Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 37)[Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the wonderful Joanne "JJ" Sher over at her blog, An Open Book. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: Sorry for this post being so incredibly late--this has been one of those weeks where you want to tear your hair out--and then scream. Too much going on and not enough time to smooth out the wrinkles. Anyway, I've made this installment mostly tagless dialogue, to help speed the story along a bit. The DP's dark nature has surfaced...playing out a bit to his 63%...Hopefully our heroes will be out of Pietrasaan by next week and I can bring this adventure to a nice ending. ^_^ I've got some ideas for the next serial and a few more short pieces that might pop up before then, I'll have a poll up and running soon, so y'all can vote if you like--I'll announce it when I get a moment to breathe. This week's installment covers the end of day two and the morning of day three in Pietrasaan. Enjoy the read and have a great weekend! Don't forget to leave a comment--I love all feedback! 

RECAP: Last week, our heroes in Pietrasaan visited the Elemental Casper, Nimbus, also a blacksmith of the Golbard Armory. Eira's powers were tested and the DP learned several new things about her mysterious past.

“You didn’t have to make me work so hard for it.” Eira grumbled, generously drowning her cereal crunchies in milk. “I haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday!”

“You were fine.” The Dark Phoenix said, calmly sipping yet another cup of tea. “And your footwork needs work…you’re faster in the water than you are dry land. Your reactions are too slow, you have a lousy left hook, but decent concentration.”

“Decent?” Eira spluttered. “I was hungry! How can anyone concentrate on an empty stomach?” You didn’t have twist my arm about it…my footwork isn’t that bad…and I hate water…what does that have to do with anything!

“Are you finished yet?” Nimbus appeared at her elbow, a clipboard in hand, mild scowl painted across his face. “That’s your fifth bowl and I really have more important things to do today than researching your test results.”

“What results?” Eira shoveled another spoonful in her mouth. “And I’m still hungry, I—whoa! Hey!”

Nimbus caught hold of her ear and gave a pull towards the inner room. “Up. Follow. Now?” His grip tightened as she was unsteadily jerked to her feet.

“Hey! My cereal?” Eira twisted away, not entirely annoyed as she triumphantly managed to grab the dish, stumbling awkwardly behind him.

His answer was a raised eyebrow as he left her in front of the examining table. “Up. Sit. Stay.” He tapped the surface with two fingers. “I’ll be right back.”

Eira shrugged, setting the bowl down to hop up and then returning to the soggy contents. Rats. I forgot my spoon…oh well…it’s probably soggy enough to drink…yum!

Her happy slurps drew the attention of her sulking mentor as he poured another cup of tea from the steaming teapot, before crossing rooms to stand beside her. His expression was interesting from behind the steam wafting up to his face, as black energy seemed to flicker through his body.

“What other tests do you need?” Eira wiped her mouth on one sleeve, offering a happy smile as she set the empty bowl beside her.

“Placement and ranking.” Nimbus grunted. “And it won’t hurt.” He rolled away from the console to the table, an assortment of colored tubes and a needle in one hand.

Eira scrambled to her feet, standing on the farthest edge of the table. “Nuh-uh! The last time you said that…that hurt…” Her free hand clenched into a fist. “And I hate needles! There is no way you are getting that, anywhere near to me!”

“If he says so, you do not have a choice.” Nimbus sighed. “Benjamin…? Would you please…? I do not have the time to complete this and your weaponry to the best of my ability in such short-”



“I really do not have the time for this-”


“You know…you are going to pay for that.” The Dark Phoenix said, mildly, crossing the room to stand beside her crumpled figure. “Generally, it’s best not to take on an elemental casper by yourself—especially if he’s a bit upset with you.” Reaching down, he caught hold of one shoulder and hauled her upwards. “I am guessing your aversion to needles is similar to knives…they puncture the skin, cause pain…and can also cause death, correct?”


He chuckled. “You could have asked nicely.”


“The needles are the fastest way to determine what levels and rankings your powers have. Primaries, secondary…that sort of thing. It saves Nimbus at least a half-days work…I couldn’t possibly call myself his friend if I subjected him to-”

“Please Master Phoenix…please?” She licked her lips. “I-I really don’t like needles…please…I beg of you-”

One finger rested lightly over her lips. “You do not have to beg…asking nicely would’ve worked.” He sighed.
“Nimbus…I will take care of your business tonight…and use the other method, please?”



“Now I have your headache.”

“Wonderful, I was wondering where it’d gone.” The smile did not register beyond the smirk lurking in his features. “Tell you what, I’ll leave her here with you all day, so if you need anything at all, you can ask her and I’m sure she’ll be happy to answer any questions you have to the best of her ability. Right?” The hand holding her up, tightened meaningfully around her shoulder.

Her head bobbed quickly. “Questions. Yeah. I can handle questions.”

“Good girl. I have work to do…so I will leave you here in the very capable hands of Nimbus…please be nice.”

“Where are you going?”

“Business.” He shrugged. “Nothing to trouble yourself with.”

The sounds of cheering and explosions erupted on the street.

Eira jumped. “What was that?”

“Festival.” Nimbus griped. “I can’t believe they started already.”

“Festival?” Eira brightened. “That sounds like fun! Can we go?”

“There’s a festival?” The phoenix perked up. “Which one?”  He frowned. “And no, you may not.”


“I don’t know…they’re all the same to me…” Nimbus muttered.


“If you want to go shopping…fine, the booths should be open and I’m sure the registrar will still be at the city temple. Have fun.”

“I think I will.

“Shopping?” Eira waved a hand in front of his face. “Shopping’s really fun. In fact, I’m sure that-”

“I am. You’re not.” The phoenix tapped her head. “Your knapsack is over there…I’d suggest you study the assigned readings…you’ll have to take an entrance exam to the league to qualify as an apprentice. I’ll register you officially here and when we reach the next city under league law, then I’ll arrange for you to take the exam—which could be as soon as the day after we leave here. I’ll warp in and out, so I want you to make the most of your time here and study.”

“Study?” Eira yawned. “That’s not really hard, all I have to do is absorb the books and-”

“Without using your powers.”


“Using your powers here in this city is extremely dangerous. Do not, under any circumstances, use your powers. Am I making myself entirely clear, apprentice?”

“I can’t use my powers…at all?”


“And I have to stay in here and study with…him? Why?”

“I seem to remember something about losing an entire week’s worth of free time.”

“What? Oh no…no, no, no, no!” Eira glared at him. “You can’t do that! I’ve already…I haven’t had any spare time, that ran out a long time ago!”

“Really, how?”

“I haven’t had any spare time at all…I’m always doing something and I’m always-”

“I said it would cost you a week’s worth of free time, I didn’t tell you how much time…or when it would be put in effect.”

“That’s…that’s cheating!”

“On the contrary…it isn’t. That, is entirely at my discretion…and I do not want you wandering about this city. It isn’t safe.”

“I can take care of myself!”

“It’s not you, I’m worried about.” He scoffed. “Books. Knapsack. Study…stay. I’ll be back.”

“When?” Nimbus murmured. “

“When I feel like it.”


Studying takes forever. I really hate studying. And I’m tired. Really, really tired.

Nimbus’s shadow fell over the page as he stood beside her corner. “When you’re through with that page, I’ll need you to move for a bit. Take off your shoes and socks, and put your feet in here.” He waved towards a water-filled container. “The sooner you get around to it, the better.” 

“Why?” Eira’s head snapped up from the giant textbook. Any distraction was welcome at this point. “What for?”

He held up the colored vials from before. “The results will take much longer, but I can work around them.” He scowled. “and I would just as soon get this over with. How long as he been like this?”

“Hmmm? Who?” Eira wrestled one boot off, the textbook forgotten as she yanked her sock off, stuffing it inside the boot.

“Benjamin. Your esteemed Master Phoenix. How long has he been like this?”

“Like how? Grumpy? I don’t know…since yesterday, I guess.”

“Not like grumpy…that’s normal for him. I mean like this…he’s getting shorter, or haven’t you noticed?”


“He’s lost at least two inches with your happy stunts since he’s arrived.” He scoffed. “Don’t tell me, you haven’t noticed?”

Eira gulped. “S-shrinking?” She shook her head. “N-no…that’s too weird.”

“Ah…I see, so he didn’t tell you.”

“There’s nothing to be told…I mean…what are you talking about?”

“I’ll try something a little different then, what are the two of you doing out here?”

“I don’t know.” Eira tip-toed over to the container, gingerly testing the water with one toe. “It’s cold.”

“Of course it’s cold, I wouldn’t have a decent reading otherwise.” He frowned. “Both feet, not one toe.”

“I know, I know…” She stepped into the container and then eased down into the nearby chair. The textbook cradled in her arms was now spread open on her lap. “Why don’t you ask him if you want to know that bad?”

“Hmm?” Nimbus began to open the vials and pour them into the water. “It isn’t that simple. I’m just surprised you didn’t notice…and you didn’t even ask yourself.”

“I didn’t know anything was wrong.”

“Of course.” He sighed. “About how tall was he when you first met?”

Eira shrugged. “I dunno…he was a lot…shorter than I’d expected…about shoulder height, I guess.”

“Shoulder height?” Nimbus turned to look at her. “Hmmm…that is bad.”

“It is? Why? What are you talking about? What’s going on?”

“Shouldn’t you be studying?”

“You can’t just ask me pointless questions like that and then tell me to study!”

“If the questions are pointless, then why are you concerned?”


“Study…I need peace and quiet.”

“Kinda hard to find peace and quiet with all that noise out there!” Eira shook her head. “Don’t you have a soundproof room or earplug or something-” The noise abruptly stopped as a fine mist filled the room.


“Uh…yeah.” A tiny blush appeared. “Thanks.”


“er—right…studying now.”


“Is she sleeping?”

“Peacefully, I think.”

“You think? What’s peaceful about sleeping on-”

“She has a blanket and a pillow, which is more than what you left for her.”

“Did the dyes come out?”

“They’ll wear off by the end of the week.”

“Did you tell her that?”



“Where were you all day?”

“Taking care of business.”

“She couldn’t keep her head in a book for more than five minutes and she’s about as clueless about you, as you are of her…and you were out taking care of business. Did it help?”

“If you have something vaguely important to say, Nimbus…please, do say it. I’d much rather that you said it to my face, rather than insinuating-”

“Shut up, Ben! I don’t have the energy to deal with your whacked out vocabulary and sense of-”

“At least I’m speaking basic, you’re not speaking anything remotely-”

“Don’t even try switching languages on me. I’d say we’re about equal there...and I thought you put her to sleep so she couldn't overhear anything! Were you even going to tell her?”

“Tell her what?”

“Or were you just going to wait until you’d lost it completely, burnt up the last bit of decent energy to your name and then-”

“…still not making sense…”

“You’re shrinking!” Nimbus roared, whirling on him with glowing white eyes, as storm energy crackled over his form, his long white hair, forming a swirling circle behind him. “You think I don’t know what that means!”

The phoenix shrugged. “Are you suggesting that I am unaware of the effects?”

“Are you here on assignment?”

“Does it matter?”

“Are you?”

“Only the usual.”

“Cheater…or is it liar? That’s a stock phrase straight from the league handbook.

“You’re the one asking questions that you don’t want answered.”

“For her or me? I know you’re running again…you always shrink when you run…and when you’re feeding off your energy to keep a decent illusion for vanity...” He scoffed. “You turn dark. It’s been giving me a headache all day! Do you even under-”

“Did you finish her tests?”

“Of course I did…no thanks to you, either!” Nimbus scowled. “Tea…drink another cup…you’re sparking again.”

“Not half as much as you are, friend.” The phoenix smirked. “And I would thank you for your concern, but honestly, it is a little annoying-”

“Excuse me for feeling a little annoyed myself! I had to forge a whole new arsenal for you from nothing! That’s a first! Every single blade! Whatever is it you're running from, I don't have the time to counsel you about it! Do you have any idea how much work and time it takes to craft these? As if I had the-”

“So you did do it…I wondered if you’d spare the energy.”

“I had plenty to…spare…thanks to you.”

“Ah, so again, we are taking the defensive where everything is my fault?”

“Everything is usually your fault.” The white and blue ripples of energy began to calm as the elemental casper returned to his seat in front of Marvis. His fingers flew lightly over the console. “You can’t afford to be so careless about this!”

“Did you finish the tests?”

“Already asked and answered.”

“What was the result?”

“I’m not sure I should tell you. I can’t tell how dark you’ve phased and I wouldn’t want your impaired judgment to-”

A smooth, smoke-gray blade shimmered to life in the cold night air, inches away from Nimbus’s neck. The Dark Phoenix stood a few feet away, smoldering in dark energy as he closed the gap between them.

“Sixty-three percent dark, Nimbus.” He whispered. “and I think my sense of judgment is more reputable than yours at this point. I did not come here to play games, I came for answers. I know what I am doing. I appreciate your worry, but it is more hindrance than help at this point…what did the tests show?”

“Sixty-three percent?” Nimbus forced a smile. “That’s a bit skewed isn’t it?” The lovely blade was cold against his skin, expertly twined between his hair and the chair where he sat.

“Wrong answer…” The darkened aura eased closer. “Last chance.”

“She’s a summoner.”

“A summoner?”

“It’s just a hunch.”

“Your hunches are always one-hundred percent accurate.” The darkened blade retracted as the Dark Phoenix moved forward to stand beside the chair. The illusion spiraled over him, melted away, revealing a more youthful, teenage figure, definitely shorter in stature than the original form. “You don’t make mistakes.”

“I know…I had to be sure…and…I have some proof, if needed.”

“It answers a great deal of questions…the two colors…is she aware of it?”

“I don’t know…that first night…have you seen her feet?”


“The markings on her feet…they don’t make sense. I’d think she would be aware…if she knew them, but-”

“With the dyes-?”

“No. She didn’t even seem to realize they existed…and I let her do all of it herself.”

“Anything happen?”

“It flickered a few times…white, mostly. Then red. One time I thought it was…blue.”


“Yes. The symbols…it’s a basic circle, which was the first alert that her gifts were different.”

“Hmmm. This worries me.”

“Yes…a circle is the easiest symbol to be altered. It’s all basic symbols, nothing unique, very deeply ingrained…or carved, however you care to look at it. It’s a double circle with two triangles and a possible wing.” He shrugged. “Which makes no sense to me, so I hope you know what it means. This one is fairly old too.”

“Since birth?”

“Probably, which also worries me. It means someone was aware of what she was…and she wasn’t.”

“Someone was using her. I don't like the way that's sounding.”

“Possibly…I’m more inclined to think that someone was controlling her.”

“Controlling her?”

“She’s terrified of dying, sharp objects and is constantly on edge…even when she’s pitching a fit. She is capable of being more mature, I’ve seen a few instances of it…but for the most part, she’s like a child. A very scared, very powerful, child.”

“Other gifts include fire and water manipulation…and some whisper.”

“Fire and water?”

“Yes. Not ice. Water. I’m thinking perhaps, her mother was a guardian or a casper of fire, married a whisper and of course, the whisper was probably inducted for whatever reason and also a being of water. Dominant genes battle it out and the result is even balances of whisper, fire through the summoning power…and then a hint of water.”

“A hint of water…well…that explains her penchant for drowning.”


“She’s always…falling into water…and afterwards, she’s usually in better spirits. I had asked her about fire though and she couldn’t do anything about it.”

“She’s been hiding it from you.”

“I know.”

“And you haven’t even-”



“Thank you for everything, Nimbus. I’ll be back by tomorrow morning to wake her.” The illusion began to rework itself, until the older version of the phoenix stood in the room. Drawing the hood of the cloak over his head, he started for the door.

“Where are you going at this hour? Whatever it is, could wait until-”

“I have a promise to keep for you, remember?” A faint smile was visible from the shadowed face. “Goodnight, Nimbus…sleep well.”


“Don’t worry. I won’t do anything you wouldn’t.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about.”



“Good evening, your highness.”

The gasp came first, the gauzy nightrobe second. “…What are you doing here?”

“Nimbus mentioned something about a promise…?”

A faint blush painted itself across the queen’s face. She hurriedly waved her night guards away. “Go…just go! I need to be…alone…I’ll call if I need something.” The embarrassment turned to anger as she fixed her best glare on the shadowy figure lounging in her bedroom doorway. “You have some nerve to-”

“No. You have some nerve!” The words came out as a hiss. “He’s a married man with children and you had the-”

“Okay, fine, it was a mistake. I’ll-”

“Apologize for it. Good. He deserves more than a simple apology though…I’ve told you before, Basanti…to leave him out of your little games. Isn’t one warning enough? I didn’t think you’d need another.”

“I don’t. What do you want?”

“Absolutely nothing.”

“Huh.” She scoffed. “But yet you’re here, standing in front of me and-”

He crossed the room to sit on the foot of the bed. “any progress with our mutual friend?”

She swallowed. “Some…nothing useful.”


“Did you come all the way…here…to ask me that?”

“You’re afraid.”


The hood was lowered, a smirk on his face. “You are afraid…”



“I can’t believe you won every single one of them.” The queen yawned, sliding off the bed, the colorful gemstone playing pieces in hand. “What is that number one-hundred and thirty-three?”

“Fifty three.” The Dark Phoenix smiled. “You’re twenty behind and you're still a lousy player.”

“I’m just out of practice…I don’t have anyone here to practice with. Most don’t even know to play this one.”

“Six months is more than enough time to practice.”

“I hate playing against myself.” She snorted. “Did you bring me a new one?”

“Greedy, aren’t you?”

“A glutton for punishment.” She chuckled. “Well, did you?”

“Of course.” He drew a handful of fruit pits from one sleeve and lined them up on the edge of the game board. “It’s pretty simple…similar to the rook and gem one from last summer.”

“Ohhh…that one was fun.” She settled at the vanity table, beginning to brush and rebraid her hair. “Maybe I can actually get someone to play it with me afterwards.”

“Maybe.” He shrugged. “About the Lyrith…?”

“I wondered when you’d come back to that.” She sobered, setting the brush down. “Something about it isn’t right.”

“What something?”

“I-I don’t know.” She threw up her hands, moving from the vanity to stand in front of the closet. “His loyalty is with his summoner, though I can’t say I could even venture a guess. I know there’s only about four of them in existence at any given time, but only a genuine summoner could have brought him forth into this dimension.”

“I see.”

“I don’t.” She snorted. “Apparently the master is a he and he is someone who cannot be identified, because of where the loyalties lie.”

“And his mission?”

“Something about a girl named Eira. He’s supposed to find her and bring her back home. He seems to think that it’s your apprentice, Ian.” She forced a smile. “Is it?”

“Do you want me to answer?”


“Then please, do continue.”

“He seems to think that he won’t be here very long…that his master will recall him and that things will be…bad.”

“Bad, how?”

“Don’t ask me. I don’t know.”

“What kind of answer is that?”

“You tell me!” She whirled on him, pink eyes crackling with the energy fisted in her hands. “You’re running again! I’m not stupid, Benjamin Oliver!” Her fist was caught an inch away from his face. “Something’s coming, can’t you feel it? The entire mountains, the Jungle Elders-”

“I already spoke to Maribus.”

“He isn’t the only chief!”

“I am aware of that, but I trust his Vision Pond explicitly.”

She jerked away from his hand and returned to the closet, rifling through the dresses within. “It’s been building up for the past six months. The pressure, the energies…everything’s dark.”

“You thought it was me.”

“Of course I thought it was you! Who else can just decide to-!”

“It wasn’t me.”

“So you say!” She spat the words out. “I have people to protect. People who are counting on me…not to mention guarding an ancient gate smack in the middle of this wretched city! Tell me if I’m missing something!”

“That would explain your temper.” He mused. “And don’t wear that orange one…it’s…hideous.”

The pink on her face gradually increased to red. “How dare you!”

“The pink and gold is nicer.” He said, calmly. “And you really have nothing to worry about. I’ll take care of it.”

“Now I’m worried.” She snapped her fingers over her head, waiting as a shimmer of gold transformed her night robe into more suitable daywear. “This is serious and you have the time to-”

“How are the wall sensors?”


“The wall sensors, Basanti.” He slid off the bed, moving to stand in front of her. “I am aware of the danger and what is happening. I am working actively to find a solution-”

“You’re running! You’re on foot. You haven’t been seen anywhere in the real world for over the past year and a half and the league keeps sending these half-witted scouts to-”

“Did you lose any?”

She swallowed, looking away.


“Two hunting parties, one scouting.” The words were forced through clenched teeth. “Which wouldn’t have happened if you’d kept your-”

“I have kept my word.” His finger rested on her lips. “Shh. I’ve heard enough of that…and I know what needs to be done. It will be taken care of.” The smirk resurfaced. “I am the only one who can see to it. We’ll be gone by tomorrow, but seeing as I’ve paid Nimbus’s debt, I think you owe me something.”

She leaned away from his touch, a royal scowl registering on her face. “I don’t owe you anyt-”

“For playing such a dirty trick on Nimbus…I think you do.” The golden-gray eyes shimmered to black. “But it is a fairly small favor. Nothing to worry that pretty little head of yours over. I’d like to spend the day with your sea monster…some nice, quiet…dark time alone. I don’t think that’s a request you can afford to refuse.”

The redness faded away to a nearly ghost-white complexion. “H-how did you know?”

“We share some inkling of the same darkness.” The phoenix turned away, heading for the door. “The job of the creature is to help guard the gate and lend its protection to the city. It has been restless. I have felt it.”

“That doesn’t mean that you have to-”

“I’ll be busy for the rest of the day. Try to stay out of trouble.”

“T-trouble! Hey!”

The door closed in front of her face, the lock turning from the outside. “…don’t worry. I’ll be careful…and
I’ll need more answers than just a few sentences…work on that, would you?”

“Benjamin Oliv-”

“And I did mean it about the orange…pink is better.”



“Sleep well, apprentice?”

“No…yes…I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“Okay…I don’t remember. Had some crazy dreams…nightmares. I guess. I don’t remember them, really. Which is weird.” Eira yawned. “I’m still working on the waking up part.”

“Work harder.”

“I really hate chasing breakfast.”

“Your footwork still needs work…I can’t say you’ve improved, but you’ve done better this morning than yesterday. Quick learner. Your reactions improved by a seventh and you now have a lousy right hook.”

“It’s too early in the morning for this.”

“That is your last breakfast bowl.”


“If you break that one, there won’t be a bowl for breakfast tomorrow. There was only three.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose!” Eira poured a third bowlful of crunchies.

“That’s a lousy excuse.”

“It wasn’t an excuse!” She sputtered. “Why can’t you just…teach me normally!”

“Because you don’t learn normally.”

“I don’t?”

“Enjoy your cereal. Be nice to Nimbus.” The Dark Phoenix rose from the table, cloak in hand. “Keep studying. I’ll warp you out for the test the afternoon that we leave here.”

“What? Wait! Where are you going? Are you just gonna leave me here again?” The cereal was momentarily forgotten. “I studied all day yesterday! I did all the assigned reading and I don’t wanna be stuck indoors for-”


“Do I have to? Can I go out later, please?”

“Yes. No. Why.”


“Yes, you have to. No, you can’t. Why do you want to?”

“You know…to shop. It’s a festival…I’m a girl. I shop…do the math.”

“Is there something you need?”

Eira gave a frustrated huff. “Well, duh! That’s why I’d want to go.”

“What things?”

A touch of pink registered. “You know…girl things…and I’d like a good sized mirror for starters. Some face cream, Hermia’s joint salve, Moody’s hair cream…you know…girl stuff.”

He perked a brow of interest.

“I didn’t plan on trekking around in the forest…I thought I’d be close to civilization. I didn’t expect…I just packed travel stuff, okay? I need some things and I figured that-”

“Make a list.” He drew a pearlized gray card from one pocket. “Now. Whatever it is you want, write it.”

Eira hurriedly scribbled her list on the gray rectangle and then handed it over. “Are you going to get them?”

“When I’m finished…probably.”

“With what?”


“What kind of business?”

“The kind that you shouldn’t ask about.”

“And what kind is that?”

“How badly do you wish to know?”


“I’m going to pray, Eira.” The cloak was whisked over his shoulders, settling like a shroud.

“P-pray?” Eira stared at him. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“So we don’t all die.” His voice grated as he glided towards the exit. “So we’ll all live.”



Rita's Random Ramblings said...

I love the way you build the suspense and include so many details as you start to wind down towards the end. I LOVE your gift with words! ~Rita

Yvonne said...

I like your personalities of the characters and the mysteries of her powers. I'll have to admit that I haven't read all of this series. Maybe I'll be able to keep up with the plot next time.

Kristina Rohder said...

Well, as usual I loved this installment. The suspense and mystery is awesome - you really know how to keep your readers guessing!
So Eira is a "summoner"... I wonder what that means? Anyway, I love the dark side of the Dark Phoenix's personality; it will be interesting to see how that situation develops!