The Phoenix and the Candlelight

Submitted into Contest #164 in response to: Write a story about coming of age in a big city.... view prompt


Fantasy Coming of Age Sad

This story contains sensitive content

Warning* Story contains mention of slavery, self-hatred/loathing, past harm, murder, and your classic evil stepmother. Also implied rape. sorry about this.

Collin awoke with a groan. He hated today. He knew what day it was. Of course he did. He couldn’t forget anything, no matter how much he wished he could. Some might say that meant he couldn’t get over things, but no, it was more of he kept thinking of how he had failed in most things. It was the day his mother died. The day his home burned in black fire. The day he was sold into slavery. It was the day he gained his freedom. The day he was knighted, became a scientist, earned his doctorate. It was his birthday once more.

Not many knew his age. They only knew his skills. His skills which had landed him three adult jobs by the time he had become a teenager. His skills which had kept him and his friends alive, despite how it felt like the gods themselves were against them sometimes. Today he was 16. He was officially an adult by most cultures in their world, despite how he had convinced most of them that he was one already. He hated it. He never told people near him it was his birthday.

Collin got up, cleaned himself up, and made his way to the kitchen of his home. “Ah, Flicker, happy…”

“Don’t finish that sentence, Uncle.” Collin grumbled. “This day is cursed, I swear…”

Julian, Collin’s uncle, rolled his red eyes before returning to making breakfast for their strange family. “Uh-huh. You know, if you didn’t have phoenix fire as your ability, I’d say you’re going to kill yourself with that edgy depression of yours, nephew.”

“This coming from the guy who’s first kid was a machine because he’s asexual and was later raped for it?”

“…Shut up…” Julian knew his nephew didn’t mean to bring up his worst times. The teen was simply miserable. A glance back at the boy already told him that he was trying to figure out how to apologize. “So, you’re technically an adult now. What are you going to do today?”

“Um, I have work, so yeah…” Collin sighed. “Then I’m going to use my teleport ability to go and… set some flowers out for mother…”

“… that’s quite the distance… you still do that?”


“I see… do you want company?”

“No… I don’t know if I can teleport both of us, nevermind us and the twins. Plus… that witch is still there… I don’t want her to…” Collin bit his lip, trying to find the right words. He wasn’t the best in common tongue, but his speech was decent. He much preferred his birth language of Sol, the magical language of their home kingdom that very few could speak. He just happened to be blessed or cursed with the ability. “I’m sorry, Uncle, I didn’t mean to…”

“It’s fine, Flicker. You hate today. I know it. My fault for trying to cheer you up this early.” Julian grimaced. His eldest was the only one to ever really get Collin to smile on his birthday. He hadn’t seen his eldest son since… since Collin had seen him… and that meant… since Collin’s third birthday when they were separated from their family. “Don’t… don’t get spotted…”

“Right.” Collin sighs as he nibbles on a piece of bread. “I won’t… I just… it’s hard… I could easily go there and let them know we’re fine, but…”

“But at the risk of their safety… yeah…” Both men sighed. They were trapped in a freedom while their loved ones were prisoners in their own home.

“I’d better get going…”

“What about breakfast?”

“I’m full…”

“Collin…” The teen walked out the door and was already off. Julian sighed. “At least the twins will eat all of this…” The older scientist mumbled. Collin never ate enough in his opinion. He was always underweight.

Collin went about his day, noting how nothing had felt different about his day other than the looming sense of dread and fate that hung over him. Collin sighed. It was when his queen pulled him aside that he felt something was off.

“Sir Collin, are you alright?” She asked. The silver fox’s fur gleaming in the torch light of the castle.

“I’ll be fine, your majesty. It’s just… that time of the year.”

“So I see…” She had become familiar with Sir Collin Kin’s moods and how they shifted due to dates where most shifted due to weather. “Do you need anything?”

“No, my queen, I’m fine… I just need to calm down.” He said as softly as he could. His queen had done so much for him, saving him from slavery and reuniting him with his uncle. She even allowed them to hide from troubles from their kingdom… from his evil stepmother… he couldn’t ask anything more of her.

The queen sighed as she saw him walk off. “Happy birthday, Sir Collin…” She whispered, hoping he’d find a happiness he deserved.

Two years later…

A young girl awoke with a groan and a grumble. She hated this day. She had been dreading it for years. Her debutant ball was scheduled for that night. She hated her birthdays. The stepmother her father was forced to deal with tried to take over everything. Her grandmother, the head of the family, didn’t seem to care for her family’s happiness, just their status, which was how such a witch had ended up in their family, poisoning them from within… almost literally.

Her cousin, a mute robot that her missing uncle had once made, came in. He once was able to speak, but had lost his voice in the fire that his father and her brother had disappeared in. The witch, Ellie, wasn’t really a witch, but she acted like one. She was always badmouthing his father and saying he kidnapped the girl’s brother. No one really believed Ellie. Not when the shield always popped up to protect the people from her. It was amazing to Hope that her grandmother never questioned why a shield always prevented Ellie from touching her family. Hope saw it as a sign and sensed the shield was to protect them from the wicked woman.

Julian Junior, as the robotic boy was called, looked over at the dress that Ellie had sent up for the princess with a scowl on his disfigured face. He had been disfigured and broken from rescuing Hope from the fire back when she had been a baby. Her brother had practically begged him to save her. He couldn’t let him down. He hadn’t. He wished he knew where Collin Junior and Julian Senior were though… his mechanical heart ached.

The dress was a sickening pink dress with tons of frills. Not really suited for a princess of a desert kingdom. The fabric was also too thick, and looked more for a colder climate kingdom. Both Hope and Julian Junior had no interest in such stupid looks in their desert kingdom. Even visiting nobles knew better than to wear such heavy fabrics in the desert kingdom, so what was wrong with Ellie?

Julian looked at Hope who looked so depressed. A princess shouldn’t be depressed on the day of her 16th birthday. Julian tried to think of what to do before remembering something. He snapped his fingers and went to a box that he knew was there. There was always a box under Hope’s bed on her birthday. This year was no different. It was a present, and the only hope that Julian had that Hope’s brother was still alive. Hope looked at it with confusion. She knew the presents showed up, but she never truly understood how they ended up there in the first place. This year, there was a note with it.

“Dear Princess Hope, happy birthday. Congratulations on making it to adulthood. I was informed that your dress wouldn’t be up to your standards and one of my friends slipped me a copy of your designs for your birthday gown. It’s tradition for a young person to wear an outfit of their own design to their debutante ball, as a sign that they are ready to make their own decisions and be an adult. I hope I did your design justice and that you enjoy it and your birthday. Sincerely, Colin S. Rakin Jr.”

Hope’s eyes widened in shock. That was her brother’s name! The way Julian was reacting also confirmed her thoughts, this was from her brother! Her older brother was alive! Hope gently opened the box and started crying. Inside was a gorgeous red satin gown with gold trimming, and it was just like she had always imagined it! Even the shoes and jewelry she had wanted with it were in the box. Her brother, a man who had been missing from her life since she could remember, had just given her what she wanted more than anything! She had been so upset when her stepmother had torn up her dress designs, saying they weren’t proper for a princess. To find that her brother had managed to put it together and send it to her… it was amazing.

Her brother was watching out for her, but… why didn’t he come home?

Julian helped her into her new outfit, giving off his smile as she danced around the room in it, admiring the texture and how well it fit on her. She danced like a flame on the top of a candle.

That night, at the debutante ball, when she was introduced, everyone complimented her on her dress. Ellie was angry, but no one cared or liked her even, save for the High Queen, Daisy, and what few friends the wicked witch had. Colin Senior smiled at his daughter’s delight and her gown.

While she interacted with people from the different kingdoms as well as her own, she noticed a young man was talking to a princess from the Frost kingdom. He had on the colors of her kingdom despite seeming at ease talking to someone from a foreign land. He wore a crimson vest with a golden phoenix on the back, and his outfit was similar to that of her father’s in design.

Princess Hope made her way over to them, hearing their conversation about the different regions and their outfits. Compared to most of the party, it’s a fairly bland and simple topic, but also very welcoming to Hope, as she’s used to everyone talking politics around her. “Hello.” She grimaced, not sure how to enter the conversation.

The Frost princess was rather pale in comparison to Hope, her orange and blue eyes both alight like the two types of fire that their respective kingdoms held. Her smile was kind towards the fire princess. “Ah, happy birthday, Princess Hope.”

“Thank you, Princess… Elsarsaquena?”

The princess nodded. She was the younger of the two princesses of Frost, and the one that was Hope’s age. “Yes.”

Hope nodded as well. Then turned her attention to the male. He looked rather similar to her father in looks, but his eyes were sharper, much like an animal’s. He had a kind smile though. “Happy birthday, Princess Hope.” He bowed, showing respect to her.

“Thank you, um…” She felt embarrassed as she had no idea who the man in front of her was, despite a feeling of trust.

“Sir Collin Kin. I’m of the Frost Guard.” He explained with a grimace.

“And yet, you wear the colors of Sol?”

A heavy blush crossed his face while his princess looked confused. “He’s wearing a blue dress uniform from Frost, how is…”

“Remember when I told you that my outfit changed based on the kingdom people are from?”

“Oh, right… so wait… she’s seeing something representing here despite you not being knighted here?”

“… I was born here, so… yeah…”

“OH, right!” Elsarsaquena nodded, finally understanding.

Hope however was confused. “You were born here… in Southern Point… but you work in…”

“Every other kingdom, yes. I’m a diplomatic knight, so all the other kingdoms had me do a type of trial of some sort to prove myself. So, yes, I am technically a knight of all the other five kingdoms in the unity.”

“Why aren’t you a knight of Southern Point yet then?”

Sir Collin shrugged. “Takes time. Lot of paperwork… lot of nobles to talk to…”

Hope raised a brow and glanced at his left wrist. Every person born in her kingdom had a birthmark describing part of their destiny. His had shields around his wrist, tied together by a chain, much like a charm bracelet. She knew of that birthmark. Birthmarks couldn’t be copied in their kingdom.

She then looked at him. “You are… skilled at magic?”

“Er, yes. It’s one of my qualities…”

“I see…” Then she smiled. “Thank you, Sir Collin.”

“For what?” Now Sir Collin was skeptical looking.

“For your answer. And for your gift.”

Elsarsaquena smiled now at her knight’s embarrassment. “Ah, so you know…”

“Yes… thank you for taking care of him.”

“Of course…”

Collin looked up to the heavens and muttered under his breath. The two women were the only ones who could hear him though. “Great, both my girlfriend and my sister are conspiring against me.” This earned giggles from the girls.

“Well, if we’re conspiring against you, then you surely will not refuse a dance with me.” Hope snickered.

“Oh, yes!” Elsarsaquena laughed. “This I gotta see.”

“Wha? I… I’m not that good at dancing…” Collin didn’t want to be where everyone would see him.

“Come on, it’s not like they’ll figure it out.” Elsarsaquena encouraged.

“Yeah, besides, better my elder brother dance with me, than some creep looking for power, eh?” Hope tried.

Collin sighed and relented. “Very well… but only because I altered the clothing spell so that Ellie would only see the Frost uniform and not guess who I was…” He scowled.

Hope grimaced. “Is she why you can’t come home?”

Collin grimaced. “… Let’s just forget my trauma and deal with your party, okay, little candle light?” He asked with a soft tone.

Hope’s smile widened. That was the name that had been on plenty of presents over the years, but all from one person. Her brother had been sending her gifts. Her brother had been trying to help her out from afar. Her brother had been protecting her and supporting her without her knowing it. All those notes, the messages, all of it calling her “Little Candle Light”. All of it was from her. Now, on the day she was to be acknowledged as an adult, he was there to see her off as well, finally in person, risking his fears to be there for her and support her. Oh how she wished she could point him out to their father, who missed him and worried about him so.

“Why don’t you give me a proper dance then, big brother.” Hope looked at him pleadingly.

Collin chuckled. “Of course, my princess.” He bowed and offered a hand. She curtsied and took his hand before the two went out to the dance floor. Elsarsaquena giggled as she watched them. Dancing together, brother and sister, both adults, with the world unprepared to face them at their best. They would take on the world together, though thought to be apart.

Colin Rakin Senior smiled as he saw the two on the dance floor. While the woman he was forced to acknowledge as his wife grumbled about how the princess wasn’t wearing the dress she had gotten her, he was happy to see both of his children, in their adult clothes that they had designed. He couldn’t call acknowledgement to his son now, but he couldn’t help but fill with pride as he looked at his children dancing like a phoenix around a candle’s flame. They were no longer children now though. They were adults. One grew up without parents, and the other grew up isolated because of an evil stepmother. Both would flourish and burn before letting the wicked get away with their crimes, he had no doubt. In the meantime though, he could smile and enjoy seeing his children smile together for once. After all, a coming of age ceremony only came once, and while his son was a little late, he had made it home to his sister’s. He was proud of that at least. Proud of the adults they had turned into.

His hand was holding onto a letter in his pocket, explaining his son’s situation and that he’d be attending if only to give Hope the moral support she needed. His son had thought of everything it seemed. His little fireball… had grown into a fine young phoenix, protective of those around him and those he cared for. His daughter, the little candlelight as his son had called her, now blossomed into a fiery torch, ready to help guide their people. He loved them so much, and was so proud. His little sparks had grown to beautiful flames.

September 23, 2022 15:38

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T. S. Memory
08:53 Sep 30, 2022

Nice title! Fantasy is so hard to tackle in short stories with so much backstory to introduce so good on you for trying! Keep writing Aurora Martin! :)


Aurora Martin
12:35 Sep 30, 2022

Thank you. This is actually a part of a full story I'm working on. A lot of what I'm submitting are sections of writing that I'm building stories and worlds for and just haven't gotten to those sections yet.


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