Under Belasco’s watchful eye, Illyana, now about eleven and the demon mage’s apprentice, shows her master what she has learned. She transforms a little pet of hers she’d named Squidge, body and soul, into a monster. The squidge angrily attacks Illyana, raking her cheek. Illyana loses control and frightened manages to swat it away. The little creature flees.
Horrified by her own actions, she wants to pursue the squidge in order to set things right but, at that moment, Cat catches the pet and consumes it.
Illyana is nervous at Cat’s presence. An amused Belasco tells her, that she has nothing to fear, provided she isn’t afraid. And since Cat was her friend, she surely wouldn’t harm Illyana. Illyana is sure he is mocking her and testing her as well, her bravery versus her willingness to strike down those she once cared for. She is tempted to strike but courage wins and she stays her hand.
Belasco admonishes her for not anticipating the consequences of her soulspell. By rights, he should force her to bear the scar from her face wound as a reminder of her overconfidence. Then he orders her to cast a healing spell and retire to her room to meditate on the lesson. As Cat bares her teeth at her, Illyana runs for her life. For a moment, she is tempted to slow down and let Cat kill her. But she’s seen Belasco raise the dead and so she runs all the more quickly.
She runs to her room, pursued by Cat, who simply phases through the locked door. The petrified Illyana cries for Belasco’s help but doesn’t receive any. She figures he’s watching the scene in his scrying pool and laughing at her.
Suddenly, Illyana notices that Cat is actually trying to say her name. The idea that there is still a trace of Kitty Pryde in Cat is more than Illyana can bear. She throws her pillow at Cat, shouting at her to get out. Cat tears through the pillow with one gesture.
All of a sudden, the knowledge and energy of a spell flow through Illyana and she throws an energy bolt at Cat, who flees Illyana’s room. Illyana realizes how badly she’s hurt her friend, treating her like Belasco would and, what’s more, she could use the power without casting a formal spell. That means that the Dark Gods are aware of her and want her, something Belasco probably didn’t count on.
Having been made aware again of her dark side, she figures to do something about it Illyana remembers the white magic she was taught by Ororo for the short time she stayed with her. Illyana casts an energy pentagram used to protect that enchanter from harm. She decides that, instead of destroying things like Belasco, she wants to follow Ororo and create something. So, like Ororo, she creates a silver circle and faces the points whereas Belasco uses red circles and stands with the cardinal point behind him. She remembers Ororo’s tale of how she created an acorn of her own lifeforce, after she freed herself from Belasco. Illyana does the same, however her acorn is corrupt at the core and explodes. Illyan falls down hard.
As Illyana drags herself up, an astral form of Ororo stands before her, comforting her that the evil inside can be fought and that evil can only corrupt her if she allows it. Ororo urges Illyana to stay strong and that she will come to see her soon. Illyana interrupts that she has a plan. Unknown to Belasco, she has studied as many spellbooks as possible—she’s sure she can find a spell to destroy him. Ororo forbids this. Angrily, Illyana replies, that if she doesn’t act soon, it will be too late, as the temptation to completely give in to Belasco’s evil grows stronger with each day. Ororo warns her of Cat’s fate. Illyana replies she has nothing to lose. Storm says, this is not the case and reiterates that she’ll help her in her own way and fades.
Left alone, Illyana sulks, wondering whether this was the real Ororo at all and not some test by Belasco. She wishes, she had some way to move freely, like Nightcrawler when he teleported. Belasco keeps teleportation spells secret from her.
At that moment, she notices a teleportation circle on the ceiling, strange since Belasco keeps them out of the citadel. As Illyana complains that it won’t do any good to her on the ceiling, the circle starts moving towards her. Startled, Illyana realizes that she is the cause of this and that this is a power completely separate from her magic.
Suddenly, she hears voices outside her room and realizes that Belasco had her under surveillance. He knows everything that happens in Limbo! She fears punishment, but then the circle appears under her bed and teleports her and the bed out of the citadel and into one of the tunnels that honeycomb most of Limbo.
Illyana realizes that this teleportation must be her mutant power and that she grew older in Belasco’s care than she thought. Suddenly, the bed gets hit by a car, whose passengers are Stevie Hunter and the New Mutants. As the mutants wonder whether the girl before them is Illyana, since she seems too young, they and the car disappear again.
Illyana is puzzled by those strange visitors who seemed to know her, but decides she has more important things to do and teleports into Belasco’s library. She intends to use Belasco’s grimoire, when all of a sudden an astral image of Storm appears and warns her off and a strong wind blows her off her feet and into another teleportation circle.
When Illyana wakes up again, she finds herself on a gallery overlooking Belasco’s throne room and witnesses a battle between Belasco and a younger mohawked Storm. This jump, Illyana realizes, took her back in time.
Storm is in her prime both as a sorceress and an elemental mutant and quickly gains the upper hand in the fight. When Belasco begs for his life, she ignores his plea and strikes to kill. But then, unexpectedly, Storm’s form becomes more and more demonic, resembling Belasco, whereas Belasco rises reborn.
Gloating, he explains to a prostrate Storm that, while Limbo is his prison within it, he is immune to death and total master of all living things. By killing a helpless foe, she didn’t murder him, but the last shred of her innocence. By becoming corrupt, she is bound to him for life. Illyana realizes in horror, that had she confronted Belasco, the same fate would have been hers.
She teleports back into the present and onto the battlements of Belasco’s citadel, where unfortunately S’ym is already waiting and pulls her to him by her hair, announcing Belasco wants to see her. He is in a bad mood.
Illyana dazzles him with a flare spell and teleports him away. She then notices that the castle wall’s been breached and the wind, rain and lightning make it obvious, that Ororo is behind the attack.
Racing into the throne room, Illyana now understands why Ororo tried so hard to stop her, to prevent Illyana from repeating her mistakes. But why is she attacking now? Has she come to save Illyana?
She sees Ororo battling Belasco: Before she can help, Cat sneaks up on Storm and slashes her back. Illyana attacks Cat with a torch and makes her back off, much to Belasco’s displeasure. On his order, Cat attacks Illyana. The girl tries to make her friend remember who she is, but in vain
Realizing that Belasco’s hold on Cat is too strong, Illyana fights back, holding onto Cat’s back and finally snapping Cat’s neck. Exhausted, she notices with a start that she is too numb to feel any grief for her best friend. She wonders if she has become more like Belasco than she dares admit.
She then cradles a dying Ororo, who tells her that she should not mourn for either her or Cat. It was a mercy killing. Within the heart and soul lies the key to victory, she urges the girl. They could not find it but Illyana must. Be glad for her, she will be reunited with her loved ones.
Belasco interjects that this won’t be the case and that he’ll demonstrate to her, how corrupt Illyana has become. Ororo was a superb pupil but his Darkchild far outstrips her. Belasco uses a spell that opens Illyana’s locket and tells Storm that, long ago, he claimed her soul but she stole it back from him. Of all those his power has touched and tainted, only Ororo ever broke that hold. Such a feat is worthy of reward: First he and Illyana will conjure the third bloodstone and then sacrifice Ororo’s living soul to the Dark Ones! Death will not herald her freedom but her eternal damnation!