Chapter 36 : Thorn Fortress
Miss Griffin sits at her great desk in her office in Cloud Tower, cursing her own stupidity and wondering what she could do next.
Darcy and her two cohorts, Mitzi and Morgana, had broken out of Cloud Tower and, according to her informants among the Witches residing at Alfea College, established their new headquarters in an ancient, abandoned fortress deep in the thorn bushes of Black Water Swamp.
“It’s a befitting place,” Griffin is thinking for Thorn Fortress is well protected surrounded with swamps filled with traps and pitfalls, protected from areal assaults by the canopy of dense thorns that would tear to shreds the wings of any Faerie daring to enter and populated by dark and fearful denizens that only Darcy can control through her sinister, dark magic. “Foreboding, indeed,” Griffin is thinking, “but it must have some sort of weakness.”
“I have teams searching our library and archives for any information on Thorn Fortress,” says Miss Griffin to Bloom whose face peers out of a floating sphere hovering at eyelevel above her great desk. “Perhaps you could also search what is in the library and archives at Alfea College. We need to find a secret tunnel or something that will allow us to break in.”
“I’ll see what we can find out here,” nods the new headmistress of Alfea College. “Perhaps we should get Tecna to search the Great Database on Binos for what might be found there. Did you think to contact anyone on Daigneach for help?”
“No,” is the reply. “A good idea, though. That whole planet is just one gigantic fort. It’s for sure that they know a lot more than a thing or two about fort construction.”
“For sure,” agrees Bloom. “I have a direct contact to someone there. I’ll get right on it.”
“I’ll contact you as soon as we’ve found anything,” concludes Miss Griffin.
“Likewise,” confirms Bloom then her sphere vanishes.
Meanwhile the trio of witches is exploring their new headquarters. Morgana breathes in the ancient air and grimaces.
“This place smells like something died here millennia ago and has been rotting all that time, was resurrected and allowed to die again,” grumbles Morgana.
“For sure!” agrees Darcy. “But considering how long this place has been shut up, we’re lucky it only smells that bad. So let’s start cleanup right away.”
“So Cinderella gets to do all the dirty jobs in the house once again,” thinks Mitzi blackly but is surprised when Darcy asks her to give both Morgana and her for a boost in energy so all could be done more quickly. After several hours of sweat and toil, with all pitching in, they have the dingy fortress transformed into a respectable habitat.
From her Headmistress’ office at Alfea College, Bloom tries several times to reach Riven who was now a teacher at the Red Fountain College for Heroes. After a long battle talking her way past several watch dogs, who didn’t seem to recognize her as the new headmistress of Alfea College, she finally reaches him in full hot-head mode.
“Riven here. What do you want? It’d better be important enough to have to drag me out in the middle of a class,” he says curtly.
“Still as charming as ever,” thinks Bloom.
Riven suddenly realizes to whom he is talking then his mood changes. “Bloom! Surprised to receive a call from you. How might I help you?” he inquires in politer tones.
“I need information on Thorn Fortress,” Bloom informs him. “I figured that you should be the first person to ask.”
“I’ll do what I can to help you,” is his reply. “I’m not really the one to ask about ancient structures but perhaps I can put you in touch with someone at Daigneach.”
“Whom there should I contact?” asks Bloom.
“Well,” replies Riven, scratching his head, “the best person I can think of at the moment is Master Grimholm. He is an expert in the field but he is now old, crotchety, stone deaf and literally falling apart. You might have a hard time getting through to him. Uh…, I mean communicating your needs to him. You’d probably do better to talk first to his current apprentice and let him be the middleman between you.”
“Goddess! Why does everything have to be so complicated?” Bloom is thinking but aloud she says, “I’ll take any help I can get at this moment.”
“The Trix again?” he asks.
“You guessed it,” replies Bloom with a meaningful nod, “but it’s just with Darcy.”
“Good luck, then,” says Riven, sincerely.
After giving her the details on how to reach Master Grimholm’s office at the Masons’ Guild at Daigneach, Riven abruptly severs the connection.
“Well, that is at least something,” thinks Bloom who suddenly finds herself staring at a blank screen.
Getting through to Master Grimhold’s office was less of an ordeal than expected thanks to the contact information Riven had given her. She is soon in communication with Master Grimholm’s apprentice, Seamus McClatchen, whose red hair and blue eyes matched her own.
“I’d never expect myself to be talking to the new headmistress of Alfea College and the Mistress of the Dragon’s Flame,” he says while smiling broadly. “How might I assist you?”
Bloom quickly explains to him her dilemma with Darcy and her new trix and the necessity of being able to gain entrance into Thorn Fortress secretly and without triggering any alarms, pitfalls or traps.
“That’s a tall order, indeed,” agrees Seamus. “I shall do what I can for you as quickly as possible but you have to take into consideration that Thorn Fortress is so ancient that there may be scant information about it. Also, any secret means into it that I can find you may no longer exist, be flooded, collapsed or otherwise blocked and fraught with traps.”
Again, Bloom sighs. “Give me anything you can dig up that might give us an edge. That’s all I can ask of you.”
“I’ll be sure to pass your request on to Master Grimholm,” nods Seamus, “he may know of things that are not to be found in any books or records.”
The conversation concludes with Bloom feeling that she has made some progress but still wanting to bang her fists on her desk and scream in frustration.