Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Swish! Thud! (Wednesday Wanderings)

Author's Note: Well, I ought to make a button for WW, but currently am caught up in the whirlwind of school and ScriptFrenzy beginning tomorrow. I did not get a chance to hunt for a story this week, so instead, I am posting a short piece, about two years old for the topic/prompt of "concentration". I do realize this piece is slightly darker than the usual fare, so skip to something lighter if you like. Thanks for taking the time to read--I love the feedback! 

Swish! Thud! 

The wooden pointer sliced through the air with a loud smack as it graced the surface of Madame’s tea table. The gilt-edged china cup rattled as the liquid sloshed over the edge, dribbling down the painted roses, before rippling back to the cup's confines.

“Your wretched voice could improve if you would put your mind to it!” Madame Isabella trilled disapprovingly.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoneix (part 29) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Rick/Hoomi over at his blog, Pod Tales and Ponderings. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: Well, I thought I started early, but I am still scrambling to finish this installment and still more behind than I'd care to be, so it is a little shorter (as in below 4k). I could make up a brilliant excuse, but it would be exactly that--an excuse. I have taken some time to add a few short hints towards Eira's past and her talents. There is plenty of action coming up in Pietrasaan, so hopefully, the city isn't too far away and will appear sometime in the following weeks. A technical note: being "Whisper" is slang for a certain class of people who live between dimensions, manipulating them with sound and dance. I've had such fun with this installment, mostly because I have a chance to lay some groundwork for some of Eira's moves to be-i.e. the Water Box. I hope you will enjoy the reading as much I did the writing of it. Happy weekend and don't forget to leave a comment-I love all feedback! ^_^

 RECAP: Last week, the DP discovered Eira's manipulation of sound waves as an added bonus to her still-to-be-determined powers. Deene is feeling a little left out of the loop, so the DP sends him off to retrieve and arm and an ear for interrupting at an inopportune moment, which in turn allows a significant amount of time for some master-apprentice one-on-one training.



He didn’t let her stop.

While the passage of time wasn’t something Eira was particularly good at following, she did understand that night came and went as the Dark Phoenix purposefully worked with her through various exercises for her voice and the black-string puzzles.

She learned to do them forward and backward, then he changed the pattern, running her through the routine until she’d mastered them. “Are we done yet?” She asked, finally, leaning forward to brace on her knees, hanging her head over to catch her breath. It was exhausting work. He’d barely given her a moment’s notice worth of a breather in between.

There was a deliberate pause and then the wooden frames thumped on the ground beside her feet. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired. Duh.” She bit her lip. “Mostly tired.”

His hand, always cold, methodically feathered across her forehead and then her neck as she straightened. “Your energies are fine.”

“Sure. Of course. My energies are fine, so the rest of me must be okay.” A dangerous spark of redness passed through her eyes, fading as she shrugged. “I’m tired. I don’t know what time it is. I feel as if I’m working in a fog and I don’t even know what I’m doing.”

“Behaving quite nicely.” He took a few steps back, giving her some space to roll her shoulders forward. “I appreciate the cooperation. The last apprentice questioned everything.” He wrinkled his nose. “Considerably disrupting and occasionally annoying, you—however, are quite the delightful change.”

“Does that mean I can’t ask?” Eira rolled her neck to the side. “I feel like a line-dried rock suit…everything creaks. It would help if I knew what I was doing all of this for…”

“I’m trying to determine the exact nature of your talents.” He turned his attention towards his pack near the tree, fishing inside for something else. “All of your talents.”

“What?” Eira paused in mid-stretch, head jerking around to stare at him. “Why? Something wrong with me?”

He shrugged, his back to her. “Nothing is wrong with you, Eira. But the nature of your powers will help in determining the methods of training and whether I need to outfit you accordingly. Pietrasaan is known for their craftsmanship and I would think it a waste to pass through and not purchase your training implements from their famed Golbard Amory.”

“The Golbard armory?” Eira thought about it for a moment. “Wow.”

“If you could tell me the determination of your energies yourself, that would save a great deal of trouble, but the fact that you can self-heal, considerably reduces the accuracy of your root power.”

“That made absolutely no sense.”

“No worries.” He said, cheerfully. “Makes perfect sense to me, but the explanation would take awhile and I’d rather we continued.”

“Continued?” Eira stifled a yawn. “Is it nighttime or morning?”

“Does it matter?”

It didn’t, so she didn’t answer. “What’s wrong with my powers?”

“Nothing.” His voice was even, the answer quick.

“What do you mean nothing?”

“Is there supposed to be something wrong with them?” He countered.

She frowned. “That’s confusing. I don’t…think so. I don’t know…never had to think about it.”

“Think now. Try. What are they?”

“Huh?”

“What are your powers? What is the official name for them? Has anyone ever filed you in a specific category? You’re obviously not guardian, Scyther, Saber, Zorcanese, Twilight, or-”

“I’m not Whisper.” Eira volunteered, helpfully.

“Really?”

“Yeah. My folks had me tested thirty-nine times for it. I think I’d be able to tell you if I was.”

“Interesting.” His gaze swept her from head to toe. “Did they have you tested for anything else?”

“Uh.” Eira swallowed. There wasn’t a quick answer for that one, because the tests had never been her favorite memories, what she could remember of them was failing miserably at every trial and as a result, having the memories of the actual tests removed before returning home. A slight shudder passed through her. There was absolutely nothing she could pull from her frazzled brain to substitute. “I…um…”

“Spit it out, apprentice.”

Her face flared several shades of pink, before giving into the actual blush. “I don’t know?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

“Both?”

“Still a question.”

“What?”

He paused for a moment, casting another quick look over his shoulder as if studying her would reveal some magical answer to his question. “Mmmm.” There was a few mumbled words and then he returned to his fiddling. “Do you have any idea what your gifts could be? Has no one ever ventured to guess?”

The note of hope in his voice was so obvious, Eira couldn’t look at him as she tried to wrestle a suitable answer together. There wasn’t one to begin with. She felt her shoulders rise in a shrug and held it before they could slump down. “I have healing…and um…fire, sometimes, I think. I don’t know. I’m told I’m good at fire.”

“Fire?” He repeated. “Very well then…” His gaze traveled towards the pile of wood Deene had neatly stacked by the dinner pot. “Torch those.”

“W-what?”

“If you’re fire, that shouldn’t be a problem.” He nodded towards the kindling. “Torch them…use any method you like.” He settled back on his haunches, waiting, expectant, the pack lying at his feet, forgotten.

“Um…now?”

The eyebrows went up.

Her blush deepened. “Right. Of course you mean right now.” She licked her lips, hands clasped tightly behind her, head tilted forward, grateful for the short hair falling forward to hide her flaming face. She thought about it for several long moments and then tried throwing her energy at it.

It didn’t work. But it did bounce happily back to her, causing a step backwards as the crackling red ball zipped between her feet and then to her open hand. She winced. The energy wasn’t supposed to have been visible.

She chewed her lip, using the mild pain as an anchor to try again. She’d thrown and created fire before, yet something seemed to be thwarting her feeble efforts. After another handful of moments, she stopped for a yawn. “I think I-”

“Never mind.” The Dark Phoenix interrupted. “I think we can safely rule out fire as your talent.”

“I don’t understand…” Eira hesitated, looking down at the scuffs on her boots. “I mean…I’ve called fire before. I don’t know why it’s not working here.”

“Where?”

“You know…places.” Eira shrugged, shifting to the side so he couldn’t see her face. She didn’t want to see the question that would probably come next. “It was…easy.”

“Except for here.” He clarified. “In the woods, in a natural setting…with natural materials…wood…nothing?”

“Yeah…except for that.”

“I see.”

“What about healings?”

“I do not think it is of consequence.”

“What?” Her embarrassment fizzled away as her annoyance picked up instead. “I thought self-healing was a pretty rare little-”

“Someone taught you that trick, didn’t they?”

The blush returned. “Y-yeah.” Her hands unclasped, clenching into fists. “It wasn’t a trick…it was…” She scowled. These questions were beginning to be a bigger headache than she cared to deal with. “So…I’m not a healer or a pyromaniac. What am I?”

“That is an excellent question.” He offered a faint smile. “Which is why your energies are so fascinating. I haven’t been able to box you into a standard strain of energy and that has limited things somewhat.”

“Limited? How?”

“You’re stalling.” He shifted to his feet, turning the pack upside down. A pile of clothes, shiny things and a book tumbled out. “Why don’t you go to the river and wash your face, take a moment to breathe? I will be there in a moment, it is…” There was another pause and a few more mumbles as he sorted through the pile. “Eleven steps. I sent Deene and didn’t hear him splash, so I suppose eleven is fairly accurate. Do be careful.”

Eira stared at him for a moment and because she was beginning to feel a tad sore and sweaty, decided to head for the river. Apparently, the time of day wasn’t as important as she thought it was and the nature of her powers was a necessary piece of information. She paused long enough to snatch a towel from her pack before sauntering towards the hedge that served as a gate between the clearing and outside.

Counting between lazy thoughts and the occasional yawn, Eira found herself in the usual predicament when given such directions. She backtracked twice, shuddering at the thought of plunging into the icy water. Her shoulder itched and there was a few beads of sweat on her nose and lip as she wiped her face on her sleeve. “Blech.” She sniffed the shoulder, wrinkling her nose. Perhaps a dip would be useful. She was beginning to feel rather hot and bothered, not the usual physical response to a entire day’s travel.

With one last scowl, she counted her steps from the edge of the barrier and stopped directly on the eleventh. Moving to her hands and knees, she felt out in front of her, surprised when her fingers continued to travel over the grass she could see before her, looking for the trademark shimmer that the river was near. Nothing happened. Nothing visible. Eira inched forward, the ground still stable beneath her. “Weird-!” The exclamation came as she pitched forward and into the freezing water. Her garbled cry wasn’t heard as she thrashed about until she surfaced, spluttering and chattering.

It was a matter of seconds before the Dark Phoenix emerged through the bushes, a frown on his face that shifted over to something quite near a smile, a round circlet of gold in his hand. He settled down on the now visible riverbank, feet dangling in the water before he eased into the river to stand beside her.

She stopped spluttering when she realized the water had receded around them to the point where she could stand it remained at chest-level. Her teeth chattered and she instinctively hugged her arms to herself. “M-make it warm.”

“Absolutely not.” But there was only warmth in his voice as he denied the request, hinting at his misplaced amusement. “We’re going to work on that. Didn’t you count?”

“Three times.” She scowled. “Three whole stinkin-” She bit off the word at the edge of her tongue and turned away with a sniff. It didn’t quite carry the dignity she’d been aiming for as one particular shudder passed. It was entirely beyond her knowledge how ridiculously cold the river could be, while the weather was so warm. But her mind wasn’t inclined to think logically about geographical things, so instead, she poked miserably at her temper. The cold seeped in as numbness in her toes, the wet clothes clinging to her in a most depressing fashion. “-Times.”

“It is not that cold.” He held out the golden ring. “Hold it with both hands and concentrate. Do not think of the water or anything else.”

“H-how?” Eira found the whine returning to her voice as she reluctantly dropped one arm to reach out and touch the golden circlet. It was smooth, with four oval bumps, as if it could have been a box, had the sides been straight instead of curved, each bump was an ornate knot, the detail of fibers and threads giving way to the smoothness. It was also ice-cold. She tried to let go, but her hand seemed stuck to the golden knot.

“Both hands, please.” The Dark Phoenix was surprisingly patient as he held the two sides closest to him.

“W-why?” She chattered. The shivering hadn’t stopped and Eira made a face as she grabbed the other golden knot, closing her fingers around them. That only made the cold worse.

“Stop that.” His head tilted to the side and there was a deliberate jerk as the golden circlet hummed to life, a pale white-yellow energy crackling around it. “Focus…the discomfort is temporary. Repeat to yourself that the water is not cold. Once you have established that, you can think clearly.”

“The clearest thought is that this water is freezing.” Eira hiccupped. “and it’s giving me hiccups.” A tiny spark of golden energy leapt from the ring, traveling up both arms, growing in brightness and sound, until they crackled beneath her ears and faded away. “What was that?”

“No more hiccups.” His mouth twitched. “Do you recognize this?”

The item was vaguely familiar, but Eira couldn’t call it to mind. She was wondering about her toes and how long it would take the feeling to return to them. She sneezed into her shoulder, unable to retract a hand in time. A trickle of annoyance passed through her and for a moment, her feet sang happily at the unexpected warmth, the surge of adrenaline provided.

“Bless you.” He murmured, oblivious to her discomfort. “This what they call a Four Pillar Circle, if I remember correctly, some of your homework assignments covered this, it is most commonly known as the Water Box.”

“The thing that turns the water….into…a box?” Eira tried to think back, but her mind stubbornly refused to move beyond the point that everything was freezing.

“Close enough.” He chuckled. “I want just your reaction to it this, so try it without thinking.”

“Try what without thinking?”

“Stop thinking.” He advised. “You will see.”

“I’m still waiting to see and I’m freezing.” She chattered back, trying in vain to pull away from the golden circlet, yet again. By now the numbness was working its tricks quite well, there was nearly no feeling in her legs, though her toes still seemed to be attached, as the coolness continued upwards, causing the goosebumps along her arms and neck.

“Focus on the image in your mind.” He prompted. “See the box and bend it, until it becomes a circle.”

“You can’t bend a box.” Eira bit her lip, trying to call to mind the image she’d seen in the thick book. The only thing she could see in her head was the vast expanse of blueness around her turning to fat chunks of ice.

His fingers snapped directly in front of her face, startling her out of the watery bliss but only allowing the simple movement of leaning away, as her hands and feet were still otherwise occupied. 

“Ahh!”

“Focus.” He repeated. “There is a box…follow me…”

“There is a box.” Eira mumbled.

“It’s just big enough to cut a chunk out of this river.” He nodded towards the riverbanks. “A nice square box, it touches both sides and is equal behind and in front of us. A box…can you see the box?”

“No.”

“Good. Now bend the box.”

“I’m bending a box I can’t see?”

“Yes. Now bend the box until it is a circle around you. Think of what you can do in that circle.”

“I want to get out of it?” Eira wrinkled her nose, wishing she could rub it and possibly stop the sneeze she felt coming on.

“No, choose something easier. That is quite…difficult to do at first.”

“Oh.”

“You are freezing are you not?” He asked, bluntly, as if the situation was too obvious and he could not bear her slowness.

“No. I am frozen.” Eira tried to take a tiny breath. She could feel the tickle in the back of her throat and the very last thing she wanted to do was sneeze on the man opposite of her.

“Would not the logical choice identify itself as altering the temperature of the water?”

“You make it sound weird.” Eira sniffed, thinking it over in her head, wishing the thoughts could move about faster. Thinking was taking a lot of effort and a great deal more time than she usually cared to devote to it.

There was a sorrowful sigh and then, with great care he rephrased. “If you cannot move out of the water and it is cold, would you not warm it first?”

“Still weird.” Eira squeezed her eyes shut, trying to think about boxes, circles, and not freezing. However, that only lasted for all of five seconds, for the sneeze she had been trying to avoid took that moment to present itself. “Ah-a-choo!” It was slightly turned in the direction of her shoulder, but her limbs were strike, refusing to move much further than a few centimeters.

Warmth flooded through her from the tips of her ears down to her toenails, with a rather embarrassing set of thoughts to accompany them. Eira sniffled, miserably, attempting to convince her brain to devise a suitable apology, when the golden circlet in her hands began to burn. “Ow!”

“Do not fight it.” He gave it a slight tug, causing her to shift forward. “And very nicely done, is that not exponentially better than before?”

“Exceptionally.” Eira found herself saying as her toes wiggled freely inside her boots, the coldness having long faded away. “Not exponentially…I don’t think…I don’t know. What did I do?” She swallowed. “Sorry I uh…sneezed on you.”

“You did not.” He seemed mildly amused, but one hand released the ring and he gestured around them. “You did that. The sneeze was more an outburst of your energy…not a bodily function in this context.”

“Huh?”

His mouth twitched. “I was expecting ‘what’, but I suppose ‘huh’ is an improvement.”

“What?”

“ah, there we go.”

“No, I mean, what, what did I do?” Eira twisted, trying to see around her, but not able to see anything beyond the swirling blueness around her. Of course, the blue did appear to be unnaturally blue, but as her head was already spinning, Eira didn’t bother to puzzle much beyond that. “And can I let go now…please?”

“Box. Circle. Water. Warm. Repeat.” He answered. “And no you may not.”

Eira made a face. “Box, circle, water, warm, repeat.” She parroted, more to herself than to him. “oh.” The realization settled in. “Oh my.”

A rare smile finally crept onto his face and he allowed it for a brief moment. “Indeed, but no less than I expected of you. Excellently done.”

“How did I do that?”

“The same method you were using to manipulate the thread pictures.” He frowned. “We will be working on this for awhile.”

“I was afraid you were going to say that.” Eira yawned. “No breaks?”

“In a little while.” He hesitated. “A little while…do not think of time, only react. There are more ways to form a Water Box than sneezing. Expect to cover them all, sneezing was a reaction, because you were chasing the solution around in your head, distracted on the outside, when you should have been focusing on the inside.”

“It was cold!”

“And it was temporary.” He retorted. “Focus. I will retract it and we will begin again.”

© Sara Harricharan

Thursday, March 25, 2010

BBT : Book Breaks?



Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Wanderings 3.24.10

For this week's Wednesday Wanderings, you can find me over at Faithreaders, with a lyrical short piece titled.


"Insecurity" 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Manic Monday 3.22.2010

 

What do you value most in other people?



Understanding and compassion. i.e. Understand what I am trying to tell you/explain and then have some compassion, I wouldn't be sharing x,y, or z, if I didn't have a good reason. I admire someone who can 

objectively listen to a sob story and still manage to be fair without cheating others/or being cheated by the storyteller. Which, I suppose would make everything boil down to wisdom, where people would be wise (aka, smart enough) to know when to do which.
If you could only see black and white except for one color, what color would you choose to see?

Yellow. Because it is cheerful and warm. It is the color of a smile, of light and the sun. Makes the world brighter.
You have a 10 minute speech to give at a high school, what is it about?

 Creativity. Remind the students that the most valuable asset they have is themselves, and that creativity is the one commodity that is always high in demand, to cultivate and market it properly, with all the energy they can summon to it. It is your personal brand--it is a part of who you are. I could probably go on for more than ten minutes...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hunt For the Dark Phoenix (part 28) [Friday Fiction]

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


Author's Ramblings: This is a rather long installment, partially to make up for missing last week's own and for some exploration into Eira's powers. I'd like to be moving onto the action sequences, so things will be speeding up in the next few installments. Sorry for posting this late--I've been trying to run some edits through before posting, however, the more I read it, the more I dislike it, so for fear of ruining it entirely, I have left a great deal of it as is. Thank you so much for the feedback and encouragement--I will most certainly continue this serial until the end. Happy reading and have a great weekend! I love all comments/feedback. ^_^

RECAP: After picking up Deene, The Rock Titan who nearly killed her, Eira finds herself deciding that his presence will not deter her from a future as the Dark Phoenix's apprentice as he joins their group. When her stomach growls loud enough to be heard by all, they decide a lunch break is in order, they spend the night in the same lunchtime clearing, preparing to leave the following morning. 

By the time the next day arrived, Eira found herself with chores and a very annoying sparring partner. The Dark Phoenix had wasted no time in seeing to dishes being taken care of, boots being polished before bed, the League’s code of honor set to be memorized, a holographic orb as prep for the actual sparring practice and then a bit of bookwork. He was actually making them work, both physically and mentally.

How he had managed to find a book, wooden practice implements and an entire kitchen inside his sack, Eira didn’t care to know. Pure amazement served her well as she obediently stood near at hand to hold every new item retrieved. When her arms grew full, she was instructed to give the armful to Deene and then collect the remaining objects.

When that was finished, the Dark Phoenix immediately assigned each of them a respective book, with their names inscribed along the spine in golden script. Their practice staffs were made of soft, pliable green-ness, a material Eira couldn’t place. She didn’t remember it from home and not wanting to appear stupid, didn’t ask what it was. Thankfully, the Dark Phoenix explained it several minutes later, as a synthetic material used to absorb energy and impact, with a particular note that they needed only to remember exactly that.

Lunch was a matter of ingredients also retrieved from the sack, and the necessary tasks for completion were quickly broken down into smaller parts. Deene was set to peeling and cutting them, while Eira set the dishes around a low table. One side of her was irked at the seemingly needless effort put into prettying up the clearing—mainly because of Deene.

“Napkins.” The Dark Phoenix threw the handful over his shoulder, the warning barely voiced in time.

Out of habit, Eira ducked, one hand moving upwards to where her head would have been. She caught the handful, to her surprise. Shaking out the cloth squares, she allowed herself to admire the colorful geometric patterns before rolling them into little scrolls to place beside the bowls.

“A lot of fuss for lunch.” Deene grumbled as he gathered up the handful of vegetable peels, having already dumped the neatly cubed vegetables into the lunch pot. “Torch ‘em or toss ‘em?”

“Hmm? Oh…torch them.” The Dark Phoenix murmured absently, as he focused on setting the usual ring of energy to serve as the primary heat source for cooking. Once this was complete, he shifted to his feet, casting a brief glance upwards. Finding the center of the clearing, he toed a mark in the ground with one boot and then set his pack down to the left.

Settling in for his usual mealtime meditations, he paused only deliver a last warning over his shoulder. “When you are finished—both of you—read the assigned chapters from yesterday afternoon and you will find a puzzle inside your pack. Solve it the way shown in the picture accompanying it. By the time you are done with that, I should have finished as well. Absolutely no distractions from either of you. If I am disturbed in anyway before my meditations are finished, there will be consequences on both sides of this spectrum, am I understood?”

“Yes, sir.” Deene was the first to answer.

“Eira?”

“Yeah…I mean, yes.”

There was a pause, but the Dark Phoenix did not call her out on the less than formal acknowledgement, he simply settled comfortably on the ground, hands resting on his knees-cross legged as his eyelids drooped to a half-closed position. To her complete surprise, a darkened bauble of energy sprang up around his head, hiding his upper half from view and remained as his hands began to slowly drum across his knees, one finger at a time. 

Eira watched him out of the corner of her eye, more interested in seeing exactly how Deene was going to ‘torch’ the vegetable scraps rather than deciphering the black energy hovering around the Dark Phoenix. She’d yet to see him in that sort of meditation. One sliver of herself was glad she hadn’t been asked to cut and peel with a knife, while a second sliver was entirely jealous at the fact that Deene would have been allowed to use his powers more than twice that day. Her lower lip puckered, threatening to morph into an actual pout.

Her attention, however, appeared to be a distraction to Deene who—having caught sight of her—pretended to be preoccupied with the handful rather than continuing with his original intention. Of course, the fact that he had noticed her attention only served to annoy her all the more. With a toss of her head, Eira deliberately fixed her gaze on a tall, plain tree at the edge of the clearing as she viciously twisted the napkins into rolled up knots. It took another frustrated moment to unravel them and re-twist the fabric squares into properly fashionable bits of usefulness.

Irritated by having to do the work twice, she plunked down on her neatly balled up cloak beneath the same plain tree. The cloak was a good cushion and the tree made an excellent backrest. Neither helped her temper. For a brief moment, her mind was content to work around thoughts and things, such as why the tree was plain and whether it was friendly, before a slight movement distracted her and she looked up to see Deene studiously bent over his books.

Show-off.

Her jaw slowly cranked into the locked position as one hand curled into a fist. She reached for her own book in the pack beside her feet, but made no move to open it, when it lay in her lap, propped up by her knees. The harder she glared at the cover, the more glossy the volume appeared to be. The source of her frustrations surfaced a few seconds later, when Eira realized her feet were twitching.

It was a sign she knew all too-well and having managed to pick up on it, was able to calm herself by a few minute degrees.

For a handful of seconds.

He was humming. As if there was nothing else he could think of to do that could possibly annoy her.

It was working.

Eira stared at the book, alternating between glares of death and glares of absolute destruction. It was enough of a distraction, but she could still hear the faint traces of sound coming from Deene’s corner. He had moved on from his reading to the assigned puzzle and his long skinny fingers had turned to long, flexible pieces of stone, manipulating a thread through perforated wood.

It took her a half second to retrieve her own puzzle, with a brief glance at the picture, Eira turned again to stare at the bothersome Titan. He was using his powers to complete the puzzle, which appeared to be some sort of pattern knit through a rectangular piece of wood, with tiny dots for the black string to be threaded through.

Just staring at the picture was making her head spin, so Eira tucked it back inside her pack and then tried her hand at poking the thread through the holes in the wood. It did not produce the desired result. Her lips pursed again, the annoyance building. Deene could use his powers and he wouldn’t get into trouble, but if she were to use her own…then there would be a headache…on both sides. She huffed, tossing the puzzle aside to return to the book-glaring.

It was easier.

There wasn’t a way she’d discovered, which allowed for the thread to be neatly pushed through the holes and knit into the pattern depicted. There was also no needle or awl with which to manipulate the thread either. Deene had simply lengthened his fingers until they were of the proper size and then alternated between bending, twisting and retracing the stone digits until the proper result was achieved.

And he was still humming.

Her temper had fizzled earlier and now it was swiftly rebuilding itself. She was on the verge of interrupting her master’s meditations, when he broke the near silence himself.

“Eira, what is the matter?”

“What?” The word came out more harshly than she’d intended for it.
“You’re fidgeting and you have not started on any of your work, I can feel the…” He paused. “I can feel the emotions traveling through our connection, but I can’t put my finger exactly on the source of it.”

The words plainly mentioning their connection went directly over her head. Eira wrinkled her nose, choosing not to address that particular thing. She couldn’t feel a connection and didn’t want to have one. She also wasn’t exactly sure either of which particular emotion she cared to dedicate herself to. Anger wasn’t nearly as useful as rage, while irritation and annoyance vied for her attention.

“Eira?” His voice rose a few notches. “Please calm down and tell me what is the matter?”

“Nothing is the matter.” Eira pushed the book off her lap, shifting her glare to rest on his back rather than the textbook. “Deene used his powers to do the puzzle.”

“So?” Both of them spoke in the same moment. The Dark Phoenix cleared his throat and Deene quickly bent his head over his work again, biting his lip.

“How come I can’t use mine?”

“That is not what’s bothering you.” The black bubble of energy melted away and the Dark Phoenix turned slightly to see over his shoulder. “You may use them if you wish, but there is a way to solve that particular puzzle without using one’s gifts.”

“Thank you.” Eira pushed the words through her teeth, slowly shifting up to her feet, she continued to brace against the tree, but reached for the puzzle, pulling lightly on her energy for it to leap to her hands.

“What else is it?”

Deene smirked.

The last straw of tranquility exploded. “He’s off key!” The phrase shot from her mouth as if it couldn’t be held back another moment.

“I beg your pardon?” The Dark Phoenix deliberately turned all the way around to look at her. Deene stared at her with an equal mixture of puzzlement and disgust.

“He. Is. Off. Key.” Each word was punctuated by a twitch of her toes within her boots and one hand clenching tighter into a fist, the other barely able to keep from bending the flexible wood frame.

“He is off-key in…?” The Dark Phoenix rolled up to his feet.

“Humming!” Eira let go of the wooden puzzle frame and made a mental note not to step on it as she shifted to her full height. “He’s singing that stupid song over and over again, I can’t stand it! It’s off-key and it’s entirely wrong!”

Deene’s eyebrows went up, but he didn’t dare comment as the Dark Phoenix took that moment to shift his attention towards the Titan. “What song is it?”

“I don’t know.” Deene shrugged. “Just a…tune. I heard it when I passed through Morkar last winter.”

“Sing.” The Dark Phoenix tilted his head forward. “I didn’t hear it.”

A faint blush touched the pale, gaunt cheeks as Deene stopped twisting his skinny stone fingers through the wooden frame. “Don’t know the words…sir.” He shrugged and then quickly hummed the tune.

There was a strangled sound from Eira’s corner and she muffled whatever she’d almost said in her elbow, the effort bringing a touch of redness to her ears. She was quivering from head to toe as if energy were about to spark off of her any moment now.

“Sounds fine to me.” The Dark Phoenix frowned. “Eira…apprentice! Get a hold of yourself!” He started towards her, worry appearing in the form of creases in his forehead when she began to sing.

“Shaunte laye neut, jeis pah ne blee.” The foreign words slipped easily through her lips, Eira lifted her head, eyes squeezed shut. She could hear the melody, perfect and beautiful, swirling through her head as she sang the words to the traditional folk song of her people. In her mind’s eye, she could see happy memories and family faces she hadn’t thought of in quite some time.

When her eyes opened, she could only see the wooden frame on the ground beside her feet, reaching for it, Eira waved it up to hover in front of her face. She stopped singing, keeping the tune by humming as she waved her hands over, around and through the wooden frame, guiding the black thread with her own bolt of energy. It took scarcely a minute for the entire knitted puzzle to be completed.

She murmured the song’s last verse and then, because she couldn’t help herself, offered a deep stage bow, before stepping forward to hand the puzzle to her master. She wrinkled her nose as he took it from her waiting hands. “He was off-key.” She tossed her head. “Horribly off-key.” The entire mountain of frustration seemed to have dribbled off and away to nothingness as Eira turned back towards the textbook, still humming.

When she ventured to look over her shoulder again, both of them were staring at her in a new mixture of disbelief and awe. “That was very well…sung.” The Dark Phoenix now wore an expression of wonderment. “Excellently sung. Tone, pitch and…everything.” He moved closer, looking at the puzzle in hand and then back at the girl before him. “Correct me if I am mistaken, but is that not a Nethrian folk song?”

Eira shrugged. “So?”

“You don’t look Nethrian.” He said, bluntly.

“That’s ‘cause I’m not.” She crossed her fingers. “It’s not a crime to know the song.”

“No…” He said, slowly. “But, it takes a great deal of time and skill to be able to sing it with such perfection. The national anthem of Nethrian is beautiful, I’ve heard it sung once, I believe. Your voice reminds me of it…do you know it?”

Another shrug was offered. “Yeah.”

“Yes.” He corrected, absently. “Sing that.”

“Now?”

“Now is fine.”

There was an awkward pause, Eira shuffled to the side and finally bent to put the textbook back on the ground. Folding her hands, she took a careful breath, rolled her neck from side to side and with her eyes fixed firmly on the ground, began to sing again.

Her voice was just as pure and clear as it had been the first time her singing voice had come to life. She swayed from side to side, her fingers twitching from time to time in spite of her tightly clasped hands. When the anthem was finished, she gave a slight bow once more.

The Dark Phoenix applauded, a rare smile gracing his face. “That was also quite excellent, sing it again if you would, but this time—” He turned, beckoning towards Deene with one hand. The wooden puzzle jerked free of the skinny stone fingers, skimming across to land in his hand. The Titan looked at him in surprise and then at the crumbled fingers lying in the grass. A scowl crossed over his face and the shadow that registered was on account of the rock taking over more than just his hands. “Try it with this puzzle.” With another wave of his hand, the threads unraveled and the wooden frame was handed over.

“You want me to sing the Nethrian anthem again and fix the puzzle?” Eira had to clarify, as the very nature of the request was one she’d never heard before. “This puzzle?” She shook it lightly, turning the frame around in her hand.

“Yes, please.”

A tiny prickle of happiness started in her toes, working its way up to her head. “You said please.” It registered with just enough common sense to let the request through. “I-I…just a moment.”

“I’ll hold the frame if you like, just work with the threads.” He took the frame back from her surprised hands. “What were you trying to do with your hands before?”

“My h-hands?”

“Yes, you had them tightly together, but I think it is more a matter of…letting them free?”

She wrung them, classically and then after a moment, let them hang at her sides. “I don’t know if I can…do that again.”

“The puzzle?”

“Yeah.”

“Try anyway. I think you can.”

“You think I can? Really?”

The expression softened. “I know you can. I just saw you do it. Try.” He suspended the frame between his hands and waited.

Eira took another breath, her gaze now fixed on the frame as she rocked forward on her toes and then settled back on her heels. She began to sing again, drawing to her aid, wisps of fiery red energy.

The black thread slowly picked itself up off the ground and slithered upwards to the frame, expertly weaving in and out of the holes, until the picture had been roughly sketched out, then with brief, darting movements, it completed itself.

In another half minute, the anthem was finished to accompany the puzzle. “Wonderfully done.” He congratulated again, unraveling both frames with another wave of his hand.

“I did it!”

“Of course you did!”

“I mean, I actually did it…thinking of it.”

“I know.” He tilted his head. “Try again…use the first song…the folk one, do both at the same time.”

“Both?”

“Don’t think, react, Eira.” He levitated both wooden frames directly in front of her. “Take your breath, find your place and start…now.” The eyebrows went up, expectantly.

Eira rolled her shoulders forward and then, her brow wrinkled as she began to sing the first song again, focusing on the two puzzles in front of her. She started with one and finished with the other, relieved when the ordeal was over.

“Good job…a little slow…try again, this time try both of them at the same time.”

“The same time?” She swallowed. There was a snort from Deene’s direction as the Titan shifted to his feet, the glare becoming more pronounced. Her face flamed the same shade of red as her ears and the eyes shifted to the ground once more.

“Something to say, Deene?” The Dark Phoenix inquired.

“She doesn’t know her own powers?”

“Most people do not. It is with time, patience and a great deal of practice than one achieves any sort of progress in regards to control and reputation. Control being the only goal I strive for and consider worthy of instillation in every student under my instruction.”

“Control is overrated.” Deene settled on his haunches, the rock overtaking him until his figure was rough and blocky. He now took on the appearance of a dog, the head retaining whatever personable features he had about him.

“Apparently you are lacking in it.” The Dark Phoenix said, dryly. “Because your mouth tends to bring more difficulties than your talents.”

He has talents? Eira bit her lip, hard. She didn’t dare say that aloud, at least not at this particular moment.

“My talents are not even close to hers in comparison and I did not suffer through-” Deene bit off the words he was about to say and tilting his head to the side, scratched at his neck. “When is lunch? I hope this isn’t going to take long. I’m hungry, though if I remember correctly,  she was the one who requested lunch. Funny how her appetite seems to have—”

The Dark Phoenix frowned. “Deene, do not finish that, if you would…?” The Titan wearily approached, staying back a few yards. “Closer.” The Dark Phoenix murmured, one hand waving him forward. Deene’s shoulders slumped lower as he approached to the right, keeping the Dark Phoenix between him and Eira.
In movements faster than the darting thread, the Dark Phoenix was a blur of black and white crackling energy as his white-tipped staff materialized in midair and without warning, he whirled on the Titan.

Eira shrank back against the tree as she witnessed, yet again, another horrible scene of dismemberment. Without the slightest hint of emotion, the black stick flashed through the air, touching lightly on the points of shoulder and arm. Within seconds, Deene was minus his entire left arm and ear.
“Make yourself scarce.” The Dark Phoenix retracted the staff, until it was a thin, black bracelet on his arm. “Fetch!” Snapping the arm in half at the elbow, with a powerful throw, he lobbed the limbs far out into the jungle. “I do not want to hear when you return. Go!” 

The grotesque stone creature started off at an unsteady lope, crashing through the underbrush, the sound echoing even after it had disappeared from sight.

Eira was still trying to digest the shock when her master turned his attention back towards her. His gaze swept her from head to toe and then he sighed. “We have an agreement between us.” He said, quietly. “Come to the center of the clearing, we have a great deal of work to do before Deene returns.”

“Two puzzles?” Eira licked her lips, following him forward. “What am I doing with my singing? What did I do wrong?”

“Wrong?” For the first time, surprise seemed to settle over him. “Wrong? Eira, you didn’t do anything wrong, you’re doing it just right.”

“I’m actually doing something right.” There was nearly a hint of a plea in her voice, as the hopeful eyes fastened desperately on his face, willing for the positivity to continue. “I didn’t make a mistake?”

“A little slow in the reaction time.” He reached out to position her with hands on each shoulder. “Too self-conscious, but you are doing just fine, you have done nothing wrong. You have listened without complaint and followed my instructions without question, continue to do so…and lunch will not be long in coming.”


Eira tried to hide her smile. “I’m actually not…that hungry.” She looked down at her stomach. There was no sound.

The eyebrows went up. “Curious.” He murmured, circling her quickly and then returning to stand at the front with both wooden frames levitated before her. “Eira…both of them, at the same time.”

Her head bobbed once to show she understood and then her forehead wrinkled again in concentration. Her voice rang out, filling the clearing with sweet sound as the black threads flashed in and out of the little wooden frames, the picture finishing itself as the song ended in a flourish.

The Dark Phoenix took a step backwards, observing as the red energy circling the girl touched her eyes and her hands lifted as music began to flow out of her. He could hear the sound and see the energy, yet the music didn’t seem to have a source. As if in a trance, her hands lifted and began to move in perfect synchronization, she shifted forward on her feet, but seemed to restrain herself, as they remained still, while her upper body succumbed to the rhythms of the music.

“Try them backwards.” He spoke carefully, deliberately, not wanting to disturb the transformation happening before his eyes. With a wave of the hand, both threads unraveled from the frames and presented themselves to her once more. “Try one the way you were doing it before, do the other one backwards, simply reverse the movements, do both at the same time…use your hands.”

He waited.

She did not disappoint. The trance seemed to deepen, the red energy fire growing brighter in her eyes as she moved fluid and seamlessly, her hands waved over and around the frames, each movement connected, even as the frames were being covered with the thread in two different methods.

Speed wasn’t an issue, as the thread moved faster than the hands guiding them, but without a single mistake.
The frown slowly registered as the Dark Phoenix watched.

Eira…you worry me…

©

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fruity Prose! (BBT)


Which do you prefer? Lurid, fruity prose, awash in imagery and sensuous textures and colors? Or straight-forward, clean, simple prose?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shamrock Shaken (WW)

Author's Ramblings: A quick note to my loyal readers, apologies for missing last week's Friday Fiction. The current excuse I'm sticking with is life and WAY too much homework. Feel free to blame my professors-lol. (Who are wonderful and hard-working, btw). So instead, I'm offering a special seasonal short piece (just written, no edits) as a consolation while you wait for Friday to come 'round again. It does have a touch of romance in it and virtually no actual plot as far as monsters and zapping people, but hey--read and comment. Let me know what you think. 



Pryce was waiting for me by the front porch when I finally stomped to the front window to see what the ruckus was about. He was holding my cat in one arm, cuddled against his chest and leaning against my car, triggering the security alarm.

I don’t know if it was his boldness that annoyed me or the fact that my father did not budge from his position behind the morning paper when he mentioned the lack of peace and quiet. Either way, I started the morning quite horribly with no inspiration from either of them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bloggy Awards and Manic Monday 2.16.2010

Hi everyone! This week's post is a bit combined. I've been busy, life is krazy (yes, with a K!) so cheers to a bloggy award and time to fill in MM!)

 



How did you decide to live where you do?







It's nice and quiet. There's no lights or horns or other annoying sounds in the night. You can walk outside, burn your leaves when you rake them instead of stuffing them into plastic bags and plenty of room for fruit trees, which in turn equals fruit pies. ^_^

Do you like risks, or do you avoid them? What major risks have you taken in your life?



Sometimes. I like creative risks and the kinds that usually don't aren't physically endangering. Heehee, I'll try almost anything within reason so my comfort zone grows instead of shrinking. Joining creative groups and participating in writing challenges such as the NaNoWriMo, Screnzy and other fun "stuff". The most recent major risk has been setting up a Facebook Fan page for my writing. I've been hovering beneath the invisible wave of creative whatever, but finally did it. 

If you had to choose, which could you live without: TV, the internet, a telephone or friends?

TV! Hands down. Lol...that's 'cause whatever I want to watch on TV I can find on the internet, telephone is interchangeable as well, because I can grab whole of whoever I need...through the internet. ^_^ 

Also, on a side note--I've been absent for a few days, spring break is over and of course, my life has flown into overdrive, leaving me with a few missed posts and mentions! A very special thanks to Michelle Gregory @ Beautiful Chaos for a lovely bloggy award-er-I mean, a stylish bloggy award! Tada! 






and now I list 5 fun facts about myself and pass the award on to a few stylish bloggers as well. ^_^ 


1. I finally wore my first pair of fuzzy boots last January. This marks having had and worn them for over a year. I have decided that I like fuzzy boots. I plan on trying rain boots soon.


2. Before I started writing, I learned to speed read. I can generally read an average size novel (think Laura Child's Tea Mysteries) within the hour. I eat books for breakfast and their sequels for lunch. I process what I read by dinnertime and then if I'm not moving directly onto the next book, I will attempt to write a review or a standard book report. (old habit...dies hard) 


3. I don't like onions at all, but can stand them in onion rings, burgers and potato salad. 


4. I didn't know what a Mr. Potato head was until yesterday. 


5. Nail polish is a chief creative staple of mine. I like the colors, sparkles and while I love doing my nails, I've never worn fake ones. Ever. ^_^


Gah...can't think of much else, lol. I'm a pretty boring person in terms of interesting facts, at least. ^_^ Anyway, on to bestow the lovely blog award! 


To Dee Yoder @ My Heart's Dee-light. Not only does she give you a honest voice--her blog is purdy! 


To Melody @ Vividry--who has a gorgeous template and excellent posts to accompany it. 


To Shirley M. @ Sunny Glade--always a great post and a pretty header! I likey. 


To Hanne @ Treasure in Clay Jars. Her template matches. Her words are icing on the cake. I also likey. 


To Bookworm's Review--because it's colorful and I also likey very much. ^_^ 


So, copy the award if you have the time, post with 5 fun things about you and pass along the bloggy love to encourage a fellow blogger. And that's all for now folks! Er-actually, I meant, Cheerio! Happy Tuesday. 



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Wanderings

Find this week's Short Fiction over at the Trinity E-Journal.

Click to read "The Cardboard Box" 

Have a great day!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Blog Parade! (A most beauteous idea!)





I discovered this lovely random post over at Michelle G's wonderful blog and couldn't resist! It's random enough and I was already thinking of my own answers while reading hers, so here goes! Click on the Blog Parade button up top to find out more about what's going on and get to know your fellow bloggers!


1. What's your favorite time of the day, and why?

NIGHT! Well, that doesn't quite fit the question of day, but I love midnight, it's that perfect gap between night and day, usually, when things are wonderfully quiet and I can two of my most favorite things, read and daydream or write and daydream. Yes. I do both simultaneously because...well, I don't know. My head just does that sometimes.
2. If health wasn't an issue, what food could you live off of?

Spinach Pizza!! I bet someone thought I was going to say Chocolate Chip Cookies, lol. I do love my choco cookies, but I love spinach pizza. oooh, and Dr. Pepper. Wait...am I not allowed a drink? Okay, fine, I make my food, two-layer German Chocolate Cake. Yum!
3. If you could have one wish granted (besides wishing for more wishes), what would it be?

For a second chance for all the forgotten creative souls out there. I know what's it like to hit a block and what it feels like to be given a precious, second chance to make your dream live. For the people with talent who have buried it, or can't afford the price (emotional or otherwise!) I wish they could have the second chance they need. In a world of art and beauty drawn straight from the artist's soul--that's going to be quite a world!

4. What's one thing that you get teased about a lot?
My cooking. I can cook fairly well, but usually can't eat any of it myself, when I'm done. Instead, I sit and watch other people eat the food and graciously accept all compliments. LOL. Why, I do not know, but I generally snack of every kind of imaginable nibblet in the kitchen, so by the time I'm done cooking, I'm not really hungry. Incidentally, I usually forget salt...until the very end...and people think that is funny. I don't get it. I really don't. I bake better than I cook though. ^_^
5. If you could choose one movie, book, or TV show to spend your life in, which would you pick? What type of character would you be?

The Secret Garden. A place where things come alive, regardless of whether you have a green thumb, where I can skiprope to 100 and ride a moor pony. The weather is always wonderfully gloomy, except on sunny days (^_^) and it's just right for writing. I am far enough away from civilization that I am not distracted by it, but it exists and I do not have to attend school or work, I simply am.
6. If you could have one talent that you don't already have, what would it be?

Acting! It would be such fun to put on different personalities and pull them off in full costume on a stage or on set. I would love to be able to influence an audience and hear the applause. Mostly the applause. What? That doesn't count? I thought it did...okay, fine, I'd like to be a cowgirl. Someone confident in the saddle with a favorite horse and well-worn riding boots. Maybe even a horsewhisperer. Yeah. I like that. We'll go with horsewhisperer.
7.If money were no object, where would you go on vacation?
Hmmm, a tropical island somewhere. I'm not sure, but as long as there is a good beach and a nice, clean spot to write or type, some good tropical food (preferably west-Indian, lol) and coconuts. I need my coconuts and mangoes, and um, starfruit? Yeah! Lotsa fruit! Oh, and I would take my whole family along, or at least, my parents. It'd be totally awesome! 
8. If you were an awesome singer, which genre would you sing?
Christian Pop. I love the songs with a good beat, a snazzy voice and decent lyrics--not junk!
9. If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, what would it be?

 TARGET! Well, probably Kohl's....I like target because it would have a bunch of different departments and once in awhile they have some pretty cute stuff, namely, earrings and nintendo games...and chocolate chip cookies. I think I'd be covered on all bases, plenty of stuff to browse through.

10. If you could live in any point in time, when would it be?

Now is fine. I like it! Maybe skip a few years ahead...so internet can reach my half of the country world. ROFL and cellphone bills will go down. (Hey, I can dream, right? They might really go down someday...) 
11. If every outfit in your wardrobe had to be one color, what would it be?
Deep burgundy scarlet! The kind that's so dark, it looks black until you  move and then it ripples with the most delicious red you've ever seen. That's my signature color and I love it!
12. If you were one of the seven dwarves, which one would you be?(Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Happy, or Dopey)
 Sleepy! I like him and sleeping is good...as long as you don't have deadlines and appointments. 

13. What's the last album you listened to?

Alvin and the Chipmunks 2, "So What?" by the Chipettes. Hilarious.
14. What's something we'd be surprised to know about you?

I'd like to give a creativity workshop for writing. It's a pet daydream of mine. I'd love to have a handful of folks who really want to try something out there and give them the chance and also review or teach some basics like character development, making your Villains really come alive(most people either dive into them or pretend they don't exist...). We'd write, draw, doodle...all kinds of lovely, colorful stuffits. And we'd have donuts. ^_^ Of course, I have zip in that background/experience and probably don't know half of what that would take, but it's still a daydream.

And if that doesn't count, I'd like to learn to fly a helicopter.

Cheerios! (and fruit loops-I heart ya.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (Friday Fiction) [part 27 ]

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

Author's Ramblings: This week's installment is a little lazy and rambling, as I've decided to explore Eira's options for growing up. Her immaturity could lead to some serious problems, so I've attempted to work out a few of them, along with a few red herrings for next week. Do enjoy--and let me know what you think, I love all the wonderful feedback on this story and would like to mention it has finally passed the 50k word count. Thanks to all my readers for encouraging me to keep this story and finish it. Hopefully the end is somewhere in sight...someday. Happy reading and have a great weekend!

RECAP: When Deene, the smart-mouthed Rock Titan who nearly killed Eira has now joined their little traveling group, leaving Eira standing in the pathway as her master and the titan continue on, leaving her alone in the middle of a jungle pathway.


Eventually, the fact that she was standing in the middle of a dirt path in a jungle she knew nothing about, registered along with the realization that she was hungry—and her meal ticket had already left. Her feet discovered they could work again, starting off at a sloppy pace and picking up speed, making little poufs of dust as she hurried along the path.

She didn’t realize exactly how far behind she’d been, until finally two small specks were visible at the very tip-top of a hill quite a ways off. “You are kidding me.” She muttered, hooking her fingers through the pack straps and slowing her pace. Now that she had seen them, she could afford to slow down enough to catch her breath.

That was a welcome break apart from the fact that she wasn’t quite in a hurry to be walking with along with a talking rock monster-boy. And her newly insane Master.

The pressure in her head seemed to peak, staying at a point just barely worth tolerating while remaining fully functioning in terms of motor skills. Her thoughts tangled together as she trudged up the hills and then down them. She was moving fast enough that the faint figures eventually took on a more rounded shape, proof that she was catching up.

“I refuse-!” She puffed, pausing at the top of a hill, leaning forward to rest her hands on her knees. Her head was hurting much worse now and breathing wasn’t quite as easy as she remembered it. “To let him win.” She gasped the rest of the words out.

The Deene kid may have had some history with the Dark Phoenix, but she had been the one accepted as an apprentice. She had also been the one to give up home, family…and an ex-boyfriend. Her lip curled upwards at the thought of the square face and soul-patch beard that had made Steven so approachable. He’d been cute and that had been it.

Her head shook and she immediately winced. The shaking only served to remind her how tender her head was feeling, as the very motion of movement caused the pressure to inch up a little further. It was building up like a storm inside. Another wince came as she realized how true the parallel probably was.

Willing her feet to move a little quicker, Eira focused on the mental side of things. Distraction was what she needed the most at this particular moment, so she allowed the train of thought to continue on. She hadn’t thought of her family for awhile, and now that she was thinking of them, another realization registered. She hadn’t called them since her arrival on Vanderoone.

A wave of shame passed over her, settling on her cheeks as a rosy blush. Her mother would worry for awhile, eventually choosing to settle her mind on more pleasant things by her father’s insistence. Dara would fret and fume, before eventually embarking on another one of her usual adventures, where her travels would be the excuse for leaving home longer than a year or so.

Taking a deep breath, Eira let it out, slowly. With two fingers, she gingerly traced shapes on the smoothness of her forehead. Shapes and signs she remembered her mother’s soft hands drawing when she’d complain of headaches.

The urge to stop and rest was beginning to grow to overwhelming proportions. As hard as she tried to push them aside, Eira found the fight turning into a pointless battle. She would have to stop. Her head would explode and there was truly very little she could do about it.

Cresting the hill, she paused again for another breather, relieved to find the path sloped downward a few paces and then around to the corner. That was good. She wouldn’t have to use so much energy for the climbing up and down everywhere. Her mouth grew dry and her thoughts turned to water and then food.

Wrestling her pack off, Eira rummaged through it, with a half-glance at the trail and another inside the bag as she found a water-sack. Examining the nearest tree beside her, to be sure it was free from any kind of gunk, Eira braced for a moment, guzzling the liquid down.

On impulse, she poured a good dose over her head, before belatedly wondering where she would find a refill. Shaking it to get an idea of how much was left, only served to puzzle her. The sack was just as heavy as when she’d started, or so it seemed. Pushing that thought out of her head, Eira continued on, allowing her mind to aimlessly wander.

She didn’t know how long she was walking for and she did not care. Eventually, the rumbling in her stomach grew to match the annoyance of her horrible headache. “I hate this.” She croaked, pausing for another rest. “Not only is this walking going on forever, but I really hate this. I’m hungry!” She told the nearest bush. Of course, it did not answer and a careful glance around, showed no fruit or nuts visible on any of the greenery.

Her progress slowed significantly as she moved at a reduced pace to examine the plant life around her, in hopes of spotting some sort of edible anything. Eventually, the path was no longer straight, but slight upwards, with twists and turns every other few lengths.

By the time she reached the top, she was nearly out of breath again. In frustration, she kicked at the nearest tree and promptly regretted it. “OW!” The words about to spring from her mouth were tempered as she bit her tongue and plopped down on the ground, drawing her feet to her lap.

With some difficulty, she wrestled the first boot off and then the second. Peeling the socks off and stuffing them all the way to the front, she wiggled her bare feet in a moment of pure bliss. They were tired and achy, but not quite as bad, now that the boots were off.

Rummaging through her pack again, Eira found a hair ribbon to string the boots together by the bootstraps and twined it between the pack straps so it would hang over her shoulder. A faint smile surfaced, because the simple act of rebellion was rather uplifting in terms of distractions.

It was also a reminder for her hair. She fiddled with it as she walked, finger-combing it and then finger-twisting it in addition to all manner of other experiments, emboldened by the fact that she couldn’t see a thing she was doing to it, and therefore it did not matter. She did not want to admit that it was easier to care for, in terms of fussing over it, because long hair was a trademark for every woman in her family clan. A slight shudder passed over her at the thought of her mother or Dara witnessing the short, choppy crop of hair. They would both have a mouthful to say about it.

With a decisive shake of her head, Eira picked up the pace again. It was easier to move barefoot, this she discovered within a few minutes. Unable to discern why, was not a matter for concern, because the faster she covered ground, the closer she was to getting rid of the horrible headache.

Which was why she was in such a hurry, when she rounded the next corner, she tripped over the outstretched feet in the pathway. The usual yelp of surprise leapt from her lips as she awkwardly tucked and rolled to the side, sitting up, shaking her head seconds later.

By the time the confusion had settled, her vision had blurred and cleared in the following moments.

The Dark Phoenix and Deene were both studying her, silent, from their places on the ground. The Dark Phoenix sat, bracing against a tall tree with striped bark, whittling a stick that appeared to have come from a fallen branch to his left, while Deene lay sprawled out on the ground, playing with smooth stones as if they were toy blocks.

For a long moment, they all stared at each other and then Eira turned her attention to dusting her clothes and while readjusting her pack. Her boots had managed to go flying in the almost-disaster and she fished them out from the nearby bushes, brushing them off as well.

As she did this, the Dark Phoenix shifted to his feet and beckoned for Deene to do the same. The boy readily scrambled upwards, stuffing the handful of smooth rocks into a pocket, smudging a streak of dirt across his forehead as he wiped his face with one sleeve.

Eira took that moment to make a quick mental profile of the bothersome talking rock monster. He was pale, as that seemed to be his trademark, yet she couldn’t see any veins sticking out anywhere that were usually visible on pale people like her Aunt Vivian. He was much skinnier up close, which did not fit his talent of a humungous rock titan and his hair was more shaved than cut. He had a scar through one crooked eyebrow and his lips were thin and tightly pressed together. An entirely depressing portrait.

The Dark Phoenix cleared his throat from somewhere behind her and Eira quickly straightened, whirling around. Searching his face for some sign was pointless, for his expression was neutral, giving nothing away, while his silence caused her shift uncomfortably from one bare foot to the other.

She realized when Deene picked his pack off the ground, that they’d probably stopped for her to catch up. Neither of them seemed to be the least bit tired and as far as she could tell, there had been no food involved.

Her master seemed to be waiting for her to say something, so Eira drew on the floundering reserves of courage and spoke the only word that came to mind. “Sorry. Won’t happen again.”

Deene rolled his eyes, a gesture clearly visible over the Dark Phoenix’s shoulder, while he turned to the side. The Dark Phoenix merely tilted his head to the side, his gaze registering on her feet. The eyebrows rose, ever so slightly, a question.

She half shrugged. “I…I move faster when they’re off.”

This time, the nod was completed and stepping to the side, he passed her, one hand reaching out to gently touch her shoulder, before continuing on.

Eira felt the pressure in her head fade at once. In the time it took her to turn around to stare after him, Deene had pushed past her and fallen into step at his left side. She found herself speechless and dumbstruck, yet again, realizing when the head turned back, to hurry up after them.

Stifling the groan, she hooked her fingers through the pack straps and trotted after them. Her stomach rumbled and she hurried to fall in step beside the Dark Phoenix.

They traveled in silence for all of a half-minute. “Are we going to eat soon? I’m hungry.” There was a strangled noise from Deene’s side and after a moment, the Dark Phoenix shrugged.

“I suppose. Are you hungry, Deene?”

The head bobbed quickly.

“Very well, the next stop will be lunch.”

“The next?” Eira couldn’t help herself, she turned around, walking backwards. “We can’t wait until the next stop. We’re starving!”

“We?” The eyebrows went up again.

“Yes…wasting away…” Eira bit her lip, knowing the exaggeration was bound to bring her good humors back into play with her best face. “It’s truly a tragedy…and so very easy to fix.” Her stomach rumbled again, this time loud enough to be heard by all. His mouth twitched and they stopped walking.

“Now?” He inquired. "As in right now?"

“Please?” Eira crossed her fingers, tucking them behind her back.

The first edges of a smile registered. “I suppose now is fine…the next clearing is a ways up ahead though, we need to be there before I can make a fire.” He turned to the boy beside him. “Deene, firewood—go!”
Deene ducked his head and broke off in a light sprint. Eira watched him go and then turned quizzically to the Dark Phoenix. “Where’s he going?”

“Firewood.” The walk resumed, the pace a tad quicker. “He’s better at finding it than I am and he knows all the clearings on this mountain, he should have a nice stack by the time we reach there.”

Eira wrinkled her nose. “Seriously? Is he really that fast?”

“He knows when and how to use his energy, so I let him use it for useful things.”

“Oh.”

“oh?”

“Just oh.”

“Were your feet hurting?”

“huh?”

“The boots…?”

“Oh…no, not really…it…I just, well-”

“Did you kick something?”

A fierce blush came to the front at once. Eira turned her face away, searching for a safe and perfectly suitable substitute answer. “Sort of.” She hedged, pretending to be fiddling with her pack straps.

“A tree or a rock?”

She winced. “Tree.”

“I see.”

“How did you know?”

“I felt your yell.”

“Oh.”

“I also felt your energies shift from white to red…what happened?”

“If I ask where…are we going to start this roundabout question thing again?”

“Probably.”

“I…um-” Her thoughts flitted away from the too personal memories of her Mother, Dana and the bothersome Steven, to register on Deene. The last thing she could stand to deal with, was him knowing even more about her than she did of him. She slowed to a halt, toes curling in the dust.

“Deene can’t hear you…he’s too far away.”

The blush resurfaced. “Thanks. I…I was just thinking, that…he tried to kill me…really tried to kill me! I thought I was gonna die. I really thought I was gonna die. I thought if I didn’t, I’d get hold of him again and make him feel the same thing.”

“He already did. Twice.”

“How?”

“It hurts to be ripped apart limb by limb.” The Dark Phoenix said, quietly. “What else?”

“I came a long way for this.” She gestured with one hand. “A long way to be able to be here…walking with you and being able to learn stuff…even mediation, I was here first. I’m not going to be scared of him and I won’t let him scare me away from something that means as much to me as this does.” The sentence was twisted up and the words weren’t making much sense, but Eira felt another wave of release, the moment they were out in the open.

“I’m glad.” He spoke, at last. “I was wondering. I do believe it was an accident…I will ask him later. But I am glad you have come to terms with knowing exactly what you want. Now we can actually move on to some more important things…beyond meditation.”

“You aren’t mad at me?” Amazement was quickly rushing to the forefront of all other emotions. Eira couldn't believe it.

“Praise and criticism is a poor way to condition one’s students or apprentices. They must learn more about themselves…in their own timing and in their own way. Exactly what kind of a teacher would I be, if I could not recognize the moments such as these and allow you to discover the truth of yourself—for your own good. You were not in an immediate danger, though I will mention that it is not particularly safe to be wandering around these jungle paths on your own, I was keeping track of you and it seemed you could use the time to think, so I allowed it.”

“Uh. Right. Going over my head with the whole philosophical thing, but I’ll just pretend I’m mostly following it.”

His mouth twitched, an almost smile. “Good girl. Are you sure your feet are fine?”

Eira wiggled her toes, taking a slight skip forward. “Yep. They’re good.”

“Wonderful. Because I would like to start you on sparring in addition to some book work. We’ll work on your knife…issues, later.”

“Exactly how later?”

“Later.” He shrugged. “Do not focus on that now.”

“Not focusing. Got it.” Eira took a breath and slowly let it out. “Um…can I get a mirror sometime?”

“A mirror?”

“Yeah…you know, the thing you look in and see your reflection making faces back at you and—sorry.”

“Add that to the list, I will purchase it in addition to your other necessities when we reach Pietrassaan.”

“List? How long will it take till we're there?”

“A bloque, remember? And you will be doing bookwork which requires books and writing instruments.” His pace quickened. “And we will be there, the sooner we are not here. Do hurry up, I believe Deene is finished and I would like to cover a great deal more ground than we have today, lunch will be brief.”

“As long as it’s lunch, I don’t care.” Eira perked up, trotting happily beside him, her mind flitting to higher things. The smile flickered for a moment and after they’d traveled in silence for a few minutes, she ventured to speak once more. “Thanks.”

“For what?”

“Taking my headache…you didn’t have to.”

He almost smiled.

© Sara Harricharan

Thursday, March 4, 2010

National Grammar Day (BBT)



In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?

Yes, I do. Currently, my favorite is the classic Elements of Style--illustrated and in hardcover. ^_^ A Little Brown Handbook for MLA and APA nitpicking and a few others that don't quite come to mind at the moment--but I have more than two, I am sure.


More importantly, have you read them?

Excepting the LBH in its entirety, yes, I have. The Elements of Style was extremely helpful--definitely recommended to every writer (as was mentioned to me) and useful for brushing up on your grammar skills.

How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?

It's important enough. I say enough, because grammar really is not a personal strong point of mine. Some folks can really fuss over it, and I let them, because it is their talent, their hobby. In reality, I'm not very good at it, at all. I never bothered with the proper names for things such as "noun clauses" and "gerunds" etc, I have no clue what they are and look them up every time they are mentioned. Knowing what they are the proper punctuation for them is excellent, however, my brain seems to switch off to faraway lands and swashbuckling adventures the moment I begin to show interest in such things. You would think I could remember by now with, but alas, I do not. I am touchy about punctuation though, my main nitpick is commas and quotation marks. I can survive fairly well without thinking much further than that, though I still endeavor to hone what little scraps of knowledge I know, so my readers will have less of a headache in following my stories. Sometimes it works. Not all the time.

Cheerio! 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Manic Monday 3.1.2010



Were you considered popular in high school? Why or why not?



I didn't attend a 'traditional' high school, so I suppose I shall never quite know. I would like to think that I would have been the interesting person with the fun ideas and quirky personality--one can hope.

How old are you in your dreams?



Hmmm, tough one. Mostly, I'm about the same age, or fairly young-ish, probably about nine or ten and then I age to the present day. Very rarely dream myself though...dream of cats and words and...rainbows. Once in awhile of trains.

Did you ever run away from home? Why or why not?

Nope. I say this, attempting not to laugh...living out in the country for any country kid running from home, we all know that just doesn't happen. There's creatures out there, you know...bears and bobcats and foxes and coyotes and...well, you get the picture. I can't say I ever had the urge to runaway though, I liked it where I was, there was plenty of open air so I always had 'space'.