Author’s Ramblings: Hi everyone! There isn’t actually a meme or anything today, but I’ve got an announcement and an installment all ready! I’ve written out a conclusion and whatnot…and I’ve actually made a sketch for the ending. When I divvy it all up, it comes out to a solid 8 installments. 2 more than I’d intended, so please accept my apologies for the many posts to come. LOL. I know some of you are quite excited for this and don’t care whether I’m posting on a regular schedule or not. Thank you for that–for my dedicated readers who are used to routine (as am I) I’ll try not to do this again. ^_^ Since I don’t want this to run on for x amount of weeks, I will be posting in chunks of every few thousand words, in order to finish up within the week or mid-week of next week, with no specific date, apart from the weekly Friday Fiction meme. I do work on this story throughout the whole week, so at this point, I’m letting y’all in on the rough drafts/no edits stage, for the sake of finishing up on time. (keeping the deadline trumps routine!) So, happy reading, comments/feedback is still very much appreciated and I am grateful for all who have taken the time to read my ramblings and writings. Cheers!
RECAP: After Dana turns up at the family house in Kouraki at Bryan’s request, Eira volunteers to help save her daughter, even though there are traces of her uncle’s influence seeping back into her powers. After saving niece Grena, from the clutches of the unscrupulous Uncle Garrett, Eira blacks out. Meanwhile, the DP had enlisted the help of his rival counterpart, the White Phoenix–even though they don’t get along at all in their present stages. Something has come up.
“Welcome back to reality.” The Dark Phoenix scowled down at her from a background of trees and blue sky. “Took you long enough…” He moved away, without offering a hand up.
Eira craned her neck to see better and winced. It was stiff and painful, like the rest of her body. It took some effort to roll upwards and even more to stay sitting up. Eira licked her lips, waiting for some inkling of the past to come rushing back. She couldn’t recall where she was or how she’d gotten there.
“Hey sweetie, are you feeling any better?” The voice belonged to Sorora, who now knelt beside her with a rather friendly smile on her face and a glass of juice in one hand. “here, drink this, it’ll help. You probably need the sweet.”
Eira accepted the glass, making no attempt to consume the contents. She looked from the pale golden liquid to the smiling face beside her and then handed it back. The woman chuckled.
“I wondered if you’d do that, but I suppose it can’t be helped. You had us worried there for a minute.” The smile turned to a smirk. “More specifically, you had him worried for a minute.” Sorora tilted her head towards the sulking phoenix. “Can you remember anything?” Something soft and wet was used to wipe the girl’s face. “Your face is all sticky, what were you doing? Eating with your face in your plate?”
“Not really.” Eira croaked, surprise registering as her mouth dropped open and she buried her face in her hands. That wasn’t how her voice was supposed to sound.
Sorora laughed again. “You’ve just been out for a bit, that’s all. I can’t blame you if you couldn’t remember, most folk wouldn’t.”
“What did I do?” Eira spoke through her fingers, trying desperately to place things together.
“You used your powers without my permission!” The Dark Phoenix snapped. “What were you trying to do? Kill yourself? If you want it done that badly, ask nicely and I really will do it for you!”
Sorora stifled a laugh. “Now, Ben…calm down! The poor thing’s just barely awake, I doubt she even knows where she is.” The smiling face snapped back to her. “Do you know where you are?”
Eira shook her head.
“Ah, I didn’t think so.”
“Aren’t you going to tell me?”
“Erm…I’d love to, but he’d probably pitch a fit over there.” Sorora tilted her head back. “And as much as I’d love to see him do that, it’s probably best that I don’t tease him so much.” More laughter threatened to bubble up and out from within.
“Are you through?” He spoke stiffly, standing a respectable distance away from the White Phoenix, arms crossed over his chest, eyes smoldering with visible dark energy.
“Be my guest.” She gave an exaggerated bow, rising to her feet.
“You changed.” Eira now found herself staring upwards. The memories were foggy and they were coming back in mismatched snippets.
“No more than you, love.”
“Brilliant deduction, apprentice. I don’t suppose you remember what it was that happened?”
“Let’s try a memory trigger then, does ‘Grena’ mean anything to you?”
Eira gasped. “Grena!” She caught hold of Sorora’s hands, trying to stand up. “Where’s Grena? And Dana! Dana and Bryan! I have to-”
“Hey, hey! Calm down, take it easy, love.” Sorora pulled her hands free, supporting the girl as she slumped back to her knees. “There, now. It’s okay. Everything’s okay…mostly. It worked out in the end.”
“It did?” Eira fisted her hands in the soft shirt fabric. “Grena?”
“According to Dana, you stumbled out of the house carrying Grena and tripped over Bryan and hit your head.
That scared your Lyrith-” Rory growled. The phoenix grimaced. “Sorry, that scared Rory out of hiding and he panicked and ‘ported you out. He didn’t have a destination in mind, so he latched onto my signature and brought everyone with him. It was too dangerous to stay in Kouraki, so I had Sorora transport us here, which is where we are now.”
“Where is here?” Eira closed her eyes, breathing in Sorora’s faintly feminine scent. It was comforting, almost like Dana. It was a good shield from the angry waves rolling off of her Master.
“Never mind that. What were you trying to do with a stunt like that?”
“I did it for Grena…I had to.”
“Oh, you just had to?”
Eira’s grip tightened on the blouse. She didn’t want to look at him if she could help it. Somehow it felt safer being close to Sorora and feeling the small hands patting her head and playing with her hair. “Yeah.”
“And that was your only option?”
“I couldn’t have asked you to help with something like-!” Eira slumped to the ground.
“Really? You couldn’t? That’s funny, because you didn’t even try!”
“So what? You’re going to hold that against me?” Eira finally turned to meet his angry glare with a defiant look of her own. “Or is this going to be one of those ‘you’re supposed to trust me’ things? How would I know whether I’m anything more than a toy to you when all you-”
“I’ve sent them somewhere safe. They’ll be taken care of there.” The glare softened to a sour look. “All three of them. That idiotic uncle of yours won’t find them and Schol…and those connected with him, won’t find them either. Both sides are covered. You’re welcome.”
Eira stared at him. “Dana, Grena…and Bryan?”
“Can I talk to them?”
“Hey!” Sorora patted her shoulder. “He’s being grumpy, so ignore him-at least until I’m gone. I don’t wanna deal with one of his fits—they’re absolutely terrifying. If you want, you can talk to them through that old trainer of yours, I think he said her name was AnnaMarie? Yeah. Her. She’ll be your best bet for getting things through. But for now, that’s probably a bad idea, any outgoing communications from this area would be dangerous.”
“I don’t even know where here is?”
“Here is a temporary spot.” Sorora winked. “And since it’s one of my temps, I can’t tell you, but we’re safe here for now. I’m only doing this as a favor to you on his behalf.” She gave a jerk of her head towards the Dark Phoenix. “It wouldn’t hurt to put a bit of effort into being his actual apprentice you know.”
“You haven’t told her, have you?” Sorora backed away, allowing the Dark Phoenix to come forward while maintaining the set distance between them. “You really should, you know.”
“Ow!” Eira was on her feet again, awkwardly pulling away as the Dark Phoenix held a handful of her waist-length hair in his hand. “Hey…” But the protest was half-hearted as she looked at the tangled mess. A stabbing pain drew a cry of surprise. “Ah!” Eira jerked downwards, clutching her left foot. “Oh…OW!” She shifted to the other foot, twisting it closer, trying to press on the soles of her feet.
“Eira?” The phoenix caught her shoulders, trying to help her balance. “What’s happening? What’s wrong?” The anger was instantly replaced by worry. “Auugh..” A muffled moan came from his lips. “I see…pain.” He flinched, but the hand on her shoulder remained. “His reach is far…this worries me.”
“M-make…it, ugh…no…no…ahhhh…!” The scream echoed in the outside clearing. Make it stop, please! Please, make it stop!
The phoenix moved back, reluctantly dropping his hand from her shoulder. At once, Sorora moved forward, waiting for his instructions as she knelt beside the fallen girl.
“Shoes…take off her shoes.” He managed, moving backwards until he touched a tree and used it as a brace. “He’s channeling a lot of energy through her to bridge the distance gap.”
“What am I looking for?” Sorora reached over with one hand and with a sharp rap on the side of Eira’s head, the twitching body went limp.
“Relax…I didn’t use any energy on that one, she’s still fine.”
“Feet, the boots?”
“Again, I repeat, what am I looking for?”
“Symbols, anything…I’d rather you told me if you could see anything at all…just in case I’m missing something.”
“You actually missing something or feeling insecure enough that you want a second opinion?”
“I really hate your older self.”
“And I really adore your younger self…” She smirked. “If you hate my older self so much, then you shouldn’t let yourself shrink to such a low level.”
“I refuse to be baited by such-”
“She’s got a circle on both soles of her feet…and a another circle and…a triangle?” Sorora propped the bare feet up on her lap. “She’s got really nice feet…dancer’s feet, I mean. But the symbols…they’re active all right. That’s what you were worried about?”
“That’s what Nimbus told me.”
“What exactly did that old codger tell you? There’s a whole decorative-”
“He said a double circle, a triangle and a possible wing.”
“I don’t know…I didn’t see any wing.”
“I don’t see one either.”
“Swear it on my honor.” Sorora tipped the feet off her lap and rolled upwards to her feet. “All right, what else did you need done?”
“Besides distracting Tyla, keeping Andie’s hands off my current location and no hunters around Mount Skiel?”
“Ah, I don’t remember that in the initial job proposal. Does that mean I get a bonus?”
“It means I’ll be nice to you for the first two weeks.” The eyes narrowed to slits. “And that’s the most you’re getting out of it.”
Sorora sighed. “I suppose I couldn’t wrangle another week into it?”
“Fine. Three weeks—but only if it’s all taken care of!”
“I’ll do my best to-”
“Huh?” The white energy flared and crackled, a square barrier that flung the White Phoenix back.
Eira jerked upright from the ground, the white energy pouring out of her body in wispy waves. Her eyes glowed bright white and as she walked, her feet were light and deliberate in their movements. She opened her mouth and the tune slipped out, aided by the red energies.
“Plug your ears!” The phoenix yelled, circling the glowing apprentice, wincing as he approached the fallen woman. “Sorora?”
“Can’t…stay…” She gasped. “That was…strong.” Her white energy flickered. “You know I can’t…handle…you…this…close.”
He immediately backed up a few steps. “Sorry…but-”
“Cover your ears…change…quick…gone.” There was a faint flicker of white and then she disappeared.
The phoenix turned back to the clearing, watching the performer now dancing in rhythm to the music. He briefly plugged his ears with his fingers, leaving the energy impression of them there to serve as earplugs as he took a seat to see the show through.
Sorora’s words hung in the back of his mind and with a scowl on his face, the Dark Phoenix pulled on the energy of his trademark. There was no wind involved, but the swirling wall of black energy clashed with the pureness of the White Phoenix as he teleported them from her secret place, back to the mountains in Vanderoone.
The jungle was more of a forest now, simple woods and the sky had moved from the light, clear blue, to a more distinct, darkened navy hue. They materialized on the same rock cliff where he’d used the stone carvings as a transport point from before.
A trickle of pain registered as the phoenix backed towards the nearest tree, again using it for support. His apprentice didn’t even seem to notice that her surroundings had changed. The connection had also followed through and the white energies still consumed her, only fading in visible flame, but remaining as expressionless white orbs in place of her eyes.
He frowned. This could lead to casualties on both sides…but, perhaps it would be best to see what his puzzling apprentice was up to. He’d never seen her under such direct control before and it was certainly a first-hand opportunity to witness something she’d never be able to explain when conscious.
She was following a distinct pattern, using her energies alternately and expertly. The circular stone floor of the cliff seemed to be perfectly suited to her purpose. The shallow circular grooves cut into the rock were evenly spaced with no other interfering marks.
Eira didn’t seem to notice as she traced her own circles, without even attempting to use the pattern left to her. The first circle was danced in a quick, one foot-immediately-in-front-of-the-other step, and the second was traced with the big toe of each foot, a half-curve alternately, one swoop from the front and one from behind. Connecting on two points, the second circle was a perfect round and the triangle was also traced with the points of her toes as Eira finished her last twirl.
The music continued to play and her head would bob from side to side as she twisted, shimmied and pirouetted to an invisible audience.
“Have you seen her do this before?”
There was a snort from behind the tree and after a moment, Rory padded around the corner, arms crossed over his chest, tail twitching madly.
“How long were you going to just stand there? Shouldn’t you do something about it?”
“I can’t interrupt.”
“That always makes it worse.”
“Ah, I see. So what exactly is she doing now?”
Rory shrugged. “A revenge circlet.”
“Is it specific?”
“…it’s probably for you.”
“Really? I don’t suppose you were going to mention it on your own, were you?”
The Lyrith glared at him.
“Ah, didn’t think so. Oh well, I suppose I ought to stop her before she actually does finish it.”
“That’s not a good idea…”
“Perhaps. But you told me that and if you hadn’t told me…then I wouldn’t know…and I can’t say that I’d do otherwise.” He sighed, moving forward. “Besides, from the size of that circle…if she successfully activates that mark, then I’d say that neither of us would be a very good position at all, for that reason, I’d rather interrupt.”
“I did what-?” Eira sagged to the ground. “No way. NO WAY! I-I-I so did not do that-!”
“You really need to build up more stamina.” The phoenix crouched beside her, an arm curved around her shoulder for support. “You’re exhausted, aren’t you?”
“Didn’t get to…eat much.” Eira muttered, feeling a flash of warmth washing over her. “And for whatever embarrassing thing I did…sorry. I’m really sorry.”
“Didn’t bother me. Multiple apologies are annoying.” The phoenix reached into the folds of his cloak and drew out a small drawstring bag. He dropped it on her lap and worked the cords open with one hand, fishing out a strip of jerky. Rolling it up, he popped it in her mouth. “Suck on it slowly, the salt helps.”
“Mmm..yesh.” Eira welcomed the salty taste sliding down her throat. It was better than the sweet, sugary breakfast treats her Uncle had offered. It was almost better than the fruit. She frowned.
“What did I do?”
“Your Lyrith called it a revenge circlet.”
“I did that?” Eira jerked forward. “Which one?”
He pulled her back. “Settle down. Finish chewing that and think for a bit. I really do hate this…rag doll bit you’ve been playing lately.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“I know…but you do have quite a bit of energy to your name, use it. That’s what it’s for.”
“Which circlet did I do?”
“I don’t know. Your Lyrith wouldn’t say.”
She blushed. “Sorry. I’ll…talk to him.”
“Don’t. Just use your energy stores and be quick about it so we can get moving.”
“A-actually…I burnt it off.”
Eira winced. Please don’t look at me like that. “I-I burnt it off.”
“Now why, would you do a foolish thing like that?”
Because I was scared. Because I couldn’t call you. Because I didn’t have any other choice. “It was an emergency.”
His serious face, the thin-lipped mouth and blank expression appeared at once. “An emergency? And you didn’t think it important to inform me as to the nature of your circumstances during such an occurrence?”
“You’re using big words again.” Eira closed her eyes, blocking out the face as she began to slowly chew the jerky roll.
“Did they scare you?”
“Liar.” He whispered.
“I was chewing!”
“Why are you picking on me?”
“Because at the moment, I can’t really help my personality…it…sometimes changes with the regression.”
“You’ve kept your secrets and I’ve kept mine, but the one I haven’t been able to share with you…still exists.” He sighed, tired. “You burned off your energy so they couldn’t take it from you, right?”
“That’s not an option.”
“I left you alone for a handful of minutes and this is what you…”
“It wasn’t my fault!”
“Then explain, now that it appears you can remember.”
“It…it was about Grena.”
“And this is important because of a three-year-old girl who-”
“You don’t understand! Grena’s important to me! If it wasn’t for her…I’d still be down there, thinking everything was going just fine with my life and not caring what I did, how it affected people and whether it was right or wrong. Don’t you just-”
“Why did he want her?”
“Because she’s like me!”
“You don’t know what you’re-”
“She’s not a summoner like you and she does not have any whisper powers or elemental strains. She is not like you in that sense. Why does your uncle have such an interest in her?”
“Because she’s Dana’s child.” Rory interrupted, pacing a quick circle around the duo. “Didn’t you sense her gifts? Just like you’ve been-”
“I wasn’t talking to you.” The phoenix pulled away, directing his annoyance at the pacing Lyrith. “I don’t even like you, why do you always have something pointless to say at the worst possible time in-” There was a quiet rumbling in the ground beneath them and the phoenix stiffened at once. “Bother that.” He muttered. “He’s late too and he even has the nerve to-”
“You! Get her and stay clear out of the way.”
Rory flashed a brilliant silver and grabbed Eira.
The grass rippled upwards, turning into a lump before dirt exploded, raining down on the circular stone floor and the phoenix himself. Rory had grabbed Eira, jumping upwards, to the nearest tree and changing forms mid-way. He now held her easily slung over one shoulder, out of harm’s way.
In the middle of where the lump had been, a craggy stone lump slowly unrolled. It stretched out to full length and then the cracks and crags smoothed away to gray-white stone, until it melted into milky white skin. Clothes appeared, as the white turned different shades of green and brown until a suitable outfit was found.
Rolling upwards from the ground, Deene stood and shook himself all over. A slight sprinkling of dirt pelted the ground around him. He offered a stiff bow. “My apologies, Sir.”
“Why were you sleeping that deeply?”
Deene looked away, rubbing the back of his head. “Two reasons.” He said, finally.
“I’d rather hear the one you don’t want to tell me first…then I’ll see how I feel about hearing the other excuse.”
“They’re not excuses!”
“I’m not in the mood to differentiate.”
“My father’s looking for me again.”
“That’s not what you’re hiding from me.”
“Then stay with your mother if you must. What happened with the messenger girl, Uleah?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“She got away.”
“Really…and how exactly did that happen?”
“I-I don’t know. I was looking at her the entire time…I don’t-”
“You don’t know, but you were looking at her the entire time. Really. If that is so, then how did she disappear? If you were looking at her, surely you saw the method in which she-”
“I didn’t take my eyes off her! Honest! I just-!”
“You’re really not making much sense at all.”
“She was there one moment and gone the next! I swear! I didn’t take my eyes off of her for one moment and-”
“And yet you can’t tell me how she disappeared? I gave you one simple task, Deene. I knew you couldn’t handle anything more complex than that, so I told you to escort the young lady to her final destination. What was so confusing about that? How did you manage to ruin something as simple as-”
“I didn’t do it on purpose!”
“You’re absolutely useless.”
“Wasn’t that a bit harsh?” Eira stared at the wide path of destruction, trees and bushes strewn to the side, a giant tunnel-like clearing now in the middle of the forest. “I mean…hey, Rory, you can put me down now.”
There was a grunt and Rory let her slide down the last few feet from the tree to stand on her own two feet.
He grunted again.
“What’s the big deal with that girl anyway? Master Phoenix?” Eira hurried towards him.
“What will your uncle do when he realizes that your circlet thing was interrupted?”
“A simple change of subject, Eira.” He said, smoothly. “And it’s not that hard to handle. What should I expect?”
“I-I don’t know.”
“I’m already thinking-”
“And…Rory said that I was using Circlet Amyth, even if it was only partial, as long as I’ve participated in the circle, it’s probably still active, so…I can counter it, with Circlet Behemoth.”
“I think you’re speaking in basic, but most of it is-”
“Now you know what it feels like when you’re jabbering on about-”
“I’d rather that you didn’t-”
“Can I use my powers? Please? Pretty please and thank you?” Eira bowed, a short, stiff movement from the waist upward. “Thank you.” Skipping back, lightly on her bare feet, her eyes took in the carved stone floor and immediately, she threw a flicker of energy from one hand to the grooved markings.
The first, largest circle lit up at once, glowing with the faint white hue of her whisper energy. Another sparke from her other hand gave way to an angry glowing red as the second circle activated, the pattern beginning to form as Eira alternated a hope-step-skip in between of the ‘path’ created by the two circles.
The phoenix strode forward, grabbing her arm as she was about to finish the footstep pattern. “Eira-!”
“Hey! Don’t do that-!” Eira shied away as the circles became walls, a thin shield of energy springing upwards from the ground in their respective colors.
He pulled her free of the circle and let go, the moment she was clear of her own energies. It took a simple glare for the walls to fizzle and die away, before he turned his attention back to his fuming apprentice.
“What did you do that for?” Eira raged, throwing herself forward, fists flying. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to maintain those-”
“I did not give you permission to do that.” He caught her wrists easily, pinning them to her sides. “What was that?”
“It’s called a counter attack, bonehead! Every time you-know-who tries to do something stupid like that, I counter it! That was one of my best counters! It takes a whole lot of-”
“Are you talking about your Uncle?”
“What?” She struggled against the hands keeping her still and no more than arm’s length from him. “If I don’t attack him, he could use-”
“This is about revenge?” His grip tightened. “Or habit?”
“Are you retaliating because you feel embarrassed for being used or is it simply force of habit?”
“This has nothing to do with that!”
“Which part of that?”
“Let me go!”
“If I do, then what will you do?”
“I’ll finish what I started!”
“No.” He released her wrists and turned away. “Find you boots and your Lyrith and we’ll be moving. It isn’t safe to stay here, we’ll need to make significant progress before we can rest for the night.”
“No.” Eira stared at him. “No way. Look, didn’t you hear what I said? I have to do this! Partials can be stored and used by-”
“Your boots are over there and your Lyrith is over there.” He tilted his head in one direction and pointed at the other. “Hurry up.”
“I’m not leaving until I-”
“I won’t be repeating myself.”
“Why are you stopping me? He deserves this! He was using me to try to kill you! Doesn’t that mean anything to you? I can-”
“I thought you burnt your energies off.”
A flash of heat touched her face. “T-that’s beside the point…I can use Rory.”
“Can you?” A mocking gleam seemed to glisten in his cold, dark eyes.
“Yes! I can! I’ve used him before!”
“Yes! What’s wrong with you? Of all people-!”
“We’re leaving.” He turned on his heel and started towards the darkened entryway of the pathway.
“Fine! Then I’ll be right there!” Eira shot back, turning towards the summoning stone-ground. “I don’t need your permission to do this!” The last words were muttered beneath her breath as she moved to stand in the center of the stone floor. “Rory?”
The Lyrith edged forward from the shadowy bushes, cradling her boots in his arms. He had changed forms from his half-morph to that of a more human nature-minus two feet and a tail. His expression was neutral, but his eyes betrayed him with a wary look, restless in their gaze and piercing in nature.
“Rory!” Her hands clenched into fists, her long hair whipping wildly behind her. “Put those down and come here, hurry up!”
A whine seemed to come from the creature as he set the boots down and danced forward a few steps, still hesitating, the restless gaze cast back to the pathway where the Dark Phoenix had gone.
“Rory! What’s the matter with you? Look, I order you to-”
“No.” The voice was quiet, dark and very low in her ear.
Eira felt herself jump, startled, as her head hit the speaker behind her. Familiar hands clamped down on her shoulders, a little closer to her neck than necessary, the whispering voice tickling her ear.
“Perhaps I was not clear enough in my instructions.” The whisper was nearly a rasp. “However, no, is the simplest of commands understood by any creature or being in every realm. Tell me apprentice, what part of ‘no’ you could not comprehend? I did mean it. There will be no counterattack. No retaliation of any sort and most certainly no usage of your powers for the sole purpose of revenge. I would prefer that you ask permission before-”
“I did!” Eira tried to twist away from the hands, while turning to see his face.
One hand slid forward, curving up around her neck and pulling back, forcing her to look in front and concentrate more on breathing than speaking. “And I gave you an answer, yet you chose to overlook it. I could give you a second chance, but I have no guarantee that you will actually listen.”
“I’ll listen! I’ll listen!” Eira tried to pull the arm away from her neck, but the grip seemed to tighten even more.
“You are only saying so because you are being called on it.”
Eira felt her feet leave the ground. “N-no.” She gasped out.
“Really? Then I’ll be nice and give you until this afternoon to think of a suitable excuse. We need to leave here—you need to leave here—if you want to live. There will be no discussion on this until tonight. I expect you to keep up.” The arm released her and his cape blew over her gasping form as he started again for the darkened pathway.
She watched him go and tenderly touched two fingers to her throat. Her eyes closed. Breathe in, breathe out…in…out…
© Sara Harricharan