Friday, April 23, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 32) [Friday Fiction ]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Julie A. @ her blog, The Surrendered Scribe. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: This week's installment is really rough--I have been asked to post it anyway(This one's for you, Brit, I won't skip this week on your account! Thanks for the encouragement! :-) so, please excuse my lack of detail and other nitpicks. I've only read it over once and am posting it as is, because of the Western Lit Papers I must finish writing. *sigh* Friday Fiction is SO much more enjoyable than homework, but alas, both must be done and finished today. So, as my finals start up--here's something to tide you over until I can get a chance to really work on this story. I've tried to swap POV's a bit, to see a little from the DP's side and then from Eira's. Happy reading and have a great weekend! Enjoy! 


RECAP: Last week, Eira awoke to discover two familiar strangers from her past, bent to taking her back to a nightmare. She fought them off only to lose consciousness, leaving her open and vulnerable in the jungle clearing. Deene arrives to see what's going on, as Eira's mental cry for help summons the Dark Phoenix from the depths of the jungle.

“Thank you, Muribus.” The Dark Phoenix tilted his head towards the jungle chief. “I do appreciate your help. I do not like the feeling that is traveling with us at this time. It’s as if something is…hunting….”

“Have you filtered the intent?”

“Harmful intent.” The words were spoken quietly. “I don’t like it.”

“Neither do I.” Chief Muribus nodded, rising from the stone seat at the end of the gazing pool. “Thank you for sharing your concerns, I will speak to my people.”

“Thank you for helping.” The Dark Phoenix smiled, the reflection blurred in the pond as the water rippled restlessly, a hint to the changing thoughts of the Cheif. “I do not like the restlessness of the water.”

Chief Maribus paused, casting a glance over one shoulder as he started down the path. “It will settle…I will spend the night here.” He frowned. “It will settle…as soon as I’ve the time.”

“Are you sure?”

“Quite certain.” There was a quiet air of certainty around him as he moved forward.

The Dark Phoenix followed, with another glance backwards. The water still moved, but slower now, than before. “I would appreciate an update…?”

“Of course.”
The Dark Phoenix fell into step beside his friend, reaching out mentally with his energies to search for the source of unrest. He could feel the pull of the signatures following them, but couldn’t discern more than that.
There seemed to be two distinct energy signatures, separate from what he’d assumed from before. 

He frowned. He’d traveled too far in search of a friendly tribe. A sigh bubbled to the surface and he reached forward, to touch the Chief’s shoulder.

Chief Muribus turned, slightly and smiled.

That was all the Dark Phoenix needed. The cry for help had snaked through his carefully ordered thoughts and smashed through his peaceful mental barrier with an urgency he’d never heard before.

EIRA!

He flew through the jungle, a blur of pure darkness. Eira’s cry for help had been muffled in the back of his mind, because he hadn’t thought anything would dare to venture past Deene. The fact that it had pierced his consciousness with such force was cause for worry enough as he drew deeply on his own powers to speed his travel.

There was the faintest touches of a headache as he neared the clearing, slowing to an abrupt halt outside the circle. A quick look around for Deene was pointless, because the skinny titan was nowhere in obvious sight.
“Wonderful.”

The word was muttered with a mixture of disgust and resignation. Parting the greenery, The Dark Phoenix slipped inside the clearing, his energies sparking off wildly as he stepped through.
It was empty, with the exception of Eira sprawled on the ground and Deene sitting a few feet away, scowling at her.

"Eira!" He moved forward as Deene scooted away, muttering a dark 'hello'. Checking her pulse and then scanning her vital energies, he straightened her twisted arms and legs, brushing some of the grass from her clothes.

“Do I want to know?” The Dark Phoneix asked, kneeling beside the apprentice. He could not sense any immediate danger and reasoned that the event she called him for, had now passed. “Or did you see it happen at all?”

“It wasn’t me!” Deene backed away, one hand already halfway to his throat. “I swear! It wasn’t me!”

“I didn't ask if it was you, because you would not be standing there if that were the truth. Where were you?”

The blush took its time in painting itself across his face. “Up there.” Deene looked to the side as he pointed towards a tree with one finger.

The Dark Phoenix followed the line of direction and then stifled another sigh, guessing the need for taking up residence in a tree. “Sleep well?”

“No.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know!”

“Did you see anything?”

“No.”

“Sense anything?”

“An earthquake.”

“Here?”

“Where else?”

“Point.”

“I don’t know what happened…honest!”

“All right. Thank you.”

Deene hesitated, shifting uneasily on his feet, keeping a healthy distance from the cloaked figure examining the girl on the ground. “That’s a lot of energy.”

“She screamed.” He said, simply. “Did you hear her?”

Deene blinked. “Screamed? When?”

“I was hoping you could have told me…but…you didn’t hear anything?”

“No…nothing. Honest…I was sleeping…I was tired, really…nothing changed, I thought a nap wouldn’t hurt and then-”

“How long?”

“I…set myself up for an hour.”

“How high?”

Deene shrugged. “Close to the top…enough to see around.”

“But you didn’t see anything?”

“I saw the inside of my eyelids. They were nice and dark.” He snapped, sarcastic. “Of course I didn’t see anything!”

“Just checking…take a lap around the circuit. Look for anything that doesn’t match.”

“Really?”

The Dark Phoenix turned to look at him. Fisting one hand, he touched it to the left of his shoulder and then pointed out to the right. “Titan…track.”

Deene’s eyes flared with a dull gray energy as his skinny frame hulked over into the giant rock form of his true nature. “Track?” He whined, a grating, distorted sound. "Hunt?"

“Track. No hunting.” The Dark Phoenix repeated the gesture. “Go! Now!”

The great stone head gave a tipsy-jerk of the head, launching itself from the clearing with a barely muted roar.

The Dark Phoenix watched him go and finally released the sigh. “That was excellently done, Eira.” He murmured. “How you managed that, I am most curious to know.” He paused in his energy revival to cast a visible web of energy around the clearing.

Thin lines of smooth, light blue came to life, covering the ground with a neatly proportioned grid.

He almost smiled, throwing another orb of sky-blue energy towards it. “Impression replay.”

With a quiver, the energy orb split into three smaller balls, spreading out to form the outlines of three people. The shorter, feminine shape moved across the grid to stand beside a tree. The other two shapes took on a muscular appearance, with differing heights, moving to stand on the far end of the clearing.

“Play.” The Dark Phoenix murmured.

The figures moved together with the occasional flicker, showing the two shapes approaching Eira and then flickering out to nothing.

He frowned, attempting to restart the replay, only to have it skip ahead to show the smaller, Eira-figure strangling the taller of the two with her energy before the replay flickered off again.

The frown deepened as he waved the energies away. “Map…” He murmured, sending out a silvery-white bolt of energy as the sky-blue threads returned to him. Immediately, three circles of white footprints flared to life, accented in between with a handful of red ones. The larger footprints were highlighted in dark blue, moving in straight, direct lines.

“Four people?” He muttered. “That can’t be right…”

His attentions returned to Eira’s unconscious figure, bathed in a soft-green glow as he used his gifts to coax her healing orb to speed up the process.

It took more time than he’d anticipated, so he moved around the clearing, checking the fallen stock pot, and measuring the three burnt circles in the grass. A rather disturbed feeling settled over him as he indentified the circular energies as belonging to the Whisper Realm.

The red footsteps, he traced, easily able to indentify the energy as Eira’s and the method for which she used it. He checked on her again and then kept a moment of silence, to hear of Deene’s patrol progress.

There was no answer, so he returned to the waiting game, finally taking up pacing from one end of the clearing to the other. Something had drained her powers so deeply to the point, they had begun to siphon off her life energies as well. Such a shock to the nervous system had hindered the ability for the healing graft to work with such low reserves.

When she stirred, at last, he made himself wait, standing on the opposite end of the clearing, with her back to him. Her first reaction was something he was most interested in witnessing.

*****

Eira sat up with a jerk and a gasp, struggling to catch a full breath. The energy that had so easily helped her sit up, faded away to a heaviness, weighing her down to the point where moving her finger was a chore.

No…

The thought registered as she dared to take a look around what she could see of the clearing. The three circular burns in the grass were the most obvious detail along with the fact that it was empty.

Exactly as it had been before.

A shudder passed through her, the shaking forgotten for now. Fatigue was slowly crawling through her body and tears of exhaustion and frustration chose the moment to make themselves known. A loud sniffle came next, a strange sound amidst the usual jungle noise.

Her hand automatically fisted as she focused and managed to lift it halfway into the air, aiming for the side of her throat.

Cool fingers wrapped around her wrist, stopping the hand before it could reach her neck. “I’d really rather you didn’t.”

“Master Phoenix!” The words came out more as a shriek than a gasp, her limbs struggling to move, to convey her surprise.

The result was a tangled scramble a few inches away, her wrist still in his hand.

“How are you feeling?”

“You came back! Where were you?”

“Busy.” He helped her up. “The side effects will wear off in a bit, you need to keep moving.”

“I can hardly move at all.” Eira coughed. “And I feel awful. Where were you? Why did you leave?”

“I had some business to take care of. I left Deene here. What happened?”

“Deene was here?” Eira straightened as best as she could. “Where? I didn’t see him!”

“That was the main point…he was supposed to be…patrolling.”

“Patrolling? For what? What’s going on?”

“Your side of the story first.” He turned her around, tapping her right shoulder. “Three circles in the grass, a tremendous amount of influential energy in the air, a few other things I won’t mention, and a great deal of questions I was hoping you could answer.”

Eira tried to laugh. “Questions? What kind of questions?”

“The kind that might help in piecing together what happened here. What happened?”

“Why don’t you ask Deene?”

“Because I want your version of the story.”

“He probably had a better view from wherever he was hiding.”

“You didn’t see him?”

“If I saw him, why would I want to know where he was hiding?”

“Probably the same reason you haven’t answered my original question.”

“And that would be…?” Eira hedged. “My head actually hurts a lot and-”

“Ah, of course. I should make a note of that…” He frowned. “I’ll take the memory instead, can you isolate it?”

“WHAT?”

“The memory, Eira.” He said, patient. “If you head is hurting, which I don’t doubt that it is, I’d rather not strain you by requesting a verbal report. Just isolate the memory from where you can remember and I’ll sort through it myself.”

“M-memory? I…uh…I…was sleeping…I didn’t really, um…you  know…remember much.”

“There’s an earthquake, three burnt circles on the grass and you slept through the whole thing?” Deene snorted, stomping through the bushes, his titan form sloughing away as the greenery rubbed against him. With a shake all over, the last bits of stone crumbled away as Deene moved to join them. “I don’t see anything, sir.” He stopped a few feet away, wary. “Nothing…as far as I can tell…there were two…men…they came up to here…and poof!” He waved his hands. “Gone.”

“Nothing beyond that?” The Dark Phoenix frowned.

“No….sir.”

“Very good, Deene. Thank you. Eira…the memory?”

“I…I can’t…really…I was sleeping…I woke up…nothing happened.”

“Two men…three circles?” Deene snorted. “You call that nothing?”

“I don’t remember!” Eira wailed. “I don’t! I was sleeping…I woke up…the two men…attacked me. I tried to fight them…and that was it. My head hurt, things went fuzzy and I blacked out. End of story.”

“They attacked you?” The Dark Phoenix turned to look at her, deliberately. “After you woke up?”

“Y-yeah.”

“Both of them?” Deene clarified. “They didn’t try to…ambush you or something?”

“They tried…but I guess I was…too quick for them.”

“Did you hear them?”

“What?”

“Did you hear them, Eira? You said you were sleeping, what woke you?”

An expression of confusion showed plainly on her face. “I-I don’t know…I just…woke up.”

“Nothing…no one woke you?”

“No.”

“Where did they come from? How did it happen?”

“I told you already!” Eira shrank away from his hand on her shoulder.

“Left or Right?” He asked, smoothly, waving Deene to one end of the clearing and moving to the opposite end. “Were they split up? Did they attack you together or…?”

“Together…that side.” She pointed towards Deene. “I scared them off…I don’t think they’re coming back.”

“How do you know?” Deene scowled. “And you couldn’t scare a-”

“Thank you, Deene.” The Dark Phoenix interrupted. “We’re going to have to move a little quicker than I wanted to, but I think we should be fine.” He frowned. “As far as I can make out, there was two men—as you said, Eira—and whatever you did, they disappeared, but there are three circles on the ground here…and I can sense Whisper Energy. That is not a good sign at all.”

“Why? What’s the big secret going on with-”

“Someone has been tracking us.” He said, bluntly, gauging her reaction.

A blink. A swallow. Then licking her lips. “Someone?”

“Or something.” He amended. “It isn’t from Deene…and I was on time with the last bit of League business, so they shouldn’t have anything after me, which leaves you.”

“M-me? I wouldn’t have anything-”

“I already checked your things…no one attached any kind of tracers, so the problem is a little more…than I anticipated.”

“What things?”

“We’ll have to reach Pietrasaan today.”


"What things did you check?"

"Not now, Eira. Deene, you did-"

Deene’s head snapped up at once. “Sir? I can’t-”

“I’ve errands for you instead…we’ll meet you on the other side of the mountain, if you still feel like tagging along.”

“Of course..anything-”

“Check my mail, messages and the house. Talk to Eunice if you see her. Don’t touch what you shouldn’t. Retrieve Eira’s League records for me—and don’t use the communicator until you’re absolutely finished with everything else. I don’t want to leave any kind of trail or traceable pathways, understood?”

“Yes sir!” Deene gave a snappy salute, his sulky nature giving way to a spirit of eagerness. “Does this include dinner?”

The Dark Phoenix gave him a look, but then nodded. “Of course…don’t overdo it. The expense account is for emergencies and necessities. Nothing beyond that.”

“Which means food and no toys. Yeah, I know.” Deene moved to stand in the center of the clearing. “Can I go now?”

The slender black stick materialized, spinning down into the open hand of the Dark Phoenix. “Safe travels.” He murmured, tracing a wide oval in the air and setting it with a bolt of energy. “It’s a slow warp.”

“He means fast.” Eira mumbled, watching as Deene dived headfirst through the swirling portal and it closed immediately after him. “What’s Pietrasaan and what’s the rush?”

“I need to file an official report and it’s also the closest fortified city with people I can trust.” He frowned. “and one of the main reasons for your incomplete disguise is on account of a particular person I need you to meet inside that city.”

“Who? For what? And in case you haven’t noticed, just my hair…and baggy clothes, don’t exactly make for a convincing-”

“I will fix that later. We need to move…how are you feeling?”

“Fine! I feel perfectly fine! What’s the-oh.”

“Yes. Oh. I am glad you are feeling better…shall we?”

Eira snatched up her pack from where she’d tucked it behind the tree and followed her master out of the clearing and onto the dirt path. “What’s Pietrasaan like? Why do I need a disguise? Or am I not allowed to ask?”

“You can ask.” He murmured, quickening the pace. “It does not mean I have to answer.”

“Lovely. So why?”

“You have heard of the Queen of the Rangana?”

“What?”

“I thought so.”

“She lives in Pietrasaan?”

“No…it’s just one of her favorite places.”

“I can’t go there.”

“You do not have a choice.”

“She’ll kill me!”

“She doesn’t even know you-”

“But I know her!”

“You know of her, there is a difference.”

“Master Phoenix!”

“Yes, Eira?”

© Sara Harricharan

5 comments:

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

This is my third week, and you have pulled me right into the story. I really, really want to go back and read the previous chapters. I love you writing! I am glad you didn't skip today! Hugs, RIta

Yvonne said...

Great characters, Sara!

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

You make your characters very believable, and their dialogue draws the reader right into the story.

Bear said...

You really do an excellent job of smoothly blending all their different ways of traveling and mental abilities, etc. into the storyline, making Bear feel their reality and way of doing things. That's a special writing ability.

Julie Arduini.com: The Surrendered Scribe said...

Wow, and you think this isn't a good writing week for you? I loved this, very engaging, especially the dialogue and character interaction. I'm glad you participated and did your homework, of course :)