamer wings of a young white butterfly.

Lastly, Treble’s change was shocking in an entirely different manner; he gained no new limbs or body parts, but the changes to his face and humanoid torso were extreme. His upper body had actually become almost human-like, with the muscular size and definition of a lean swimmer, with arms to match. His face had thinned out and he’d gained a more defined neck, making him look a little more like Vee, though his features were firmer and more chiselled, making him look like a rather handsome Demon. His eyes were now human-like in both shape and colour, with emerald green irises. However, his entire body appeared to be carved from a pale wood, such as beech wood, with a coating of scales on his back and tail. All these scales now appearing to be made of a darker wood, and it looked like each scale had been hand-carved, polished, and varnished to perfection, with the rings and lines of the wood still visible on both the scales and his underbelly. Treble had no fins on his back any more, but the very end of his tail did have a single fin that looked like a red leaf. Lastly, his hair now appeared to be made of red leaves, giving him the look of a Mandragora or Dryad Palisman.

The four Basilisks looked down at their new bodies and began to stretch and flex, amazed by what they could now do.

“Wow, so this is what legs feel like!” Subject Two said, their voice much gruffer and deeper now as they tried to take a few steps. They had trouble walking and relied on their heavy tail to stay upright, though they eventually dropped onto all fours to walk like a lizard, making it much easier for them.

“Extra arms feel strange too…” Subject Four began, before realising her voice had now become extremely soft and musical. “Oh wow, I sound so different!”

Subject One agreed; “You do! I’m a little jealous.” she commented, though her voice was also smoother and had lost her previous rasp. She then poked at the fins on her arms and noticed that they were soft as silk until she tensed them, at which point they became as sharp and hard as a steel blade.

Treble found himself in a similar boat; while all his scales were as hard as wood, his unscaled underbelly was soft like before, but the instant he flexed his muscles his entire torso hardened until the was more solid than any type of wood he’d heard of. “I’ve got muscles!” he gasped, before clutching his throat at the sound of his own voice; he sounded masculine and suave now! It was quite a big change!

“That voice is really something! I’m a little jealous that I didn’t get a nicer voice when I evolved.” Vee said, completely amazed by how her fellow Basilisks looked now.

Subject Two, whose own voice hadn’t improved much, just laughed; “Your voice was already nice. But it’s not the voice that matters now… let’s see what we can do with this new power!”

He punctuated his sentence by using Boscha’s magic to conjure a ball of fire, before grinning and turning towards the battle raging nearby.

Subject Zero was currently on the ropes but still holding her own; Masha’s abomination was repeatedly grappling with the beast, while Rebecca was taking advantage of Zero’s smaller size to put her through various wrestling moves with some help from her bark armour and some conjured trees. Camila and King were flying around just out of range of the Abyssal Basilisk, while using ranged attacks (primarily fire spells and glyphs) to damage her, as Gray kept the Basilisk from escaping by conjuring giant stone walls whenever Subject Zero tried to get some distance.

However despite Subject Zero’s disadvantages, she was still putting up a serious fight. She blasted poisonous gas from her mouth to keep her opponents away (hence why most of the fighting was done by Masha’s abomination) while also shooting poison from the ends of her barbed tentacles to try and hit them once they’d backed off to avoid the gas. Not only that, but there seemed to be virtually no limit to the amount of poison the Abyssal Basilisk could produce, meaning there was almost no limit to her regeneration, turning the entire thing into a battle of attrition.

“This thing is getting annoying!” Masha complained as she reformed her abomination again after a shot of poison dissolved it.

Rebecca nodded; “Tell me about it! She keeps using gas so much that I can’t even get close enough to Suplex her again!”

The buff girl then used her plant magic to give wooden armour to Masha’s abomination, ensuring it would survive longer against the corrosive poison. Gray also chimed in after making a giant stone claymore for the abomination to wield.

“We’ve found her weakness is fire, but she keeps ripping off the burned areas. It’s impressively hardcore, but also really annoying.” he sighed, moving on to repair a stone wall Zero had tried melting through.

“Tia Cammie, can’t you put her to sleep with a song or something!?” King asked, before crying “WEH!?” as he came very close to getting hit in the face by a globule of poison.

“I can’t sing very well while dodging poison and gas. I’m also not at full strength after giving so many blessings! Plus, I’m not an experienced fighter like the Hexsquad.” Camila replied, growing a little winded as she continued to fly around and dodge the poison. This battle reminded her a little of the fight with the Alpha Slitherbeast, only this time it was actually tough to evade the projectiles and she was a lot more tired and less physically fit than she’d been back then!

As if to punctuate her point, a trio of poison blasts came flying at Camila at high speed, and she barely dodged them, though one of them did just barely clip one of her wings. The poison ate away at some of her feathers, but a quick scalpel spell had the feathers cut off before the poison could spread to others, but this had the added side-effect of making it harder for Camila to fly. Subject Zero saw her chance, and after spewing a torrent of poison onto the Cabin Seven Crew’s armoured Abomaton, she coiled her tail and used it to launch herself towards Camila like a spring, a mad look in her eyes as she tried to devour Camila in one gulp. Before she could close her jaws however, a tree suddenly shot out of the ground beneath her and slammed into Subject Zero’s jaw, forcing her mouth shut and sending her flying skyward.

“Phew, that was close! Thanks for the save, Rebecca!” Camila yelled.

Rebecca just blinked; “That wasn’t me!”

“It was me!” shouted the unfamiliar new voice of Treble, who emerged from the tree as if emerging from a pool of water.

“Whoa! Who is that!?” King asked, not recognising him.

“It’s me, Treble! Vee lent me Hanu’s magic and I evolved into this new shape!” he explained. “Now let’s see what I can do!”

Without giving Subject Zero a chance to pick herself up from where she’d fallen, Treble channelled Hanu’s magic to cast a spell that sent thick vines from the canopy of the tree he just grew to try and tie her up. The vines successfully wrapped around her tail and pulled her into the tree, causing her to hang upside down from it. Subject Zero snarled and spat a huge blast of poison at Treble, but he just sank back into the tree to avoid it. The tree began to decay where the poison touched it, but Treble didn’t care as he emerged from the surface of the vines wrapped around Zero’s tail. He then clenched his fist to make it as hard as solid wood and bunched Zero had in the face, stunning her. Strangely, his punch also caused a cloud of pollen to emerge from his skin and Zero’s expression became one of endearment as she inhaled it.

“You… I want you! I want you! Give yourself to me!” Zero screeched, trying to tie Treble up in her tentacles. Treble’s eyes widened as he phased back into the vines and phased out of the back of Rebecca’s wooden armour.

“What the heck!? How’d you do that? Is that a plant magic spell!?” Rebecca asked, half excited and half shocked.

Treble shook his head; “No. Or at least I don’t think so? I can just kind of do this now. It feels like when that spirit took us into the shadows, only I can enter and leave through plants, so long as they’re big enough.”

“I heard of creatures that could do that in the Demon Realm! Your subspecies of Basilisk must be one of them!” Camila commented.

Any further conversation was cut off by a snarl from Subject Zero, who finally shot poison at the vines holding her, causing her to fall from the tree. She landed hard and the Human Trio tried to send a fresh new armoured abomination at her, but she was quick to spring back and rush towards Treble, a look of desire and obsession in her eyes.

“Number Three! Come here! You’re mine! Mine!” she screamed, evading the abomination to try and get at Treble.

She was blocked by a sudden wall of ice conjured by Subject One, who slithered over gracefully after seeing her window. “It looks like that strange pollen of yours also makes the people who breath it in fall in love with you… or at least become obsessed with you.” she commented as she watched Subject Zero clawing at the transparent ice in an attempt to get through without taking her eyes off Treble.

Treble frowned as he looked at his fist; “That would be a great power for luring in prey… shame it’s not a good fit for those who are psychos when they’re obsessed!”

Masha agreed; “Yeah, maybe not a good fit for use on a Yandere!”

Rebecca and Gray snickered, while everyone else just looked confused, not knowing what Masha was talking about. Ignoring the laughing humans, King turned to Subject One and asked; “So what can you do? Ice magic?”

“No, that was a spell I cast with the magic I borrowed. But if I do this…” She tensed her arms and back, causing her fins to become blades which she used to effortlessly slice apart the ice wall and cut Subject Zero beyond it. A single swing of her bladed tail nearly sliced Subject Zero in half at the waist, spilling copious amounts of black blood and deep purple poison.

Subject Zero began to regenerate while extending her barbed tentacles at Subject One, screaming; “Don’t you dare keep Three from me!” but Subject One easily parried the barbs, which couldn’t pierce her steely fin-blades.

“His name is Treble now!” Subject One scowled, before using her other new natural ability; secreting a silvery liquid from her scales and coating herself in it. The liquid looked like molten silver, but as it coated Subject One in it, the Basilisk was able to “swim” into the air itself, gaining a flight-like ability that also caused the air around her to rapidly cool, creating frost and even very fine snow as she twirled through the air like an eastern style dragon. Darting forward with great speed, Subject One whipped her tail at Subject Zero again, this time slicing off one of her hands as she dodged, but causing the wound to freeze over from the extreme cold.

Subject Zero backed off, looking slightly afraid as the effects of Treble’s pollen began to wear off. However she ended up backing off directly into Subject Two, whose body was extremely hot to the touch.

“You cold there, Zero? Here… let me warm you up!” Subject Two cackled, before releasing scalding hot volcanic ash from between their scales, burning Subject Zero badly and forcing her to retreat again. Subject Two wouldn’t let her escape easily though and began to gargle, then spewed liquid magma directly at her, not even trying to use magic and instead using his new body’s natural abilities. She avoided the attack by a hair, and the heat of the magma melted the ice on Subject Zero’s wrist stump, allowing her to finally regenerate and then send her barbed tentacles to try and stab Subject Two’s underbelly. He just responded with releasing more hot ash, burning the Abyssal Basilisk and making her screech and back off again. She seemed to finally realise she’d bitten off more than she could chew!

An Abyssal Basilisk was dangerous, probably the most dangerous subspecies there was, but a large part of the danger they posed came from them being nocturnal ambush predators that were devilishly clever… but Subject Zero was a ravenous beast with low intelligence, fighting in the middle of the day, with enemies who knew where she was. That stripped her of most of her advantages!

As she tried to flee, she ran almost literally head first into the last of the newly evolved Basilisks, Subject Four. Zero snarled at her; “Get out of my way or die!” as she brandished her few remaining unburnt tentacles, as well as her claws (which she briefly stuck into her mouth to make sure they dripped with poison). However none of her tentacles or poisoned claws made it to their target, as the strands of Subject Four’s hair extended out like puppet strings and grabbed the limbs. They were surprisingly strong for such fine and frail looking strands of hair, and that was before Subject Four allowed her instincts to lead her into using the real power of her subspecies. Raising her four arms to the hair strands binding Zero, Subject Four began to pluck them like harp strings. Every pluck made a beautiful but piercing note that send vibrations through Subject Zero’s body, and as Subject Four played a haunting song, her victim shrieked as the vibrations coursed through her and left her unable to properly move. That would have been the end for Subject Zero right there, if she hadn’t still been able to secrete poison from her tentacle barbs, which dripped down onto the threads and decayed them. Subject Four had to stop her playing to cut the hair strands being decayed before the effect spread to her head, and this combined with the rotting restraints allowed Subject Zero to pull free and try another attack. It was in vain however, as Subject Four swung the rattle on her tail hard at Subject Zero, causing a sonic boom at the point of impact and making Subject Zero fly back with a scream.

The Abyssal Basilisk wound up lying in a heap, dazed, burned, and extremely angry as she was surrounded by the four newly evolved Basilisks, as well as the three empowered humans and the young Titan. Only Camila was ignoring Zero, instead looking around for Vee.

“Where did my daughter go?” Camila wondered.

“She said she needed to do something quickly.” Treble answered.

Camila was about to question what that was, but soon got an answer when the shadows beneath Subject Zero expanded and black tendrils emerged from it to tie the Basilisk down. Lyra emerged from Camila’s shadow with Vee at her side, the two girls smiling.

“Sorry we’re late. I needed to give Lyra back her magic! Speaking of…” Vee began, conjuring another blessing flame; “Here Mama! This is the magic of the blessings that Zero stole.”

Vee gave Camila’s blessing magic back to her, and the older woman sighed with relief as some of her tiredness faded. “Good job, Vee! I’m so proud; you’re a little hero!” Camila praised, ruffling her youngest daughter’s hair.

Vee beamed with a blush on her cheeks, while Lyra grinned and patted her on the back; “Yeah! You even rallied your Basilisk Cousins to our side! You Nocedas really are a force to be reckoned with!”

“Thanks!” King chirped, making his family and the humans chuckle; he was a Clawthorne-Noceda after all, so obviously he was a force to be reckoned with too! Doubly so in fact!

The brief moment of levity was cut off by Subject Zero exhaling a huge cloud of poison gas in one final gambit to escape and win the fight. Lyra twirled her staff and had the shadows rise up to form a black bubble to contain the gas, but she couldn’t focus on that and restraining Zero at the same time, and Shade couldn’t come out to help her because Camila was too close, so Zero was able to pull free of the shadows and leap at Lyra, desperate to devour her and get at least something out of this failed meal!

Unfortunately for her, Vee was not having it!

“I WON’T LET YOU HURT ANYONE ELSE!” Vee screamed, her angelic wings surging with magic in all the colours of the rainbow, before she thrust both her hands skyward as Zero sailed over her head. Instinctively, Vee released the rainbow coloured light in an intense, multi-coloured beam of magic that struck Zero with enough force to send her careening high into the sky. The beam wasn’t any different from normal light beams made by Camila or Luz (besides the colours), but it was still strong enough to burn the Abyssal Basilisk’s chest and launch her a good few hundred feet into the air.

“She’s still conscious after all this punishment?” Lyra questioned as she heard the beast screaming up above. “If this keeps up, it’s going to feel like bullying.”

“Then let’s finish her off with a big blast. Lyra, do you remember what you told me about your duel with Amity at Eclipse Lake?” Camila asked.

Lyra nodded, her eyes widening in realisation; “You want to combine light and dark magic for a big explosion?”

Camila nodded and produced a ball of light magic that she packed as densely as she could, making it fist sized. The young Dark Angel followed suit, creating a ball of dark magic that was equal in power, size, and density, before thrusting it forward. Camila responded in kind and the two balls of magic collided and began to merge together. As it began to grow unstable, Camila and Lyra tossed the combined ball of magic into the sky, aiming it directly at Subject Zero. It didn’t quite make it all the way to her before it detonated, but the blast radius was still large enough to engulf Subject Zero, who gave one last scream before she went silent.

When the blast receded, Subject Zero’s smoking body fell from the sky and was caught by Masha’s abomination, then placed on the ground and promptly restrained with ice, stone, and vines to make sure she didn’t escape. Camila then carefully approached the battered Basilisk and examined her, then sighed with relief.

“She’s alive and already regenerating. Thankfully she’s totally unconscious, but I’ll make sure she stays asleep.” Camila said, before singing a choir song that placed Zero in an enchanted sleep. Once she was done, the group gave a collective sigh of relief.

“Goddess, I feel like I could nap for a week after this!” Masha sighed, stretching their body as their adrenaline faded and the exhaustion hit her. They were so tired in fact that their abomination slime witch outfit melted off of them.

“I second that.” Gray murmured, actually sitting on the ground and looking ready to pass out.

“I third it. Does casting magic burn as many calories as it feels like it does, because if so I’ve got an epic cheat day tomorrow! Don’t want to lose these gains!” Rebecca smirked tiredly, pumping her fist and showing off her muscular arms.

“Actually yes.” Camila said; “I’ll make sure you all have a nice big meal to recover your strength.”

“Should we be worried about the humans in town? This fight wasn’t exactly quiet, especially that last explosion.” Vee asked nervously. It amused her Basilisk cousins to see her become so timid again after she’d roused them earlier.

Camila eased her fears though; “Don’t worry, I cast spells over the entire quarry at the start of the fight. It was basically a big sound proof barrier with an illusion over it so people couldn’t see or hear what was happening inside. No one outside saw the fight! The only people who would notice are those sensitive enough to magic to feel it.”

That was an extra weight off everyone’s shoulders, though Vee found a new one resting there as King decided to fly up and use her as a perch. “So now that we saved ‘em, what do we do about One, Two, and Four?”

“Can we start with giving them names? Calling them by literal numbers is becoming uncomfortable.” Masha said, cringing a bit.

One, Two, and Four looked excitedly amongst themselves; “We can have names of our own?” One asked.

“Sure! Treble and Vee have names, so you should too. Do you have any ideas?” Lyra asked, knowing how it felt to pick her own name.

The three Basilisks exchanged looks, then shrugged and shook their heads; they’d never really thought about it before. It hadn’t ever occurred to them that they could have names.

“No. You guys pick; you’ve saved our lives and helped us despite what we did before, so we’ll let you name us.” Four replied.

Rebecca nodded; “Got it! First things first, what are your genders? We know Basilisks don’t have bio genders, but you can still identify as one, like how Vee is a girl.”

One and Four both considered themselves female, while Two found gender to be a silly thing for an agender species to think about, so was treated as agender. With that information now at hand, the group all started throwing out suggestions, partly based on their original number names (since Treble and Vee had done the same).

For Subject One, Camila came up with the winning answer; “How about Una? The Spanish word for One is “Uno” but if you make a feminine sounding name, it becomes Una!”

The silvery coloured Basilisk repeated the name, enjoying the way it sounded on her tongue; “I like it! From now on, please call me Una!”

With one of them now named, the remaining two got more excited! Naming Subject Two was a bit harder, as finding a gender neutral name involving the number two and which they also liked proved difficult. King has suggested “Prince II”, Masha had suggested “Erni” which combined the Chinese and Japanese words for two, and Gray had suggested “Dva” which was the Russian word for it, but none of them stuck. Eventually Rebecca had pulled out her phone to search up more words that meant two, and Subject Two had pointed to one they liked the look of.

“This word! I like the look of it!” they said, pointing at the French Word “Deux”.

“Are you sure? Deux doesn’t sound as cool as it looks.” Rebecca said.

Sure enough, hearing the word out loud made it less appealing, but since Two still liked the look of the word, they decided to alter it slightly to Dex. That sounded better to them, and since it was their choice, none of the others would complain.

“Okay! So we’ve got Una and Dex! Last but not least is you, Four!” Masha said, “I’ve actually been sitting on this one since we started; how about Fyra? It’s cute, it’s cool, and it means four in Swedish!”

Four was a bit surprised that she’d gotten a name so quickly, but she immediately loved it. “Fyra. It sounds nice! That will be my name from now on! I’m Fyra!”

The group clapped and gave a little cheer; “So now we’ve got Una, Dex, Treble, Fyra, and Vee!” Camila smiled; “And needless to say, you’re all welcome to stay with my family until we get a way back to the Demon Realm. You might need to share the basem*nt for a bit, until we make another expansion.”

“What do we do about Subject Zero?” Una asked.

“Why not just leave here locked up here?” Rebecca suggested; “We can keep her sedated and out of trouble until we can send her back to her own world.”

“Yeah! The Divider was able to turn her back from a Goliath Basilisk, so maybe he can do the same with her being an Abyssal Basilisk?” Fyra said.

Lyra then raised her hand; “Not to kill the mood, but aren’t we forgetting something? Hunter still isn’t back and he went off to fight Belos!”

Camila frowned; “That’s right. They have to be nearby; I haven’t felt anyone passing through my soundproof barrier, and while it only stops sound, I can still feel people passing through it so I’d know if either of them left.”

“Then we need to go find him right away!” Lyra declared, looking worried.

“No need.”

Everyone spun around and saw Hunter walking towards them, dragging the unconscious body of Jacob Hopkins, who was still very clearly possessed by Belos, as evidenced by the slime all over him. Jacob looked like he’d been put through the wringer, while Hunter looked perfectly fine, with only a small scratch on his cheek. On his shoulder was Flapjack, who was also unharmed and happily tweeting at them all, before flying over to check on Waffles.

“Hunter!” Lyra yelled with a smile, running over to hug her brother. Hunter grinned and dropped Jacob, then met her halfway and hugged her tightly.

“Hey Sis! I’m glad you’re okay!” Hunter smiled.

“Me? I had back up from like nine people! You’re the one who fought that monster Belos all by yourself!” Lyra exclaimed, checking him over for wounds; “Is that one scratch really all you suffered?”

Hunter nodded; “Yeah. Let’s just say that without his staff and stolen Divine power, Belos wasn’t as much of a threat as you’d think…”



Belos’ arm, which he’d turned into slime and twisted into a sword-like blade, went swinging for Hunter’s head, though the boy easily parried it with Flapjack. The lightning magic he’d imbued into his staff had created a lightning blade around the Palisman, keeping Belos from actually touching him, lest he be both sliced and shocked by the lightning. As Hunter deflected Belos’ swing, he thrust the base of his staff into Belos’ gut, winding the man and knocking him back a few steps, allowing Hunter to then dash forward and perform a soccer slide directly into the man’s legs while he was unbalanced, making him topple over. Hunter used his lightning flash magic to immediately zip back to his feet and then try to unleash arcing yellow lightning onto Belos from his staff, but Belos was slippery and extended his slime from his arms and dug the rotten claws into the nearby stone wall, using it like a grappling point to then pull him out of the path of the lightning and get some distance from Hunter.

“You’re more competent than I thought.” Belos sneered as he got back to his feet and warped his slime to form plant glyphs, which sent thin but sturdy vines covered in bloody red thorns directly at Hunter. The boy flashed out of the way, but Belos just smirked and extended the thorns in the direction Hunter flashed, ensuring he wouldn’t escape. When Hunter came out of his lightning flash, he saw the thorns coming but he was already spinning Flapjack to make a spell circle to counter attack. Unable to flash away again while doing this, Hunter instead changed the spell he wanted to cast.

Belos’ sneer became a smirk of victory as the thorns wrapped around Hunter, but the smirk fell when Hunter made no noises of anguish, nor did blood drip from him. Instead, Belos saw the thorns breaking against Hunter’s skin, which now had a scaly texture to it.

“What!?” Belos growled.

Hunter smirked; “Beast-Keeping Magic! The art of taming, controlling, and imitating beasts! Eber taught me a lot about it in the few days I trained under her, and I’ve been practicing with Aunt Camila! I cast a spell to give my skin the properties of scales; specifically the scales of the Arapaima Gigas! A fish with some of the toughest scales in the Human Realm! Good luck trying to stab me through this!”

Belos seethed, but Hunter suddenly flashed out of his thorn restraints and appeared directly in front of Belos, whom he punched hard in the face with his scaly fist. Belos yelped as his nose broke and he was knocked onto his backside. He quickly shaped the slime between his horns into a fire glyph and released a stream of fire that Hunter flashed back to avoid being damaged by. But Belos kept up the assault and nearly burned Hunter when he came out of his flash, only avoiding damaging him because Hunter was quick enough with Flapjack to throw up a barrier at the last second.

Still, Hunter’s clothes became a little singed and since they’d already been torn in several places by Belos’ thorns, he stopped to cast some mending spells on them, using what he’d first learned from Darius and then expanded on with Camila.

Thinking his former servant was on the back foot, Belos couldn’t stop himself from boasting; “You’re little flash trick won’t save you from me! I know all about how it works! You can only move in a straight line and you have to briefly stop moving if you want to change direction! All I have to do to hurt you is make sure my attacks hit you in the windows between your flashes!”

Hunter rolled his eyes; “You really do like to hear yourself talk, huh? Is that just ego, or are you trying to psyche me out or make me angry enough to make mistakes? Because you’re wasting your time if it’s the latter…” the boy suddenly narrowed his eyes, the red orbs gleaming as they reflected the lightning crackling around his staff; “… dealing with you for 16 years made me very good at directing that anger into motivation. And trust me, I have a lot of motivation to destroy you!”

The boy suddenly dropped his barrier and flashed towards Belos, this time zipping between his legs and appearing behind him, then delivering a powerful round house kick to the back of his head. Belos fell forward into the dirt and growled as his eyes began to see double after the blow. Hunter then zapped him with more lightning, making him scream and spasm, until he eventually forced his slime into a light glyph. The resulting flash blinded Hunter and made him recoil, allowing Belos to draw Jacob’s combat knife and slash at the boy. Hunter parried the first blow with his electrified staff, then quickly cast a trio of beast-keeping spells to give himself the hearing of a bat, thick pangolin scales on the back of his free hand, as well as razor-sharp Direwolf claws for nails. This caused Hunter to lose his prior scales though, as he was currently only good enough to maintain three bestial enchantments, but it also ensured he could still detect Belos if he was blinded again while also having scales and claws capable of deflecting a knife slash or stab. Hunter immediately used it to slap Belos’ knife wielding arm down, while parrying his other arm (which shifted back into a slimy sword) with his staff, causing Belos to be wide open and allow Hunter to perform a lightning flash and kick, delivering a devastating blow to Belos’ gut that had him smashing into a nearby stone wall.

Belos groaned as he slumped to the floor, apparently unconscious, and Hunter slowly edged towards him to check he was truly knocked out. He poked him with the end of his staff, and only succeeded in making Belos flop like he was boneless onto his side, his slime beginning to melt from Jacob’s body. Hunter hoped the human wasn’t too badly messed up; he may have been a bad person, but Hunter didn’t want the man dead like he did Belos.

Deciding it was probably safe and not wanting to risk further damaging the host by whacking or zapping him again, Hunter cautiously stooped to grab the man by the back of his shirt and begin dragging him somewhere safe so he could go help the others. He didn’t let his guard down fully though, which is what saved his life a moment later when Belos suddenly slashed at his face. He’d been feigning unconsciousness, but since Hunter had still been on guard, the slash to the throat had been mostly dodged, with Hunter leaning back and tilting his head to the side at the last second, instead getting a scratch to the cheek from the combat knife. Almost instantly after the cut was inflicted, Hunter used a stitching spell he’d learned from Camila to close the cut, then swung Flapjack at Belos with all his might. Belos managed to dodge it and flee, sending several spikes made from hardened slime at Hunter to keep him busy. Hunter deflected these, then gave chase.

Belos first fled towards the abandoned foreman’s office, where he managed to grab the crossbow that Jacob had bought before Hunter caught up to him with a flash spell. Hunter began to cast a spell, but Belos was quick on the draw and fired a preloaded bolt at the boy, forcing Hunter to stop drawing the spell circle and block the bolt with the scales on his hands. This distracted him for just a moment, but as Belos had already been running, it was all he needed to dive out the window of the office and make a run for it deeper into the quarry, sticking to the shadows. Hunter gave chase, choosing to remove the bestial enhancement to his ears and instead grant himself a wolf’s sense of smell so he could sniff out Belos no matter where he hid!

The abandoned Quarry was actually fairly large, having been used to harvest huge granite blocks, and which had been in operation from the early 1900’s all the way to the late 1980’s, meaning it had been expanded a lot. The area that the Basilisks had been kept captive in (and which contained the abandoned office and was currently the others’ battleground) was a large loading area connected to the main road, whilst Belos was heading deeper into the quarry, which began to spiral down into a deep pit. The forest beyond the quarry had begun to reclaim the pit in the last 30 years, so foliage was all over the place, as well as human trash that had been dumped and a large pool of water that filled the bottom six feet of the pit. There were plenty of places to hide, and Belos immediately made use of them as Hunter emerged into the area and began trying to find him.

“Running and hiding away as usual, Belos? It must be so hard for you to actually have to fight and do something for yourself for a change!” Hunter taunted as he sniffed the air subtly, hoping to pinpoint Belos and catch him by surprise.

Belos, who’d been hiding behind a nearby granite block, growled and took a shot at Hunter with his crossbow. This time he fired a bolt made of his own rotten slime, which he’d taken the time to sculpt the petrification glyph combo into. Hunter was close enough to spot the movement out of the corner of his eye and spun around to fire a lightning bolt from his staff, causing Belos to yelp and flee, his shot going wildly off course and hitting a tree near the top of the pit, which promptly turned to stone and tipped Hunter off.

“Still using the magic of the people you despise? You really are a hypocrite! A weak little man who can’t do a thing without his stolen power!” Hunter taunted again, seeing as it had helped the first time.

Belos grit his teeth, and this time tried to sneak up on Hunter by intentionally firing a bolt at some trash piled up near the boy, knocking it over and making Hunter turn towards it. With his back turned, Belos ran up behind him as quietly as he could, knife in one hand and crossbow with a petrification bolt in the other. He tried to get as close as possible before firing the bolt so Hunter wouldn’t dodge, but at the very last second, Hunter suddenly ducked down and spun around, a grin on his face. He thrust his empty hand upward, knocking the crossbow into the air and causing the bolt to fall off and bounce into the water in the middle of the pit, petrifying it all into stone. Hunter then smacked Belos’s knife hand with Flapjack, knocking the knife out of his hand also, before the young Grimwalker slammed his forehead into Belos’ chin. Belos groaned in pain as he staggered back a step, and Hunter stomped on and destroyed the crossbow that hit the ground a moment later.

“Without the stolen power of the Titan and the Angels, you’re nothing! You’re not even human any more, Belos!” Hunter smirked viciously; “You’re a literal parasite leeching off others!”

He punched Belos hard in the gut as the man tried to right himself, and the fallen Emperor doubled over and fell to his knees.

“I… MADE… YOU!” he gasped out, partially winded. “You and your pathetic sister, and all the failures that came before you owe your lives to me! You ungrateful brat!”

Hunter looked down at Belos with a sneer; “You created us just to use us and then throw us away! How many Golden Guards did you kill in the 400 years you infested the Demon Realm!? It must have been at least 20! You’ve ruined countless lives! You murdered your own brother, and you murdered Luz’s Dad too!”

Belos’ eyes widened; “You know about Michael!?”

“Of course I do. Aunt Camila told us everything on our second day in the Human Realm! I know what you did to him, and the pain you’ve caused Luz! I bet you just loved being able to think of yourself as “Uncle” to a real Angel!” Hunter scowled furiously; “But tough luck; no one alive considers you family any more! You’ve caused nothing but pain to my sister and the rest of my new family! And I’m going to give some of that pain right back!”

Belos tried to crawl away, all while staring hatefully at Hunter; “You should be grateful for your life! Lucy should be kissing my feet for bringing her wretched self into existence! Luz should be a proper obedient niece, and praise my name for creating the man that sired her! The blood of Wittebane will flow through Angel veins!”

Hunter snarled and kicked Belos hard in the gut, forcing him to roll over and wheeze; “I… I raised you! Cared for you!” the evil man snarled.

“Yeah, and I have proof of it carved into my face!” Hunter snarled back, pointing to the scar on his cheek; “I made so many excuses for you, thinking you had to be a good man deep down… but I was a naive child. Well guess what? I’m not naive any more!”

Hunter raised his staff and smacked the base of it into Belos’ face, then clubbed him over the back of his head. The twin blows left Belos gasping in the floor, putting a hand up pleadingly.

“S-Stop! I’ve had enough! Please!” Belos begged.

The Grimwalker narrowed his eyes; “You’re begging me for mercy? After all you’ve done!? You really are shameless!”

Belos looked terrified and bowed his head; “P-Please! I’ll make amends for what I’ve done! Just don’t kill me!”

Hunter glared at him in disgust, feeling sick to his stomach. “As much as I want to, I’m not going to kill you… I’m not the only one with a claim on your life! Lyra, Luz, Aunt Camila, and just about everyone in the Demon Realm has a claim to your head! I’ll take you back to the others and we’ll decide your fate together. That’s as much mercy as you’ll get from me.”

The corrupted man continued to grovel as Hunter relaxed and dismissed the bestial enchantments. But as he watched Hunter seemingly let his guard down, Belos hid a smirk beneath his bowed head. Keeping his hands visible, Belos manipulated a hidden tendril of slime to reach for Jacob’s taser on the inside pocket of his duster coat; “Thank you Hunter! You were always the best of the Golden Guards. You were just like Caleb; so kind, so selfless, so heroic…”

The man lifted his eyes and grinned maliciously; “ naive!”

He quickly leapt to his feet as the tendril wielding the taser shot it directly towards Hunter’s chest, electricity crackling between the prongs. Hunter raised a hand to defend himself and the taser slammed into his palm and unleashed its entire payload of electricity.

Hunter didn’t even flinch.

Belos’ eyes widened in horror as he noticed Hunter’s grip on his staff tighten, electricity beginning to spark from it. The same yellow lightning was sparking from the hand Hunter was gripping the taser with as he glared at Belos with the most unimpressed look the Witch-Hunter had ever seen.

“I told you, I’m not that naive. Not that you ever listened to me in the past.” Hunter said coldly, his red eyes gleaming as he clenched his fist around the taser, crushing it into a useless lump of plastic and circuitry. Belos opened his mouth to say something, but with lightning quick reflexes, Hunter grabbed the man’s face with his free hand.

“You know… I met a priest of your faith earlier today. He told me that your God would rather be ignored by a good person than worshipped by an evil one. I’m wondering how he’d react to you…”

Belos’ eyes widened as Hunter’s eyes somehow grew colder; “Don’t worry though. I’m sure you’ll find out very soon. Nighty-night.”

With those final words, spoken in an ice cold voice, Hunter released all the lightning magic he’d channelled from Flapjack right into Belos’ face. The man tried to scream as he was electrocuted by several thousand volts, but it was muffled by Hunter’s hand. The boy kept his grip up until the electricity had finished zapping Belos and the evil man went limp, his body lightly smoking. Hunter then dropped the man and zapped him with another weak jolt of lightning, just to make sure he was unconscious this time. Jacob’s body seized up but neither he nor his parasitic ally screamed, convincing Hunter that he was finally knocked out.

“We did it, Flap. We beat him.” Hunter said, releasing Flapjack who immediately flew up to perch on his shoulder.

“You did good, partner.” Flapjack said inside Hunter’s mind. “Caleb would be proud. Belos will face justice for what he’s done.”

Hunter nodded; “I sure hope so, Flap. I wish Lyra had been able to help me with this; he used her as much as he used me.”

At that moment, Hunter heard a massive explosion in the sky above him, and spun around to see Subject Zero being caught on the edge of an eruption of light and dark magic. The shockwave it gave off was enough to force Hunter to shield Flapjack lest he be blown away, before he witnessed the smoking form of Subject Zero fall from the sky back in at the entrance of the quarry.

“On second thought, it looks like Lyra was busy with her own thing. She must have gotten her magic back from the Basilisk somehow.” Hunter commented, bemused by Flapjack pecking his hand to make him lower it so the little bird could see.

“Let’s get this slime ball back to the others! I want to see Waffles! Also, I bet giving Belos to Luz for some justice will be the perfect birthday present for tomorrow!” Flapjack chirped.

Hunter gave a small half-smile; he didn’t think murdering Belos would really cheer Luz up enough to make her like her old self, but at least bringing him to justice might ease her sorrow a little. “It might make a good peace offering at least, so she’ll let us explain why we kept her in the dark about our plans.”

Flapjack nodded, watching as Hunter grabbed Jacob by the back of the shirt and began dragging him away; “Yeah, that wasn’t one your better ideas. For the record, I told you so.”

Hunter huffed; “Yeah yeah, you’ve said that “for the record” about six times now. Let’s go.”

With that, he began dragging the Belos-possessed Jacob back to the others.


[The Present]

“And that’s the long and short of it.” Hunter said, finishing his story.

Lyra and Camila both grinned widely, hearing how Hunter had gotten some revenge for his past abuse at Belos’ hands, while the others were just pleased and impressed that Hunter had taken him down so easily. Sure Belos wasn’t even a shadow of his “Emperor” persona from back in the Boiling Isles, but he was still a dangerous foe.

“Great job, Hunter.” Vee praised.

“Likewise, Vee.” Hunter returned, looking to the defeated Subject Zero. “It looks like your Basilisk buddies all evolved too! Mind telling me what happened?”

Vee nodded, and the group quickly recounted the events of their own battle. Hunter whistled in appreciation; “Wow, you guys really did fight hard! Shouldn’t you return everyone’s magic though? The others back home are probably pretty worried, and we could use their help to find Luz.”

“That’s a good point actually. I’ll suck up the Hexsquad’s borrowed magic from all of you, then barf it up to send it home. You all ready?” Vee asked, looking to the Cabin Seven Crew and the Basilisks.

They all nodded, with the Basilisks bracing themselves, since they remembered how Subject Zero had deflated when the same thing happened to her earlier. Vee sucked out every drop of the borrowed magic, which poured into her mouth in the form of white, gold, and rainbow flames. The humans were unaffected besides losing their borrowed powers, which was expected, but strangely enough the Basilisks were also unaffected. They’d lost the magic of the Hexsquad, but it didn’t look like they themselves had been changed at all; there was no exhaustion, no sudden ravenous hunger, and no physical changes! They were completely fine.

“Huh. Maybe receiving the magic as a blessing instead of devouring it means it doesn’t feel as bad to lose it?” Lyra theorised.

“It’d make sense. The magic would have blended with their whole bodies rather than sitting in their stomachs.” Camila agreed, before handing another dose of the special Basilisk Emetic to Vee.

Vee took a deep breath and gulped it down, before promptly throwing up all the magic she’d devoured, sending coloured flame-like balls of magic careening through the sky, back to their original owners. Some wisps of magic even returned to Belos, since Vee had sucked out the corrupted magic that Zero had eaten from Belos before. Hunter and Lyra had both immediately jabbed Jacob’s body with their staves, and Hunter had even given him a little shock again to make sure he was still unconscious. The man made no reactions to either the jabs or the shock, so the group went back to ignoring him (though Lyra did further bind him in some shadows to make certain there was no funny business).

Almost as soon as that was done, Lyra’s scroll rang and she answered it.

“Oh, hey Gus! You and the others got your magic back, right? Uh huh. Yep! Zero and Belos are both down for the count! Only a few little bumps and scratches, though the other Basilisks evolved! Yeah huh. Okay! I’ll tell them! See you in a few minutes!” Lyra said as the others watched. She then closed her scroll and smiled to them; “That was Gus; he says everyone back at the house recovered just fine and are on their way. Still no sign of Luz though.”

“Great! They can help us drag this lug somewhere secure.” King said, nudging Subject Zero with his foot. He then turned to Hunter; “Hey, you seem to know more about Basilisks than I do; can you figure out what the new guys all evolved into?”

The other Basilisks looked to Hunter with interest, who examined them for a moment, then smiled and nodded. “Sure! The only subspecies I don’t recognise is Vee’s, but since Rasiel figured out hers a long time ago, that’s not a problem.”

He walked over to Una and said; “You’re a Quicksilver Basilisk. An arctic subspecies that adapted to either illusion magic, or earth and water magic. Your species has liquid mercury, or quicksilver, fins that can harden into solid, icy cold blades. They can also secrete quicksilver, and naturally manipulate it, even to the point of being able to make yourself swim through the air by instinctively levitating the coating.”

Una looked down at her hands with sparkling eyes; “Wow… but why illusion magic specifically?”

“Quicksilver is something with a lot of applications in illusion magic. Old Glamour Mirrors were made from it, and most potions with illusion magic effects needs some amount of mercury to function.” Hunter answered.

“Wow, you do know your stuff!” Dex praised.

Hunter scratched his cheek nervously; “Well, Eberwolf taught me a lot, but I was actually also told to study Basilisks by Belos. It was around the time Luz came to the isles, so I think he wanted me to study you so I could hunt you down. It never came to that thankfully.”

The Basilisks shuddered; seeing how badly Hunter had kicked Belos’ (admittedly weakened) butt, they were very glad he’d not been sent after them!

“Huh… anyway, do me next! What am I?” Dex asked eagerly.

The boy grinned; “Yours is easy! You’re a Magma Basilisk! It means you either ate a lot of fire and earth magic, or you ate a lot of extremely powerful fire magic. I’m guessing Boscha’s?” Vee nodded, making Hunter smiled wider; “Called it. Anyway, you’re basically like a walking volcano. You can produce hot ash from your scales and have a magma breath ability. You’re also technically a kind of Draconic Basilisk, or Dracolisk. You’re also basically immune to high heat and fire, just as Una over there is immune to low temperatures. You can’t burn, she can’t freeze, but you’re both very vulnerable to each other.”

That made Dex look sad; “So no hugs?”

Hunter blinked and replied; “Uh, only if you’re spewing ash and she’s covered in ice cold quicksilver. Otherwise you should be fine?”

Dex immediately tested this by hugging Una, who took a moment to adjust to the fact Dex was a little warmer than average even when not using their powers, and then returned the hug. She too was only a little cooler when not using her new abilities, so the two were fairly comfortable. Dex sighed; “Yay! I only have one big sister, so I wanted to keep my hugs!”

Hunter and Lyra both smiled at that, and Vee and King nodded sagely, understanding the (rather odd) Basilisk entirely.

Treble then chimed in; “Okay, I’m next! What am I?”

Hunter examined him a little closer, then asked; “At first glance, I’d say a Druidic Basilisk… but can you create or control plants without Hanu or Willow’s magic?” he asked, not knowing which of the plant witches had their magic borrowed by Treble.

“No. I can still use plants like portals though. Watch!” Treble declared, before diving into the wooden armour of Masha’s abomination, then emerging from a tree on the edge of the woods heading back towards town. He waved, then jumped into a different tree and emerged from Rebecca’s wooden breastplate, exchanging a cheerful high five with the buff human as he returned to his original spot.

“See, a Druidic Basilisk can do that too, but they also create and control all manner of flora. But that pollen of yours that made Subject Zero obsessed with you… I think I remember reading something about it.” Hunter closed his eyes and rubbed his chin in deep thought; “Come on Hunter, remember it! It was in Warlock Salazar’s Treatise on Basilisk Evolution, I’m sure of it…”

“I remember you reading that! It was thicker than my thighs!” Lyra commented. Everyone looked at her thighs, which had originally been pretty twig-like before Camila’s home cooking had gotten her to a healthy weight (though Camila still felt she was a little too slender still). Lyra noticed their glances and blushed; “Okay, maybe a bad comparison, but it was still really thick!”

Hunter suddenly snapped his fingers; “I’ve got it! I think you’re a rarer subspecies of the already rare Druidic Basilisks! A Forest Siren Basilisk.”

“Forest Siren?” Treble repeated.

“That’s right. Basilisks that consume a lot of plant magic become some variation of a Druidic Basilisk. But those that become Forest Siren Basilisks are said to have also eaten Bardic Magic… or been in love. Something to do with the chemicals released in a Basilisk’s brain when they experience love reacts with the evolution process and creates the “Siren” subspecies, which combined with the plant magic resulted in the Forest Siren subspecies in your case. You can move through plants and produce pollen that causes a pseudo-love effect towards you.” Hunter explained.

The others all looked towards Treble, who was blushing adorably. Masha almost squealed; “Treble, are you in love with Hanu?”

“Um, actually… we’re dating.” Treble confessed; “We sort of bonded over the fact we were both used to hurt the CATTs, then ended up living with and being protected by them. When the Divider started doing his thing, we got closer… Hanu made me feel brave, and she said I made her feel like she deserved to be loved. She ended up asking me out, and I said yes. It’s been a month now. S-So yeah… I’m in love with her.”

Vee, Masha, and Lyra all cooed at the adorable blush on Treble’s face, while his siblings slapped him on the back playfully. Hunter just smiled, while King pretended to gag, making Camila pick him up and gently shush him. Treble blushed brighter and shook his head; “B-But forget about that for now! It’s Fyra’s turn!”

Fyra perked up; “Oh yeah! So, Mr Expert; what kind of Basilisk am I? Some kind of Bug Basilisk?” she asked, making silly gestures with her extra arms.

Hunter shook his head; “Actually, you’re a Symphonic Basilisk. I know for a fact that you evolved with Skara’s magic. Symphonic Basilisks have a pretty mixed history; you have incredibly musical talent in singing and most stringed and percussive instruments, as well as a natural sense of rhythm. You can’t perform Bardic Songs, but you can use your body for simple Bardic Spells, and if you play your music alongside a Bard performing a song, you’ll amplify it’s power. Sadly, your kind were also valued for turning into instruments… your tail rattles for maracas, your skin for drums and tambourines, your hair for stringed instruments… heck, even your bones for flutes and the like. Not to mention some more unscrupulous bards in the past would capture your kind for use as an easy power boost when performing.”

That made Fyra shudder for a moment before shrugging; “That’s not good… still, people already wanted to exterminate Basilisks, so I guess it doesn’t make much difference what they do after we’re dead.”

The other Basilisks agreed, and all in all, they were pretty happy with what they’d become. Treble’s only thought was if Hanu would like his new shape, but the good thing about being a Basilisk was that if she didn’t, he could just transform himself to look like his original form.

The thought of Hanu and Treble’s relationship also gave Vee pause, especially as she looked over to Masha, who was playfully teasing the Forest Siren Basilisk. Treble said Hanu made him feel brave… well aside from her Mama and Sister, there was one person who made Vee feel brave too. Perhaps when things had calmed down and both Belos and Subject Zero were dealt with, Vee could have a talk with Masha about how she felt?

As Vee was thinking this, she was reminded of something and turned to her mother to ask; “How are we going to pull Belos out of Hopkins? Or contain Belos for that matter? Do we just stuff him in a really big bottle?”

“Heh, like the world’s worst genie.” Gray joked.

Hunter joked; “He’s the type who’d come out and then start demanding you grant his wishes.”

Chuckling at the boy’s joke, Camila said; “I’m sure Luz can just petrify him until we can take him back to the Demon Realm for a proper trial.”

King opened his mouth to agree, when he noticed something. Jacob’s body was still bound in shadows and unconscious, but Belos’ horns had disappeared. They’d still been there a moment ago, albeit smaller than King remembered them from earlier, but now they were gone entirely! Feeling suspicious, he used a plant glyph to make a long branch to poke Jacob and then flip him over onto his back. As he did so, the little Titan and those watching him gasped as they found that there was no Belos slime on Jacob, only the scars left over from his possession, and there was a small hole in the ground where Jacob had been lying before he was flipped over.

“No! Belos escaped underground!” Lyra gasped, suddenly on guard again.

“But how!? I zapped him to be sure!?” Hunter growled, wielding Flapjack’s staff as he and the others looked around, completely on guard.

Camila frowned; “His horns looked smaller… I bet getting some of his magic back from Vee woke him up, and he split a bit of himself off, shrinking his horns in the process, and dug underground before you zapped him. If he can survive being splattered, he can probably still control the missing bits of himself, and if his consciousness was only in the part he split off…”

“He wouldn’t have felt the zap! Which means he was able to sneak back and reclaim the rest of himself while we were talking!” Vee exclaimed. She tried to sniff the air for Belos, but since Zero smelled a lot like him now, it was hard to pick out his scent!

Hunter looked around furiously; “The coward ran again! He can’t have gone far! Let’s split up and-”

The boy didn’t even get to finish his sentence before he felt a sudden rumbling beneath his feet. Suddenly, the ground beneath him broke apart and knocked him off balance as Belos, in the form of a skeleton-like mass of rotten slime, leapt out of a hole he’d dug beneath the Grimwalker.

“Your body is mine!” Belos cackled insanely, his slimy body aiming right for Hunter’s face with the goal of pouring in through his cut.

Everything seemed to slow down as Hunter’s eyes widened. He’d lost his grip on his staff as he’d been knocked off balance, so he couldn’t cast spells or flash away. The others were rushing to act but with Belos so close they stood no chance of getting a spell off before Belos dove into Hunter’s body. The boy mentally prepared to resist with all his might, but then salvation came at the last moment.


With that single bellowed word, a lightning bolt suddenly roared down from the sky and struck Belos. The bolt hit the ground and was accompanied by a deafening clap of thunder, which drowned out Belos’ screams as he was brutally electrocuted. The bolt was wide enough to engulf him entirely, and when the light faded and the others had recovered from their surprise enough to take notice, they saw that Belos had been reduced to a bubbling puddle of green slime with the top half of a human skull floating in it. The slime still pulsated like it was alive though; it looked like having a Sephiroth’s wings grafted to him for centuries had given Belos a ridiculous level of hardiness.

With Belos down for the count, everyone looked up to the source of the lightning bolt and saw Luz flying up above. Her eyes were glowing gold and her aura was incredible as she glared down at Belos with the most hateful expression any of them had ever seen.

“L-Luz?” King said nervously.

In a flash, Luz’s eyes stopped glowing and her expression softened as she flew down to her friends. As she landed in front of them, she suddenly became a bit sheepish; “Um… Hi, guys. Sorry I’m late. It looks like things got crazy here.”

Her nervous words and fidgeting snapped her family out of their stupor, and Camila, King, Vee, Lyra, and Hunter all swarmed her and began talking at once.

“We’re so sorry-!”

“-never meant to keep it a secret-!”

“We didn’t think you’d screw it up, we-!”

“-supposed to be a surprise to cheer you up and-!”

“-never blame you! We really didn’t-”

Luz winced at the cacophony of voices and put a hand up to silence them all, before replying; “I know. Amity has been blowing up my scroll with texts and voicemails. She explained everything. I’m sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusions and running off like that. It was unfair of me.” she apologised.

“No Luz, we’re sorry. We should never have kept our plans a secret.” Vee said remorsefully.

“I especially should have refused to go along with this, after my mistake in not telling you about your Dad.” Camila sighed, looking on the verge of tears.

Luz shook her head with a sad smile; “I understand. It’s not like I never kept things from you. I’m just glad I got here in time to help, even if only a little. I can’t wait to hear the story behind the others’ new forms!” she looked over to the Basilisks; “You guys look awesome!”

The four newly evolved Basilisks preened as Hunter asked; “Did the others text you what was going on too?”

Luz nodded; “It was in one of the last messages Amity sent. I was all the way on the east side of town, looking for signs of the Basilisks there, but then the sky turned into that…” she pointed at the still open tears, “… and by the time I’d investigated them and got through all of Amity’s messages, I was already late. I high-tailed it here and saw Belos…” like a switch, Luz’s sheepish look became one of cold anger, “… I just saw red. I guess it worked out though.”

“I certainly got lucky.” Hunter said, his heart still pounding.

“Yeah. Though now that you mention it, haven’t those tears in the sky been open for quite a while now? They didn’t last this long the first couple of times.” Lyra pointed out.

No one had any answers for that, since this was a new phenomenon that started today, and it was only the third time it had happened. The gang came together to begin dealing with the prisoners so they could get home (and waiting for the Hexsquad to arrive to help), however it seemed there was still a few more surprises in store for the day.

Vee and the Basilisks suddenly began sniffing the air. “A lot of magic is coming this way.” Una said.

“That must be the others.” Lyra replied, only for a pale faced Vee to shake her head.

“It’s not them! This smell is totally different…! It’s almost like…!?”

Masha put a hand on the girl’s back; “Almost like what, Vee?”

Vee gulped; “Almost like Mama and Luz!”

Camila and Luz both went as white as sheets, but before they or anyone else could comment, the approaching figures became visible and began landing around them, surrounding the group. There were 30 of them in total, and each and every one of them was clad head to toe in full plate armour, which was a shining white with gold detailing. Each also had at least one pair of large white wings, with a few having four wings. One of them, who slowly walked towards Luz, had six wings.

These were Angels, wearing armour that Cassiel recognised; “Crest Diligence! The police and military of the Crest Orders!”

The leader of the group, the only Arch-Angel among them, gave Camila a nod of acknowledgement, and paused for a moment as his gaze fell on Lyra, before nodding to her too. He then turned to Luz properly and placed a hand over his heart and gave a short bow.

“You are Luciel, Arch-Angel born to the bloodline of Crest Kindness, are you not?” the man asked, his tone respectful but demanding.

Luz, still stunned, just nodded dumbly.

The Diligence Arch-Angel looked at her for a long moment, before sighing softly and declaring; “By order of the Seven Seraphim of Gran Seraphia, we have been ordered to take you, Luciel of Crest Kindness, into custody. You stand accused of breaking the Treaty of Division by opening the Forbidden Black Tombs and assembling their contents. I apologise, but you are under arrest.”

The Angel of the Owl House - Chapter 45 - OwlHouseAngel (2024)


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