Friday, January 8, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix [part 20] (Friday Fiction)

It's Friday Fiction time! This week, I am hosting Friday Fiction, a meme where you can read and share amazing stories in all genres from talented writers. McLinky is at the bottom of this post. Feel free to add your own link, or browse those already there. Don't forget to leave a comment--we all love them!

Author's Ramblings: This week I've tried to switch the POV for a bit, so we get to see what's going on with the Dark Phoenix in the middle of this little crisis. I've already rambled enough for today, so enjoy-happy reading-have a great weekend!

The Dark Phoenix flew upwards into the air until the chill began to touch him. The fabric of his cloak flared in the energies belonging to him as he realized the peace-threads interwoven within were pleading with him to stop. Weary, his gaze searched the landscape below, his mind methodically sorting and sifting to find a suitable place to land. Anywhere that would offer shelter and protect them for just a moment. The first few places that beckoned to him, did not sit well inside his head for longer than a moment, so he dismissed them and continued his hovering.

When one dark, semi-circle was almost glossed over, the Dark Phoenix focused and transferred his energies there. It was a matter of seconds before he reappeared on the ground, the dark energies of his natural element spiraling over his form until it was entirely solidified, and the body cradled within his arms brought back as well. At his feet, a tiny wrapped package appeared last, and remained there as he moved forward, deliberately keeping away from it.

He suspended her in mid-air for a moment, rifling through his pack for the necessary items. A thick, warm blanket, the usual utensils required to prepare a meal, and a vial of twisted black glass, corked with a wooden stopper. These were quickly set out, the blanket spread upon the ground, the utensils put to the side and the vial uncorked for the contents to be used.

Lowering the body to the blanket, he tempered his energies with hers, working quickly as necessity demanded, but careful as his reputation allowed. She had attempted to heal herself once and for it, the healing energy he’d originally imparted to her, was now a torrid, tangled mess.

He physically recoiled from the backlash that threatened to sever the fragile life-force protected within the broken body. It took a moment of quiet mumblings to himself and then to reach for the vial. He poured the dark, sticky liquid into one hand and then rubbed both hands together.

One thumbprint was made on Eira’s forehead, the second on her chin. He continued down the rest of her body, placing points on the tattered overtunic, and ripped leggings. They would provide the points he needed for his healing to leave her untainted.

“For once, Lord,” He prayed aloud. “I would ask, why would you make me so dark that I cannot even heal without a precaution like this? How can I justify death when I have the means to prevent it within me?” One hand stuck to her boot and he grimaced, reaching for the vial again and pouring it liberally over the stuck fingers until they were again of his own movements.

Sitting back on his heels, he took a deep breath, focusing until it was even and matched with the faint touches of Eira’s own rhythms. “This will hurt, apprentice…” He told her, the sadness settling over him. “And I am sorry.”

There was absolutely nothing at all that happened for entirety of one minute, exactly.

And then the man sitting so straight, quiet and calm, dissolved into a swarming mass of pure, black energy.

Like a swarm of insects, the energy moved, swift and vicious, streaming immediately to the points originally placed around the body. The central focus was the thumbprint, another the heart, followed by the other vital organs, with secondary consideration given to the shattered bones.

Eira’s body was completely enveloped for scarcely a minute, before patches appeared, her face, first, partially covered, and then a hand, followed by her feet. It was another handful of excruciating minutes before the energy had done all it could in the search and repair mission set before it.

Slow as wax dribbling from a tall candle, the darkened energy crept away and back to the indentation on the ground where the man had sat before. As swiftly as he had dissolved, now the little black energy speckles surged upwards to rejoin.

When he could breathe again, naturally, the Dark Phoenix turned aside to cough, spitting out the darkened globs of the sticky brown liquid his body had used as reference points. One hand flickered with the usual bauble of energy as he burnt the mass, and then smoothed a hand over the blackened spot to revive the grass beneath it.

A shudder passed through him as he moved to retrieve another blanket, this time, carefully tucked around Eira, checking her pulse and temperature. Relief was visible in the faintest glimmer at the corner of his eye. “You will be fine.” He told her, tucking the blanket around her shoulders and smoothing the short, spiky hair away from her face. She hadn’t had the time to fix it into a style of any sort and now it was a strange sort of bush surrounding her head.

He almost smiled, but thought better of it. Her hair had meant a lot to her and he’d been blind about the connection between the emotional link to her powers and the physical link to her civilian life it had held. Something about it had reached deeper than he’d taken the time to puzzle through, it was more to her than just a vanity.

Another sigh found its way through his lips as he busied himself about the camp, setting up the fireplace and calling on his various mental points to retrieve the necessary items for a suitable dinner. He allowed himself to splurge on this, for Eira’s sake. She would have to eat something when he woke her and then he would have more than enough quiet time while the healing ran its course.

Tiny needles of guilt punctured the poorly crafted composure he’d called to his aid. He’d been careless and neglectful, deliberately wrapped up in his own habits and needs to recognize the pressure he’d set on an apprentice, far too early into her induction. Such a realization did little to improve his already darkened mood, as he tried to force his mind to shift gears and focus on the threat instead.

It reluctantly obeyed as his hands busied themselves with peeling vegetables and cutting green leaves into the little bubbling pot. The rock creature had known him and their animosity had spanned several years, such meetings were commonplace but never as it had been only moments ago. Deene had never attacked any apprentice or student under the Dark Phoenix’s protection, much less ever acknowledged them during one of their trademark meetings.

Questions and answers swirled through his head as the Dark Phoenix finally forced himself to stop thinking altogether and focus on the mind-numbing potential of peeling the vegetables with his knife. It was simple, methodical and useful.

It almost worked.

***********

Eira felt the fog shifting around her, pulsing and jabbing in places too tender to even think about. Pain seemed to be surrounding her like a loud roar of a waterfall, as there was nothing to make it stop, nothing to dull the senses and nowhere-or rather-no way to run away from it.

Her mouth seemed to be sealed shut, for absolutely no sound was heard from them that Eira could discern, though not for lack of trying. Her head hurt in the worst way possible, as if it had been diced in pieces with a strong blade and the pushed through a strainer of sorts, leaving her brain in a tangled mess elsewhere.

Such a mental picture did little in the way of optimism, so Eira tried again, doing her best to make her mind work past the pain and focus on the outside. She could hear faint mumblings after a great deal of concentration, and within several long, agonizing moments, could pick out words from the humming sounds.

“…I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have let my own needs come before your plans. My selfish ways are…”

“…please…heal her…it wasn’t right…Deene was wrong…”

“…the darkness is coming so quickly…I don’t…this time…too…late…”

The conversation made absolutely no sense at all, and the harder she tried to hear, the more confusing the words became. Because there was nothing else to do and no other way to distract the pain, Eira listened.

She heard quite an assortment of everything, it seemed, until one sentence caught her ear and registered, along with the scent of something deliciously edible, wafting through her consciousness.

“…and Father, please heal her. Please help her to cope with the pain…and side effects…everything…”

The voice faded away as the sound of scraping and banging replaced it. Eira lay, helpless, allowing her mind to connect more dots together. He was…praying for her? The thought didn’t seem to mesh right with everything else she had of him in her mind, so she tried to push it away, as the voice suddenly spoke from directly above her.

“Eira? You’re awake…much earlier than I thought…how are you feeling?” Hands were behind her head and shoulders, placing something soft and puffy behind them. A most agreeable headrest, as her eyelids refused to open, but her lips tried to move to say something in her own defense. “You don’t have to answer.” His voice was surprisingly gentle, more so than she had ever remembered it to be. “But you do have to eat something…I’ve put you through quite a healing trance…it’s going to last for a few days.”

Days? No! The thought registered, followed immediately by the realization that she was powerless to speak out about it. Pain…can’t take the pain…

“Hungry?”

The delicious scent wafted just below her nose, so close, she could have inhaled the sample right there. A touch of coolness passed through her, as if a bucket of water had been thrown across, and the splashes had graced her face. Her lips moved and her eyelids popped open, a breath caught between her throat.

“I thought so.” The Dark Phoenix smiled, holding a spoon out. “Open, chew…swallow.” He instructed.

Her mouth opened and the spoon went inside before she could formulate a proper sentence. The taste was even better than the tantalizing scent teasing her before, as the warm soup sloshed around her mouth and then slid down her throat. The moment her mouth opened again, the spoon was there, refilling it.

Eira didn’t know when she was full or when the spoons stopped coming, she was only aware of him turning away, the dirty dish in hand. He was probably going to go wash it. The fog was creeping back and she was finding she couldn’t fight it this time. The temporary mobility to her motor functions was fading away as she tried and succeeded in touching his arm with one finger.

His attention immediately shifted to her, the dish forgotten as he captured her hand in his. “Eira? Talk to me…”

The coolness traveled down her arm, through her shoulder, up her through and out of her mouth. “Hurts.” It wasn’t what she was planning to say, but the reality of it refused to be silenced.

An expression of sorrow etched itself across his tired face. “I know. I’m sorry. I can’t make the pain go away…but you won’t feel it when you’re sleeping again.”

“No…” She tried to protest, but couldn’t progress any further than the single negative.

“Yes.” He corrected. “You need to rest…”

She tried again, searching her mind for some way to make him understand that she didn’t want to go back to the fog, not back into the dark shadows that seemed to be hovering around her. “No.”

“It’s that bad?” He toyed with her thumb, tracing the outline of her fingernail. The steady stream of cool energy trickled from his touch into her body, allowing the speech to come more freely.

“Die.”

“Ah.” His mouth twitched. “The fear of dying, yes?” He smiled. “You’re not going to die…not this time, anyway. You're going to be just fine, in a few days this will be but a memory.”

“Sure?” The one word responses were forced to work, for the new energy wasn’t helping the sentences to make much sense in her head. Eira felt her eyelids drooping, threatening to close.

“I’m sure.”

A strong jolt of cool energy made her eyes open again as her hand went slack in his. “No?” She tried again.

He shifted, slowly, taking care not to jostle her with his own movement. Reaching behind him, he drew his pack and set it on her opposite side, tucking his cloak beside him when finished. “You’re between me and anything or anyone else out there…with one exception.” The smile was faint. “And that exception isn’t one that will hurt you. I promise, I will not let anything else happen to you, I will not let anyone touch you. You have my word for this, alright?”

Tears tried to come, but her body was too exhausted for a luxury such as that. Instead, her nose burned and her throat ached, the usual signs of waterworks to come as the fog reached in, teasing a little harder. “Okay.”

“Go to sleep, Eira.” The coolness began to fade. “I’ll be right here…”

© Sara Harricharan.

5 comments:

Yvonne said...

I must have missed an episode here and there, but I like this. I wish we could "heal" our friends who are in pain.

Debra Ann Elliott said...

I liked the story...

BethL said...

creative sci-fi...Wow! her pain was tangible in this exquisite chapter... Great work, Sara!

J.H. said...

__Oh. Gosh. Just. ‘Gosh’. Do I dare even comment again after such an enormous communication gap? What’s up there, Miss Harricharan? I think I’ll call you “Harrie” this weekend as I finally enter into 2011 critiquing your writing. Yes, yes, all is pardoned concerning your enormous silence, but I figure I ought to have some fun with this, right? And, I’ve no problem being referred to as J.H., by the way.

+ Hmm…what to say? Well Harrie, the switch in point of view was enjoyable. I assumed the D.Phe. cared about Eira, but now you show it. He’s healing her, he feeds her, he sleeps beside her: “I promise, I will not let anything else happen to you, I will not let anyone touch you. You have my word for this, alright?” This line, third paragraph from the end, was especially strong. I like his character just a little more now.

- At the same time, switching P.O.V. like that makes me think of Stephanie Meyer rewriting the first ‘Twilight’ book from Edward’s point of view. You’ve got this huge—albeit, loosely cohesive—plot that Eira only understands part of; I wonder what the Dark Phoenix knows…? I seriously doubt you have it in mind to take this story that far, so I’d just vote against anymore point of view switching. Besides, your main purpose in disclosing the D.Phe’s thoughts was to reveal the relationship between him and Deene [par. 19], the rock creature, which completely ripped the thunder from the battle scene that I praised you last for finally including. You mean it wasn’t a desperate, survival-of-the-fittest fight!?! Why didn’t the extremely civil Dark Phoenix say anything? Even if Deene was under some kind of mind control and couldn’t respond, the fact that the D.Phe. tried to make contact suddenly increases the suspense, complicates our emotion toward Deene, stays believable, and tells the reader you have more twists in store if you keep reading. You follow me?

+ Let’s end on a high note. I brought a piece of your writing, “Star”, to read to my writing critique group and they used a term to describe it that I’m beginning to understand and I think I can apply here. Feminine. Yeah, quite an oversimplification considering the obvious. But opposed to a masculine style—action driven, controlling the thoughts of the reader by using fewer words to describe emotion and more to emphasize a point—I see what that term is aimed at. You definitely excel at evoking emotion.

“Questions and answers swirled through his head as the Dark Phoenix finally forced himself to stop thinking altogether and focus on the mind-numbing potential of peeling the vegetables with his knife. It was simple, methodical and useful.
It almost worked.“ [pars. 20,21] “

“It’s that bad?” He toyed with her thumb, tracing the outline of her fingernail.” [par. 45]

There’s a kind of power, that is, emotional emphasis, to the words you choose, it was said. I don’t know about that one. Your “author ramblings” make it clear you hardly have enough time to sleep, let alone carefully choose your “feminine” words. But I don’t mean to insult. Do you find this characteristic true of your own writing? Respond only if you want to, Harrie.

Sara Harricharan said...

I think I'm replying out of order to your comments, but I'm sure you don't mind--at least, I should hope not. ^_^

Hi again, J.H.!

The switch in POV's at that point in the story, was to help me find a better feel for the DP's character. Most of the time I do this by alternating POV's when I'm doing my character sketches. I figured I could turn this one into a chapter for the serial, so went ahead and did just that.

I did want to show the DP's reaction to Eira, rather than tell it in any other way. I wanted the reader to see that he has his own way of handling things and that it is not beneath him in any way to nurse someone back to health. Glad it came across on a positive note.

I'm sure you'll be happy to know that I make a conscious effort not to head hop/switch POV's like that when I'm writing longer pieces now. I simply spend more time in prep or work out my chari sketches separately to keep from muddling up things. Ah, the bit with Deene wasn't worked out until later. As the whole point of this serial had started out as writing practice, by the time I thought to implement a plan here and there, much less a plot, it was quite tangled up. Think of a giant ball of yarn and me attempting to knit from both ends.

I'll definitely see if I can 'fix' the suspense in the fight scene. It did turn out to be a huge letdown in context. After I did reach the end of this rather long, drabbly serial, I backtracked a bit and tried to make some sense of Deene. The week when he made his appearance, I didn't even have a clue what he was capable of--all of that was 'imagined' on the fly, a literal writing by the seat of my pants bit for that week. I'm afraid it shows quite obviously! >_>

Wow--thanks for sharing some of my writing--I'm amazed at that, it's another first for me. :) Hmm, feminine? I guess that's accurate. Most of the time when I am writing, I am aiming for some sort of emotional response from the reader, so I write towards that point.

LOL @ the author ramblings. That is quite true. I do hardly have the time to sleep, balance my schooling and my writing as well as every other thing that comes my way, but I had been writing for several years before I ever even thought to post something online. I put conscious effort into developing a sort of wistful nature into my words (or at least, that's my own interpretation of it!) and it is something that usually appears consistently in my work.

:)

Thanks again for taking the time! ^_^