Friday, September 25, 2009

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix [part 9] (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Sherri Ward @ her blog "A Candid Thought". Click here to read and share more great fiction!
Author's Ramblings: Well, I've managed to finish this piece one time this week, miraculous, considering my week. LOL. I managed to burn both my hands at a family cookout last weekend and today is the first day I can type almost normally without any pain, stinging, prickling or other ouches at all. I am extremely happy for it. ^_^ This week's installment has very little action-wise, mostly more issues being worked out between Eira and Dark Phoenix, but I threw in a few hints for next week, can you tell what's going to happen next? Please read, rate and comment! I love all feedback and especially knowing that this story is making sense to someone other than myself. lolz. Have a great weekend and thank you for taking the time to read this!
The loud groaning in the morning was the main clue that something was dreadfully amiss. As it was, the sound itself took a moment to register along with the fact that she could not do anything about it. Eira attempted to twist and turn only to find that she was frozen in the exact position she had left consciousness the day before.

By the time that thought caught up with her, she realized the main reason for lack of movement trumped the fact that she was stuck inside a tree trunk. It took another series of thoughts, panicking and then reasoning for Eira to give up on trying to free herself.
She’d finally come close to tears when her vision blurred then cleared and she could see through the hazy cloud again. It fuzzed as she squinted then cleared up as she witnessed a giant tree slowly shrinking in size.
The source of the horrible groaning itself.
The sounds faded and then the tree shrank to the point where it morphed from wooden branches and green leaves, to a short, energetic fellow in black. The Dark Phoenix yawned and stretched, then turned and looked directly at her. “Good morning, Eira.” His head cocked to the side. “Are you up?”
Eira found her momentary frustration now cleared up by an intense flood of relief. “Yes!” The words left her lips, bringing the new realization that she could speak in spite of her restricted confinement. “I’m in here!”
He spoke from behind her. “I know where you are…are you awake, all right and everything?”
If she could have shrugged, Eira would have. As it was, it took an extra breath to keep from attempting to jump from the sound of his voice behind instead of where she had just seen him. “uh…yeah.”
“I’ll push you out. Hold on a moment.”
Two strong hands clamped down on her shoulders and gave a firm push forward. Eira tumbled out and tucked her head between her arms as the ground rushed up to greet her. It was altogether a mostly satisfying landing and not as disagreeable as she was expecting. Free to move, a silly grin spread across her face and she sat back for a moment, sprawled out on the grass, laughing. Her head automatically catalogued the fact that her gear was elsewhere and her boots were missing. Her bare feet wiggled in the grass and the mere movement almost made her dizzy. Another smile sprouted to the surface.
“Good morning to you to. Glad to see you’re in good spirits.” He stepped out from behind the tree trunk, eyes dancing merrily. “Sleep well?”
“I think so.” Eira slowly eased upward, attempting to rise, only to squeak in pain. “Ow!” The exclamation was belated, for she thumped back to the ground, with a whimper. The pain from the day before surfaced in full-force, with a sudden surge of feeling that kept her glued to the ground.
“I was wondering how you were feeling about that…I guess this answers the question.” His cheerful expression appeared upside down as he stood by her head, looking down. “I would advise for you to stay put. Moving makes it-”
“Hurt worse. I know.” Eira moaned. “What did you really do to me? And where’s my stuff?” She twisted, trying to see where he was and what he was doing.

“I thought I explained it last night.” He sounded puzzled, as his face disappeared from view and his soft footsteps padded across the clearing to where his gear had been stowed the night before. Neatly positioned beside his own duffel was her messenger bag, with boots standing at attention near them. “You really were asleep then?”
“No, I mean, well…maybe, I don’t know. I couldn’t exactly focus on anything, much less what you were saying.”
“Oh, what? I’m serious! I couldn’t…this hurts like-”
“How is your head?”
“My what?” Eira blinked, momentarily distracted. “My head? My head’s fine…I didn’t know there was anything wrong with it.”
“No headaches, nothing?”
“It’s fine.” Eira repeated.
“Hmmm…curious.” He mumbled.
“Wait a second! You changed the subject!” Eira twisted her neck further back, trying to get a better view of what he was doing. “Where’d you go? What are you doing?”
“I’m right here, Eira.” His voice was reassuring but his absence was not. “Nothing to worry about.”
“Worry? Now?” The laugh that escaped was slightly more hysterical than the first. “Who said anything about being worried? I didn’t know there was anything to worry about until you just told me not to! What exactly is that impersonation thingy? What does it do to people?”
“Honestly?” His feet came into view.
Eira followed the boots upwards to the sturdy weapon belt and then to the cheerful face still beaming down at her. “No. Fakely.” She scowled. “What are you so happy about?”
“Peaceful night’s sleep.” He knelt beside her. “And it was an energy impersonation, they generally have little to no effect on people. I fed you my energy and made you walk, move and stretch a great deal more than you’re used to. It’s simply overexertion.”
Eira rolled her eyes. “Simply overexertion?” She mimicked. “Yeah right! I feel like I could explode!”
“Literally?” His eyebrows danced upwards. “Your energies seem fine…” His voice trailed off. “And they’re not sparking at present-”
“Not literally! I just…you just, this is just…”
“Just what? You said you felt like you could explode, that isn’t a term to use lightly.” Eira rolled her eyes and his mouth twitched. “I can already see the word in your head…almost, just spit it out!”
“Weird!” The word exploded.

His mouth twitched again. “I see. Well, I am most sorry for the weirdness, but we do need to keep moving today, so I am sorry for what I am going to do and the after effects you will experience later today.”
Eira rolled her eyes again. “Do you always go around apologizing for things you do or are about to do, just for the good of the other person?”
He shrugged. “Depends. I generally do not apologize for anything, but I do feel a tad guilty on your behalf.”
“Oh joy. Should I even ask why-OW! That hurts. That really, really hurts. I mean, it hurts like-OW! What are you-!”
He winced at the moment she bit her lip. “Remind me to buy you a bloque.”
“A what?”
“A bloque.” He unrolled a bundle of dried herbs and selected several shriveled stalks.
“Something to bite, so you don’t make so much noise.”
“I do not make noise!” Eira made a face in reply. “I’ll be sure to forget that first thing for-what are you doing?”
“Herbs.” He methodically plucked the leaves from the stems. “And this won’t hurt, but the effects will annoy you later on.”
“Annoy me?”
Eira clamped her mouth shut, but her eyes continued to follow his movements of leaf-stripping. Her mouth was itching to ask questions and react to the expert pokes along her ankle joint. Things were still hurting and he hadn’t done anything yet. The leaves were then gathered in one hand and the stalks in the other. His eyes closed and the hands swiveled to his side, outstretched, like a scale weighing a bet between them.
Another squeak escaped as Eira saw the leaves burst into green flame, followed by the stalks converting to a swarming mass of black energy. Simultaneously the hands came together, clasping and trapping the energies within. There was a smothered sound and then his eyes opened and the hands parted. A globe of golden-green energy hovered, spinning in the midair.
He smiled. “This is a special healing energy.” Shifting to his feet, he positioned it over her center, keeping one hand cupped around the energy orb. “It’s specific to your energy and unique signature, it will only work for you and no one else, you will learn to create it on your own, soon.”
“Really? Wow.” Eira squinted up at his darkened figure and the brightly glowing ball. “That would be so cool! It’s kinda bright though, isn’t it?”
Those were the last words that she spoke, for the light suddenly flashed bright and then faded, taking every shred of pain with it. Eira was jerked upright to her feet, where she stumbled forward a few steps and then stopped, awed. “Wow.” The pale blue-golden orb began to orbit her figure, then suddenly jerked backwards and plunged directly into her stomach. “Oof!” Eira staggered a few steps to the side and then stared down at her stomach. “Wow. That was…incredibly awesome!”

She turned to look at her master who was studying her, arms folded across his chest. She smiled, tentatively.
His mouth twitched. “Incredibly awesome? I shall have to remember that. Glad you’re up and about…now shall we?” He turned to retrieve his gear and frowned when he handed over her boots. “These boots almost cost you your feet.” They were held up before her at eyelevel. “If you want to keep them for sentimental reasons, I understand, I will store them somewhere for you, if that would help, I strongly recommend storing them, I will provide you with an adequate pair for hiking and other activities. However, by the end of today, I need you to do two things which does involve making up your mind.”

“What?” Eira stood on tip-toe and then snatched the boots from his fingers. Dropping to the ground, she tugged the socks out from inside and proceeded to put them on.
“Make a decision on the boots and cut your hair, it can't stay that long. You can grow it out later, once we're past Pietresaan even, but not before that. You will have to cut it before then, it needs to be short.”

“What?!” Her head jerked up in a hurry. “Okay, I like my boots and I’m keeping them.” She swallowed. “Please?”

“You hair is a dead giveaway, but you have until the end of today and tomorrow to come to terms with it, if that helps. We’ll be nearing civilization, in terms of people we really don’t want to get involved with.”

“My hair? Guys have ponytails-!”

“I don’t.”
“It won’t work.”
“How do you know? I’m different! I’m a completely different person than anyone else you’ve ever trained, honest!”
“I do not doubt your uniqueness, but I seriously doubt your acting skills. I have traveled these parts countless times before, they will know when I pass through and who is with me.”

“And here we go again!” Eira tugged her boots on and then shifted to her feet grabbing her pack and slinging it over one shoulder.
“Put it on properly.”
“Is that always your standard response?”
“What, Eira, what? Every time I am attempting to make a point, or to explain something, your standard answer is what…that is not something that needs work, it is something that must be addressed immediately. As of this moment, I refuse to acknowledge a simple ‘what’ unless you can elaborate on it, after puzzling over the meaning yourself. If you do not use your brain to work through some of the challenges ahead, it will only serve as a weight to keep your head balanced.”
“My head’s balanced enough.”
“I am not going to stand here all day to argue or discuss the point, we need to get moving.”
“What about breakfast?” Eira asked, but she was already trotting after him and innocently slammed into his newly frozen figure. “What?”
He sent a look over one shoulder, taking a step forward. “I forgot about that part.” His tone was sarcastic. “And what exactly did I just tell you about saying ‘what’?”
“Never mind.” He snapped his fingers directly in front of her face, effectively capturing her attention. “I’ll work on breakfast, in the meantime, we are walking.”
Eira shrugged, her mind already switching gears as she followed him out of the glade and down a rather well worn dirt path. “Oh cool.” The words left her lips as she stared upwards into a thick canopy of colorful leaves. “Look at all those colors!”
“Beautiful, aren’t they?” His steps quickened. “Don’t keep looking up, you won’t see where you’re going and we’re going downhill from here.”
“What?” Her thinking half of her brain returned nearly a fraction of a second too late, for it took a sudden misstep to keep from actually stepping in a pebble lined hole, which sent her lurching towards a tree. She threw out her hands, catching hold of the sturdy, sticky trunk in time. A grimace spread across her face as she hurriedly shifted to stand on her own, wiping the sticky gum, or attempting to smear it on the standard-issue pants. It didn’t work.
“Eira?” The Dark Phoenix sounded fairly far away. “Keep up!”
“Coming!” Eira scrambled in the direction of the sound, following the path until he came into view once more. Her stomach rumbled as she fell into step behind him and she blushed, knowing he’d heard it.
There was an exasperated sigh and he stopped at once, causing her to walk into him for the second time that morning. He looked skyward for a moment, then licked his lips and turned to face her. “Answer yes or no, understood?”
“Yep…er, yes.”
“Don’t make me formalize it for you.” The eyebrows knitted together neatly across his forehead. “Are you really, really hungry?”

“Are you awake?”
“Are you paying attention to your surroundings?”
“No. You are not!” He caught hold of her shoulders and twirled her in front of him. “It is not a good idea to keep bumping into me when I haven’t worked with your energies yet, it could try to borrow some of mine, or you could be tainted-accidentally. And both would be rather horrible experiences this early in your training, no good end can come of it.” He nudged her forward. “March. We need to cover a significant amount of ground today.” Eira opened her mouth to interrupt and one hand shifted from her shoulder to close it. “I have only one rule I will specifically give you, however, I consider it common knowledge of everything polite, to wait when one is speaking, before interrupting unless the matter pertains to something of an immediate nature along the lines of a life and death situation, or merely the fact that something is about to happen. It also follows the lines of answering appropriately, regardless of whether you have an audience, of which, by the way, in the unlikely event I forget-your alias per your disguise is Ian and I will do everything I can in my power to see that we are not separated.”
“Why would we be separated?” Eira ducked lightly. “I mean, if I’m not really interrupting…and what’s my rule?”
“Your rule, besides a few other…personal quirks of mine that you will learn of in time, unless it is absolutely necessary for me to explain them, I see no reason to do so now. The only rule I give you is this. Do not, under any circumstances, use your powers while you are in my apprenticeship without my express permission. If it is a life and death situation, call me. It does not matter how you call, just simply call for me. I will hear you.”
“Wait a minute…really? I can’t use my powers at all?”
“I was getting to the explanation part-downhill, watch where you’re-” The hands on her shoulders steadied her as her wobbled then buckled. “This road isn’t exactly high priority for repairs, there are more hazards than anything along its sides, not to mention the tribes that live within, try to booby-trap the sides to capture unsuspecting guests. They know me, well enough anyway, they won’t bother us, as long as we don’t bother them and even so, I haven’t seen any of them for a few years, though I know they are alive. They simply make themselves scarce when I am passing through. Your powers are natural, this means they are connected to your life force. In your case, as I saw your energy at first, it is twisted, wrapped and coiled all around the very core of your life. Using it without understanding it, would be extremely foolish and a rather short, boring death wish.”
“A death wish is boring?”
“When there is nothing dramatic to it, yes.” The hands dropped from her shoulders. “You will be using them quite a bit, with my supervision of course and once you have gained the experience in the right situations. Experience is the key here, you need to know your limits and how to move past them, you will need to understand the effects of using your powers on others, things which will require a tremendous amount of energy, responsibility and devotion from you. It will take a lot of focus, trial and error and though I will allot you one hour of free time every afternoon and one day a week off, you will be formally considered in training the remaining hours in the day. Use your head for the common sense half of things, Eira. I know you can think logically for yourself, why you haven’t, I’ve yet to come up with a suitable answer. However, it is not something I intend to puzzle over, because I have a question for you. Ready?”
“Shoot-er-not literally.”
“I wouldn’t actually shoot you.” His voice was dry. “Do not put ideas in my head. I do not need them there. Do you know what it is to leech?”
Eira stumbled on the next step, tripping over her own feet. She was steadied by his hands from behind, but it wasn’t enough to stop the shudder that violently passed over her. “Yeah.” She didn’t bother to correct herself. “I do.”
“I would ask why the reaction, but I’d prefer to tackle that topic another day…that leaves us one option for your breakfast. There’s a grove up ahead a ways and there should be plenty of fruit and such available. We’ll stop there for breakfast.”
Eira nodded, faintly, forcing her legs to move again. It seemed as if everything had slowed and her brain frozen and iced over was now sluggishly moving her along. She took a quick shallow breath and another tremor threatened to break loose.

It was getting cold.
© Sara Harricharan


Hoomi said...

Glad your hands are better, and greatly enjoyed the chapter. You have some very interesting concepts building in this story.

J.H. said...

__Hello Sara. Agh, I've been so sluggish these past weeks! I've met none of my writing goals this week, and yet I pour so much time into accomplishing them. If you think about it, pray for more discipline and focus.
+ This was a fair installment, I really didn't mind the lack of action. You're finally transitioning the D.Phe. into his more assertive nature as opposed to his apologetic one you started us with as evidenced particularly in these lines: "If you do not use your brain to work through some of the challenges ahead, it will only serve as a weight to keep your head." and "I have only one rule I will specifically give you...". I found I was more interested in what the D.Phe. had to teach. Hopefully you plan on having Eira learn something new, then apply it.
+ In the "Ramblings" you asked if I could tell what's going to happen next from your hints. I think so; Eira's going to bump into the D.Phe. a third time and borrow some of his energy isn't she? I liked how you hinted at it, meaning, you 'showed' us that she would eventually struggle with the D.Phe's energy at some point through an act of clumsiness, rather than having him say "...and you should never, EVER, bump into me."
= I'm adding another symbol to my comments. An equal sign means, this is just an observation that's not meant as a negative or a positive. You employ humor a lot throughout this work from Eira's clumsiness, to her and her teacher's rambling dialogue. You could turn this work into a comedy. I'm thinking specifically about Varian Johnson and his first book that I'm currently reading. His less-than-two-page scenes are composed of more dialogue than description and he likes to fall back on the main character's sarcasm to give the close of a scene this punch-line effect. Your tale is somewhat more epic than his, but I still see some of his comedic pacing working for this story.
- No outstanding faults today. You still haven't explained "energy impersonation" yet. I'll read more before I bring this up again.
- I'll point out a clunky sentence before I go. Par.13:" "I think so." Eira slowly eased upward, attempting to rise, only to squeak in pain. "Ow!" The exclamation was belated, for she thumped back to the ground, with a whimper. "
The only characters in the scene are Eira and the D.Phe.; we know this. You can use this knowledge to eliminate various words, thus making the paragraph tighter. "I think so." Eira slowly eased upward..."OW," only to feel a surge of pain, "OW!" thumping back down with a whimper.

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Hi J.H.! Thanks again for reading another installment. I will most certainly keep you in prayers for your writing. I did have quite a bit of fun with making the DP throw his weight around, which I do try to bring out a little more in the next few episodes. I am working on 'growing' Eira up--quite literally. Well, you're sort of correct for the hint--but I won't spoil it. ^_^ Yay! Another symbol! I really do appreciate the detail you've put into this feedback--you can't imagine how helpful it is. I've never read Varian Johnson and humor isn't really my strong point--so I do appreciate your pointing this out. Thank you! The energy impersonation is pretty much taking an imprint of a person(their movements, energies) and transferring it to another. The DP wanted Eira to keep up with him and not to fall off the cliffs, so he forcefully implanted a sizeable amount of energy inside her, to allow him to puppet her movements--namely, walking carefully along the edge and to keep moving even after she would have exhausted her own energies. This is one reason she is so sore and fatigued the next day. It is quite literally over-exertion, because he didn't use the impersonation to make her do much else than walk. Her energies have already tangled with his--which is what stifled her voice. Perhaps it should be an energy impression, rather than an impersonation. I'll make a note to work that out. Thanks for pointing out the clunky sentence--I hadn't thought of just the two of them making easier sentences that way. Hmmm. Thank you so much--I hope your week is good--and your writing even better! Finals start this week, so I'm cramming more homework today--as long as the inet holds out. Cheerio! ~S