One of the most difficult decisions I had to make was when I just left the Pixie World: did I go to the area where Mazany was seen or did I look for more Phoenixes?
I'd promised Mazany I'd save him from Ice but I couldn't do that without the right knowledge to do so. Only the Phoenixes could help me with that. So the decision was made; Nature bless me, let it be the right one.
Trying to find a Phoenix is like trying to see without eyes - literally. They were not a part of the physical realm so could not be seen with physical eyes.
I thought over my last encounters. They had always come to me without me actually looking for them at that moment. I sighed; Phoenixes made up the rules as they went along, doing what they liked when they liked simply because they could.
Okay, Zuri, think logically, Phoenixes are creatures of the Spiritual Realm, so what doorways are open to you in order to enter that realm?
Well, that was obvious: dreams were one region in the Spirit realm. Ever heard of not being able to control your dreams though?
Then I recalled the blackness that surrounded me when speaking with Al'Feugo and Al'Tijd: wasn't the indistinct darkness in dreams the same?
A plan began to form; not a very good one but it was all I had.
For the next week I travelled to a region that humans called a 'National Park'. It was unconnected to me and Mazany so no taint lay there for Ice or Shadow to follow. It was also fairly untouched by humans since it was designed to protect the natural beauty; my respect for humans increased for protecting Nature in such a way. It was perfect for my imperfect plan.
I found some woods. It was full of the vibrant life of Nature. I found a sheltered spot in amongst the trees where I wouldn't be disturbed. I gathered as many different variety of leaves that I could and made a bed out of them. I outlined my bed with rocks, pebbles and stones. It was nearly sunset: I raised my hands upwards and called to Nature to make it rain without blotting out what remained of the sun.
The heavens responded to my command. I was soaked through within seconds but that barely mattered. I was filled with joy at being closer to Nature than I had been in years. I lay down on my bed of leaves and closed my eyes; picturing Al'Rean and the Spiritual Realm.
"Great Nature; Al'Rean; Mother of Pixies, I ask just one favour as the descendant of Shade: first member of the Original Highest Council. Please, Nature, find me in the region of Dreams and guide me to the Phoenix Realm so that I may fulfill my Oath to the Fire Fox, Mazany, blessed subject of Al'Feugo. Thank you, Nature, and may your worldly children be blessed as well as yourself."
I concluded my prayer and felt the stirrings of the ancient power I'd invoked. I had never before laid claim to my heritage on Mama's side before and could feel the difference in the responding magic.
Before I realised it, I was sucked into the darkness of dreams.