Friday, September 4, 2009

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 6) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Yvonne "Vonnie" Blake @ her blog. My Back Door. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's note: The editing on this piece was really fun. I was able to explore a bit of Eira's temper and to make her final decision more official in terms of accurately formal. At least, as formal as the Dark Phoenix cares for it to be. On a personal note, my first week of Fall Semester has been quite interesting and not having to pull something brand-new out of my head this week, certainly helped, lol. I do hope you enjoy this story, as I have only one installment left (sort of a normal ending, at least normal for me and if you'd like this to continue, I need votes, please!) Have a great Labor Day weekend! (I shall be eating chocolate pudding and sleeping as late as I can possibly get away with...)

The next morning, Eira awoke to find a steaming hot breakfast on the table, and the Dark Phoenix nowhere in sight.

For her own reasons, she didn't want to go poking where her nose didn’t quite belong, but the living space was so curiously constructed that she couldn't keep from wandering about. It was ‘curious’ as her mind told her, finding no other word to be suitable for the strange artifacts lining the walls and the many different doors lining the narrow hallways. The house, she discovered, was considerably bigger than it appeared on the outside. “Wow.”

The exclamation of admiration left her lips as she rounded a sharp corner and found herself back in the kitchen area. It took a bit more wandering about before she finally discovered the weathered door on the far end, marked “out of doors”.

“Curious way to put it.” She mumbled, tip-toeing to see out the clear panel. She rocked back on her heels a moment later, somewhat puzzled. He was shorter than her, so why was his peephole so high up?

The thought was quickly and easily dismissed as she tip-toed again and this time balanced on the door as she craned her neck to see further. She stood again, puzzled at the door when her feet had grown tired. It appeared that Dark Phoenix spent his morning in some sort of floating meditation. It was when she finally stepped outside that she saw exactly what he was doing.

He was sitting-sort of-on the hill to the side of the house, eyes closed, hovering in meditation, feet crossed under him. A slight quiver ran through her hands, settling into her stomach. She swallowed and moved closer, stopping several feet away. Feeling sure that he could sense her and not wanting to interrupt, she chose a grassy spot to the side of the house and sat down, waiting."Good morning."

His head turned, eyes still closed. His feet shifted from their mid-air perch and unfolded to touch the ground. His hands dropped to his sides and piercing eyes connected with hers.

"Morning.” Eira twisted her hands together.

"Sleep well?" He turned back to face the mountains and stretched luxuriously in the morning sun.

"Yes, thanks for asking." She scrambled to her feet. "Thanks for uh, breakfast too. You’re a really good cook. Almost as good as my mom."

He smiled. "You're welcome and thank you. I thought you might want something to eat at an earlier time. I generally don't eat until noon. It makes it harder to concentrate."

“Er, right.”

“You don’t meditate, I take it?”

Eira tried to shrug, but her shoulders suddenly felt too heavy for such a nonchalant gesture. “Not really.”

“Is that a yes or a no?”

“No.”

“I see.” His mouth twitched. “Might I ask why?”

This time, her shrug worked. Eira tucked her hands under her thighs, peering up at him from beneath furrowed brows. She couldn’t quite read his expression, but a tiny part of her didn’t want to decipher the look anyway.

“That’s not an answer.”

It took a pinch of effort to keep from shrugging automatically. “What answer are you looking for?” She hedged.

“The one on the tip of your tongue that’s making you sit on your hands to keep quiet.” The eyebrows went up. “That answer.”

Eira bit her lip.

“Anytime would be fine.” His shadow touched her knees as he stopped in front of her and then sat down to her left.

“I-I just never thought that…I mean, well, it doesn’t really…it…” The words tangled hopelessly in her mind and were thus butchered in her mouth as she tripped over her thoughts. “it’s…it’s complicated!”

There was a patient sigh and he turned to face her. “True, the answer is complicated inside of you, because you have perceived it to be so. However, that is not the answer you had in mind.”

“How would you know?” Eira demanded, feeling her temper beginning to spark. “I can’t even tell what answer I should have to begin with!”

“Should have, could have or would have?” He countered.

“I don’t know!”

“You should know.”

“But. I. Don’t!”

“Try.”

“I already tried! Nothing happened. It was just a stupid question!” The words burst from her mouth and Eira felt her face grow hot. “T-that wasn’t quite what I meant to say.” She added, hurriedly.

“On the contrary.” He returned, mildly. “You finally said what was exactly on your mind without censoring it. But I do disagree with you.”

Eira threw up her hands, her frustration getting the better of her. “So the point is?”

“Simple. There wasn’t anything stupid about it at all.” He shifted to his feet and extended a hand. “I was going to invite you to join me, but it’s a tad late…once the sun shifts past that rock, you lose the morning tranquility.”

The blush deepened as Eira reluctantly took his hand, rising to her feet. “Oh.”

“Oh, what?”

“I…” She sighed. “It’s just that…”

“You’re doing it again.” He started towards the house. “Just spit it out. It’s generally a lot better for you if you do.”

Eira squeezed her eyes shut and stopped. “I just think meditation is stupid.” There was a moment of silence, and then she dared to open her eyes.

He was studying her with a curious expression on his face. “Now you have piqued my interest.” He commented, arms folding across his chest. “Tell me, why would you think it is stupid?”

“It’s pointless.” The fading blush flared slightly. “I mean, all you do is close your eyes and breathe and think about stuff that you shouldn’t have to if your head was screwed on straight!”

“Aha. I see, so we aren’t talking about meditation exactly, but the proper way to screw one’s head on?”

The blush returned in full-force. “I didn’t quite mean it like that.”

“Yes you did.” His eyes laughed. “But I won’t plague you with my curiosity, however, I ought to tell you from now that I believe in meditation quite deeply. I see it as a concentrated effort to set aside time to quiet one’s mind and soul, to pray, to think, to live on a different level. It also helps to keep my powers within control by stabilizing my energies and allowing more detailed division of them.” He began walking again. “It is necessary whenever you hold energies greater than simply a specific task. It is helpful, no matter how small or large your gift may be, but the bigger it is, the deeper it runs and the deeper it runs, well…the more it will take from you. Meditation helps to put some of it ‘back’ in a sense.”

“Oh.” Eira shuffled after him. “It makes a little more sense, I guess, when you put it that way.”

He chuckled. “It depends how you want to see it. I used to hate meditation, simply because it was pure torture to sit still for longer than five minutes. My energies were always actively sparking, growing, morphing and meditation was more of a punishment than a recreational activity.”

“Really? What changed?”

“My master finally lost his temper over my constant fidgeting and I was sent to a mountain retreat.” There was another quiet chuckle. “I discovered that I loved the mountains and that meditating on a regular, daily basis, meant my powers functioned better and I was more in control. The more control you have over your gifts, the better off you are, literally, the more power you have.” He reached the door and held it open.

“Thanks.” Eira hurried inside, she paused in the hallway, watching as he closed the door and began to turn the assortment of locks. “Why so many?”

He shrugged. “Less of a headache.”

“Oh.”

"Have you reached a decision as yet?"

“Decision?” Eira mentally scrambled, trying to follow his train of thought.

“Our conversation last night…please tell me I didn’t confuse you quite that badly.”

"Oh. Well, I don't really know." Eira said, honestly. "I really don't. I mean, well, I sort of came, charging across the galaxy looking for-" She stopped, her face tinged pink. "I mean, I was looking for-" She tried again. There wasn’t exactly a safe way to capture her thoughts and spit them out politely enough.

He chuckled. "We are not doing this again. Feel free to censor whatever you wish to say, I don’t think I could stand to wait for you to come out with it again. Just think about it. When you find the answer, tell me." He moved to a tiny cubicle and drew his cloak he'd worn the day before. "I have a proposition for you. Granted you could say yes or no, depending, but I feel it is only fair to warn you that I test all possible students and apprentices."

"You've had apprentices?" Eira blurted out and winced. It was so very easy to say the most embarassing things that she didn't mean, than to construct a proper answer and blurt it out instead. "Sorry. I don't mean it the way it came out-really, I just-"

"It is easier to keep one's foot out of one's mouth, if generally that foot is on the ground...and not halfway to their mouth." He wrapped the cloak around his shoulders. "You did mean that the way it came out. Again, I might add. And yes, I have. I've had about twenty-seven, I believe in this past year. They were...decent." He sighed. “I keep hoping they’ll improve somewhere on their journey between their home and mine, but yet I still receive them in nearly the exact same state each time.”

"Decent?" Eira repeated. "What kind of test?"

"Abstract." He answered, rooting around in the cubicle for something else.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Eira inched forward, holding the cubicle door open.

"Impromptu, rather." He corrected himself. "I generally pick a moment at random and if the results are uniform in relation to others, then I base my decisions off of it."

"I see. So if I said yes, I'd still have to pass your...test?" She bit her lip. “And meditate, correct?”

He shrugged, readjusting the sleeves of the cloak. "I do believe that is what I said and yes, meditation would be mandatory."

Eira took a careful, deep breath, then let go of the door to cross her arms over her chest. It took another moment, the internal struggle finally drawing to an end. "Okay. Fine. What do I have to do and when can you test me?"

"I take it that is a 'yes' then?"

"Of course it's a yes." Eira rolled her eyes, tired of trying to keep her temper even. "What else would it be?" He perked a brow and she looked at the floor. "Sorry, you can be incredibly...dense, you know." Her cheeks burned as the insult left her lips, there wasn’t a way to retract it. She crossed her fingers, but there was no mistaking the relief inside. There was something to being able to freely speak one’s mind, regardless of esteemed company.

"Dense?" He repeated. "Most curious choice of words. Very well then. Do you wish to be a student or an apprentice?”

Eira took a deep breath. “An…apprentice. If you’ll have me.”

“I will.” He said, serious. “And I accept the formal responsibility of your training, expenses and such. Do you need an official ceremony?”

“What?”

“For taking you as an apprentice, there is an official ceremony that sees to the public formalities, otherwise, I take you to Vanderoone’s equivalent of a government house and sign a few papers, then you recite a few lines of something off of a squak of wood and we’re all official.”

“A squak of wood?”

“You really don’t want to know.”

“Oh.”

“Well?”

“I…don’t really care for any official thingy. I mean, I want proof that this is all…legal and everything, but-”

“You’ll have your proof.” He smiled thinly. “Thank you, though. I really hate ceremonies of any kind.” He shuddered. “It’s too much attention for something superficial and it really is…pointless.”

“Right.” Eira forced a smile. “So, now what?”

The first real smile spread across his face. “Shouldn’t you be asking about details?”

Eira rolled her eyes, then stuck her hand out. “Hi. I’m Eira. I’m your new apprentice, is there anything important I should know?” She spoke sarcastically, but he reached out and shook her hand in all seriousness.

“It is an immense pleasure to make your acquaintance, Eira. As for details, you happen to have caught me in the middle of things. We won’t be staying here, we will get the legalities squared away, at least by the…uh, let’s see.” He frowned. “I think the end of the month, is that good?”

“Month?” Eira squeaked.

“Yes, is there something wrong with that?”

“Uh-no…no, not at all.”

“Good. I didn’t think there was. Get ready. I have to see to some business on the other side of this mountain, the official kind. I’ll explain later if that helps you any.”

“It would help now.” Eira stood back from the door as he stuck his head back inside the shadowy depths. “And what exactly are you looking for in there?”

“Stuff.” His muffled reply came. “And as is my right, if you specifically must ask me a question, refer to me by my title?”

“Title?” Eira ducked as a bouncing square of black energy sprang out of the darkness. “Eep!”

“Eunice!” He whirled around, hands on hips. “Back in there! At once!”

Eira gaped as the quivering, bouncing cube of energy whirred and whined, before obeying the given command. “What was that?”

“Excess energy.” He said, matter-of-factly. “I like to store it for later use. Yes, Eira, a title. It is generally easier to call me, Master Phoenix when you require my immediate attention as I will often overlook your name in favor of calling you ‘apprentice’.” He brushed off the front of his cloak. “Stay put, Eunice.” He shut the door firmly and traced an invisible shape on the doorjamb. “As I was saying, this is official business we’ll be on. The kind that’s commissioned by The League, otherwise I wouldn’t take you out on a hike within your first month. We need to be moving a little faster.” He frowned. “Why aren’t you getting ready? It takes me a day going back and forth. I'd appreciate it if you'd hurry, time is extremely important here."

© Sara Harricharan

6 comments:

Stina Rose said...

Interesting!

Lynda S. said...

I love this character—smart bird.

Dee Yoder said...

It's coming along, Sara. One more chapter, eh? Ok! I'm thinking my sci-fi challenged mind will then know what/who/where the Dark Phoenix is. (: As usual, very creative! (But Hoomi may have you beat this week with his "boar" wars. LOL.)

Hoomi said...

Heh... I didn't know this was a competition. I thought we were both having fun with our characters.

The story is developing very well, and you've set up a nice bit of workable friction between Eira and Dark Phoenix. I hope you have a chapter for this week!

J.H. said...

'Too Much' is the theme of today's comment, but a polite word first. Hello again! Been away for a while so I'll try and do two of these; this first one is B.F.(before food) and the second will be after consumption, A.C.
+ This idea I will incorporate into my psyche: "...I believe in meditation quite deeply. I see it as a concentrated effort...to live on a different level." Brilliant thought! My mind immediately went to Psalm 1:2; I've gained a whole new insight on meditating. Thank you, Sara.
And now, the feature:
+ I'll bet this piece went over the 2K mark didn't it? There was much that was unnecessary in part 6, the first five paragraphs for example. You could have started us outside with Eira cautiously observing the D.Phe. meditate. Par.5's one sentence is all you need, "It appeared that Dark Phoenix spent his morning in some sort of floating meditation." Eira thanks the D.Phe. for preparing her breakfast, then you don't even need the first paragraph. "It was ‘curious’ as her mind told her... for the strange artifacts lining the walls and the many different doors lining the narrow hallways." Never mind that you haven't 'described' any "curious" artifacts, as soon as you introduce the phrase "out of doors" I'm like Eira, "Curious way to put it." I was livid when my curiosity wasn't satisfied; instead, Eira asks a completely unrelated question about the assortment of locks, something that wasn't even described initially, "Why so many?" No, no Eira, what you mean to ask, for the benefit of your readers, is: "WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MANY FREAKIN' DOORS IN YOUR HOUSE!?!" My apologies Sara, Eira's temper has begun to effect me; perhaps you mean to explain the doors thing later? Either way, you can better maintain your readers attention and improve the pacing of this part by starting in the middle of the action.
+ What interest you in writing this piece also interests the readers. In the Authors Note, you talk about exploring Eira's temper and her making a final decision to be apprentice to the D.Phe. That's all this weeks piece should have given, not the additional suspense of the D.Phe.'s "other side of this mountain" business in par.89. You could have ended on Par.84 thus cleanly closing the scene: "Hi. I’m Eira. I’m your new apprentice, is there anything important I should know?" The fact that Eira is going to have to take a test on the very thing she thinks is pointless is reason enough for me to keep reading. However, I know this is a serial, and the more reasons you can give your readers to return the better. Here's my take on how you might have introduced the D.Phe.'s official business in one paragraph (picks up after Par.84):'"Yes, very important." Replied the Dark Phoenix strapping on hiking boots. "See you've caught me in the middle of things and there is some official business WE must now attend."' The end.
I'm off to eat.

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Hi J.H.! Glad to see you back--I was hoping I hadn't scared you off somehow. ^_^ I'm afraid you'll find most of the installments after #9 are 2k and upwards, as once in awhile I simply forget to slice it in half. Usually, the longer posts mean I couldn't think of a spot to stop and before the scene changed, I simply cut it off there. Not the best way--technically, but it worked at the time. I intend to return to the house later, so there will be some sort of explanations, etc, later on. Sorry about the doors--they do have a meaning, just haven't gotten there yet. (so she says at installment #29...oops). The temper is still a WIP, I've tweaking it, but trying not to let too much of it out, because I'd have to balance it out some other way and currently, my brain is wrapped up in the thought of upcoming finals. I do have an explosion planned soon though--thanks for pointing it out, I'm glad to know it was a point of interest, because character development IS important to me. I liked your ending sentence--very precise and to the point, you did the DP justice. Thanks again for taking the time to comment and leave some extremely helpful feedback. I do appreciate your honest reactions and suggestions. It's midnight though and I've still papers to write-so, have a great week!