My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Phoenix: Chapter 41 (Xavier)

“I’m wondering,” Key shouted to Mark and me, “whether we should be going after Phoebe at all!”

“Of course we should!” Mark snapped protectively.

“Shut up!” I said again, but it didn’t work this time.

“We protect each other! I thought that was agreed!” he raged on.

“I’m saying,” Key said, “that she might be better helped by—“

“No!” Mark said. “I have a bad feeling she’s found something dangerous!”

“Shut up, both of you!”

This time, it did work.

“We’re going directly after her,” I said, noting Phoebe’s wand and feather still insisting on pointing in one direction, which I followed. “I do think she’s in danger. I know we’re all malnourished—those rabbits were lean meat, and we can’t survive with that as our only recent nourishment! But Phoebe’s probably in danger. She most likely went for the nearest mage, and that’s not really a trustworthy option, is it? I can’t imagine what happened if she tried to use phoenix magic! She couldn’t have used mage magic, not without her wand.”

“Unless she’s gotten more powerful than Daniel,” Mark shouted over the wind.

“Not likely,” I said. “She’s good, but she’s only three-quarters human at best, and Daniel’s strong. She can’t be using that much human magic. Anyway, a quarter of a person isn’t enough to support human magic.”

Three-quarters human. That meant that her magic wouldn’t be as strong as a full human’s, right? I was kind of guessing. But it seemed to veto Mark’s suggestion, and while it made him more worried, I needed him focusing his logic on what we were going to do, not wasting his energy on an impossible shred of hope.

“So what if she is being attacked by an untrustworthy mage?” Key asked. “Or what if she’s spotted in the city and someone tries to kill her?”

“What we need to do is keep her alive, first,” I said. “There’s one way to kill a phoenix. It has to die ninety-nine times of unnatural causes in a row, and then you have to clip its wings. That makes it mortal. This system was put in place by a spell, one that the magical creatures themselves did, because magical creatures weren’t so friendly in the past. Even the immortal creatures had to have some weakness, in case one went bad.”

Key shuddered next to me. She felt cold. But I had to say the warning that came next. Otherwise, it might happen… and I didn’t want it to happen and be my fault for not giving the warning.

“You… you know this guy will probably want to kill you guys, too?”

“Whatever,” Key snapped, sounding just as irritable as Mark. “Who cares about me? I’m a frippin’ human with a few chance hacker skills. What does that matter? But Phoebe did something special. She’s an innovator. She showed the Epselans what they could do! Access to two kinds of magic!”

I hadn’t thought of it like that.

“…Mark?” I called, unsure.

“I’m going,” he said gruffly. “Nothing else to do for her. I’m not leaving her to die. What about you?”

“I’m… not leaving her, either.”

“Won’t your folks be worried?”

“Don’t have any.”

It was quiet after that, but my own ears were ringing so loudly, and my heart beating so fast, that it didn’t matter anyway because I wouldn’t have heard if anyone spoke. It felt so surreal, but I knew that this was where I was meant to be.

“Xavier…” Mark said, after a few minutes, in which my pulse died down. “You wouldn’t by any chance be able to use Phoebe’s speed spell, would you?”

“Well, it’s Phoebe’s spell,” I said. “But I could try.”

“What do you mean, she made it up?” Key asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “But I have her feather, which might help…”

I’d duct taped the feather to the wand so that it didn’t blow away in the wind. The pitiful chance I had of doing magic again didn’t give me much hope. But it was still an emergency, and my panic funded my magic in a way that I couldn’t have normally done. So I tried.

Nothing happened.

“Keep trying!” Mark shouted.

And I did. Over… and over… and over…

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2011 at 4:39 pm and is filed under Phoenix. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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