Chapter Twenty-Five, Phoenix

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Aila heard the call. No one had to tell her what it was even though nearly no one still alive had ever actually heard the sound.

She looked up and saw the phoenix coming down, the feathers turning into flames once more, the body transforming into a girl dressed in grey...

Benjamina.

Aila had no time to ponder what she saw. Bennie collapsed, nearly knocking the tiny fairy flat, tears still in her eyes.

Aila took Bennie inside. She knew what had happened.

Bennie did not remember much of when she got to Aila's. She only remembered a pure, uncontrollable need to sleep, the painful throb of her heart, still pounding "Perce, Perce, Perce." She only remembered the hollow thought, "I can't save him now," and someone helping Aila carry her into the house...

Shadow and fiery light... a strange tingle pulsing through her veins. She was lost, somewhere inside herself, a place she did not know. It wasn't part of her...Someone calling...

"Phoenix."

She was flying, flying over Pelanca, on wings...her feathers as golden red as the city looked to her eyes. There was no darkness here...

"Phoenix!"

Phoenix, yes...not Shadowchild. I am Phoenix.

"Ben-nie!"

She turned. She knew that voice, more beautiful to her than Reyortsed's. She thought she'd never hear it again.

"Bennie, come on down now. I need to tell you something."

Perce...

She flew down to where he stood, in their training park.

Oh, he's here! He's not dead after all!

In a wheel of fire she was Bennie again, running into his arms, sobbing with joy.

"I thought you were gone! I thought I could never get you back now!"

Perce just smiled.

"Ah, Bennie," was all he said, and led her to a bench. Bennie followed, pushing all the pain and fear she had been feeling aside with her words.

"We can call Aila, and let her know you're back safe. I'll go get Sean and Gem and we can sort everything out. We were all so freaked out, Perce, you have no idea! But..." Her voice trailed off when she saw that Perce was gazing at the stars with an unreadable, if thoughtful, expression. She didn't have to ask him what he was thinking. She already knew.

"You're not back safe, are you?" She said quietly, "This is just a dream, isn't it?"

"No," Perce said, barely above a whisper. "Not just a dream."

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