The Five and the Phoenix

This Write on Edge prompt continues the story from The Five and the Graduation. Read it first if you want the whole story.

* * *

The hungry flames tasted the redhead. Its tongues lapped at her skin, licking her, testing her.

The Five watched, hands linked around the unnatural blue blaze meeting the sky, continuing the chant, “Through death comes rebirth. Receive our blessing.”

The storm raged, attacking the fire with its tears, refusing to believe it could not win.

The Five didn’t notice, their skin still dry, their long hair untouched by the gusts exhaled across the ocean.

The flames lifted the girl off the ground, her green eyes remaining open. The terror dancing behind them had vanished once the blue curtain had surrounded her. Awe replaced it, followed by rapture.

Serena the First held back her joy, focusing on the chant. Ginger was her choice, even though Zane the Second objected. The last Chosen One had been his, a boy. The fires had taken one taste of the boy and spat him out, skin ablaze. They’d broken the circle and scattered as the boy tried to run to the ocean, only to collapse feet away into a charred heap. The smell of burnt flesh still haunted her. It had taken a year before she was certain they had found the right candidate.

One flicker escaped from the mass, reaching out to Serena. It transformed from a vibrant blue to a deep purple as it wrapped itself around her wrist. Another followed, and another, each one surrounding another wrist of The Five until ten tendrils tethered them.

It burned, branding them, a test. Serena and the others held fast, knowing failure was worse.

Time stretched. It could have been minutes or hours.

The flames brightened and twisted, encasing Ginger from view. The tethers joined the mass and released The Five. The tower continued to twist until it resembled a giant beanstalk, no thicker than an arm.

The ground beneath it shook and opened, inhaling the fiery stalk.

The Five walked toward each other and tightened the circle, hands still linked, to the small pile of ash left behind.

Amy the Fifth broke their silence. “Shouldn’t we—”

Serena cut her off. “She must rise on her own.” Her heart pounded, anxious to see what form The Sixth would take.

The ash turned to mush, then washed away in streams, coating The Five’s bare feet even as they remained dry.

Pale, white patches of skin appeared, revealing the form beneath like a puzzle.

Instead of another teenaged body, this one was small, that of a child. Scarlet hair wrapped the body.

It stirred. Like a switch, the storm stopped, the angry clouds drifting away as it rose.

A girl.

Serena swallowed as the girl looked at her, green eyes still aflame.

The girl spoke, her voice too old for her body. “I am Phoenix, the Queen.”

A force dropped The Five to their knees and Serena shuddered.

Now they were the puppets.

* * *

I’m over word count by about 35 words, but will try to cut them down later. Concrit is welcome as always.

This was dusting the cobwebs off after a summer off of writing, but I still want to know what worked and what didn’t. 

If you want to see how it all began, you can read The Five and the Graduation.

* * * The Prompt* * *

Angela spoke on Monday about an idea coalescing, rising figuratively from the flames of a weekend campfire. In that spirit, this week I challenged you to be inspired by the phoenix in 450 words or less.

phoenix |ˈfēniks|
noun
(in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.

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About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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11 Responses to The Five and the Phoenix

  1. Wisper says:

    I love this. I want to see where it goes. As for concrit – I think really the big thing would be to see where things could be rephrased a little or just plain cut out. For example, in this sentence – The ground beneath it shook and opened, inhaling the fiery stalk into the ground. – I’d take out the second into the ground. You’ve already set up that the ground opened so the second one is unnecessary. Little tweaks like that would tighten it up some. I’m always amazed when I go back and look for that in my own stuff to see how much of a difference it makes in both word count and impact of the piece.

    • Thank you for the concrit.

      You’re right about that repetition. I had to leave for the day and wanted to get this posted so I didn’t have time to do much editing or it wouldn’t have been posted until late Friday night.

      I’ll be going through to try to find 30 more words to cut.

  2. Denise says:

    Wow! I thought this was great. I cannot believe you got that much material into 450 riveting words. I’d love to hear more. Terrific job.

  3. Carrie says:

    I think it flowed really well. You wouldn’t think you’d been off from writing for so long.

    You’ve got lots of fabulous elements and some strong characters to play with. Looking forward to the next installment

    • I don’t know if there will be a next installment, just as I didn’t know this would be the second. But I logged onto the computer on Friday, saw the prompt and link up, and for the first time in months, a story sparked–even though it was a continuation from an earlier prompt.

      I had to write it, even if it is a little rough.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It is always appreciated.

  4. Love the take on the prompt, and the twist at the end. They thought they were getting a sixth, but instead they conjured a queen. There’s open danger in that last line. Nicely played.

    And don’t sweat not having the time to devote to editing before hand. I find sometimes that I get some great suggestions that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. And you couldn’t ask for a more supportive community than WOE.

    I agree with Wisper that the scene could be tighter. When and if you revisit, there is a wonderful opportunity for some foreshadowing. I like that you concentrated on the relief that they found one the fire accepted, but I think if you could have Serena notice something different earlier, something dangerous in those green eyes during the ceremony, it would build the suspense and drive the scene forward.

    Just a thought.

    I like where this went. Well done!

  5. angela says:

    So lovely to see you back here! I’m glad the prompt spoke to you. I agree with the other comments about tightening it up, but I don’t have any doubt you can do that in a few minutes.

    I like the idea that they conjured a queen because of the “puppet” implication. There must be some potential for power there for them to set themselves up to be directed in such way. I think it’s an intriguing idea.

  6. I remember the first part of this. It was memorable enough that I knew exactly the story this came from within the first two lines–so very well done.

    I actually thought the whole thing was very well-written; the above repetitions didn’t strike me. My only concrit is right at the end–the anticipation is changing to another something less happy, and it feels abrupt. When you aren’t constrained by word counts, explore the emotional implications of that shift a bit. *A*bit.* It won’t take much.

  7. lexy says:

    Wow. I remember the previous post from a while ago, but was definitely not expecting this to happen for the continuation. The way she refers to them as Name the Number is very creepy and alien, really sets them as different from normal people in more than the obvious ways already indicated.

  8. Cameron says:

    Hey, Kelly! So good to see you here!

    I remember the graduation piece, and I love the mythology you’re creating here with this coven (?). They’ve got their hands full now, huh?

    As for concrit, the others took care of that, so I’ll just sit back and enjoy 😉

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