Friday 18 April 2014

#atozchallenge: Phoenix

Previous: Ogre

Ivy heard a long, piercing shriek from the kitchen and came out of her room running.
“Mother! Help!” Mary cried as she huddled on the table, looking at a sea of little faces that blinked at her.
“You have done it? Where is she?” Ivy demanded.
“Hush child, don’t be afraid.” The imps made a path for her as she walked over to her younger daughter and hugged her close. “Well?” she demanded.
“We found her. She is in the Old Kingdom.”
“Why didn't you bring her back? Is she safe?”
“You asked us to find her, not to bring her back,” the imp said with annoyance. “She is safe with her father.”
“Her father!” Ivy exclaimed, turning pale. “He is there?”
“Yes. Now about that matter of payment…” The imp grinned.
“What is it you want?” Ivy’s thoughts kept turning to Darrick. He will die before I get to him, he will die unless someone intervenes. Oh Mother, what will you do in your anger?
“The firstborn of the firstborn is sacrosanct. But will you release your secondborn to us?”
“What?” Ivy focused again on the imps. “What do you want of her?” She held Mary close, young Mary who stared at them with bewildered eyes, and looked at her mother as if she had never seen the woman before.
“To cook for us, to slave for us, to do the many things we have done for you all your life!”
Ivy glared down at them and they withered.
“You know we joke, Leanen Sídhe!”
“I begin to wonder. What is it you need?”
“As we have always needed.”
Ivy sighed. She beckoned Mary, who clambered down from the table and stood beside her mother, gripping her hand tightly.
With slow, clear words, Ivy incanted:
The protection of this house is yours, now and forever more.
Our sustenance is yours for as long as you need,
Our lives are pledged as friend to friend
That those who come against you will face our wrath.
The silence grew heavy as her words hung in the rafters, absorbing themselves in the wood. With quiet nods, the imps disappeared into the woodwork. Ivy felt a great weariness fall over her, and she leaned on Mary as she stumbled to a chair. Her daughter still stared at her wide-eyed.
“You have seen a lot of things I did not wish for you to know of yet,’ Ivy said gently. “And you will have to see more that I cannot hide from you. For now, will you make my tea? I have need of great strength.”
As Mary set the kettle to boil and mixed the special strengthening brew of herbs her mother relied on, Ivy sat staring at the fire. “The imps will not harm you. They will listen to you as my daughter. Do you feel safe here alone?”
“Yes, mother,” Mary answered as she placed the cup in her mother’s hand.
Ivy smiled as she caressed her face. “I am going to do a dangerous thing. Your father is in danger and this is the only way I can think of to get to him fast enough.” She held the cup in trembling hands, and took a long draught.
“Can I come with you?”
“I wish you could, but I do not know how.” Draining her cup, she took a handful of the herbs and threw them in the fire, muttering words under her breath. “Do not be afraid, Mary. Look for us when the sun sets.” With that, she threw herself into the fire.
Mary screamed as the fire seemed to greet and envelop Ivy. The bright shimmering blinded her and when she opened her eyes again, a beautiful, crested bird stepped out of the fire, seemingly surrounded by a halo of light. Then it unfurled its wings and flew away.

Next: (Fairy) Queen
Back to the theme list.


From Wikipedia:
In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix (Ancient Greek φοίνιξ phóinīx) is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix was subsequently adopted as a symbol in Early Christianity. While the phoenix typically dies by fire in most versions of the legend, there are less popular versions of the myth in which the mythical bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again.[1] Herodotus, Lucan, Pliny the Elder, Pope Clement I, Lactantius, Ovid, and Isidore of Seville are among those who have contributed to the retelling and transmission of the phoenix motif.
In his study of the phoenix, R. van der Broek summarizes, that, in the historical record, the phoenix "could symbolize renewal in general as well as the sun, time, the empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life".[2]


  1. I have a bit of catching up to do, but liked reading this chapter. I'm curious to know what happens next. Good post.

  2. So Ivy is going back to see her mother. That's going to be an interesting meeting.
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  3. Another good phoenix post! I love them.

    Timothy S. Brannan
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  4. Still here and reading the story with immense interest!