Chapter 9 : Fire
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Godric was woken late the next morning by Helga. She was in tears and mumbling at him incoherently. He climbed out of bed and hugged her, trying to calm and comfort his dear friend.
“Helga, what is wrong?”
“Something attacked the stables last night. All the horses are dead. And so is Lionel.” She broke down crying again.
“But how? There was no-one in the stables when I was there.”
Helga stopped crying for a minute. “What do you mean when you were there?”
“I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep so I went for a walk and ended up in the stables. I decided to go for a ride so I took Dracari to the lake. We came across a griffin that had killed a phoenix. The phoenix had this egg clutched in its claws.” As he said this he retrieved the now hot egg from his bed and showed it to Helga.
“That’s amazing!” she said as she stared at the egg.
“I know. I grabbed the egg and rode back here as fast as I could and told the guards to close the gates because something was following us back from the lake. It must have attacked the stables. I just wish I knew what it was. I would have stayed out there and fought it but I had my sword and bow up here.”
Rowena now joined them in the room also looking very distressed. Godric could tell that she had also been crying.
“Hello Godric.” She said wearily before noticing the egg in his hands. “My goodness Godric. Where did you get that?”
“I found it down by the lake.” As he spoke he thought that he felt the egg move.
“It is so beautiful. What is it?”
He glanced at Helga who simply shrugged. Taking this as consent to reveal more about the magic world he told Rowena.
“It’s a phoenix egg.”
“But I thought that phoenixes were just a myth. And aren’t they supposed to live in high mountains.”
“Yeah I guess you’re right.” This time he definitely felt the egg move but the girls didn’t seem to notice. “The egg was in its mothers claws when I found it. The griffin must have chased her all the way from the mountains before it caught her by the lake.”
The egg began to vibrate slightly and was becoming increasingly warm in his hands. The girls now seemed to realise that something was happening inside the egg. Suddenly it burst into flames in Godric’s hands leaving nothing but a pile of ash in his hands.
“Oh no.” moaned Rowena. “The poor thing.”
Helga nearly started crying again but Godric just stared at his hands. He could feel something moving in the ashes.
“Helga, Rowena, look.” He said as a small scarlet feathered head popped out of the ashes and stared straight at him.
Both of the girls gasped but Godric continued to stare back at the bird now resting in his hands as it worked its way out of the ashes. Godric gently shifted the young phoenix onto his right hand and gently brushed the remaining ash from its feathers with his left hand. As he ran his hand over the phoenix it began to sing softly. The trio’s hearts soared as they heard the beautiful tune emanating from the bird. They almost completely forgot about the horrors of the night before as they were inundated by the glorious melody of the song.
“It’s so beautiful Godric. What are you going to call it?” asked Helga
“What do you mean call it?” he asked confused.
“I mean you saved the phoenix. Phoenixes are incredibly loyal creatures. By its own thoughts it belongs to you, so you have to give it a name.”
“I… um… how about Pyre. Yeah Pyre sounds good. Do you like that name?” he asked the small phoenix.
It simply chirped happily in his hands.
“I’ll take that as a yes. Pyre it is.”
“We should show your father Helga.” Said Rowena. “He would probably want to know about something like this.”
Helga nodded and the two girls left the room so Godric could change. He placed Pyre on the small table near his bed while he got dressed. When he got back to the table Pyre had already almost doubled in size. He was now covered in brilliant scarlet and gold feathers from head to claw. At the top of its head were seven long gold feathers and three blood red feathers that swept back down its neck. On its tail the feathers ended in large bright circles like that of a peacock.
As he stood there admiring Pyre, it jumped off the table and perched itself on his shoulder. It weighed almost nothing. When he opened the door to find the two girls there waiting for him they jumped in surprise at how much Pyre had grown in a few minutes.
“I think we should feed him something first.” Said Godric noticing how hungry he himself was.
As if reading his mind Pyre swooped down off his shoulder and landed hard on something at the side of the corridor. As he turned around they saw him consuming the first half of a large rat.
“Well I guess that takes care of that.” Laughed Rowena.
They all walked off towards Max’s office. Godric whistled and Pyre leapt back onto his shoulder. When they knocked at the door to Max’s office they found him looking incredibly depressed. Obviously he had a lot on his mind with the loss of all but one of the horses.
“Sir, we have something to show you.” Said Godric breaking Max’s concentration.
He walked slowly forward as Max looked up and gasped in surprise.
“Where on earth did you find that Godric?” he asked perplexed.
“I found it in an egg down by the lake last night.”
“What were you doing at the lake last night?”
“I couldn’t sleep so I took Dracari for a ride. That is merely where we ended up.”
“You didn’t by any chance see what attacked the stables did you?”
“Well yes and no sir. I saw something following me back from the lake. But it was surrounded in a strange shroud of darkness. It was as though it was absorbing the light as food or something.”
“How unusual. Well I suppose that you will need somewhere to keep that guy.” Max said pointing at the phoenix still perched diligently on Godric’s shoulder.
“Ah I was hoping that I could just get a perch for him made up so he could stay in my room with me.” Replied Godric.
“Very well I will have the carpenters get right on it. It shall be in your room tonight. So what is his name?”
"Very good. Well you three should go outside and give him some exercise. But do not go far from the castle at the moment. Whatever attacked the stables could still be outside somewhere.”
“Yes, sir.” They all droned at once. They had hoped to go show Pyre to the unicorns today.
Several weeks later the group were all outside watching the now fully grown Pyre soar through the air. As they watched they noticed a small rainbow came out from his tail as he flew. Pyre’s singing had cheered the entire castle dramatically. Godric had managed to get Dracari to allow Max to ride him to a nearby horse farm to both warn him to be cautious and to collect some new horses.
They had even located Lionel. He had been in the stables when the creature arrived and had seen it begin to devour the horses. He had run from the stables and into the forest getting lost. Max had gone into the forest a couple of days later to find him still quivering in fear completely lost.
All in all everything in the castle was now back to normal. As they sat watching Pyre fly about Max crept up behind the group and scared them all.
“Dad, that wasn’t fair.” Moaned Helga.
“You’ll recover darling.” He chuckled back. “I just wanted to tell you all that you can go back into the forest again. We have checked every inch of it and there is no sign of the weird creature.”
“Alright. Let’s go see Galfur.” Said Godric jumping up.
As if reading his mind Pyre landed gently on his shoulder and Dracari trotted up behind him.
“Hang on you two. Rowena and Helga need some horses too.” He said to the impatient horse now nipping at him excitedly.
The three teens walked over to the newly fixed and filled stables to get a pair of horses for the girls. They took a good twenty minutes to find a pair of horses that suited the two fussy girls. Max then walked over to them as they all mounted their horses.
“Godric, take these just in case.” He whispered to Godric handing him his sword and bow. “The last two times you went off riding something has happened. I am beginning to think Thomas is behind this.”
“Alright sir. And don’t worry.” He said noticing Max worryingly watching his daughter. “I won’t let anything happen, to either of them.” And with that he headed off after the girls.
After visiting the unicorns and showing off Pyre the trio decided to head into a part of the forest they had never ventured into before. It was much darker in this part of the forest and the trees looked a lot more gangly and dangerous. This however didn’t dampen the group’s spirits and they kept on riding.
Eventually they came across a small pond filled with dark murky water.
They decided to hang about here for awhile and dismounted the horses. They tied the three horses to some trees by a large patch of lush grass and sat at the water’s edge. They sat for a long while just talking amongst themselves when they all became very sleepy. They decided that it wouldn’t hurt to take a short nap so they all closed their eyes and fell into a strange deep sleep.
Godric was woken suddenly by a loud scream off to his left. He opened his eyes to see a few small creatures trying to attack Helga who was beating them off with a stick that had been lying next to her. The creatures were only about a foot tall and covered in hair except their heads which were smooth and grey.
When he looked at the lake again he noticed what he had before thought to be a pile of rocks had indeed been these strange creatures waiting for them to fall asleep.
He turned to see Rowena also beating off a group of the small creatures before turning back to see about fifty of the things attacking him. He kicked at them trying to get up but found himself held down by a strange root. He looked around for his sword before realising that it was still on his saddle. He continued kicking and swatting at the creatures trying to get them off him so that he could get up and help the girls. Helga appeared to be alright but he could see that Rowena was starting to struggle with the increasing number of creatures trying to get at her.
Suddenly as Helga beat off the last of her attackers, Godric felt a great rush of wind. There was a great flash and all the creatures attacking Rowena flew off her landing in the pond and around its banks dead. The two girls stood shocked for a moment before rushing over to help Godric. Together they beat the rest of the creatures until they fled to await an easier meal.
“Thanks.” Said Godric now struggling to remove the root when Rowena used his sword to sever it at the base. “What on earth did you do to get rid of all those things Helga?’
“I didn’t do that.” She replied plainly.
Godric and Helga looked at one another for a minute then they both looked at Rowena.
“I don’t know what happened. I just saw in my mind all of the things flying off me and then it just happened.”
“You’re a witch?!” exclaimed Godric in disbelief.
“You aren’t going to turn me in are you? Witches are supposed to be killed as soon as possible.”
“Of course not. No-one in this place will.” He replied still slightly shocked.
“Because we are both magical as well Rowena. So is your mother. And both of my parents.” Said Helga pointedly.
“Come on. Let’s get back to the castle before those things come back.” Said Godric.
They all rushed over to their horses and climbed on steering them away from the dark pond. As they rushed back through the forest Godric realised that he hadn’t seen Pyre since he fell asleep.
“Where is Pyre?” he asked the girls.
“I don’t know.” Said Rowena. “Should we go back and look for him?”
Just as she asked this, Pyre swooped in from behind them carrying one of the small creatures that had attacked them.
“There you are!” said Godric relieved.
Pyre merely chirped at him as they all set off for the castle once more.
“Where did you say that you found this?” asked Max staring at the creature that Godric had brought to him and Pyre was patiently waiting to eat.
“We stopped beside a small pond in the forest and there were hundreds of them by it.” Godric replied simply. “There was something else too.”
At this Max refocused his attention on Godric.
“When we sat beside the pond we all felt really sleepy all of a sudden.”
“Were any of you bitten by them?”
“No, sir. What exactly are they?”
“They are pogrebin. They are usually only found out in the cold eastern parts of Europe. I have seen a few in England before but never in packs of more than one hundred. I must say that he is becoming desperate to finish you.”
“Who is sir?”
“Thomas. He is the only person around here who could get access to both pogrebin and a Hungarian Horntail. He really wants to get rid of you. He is definitely planning something. Therefore I don’t think that it is safe for you to leave the castle for a while.”
“But sir I can’t stay inside all the time. How will I practise my sword work? And there is definitely nowhere I can use a bow inside.” Gripped Godric.
“Actually I know a place where you can do both. I put it in the castle when I took over as Lord.”
“You know how there is a door on the fourth floor that vanishes from time to time?”
“Well I can show you how to enter it. You can practise in there.”
“But for now I think that you should retire. Goodnight Godric.”
Godric turned and walked to the door before he turned around having remembered something he forgot to tell Max.
“I nearly forgot but something else happened in the forest today.”
“And what was that Godric?”
“When we were attacked by those things Helga and I beat them back by hand but Rowena… she repelled them somehow. I mean one minute they were crawling all over her just like me and Helga then there was a bright flash and all the ones around her were flung back dead.”
“You mean that Rowena used magic?” he proclaimed excitedly. “That is wonderful. Seems as how you seemed to be getting into so much trouble lately I had decided to teach both you and Helga how to use your magic properly. The only problem was what to do with Rowena while I taught you. But now she can just join us.”
“That is good then.” Replied Godric glowing inside at the thought of training with both of his best friends.
“Yes. We will have to travel somewhere tomorrow but it shouldn’t take long. After that though I don’t want you to leave the castle until I feel you are ready. Alright?” he reiterated.
“Yes sir. Do you want me to tell the girls?”
“No we will head off once everyone is ready in the morning. For now just head to bed please.”
“Yes sir. Goodnight sir.”
And with that Godric turned and left the room.
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