"I should go in with you," Jack insists, "I've done this before, after all."
"And now it's my turn," Delaney answers, "This is my mission, and I need to do it alone."
"Then why did you ask to meet me here?" Jack asks.
"For moral support, silly."
"Moral support, for breaking into the school to steal the test answers?" Jack laughs, but Delaney is already walking toward the door.
"Wish me luck," she calls out behind her shoulder. What Jack wishes is she'd let him come in with her, to take the fall for her if she got caught, but she's stubborn and will get her way.
"I got them," she announces when she comes back out a half an hour later.
"Congratulations," Jack says, handing her a bouquet to celebrate her victory.
After they finishes their work in the school's journalism club, Jesse asked Cassidy if he could come home with her to get some pointers on the article he's writing for the school's paper. But once he's seated beside on the couch, he goes oddly quiet.
"Did you want to ask me me something?" Cassidy prompts.
"No. Sorry. Forget it," Jesse says, standing suddenly as though he's going to bolt for the door.
"Jesse," Cassidy calls, coming around to block his path out, "You biked all the way here with me in the pouring rain to talk about your article. Don't get all embarrassed about it now; I know you're a good writer. Show me what you're having problems with--"
"Wren broke up with me," Jesse blurts, interrupting her.
"I heard that," Cassidy says. She's a high school journalist, of course she knows what's going on in her school, "Is that what you really came here to talk about?'
"Yes. Well, no; I don't need to talk about it. It was a freshman year crush that died out awhile ago. She likes someone else...and so do I, Cass. That's why I asked to come home with you."
"I like you, too," Cassidy says, and leans him to kiss him lightly on the lips. His relief is obvious in his sigh.
"After the last time I tried to flirt with you, I was afraid you didn't like me at all," he admits.
"I wasn't going to let you get away with cheating on your girlfriend," Cassidy answers, "Not with me anyway. If you want to be with me, there can't be anyone else."
"There isn't, Cassidy," Jesse promises.
Crap. Busted, Delaney thinks when her father calls her over for a 'talk'.
"The school called to tell me you stole chalk from the teacher's supply cabinet?"
Oh, that? Delaney thinks, relieved that her theft of the test answers is still her secret. The chalk heist was so last week, and nothing in comparison to her latest escapade.
"Dad, I'm so sorry," Delaney says, making puppy eyes to show how chastened and ashamed she is at her bad behavior, "It was just a stupid prank. I was showing off to the other girls. But I should have known better. I'll never do it again. I promise."
"Little pranks like that can go onto your permanent record," Elliot warns, "I know you didn't mean anything by it. You take after me, Laney, you've got a bit of the daredevil in you, I can tell. But you need to think before you act. What looks like fun now could have serious consequences."
"I know, Dad. I realize that now," Delaney says.
"I know you're a good girl," Elliot tells her, "I talked to the school, I paid for a decade's worth of chalk to make up for their loss and they've agreed to expunge the event from your records."
"I would so love to write an article about corruption in the school administration. I can't believe they let Dad bribe them..." Cassidy comments as the girls get ready for bed.
"It was just chalk," Delaney laughs. But it is good to know that her father has her back, and the wealth to take care of any slip ups she makes.
"So, Jesse Horner asked me out today," Casidy says.
"So now we're dating brothers?" Delaney sighs, "I thought we were past the whole twins forever thing."
"You know there's no way past that. As long as you accept that I'm the good twin and you're the evil twin, we're fine," Cassidy laughs.
Elliot and Claire had planned to attend the town's Spooky Day festival together, but the untimely death of her brother Sebastian during the pie eating contest put any celebrating off the schedule.
"I'm so sorry," Elliot consoles her, wishing there was more that he could say. Death by pie, he thinks, such a horrible and wasteful way to die.
"We weren't even that close," Claire sobs, "And that makes it so much worse. Any chance I had to get to know my brother is gone, just like that. I'm sorry, I'm not going to be good company today. I just want to crawl back into bed and avoid everyone."
"I could crawl in with you," Elliot offers, "I, uh, don't mean that like it sounds. Just to be there with you."
"I'd like that," Claire sighs, "I really need you right now."
"My mother wants me to move back into the mansion now that Sebastian has gone. As though his death changed anything," Claire complains, "I mean, I still don't want that lifestyle, you know? Living in the stuffy old mansion, having to attend my mother's fundraisers. But now I feel guilty about not wanting it. She keeps telling me hat I'm all she has now."
"You shouldn't feel guilty about wanting to live your own life," Elliot says.
"I know that," Claire sighs, "I just wish her nagging didn't get to me the way it does. I'm so afraid she'll get me to cave and before you know it I'll be back in my old childhood bedroom."
"If that happens, I could always come in and carry you off," Elliot says.
Claire smiles, "You do know how to make me feel better," she sighs and snuggles close to him.
As mayor of Drake's Hollow, Catarina Charming had it in her power to ban all competitive eating from the town festivals, which she did immediately after the death of her son at a pie eating contest. Apple bobbing was allowed to stay, for the time being. But she's keeping her eye on that event. Just one choke, one apple that goes down the wrong way, and it will be banished forever as well
Delaney and Cassidy get a lot of attention from the boys at school, but quiet, studious Aurora tends to get overlooked. But today, at the Spooky Day festival in the park, Jaybird Crane approaches her.
They discuss their favorite books, talk about their projects for the science fair and agree to get together for a chess match in the near future.
"I was thinking," he says with a nervous smile, "The prom is coming up..."
"Dances are such a waste of time," Aurora says flatly.
"I know," Jaybird says, obviously crestfallen, "I shouldn't have mentioned it."
"My brother and cousins will make me go, whether I like it or not," Aurora continues, "Are you going to be there? It will be nice to have someone to talk to while they're all dancing."
"Maybe...maybe we could go together?" Jaybird suggests hopefully.
"That would probably be for the best," Aurora agrees.
"Tell me about this Spooky Day," Aouregan asks.
"It's kind of a harvest festival combined with the remnants of ancient traditions that stem from superstitions about the dead coming back this on night every year," Farrell explains.
"The day in autumn when night and day are equal," Aouregan says, "The veil between worlds becomes thin, and the spirits are free to roam the realm of the living. It was our most sacred day."
"Right, you would have believed all that, in your time."
"As do you, apparently," Aouregan laughs, "Your festival is not so different from ours, after all."
"I'm not going to argue with that," Farrell answers. Love Day won't be coming around for another two seasons, but Farrell was never one to stick with traditions, and sweeps his wife in a deep kiss.
Delaney has found a new favorite activity.
"Can you see anything?" Shadow asks, placing his hands on the crystal ball as it rises from its stand.
"I see something, but the images are cloudy," Iola answers.
"Visions of the future?"
"Oh, no," Iola laughs, "This thing is just a Spooky Day gimmick. It's got some kind of holograph or whatever in there to make it look mysterious. My visions tend to come whenever they want, but if were to use a crystal ball or other scrying tool to force a vision, I'd need it to be clear. This thing is way to busy to be used as a focusing device."
Shadow laughs and drops his hands from the trick ball. "Hey, I have something back at home I want to show you. Let's go."
"My mother gave me this book. She said the guy who gave it to her claimed it held the secret to great power. But it looks like an ordinary fairy tale book," Shadow says, showing Iola the tome Aouregan and Farrell had recovered from the Landgraab estate in Brooklyn Heights.
"Oh, it's very old," Iola says, touching the pages, "The man who wrote it was very powerful. No doubt he had a lot of secrets."
"You know this just from touching the book?" Shadow asks.
"We mostly see histories of living people," she explains, "Objects don't have ancestral memories that we can read. But some of them have...well, they have a bit of the spirit of their owner or creator invested in them. Objects that were held especially dear or sacred. From this book, I sense the character of the man who penned it, his need to pass his knowledge on, and also his need to obscure it, so that the knowledge did not pass into the wrong hands."
"So, these stories are a kind of code?"
"Maybe," Iola says, and they lean over the pages to read one of the stories together.
"Look, I think this is a recipe," Iola says as they finish one of the tales, "The hero goes to various places and in each one he's given or gather a different item, which in the end he combines in a soup. When he's consumed the soup, he's given the ability to get past the guards and enter the castle."
"So it's a soup recipe?"
Iola laughs, "It's all couched in metaphors, and it's definitely not a regular soup. Look at the ingredients...the old man's beard, the hanged man's seed, the toad's pillow..."
"Yeah, that's no soup I'd ever want to eat," Shadow says.
"That's red valerian, mandrake and red toadstools," Iola explains.
"My mother grows all of those in her garden," Shadow says, "So this is a potion recipe?"
"It looks that way. It's very likely the potion ancient shamans used to gain entry into the spirit realms."
"How do you know that?"
"From you," Iola answers, "You have shamans in your ancestry."
"You're the best, Iola," Shadow says, pushing the book away to pull her into his arms for a kiss.
"Are you going to try to make this potion?" she asks.
"I think I have to," Shadow says.
Shadow and Iola bring their recipe to Aurora for her opinion. "You're kidding, right?" is her immediate response.
"I'm serious," Shadow says, "It's an ancient shamanic potion that opens the gate to the spirit realm."
"All these ingredients have psychotropic properties, you know. All this will give you is hallucinations."
Snow falls on Spooky Day night. Kyle celebrates by bringing Amanda to the festival.
"Am I the only person in town who got a costume for this?" Delaney asks when she greets Jack in the park.
"It's freezing out," Jack laughs, "Way too cold for dress up. You look hot though."
"Well, let me warm you up," she laughs, squeezing him close to her.
Shadow forgoes the standard Spooky Day festivities, instead spending the evening in the attic, using his mother's alchemical apparatus to combine the ingredients listed the recipe hidden in the fairy tale he and Iola had read together.
"I can't believe you're actually going to do this,"Aurora comments, coming up behind him.
"I want to visit the spirit realm and become a shaman, like our ancestors," Shadow explains.
Aurora rolls her eyes, "It would be a lot safer if I just synthesized you some LSD."
"This isn't about getting high," Shadow insists, "This is a spiritual journey. I have to do it this way."
"Have it your way," Aurora says, donning her protective wear before working with the chemistry set.
"Hey, wait," Shadow calls over his shoulder, "Have you really synthesized LSD before?"
"For science," Aurora answers.
Aouregan practices her magic while Farrell reads in bed.
"Am I distracting you?" she asks, catching him looking up over his book at her.
"I was just wondering, that day we met...you cast some kind of spell on me. You said that if I tried to harm you, it would burn me from the inside..."
"I was lying," Aouregan laughs, "I don't know any spell that could do that. But most people don't know what is or isn't possible with magic, and I had to protect myself."
"And what if someone actually did try to harm you?" Farrell asks, putting aside his book as she climbs into bed beside him.
"I'd turn him into a toad," she answers.
"So what was the spell you cast on me, then?"
"A love charm, obviously," Aouregan laughs, "That's how I got you into my bed so easily."
"No, I would remember if my feelings for you changed so suddenly," Farrell protests, "What was it, really."
Aouregan giggles, "Just lights. I've never cast any spells on you."
"I thought so."
As I mentioned in the MTS thread, I've had my first competitive eating related death, the victim being Claire's brother Sebastian. Luckily for me, he's not important to the story, and he's already passed his genes along to his son Anders. And his death works into the story nicely enough, with Claire being in mourning for awhile.
But after that, I removed the pie and hot dog eating contest tables from the festival lots, as I'm not going to tolerate any more of that nonsense.
EA did include quite the selection of hallucinogenic ingredients in SN. Technically, red valerian is just a flower and is a totally different plant from regular valerian, and doesn't actually have any of its medicinal properties. But I'm just going with the idea that red valerian is really meant to be valerian here, because I can't imagine why else EA would include it as an alchemical ingredient.