It is said that when a mage and a mortal are to utter the words “I love you.” with true sentiment toward each other, they shall be cursed. It is unclear what the curse is or what it does, and most mages marry other mages to avoid its vengeance. But as time progresses the tale is forgotten and lost over different generations leaving young mages unaware. However, there is said to be a way to reverse the curse. Only a handful of the most powerful mages have acquired the knowledge but have been forbidden to share it for they shall be killed.   

The chilling winter breeze lifts the cherry blossoms from the sidewalk to dance in the air for a couple of seconds before letting them rest upon the concrete ground. It was a new experience for Phoenix, being in Japan during cherry blossom season but oh how she had dreamed of this moment. The lovely pastel pink petals swirling in the wind as she walked down the park was mesmerizing and breathtaking. She could not have chosen a better time to take a vacation. Alongside her is her boyfriend of three months, Jaxson, with his camera in hand trying to capture the perfect pictures for his photo album. He was not a professional photographer, but he was indeed a perfectionist so regardless his photos were very elegant.  

“Hey, Phee, why don’t you stand in front of this tree for me?” Jaxson suggested pointing at a cherry blossom tree.   

Phoenix was never a huge fan of pictures since most of the time people forget about them, still, she was always willing to be Jaxson’s model. She placed her hands in the air to emphasize the pink tree behind her, but as Jaxson shot the picture the wind blew causing Phoenix to lose her position and laugh. He took multiple shots anyway in the hopes of getting a candid shot of her in the dancing petals. Luckily, her bright smile would save multiple pictures from going to waste. Jaxson smiled as he went to join her side, instantly wrapping his arms around her waist. Although the two had not known each other very long it was obvious they had strong feelings for each other.   

“We should hurry back before everything closes. I still want to eat at that revolving sushi place.” Phoenix spoke gently, her head against Jaxson’s chest allowing her to hear his heartbeat, the heartbeat of a mortal.   

Phoenix became aware of her ability of magic when she was six years old. She was in her bedroom playing a board game with her brother, Aries, and she made the game pieces float out of anger and frustration. The twins immediately called for their father that explained he was a mage as well as his entire family. From that day on they were taught spells and potions to protect themselves from enemies, although, to this day, Aries has not gotten his powers. It is a rare occurrence that a child of a mage is born magicless but not impossible and since he was a twin it was easily overlooked. Aries regardless of not having magic in his body is very strong and powerful due to his many years of study.  

After eating at the revolving sushi restaurant, they shared a crepe from one of the many trucks parked throughout the city then decided to head back to their hotel. On the way up to their room, all Phoenix could think about was telling Jaxson she loved him. Little did she know he was also thinking about telling her how he had fallen deeply in love with her. The couple entered the surprisingly cleaned room that someone must have cleaned up when they were out. They put their bags on the white loveseat near one of the curtained windows and plopped down on the king-size bed to remove their shoes. The room was very American, identical to that of most hotel rooms in America. Obviously, there were traditional Japanese rooms with tatami mats, but Phoenix and Jaxson agreed on saving that experience for another trip. The two sat in silence for a brief moment, stuck in their thoughts until Jaxson stood up reaching for the remote.  

“Dance with me.” Jaxson lowers his hand to reach Phoenix as he uses the remote to play music on low volume.  

Phoenix did not even question the gesture, simply placed her hand in his to be led to the center of the room. Jaxson placed his hand on her waist, the other still in her hand. She follows his lead by placing hers on his shoulder. The soft music plays throughout the room and once the lyrics begin, they both start to dance in an elegant manner, following each other’s footsteps across the carpet floor. Phoenix began to smile as he spun her around followed by him pulling her toward himself and embracing her. They steadily became tired and decide to sway to the music instead, leaning closely toward each other.  

“Hey, Jax, there’s something I want to tell you.” Phoenix spoke softly against his chest, her nerves starting to panic.  

“What is it?” Jaxson responds softly back to her.  

Phoenix was getting nervous to tell him out of fear he did not feel the same. She had never told anyone outside of her family she loved them. Her thoughts began to wander to the worst afraid to admit the truth to him. “Never mind.”   

“Well, I have something to tell you then.” Jaxson pulled away from her to meet her eyes. “These past three months have been the best of my life because of you.”  

Phoenix smiles at his words, almost teary-eyed from the joy. “For me too.”   

“What I am trying to say is-” He reaches for her hands and plants a gentle kiss on them. At that moment Phoenix’s fear left her body allowing her feelings to be expressed.  

“I love you.” The couple spoke in unison, celebrating with a kiss.   

The celebration is cut short by an entity that breaks them apart. Phoenix is quick to assess the situation, her rings instantly glowing orange with magic. Jaxson is on the ground being held down by the unseen enemy that was strong and unwilling to back down. Phoenix runs to his side unsure if to confirm her abilities to a mortal, but her instincts takeover instantly trying to come up with a spell to cast him free.  

“Phoenix run!” Jaxson instructs her as he tries to free himself, but it is no use seeing as he is completely still.  

“Jaxson don’t worry I can help you.” She focuses all her attention toward him, her hands becoming a vibrant orange from her concentration.   

He watches her closely unsure if what he is seeing is a reality or fiction. She mumbles words he does not understand, her orange aura coming towards him, and Jaxson is able to get up from the ground. Phoenix runs to his side to help him steady himself when he lets out a gasp of pain. She examines his body for any injuries but is unable to locate any on his skin. Jaxson pushes her away for a second to allow him time to process the situation.   

“What the hell was that?” Jaxson questions followed by multiple winces.  

“I have no idea. I have never encountered anything like it before, but we cannot stay here there is a possibility it will return.” Phoenix responds unable to read his expression. “We have to go see my father he will know what to do.”   

“Phee, what is going on? What are you?” Jaxson’s questions continue.   

“I will explain everything to you I promise, just please let me take you to my father.” Phoenix bargains hoping this will end his questions.   

Jaxson agrees with her offer and remains on the sofa as she collects their belongings. Phoenix makes a mental note to call the hotel once they have gone to cancel their room. She places everything near Jaxson to make sure nothing is left behind. “I’m sorry you had to find out this way.” Phoenix says before casting a spell that teleports them to her father’s house.   

Upon arrival, they are greeted by Aries, Phoenix’s twin brother. Phoenix explains the situation to him, and he quickly examines Jaxson, his face remaining neutral the entire time. He leads them to his study filled with every book of magic he has ever encountered. Phoenix places Jaxson on the metal table usually used to examine potions and magical creatures. Aries gets a closer look by using his illness detector, similar looking to magnifying glass but with the ability to detect a mage or mortal's symptoms. The detection is based around colors, each one meaning the reasoning for the illnesses. Blue is the most common among mortals which simply means they have a common cold and mages tend to be purple from their lack of resting and over usage of magic.   

“He’s been cursed.” Aries explains the color outcome of the medical instrument, white.   

“Cursed by what, by whom?” Phoenix questions concerned about Jaxson’s well-being.   

“I’m not sure. I would have to run more diagnostics, but he doesn’t seem to be doing so well and by the looks of it, he doesn’t have much time.” Aries grows more concerned when he connects the device to his laptop.   

“Jaxson, I-” Phoenix cannot find the words to say instead she falls to the ground in defeat. Tears start to run down her cheeks as she goes to Jaxson’s side, her hand gently caressing his cheek. “I will do whatever it takes to find a cure I promise.”   

He does not say a word, instead, he uses his final bits of strength to lift himself up. Jaxson wipes her tears with his fingertips and places a kiss where her tears used to be. “I know you will.”   

“You should be furious with me. I am the reason you are cursed. I should have told you I was a mage long ago. You deserved the truth.” Phoenix explains while helping him toward the sofa nearest to them.  

“Phoenix!” Aries interrupts, “Father is on his way right now, he will know what to do.”  

Within seconds a tall handsome man appears in the study wearing doctor’s attire and a pair of glasses that match his dark hair. The man walks toward Jaxson to introduce himself as Doctor Atkinson, the father of Phoenix and Aries. Doctor Atkinson is quick to cast healing spells on Jaxson to see if they have any effect, unfortunately, they do not. Phoenix tries an old spell she used on Aries when he broke his hand, but nothing seems to be changing Jaxson’s state. Aries instructs them to cast a number of spells he can remember off the top of his head. One of the spells ends up giving Jaxson his strength back for a few minutes before he returns to his weakening state.   

“Phoenix can I ask you a question in private?” Atkinson requests with his finger pointing back and forth between them.   

He lowers his voice, “He’s mortal, isn’t he?” She nods her head yes. “Did you by any chance happen to confess to this boy that you love him?”   

“Yes, but what does that-” Phoenix is cut off by her father.  

“Did he also confess that he loves you?” Atkinson is positive he has solved the reason for the mysterious curse.  

“Yes, we said it at the same time.” Phoenix seems to be confused as to why her father is asking such personal questions about her relationship.   

“Phoenix, there is a curse written in mage law that mage and mortal cannot say I love you to each other or they will be cursed. Only the most powerful mages have access to the cure.” Atkinson informs his daughter about the tale from the past.  

Phoenix nods, “Watch Jaxson for me I will be back as soon as I can.” The orange aura appears from her rings ready to teleport to her grandmother.   

She arrives at the large building containing the location of the world’s most powerful mages, her grandmother being one of them. Phoenix teleports into her office hoping to catch her there. Luckily there she stands with the classic robe covering her body till her ankles. The woman is similar to Atkinson in beauty and height. Phoenix is fast to greet her to avoid unnecessary conversation.   

“Grandmother, I did something terrible. I need your help.” Phoenix wastes no time.  

“Sweetheart, what have you done now?” Her grandmother becomes worried instantly.  

“I fell in love with a mortal.” She cries in agony.   

“Oh, darling how could you have been so naive. It would seem you are a lot more like your father than I thought.” The woman laughs quietly to herself.   

“I need the cure grandmother. He does not deserve to die this way. There has to be something I can do.” Phoenix pleads to the great mage.   

“Please do not waste my time with such a foolish request child, I am far too busy at the moment.” The woman replies ignoring the urgency in her granddaughter’s voice.   

Phoenix’s rings begin to glow from her emotions, “I will not allow him to die! Please give me the cure and I will be on my way. He is getting worse every waking second and it’s my fault!” She casts a spell that forces someone to do whatever you command.  

Her grandmother is quick to counteract the spell. “Phoenix enough! I will not give you the damn cure just like I did not give it your father to save your mother!”   

Phoenix is taken aback by the words being spoken. Her mother was a mortal after all despite the stories once told to her as a child.   

“That’s right your mother was a mortal just like your brother but was able to give birth to you because you were a mage and extended the curse from a few hours to a few months.” The woman walks toward Phoenix. “He begged me for months to reverse it, break it, cure it, but I cannot just give the cure for a curse that was intended to keep mages safe.”   

She backs away from the unfamiliar figure. “You let my mother die knowing you could have saved her and now you are doing the same.” Phoenix’s eyes glow the color of her rings, “You’re a monster.”   

“Don’t be that way I am only doing this to protect you. You will thank me someday.” She continues talking which only causes Phoenix to become angrier.   

Phoenix clutches her fists tightly to allow the magic the flow easier as she releases it toward her grandmother. The woman tries to break free from her grasp, but Phoenix is too powerful at that moment. She is filled with so much anger and rage that she could end her grandmother in two hand movements. Phoenix snaps out of her rage just in time and instantly teleports back to her father. She runs to him, embracing her father, and suffocating his chest with sorrow. She has returned with no cure for her lover, although gaining knowledge of her mortal mother. Regardless of the visit's outcome, she is aware of what she must do to save him.   

“Jaxson, I’m so sorry!” Phoenix runs to him, sliding to his side.  

“Phoenix I would rather die having loved you than never have met you.” Jaxson smiles at her to assure her he is okay.  

Phoenix places her body above of Jaxson’s like a blanket to protect him. Her entire body omitting her magic aura around him. She removes one of her magic rings from her right middle finger and places it on Jaxson’s hand. Phoenix did not know if what she was doing was going to work, still, she was willing to try even if it meant she would lose her magical abilities forever. She leaned toward his face to kiss him, her magic coursing into his body.   

“Phoenix what are you-” Aries begins to question only for his father to silence him.   

“I love you.” She tells Jaxson once he lets his lips go. “I love you.” He responds back.   

The words attract back the creature to the mortal this time to end him except this time Phoenix awaits the arrival fully enraged and prepared. Aries has a book of spells in hand for assistance, and Doctor Atkinson has his magic wand ready to help in any way possible. The creature’s energy is quick to pick up, Atkinson immediately casting spells in its direction. Phoenix casts a protection spell on Jaxson hoping to relieve him of further damage then enters the battle with her father. Aries shouts a spell to allow them the ability to see the enemy, but it moves so vigorously even with the spell it is difficult to see. The two mages combine their spells for more effectiveness causing the foe to weaken slightly.   

As the fight progresses the mages begin to weaken from overusing their magic all at once. Phoenix does not give up even with her circumstances. She focuses all her magic to her core, concentrating whatever she has left to defeat the monster before her. In seconds she begins to transform into the creature with her same name, her arms arched behind her like wings. Her body glowing the infamous bright orange from her magical ring as her body completes her phoenix form. In this stage, she can see the creature perfectly, instinctively going to attack it without hesitation.   

“You will not take him from me like you took my mother!” Phoenix screams allowing fire to escape her mouth.  

She uses everything she has left on the creature until it falls in defeat. Phoenix changes back to her normal form, falling to the ground from exhaustion. Everyone is quick to run to her side to aid her if necessary.   

“I lov-” Jaxson begins.  

“Please don’t say I love you.” She begs with a weakening smile. 

January 17, 2020 20:44

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Jennifer Denslow
04:48 Jan 24, 2020

I think your opening establishes the big scope of the story really well, and Inlovww the specific sensory images of the couple under the cherry trees. I think the languages is a little too formal when the characters are experiencing big feelings and might be more colloquial at times.


J L. Castro
19:57 Jan 24, 2020

Alright, I will work on it! Thanks for your feedback!


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Ed Willey
11:25 Jan 23, 2020

I thought the structure of the story was good, but could be a little wordy/over descriptive at times.


J L. Castro
19:28 Jan 23, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate it!


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