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Phoenix (standard:fantasy, 1019 words)
Author: EponineAdded: May 05 2001Views/Reads: 1826/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A story about the legendary bird.
 



Phoenix 

She was lovely and bird-like in every possible way.  She had the grace
of a swan, the voice of a lark, and the curiosity of a sparrow.  She 
was intelligent as an owl is fabled to be, and could attract an eye 
with the best of peacocks.  There was no question as to why her parents 
had named her Phoenix. 

They say that some birds only mate once, and once they had found their
one partner, they are together for life.  This seemed to be true for 
me, because for the past five years I had no eyes for any but Phoenix.  
Oh, everyone in the feudal village knew she would be the Lord of the 
Manner’s wife...that was inevitable.  But when she first came of age, 
almost all of the men had begged for her hand in marriage.  But the 
response was always the same, ‘No, there is plenty of time.’  In truth, 
there was not.  There were only a few years a woman had to be useful as 
a child-bearer, and soon after death.  The poor serfs of the village 
proper fell out of line to win her hand, there were more important 
things to tend to and women readily married.  The only two who 
contested for Phoenix were the Lord, and myself, who stood no chance 
against a high knight pledged to the King.  But I still hoped, fool 
that I am.  So did my lord. 

Years fell by, and still Phoenix denied herself to anyone.  The Lord of
the Manor was properly angered, she was, after all, only a daughter to 
those who worked his lands.  But even in the sparse rags that she could 
barely afford, she looked more like a queen than the Queen herself did. 
 Our lord, who had married a noblewoman from the Court, and commanded 
Phoenix to the worst of jobs on his property, passed away without 
warning. He left behind a son, who was destined, it was told, to become 
a great knight as his father was.  During these many years that passed, 
Phoenix looked like a young girl.  There were a few villagers who 
sought her death, claiming she was a witch.  But most others just shook 
their heads and smiled, so charming was she that most did not notice 
her age and her physical looks contradicted each other. 

We all served our new master well, and he was kind to us.  It was plain
that he, like his father before him, sought the hand of the bird-girl.  
I had stopped pursuing the matter, for if she would not have a lord, 
she surely would not have a peasant.  Never did I marry, though I knew 
she would never wed me, nor any other man for that matter.  Her 
parents, too, had passed, and she was encouraged to marry.  Still she 
declined, being the stubborn goose she was.  The stubborn goose I loved 
yet. 

Her parents had barely been dead for one moon when we received a
message, directly from the Pope, as sent to the Parisian bishop.  He 
called for a Crusade to begin against the Muslim heathens who had 
overtaken the Land of Bread and Honey.  All were asked to join.  I, 
along with the rest of the men, and the youthful knight, sought to join 
the armies.  Instead, the young man took me aside and pleaded with me 
to stay.  “Gerald, I know I cannot stop you from joining the ranks, it 
being the Pope’s decree, but the estate needs you more.  And you know 
what happened in the last Crusades, you of all the serfs have some 
knowledge.”  I acquiesced, he was, after all my lord. 

As all of this was happening, I noticed that Phoenix grew more worried. 
Could it be that she would marry the youngster, she who should have 
been his MOTHER?  The idea seemed only to strike me.  The rest of the 
villagers would find the idea preposterous, after all, hadn’t she 
refused to wed?  The men who would fight left shortly, and Phoenix grew 
more withdrawn.  I often tried to talk to her, but she denied me her 
feelings.  About three seasons past when we received the word that the 
lord was dead.  That was when Phoenix at last spoke to me.  “You, 
Gerald, must not say a word to any.  But upon the lord’s death, I am to 
be reborn.  Do you know the legend of the Phoenix?”  I shook my head.  
“She is a bird, a symbol of Fire.  Every hundred years, she bursts into 
flame, and from the ashes arises a new bird.” 

I stared, slightly bemused, at my love.  “And you are trying to tell me
that you are that bird?”  “Yes,” she said.  “I know you will not 
believe me.  I can prove to you that it is true, but it would cause you 
to go mad.  If you were to watch from afar my burning, you would turn 
to stone.  Consciously, you would live for eternity, and that is enough 
for any to go crazy.  I will admit that usually I do not take human 
form, actually this is only the second time I have.  But our lord’s 
death marked the time I should die, and I would not have innocent 
creatures turned to stone because they knew not what was happening.  
Two nights’ hence, when the moon is full, and it is the winter 
solstice, I shall be reborn.  Think carefully before you decide to 
observe me.”  I never spoke to her again. 

Phoenix must have known I would watch her rebirth.  Most humans would,
especially given the choice of eternal life.  It has been eight hundred 
years since I became a figure carved of obsidian.  I wish now that I 
had heeded her warnings, for there is no reason for me to live.  I do 
because I must.  I am glad that she has one hundred years of life, and 
a death, or else she, too, would bear the pain of immortality.  And I 
wonder what will happen to me, to us, when time at last draws to a 
close. 


   


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