Flynn awoke with an intense ringing in his ears and spots in his vision. Rubbing his eyes, he blinked the spots away, but the buzzing in his ears continued. Unsure of where he was, Flynn peered at the prickly branches surrounding him. Slowly he began to recall the chaotic events that had set IvyHold ablaze.
Scanning his surroundings he noticed an eerily calm aftermath to the invasion. It may have been peaceful now, but the recent carnage in IvyHold was evident by the ruins of crumbled walls, smouldering rubble and craters pockmarking the entire landscape. The stillness was only disturbed by the high-pitched buzzing in his ears.
Flynn sat up to check himself for any injuries or broken bits. Blinking heavily, he realised that aside from his muffled hearing, he was relatively unharmed. That’s when thoughts of his parents came flooding into his mind.
Were they alright?
Where were they?
They were in the house!
The house was under assault!!!
He must find his parents NOW!!!
Kicking up a storm of sand, he dashed through the Sunken Oasis racing towards home. Ignoring the ringing in his ears, he skipped across the stepping stones at the Moonfalls, and rounded the corner to his home.
The contents of his satchel were clinking and clattering when he came to a sudden halt. His stomach dropped at the sight in front of him.
Time stood still.
Frozen with disbelief, Flynn stared down into a massive crater where his house once stood. The gigantic pit was totally scorched and clear of any rubble or debris. Completely pulverised, there was nothing left of what he once called home. There was no Mom, no Dad, no signs of life.
All hope disappeared when this reality dawned on him. In his despair, everything seemed to have stopped, even the buzzing in his ears. With IvyHold torn apart, his home obliterated, and his parents gone, there was absolutely nothing left in Flynn’s world.
With his entire life collapsing around him, an impossible sound of laughter broke the silence surrounding him. Amidst all of the wreckage and carnage, the cheerful giggles were a piercing contrast. How could anybody be happy enough to laugh at a time like this?
In disbelief, Flynn was drawn towards the joyous laughter coming from down the laneway in Fountain Park. He made his way along the gravel pathway past the statues – or whatever rubble was left of the statues. Moving quickly, he stayed under the cover of bushes lining the path.
Approaching the curtain of ivy that surrounds the central courtyard of Fountain Park, Flynn swept the tendrils aside. He could not have imagined what he was about to see.
The merry laughter came from an elegant woman sitting on the edge of a broken fountain. The entire courtyard surrounding her was in absolute ruins. She sat with great ease amongst the smouldering piles of rubble, scattered paving stones and open flames raging throughout the courtyard.
One of the many fountains was ablaze – it’s once cooling waters now transformed into burning flames spouting from the centre of the fountain. Flynn had no idea what kind of enchantment this was, but the figure laughing demanded all of his attention.
Regardless of the chaos, she sat there, lounging on the edge of the broken fountain. Flynn couldn’t take his eyes away from the enchanting vision splashing her slender hand through the rippling waters.
Hauntingly beautiful, she wore a thin golden crown adorned with a slim crescent moon upon her raven-black hair. On her lap she stroked a long staff tipped with a deadly sliver that was also in the shape of a crescent moon. Her dark cloak reflected the firelight in unnatural ways – she was absolutely mesmerising to look upon.
Sitting next to the alluring figure was another much younger woman whom Flynn hadn’t even noticed until now. Quite stunning herself, she was draped in a skyblue cloak that matched her feathery, powder-blue hair. She laughed cheerfully, trying to avoid the enchanting woman splashing her with the cool waters that were flowing from the shattered fountain.
The whole situation felt so incongruous – All of this beauty in the middle of the ravaged scene that was once the courtyard of Fountain Park.
After enough splashing, the blue-haired girl was completely drenched. Still laughing, she stood up while clutching a shining amulet strung around her neck. Directing her gaze at the ground in front of herself, the young woman went into deep concentration.
A serious look crossed over her face when the amulet began to glow. All of a sudden a twirling whirlwind rose up from the ground in front of the young woman. She stepped into the swirling gust and her skyblue cloak dried off completely. The whirlwind wisped away while the blue-haired girl took the opportunity to smile at her handiwork.
Suddenly it dawned on Flynn.
These elegant women were Witches – in IvyHold!!!
Flynn nearly gasped aloud, but managed to withhold his shock. He had been so hypnotised by their beauty that he never considered the obvious.
“Well conjured Ventille.” the elegant Enchantress said in her smooth, rich voice.
The younger lady, Ventille, took the compliment with a nonchalant shrug, although unable to hide her excitement at being acknowledged.
“You are too kind Empress Lunasa.” she said, remembering her etiquette. “That basic charm was hardly worth your notice.”
The flattery was brought to an end when Lunasa’s attention was suddenly drawn to a disturbance across the courtyard. Approaching through the ivy curtain on the opposite side of the courtyard was a crowd of even more witches – an entire coven it seemed.
Flynn couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
The scene before him was nothing he could have ever imagined. Witches everywhere – bouncing about IvyHold in celebration. The coven laughed and joked while crossing the wide courtyard. Young and old, elegant and hideous, there were all sorts of Enchantresses parading across Fountain Park.
A select few held ornate staffs, while others were adorned with amulets strung around their necks on thin copper chains. None were nearly as captivating as the raven-haired Supreme Enchantress with her crescent moon crown, but each of them did possess the definite allure of Power.
Obviously bothered by the inconvenience of the incoming procession, the younger Enchantress Ventille rolled her eyes at the spectacle coming their way. She spoke in a disgusted tone, “I do apologise my Supreme Enchantress.” She spoke with venom in her voice, “I will never understand why they choose to act so common. Why can’t they all behave as regal as yourself?”
The Supreme Enchantress Lunasa responded with understanding, “Today was an achievement Ventille. It is well deserved excitement. Some of us are just able to hide it better than others.”
Eventually, the final few Enchantresses emerged from the ivy curtain, towing along a series of gold-linked chains attached to two golden orbs. Floating just above the ground, the large orbs throbbed with the hum of Enchantment. The coven continued parading through the courtyard when one of the orbs came to a jolting halt, snapping the chains attached to it.
There was a minor commotion as one intimidating Enchantress shouted at two of the younger ones, “Orphelle! Talana!!! What happened to your links?” She scolded the younger girls with obvious disdain, “Keep your concentration or you’ll be scrubbing out the Forge for the next few moons.”
The two young Enchantresses looked mortified as they began to mend the broken chain. Busy at work they didn’t notice that the loose orb began to rock back and forth.
Then it began to quake uncontrollably.
Then it began to glow from within.
Accompanied by a furious buzzing sound, the orb began to bulge and expand well beyond it’s constraints which quickly got the attention of the rest of the coven.
Immediately, the entire coven stopped their joyous celebrations and surrounded the orb. It wasn’t just a snapped chain, now they were trying desperately to contain whatever was inside. Each member of the coven frantically focused their Powers on the orb.
Flynn was unable to see what was within the orb, but it was taking all of their concentration trying to regain control.
The strain was evident on all of the Enchantresses involved. The coven struggled to keep control of the situation when the raven-haired, Supreme Enchantress stood up from the fountain in a fluid motion. With an elegant twirl of her staff, she approached the orb with visible irritation.
“Enough of this nonsense!” She called out. Pulling back the sleeves of her shimmering cloak one at a time, she cleared a space around her, “Must I do everything here?”
A vague hint of concern crossed her face while casting her pure concentration on the troublesome orb that was on the verge of bursting open. First raising her face, then her hands to the sky, she summoned her Powers. When she lowered her intense gaze at the orb, a flashing glow lit up all of IvyHold for an instant.
When the light subsided, it was followed by what can only be described as a reverse-popping sound. The absence of sound was as loud as any bang Flynn had ever heard. He covered his ears with his hands to keep out the emptiness until the disorientating vacuum of sound evened out.
When normality returned, Flynn looked up to see the bulging orb lay silent in the middle of the courtyard. He saw the Supreme Enchantress Lunasa let out a deep exhale, visibly exhausted from the effort.
Composing herself, she stood tall and quickly reprimanded the rest of the gathering, “What are you waiting for?” she called out, “Finish securing the prisoners. We must transport them immediately, otherwise we will face the same issues while midair – not an ideal situation.”
The coven jumped into action, casting various charms on the silent orb. During the commotion, a few Enchantresses went to check on the second orb that had been silent all along.
Lunasa scolded those few, “Leave that orb be. He is of no concern to us now. We need all of our attention focused on this troublesome one. She still poses a serious threat.” She motioned towards the other harmless orb with disdain. “He is of no danger to us now. We will return for him once she has been secured for transportation.”
The entire coven rallied around their Empress and focused their energies on the orb. Working together, they cautiously began their task of transporting the troublesome orb from the courtyard under Lunasa’s supervision.
Flynn watched in horror as they disappeared from the courtyard, leaving nothing behind but the silent orb.