Ronnie and Morpheus had returned to the Gateway, leaving Azulia to confer with her friend Meline, who she believed could be of some help. Ronnie told Morpheus that she believed the symbols on the pendant were the way to the magic. She thought that, maybe, the person who had encased the Iris Stone in that particular setting knew that there was magic in the stone.
“Perhaps,” she added, “that person was close to discovering its secrets but couldn’t make it work, so left a clue for the next owner – me. I just know that if I can figure out what those signs mean Ill be on my way to knowing what it all means. Iris has been around Earth Mortals a lot. Maybe she’s seen symbols like these before. Let’s find her and ask her if they look familiar.”
As they headed back toward the village, they met Iris, who was on her way to them. She told them that Zephyrus had been called away to bring his gentle wind to another land.
“We had better hurry up and figure this puzzle out before the Harpies return!” Ronnie exclaimed. “Iris, have you ever seen symbols like these ones? I think they’re important but it’s like the answer is on the tip of my tongue and will come no further. I was hoping they might be something you’ve seen on your Earthly visits.”
Iris examined the pendant’s setting closely. “There is something familiar about these symbols. I may have seen writing like this but it was long, long ago. I believe it is a language now unused by Earth Mortals. I wish I could help you further but I know little of the symbols of Earthly languages. I think you are right though. Keep trying Ronnie; something will come to you.”
Ronnie wandered toward the Gateway, lost in thought. The Immortals followed closely. When she came to a shady spot at the river’s edge, she sat, contemplating the pendant. She tried to make her mind go blank to allow the magic to come in, but caught herself thinking. “How can I think of nothing when all I can think of is thinking of nothing? Even when I try to make my mind blank, I just keep thinking of blankness! This is so frustrating! Why can’t the magic just come? Why is it so hard to find?”
Iris moved to join her but was stopped by Morpheus. “Iris, I need to tell you what I have learned of Ronnie. We can rest, assured she is the true Key Keeper. Her father was…”
Ronnie was so wrapped up in her dilemma that she was oblivious to what was being said. She had closed her eyes and was attempting to free her mind by chanting. She had heard that people chant ‘ohm’ when trying to make their minds a blank slate. Ronnie was on her third “Ohm” when something startled her from her thoughts or lack of thoughts. She opened her eyes and they widened in fear as a wall of water thundered toward her.
Ronnie’s startled cry grabbed the attention of the Immortals, who turned to see her being swept downstream in the flash flood. The Harpies had returned and created an isolated storm in the village, away from the interference of their sister. The rain had rained down with such force that the banks of the river had burst and the water was now cascading toward the forest, with Ronnie in its midst.
Ronnie called to her friends, as she bobbed in the water, that she was fine and implored them to hurry to the aid of the Iridalites - which they did. They were convinced that the power of the Key would keep Ronnie safe but the villagers had no such magic to shield them from harm.
“The Harpies must have hidden in wait for Zephyrus to leave and for both of us to walk away from the village. We must hurry and get every one out from under Black Cloud. I will tell you later of Ronnie’s father.” Morpheus cried. He held fast to Iris’ waist and they flew to help their friends.
The Iridalites were all lying on top of their dwellings where they were safe from the rising waters but not the effects of Black Cloud’s darkness. No longer were their colours vibrant. Most had faded to pastel shades and a few were barely tinted at all. Iris carried each of them away as swiftly as she could – which was remarkably swiftly – while Morpheus brought dreams of peace and beauty to those who had slipped from consciousness.
The Harpies, having done their damage, swept back over the Gateway. Swift Flyer turned and called to her sister, “We shall return, Iris. You cannot always be here and even when you are we can do as we will. You’ve no power to stop us. We have learned that Wollomombi no longer holds the magic Key and cannot protect these fragile beings for whom you care so much. You think that little Earth Mortal can save them? Well, good luck to her. She will never defeat us. We are Immortals and have no fear of the likes of her. She’ll not escape us.” Her shrill laughter evoked an anger in Iris like she had never felt before.
As she rose to meet her sister’s challenge Morpheus cried out, “No Iris, you are needed here. Ronnie will defeat them. Of that I have no doubt. Let them go for now. Come, help me with the sick and injured.”
Some of the Iridalites had been in the fields when the storm hit and they now hurried to give aid where they could. Azulia and her friend, Meline, had been walking toward the Gateway and had also escaped the effects of the Harpies’ storm. They were on the front lines of the rescue efforts – setting up a first aid station for the injured, ensuring the comfort of those whose weakened state had sent them into the “arms of Morpheus’, and dispatching the crews of able-bodied citizens to begin the cleanup in the village. When they had done all they could for those in their care, they rested nearby under the magenta branches of a spreading elm.
Iris and Morpheus joined them there. Iris immediately turned her thoughts to Ronnie. “Perhaps now, Morpheus, you can finish what you started to say about Ronnie. Oh, I do hope she is all right. Do you think we were right to leave her?”
“Do not worry. When you hear what Azulia and I learned of her heritage, you will know, as we do, that we need not fear for her safety. The magic within her is, as Wollomombi would say, strong, indeed.” He told Iris of Ronnie’s father and his love of rainbow lore and of his and Ronnie’s full names, which defined the rainbows themselves. “So, you see Ronnie does have Rainbow Magic. The Key found its way to her for a reason and I believe we should trust the magic to serve her well.”
“Where is the Key Keeper?” Meline asked. “I was surprised that she was not here with you, but then thought she was perhaps in the village. Has some danger befallen her?”
“Ronnie will be fine,” Iris stated with conviction. “She was swept away in the waters of the flood but I have no doubt now that she will return to us soon. I do wonder though, what my sisters have planned next. Let us head off any trouble they may stir up before they can put it into play. Let no Iridalite be alone. You must stay in groups of two or more. I fear that whatever they have in mind will involve somehow luring her to the aid of a lone Iridalite.”
While such a plan as that would definitely be one the Harpies could have tried, they had a much different idea of how to rid themselves of Ronnie Biv.