"It doesn't count if you're already planning your defeat," Adolpha stated sternly, her eyes blazing with fire.
"And since when have I been good at planning things?" Phoenix said casually, just as she would have, had she not been so foolish and got herself in this horrible situation. A couple of moons ago, she had much insulted the Queen of The Black Fire Tribe. It was a Full Moon, and as usual, The Black Fire Tribe had come to trade. The loud bickering of her tribe had silenced when the enemy tribes' presence was noticeable. Even though they were frightful enemies for thousands of moons and suns, they still traded to survive. This trade, however, was different. Another spirit lingering did not belong to any of the trading men from the enemy tribe. This spirit felt powerful, bloodthirsty, unbeatable, feminine. It was The Queen. Queen Antares. The entire village started cowering like mice. Pathetic, showing fear in front of the enemy. Queen Antares must have noticed because she grinned like a starving lioness that just caught its dinner. She mounted off her lion and started walking toward Queen Deryn of The Frozen Woods Tribe.
Queen Antares was flawless. Even the wind stopped to savour her gorgeousness. One glance at her made Phoenix's self-esteem hit rock bottom. Phoenix had misty eyes, as mysterious as fog, silvery brown hair, and a square-shaped face. Queen Antares, however, had hair that was violent blood-red shade. Her eyes would embarrass gold itself, but the way they shined was not welcoming or sweet; it was fierce and deadly. One look at her in the eye could drop someone dead. Yet, when she reached Queen Deryn, they both pierced each other with hard stares. Queen Deryn was lovely but the complete opposite of Queen Antares. Her hair was the colour of silver snow, and her eyes were bluer than the ocean. She had the most beautiful dimples, but right now, they were not visible with her deep frown. The Queens stiffly started to talk, and it was soon apparent that Queen Antares had come because her tribe was in need of more people.
Rumours were that The Black Fire Tribe killed disobedient children and fed them to their lions. Perhaps this only proved that the rumours were true. Of course, Queen Deryn had disagreed without hesitation, but Queen Antares made a proposition. She and Queen Deryn would have a traditional duel, and the winner would get what they wanted. Queen Deryn had agreed since, even though the Black Fire Tribe lacked people, they were still cunning and undefeatable. Disagreeing would lead to a war, and The Frozen Woods Tribe was too smart for that. They both took out a knife, swiped it across their hand and shook hands, sealing the deal with blood. This, however, was not enough. Queen Antares insisted that she receive a gift because she could never leave empty-handed.
Everyone wishing for her to go agreed, and Queen Antares chose a wolf, The Frozen Woods Tribe spirit animal, as a departing present. Phoenix's wolf. If Phoenix were sensible, she would have let the magnificent creature go but no. She ran up to her wolf and put her arms out in front of it. Queen Antares looked as if she might pull Phoenix's heart out and put it in a jar labelled Idiotic Girl Who Tried to Tell Me What To Do. But Queen Antares showed mercy from deep down in her bitter black soul. She admired Phoenix's bravery and ability to stand up to her and chose that Phoenix would have to fight for her life instead of killing her on the spot. She would take Queen Deryn's place in the battle. The fate of her tribe rested on her weak, not battle-ready, shoulders. But at least she got to keep her wolf. Ada was a remarkable creature. Fine silvery grey fur and grey eyes with golden specks. Now Phoenix had to fight for the survival of her tribe, her wolf, and herself.
"Phoenix? Are you listening?" Adolpha asked, impatient. Phoenix snapped out of her thoughts.
"Hmm? Yeah, I am. Don't plan your defeat and stuff, I know."
"Do you think this is a joke? Your actions affected the whole tribe! You could die! People from the tribe could die!" Adolpha yelled, now pacing back and forth.
She slumped down on her worn-out hammock and held a gaze on her hands, not daring to face Adolpha. "I know. I know it's all my fault. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm a burden to the tribe Adolpha. I can't fight. Not even you can help me."
Phoenix could feel Adolpha staring hard into her head as if trying to make it explode. She should not have said that. The gaze was held for a few moments and then gone without a trace. Good, Phoenix thought, she can't make brains explode. Not that I have much of one anyway. She broke the frozen gaze from her hands, only to see Adolpha standing in front of her. Adolpha's brown hair was tied up in a tight bun, a few loose strands covering her freckle filled heart-shaped face. Her emerald eyes looked dangerous, daring Phoenix to make a smart remark. Adolpha sighed. "Get up," she commanded. Phoenix obediently did as told and heard a soft thump as her feet touched the dry, dirt floor and disappeared within a small cloud of dust. Her brown, fur hammock swung gently behind her. She waited for Adolpha to speak words of wisdom, but it didn't come. The cloud of dust engulfing her feet started to vanish, and Phoenix could now see her worn-out combat boots. They were as plain as parchment, with a dark radish colour. Phoenix hated radish, and yet it was in almost every dish her tribe cook, Bernard served. She imagined her combat boots deforming and turning into repulsive radishes. She made a face that looked like she ate Umeboshi Plums, a sour fruit that her tribe enjoys. Adolpha fancied them especially. She would eat them as simply as Phoenix would drinking water.
Adolpha. Phoenix shot her head up as fast as a bullet and scanned the room. A small rough wooden table with only two small wooden chairs, one of them covered with a thick fur coat, a matted white fur carpet, a wardrobe with a few clothes, and a couple of papers lying scattered in a corner. No Adolpha. Adolpha had left. How long was she daydreaming about radishes? Phoenix lost in thought of why Adolpha abandoned her, started walking towards the exit of her hut, forgetting what was waiting for her outside. She pushed through the heavy fabric that led out and regretted it. She was greeted with an enormous gust of wind that made her whole body shake violently, daring to knock her off her feet. She desperately clung onto the thick fabric so she wouldn't be carried off by the wind and into the clutches of Mother Nature. The material ruthlessly betrayed her and started to rip, but the sound was inaudible compared to the roaring Mother Nature. No, don't tear. Please. She strained her brain to a pulp attempting to think of an idea. The wind was becoming unbearable, numbing her exposed body. She heard Mother Nature cackling at Phoenix's stupidity. How stupid could one be to go outside during one of Mother Natures' tantrums and not even bring a fur coat! She desperately tried to think, the wind pounding against her eardrums. Her skin felt raw, searing with pain from the bitter cold. There was nothing she could do. The sky suddenly started having a meltdown, crying tears of ice. Her skin prickled unpleasantly, every now and then a searing pain erupting as a sharp tear fell upon her frozen body. All the frozen tears felt like tiny little slaps across her numb, icy, tired body. Her burning fingers started to lose their grip on the fabric, but letting go was not an option. The Elders once told her if she goes out during a storm, she would be carried off into the wind and never be heard of again. She could not let go. Her arms starting aching from gripping too tightly, and her knuckles turned white, revealing the bone within her flesh. Wishing for it to stop was all she could think of. Phoenix focused on that one word knowing that it would do nothing, but she pushed that negative, realistic thought to the very back of her head. There were stories told in her tribe of people who could manipulate the weather, but those people had died millions of years ago. Still have a small drop of hope, Phoenix did it anyway. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, she chanted. She focused on that one word while clinging onto the fabric for dear life. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, STOP! The wind and ice automatically stopped, creating an eerie silence in the village. Phoenix let go of her saviour, and it collapsed into a puddle of delicate fabric. She saw the people from her tribe, The Frozen Woods Tribe, pour out from their huts with disbelieving looks, most likely because of the winds sudden failure. Their eyes turned to Phoenix, all wearing the same expression of concern and confusion. Did I do that? A searing pain suddenly erupted all over her body. Frostbite. She started shivering uncontrollably, even with the wind unexisting. Hypothermia. She felt like people were having a snowball fight inside her brain. Phoenix fell to her knees, shivering, and that's when people started swarming around her like Frost Bees. She heard words like "Doctor." and "Frozen." Phoenix was now lying down on the ground, the frostbites burning like pins and needles and her head hurting like hell. I did that, she thought. I controlled the weather. She looked up at the grey sky, which slowly turned darker and darker until the darkness greedily endeavoured her.