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The Threat of the Horrible Hex

Mark Merlin, and his companion, Elsa, travel to Halzburg, Pennsylvania, in the heart of the famed "Pennsylvania Dutch" country. Elsa spies a hex sign on a barn. She inquires as to its meaning. Merlin then explains: In 1690, some 2 years before the notorious Salem witch trials, superstition held sway in Halzburg, home to a little-known sect called the "Dubenites." The town's Mayor, Josef Von Halz, was the sole voice of reason. By chance, one night Von Halz stumbles upon a dark magical compact being made between Peter Stalb, Spinster Toten, and a Native American Medicine Man known as Black Moon. Von Halz chases Stalb, Toten, and Black Moon away, firing his musket at them. Soon after, Von Halz falls prey to witchery. Von Halz then confronts Stalb, Toten, and Black Moon, and easily defeats the dark trio. A few days later, Von Halz notices that three hex signs, one each for Stalb, Toten, and Black Moon, have now appeared on the side of his barn. Nothing Von Halz does can damage or destroy the signs or the barn itself. In attempting to do so, Von Halz accidentally burns the town of Halzburg to the ground.

From that day forward, every first-born member of the Von Halz family has disappeared on their 25th birthday. Merlin has therefore been asked by Henrietta Halz, the last descendant of the Von Halz family, to break the curse, before she, too, turns 25. To prevent the Von Halz family line from being wiped out, Merlin first transfers the curse from Henrietta to himself. He then heads out to the old barn to confront the ghosts of Stalb, Toten, and Black Moon. The first of the trio to attack Merlin is Black Moon. The spirit of the medicine man calls down a torrential rain to drown Merlin. Using magic learned from Black Moon's own tribe, Merlin conjures up hurricane force winds to dispel the rain. Black Moon then retreats, allowing the ghost of Spinster Toten to attack. Toten splits the Earth open beneath Merlin's feet. Merlin, however, promptly levitates himself back up to the surface.

Merlin notices that the corresponding hex symbol for each spirit begins to glow just before they enter the mortal realm. Now the spirit of Peter Stalb is released. Stalb's ghost then produces a voodoo doll that paralyzes Merlin's right arm and leg. Merlin still manages to snatch the doll away from Stalb's spirit and break its enchantment on him. Now all three hex signs begin to glow, as all three spirits are released to attack Merlin all at once. Merlin then notices a fourth hex sign, underneath the hex signs of his three foes. Realizing its significance, from this fourth hex sign, using the magic of the Malayan forest wizards, Merlin summons the spirit of Josef Von Halz. Once again, Von Halz triumphs over his enemies. In the process, the spirit of Spinster Toten fires a bolt of lightning at the spirit of Von Halz, but strikes the barn instead, instantly setting it on fire. As a result, the barn, including the four hex signs, is completely destroyed, preventing the ghosts from ever returning, and breaking the curse on the Von Halz family line once and for all. It is a victory some 300 years in the making.

The Great Houdini

Hideout on Fear Island

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