Recap: Corey’s parents had an argument about her and were found dead the next morning. Corey then meets Detective Skylar Adams. She is later adopted by Helen and Andy. Two years later, Corey is in school and meets a friend, Terese, and the class bully, Sandra. One day, two students are found dead and Corey meets Detective Adams again. Corey starts 2nd grade, which brings her face to face with a terrifying new teacher. As you can expect, her teacher does not last long. And then neither do her adopted parents, but things look up as Corey may have found a forever family. Corey moves in with Detective Adams and his wife and learns Terese lives across the street. One Friday night, Corey has a typical, happy evening with her mom, but seems out of sorts when Skyler comes home looking haggard. One night, Terese is sleeping over, but it doesn’t stop Skyler from working on the strange murder case. Corey and Terese get an interesting ski lesson and Corey provides some important information regarding the murders. Skyler and Dimitra go on an overnight trip, leaving Corey with a babysitter who does not meet with a happy end. School is back in session after winter break and the class gains two new students, twins Aiden and Cate. During recess, Corey is drawn to the twins and starts to get to know them. Then one snowy evening, Corey’s family has the Asphodels over for dinner. Corey has a chance to chat with the twins and learns magic is real, but it’s a secret. Turns out Corey isn’t a great secret keeper and grows suspicious of the twins. Aiden and Cate explain magic isn’t bad and induct Corey into magic. Corey’s magic lessons begin. Corey, Aiden, and Cate are caught doing magic by the principal and something bad happens to him. Sent home for the day after the principal’s death, Corey and Terese get to hang out and start planning Corey’s birthday party. Skyler thinks magic might be the key to solving the case and Corey returns to her magic lessons. Corey wakes up on her 10th birthday to more than one surprise, but learns what has been protecting her. Aiden and Cate tell the story of how Corey came to be on Earth and of their home in Asphodel.
“And that’s how you came to be here,” Dimitra whispered faintly as the twins finished their tale.
Aiden and Cate nodded.
“And now that Corey is ten, she can now cross into Asphodel,” Aiden said. “It is time for us to take her back to her rightful home. We’ve all been waiting ten years for this.”
“And everyone else?” Skyler asked. “Have they all been found?”
Cate shook her head. “Not yet. But others are out searching for them. Our task was to bring Kore home. The river guardians protected her from those that meant her harm. They are the ones who killed Annie and Don Fallon, Andrew Marks, Corey’s two classmates, her second grade teacher, the babysitter, Mr. Connors, and this man.” Cate gestured to the dead body still lying among them. “We don’t know who he is, but we suspect, based on the lack of evidence of a break-in, that he is a member of whatever group it was that kidnapped people from Asphodel. They probably found out we were close to bringing Kore home, so he tried to steal her away.”
“That’s probably what they’ve been doing,” Aiden added. “And that would explain why we’ve been having a hard time trying to find everyone and bring them back home.”
“But,” Dimitra said, “why?”
Aiden shrugged. “I don’t know. Now that he’s dead, we won’t be finding out now.”
“But don’t you rule the dead?” Dimitra asked. “I mean, you’re the Lord of the Underworld.”
Aiden shook his head. “We’re not in Asphodel. Our powers don’t work that way. We can do other things, but we need the power of Asphodel to do that.”
“Powers,” Dimitra said. “You mean magic?”
Cate nodded. “Yes. Dimitra, magic is real. At least, it’s real to us in Asphodel. Everyone from Asphodel has magic, but it’s much more fluid and useable in Asphodel. Here, it’s a little harder. That’s why we needed Chronus and Rhea. They’re adults, so their magic wouldn’t be affected. But, as children, we needed to be inducted again once we got here.” Cate nodded over to Corey. “And we had to induct Corey into magic so we could bring her home. Only someone with access to magic can walk through the Gates of Asphodel. They also have to be at least ten years old because that’s how old the eldest gods decided all the reborn gods would be to have sufficient control to not bring chaos to Earth.”
“Are you really going to take our daughter?” Skyler asked, holding Dimitra close.
Corey looked up at him, her dark eyes impenetrable, and he could see now that she didn’t belong with them. She didn’t belong anywhere else but in Asphodel.
“I have to go home, Skyler,” Corey said softly. “It’s where I belong. I am Kore, Queen of the Underworld, intended of Hades. And I must return home. I’ve been gone long enough.”
Dimitra shook her head. “Did you know this?”
“No,” Corey said. “But I know it to be the truth. I have guardian spirits and I can use magic.” She pointed to the body. “And it would explain why things like that kept happening.”
“It would also explain your reactions to the deaths,” Skyler murmured. “You were eating muffins the first time I met you.”
Corey nodded. “Probably. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t mad, and I wasn’t scared. Death happens. They were bound to die eventually, no matter how brutally or not. The guardians were protecting me and Annie and Don meant me some harm. Of course the guardians had to protect me; that was their job.”
“Do you have to go now?” Dimitra asked. “We just got your as our daughter, the daughter we’ve always wanted. I don’t know if I could part with you just yet.”
Aiden looked over at his sister. She gave a slight shake of her head.
“I have to go, Dimitra,” Corey was saying insistently. “I don’t belong here. And I should go home. Enough people have been worried about me for the past ten years. It’s time for me to go.”
Skyler nodded as Dimitra buried her face in his shoulder.
“Good luck,” he said awkwardly.
“Don’t worry about this mess,” Aiden said. He waved a hand and the body vanished. “Tomorrow morning, your cases will be miraculously solved. We’ll see to it. Don’t be surprised if someone turns themselves in. They won’t be a real person from Earth, but someone we create in Asphodel. Their sole purpose will be to take the role of the perpetrator.” He offered a small smile. “That should satisfy your supervisor.”
Skyler nodded. “Well, then. Good bye, Corey. We love you very much.”
“I know,” Corey said as she hopped down from her bed. “I love you, too. You’ve been wonderful parents. Thank you.”
Aiden and Cate likewise hopped down.
“We need to go now,” Cate said softly. “Chiron is expecting us.”
Corey nodded and quickly went over to hug Skyler and Dimitra. Then she followed Cate and Aiden out of the house. The sun was peeking above the horizon. Cate frowned at it and waved her hand to darken the world just a little bit.
“The light isn’t good for the gate,” she explained as she joined hands with Corey.
Corey nodded and linked her free hand with Aiden’s. Together, the three of them walked down the middle of the quiet street. It was chilly out, but they were using their magic to keep warm.
“We’re almost there,” Cate murmured.
Corey looked back at the house she had resided in. There was no sign of Skyler or Dimitra.
“Don’t worry,” Aiden said, making her turn to look at him. “Skyler and Dimitra are really Zeus and Demeter. Chronus and Rhea are staying behind to work on getting them back home. They’re your real parents. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing them again in Asphodel.” He snickered. “I kind of can’t wait to see what happens when he’s reunited with Hera and she learns he was married to Demeter while here.”
Corey nodded and he squeezed her hand, both ignoring Cate’s exaggerated sighs and eye rolling.
They continued walking a few steps more. Abruptly, golden light shimmered before them and golden gates took form. Light spilled from between the bars to flood the street.
“Chiron,” Cate intoned, her voice suddenly melodious and mature, “we bring Kore.”
“Then pass through the Gates of Asphodel,” a deep voice intoned in return. “Welcome home, Kore.”
The gates opened up towards them, silently swinging. Golden light spilled from the opening. The three children held each other’s hands tightly as they walked towards it. Finally, they were walking through the golden light, through the gates, and into Asphodel.