3. On Thin Ice

We Have A Deal

Deep within the fortress of Light Rock, Icy, the Witch of Ice, lay in her bed in her bland room, eyes open but not seeing anything.

There is a sudden sharp knock on the door, but she didn’t move or respond. She had no control over who came into her room or when, and that had been a hard lesson to learn.

The door opens and someone comes in and closes the door behind him. She assumes her visitor is a Light Haven monk coming to try to force food down her throat or persuade her to eat on her own so she could be tormented for yet another day with endless preaching and persuasion to get her to return to the ways of “The Light.” Disinterested, her eyes nevertheless flick in that direction. Seeing the identity of her visitor, she is shocked enough to move her head for a better look.

Aisha, Princess of Andros and member of the hated Winx Club stands there, expression neutral, gazing at her.

Icy moves her head back to its original position, and says, “What do you want?” in a hoarse voice.

Aisha studies the Witch for a minute. She notes the question was asked without inflection, as if Icy did not care. That worries her. Icy’s snow white hair was loose, spread carelessly around her, and full of tangles and knots. It was also dull and lifeless. That worries her even more. A beige blanket covers her only up to her hips, and she is naked in bed. The only thing she is wearing is the golden headband that keeps her magic bottled up inside.

Suddenly Aisha realizes she can smell Icy from across the room, “How long has it been since she cleaned herself?” she thinks, “I can’t believe the monks would let her go this long.”

Aisha steps over to a small wooden dining table and sits down. The remains of a meal, mostly uneaten, sits there. “There’s a crisis brewing. It’s not universe-shattering or anything, but an entire realm is in danger.”

Icy makes no response, so the Faerie continues. “The solution is outside the scope of our powers, but well within yours. I am here to bargain with you for your help.”

With an effort, the Witch sits up to face the Faerie.

Aisha could now see the blank, lifeless eyes that used to be filled with fire, and saw with a shock that the other girl had lost weight. Why? Why is she like this? The monks said nothing about it.

“Why isn’t Bloom here to do this?” asks Icy, still in that same flat voice.

Aisha snorts. “I know how much you hate her. But you and I have never had much to do with each other, so I was the better choice.”

Icy nods. That is true. And of all the Winx, Aisha is probably the only one she respects at all, so would be the best choice to negotiate. Even in her current state, Icy sees a gleam of hope, and it stirs her long-dormant interest in life.

“Tell me everything,” says Icy.

Aisha takes a deep breath to give herself time to order her thoughts.

“I’m waiting,” says Icy, already becoming impatient.

“In another part of the Magic Dimension live a group of Faeries…,” begins Aisha.

“Ya, ya, ya!” snaps Icy. “So, once upon a time in a Faerieland, far, far away. Just get to the bottom line, will you.”

Aisha struggles not to snap back. “Bottom line: Part of their island called the Winter Woods should be frozen forever like our North Pole but it isn’t. It is melting and the Faeries, who have lived there for millennia, are dying because they cannot cope with the heat.”

“And I should care about a bunch of dying faeries who can’t take the heat because…?” asks Icy coldly.

“These faeries control the weather and keep in balance the change of seasons in their dimension,” Aisha starts to explain but is interrupted.

“So why don’t these stupid pixies just fix their own problem with their own magic?” asks Icy.

“Well, it is part of the Magic Dimension as I said,” agrees Aisha, “but the spell that created the Winter Woods is so ancient that not even the wisest among them knows or has found anything concerning it except for one partly intact book filled with hoodoo, voodoo, mumbo-jumbo and a whole lot of hocus-pocus that no one there understands any longer. We thought that we could help unravel the mystery but this spell is too old and, simply put, not our kind of magic.”

Icy straightens up and begins to take interest.

“So, let me guess,” says the Witch, but still showing defiance. “You want me to go there because I have the expertise in both ice magic and arcane magic needed to fix the broken doodad in their voodoo so their icebox will work again so they can carry on once more with their merry little lives without keeling over and dying from the heat – right?”

“Exactly,” replies Aisha, rankled by Icy’s cruel and callous way of accurately nailing the problem.

“You’re right, I can handle this,” says Icy, “But it won’t be easy. Now convince me to do so if you can.”

The Witch had made no attempt to cover herself, and Aisha realized it was Icy’s tactic to throw her off her game and make the bargaining shift in her favor, so the Faerie ignored it as well.

“Well, what do you want?” asks Aisha.

“Death.”

Aisha’s blue eyes widen in shock. “What?!”

“I want to die. This place is hell, and if that’s the only path out, I will take it.” Weary from a long lack of exercise, Icy lies back down. “If you can’t give me that, go away because I’m not going to help.”

The Princess of Andros is silent while she thinks for a long minute. She shakes her head and settles back. “That’s not it.”

“By the stars, how would you know?” asks Icy, her ice-blue eyes very cold staring into Aisha’s sea-blue ones. “You’re not the one trapped here, forced to attend sickening ‘therapy sessions’ and watching while others have their core personality changed according to the whims of others. The weariness of resisting that change, being kept apart from…,” she trails off, hoping that Aisha would swallow the bait.

Aisha shakes her head. “Nice try, Icy. I’m a Faerie, but I’m not stupid. Do you really think I would come here to bargain with you without being prepared?”

The Witch glares, but says nothing.

“I talked to Miss Griffin first. She explained how a trix works – how you link your life force to your chosen sisters for a boost in magic. I know that the bond of being a trix cannot be broken even if you are separated over space, time or dimensions, and in some cases not even by passing into the spirit world. Only when a member tears herself from her trix without going through the proper ritual thus creating a rupture are all in danger of dying.”

She pauses when Icy turns her face away, but the Witch stays silent.

“I can’t say if taking that step was worth it, but I hope so; it gives you an idea of the kind of bond we Faeries have. And to be frank, it gives me leverage.”

Aisha stands up. “Icy, I have the authority to reunite the three of you, but will do so only if you will agree to help Pixie Hollow and negotiate terms in good faith.”

Icy turns her back on the Faerie. “Go away.”

“You’re being stubborn for the sake of your pride, and I understand that. How do you think I feel, asking a Witch for help? Especially, when the Witch is you.”

That startles Icy, who looks back over her shoulder at Aisha.

“Most of the Winx wanted to let you rot. So did Griffin and Faragonda. But we did agree your powers and knowledge make you the best option. If you refuse, we’ll go with Plan B and you can stay and keep your pride intact.” says Aisha. “You’ll be left here to starve yourself to death if you wish and you will never see your sisters again.”

“You’re blackmailing me.”

“Yes.” It cost Aisha a lot to say that word, and she knew she would be wrestling with her conscience over it, but tells herself it’s for Pixie Hollow.

“I can respect that,” admits the Witch.

“Well?” asks Aisha, hoping to get Icy to make a quick decision.

Icy sighs, which tells Aisha she was considering it. “Keep your wings on, Faerie. Or better yet, let me tear them off for you.”

Aisha smiles to herself. That’s the Icy she knew!

“No,” Icy finally says. “Pride or not, blackmail or not, I will not make a deal with Faeries I hate.”

“Okay, then, would you make a deal with me as the duly appointed representative of Pixie Hollow?”

Icy looks at Aisha over her shoulder. “Maybe. Prove it.”

Aisha conjures the document given her by Clarion’s court and hands it to the Witch. Icy knows this cannot be faked by magic – she’d be able to tell.

Icy reads it carefully then rolls over and sits up. “Let’s negotiate.”

The negotiations that follow are rough on Aisha. For every proposal she makes, Icy makes a counterproposal trying hard to swing the deal in her favor. However, realizing that Aisha is not going to budge from her position on certain key points, Icy finally relents fearing that Aisha might give up on her and leave her to rot in this hellhole. Freedom from Light Rock and being reunited with her sisters are well worth the cost of a little pride. An agreement is finally reached and sealed the Witch way with a mingling of blood.

Icy looks at her hands, arms, and fingers that are almost skeletal with flabs of flesh hanging from them.

“I guess I need to start eating again to gain back some weight and strength,” says Icy. “What’s on the menu?”

“I haven’t a fat grub or a succulent spider to offer you but how about a nice, red and juicy apple?” smiles Aisha, holding out to her a piece of that fruit.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” grumbles Icy. Nevertheless, she is quick to take the offered fruit and bite into it.

Later, after she has bathed and put on clothes, the Witch of Ice, the Faerie of Fluids, and two monk-guards walk down a corridor which ends at a door. It leads to a dining hall for “guests” that is normally deserted at this time of day.

The leading guard opens the door and Icy sees her sisters sitting at a round table in the center of the room. Walking proudly, she goes inside. The guard starts to follow, but Aisha stops him with a word. He takes up a position beside the door.

Aisha closes the door and turns back to the guard following.

“You are not going in, Highness?” he asks, surprised.

Aisha shakes her head. “This is a private moment for them, and it should stay that way. I’m going back to my room.”

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