Friday, April 2, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 30) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Karlene "KJ" Jacobsen @ her blog, Homespun Expressions. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Note: A bit of a rush again this week, but at least on time, how's that? LOL. Hints of the action coming up as promised and we've got a new layer to the mystery around Deene and Eira. I tried to keep this installment short, so Happy Easter! Have a great weekend and don't forget to leave a comment, I love feedback!


RECAP: Last week, the DP worked with Eira on a particular move titled, the Water Box and further exploration of her water powers. Time passes quickly, bringing them to the present. 

Passage of time was something Eira decided she wasn’t ever going to be good at. She lost track of time and nearly everything else as the lights around her faded and returned, a lightshow background she couldn’t enjoy.

They worked on her ‘water sports’ as the Dark Phoenix had dubbed it and she learned, by pure luck, how to form the Water Box for all practical purposes, a invisibility orb for use in the water box and out, along with channeling her rage when it came to being dunked.

The lessons were short, quick and to the point.

The practicing of them were long, painful and occasionally rather embarrassing.

Eira sound found herself taking note of the little quirks the Dark Phoenix kept around him, while developing a new perspective in regard to his unpredictable personality. There was very little she could do or say that seemed to surprise him, except for her occasional moments of hesitation when he could clearly see past them.


He was surprisingly more tolerant of her grumblings and muttering while she worked, than she could ever recall before. He was also more relaxed, moving with ease and grace lending another facet to his terrifying reputation, instead of the legend of sheer brute force. She was just beginning to see him in a different light altogether when he dunked her again for a misjudged block. “More to your left and less to your right.” He explained, while she shook the water from her hair and resisted the urge to kick him.

It didn’t work very well, but the dunking for being off kilter wasn’t minded as much as Eira surfaced, surprised to find herself laughing. The sound was strange, even to her own ears. His eyes seemed to laugh with her, even though the smile didn’t quite reach his mouth.

“I think we are through for now.” He announced, spinning her around and giving a push towards the riverbank. “Up and out you go.” He disappeared beneath the water, surfacing a moment later with the golden circlet in hand. “I trust you can do the reverse?” The water rose to a small fountain, lifting him to the riverbank so he could step onto dry land.

“Show off.” Eira flopped on the grass, staring up at the edge of the trees into the pale blue sky. It was much paler than the water and she tucked the thought away for later examination, attempting to focus on the meaning behind her master’s words. Her mind had grown accustomed to his questions without explanations and this was merely another example.

He spun the circlet in hands, albeit a tad impatiently.

“Just a sec…I wanna get this.” Eira sat up, grimacing at the dry pieces of grass, clinging to her wet outfit. A silly smile plastered itself across her face. “Dryness!” She crowed. “I can do the water box…on land…reversed…and it will be…dry?” That was the best she could explain the gibberish in her head. She reached for the towel left on the bank and shook it out, puzzling over the twigs and stiffness of it, before rubbing it briskly over her wet clothes.

He tossed her the circlet as she wadded up the towel under one arm. “Wonderful. I do believe we are actually making progress. Yes, it works very much in the reverse, however we do not call it a Water Box when we are on land.” His mouth twitched. “I do believe that also was covered in your assigned reading…you did do your homework, did you not?”

“The reading is boring.” Eira yawned, lazily trotting after him back to the clearing. “No likey, makes my head hurt.” It was much easier to randomly speak after their constant company for such an extended period of time, especially since he didn’t seem keen on correcting her slang. “Am I, like, going to flunk if I don’t do my homework? I mean, is it possible?”

“The reading is not boring unless you are daydreaming, there is a great deal to be learned from those pages and I do expect you to read them, because it will probably do a much better job of explaining, since you think my manner of speech leaves much to be desired in terms of your modern-”

“You’re doing it again.” Eira fell into step beside him, feeling another yawn coming on. “Okay, fine. I’ll read…but seriously…will I flunk?”

“You will have a grade reported, yes and it will be on your record, yes, and I suppose you could flunk, but there are examinations one takes before and after their apprenticeship. The assignments I’ve given you are in preparation for the exams you will have to take before you are officially accepted as my apprentice.”

There was a squeak and Eira tried to turn it into a cough. “Exam? When?”

“There is no hurry to take them, it is only done after the first six months of instruction, to assess that you are learning something, the preliminary exams will be given…oh, I don’t know, perhaps in the next major town? Pietrasaan is lovely, but I would rather you took the test elsewhere. You will have at least a week before we reache Pietrasaan.” He frowned, thoughtfully. “And I suppose I could allow another week’s warning before we reach an official city, so you could have a chance for review, but it is not a test that you can flunk, however, I would be extremely disappointed if your score was not at least, above average. Your mind is fascinating in the way it stores information, I imagine the exams would be quite easy for you, as long as your homework is completed.”

Eira swallowed. “Tests. Exams. Can’t flunk. Right.” She shook her head. “I’m not really that smart, but thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Who told you that?”

“What?”

“Who told you that you were not as intelligent as you appear?”

“Could we not go there right now?”

“Where would you rather-”

“Let’s do the water box thingy that isn’t the water box thingy.”

“The correct term is Sand Box.” Deene’s sullen voice reached their ears as they entered the clearing. He was sitting on the far corner, his book open in his lap, his face paler than ever, his pack beside him as a cushion.
“And I have tried not to interrupt, but please, Master Phoenix-” He gestured towards a large pile of kindling and a few furry mounds. “It has been quite some time and…I am not one tenth of the cook you are.”

Eira gaped at him for a minute, then back at the Dark Phoenix. Her stomach seemed fine, in spite of all the work and energy used. She frowned, another yawn coming on. There had to be something in the air, because the drowsiness was sliding over her like a thick, slimy substance. Her feeble protest was another attempt to swallow the yawn following the first.

“Sleep.” The Dark Phoenix gently pushed her in the direction of her pack across the clearing, next to his own. “I will wake you when the food is done.”

“Not really sleepy.” Eira mumbled, more for Deene’s benefit than anything else, because she was already heading for the comfortable spot she’d hollowed out for herself at the base of the tree. “Not really hungry either.” But the first statement proved false as she caught hold of her cloak, wadding it into a bundle for a pillow, curling up comfortably for the nap she’d been dreaming of. The towel and the circlet lay beside her, one hand still resting on the bundle.

***************

“Nine days, sir?” The respectful tone was barely there in Deene’s voice, evidenced only by the title attached to the phrase. “Over an entire week? Wasn’t that pushing things?”

“I would have preferred an even ten, but I did not think it was entirely fair to you, since, as you so eloquently put it, your culinary skills are lacking.” The Dark Phoenix retorted. “And I would expect to be a better judge of her limits than yourself.”

“She’s dead on her feet!” Deene snarled. “And sparking off energy all over the place? Couldn’t you feel it? It was choking me! How could you-? She can’t even-! All that time-!”

“And she was entirely unaware of the passage of time.” The Dark Phoenix said, smoothly. “I could have easily divided that time between the both of you, except for the fact that she is my apprentice and you are not. I do believe I left enough for you to amuse yourself.”

Deene growled, the sound deep in his throat, more menacing when accompanied by the darkened expression carved into his stone face. “Not nearly enough.”

“Ah, perhaps next time both arms and ears?”

The darkness lifted a fraction and the figure hulked over in stone, the book disappearing between the great stone legs. “I am sorry.” He grated, even though it did not sound as sincere as it could have been. “The reading was enough…and it was refreshing to stretch my legs a bit.”

“Ah.” The eyebrows went up and after a moment, the Dark Phoenix nodded. “It is your choice entirely to travel with us and mine to decide whether you should stay. I am allowing you to stay at present because it suits my purposes, I expect you to be worthy and responsible of this favor.”

A set of stone spikes sprouted from his shoulder blades, working up to a mohawk on his squared head. “I am trying-”

“You are not.”

“That isn’t fair!”

“I do not recall saying I would be fair.”

The growl of frustration brought a tremor to the clearing as Deene’s eyes flared white and then black. “I hate her!”

“And your point is?”

The frustrated growl turned to a painful, agonizing moan of stones being slowly rubbed together. “She’s clueless and weak! You don’t even know where she comes from. That energy…that red stuff…don’t you see it? Don’t you know what she is? What she could be? She doesn’t even know what she can do and she’s absolutely no-”

“Point.” The Dark Phoenix allowed, rising from his position near the now flickering fire and filled lunch pot. “I believe it is called the benefit of the doubt and it is entirely hers as it was yours from our first meeting. You were also unaware of your own limitation and capabilities.” He crossed the clearing and gently retrieved Eira’s pack from the ground beside her. Opening the flap, he rifled through the contents, a thoughtful expression on his face as he removed each item and set it beside him.

“What are you looking for?”

“Nothing in particular.”

“She’d pitch a fit if she saw that.” Deene said, sourly.

“And you would not?”

“Of course not!”

“Good. Because I already went through yours.”

Deen stiffened at once. “Really? When?”

“Yes. It was enlightening. The when is of no consequence, you already know that. You have known me long enough to remember such a detail.”

“O-of course.” He licked his lips. “Enlightening…how?”

“Would you mind explaining how you acquired a Golbard Dagger without a sheath?”

“It’s mine.” The scowl returned. “It belongs to me.”

“Apparently, since it is now in your possession, but I am more curious as to where you obtained the item?”

“It was a gift.”

“Was a gift…curious. Past tense. Gifted to you from…?”    

“Must you really-”

“I can guess if you like, but I know you would prefer to tell me on your own.”

Deene scowled. “The Fereks. There was a bit of a…problem…and I stepped in to help, in exchange for…something. They took my help and promised me that, but when the time came to present it, they didn’t really want to, so I took it before I left. End of story.”

“I thought your mother looked after the Fereks. Wasn't their tribe under her protection?"

"Only when it suits her."

"And you helped of your own accord?"

"Not that surprising."

"True...the knife, you took it?”

“It was rightfully mine!”

“But you took it?”

“Yes.” The words were pushed through stone teeth, grinding together to give off a slight powder.

“And there was no sheath?”

“What?”

“You took it yourself, yes? When you did so, was there not a sheath to accompany it? Golbard always include some sort of kit and proper wrappings for any weapon crafted by their gifted ones.”

“There wasn’t a sheath.” Deene scowled. “Is that bad?”

“Sort of.” The Dark Phoenix shrugged. “You see, most Golbard weaponry is registered to their legal owner, unless otherwise stated…this can be changed only when both halves of the set are together, namely, the weapon and the sheath. They have a protective mark upon them, which is altered when the two halves are combined.” He paused. “I am curious how someone managed to misplace such a beautiful knife…and conveniently forget how to retrieve it.”

“What are you saying?”

“Haven’t you felt them?”

Deene darted a glance over his shoulder, the eyes moving faster than the giant stone head swiveling to catch up with the rest of him. “I thought I imagined it for awhile, but it faded when you sent me in the opposite direction.”

“I was afraid of that.”

“Why?”

“They have tracked her since her arrival on Vanderoone. I do not like it.”

“Since the city limits?” The stone features scrunched together. “That isn’t right. That can’t be.”

“I am never wrong…not in these things.” The Dark Phoenix finally turned the entire pack upside down and shook it.

“Was the knife…branded?”

“No…and I have taken the liberty of confining its energy signal to your pack. Unless you use it, it does not exist at the moment.”

Deene swallowed. “Thanks.”

“You are welcome.”

“Was there anything else…in there?”

“Your father is tracking you with the bug attached to the left corner and your mother sent you a nighttime note.”

There was a rumbling sound from the rock titan’s throat and Deene finally choked out another feeble word of thanks.

“Which means that the tracers giving away our position, must be Eira’s.”

“Who’d want to track  her?” He scoffed. “She’s just a-”

“How many did you guess?”

“…about three? Hard to say.”

“I say…two.” The Dark Phoenix slowly repacked the contents in the pack and waved his hand over it afterwards. There was a flare of white-ish grey energy before a faint mark sank into the protective fabric. “I am also curious as to why they are after her, because no other solution is logical.”

“Logics?”

“Do not stress your brain over it, I would much more prefer for you to make yourself useful.”

“Doing what?”

“Patrols.” The Dark Phoenix surged to his feet. “I also have some business to conduct with the Tribal Elders at the mid-season commune-”

“No.”

“I did not even-”

“No. Way.”

“She will not even realize you are here.”

“I don’t care! I don’t want to babysit her!”

“You would not be babysitting…merely keeping an eye on her from afar. I will back before she wakes and…I would prefer that you run patrols in the meantime. Track. Hunt. And if you find the hunters, then you know how to reach me.”

Deene growled.

“And you will have breakfast, lunch and dinner precisely on schedule, until my return.”

There was a pained moan from the dejected rock heap. “Bribery.” He said, mournfully. “The worst form of bribery.”

“It is working, is it not?” The Dark Phoenix snagged a plate and filled it with stew from the pot.

“Of course.” Deene sighed, accepting the plate. “It always does.”

“Circle forwards and backwards. Keep an eye on her in the clearing if she wakes before I return. She should not venture far. Do not engage her in conversation.”

“I’m not going to yell at her.”

“It is not her I am concerned for.” With a half-smile, the Dark Phoenix whisked his cloak around his shoulders, drawing the hood up. “I will be back as soon as I possibly can.”

© Sara Harricharan

3 comments:

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

Look forward to you turning these layers and installments into a novel! Hugs, Rita

Hoomi said...

I've been scanning back through previous parts, looking for where I left off. I may just go back to Part 1 and read it from the beginning again, just in case I might have forgotten something important in the story.

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

@ Rita: Aww, thanks! I plan to, but for the most part, it's just been loads of fun to experiment with. Thanks for taking the time to read it!

@Hoomi: LOL, there shouldn't be too many plot bunnies in between, I've been working through the most recent installments to help with those who don't want to read the entire chunk of it. ^_^ Thanks for taking the time to skim through, it's morphed longer than the Raising Rachel bit. ^_^