3. On Thin Ice

From Lady Ishandra's Mémoires

Lady Ishandra is sitting in her study which Lord Milori had created within his home for her where she is writing her mémoires of all the events in her life since being married to him and established as the Lady of the Winter Woods. She looks out the open door to the planning room where her husband is surrounded by a number of Winter Woods Talents who are pouring over maps of the Winter Woods and the Mainland and chattering excitedly. Earlier that morning, a message was relayed from the Autumn Forests that the Fall Talents were making their way back to Pixie Hollow from the Mainland. In a few weeks it will be the turn of the Winter Woods Talents to change the season yet again and cover the ground in a blanket of snow. She and Lord Milori will be flying with them to supervise operations – the first time for her which set her heart fluttering with excitement.

She picks up one of Tinker Bell’s writing reeds which is now filled with ink that she formulated especially for the conditions of the Winter Woods that did not freeze, congeal or blotch the way Tinker Bell’s original formula did but flows easily from the reed in clear, dark letters. She puts the reed to the leaf in front of her and begins to write in Witchspeak but then stops mid-sentence.

“Why am I writing in this language?” she asks herself when she considers herself no longer a Witch but a Winter Woods Fast Flyer and a citizen of Pixie Hollow. Hollowese is an option but it is not nearly extensive enough to clearly express all she wants. Besides, she wants to keep much of what she writes to herself like keeping her own Queen’s Book of Secrets. But Styx take her if she is going to write in Alfean or even Alfean Standard. That brought back too many bad memories she would sooner forget as well as did any of the many Terran languages she knows including her native Italian. She taps the top of the writing reed against her chin for a few minutes before she takes a fresh leaf and begins to write in Ancient Linphean – a language she is coming to love even more for the sheer beauty of it. It had become her language of choice when conversing with Flora – even more so than Alfean, Hollowese or even Modern Linphean.

As Tecna predicted, it took five weeks for the shafts to return to full production after all the fuel pellets were replaced. Even before that, celebrations began with each season hosting a week of celebrations starting with Spring Valley. When it came time for the Winter Woods to put on its two weeks of celebration, there was not a bare patch of ground to be found and the mighty evergreens were once again dressed in snow. The Winter Woods Faeries were finally able to leave their refuges in the glacier caves and returned to their homes and workplaces. That was a cause for celebration in itself but then together with that was her wedding to Lord Milori that established her as the Lady of the Winter Woods that will continue to be the talk of the decade if not longer. Ishandra touches the second ring on her other ear that confirms her new status and gently smiles.

Since her marriage to Lord Milori, she had become even more popular with the Winter Woods Faeries who saw her not as a Witch but as one of their own. She was soon surrounded by adoring subjects who wanted to serve her. Ishandra wondered if she wanted all these maids and servants because her Witches’ spirit of independence still kept her wanting to do everything for herself. She then came up with a way to deal with it and benefit the Winter Woods as a whole. Gliss would forever hold her position as her Head Stewardess and Secretary but starting last week and once a year every year a competition would be held in which one Faerie and one Sparrowman who had excelled that year in her and his work would be allowed to serve her for a year plus one Faerie and one Sparrowman who in the same year demonstrated the greatest degree of improvement would also be granted the same privilege. Ishandra never expected to find so much competitiveness among her new subjects. The immediate result was that the time lost during the shafts’ shutdown was not only made up for in hard and diligent work by all but all preparations for the change of season far exceeded everyone’s expectations. She smiles in anticipation of what next Winter would bring.

Her sisters were adjusting well to their new lives and had found their niches. Darcy found herself working with the Healing Talents where her new vision as an Unlight Talent allowed her to detect and diagnose broken bones, torn wing muscles malignant growths and the like that the Healing Talents could not detect through the visible spectrum. Many already owed Darcy their lives.

Leffi and Glimmer hit it off the moment they laid eyes on each other. Leffi was a quick and eager student who for every nuance of her Storm Talent Glimmer taught her she could show Glimmer how much the same could be done with Storm Witch magic. During the off season, she found a second niche for herself working at Tinkers’ Nook where by using her gift of fuzzy and warped logic she was able to come up with strange yet viable solutions to problems that not even Tinker Bell nor Tecna could get their heads around.

Aisha along with the other Winx Faeries took up Miss Faragonda’s offer to do their year of fieldwork in Pixie Hollow. Aisha took up the post of Regent while Queen Clarion took a much needed vacation to rest and recuperate both physically and emotionally. However, Aisha was greatly disturbed by the rumors that were circulating that more and more of Pixie Hollow was wanting her to retake the throne and become their queen once again. Ishandra’s opinion of that was that, if they wanted a Winx Faerie for their queen, Aisha was the one she would personally choose and support. She still did not like Bloom all that much and doubted that she was ready to be queen and the thought of Stella becoming Queen of Pixie Hollow made her shiver.

Stella had already set up shop creating Mini-Faerie haute couture but then started driving Flora, Rosetta and the other Garden Faeries crazy with her plans for designer flowers and plants – most of which were impossible or just plain silly. In a rare moment of impatience, Flora finally told her to stick to designing clothes. Undaunted, Stella started sending Ishandra designs for designer snowflakes. Ishandra stacked them in a corner and tried to forget about them but, mysteriously, several of Stella’s designs reached Vloken, Guild Master of the Snowflake Guild, who was soon banging on Ishandra’s door wanting to know who of the Winter Woods Talents designed them. Much to Ishandra’s surprise, Vloken tells her that except for some very minor adjustments these were among the most amazing snowflake designs ever brought to him. Vloken could not believe that the designs came from someone who lived her entire life in a place like the Summer Meadows and had seen snowflakes only once or twice in her life. Ishandra directed Gliss to immediately redirect all such letters from Stella to Guild Master Vloken. Within a week one of Stella’s designs became immensely popular and in her honor became known as a Stella Star.

At Tinkers’ Nook, Tecna built the atomic countdown clock that would warn future Pixie Hollowers when it was approaching the time once again to replace the matanium pellets that fueled the shafts. It was installed with a dedication ceremony into a special alcove for it built into the front wall of the Winter Woods Library where it can be seen even to this day.

Shortly afterwards, Tecna began work with Tinker Bell to standardize all weights and measures used throughout Pixie Hollow. They soon realized that it would require an army of Faeries to distribute the new weights and check measures and that there were not enough Tinker Talents to do that and their regular chores effectively. Leffi scratched her head over that for a few moments and then her eyes lit up. She proposed a plan whereby all the Faeries who were no longer young enough or strong enough to go to the Mainland for the change of seasons could form a new Weights and Measures Guild. Their job would be to go by mouse cart or mink sled to all the regions of Pixie Hollow and measure all the weights and measures they found against the official standards and destroy or replace those that didn’t meet the standards and mark as official the ones that did. It couldn’t be simpler.

Bloom opened an arts boutique and atelier at the Crossroads of the Four Seasons where she was running a brisk business. Each of the seasons had Art Talents but the idea of them meeting in one place to hold group discussions on their various styles of artwork and exchange ideas was unheard of until then. Also the concept of ars gratia artis was virtually unknown to them. A lot of what the Winx and the Trix considered to be artwork was in the eyes of the Pixie Hollowers there only to fulfill a specific task. Shortly afterwards, Bloom used the fine edge of the Dragon’s Fire to quarry manageable blocks of the local soapstone and to fashion metal tools to work it. With a bit of instruction, it didn’t take the Pixie Hollowers long to catch on. The Frost and Snowflake Talents who created ice sculptures soon saw how this could be used to create permanent records of their handiwork. Soon soapstone artifacts with frost and snowflake designs carved into them became hot items not only in the Winter Woods but throughout Pixie Hollow. Then some smart someone among them figured that the same tools Bloom used to carve soapstone could also be used to carve wood and shells and soon items of that nature with carved designs begin to make their appearance.

Musa started a study of the musical culture of Pixie Hollow. She had Queen Clarion sing for her Rhianna’s Song once more so she could transcribe it into musical notation. Nevertheless, she could find nothing in her personal notes or anything at the great music institutes but a reconfirmation that it was not a Faerie melody. Flora in one of her consultations as the Oracle of the Tree tried to approach Rhianna on the topic of the song and her origins and was told point blank that it was something she, the Winx, the Trix and the Pixie Hollowers had no need to know and not to pursue the subject any further.

As for herself, Ishandra was proud of her part in saving the Winter Woods, grateful that she was spared living out the rest of her days imprisoned at Light Rock, overjoyed she was married to the man of her dreams and co-ruler of a people who adored her. The Tinx were her constant friends and when they visited the Winter Woods her companions. Of the Winx Faeries, her relationship was improving among Aisha and Flora and in the Winter Woods she had the ever growing friendship of Minister Snowflake in whom she found a kindred spirit. And for once she found joy and happiness unlike anything since it was her mother holding her protectively within her arms.

The End

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