After the death of Claude and the decline of Alicia the Council of Magic had lost the glue that once held them together as a group. Guy and Madeline spent all their time at the Ito Conglomerate, Olivier was teaching, Doreen and Ella went to school and the First Mage had all but become an Agoraphobic living in the new Tower of Magic and never stepping outside. The once-daily meetings had at first become weekly meetings and eventually, monthly meetings. The projects that had once been the cornerstones of the future slowly became less and less important.
After Guy had activated the gates for the four Dukes, the Kingdom of Pays Des Abrutis slowly transformed. The speed of travel allowed the Kingdom to thrive in ways that were unheard of previously. The Ito Conglomerate was the biggest winner as the speed of product movement in the kingdom with their airship and with the gates allowed them to drive most of their competition away. Guy even started to talk to other nations about setting up gate networks after the proven success of the gates in Pays Des Abrutis.
The wedding between Guy and Madeline was once again postponed as they finished construction on their second airship, the Montfort. Madeline who had been working on the Montgolfier as the executive officer asked to be allowed to captain the second ship and wanted to spend a few months getting acclimated to her new role. Guy was busy himself thanks to the creation of an airship yard that allowed them to build two airships per year.
As the new school year began, and new students arrived to be tested, Olivier put his foot down and demanded the Council of Magic meet and discuss the future. He sat everyone at the table and angrily slammed his hand down, "I am not doing this alone. I need your help. Alicia, I know you are pregnant right now and so I understand needing to take time, but the rest of you need to put aside your pet projects and do some work for the Council once in a while. Doreen and Ella, your school work is important, but you should still have time to at least help with requests for the Council once a week. Guy and Madeline, do the two of you plan to remain in the Council at all? I haven't seen you here in weeks. First Mage Diggory, as the elder in our group, you should at least act as if you care."
Guy sighed and then said, "I'm sorry, so much has happened after the gates opened up for my business, I lost track of the time."
Madeline nodded and said, "I've been running my ship and working on the Montgolfier. I was gone for weeks at a time on each voyage."
Olivier angrily looked at the two of them, "I need you to care, not excuses why you don't. We created this Council because we discovered this amazing power and felt a responsibility to it. If you want to be a ship captain or a captain of industry, that still pales in comparison to the ultimate responsibility you have to humanity. Have you so quickly forgotten? Was the death of a friend enough to make you treat that responsibility as if it were unimportant? His murderer is still at large. Have we all forgotten just because things have been quiet?"
Doreen looked unusually timid as she said, "We should ask some more people to join the Council. We should have selected a student to join the Council at the end of the last school year, but we didn't. I would like to nominate Isabel."
Ella frowned at Doreen and said, "Did she demand that you ask? That woman is not good for you, Doreen." Doreen closed up looking like she had just been beaten by Ella's quick retort.
Guy looked at Doreen like he was seeing a different person. Madeline spoke up, "Do we have any other nominees? Olivier, Alicia, can either of you recommend anyone?"
Olivier nodded and said, "There's a student from Alicia's beginning magic class named Algernon Gagne. He was one of the only commoners that qualified to enter the Academy. He is the top student at the school and his status was better than any of ours. He was also the top student in the basic magic class. He only needs a spell book to become a real mage."
Doreen quietly said, "Isabel would be a good mage too."
Ella angrily glared at Doreen and said, "A woman who constantly hurls abuse at you and bullies others is not mage material, Doreen."
Madeline and Guy looked at Doreen carefully realizing they had let their friend down. They looked at each other and realized that neither of them knew anything.
Doreen shook her head and said, "It's not like that, I know she loves me, it's just that she has been a little stressed out because her grades aren't as good as she expected. If we just let her join the Council as she wants, then things will get better."
First Mage Diggory suddenly spoke out since the first time that he had been at the meeting, "I believe it was Princess Isabel Viana that was responsible for the murder of Claude."
Doreen stood up and nearly shouted, "No, I don't believe that, stop lying you old lecher!"
He looked at Doreen and shook his head and then opened a book he brought, "I have been observing every student at the school for the past half year and found that only Isabel Viana has the swordsmanship to have defeated Claude. She hides it and trains at night in secret. Not only that, but she has been using bullying and intimidation tactics to create her own faction within the students to rule over them."
Doreen sat back down not looking anyone in the eye. Guy really looked at Doreen and noticed she had bags under her eyes and marks on her once flawless skin most of which she was trying to hide with makeup. He made a mental note to speak with her in private.
Diggory then cleared his throat and said, "There is another piece of evidence, her close rival, Princess Huitfeldt from Odinslund went missing on the winter break. I looked into it and found the bodies of her and her retinue just outside of the Academy in the forest. All dead by sword strikes, similar to the one that killed Claude. The last time Princess Huitfeldt was seen, was when she insulted Isabel at a dinner just before the break, I believe you were at that dinner, Mage Leon."
Doreen said in a quiet voice, "She said that Isabel was a tyrant and that not everyone was afraid of her."
Alicia glared at Doreen and said in a hoarse voice, "And this is your good mage, Doreen?"
Doreen looked at her with tears in her eyes and said, "She's not always like that, she can be so kind and caring too!"
Madeline looked at her friend, tears ran down her cheeks, "I'm so sorry Doreen, I had no idea. I haven't been a good friend to you."
Doreen stood up and shouted, "Quit making her out to be the bad person, she's just... Just misunderstood, none of you know her the way I do!" She ran out of the room crying.
Olivier stopped Madeline and said, "Wait, let her go. We all need to have a serious discussion now. I think Doreen has been teaching her magic without approval."