And now we shift to present day (2010) at Magellan Island. This thread hasn’t been touched on for some while – Montana-Rose and Jemima are now second year cadets while Janice and Hamish are third year cadets (see page 4.184 for the latter pair’s first appearance) – all four of them are witches/wizards respectively. Jemima has changed her hair style from spiky to long.
The Thorn they are referring to is the older version of Montana-Rose from a split-off alternative future timeline (see 4.274 where Hamish wonders if Thorn is related to Rosie. At that point she was unaware of the connection although she later discovered the truth and met Thorn – see 4.291). They are of course referring to the loss/apparent death of their friend Chang (who was, at the time of events, a first year cadet along with Jemima and M-R).
You’d really need to read at least the last half of chapter 4 to get the full gist of what went down but the very specific aspect of that “horrible day” referred to by Janice can be found on page 4.277. At that stage they they were unaware that it was Chang (and his evil future self) in the vortex – although they were, painfully so afterwards (see 4.296) and subsequently discussed whether he could be saved (see 4.98). Whew! So much backstory for just one page. Anyway, I hope that gets you up to speed and don’t worry if you can’t remember, or if this is your first time here, those aspects aren’t all that vital to what’s about to happen.