Heart of the Phoenix

Matthew Rhudy

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The wind whistled through the trees as Serena trudged through the deep snow, one painful step at a time. The cold had already numbed her toes, and now it was biting at her ankles through her boots. The blizzard had overwhelmed her village, and very few of its people remained. Many succumbed to the cold, while others simply gave up hope. Her sister, Veronica, had been determined to get rid of the horrible storm. “There is just something unnatural about it,” she had said, while pondering furiously through all the scrolls in the village. “There must be something in here, some way to solve this!” Very few candles remained, but Veronica had decided to stay up late burning through the last bits of wax, steadfast in her will to solve their troubles. Serena woke to the image of her sister, frozen from the cold. Her hand seemed outstretched, holding a piece of parchment tightly. Serena had to fight back her grief at the loss of her sister. Her tears froze in an instant as they appeared on her cheeks.

Serena had to shake the bitter memories away. “Her death shall not be in vain,” she whispered to herself. Her sister’s last efforts had led her to this moment. The old parchment that Veronica had discovered spoke of a magical bird, born of flames. Serena had to trust her sister that this was the only way to save their village. A crude map was drawn on the back of the parchment that guided Serena on her quest to find a small cave in the mountains. The cold grew even harsher as she climbed the steep path through the mountains. To her relief, she finally spied the dark opening of a cave just a short distance ahead.

Spurred forward by this moment of hope, Serena drifted forward with increased determination. She peered through the opening of the cave and was met with a soft orange light deep within the cave. She crept further inside, feeling an overwhelming warmth that began to sooth her tired body. As she got closer, she could now see the majestic phoenix. For something so small, there was an impressive aura surrounding the magical bird. It did not speak, but instead turned its head sideways. She gazed at the bird, mesmerized. Before she could even think to speak, she felt a warmth rising from within her. She felt a familiar presence rising from within her. “Veronica?” she said softly, still unsure about what was happening. She could almost hear her sister’s voice speaking to her, telling her what to do.

Following her instincts, she politely bowed to the phoenix and stepped outside of the cave. Raising her hands against the cold, she could feel the snow begin to melt away. She closed her eyes and focused on the warmth that was brewing inside of her, channeling that powerful energy into the wind. She was flooded with an intense sensation as a powerful burst was released from her body. She felt an emptiness now. Though only for a moment, she had been somehow reunited with her sister. She opened her eyes slowly. The snow had all melted away, and the sun burned brightly in the sky. All evidence of the blizzard was gone, and now she was left standing here all alone. Her sister had once again sacrificed herself to save everyone. Serena placed her hand on her heart and felt a slight tingle of warmth from within once again. She smiled and started her long journey back to the village.

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