Monthly Archives: August 2013

Let the Flames Begin: Or, What 4Kids Did Right

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WARNING: Please understand that this title is meant to be dry humor about the reaction some well-known Winx fans might have to the sentiments of this article: to instantaneously start flaming it.  Therefore, do not take the title seriously.  This is a positive Winx blog, and while reasonable disagreement is acceptable, no flaming.  Every time you do that, you are pushing kindly argumentation theory teachers to spiral into increasing levels of insanity and to start crying about how no one seems to appreciate their advice in today’s world.  End sarcastic public service announcement and actually start talking about the topic.

Let me set the scene for you: imagine that you’ve just come out about your Winx fandom to one of your friends.  Rather than laugh at you, they ask, “Oh, was that the fairy show on Saturday mornings?”  You nod your head, and then the friend starts having one of those crazy nostalgia moments, maybe even bursting into song.  And if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “Why the heck doesn’t anyone know about Winx on Nickelodeon, a 24-hour television behemoth, but everyone seems to remember the tiny 4Kids adaptation that was only on Saturdays?  That’s right, just when you finally began to understand the entertainment industry, wrenches like this get thrown into the mix.

So that just got me to thinking: what could 4Kids have gotten right with Winx?  How did a European show become so much of the American nostalgia experience?  And even more importantly, how could Nick replicate that seemingly effortless success?  Finding these answers made me realize that even though 4Kids Americanized the show substantially, you can’t help but admire some of their amazing business strategies.  Let’s get started:

  • They treated Winx Club as though it could have ratings to rival any of their other programs.

Now here’s where Nick’s success can become its greatest downfall.  To elaborate, consider the fact that no one on 4Kids could possibly have had the mindset that small, Saturday morning cartoons could topple SpongeBob from its throne as the most popular kids’ animated series.  Therefore, they pretty much publicized all their shows equally, meaning that there were plenty of opportunities to learn about the show while watching, say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Yu-Gi-Oh!  I always used to get really happy when they showed Bloom as a “spokesperson” for one of their promotional station commercials.  The problem with Winx on Nick is that it’s still “new,” and while newer teen sitcoms can gain popularity quickly, it’s much harder for newer cartoons to gain this same momentum when the station’s been around for years.  (Now, this would be a lot easier if Nick was at least half as diligent about airing reruns as 4Kids was.)  “New” in this case can translate to expendable and fleeting, plus the fact that Nick has a history of trying to keep newer cartoons from getting more popular.  (For instance, they rarely air “newer” shows like TUFF Puppy other than on Nicktoons Network, and scrapped Danny Phantom after only three seasons.  Please ignore the fact that I’m only using Hartman cartoons as examples.)  A good solution to this problem might be adding more commercials and print ads, but also the possibility of a TV special highlighting its popularity in Europe.  This would be a great opportunity to show its consistency and to clear up some of the bad press that Winx is getting lately.

  • They pandered to the younger audience in ways that adults could at least tolerate.

4Kids Winx had camp, and it most definitely spread this to even the most serious moments.  Remember the hardcore guitar riff that would always play during Valtor’s latest act of villainy, the Big Nos done by the Winx as Tecna was being sucked into the Omega portal, or the infamous Lord Darkar “talk to the hand” line?  Nick, on the other hand, tries to lure younger audiences in through formulaic plot ehconstruction and simplistic plotlines.  How do these two methods differ?  For one thing, camp is notorious for luring huge cult fandoms.  Some arguments cite this as the reason for the genesis of the comic book fandom.  Additionally, its camp appeal sets it apart from average children’s programming in that it is actually memorable.  People still make jokes about 4Kids Darkar’s lines even today, eight or nine years after S2 aired on the station, to the point that I actually found it jarring that Nick tried to make him into a full-blown, demonic character (complete with that voice *shudder*).  Pretty much, a lot of people liked 4Kids because it came off as effortless and almost self-deprecating in some of its scripts, while Nick is simply trying too hard by comparison.

  • The publicity that 4Kids had was pretty awesome for its time.

Remember that this was a time before iPads, apps, and the like, and even if those would have existed, 4Kids likely wouldn’t have had the time or the resources for these methods.  So they had to stick to a mixture of time-honored strategies and new innovations to get the word out.  Remember how you could spend hours just searching around on winxclub.tv, looking at character descriptions and an insane amount of games?  If you did this in a public place in the days before mainstream Wi-Fi, some other kid could see you, become curious, go on the site, watch the show, and bang, they’re a fan.  On the other hand, the same can’t be done with the Sirenix Power app because doing so requires a certain technology and a certain amount of money.  (I still haven’t played it, for instance, and I’m sure plenty of others have the same problem.)  A similar advertising technique was the Winx coloring books, chapter books, and “mangas.”  (And yes, I insist on putting that last one in quotations.)  Nick made a wise decision in compiling the comics, if only I could find a copy.  4Kids went out of their way to ensure that Winx books could be found just about anywhere, while I still have yet to find any of Nick’s books.  This is true to the extent that I can say that I became a Winx fan after seeing one of these books in a magical and heavenly paradise known as Borders.  (For those unacquainted with it, don’t try to find it, as, no matter how hard you tried, your quest would always come out fruitless.  If one still existed, I wouldn’t be sitting at the computer right now.)

So, as you can see, the idiosyncrasy about this complex issue is that Nick’s greatest advantage–its accessibility–can also act as its greatest weakness.  Winx on Nick has never had to worry about possibilities like lack of viewership, lack of publicity, or being seen negatively; it’s like the cliche of spoiled rich kids who feel “entitled” to their relations’ success.  Until now, that is.  The very thing that Nick has been trying to avoid is gaining quicker and quicker onto their heels.  Now, one of the few ways for Nick save that from happening is to acknowledge 4Kids’ existence, look at their strategies, learn from them, and put their own spin on them.  If they’re reading this, I highly recommend for them to do so…

…RIP Borders

FANFIC WEEK: “Black Gold–Part One”

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We’ve finally entered the home stretch, folks!  That’s right–this is the last Fanfic Week entry.  It’s been a lot of fun working on all of these stories, and while there were times I didn’t think I’d finish them all, I did it.  This has got to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve done on this site as of late.  It forced me to buckle down and think: “I don’t care if I don’t think I can write this today.  I’m going to do this anyway, because I never back down on my word, and I’m not planning on changing that.”  I’m loving seeing your commentary about these, and I’d really like to see how you like Black Gold.  I’ve only had this idea for about a month, so it may not be as streamlined and planned as some of them yet, but I have faith in it.  It takes a different look at what happened on Earth after the Black Circle attack, and shows that magic on Earth still has a long road in front of it.  But Morgana, Nebula, and the new character Tristan all have guts to change things.  Except the Black Circle may not have disappeared as much as the Earth fairies would like to think…don’t leave this page, because we’re in for a bumpy ride!  Here’s Black Gold:

Black Gold

Part One: Wandering Wizard

            Tristan didn’t remember much about the battle.  All he knew about it, or about most things, was that it was the most brutal one he’d ever seen.  It was all a blur, and he wasn’t sure if he’d even fought.  The way he was brought up, or at least what he could recall of it, was about looking as normal as possible, hiding everything about yourself.  All he knew was that once he’d revealed himself as a magical being, the Wizards of the Black Circle didn’t hesitate.  He struggled, hoping this wouldn’t be the end, that he’d get another chance.  And as a matter of fact, he did.  Here he was, alive once more.

Except he didn’t remember any of it.

****

            The first thing that he realized when he finally awoke from his coma was that he was sprawled over a rather cramped space, which he later realized was a small room with a door.  He stretched himself out to regain his strength and began to mutter to himself.

“Something tells me I’ve slept in worse places before,” he sighed.  “I bet this is one of those dumb hotel rooms I’ve heard about where you can barely have enough room to get a decent rest.  Don’t know how long I’ve been out, or even how long I’ve been alive in the first place.  I suppose I’m off to a good start.”

For some odd reason, he failed to see a huge watermelon in his way and promptly tripped on it and slammed into the door, which was now open.

“Who leaves a watermelon in a hotel room?!” he yelled after this.  “Seriously?”

“Hey, what are you doing here?!” answered another man, who was quickly approaching him.  “We’re closed!  I bet you think you can try to steal from us, right?  That’s as good a reason as any to be in here right now.  I’m calling the police on you, got that?”

“I wasn’t trying to steal from you, sir,” Tristan tried to explain.  “I just ended up in your backroom somehow.  I don’t know how long I was in there, but somehow, I was trapped inside.”

“Yeah, yeah, likely story,” the man grumbled.  “I can’t trust delinquents like you.  Why should I believe anything you say?”

“Because he’s telling the truth,” answered the only other person there, a woman with long, dark hair.  “The truth spell hasn’t responded yet, so therefore, he isn’t lying.  Besides, this isn’t exactly the first time a wizard has ended up in Gardenia.”

Just excellent, Tristan thought.  Out of all the people who could’ve saved me, it had to be a fairy, a natural enemy of wizards.  I bet she’ll turn me into a punching bag by tomorrow morning.

 He then decided to run away.  Something just didn’t feel right about the magical aura within him.  He must’ve been changed in some way before he’d woken up.  So this was the only chance he had left: to live alone and bide his time until he could regain his strength.  Unfortunately, he failed to remember that fairies could just teleport in front of him, which was exactly what happened.

“I’m not going to hurt you, got that?” the fairy replied in a stern voice.  “And you are not going back out there to live on your own.  The few Earth wizards that are still around had to have been incredibly weakened.  You may not like to hear this, considering that you’re an adult and all, but if you’ve stayed quietly inside a storage closet for this long, you need help, and we have space in our house.”

“Hmph,” Tristan muttered.  “Things have definitely changed since the last time I was here.  Not that I remember much about it, but your kind have never been the most welcoming.”

“I will admit that we might’ve seemed like jerks to you in the past,” she responded, “but we didn’t realize that the Black Circle were just as bad to wizards as they were to fairies.  If we would have, we could’ve been allies a lot sooner, but those times are over.”  She smiled at the young man and continued, “Please forgive my husband Klaus’s conduct towards you, but ever since the whole Earth fairy incident, who could blame him?  But all that’s over, and at least now I have a somewhat normal life working here.  My name’s Morgana, by the way.”

“I’m Tristan, or at least, so I think,” he answered.  “Ever since the attack, I haven’t been remembering much of anything these days.”

“That’s a trait typical to many of the wizards whom they attacked,” Morgana reasoned.  “Most of them were about your age, which made finding help for them harder.  After all, a lot of people think that they can act for themselves.”

“That doesn’t mean you should take me in or anything.  I mean, I know you’re trying to foster relations between the two parties, but I don’t want to intrude—“

“You’re not intruding,” Morgana corrected.  “Lately, the two of us have been lonely anyways, since our daughter just left for Alfea.  We’re perfectly willing, as long as you lighten up a bit.  I understand it’s natural to be a bit grumpy about all of this, but that won’t help your condition improve.”

She then slammed a smoothie cup into his face and muttered, “Hey, drink this.”

“Where did that even come from?!” he asked in complete and utter shock.

“Um, I used the blender right over there,” she answered.  “You need to get something into your body.  Who knows how long you were in there?”

Tristan was about to lift the straw up to his lips when Morgana interrupted, “By the way, that’ll be $4.99.”

“Really?!” he yelled.  “You’re charging me?!  I never wanted this!”

“See, that’s your problem,” Morgana chuckled.  “You take everything too literally.  I was kidding.  But drink it, or else I will charge you for it.”

At this point in time, it felt as though it were really possible for a fairy and a wizard to live together.  But forces were conspiring to ensure that the rivalry would never be broken.

And Tristan would be the one to incite this presence…

****

The next day was nowhere near what Tristan would have expected.  Sure, he would have expected to Morgana to yell at him more, or even for her to change her mind about giving him a free smoothie.  What he didn’t expect was having his limbs chained to a wall in the middle of nowhere.  But, sure enough, that’s what had happened.

That good-for-nothing fairy betrayed me! he thought to himself.  And I honestly thought she was trying to make friends with me.  Times really haven’t changed one bit.  Next thing I know, they’re going to execute me for no reason.

“I know that I have much to explain,” Morgana whispered as she walked past, steadily approaching him.  “But this is not what it looks like.”

“Yeah, easy for you to say.”

“It’s going to be okay,” Morgana continued.  “I just had an audience with the queen of the fairies, and we’ve both come to the decision that we will set you free and allow you to go back to Gardenia, as long as you promise never to kill a fairy.”

“Why would I want to do that at all?!” Tristan demanded.  “I never said I wanted to kill anyone!  If anything, that’s discrimination against wizards!  You think that, just because I’m a wizard, I’m going to steal your powers and pluck your wings off and—“

“That isn’t the reason she wants to make this pact with you,” corrected another fairy, who had just flown over to meet the other two.  “As a matter of fact, that wasn’t even her idea; it was mine.  As soon as Morgana relayed a message to me last night concerning your arrival, I requested that you be brought to Tir Nan Og, which is where you are currently.”

“You used to be the queen of Tir Nan Og, though,” Tristan replied.  “Surely you can still override your subjects’ requests?”

“Nebula here is the current queen,” Morgana explained.  “I did not wish to strain our friendship more than it already was by the incident.

“…oh,” Tristan whispered awkwardly.  “Carry on, then.  Forget I said anything, Your Majesty.”

“Don’t know if I’ll ever get used to being called that,” Nebula muttered.  “Especially with me having been an army leader for so long…but objection overlooked.  After all, Morgana did say that you remember very little about what took place, and you were never in contact with fairy society to begin with.  However…there was one observation, which I discovered last night, that cannot be ignored so easily.  We chained you in order to prevent you from doing something that you would later regret.”

“What could I possibly have done in the middle of the night?!” Tristan yelled.

“Let me put this bluntly,” Nebula answered.  “The Wizards of the Black Circle knew that they would someday be defeated, while it wasn’t something they liked to think about.  When they attack another wizard, they normally do so for one of two reasons.  More often than not, they do so because they fear that the other one will infringe on their territory or become more powerful than them.  It’s a normal predatory response, but yours is a rarer case.  You were exposed to high levels of dark magic, from what our research can perceive, and yet you still managed to survive.

“Consciously, you feel minimal change from the way you were before.  But your entire magical core, the source of your powers, was rewritten.”

“Do I want to know what that means for my future?” Tristan questioned.

“No, but it’s something you need to be aware of,” Nebula replied.  “Exposure to enough dark magic can, in fact, overload a person’s magical systems to the point that they are completely rewired to resemble those of darker beings.  To put it simply, you have been so absorbed to the Black Circle’s aura that your magical composition is shifting to resemble the irregular magical structure of the Black Circle wizards.  In other words…you are essentially more like them than you are like other wizards.  And in most cases, this translates to unconscious urges to attack fairies.”

“Nebula believes that, if you accept our deal, you will be less likely to be a threat to our world, and to Earth’s as well,” Morgana explained.  “We cannot allow another wizard to reach that level of power from that sort of source.”

“So that’s all you see me as now?” Tristan objected.  “A threat?”

“No,” Morgana spoke.  “We aren’t just doing this for our own safety.  We’ve taken in enough wizards to realize that we cannot afford to have another Black Circle.  As long as the memory of the attacks remains fresh, people cannot accept wizards for who they truly are.  You are the one who can change that.

“You must choose between succumbing to your so-called ‘destiny’ as a wizard or coexisting with the other groups who have finally discovered the grave mistakes they have made by denying you as one of their own.  But keep in mind that whatever decision that you make may be the only determining factor between peace and war…

To be continued…

And so, with all that wrapped up, it’s time for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the poll where you can vote on which Fanfic Week submission was best in your eyes!  (Next week, we’ll vote on the music videos, so keep thinking about that song you liked most!)  See you then!

FANFIC WEEK: “Riven’s Requiem”

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This is the only standalone story in Fanfic Week, and I’ve had a great time writing it.  Recently, I saw a post on this blog saying that the Specialists should have a special (pun intended) episode dedicated just to them, and Riven’s Requiem, to me, has that feel to it.  It’s not so much a romantic story as it is a story of friendship: Roy just wants to befriend Riven, but Riven isn’t too keen on the idea.  If we look at S4, who could blame him?  A lot of people have addressed the idea of how Aisha was affected by Nabu’s passing (or coma), but this story was the result of a realization that Riven, his best friend, would feel much the same way.  Sure, Riven may not be the type to admit this sort of thing.  But he eventually realizes that he can’t hold his feelings in forever and continue to push people away.  And if you read further, you’ll find that that’s when the magic truly happens…

Riven’s Requiem

Roy watched eagerly as his Specialist upperclassmen discussed their new band.  He knew that it was impolite to eavesdrop, but he’d discovered that they needed a drummer, and Roy knew that he was perfectly qualified.  While the other band members were inexperienced and needed large amounts of practice before they could even dream of performing for the Alfea students, the driver of the Odyssey Explorer, unbeknownst to most people, had been playing the drums for years and wanted to use that opportunity to get close to some older Specialists.  Everything would fall into place…

…except the lead singer, Riven, rejected him on the spot.

“Come on!” Roy yelled.  “You agreed to watch me audition!”

“I didn’t actually mean that we needed a sixth member,” Riven answered.  “We don’t really need two guitarists, so I’ll move one of them over to drum duty.  Our band has to be a group of five.”

“But if I joined, I thought that maybe I’d be able to get closer to the Alfea band’s drummer,” Roy explained.  “I’ve had a crush on her for a while, and from what I know, she’s single.  Don’t get me wrong, I like playing music.  But honestly, I just want her to realize my existence.”

“Please tell me you’re referring to another band,” Riven sighed.  “Because if it’s the band my girlfriend is in…”

“It is.  Her name is Aisha, and–“

“She doesn’t want to be in a relationship.  I know that for a fact.  The last time she was in one, she was so heartbroken, and that was only a year ago–“

“Then I can help her!” Roy interrupted.

“No,” Riven answered.  “It isn’t that easy.  It just isn’t.  But that’s beyond the point.  There was only one person meant to be the sixth member of We’re Not Doctors, and he’s gone.  And you just think you can traipse into here and replace him!”

“I’m not trying to replace anybody!”

“Then if you don’t realize that, we can’t be friends.  I don’t want some dumb replacement!  Every time you come around here, you go and make me think about him!  Do yourself a favor and don’t show your face around me again, got that?  I don’t want word getting out about me letting someone other than Nabu be the sixth member.”

He then grumbled and continued, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get to class.  You got out lucky this time, but I won’t do it again.”

“Why are you still at Red Fountain in the first place?” Roy asked.  “You could’ve graduated by now.”

“Great, you finally agreed to change the subject,” Riven muttered.  “But point is, I never intended to just stay here for four years.  I always have to sharpen my fighting skills, always be alert.  The one time I didn’t have my head in the game, everything went black.  I don’t want it to happen again, so I’m going to become the best fighter anyone could ever think of.  Not for myself, but for the person I failed when he needed me most.  Not only that, but I’ve decided that I need to be more than just a regular Specialist.  That’s why I challenged myself to go into the advanced swordsman-wizard integration program.  And as for why, I’m strapped for time, but more importantly, I can’t lie to myself and say that a first-year Specialist would ever understand.”

~~~

That night, Riven opened his dorm door to find that Roy had not taken any of his hints, and was still trying to befriend him.

“I thought I told you I never wanted to see you again!” he shouted.  “Can’t you at least be a respectful underclassman and find better things to do?!”

“Saladin sent me here,” Roy explained.  “He doesn’t like the fact that you’re trying to get out of having a roommate.  He’s worried that you’re becoming a recluse.”

“I’m not a recluse,” the older Specialist muttered.  “I’m just very selective about my friends, is all.  Ya know, your whole ‘being obsequious to get upperclassmen to like you’ act may work on some people, but not me.  Never had a roommate, never needed a roommate.  And if Saladin doesn’t like it, he won’t be gettin’ any more of my tuition.  It’s not like anyone would see me as a dropout if I did, anyway.  I can fare perfectly well on my own, for your information.”

“Why in the world should I let you drop out?” Roy asserted.  “You just told me today that staying at Red Fountain meant more than anything to you, that you’d go for the whole advanced program.  And you’re going to give up on that just because you’re going to have a stupid roommate?!”

“I admit that I’d definitely have a stupid roommate,” Riven hesitantly agreed.  “You.”

“You think I’m just going to put up with this sort of flak from you?” Roy answered before fully realizing what he was hearing.  “Wait, did you just say that you’d let me be your roommate?”

“Only because you had the courage to stand up for yourself like that,” Riven answered.  “It takes guts to boss a higher-ranking official around.  And after that, I thought that maybe you aren’t so bad when you aren’t trying to hide behind a fake personality.  That’s why I found you annoying.  So, maybe you aren’t as stupid as I thought.”

He then turned to Roy and added, “This still doesn’t mean you can get in the band, though.”

“But that doesn’t matter,” Roy muttered.  “I like a good challenge.”

~~~

Roy’s time with Riven had barely changed anything in his life.  The older Specialist occasionally talked to him, but spent most of his time talking on the phone or thinking to himself.  However, Roy was beginning to realize that there was more to Riven’s problem than he’d originally thought.  Originally, he’d just thought of him as a grump, but for some reason or another, he didn’t seem to act that way to his friends—or at least not as much.

“I’m not feeling too well,” his roommate had groaned to him one day after waking up.  “I think I’ll skip today and go back to bed.”

“What do you mean, you don’t feel well?” Roy asked, knowing that Riven liked it more when he didn’t blindly give in to his demands.

“You know, I’m depressed, and I don’t feel like going to school today.”

“You’re always depressed!” Roy retorted.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Riven answered.  “I can be pretty chipper at times, you know?”

“Yeah, and mermaids will fly, too.  I have yet to see you in a good mood, but at least get in the shower and try to see if you get better.  You’re on a strict regimen, so you can’t afford to miss days like this.  Honestly, I don’t know how you did it before you were in the graduate program.  If you don’t get up right now, I’m going to tell all the other Specialists that you said I could try out for the band.”

“Pfft, they wouldn’t believe you,” scoffed Riven.  “I’m not that nice.  And besides, there’s only one person who should be the sixth member, and—“

“If that’s the case, then where is he?” Roy yelled.  “You think that a true friend of yours would just sit around and watch you suffer?!  If he wanted to be in the band, he would’ve told you by now!”

“Fine, fine, I’ll go,” Riven sighed.  “Just, please, please stop pushing it.  He’s more genuine than you could even imagine.  Saying that makes me regret I even let you into my room.  You know, I was really willing to consider you a friend.  I even called Aisha to tell her that you liked her.”

“You have her number?”

“I’m not giving it to you, idiot.  She isn’t interested, just like I told you before.  There are plenty of girls out here in Magix.  I know what it’s like to completely fail in romance, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, and especially not you.”

“How would you know?!” Roy retorted.

“Back when I was your age, I dated one of the Trix,” Riven muttered bluntly.  “Enough said.  And if you tell that to anybody—“

“—yeah, yeah, I have an imagination.  I imagine you being late to class and being chewed out by Codatorta.”

“Thanks for the warning there.  And maybe part of the reason I wasn’t willing to open up to you before was because you made me think of the way I used to be, the lengths I would go to for love.  Newbies like you should just learn to take it easy their first year.  It’ll solve a lot of problems, that’s for sure.  But anyway, I have to get ready for the assembly tomorrow, anyway.”

“Oh, yeah!” Roy remembered.  “Was it an award that you received or—“

“You’ll see.  It’s something that I’ve been trying to avoid for a long time, but…it’s something that you guys all need to hear.”

~~~

The next day, all students were sent to the auditorium for the mysterious assembly.  Rumors had been flying around for days as to what it pertained, but no substantial evidence had been provided.  All they knew was that it had been put on by the Advanced Wizarding Society program that Riven was in.  That was probably the most enigmatic of all the masters’ level degrees at Red Fountain.  If it gave Specialists any magical abilities, they sure didn’t show them.  But it had been planned as a sort of semester final project by that elite group, and Riven was the keynote speaker.

“Hello and welcome,” Riven greeted when all the students had entered the auditorium.  “Often, this day would mark the beginning of winter break for Specialists, but this year, Saladin has decided to make it a half day.  A lot of you might be thinking that such a decision to bring you a few more hours of boredom today was arbitrary and, therefore, useless, but I sincerely hope that such will not be the case.”

He seems a lot different when he’s speaking, Roy observed.  You wouldn’t think a guy like him could be so eloquent, and he certainly doesn’t talk that way in everyday context.  But there’s a lot more to him than I realized, it seems.

“Believe it or not, there was a time when all of the magical social classes were on equal standing with one another,” Riven continued, gesturing to his classmates to start conjuring a sort of magical slideshow.  “We don’t quite know when that stopped, but we know why.  The rate of crimes committed by wizards and witches skyrocketed, and so the fairies and Specialists of that era thought it would be easier, and safer, to exclude them from society.  But despite all we know of witch discrimination, the wizards fared far, far worse.  Many young men of that time were desperate enough to hide their powers and to attend this very school to become Specialists, just so that they could be accepted by the world.  And eventually, we stopped teaching about most of them.  There were plenty of influential wizards in history, but since they were so hidden in society, there was no need to honor them, or so the people thought.

“This has caused an increasingly prevalent ideology among Magix residents—namely that wizardry is a corrupting power, and those with it are doomed to become evil.  Think about it: how many wizards can you name?  A majority of citizens can only name five: Valtor, Gantlos, Duman, Anagan, and then there’s…I’m not even going to try to say it.  There was a time in my life that I could, but not anymore.  I’ve faced all of the evil wizards I just named in battle, but he was the worst.  Even worse than Valtor, in my opinion.  All the other wizards I named other than Valtor were under his command.  But no matter how hard he might try, he cannot take credit for this story you are about to hear.  He has had enough tales told about him and his nefarious deeds.  No, this story shows us that there can be good, compassionate wizards out there, who have not been rewarded anywhere near enough for their efforts.

“After fairies and witches ended their years-old rivalry with the Battle for Magix, the Red Fountain admissions staff was deciding whether or not to do the same for wizards.  The idea was taken from the concept of the Cloud Tower freshman Mirta being transferred into Alfea as a full-time student, but we wanted to take it even further.  We wanted to raise a new class combining wizards and Specialists.  What we too often tend to forget is that we all have magic within us, even us Specialists.  Wizards, however, are much harder to find than the three main magical classes, and few have any training in magic whatsoever.  On the year that Valtor attacked, Red Fountain finally decided to take its first-ever wizard exchange student, a young man from Andros named Nabu.  The first time I met him, I was suspicious.  I’d never known that wizards had the capability to be good, I’d never been taught that way.  But once I actually got to know him, I found a relationship that I’d never felt before.  Almost from the beginning, we became close, and I promised him that we’d both go through the Advanced Wizardry Society program together and graduate together.  He turned out to be the best friend I’d ever had.

“After slightly completing my fourth year as a Specialist, I received an offer from Saladin to accompany some fairies on a mission to defeat the Wizards of the Black Circle, the ones who had tried to erase magic from Earth.  I was well-acquainted with that particular group of fairies, and my girlfriend, Musa, and Nabu’s, Aisha, were both going.  I knew that Nabu would probably opt out, would likely see a problem with attacking his own kind, but to my surprise, he decided to come with me.

“’I don’t like to just stand by when stuff like this happens,’ he said to me.  ‘Especially when it’s wizards doing it.  If people see me defending the fairies, maybe they’ll think differently about this whole thing.  I don’t like to live my life just letting people think I’m some sort of bad person.  It’s more fun to prove them wrong.’

“From the get-go, we noticed that having Nabu along was a huge asset.  He knew his way around wizard magic, which made him more knowledgeable to enemy strategies.  He even ended up trying to help one of the weakened Black Circle members convert to good, but when the person he was trying to help turned on him, he killed him like that.  Not because he wanted to, but because he was a threat to the magical world.  So we thought, hey, we only have three Black Circle members left to catch.  How hard could it be?

“But the few Earth fairies left on Earth were all attacked at once, he’d met his match.  Now would be the time I would normally start crying and stop talking about it, but I promised myself I wouldn’t.  In that battle, he saved more Earth fairies than I can count, but…he ended up overloading his magic and was dying.  We had a magical artifact that could bring people back to life, but the leader of the Black Circle just stole it from us and used it on a flower.  That’s why I can’t say his name.  Not because I’m scared of him, but because he killed my best friend and he killed Aisha’s fiancée.

“But I swore that I wouldn’t give up on the wizard program.  I’d become a wizard-Specialist hybrid so that I could pursue the path, the dreams, that Nabu never could.  I’d make people realize that wizards are no different from the rest of us, and that’s why I’m talking to you today.  Back when I was a young Specialist, I thought of wizards as enemies just as bad as witches.  But now I know that there are good wizards and good witches.  It doesn’t matter what group we’re in.  We can coexist with all groups in Magix if we really try.  That’s why this program was set up.  We’re going to lobby to start a wizard academy in Magix, so that someday, wizards will just be another, accepted part of society.

“But more importantly, know that each and every one of you has someone looking out for you, whether it be a friend or lover.  To find them, you need to look deep inside yourself.  Always cherish the relationships you create now, because you never know when they’ll slip away.  And if tragedy strikes in your life, don’t just mope about it.  You have to fight to ensure that the same tragedies don’t happen to others; you have to let it help you change your life for the better.

“I didn’t quite understand that until Saladin realized that I needed a roommate.  He chose the most unlikely candidate, a man so much like Nabu that I couldn’t stand to be around him at first.  But when I began to separate him from my memories of Nabu, I realized that I was pushing away someone that could help me.  I may never be fully comfortable around you, Roy, but I’ll keep pushing through.  I don’t want to be thought of as an emotional sap or a crybaby, after all.  I have a reputation to keep, you know.  At the same time, though, I’d like to say that you aren’t just a replacement Nabu, a roommate, or even a classmate to me anymore, but rather…a friend.”

He then closed his speech, thanked the students for being there, and descended from the stage.

~~~

a few days later…

~~~

“Hey, Riven!” Roy greeted.  “I just got this idea today, and you’ll love it!”

“Does that idea involve you being in We’re Not Doctors in anyway?” Riven groaned.  “Because you know, I’ll just save you some time.  You’re going to be our next drummer.”

“That wasn’t what I wanted to talk about, but—wait, what?!” Roy responded.  “You’re not joking, are you?  I thought you never wanted anyone other than Nabu in the band!”

“Nabu probably didn’t know how to play drums,” Riven explained.  “You have years of experience.  That’s the only reason I let you on.”

“Oh, I know that’s not true,” teased Roy.  “You really do accept me as a friend; you just don’t want to say it.  You can say it in front of a big audience, but not when it’s just us.”

“Public speaking is different,” Riven retorted.  “It’s societally okay for men to get emotional in speeches, but not anywhere else.  People like orators who can get emotions stirring.”

“But anyway, what I wanted to say was…Morgana said that she’d take care of Nabu ‘until he woke up again,’ right?  And the magical artifact was only supposed to work on people, right?”

“Yes to both, but what’s your point?”

“Well, that could mean that Nabu could be alive, but just unconscious,” Roy continued.  “It’s very rare for overuse of magic to actually lead to death, too.”

“I wouldn’t push my luck,” Riven answered.  “I mean, it’d be nice if it were true, but if I believed it, it’d just get my hopes up.  Then I’d go into another depression when I’d realize that it wasn’t going to happen.”

“Don’t be so negative about everything!” Roy chuckled.  “Isn’t that what you said in the speech?”

“If you keep using my words against me, I’ll kick you out of the band,” Riven warned.  “I don’t have to put up with this, you know.  Come on, let’s get to practice.”  Roy, having noticed something strange, couldn’t help but bring it to his friend’s attention.

“Riven, you’re actually smiling for once,” he observed.

“Like I said before, I’m not depressed all the time,” Riven muttered.  “You just have to get to know me.”

As the two young men rushed to the practice session, Roy looked to the sky in thought about what had just unfolded.  He’d changed so much over the past few months, and the growth he’d experienced was something that could never be taken away from him.  But more importantly, he’d finally given Riven another reason to smile.

Maybe I’m just overreacting, he thought to himself, and maybe I’m just a bit idealistic, but I can’t mistake this feeling.  It’s the feeling of having contributed to the world, of knowing that you’ve changed someone’s life.

            Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel as though, as long as I keep holding on, something wonderful is about to happen…

The End

~~~

After this comes the last entry into Fanfic Week: Black Gold.  This series will place a lot of focus on the wizards, both good and bad, of the Winx world.  I really like the main character, Tristan, and his interactions with Morgana.  I might have a different way of writing her than some other people, but I personally find it entertaining.  The poll of which fanfiction you liked the most will be on the Black Gold post, so look forward to it!

Also, on a humorous note: often songs go through my head as I write stories, and for Riven’s Requiem (for some odd reason), the song was this song from MLP.  Take that as you will…*chuckles*