Musa could not be happier if she were in Faerie Utopia which to her she was. Darcy and Morgana have done a vanishing act. Riven was again with her and he was hers and she was his. Their wedding plans were well under way. Riven’s adoptive father, the King of Planet Daingneach, had even granted the couple a few months extra in which to draw up their plans so their wedding would be the talk of the decade. The guest list included all the residence of Alfea College and Red Fountain and, much to their surprise, Ishandra, Leffi, Mirta, Alessandra and Alysoun.
Meanwhile, Riven cannot seem to spend enough time with her. There was dancing, fine dining, levabike racing, dragonback riding and just long, romantic strolls in the parks. Riven was learning to be a respectable player of the tenor recorder for which Musa was quietly grateful that he hadn’t picked up the shawn, crumhorn, rackett or the jaw harp. He did not think much of Musa’s guitar playing but loved it when she played the gut strung lute for him. Once Riven added to his repertoire several tunes that they could do in duet, the lute became one of Musa’s favourite instruments as well. And every night there was hot and steamy lovemaking that was far beyond fantastic – although she could never get him to explain to her the strange new scars on his chest and abdomen.
Bloom was settling in as the Headmistress of Alfea College. She was expecting resentment and resistance from Ms Griselda for being passed over for the position but it turned out that Griselda could not do enough to help her and offered her sound advice and warnings about novice mistakes one makes when starting out.
Bloom took direct interest in her students and taught several of the first year classes herself – much to the delight of her students. With Ishandra’s help, she instituted a system of incentives and rewards to motivate everyone to strive to achieve her utmost and to assist her fellows when they flagged or fell behind. Ishandra also continued to train Bloom on the mastery of the Dragon’s Fire and Bloom came to realize that she still had much to learn.
Tecna continued to be among the missing and if anyone knew anything about her whereabouts they were keeping silent. Meanwhile, Leffi had become Timmy’s protégée. As his student, Leffi astounded him with her unexpected ways of coming up with miracle solutions to solving technical problems that he, in many cases, couldn’t get his head around. He soon began calling her the Mistress of Warped and Fuzzy Logic.
Flora taught courses in nature studies but most of her time was spend administrating the student exchange program between Alfea College and Cloud Tower and being in communication with Sabrina who was her counterpart there.
Flora was hoping that Vulpa would be among her exchange students and was greatly saddened to learn from Sabrina that Vulpa passed away almost a year ago – before reaching her twentieth year. As per her wishes, Vulpa’s funeral was a quiet event kept just within the Witch community but, as per the custom on Alfea, her ashes were released to The Goddess over Lake Roccaluce. Most at Cloud Tower continued to mourn her passing with many going so far as to call her a saint.
Now that thirty Witches were attending Alfea College and the same number of Faeries was attending Cloud Tower, the tensions between them began to ease. Many come to realize that most of the arguments that kept the two groups fighting each other were based on hearsay, misunderstandings, misconceptions or disputes that were now millennia in the past and had nothing to do with the here and now. Slowly, they came to realize that it was well past the time when both sides should have buried the hatchet and wiped the slate clean and together herald a new era of mutual trust and respect.
Flora became solid with a blue-skinned, lotus-eyed Witch named Meera. They shared the same interests in nature, peace and world harmony although Meera’s interests were more towards the zoological whereas Flora’s were towards the botanical. Meera told Flora how she could achieve more of her inner potential by awakening her kundalini. Flora shivered to think that two creepy snaky things could have taken up residents in her body and were coiled about her spine. In time, she came to realize that the “snakes” were only a physical reference for an abstract concept and re-imagined them as a double helix of her beloved ivy vines and that the “awakening” was equivalent to coming into blossom. Meera ran into a snag, though, when discussing chakras and Flora had to explain to her that Faeries had six hearts and not just one as do Witches. Meera scratched her head over that one for a few days but came to the decision that the hearts in the centre of Flora’s chest, which were directly linked to her lungs and flight muscles, formed the actual Heart Chakra because of their position and because flight was one of the major defining elements of a Faerie while the other four were incorporated into the throat and sacral chakras. Finally, Flora came to love Meera’s spicy style of vegetarian cooking and the hours spent together compounding new fragrances to be used in oils and incense for aromatherapy.
Aïsha decided to pick up Nabu and fly to Andros there to visit with her parents and to take a mental health break.
Stella had thoughts of taking Brandon to Solaria there to find a cottage in the enchanted forest away from the hustle and hassle of court and possibly begin planning for a family.
Bloom is just signing off on Stella’s leave request and wondering if she will ever marry and start a family when there is a sharp knock on the door.
“Come in, Isha,” calls Bloom, having come to know that particular knock.
The door opens and Ishandra, Leffi, Mirta and Alessandra file in. “We need to talk,” states Ishandra.
“What is the problem?” asks Bloom, feeling uneasy being confronted by four Witches.
“It’s this sudden protracted silence,” says Ishandra. “We’re getting an uneasy feeling about this.”
“Why should this be a problem?” asks Bloom.
“I’m putting all odds on Darcy being about to launch an attack,” says Ishandra, frowning.
“Could it be that Darcy’s just given up?” asks Bloom.
“Fat chance of that,” says Ishandra and the others voice the same opinion. “Darcy would never just give up. There’s too much Witch pride at stake. No, she’s regrouping for a fresh offensive and we had better be prepared for it.”
“You have no idea of Darcy’s abilities for planning and biding her time for the right moment to strike and this would be prime time for it,” says Leffi.
“She’s right,” says Ishandra. “One of our best fighters is missing and two more have or are about to leave Alfea College. Also, Musa has been careless about telling us when and where she’s going and Riven’s presence is no deterrent to Darcy. This would be an ideal time for an attack.”
“Aren’t you all being a tad paranoid?” protest Bloom.
“You still have much to learn about Witchkind,” replies Ishandra, somewhat menacingly. “The main thing is to keep your guard up and never show any signs of weakness. I hope you are prepared and that you also have a Plan-B for, mark my words, Bloom, it’s coming and a lot sooner than you may think.”
Bloom is sitting at her desk trying to calm herself as the Witches make their exit. She sees a dark cloud gathering over all of Alfea, hears a rolling thunderclap, sees a brilliant flash of lightning and is very, very afraid.