Posted in Inktober 2018

Inktober Day 31: Slice

Part 31: The End

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After the reunion with her family and a fresh change of clothes, Charlie and Daisy walked down the stairs to join the bonfire started by Elwood’s group. The entire village turned out, everyone asked question after question about where she was, and about the man who took her. Charlie hated talking about Mr. Betts, but thank goodness Moira swooped in with a short statement, “The rangers took care of him.”

Moira also decided to sit her down in front of the fire, and announced to everyone, “My best friend, Charlie, will answer everyone’s questions with a story!”

The crowd cheered, all eyes turning to Charlie. She blushed, and Daisy patted her face. “You got this,” she said.

Moira smiled. “I’m here,” she whispered.

Charlie turned to the crowd. “Well, it all started with a magical flower in the woods.” She launched into her story, introducing Daisy to everyone. Moira jumped in whenever she pleased, adding her own spin and helped move the story on. Charlie grew quiet when it came to the couple of weeks traveling with Mr. Betts, and Errol’s help. But her voice rang out to the crowd as she shared the phoenix’s flying high above them. She noticed her mom clutch her dad’s arm when she talked about falling off the cliff and the phoenix saving her life. She ran around the fire, imitating the flight, lighting her own fire trail behind her, much to the crowd’s delight.

At the end of night, when all the cake was gone, and the kids were all nodding off, Charlie, Daisy, and Moira snuck off to the inn rooftop to watch the stars. Moira whispered, “Think you’ll ever see that phoenix again?”

Charlie laughed. “I hope so.”

Continue reading “Inktober Day 31: Slice”

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Posted in Inktober 2018

Inktober Day 30: Jolt

Part 30: Home At Last

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Charlie ran ahead of the rest of the party after she noticed a familiar yellow striped sweater under the village’s welcome arch. She watched at Moira hopped onto a broomstick awkwardly, as her foot was still in a cast. Before she could push off from the ground, Charlie shouted, “MOIRA!”

Her broom lurched forward, throwing Moira off right into Charlie, who caught her before she hit the ground. “Charlie?” Moira gasped. “You’re actually back!”

“Why wouldn’t I be back?” Charlie asked, blinking back tears.

Moira spun around and hugged her best friend tightly. “The rangers kept comin’ back with nothin’. Today they said ya were gone forever, but I couldn’t handle that, so I snuck my broom outta town to fly off to find ya,” she sobbed, hugging Charlie tighter. “I’ve missed ya so much.”

Charlie sobbed too, as they both sank to the ground, holding tight onto each other. “I missed you too,” she choked.

Posted in Inktober 2018

Inktober Day 29: Double

Part 29: Home by Tomorrow

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Three weeks of travel passed on the road home. Charlie got to know the rest of the Elwood’s group. She spent hours listening to Elwood and the other elders telling stories of the past, days running around with the other children who begged to see her fire puppets, and evenings around a warm campfire when they stopped to rest. They would tell her exciting adventures of their own travels, never staying in one place for too long. They loved life on the road, and while some would leave, others would join in.

During these weeks, Charlie found herself hiding with Errol, listening to him write in his journals. She enjoyed spending time with him, sitting quietly in the carts and watch the world pass by. Charlie often wondered if this was having an older brother was like.

On the last week of their travels, Charlie was ahead of the group with Errol, when she noticed two tall towers sticking up above the autumn colors. She squinted, studying the shape carefully. “Oh!” Charlie cried out, “That’s the DoubleRing Tower! We’re getting so close!”

Errol stood next to her, shielding his face from the afternoon sun. “If we go at the pace we’re at now, we’ll be at the Tower by sunset,” he said, smiling. “We might stop there for camp, and continue on in the morning.”

Charlie couldn’t hold back her smile. “So I’ll be home by tomorrow,” she whispered. Running up to the edge of the path, she shouted so loud it made birds fly from the tree into the blue sky, “I’M COMIN’ HOME!”

Posted in Inktober 2018

Inktober Day 28: Gift

Part 28: The Phoenix Rider

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The phoenix landed further away from the cliff, behind Elwood’s party. Charlie slipped off the bird and hugged it tightly, whispering, “Thank you.”

He blinked slowly, flapping his wings excitedly as a bunch of kids surrounded them, cheering happily. A single orange-reddish feather floated down from his wing. The phoenix caught it in his beak, and dropped it in Charlie’s lap. He seemed to smile happily, and nudged her one more time. Charlie laughed, and hugged the phoenix one more time, stroking his beak. “You better get going,” Charlie said, “Catch up with your family.”

The phoenix chirped again, and soared into the air, leaving behind a trail of light as he joined the rest of his flock. Charlie smiled, holding the feather close. The kids swarmed her, and started asking question after question.

“Can I fly on it next?”

“THAT WAS SO COOL!”

“Can I see the feather?!”

Elwood approached the swarm of kids, his smile almost as big as the kids around her. He knelt down next to Charlie. “Now that is something I’ve never seen before,” he said. “You are something special.” He smiled again. “Thank goodness you’re all right.”

Charlie nodded. She peeked around him, searching for Mr. Betts.

“Don’t worry,” Elwood said, as if reading her thoughts. “He’s not going to take you away again.”

“Good,” Charlie said as she stared down at her hand.

Elwood stood up, and addressed his party, “All right, let’s pack it up everyone!” He winked at Charlie. “It’s about time we take our phoenix rider home.”

 

Posted in Inktober 2018

Inktober Day 27: Thunder

Part 27: Reunited

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Thunder boomed in the distance as the flock of phoenix’s soared above the skies. The people in Elwood’s party danced happy, cheering as the birds dived in the stormy sky. Charlie stared at the sky in amazement, tracing their path with her finger slightly on fire. “They’re so beautiful,” she whispered to Daisy.

More thunder rumbled, and a scream came from the group of kids. Charlie spun around to see Mr. Betts shoving the children out of the way, marching right toward her. Errol and Elwood both jumped in the way shouting for him to stop, but he only marched on. Mr. Betts reached the edge of the cliff just as a lightning flashed against the dark sky. “Run away from me?” he snarled. “I was going to be famous because of you! We were going to change the world!” He took a step forward.

Charlie moved back, feeling the edge of the cliff at her heel. “Stay away from me!” She shouted, her hands igniting.

“You’re coming back with me!” Mr. Betts demanded. “You’re better off without these people.” He took another step forward, reaching out. “You can learn to use that fire for so much more.” 

“NO!” Charlie screamed. Her foot slipped off the edge, loosing her balance. She grabbed Mr. Betts arm, hoping to pull herself up, but instead she burned her hands into his arm. He howled in pain, and shook his arm violently, pushing Charlie off the cliffside.

She closed her eyes tight, too afraid to scream, too afraid to call out for help. Even if she could, her breath couldn’t come, so only her tears flew in the opposite direction. Charlie waited for the end, for the harsh, cold river to wrap its rapids around her, but it never came. Instead she hit something warm, soft, something familiar. Opening her eyes, Charlie gasped as she looked at the warm orange and yellow feathers under her hands.

The smallest phoenix, with a patch of red feathers around its eye, chirped happily as it soared above the storm clouds. Charlie hung on tight. A faint memory creeped from the back of her mind. She was younger then, pulling off a net from a trapped phoenix… with a red patch around the eyes. “It’s you!” Charlie whispered. “Guess it’s your turn to save me.”

Posted in Inktober 2018

Inktober Day 26: Stretch

Part 26: The Road Home

81EA7D26-6609-4B1E-B634-618407226045 Charlie collapsed at the top of the stairs, breathing heavily as her eyes closed softly. Soft music gently reached her ears, and voices whispered quietly. Footsteps approached, and someone gently lifted her up. Charlie opened her eyes enough to see the shape of a young man carrying her softly toward the music. “It’s you,” she managed to get out before she passed out again. “My shadow friend.”

She woke up several hours later to a lot  children staring at her inside a warm tent. The kids all gasped, and one ran outside yelling, “She’s awake, she’s awake!” while the rest bombarded her with questions. An old man wandered in, shooing the kids out as Charlie sat up. He took a seat next to Charlie, smiling.

“My dear child, you had everyone so worried when Errol came running into the camp with you.”

“Where am I? Who are you?” Charlie asked as she looked around the tent. “Where’s Daisy?”

The old man laughed. “You’re little friend is all right. She’s with Errol.” He handed her a water bottle. “My name is Elwood, and you are in our camp at the ruins of Phoenix Roost.”

“Phoenix Roost?”

“Yes,” Elwood said. “Every year before autumn ends, we travel here together for the anniversary of the Phoenix Flight. An old village used to be here with a beautiful festival, before it burned down years ago,” he explained. “You arrived just in time to see it!” The old man chuckled again. “Now, little one, why are you here all alone?”

“A man kidnapped me, took me from my village.” Charlie frowned. “He wanted to learn more about my fire, but it’s nothing special. I’ve always had it.” She looked at her hands and started to cry. “I just want to go home.”

“Where are you from?” Elwood asked. “Maybe we can get you home.”

Charlie sniffed. She looked up at the old man. “Really?”

He nodded.

“I’m from Starwood.”

Elwood laughed. “My dear, you’re in luck! That’s where we’re heading next!”

 

 

Posted in Inktober 2018

Inktober Day 25: Prickly

Part 25: A Prickly Escape

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As soon as Mr. Betts fell asleep at their small camp, Charlie made her move. She quietly tiptoed over to his suitcase, and pulled Daisy out from the bottle. Setting in the small decoy, she closed the suitcase and looked around for her next move. A voice softly whispered from the distance, “the bushes.”

Right. Her mysterious shadow friend was somewhere nearby.

Charlie looked at the thick, prickly bushes just beyond the camp. There was a small gap, just enough for her to fit through on the bottom. Tiptoeing away from Mr. Betts, Charlie hid Daisy in her sweater, and walked over to the bushes. She crawled in, needles scratching her cheeks and pulling at her sweater. She broke through the last patch of bushes, greeted by an old sign post with ivy growing up the side, pointing down a worn pathway.

She pulled herself out of the bushes, and sprinted down the path. For a moment, she started skipping, smiling as she ran through the forest. The smile slipped away as Charlie approached an old stone archway, with a winding wooden staircase leading up into a denser forest.

Daisy climbed onto her shoulder, and looked up at Charlie. “What do ya think?”

“I think I know this place,” Charlie whispered. She gripped the old handrail, and started to climb.