Hex You by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
Amphitrite, Goddess of the Sea, spurned and discarded by witch Hunter Goode, is sneaking along the shores of Goode Lake, eavesdropping on crazed zealot Jana Ashley. Thinking she's going to find some fornicators in the lake, Jana actually finds a body. As she cries out against the devil who is clearly responsible for this body, Amphitrite appears. Jana, thinking Amphitrite is God, asks for help. Amphitrite tells her she must destroy the witches Hunter and Mercy Goode.
Hunter rides her bike to the doum palm in search of Guardian Khenti Amenti, trying to find Mercy, but instead she's greeted by six other warriors who refuse to answer to her. Xena, cat woman and familiar, runs up to meet Hunter and together they ride off in search of Mercy. Mercy, meanwhile, is in Duat, the Egyptian underworld, with Khenti and his mother, Meryt. Khenti has just killed a ton of demon baboons in order to keep them hidden. Mercy, with the blessing of the Egyptian goddess Hathor, uses her green witch powers to create a shadowing spell over Khenti's mother's home. Properly hidden, they begin to try to figure out how to contact Hunter again, but then, they get a message from her. She has found them!
Hunter is at the doum palm trying to figure out a way to get to Mercy when Jax and Emily show up. Hunter, with her cosmic powers from Tyr and her twin connection to Mercy, is able to contact her sister, but soon, Amphitrite shows up. She threatens Hunter, still mad about being banished from her side, see book two!, and tells Hunter that the townsfolk are coming for her and Jax and Emily back this up. Amphitrite offers her help, but we all know that she's going to take something in return, then she threatens Jax and Emily. Oh no. Hunter lifts a poppet she brought for exactly this purpose and begins tying it with string, binding the goddess's body with Tyr's power. Now that she has the power of a goddess in the palm of her hand and Amphitrite is bound and unable to harm anyone (sure, uh huh), Hunter knows she can use it to create a portal to retrieve her sister and Khenti, and she does!
Once everyone is back together, they head to Hunter and Mercy's house where Jax tells them about the body of the woman found at the lake. Khenti has planned to go back to the Egyptian underworld to help his mother, but when he learns that there are murderers in the area, he decides to stay because it is his warrior's duty, even though his father stripped him of that and all the rest of his powers. Xena tells him that his father may have taken away his status as guardian, but he cannot take his power, and to prove it, she tells him to summon his magical weapon, his khopesh, which he's able to do with no problem. They decide that they're going to appeal to Osiris for his mother's freedom and also stop everyone in town from thinking they're witches who will bring about the end of the world.
Jax and Emily leave, Hunter goes to bed and Xena goes to clean up the catnip toys from the guest bedroom, so Mercy takes this opportunity alone with Khenti to show him her greenhouse. He's never heard of a tomato before, which is a shame because they are the best, but he enjoys being in the greenhouse because it reminds him of his mother. He also enjoys Mercy, and they kiss, but Mercy wants to take things slow with Khenti because of how shitty Kirk was, and they did just break up a few days ago. Xena calls them back inside, and Mercy begins telling Khenti all about toilets before they go to sleep.
Amphitrite, her body being banished, is now nothing more than pissed off vapor. She floats invisibly around Goodeville looking for any way to harm Hunter and she's found perhaps the perfect way. She spots Jax on the football field during practice with his phone out and when she tries to speak to him, he distractedly runs into someone else. Jax isn't affected by Amphitrite's whisperings because he loves Hunter so much, so she tells the boy he ran into that he did it on purpose because of the witches and that they need to burn. He tries to fight Jax, but Jax is like, you're being stupid, and leaves.
Hunter is sitting at a burger place, ordering a shake and fries, waiting on Jax to meet her. Hunter is worried that Jax is going to tell her he hates her and that they can’t be friends anymore, but he only gets close to that. He is still her best friend, but he wants her to dissolve the love spell he put on him and Kylie because Kylie seems to be obsessed with him instead of in love with him. Hunter explains everything to Jax, that Amphitrite tricked her and made her use blood magic to power a spell book and made her kill a homeless person and that Jax’s mother saw her using blood magic and then Hunter denied it now everyone thinks she’s crazy. Kylie comes in and, now a little miffed, Jax leaves with her. Before they exit, Kylie tells Hunter that everyone in town was right about her being a witch and dumps a chocolate shake on her. Hunter thinks that she needs to leave Goodeville behind.
As Hunter heads home, covered in chocolate shake with plans to retrieve and destroy Amphitrite's spell book, minus the page she needs to break the spell between Jax and Kylie, Nure-Onna lurks around near the body she drained, but then she realizes that she is desiccating, so she slithers back into her hole at the cherry tree and back into the Japanese underworld. Amphitrite floats to the cherry tree a short while later and summons Nure-Onna, convincing her to do her bidding.
Later, Hunter calls Jax to go with her to check to see if the cherry tree is healed. It's not, and at first Hunter is surprised, but then she realizes that the spell she used to heal it was given to her by Amphitrite, so it obviously wouldn't do what Hunter thought it would because Amphitrite is a crazy goddess bent on revenge. As Hunter and Jax examine the tree, they find a small hole surrounded by weird mucus and they determine that the creature that killed the woman by the lake came from this hole and left this trail. But what could it be? Hunter tries to use her ley line magic to find out, but the magic doesn't work. That's... weird.
While Hunter and Jax are at the Japanese gate, Mercy, Emily and Khenti are preparing to check out the Hindu gate. Before they leave, Mercy and Emily talk, bff to bff. Emily tells Mercy how selfish and inconsiderate she's been and how she never thinks of anyone but herself and Mercy finally listens, thank goodness.
They gather their supplies and go to the banyan tree but the tree smells horrible, so Emily stays behind while Mercy and Khenti try to heal it. Mercy pukes and then tries to summon power from the ley line, but it doesn't work very well. She asks the tree if anything has passed through it from the underworld and it says no, so that's good, but the tree is getting sick, which isn't good at all. Mercy and Khenti then talk about him returning to his mother in the Egyptian underworld, but he won't leave until he helps Mercy. She wishes they could stay together forever, but that's probably not going to happen. As they leave the tree, planning to get pizza, Mercy feels like someone is watching them from the nearby cornfield.
Someone was watching. Kirk the douchebag gets kicked off the football team for assaulting the twins, so he already hates them, but as he spots Mercy and Khenti working on the Hindu gate at the banyan tree, Amphitrite wafts up on a salty breeze and tells him to make them pay. He thinks Mercy has been cheating on him with Khenti which makes him even angrier, so there's no telling what he's going to do.
Nure-Onna has been tasked by Amphitrite to watch out for Jax and Kylie and she spots Kylie out in a field with her friends. Amphitrite has promised Nure-Onna that she can be with her drowned child again if she helps her destroy the witches, and that's all she has ever wanted. She sneaks up, ready to strike, but listens first. She hears the group of girls discussing the witches and the loss of their mother. Kylie tells them to stop talking badly about them and they do, but then she tries to call Jax and gets Hunter instead. This is when they're at the restaurant. Just as Nure-Onna is about to strike, an adult comes by and Kylie rushes away.
Mercy, Emily and Khenti leave the banyan tree and head to the pizzeria to pick up dinner, including Xena's tuna and cheese pizza. As they approach main street, the air gets humid and they see adults fighting over petty arguments and road rage. It's very odd. Mercy thinks she hears the sound of waves, but she must be mistaken. They go inside to get their food and the restaurant owner says he has had to kick three people out that day, which is not usual at all.
Back at home, they discuss their day and how everyone seems to be going bonkers. They decide that maybe another witch has hexed the town, but Xena would know if another witch was around. Khenti believes it is a water monster causing the problems because every incident has involved water or the air had been heavy with it at the time. No one thinks of Amphitrite because they believe she was banished. Hunter and Jax describe the hole at the bottom of the Cherry tree, so they decide that the monster is from the Japanese underworld, but they don't know who or what it could be. Time to research!
While Mercy and Khenti Google, Hunter plans to read her tarot cards and then go to sleep, but instead she makes a to-do list. She plans to find out what the goo creature is, stop it, fix Kylie/remove the spell she did on her to make her love Jax, leave Goodeville and finish her book. She goes to talk to Mercy and Khenti, but determines they don't need her at all, so she goes to bed.
The next day, Mercy finds that Khenti has been googling and found incorrect information about ancient Egypt and also what the water monster probably is... a Nure-Onna, a Japanese water demon that is part snake, part sad woman who lures mostly women to their deaths in or near water with the sounds of a crying baby. When the victim investigates, the Nure-Onna strikes, poisoning them into paralysis and draining them of their blood. That sounds about right! They decide that after school, they're going to search for snake skins, but right now, Mercy wants to do a spell with Hunter.
The twins go to Mercy's greenhouse and she apologizes to Hunter for being a selfish bitch and then they do a twin love spell that is super silly but sweet to try to heal their relationship. It mostly works, but when they try to summon the ley line to seal the spell, it doesn't respond to either of them. That just can't be right. Not knowing what to do, they go back inside, but their relationship is much better. They talk about Khenti and how much Mercy likes him even though they haven't known each other for long and how much they miss their mom. Xena rushes them off to school after this, and the sisters question whether, while they're away at school, Xena will trick Khenti into eating a sparrow, her favorite snack while she's in cat form.
Hunter and Mercy get to school a little earlier than usual and find keys on the ground belonging to a cheerleader. Mercy badmouths them at first, but Hunter calls her out and they decide that they're going to find the cheerleaders and be nice. As they explain that they are witches but they're not bad and help the cheerleaders carry tumbling mats to their practice field, they find the cheerleading coach's corpse in the cornfield. As the cheerleaders scream and cry and call for help, Hunter and Mercy look around for clues. They spot a snakeskin and know the creature they need to find is a Nure-Onna.
Amphitrite is angry at Nure-Onna for eating the cheerleading coach, but there's nothing to be done about it now. She threatens the snake woman that she will not reunite her with her son if she doesn't do as she's told and kill Kylie… or, she adds as an afterthought… the cat!
Later in the school day, Hunter sits, thinking about her to-do list and decides to cross one item off: break the spell between Kylie and Jax. She asks to be excused from her class and finds Jax and Kylie in the cafeteria and takes them outside to a secluded spot. She pulls the page from the spell book that she kept and tells Kylie to set it on fire and tells Jax to bury the ashes. Spell broken, Kylie slaps Hunter and storms away. Jax follows, but he still likes Hunter, unlike Kylie.
That evening, there is a vigil at the school stadium for the cheerleading coach and nearly everyone in town is there, including Amphitrite. She spreads her hatred around and makes the air heavy with humidity. Jax's mom Jana is trying to convince other mothers that Hunter and Mercy are witches who are worshiping the devil when Amphitrite leads Kirk to aid her. They team up and convince the other mothers to consult with their husbands, as is only proper according to the Bible, to decide what to do about the witches.
Nure-Onna desperately wants to do Amphitrite's bidding so the goddess will reunite her with her lost son. As she's thinking about that, Amphitrite calls to her, letting her know that the cat is nearby. As Nure-Onna goes to strike at Xena who is stalking bird prey, Amphitrite tells her not to kill the cat, only to injure it. Nure-Onna strikes with her claws leaving a gash in Xena's shoulder, but Xena gets a few good scratches in, too.
Hunter, Mercy and Khenti are waiting for Xena to get home from hunting birds and are talking about their day. Hunter and Mercy are pretty much hated by everyone and so they decide they need to watch some Buffy the Vampire Slayer to feel better. They pop some popcorn and get ready to binge while also working out a plan to kill the Nure-Onna. Mercy has an idea but just as she's about to share it, a brick comes flying through the window with a Bible verse on it. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Oh that's just great. Khenti rushes out to see if he can catch the culprit, but no. Mercy calls the police but the receptionist tells them that there's nothing the sheriff can do since no one is hurt and they didn't see who did it, but maybe if they came to church more, someone would be willing to help. Just as we think the night can't get any worse, Xena comes in, bloody, says something about the snake and Amphitrite and then passes out.
The next day, Hunter leaves to talk to Kylie so Mercy, Khenti and Xena, then later Emily, develop a plan to trap the Nure-Onna. Xena, who is perfectly, divinely healed, tells her tale of what happened the night before and how she saw Amphitrite even though Hunter banished her. Apparently Hunter only banished Amphitrite's body, so though she can't physically hurt them without corporeal form, she can still mist around the townsfolk, fucking shit up, and use Nure-Onna to attack them, which is why they have to kill the Nure-Onna. They plan to hide cat Xena in a tree and have her yowl like a baby to lure the Nure-Onna. When she approaches the tree, either from their world or from the Japanese underworld, Khenti will surprise attack and cut her head off with his khopesh.
Hunter meets up with Kylie at the burger place and Kylie tells Hunter that they're not friends. Jax arrives and tries to smooth things over, but Kylie is resolute. Mercy texts to tell Hunter the crying-baby-Xena plan and that they're going to meet up at the cherry tree, so Hunter asks Jax if he wants to go help. He agrees and oddly, so does Kylie. She wants to see Hunter's witchiness in person to understand it even though both Hunter and Jax tell her it's not a good idea that she come.
Mercy, Emily, Khenti and Xena arrive at the cherry tree first to find it's still very sick. Hunter, Jax and Kylie arrive shortly after and Mercy questions why Kylie is there and Kylie questions everything, very rudely. Mercy then tells Hunter about banishing Amphitrite's body not her spirit and they know that she's been floating around, messing with everyone. Mercy and Hunter want to keep everyone not directly involved with the Nure-Onna killing plan far away but that doesn't work because of course it doesn't. Emily and Jax stay nearby and Kylie sits a little farther away, thinking and probably judging and just not being very nice. Xena begins her magnificent crying baby yowl and, soon enough, the Nure-Onna comes.
Prior to everyone's arrival at the cherry tree, Nure-Onna slithered out in hopes of finding someone the goddess wanted dead to placate her so she would reunite Nure-Onna with her son, but she didn't find anyone, so she swam through the lake. She decided she would check by the field again where she saw Kylie the first time and where she ate the cheerleading coach. As luck would have it, Kylie is there now! Alone!
Hunter rushes toward Kylie when she lets loose a bloodcurdling scream, and Jax, Mercy and Khenti are not far behind. Hunter tackles Kylie as the Nure-Onna rears back to strike, but then she and Kylie slip around in the Nure-Onna's goo trying to get away. Mercy arrives and tries to block the huge serpent as her jaw unhinges and she prepares to attack, but then Khenti swoops in, swinging his khopesh. The Nure-Onna's head slides to the ground and she disintegrates into a puddle of goo. Hooray! The Nure-Onna is dead! But then Hunter sees blood trailing down her arm and she realizes it's not hers, it's Mercy's. She was struck by the Nure-Onna's poisonous fangs.
The poison of the Nure-Onna works quickly and Mercy is already becoming paralyzed. Everyone rushes to her side, trying to help, but it is Xena who knows what to do. Xena calls upon Goode witches past, casts a spell, and gives her immortality away to Mercy. As Mercy sits up, Xena crumples to the ground. DON'T WORRY EVERYONE, SHE'S JUST TIRED. The group departs, Jax taking a hysterical Kylie home, and Emily driving everyone else back to the Goode house.
Mercy tells Hunter that as she was paralyzed, she saw Amphitrite appear above them as mist, laughing at what happened, gloating that she will kill everyone Hunter loves. Well that sounds ominous! Mercy then asks what Xena did to save her. Xena explains that she gave away her spark of immortality which paused the Nure-Onna's poison from spreading, but it is still in Mercy's system. Mercy will live, but Xena isn't sure for how long, but hopefully they'll figure out a way to rid Mercy's body of the toxin. Xena also shares that since she has given away her immortality, she will now age and die like a regular cat, though she can still change her form, but that doesn't stop the situation from being completely devastating.
Hunter decides to make soup while everyone else watches Buffy, but she can't handle what's happening. Xena checks on her and they talk about how they both know there is no saving Mercy from the poison of the Nure-Onna, but neither of them know how long she has left. Hunter laments that if she had more magic, maybe there would be something she could do to save her other half, but then she realizes they are two halves of one whole Goode witch, so maybe that's why things aren't working well for them. Dejected, Hunter takes her incomplete to-do list from her pocket and tries to throw it away but… it gets up on tiny spindly legs and walks back to her. Oh shit. That's weird. And it means she's the chosen one, which she announces as the credits on an episode of Buffy roll. Perfect timing.
Jax arrives then with tacos and they talk about Mercy's pain levels. Hunter decides she's got to do something about Amphitrite, but she doesn't know what. She goes to their pantry where they keep all their spell ingredients and cries, but then she makes a poultice to put on her twin's wounds. She still doesn't know what to do about Amphitrite, but at least she's done something productive.
Feeling a little better, Mercy goes out to her greenhouse and lights a candle on her little altar for her goddess, Freya. She tries to summon her goddess but nothing happens so she thinks all her magic is gone. She calls out and soon, Freya appears. Mercy asks her goddess if she's going to die soon and Freya says she is, and then she warns her that since she hexed Upuant, Khenti's demigod father, that her soul will be cursed until the hex is broken and because of that, Mercy will have to stay in Niflheim until that time. Or… she could pass the hex onto Hunter if she chose and could go straight to the Summerlands with her mother. Mercy has a lot to think about.
Kirk and his football bros and some girls from the pom squad are at the lake. The girls are getting bored and clearly don't really care for Kirk and his offers of cheap beer, peppermint schnapps and oxycodone, so they decide to leave. Kirk gets a text from Jana Ashley about protesting to force Hunter and Mercy out of town, so, spurred on by the crashing waves and the voice in his head, he convinces his group to go to the park and make signs with the church mommies.
Mercy is working up her courage to say goodbye to everyone. First she asks Khenti to take her outside for some air. She asks him if he would be okay with her coming to the Egyptian underworld with him when she dies. He is okay with that and promises that they will always be friends, or potentially more, if that's what Mercy wants. It is. Emily comes out then and sits with Mercy. Mercy tells Emily she should ask Hunter and Xena to teach her some witchy stuff if she's interested, and she is. Before they can talk more, Hunter comes out, looking like she's on a mission. She is! She's going to kill Amphitrite.
Everyone piles into the car and they drive to the park and where Hunter buried the bound Amphitrite poppet. They think that the park will be deserted since it is after dark, but they are wrong. Kirk and the Church Mommies are there, and Amphitrite, floating sea hag, hovers above the mob. At first, the group decides to turn around and try again another day but when they see Amphitrite, Hunter knows she has to end her. She gets out and goes to dig up the poppet.
Mercy also gets out of the car, falls to her knees and begs her goddess Freya to grant her last request to aid her sister. She pulls energy up from the ley lines and is able to stand. She sends Khenti and Jax to stop the mob that is heading for her sister as she, Xena and Emily follow behind. Jana Ashley brandishes her signs and crucifix at Mercy while Jax and Emily plead for her to listen, but she believes, bolstered by Amphitrite, that Mercy and Hunter worship Satan. Amphitrite shouts down at her followers to drown the witches, so that's what Jana intends to do. Mercy casts a spell to keep those who wish to do her and her sister harm at bay and throws a huge, green sphere at them that they cannot break through, then she crumples to the ground.
Hunter digs up the poppet and unbinds it, summoning Amphitrite to her. Amphitrite taunts Hunter and begins to drown her friends, but Hunter realizes that Amphitrite needs her in order to thrive, so she uses her cosmic powers to banish her to the stars. The townsfolk return to themselves, no longer under Amphitrite's oppression, and cheer for Hunter, the good witch. The only one that still complains is Kirk, but Jana Ashley turns him around and tells him she's going to get him set up in a Bible group at her church. Hunter then notices Mercy crumpled on the ground.
Time is running out for Mercy, so she tells Khenti he has to leave, but asks if it's still okay that she tags along. Emily is distraught by this because she thought Mercy was going to be okay. Mercy assures them that they're still going to be best friends no matter where they are, which makes Emily even sadder. Xena tells Khenti to summon Hathor at the gate so the new guardians will have to allow him entrance and his father, Upuant, won't be able to send him directly back to Duat.
Hunter asks Mercy about her going with Khenti and she tells her that she messed things up in the Egyptian underworld so she has to fix them, and that she has Freya's blessing to do what needs to be done. She says they'll eventually be together in the Summerlands, as long as Hunter doesn't go there for a long time. Then she tells her sister that she has no magic and when she leaves, Hunter will have all the Goode witch power and will be able to close and protect the gates. Xena approaches then and apologizes to Hunter because, if Mercy goes to the Egyptian underworld, she, as Mercy's familiar, has to go too. Well great. It's good that MERCY won't be alone forever… Xena then shares a prophecy that Hunter will find a partner who will be by her side until her last breath and that she'll have a daughter, too. Jax and Emily will also always be with her. Mercy and Xena follow Khenti through the portal and are greeted by Hathor as the gate closes.
Hunter turns away from the gate, crying, completely empty inside, but then a voice calls out to her and time stops. Tyr, Hunter's god, offers her the chance to leave with him, but she decides to remain because there always has to be a Goode witch in Goodeville and she wants to make her mother proud and protect her town. Tyr says she always follows her heart, but she says her heart is gone. Tyr then tells her that her heart remains in Goodeville and she only needs her true magic to find it. Tyr then bestows upon Hunter her phenomenal cosmic powers, allowing her to heal the gates completely. Time resumes then and Jax and Emily rush over, congratulating Hunter on ridding Goodeville of all the bad stuff that has happened recently. She tells her friends that the bad stuff will always be there, but they'll face it together.
Two weeks later, Hunter returns home after a movie with her friends. She's greeted by another thank-you pie from a citizen of Goodeville, which warms her heart. She steps inside her empty home and prepares to call upon her family in their resting place behind the house. She makes tea, puts on Xena's bathrobe and gathers her supplies before walking out to the middle of the cemetery and calling to her mother and sister. They greet her merrily, happy together in the Summerlands with Xena in cat form dancing by their sides. Abigail and Mercy tell Hunter that they love her and they're proud of her, and then they share that the ancestresses have a gift for her. Hunter turns around to see a tiny little Maine Coon kitten with a collar declaring he is called Odysseus. Hunter pets the kitten and asks if he's a cat person, too, and he responds with a wink.