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They Said Sophomore Year Was Killer

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  1. Never A Dull Moment

 

 

 

 

Valkyrie did her best to listen to Professor Tanae as the older witch discussed the basics of monster taming. “The most important rule in dealing with any creature, light or dark, is make it known you’re not afraid. Fear will get you killed.”

“You must stand up to the beasts, assert yourself as the dominant power. Then you gain their trust, show them they’re better off with you.” Tanae rambled. “Once you’ve got the beast under your control, the bond will not break unless you allow it.” A bell rang. “Next class we’ll be taking a field trip into Gloomy Wood Forest. We’re going to see how you ladies handle cravens.”

Valkyrie hummed a bit, writing down a quick note before gathering her things. Crystal walked over, books in her arms. “Enjoying beast taming?” Crystal asked, half-teasing. Valkyrie smiled.

“I think I’m going to. Though I’m dreading our next class…”

“The Coven Forming class…? Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to bind yourself to anyone. Just do the group work and keep yourself from using blood magic.” Crystal shrugged. “Simple.”

“Easier said than done…”

 

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Ms. Griffin taught the class on Coven Forming. It was a simple introduction into the inner workings of covens and how and why they form. (The biggest portions were about team building, but no one had to swear any oaths or bind themselves…)

“Now, I know what most people think when they hear the word, COVEN. They think of the Ancestral Coven and their quest for power and madness. But that’s not what a coven really is… No, that’s just a perversion and cultified version.” Griffin all but growled out.

Liss raised her hand. “Ms. Griffin, weren’t you once a member of the Ancestral Coven?” The blue-spiked haired witch asked. Griffin paused.

“I was. But I was also young, foolish, and joined purely because I felt I had no other choice. But I got out and I helped bring them down.” Griffin spoke, loud and clear. Proud. “I found witches I could truly trust and I formed a coven of my own.”

“You see, ladies, a coven is a group bound in blood and magic. I’ll cover the reasons for blood binding later in the semester, but you must be careful when binding yourself. You have to be able to trust who you are binding yourself too and that your goals are on similar wavelengths.”

“A blood bond is hard to break unless you use a runic spell and a time spell or charm together. Picking someone for your coven is important, they need to be someone you feel you can trust with your life.” Griffin looked around the room.

“I know there are tensions at Cloud Tower right now, divisions between those of you who were raised traditionally and those of you who were raised more… Modernly. Especially where the treatment of fairies are concerned… But during this semester, my goal is to try and help you find your ‘sisters’, those you know you could bond with… Any questions so far?” She asked.

“What if you don’t wish to form a coven…?” Valkyrie asked, not even meaning to ask outloud. Griffin tilted her head.

“You don’t want to have a coven?” Griffin asked.

Valkyrie wanted to shrink away. But she’d already opened her mouth… “I’m on the fence about covens. I’m wary of the thought of having one or being part of one.” Valkyrie admitted. ‘We have each other. We have friends. We don’t need a blood bond.’ Her dragon huffed.

Griffin gave a nod, leaning against her desk. “That’s your prerogative. There are some witches who actually do better when they are solo than they are when in a group. But there is a reason the term ‘power in numbers’ exists.” Griffin reminded.

“Can someone be forced into a coven?” Tabitha asked, dark blue eyes turning a bit to Valkyrie. The class laughed a bit, realizing what was really being asked. “Just curious.”

If she tries something.’ Her dragon growled in her head. Valkyrie glared toward Tabitha. “That’s not even funny. And if you even try-” Valkyrie began her threat.

“Enough!” Griffin created a plasma wall between the two witches. “A coven bond must be voluntary. Forced blood magic seldom works. It has to do with the heart and feelings… Though that’s more in depth than we will go for you sophomores.” She looked to Tabitha. “And for the record, there are laws that prevent forced coven bonds. Do not make me think you’re going down that hole too… I’ve already sent three dropouts to Light Rock Lake, I’m not afraid to send more.”

Tabitha swallowed. “Of course, Headmistress… It was just a question…” Lucy scoffed.

“Yeah… A dumb one.” Lucy told her. Griffin faked a cough.

“Let’s just continue with our introduction… Shall we?”

 

 

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“So her name is Layla, huh? Sounds like you’ve made a new friend.” Valkyrie grinned, leaning against one of the willows in the courtyard. She was on the phone with Flora, learning about the mysterious new fairy and her sleeping baby pixie.

“Maybe… But she has friends in trouble… Her pixie friends are trapped in ShadowHaunt.” Flora spoke, a worried tone in her voice. Valkyrie paused, memories that weren’t hers flashing through her mind.

A castle under the cliffs. A bat-looking screech creature. A being that could shift into a dark phoenix. Someone who was once a friend, become foe.

“Valkyrie… Are you there?” Flora’s voice asked, laced in worry.

“Yeah… I’m here… I’m just… I spaced out for a second… That place you mentioned… ShadowHaunt… I think it means something to… My dragon…” Valkyrie admitted. Flora let out a soft swear, something that she seldom did.

“That’s not good. Is it?” Flora asked. Valkyrie swallowed.

“That depends… What does… What does the… What did you call him… The Shadow Phoenix? What would he want with the pixies?” Valkyrie asked.

“I don’t know… But I have a feeling we’re going to find out… We’re going to be pitching our rescue plan to Ms. Faragonda tomorrow. Interested in coming along?” Flora asked.

No. We’re not strong enough to face him yet.’ Her dragon muttered. Valkyrie frowned.

You’re being chattier than normal.’ She thought to him. “I may have to sit this one out… I’m trying to wrap my mind around a coven forming class.” Valkyrie admitted.

“Good luck with that… I know how hesitant you are about Covens.” Flora sighed. Valkyrie shook her head.

“It’s not me… It’s him…” She paused. “I could try and get information on ShadowHaunt and the Phoenix for you…. I have a feeling that if I… Know about him… Then my mother probably does too.” Valkyrie offered.

“That’s be lovely. Just email or text me whatever she says.” Flora paused. “I’m going to have to go Sweetie, we’re going to show Layla around Alfea…” Valkyrie gave a smile.

“I’ll talk to you soon, Flora… Goodbye.” She hung up, letting herself slip down to the ground by the willow. “Okay Dragon… Why are we so upset about ShadowHaunt and a Shadow Phoenix?” Valkyrie asked.

You’ll discover it… Speak to Griffin.’ Her dragon hummed. Valkyrie frowned. “You’re absolutely no help. You never just actively tell me anything useful. It’s always in the heat of the moment or while giving me nightmares.” She half-hissed.

A voice laughed and Valkyrie looked up, inwardly groaning as Delores walked over. “You really are possessed… Talking to yourself is a sure sign of demons haunting you.” Delores smirked. Valkyrie glared.

“Did I miss something? Because I don’t remember asking you for your opinion.” Valkyrie fired. Delores shook her head.

“Just don’t become… Mad. I’d hate to have to bring down such a powerful dragon.” Delores smirked, walking off.

Burn her. Burn her to ashes.’ He growled. Valkyrie held her palm open, letting a small flame form before she put it out.

No… I’m better than that. I’m better than her.’ Valkyrie stood, heading back inside of Cloud Tower. She had a mission already in progress and Flora was counting on her.

 

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She entered her mother’s office, using a soundproofing spell on the room. Griffin frowned. “I thought we’d be done with these little chats after last year… Everyone knows you’re mine… And everyone knows about your powers…” Valkyrie sat down.

“I’m not here to talk about me, though…” She paused. “Flora and her friends found an exhausted fairy and the fairy’s pixie friend outside of Alfea the other day… She’s Princess Layla Poole of Andros.” Valkyrie started.

“And what does this have to do with your visit here?” Griffin asked.

“Layla claims that her other pixie friends are still imprisoned in the Underrealms within the Kingdom of ShadowHaunt.” Valkyrie explained. Griffin’s eyes widened and Valkyrie could feel her shock and fear radiating. “They’re being held captive by something called the Shadow Phoenix… Apparently, he’d been banished from the Overworlds and has just regained enough power to start popping back up.”

“What I want to know is why my dragon is upset with this Phoenix and why I know about ShadowHaunt. I asked the dragon, but he’s being contrary right now.” Valkyrie looked at her mother. “Tell me.”

Griffin took a deep breath, seeming to prepare herself. “The Shadow Phoenix is known as Lord Darkar… And he and… He and your father were close friends. And I was close friends with Darkar, once upon a time.” She bit her lip and tapped her fingers on her desk. Nerves.

“But you see, your father wasn’t the only Dark Dragon Fire keeper who… Who knew Darkar. Lord Darkar was given his title and his power by the first keeper, and he was supposed to have acted as an advisor…” Griffin paused, letting it sink in for Valkyrie.

“After the Ancestral Witches usurped power over Obsidian and began to train your father, Darkar swore his allegiance to them and became bound in blood to Tharma… During the War, we banished him at Linphea… I thought it would be for good… But…”

“But now he’s free again…” Valkyrie paused. “And my dragon feels betrayed by Darkar too… That someone he once trusted turned to the Ancestral Witches…” She placed her head in her hands, pushing her hair back. “How are we going to stop him? What’s his plan?”

Griffin paused. “I don’t know. I don’t know what he could want with a bunch of pixies… Unless it’s revenge, but there were few pixies who helped the Company of Light… Except for the four heads… Athena who is attached to Red Fountain, Discorda who is attached to us at Cloud Tower, Concorda who is attached to Alfea, and the Queen of the Pixies, Ninfea.”

“I don’t know… I feel like there has to be something more…” Valkyrie rubbed the back of her neck. “Is there anything you remember about ShadowHaunt that could be useful…?” Griffin gave her daughter a stern look.

“If you think you’re going to gallivant down to the Underrealms and challenge Lord Darkar right now, as you are, you are mistaken.” Griffin chided. Valkyrie chuckled.

“No. No. I’m not going to charge into ShadowHaunt… Yet… I’m actually asking for Flora… Her and her Winx Club friends are planning a pixie rescue mission. And I said I’d get information…” Valkyrie admitted. Griffin sighed.

“I’ll be surprised if Faragonda lets them anywhere near ShadowHaunt… That place, while empowering for witches and dark magic users, will drain the power of anyone with light magic. And fast. Though I do recall enchantix fairies being able to maneuver the terrain alright…” Griffin tapped her cheek. “The only advice I can really give them is to be aware of Kerborg.”

“Kerborg?” Valkyrie asked.

“Darkar’s favorite pet… His true form is a bat-like creature, but he can shapeshift into most any monster. He’s extremely dangerous and even venomous.” Griffin warned. Valkyrie felt a flash of memory at the name of Kerborg.

“I’ll warn them.” She stood up, turning to face her mother. “Thank you, for being honest with me about Darkar…” Griffin gave a nod.

“You’d have found out one way or another… I figure this way is safer.” Griffin admitted, giving a smile. “Just try not get into too much trouble this year.”

“No promises.” Valkyrie chuckled, making her way out the door. She grabbed her phone, quickly sending a text to Flora about what she’d discovered as she headed back to her room.

 

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“Well isn’t that just great…? First you get attacked by the psycho cousins from Hell, and now your dad’s best friend is causing trouble?” Crystal swore, draping herself over the bed, Patches laying on her stomach. “Like can we not catch a break?”

Valkyrie threw one of her pillows at Crystal. “What’s this ‘we’ business? I’m the one who’s getting memory flashes and random bouts of anger.”

Crystal huffed, tossing the pillow back and hitting Valkyrie in the face. The purple haired witch let herself fall back on her bed, defeated. “I’m just saying, I tend to get dragged into your shit… It’s in my job description as your best friend.” The brunette witch rose up, pulling her legs to her chest.

“Do you really think he’s going to start trouble…? Or do you think he’s just messing with the pixies and then go quiet for another hundred years?” Crystal asked. Valkyrie sighed, sitting up.

“I have a feeling he’s going to be trouble for us all… I mean… He and my dad were friends…” She groaned. “Why is it she can tell me about his friends and the Coven, but she won’t tell me about him?!” Valkyrie growled.

Crystal sighed. “Because it hurts…? Think about it Val, she was with him and the Coven for years… She probably really cared about him… And then when it turned out they were all a bunch of mad, power-hungry, genocidal psychos, she left… Physically anyway… I mean, we both know how hard it is to forget when you used to love someone…”

Valkyrie groaned. “Maybe… But still…” She sighed. “I just hope I get news soon about the rescue mission soon… I don’t like picturing Flora going down into a place like that…” Crystal perked up a bit.

“What about picturing her on a double date with me and Kota?” Crystal asked. “After the whole rescue thing?” Valkyrie smiled.

“That sounds wonderful.” She paused. “Have you heard anything from Rubis yet? Regarding the whole… Search?”

“I talked to her in Professor Zarathustra’s class… So far, there’s nothing damning about Delores… In fact, she seems to be exactly who she says she is.” Crystal shrugged. “You probably feel weird around her because she has ‘mega bitch’ energy, just like Icy did.”

“Let’s hope that’s all it is.” Valkyrie went over to her desk, looking over her notes. “Excited about craven wrangling tomorrow?” Crystal swore.

“Why does it have to be birds? I mean… Those things are evil.” Crystal groaned. Valkyrie chuckled.

“Awww…. Someone's scared of birds.” Valkyrie teased. Crystal glared.

“Keep on and I may just summon a bunch of snakes into your bed.” Valkyrie tensed up, wincing.

“Go for it, if you want the whole castle to catch fire.” Valkyrie half-threatened. Crystal laughed a bit, shaking her head.

“You’d set the castle on fire over a snake?”

“Of course I would. The only good snake is a dead one.”

“But they eat pests.”

“Cats eat pests too. And cats are much better than those little devil monsters.” Valkyrie scratched Cheshire’s head to make a point, feeling him purr. “Look, if I don’t see or hear a snake, I’m good.”

Crystal shook her head. “You’re a big, bag witch… And you’re scared of a living noodle…? Will wonders never cease?” Valkyrie rolled her eyes, going back to her notes.

“Keep on…” She threatened, showing a flamed hand for emphasis.