Chapter 11

The Moonfalls

Standing amongst the scattered debris, a heavy tightness clenched in the pit of Flynn’s stomach. Consumed by shock and horror, he found himself unable to look away from the tangled bones sizzling within the Queen’s Web. His recent triumphant thoughts of slaying a Witch were short lived when faced with the reality of Ventille’s remains continuing to burn before his very eyes.

The grotesque sight left Flynn paralysed. He stood in the middle of the chamber, fixated on the gruesome scene. The smoking bones in front of him were a grim reminder of the brutal events that just occured. The entire sequence of events replayed over and over in his head. He could still see Ventille thrashing in pain, he could still feel the whipping winds of the cyclone tearing at him, but worst of all he could still hear the sounds of her agonising screams echoing in his ears.

As hard as he tried, Flynn couldn’t shake these sensations from his mind. They played on a haunting repeat until a deeper, more primal feeling took hold of him – Survival. 

Pushing his morbid fascination aside, Flynn knew that he needed to get moving. His instincts kept whispering to him that other members of the Coven were most likely lurking around IvyHold, so he needed to find a safe place to go. Looking at the chaos surrounding him, the Depths no longer felt safe. 

The problem, however, was trying to convince his legs to move. They were cemented in shock, indecision and fear – a very dangerous combination. 

Eventually though, Flynn recalled his mission:

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Focusing this mantra in his mind, Flynn managed the mental strength to force his right leg to take a step forward. Luckily his left leg followed. With another effort to make his right leg step forward, his left leg kept going as well and he was in full stride.

His forced march led him to the bureau where the contents lay spilled all about the floor. Ventille’s cyclone had raged all over the cellar in her death thralls, scattering the Relics, making Flynn’s search a bit more difficult. 

First he searched for his mother’s leathern satchel – collecting the Relics and journals was the most important task. 

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Once again, this mantra helped him keep focused on the task at hand. Eventually finding the satchel, he picked it up, scrambled around the chamber and stuffed the Relics inside. The foggy looking-glass, the burnt torch and scaly mask were all found quickly and flung into the satchel.The milky white stone embedded in each Relic glowed a dim hue as he scooped them up one after the other. 

With all of the Relics collected, Flynn began the search for his Dad’s journals. Ripped covers and torn pages littered the chamber, but Flynn salvaged every last bit of the journals – He couldn’t risk missing a single page. Finally, when he was certain that he found all of them, he turned his attention to collecting weapons – he needed to defend himself after all. 

There was no short supply of weaponry scattered about, but there was a choice to be made. With his satchel bursting full of Relics and his arms cradling the journals, he didn’t have space to carry much more. Not wanting to be defenseless though, he picked up an assortment of blades and stuffed them into the pockets of his cloak. 

He eyed up the heavy battle axe that started the commotion. His visions of wielding it heroically vanished quickly, knowing it was too heavy to carry along. Already overloaded, Flynn turned and shuffled towards the stairs. The effort to get across the chamber proved too much though. Sweat began to drip down his face and each time he readjusted his heavy load, the blades stuffed in his pockets jabbed painfully into his side. He stopped at the base of the spiral staircase to gather himself. 

Knowing that he had no chance of making a stealthy escape hobbling around with this clattering load, he regretfully discarded some of the heavier blades. What was he going to do with fifteen daggers anyways? 

While dumping the blades onto the tiled floor, a morbid reminder caught his attention from the corner of his eye. Unable to stop himself, Flynn turned to stare at the Queen’s Web wrapped tightly around Ventille’s sizzling remains. 

This horrifying display in front of him proved that the Relics were the true Power in this room, not the blades scattered about the floor. Flynn’s stomach clenched as he recalled the phenomenal Power the Queen’s Web was capable of – nets didn’t usually incinerate whatever was caught inside of them.

He wanted to collect all of the Relics, but as he approached Ventille’s crisped bones, he thought twice about taking the net with him. Even though he would feel safer with the Queen’s Web in his possession, he honestly couldn’t face the gruesome mess wrapped up within it. With a heavy mind, he turned away from the crumpled heap, deciding to leave the Spider Queen’s Relic where it was.

On his way up the stairs, Flynn knew that the vision of Ventille’s death was going to stay with him for as long as he lived. He was responsible for the death of another person – Becoming the Legendary Witch Killer didn’t feel so heroic now.

Flynn lumbered up the stairs with burdens weighing heavily on his shoulders and mind. Leaving the Depths behind him, he shuffled down the long dark hallway and outside of the Glasshouse. He stood in the broken doorway intently listening for any other intruders amongst the rubble and ruins of his home. Now faced with a decision of where to go for safety, he watched the sun setting over the crumbling walls of IvyHold. 

The sun was going down! 

That meant that the Moon was about to shine!!

Flynn knew EXACTLY where to hide for the night!!!

He shuffled as quickly as he could down the gravel pathway, towards his secret haven. There was only one place in IvyHold safe enough to spend the night – the Moonfalls. The hidden chamber behind the cascading waters of the Moonfalls would definitely offer protection for the night. But with the sun quickly reaching the horizon, he needed to move fast if he wanted to get there in time. 

Rushing against the sunset, Flynn lugged his heavy load through the Sunken Oasis, past the burning Hedge Maze and rounded the corner to reach the smooth pond surrounding the Moonfalls. Taking a brief moment to look up through the shattered walls of IvyHold, he could see the sun getting even lower – Time was quickly running out.

He had skipped along this pathway in the pond a countless number of times. Normally, he would be able to hop across the stepping-stones blindfolded, but with the awkward load he was carrying and his rush against time made the stepping-stone path seem much more daunting. He couldn’t stop now though.

Picking up his pace, he wobbled and nearly fell into the smooth waters. But fortune was on his side as he managed to keep his balance atop the stones in the pond. His urgency increased as he got closer to the flowing Moonfalls. Only a couple more steps before he was safe.

Without hesitation, Flynn bounded across the final two stones and leaped through the falling curtain of water. He disappeared into the chamber behind the Moonfalls just as the sun was setting.

 ~ ~ * ~ ~ 

  

Now safe on the other side of the Moonfalls, Flynn’s surging adrenaline was replaced with a massive sense of relief. Shaking off the water running down his back, he dropped the armful of journals and the heavy satchel in the centre of the hidden chamber. He stripped off his dripping cloak, balled it up and tossed it into the corner of the tiny chamber where he kept a collection of his other belongings. 

His panic and stress began to melt away as he relaxed in the security of this familiar chamber behind the Moonfalls. This was his own private space where he came whenever he wanted to disappear from the world and he had never wanted to disappear more than he did at this moment. This little hideaway offered the safety and protection that Flynn needed. 

There was only a thin curtain of water separating him from more hostile intruders, but that was all about to change. The atmosphere behind the Moonfalls surged with Power as the sun sank below the horizon and the moon came out to shine. 

An unnatural coolness fell upon the chamber while the air started to crackle and hum. Under the strong beams of moonlight, the flowing waters began to thicken and slow down. Unfazed, Flynn watched in pleasured relief as the Moonfalls began to crystallize before his eyes. Slowly at first, but then a rapid chain reaction kicked in, transforming the cascading waters into a solid wall frozen in place. Fully crystallized under the moonlight, the Moonfalls now offered Flynn protection for the night. 

He was safe.

The rising moonshine lit up the crystal curtain in a glorious glow, calming his stressed mind. In a moment of pure release, Flynn collapsed onto the floor. Finally able to stop his racing thoughts, he simply stared into the shimmering glow cast throughout the carved-out chamber. He usually spent a lot of time behind the Moonfalls, but very rarely after moonrise. The eerie lighting took some getting used to.

Not knowing how much time passed, Flynn eventually came back to his senses. In the morning he must leave IvyHold behind in search of the Lost Explorer, so he desperately needed to come up with a plan.

Gathering the journals around him, he settled down in the middle of the chamber. He lifted the clinking satchel and spilled the contents onto the uneven, stone floor. The Relics clattered out, echoing throughout the moonlit chamber. Safe within his private space he had set up over the years, it was time to have a look at the stash of Resting Relics now. 

“What a strange assortment!” he thought to himself. 

He had seen them briefly back in the Depths, but now he could study them closer without a Power hungry Adept hovering over him threateningly.

The only hopes of saving his parents lay within these random objects and a stranger called the Lost Explorer. He must not have been that great of an explorer if he was lost himself. But Flynn couldn’t think that way now, he needed to think positively about saving his parents – but first he needed to save himself and get out of here. These Resting Relics were of little use now. The answers to his escape plan lay in the journals surrounding him.

Flynn turned to his father’s journals sprawled on the cold stone floor and picked one up. He began to read by the moonlight shining through the crystal curtain of the Moonfalls. Straining his eyes to see, he searched through the journals in the growing darkness. He didn’t dare light a torch since it might draw attention from whoever could be lurking outside. 

Skimming through the journals, he saw they were simply records that his father kept on the surrounding areas. The diaries made for dull reading, but they were strangely comforting. Reading over the words that Dad wrote made Flynn feel like his father was here with him right now. Most of the passages dealt with the lands of the Western Reach surrounding IvyHold. Important information, but quite mind numbing in all honesty.

However much he needed to plan his escape in the morning, Flynn’s exhausted mind simply couldn’t do anymore. After a couple more minutes of looking over the dull descriptions, he began to unwind and relax. Getting ready to sleep, Flynn balled up his damp cloak to use as a pillow. 

As soon as he lay down, a faint click-clack of footsteps was heard crossing the frozen pond surrounding the Moonfalls. In total shock, Flynn stared intently at the moonlight streaming through the frozen wall. 

Waiting in terror, the footfalls became louder. They were soon followed by the appearance of a shadow approaching the crystallised curtain of the Moonfalls. Flynn jumped up, hands to his mouth, holding back a terrified yelp that he desperately wanted to scream out. Pulling his cloak tightly around himself, Flynn froze in fear.

The shadow reached the Moonfalls and began knocking rhythmically against the crystal falls, searching for a way inside. It disappeared for a moment then the passing shadow returned, still scanning the frozen wall. It stopped in the centre of the Moonfalls and slapped it’s open hand against the solid wall with a hollow clunking sound. 

Clearly visible, the palm of the small hand began to glow a misty grey colour. A foggy cloud surrounded the hand, forming a mist which clung to the exterior of the crystal curtain. The fog quickly spread across the entire wall, consuming it totally.

Covered in cloud, the Power outside began to surge – buzzing and humming ferociously. Flynn backed away to the far end of the chamber, frozen in horror. He knew that there was no way the shadow could get inside the Moonfalls during hours of moonlight, but what if…

The Power increased, making the frozen Moonfalls vibrate ferociously, but the crystallized wall remained as sturdy as ever – resisting the Power inflicted upon it. 

Regardless, Flynn was terrified. Just knowing that somebody was out there… only a few steps away… wanting to get inside… sent shivers through his bones. And once the moon set, what was to stop them from getting inside then? 

After what seemed like ages, the assault of Power stopped as suddenly as it began. The shadow disappeared soon after, as if it was never there. In an attempt to comfort himself, Flynn wrapped the damp cloak tightly around his shoulders. 

He stood behind the frozen Moonfalls shivering long after the intruder vanished. The cloudy shadow may have gone away, but Flynn’s fears kept him company all night long. He stood guard with vigilant eyes for as long as he possibly could, but eventually Flynn drifted off into a deep, dreamless slumber that can only be brought about by pure exhaustion.

Once again, everything went black.

Chapter 10

Sizzle & Burn

Ventille stood atop the spiral staircase with a sly smirk spreading across her porcelain features. Her skyblue cloak billowing around her majestically gave a definite air of authority. Flynn froze still, watching the elder Adept descend the spiral staircase with an elegance he never knew possible. Her gloved hand caressing the banister as she sauntered down the final steps.

Never breaking eye contact, Ventille smiled her sinister smile and gave a taunting little wave of introduction. Her sharp cheekbones and pursed red lips would have been beautiful if it wasn’t for the cold calculation behind her piercing blue eyes.

At the bottom of the spiral staircase, she finally spoke, cutting the silence with her sweet voice, “Hello there little boy.” Flynn knew she couldn’t have been more than a few years older than himself, but he was in no position to point this out. 

She looked Flynn up and down, and obviously wasn’t impressed by what she saw. She let out a pitying giggle, “You common folk are so adorably plain.” Looking around the dim chamber she continued, “I can’t believe that people actually live like this – it’s so cute.” Despite her beauty and sweet demeanor, Flynn couldn’t help being terrified by the cruelty in her voice. He unconsciously gathered the satchel closer to his chest, protecting the Relics within.

Tilting her head curiously, Ventille’s calculating eyes studied Flynn deeper, “What are you hiding down here?” As charming as her voice was, her tone was absolutely sinister. Flynn knew that he couldn’t trust a thing that came out of those sweet looking lips. 

Gracefully gliding across the chamber, she approached Flynn without concern. Her false smile disappeared and her voice was now laced with venom, “It seems that you have some interesting toys down here.” 

Her eyes lit up when she registered what the spilled contents of the bureau actually were. Having no interest in the sharp blades, all of her attention was focused on the Resting Relics. She greedily eyed the looking-glass in Flynn’s hand, along with the burnt torch and the scaly mask scattered on the tiles of the chamber. 

“You’re hiding Relics down here, aren’t you?” she asked in disbelief.

The hazy stones embedded in the Relics absorbed all of her interest. Seeming to recognise the Power of the elder Adept, the stones began to shimmer milky white in response to her presence.

Flynn gathered the Relics closer around him, trying his best not to let the fear show in his eyes.

Any false sweetness disappeared from the Adept’s voice as she suddenly became stern and formal, “I represent the Coven of Redcloud and I declare that these Relics are now property of the illustrious Supreme Enchantress Lunasa.” 

Never letting her eyes drop she continued officially and full of pride, “If you have any objections, you must address the Coven in due accordance.” 

Flynn was frozen with fear but managed to stammer, “Th-th-these aren’t yours,” in a pitiful attempt to sound brave he continued, “They’re m-m-mine.”

Ventille let out a menacing giggle that sent shivers down his spine. “I think you know that’s not true.”

She grasped the jewel hanging from her neck and muttered in concentration as it began to glow crystal-blue. A twirling cyclone rose from the ground in front of her and swept across the room in a menacing display, only to return to spin silently by her side. 

With hair whipping around in the breeze, she made the situation quite clear, “Everything here is now mine, and you know there’s nothing you can do to change that.”

Successfully emphasising her point, Ventille returned her focus to the Relics. With her attention on the Relics, Flynn took the opportunity to pick up a weapon to defend himself. He spun around to the fallen cabinet and grabbed one of the jewel encrusted daggers. He lifted it in front of him as menacingly as he could muster – But the only response he got from the Adept was her mocking laughter. 

“These are mine!” Flynn managed to say without stuttering – The dagger  gave him a vague sense of security.

Ventille’s sly smile quickly turned into an intimidating snarl of her lips. In a fluid motion, she clutched the jewel hanging from her neck. Once again, the amulet glowed crystal-blue. A gust of wind came whipping out of her outstretched hand aimed directly at Flynn. 

The gust ripped the dagger from his grip and flung it away. The sharp blade flew across the chamber in a perfect arc, driven by the heavy gust. With a thud, the blade buried itself deep into a wooden cupboard at the far side of the cellar. 

Still clutching the jewel around her neck, Ventille muttered more words under her breath. The cyclone twisting by her side swooped towards Flynn and swallowed him up entirely within it’s swirling gusts. Trapped inside the whirlwind, he couldn’t see much through the whipping winds surrounding him. Everything outside his new prison was a blur, until Ventille approached the enclosure to peer inside at her captive. 

Up close, her grimace began to fade and was replaced by another fake-friendly smile. Staring into the cyclone she scolded, “Please don’t do that again. I don’t tolerate aggressive behaviour.” Continuing in her sweet voice, she tried to convince Flynn of her good intentions, “Besides, I am simply returning the Relics to their rightful owners – the Coven.” 

Flynn knew this was a lie and couldn’t help himself from blurting out, “That’s not true – You want the Power for yourself!”

“Excuse me?” Ventille faked innocence.

“You said it yourself – you want all of the Power just like the Forsaken Enchantress Ivy!”

“So you were spying on us?” She shook her head with disapproval, “Your parents were sneaky snoops too and look what happened to them.”

Flynn was speechless while Ventille continued to taunt, “Well at least I assume that’s who those sad commoners were.” She lowered her head in pity, “But don’t worry, you’ll be joining mommy and daddy very soon.” 

Flynn watched the blue-haired Adept turn to collect the Relics from the chamber floor. Suddenly she stopped, turning towards the spiral staircase. Ventille looked quite bothered by the interruption at the top of the stairs.

Flynn couldn’t see anything clearly through the winds, but he could vaguely hear another voice calling from above. It was faint through the roaring gusts of the whirlwind surrounding him, but he heard someone calling out, “Ventille! Are you down here Ventille?” 

Ventille turned and screamed, “Go away Bubbles!” 

Not discouraged easily, Bubbles continued calling from above, “Are you alright? What’s all that racket?” 

“None of your business – Leave me alone!” Flynn knew that Ventille wanted the Relics to herself, “Run away like you wanted to. I don’t need you down here.”

Flynn tried to shout out, but it was useless. His shouts were swallowed up by the heavy gusts swirling about him. He tried to scream louder over the whipping whirlwind, but it was no use. Ventille turned away from Flynn to direct her full attention towards the nuisance at the top of the stairs. 

“I said – Go away Bubbles!”

She grabbed her amulet and sent a gust of wind shooting up the spiral staircase. The iron door slammed shut – Only to be opened again, quickly followed by the bothersome voice calling down again, “What’s happening down here Ventille?”

“Nothing Bubbles! Go AWAY!!!”

Clutching her amulet tight, Ventille put all of her concentration towards creating another cyclone. Her piercing blue eyes glowed bright in her efforts. However, her attempt to summon a second cyclone proved too much for her abilities. Wanting to keep Bubbles away from her discovery, she had no choice but to briefly release Flynn from his whirlwind prison. 

Flynn fell heavily to the floor as the winds loosened their hold on him. Paying no attention to him, Ventille redirected the cyclone to veer around the chamber towards the door at the top of the staircase. The pleading calls from above went silent again after the thick, iron door slammed shut from the force of the cyclone. Remaining in place, the whirlwind swirled about keeping the door securely shut.

Sprawled on the floor, Flynn shook off the disorientation from his windy prison. Meanwhile, the iron door rattled on it’s hinges as Bubbles tried to get back in, but Ventille was intent on keeping the nosy Adept away.

Now free from the whirlwind, Flynn scrambled to his feet, shakily standing up. He knew that he had little time to act before Ventille turned her attention back to him and seized him within the whirlwind again.

Never taking his eyes off the Adept, he stumbled backwards towards the weaponry scattered across the tiles of the chamber. He groped behind him knowing that his survival depended on finding something to defend himself with. Blindly grasping for one of the blades, he felt the coolness of steel under his fingers. 

By this time, Bubbles had given up her futile attempt to open the door. Silence fell throughout the chamber. Only the swirling whirlwind could be heard as it came back down the staircase. Ventille burst into a fit of joyous laughter knowing that she had the Relics all to herself now.

Clutching his new weapon, Flynn swung it around to see what he had chosen from the deadly arsenal. Disappointment crossed his face when he saw that he picked the least threatening object in the entire chamber – the silver net. Even the creepy mask would have been more effective for defense. He had hoped to grab one of the thick blades, but instead he held onto the Queen’s Web, feeling quite vulnerable again. 

Flynn knew that he didn’t have time to pick up another weapon, so he prayed that the net would do more than just tangle her up. After all, it had Powers now, so maybe it would transport her to another dimension, maybe it would liquify her, maybe it would make her disappear into a puff of smoke. Maybe it would… 

But he had to stop thinking about what the Relic might do – there was no time for that nonsense. He knew that he only had a brief moment to toss the net over the Adept before she turned her binding winds back on him. At the very least the net would stall her while he picked up one of the other deadly weapons behind him.

With her back still turned, Flynn ran towards Ventille and quickly flung the net over her head before he turned back towards the bureau. He lunged for the assortment of blades, only to stop short when he heard the Adept let out a wretched shriek. 

Flynn turned towards the screeching Adept just in time to see her collapse onto the floor, writhing in pain. Ventille’s cyclone twirled about, blindly destroying the chamber in response to her agony. 

The cyclone scattered anything that wasn’t tied down to the ground – including Flynn. He was flung across the chamber, crashing into the bureau as whirling winds of desperation ravaged the entire chamber. However, no matter how much the Adept struggled, Ventille’s winds could not release herself from the net. 

Shielding his face and closing his eyes tight, Flynn turned away from the horrific sight of Ventille thrashing about inside of the net. However there was no avoiding the terrible shrieks that came from behind him nor the intense smell of burning flesh wafting through the air. 

Gathering his courage, Flynn peeked through his fingers to see the other Relics in the bureau emitting a dim glow in recognition of the Power surrounding them. It was then that he caught the reflection of the hand mirror Relic.

Within the mirror he could see the Adept still struggling while the binding net burned deeper and deeper. The more she twisted about in agony, the more the net restricted tighter around her.

Flynn covered his eyes again from the revolting sight. Eventually, time silenced the cries of pain and were replaced by the hissing steam of scorched bones. Once again peeking through his fingers, Flynn saw that the Adept had been reduced to a pile of charred bones scattered on the floor. 

Standing up, Flynn couldn’t help himself from staring at the gruesome scene in front of him. He suddenly found himself fixated on a singular thought replaying itself in his mind. Something that he could never have imagined would happen in his lifetime. Something that both terrified and thrilled him at the same time – Flynn had killed a Witch!

Chapter 9

Ivy the Forsaken

With the mantra of his mission repeating in his mind, Flynn dashed back to the Depths to collect the journals and Resting Relics. Since the invasion, the once scenic pathway was now littered with deep trenches and jagged debris so speeding down the gravel path proved to be a challenge. 

Despite a few stumbles along the way, Flynn managed to avoid injuring himself and eventually arrived at the Glasshouse unharmed. Ignoring the open flames surrounding the entrance, he jumped over the remains of the destroyed doorframe and turned down the first hallway leading to the Depths. 

A rapid sprint down the darkened corridor led Flynn to the barricaded iron door. He bent down to heft up the heavy wooden plank, but then froze when he heard the sound of voices outside the Glasshouse – The Coven was still here!!! 

He quickly ducked down into the shadows of the hallway as best as he could, praying not to be seen. The wait seemed like ages as the voices approached right outside the doorway. But before they entered, a twirling whirlwind came bursting through the already broken entrance. 

The gust whipped around in place as if deciding which way to go. To Flynn’s relief it ignored the darkened corridor that he huddled in and continued spinning further into the Glasshouse instead.

After the whipping whirlwind sped away, it was soon followed by the two arguing voices. Holding his breath in fear, Flynn ducked down deeper into the shadows to avoid their attention. He needn’t have bothered though, the two bickering women passed right by the darkened corridor without a moment’s glance. Their loud voices echoed against the coloured glass walls as they followed the whirlwind deeper into the Glasshouse.

Keeping low to the ground, Flynn left the cover of the shadows to see what these intruders were doing in the Glasshouse – why hadn’t they left with the rest of The Coven? He tip-toed behind them, making sure the bottles in his satchel weren’t clinking, but his need for stealth was entirely unnecessary due to the racket the intruders were creating. 

Between the whirlwind overturning everything in it’s path and the intruders shouting at one another, there was no possibility that Flynn would be noticed. Nonetheless, he kept his distance, leaving a few rows of plants to separate them. 

After passing through a number of domed conservatories, the young women came to an abrupt halt. Flynn stopped quick and ducked behind the fronds of a thick gingerpalm. Peeking between the bulbous fronds, he watched the intruders argue.

One of them, he recognised. The young blue-haired Enchantress that was splashing in the fountain earlier – Ventille. Her demeanour had completely changed now that she was no longer in the company of the Supreme Enchantress. 

She was no longer the demure, well-composed lady she had been in front of Lunasa. Now Ventille behaved brash and immature as she berated the smaller Enchantress tagging along behind her. 

“Stop following me Bubbles!”

Obviously used to this bullying behaviour, Bubbles seemed unfazed and continued in a pleading tone, “Come on Ventille! We have to go.” Everything about Bubbles was soft: her voice, her cheeks, her sensibilities. She was easy prey for the mean-spirited, but her way of fighting back was by letting the insults wash over her with no damage done. Words were just words to Bubbles.

Ventille knew that her harsh words rarely achieved the desired effect on Bubbles. So instead, she directed her whirlwind to increase it’s destructive pace to drown out the bothersome voice of reason behind her. Ventille followed in the cyclone’s chaotic wake, quickly trailed by her pesky shadow. 

Racing faster to keep up, the soft girl continued in a lecturing tone, “The Masters have left. So have all of the other Adepts. We have to go too.” 

“Well go ahead then.” Ventille snarled.

“But—”

“I’m not keeping you here.” Ventille interrupted, “I never asked you to come along anyways.”

Persistent as she was, Bubbles didn’t have a snappy reply to this. So she just repeated herself, “But we have to go Ventille.” 

“You may be happy to be an Adept forever, but I’m destined for something greater.” Ventille spat back.

“You’ll be destined to scrubbing latrines for disobeying the Supreme Enchantress.” Bubbles said very matter-of-fact.

The blue-haired Enchantress turned sharply towards Bubbles, “I won’t be scrubbing anything ever again once I find what I’m looking for.”

Bubbles’ eyes went wide in disbelief, “You can’t be serious!”

“Of course I’m serious – I’m gonna get myself a little souvenir from IvyHold.”

“But everything here is Curs—”

Ignoring Bubbles, the elder Adept cut her off, “Just imagine what Powers still linger here in IvyHold. I mean, Ivy was the most Powerful Enchantress of her time – her pillow probably holds more residual Power than most Enchantresses could ever dream of possessing.” Ventille became excited, “She’s bound to have left something behind. I might even come across one of Ivy’s Relics.”

“Ivy was Forsaken!” Bubbles cautioned.

“You’re such a child Bubbles.” Ventille snapped back.

“The Supreme Enchantress said…”

Ventille interrupted, “You know that Ivy used to be the Supreme Enchantress don’t you?”

“Ivy was Forsaken!” Bubbles shouted back, surprised by her own outburst.

“Yeah, you already said that.”

“Well she was.” The soft Adept’s voice was much stronger now.

Ventille snapped back, “Ivy was only Forsaken because simple Enchantresses and Adepts like yourself were terrified of what she could achieve. Power breeds fear and everybody was afraid of Ivy.”

“You should be afraid of Ivy too.” Bubbles found her courage and was now shouting back at the elder Adept, “I’m telling you, everything here is Cursed – Everything!”

“Nonsense!” Ventille lashed out, “Only babies believe in that.”

“Well I’m not going to be part of this.”

“Like I said before, I never asked you to be a part of this.” Ventille was well practiced at cruelty. She continued to taunt, “Look at Little Baby Bubbles. She’s going to be a pathetic Adept forever.” Swishing her cloak dramatically, she turned her back on Bubbles and continued further into the Glasshouse, “Not me though. I’m going to rise above everybody – even The Coven.”

Bubbles gasped in shock. Eventually she managed to respond, “You’re sounding a lot like Ivy the Forsaken now.”

Ventille burst into a maniacal fit of laughter, “You don’t even realise how much of a compliment that is.” Her skyblue cloak rippled behind her as the whirlwind increased in speed along with her passion, “Ivy had courage. Ivy had Power. Ivy became a Legend!”

“Then she was Forsaken – Never to be spoken of again.” Bubbles reminded.

“We’re speaking about her now aren’t we?”

This flustered Bubbles a bit, “But we shouldn’t be. She was Forsaken!”

“I won’t be though. Once I find Ivy’s Relics, I’ll finish what she began.”

Bubbles would hear no more of this treasonous talk. She turned in a huff and stormed off. Not expecting the Enchantress to turn around so suddenly, Flynn jumped back startled. Quickly composing himself, he ducked away before he was spotted.

Watching Bubbles storm out of the conservatory reminded Flynn of the reason he was here to begin with. He became caught up in the petty drama of these two Adepts, when he had more important things at hand. His mission was to save his parents – and to do that he must retrieve the Relics, get the journals, then escape IvyHold to find the Lost Explorer. These were the only things that mattered now. 

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

He silently repeated his mantra.

With his mission on his mind, Flynn left Ventille to continue creating havoc by herself. Cradling his mother’s satchel to prevent the bottles from clinking, he followed Bubbles back towards the Depths. He followed from a distance, careful to give the Adept plenty of space. 

Anxious to find the Relics and get out of here, Flynn had to restrain himself from rushing ahead. Luckily Bubbles never turned back on her way towards the exit, otherwise, she may have seen him. 

After what seemed like an eternity of following the soft Adept ahead of him and listening to the loud clatter of the cyclone behind him, Flynn was able to slip down the long corridor leading to the spiral staircase of the Depths. Heart pounding and mind racing, he threw caution to the wind and dashed down the dark hallway. 

His boots clattered across the stone tiles and bottles clinked within the satchel, but Flynn took no notice of the noise he was creating. In his haste to retrieve the Relics, he was making quite a racket, but Ventille’s whirlwind was loud enough to cover up any sound that he made.

Once at the end of the corridor, he hefted up the thick beam barricading the door. With a heavy thud, the beam crashed into the wall, then clattered onto the floor. With nervous sweat pouring down his face, Flynn pulled the creaking door open and slid down the spiral staircase into the Depths. 

Once at the bottom of the stairs, Flynn rushed across the chamber, straight to the bureau full of Resting Relics. Ignoring the echoes of destruction coming from upstairs, he put his attention towards his mission. 

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Now standing in front of the bureau, he flung the oak doors wide open. Mentally prepared to grab the Relics and go, Flynn froze momentarily. There was much more in the bureau than just Resting Relics. 

Not expecting to find so much clutter, Flynn eyed the vast array of random objects lining the shelves. Momentarily forgetting his need to rush, Flynn laughed out loud when he saw his mother’s blue medicine chest which he no longer needed sitting in the bureau. His laughter stopped abruptly when all of his attention was drawn towards an assortment of heavy weaponry lining the entire lefthand side of the bureau.  

His glance first fell upon a series of jewel encrusted daggers glimmering in the dull light of the chamber. Then he spotted an impressive double-barrelled crossbow hanging above a collection of well worn throwing blades. Next to these was a heavy cudgel leaning against a thick copper shield. 

Scanning over the other deadly tools, Flynn recognised the Queen’s Web from Tarantu’s Hovel. It didn’t look as threatening as the rest of the weaponry, but he supposed the glowing stone embedded in the silvery net had it’s own sort of Power. 

Finally his attention was captured by a gigantic battleaxe leaning heavily in the corner of the bureau. This thick handled, double-edged blade was the definition of excessive.

Flynn shook off thoughts of heroically wielding the massive axe when he remembered why he was looking in the bureau to begin with – The Relics. Peeling his eyes away from the heavy weaponry, Flynn looked over at the other side of the bureau where the Resting Relics were displayed.

The deadly arsenal he had been looking at was offset by this motley collection of objects on the right side of the bureau: a singular padded glove, a burnt out torch, a miniature hammer, a shiny copper orb, a faded looking-glass, and a scaly mask with huge bug-like eyes. 

Each of the random objects was embedded with a milky-white stone similar to the glowing stone within the Queen’s Web. Even dormant, these stones drew Flynn’s attention with an hypnotic allure that was hard to snap himself out of.  

Looking at the strange collection of Relics, didn’t instill a very confident feeling within Flynn. He knew that his mission was to gather the Relics, but he also knew that he would need more than a padded glove, used torch, or looking-glass to help get him out of IvyHold safely – let alone survive in the Outside world. There were members of The Coven upstairs, so he needed something a bit more threatening – Something big and sharp preferably. 

His eyes were immediately drawn back towards the double handed battleaxe when heroic visions returned to his mind. Armed with the massive axe, he could definitely defend himself from the Adepts creating chaos upstairs. On second thought, he could take on the entire Coven with this axe. He could become known as Flynn the Legendary Witch Killer.

He eagerly wrapped his hands around the well-worn leather grip to lift the deadly weapon. Once slightly raised, it felt a lot heavier than he anticipated. Suddenly, the weight became too much, throwing Flynn off balance. In an attempt to set it back gently, the axe came crashing down. 

The thick blade and heavy handle of the axe brought down the entire contents of the bureau along with it. Flynn pulled his cloak tight around himself, cringing from the deafening clatter. 

With Relics scattered all over the floor of the chamber, Flynn scurried frantically to pick up the fallen objects. Rummaging through the jumble, he gathered up as many of the Relics as he could. One by one he threw them into his satchel. First the padded glove, then the copper orb followed by the tiny hammer. It wasn’t until he picked up the faded looking glass, that he noticed the deafening silence surrounding him. 

Frozen in place, Flynn could no longer hear any destructive sounds from the whirlwind up above. The terrifying realisation quickly sunk in that he was no longer alone in the Depths. In his hand, the misty reflection of the faded mirror Relic showed a cloaked figure descending the spiral staircase.

 

Slowly turning to face the elder Adept, Flynn saw a sickly sweet smile spreading across her face. Flynn may have found what he was looking for, but apparently so had she.

Chapter 8

The Lost Explorer

Flynn stared at the silent orb left all alone in the courtyard after the final Enchantress disappeared behind the ivy curtain. With no crowd lingering around the ruined courtyard, he took the opportunity to get a closer look and see what was within the remaining orb. 

Still keeping to the cover of the bushes and other debris, he snuck up closer to the centre of the courtyard. To his surprise, it looked like the outline of a body floating within the orb. 

Flynn took another step closer, then another. Once he rounded the burning fountain he had a much clearer view. Immediately, his jaw dropped when he recognised the pointed hood and ashy grey cloak – it was his father trapped within the orb!

Throwing caution to the wind, Flynn ran out from the cover of the hedges and into the open courtyard. He raced over to his imprisoned father, suspended within the glowing orb. Flynn winced when he saw Brady’s injured leg now twisted at a grotesque angle. 

Even worse was the complete look of hopelessness etched on his father’s face. Brady was lost in a deep trance, staring off into the direction which the coven had gone.

Trying to get his father’s attention, Flynn pressed himself against the golden links of the glowing orb. No sooner did he touch the meshing then an intense electric shock surged through him – jolting him away. 

Flynn was thrown backwards, flying through the air away from the prison. Falling onto the broken paving, he tried to shake off the burning sensation in his finger tips. This commotion snapped Brady out of his daze, grabbing his attention.

Finally noticing Flynn, Brady reached his hands out to his son. Pressing them against the inside of the orb, he was immediately jolted back by the electric shock as well. Totally unaffected by his burnt hands he looked up at Flynn, “Son!” He gasped.

“Dad!” Flynn came back to the orb as close as he could possibly get, “Dad, are you okay? 

“Stay quiet son! They must not hear you.” Brady hushed him.

“Are you okay? Where’s Mom?” Too many thoughts were rushing through Flynn’s head to make sense of anything at the moment.

“They’ve taken your mother away, but you must keep quiet son.”

“They took her away?” Flynn whispered in the loudest way possible.

“Yes. And they are going to take me next.” Brady said in a matter-of-fact tone. 

This wasn’t comforting to hear at all, “But Dad —”

“Flynn!” Brady interrupted, “You must not be caught.”

“But Dad, I can help you.”

“I know you can Flynn, but you MUST listen to me first!” Brady very nearly shouted out, “There is nothing you can do for us now. Your mother and I will be taken away very shortly. But whatever happens, you must NOT be seen – This is extremely important. We are depending on you Flynn, so listen carefully.”

All of Flynn’s attention was now focused entirely on his father’s instructions. He listened with intensely as Brady  urgently continued in a low and serious voice,  “Your mother and I are now prisoners of The Coven.”

“THE Coven!?!” Flynn asked in terrified awe. 

“Yes son, The Coven has captured us and there’s no changing that. But they don’t know that you exist and we are going to keep it that way. So you must stay hidden for now and let us be taken.”

Flynn couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “But Dad —”

“Flynn! It’s the only way – You must hide. We don’t have much time now. Your mother gave The Coven a bit of trouble,” he said with a touch of pride in his voice, “But they will be coming back soon, so you must listen very closely.” Brady looked over his shoulder, determining how much time they had left.

He looked back at Flynn, noticing the pack slung across his son’s shoulder, “Great! You still have your mother’s satchel – You’re going to need that!”

Flynn had forgotten that he was carrying Mom’s satchel full of bottles. He hugged it close to his chest as a source of comfort. 

Brady continued, “First you must go to my study and collect all of the Resting Relics from the oak bureau. Throw them all in your Mom’s satchel – It’s YOUR satchel now.”

Flynn felt a surge of pride from inheriting his mother’s satchel, but he let his father continue, “Then, also in the bureau, you will find my field journals. They contain maps and all of the other information that you need. They will explain everything.” 

Flynn wasn’t sure how this would help release his parents, but he began making solid mental notes of all he needed to do, “Oak bureau… Resting Relics… journals… maps… ”

Brady interrupted the mental checklist, “Then you need to find the Lost Explorer.”

“The what?”

“It’s not a what, it’s a who. You must find the Lost Explorer.”

“Who’s the Lost Explorer?”

“He’s an old friend, but there’s no time to explain that now. Just find him and he will help you recharge the Relics. Together, you will be able to rescue us from The Coven.”

“But where is he?”

“You will be able to find him in the Crater.”

“The what?” Flynn was so confused.

“The Crater. Don’t worry – All you need to know is in the journals.” Brady continued, “The Lost Explorer will definitely there. He hasn’t left the Crater for over a decade – Not once. I wish I could explain more, but there’s no time. Don’t worry, like I said, my journals will explain everything.”

“But what if I can’t find him?”

“Flynn, look at me.” Brady looked into his son’s eyes with absolute confidence, “You can do this – You WILL do this. I have all the faith in you. My journals will lead you on your way.”

“But Dad—”

“Go now Flynn!” Dad whisper-shouted.

“Dad—”

“I’m counting on you Flynn. Your Mother is counting on you too. It’s the only way to save us. Get the Relics. Get the journals and find the Lost Explorer.”

Brady glanced over his shoulder suddenly causing Flynn to look in the same direction. The curtains of ivy began to ripple as The Coven returned to the courtyard.

“Go Flynn – Now!”         

 

Flynn wanted to grab hold of his father for a parting embrace, but the electrified orb would not allow that. He wanted to say a heart-felt goodbye, but the Enchantresses returning prevented that as well. 

Knowing that he would be captured if he stayed any longer, he tore himself away from his father and ran for cover. Flynn huddled down behind broken bits of statue lining the pathway. He felt vulnerable behind the crumbling statues, but The Coven took no notice of him as they reemerged from the ivy curtain. 

The Enchantresses were visibly exhausted from the effort of transporting Dawnella’s orb, but they did not delay in their preparations. Quickly securing Brady’s orb with a series of charms, they guided him out of Fountain Square. With extreme efficiency The Coven disappeared through the ivy curtain from whence they came.

Watching his father being dragged away left an empty feeling deep in Flynn’s stomach. He had never felt so alone in his entire life. Cradling his mother’s satchel close to his chest, he tried to shake the isolation away by running the list of things he needed to do through his head: 

Get Resting Relics, Get Journals, Find Lost Explorer… 

Get Resting Relics, Get Journals, Lost Explorer… 

Get Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…

Over and over he repeated this mantra to avoid the thoughts of his imprisoned parents. While reciting the list, a caravan of shadows lifted off into the late afternoon sky. Swooping through the dusk, The Coven flew far off into the eastern sky, escorting the two prison orbs between them.

Flynn thought he felt alone when his father was being dragged away earlier, but now he felt absolute loneliness settle in. He would have preferred to be taken with his parents, but Mom and Dad were trusting in him to come to their rescue. Knowing that he was going to save them was the only thing that helped him through his pain.

To keep up his courage, he began to repeat his mantra, 

“Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer… 

  Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer… 

  Resting Relics, Journals, Lost Explorer…” 

The shadows grew longer under the setting sun while Flynn waited for The Coven to disappear over the horizon. Once they were out of sight, he readied himself to complete his task. Realising that hugging his Mom’s satchel wasn’t going to bring her back, he stood up to get moving. He had important work to do now so he raced with determination towards Brady’s study in the Depths of the Glasshouse.

~ – ~