The light breeze gently rocked the hammock from side to side. Smokey’s fiery wings glistened in the fake sun above them while he flew around, finding his way through the plasma fruit tree branches. Hawthorne could hear Dandelion’s rhythmic breathing. She could stay like this forever.
Could she? They’ve been hiding from the world together. For the last couple of days, her life was reduced to Dandelion, Smokey and Sylvan Glade. The sprites never returned with them after New Year’s Eve. Must have stayed behind with Silveril.
Perhaps Dandelion and her phoenix together in Sylvan Glade was all she needed. Even if it meant never drinking blood again. Never drinking blood again… Being in the glade did mean an unlimited supply of fresh plasma fruit, but it wasn’t the same. Maybe she’d eventually convince Dandelion to let her drink from her again. Maybe-
“Someone’s here.” He interrupted her train of thought. She hadn’t even realised when he woke up.
“Is it dad again?” She whispered.
“Probably.” He nodded, propping himself up. “I’ll go talk to him.”
She nodded, careful not to let out a sound. The trees shielded her from the view, but she could hear the conversation.
“Hey, Dandy.” Her father’s voice greeted the elf.
“Come to pick up some juice?” Dandelion asked him unnecessarily.
“That, and I wondered if you’d like some company.”
Hawthorne rolled her eyes. Dandelion had all the company he needed in her. They were healing each other. She wasn’t sure why on earth her father decided now was the time to move the juice fizzing station to Sylvan Glade, but his timing sucked.
“Oh, thanks. I’ve been busy with something though.” The elf replied. She groaned inwardly. Why did Dandelion have to be such a terrible liar? That was never going to convince her dad…
“Dandelion… Did you and Hawthorne have a falling out when you visited her in Britechester? She didn’t… she didn’t try to feed on you, did she?”
Great going, dad. Remind him that he saw her feeding on someone on New Year’s Eve. The last thing Dandelion needed. The last thing she needed.
“No… of course not… It was ok. I just… it was all a bit overwhelming. I’ve never left Glimmerbrook before. Well, not that I remember.” Dandelion trailed off. “I’m not used to not being in Sylvan Glade.”
“We could take a trip somewhere, you know.” Her father suggested. “Windenburg’s not far, I could take you some night.”
“Yeah, that would be nice.” The elf agreed absent-mindedly. “Thanks, Micah.”
That was clearly not going to happen, Hawthorne thought. Dandelion was just being polite, and her father had to know that. She couldn’t quite make out his response, though. Their voices faded into the distance as they presumably headed towards Dandelion’s house to fetch the plasma juice.
It took a good while before Dandelion returned to the hammock. She wondered if her father quizzed him any further. The elf was frowning when he finally came back.
“I don’t like lying to him.” He muttered as he climbed back into the hammock.
“I know.” She nodded. “You could have told him… just as long as he doesn’t find out I’m here.”
“So you don’t have to talk about your thing, but I’m supposed to talk about mine?” He gave her an annoyed look. “Sorry. I didn’t mean that. I know it’s not really the same.”
“Yeah. Chloe’s been gone for less than two weeks. All those people in Syeldell died a long time ago. But that doesn’t change that they died of course.” She added quickly.
“I didn’t know them.” He said mechanically. “I only met Chloe in passing, and I she was still more real than they were.”
“You would have liked her. And she would have really liked you. She…” Hawthorne couldn’t continue. She could feel tears stinging in her eyes.
“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want.” He told her.
“She… she would have… would have loved Sylvan Glade.” Hawthorne managed between sobs. “It’s so fucking pink. Fuck.”
“I’m sorry.” Dandelion wrapped his arm around her. “I wish I could help.”
“You are helping.” She said. He was so close. So perfect. So warm. The beat of his pulse sent her into a daze. But she couldn’t feed on him. She couldn’t. So she opted for his lips instead, leaning in for a kiss.
“Hawthorne.” He backed away immediately, sitting up abruptly. “This is a bad idea.”
She could feel her anger rising. Even now, after everything they’d been through together, he still had to insist that she was a damn child. Why? They needed each other. He had to know that.
Hawthorne forced herself to calm down. He would realise eventually. She knew he would.
Morgyn knocked on the door, apprehensive. Micah would of course be in is coffin in the middle of the day, but Cordelia was likely around. Of course it had to be her who answered the door.
“Happy new year,” they told her brightly.
“What do you want?”
“I won’t intrude for long. I was just hoping to speak to Hawthorne.” The sage got right to the point.
She looked at them as if they’d lost their mind. “Is this some kind of a joke? Hawthorne’s in Britechester, you know that.”
So Hawthorne never did confide in her parents. Not a good sign. Not to mention it complicated matters.
“My mistake.” Morgyn didn’t bother coming up with an excuse. Cordelia would find an issue with whatever they said regardless. “Send my regards to Micah.”
“Get out of here.” She hissed.
“Thank you for your hospitality.” Morgyn bowed their head slightly, but Cordelia already shut the door.
No time to deal with her. Morgyn’s mind turned back to Hawthorne.
The sage found it unlikely she would have returned to Britechester, not when she almost broke down at the mention of the place last time they spoke. Their eyes lingered on the tree behind the house.
Morgyn’s hand traced the bark of the tree. They couldn’t quite remember where precisely the opening would be, but they could take a guess.
“Hawthorne.” They said softly, leaning towards the tree trunk.
The untamed magic sage’s voice echoed through Sylvan Glade loudly, causing the trees to shake.
“What the fuck?” Hawthorne turned to Dandelion. “Is Morgyn here?”
“Definitely not.” Dandelion told her. “They’re no further than the tree passage, I can tell you that much. The sound… amplifies when someone’s talking near it. As a warning.”
“Does it? I used to scream into the tree opening all the time when I was little…”
“You did,” he confirmed with a smirk. Great.
“Can you… let them in?” She changed the subject.
“Nope. Sylvan Glade is no place for a-holes. It’s literally impossible for them to come in.”
“Ha-ha, very funny. Look, I know you don’t like Morgyn, but I can’t go up there, what if mum spots me in the garden?”
“Not my magic.” The elf shrugged.
“Fine.” Hawhtorne sighed, heading for the tree passage.
Hawhtorne made her way through to find the sage waiting for her on the other side. She glanced towards her parents’ house quickly. Too early for her father to be up, and thankfully, no sign of her mother either. Not that she was going to take her chances.
“Can we go for a walk?” She asked swiftly.
“You wouldn’t happen to be suggesting that because you haven’t told your parents you’re not at university?” Morgyn asked, but they did oblige.
“I told you they couldn’t know.” She reminded them.
“They’ll have to find out you’re back at some point. I have good news. All is clear for your ascension.” The sage announced.
“Oh really?” Hawthorne had almost forgotten all about that, after her time in Sylvan Glade. Everything felt so remote down there. “So the… bureaucracy is sorted?”
“Certainly is. A few minor leadership changes went ahead, but all is in place.”
“Leadership changes?” She studied their face. Something about them was different, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what. It was as if Morgyn had lost a bit of their usual gloss. “What do you mean by that?”
“We have a couple of new sages in the realm. Darrel and Gemma Charm.” They explained wearily.
“The Charms? For real?” Hawthorne mused. She always found Ollie’s father uptight and uninteresting, and as for his aunt… she didn’t even want to think about it. it was painful enough Dandelion kept rejecting her without the reminder of his ex. “I never thought of them as… sagely.”
“They aren’t. That’s why I’m the only sage that matters.” Morgyn agreed with a wink.
“So what happens now?” Hawthorne asked.
“You’ll have to undergo a ritual that involves permanently binding motes to your body. I think you’re familiar with motes?”
Hawthorne nodded. “Yeah, the weird orb stuff my mum uses to make potions.”
“That’s right. She once had motes bound to her too, your mother, but not quite to the same effect. The fuse isn’t full without all three sages participating in the ritual.” Morgyn explained.
“I thought you were the only sage that matters,” Hawthorne teased.
“Formalities. But unfortunately, without formalities, the motes can only offer you borrowed magic. The more old-school spellcasters believe that to be the case even with the proper ritual. They are wrong.”
“Old school spellcasters like the Charms?”
“Yes. Precisely like the Charms.” Morgyn agreed.
“But they’ll be the ones performing the ritual.” Hawthorne pointed out.
“And I’m sure they’ll loathe every minute of it.” Morgyn said with a conspicuous smile. “But that’s secondary. Either way, you’ll emerge from the ritual as a spellcaster, with the motes’ magic permanently bound to you.”
Hawthorne had never given mote magic too much thought before, but today was different. Between Chloe, Syeldell, her grandma, she was grateful to finally have a safe subject to focus on. Making mote mechanics way more interesting than they would be under any other circumstances.
“So, what would happen if the motes fused with someone that already is a spellcaster?” She asked. “Do people use them to boost their powers?”
“On the temporary basis that I mentioned, yes, it’s fairly common.” Morgyn confirmed. “A bit of borrowed magic to help with a spell one might ordinarily find challenging, for instance. It’s nothing earth-shattering though. Just a temporary minor enhancement. Like a morning coffee.”
“Wouldn’t every spellcaster want to make that enhancement permanent?” She wondered.
“Which is precisely why all three sages have to part-take in the ritual,” Morgyn reminded her. “I must admit that while the formalities complicate things, they do exist for a reason. Too much raw magic is dangerous when not managed correctly.”
They seemed oddly serious, which only made Hawthorne want to know more. “But it can be done, then, in theory? Have the three sages ever boosted someone’s raw magic like that, even if they’re already a spellcaster? Wait, is that how you got to have more raw magic than most spellcasters?”
“No, I have always been that way.” The sage told her. “The ritual is never performed on spellcasters.”
Morgyn hesitated. “I only know of one instance.”
Why was Morgyn so stingy with their words all of the sudden? There had to be a story here, Hawthorne was sure of it.
“So… who got all this extra power? And what happened? And-“
“It was my old teacher.” Morgyn cut in. “And it was not a good idea. But enough on that. Don’t preoccupy yourself with all these hypotheticals, Hawthorne. What we really want to focus on is your ascension. I think we should make an event out of it. Invite everyone who’s anyone in the spellcasting world…”
A/N: Sorry for the wait on this one, it’s been a hectic week! Since my schedule is way off now, I think I’ll just ditch it altogether. Having to work towards a deadline makes this feel too much like a chore, so it weirdly makes me want to work on the story less. Apologies to those who enjoyed looking forward to Wednesday updates, but I hope going back to no set schedule will improve things overall. Fear not, you can still expect updates around once a week going forward, I’ll just not have any set update days. 🙂
Hawthorne needs to quit pressuring my elf boy. And whoo boy can’t wait to see how Cordelia handles her daughter’s ascension 🙄🙄
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She definitely should! As for Cordelia and her reaction, that’s coming very soon 😬
Welp if Hawthorne used to scream into the tree, no wonder Dandy still sees her as a child xD It also seems like she thinks that’s the only thing in the way of her dating Dandy, which may or may not be true, but might set her up for some disappointment.
I see Morgyn put their own spin on the situation. Gotta wonder if they mean it. I feel like they are underestimating the Charms both in magical ability and political ambition. We’ll see I guess?
And Micah, never change.
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Haha, she did! And of course, Hawthorne believes she’s absolutely amazing in every way imaginable so how could there be any other obstacles? 😆 In seriousness, you bring up a good point, might well not be just the whole “seeing her as a child” thing. But no one other than Dandy has ever really rejected Hawthorne before, so she’s clearly not considered that.
Wouldn’t be Morgyn if they didn’t put their own spin on the situation 😁 Do they actually mean it? I suppose you’ve seen their reaction to the “minor leadership changes” in realtime, so I’ll let you decide… In any case, they have definitely made the mistake of underestimating the Charms in the past, which of course helped the Charms get into their current positions in the first place. We’ll see how we go from here!
Changing is not Micah’s strong suit, so I wouldn’t worry 😅
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“Dandelion had all the company he needed in her. They were healing each other.”
Suuuuuuuure, Hawthorne. Hiding in a faerie tree, stubbornly refusing to see anybody and trying your darndest to forget both the outside world and all of your problems with it is “healing”. Definitely. Certainly isn’t running away and burying your heads in the sand like a pair of dopey ostriches in extreme denial.
I don’t like how much of a one-track mind Hawthorne has – both in terms of romance with Dandelion and wanting to drink from him. He’s rejected her on both of those accounts multiple times already, but she doesn’t accept it. Even now her thoughts aren’t “Dandelion does not want this” but “I’ll convince him to let me” and “he’ll realize eventually”. She doesn’t consider Dandelion’s feelings at all. I know that’s par for the course with most teenagers, but I just. Gah. I can’t.
Micah’s mind went straight to Hawthorne drinking blood too, it seems. The chances of them misinterpreting what happened to Chloe keep rising.
Despite Morgyn and Cordelia loathing each other, I can’t help but chuckle at how well their outfits match. 😂 All Morgyn needs is shoes or a bracelet or the like in Cordy’s hair colour 🤣
I wonder if the motes and the sprites work similarly. I can’t remember, but my brain is telling me that they help the person’s magic that they’re flitting around, too, and that’s why Cordelia’s mum went gaga over them and grew jealous of Dandelion. Ooooh, so Aine used the motes on herself when she was already a spellcaster, and that’s why she was so powerful? I wonder if you can do that multiple times – keep absorbing motes to steadily become more powerful. Can you only do it once? Is there a limit? Can you do it with motes and sprites both? Wait, nevermind – I don’t want to give Morgyn or Hawthorne any ideas. 😆
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Bhahaha, pair of dopey ostriches, I love that so much 😂 Yes, you’re totally right. In their defence, all of the role models these two have have also spent the last few decades in extreme denial, so it’s not entirely their fault neither of them has no idea how to deal. 😅
Oh yes, I don’t blame you for getting frustrated with Hawthorne at all. The idea she would not eventually get what she wants is nearly unfathomable with her; up until recently she’s nearly always had her way. She’s obviously a mess at the moment, but that doesn’t make her behaviour right.
Micah’s own relationship with feeding will definitely always impact his perceptions. Oof, I see you’re feeling optimistic today 😆
Lol! If you’re planning a stare-down with the ex, make sure you colour-coordinate 😂 Now that you mention it, Morgyn does actually have red gemstones on their jewellery, though not quite the right shade. I’ll let them know to work on that.
Oooh! Those are some fun theories! Actually, Morgyn’s first hypothesis way back at the beginning of the story when Cordelia first met them was that the sprites could be similar to motes, so perhaps they had it right all along… Yes, Aine underwent the ritual to increase her raw magic levels, though if what Morgyn is saying is true she wouldn’t have been able to just do that on her own since you need all three sages for the ritual. Good questions… which I will not answer 😅 Haha, yes, don’t give Morgyn and Hawthorne ideas! Then again, Morgyn themself says that having too much raw magic is not a good thing, twice in this chapter alone, so maybe they’re on the same page with you for once 😆
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The draw for drinking blood seems strong for Hawthorne o: Or is it something like binge eating/comfort eating when a person is feeling down?
I just realised how incredibly sad both our chapters are this week or last week I guess. XD Yikes. Though I love your pictures here. And I love how relaxing Hawthorne and Dandy look in the hammock together. So peaceful. I can understand why Hawthorne doesn’t want Micah there. If I were like that with my crush I’d think my dad was being a nuisance too xD It’s still nice of Micah to come down and offer company.
I’m not sure I understand the mindset of ‘not being able to have Dandy’s blood hence settling on a kiss’. Like.. erm.. is she using Dandy as a distraction. Does she want his blood and not his person? I always had the impression she simply liked him for who he is and not that he had sweet smelling blood. Or does it work in that the person’s blood who tastes the best would be the person they are attracted to? Hence she wasn’t exactly settling since both person and blood kick off the same erm.. receptors in their brain? XD I feel like I’m overthinking this.
Hawthorne likes Dandy’s blood. But she doesn’t like Plasma fruit made from Dandy’s blood. How different do you think they are? I mean I can kind of rationalise it my way, but is there a BC explanation to their difference?
Oof Aine got extra mote magic on top of her own raw magic? I wonder why the three sages of that time authorised such an experiment or ritual. And didn’t Morgyn went ahead and absorbed her magic from her grave or smth like that in S1? Wouldn’t they have all that power now? Yikes!
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Ooh! You ask so many good questions! The good news if that I think a lot of these will actually be answered in the future. The bad news is that that means I can’t really get into them too much now 😀
You definitely win the sad chapter round for your last couple of chapters 😀 I thought this one was reasonably happy considering, at least compared to a lot of the chapters we’ve had in BC in season 2 so far
and some that are coming up😅 Yes, Hawthorne definitely doesn’t want her dad cramping her chances with her crush as you say – that, plus she doesn’t really want to have to explain to him why she’s not in Britechester.
Hawthorne’s desire for blood, and specifically Dandelion’s blood, and how that relates to her crush on him. Oof… Well I can confirm what information we definitely have available. It’s been mentioned a couple of times that elf blood specifically tastes better than regular human blood, for one. We know that Hawthorne’s adored Dandelion’s personality since she was little, but also craved his blood since he was little (or perhaps even before that, since Cordelia used to have dreams about drinking Dandelion’s blood when she was pregnant). I can definitely confirm that Hawthorne has a crush on Dandelion, but how much of that is related to the fact she also wants to feed on him, or the fact she’s not allowed to feed on him, or whether she wants to feed on him more because she likes him… is hard to say. I’m not sure if she can separate those things herself! Hence the settling comment. I mean, in Hawthorne’s ideal world, she would be in a romantic relationship with him and would be able to feed on him.
We do know one of the biggest draws of feeding for vampires (apart from actual survival) is getting to experience their prey’s memories and feelings attached to those memories when they feed. This can mean that wanting more closeness/intimacy with someone can make feeding on them much more appealing, since the vampire is in a way gets to connect with them very closely. Definitely was a factor in Micah killing Carys. But… not all vamps necessarily crave a connection or closeness when it comes to feeding. They all have their own preferences. To add to that, unlike regular vampires we actually don’t know if Hawthorne necessarily needs to feed like “regular” vampires, or just craves it.
The plasma fruit I can answer, I think! It is derived from Dandy’s blood, yes (which again has to do with elf blood being more potent than regular blood), but it feels much more diluted in comparison to feeding on anyone. I believe Micah has described it as getting a faint feeling of old emotions without the actual memories attached. That said Hawthorne does actually like the plasma fruit – though she doesn’t find it fully satisfying – precisely because it was made using Dandelion’s blood. Though I think that part is definitely mostly in her head.
Not sure if I’m clearing things up for you or making them more muddled, haha.
Yes, Aine had an unusually high amount of raw magic, like Morgyn does, but for her it’s been due to her natural raw magic being increased by the mote binding, while with Morgyn it’s apparently unexplained. Ooh, well remembered about Morgyn going to Aine’s grave. They did go to her grave yes, and they did heavily insinuate that drawing power was their reason for visiting… buuut they actually never explicitly confirmed that that was what they were doing 😬 (It was chapter 1.53 Fixation, in case you want to dig for clues 😀 )
Excuse me, I would like to speak to the manager because I was told this chapter was boring and it is not.
It has a hammock! I love it when you tell me what’s coming up in future chapters and leave me guessing; so I knew there would be a hammock but who would be inside it? Would you find the right poses? The suspense! 😆 And the occupants are the hammock are… Dandy and Thorny? Ooh, OK. Oh dear, she’s missing getting her fangs wet and she’s very close to everyone’s favourite elf there, hopefully something will interrupt them — yay! Micah! Come to get some plasma pop, piss on Thorny’s pancakes and… ask Dandy on a date? 😲 Actually I’m… I’m not against that. Go on Micah, date Dandelion!
Ooh boy. Hawthorne, I think this one’s a lost cause; don’t pressure the poor guy. He might soon be dating your dad.
*Mandatory groan as Morgyn appears* Cordelia! She lives and she’s just as bitter as ever. Ah, very interesting. So Morgyn cannot get into the tree, but the way you word it when they’re examining it, suggests that they could, at some point. Have you already told us this? I have literally no idea. I’m surprised if what I’m typing is actually words. 😆
Dandy almost swearing is the cutest thing. “Not my magic” so he can’t override it? Probably doesn’t want to, who would want Morgyn swanning in at whim? But still… interesting.
Fun spellcaster lore! My question was the same as Hawthorne’s; can you boost powers and… what is the limit? And Aine did it? Ooh I’m all intrigued! By all means, take your time and enjoy the full writing experience and all life has to offer, but also… get a wriggle on, yeah? 😆 I’m joking. Mostly.
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Haha sorry to disappoint! Appoint? 😆
I do love your speculations around random snippets, stairs and lingerie still kills me 😆 I did have some hammock poses, though lots of them are very lovey-dovey making out, which Hawthorne would appreciate I’m sure, alas, not her day. You know I’m surprised nobody’s shipped Dandy and Micah yet, I think that if you gave Dandy a few more decades they’d make a great pairing. Though I’m sure Micah would find a way to talk himself out of it.
Cordelia lives and not much has changed with her, yep. Morgyn could indeed get into the tree once upon a time, we’ve briefly seen them visit Sylvan Glade with L Faba in Interlude 6, though incidentally that one was also the one where all the poop and fire landed so I don’t blame you for not remembering 😆
Yes, Dandy doesn’t have control over the tree passage, though in fairness I don’t think he’s ever really tried. Certainly won’t look into it on Morgyn’s account, haha.
The good news is that there will be more spellcaster lore this season in general! The bad news is that we’re going to learn most of it from Morgyn, so prepare yourself 😆 You can indeed boost powers, though to make it a more significant and permanent bind you’d need the involvement of all three sages, who would generally not approve that sort of thing. Then again, Aine managed to get an exception somehow, so who knows.
Haha, noted! The long weekend should help 🙂
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I am officially shipping Micah and Dandy. I shall call them Mindy. Yay! Go Mindy! Nothing could possibly ever go wrong with that pairing. I am happy.
It appears I was distracted by the poop and fire. Thank you for enlightening me!
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BBD Book one is done, so I got to binge all of these this weekend! WordPress did not want to cooperate on iPad and let me make comments, so I had to wait until I got home from the shore.
Can I just say I was not expecting that Darryl Charm twist, and I am still reeling from it? Like, all this time making these little plots in the background, and like Morgyn, I was so focused on Morgyn that I never even seen it coming! I’m sure this how everyone else feels when Morgyn sweeps in with some twist, and honestly, it was kind of satisfying to see them be on the receiving end.
Strangely, this was the first time I ever thought to myself that Morgyn was getting old. Like, because they don’t physically age I wasn’t tracking it the same way I was with Cordelia. But now I’m looking at this thing with the Charms and Faba storming out and thinking…maybe you’re getting too old for this Morgyn. Maybe you should let this pursuit go or settle down or mature. I mean, they have not changed their life in decades, and it’s really starting to show.
Especially since Faba walked out, which…I applaud. I stan Faba forever now, and I really hope she gets a chance to reflect and find happiness instead of growing bitter and resentful like Cordelia or Morgyn.
In other news, Michal continues to have my heart. Hawthorne shows a few…alarming thought patterns, and while I don’t think Faba is right to put Cordelia’s entire family into the same box, I saw a lil grandma come out when Hawthorne was thinking about Dandy. I mean, he has made his feelings clear, and instead of respecting it, her first inclination is to focus on what she wants and dismiss his desires completely. And I’m still not thrilled that she hasn’t told her parents and that Morgyn is acting like her “friend” instead of a responsible adult in her life and letting her keep this secret.
I mean…I know they can’t hear me, but I just keep screaming: MORGYN, YOU SHOULD TELL THEM DAMN IT.
Alright, I’ve ranted enough. It’s good to be back!
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Oh yes, I think you were even rooting for Darrel to succeed Simeon at one point! In fairness, we have no conclusive evidence of whether the Charms will be good or bad for the realm, so who knows! They might be the best thing that ever happened to it!
Yeah, Morgyn is older than Cordelia as well. Than again, Simeon had been a sage for way longer. It’s true that the sage lifestyle does not particularly allow for major life changes. There have been some changes in Morgyn’s life, but yes, in some ways they’ve just been holed up in this world alongside Simeon and L Faba for decades. But the world changes around you whether you like it or not, so with the Charms settling in, Morgyn is now in a whole new scenario regardless.
I mean, Faba is her own brand of bitter and resentful already, but here’s to hoping this could be a fresh start for her 😀
Hawthorne’s first inclination is almost always to focus on what she wants, mainly because she’s almost always gotten whatever she wanted. Haha, lil grandma. In fairness we know very little about Annaliese and her motivations, so hard to say if it runs in the family 😀
Weeell, there are a few minor problems with Morgyn telling Cordelia and Micah – for one, they don’t really know what happened, they’re also not particularly on speaking terms, and most importantly, any information coming from Morgyn at this point would likely be received negatively, especially by Cordelia, so I’m not sure if they’d really be doing Hawthorne much of a favour by inserting themselves into the situation. A bit of a lose-lose scenario, I suppose 😅
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