the Phoenix, Faye, has lived with Jeb a long time. Can she thwart him to save the dragons?
The Magic Flame
Faye awoke in darkness, and felt the familiar warmth of ash from a fire surrounding her. She sighed with relief. The burning time had passed. She was restored, for another two months. She poked her head out of the ashes and blinked in the sudden light.
Faye was a Phoenix. When she died, she would burst into flames, and from her own ashes she would be reawakened as a little chick. Faye stretched out her wings. The sooner they dried, the sooner she could fly again. She waited, impatient to get off the ground. A snuffling sound reached her ears, but she ignored it. She wished that she had died in a treetop, not on the ground. She started to run on her little feet, trying to fly. The noises grew nearer, and the thing making them came around the corner and spotted her. Faye froze in fear. It was a large dog! With a bark that made the ground tremble, it bounded after Faye; it’s jaws wide and drooling. Faye knew what that meant. She began to run, hoping that she may be able to escape living painfully in that dark stomach for a while until she burst into flames and the dog would die.
Fly. Fly! Faye, you pathetic chicken, open your wings and FLY! In desperation, Faye searched for something. Anything to take her away from that dog. She saw a car at somebody’s house. A man got in, and the engine began to start. She might have a chance. Faye pulled in her wings and ran faster. The dog was gaining upon her. She could feel its breath. She was getting closer, but not yet…soon… Now! She spread out her wings and jumped. The dog lunged, and his large fang caught the tip of her largest tail feather. The wind caught her, and she soared upwards, out of the dog’s reach. But then the wind died, and she dropped and landed on the hood of the car with a thump. Her clawed feet latched onto the bar on top of the roof, and she pressed herself to the car as it sped forward, the dog racing behind. She spread out her wings again. They were not damp anymore, and they shone bright red in the sun. Faye knew just how much a human would risk having a few feathers from her beautiful plumage. Faye twisted to look at her tail. It had grown longer, but only slightly. She sighed. Her growth was accelerated more than any other bird. But she would live forever, unless in those three minutes after she died, someone destroyed the ashes. Then, she would know what it was like to die. She almost wished she were like one of those birds, unable to live again, yet never having to go thorough the same stages over and over. Plus, nobody tried to hunt you down as much as they tried to hunt the ordinary birds.
The car slowed, and soon stopped at the curb of another house, with a car already in the parking lot. The man got out of the car and walked to the house, and a lady in a red dress answered the door. Faye, curious, hovered above them to watch.
“Hello, Jeb. How was your latest search?”
“Okay.” He sighed. “Finding proof of mythical creatures is hard. You never know where to look.”
“So where did you find the Phoenix?”
Cassandra was pointing at Faye. Jeb looked up. His eyes grew wide, and his mouth dropped open. I guess I’ll have to play along, thought Faye. After all, he did save my life, though he didn’t know it. She flew down and landed on Jeb’s shoulder. Faye decided she would try to speak their language. Faye had learned the human language, and it was not very hard to speak.
Faye opened her beak and began to talk, much to the astonishment of Cassandra and Jeb. “My name is Faye. I am, as you said, a Phoenix. I live where I am. Jeb saved me from a dog that would have completely killed me if he had swallowed every part of my body. But I am alive, and I have two months from now until I die and reawaken.”
Cassandra seemed to have thought that her boyfriend’s mythological quests would be fruitless, but it looked like she was now having second thoughts.
“Well, Faye,” said Jeb, “I realize that you are constantly in danger. I can give you protection, in exchange for you helping me find other mythological creatures. Do you accept?”
Faye thought about all the ties she had been in near death experiences, all the cold nights, hidden in crates and garbage bins, and all the times she had nearly been caught by cruel men…
“Very well. I accept.”
1 and a half years later…
Just another day, tracking down mythological creatures, thought Faye irritably as she floated in the air. Three reawakening times and still she was working with Jeb Anders. Time and time again, he had tried to trick her, trying to catch a photo or a video of her that he could give to the newspaper. But she had thwarted him. So why am I still working for him? Faye wondered. She flew overhead, carefully and skillfully tracking the signs of a loose dragon: footprints in the mud here, a tree sliced in half by sharp talons on folded wings, no birdsong, and other clues. She saw a large piece of underbrush trampled, and swooped down. She stayed on that path the dragon had made until she saw a large tunnel, and she could hear loud scuffling and squeaking coming from inside it.
“Bingo,” whispered Faye. She didn’t know why the humans used the term bingo for when they found something. It was absurd. But she liked to use it anyway.
Then she saw the dragon almost at the same time it saw her. The dragon began to shuffle out of its tunnel. Faye backed away as the dragon came out. The dragon was a female, and from the squeaks in the tunnel, it seemed like she was also a mother of dragon kits. She was much bigger than Faye was, and looked like she was hungry. Faye flew upwards, and the dragon swiped at her. She dodged, and the dragon, too stubborn to let prey go loose, flew up after her, a sharp talon on a back leg catching a tree and sending the top half flying. The dragon didn’t seem to notice. Faye gulped.
“Okay, Jeb. She’s out. Go in.” Faye spoke in the walkie-talkie attached to her beak. She watched a group of men slip into the tunnel, and there were cries that were silenced as each baby dragon was drugged. The mother, too intent on her prey, did not hear them, nor did she see each limp body dragged out and away into Jeb’s helicopter.
“We got them.” Jeb’s voice was excited. “Escape.”
The dragon lunged, and Faye, in surprise, froze. She fell, as she had stopped flapping, and the dragon’s jaws closed on empty air. She growled in frustration, and looked around, confused. Faye flew behind and gave a sharp peck on its tail. It turned around, and Faye flew up. However, unless a dragon is striking, it can track movement very easily. She followed Faye with her eyes. Then she opened her mouth wide. WHOOSH! Fire was everywhere. Faye felt it wash over her. The heat pushed her backwards. Then it was gone. Faye smiled in her head. Being able to control fire happened to be very useful in times like this. She opened her beak wide, threw her wings back, and brought them forward again. The wind from her wings became a ball of fire around Faye. She dove for the dragon’s neck, one of its weakest points. She felt a jar go thorough her body as she slammed against the dragon’s neck. The dragon’s eyes rolled into the back of her head, and she fell, unconscious, crashing to the ground. Men swarmed around her, picked her up, and carried her to Jeb’s large helicopter. Faye dove, and landed lightly on Jeb’s shoulder. He stroked her feathers.
“You did a good job today,” he said. “We make a great team.”
Faye nodded, but on the inside, her stomach was twisting into knots as she thought about how she had just betrayed the freedom of three dragon kits.
Jeb slipped into the covers of his bed. He looked up at Faye, who was on her usual perch by the window. He looked as though he could bounce on his bed with excitement.
“Get some rest, Jeb,” Faye said.
“How can I? I’ve installed security cameras. No one could get past those. Tomorrow, I’ll call the people who own the newspaper, Daily Events. I’d be on the front page, with you on my shoulder.” His eyes had a faraway expression as he imagined a life of fame.
“Faye? Can you sing to me?” Jeb smiled at her. He loved her magical song.
“All right,” said Faye. She took a deep breath, opened her beak slightly, and a soft melody came to her head.
“ The moon will rise, the day is done,
Now close your eyes, let the dreams come,
And though through your days, troubles meet,
Your nights are filled with sweetest dreams.
Dear Jeb, I know your life’s ambition
Was to fulfill your favorite mission,
To find the things that don’t exist,
And be a famous Biologist.
And though, as hard as it may seem,
These wishes come true, in your dreams.”
As the last note faded away, Jeb’s eyes began to droop, and then they closed. His breathing became slow and deep, and Faye knew her song’s magic had worked.
“Sweet dreams, Jeb,” she whispered. He smiled, but did not wake.
Faye flew out of the room, softly and noiselessly. She looked up at the security camera. It was pointed away from her. Good. She flew to the door, out the cat flap, and into the open air. She sighed in relief. It was tiresome to have to flap to stay in the air, when she was in Jeb’s secret headquarters. Here, there were warm thermals, and the wind could carry her. She turned around and landed lightly on the roof of the building. Then she opened her beak and sang. She put in more magic, so only one with that magic could hear. Her voice rang across the earth. Dragons and Phoenixes, Wizards and Fairies alike pricked their ears and listened.
“Fawkes, my friend, a dragon was found,
She lived in a tunnel underneath the ground,
She had three kits, and she lived with them well,
Until they were found, by the man with whom I dwell.”
She could feel the magic seem to shiver from the anger in her tone. Far away, Fawkes, a Phoenix, awoke to hear the sound of his friend and lover calling him. His master, the wizard Dom, awoke, too. They heard her voice, soft and strong, and listened intently.
“Dom, I speak directly to you.
Jeb has set up cameras, and clever ones, too.
Come quickly, and help me, to set the kits free,
And help them live for long years, happily and safely.”
Fawkes hopped to the window on the tower he couldn’t see Faye, but he could feel traces of her song. He sang back to her.
“Faye, my dear, how could I resist?
To meet you again is alone such a test.
Together, You, Dom and I will set the kits free,
And they will live for long years, happily and safely.”
Then Fawkes turned to Dom. He didn’t think that he could stop singing now.
“Dom, my friend, we must now make haste,
The night may be young, but it can soon fade away,
So before Jeb can show, that dragons are real,
We must fly, and hope, that we will have nerves of steel.
Dom smiled. He began to sing, too. The magic helped his voice carry, but the magical creatures cringed and covered their ears when the first few notes came. His voice was less than beautiful.
“Faye, young Faye, we are on our way,
The night though is young, will soon melt into day.
I assure you, that I will do all that I can,
To free those dragons, and…Um… give them a place to land.”
Dom looked embarrassed as the last note faded and the creatures sighed with relief as they took their fingers out of their ears.
There was one family of magical creatures who did not listen to this song.
The she dragon paced in her cage, her kits huddled in the center of the floor. She circled them, and then curled around them, her tail drawing them in closely, and her wing covering them like a large blanket. Her oldest son, Urrl, poked his head out of her wing.
“Mama, why did that man take us away?” His black pupils reflected his mother’s own green ones.
“I don’t know, Tashka,” she said. Tashka. It was from the old dragon language, before they spoke with magic. It meant little king. The she dragon knew the dragon language by heart, and she wanted to pass it on so that their talk wouldn’t be open to all magical creatures.
Her youngest son, Taki, also woke. His eyes were hazel. “We’ll fight them all off! He announced proudly. “I could kill them all, just like this.” He swiped with a long talon at the floor. It left a deep gouge, almost three or four inches. The she dragon was impressed he could do that at such a young age. He would be a strong war leader, possibly one of the best.
Urrl snorted. “Like you fought off those men who drugged you?”
“That was different! I was trying to keep Opal away from them!”
The youngest, her only daughter, Opal, poked her head out. Her eyes were one of the rarest types of eyes for a dragon to posses. They were bright blue. The she dragon knew what that meant. She possessed the magical ability to see into anyone’s mind.
“Everything will be okay, won’t it, Mama?” She asked.
The she dragon smiled at her. “Yes, Mashka. Yes, little queen. Everything will be fine.”
Her two brothers looked relieved, and curled up into a ball. Soon, they were snoring.
But Opal knew. Her eyes were troubled, and the two females, mother and daughter, did not sleep.
Faye waited. Fawkes would be here soon. She looked into Jeb’s window. His digital clock said it was two in the morning. They didn’t have much time. Only four hours. Then she saw a shape, coming down from the clouds. There they were. It shimmered and disappeared. A few moments later there was a soft bump on the roof. Faye joined them, landing and fluttering her wings before folding them into her sides. Slowly, Fawkes and Dom began to become visible.
“Had to use an unseen charm,” explained Dom. “Quite tricky. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
“Well, I guess it worked, because I couldn’t see it,” Faye said. She was next to Fawkes, their wings around each other.
Dom rubbed his wrinkled old hands together and pulled out his wand. “Let’s see what we can do,” he said. He closed his eyes. His wand began to grow a bright blue. “I’m doing a search,” explained Dom as the magic traveled over the house. “This will take a while, so we have some time to chat.”
Faye had a question that she had wanted to ask Dom ever since she met him. “What gives a wand its magic?”
“Well,” said Dom, opening his eyes, “wands are made to have one point, at the tip, which gathers all the magic into one spot, strengthening it. Inside my wand, I have a phoenix feather, which Fawkes lent me. It has magic in it’s own, to strengthen a wizard’s scattered magic. So, our wands help us to do magic properly and much more powerfully. Oh! It’s ready!”
The blue light had flashed purple, and then Dom muttered a few words under his breath.
“We’re in,” he said, and sank thorough the roof. Faye and Fawkes had to use the cat flap.
When they got in, they saw Dom at the door of the cage, unlocking the door. Two of the kits were asleep, but the mother and the smallest one were awake, their backs turned to Dom and obviously lost in thought. With a creak, the doors swung open.
The two dragons spun around, teeth bared. The other two woke up and also leapt to their feet. One of them leapt for Dom, snarling. Faye and Fawkes burst into flames in front of Dom. The dragon leapt back with a yelp and cowered behind his mother.
“You will not take my kits.” The mother’s voice was cold. She towered over them.
Dom smiled. “We are not here to take your kits, we have come to rescue them.”
The she dragon was confused. “I know that bird,” she said, indicating to Faye. “It kept me away while someone took my kits.”
Faye knew she had to speak. “I am sorry. I pretend to work for Jeb, so he will listen to me. I pretend to work for him in finding mythological creatures, but kept him from doing so. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, he found you. So I had to follow along. Now, I am here to rescue you, and your kits.”
The smallest dragon, with blue eyes, looked up at her mother. “She’s telling the truth.” The dragon mother relaxed slightly.
“Oh!” Dom looked pleased. “You are lucky. You know your daughter has the rare gift of mind-reading?” The mother nodded. Dom walked up to the little dragon. “You are a beautiful Mashka.”
“You speak our language,” said the little dragon. She did not sound surprised.
“I lived with an old dragon when I was young. Another dragon had attacked him. I did my best to heal him, and he told me about the dragons.”
“My name is Opal,” said the little dragon. “My brother that tried to attack you was Taki, and my older brother is Urrl. And this is my mother, Shaka.”
Shaka dipped her head politely. “I believe we must go,” she said.
“Yes,” said Dom. “Jeb will try hard to track you down. I can give you shelter in my tower.”
Shaka thought for a moment. Only a moment. Then she nodded. “Get onto my back and lead the way.”
Dom bowed, and with some difficulty and help from Shaka’s wing, hoisted himself onto the dragon’s back. “Let’s fly,” he said, and as the dragon flew out of the open cage and towards the wall, Dom muttered some incantations. The dragon and rider slipped thorough the wall and disappeared. Opal, Taki, and Urrl went thorough the cat flap, and followed their mother. Then, there was just Fawkes, Faye, and a fast asleep Jeb.
“Well, that wasn’t so hard,” muttered Fawkes, a moment to soon.
Faye and Fawkes instinctively took jump into the air and flew to the ceiling. Faye gasped. Jeb stood there, in his pajamas, with a flashlight, his face red with rage. “You were the ones who kept on destroying my plans!”
Faye became angry. “If you had to live in secret, hunted by madmen, and someone caught you and was going to make you known to the entire world, wouldn’t you welcome escape?”
“It’s not like that!”
“Is it, Jeb?” Faye’s voice became strangely calm. “Is it?” Then she turned to Fawkes. “Let’s go.”
“No!” Jeb leapt forward, but a look from Faye stopped him.
She turned away. “A heart can only be broken so many times, Jeb,” she said. “Will you completely crush mine?” Then she flew out the window, followed by Fawkes.
“I will find you!” Jeb bellowed after them. “I will hunt you down. Mark my words!”
Faye looked back. He looked the size of an ant from where she was. “No, Jeb,” she said. “I’ll put your hunts to an end. You mark my words.” Then she burst into song.
“The night is, done, the day we can see,
It’s time to proclaim our sweet victory,
We’ve had a success, the dragons are free,
And they will live in a sanctuary.”
Fawkes smiled, and began to sing with her. Together, their voices became one single harmonic voice. The magical creatures all over the world cheered at the victorious music. None of them could deny they had been nervously waiting, although they hoped the less than harmonic noise would not be what they had been waiting for.
“Oh, how could we ever doubt,
That Jeb would find us, and the word would go out,
But now we will live, more as mates then as friends,
And put Jeb’s schemes to an end.”
They reached the tower just as the sun began to rise. Dom welcomed them, and, perched on his arms, they watched the beautiful morning, as the red sun hoisted itself slowly into the sky, as it had done 1 and a half years ago.
To be continued in…
The Magic Flame returns