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Fantasy Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Emrys could do nothing but run in the aftermath of warfare.

Broken homes and bloodied weapons left him an orphan. A lone child roaming the vast lands of Ashal. He ate what berries he could scavenge in the forests, drank the clear water from streams, and spent nights mourning the loss of his home. Tears would blur the moonlight at dark.

He couldn’t run from the black bear that singled him out. 

A nearby monk heard his cries—a man dressed in a maroon robe rushed to his aid. The bear swiped, tearing into Emrys’ arm as he cowered against a tree. Bark scratched against his neck. Blood streamed down his elbows. The monk approached and punched at the beast with fists set aflame, shattering its jaw with ease.

The blazing fire consuming his fists gradually dissipated. 

The monk trembled as the power within settled.

He led Emrys to a mountain village, a monastery where they cleaned his wounds and gave him a place to stay. The monks glimpsed potential within the boy. A desire to train. They also recognized a brash recklessness, a thirst for battle, and decided to keep him focused on chores until the fury passed. Emrys spent his days washing dishes and scrubbing floors.

He grew impatient within hours. The barbarians that destroyed his home would soon be too far to catch up with. From the window of his room, he’d watch the monks spar in the courtyard—they would call upon the spiritual phoenix to emblaze weapons in bright orange flames. Emrys stopped his cleaning and approached his mentor. He bowed his head and asked if he could be taught the same.

“Tame the phoenix?” the monk replied. “Boy, you can barely leash it.”

With animosity that would not settle, Emrys sneaked into the hidden archives at dusk. He found dust-ridden tomes with cracked leather spines that read of calling upon the spirit realm. Books containing practises for those of strong will. Believing himself ready, he recited rituals until the sun rose, then challenged his mentor to spar on the new day.

A chill wind blew across the mountains, shifting the flowers planted in each corner of the courtyard. Porcelain tulips and crimson roses. Monks meditated, watching, ready to see if the orphan could hold his own. The man who saved him from the black bear took form and beckoned him forward.

Emrys invoked the phoenix,

and set the world ablaze.

The bird cried out, a spectral form rising into the sky. Flames erupted off of Emrys—infernal waves that torched everything in sight. Flowers were reduced to ashes in a blink; grass burned to dirt. His mentor flailed within the powerful fire, unable to control it, meeting his end. The surrounding monks suffered scaldings that would never heal.

They exiled him without a second to explain.

Emrys, horrified, wandered without purpose.

He struggled within the grasp of the phoenix. The power trembled his limbs and seared the skin off his back, yet still kept him strong enough to stand. Nights spent meditating calmed the phoenix to a mere warmth at his fingertips. Mornings roaming the lands of Ashal, reflecting on his errors, returned it to its blazing heat. 

Months passed by. He took up work cleaning inns, or as a farmhand, benevolently helping those in need—learning the discipline his mentors had tried to teach him ages ago. As the months became years, he found himself past the mountains, in the wintry regions of the Frostlands.

His bare feet melted the snow as he walked. Trails of steam rose beside him. In the land of tundra and cold, he met natives adorned in white and teal coats who named themselves Frost Piercers. They controlled the ice in the palms of their hands, creating breathtaking monuments, or weapons of war against primeval forces.

They invited him to their surprisingly warm home for a meal.

Neither did they have a solid grasp on their ability. Once they channelled their power of cryomancy, they had to rid themselves of it without hesitation. A second too long within it and they would freeze into statues—their blood would run cold.

Emrys began to wonder if controlling the phoenix would ever be possible.

It dismayed him to hear of warships arriving at the shores of Ashal. Word came of an invasion from overseas, a full-scale attack aiming to conquer the land. Colossal ships carried thousands upon thousands of soldiers—the expansionist rule of the desert region looking to widen their grasp on the world.

The Frost Piercer who told him so, a very enthusiastic girl, waved her arms around as she spoke to emphasize the invasion.

“The ships are this big,” she said, stretching her arms out. “And, and, with enough soldiers to rule a continent! Is that not crazy? I thought we were alone on this land, but there’s a whole world out there!”

“Would you help us defend what’s ours?” Emrys asked.

She looked around to the other Frost Piercers, her face going red.

“We’re…busy with our own problems. But I’m sure you’ll be alright!”

Emrys left at once. They allowed him to ride a mammoth to the border before bidding farewell.

Legions of desert soldiers in cloth and leather wraps marched through the fields of Ashal. A brigade broke into a village, slaughtering innocents, breaking morale. Emrys descended from the hill and picked up a blade.

Spearmen quickly surrounded him.

With no other choice, he invoked the phoenix.

The spirit cried an ear-piercing scream, its spectral form spreading its wings into the sky. A tempest of flames engulfed Emrys—his skin burned hot, scalding, his left arm charring black. Fire raged in his eyes. The sword in his right hand caught aflame, raining loose embers, burning the leaves beneath him to ash.

Imbued with the phoenix’s power, he struck the invaders in a frenzy. Embers burst off his sword with each strike. Fire formed on the fingertips of his charred left hand. The flames coalesced in his palm, creating a stream to torch those around him. The untamable spirit flared brighter and hotter with each passing second.

He stood among corpses as the battle came to an end. The phoenix left his body in ruins, his skin burned beyond healing. Emrys understood, at last, that no mortal being could ever bend the heat of the phoenix to their will. Agonized, he wrapped his arm in cloth and staggered towards the mountains.

He arrived to find his old village destroyed. Emerald green fires still burned in the gardens—bodies were left obliterated by weapons of alchemy, the likes of which he’d never seen.

Only a few surviving monks remained, sorting through the wreckage. 

Emrys reached out a hand.

They hesitated to accept, as they refused to overlook the past. Yet, Emrys bowed his head and told of his years of wandering, reflection, and charity. He apologized and asked for nothing more than guidance—the monks sensed the change within him and accepted his help in rebuilding. 

With their help, Emrys honed his control of the phoenix. He readied himself for war. Time spent meditating and learning to direct the spirit’s fiery wrath prepared him for the inevitable conflict. He refused to let his land fall prey to the desert’s rule. 

Outnumbered by the hundreds, Emrys fought to exhaustion. His sword caught aflame in the fields of Ashal. He cut down men riding armoured scorpions, grabbing the riders with his charred left hand and burning them within his grasp. When the battle seemed lost, Ashal’s soldiers no match against the desert’s numbers, a spike of ice erupted from the ground to disrupt them.

A girl wearing a white and teal coat slid by, a trail of solid ice beneath her feet, and waved to Emrys.

“Keep up,” the Frost Piercer said, “Flamewalker.”

She leaped off the ice, hitting the ground, running fast. Icicles formed above her—sharp, jagged pieces each the length of a spear. A cyan mist emanated from her eyes. She ran, throwing her arm forward, the projectiles launching through the air. 

Sunlight reflected off the glimmering ice.

They cut wind, each spike impaling the desert soldiers. The girl stopped and stomped her foot against the ground. A spike of ice twice her size broke from the dirt. It led to another—a chain reaction of pillars following the bulk of the army.

Another Frost Piercer slid by and shattered them. The pillars exploded into razor-sharp shrapnel, blinding and maiming. The army shouted for a retreat. Emrys raised his sword to the sky, flames bursting off the steel. He called to press the attack, and Ashal’s forces listened, charging forward.

Once they routed the enemy, Emrys loosened his grip on the phoenix and approached the enthusiastic Frost Piercer. Her breath fogged the air in front of her despite Ashal’s warm temperature. She stretched her arms out behind her; frost built up and cracked on her jacket.

“I thought you had your own problems to deal with,” Emrys said. He stepped around the frozen corpse of a soldier. “What brought you here?”

“It’s our land, too,” she said, “even if it’s not the cold side.” She reached out a gloved hand. “There’s not too many of us, but you can bet we’ll be the difference needed in the battles to come.”

With his charred hand, Emrys shook with her.

Together, they would lead Ashal to a rightful victory.

February 07, 2022 22:10

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34 comments

K. Antonio
23:33 Feb 11, 2022

Hello, Alex! I actually think this story's a super creative take on the prompt, using it to write a fantasy story didn't even cross my mind. The world-building and the idea of having the phoenix play as this divine entity is really interesting. I do agree though with D.C. that I think you can lace a bit more of emotion into the story, anything to make the reader feel more connected to the character. The beginning had many interesting snippets that I found super strange and attractive, the one liners really did make an impact. I actually th...

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Alex Sultan
07:40 Feb 12, 2022

Thank you for reading, friend. I'm glad you took the time to do so - I've been wanting to write more fantasy stories and just sort of went with it for these prompts. I do agree, chilling out is good advice - I'm a perfectionist when it comes to this site and I always want to top the last story I wrote, which can be difficult. I appreciate the insight on it.

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20:43 Feb 08, 2022

Hi Alex, not sure if you want line by line at this stage but it's not that long a piece so happy to do it now and try to do it again later if you like. Though I may not have any more time until Thursday night. Here goes: First up - it's a great tale to spin - with a truly legendary scope. I love how you bring these ideas to the fore when I cant even think of a starting point! I really like the character development and the changes in the relationship between the central character and the monks. I really like how he learns to be a little m...

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Alex Sultan
00:12 Feb 09, 2022

Thank you, friend! I really appreciate the time you put into this comment. Don't worry at all about it being harsh - I'm glad to know this style didn't work(I posted this knowing it was decent at best, hoping for comments like this to fix it up) I'm going to rewrite this story, same concept and plot, and hopefully have it updated sometime tomorrow - I'll take all your notes into consideration.

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Alex Sultan
22:18 Feb 07, 2022

an: I think this story is rough right now - these prompts do not suit me too well, but I didn't want to skip this week. I do want to make a lot of changes to this one, and I would greatly appreciate any feedback. Update: after many reworks, I think this story is pretty good. Thanks for reading.

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Tommie Michele
06:30 Feb 08, 2022

These prompts don’t suit me too well, either, but you’ve got a little more courage than me, friend (I skipped this week :) ). I just did a quick read through now, and I must say, I’ve always been fascinated with the Phoenix—I noticed a few things, both big-picture and little crits (although I’ll wait on line-by-line until you’ve got your story nailed the way you want it), but I don’t have time to write them out tonight. I’ll try and get them done tomorrow! You have a cool concept here, Alex—I’m excited to see it grow!

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Alex Sultan
00:09 Feb 09, 2022

Thank you, friend. I appreciate you reading through! I'll admit, I'm not too fond of this story, but I do plan to rewrite it while keeping the same concept and plot - I'm hoping to have it done for tomorrow. Don't worry about line-by-line or general feedback for the moment or until the next draft 🙂

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Tommie Michele
06:02 Feb 09, 2022

Hmm…I think part of the issue may be the scope of the story, and I agree with a lot of what Katharine said—for me, I can only really get into a story when I’m directly in a character’s head, which you do incredibly well in your usual style. Both the departure from your awesome, descriptive action and dialogue and the huge scope of the story made it hard for me to connect emotionally. Like I said, you have an awesome concept, and this kind of character arc is something I definitely think you can pull off well (if not amazing)—you have a soli...

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Alex Sultan
19:03 Feb 09, 2022

Your comment is so kind! You definitely bring up a great point. I do find it unfortunate I can't write another 'Zero' or '28 Letters' every week, but in the end, I'm here more to improve than to win. I updated the story a decent amount - mainly the beginning. While I do still plan to work on this one, I'm already hoping next week's prompts are a bit easier to write for.

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Tommie Michele
15:07 Feb 10, 2022

I just read through it again--the beginning is much improved! The showing vs telling still caught my attention as I read, so I figured I'd bring it up, but once again, it's definitely much improved.

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12:53 Feb 18, 2022

I am a HUGE fantasy fan, and this take on the phoenix legend was inspired!

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Alex Sultan
00:58 Feb 19, 2022

Thank you for the kind words, Hannah. Fantasy is my favourite genre, so I'm very glad you enjoyed reading this one through.

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21:24 Feb 14, 2022

Hi Alex, I've had a go at writing for this week, but again, the prompts are a bit stifling. I haven't really stuck to my prompt but I picked the best of a difficult bunch and this latest story is what happened. I'd really appreciate your crit if you have time. Hope you are well. K

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20:47 Feb 11, 2022

Hi Alex - I really wanted to check in on the edit and I'm so glad I did. The ending is much improved by this updated storyline. And some of your true style has come back! Battle scenes are your forte. I love it. One line query: He stood along (among) corpses as the battle came to an end. Great stuff. Katharine

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Alex Sultan
22:21 Feb 11, 2022

Thank you for reading it over again - I'm very glad you did. Having the Frost Piercers be a more important plot point was all I needed to end up really liking this story - it was a great point you brought up in your previous comment. The story may not be a winner by any means, but I'm glad to have it in my library of short stories now.

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Claude Bernhard
20:00 Feb 11, 2022

This rocked!

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Alex Sultan
22:21 Feb 11, 2022

Cheers, friend.

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J.C. Lovero
02:27 Feb 11, 2022

Hi Alex, Glad to see another submission from you. Admittedly you are one of my faves on here :) I like the phoenix concept quite a bit and enjoy what you did here. Also, love the nod to Arthurian lore with Emrys (if that was your intention, anyway). I think what I'm missing here is that emotional connection to Emrys. What's his motivation for taming it? Does he feel anything when his mentor dies? I wonder if you could take a smaller section of the entire narrative and encapsulate it into a smaller story that helps us feel what is going on...

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Alex Sultan
03:34 Feb 11, 2022

Thank you, J.C! I really appreciate the kind words. Your feedback is great - something that I was definitely missing. I do plan to edit this up, and hopefully submit it for tomorrow, so I do appreciate it. I'm going to fix it based on your comment 🙂 I'll read over your story tomorrow when it's posted! I'm looking forward to it.

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19:49 Feb 10, 2022

Hi Alex, I don't have much time, but here's a few notes... Couple of typos... A chill wind blew across the mountains, shifting the flower(s) planted in each corner of the courtyard. Porcelain tulips and crimson roses. Monks mediated (meditated), watching, ready to see if the orphan could hold his own. The man who saved him from the black bear took form and beckoned him forward. I really like the bit about the bear. Neither did they have a grasp on the spirits that embodied them. - I'm not sure "embodied" is the right word here? I'm kin...

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Alex Sultan
19:03 Feb 11, 2022

Thank you, Katharine. I appreciate you catching the spelling mistakes. It would've been embarrassing to leave those in. I rewrote the entire ending based on your comment of why the Frost Piercers wouldn't help him - I think it was what the story was missing from the start. Thanks again - the harsh feedback is very helpful in learning what does and doesn't work.

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19:40 Feb 11, 2022

I'll try to read it again tonight but a bit busy. Good luck in the contest!

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20:59 Feb 09, 2022

Hi Alex, this rewrite is a big improvement. I still prefer some of your others, but this is getting much better in the edit.

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Alex Sultan
22:10 Feb 09, 2022

Thank you - I'm a bit happier with the story as well. I do still plan to make some changes to the second half/ending, which I still feel falls a bit short.

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22:13 Feb 09, 2022

I should have some time tomorrow night if you let me know when you've done the next edit

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Alex Sultan
19:07 Feb 10, 2022

I'm sort of done with the edit. I plan to spend Friday going over it again - if you wanted to write feedback today, feel free. It'd be well appreciated. 🙂

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Annalisa D.
23:07 Feb 08, 2022

I really like the concept of this story and thought it was really interesting. You have some excellent visuals and an exciting story. In terms of improvement, I wonder if maybe this story is just a bit bigger than can be put into this short space. I would have liked to be in more of the moments a little more/longer. I think that's actually a good thing to have a story the reader would like to spend more time with. I know it's also kind of a hard thing to improve because there is only so much time and so many words. I really enjoyed it and th...

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Alex Sultan
00:23 Feb 09, 2022

Thank you, Anna. I'm planning on rewriting this story, and I appreciate the comment. I'll go with a slower pace in a rework, taking from your words and expanding on key moments. Your feedback is great here - I've taken it into account. Thanks again.

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Delia Tomkus
16:14 Feb 08, 2022

I have to say, these prompts were sort of stubborn for me to. I love where you went with it though, nice job

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Alex Sultan
00:15 Feb 09, 2022

Thank you, Delia. I appreciate you reading through as always. I was sort of disappointed with these prompts but didn't want to skip another week. I'm glad you could read this one.

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22:42 Feb 07, 2022

Hi Alex, no time now but I did spot a few bits. Will try to crit tomorrow.

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18:43 Feb 27, 2022

imbued with the phoenix’s power, he struck the invaders in a frenzy. Embers burst off his sword with each strike. Fire formed on the fingertips of his charred left hand. The flames coalesced in his palm, creating a stream to torch those around him. The untamable spirit flared brighter and hotter with each passing second...Very descriptive.

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Suma Jayachandar
13:49 Feb 13, 2022

I really admire your ability to conjure a world where breathtaking action takes place to any given prompt. Bravo!

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Alex Sultan
19:28 Feb 13, 2022

Thank you for reading, Suma! I appreciate the kind words as always.

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