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MYSTICAL MUSINGS

Rebecca E. Neely, Author ~ Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

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urban fantasy

Spring Time, Sewer Lines and Storytelling

It started on Mother’s Day.

Or I should say, it stopped.

My sewer line, that is.

I bought a house a few months ago, and as a proud new home owner, I was on still on the honeymoon, filled with ideas about improvements and projects I wanted to tackle.

Enter TAG. I now know him, and I bet, if you own a home, you do too. He’s an unwanted guest that will not be denied. Many years ago, my father, a wise man, as well as a home and business owner, told me about his visits from TAG. (a.k.a. Turd Above Ground)

That night, his words came back to me with haunting clarity.

After having a relaxing day at home, reading the book my daughter had given me as a gift, and eating dinner with her and my boyfriend, I told him about some water I’d found earlier that day on the floor of my basement, near one of the floor drains. Or, rather, the evidence of it – a sopping wet throw rug I keep in front of the washing machine. At the time, I’d gotten my flashlight, checked the ceiling. It was dry. Had it come from the washer? I had no idea, and I was in the middle of making dinner, so I forged ahead, figuring I’d ask my boyfriend about it later.

My boyfriend is a general contractor who possesses an uncanny ability to fix things. When I told him about it, he raised an eyebrow in his calm, knowing way, almost as if he knew something I did not. He instructed me to flush the toilet, and run water in the bath tub.

Minutes later, he yelled to me from the basement. Stop! I ran to join him, while my brain tried to process what I was seeing erupting from another floor drain. Denial is a funny thing, isn’t it? Was that rusty water, I asked, almost as if I said it aloud, I could make it so.

No. It was TAG.

Unmitigated horror filled me as the seriousness of what was happening hit me. This was bad. Running upstairs to escape the smell, I located the home warranty information I’d been given at the closing, and called the 800 number, pushed the appropriate numbers to get me to the correct menus (you didn’t think I talked to a person, did you?), and placed my service call.

At this point, I feel it necessary to clarify that I’m not squeamish; I’ve raised a child, I’ve had numerous pets, and I worked in my family’s restaurant business growing up. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I have, many times. But this situation was proving beyond my capabilities.

Over the next few days, I learned more about pipes, sewer lines and plumbing than I’d ever wanted to know. I listened to my boyfriend’s advice; however, this particular problem was beyond his fixing scope, unfortunately. He was, however, at my side every step of the way, and for that I’m eternally grateful. I Googled and You Tubed my way through the internet, reading and watching more information than I’d ever known existed on the topic. Opinions and prices varied wildly on issues such as root killers, pipes and camera videos. My mind raced. I couldn’t sleep. What if I had to replace it? I knew it could be thousands of dollars and take days to repair.

Captain’s Log, Day 1

I had to leave work to meet the plumbers the home warranty company sent. They snapped on their black nitrile gloves and went to work, their big metal snake shimmying and rattling to some unknown tune. Again, the smell was so repulsive I fled. Thirty minutes later, I was told I had tree roots growing in the line, and guess what? The home warranty doesn’t cover it. Big surprise. I was told the line was open, to get it camera scoped, and that the roots would come back, a common occurrence in the spring time. I paid the fee and they departed, leaving me to clean up a mess I’m not sure I can properly describe in mixed company. That was the low point. The substances I cleaned from the floor and the walls, along with the creatures–yes, you read that right–made my skin crawl.

Worms. Did I mention some of them were alive?

Shudder.

And the smell. An unholy, godforsaken, dehumanizing smell emanating literally, from the bowels of my home, seemed to permeate my nose, my mouth, my very skin. If I’d showered for three days, I don’t think I’d have felt clean. Suffice to say, it was Andy Dufresne escaping from Shawshank prison through the tunnel all over again.

Still can’t sleep.

Captain’s Log, Day 2

Since I was price shopping, I called a local company. The woman on the phone told me proudly that they didn’t charge by the hour, but by the job. That sounded promising. I needed a camera scope, I said. They did that? Great. See you tonight.

I came home from work, and evidence that the line still wasn’t clear greeted me from the basement floor.

Plumber No. 2 snaked the line yet again, scoped it with a camera, and announced the alleged ‘good’ news. Since the line was in pretty good condition, I would able to put in a liner – to the tune of $9,500. Did I say the low point was cleaning up the floor? I burst into tears.

Still can’t sleep.

Captain’s Log, Day 3

The drain is open. I’m taking short showers, and checking the drains constantly, creeping up on them, afraid of what I’m going to find. All is well. For now.

Enter plumber No. 3, an old hand who both my boyfriend and I had used at different points in our lives. I’d wanted to go to him in the first place, but the home warranty dictates that their contractors must be used. My boyfriend had spoken with him over the course of this ordeal, and filled him in about what was going on. Did I mention I hadn’t slept well in three days?

I called him. He chided me, telling me I should’ve called him in the first place. Plumbers apparently have egos. Who knew? Bewildered, sleep deprived, and sick with dread about what fixing this might cost, I tried to explain the events of the last few days and found myself groping for words. Phrases like, ‘raw sewage’, ‘home warranty’, and ‘digging it up’ punctuated the conversation. We agreed on a time for him to come that evening.

It occurred to me was living in some sort of alternate reality; office admin by day, plumber whore by night.

Plumber No. 3 came. He observed with an experienced eye, asking few questions, except for me to run water, flush the toilet, and the like. He eyeballed the drains, which mercifully, were clear at this point. And pronounced, in not so many words, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

I hugged him and praised all higher powers. Truly. He gave me a few suggestions about maintenance, and we emerged from the basement, friends and comrades, our bond forged indelibly as we each of us soldiered on in the war against TAG that every home owner wages.

I’ll bear the scars from this battle proudly. I earned them. And because, at the end of the day—wait for it; you knew it was coming—shit happens.

So, what have I learned, and why am I blogging about this? Common sense, in the form of an older, experienced plumber, will win the day. I still love being a homeowner. And about TAG? My father passed about ten years ago, and in the moment of crisis, his words came back to me. He used to make us all laugh so hard, and I almost felt like he was there with me, commiserating. So, thanks Dad!

Also, this blog is for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed, uninformed and intimidated by repair men, not to mention short on cash for serious home repairs. You are not alone. Also, this is for anyone who wonders what writers do in their spare time. <grin> Collect experiences!

And, I am a storyteller at heart. I sincerely hope I’ve been able to entertain you with my folly. And who knows? As upsetting as the whole experience was, it’s replete with emotion and strife, perfect for me, as a writer, to tap into when I want a character to suffer, say, by finding themselves in a deep, dank hole in the Earth, clawing through dirt, and coming up with . . . worms.

“May your lines be clear, your position always upwind, and TAG never darken your door.”
–A Brand New Proverb

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com

The Crossing Realms series ~ The Keeper, Book 1 and The Watcher, Book 2 available on Amazon

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The Strange History of Abandoned Talcott Hall

It’s my pleasure to welcome fellow paranormal romance author Claire Gem today. She’s sharing a fascinating ‘story behind the story’ about abandoned Talcott Hall – which, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I have a thing for abandoned buildings! Read on to learn more about the history, mystery and horror of this creepy psychiatric center, which inspired Claire in her upcoming book, SPIRITS OF THE HEART.


talcottfire“Please tell me the smoke isn’t coming from Talcott Hall.”

I spoke these words in a frantic phone call to my sister, Terri DelNegro after seeing a post from a mutual friend on Facebook that said, “There’s smoke billowing over the grounds of the old Psych Center.” Terri is also my cover designer and dear friend who lives in the town where I grew up—Middletown, N.Y.

In that town are the state grounds of an abandoned mental asylum, one I was intimately familiar with as a child. You see, my father, who suffered from alcoholism, was an inpatient more than one time in that facility. In the 1960s, alcoholism was considered a mental illness, not a compulsive behavioral disorder. Back then, illnesses such as epilepsy and diabetes also labeled the patient “insane.”

My earliest memories of the Psych Center are of visiting my father on Sunday afternoons, where he and my mother sat at a picnic table under the shade of giant maple trees while my younger brother and I fed peanuts to the squirrels. Only about six or eight years old at the time, I never understood why my mother cried every time we visited him. Or why Daddy couldn’t come home with us.

talcotthallHaving haunting memories about this place even after half a century had passed, I felt compelled to write a novel set on the grounds of the Middletown Psychiatric Center. Many of the buildings have since either been razed or repurposed, but there are still a few hulking buildings remaining. One of these is—or was—Talcott Hall.

A monstrous, intricately designed brick masterpiece, the building was a thing of beauty encasing what must have been, for those trapped within, a house of horrors. During Talcott Hall’s heyday, mental health treatment still consisted of procedures now looked upon as torture, including hydrotherapy (soaking in ice cold or scalding hot baths) and electro-shock therapy. Lobotomies were still common practice, though none of record were performed at this particular facility.

Talcott Hall was the building reserved for the least tractable, most violent patients. There were bars on the windows, and steel cages encased the external fire escapes. The patients who were admitted to Talcott Hall, in all likelihood, were never going home.

Two weeks before that frantic phone call, I had spent an entire day with Terri, who is a professional photographer as well as a brilliant graphic artist. We drove around the grounds, discussing the plot of the book I’d begun writing. She snapped over a hundred photos that day—most of them of Talcott Hall. The tall chain link perimeter kept us from getting too close. But we could feel them, both of us: the ghostly vibes emanating from that lonely place, even from a dozen yards away. In this video by Antiquity Echoes, glimpses of the interior of the asylum clearly speak to its haunting qualities.

And then, mysteriously, Talcott Hall caught fire and burned to the ground.

Well, not exactly to the ground—the sturdy exterior was constructed of brick and iron. But the morning after, Terri sent me videos of bulldozers scooping what was left of the stately old building into a heap that billowed gray smoke for days.

I was heartbroken.

I’d been in the exhilarating, early stages of crafting SPIRITS OF THE HEART, which centered around Talcott Hall and the ghosts trapped within. Suddenly, it was gone. My muse had gone up in smoke. The fire was labeled arson, but no one was ever charged. I put the manuscript aside, unsure of whether or not the story would ever come to fruition.

Until the day I knew it had to. Talcott Hall must be resurrected, I decided, in my book. And its fiery fate would become one of the most terrifying moments in the novel.

Was it coincidence that Talcott Hall burned down two weeks—to the day—from the day Terri immortalized it in photographs? I don’t believe so. I also don’t entirely believe it was random arson, especially since the building had sat empty, its windows all broken out, with vines winding their way up its edifice and hawks building nests atop its turrets, for over twenty years.

I believe the fire was a sign. I believe it was my ghostly muse tapping me on the shoulder and whispering in my ear: “When Talcott Hall goes down, it must go down in flames of fury.”

In Spirits of the Heart, it does.

Many thanks to Nick Elia of the Middletown Fire Department, who took some amazing photographs of the fire, and granted me permission to use them in promoting my book.

You can read a sneak peek at upcoming release, Spirits of the Heart, HERE.

Available for pre-order NOW!

SPIRITS OF THE HEART – A Haunted Voices Novel

spirits_of_the_heart7_very_lt-grey-1An addiction counselor and a security guard struggle to reunite a little girl and her father—two spirits trapped within the walls of an abandoned mental asylum.

Laura Horton returns to her hometown to start her career with the Alcohol Crisis Center. But her homecoming is jarring. Her old friend moved out unexpectedly, so Laura’s new roommate is the friend’s intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard.

Miller Stanford works nighttime security for the State grounds. He’s a man with a shattered past. His Dad destroyed their family with alcohol, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is an addiction counselor—a sexy blonde one, to move in and start watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability.

But Laura sees them too—Greta, a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. When Laura starts digging into old asylum records, she reveals a horrific cover-up. Can Laura and Miller unravel the mysteries of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?

MEET CLAIRE GEM ~ Strong Women, Starting Over ~ Redefining Romance

claire_2516Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of emotional romance—contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. She writes about strong, resilient women who won’t give up their quest for a happy-ever-after—and the men lucky enough to earn their love. No helpless, hapless heroines here. These spunky ladies redefine romance, on their terms.

Her paranormal/romantic suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. Her latest release, The Phoenix Syndrome, won the women’s fiction division in FCRWA’s The Beacon Contest.

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

CONNECT WITH CLAIRE – FIND OUT ABOUT ALL OF HER BOOKS & MORE!

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My Top Ten Powerful Posts This Year

img_1875Today, I’m celebrating what I consider the TOP TEN powerful posts on my MYSTICAL MUSINGS blog in 2016. I met and interviewed some fascinating people this year, who graciously allowed me to ask all kinds of questions about their passions and expertise, and I came away from the experiences a more educated, enlightened and learned person. Plus, I had a blast! In other posts, I connected and explored memories and passions of my own. As an author, a writer, a storyteller and a blogger, It’s always an adventure sharing what I’ve learned and discovered with readers, and hearing your comments and feedback. It’s a journey that I want to be on, and I look forward to another great year. Thanks so much for joining me!

What powerful posts have you written, or read this year?

Here’s looking at you! Happy holidays, and Happy New Year!

If you’ve read my posts before, you know I cover a wide range of topics, from tattoo artists to paranormal activity.  Here’s a few of my favorites from this year:

Storytellers and Tattoos: For the Love of Art

This is the Reason We Connect with Tribal Tattoos

Goodwill Hunting – The White-Tailed Deer, That Is

This is Why They’re Fascinated by Fossils (and more)

Ghost or No Ghost? Spotlight on Steel Town Paranormal

Soulful Silver & Why I Love It

Mystical Movies: Why The Magic Isn’t Only in the Making

If You Believe It, You’ll See It: Celebrating Abundance

Empowered and Encouraged: Visitation Dreams with my Father

 50 Shades of Green – Healing Crystals, That Is

Rebecca E. Neely is an author of romance, the paranormal and suspenseful kind. 🙂 Visit www.rebeccaneely.com

Join Rebecca’s mailing list & monthly, be entered to win a FREE e-book ! You’ll also receive deleted scenes & other cool stuff 🙂

Goodwill Hunting – The White-Tailed Deer, That Is

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When I first began writing professionally over fifteen years ago, I freelanced, writing copy, articles and profiles for people and companies all over the country. I’m proud to say that one of the very first magazine articles I wrote was about my Dad, and his love of deer hunting. Since it’s opening day of deer season in my neck of the woods, Western PA, and because I grew up in a hunting family, I started thinking about my father, who’s never really far from my mind, and who passed about nine years ago.

He was an avid outdoorsman, and for him, hunting was not only a sport, but a time honored family tradition steeped in memories, rituals, as well as his deep respect for nature and creation.

My father was an amazing storyteller, and so I think I like to think I inherited just a little of that from him. And indeed, a lot of great storytelling is part of the enjoyment and experience of hunting. I still remember the tales I heard and enjoyed many times over, sitting around the kitchen table with my family.

When I gathered information for the article, I gave him a list of questions, which he completed by hand. I feel so blessed to have this now! I was going back through his notes this morning, and came across this passage:

“Hunting is much more than harvesting a deer. A true hunter applies his skills to everyday life. He hunts or seeks the truth in everything. He seeks a genuineness in relationships, honesty and reliability in everything he does. From the first time I stepped into the woods as a young boy, I sensed there was something reverent and something linked together.”

And so it is for me. While I’m not a hunter, I deeply respect and appreciate his philosophies. I too seek out and revere the perfection and harmony of nature, by going camping, by hiking in the woods, and by tagging along with my boyfriend from time to time while he hunts. For me, these experiences bring my Dad closer.

And, as I get ready to release my third novel this week, I know he’s proud of me for following my passion, just as he pursued his while he was alive. Here’s looking at you, Dad!

I invite you to read the article here: Hunting the Whitetailed Deer: A Lifetime of Memories.

I hope you enjoy it.

Rebecca E. Neely is an author of romance, the paranormal and suspenseful kind. 🙂 Visit www.rebeccaneely.com

Join my mailing list & monthly, be entered to win a FREE e-book ! You’ll also receive deleted scenes & other cool stuff 🙂

THE WATCHER- The Inside Scoop on the Characters

Meda regarded him silently. “What is ‘Dev’ short for?”

“Devlyn.” He laughed half-heartedly. “It means brave. Or misfortune. Take your pick.” And that just about sums up Dev Geary, former Keeper and reluctant Watcher. This hunk and his Harley will take on the human realm in the seven days he’s been given to save his clan—and conquer the very thing that killed him.

tw-dev-teaser-graphic1

I enjoyed the challenge of crafting Dev. He’s a bit of an anti-hero—he’s belligerent, hell bent on his own agenda, an opportunist, a unique blend of strengths and vulnerabilities. His catch phrase and philosophy on life is to be ‘between the inches’, or to embrace his death wish. It’s a fine line between thrills and terror, and it’s the only place where he can feel alive, free from the darkness that lives inside him. Free from the secrets and shame he suffers.

Combine all that angst with some super human powers, and you’ve got yourself a hard ass hottie, fiercely determined to guard and rescue humans. The irony, and the beauty of his character is he doesn’t realize he could use a little rescuing himself.

Enter human Meda Gabriel, a cagey, street smart bar owner with a unique skill set, who might just be of some help in that area—and his quest. But she too, harbors a few secrets.

And the clock is ticking. That kind of pressure is bound to bring out the best—and the worst—in both of them. Will bravery, or misfortune win the day? Find out in THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms series, available for pre-order now on Amazon!

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Catch up with me today at Fresh Fiction, and don’t miss a chance to win a Kindle!

Join my mailing list & MONTHLY, be entered to win a FREE ebook! You’ll also receive EXCLUSIVE sneak peeks, offers & sale info!

Put some paranormal in your life. Go on. I dare you.

Spooktacular Halloween Blog Hop!

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Welcome to this stop on the Spooktacular Halloween Blog Hop!

Fabulous Authors, Prizes  & Fun!

The Prize for this Stop ~ Join my mailing list and be entered to win a Kindle copy of THE KEEPER, Crossing Realms paranormal romance series, Book 1

THE WATCHER, Crossing Realms Series Book 2 coming November 30th!
The battle in the Steel City continues…

Crossing Realms SeriesSacrifice or salvation?
A chosen psychic few may be both. As the city’s Keepers battle Betrayers to save the human race, all’s not fair in love and war.

Enter to win by October 31st!
TRICK OR TREAT HERE NEXT: Lisa Kulow ~ https://www.facebook.com/lisakulowauthor/
For a List of all Stops on the Hop & Kindle Fire Giveawayhttp://bit.ly/2dQ8uFL
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GIVEAWAY IS OPEN UNTIL MIDNIGHT OCTOBER 31ST
FB IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS WONDERFUL TREAT!

Saturday, October 8th – Steel Town Paranormal is in the House!

autumn-218804__180On Saturday, October 8th, starting at 3PM, Steel Town Paranormal will proudly present “An Evening in Haunted Harmony II” at the Harmony Museum in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

The event will take place during the annual Harmony & Zelienople Sleepy Hollow Festival. Proceeds will benefit Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley.

A huge draw for the event is not only the guest speakers, but the guided ghost walks through town.

I also invite you to join me, where I’ll be signing books for the very first time and hanging with STP, all of their guests, and lots of other cool vendors!

The Psychic Vincent Sisters, featured speakers for the event, were recently featured on an episode of the show, Six Degrees of Murder, on the cable channel Investigation Discovery. The Vincent Sisters will be discussing their work and conducting a gallery reading.

Also speaking at the event is Patty Wilson, who has researched and written about the paranormal and the history of Pennsylvania for over twenty years. She is affectionately known throughout the Keystone State as The Ghost Lady of Pennsylvania.

Drake Bowan, a paranormal investigator with 14+ years of experience, will also speak at the event.

img_4077Learn more about a ‘day in the life’ of a paranormal investigator in my article, ‘Ghost or No Ghost? Spotlight on Steel Town Paranormal’ I interviewed founders Steel Town Paranormal’s Chris and Melanie Durish, and some of the things they told me gave me goosebumps!

For more information about Steel Town Paranormal, their events and investigations, visit their web
site
, and follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms series  ~ coming this November ~ Join my mailing list & be entered to win FREE ebooks monthly , receive deleted scenes & other cool stuff 🙂

The Rites of ‘Spring’ Equinox

tulips-65305__180For thousands of years, different peoples, cultures and faiths the world over have celebrated the spring equinox. Traditions and rituals vary, but hope, fertility, rebirth, awakenings, life and energy are all common themes surrounding this astronomical event, which will occur this year on Sunday, March 20th at 12:30am EST.

“Equinox” means “equal night” and the spring equinox occurs when there is a balance of day and night because the sun is sitting on the Earth’s equator.

In Mexico, the Mayan archaeological site of Chichen Itza is perhaps the most well-known and popular place to celebrate the spring equinox. The Mayans left behind a fascinating display at the Kulkulkan temple, which is a lasting testament to their astronomical knowledge. On both the fall and spring equinoxes, the sun’s light creates a mix of light and shadow which makes it appear as though a serpent is slithering along the pyramid steps. This phenomena can be seen in the late afternoon, for about an hour, and occurs for several days.

In Japan, many Buddhists celebrate ‘Higan’, which means ‘to arrive on the Other Shore’. Beginning on the spring equinox, it’s celebrated for a week. Nirvana, an achievement of wisdom that allows reincarnation to cease is reflected upon. As well, ancestors who’ve recently passed are honored.

In China, the festival of Qing Ming, also known as the Pure Brightness Festival, is celebrated April 4th-6th every year. These three days honors ancestors and the change of seasons. Tombs are cleaned and cared for, and food and flowers are brought to adorn them. Trees are planted. Kites are flown, often at night, with small lanterns attached to them.

The feast of Easter is the center of Christian beliefs and teachings, as it recognizes the easter-707700__180resurrection of Jesus Christ following his death on the cross. Easter is recognized as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. Many fast during the forty days of Lent, which represents the time Jesus spent in the desert. Often, candle light services take place at sunrise. Popular customs in the United States include dying, decorating and hiding eggs, the Easter Bunny, and Easter baskets, filled with chocolate and other treats. The rabbit and eggs represent fertility.

What customs, festivals or other traditions do you observe during the spring equinox?

Rebecca E. Neely tells stories packed with a punch of romance and the paranormal. Woo hoo! The Keeper, 1st in the Crossing Realms series, is available now on Amazon

Here’s the Cover! THE KEEPER, 1st in the Crossing Realms series

TheKeeper_CoverRevealBadge (2)Hi! I’m so excited to share the cover with you for THE KEEPER, Book 1 in the Crossing Realms urban fantasy series! It’s coming in April, so I invite you to stay tuned for all the latest 🙂

Even cooler, starting right now, you can enter to win some awesome prizes, like Amazon gift cards and free books, by following along on the ‘cover reveal’ tour. It starts today and runs until Thursday.

A big shout out to all the generous book bloggers who are hosting me this week! I appreciate you!

CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE LATEST DETAILS &

TO FOLLOW THE TOUR

Celebrate the cover reveal & check out these blogs

for excerpts, fun and chances to win!
THE CROSSING REALMS SERIES

Sacrifice or salvation? A chosen psychic few may be both. As the city’s Keepers battle Betrayers to save the human race, all’s not fair in love and war.

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