3.3: High Spirits

Nuria’s entire body trembles as she leans over a small pouch at the foot of her bed. She constantly wipes the sweat from her brow, keeping it from stinging her already red eyes. Her lips are too dry to salivate anymore, but she feels the urge to cave to her addiction more than she has all semester.

     Ever since she put her Ibri training into action, she’s felt as strong as she does whenever she did take her medicine. Her break from the almond-colored seeds was tough at first, but her friend-making spree and fights against The Pure provided ample distraction.

     It settles it that Su’s Vanusi if she needs those seeds, too…but why did I have to see her eat them?

     Nuria nearly grabs the pouch but yanks her hand back at the last second. It doesn’t stop her from slowly reaching for it again, however. The phoenix hates to feel weak, especially now with The Pure breathing down her neck. She knows the seeds can correct her condition, but she hasn’t worked so hard to give credit to her medicine.


     The phoenix imagines how the morning after the mall attack would’ve been if she hadn’t gained access to her phoenix powers. She’d never have access to her sonic voice or golden flames to this degree while taking her medicine but knows she may not be strong enough to continue using them without the medicinal aid.

     She tangles her hands in her hair to keep them away from the pouch.

     What do I do? What do… What would Reddic do?

     Nuria reaches for her phone, then shrieks when she realizes the pouch is at her lips. She drops the pouch, falls onto her butt, and scoots away from her bed. Her shallow breathing races as fast as her heart. Her vision blurs. Her palms start sweating. Her muscles tremble and ache.


     Nuria rises and lunges for the pouch, ready to tear it open.


     The voice of an angel provides Nuria a single moment of clarity. She snatches the pouch and tosses it to Tyra.

     “Keep that and under no circumstances are you to give it back to me!” Nuria shouts.

     “Umm…okay,” Tyra says, stashing the pouch inside her white sash. Her kimono’s body is red with black suns over each breast, shoulder, and elbow. She takes a seat on Nuria’s bed while the phoenix leans against the bathroom door. “Are you okay?”

     Nuria replies after slowing her breathing. “I will be. I just…I just need time to rest.”

     “As long as you’re sure. You being a no-show at dinner, then that scream just now gave me a heart attack. But I’ll trust you.”

     Nuria nods somberly, though a grin forms eventually.

     That’s right, Nuria. You have to trust yourself, too. You’re doing the right thing!

     “So, how’d it go? Did you get into Sulublei?”

     “Tomorrow is my first big day with the class. Guess I should tell Zathony, huh?”

     “He already knows. He found me at dinner looking for you. The teachers had a meeting today and he found out there.”

     “Oh, good. Because I do not feel like moving right now.”

     Tyra gestures to the bandage on Nuria’s arm. “What’s that about? You went to the doctor?”

     Nuria lifts her arm. “Something like that. Been a mess since I got back here.”

     “Did you give blood?”

     “I had a few shots.” She clarifies when Tyra furrows her brow. “It was only three.”

     “Have you eaten since?”

     “No,” the phoenix answers.

     Tyra pinches her nose. “No wonder you’re a mess. Is there anything in that fridge downstairs?”

     “The last scraps of Reddic’s groceries. Might be bacon. A couple of eggs. Maybe milk, too.”

     “You’re eating it all. Let’s go!”

     Tyra drags Nuria down to the first floor and sits her down on the couch. Nuria’s new sister becomes her mother as she hands Nuria a glass of the last drops of milk, then cooks the eggs and bacon. The last time she’d gone so long without her medicine, it was up to Rum to look after her health until their mother returned. Nuria despises it repeating years later, but she hides her displeasure from Tyra, not wanting the angel to think she’s a bother. After the meal, her brain and body crash so abruptly that she knows Tyra must’ve carried her to her bed when she awakens the next morning.

     The phoenix still suffers from a cold sweat, however, her wired and erratic mood from the other day has subsided. Until she looks at her phone for the time and finds a text there also.

Lytha 17, 8:13 A.M.
Heya, kid! Sorry for the long trip, but I’ll be back tomorrow
morning. Hope you’ve had fun while I was away!

     Nuria lowers her phone to reveal a smile from ear to ear. She rushes through her shower and brushing her teeth, ties the yellow ribbon through her braid, and dresses in an orange t-shirt, black jean shorts, and dark sneakers. As she races to the Sulublei dorm, her jovial expression grows more serious.

     This is it! Today’s the day! I have to get a lock on my golden fire before Reddic returns! No ifs, and, or buts! Sutar, I hope you’ve got good news for me!

     As soon as Nuria joins them at the dorm entrance, Sutar turns and latches onto Nuria tightly.

     “I take it your tests went well?”

     “Yes, I mean no. Err…I mean, I didn’t learn a lot, but I learned more than I could’ve hoped for, that’s for sure!”

     “Lay it on me.”

     Professor Lynald clears his throat. “Lay it on her on the way. Follow me, please.”

     Nuria and Sutar obey, though they hang near the back of the group. Wallace’s lagging pace puts him even further behind. Nuria leers at him when he scoffs, reacting to their discussion.

     “Ignore the sour puss,” Sutar says. “So, I ran three tests to compare our blood. Full blood count, an electrolyte test, and blood typing. I’ll go over them in order of how useful their results were, from least to greatest. Your blood type was BN+. My own was still rated inconclusive.”

     Ah, so that’s what she meant by inconclusive. That’s…huh?

     “The electrolyte test is for measuring the levels of minerals in one’s body. Sodium, potassium, chloride, and even water level. I’d always thought my levels were ridiculously high, but compared to yours, they only seemed slightly above average.”


     “Yep, but here’s the best part. The full blood count is a test to check the type of blood cells you have and the approximate number of each. I exposed both our samples to a stream of oxygen to see how’d they react. It seemed to trigger both our abilities. My blood cells turned green faintly, but your cells multiplied so swiftly it was insane. The newer cells of yours died quickly since they lacked a true nucleus, but the cell division was something like I’ve never seen!”

     Nuria hums and presses a hand to her chin. Maybe that’s why my golden fire grew so big from my finger flare; all the new cells magnified the power. So, what happens if I try to summon golden flames without my normal ones active first? Would they still be as powerful? Could they be even more powerful?

     Nuria walks straight into the side of the greenhouse. Barry and the boys snigger.

     “Watch where you’re going,” Wallace says dryly.

     Nuria ignores his jab and storms into the greenhouse after Lynald.  She follows Su’s lead and takes a seat near the tree with exposed roots. Wallace sits on the other end of the lineup.

     Professor Lynald claps his hands together. “Today’s going to be short, but important. We’ve spent a good amount of time practicing Mother’s Source, so I want a perfect review of the concept from one of you. Yes, Barry?”

     Barry speaks loudly and confidently. “Mother’s Source, derived from the term Mother Nature- is the morpu that Sulublei utilize.”

     Morpu? So, it functions like Active Meditation and Primal Sense? Okay, that’s easy enough to understand.

     Barry continues and says, “This process is activated when a Sulublei individual is able to join forces with nature to enhance their powers. The stronger the connection, the stronger the powers will be.”

     So, my golden flames can get even stronger? Nuria smirks fiendishly. Liamria won’t stand a chance next time!

     “Correct,” Lynald says. “Who would care to demonstrate the process? Donovan?”

     “Uh,” Donovan says hesitantly, turning to an irate Sutar. “Not today. Not…here.”

     The professor huffs. “Sutar, the greenhouse does not belong to you.”

     “But I just repaired the flower bed he ruined last time!” Su whines.

     “Then just repair it again, doc,” Wallace taunts.

     “Wallace, that is not helping,” Lynald scolds.

     Sutar aims her glare toward the olive-haired teen. “Did I ask for your opinion, power plant?” Su counters, her emphasis on both words perplexing Nuria.

     “I’ll just do the demonstration, geez,” Barry states.

     “Go show ‘em, sis!” Dig cheers.

     Ignoring Dig’s blue and green dye job, he and Barry share the same blonde hair, tan skin, and deep yellow eyes.

     “Nuria, you use fire, right?”

     “I do.”

     “Can you ignite one of your hands?”

     “Sure…” Nuria rubs her hands together swiftly and normally she’d snap them apart, but since Barry specified just one hand, she slides her left hand forward and it erupts, though the flame is weak and flickering.

     What the hell?

     “Perfect!” Barry says. “Hold it out like you’re gonna shake my hand.”

     Nuria extends her fiery hand and Barry grabs it firmly so that Nuria can’t break away when she’s startled. “Are you crazy? You’ll burn…yourself.”

     Nuria marvels as Barry’s flesh shows no sign of burning.

     Barry smirks proudly. “I don’t have your ability to generate combustion, but I’m capable of manipulating heat. To me, what’s around your hand is just lit-up oxygen. Anywhere there’s heat, I have access to my powers. So, you’re kind of like a walking battery for me to sponge off of.”

     “To put it another way, Barry used an elemental source to help use her powers. However, it seems you’ve found a more manual method,” Lynald says.

     “You mean the hand rubbing?” Nuria asks.

     “Precisely. Friction provides heat and you use that heat to stir the air around your body to ignite yourself. It’s not terribly efficient, but it’s an excellent start.”

     “Absorbing energy from natural sources is the best way,” Barry says. “My bro’s got it easy that he can manipulate sand, so whenever it’s around, he’s good to go.”

     “I think your power is better sourced by absorbing energy from the heat around you,” Lynald clarifies. “Most wind, water, and earth powers work the same way.”

     “What about lightning?” Nuria asks, thinking of her brother.

     All eyes turn to Wallace, Nuria’s being the final pair.

     “Sorry, not feeling up to it today.” Wallace leans back onto the floor and crosses his arms behind his head.

     Nuria rolls her eyes.

     “Just think of the absorption as eating. Your own energy will act as your silverware. That’s how I learned how to do it,” Barry explains.

     Nuria nods slowly. “I think I understand. Mind if I try?”

     “Are you sure? It’s not a skill mastered overnight. Perhaps Sutar could show how hers works first?”

     Nuria slices her head in negation and stands. “Just watch.”

     “Another money-grubber ready to cash in on her gifts,” Wallace says as an insult.

     Nuria ignores him and walks to the center of one of the laminate paths. She wants to stay away from the flowers in case her powers spiral out of control. Sutar seems protective over the garden and she wants desperately not to alienate her right now.

     Focus up, Nuria. This is the first step to a new level. I’ll be stronger than Liamria! I’ll surprise Reddic! And most importantly, it’ll all be my power! No more stupid seeds!

     Nuria raises her head and looks directly at the sun. Just as Nuria tries to draw forth the heat from the sun, her muscles start to spasm. She loses her breath and falls over wheezing, choking as she gasps for air. Her ability to speak and think vanishes as her body writhes violently. Her vision goes in and out. Panicked shouts echo from all around. Her last sight before passing out is Rum being barred access to her bedside.

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