Chapter 13:

Chapter 13: New School, New Troubles

The Winx girls joined the line of witches filing into Mrs. Griffin's classroom. It was shaped like an amphitheater, with rings of seat circling half the room and facing a central stage where the Headmistress stood waiting. When the last of the students had taken their seats she cleared her throat and stepped forward. "Today class, I would like to introduce some new students who will be sitting in with us this week; the fairies of Alfea. I hope you all help them feel welcome." A low murmur of snickering rose from the witches as they glared at the fairies. As she approached the desk on the dais she glanced briefly at a book lying there before turning back to the girls. "A witch's magic comes from dark energy, which can be conjured up from mayhem, or misery, or by tapping into one's own dark feelings."

"Man, this is so bunk!" Musa remarked, a bit louder than she'd intended, and instantly every witch was glaring at the music fairy. Rebecca planted her face in her palm, drawing a snicker from a few witches near her.

"Ok, is it me or is everyone in the room staring at us?" Layla asked.

"They're just admiring our fashion and ouch!" Stella yelped as something pinched her butt. Glaring around her she saw Rebecca pull her hand out of a shadow portal, a small grin on her face. Stella grumbled but restrained herself from making a scene.

"If you came across a hungry little kitten crying pitifully in an ally, what would you do?" Mrs. Griffin asked. She saw Flora and Rebecca raise their hands at the same time and grinned. "Flora?"

"Take it home, feed it and give it a really cute name?" The nature fairy replied, nervously glancing around her.

"Oh Flora that's so sweet," Mrs. Griffin drawled, "but NO!" A wave of laughter filled the classroom as the headmistress sighed. "Rebecca?" She asked.

"Well," Rebecca said, "either use it's misery to power a few skin-rot spells, or an aura of despair spell if there was a group of people I hated close by."

"Much better," Mrs. Griffin smiled. "We don't even start learning about aura spells until next week, but now we're going to conjure dark energy using our own feelings. Exchange students beware, bad things happen to those who can't control…their dark energy." Flipping open the book on her desk, she read a passage before shutting in and moving to the upper tier of the classroom. "Now, close your eyes and focus on the thing you detest the most. Focus on how much you despise it, and use that hatred to create your energy."

The students all closed their eyes and within seconds most had purple orbs of magic glowing in their hands. One girl's orb blew up, sending her tumbling to the ground, while another released a tentacle which wrapped around the witch's neck. Laughter filled the room as the other witches laughed at the failures. Mrs. Griffin slowly walked among the students. "Pretty good," she remarked at Mercreti. "Not dark enough," she commented to a purple haired witch. "Yours is strong," she said to Musa, "what despicable image are you using?"

"Witches," Musa replied with a smile.

"Clever," Mrs. Griffin grumbled. She felt a great amount of energy coming from Bloom's orb, which glowed a dark red, but before she reached the fire fairy the headmistress caught sight of Rebecca's orb, which glowed pure black. "Astounding, it's been some time since I felt energy this dark. What image are you using?" She asked.

"My first year teacher of magic training in my realm," Rebecca answered.

"Interesting," the headmistress said. "Come and see me after classes. There's something I'd like to discuss with you. Now back to work, all of you!" She snapped at the witches leaning in to eavesdrop.

Class lasted another hour, and when Mrs. Griffin finally let them go the Winx girls again found themselves alone. Stella quickly marched over to Rebecca and tapped her shoulder. "Hey, what was with that little butt pinch you gave me?" She demanded.

"Just a little fun," the shadow fairy replied. "And a way for me to get a little tighter with the witches. After tonight I just might have my first witch friends."

"Hmph, friends with witches? Not gonna happen with me," Stella snorted.

"Your loss," Rebecca said. "Witches may be different from fairies, but that doesn't mean we're completely opposite."

"What are you talking about?" Stella asked. "Every witch I've ever met's tried to either ice me, shock me or crush me."

Rebecca sighed. "You'd understand if you were from my realm."

"What do you mean?" Bloom asked as she stood beside Rebecca.

"I'll tell you later, we have to get to our next class." Taking the lead, Rebecca led the girls to a small classroom where Professor Zerathstra was waiting for them. She scowled when the Winx girls entered but said nothing.

"Take your seats class," Zerathstra ordered. "Today we're going to focus on transforming your personal demons into well, demons, with claws and fangs to do your evil bidding for you."

"Uh, but fairies don't really have any demons," Bloom said.

"Everyone has demons my dear," Zerathstra replied in a superior tone of voice. "Now close your eyes and focus on your friends. Think of all those times your friends hurt and betrayed you." As she spoke, the witch silently summoned a burst of dark energy, going unnoticed by the closed eyes in the room. "Think of when a friend tried to make you feel dumb in front of others, or when they tried to steal the things most important to you."

"Hey, what's going on here?!" Rebecca said suddenly, rising to her feet.

"Never interrupt the meditation!" Zerathstra replied with venom.

"I know a lot about dark spells Mrs. Zerathstra, and you just tried to cast a catfight spell on this class." As Rebecca spoke the other witches and the Winx girls looked around at each other.

"Perhaps, but I believe the spell has already begun to work on you," the teacher smirked.

"It would have, if I hadn't stopped it," Rebecca smiled, opening her hand to expose a small sphere of purple energy which she squashed in her fist. "Maybe you'd like to test your real magic against mine sometime."

Zerathstra sent a death glare at Rebecca and dark energy crackled in her clenched fists. Rebecca mirrored her pose, black orbs growing in her palms. "Perhaps another time, fairy," the teacher hissed. "Right now I have more important matters to attend to."

As the teacher stormed out of the room Rebecca extinguished her flames. Bloom came up beside her and grabbed Rebecca's shoulder, spinning her around to face Bloom. "What was that all about Rebecca?!"

"She just tried to make us all fight each other Bloom," Rebecca replied, shucking off Bloom's hand. "I didn't do anything but let off a little energy. Besides, I have a meeting with Mrs. Griffin, so I can explain what happened to her. The rest of you should probably head back to our room. When I get back I'll tell you what I was talking about earlier." Turning, Rebecca made her way out into the corridor, leaving her friends standing in the classroom. She remembered the way to Mrs. Griffon's office easily, and knocked firmly on the door.

"Enter," came a voice from within the chamber, and Rebecca pushed her way inside. "Good, you've come."

"You wished to see me Mrs. Griffin?" Rebecca asked as she stopped a few paces short of the Headmistresses's desk.

"I heard about Zerathstra's antics in class today."

"Nothing I couldn't handle," Rebecca smirked.

"Indeed, that is why I asked you here. I've never met anyone from the Phantom Realm before, but from what I've read of it and its people you're not exactly what I expected from its crown princess," Mrs. Griffin stated.

"That's because I'm second in line for the throne," Rebecca replied. "My older sister Misara is crown princess. Also, my fairy powers are still very new to me. The powers I used in my realm were sealed before I came to Alfea."

"Sealed away? Why?"

"You know the Phantom Realm is close to one of the darkest parts of the universe right?" Rebecca asked.

"I've seen the maps of its location yes," the Headmistress replied.

Rebecca sighed deeply. "If people knew of the power that lies in my realm, every power-hungry witch and sorcerer would try to invade and take them for themselves. If that happened there would be many deaths, and likely none of them ours."

"Oh, your people are that strong?" Mrs. Griffin could hear the sadness in Rebecca's voice as she spoke.

"When you spend centuries fighting against the very land you call home, you tend to develop very powerful magic," Rebecca said. "The dark and light energies in my realm have created unique abilities my people possess. We keep to ourselves because if something happened and we were forced into war…" Rebecca trailed off and stared at the ground. "Is that why you asked me here, to gather information about the Phantom Realm?"

"That is one of the reasons," the headmistress admitted. "I also wanted to ask if you would be interested in attending Cloud Tower next year as a full time student."

"Attend Cloud Tower?" Rebecca asked, more to herself than Mrs. Griffin. "I don't know. I'd have to discuss it with my mother. I was sent to Alfea to learn to harness the light parts of my magic and bring that knowledge back to my realm. I'd certainly like to try Cloud Tower. I've enjoyed it so far. I'll send a message to my realm and inform you of my mother's reply."

"I understand; good day then Mrs. Rebecca."

Bowing, Rebecca left the headmistress's office. "Attend Cloud Tower," she said to herself again. The idea certainly appealed to her. Cloud Tower reminded her of her home a lot more than Alfea did, but the fairy school spoke to a part of her she'd only recently become aware of. As she walked, her mind drifted to thoughts of home.

Lucy carefully made her way down the dormitory corridor. The crystal Icy had given her poked her thigh through the thin fabric of her skirt's pocket, and every few minutes she felt the creatures the witches had implanted into her move, sending a painful shiver through her body. Icy and her friends would pay for this; somehow she would make them pay.

When she made it to the fairies door she carefully placed her ear to it. She knew classes would just be getting out, so she had a few minutes. Conjuring a quick spell she opened the lock on the door and crept inside, alert for any surprises the room might have for her. After several tension filled seconds Lucy relaxed a bit and tried to find an inconspicuous place to stash Icy's crystal. She considered under one of the carpets, but the bulge of the crystal would show. The bookshelves were likely to be used. There! One of the beds had a cracked headboard. The gap was just large enough for the crystal to fit.

Lucy dropped the crystal into the headboard and heard it clink down to the bottom. "Whew," she sighed. "Now to get out of here." Opening the door very slowly, Lucy listened for anyone coming down the corridor. Hearing nothing, she crept out of the room and shut the door quietly behind her. Nearly running back to her room, she collapsed on her bed and shut her eyes. The creature insider her shifted, making her feel extremely queasy. Swallowing the small amount of bile that rose in her throat, Lucy turned over, drawing a sheet over herself and closing her eyes. All she wanted right now was to sleep and forget what was happening to her. But she knew Icy would have more for her to do, and even though she was hurting fairies, she felt bad for whatever Icy was going to do to them. She had to find a way to stop the renegade witches, but first she had to deal with the creature inside her.

Professor Avalon softly closed the door to his private study and sighed. "Another day of teaching little girls magic tricks over," the former cloud spirit said to himself. Every day he found it harder to keep a smile on his face as he did his duty to Lord Darker. He needed something to take his mind off of going crazy.

As if reading Avalon's mind, a large crystal set on his work bench began pulsing with a pale purple light. "Ah, excellent," he said as he touched a hand to the crystal's surface. His link to the Winx girls at Cloud Tower was now open. "My dear Flora, tonight your dreams will be mine, as will the fun to come," he smiled darkly. Come tomorrow, Flora would be one step closer to darkness, and Avalon one step closer to his goal of corrupting his first fairy.