Friday, October 23, 2009

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 12) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the talented Lynn Squire at her blog, Faith, Fiction, Fun and Fanciful. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: Would you like to celebrate my 100th post? LOL. I'm happy to share it with you. I almost skipped Eira and DP's tale again this week, but couldn't quite forgive myself for it, so I sat and wrote out another chapter of their adventures, hence, the lateness of this post. My apologies! Eira is learning quickly, but is still adjusting to the curveballs being hurled her way. She has learned from the last time though, to be quiet early on in meditations. ^_^ I've got a good twist coming up, as long as I stay on track, as I plan on participating in National Novel Writing Month in November(if you're interested in learning more about this phenomenal event, check it out at www.nanowrimo.org) . Have a great weekend and happy writing!

By the time the Dark Phoenix had announced the end of a torturous half-hour, Eira was dying to be on her feet again. She immediately sprang upwards the moment his lips finished the words.
“Time’s up.”

“Finally!” Eira rolled her neck, then her shoulders, bending to touch her toes. “Ugh. I feel like a rock.”

“That is not the proper way to end your meditations.”

His serious tone sliced through her new happy bubble. “There’s a proper way to end sitting still and quiet for hours?”

“You were meditating for exactly one minute past half an hour.” He sighed. “And yes, there is a way, but I do not have the patience to explain it at this precise moment. Sit over there, somewhere and amuse yourself until I am through.”

“Through with what?”

“My half of meditations.” He tilted his head. “I don’t want to hear you.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Nothing, I hope.” He said, sarcastically. “Short of interrupting me and anything involving excessive noise or movement that would fall under the category of deliberate distraction-amuse yourself-particularly since you will not have a free hour tonight.”

“Oh. Right.” Eira started towards the tree where her pack lay next to his. “Wait a minute, why am I having any free time at all then? I mean, like, I’m curious…sort of. And I don’t do anything but sleep in the afternoon, why should it matter-”

He cleared his throat, both eyes still closed. “Climb a tree or something. Rest your feet. Sit down and think. I need this time, Eira…and I need you to acknowledge what it means for me….please?”

The please on the end was an addition Eira hadn’t been expecting. She hesitated. “Okay…um-”

“There’s a wooden puzzle in my pack, solve it.” He interrupted, stiffly. “Don’t ask me anything about it, don’t talk or mutter to yourself, just solve it.”

The thought was intriguing enough and Eira headed for his pack. To her surprise, it was virtually empty, with nothing but a pair of socks and the wooden puzzle to the left of them. She turned to ask the question on the tip of her tongue and bit it back.

His head had tilted forward until his chin was touching his chest and his entire body seemed to have lost all strength to it, simply, limp as he sat. Eira snatched up the puzzle and retreated to the space farthest away from him, plopping down comfortably on the ground, she began to examine the wooden square.

It was quite some time later before she heard footsteps and by the time she’d torn her gaze away from the cryptic square of wood, the Dark Phoenix was standing over her, offering a hand up. “Ready?”

“Yeah…I think. I couldn’t solve this…I don’t know what the puzzle is.” She placed it in his outstretched hand.

“That wasn’t one.” He tucked it inside her over-tunic pocket, and caught hold of her arm, helping her up. “I commend you on the ability to remain silent when you are thoroughly absorbed in another activity. I do appreciate it when you follow orders and that was quite excellently…followed.” His mouth twitched. “And we’ve spent too much time here already, at least to be on schedule for now. We need to be moving, so come along.”

Eira readily grabbed her bag, hurrying after him. “So wait a moment, it wasn’t really a puzzle? That was the puzzle? That it wasn’t a puzzle?”

“That wasn’t a puzzle to begin with.”

“Then why did you tell me it was!”

“Why did you take my opinion of an inanimate object and base your assumptions off of a single sentence with no fact to it?”

“Fact?”

“How do you know I was or wasn’t telling you the truth?”

“You weren’t?” Eira frowned. “Or you were?”

“A little of both.” His mouth twitched. “I did not lie, if that is what you are getting at.”

“You didn’t lie, but you couldn’t tell me the puzzle was fake?”

“It isn’t.” He reached into his pack and brought out the lumpy sock. “The pieces are in here.”

“Pieces?” Eira blinked. “Wait a minute…there was more than one?”

“I made them all available to you when I directed you to them.” He scooped out the handful and extended the cluster of wooden shapes toward her.

It took both hands to accept the ‘gift’ and Eira could only stare at them for a moment before she realized he was waiting on her. “Oh. Oops. Just a moment.” She trickled the puzzle pieces carefully into the pocket and hurried to catch up to where he held the branches aside for her to pass through.

“Solve it later.” He advised. “Watch where you’re walking for now.”

“Speaking of which…where exactly am I walking?”

“On a pathway.”

“Well, duh, I already know that, I mean like, where am I?” She blinked. “I mean, where are we?”

“Any particular reason you wish to know?”

“There has to be a reason?”

“Yes.”

“I want to know?”

“You are asking me or telling me?”

“I don’t know. Pick one.”

“Which one?”

“I just said I didn’t know.”

“Then excuse me for thinking that you truly do not need to know, so I am overlooking that particular question.”

“Too many particulars.” Eira muttered.

“What?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“For your sake, I will not ask you to repeat it.” He countered. “We need to be moving faster.” He hesitated and the glance thrown over his shoulder was aimed at her feet.

Eira instinctively curled her toes within the precious boots. She was not giving up on this one. “My feet are fine!” Her grip on the pack tightened.

He frowned. “Come here.” Eira inched forward. He spun his finger for her to turn around. She hesitated. “Eira.”

There was a loud sigh as Eira slowly rotated, biting her tongue to keep from blurting anything out loud. He reached over her shoulder and took the pack, and within a few minutes had it securely fastened to her back. He gave the straps an extra tug as he circled back around. “When I said faster, I meant it. Try and keep up for a few minutes, while I decide on a suitable means of transport.”

“Suitable means of what?” Eira scrambled after him as he took off again, at his usual brisk pace. “How fast are we talking about?”

“Faster than you’re going, that’s for sure.”

His voice was rather faint and Eira looked upwards to see him standing quite a ways away. “Hey! How’d you get there?”

“By walking.” He shifted impatiently as she caught up. “And I can already tell this is not going to work. Give me your hand.”

“Why?” But even as she asked, Eira was already extending it. She had begun to resign herself to the fact that arguing or questioning was merely a delay to whatever outcome he already had in mind.

“Take a deep breath.” He instructed, grasping her hand firmly in his. “When do you breathe, try not to think about it and take small, short breaths out of the side of your mouth. There will be several types of strain, the least of which is physical.” His eyes narrowed. “It is called speed-traveling and one of these days I shall explain it fully to you.” His free hand moved to this throat and touched a silver charm dangling from a jade cord.

The symbol was familiar, but Eira couldn’t quite remember what it stood for. A tiny tingling feeling traveled up her arm and in the following seconds, she understood-briefly-why he’d asked her to take small breaths.

It had to be the symbol for speed. No sooner had he finished speaking, when a powerful surge of energy rippled through him and then to her, there was a strong pull and then everything was blurring.

Eira was vaguely aware that they were quite nearly flying, as the scenery blurred into solid walls of green, gray and then blue at some point. Time was an entirely different thing, because as before, when he had taken control of her feet, it had all merged into a giant blank block of nothingness.

When her stomach began to growl, the blurring slowed and then he threw a question over his shoulder. “Lunchtime?”

Answering was virtually impossible, for the moment she opened her mouth, all the air was snatched from her lungs. In the moment where she thought she would die, everything stopped.

Dying was almost easier.

Eira slammed full-force into strong arms and something else which cushioned the fall. There was a polite cough and then she found herself lying on the ground, staring up into the midday sky.

“Breathe, slowly.” He instructed. “I am beginning to wonder what exactly they taught you at the basic training.”

“Nothing about this.” She gasped. It hurt to think. It hurt worse to breathe.

“So I see.” He tapped her forehead. Another tingle of energy ran through her. “You’ll be fine. The first time is usually the worst.”

“Usually?”

He almost laughed, there was an apologetic look on his face. “I suppose I should apologize again, I sometimes forget a few things…I was not aware that you hadn’t traveled by speed before.”

“I haven’t traveled by anything before.” The ache and burn in her throat was easing, slightly, though ever so slowly.

“You’ve traveled by transport and the old-fashioned way.” He chuckled aloud, this time. “Feeling better yet?”

“Yeah.” She winced. “Can I sit up?”

“You will probably feel better if you stay there for a few more minutes. I will give you that.”

“I’ll take it.”

“Good. Your second meditations will begin when those few minutes are up.”

“WHAT?”

“In a few minutes.”

“I’m hungry.”

“You can eat when you’re through.”

“I’m really hungry!”

“It will take time for your lunch to cook.” He countered. “I am trying to put together a suitable routine for your training, humor me. Meditations will help the time go more quickly.”

“More slowly, you mean.” She muttered. "I don't need a routine."

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that one either.” He said, cheerfully. “and I know you’re doing quite well now. Up.”

“Now?”

He extended a hand, tapping her leg with his boot. “Now is fine.”

“Only five minutes this time, right?”

“Good girl.” He slung his pack to the ground, beside hers. It had mysteriously come undone and was now resting neatly at the base of a tree.

A quick glance around revealed that they had stopped at another one of the circular green groves and ripe fruit hung plentifully from the limbs of several trees. Eira closed her eyes for a moment, thinking. She wasn’t sure if more fruit would satisfy her stomach.

“Something the matter?”

“More fruit?” She asked, plaintively.

He chuckled. “No. I would not ask you to live on fruit while enduring such a physically taxing journey.”

“What, then?”

“Meditations first.” He was calm, as he removed his cape and folded it, setting it on top of the pack. “Now, what must we do first?”

“We?”

“Focus, Eira.”

“I am, I am….um, right. Focus. A center! We need a center.”

“Close…two centers.”

“Two centers?

“Keep thinking…”

“Oh.” Eira bit back a smile, she stared upwards into the sky, moving about until she decided on a center in the clearing. “Center up there…and center in myself?”

“Quick study.” He congratulated. “Shift a bit to your left.”

“Why? I’m in the middle?”

“When you share a center, as in, more than one, the center must be…centered, between all parties.”

“Oh. I guess that makes sense.” Eira shuffled over a few steps, then squinted back up at the ceiling. “Right here?”

“There is good.” He settled down, cross-legged, sitting opposite of you. “Begin.”

“Now?”

“Six minutes.”

“Oops. Right.”

“Seven minutes.”

Eira bit back the retort, settling down. Lunch would be quicker in coming if meditations did not take any longer than absolutely necessary.

© Sara Harricharan

3 comments:

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I enjoyed reading this, especially the part about speed traveling. I often have dreams in which I can sort of fly/hover and zip around, so I had to smile at your descriptions. I felt like I was reliving a dream.

J.H. said...

__I’m glad to encourage Sara, you’re welcome. I write so much during the week, 85% of it stays in the vacuum of my hard drive awaiting publication. The other 15% reminds me why I spend so much time on the 85: to help someone else. I need to ‘give’ feedback just as much as you need to ‘receive’ it!
-Shame on you Sara, you know better than to switch P.O.V. in the middle of a story! Ha, ha, look at the fifth paragraph from the end. Suddenly it’s in 2nd person! I had to chuckle at that typo, I didn’t know ‘I’ was in this story? This plot suddenly got interesting!
+I agree with Sharlyn Guthrie, the speed traveling scene was uniquely enjoyable. Since the D.Phe. is the professed “master”, we, the audience, want to see him do some masterful things. Speed traveling fit the expectation. I kind of want to see him to do something masterful in every installment because the feel of the master-apprentice relationship is so familiar to that of Star Wars. You’ve given us their dialogue to more focus on rather than their displays of power for our imaginations to envision; in this particular installment, the imagination triumphs. If/when you edit this writing you might try to balance the two within each chapter.
-I said in the feedback on part 8 that this story lends itself toward a 1st person telling, and now I’m reiterating it. I saw that you want opinions about writing Eira’s story from this P.O.V.—DO IT! In your ramblings for this part, you say Eira is learning quickly, but she’s so stubborn it’s hard to be convinced of this. Show us what she’s thinking so I can take her side every now and then. Now to be fair, a closer 3rd person perspective would accomplish much of the same thing as far as giving the reader Eira’s thought process, how fast she’s learning and what she’s missing, while still maintaining good pace. It just depends on what you want to accomplish with this story.
? By the way, what do you want to accomplish with this story? It seems like you originally had in mind to just move two characters from point A to point B, getting more practice at writing; am I close?
-You started ‘and’ ended with Eira and the D.Phe. meditating—redundant. I realize that’s a key component in Eira’s training, and that the D.Phe. does it a lot, but you cannot fall back on that at the start and end of each chapter. You had my interest peaked with the cube puzzle. I knew it wasn’t a rubics cube, but it seemed similar. What could it have been? And there is your story. You made a good show of their dialogue, but I’m used to that now. Eira sees the master’s puzzle, spends the entire installment trying to figure it out, and in the end the D.Phe. doesn’t know how to solve it either! You give us dialogue, we see a different side to Eira, and we see there’s more than just meditation happening.

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Oh wow, I'm excited--TWO reviews? Yay! ^_^ Hi again, J.H.! It sounds like your writing is going well--I'm happy for that!

I had to reread the ending a few times to catch that typo--lol--I didn't mean to change the POV. I've tried to be careful how much "screen time" I give the DP, since the story was originally supposed to be about Eira and her encounters/adventures WITH him. I'll definitely make a note to balance out the extremes, some installments have more dialogue than anything, while others are scene-jumping through action phases.

For POV, in the past two installments, I've experimented with a few 1st person POV clips from Eira's POV and also been working to add some italics(i.e. her actual thoughts) in between, so she isn't such a 2-d character. Sometimes I tend to go overboard with the italics, so when I first started, I was trying not to do that. ^_^

You've definitely guessed it! My original intent was just to move them from the city to the mountains and let something happen in between. The writing practice has been great (though a little ridiculous sometimes), since I specifically write each installment on Friday or friday-night. I've also made a point not to cut word count on it (since it doesn't have a specific word count for FF) I can write more freely. Also, the characters are informally based off of one of my imaginary worlds and I wanted to see how readers would react to those sort of characters. It's been fun and interesting! Specifically though, for the genre of this serial, I'm writing it because I wish I'd had something like this to read when I was younger and looking for a good, clean piece of fantasy/adventure to read. ^_^ Ah, that's probably a bit more rambly of an answer than you asked for.

The meditation is one part of the story--that I didn't figure out until several chapters later. I ease off of it a bit, but it hangs around until we get to knives. Thanks for pointing out the redundancy, I didn't quite think of it in that light.

The puzzle is coming up again--specfically in the next few chapters. I'm aiming to wrap this serial up and get started on a new one before things get busy again. ^_^ I'm glad you picked up on the detail though, I had wondered whether to bring it back to mention, but now I'm sure that I will.

Thanks again for taking the time to leave such helpful feedback! It is incredibly encouraging--and I'm so glad to know someone is reading this mixed up experiment of mine. ^_^ I hope you have a great week! (happy writing!)

~S