Helkey 35 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Hell’s Platform

Sun Shepherd plows through another towering wave as the storm howls its fury over them like some enormous beast. Dark clouds above fill with spider-webs of lightning. Water and spray, ripped into jagged fingers by the vessel’s powerful forward speed, lash out at them — pounding the bridge windows. The sturdy ship shrugs off the assault, cleaving implacably through the angry waters, the clean hum of its electric drives — a constant counter to the roaring wind and waves. Mori’s got his grip glued to his “oh shit!” handle. Without it, he’d be careening around the bridge compartment of the swaying vessel like a pin ball in one of those retro arcade games. The metal brief case containing his magical rifle — held firm against his chest. His stomach does a rollercoaster-style tumble as Sun Shepherd drops into another trough. Damn fortunate whoever designed this vessel didn’t cut any corners. He’d have ripped the fucking handle off by now.

Mori glances up toward Beatrice standing beside Finn at the helm. She’s perfectly balanced without holding onto anything. The swaying and jolts do nothing to throw her. A graceful surfer riding through this crazy climate-change-enhanced storm. Her sleek, angelic form seeming to know where the ship will move ahead of time. Mori grins, imagining his wife as some female version of the Silver Surfer. Yeah, his girl’s just about that badass. She’s even got her eyes closed — shifting her gaze out through omnis scientia — ready to warn Finn of the next big wave. The sensor’s a few hundred feet ahead. Mori’s magic-sensitive eyes pick it up as a floating ball of light amidst the spray, the waves, the rain.

Karl and Franz are both buckled in. Earlier, they’d distributed fancy life-vests from beneath the seats. Now everyone’s wearing one of the puffy orange things over their clothes — complete with whistle, strobe, and geo-locator. Mori doesn’t want to think about using the damn things. Being ejected into that sea state would be, well, Hellish. His gaze flickers over Karl and Franz. Though they’re ship’s hands and have probably made this passage scores of times, they’re holding on about as tight as Mori. Franz has his eyes glued to the bow. Karl’s staring at the bridge ceiling, refusing to look at the waves, as his jaw works — chewing on some gum he plopped into his mouth a few minutes before. The sight of the two, obviously suffering the same anxiety as the rest of them, isn’t reassuring.

From The Wrath of the Seas by Ivan Ayvazovsky.

Beside him, Ivan and Glenda are also strapped in tight, holding on against the storm’s assault. Glenda’s alert, her eyes bouncing between Beatrice, Sadie, and Ivan. Her mouth — a concerned frown. Her face displaying hurt, anger, outrage. Yet fearless. Mori finds himself comforted by her courage. That girl’s something else. Putting everything on the line to save her asshole father. I feel for her. But I’ve really got doubts. Mori grits his teeth as his gaze locks on Ivan. The Russian oligarch’s face is a slack glower. That same emotionless mask Mori’d grown to hate. Bastard’s at last in control of his sea-sickness. That or he’s puked himself out. The boat throws Mori’s stomach through a loop as it slams into another twenty-foot wave face. Maybe he’ll be next to lose his lunch.

Mori’s not sure how Glenda’s earlier outburst is affecting ol’ Ivan. But he’s pretty certain the jackass is going to do them a bad turn. Confronting him with both good-will and reason produces nada. Sadie’d only managed to rope him in on their wild expedition to Heaven by making him feel special. Like this trip to Heaven is some kind of goddamn birthday present. Sure, she’s using him to distract Asmodeus as Myra runs roughshod into Hell. But Sadie, like Glenda, genuinely wants to help the bastard. She’s right. His transformation atop Furze Bank, his wounding by Pride Eaters’ claws should’ve been a wake-up call. Ivan, at times, shows fear. Regret. But these moments of potential awakening inevitably fail. Ivan’s just too corrupt, too cynical to take a good turn. Mori gets the feeling the Russian’s circling back to his usual power-games. Shapechanger — Glenda’d called him.

That rat-bastard’s a ticking bomb. Glenda’s right. This is his intervention. But Ivan’s gotta want it to work and he’s addicted to something worse than any drug. Power.

Mori can sense that power-lust wafting off Ivan. Like the smell of alcohol off a drunk. Ivan’s expression gives Mori’s stomach a worse jolt than even the massive North Sea waves threatening to devour Sun Shepherd. His cop instincts — going off like gang-busters. The way he treats his own daughter… Like she’s supposed to grow up into corruption and become like him. It’s just sick. That shred of love for Glenda Mori sensed in him earlier — now seems little more than a counterfeit.

Asmodeus chose this fucker for a reason. Sadie’s assurances or no, if Ivan does anything to hurt Glenda, if he shows any sign of turning again, I swear I’m gonna knock his ass out.

Mori’s eyes cut back toward Sadie. Her onyx skin glistens with an angelic sheen, seeming to glow in each lightning flash. Her face — somehow continuing to radiate calm goodwill as she braces through the storm. She reaches out a hand, grasps Glenda’s arm. Glenda’s face lifts, shedding some of its hurt and anger. Sadie’s the best. Always trying to do a good turn.

Beep! Beep! Beep! The alarm on Mori’s watch goes off. It’s 7:00 Berlin time. Shit! Mirror Specter’s on its way! Mori glances about the cabin. Beatrice spins on him, her eyes wide. Well, I guess everyone’s gonna see it.

“No help for it now!” Mori growls to Beatrice, then thrusts himself upright. He turns to everyone. They’re all looking at him, temporarily distracted by his sudden agitation. “You’re all about to see something strange! A kind of magical ghost! We’re going to talk with it for about a minute! Pay us no mind!”

Glenda frowns speculatively, like she’s working out a puzzle. Franz’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. Ivan’s head tilts forward. A small grin appears on his face. That’s a problem.

“You just said you’re going to talk to a ghost and to pay you no mind?! The one doesn’t go with the other!” Karl shouts.

Beatrice ignores him, turns to Finn. “You’re on your own for a few minutes!” She shouts against the roaring wind and waves.

“I really need you!”

“I know! No helping it!” She waves a hand over her form in explanation. Finn looks at her sidelong, doesn’t get it. Then, the magic of Mirror Specter begins to grow up from her. The sliver tattoos traced on Beatrice’s skin gleam with moon glow. Her hair swirls — lifted by magical force. Light fills the cabin. Everyone but Sadie stares at Beatrice in shock as sparks begin to spill out of her name curse. They hit the deck, smoke for a moment, and then from the smoke rises the ghostly form of his daughter — Myra Helkey. She’s wearing a D20 shirt, has a clean look like someone who just had a shower — shiny. Her name curse is also sparking. Sending out streamers to connect with Beatrice. Her hair, pulled back in a pony tail, seems to drift about weightlessly, as if she’s floating in water. It’s the only visible hint about where this Mirror Specter is coming from. Good.

“Hey Mom, Dad! Other people!” Myra as Mirror Specter says, glancing about the cabin. “I’m about to go…”

Beatrice lifts a hand. “We have an audience!”

Myra’s Mirror pauses, “Yep! Noticed!” She scans the group, takes in the raging storm outside for the first time. The Mirror Specter floats above the deck — untouched by the swaying Sea Shepherd. “Oh… That’s a really bad storm!” A strand of her hair drifts lazily in front of her face. Ivan’s beady eyes glint as he stares. Mori can practically see the clockwork turning over in his skull. Tic, ticking through details.

“Yeah, better make it quick for now!” He says. No use in keeping his voice down. It’s like they’re on stage.

Myra’s Mirror snaps back into action. “Right! Then I’ll just tell you the basics! My better half made it past the beach! She’s now with a group of… kindred spirits! Two blues! A Vila! She just defeated some Poachers!”

“Excellent!” Beatrice says. She’s lifting a hand out, stroking the light form of Mirror Specter. The gesture is heart-rending. Mori knows how much Beatrice misses Myra. How concerned she feels for her as she faces down Hell pretty much all alone. “A Vila! That’s a perfect complement!” Beatrice turns to Mori nods.

“Fanfriggingtastic!” Mori replies. “She’s near the Wisp Fields?!”

“Just at the southeast end. About fifteen miles from Overseer.”

“Fuckin-A!” Mori whoops. “Yeah! Tell her to start her rebellion against those slavers!”

“You think she’s ready?!” Beatrice casts her concern back toward him.

“Babe, you know each day brings new risks! Sooner is better! Plus, a Vila!”

Beatrice nods, glances back at their dumbfounded onlookers. Mori’s pretty sure they’re not cluing in at all. All except Sadie who’s watching on with a bemused expression. Excellent! “Then urge her to push on! I hope she remembers enough… of what we discussed before!”

Mirror-Myra lifts a hand, gives a mock-salute. “Got it! I’m off to H…” She glances again at her audience. “Then I’m off! See you tomorrow at the same time! Love you both!!”

Beatrice’s glow flickers, then goes out. Mirror-Myra disappears — swirling off down her connection with their daughter. Down, down into Hell where Myra’s probably reacting to her own magical set of alarm bells. Beatrice shares a final glance with Mori, lets out a long breath, brushes off a tear. With a stiff nod, she turns back and closes her eyes. All-in-all it went pretty darn well. Except that last bit at the end where Myra’s Mirror almost said “Hell.” He’s pretty sure no-one picked up on it. Based on Ivan’s puzzled expression, Finn’s curious side-long glances, and the befuddled expressions on the faces of Glenda, Karl and Franz, they pulled this little Mirror Specter briefing off with flying colors and no-one’s the wiser.

“I’m watching again!” Beatrice shouts to Finn.

He grunts acknowledgement, then glances at Beatrice. “I’m not going at ask!” He shouts against the storm.

Beatrice laughs. “Better not!”

“Oh what the ever-living-Hell was that??!” Franz shouts.

“You heard her! No questions!” Finn replies. “Now let’s get through this beast!”

Glenda clamps her mouth down on a question she was about to ask, looks enquiringly to Sadie, but doesn’t say anything. Karl keeps chomping on his gum, shrugs. Ivan raises his free hand to his chin and scans the cabin with his reptilian gaze.

Sun Shepherd clambers up another monstrous wave. It feels like climbing a rocky, moving hill. Outside, the sky darkens, the pace of lightning flashes intensifies. Mori shifts his sight to omnis scientia. Through it, Sun Shepherd looks small and vulnerable amidst the churning waves. The fast resupply vessel for Wind-Sun Isle straining at its design limits in the brutal storm. Overhead, a ghostly light appears. The storm hollows out ahead of it, forming a circular corridor through the clouds. A black shape like a dragon with a Nightmare-as-helicopter for its head flies through the tunnel above them. As it approaches, the wind briefly slackens, pulled into its great, demon-formed wings. The roar above them grows, the darkness outside deepens as the Nightmare casts its shadow.

“What the ever-loving-fuck!!?” Karl shouts as he sees it.

“That’s the Curse Rider!” Beatrice cries out. “His Nightmare uses the storm!”

“Fuck! I’m watching it now. What if it sees us?!” Mori instinctively clenches, anticipating the storm-enhanced-Nightmare’s descent. Body and wings of storm spread above them. He feels like a mouse tossed about on a bit of driftwood beneath a raptor. The shadow begins to pass. Mori feels a moment of sweet relief. It missed us! The wind picks up. The Nightmare’s lashing tail, a frigging waterspout, sweeps by about two hundred meters starboard. Winds, flung back out of the Nightmare roar across the waves. Seas build behind the Nightmare as waves stack together into a massive swell.

“Finn! It’s coming!” Beatrice shouts, then points.

Finn, who’d stared wide-eyed as the Nightmare passed overhead, snaps out of his fear-daze and tilts Sun Shepherd’s nose in the direction of Beatrice’s outstretched hand. Toward the enormous wave he can’t yet see. Through omnis scientia, Mori watches the wave build to forty, fifty, sixty feet. The collision alert goes off, sending its klaxon blare through the bridge. A roiling wall of white and blue engulfs the magical sensor running ahead of Sun Shepherd. Mori snaps his eyes open in time to see its daunting form emerge off the ship’s bow. It looms like a cliff, its face is shadowed, hollow.

“Brace! Brace! Brace!” Finn shouts. Everyone clenches tighter to their hand-holds. They’re all already strapped in. Except Beatrice. She reaches a hand out, grabs a handle on the console. The bow pitches down into the trough. Above them, the wave begins to break as its top explodes into a mass of foam. Shepherd’s bow lifts, rises to thirty, forty, fifty degrees. Mori’s pressed back into his seat. Finn looks like an astronaut strapped into his captain’s chair. Beatrice dangles by one hand from her handhold which is now above her head. All across the console, read warning lights are blinking. Powerful engines roar shooting twin rooster tails behind. Its hull groans. The bow pierces the breaking wave and again they are submerged. The churning motion of the wave causes Sun Shepherd to pitch. “Grrrrrrrhhhhh!!” Finn growls as he wrestles with the helm to turn Shepherd upright. Blue water is visible through both front and rear windows. Little rivulets leak down the rear doors leading to the well. Shepherd groans from the pressure, steadily tilts back toward vertical, then explodes through the giant wave’s back. Shepherd’s bow slamming onto the storm-tossed sea surface.

Everyone lets out a breath they didn’t realize they were holding.

“Fuck! Fuck! We’re fucked!!” Glenda curses as she breathes out, then opens her clenched eyes. Ivan, meanwhile, looks like he’s about to get sick again. Even Sadie’s tensed up.

“She’s a strong ship!” Finn shouts from his captain’s chair. Sweat beading on his brow betrays his intense focus. “Made to weather the North Sea and make the fast cargo or personnel runs to and from Wind-Sun! Never you worry! She’ll hold together!” His voice is cracking a bit from the strain. Mori’s not sure if it’s reassuring. He can tell Finn’s just about as scared shitless as Glenda. Whether from the storm, from the supernatural shit he just witnessed, or both, Mori can’t tell.

Beatrice drops back onto her feet as the ship settles. Out of everyone, she seems the most steady. She turns to Mori, lifts her free hand, then points toward the Nightmare boring on through the raging storm. “Where’s it going?!” She shouts to Mori above the waves and engine noise.

“I don’t know, babe! We’re following it!” Mori replies, then turns to Finn. “What’s out that way?!”

“Trekke Pa, Wind-Sun! That’s about it!”

“Trekke Pa?!” Sadie asks. Mori’s gut does another roller-coaster dip — and not from the pitching deck.

“It’s a huge oil platform!” Finn shouts.

“How far off?!” Mori asks. “Can we avoid it?!”

“We won’t crash into it! If that’s what you mean!”

“No! Can we go around!? Stay out of it’s way!?” Mori can feel the fear starting to rise again.

“Not by too much! Not in this mess! We’re already pretty close! Don’t want to get thrown off course!”

Mori’s eyes lock with Beatrice’s. “I think Glenda’s right!” Beatrice says, her face falling as she watches the Nightmare’s waterspout tail whipping back and forth like some oceanic version of the twister from The Wizard of Oz in front of them.

“What?!” Finn asks.

“Yeah,” Mori replies. “That Nightmare’s heading straight for the oil platform! We are fucked!”

“It’s an ambush!” Beatrice shouts back. “Get ready!”


Gibbons Crane whoops and laughs maniacally as his Nightmare leaps from the helicopter and into the oil platform. He cracks his electric whip. His worb grinds down on the captured wisps, feeding the demon still more energy. The demon flickers with dark lightning as it courses through the metal struts. Its energy whirls out and down. The oil platform crew looks on in horror. Floats, masses of machinery atop the platform, tentacle-like lines running down to the ocean floor — slurping up Hellish fuels from a wound driven into the sea bed, all shudder and begin to transform. The Nightmare drinks deep of crude and gas. It cries in triumph as it taps great tanks of the corruption juice stored in Trekke Pa’s structure. It yammers with glee as it slurps down the polluting substances travelling up through lines reaching the sea bottom.

The structure groans. Oil leeches out of joints and seams to cover its body. Turning from light-bedecked and red-painted steel to black. Hellish flesh bulges throughout. Terrified crew are engulfed, swallowed up, crushed into its new form in sprays of blood and entrails. Gibbons feasts upon it all. “Yes!!” He shouts in ecstasy, then kicks the helicopter off the fleshy deck and into the storm-riled North Sea. Sinking down beneath the waves. Forgotten. The platform grows scales. Spines rise out. Floats merge into a monstrous squid-like head. Lines rip from the sea floor bottom to become tentacles. A great, bulbus eye sprouts, casts out a baleful gaze. Metal and machinery form mad and mottled patterns along its two-hundred-foot long body. Lights shatter. Oil spills through its skin, belches from its mouth. The Nightmare, the ocean, everything is soon covered by the viscous fossil fuels.

From the Deepwater Horizon on Fire. Image source here.

Sparks fly from shattered lamps, fire takes hold, blazes across the oil. A great raging inferno leaps over it and onto the water. Gibbons stands astride the enormous monster, gripping a spine with one hand, lashing his electric whip into the air with the other. Oil platform no more. Now Hell’s Platform. A Nightmare fully transformed into a horror straight from the inner-most-bowels of a ruined world. The oil spewing from the creature, fountaining up through the waves out of ruptured fuel lines, spreads darkness and fire across the ocean surface. The disaster. The storm. The Nightmare monster. The environmental ruin. All combine to draw the eyes of demons. Five Pride Eaters lift their hands. Tear at the space between Hell and Earth with their enormous claws. Their spirits come to float alongside Gibbons and his Nightmare. The pollution and fires lick their forms into being. They latch on to the great Nightmare body, becoming riders of an Eldritch Horror.

Gibbons points out over the raging sea. He knows the location of his prey. He can sense them just miles off through the raging storm. “There!” He shouts to the beast. “There is our quarry! Go now! We will take them!” The Nightmare tips forward, plunges through water and fire. tentacles ripple behind. Gibbons, the demons, the Nightmare tear through the storm. A form of fire, gushing oil, writhing tentacles like towers. Behind them — a black and burning wake.


Maxwell Plann, famous climate scientist by day, moonlighting mage by night, and friend to Sadie and Glenda, stands in the Bill McKibben control room overlooking a churning North Sea. A stocky, unassuming figure, Maxwell lifts a hand to adjust his polarized aviator glasses against another bright flash of lightning as rain batters the window in front of him.

The control room, named after a prominent climate activist who envisioned a full transition to clean energy decades before it became a popular rallying cry of environmentalists, is part of a larger structure jutting out from a man-made island. The island — Wind-Sun Isle — is a platform for twenty massive wind turbines. It forms a hub in a constellation of a thousand more across the North Sea. Every inch of the one square mile island’s surface is covered with solar panels. Running through the island are tunnels filled with water turbines that tap the North Sea’s waves and currents. Together these turbines and panels collect enough electricity to power half of Germany each day. Pushing it out as clean current to mainland Europe. Transforming it into renewable hydrogen in the various electrolysis plants dotting the Island. Considered an impossibility just a decade ago, Wind-Sun Isle is an amazing feat of engineering science and act of faith combined. It represents the answer to a Hellish climate in the form of energy from Heaven. A place that will fall to the waves as glaciers continue to melt — unless the world answered in kind with enough energy from Heaven to replace the nightmarish fuels from Hell.

Hope facing off against tragedy.

Maxwell marvels at the place. Revels in its triumph of science and engineering combined. He’d seen pictures of Wind-Sun Isle on the web many times. His presence here came at the request of his associate Sadie. He’d arrived just one day ago. Now he worries about his friends — Sadie and Glenda. The storm has transformed the North Sea into a horror of gigantic waves, falling bolts of lighting, and torrential rain. He’s pushed his magical senses out along the path of Sun Shepherd to finally find it wallowing in the raging seas. Its progress — hampered by the constant pounding. Though just five miles off Wind-Sun, and nearing Trekke Pa, the waves and terrible current are holding them at bay.

“They’re running late,” he says, turning toward his companion — Freja Pedersen.

“Expected, they’ll be lucky to make it here by full dark through this mess.” Freja replies. She towers over the stocky Maxwell. Her long, blonde locks pulled back into a braid. Freja’s an administrator and chief engineer for Wind-Sun. She’s also one of Maxwell’s network of global contacts.

“Maybe it’s time to send out an escort?” Maxwell motions to his left. Outside is a bay housing two solar-electric ships. Bright Spark and Ray Wind. Sisters to Sun-Shepherd. They bob in the wind, waves, and rain even in the enclosure. Freja has them charged up and ready in the event that they’re needed to aid Sun Shepherd.

“Maybe…” Freja says, considering.

Then, out over Trekke Pa, the sky turns bright red. Lit up by a terrible explosion. The flames briefly silhouette a towering form in the darkness. Black as pitch. Flaming. Spewing smoke and shadow. Black tentacles leap up from the fire surrounding it. Then, the great monster, no longer just an oil platform, tips sideways into the North Sea. Burly waves splash and roil around it. Tentacles and burning expulsions of oil swarm behind. That monstrous flaming form — knifing directly toward Sun Sherpherd.

Maxwell doesn’t hesitate. He knows a Nightmare when he sees one. Knew Sadie, Mori, and Beatrice had probably attracted just such a terror. “I’m heading to Bright Spark! Tell Jans I’ll be aboard in less than five!”


Mori feels like he’s going to barf.

Sun Shepherd slams over another huge wave. Spray and rain fly. Out ahead, in the darkness, a red light gleams like a demon’s eye. Underbellies of cloud flicker with intermittent firelight. The flickering grows brighter, larger. Oily smoke rises up into the sky ahead. Darkness deepens as smoke joins cloud and gathering dusk. Something massive. A shadow in the belly of flame and smoke begins to take shape ahead. A shape like a knife of fire and darkness — pointing directly toward Sun Shepherd — emerges.

“What is that!?” Karl shouts, his eyes wide with naked fear.

“The Nightmare. Death… pouncing,” Beatrice replies. Mori can see her eyes shifting to a more determined cast. He knows she’s checking her energetic vessel. They’ve had hours to refresh since the train. I’m back to about a third full. She’s probably about the same. Sadie might have half. Not enough. No-where near enough.

“Nightmare?!! Death!? Pouncing!!??” Karl shouts again. Hysterical. He’s got his eyes glued to the rapidly growing form. Its firelight flickers across his face. His own face — a rictus of fear — appears demonic in the hellish glow. “We’re dead, dead… DEAD!!!

“Everyone! Steady!” Finn shouts. “Someone give me an option!”

“Can you turn the vessel away from it?! Speed up?! Try to outrun it?!” Mori shouts.

“If I turn sidewise to a twenty foot plus swell, we’ll start rolling! I don’t know how many rolls she can take!”

Mori spins toward Sadie. “Can you protect Sun Shepherd from the waves, make it stronger against rolls?”

Sadie’s eyes glisten. She nods. “It’s a solar vessel. My magic will work more strongly with it. I can try.”

“Good!” Beatrice shouts as she plants her feet, then lowers a hand to grab the console. “Best do it now! We’ve got to find a way out of this Ambush! And that Nightmare — it’s coming fast!!”

Out ahead, the Nightmare leaps over a wave as it rushes toward them. Its two hundred foot long, squid-like body covered with metal protrusions, leaking flaming oils, becoming fully visible for the first time. Behind it, a mass of tentacles whip out, flinging smoke, fire, shadow. The shape rises about fifty feet into the air, seems to hang on the wind for a moment, then slams down. Spray, fire, oil splash out from it in a multi-colored explosion.

Karl sees it. Bends over. Covers his eyes. “Dead… dead… dead…,” he whimpers.

In the rising firelight, Ivan’s beady eyes flicker. Mori gets the impression of a predator, at bay for now, just waiting for the right time to pounce.

(New to the Helkey multiverse? Haven’t yet read the first chapter? You can find it here: Helkey 1 — The Memory Draught.)

(Looking for another chapter? Find it in the Helkey Table of Contents.)

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Helkey — Curses

During the 13th through 17th Centuries in Europe, the Church declared all magic blasphemy — calling it cursed — in an effort to permanently confine demons to the outer realm and devils to hell, to reduce their influence, and to remove their ability to harvest wisps. This declaration and the genocidal war against mages that followed had the opposite effect, however, generating numerous temporary hell gates through which demons and devils feasted upon earthly humans. It also created unnecessary confusion and fear regarding the use of magic. Eventually, the word curse was used to describe any socially taboo or offensive language – i.e. curse words, or to describe any solemn utterance aimed at invoking supernatural power to inflict harm.

To mages, curses are quite different. Whether they inflict harm or are used for benevolent purposes is determined by the intentions and acts of the mage who uses them. Curses are thus the means to unlock a mages’ magical abilities and span healing, invocation, summoning, divination, transmutation, exorcism, along with other more rarified or specialized magic. They are both a mage’s art and the bridge by which a mage accesses universal wisp energy — called many things including multiversal spirit, mana, wyrd and more — channeled through their unique being. These channels are set through intention and often come in the form of chants, written words, or symbols. Mages choose words and languages that have power and meaning both to them as individuals and to larger society. Older words and languages often bear greater force in association and are therefore typically ideal choices to serve as vessels for intention in magical curses. The most common form is Latin. But any language can be used so long as it creates enough significant weight of intention to cause the curse to form an effective bridge with wisp energy.

List of Curses in Helkey

Amplio — An alteration curse used to enlarge or intensify another curse’s effect.

Bene Sevetur — A personal transmutation curse, that cleans and mends cloths while sanitizing the body and bushing the hair.

Confractus — A breaking curse that attempts to interrupt or destroy the operation of magical constructs. Confractus is often used to break diabolical magic. However, it can be used to target long-functioning magical curses. More permanent and powerful magical constructs are less likely to be affected by Confractus. Confractus can also be used to break non-magical, technology related constructs. For example, Sadie uses confractus telefari to disrupt phone signals.

Clypeus — An invocation curse that briefly conjures a field of protective energy.

Duplici exemplari An alteration curse that duplicates a simple substance, such as food or water, over time. Often used to expand a basic resource. Not useful for complex materials like manufactured materials or volatile chemicals.

Exorcizamus – An exorcism curse that involves a long incantation to develop the curse energy needed to expel a demon from a human body.

Faetor oculorum – A divination curse used to detect other curses, see the otherwise invisible presence of demons and hell gates, sense heat as visible light, and otherwise visualize various forms of radiation.

Horologium — A chronomancy curse that allows for the telling of time through a multi-functional magical time-piece. Often-semi-permanent.

Ignarus – A long lasting, easy to maintain, and sometimes permanent suggestion to ignore the presence of specific people, objects, sounds or activities. Most mages operate under some form of contingent ignarus curse which is often used to mask their implements and activities.

Indespectus – A light-bending curse that renders the subject temporarily invisible.

Infernum clavis – A Helkey curse to send the recipient through a temporary Hell Gate. Also one form of Myra Helkey’s name curse.

Interpretor — An alteration curse used to translate spoken or written language.

Lanuae — A transmutation curse that vanishes a mage in blinding flash of light and smoke, casts out a spark to a point within sight, then causes the mage to appear in an equally blinding flash where the spark lands. Essentially a short-range teleport.

Ligamen Malum — A binding curse made to trap and contain demons and other evil spirits. Often works best when the vessel used for containment contains a powerful aura of good.

Lunen Svert Umbra – Moonshadow blade which is a summoning curse. This is a unique curse crafted by Myra Helkey. It produces a blade formed of light and shadow and is linked to her name curse.

Lux — An evocation curse that conjures light to illuminate an object or to infuse another curse with light.

Name Curse – A curse that becomes a channel to universal wisp energy which is a kind of oversoul (multiversal spirit). It is a signature curse that determines the nature of a mage’s curse expertise and her level of overall power. Each mage possesses a unique name curse that expresses its magical curse energy in its own particular way.

Macto – An invocation curse used to smite demons, devils, and undead.

Mobilis — A curse that adds motive force to a physical or magical object.

Omnis scienta – A divination curse that allows a mage to project an invisible magical sensor through which she can visualize a subject – usually a person or an object. This sensor will then track the subject.

Praesidia — A protective curse that shields allies or objects from physical and magical harm for a brief period of time. Praesidia can also be patterned into clothes or implements to trigger a protective magical field when damage occurs. Mages like Mori and Beatrice, who often encounter physical and magical danger wear clothes and other objects to generate overlapping protections. Praesidia is ablative. So its effect degrades as more damage accrues.

Pluma – A transmutation curse that slows the rate of fall of the subject. Often used when jumping off tall buildings.

Qaue Mala — A binding curse that sets up a sphere of divine energy focusing inward. Typically used in association with holy ground to imprison devils or demons.

Revelare — An incantation that removes the effects of Ignarus to show the workings of permanent or semi-permanent magics.

Salire — A transmutation curse that enables the subject to make extraordinarily long jumps.

Sana Carnes – Healing curse that repairs damaged flesh.

Scriptum fictus – An alteration curse used to insert forged script into physical or electronic writing.

Somnos – A curse that causes induced sleep in a subject. It’s one that can be resisted, but becomes more difficult to if the subject of the curse has a higher level of physical exhaustion.

Suggero – A suggestion curse used to erode the will of anyone through the use of language. Beatrice is an expert practitioner of suggero.

Teneo – An alteration curse used to hold barriers open.

Una – A channeling curse that allows numerous people to share the effects of a linked curse.

Venenum sa – A healing curse that removes poison from an afflicted creature or person.

Vexare Verberare — An invocation curse that hurls a barrage of destructive magical energy typically focused into three or more explosive projectiles.

Visus capitis – A curse that changes a sensor’s perspective to that of the subject’s head or eyes.

(Want to read the first Chapter of Helkey? You can find it here.)

(Looking for something else? Check out Helkey Contents.)

Helkey 7 – A Mirror Specter on the Beach of Infernia

I’m lying on the ground staring up at a putrid green sky. Trying to fracking breathe. The rotten eggs stench is overwhelming. A hot wind blows over some nearby sand dunes. It’s pretty damn strong – blasting hot sand over my skin which is quickly making it raw. This wind is carrying the stench I’m smelling. No relief from the heat either. Like air blowing out of a furnace.

I lever myself up onto wobbly legs. I look over my shoulder. The Hell Gate I came from is gone. I stare around. Nothing but sand dunes and gnarly scrub plants that look like twisted fingers sprouting serrated blade-shaped yellow leaves nearby. Some of the lower areas are damp and filled with green and purplish mud. To my west, the land rises into a rocky up-thrust among dunes. North and west, the dunes continue, backed by a distant wicked finger of some dark metal structure looming over dead lands. It oozes black smoke. The wind churning over the dunes makes a hollow wailing sound. It’s so crazy-hot I’m already dripping sweat. Thank gods I’m wearing my combat boots. Otherwise, my feet would be scorched five times over.

There is a sound of a bell ringing. It’s weird, out of place. I look around. There is no fracking bell tower – just dunes, those mean ass plants and… my searching eyes alight on a fricking skeleton on the back side of one of the dunes. It’s of some long reptilian creature with wicked looking jaws. Sooo fracking great! The bell rings again. Now I realize it’s familiar, reminding me of Beatrice. Then I remember – I heard the same sound when mom touched my forehead back at Starbucks. The displaced bell rings three more times, telling me that the time is 7-o-frigging clock. Like I need a timepiece in Hell. Well, scratch that, maybe I do.

When the bell stops ringing an apparition appears in the air in front of me. No. It is not Princess Leia. It’s me. I mean, the spitting image of me in the mirror in the damn morning in a nice safe bathroom in not Hell but on normal good ol’ Earth. Well, not literally in the bathroom mirror. A floating image of only me with no background. Just what I look like right after I’ve had a shower – all nicely dressed and clean. Except this me is the one before my current haircut. The hair is longer and tied back in a pony tail. It doesn’t yet have the red streaks. So, spitting image of me from like two weeks ago. 

“Hey Myra,” The apparition says. “I’m the Mirror Specter you made before you took up this crazy ass quest.”

So it’s a quest now, is it? Sand blows around the image as clouds begin to cross the merciless sun. I hardly feel any cooler. Like that mean sun knows where I am and can shoot beams at me even through the clouds. My left hand is dropping sparks like, well, a hand-held sparkler. So I figure the Mirror Specter was set up through my name curse. Probably activated when Beatrice sent me through the Hell Gate. Pretty nifty really. I didn’t know those Specters were used for anything other than magical librarians. And I gotta say, my Mirror Specter is way cooler than those stuffy things. The Specter me is still talking.

“… Since I am here, it means you are fracking there.” The Mirror Specter looks around. “I mean we are there. I mean here. Gods I can’t imagine what you’re thinking now.”

“Hey, don’t rub it in.” I cough the words more than talk them. The air here is vicious. Some kind of poison in it. Too much sulfur. I need to get away from it somehow.

My Mirror Specter looks at me in sympathy. She reaches out to grab my shoulder and then seems to realize she’s insubstantial. Just a ghost. Yeah, not a hologram but a ghost me with a little bit of me in it. A little piece of my soul sent to ride shotgun with me for brief periods down here in Hell. Brief because the magic that keeps it going costs. And my wisp can only recharge so much each day. But still, a little is better than nada. It makes me feel a tiny bit less desolated. Just a tiny bit.  

“I’m here to help and you should listen because I have like maybe a minute left today.” The Specter looks around. “You’re on a Hell’s beach – that’s bad. And it looks like a storm is coming – that’s worse. You need to get off this freaking beach. The air near the water is usually poisonous here, clue? Water in Hell usually equals poison air. So, you need to avoid most surface water.” She looks at my pocket. “We have water?”

I nod in reply to myself and pull the Perrier bottle out halfway to show it to my Specter. This is really fracking weird. How did I suddenly become a fricking drill sergeant?

“Good. Now pay attention. You will need to extend that water as far as you can with the duplici exemplari curse. You know, the Jesus curse?” It was an old joke. I always called duplici the fricking Jesus curse ‘cause you could literally break bread almost endlessly with it. It gave you like x500 the original material. I guess I’ll be drinking Perrier mineral water the whole time. The Mirror me has read my mind. “It might last you a fricking month, but don’t spare. You need to drink constantly here. It is too fricking hot. Drink while I’m talking for gods sake.”

I pick up my Perrier, choke out duplici exemplari, and chug down some of the still-slightly-cool sparkling water. It makes me feel better. A little.

“Now, for part 2, you’re going to need to get off this beach and find some shelter quick. Storms here are gods awful beasties.” She looks around. I can see where she’s looking. There is a sand cliff leading to rocky high ground about a half mile away. The rocks contain crevices and outcroppings. Mirror me points at the rocks. “Go to that and find shelter. It should be high enough. But get to the lee side and go as deep into a rock crevice as you can. Watch out for original owners. Gotta go.” And with that she is blown away in the sandy wind. I feel really weird – like I just lost my best friend.

The wind is picking up now and that sand hurts. But despite my Specter’s warning, I’m curious about what she said. Hell’s beach? That means there’s an ocean nearby? Probably on the other side of those dunes not far from here? Duplici has refilled my Perrier. I take another swig. I really am damn curious to see a Hell’s beach. Screw it, I’m going.

I trudge up toward the dunes. As I get closer, the air grows ever more putrid. I decide to hold by breath. It’s not easy – what air I keep in burns my lungs. I scramble over a rise and look out. Before me is a raging ocean filled with massive waves thrashing in green and purple slime. I can see pink gas rising off wave crests atop the churning toxic soup posing as actual water. Bacteria or algae material that looks like rotting flesh is piling up on shore. The foam over top of it looks like vomit. Skeletons and decaying corpses litter the beach as far as the eye can see. They probably succumbed in the poison air. Most are close to the water line. I realize the risk I’m taking is stupid. Yet I somehow feel so alive in this deadly place as I stand on my bone-cluttered dune. Out over that death sea is an advancing green-black shelf cloud. Beneath it, the ocean looks like an explosion of water and foam rising above the regular water level. I’m reminded of a film I’ve seen about the Indonesian tsunami even though this far off tidal wave like thing is being driven by a storm. The cloud is maybe 20 miles off and moving fast. Well, I saw it. I’m a goddamn Hell tourist. Now time to get the fuck out before that storm rolls in.

I run down behind the dune, still holding my breath. I take about 20 paces before I choke in some more air. It’s terrible, nasty, makes my nose run and eyes water in all kinds of bad ways. The wind is carrying the ocean toxin inland. My next breath is ever so slightly better, but it’s still bad. I’m running on toward the rocks my Mirror pointed toward. Pretty smart really, without me I’d probably be a goner. I may still be a goner. My feet pound the ground as my lungs scream at me. I have to breathe and it hurts to breathe. It’s a frigging Hell version of Catch 22. The exertion is insane as I’m choking on air and running. Behind me, the ocean is starting to growl. It’s the growl of the storm sucking water over rocks, sand, and bodies. Over it all, I hear a strange and wicked howl coming from the direction of the Hell Gate. Now what is that? Maybe the Gate is still partly open? But what could’ve made that noise?

I can’t stop to think too much as I race toward the rocks. But I’m wondering if something happened to Beatrice and Mori back there. I did leave them with three freaking Pride-Eater Demons and Ivan fucking Volkov. Not your run-of-the-mill polite evening company. Not my problem, I think to myself. But I’m worried. The howl carries on for a few more seconds, it seems to travel onward into the wasteland around me. It’s loud, even over the storm. At last, it grows quiet.

I’m still running full tilt. I can breathe a bit better now, which is a godsend, because I was really starting to run out of air. Good thing I don’t have asthma. I’d be done-in for sure. The little weirdo plants are like razor mines. One leaf slashes a small hole in my jeans. Now I’m swerving to avoid them. If I trip and face plant onto one, I’m probably dead. Who knows if they’re poisonous? Why not? The air and water are. Great!

Behind me, the storm is rapidly growing larger. It is big and green and black and mean. A towering wall stretching out over all the ocean as far as I can see. The rotten tsunami wave below it has gotten close enough that I can guess its height. Probably about 30 feet. It’s terrifying, but I’m gaining altitude as rising land has given me a much safer view of the beach. I should have thought of that before I almost killed myself on that poison shore. Hell’s sun is now completely gone — swallowed up in a big white, gray and green cloud top like fifteen miles up. The wind is pelting hard. It beats at me in gusts. Grit riding on it hits me like a power sander. If the wind gets too much stronger it will start to rip through my clothes and flesh. Seriously. No fricking joke. Fat-ass raindrops are starting to fall around me. At least these are cooler. Maybe just a little. Luke cool. They pelt me intermittently bringing with them slight relief. My hair and back are a plaster of wet sand.

Legs are starting to burn now. Running in Hell over sand uphill while breathing sulfurous air is no joke even for someone who prides herself on staying in decent shape. The strong wind pushing from behind is a help to speed me along, though. At last, my feet touch rocky ground. Before me, the outcrop rises up. It’s like lots of fingers of some kind of hard rock clawing out of the sand to poke at sky. They make crevices and canyons between them. They’re also part of a land rise perhaps 100 feet above the shoreline. I don’t even turn around to look back. The wind and sand are now too brutal. I dive into one of those pathways in the rock, make as many little turns as I can to get some shelter from the wind and grit whipping through. I cross behind three separate walls of rock and make my way to shelter in a hollow beneath an overhang before I feel safe. It’s not really a cave. But a cleft that cuts about 10 feet into one of the bigger rocks. There are cracks and crevices that run deeper. But my Mirror’s warning about ‘original owners’ makes me wary of trying to go too far in.

Cooler air wafts out from the holes. It also smells cleaner. I put my back to stone, slide myself down to a semi-comfortable sitting position, pull out my almost endless decanter of Perrier water, take a big gulp and watch the storm rage just outside. I can’t see too much because I picked a pretty protected spot. Relatively high up and wrapped in by a crescent of large stone formations. What I can see is terrifying enough. It gets dark as night outside. Sand and water are hurled around by what must be tornado strength winds. The material is all blowing away from me and I’m sheltered by many walls. So, I’m basically safe. I don’t feel safe. I know if I step outside, I’m going to be picked up like a rag doll and ripped apart by sand-razor-wind in moments. Water coming down in that roaring mess is more than torrential. I’m quickly drenched as it pours and pools in my cleft. Thank goodness I picked a higher place. Otherwise, I’d probably be swimming. This rain water seems kinder than the ocean water. I tentatively taste it. It’s still sulfurous and probably not safe to drink. I stick to my Perrier bottle.

Despite the storm’s outrageous jet-plane roar of noise, I’m getting tired. The water falling in is cool enough to be comforting, the air coming up from the cave is kind. It lulls me. Hell, I’m pretty damned tired. It’s been a long-ass day – all with drinking the memory draught, sneaking into Furze Bank, falling through a Hell-Gate, landing on a Hell beach, breathing poison air while having to run a race through razor plants against the mother of all storms. I look at my name curse. It’s still got a decent amount of magic left in it. My wisp is pretty strong and my parents did their best to use their own magic to get me into Furze Bank. All I’ve done so far is open the Hell-Gate, summon my Mirror Specter and turn my Perrier bottle into an endless refills fountain beverage. All? Hah! That’s actually a lot. But I’ve got a handful of minor curses or a couple more major ones left to me.

A permanent Ignarus curse is already running on my name curse as magical tattoo. It doesn’t always work. But it prevents most mundanes and non-magically-sensitive types from seeing the color changes in it when I use it. It also makes the sparks less obvious to them. Although, as you remember from the Pride-Eaters, it’s not fool-proof. I decide to feed a bit more curse energy into my tattoo’s Ignarus and extend it to my body. I need to rest. But I need to do it with some assurance of safety. I haven’t yet met any of Hell’s live inhabitants. But I don’t want to press my luck. The dead things on the beach didn’t look friendly at all. What should I expect? I’m literally in fracking Hell.

Ignarus amplio, I chant quietly, focusing my energy on the already active curse magic. A couple of stray sparks fall from my tattoo. I feel the curse widen like an electric field. There is a kind of snap and crackle like electricity as Ignarus envelops me.

It’s not perfect. But a girl who just spent the day breaking into Hell and surviving her first frigging encounter with it has gotta sleep. As satisfied as I’m going to be, I close my eyes and allow myself drift off. Sleep comes quick – bringing with it more of those damn ringing bells. As I drift off, I again feel a sense of duplicity. Of occupying two places at once. In one there is hard rock, roaring wind, and lashing water. In the other, there is a sense of floating and sensory deprivation. The combination makes it oddly easier to drift off into deeper sleep.

(Haven’t yet read the first chapter? You can find it here: Helkey 1 — The Memory Draught.)

(Looking for another chapter? Find it in the Helkey Table of Contents.)

Helkey 4 — Greenwash Interns

The elevator door squeaks open. Great. They have a squeaky elevator to a Hell gate toilet opened by demonic interest in a dude who’s also attracted the attention of the worst big bad there ever was EVER. Things just went from terrible to unimaginably catastrophic. The novelty never ceases to amaze. Are my parents really the geniuses I know and love, or am I growing up now to the point that I realize they are complete imbeciles who are going to get me killed in nigh on 50 minutes give or take a few seconds. Jesus holy fuck!

Mori notices my hang-dog expression. “Cheer up baby girl. This will be just like pulling teeth with a door-slam. Bam! Over before you know it!”

Jesus holy fuck doesn’t even begin to cover it. I know Mori’s shit-talking to make me feel better. It’s his way. But sometimes the effect is just the opposite. Beatrice leans closer.

“You got this, Myra. Don’t look like that. We both know you can do this.”

The elevator starts ascending. For me, it’s like one of those SpaceX rocket tests where you know it’s all good for the knowledge of flying metal tubes filled with explosive liquid into space safely and such but the poor rocket is likely a goner. The lobby and surrounding offices shoot by. In a few seconds we plunge into a tube in the ceiling and the experience is more like a normal elevator except for the path of fancy lights ascending to a vanishing point above and seen through the glass elevator walls.

“I got this. Sure, fracking-sure. Because all the stuff I forgot had better be frickin damn good to make this worthwhile.”

“Oh it is,” Beatrice replies.

We’re about half-way to the top floor when Mori begins to cast a spell. He reaches out to put a hand on my shoulder, then does the same with Beatrice.

Una,” He incants. In that moment we are joined in magic – as one company. In this case a trio. Then, lifting his hand, he draws a circle in the air. “Omnis scienta,” he says. I dizzy a bit as my perspective shifts to an invisible point within the elevator. Mori lifts a strand of hair from some stash on his person. “Ivan Volkov,” he states to complete the curse. The hair, which must be one of Volkov’s, burns up in a flash. Immediately, the invisible sensor goes into motion. Our perspective lurches as it floats up through the elevator. Moving more swiftly than our ascent, it blurs through floor after floor, whisking by the dwindling remaining workers, through empty halls, past dark rooms. At last, it comes to an office door with a gold-plated name label upon it. The sensor phases through.

A brief darkness and then the sensor is suddenly in the not-at-all divine presence of Ivan Volkov. His is a large corner office with two walls made of glass window overlooking the picturesque Berlin skyline – now fading into red dusk edged with flashes of lightning. A large and mostly clean desk faces the door, beside which is a burgundy couch. On the left interior wall cattycorner the door is a big-ass picture of a sprawling tar sands mining operation. The Mordor-esque photo is enlarged to the point that feels like it’s smacking me in the face. In it, plumes of toxic smoke billowing from coils of metal tubes stretch for hundreds of meters in every direction. Here and there, flares of yellow or blue flame top the bitumen-to-oil refining towers. Little eyes of Sauron winking through the smog. Squat dump trucks — dwarfing any 18-wheeler I’ve seen — crawl through a ripped expanse. Black rivers pump poison like the veins of an anti-heart. Giving death rather than life. It’s eye-sore, horror scene, and action of gory violence against Mother Earth all wrapped up together. Literal Hell on Earth. And it covers most of one of his walls.

Near it is a table arrayed with a glass case containing some snacks and supporting a pod-style coffee machine. Ivan Volkov is standing in front of this table. He’s a small man of stocky build. Once a Brazilian jujitsu amateur competitor, he still keeps his muscular physique. His hair is shaved close to the skull. His face is blank, pale. A hooked if somewhat squashed nose. Semi-pointy ears, reminding me of a Tolkien goblin, sprout from the sides. Thin lips that seem to easily snarl cover overly white teeth. Eyes of faded blue like those of a wolf peer out. He’s fiddling with the coffee machine, cursing in Russian.

“Proklyatyy sekretar’ nikogda ne gotovit kofe,” He mutters.

“Classy,” Mori narrates. “He’s complaining about how his secretary never makes coffee.”

“I wouldn’t make him coffee either. He’s clearly capable of doing it himself,” I scoff.

“Is he, now?” Says Beatrice.

At that point Ivan exclaims loudly as the machine shoots coffee grounds into his cup and all over his shirt.

“Nyet! Nyet! Nyet!” He shouts, which needs no translation from Mori. I laugh despite myself as the red-faced Volkov opens a small closet door, still cursing, produces a new polo shirt, this one garishly pink, strips his now ruined yellow polo and puts this hideous thing on. He glares one last time at the pod machine, shifts to the glass snack case instead, pulls out a half-eaten bran muffin and takes a surprisingly dainty bite from it as he turns toward the door.

I blink my eyes and my perspective shifts as the elevator door woosh-squeaks open. We’ve arrived at the top floor hallway. I can still see the omnis scienta granted vision of Volkov as semi-transparent in mid-air. He’s walking down some long hall, nom, noming at his bran muffin. The vision is quickly interrupted by a tall and lanky, bespectacled, old man wearing a white button-down shirt and khaki pants. He lunges toward us from the hallway as the elevator door opens. He’s holding up his cell phone which he has on speaker. Behind him is another security guard. This one in a black uniform and carrying a holstered firearm. Looks like possible federal police assigned to the building. Oh fricking great. The voice of that pesky guard from downstairs is blaring from the tall man’s phone.

“Lord, my head hurts!” shouts the voice in English.

“Never mind that,” says the tall man in front of us. “They’re here now. I need the names.”

“They said they were the Jansens. No! Nansens! They said they had an appointment. I thought I saw it on the list but I …”

Mori subtly turns a nob on his black brief-case and the cell signal splutters out. Sometimes technology is the best counter to tech. Curses are for the living and for the dead – as the case may be. While Mori deals with the cell signal, Beatrice steps forward and puts on her best shy expression. Dear gods she’s even blushing!

“F.. F… Felix?” she stammers, looking seeming-nervously at the guard. “I suggero … I mean we are your new interns. The downstairs guard was really confused! I’m afraid he looked at the wrong list. You do remember our scheduled tour for this evening, don’t you? I’m so very sorry…”

The guard behind the guy I assume is Felix Azriel visibly relaxes under Beatrice’s curse. But Felix seems to struggle with it. I find the situation to be beautifully ironic. Anyone paying attention knows Furze Bank is source for a thousand vulture investments the world over. Yet they always wrap their cruddy projects up in sicko-sweet market copy. They’re pros at cutting deals and funneling funds from various dark groups into manifold harmful works. All while tossing up enough mind-fog to keep the public unaware. Now top Furze exec Felix is struggling with our own brand of mind-fog. Looks a lot like poetic justice from where I’m standing.

“I’m…” he looks at his phone with a baffled expression, grasping for help from the now-silenced front desk guard. But the phone is dead. Zero bars. I can see it from where I’m standing, trying not to laugh. He sways on his feet, pivoting his eyes away from Beatrice and toward Mori. Beatrice the elf-girl mom could probably still pass as intern-aged. But Mori, though fit, wears his 44 years plain as day. Felix cranes his head around – it makes me imagine an awkward ostrich – getting a good eyeful of Mori from a total of at least 120 degrees. “Intern?” is all he manages as the curse struggles to grab hold of his perception.

I’m tempted to use my faetor oculorum on him to see what’s up. He’s giving Beatrice’s curse a run for its money. But I can still also see good ol’ Ivan through Mori’s omnis scienta sensor noming his bran muffin and trailing crumbs as he makes his way to a door on the tower’s northern side. Adding another layer would further confuse my loaded senses. So I pass. But man, this place must be crawling with demonic influence. I guess I’m the only person that’s actually close to intern age. So I figure I’ll help my folks out just a little. Not like I’m raring to go to Hell or anything. But there is the supposed good of the mission and all that jazz. Not like I would know a damn thing about it.

I step forward and thrust my hand out toward Felix. “Ira Jansen from across the pond states-side. You must be Mr Azriel. Been back home recently? Gotta say it’s a real pleasure to meet ya-dude. Can’t say how awesome it’s gonna be working here this summer.”

Felix, seems even more startled by me in my not-at-all formal dress complete with spiked wrist band. He springs back – as if suddenly surprised by a nasty trick-or-treater. “Halloo,” he says as he lifts his arms comically. Still seeming at a loss, he turns his wrist and looks at his diamond-studded Rolex. “Now would you look at that? 5:47. I guess it is time for an intern tour of the top floor executive suites after all.” The curse has finally broken through.

And with that Felix begins his tour. He leads us on a swift circuit – briefly explaining titles and job functions of the senior executive staff. He opens a few offices, makes a few uninformative statements about the purpose and resident of each. Most are empty. After about 15 minutes, we enter an office occupied by a raccoon-faced man whom Felix introduces as Mr. Brian Gannon. Gannon has his nose in a tablet computer. In his hand is a glass of what must be whiskey from his personal office mini bar. He raises a hand and waves at us with two fingers without even looking up. Muttering to himself, he thumbs through a couple of pages, making us wait.

Felix clears his throat. His eyes look more focused now and there is an air of excited energy. “Mr Gannon, could you please briefly explain to our interns what their summer project will be?”

Gannon seems to wake up. He lifts his eyes, noticing our motley assemblage for the first time. “I suppose eccentricity is indeed the gateway to genius,” he says as much to himself as to anyone present. Then, more directly addressing us — “Well, you see, Felix and I are very excited to get you involved in our new project.”

Felix nods and his eyes seem to glisten. If he lost his poker-face, you can’t really blame him too much. Suggero often has a side effect of making emotional states more visibly obvious. “Yes, the project. Very high profit potential.”

Judging by the look in Felix’s eyes, ‘profit potential’ is a pretty magical term. I have a flash memory of reading The Hobbit as a child and coming to the part where the dwarves first encounter Smaug’s towering heaps of treasure. A great spell of lust falls over them – inspiring all kinds of bad behavior. I imagine they had the same beady-eyed expression Felix does now. I’m pretty sure I don’t need any curse-enhanced senses to see what kind of demonic influence has wrapped its oily tendrils around Felix. Mori may be an expert with his rifle, but I’m a dead-eye for greed.

Gannon, who was practically undead a moment before, is now quite animated. “So you see, we’ll have you helping the planet.” He twirls his fingers in the air as if he’s flicking off an after-thought. “We’re joining with lots of banks to sponsor it for North-Central U.S. The company is Pont de Boue, a pipeline builder. They’re laying out a line from Canada to the U.S. But what’s great that you’re going to do is talk publicly about the solar panels that will be funded through pipeline construction.” He grins ghoulishly.

Beatrice looks at me and simply says – “don’t.”

I can’t help myself. It’s like a sneeze. “Interesting. So how many glittery solar panels?”

“A big offset. Maybe even twenty sparkling megawatts. You should be super-excited to take part.”

He reminds me of a mean uncle dangling a lollipop in front of a baby and watching her struggle to grab it. What would I taste if I did but the thin candy shell of greenwash over a nasty gobbet of toxic crud? No wonder there’s an Asmodeus interest here. Devils certainly do covet our wisps as a kind of power currency. But they’re also keenly interested in what they call ‘blood of Earth.’ Sacrificing life-giving lands to the looting interests of short-term gain is a quick path to attracting diabolical influence. Slashing and burning forests and tilling salt into fields was the old blood of Earth. Gouging holes into the land. Breaking it. Stripping it. All to unleash liquids, rocks, and gases made up of the millions-years dead, for burning in Satanic Mills. That’s the diabolical ‘modern advancement’ on the old blood of Earth concept. The story of Faust, one of our mage progenitors who was ensnared by Hell, foretells a hint of it. What does the Devil want in return for giving you what you desire, after all? Your ultimate ruin — body and soul. “So you’re funding the tar sands pipe? The one running over unspoiled lands and through clean waters? Lands where people live?”

Gannon points at me with the finger holding his whiskey glass and gives me a wicked grin. His yellowing eyes leer. He has no shame. He seems to take pride in it. “Oil sands. We don’t say tar sands here. Besides, your own work will help.” He waves his empty hand dismissively, then glances over at Mori with raised eyebrows. “Youth these days are very interested in green. We believe the venture has a great future.”

I suppose he thinks interns are easy fools. Maybe most who seek a summer job at Furze Bank are. Or maybe Brian Gannon just doesn’t give a flip. That tar sands pipe he’s funding is a fuse rammed into literal buried mountains of combustible Earth blood. For the Earth’s gown of life-giving air, it’s titanic heat bomb. One of the biggest on the planet. And blowing the whole thing up would pack the temperature-raising punch of lighting off two thermonuclear Hiroshima bombs every second. Continuously. For thousands of years. Mordor candles indeed. Considering how hot and wicked the climate has gotten lately, we sure as hell don’t need any more of those. What he wants us ‘interns’ to do is put a young face on some token solar to turn public eyes away from their Hell-to-pay ruined lands, wicked weather, and burning tar goop.  

“Why not just build a crap-ton more solar instead?” I say. Can’t let it go just yet. Though I know the real answer. It’s all in the grab hold of as much of that dragon’s hoard as you can mindset. Devils love it. It’s their literal stock and trade.

“Well, you’ll learn over the summer, then won’t you?” The misdirection comes naturally to Gannon. Like a hat trick. Man, is this guy a real piece of work.

Beatrice is trying to keep smiling. I decide to relent. No reason to troll a troll further. Gannon blithers on for a few more minutes – spewing out mangled facts and massaged figures. I look away, wondering what our Ivan’s up to now.

Omnis scienta continues to run in the background like a hologram. On the other side of the tower, I can see that Volkov has stopped to talk with a female executive. She appears to have him cornered and is asking him question-after-question about something having to do with eastern finances. Ivan keeps a straight face, finishes his muffin, and nimbly sprinkles the remnant crumbs behind him as he answers – “Da… Da? Da.” to her queries.

Felix breaks away from Gannon, who drifts back to his touchpad as we leave his office, settling back into flabbergasted after his brief moment of greed-induced-clarity. The suggero curse keeps having to adjust as his eyes shift around wildly. He leads us down a final hallway. He stops in a break room through a side door, opens up a fridge, and jerkily pulls out a glass bottle of Perrier sparkling water for each of us. I pocket mine. Could be useful later. Then as he starts to steer us back toward the elevator, Beatrice steps in once more.

“Thank you so much for your generous hospitality, Mr Azriel. I suppose we should be going now? No need to worry about escorting us. We know the way and I’m sure you’re very busy,” Beatrice says as she nods toward the door. She’s dismissing him. I’m eating it up.

Felix pauses, shrugs his shoulders in a strange gesture that looks like both rebellion and acquiescence, then, without another word, he abruptly lurches off. The guard who met us at the elevator is also long-gone. We are at last alone and left to our own devices. No more posing as greenwash interns. I am the opposite of relieved.

(Haven’t yet read the first chapter? You can find it here: Helkey 1 — The Memory Draught.)

(Looking for another chapter? Find it in the Helkey Table of Contents.)

Helkey Table of Contents

Welcome to the Helkey table of contents. Click on the links below (in red) to read or listen to each chapter.

Into Infernia

Chapter 1The Memory Draught

Myra’s just drank a potion that wiped out a good chunk of her memory. She soon learns she did it voluntarily! But the big kicker is the reason why.

Chapter 2The Golden Throne

Myra discovers she’s headed toward a Hell Gate at the top of a big bank building in Berlin. The gate opens up in a room with a golden toilet.

Chapter 3A Gilded Tower Among the Pyrocumulus

Myra, Beatrice, and Mori make their way to Furze Bank HQ in the steaming environs of a Berlin and Germany reeling from the effects of climate crisis. They need to find a slick way to get Myra in.

Chapter 4Greenwash Interns

Posing as interns, Myra and company use their curse magic to fool bank executive Felix Azriel into giving them a tour. Meanwhile, Ivan Volkov begins his journey to the Golden Throne and Hell Gate.

Chapter 5Hell Gate in the Arch of Time

A Hell Gate opens in the executive water closet at the top of Furze Bank HQ. It is powered by the interest of demons called Pride Eaters who’ve been attracted by Ivan’s self-deification. Beatrice and Mori come up with a crafty plan to sneak Myra through the Gate.

Chapter 6Exorcising the Demon-Wolf

As Myra disappears through the Gate, Beatrice and Mori are left to deal with the dangerous Pride-Eaters and the equally troublesome Ivan Volkov.

Chapter 7A Mirror Specter on the Beach of Infernia

Arriving on a Hell’s Beach, Myra faces down against the extreme environment of Hell. She receives unexpected help from someone very familiar to her.

Chapter 8Saving Mottle

Myra shelters in a rocky spire from a vicious Hell-Storm. But the place is populated by various beasties.

Chapter 9St Mary’s Healing Angel

Beatrice is wounded, Ivan is unruly. What is Mori going to do? Fortunately, he has a plan.

Chapter 10Appeals to a Wolf’s Heart and Baiting the Devil

While at Marienkirche, Mori and Sadie have a heart-to-heart with Ivan Volkov. Sadie makes a surprising offer to Asmodeus’s Chosen.

Chapter 11A Curse Rider Goes Forth

Gibbens Crane rides forth upon his Nightmare from Fortress Invicti to begin his hunt for Beatrice and Mori.

Chapter 12Strange Dreams and Stranger Food

Myra has weird dreams. Mottle provides a horrifying Hell survival tip.

Chapter 13Devil Poachers

Mottle and Myra journey to the terrible domain of Overseer Tower. Seeking shelter, they encounter a dangerous diabolical duo.

Chapter 14Liberator of Souls

Mottle and Myra venture into the vile depths of Poacher’s Cave. There they forge an unlikely alliance.

Chapter 15Ivan the Troll Quits Church, Gets Triggered

Ivan goes on a late night drinking binge — causing trouble for Mori and Beatrice.

Chapter 16Glenda Goodfuture and the Solar Train to Denmark

Sadie, Mori, Beatrice and Ivan set out for the Heaven Gate on a Solar Train. Meanwhile, clever Sadie springs another surprise.

Chapter 17 Gibbens Crane Ghosts Jet Blue

The diabolical Curse Rider — Gibbons Crane — terrorizes the skies of Earth aboard Jet Blue as he begins to hunt Mori and Beatrice in earnest.

Chapter 18Devil-Hunted Tracks

Mori, Beatrice, Sadie and Ivan are hunted by the Curse Rider and his hellish gang of Berserkers while riding the solar train to Hamburg.

Chapter 19 – A Rebellion in Hell

Goaded on by Mirror-Specter — Myra, Mottle, Theri, Zaya and Zel decide to launch a rebellion against Hell.

Chapter 20 — Devil Drivers in a Button Hook

Myra and company venture out to track down Cyda. On the way, they experience a surprise encounter.

Chapter 21 — The Wisp Fields of Knife Lake

After scavenging the scorpion’s wreckage, Myra and co. make an amazing discovery.

Chapter 22 – Ill-Fated Company

Myra, Mottle, Theri, Zel and Zaya seek shelter for themselves and the dozens of wisps they’ve liberated from the slaver Devils called Drivers.

Chapter 23 – Queen of Drivers and Overseers

Regina Rouge, Hell Lord and Queen of Overseer Tower, suspects a threat to her power.

Chapter 24 – Flight to Esbjerg with a Nightmare in the Sky

Mori, Beatrice and Sadie get desperate as the Curse Rider closes in for the kill.

Chapter 25 – Mobile Holy Ground

Sadie’s plan to deal with the Curse Rider begins to unfold.

Chapter 26Fire and Escape

Mori, Beatrice and Sadie try to escape as a fire set by Berserkers encroaches.

Chapter 27Into The North Sea’s Jagged Teeth

Mori, Beatrice and Sadie meet with Finn and Glenda as they begin their storm-tossed voyage to Wind-Sun Isle.

Chapter 28 — Curse Rider on a Kaiju Storm

Gibbons returns to his hunt on the wings of a Nightmare storm.

Chapter 29 – Battle of Sunken Crag, A Devils’ Dance

Myra, Mottle, Zaya, Zel, Theri and their newly liberated wisps as Urdrakes, Plumacats, and Mottles begin to confront the forces of Overseer Tower.

Chapter 30 — Battle of Sunken Crag, Predators’ Games

Myra tries to turn a recent skirmish into a larger success. Meanwhile, Grimjaw hunts his favored prey.

Chapter 31 — Battle of Sunken Crag, Desperate Moves

Myra and Lavross throw everything they’ve got into the fight.

Chapter 32 — Battle of Sunken Crag, Thunderbolts Rise

Myra springs a major surprise to draw Lavross into a trap.

Chapter 33 — Battle of Sunken Crag, Dark Web Revelations

Myra consolidates a recent victory. Meanwhile, Regina uses the Minosian Web to reveal shocking truths about her mage foe.

Chapter 34 — Battle of Sunken Crag, Darkest Pit, Brightest Light

Myra battles the devil Overseer Dressler at Sunken Crag.

Chapter 35 – Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Hell’s Platform

Gibbons Crane springs an Ambush as Sadie, Beatrice, Mori, Ivan, Glenda and company approach Wind-Sun Isle aboard a storm-tossed Sun Shepherd.

Chapter 36 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Belonging to the Kingdom of the Dead

The Nightmare hunts Sun Shepherd through a storm.

Chapter 37 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Sea Wolf

Gibbons Crane catches Sun Shepherd, summoning Pride Eater demons, he attacks the vessel.

Chapter 38 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Bright Spark at Eventide

Chapter 39 — Glenda Goodfuture’s Stairway to Heaven

Chapter 40 – The Fall of Overseer Tower

Chapter 41 – Wavesong, The Council of Merrin

Chapter 42 — Lady of Hell’s Rebellion

The Madness of Mechanum

Killer Devils

Slaver Prison

Fortress Invincible and the Lake of Fire

Chapter XXX — The Lake of Fire (Pending)

To Die

Rain of Stars

The Worlds of Helkey, Magic, Shorts, Characters, and Announcements

Helkey Lore (Ongoing Updates)

Arisen Worlds in Discordant Entanglement

Helkey Map Archive


Helkey Curses (Ongoing Updates)

The Mysteries of Myra’s Magical Tattoo as Name-Curse

Myra’s Memory Draught — Lost Things, Remembered Things


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