“Okay, you are going have to explain what exactly is going on with you.” Kasey greeted me with a cheerful smile as she sat down next to me. “I think you spent what one night in our room, a room that you were assigned to, attended half a day of classes, tried to kill Blyth then showed up with him, left with Marc, turned, and now you are back? That just needs a lot of explaining, if you ask me.”
“If I understood most of it I could explain, but I’m still trying to catch up with myself.” I grinned at her equally cheery. “I’m here though.”
“Well, just explain one thing if you can then.” Kasey turned in her seat ready to be intrigued it seemed.
She looked around first to make sure no one else was listening, “Who are you seeing, Blyth or Marc?”
I tried not to get upset with her question because I could understand with the scene that we had all created at the bar. “Neither actually. I’m dating someone from home.”
“But you have been sleeping in Blyth’s room with him.” She whispered. “He told Alec that’s why he hasn’t been around. Blyth said that you’ve been with him like the whole time.”
“Yes, but nothing happened.” My eyes went to the door when I saw someone else walking in. “Nothing happened.”
“No woman has ever stayed in his room where nothing happened.” Kasey’s eyes followed mine to the door. “Are you looking for someone?”
“Nothing happened.” I repeated moving my eyes to the front of the classroom.
The teacher had called for everyone’s attention. It gave me a chance to dodge all of her questions. I could only imagine how far they would go. She could question me until the end of the day, I’m sure, if she had the chance.
“Ashley, can I see you out in the hall for a moment?” I turned to see the woman Blyth had introduced me to as Gran interrupting the class. I nodded and looked around to see everyone’s eyes on me. Great.
As soon as I walked out and shut the door I could feel my nerves beginning to eat through me. A thousand and one questions ran through my mind wondering what she wanted. I hadn’t done anything wrong. Did I?
I kept my eyes on the floor when she began talking. The tone in her voice had suggested that she wasn’t happy at all. “It has come to my attention Ashley that you have turned just over five months before your eighteenth birthday. I can see for myself that it has happen, but I must ask. Have you turned?”
Her voice was still as cold as ice. “I suggest that you get your personal items that are on the premises and leave.”
My jaw dropped, “Why?”
“Because Ashley you are a danger to us all and I won’t risk you being here. I’m sure that Blyth would agree with me if he was here, but since he is not I am making this decision on his behalf. Goodbye Ashley.” She turned to leave before I had a chance to say anything else, so I caught her by the arm to stop her.
“What am I suppose to do? I thought this was a school for us to learn how to control our powers.” I nearly dropped to my knees with desperation. I didn’t know what I was or about to become, but it was obvious that everyone didn’t want to trust my powers.
“A power like yours will only kill us all.” She ripped my hand from her, “I suggest that you find a deep dark hole in the ground and never come out again.”
“Gran!” Blyth’s voice brought me hope as he started down the hallway in front of us. “What is going on?”
“Sir,” I watched as she lowered her head in respect, “She’s a phoenix.”
“So? What are you doing?” I knew that he was a man on a mission by the authority that he held in his voice. “Let her get back to class.”
“I can’t do that, Sir.” She replied, “If she stays here she could…”
Blyth quickly interrupted her as he stood directly over her now, “This school was created just for those like her. Now I can see over the years that meaning was misconstrued. She stays.”
I felt a sense of relief in his words, but I could also feel the eyes of everyone behind me. I looked and saw several people from the classroom behind me staring out the doorway, including the teacher. I turned my attention back on Blyth and Gran as she started whispering. She must have realized that there were prying eyes now as well.
“She would be a risk to the entire school if she stays. Sir, think of all the students that are here. Think of what all their parents would do if they found out that there was a phoenix here at the school.” Her voice grew even more silent as she got closer to him.
There was no resolution on Blyth’s face as she pulled away. “You want me to take her to Norcia?”
“Well, it is evident that you can’t in this condition, but I think you should have someone do it.” She was no doubt meaning in the fact that he had no power near me.
“I am perfectly able to do anything in this condition.” Blyth glared right through her, “You will need to get a new teacher for the afternoon classes. Perhaps you could get Marc back since she is leaving. Now get out of my sight.”
“Sir.” Gran lowered her head and disappeared.
“Ahh!” I cowered away from Blyth as his fist slammed into the wall right beside him. My eyes stayed firmly planted on the floor as he came closer to me. “Ash, make my eyes blue.”
“I really don’t think…”
“Ash, damn it,” Blyth’s palms landed on each side of me against the wall, “Just do it.”
I opened my eyes to watch the sky blue crystallize over the intimidating brown. I understood why he refused to look at himself now. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen it before. Maybe it was just because it had been so long since I really stared into Matt’s eyes. It was very clear though they were not the same, barely even close in my eyes.
Blyth’s eyes were still full of rage as he turned to look at our audience. In one swift movement he pushed himself away from the wall and grabbed my wrist pulling me down the hallway. After we had turned the corner he let go of my wrist but continued with the same determined walk as before. “Here, I think you forgot these.”
I watched as my antibiotics went flying through the air just in front of me. I stopped briefly to catch them and hurried to gain my pace with Blyth, “Thank you. I actually forgot everything there.”
“The hotel sent them hoping that you were a student.” Blyth seemed to have lost all of his anger from the sound of his voice. “I had asked about your suitcase, but they said that these were all they found.”
“Yeah, I think Marcus had gotten my suitcase sometime this morning.” I admitted. I didn’t want to tell him about where I was or that Marcus has been in my life after he swore that he would keep him out. It wouldn’t do anything but aggravate him again, and I didn’t want that.
“And he just conveniently forgot to get them I suppose.” Blyth grumbled. As soon as we got to his bedroom he stopped me. He didn’t look at me. He just held up his hand halting me, “Wait here.”
My heart raced as the wind rushed up around us. I closed my eyes and clenched the hand inside of mine. I was finally free of everything, and the release that I had been searching for now surrounded me. The world was mine just for that moment. The unknown was swallowing us, and I didn’t care what was waiting. I was content knowing that I wasn’t a puppet any longer.
Without warning I heard the splash and opened my eyes to find that I was completely surrounded by water. I couldn’t remember the terrain at the bottom of the cliff, but I knew it wasn’t water. It stung my eyes worse than the cut in my palm and I knew that we had landed in some ocean. I tried to pull away from the man and fight my way to the surface. He refused to lose his grip and quickly he took us somewhere else.
Cries of his laugher rang out around me as I began choking on the water that I had swallowed before he transported us out of it. When I opened my eyes, although the salt was still burning through them, I could see an endless sea of green grass around me. I rolled onto my back and found a beautiful array of dark blue fading into purples and pink. I tilted my head back and saw the sun beginning to rise just behind us.
“It is beautiful.” I whispered in awe of the magnificence around me. Perhaps it just seemed more wonderful because in this new day beginning I was finally in control of my own destiny.
I closed my eyes and relax my body back on the ground. As the aroma of the sweet free air filled my lungs I knew we were no longer anywhere near the ocean which thrilled me completely. My hand fell from the man’s grip into the grass and I brought both of my hands up to run through my hair. To my surprise it was as dry as the clothes that surrounded my body. My head rolled to the side as I opened my eyes to the stranger who had saved me from whatever Marcus had planned.
I gasped and grabbed a hold Blyth’s shirt bringing the eyes that I had just been staring into closer to mine, “What is happening?”
“We’ll figure that out here soon enough,” Blyth pulled my grip off of his shirt and backed away. He kept a firm grasp on my hand though, “I need you to take me to Rome.”
“Yes, Rome.” Blyth straightened himself out and closed his eyes, “I want to go home.”
The first thing that came to mind was the Roman Coliseum. I watched as the swirls of colors faded away into a wonderful view, but I clutched Blyth for fear that I would fall. He started laughing lightly, “Subtle, but I’d rather be down there.”
I stared out over the ruins of the Coliseum from the top ledge it would seem. I looked around me to see all of Rome. It was beautiful. More than I could have ever imagined. As Blyth nudged me slightly I felt my grip getting tighter and I was suddenly reminded that he wanted to be down. At that moment I wanted to be down there too, and in that moment I took us there.
“What time is it here?” I questioned as I looked around at all the people.
“About two,” Blyth searched the scene ahead of us, “You see that light. Take me there.”
He continued to point out different landmarks or items for me to take him there. I realized after the second item that he was directing me on how to get me where he wanted without the hassle of taking the time to walk. I was a little disappointed that our trip wasn’t longer when we ended up in front of a building. It would have been nice to see all the sites here in Rome, but as he pushed the door open I realized that I could see it at any time now that I had turned.
I took one last look at the street and then I hurried to follow Blyth up the stairs. As soon as he got to the top he took out a set of keys and started fumbling with them. “It’s been forever since the door has been unlocked. I actually think this is the first time I’ve used the door. Let’s hope that it doesn’t fall off of its hinges.”
“That’s a bad habit.” I returned his smile, but I barely looked high enough to see his eyes.
After he had unlocked the door it creaked horridly. I wasn’t sure why but Blyth sat there studying it intently after he moved it back and forth several times making the screeching sound even louder. He had finally given up and walked inside. I followed watching him toss his keys on a stand beside the door. I closed the door slowly which just made the sound longer.
“Kitchen is that way. You can go take your pill.” My eyes landed on Blyth as he pointed to the left. They quickly went in the direction that he pointed when I saw him taking off his shirt walking away from me. Reminded instantly of my dream last night I rushed towards his kitchen. “I’m going to get a shower. While I’m in I want you to practice your magic. Move stuff, make it appear and disappear, don’t lose it, break something, and put it back together. I won’t be longer than ten minutes or so. Don’t stop until I come out, got it?”
“Do you have anything to eat?” I asked finding my way around his huge black leather wrap around couch.
“Doubt it.” His voice trailed from some other room, “I haven’t been here in about a month. Didn’t you eat yet?”
“Yes,” I admitted. There was no way that I could have refused Matt’s eggs and toast this morning after he showed me the burn on his finger that he had got while making it. “I just had this weird dream.”
“Don’t worry about it right now. Just do what I told you.”
Once in the kitchen I got myself a drink and took my antibiotic. I started using my magic like he had told me. I slid my glass up and down the counter a few times then I made it appear out in the living room and brought it back. Finally I lifted it several feet off the counter and let it fall onto the floor. Slowly I pieced it all back together hoping to keep myself busy. These were all simple things that Michael had already taught me.
Finally I had become quite bored with the glass and looked around for something else to mess with like he wanted me to. I tapped my fingertips on the counter as I opened the draws and cupboards allowing all of the utensils and dishes to come out. I watched them float momentarily then sent them dancing just as I remembered from The Beauty and The Beast. It would have been nicer if I could make them sing, but dancing was good enough for me. It wasn’t near as grand as the scene that I had watched on TV. His small set of dishes seemed to fit decently on the counter though.
I left them to do their thing while I walked out into the living room. I knew that Blyth would have a decent stereo system in here. I found one of those remotes that control everything sitting on the stand. I began going through the music that he had. After sifting through what I assumed was several hundred band names I finally just selected one. Soft string filled the room with speakers that I had no idea where they were. Suddenly a woman’s voice as powerful as my own magic started.
I slowed the utensils and dishes down to the speed of the music. I shook my head determined that this wasn’t the music that I wanted so I selected the next band. It had a faster beat, but not uplifting. Next. Next. I went through half a dozen different songs before Blyth had finally come out.
“What is going on in my kitchen?” Blyth threw himself down on his couch causing me to turn my attention to him instead of the remote in my hand.
“Just keeping my mind busy.” I smiled and sat down on the other side of his couch keeping a distance between us. “I got bored.”
I began putting everything away when Blyth held up his hand, “Wait, I want to see just how much you can do at once. Bring them all in here.”
I did as he said wondering how far he was going to push it. I had never tested the strength or amount that I could do at once before. Except when I had tried to break that spell and that didn’t work so well. “I’ve never done this before.”
“You’ll be fine.” Blyth encouraged me as he watched his stuff dancing in circles just over the center of his living room. “I have a crystal ball in my bedroom, get it.”
“But…” I had no idea what the point he was trying to make. I had never gotten something somewhere I’ve never seen before.
“Get it Ash. It is just a ball about so big sitting on top of my dresser,” Blyth cupped his hand as if he were holding it. I had started getting up off the couch watching Blyth who started shaking his head. “No, use your powers.”
I sat back down allowing all of his dishes to go back where they belonged, “I’ve never done something like that.”
“So your powers do have limits.” Blyth leaned back into the couch, “Why can’t you do it?”
“I’ve never gotten something that I’ve never seen. You are lucky that I’ve gotten us here. I’ve never seen Rome before, just pictures.” I admitted that I wasn’t as dangerous as everyone believed. “I really don’t understand what is going on.”
“You are a Phoenix, something extremely dangerous unless handled with care.” Blyth still didn’t explain anything.
I groaned and fell back into his couch. “You guys already knew this so what is the big deal now that I’ve turned.”
Blyth sat up, but I turned my attention to his ceiling as he started talking, “Violet never knew what a Phoenix was. I had only assumed that she mentioned it in reference to you living after seeing your fate. Never once had I thought that you were actually going to be a Phoenix.”
“Okay so what is a Phoenix?”
“Tell me what you know about the bird.”
“A phoenix is a bird that kills itself when it senses that the end it near, by catching itself on fire. Apparently nine days after, it is reborn out of its own ashes. That is about all I know.” I closed my eyes dreaming of a time when all this magic was much simpler. “I wish I could just go back to where it was just Michael, Marcus and I with no other people to worry about. Life would be so much easier.”
“Well, if you can still control your powers by your birthday you might just have a chance to go back, but I wouldn’t see the point in hoping. I’ve never known a Phoenix with that much control though. Phoenixes are extremely powerful and even more dangerous because of those powers.
The reason we call them Phoenixes is because of they are uncontrollable like the birds. When a phoenix is threatened it will burst into flames killing itself and everything around it because it knows that it will be reborn unlike the others. A great defense mechanism, but it makes them a hazard. It is well known that because of the uncontainable power that the phoenixes possess they threaten themselves and everyone else around. Unlike the birds the young witches and warlocks don’t come back.
The best way to stay in control of your powers is to get rid of them or bind them away from your body.” Blyth paused momentarily causing me to look at him. He had his forehead resting on the palms of his hands with his eyes closed, “She wanted me to take you to Norcia.”
“What is Norcia?”
“It is the first university ever dedicated to our kind. It was establish just a few years before I turned. Now hidden from the human’s eye it is the best school for our kind.” Blyth’s sapphire eyes caught mine before I had a chance to look away from him, “Unlike the school that I had created to help those like you, the one in Norcia, they would execute you without having any remorse. They feel that Phoenixes can never be trained or controlled. They would fear that you or any other Phoenix would expose us fully.
There are several reasons why Phoenixes are rare. The most prominent reason is because they only live for a few months after turning. The university kills any that they come in contact with or the Phoenix will end their own life, whether it is deliberate or not. There are very few that actually make it until their birthday. Never was I aware of any that had made it to their nineteenth birthday without relinquishing their powers.
My goal for you is to supersede everyone’s expectations and show how truly beautiful these creatures are. I know very well that it is possible for a warlock to hold such power, but he wasn’t a Phoenix. Michael had taken power years before it was even possible. Since he didn’t turn it wasn’t the same, but he continue to take power learning to control it unbelievably well. His technique I feel would work the same for any Phoenix, and that is what we are going to work on.
It is a great asset knowing that you have such control right now. You are also well aware of what you know is impossible. You know your limits, but they will stretch. Each time you feel your power growing, which will feel like turning again, I need you to start learning to control that much more. Unlike Michael you don’t have time to learn. Instead of the years that he can take to learn to control more power, you will only have a few short weeks, maybe a month. Once you reach your eighteenth birthday though it should stop. You will turn one last time and then it should be done.”
Blyth started rubbing his eyes, “It was never documented that any had turned again after their birthday.”
“How do you know so much about this?” I questioned staring into Blyth’s bloodshot eyes now. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. I just had a really rough night last night.” He started rubbing them again making me think that I had done something to him when I had changed the color. When he lowered his hands the skin around his eyes was swollen and red as well. “Too much drinking and drugs I think. I actually managed to stop my heart for a minute. It didn’t last though and started right back up. I’m sorry. Let’s worry about you.”
I lowered my eyes to the white plush carpet at my feet, “Blyth, I’m really sorry about last night. I had no…”
“Ash, don’t say another word. I don’t want to talk about it.” He stopped me before I could go any further. “What I want you to do right now is bring Michael here.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Just like all things you make appear and disappear. Imagine what you want, in this case it is just a person. I can assure you that he won’t be happy once he arrives, but I want him to try and teach you something that will benefit us all.” Blyth laid back into the couch and closed his eyes.
I did like he had said and imagined Michael right here in the room with us. It was as he had said Michael was not happy at all. “What the Hell?”
“Sorry about that Mike.”Blyth chuckled slightly as he stood up off the couch to help Michael up off the floor. It was apparent from the way he had arrived that he was sitting somewhere. After Blyth had helped Michael up he turned to me, “That was a bit faster than I had imagined. Good job.”
Michael studied his surroundings now letting his eyes fall into mine, “You brought me here?”
I nodded, but Blyth had answered for me, “I had her bring you here. I need you to show her some witch doctor stuff.”
Michael started scratching his head. “You want me to show her how to push the infection out of her body?”
“Yes, now Ash, come here real quick I need to tell you something.” Blyth motioned me over towards the door. I got up and walked over confused. He carefully placed me in front of the door, “This is where you are to come every day. Don’t show up in my kitchen or anywhere else. Right in this spot and nowhere else. Learn control. Got it?”
“Alright Michael work on getting that infection out of her.” Blyth removed his hands from my shoulders and turned around, “I’m going to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow Ash.”
“Hey, do you want some more Dilaudid?” Michael quickly asked before Blyth had disappeared from the room.
“Unless you can give me twice that amount, don’t worry about it.” Blyth smacked his hand against the doorway and was gone.
Michael stared at me with wide eyes but was still talking to Blyth, “That was a month’s supply for cancer patients.”
“Yeah, well, it didn’t work.” Blyth called out. “Maybe you could get me some lethal injections from the prisons.”
Michael shook his head and smiled, “Since you’ve come around he’s been really suicidal, which is making my job of trying to find a way to kill him just that much easier.”
I walked back over throwing myself casually into where Blyth was just sitting, “It’s my blood that will kill him or did you read over that section of your mother’s book.”
He rolled his eyes at me and lost the smile that he had as he sat down on the stand in front of me, “No, but I’m having a hard time trying to figure out a way to use your blood to kill him without killing myself. I’m not suicidal like him. Now let me see your leg.”
I fought the vision coming through my mind again about going to Michael in my dream last night. As I twisted my leg around just as I had then I turned my head and looked in the direction that Blyth had went. I wasn’t ready to look at it just in case that it was like I had seen in my dream. I waited patiently for his response. He lifted my pant leg just to above where the bite was. He twisted it back and forth, pressed on it, and then he finally said something, “It actually looks good, but he wants it out so let’s get to work.”