Author’s Ramblings: Well, I skipped yesterday for the singular point that I couldn’t decide where to end this piece. It wasn’t fitting in my planned outline and I didn’t want to smash too much seriousness into one post. I know, I know, that’s a lousy excuse, but I’m posting a piece today, so–enjoy! There’s some POV changes, but again, only a few clips of Eira in 1st person, because it was easier to show you what’s going on with our complicated, dizzy-headed heroine. Anyhow, I won’t ramble on too much (as I have to continue, in order to have something to post for Friday Fiction tomorrow) and instead, will simply post the first of the final 8 installments in this wonderful fictional experiment-er-story. Happy reading! Oh, also, due to the last few emails, I’ll be including a poll in the side bar, regarding the ending of this piece. Don’t forget to cast your vote!
RECAP: Soroa’s hideaway was compromised by outside interference, causing Eira’s energies to be remotely activated. Used as a tool to eliminate the DP, Eira was stopped when they were transported back to the mountain ranges on Vanderoone. In the jungle, her uncle’s influence takes some time to wear off and Eira comes to her senses to realize what’s happening. Deene briefly rejoins the group only to be severely scolded and ordered to return home by the DP. When Eira tries a counterattack directed to her uncle, the DP intervenes with a choke hold to grab her attention.
#1, FIRST IN A SERIES OF EIGHT TO THE CONCLUSION OF THIS SERIAL. (Older installments can be found under the tag: HFTDP)
“Eira?” Rory’s hands slid over hers, cool and smooth as he touched her neck. He was nearly a head and a half taller in his two-legged form and his hands were rather large as they closed over hers.
No. Don’t. I couldn’t breathe. Your hands are too big. Why didn’t you do something? She shied away from the hands, even though the cool touch was welcome. “I’m fine. Just fine. Stop touching me. Where’s my boots?”
He waited while she yanked them on and stomped in a circle to make them set right. The moment she finished, an inevitable wince crossed her face. “Ow. My feet…” She hopped lightly for a moment, alternating feet, but the grimace stayed. “Stupid shoes.” She started forward where she’d seen the pathway, but her legs buckled beneath her.
The large hands caught her easily. A slight tremor rippled through them and Eira felt herself moving. She was lifted and set on Rory’s back, his half-form resumed. “Hold on tight.”
“Hey-! I can walk myself-” His hands were still holding her arms, positioning them around his waist. “Rory!”
“You’re in no condition to walk.”
“I’ll be the one to-”
“Hold on tight.” He started forward, the first few experimental steps, head lifted in the air, he sniffed.
Eira stopped pulling away, her arms limp around his stomach as she followed the tilt of his head upwards and frowned. “Is he that far ahead?”
“I can find him.”
There was a grunt in reply.
“If you don’t hold on, you’ll fall off.” His head turned just enough for her to see his eyes. “And if you do, then that will create a bit of a hassle.”
“R-ight.” Eira tightened her grip, turning her head to the side. She felt the hidden power as he quivered beneath her for a moment, waiting, feeling, sensing. In a moment, he sprang forward.
The gentle swaying motion was strangely soothing as Eira nestled her head closer to the softness beside her cheek. It was warm and alive, a reality that didn’t fully register until she felt something hard beneath her.
She tried to open her eyes, but her eyelids seemed to be stubbornly stuck together. A quiet moan drew some attention.
“Is she awake?”
Ah. That voice. Eira tried again, but her eyes still wouldn’t open. Master Phoenix. He was mad. I think I’m in trouble again. Wonderful. What’s wrong with my eyes? Why won’t they open?
So you are awake.
My eyes won’t open.
I already did!
What’s wrong with them?
I don’t know!
Something snapped in front of her face and Eira flinched, turning away from the sound.
Her eyes popped open and two identical expressions of relief were visible on the men watching her. She’d been set down near the fire on her bedroll, with her pack beside her.
“Milady?” Rory approached, in his two-legged form, a shimmery, silver overcoat fluttering in the wind as he drew near. The moment he stopped before her, he dropped down on all fours and the silver shimmer flashed bright, then faded, as a his lion-form appeared. He padded around behind her, curling up from behind, offering warmth and protection as he settled down.
The phoenix only scowled, but didn’t protest as he took his own place, opposite of Eira on the other side of the fire.
Neither of them spoke for the first few moments.
Eira pressed her lips together, silently determining not to speak the first word.
“How are you feeling?”
“What?” That was unexpected.
“It isn’t that complicated a question.”
“A moment ago you couldn’t open your eyes.”
“That’s because I was sleeping.”
“My eyes were closed and I can’t remember anything.”
“And that counts as—sleeping?”
“That is an interesting way to find a suitable excuse.”
“Have you formulated one?”
“Because I wasn’t wrong!”
“You weren’t right.”
“But I wasn’t wrong either! You don’t know anything about summoning beyond definitions and books, do you?”
“Whenever you start a circle you have to finish it! Even if you change it or store it, or leave it for later you have to close it! There’s rules and routines and everything! He was probably trying to kill you!”
“I don’t die that easily.”
“That’s beside the point! It’s the intent! Murderous intent! I was only going to give him what he deserved! You just don’t understand!”
“I don’t understand or I can’t understand?”
“If you are referring to understanding summoning, then I use many summoning techniques in my long-distance affairs, playing guardian, contacting the league and warps for personal use. I don’t understand your specific…strain of energy, Eira, but I do understand your type. If you meant that I didn’t understand that Schol was making another attempt on my life—I also understood that. I simply chose not to do anything about it.”
“Like what? How can you chose to be an idiot?” Eira waved her hands wildly in the air. “I don’t get you! He was-”
“Violence won’t produce the result I want, so there is no need to engage in it.”
“Don’t just stand there and talk about this so calmly! That’s not how it works! Besides, now he probably saved both patterns and has two medallions of mine for-”
“That is your own fault. You burnt off your own energy, leaving yourself vulnerable to attack and unable to construct and maintain a proper defense, you only have yourself to blame.”
“I was doing fine! I could have finished the stupid circle!”
“The circle is an inanimate object and therefore, is not stupid. Your way of phrasing things annoys me.”
“Well, excuse me, I hadn’t thought that I’d have to watch every single stupid word that-”
“Suppose it had backfired?”
“Your revenge circlet, or whatever that thing was. What would you have done if it backfired on you and the only thing you could do was-”
“It wouldn’t have!”
“What if it had?”
“Impossible to comprehend or are you simply refusing to do so?”
“Stop putting words in my mouth!”
“You’re the one that doesn’t understand. You blew off a tremendous amount of energy on a whim, because-”
“Because it was the only thing I could do at one time and I didn’t know what else to do!”
“You didn’t even try to contact me, nor did you attempt to feed the energy anywhere else. Just throwing that much raw power into any system can cause many devastating effects, even if you aren’t there to witness them, they still happen. In doing so, you’ve left yourself defenseless!”
“Did you summon Rory?”
“He’s outside, isn’t he?”
“I don’t get it.”
“Of course you don’t, that’s my point. You didn’t summon him, but he left his confines because he was worried about you to some extent.”
“Throwing out that much energy just to keep it out of the wrong hands, must have put some sort of strain on him. There is a balance between you two, your actions cost him. He gave up something to break free and become visible, then he had use his energy in your place to remove you—and your family—from a dangerous situation. In addition to using his energy for that, he also had to carry you in a weakened state over terrain unsuitable for any single type.”
“Your body requires a minimum amount of energy to keep yourself awake and functioning—you burn through it quickly, which is why you eat so much. I thought for sure that you were aware of that.” He frowned. “It seems it didn’t quite register.”
“I don’t eat that much.” Eira blushed. “And Rory’s fine!” She studied his sleeping face in lion-form. There was no expression that she could discern from his furry features and his eyes were most certainly closed in sleep.
“The shock you sustained from depleting your energy reserves set in after I interrupted your circlet, Rory was fueling enough energy for you to stay semi-conscious this entire afternoon.” The frown deepened. “He also switched forms seven times to keep on carrying you the entire way. You were going to burn out his energy along with whatever was left of your own for the sake of revenge? He is yours to use at your own discretion, but I cannot allow this sort of use! Are you trying to destroy him?”
The gasp caught in her throat as Eira looked from the phoenix’s disapproving face to the sleeping Rory curled around her. “I-I didn’t realize that-”
“He’s depending on you now and trying to do his best. You didn’t order him to do any of what he did this afternoon. He acted on his own and did so quite admirably. If you intend to keep a Lyrith, apprentice, I expect you to be more responsible.”
“I’m sorry, Master.” Eira winced, a the faint twinge in her chest. It actually hurts. Is this what our bond is? Shared pain? “I-I’ll try not to do it again.”
“You’ll try?” The eyebrows went up. “You’ll try not to do it again or you won’t do it again?”
“I won’t do it again.” She leaned forward, a half-bow, as she ducked her head.
“You won’t do what again?”
“I won’t…use Rory for a backup battery just because I’m being too stupid to keep my head together.”
“Good enough. See that you don’t.” He offered a faint smile. “As a Lyrith, his sense of loyalty is very strong, however, since the bond between you two is new, you can’t draw so heavily on it.”
“It was just for a day, though. Really, I don’t think it’s that serious for-”
“It was a single afternoon, if it had been a day, I doubt it would be sleeping so calmly. Do you ever think beyond yourself, Eira?”
“Of course I do!”
“Then look and listen, maybe you will learn something if you do not constantly keep trying to defend your actions! Look at him! He’s exhausted! He’s staying close to you, but in case you haven’t realized it, you couldn’t even wake up without his help, or have you forgotten?”
A shudder passed over her, the feeling of her eyelids being stuck together and no energy to even move her hands to see what was wrong with them. “I didn’t forget.” Her hands clenched into fists.
“Then have some consideration! You’re awake right now, because the exhaustion you brought upon yourself has been taken by him!”
Shock registered in her hands going limp, her jaw dropping open and a completely clueless expression painting itself across her face. “How?”
“He’s a Lyrith! There is a master-slave relationship between you. If you want it to be more than that, you’ll have to do better than you are now. If you’d like it to be less, then continue with your selfish-”
“I will not. I have nothing against your taking a pet, but I do object when you are neither responsible nor capable of properly looking after it. You keep insisting it is a person with feelings, yet I have not ever seen you give it that sort of consideration!”
“What consideration do you want me to-”
“Roderick.” His voice went flat and dark. “Come.”
Eira felt him shift beside her and a wave of dizziness washed over her as she found herself lying on the ground, turned to one side as the lion rose. He shook himself lightly, then padded around the fire and stood before the phoenix.
“Change forms, human.” The commanding tone remained as Rory obeyed. Hunkering down, with his face to the floor, the animal became man. Sitting on the ground, with his hands on his knees, head bowed, facing forward. “Shirt.”
With a wince, the overcoat and undertunic was shed, revealing various scrapes, cuts and bruises decorating the flesh. Without waiting for another command, with some effort, Rory leaned forward and rolled up the cuffs on his leggings, showing another impressive display of angry redness on pale skin.
“Lie down. Face first. Apprentice?”
Rory’s body went limp as Eira felt movement creep back into her limbs. She found her legs and managed to make her way over to the duo. Pain registered in her head and eyes, a dull throbbing that she couldn’t ignore. “When?”
“He was protecting you and neglected himself in the process, because he didn’t want to injure you while changing forms.”
“Why didn’t you stop him?”
The golden-gray eyes stared at her for a long moment.
“…I’m sorry. That’s not…your fault or-”
He caught her wrist and pressed it to a large, purple bruise blooming on Rory’s left shoulder. “Feel that. Recognize it for what it is. Someone else paying the price for your own stupidity! From the very day you set foot on Vanderoone, you have not been alone. Especially since you’ve entered into my care and training, you have not been alone. Yet, you consistently act, think and operate as if you are alone, with no other options! There are other options! I am here to help. He is now yours and his duty is to help and protect. Can you not see this? I truly do not believe you are this dense, but you are severely trying my patience!”
Eira blinked. “I’m in trouble or something…right?”
“Or something.” He allowed. “Here.” From inside his shirt, he drew a thin black cord where a glowing green pendant, hung. “It’s a healing gemstone, use it on him, there shouldn’t be any side effects.” He handed it over, the stone filling her palm entirely.
“That’s because of how much energy it holds. It’s very gold and very special. Be careful with it. Cup in it your hand, curve side up, hold the flat side over the skin, don’t actually let it touch, it could burn and cause scarring. As he is your Lyrith, it is your duty to tend to his injuries gained from protecting you. Normally, these would heal on their own by drawing from the energy created by the bond you two share. Since it’s a fairly new contract, there isn’t any energy for him to feed off of, other any other circumstances, mustn’t use outside methods to heal him.”
“Duh. I know that.”
“Do you really?”
“Unk used to-” Eira swallowed. “Never mind. I used to make a healing balm for him, out of special stuff. It’s a chemical balance and his body converts it to energy, like snack food. That’s the only thing he can handle.”
“And the ingredients?”
Eira blushed. “Uh, yeah—remember that list I gave you awhile back? In Pietrasaan? It kinda takes all of that.”
“I see. Well, you seem to know some of his personal preferences, this is good. In the future, you should know what to do. The rest is between you two. For tonight, it is just these that he cannot heal himself, all others will vanish with a single night’s rest, in open air.”
“Open air?” Eira began to wave the stone over the bruise on his shoulder. “Like outside?”
“Only outside. He’s a natural creature and will draw energy from natural surroundings, buildings and the like, will stifle him and cause issues. Now hurry up. As soon as you’ve tended to all his wounds, he’ll be able to shift back into his animal form, his energy will replenish faster there.”
I didn’t realize Rory’s healing cycles were different in an outdoor environment. With Uncle Garrett, he’d spend weeks in a glass tube with Chessy experimenting on him and other minions hovering around.
He’d be miserable. So I’d come and visit him.
Yet in all the time I’d known him, I hadn’t ever seen him so battered. Maybe it was unfamiliar terrain, but Master Phoenix’s explanation made more sense than I wanted it to. I’d ordered Rory to protect me at the end of the ceremony.
I hadn’t thought a wink about him.
Stupid. Idiot. Really stupid idiot. I am dense. How could I miss something this simple? I should’ve at least-no, wait! He’s a Lyrith, why would such superficial injuries cause such a bad reaction? I doubt the weather is really the one doing all of this! And that ceremony stuff, sure he had to…well…that was because it was required and I’ve been perfectly fine since then. Okay, mostly fine, but since when does he…oooooh! This makes me so mad that…wow. This bruise is bigger than it looks. Poor Rory.
My Master’s words didn’t really set in until I started counting. I counted every scrape, cut, scratch and bruise on Rory’s back, arms and face. I don’t know when I started crying, because I didn’t think I had energy left for that.
I really haven’t seen him like this before. Poor Rory. This has got to hurt.
Crying eased the pain in my head and eyes, but only for the handful of moments as I held the cold stone in my hand and waved it over him. Rory didn’t even twitch, as I poked him a few times, moving him around so I could heal the other scratches and scrapes. His feet were the worst of them, until I finally rolled him over.
When I saw his stomach, that’s when I sort of lost it.
NO WAY! Rory!
Master Phoenix caught the stone before it fell on Rory and then he put it back in my hand and guided it over the jagged cut on his stomach. The skin glowed a faint pinkish hue, the wound lighting in pale green energy, encouraging the natural healing cycle of the body to progress at a faster degree.
“W-where’d that come from?”
“We were running at one point. Things were a little out of hand.”
Running from what? Unk sent more people after me? Where is he getting them? Why does he want me back? He’s got along fine without me. I’m sure he had other things to worry about and he’s managed without me since I’ve been gone except for…he took Grena. Yes. Something must be wrong. No, wait! He’s trying to distract me, that-!
“Were? What things? What did you do to him? Why didn’t you show me this one first? He could be in-”
He could be in pain because you were being a-!
“I didn’t do anything to him. This was because he was carrying you and because you weren’t conscious enough to order him to fight and protect at the same time, he ran. It was the best choice and the most logical. He would have only been in my way if he’d stayed.” His grip on my hand tightened. “And if I’d shown you this one first, you wouldn’t be able to treat it this calmly and it-him-he wouldn’t be able to rest in peace with that much physical distress to the rest of him.”
“Your logic is flawed.” I snapped. “Let go! What happened? There was some kind of attack? Who won?”
Is it because he was protecting me that he suffered so much? Why didn’t you fight them off? I thought you were this big, bad legend. Some Dark Phoenix! You couldn’t even save two other-
“I will only say that you are not the only one being hunted. What does winning have to do with any of this?”
Winning has everything to do with this. Don’t you dare tell me that all of this happened and we lost? “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That is a discussion for later—all of it. We’re focusing on one thing at a time right now and the thing we are focused on is-”
Why a discussion for later? Why won’t you tell me what’s going on? Am I too dumb to keep up? Do you think this is really helping me? Are you trying to protect me? How stupid can you be! People who try to help me always end up with terrible-
It really hurts. Why do you have to care? You’re too nice. You’re not supposed to be nice!
Not what. Why. Ask me why. I’ll tell you. Please?
“It really hurts.”
It hurts so bad, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Is this what heartbreak is supposed to feel like? Because I think my heart’s been ripped in two again—by you, Master Phoenix.
“I can tell. You’re crying your eyes out.”
You really see me as a playing piece in your game, don’t you? That’s okay. I can understand, a little. That’s enough. You’re still keeping me. You haven’t thrown me away. I must be good for something. I must mean something. The very fact that you’re still keeping me as an apprentice is proof, right?
No, keep talking. Tell me something. Tell me anything. Distract me.
“If you like.”
No. I don’t like. Please!
Talk to me, please? I can’t keep up this kind of face. I can’t keep on pretending that I’ve got it all together. You’re seeing right through me. I know you are. I can feel it. And it hurts so bad.
“Why it hurts!”
“Because you care.”
“That doesn’t help at all.”
That really doesn’t help at all. I don’t want to care. I hate caring! It makes everything hurt worse. Then things turn red…and I have to hurt people back. I hate it. I hate it!
“Then I’ll spell it out. Having a Lyrith as yours and having one as a friend are two completely different things! For one, what hurts him, hurts you. In about a hundred days, give or take a few, your bond will be complete. It’s like…creating something from nothing, first a substance must be found, then another one that is compatible, after they mesh together, something substantial can be knitted for them. That’s what’s been happening since the ceremony. Since you weren’t really awake for the transitions during the first twenty-four hour period, they’re catching up to you now.”
One hundred days…?
“The probation period, as it’s called, can be avoided if both master-slave agree to a splice or a meld.”
I don’t know what either of those are.
“What’s the difference?”
“A splice requires a little bit of each other’s energy transplanted. It’s an instant bond, but it requires a grafting specialist, or a healer at the very least. It’s stressful on the physical body as well as the energy one, because it is a forceful procedure. Rejection can also happen and cause more trouble for the pair.”
“Okay, the scratch that.” It sounds painful anyway. “What about the other one, meme something.”
“Meld, or melding. That is similar to leeching, except shared.”
Leeching? Yech. Why’d you have to mention that? “R-really.” I couldn’t hide the shudder. “That’s um, nice.”
“Nice?” The eyebrows went up. He snorted. “I can already see where you head went with that. Stop it.” He thwacked my forehead.
“Serves you right.”
No, it doesn’t! It’s your fault for making me-!
“Melding is done by consent and between two parties who can visibly summon their energies outside of their bodies and interact with another. It combines on a level that’s…hard to explain.”
“Then explain it simply.”
He sighed, a tinge of red showing on his usually colorless face. “Two become one.” The words were stiff and cold. The meaning was entirely the opposite.
“You’ve heard of it, I’m sure. No need to-”
“That doesn’t make it any-!”
“Take Scarlet Fury and Silver Storm. They’re the most popular and powerful to date. They’re combined, melded form is so formidable that their opponents will do anything but fight.”
“It’s not that impressive.” He looked away. “Your face is only expressive when you’re entirely clueless.”
“Never mind. Anyway, I wouldn’t suggest either of those options. Splicing would be too great a strain on either of you and no healer in their right mind would attend or attest to it.”
“You’re a summoner. That’s dangerous energy to deal with, much less splice. As for melding, that’s even more dangerous. You couldn’t do that without the Lyrith’s consent and in his condition, that amount of emotional surge in his energy—since it’s required on both ends—yours is too unpredictable and his is too unstable. Neither of you have a middle ground and it would only end in devastation for both sides. You might not even have a contract if you do that. Of course, you wouldn’t know for sure unless you ask him, directly, but it would also require some sort of physical contact and a pure bond or promise of something.”
Now it was my turn to blush. I hadn’t thought that far into melding, but I did know enough of the famous Scarlet Fury and her darling husband to know that their figure usually emerged after an emotion reunion between the too. Their combined warrior figure was always called out with a kiss.
Oh boy. Yeah. Definitely not happening at all!
“Yeah? I mean, yes.”
“Stop thinking about that.”
“Whatever it is that is making you look like that.” His mouth twitched. “Just let time run its course. One hundred days will be over before you know it and it’s best to let the bond run its natural course. It will be stronger overall for doing so and I’m sure you’ll both appreciate the result afterwards.”
Why do I believe you? Why are your words so reassuring? Why do I want to believe everything you say, even if it could be a lie?
“Why are you all doing this?” The tears began to fall again.
Master Phoenix took the stone from my hand and threaded it over his head again, tucking the gem inside his shirt. “Because we want to, to some extent. Because we care—probably to the same extent.”
“Why-?” My voice cracked and the final barrier exploded, I wouldn’t be able to stop these tears right away. Beside me, Rory shifted, twitching as telltale tears splattered on his bare arms. There was a shimmer of silver and he reverted to his animal form, curving around me comfortably, tail thumping into her lap.
Ah, Rory. You’ve done that for me so many times before. I don’t know any more. Things are so mixed up and everything is just such a muddy mess! Why now? Why after all this time? Why me? No one ever cared. No one ever bothered. Now I’m being smothered. In my head. In my heart. I can’t get away.
Do you want to get away?
Keep thinking it out, you’ll have less of a headache if you do.
He hugged her close. “Is that all?”
“Why do you keep doing this to me?”
“This part-the caring about me so much that I can’t convince myself it’s a dream. All I do is cause trouble for you and everyone around me. I am stupid, I know I’m-”
“You’re not stupid.”
“Do you really want to argue with me on that point?”
“You’re doing it again.” I sat, stupidly, surrounded by warmth and still falling apart. Somehow, for whatever reason, this person…doesn’t hate me. I can feel his arms around me, with only strength to offer. I can feel his breath in my hair and somehow, I don’t feel so stupid knowing that I can share some part of me with him.
I feel Rory beside me, soft and warm. I can feel the emotions that are between us from the years we’ve known each other. I can almost laugh as his tail is flopping from my leg to my lap and then to the ground.
He isn’t really sleeping.
I know he won’t sleep until I’ve already entered dreamland.
What did I do to deserve this? Who am I to be worthy of this kind of luck? People that care about me. People who haven’t even known me for longer than…what have I done? I don’t dare ruin this. But I’ve never been good at appreciating good things.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to do it. I’m scared again. But I know neither of them would really, ever hurt me the way I keep on treating them.
“Sweetly broken, gently shattered, lovingly torn apart.” He tugged my hair, the tangled long strands. “Until your apology comes from the heart…I won’t stop. This is what they call a special kind of love, Eira. It’s not really even mine, it comes from a higher source. It’s because of it, that I can sit here and push you through the doors you need to enter and close the ones you’re running out of. Love comes softly, knocking on the back door and whispering around the window panes. Do you understand this?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never…I don’t know.”
“This is God’s love, Eira. It covers things you can’t begin to know, things you can’t explain and it warps you up in the kind of strength that you can use to move forward. He forgives what you can’t understand and He cares so much about you. He’ll make things happen, He’ll put people in your life. When you listen for him, when you start searching for Him, even if you don’t know it, He will find you.”
“I don’t deserve it.”
“It’s because you don’t deserve it, that He does and it when you don’t deserve it, that you’ll realize it doesn’t matter that way to Him.”
“You make it sound so perfect. Life isn’t like that you know. It sucks.”
“Yes. Sometimes it does. But other times, it’s so special, beautiful and wonderful, you think it’ll break and everything will disappear. Other times, you think you can’t breathe and you don’t want to, because maybe if you’re dead, things will change, they will be different. But that’s cheating, Eira. Life is all of those things put together. Some good, some bad, so much of it in between. If you spend your life clinging to all the special moments, you never get the chance to make new ones. And if you don’t make new ones, you’re stuck in the past, never moving forward, never changing. Trials and tests and challenges, they’re there to help you grow. With every heartache and headache, you’re closer to something if you survive.”
“What if all you ever do is survive? If all you ever do is survive, there’s no time for anything else! You can’t even see or feel or think about-“
“Ah, I’m losing you. You’re talking yourself in circles in your head—I can see it on your face.” He held me at arms’ length. “This is one reason why you always have headaches you know, it’s part of your natural defense, but you can’t keep everything out forever. Sooner or later you have to let something in. If you don’t, things fall apart. You don’t want that, even if you say you do, you don’t. That’s human nature. That’s logical thought. Selfish at the core and starving for love. You have to let something in or change is impossible and if you don’t change, then the changes around you, will break you.”
How can I let something in? I don’t want to!
You’ll want to.
“Eira, it isn’t my intent to interfere with things that are none of my business, but…the guilt you’re carrying, it won’t stop hurting you. You have a choice and you have to choose. When you forgive yourself, those around you and those with you, then I’ll stop. Never look for justice in this life, Eira, but never cease to give it either.”
“It’s okay. But I believe Rory deserves an apology as well.” He wiped my face with his shirt-sleeve, the golden-gray eyes almost smiling at me.
You called him Rory. “Right. Rory? I’m really sorry about-”
“It doesn’t count if its asleep.”
And we’re back to it. Ha. I guess that’s fine. “I’ll tell him when he’s up then.”
“Very well. Dinner?”
“Do you understand why I stopped your circlet now?”
I looked from him to Rory and waited for the realization to come. It took longer than I expected, because none of the answers seemed good enough to voice aloud. “Because…” I started, when his eyebrow began to twitch. “of Rory?”
“And…?” He prompted. “How come you think you’re functioning so wonderfully right now while he’s out cold in the midst of what should be rather painful?”
“I…oh.” The words hit me. “I was going to use him for the circlet…it would’ve drained him too. He’s already…he’s like this, because I’m awake and walking around like-!” I resisted the urge to punch something. “I feel like an idiot again.”
“As long as you realize there was a point to all of this, that’s fine.”
“It’s fine to realize the point or feel like an idiot.”
“Whichever one you prefer.” He shrugged and his mouth twitched. “Or both.”
“I’ll stick with one, thanks.”
I’m sorry, Rory. I wasn’t thinking. Now that I know, I won’t do that again. I promise. I won’t be so selfish next time.
Curled up on her bedroll, using Rory for a pillow, Eira turned to face the flickering fire. “Is it me, or is it really getting colder?”
“These are sacred mountains.” The phoenix rolled over from his bedroll on the opposite side. “Many things happen here that cannot be explained away.”
“Like the temperature?” Eira said, dryly.
There was a chuckle. “The temperature would be the least, it grows colder until you reach Mount Skiel. You see shadows that don’t belong and of course you meet the strangest people along the way.”
“What’s Mount Skiel?”
“That’s where I need to go.”
“That has been our final destination since this journey began.”
“We’ve been traveling forever. I thought it only took, like, a week or something for you. How come it’s-?”
“It takes one week when I am within a certain timezone and energy level, using every bit of energy that I can call to my aid, without a single stop, in my true form, flying at full speed to reach Skiel.”
“One of those, ‘everything must be perfect in the world’ alignments, huh?”
“Something like that.”
“Is it time sensitive?”
“Could it possibly be otherwise?”
“Er, I guess not. So how much time do we really-”
“I can spare two weeks for your exclusive training.”
“Everything after that, is going to be a blur.”
“W-what do you mean?”
“I mean, the next two weeks, you will my top priority. Expect to learn something.”
“I don’t like the way that sounds.”
“Wait! You can’t just fall asleep after saying something like-Master Phoenix? Hello? Master Phoenix? Hey!”
© Sara Harricharan