She opened her eyes to darkness. Head raised, gasping desperately for air, she felt the coarse grains fall from her skin. She lifted a numb arm over her, clenching and releasing the fist as she did, and watched in awe at how it moved. Pressing the unfamiliar palms into the ashen ground, she pushed herself to sit up.
‘You have returned.’
She looked up but saw nothing, so went back to testing her limbs to see how they worked before bringing herself shakily to her feet. She shuffled steadily for a few, wobbling steps, feeling the soft ash sliding between her toes.
‘You have learned quickly.’
Childish curiosity getting the better of her, she addressed the disembodied voice.
‘What are you talking about? And, where are you?’
Her voice was rough, raw, and untrained, unused to human language, but the words came easily enough. The other voice gave a low chuckle.
‘I am everywhere and nowhere, little flame. But if you must peer upon me then move past the mounds of ash to the nearby sapphire pool. You will find me there.’
She huffed in defeat and moved toward the horizon; within the ends of her vision she could see the pool. It was large and glimmering in the beams of sunlight, calling her to its beauty.
Approaching light of the pool, she found herself staring into a pair of glowing amber eyes, accentuated with golden rings encircling the pupils. These were curtained with flowing waves of red hair, hanging down below her waistline. With a pointed nail, she brushed her hair back from her eyes.
Her voice rang through the derelict silence like beautiful music carried by the tide. The water rippled out from where she stood, as if responding to her. As it calmed, she found a stranger in place of where her reflection once stood. She too was a very fair looking woman, much like herself, but with deep brown eyes and golden hair.
‘Who are you?’
The reflection asked. The young woman was taken aback. She hung her head sadly after a moment.
‘I don’t know.’
The reflection smiled warmly to her and instantly her sadness eased.
‘Little ember, your name is Seraphina. You were born from the ashes of Phoenix; a powerful dragon of great renown.’
‘But, why don’t I look like a dragon?’
‘You are blood of the dragon, and in time you will learn how to summon your wings.’
‘And who are you?’
‘I am your spirit guide, always with you and beside you. My name is Phoenix.’
‘Yes, you were reborn from me’
Seraphina looked around to see the large ash pile, the pool of water and the skyline.
‘Where am I?’
‘This is a plane plagued by darkness. Evil is all around, so you must be cautious as you press forward. There is a kingdom of men to the East of here.’
‘Look to the sun, little ember.’
Seraphina squinted in the direction of the sun that was crawling its way up the navy blanket above.
‘That way?’ She said pointing upon the horizon to the right of her.
‘Yes. If you cannot summon your wings, then you must walk. Keep walking straight and you will find your destination by nightfall.’
The water rippled once more, distorting the image of her panicked face.
‘No, Phoenix! Wait! How can I summon wings? Why am I here? What does the darkness mean?’
Her questions flooded out quickly and were answered in silence as the waters calmed to reveal her own image once more. She sighed deeply and turned to the east, taking the first, unsteady step.
by Catrin Edwards