This is much later than I expected.
However, I’m pretty happy with having gotten any writing done at all today – so yay! As has become the norm, today’s piece was inspired by Our Write Side’s Master Class series. This week’s prompts were kind of holiday themed, so I wasn’t sure how I would fit it in with Videl. As a result, I finally went back to Emma and Malakai! I’m happy to be telling their story again, and even happier that it’s so close to the end. I made a decent chunk of progress so it should only be a few more prompts before the end. Not having a word count limit definitely helped (prepare yourself). It was a bit of a free-write, and I haven’t been in their story for a while now, so bear with me.
Enough chit-chat – hope you like it!
Prompt: Black Elephant
When my fist hit the glass, it didn’t hurt. Instead of shattering apart, though, the barrier seemed to disintegrate this time, the shards becoming a fine dust that felt just like the sand that littered the phoenix chamber. I floats in the air between me and my reflection. Last time I broke the glass, I’d woken up. Now, though, we stood staring at each other – two version of me. She moves first, reaching out her hand as if to take mine. I almost hesitate, wondering what would happen if I let her have half the control.
“It’s okay. We’re the same person, Emma.” Her hand stops between us, outstretched. It’s slightly larger than mine, her fey fingers unnaturally long compared to my shorter, stubbier human ones. And yet it was a hand I was familiar with. There was a comfort in it I didn’t think I’d find. Before I could psych myself out worse, I reached out in return and took it.
The burning in my chest was what brought me back to the real world. Beside me, Malakai rushes over as the phoenix flies away. Its talons have left my ribs but in their place is a pain worse than I’d ever felt before. It spreads through every inch of me, my eyes blinded by it as bright lights dance in my vision.
“Emma!” Malakai’s voice, though panicked, served to soothe me.
“It’s – it’s alright. I’m…okay…” As quickly as the pain came, it began to fade and I was able to push myself upright. I had to blink multiple times before my vision cleared, but it eventually did. On the other side of the room, the phoenix cried out as if to get my attention. It stood on the altar where it was building its nest. It nodded at me before looking up and spreading its wings. A beautiful array of colors I hadn’t noticed before made up the appendages. They flapped once, twice, before fire that seemed to come from the altar engulfed the animal. Its cry didn’t sound like it emerged from a place of pain – it sounded more like it was singing.
Though the flame on the altar was relatively small compared to the whole room, it served to engulf us in a warm light. It continued to burn as long as the bird sang. Deciding not to wait for the creature to finish, I turned to look at Malakai again.
“What happened to you? I thought that thing was going to kill you.” He cupped my face with one hand, and behind him his sister nodded in agreement.
“It helped me – told me how I could get one of its eggs out.” I looked down at my hands, trying to see if anything had changed. They still looked more like my hands than the other Emma’s. “Do I look any different to you?”
Malakai seemed taken aback by my question. “Your hair – it’s changing.”
He took a lock of my hair and held it. We both watched as it lightened, silver highlighting it throughout. Most of it was still brown, but the silver was impossible to miss. It looked like a mixture of my mother and father’s.
“I think I’ve finally accessed the entirety of my fey abilities.” Standing, I stretched, noting that everything felt more vivid now. Each of my movements rippled through me, every nook and cranny of the chamber called my attention to be examined further. My eyes missed nothing, not even the smallest grain of sand. This was going to take some getting used to. “The phoenix said I wouldn’t be able to hold an egg the way I was.”
“So we can just take it?”
“Yes.” I walked past Esther and Malakai, reaching into the sarcophagus again for one of the eggs. Each orb was an unassuming burnt tan. I wouldn’t have thought them anything special if I didn’t know better. When I grabbed one, it was warm. Something inside it seemed to pulsate with its own life force. Behind us, the phoenix’s song ended, and the chamber was thrown into complete darkness. Without giving it much thought, I cupped my empty hand and conjured a flame. “Let’s go – we’re done here.”
Before we were even back at the hotel, Esther had our plane booked. We left that night, mere hours after getting to our hotel. We traveled mostly in silence, as if the weight of having the phoenix egg kept us from speaking. I told myself I’d sleep on the plane, but I couldn’t seem to close my eyes for longer than a few minutes at a time. The egg’s warmth constantly held my focus from its spot in the bag on my lap.
“You alright?” Malakai sat beside me with my hand in his. On his other side, Esther had managed to fall asleep.
“I think so. I just feel a little…odd. That’s all.”
Concern colored his gaze, but he didn’t pry. Instead, he just squeezed my hand and offered a small smile. I tried to return it, before laying my head down on his shoulder. What would happen once all this was over? Would the queen really just let me leave? I tried not to think about it – first things first, I needed to free my mother.
When we landed, we were greeted by Clara. Esther immediately placed herself between us and her.
“Calm down, Es – I’m just here to escort Emma. I don’t mean any harm.” She held her hands up, as if to say she was unarmed.
“Somehow I don’t actually believe that last part.” This was the first time I’d seen Esther that on edge – ready for a fight.
“Believe what you want – just follow me.” She walked us out of the airport and towards an area away from most prying eyes. Once there was no one watching, she snapped her fingers. A door appeared in front of us, and she prompted us to follow. Fighting the feeling of déjà vu, I tightened my grip on Malakai’s hand and slipped my other hand into my bag to hold the egg. “No – only you can come through, Emma.”
“What?” Malakai tugged on my hand, unwilling to let me go.
“You heard me – you and Esther wouldn’t last in there. She has to go alone.” She crossed her arms, looking at me expectantly. As much as I wanted them to go with me, I knew she was right.
“She’s right.” Esther beat me to it. “The Sídhe isn’t safe for us. Not to mention, the queen will likely only use us against Emma if we go with her.” She placed a hand on Malakai’s shoulder.
The scowl on his face was clear, but he eventually released my hand. Before I could say or do anything, he cupped the nape of my neck and pulled me in for a kiss. It felt like a good-bye, and I had to fight the pain that erupted in my chest. I’ll come back. I repeated the mantra over and over in my mind as I kissed him back, hoping I got the message across. My hands hurt from my grip on his shirt, and I was more than reluctant to pull away, but I knew I had to. We both parted slowly, and he pressed a soft kiss to my brow before pulling back.
“I’ll be waiting at your house.” He didn’t wait for me to respond before turning around to leave. Esther gave me a quick hug and a smile before turning to catch up to her younger brother.
“Be safe!” She called out to me over her shoulder before rounding the corner.
“Are you quite done now?” Clara still had her arms crossed and started tapping her foot.
When we walked through the door, we were back in the ethereal forest landscape where I first met the queen. This time, my appearance didn’t seem to change as much as the last, and the landscape didn’t fascinate me as much, either. It must have had something to do with my adjusted vision. Now, it just looked like a regular, if beautiful, forest. The queen sat in her throne just like last time, too. This time, though, she wasn’t alone.
Beside her was the strangest, or really only one of the strangest, things I’d ever seen. A black elephant – its skin more like onyx than flesh – sat like a dog next to her. It was a young elephant – not quite small enough to be considered a baby but not a massive hulk like an adult would be. Its trunk rested across the queen’s lap as her hand absently petted its head. It was adorned in jewels and other finery and paid us no mind as we approached the queen’s throne.
Clara bowed, and I followed suit.
“Back so soon?” Her smile could only be described as smug. “Give up?”
“No – I actually succeeded.” I grabbed the egg and held it up for her to see. “See? Now where’s my mother?”
To her credit, she didn’t really react. The only sign of any reaction was when she sat deeper back into her throne, pushing the elephant’s trunk off her lap in order to cross her legs.
Here’s to getting this story done soon! I’m hoping to eventually come back to it and flesh it out a bit more. If that ever happens, maybe I’ll post it on Inkitt as a book. For more stuff about Emma and Malakai, check out the rest of the posts under The Deal.
As always, think happy thoughts!