For NaNoWriMo 2020 I am doing a choose-your-own-adventure story. That is to say, after every episode written and immediately published on this blog, the reader is presented with a choice to make that determines the next course of action for the story. This is the result so far:
Helena works at a gift shop in a natural park in the Netherlands, as well as a trainee to become a forest ranger (terminology is a bit mixed up there but you know what I mean). One day while working in the field with her mentor, Fred, they discover a spot where it is unusually quiet. When they investigate they do not find the cause of the silence, but they do spot a nest of kittens. Helena removes the kittens, and meanwhile spots something shiny in the mud, but they are unable to catch the mother cat. On the way back, Fred becomes strangely defensive when Helena wants to talk about the unnatural silence. He also tells Helena to stay away.
Helena does not stay away. She brings the kittens under the care of her friend Marina and goes back to lure the mother cat (at which she is unsuccessful) and while trying finds the shiny thing: a necklace. She hides it from Fred, who is further hostile. That evening in Helena’s house the necklace begins to glow with heat, burning a hole in her pocket.
Betty, a friend of Helena’s, owns a vintage clothes shop. She contacts Benny, an old friend who is a fence. Benny freaks out when he sees the necklace and tells them that it kills people. He sends Helena to Luc, an antiques dealer who knows more. Luc is excited and tells Helena about the rare metal, septiron, that the pendant is made of, and prises the pendant open to reveal a blue stone. This, he tells her, is extremely rare and causes anyone who touches it to die within 24 hours.
In the mean time, Helena has spotted Fred on the street in Amsterdam. This is strange because she knows he is supposed to be working. When she goes after him, she finds him in mysterious building on the Herengracht that displays on its facade an etching of the same crow that can be seen on the pendant. She wants to find out more about the mysterious building, and tries the next day to approach it from the back. As she approaches the back door, it suddenly opens and she is ushered inside by an elderly woman who urges her to be quiet and takes her to the second floor on the servants’ stairs, out of sight of anyone on the ground and first floor. She takes Helena to her home in the attic, where she lives with her parrot Richie. When Helena tells her about the necklace and the stone, Julia is not very surprised.
Julia has researched the family that owns the house, her landlords, and it turns out that they use a mysterious stone – probably the one in Helena’s necklace – to do ‘summonings’ and thereby gain fortune with the help of demons. At a terrible price, of course. Helena is determined to put a stop to it. She escapes the house with help from Julia and then dodges Fred by joining a group of drag queens on a night out.
However, Fred is not so easily deterred and is spotted patrolling the area, so they need to get away. As Helena is unlocking her bike, a car stops beside her: Fred and his husband Stephan get out. Stephan is the last descendant of the Craay family! And he wants his stone back. A wild chase follows through the streets of Amsterdam to the train station. Helena just about makes it, Fred misses the train. Phew!
Back near Hertogsbos, the former estate now turned natural park, Helena shelters at Marina’s. She decides to take an interest in the original donation from the Craay family to the current Trust and with the help of Rick, she breaks into the archives. One thing she finds out: descendants of the old Craay should not have access to the lands ever again. However, the next day, she finds herself face to face with Stephan, who is requesting a tour of the grounds by his husband’s intern. The Trust’s director, expecting a sizeable donation, insists…