Friday, October 30, 2009

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 13) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the talented Christina Banks @ her blog, With Pen on Hand. Click here to read and share more great fiction.

Author's Note: I don't quite have the energy to type as long a chapter as I would like, so this installment is fairly short. Barely the 1000 words, I believe I usually post. lol. Enjoy. I tried to put a touch of mystery in to make up for it. On a happy note, NaNoWriMo starts this weekend. WOOT!

Lunch was quite a satisfactory affair. Happily stuffed, Eira lounged against a tree, unable to resist a contented sight.
“Good lunch?” He asked, a slight smile playing around the corner of his mouth.
“Yeah.” A quiet burp escaped. “Really good…how’d you learn to cook anyway?”
“That is more necessity than experience.” He almost smiled. “Wash your dishes and keep them in your pack from now on, the river’s through there, we’ve been keeping parallel to it.”
“You had to learn to cook so you did?” Eira stretched forward, lazily, attempting to reach her toes. It was a lost effort that did not bother her as she yawned. “Let me guess, the river’s twelve steps ahead?”
He paused, deliberately for a moment, brow furrowed. “Actually…” He squinted towards the bush. “Probably fifteen…I forgot to count it for you, just a moment.” Scooping up the dishes and cooking pot, he headed for the bush. “Coming?”
Eira hurried after him. She watched, curiously as he placed one foot in front of the other and counted, hesitating on the fifteenth step. “Well?”
His eyes closed and then he smiled. “Fifteen. We’re right on schedule. Watch your step.”
“Why can’t you just zap them clean?”
“I am not so helpless or too proud that I cannot wash my own dish.” He snorted. “Besides, it’s a waste of energy and it is a good practice to personally care for your own things that contribute to your health and well-being.”
“Washing my plate?” Eira shook her head. “You lost me somewhere after helpless.” She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t think helpless has anything to do with it…I used to do that to mine all the time.”
“Yeah. It would drive Dana mad….she always fussed at me, because she’d have to do all her chores n’ stuff by hand and I would never have to touch anything.”
“Really?” The interest was quite plain in his voice. “I wouldn’t have pegged you for that.” He murmured absently. “Explains a lot though.”
“Dana is your friend?” He smoothly shifted the conversation to a new topic.
Eira hesitated. “Um…no.”
“Ahh…enemy?” There was a hint of understanding in his voice.
“No!” Eira stared at him in shock. “Where’d that come from? She’s my older sister!”
The eyebrows arched higher than she had even seen before. “I was not aware that you had a sister.”
“I have three.” Eira scowled. “And they’re all older and they all think they know exactly what’s best for me.” She tossed her head at the memory. “It’s like having four mothers!”
“I see. Too much…mothering?”
“Smothering is more like it.” Eira shook the little white plate, beginning to rub it dry with the hem of her tunic.
He threw a dry washcloth her way. “Please do not do that…it will wear it out faster.”
Eira looked down at the tunic and picked up the towel. “Whatever.” She happily swabbed the plate and held it up to the light with another yawn. “I am so tired, I can’t believe it.”
“Stow your things, I’ll be there in a moment.” He motioned for her to throw the cloth back. She did, watching him as he methodically wiped and stacked the dishes.
By the time he returned to the clearing, Eira was still stuck in the same sleepy state. “I am really tired.” She mumbled, another yawn coming through as she shouldered her pack, half-heartedly fumbling with the straps.
“Eira?” He appeared at her elbow, a look of concern on his face. “Are you all right?”
She sniffled for a moment, vision blurring. “I don’t know.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Tired.” The admission came out as a whine. “And my feet hurt.” The whine was working down to a drawl.
“I think you need to sit down.” He took her arm, guiding her down. “Sit, close your eyes and breathe as normally as you can.”
“I don’t know how to breathe normally.” The words were a whisper and her head rolled forward as her body went limp.
He sighed. “I was wondering…” He began. “Then again, I suppose here is as good a place to spend the night as anywhere.” Stowing the dishes in his pack, he returned to make her more comfortable, propping her up with a blanket and pillow.
Studying her for a long moment, he finally bent and tugged her boots off. Checking the soles of her feet. He sighed. He could see the symbols carved on the bottom, and judging from the depth of her sleep, she didn’t appear to be aware of them. It had needed the energy to remain as they were, soft and flexible. Another degree of puzzlement overtook him as he set her boots to the side and wrapped her feet in another blanket. “You puzzle me.” He told her, still thinking. “You should not have those…least of all on your feet…” he sighed. “If there was more to you than you have told me, perhaps it would explain, but this…?” He bit back the words on the tip of his tongue, afraid it would slip through her subconscious.
Moving away to pace for a few lengths, he suddenly stopped. “Of course.” A slight smile played around his face as he set up the night barrier. “That does explain some of this, though I am most curious to know more about you, apprentice. For now, I shall settle for stealing your boots. I simply cannot allow you to wear them for another day…you have no real idea what they are doing to you.” It didn’t take more than a mere flicker of energy to replace the boots with the usual standard wear, at least¸ the standard for his regular apprentices. The actual boots were tucked away in another one of his energy voids for safe-keeping and later examination. He cast another look in her direction as he began to form the webbing necessary for the shield. There had to be something else behind her, something that was making her stay where she was and to keep up with him.
His mind shifted gears as he mentally reviewed the original routine he had worked out for her. It would have to be adjusted now, especially since her body’s need for energy was so accelerated to the point where it began the conversion process within a half-hour. The very meaning of it was rather disturbing, but he pushed it away for later thought.
Now was a time he would enjoy, merely because it was his own. As much as slacking off would prove a later obstacle in establishing a workable routine, he needed the break and the time for himself more than he cared for her to know at this moment.
A silent ripple of energy wavered through the air. He felt the familiar pull, and a wave of regret washed over him. I’m sorry. I cannot come to you sooner. I will come. He promised. I will come…just not…as quickly as usual.
Politely ending the communication between it and him, he returned to the task at hand. Once the shield was up and running, he moved to the center of the clearing and settled down for a long meditation.
* * * * * *
When the morning dawned the next day, Eira woke with a stiff feeling in her shoulders that quickly reached her toes. She winced, wishing her eyes didn’t have to open. A sleepy smile stole across her face as she remembered fuzzy, hazy memories of a delicious meal.
Her eyes popped open in surprise when the rest of the reality sank it. “Aiep!” The exclamation was mild in comparison to the sudden change in panic, neatly accompanied by horror. “Hello?”
The clearing was empty.
It was enough to send her scrambling to her feet, hurriedly cramming the bedroll and pillow into the tiny sack. It mushroomed over the side, seeming to grow larger as her motions became more frantic. There was no trace of the Dark Phoenix anywhere. His pack was gone and of course, one could not tell if there had been a fire in the clearing before.
Eira bit her lip, unprepared for the sudden flood of emotions attacking her. Surely he wouldn’t have left her. She couldn’t have been that horrible an apprentice that he couldn’t wait to get rid of her and had simply left for-the thought was interrupted.
“I’d fold it, if I were you. It will fit when you do.” His voice was quietly amused and he had come up beside her, noiselessly.
Eira jerked sideways, staring at him for a moment. In the moment that passed between them, her brain decided to function once more. “W-where’d you go?”
“Shower.” He tilted his head back towards the river pathway. “Something the matter?”
“I-I’ll skip the shower…don’t feel like getting drowned this morning.” She swallowed. “You were just over there?”
“Yes.” He paused to look at her. “Is everything okay?”
She bit her lip, then nodded.
“Good. Then fold that…stop squishing it.”
Her attention returned to the object in hand and she mechanically preformed the required action. It was gradually stuffed into the pack in a smaller form and when she finished she sat on top of it, following his movements with her eyes. “Eira?”
She straightened. “Yes?”
“What’s the matter?”
“Care to elaborate on nothing?”
“I see.” He was quiet for a moment. “If you’re skipping your morning…drowning, can we go now?”
“Go? Now?” Her brain was fuzzing again. She stood, reaching for her back to realize two things. Her stomach growled and her feet hurt. The pack was immediately set down as she stared at her bare toes. “My shoes…”
“To your left.” He said, over his shoulder, digging something out of the ground. “Do hurry up, I have a feeling we should not stay here very long.”
© Sara Harricharan


Karlene said...

I very much like the relationship between these two. You've got a great story going on here.

J.H. said...

__Hi Sara. Sorry; this weekend I had the urge to quicken my pace a bit, so I’ve gone ahead read two installments and submitted reviews. I know this means you’ll have more “reply writing” to do and this review will see that it is extensive. Hope your summer writing schedule is taking shape nicely. Are you working on a publication? You mention NaNoWriMo in both notes and I thought, she has written/is writing a novel to be published. I didn’t see a publication project mentioned in any of your blogs. Simply wondering is all.
? This narrative is testing my patience like an anime. You’ve kept me in this forest with Eira and the D.Phe. since part 8. Five installments later, I’m still here. I realize this is a long journey they are embarking on, but I just don’t know why you are showing all of it? Is the journey itself more important than the ‘purpose’ of it?
? Why is the D.Phe. ‘just now’ learning that Eira has three sisters, and is “...most curious to know more about [her]” [par.36] instead of when he found her in the alley back in part 3?
? Hmm, interesting mystery; there are symbols on the bottom of Eira’s feet. No, I don’t want to know what they mean or how she got them, I want to know why the D.Phe. is “sighing” [par.35] and not gasping in unbridled shock like I did? You made it seem like it was nothing serious, if that’s the case then why has Eira been so resistant in exchanging her boots for the hiking boots he keeps offering her?
? Par.60: “The pack was immediately set down as she stared at her bare toes. “My shoes…” ” How does Eira not remember going to sleep with her boots on!? She was frantic because she didn’t see the D.Phe. around, you say. But if she’s overly concerned about switching out her boots, why wouldn’t that be the first thing to come to mind followed by, “where’s the Dark Phoenix?” Perhaps I might be confused as to why she’s so attached to her boots. Won’t you explain?
? “I’m sorry. I cannot come to you sooner” [par.40]. Finally, a hint as to what the D.Phe was in the middle of when Eira entered his life. Couldn’t this hint have been given earlier, seriously? Such a risk you took thinking your readers would read for this long to discover what it was!

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Ah--and onto review 2! Yay! ^_^

for NaNoWriMo, I'm currently working on finishing one story and polishing up another to submit to some novel contests this fall. We'll see how it goes. I do intend to be published someday in novel format, but currently I'm still in the revision stage with my WIP's! I wanted to get some good edits in first before even submitting to a contest--but it's hard to fit the time in between all the writing/family activities. This summer has turned out busier than a school semester!

I had to laugh about the line with the anime--I've been making a slot in my schedule to watch some new ones this summer. Currently I'm on the La corda d' oro/Golden String. It's quite fun for just spacing out and enjoying the story for the sheer fun of it! The jungle installments do go on for quite awhile, initially, I intended to keep them in there for quite some time--they are working their way from mtn A to, say, mtn H, traveling through B,C,D,E,F,G, in the meantime. The timeline needs quite a bit of work, I've got it highlighted in my notes, because mostly, it's fluff space--rounding out the characters and such. There's a half n' half reason for the DP making Eira trek through the outdoors though--for such a prolonged period of time.

The DP is letting her work some things out on her own--working up what to tell him when, and since information like that generally isn't important for a Training Master/League apprenticeship, it's not really an oversight. Though, now that you mention it, I suppose that bit of explanation was stuck in my head, rather than written out or noted in the ramblings. LOL. I tend to think faster than I write sometimes, I do fix this little bit of history though when they reach the city of Pietrasaan.

Hmm, well, the lack of reaction on the DP's part was because he IS the DP, his own talents are quite exceptional--besides his natural powers. He's used to seeing weird things with no explanation or reasoning, he's not surprised to see it, but he is worried, since they shouldn't belong/fit with Eira as she is. Yes, the boots are important--I work that out later, though I will make a note to move the scene up--thanks! It's easy to lose track of the small details when I'm so far ahead in the story, rereading my notes tend to mix me up a bit. Though that's probably from my own absent-mindedness

The boots explain themselves a bit more later one--but, Eira has a one-track mind. She's been desperately searching for the DP and now that she's found him, in spite of everything, she's worried to think that maybe she's done something wrong--and he's left. This thought overrides the fact that the boots she loves so dearly, are missing, because the thought for her boot is for a physical need, while for the DP it's more emotional--that comes first in her case and when the physical overrides the emotional(e.g. her feet hurt) she remembers. At least, that was my reasoning for that and a few more of her "clueless" actions.

Ah, yes. I have moved that snippet up a bit in my current edits, so that the DP's official business is put into play a little more. The reason it is late, is because I didn't originally intend for the story to continue, so I had to make it up as I went. I had figured I'd end it with their meeting, but--as you can see, it is still moseying along. #39 installments are a bit much though, so I'm hoping to wrap it up within the next few weeks. ^_^

So many good points in this review--thank you so much! I know it must have taken a great deal of time--it's very much appreciated, thank you!