It was a long time before I could stand up. I lay gasping for breath and shuddering. Why didn't he kill me? I'd deliberately allowed the water to fall on me, knowing he'd use electricity. I'd tried to push him; I knew Maz too well. I'd known exactly what to say and do to get him to attack but still he didn't kill me. Why? Why hadn't he put me out of my misery?

Because he wanted you to live with the pain of his words, a small whisper in the back of my mind said. That was clearly it. I flinched; my plan backfired. He hadn't killed me, he'd let me live.

"I hate you, you know... if you cared you wouldn't have abandoned me"

I sighed before leaping to my feet. His use of electricity had barely hurt in comparison to leaving him... abandoning him. He was right. I had abandoned him thanks to my own stupidity. If I hadn't taken him to the Pixie World then this might never have happened.

You're wrong, my Little Rainbow, Ice would have used the debts to force you to leave Mazany, the same voice whispered except, this time, it wasn't in my head. Slowly, I turned and almost smiled at what I saw. She reminded me of Al'Leako and Al'Teal; her hair was a dark brown with leaves entwined in it and her eyes sparkled green.

"Let me guess," I said dryly, "Nature Phoenix?"

"Yes, but as your 'God' you know me as plain Nature. My Phoenix name is Al'Rean," she spoke in a soft voice. I remained silent waiting for what she had to say. She began to walk in a circle around me but I didn't move to watch her progress. I was just immobile as I waited.

Finally, she stopped right in front of me but I still didn't move. Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears.

"My poor child," she whispered and stroked my face lightly. I jerked away from the contact. Al'Rean sighed and dropped her hand.

"What is it you have to tell me?" I asked flatly.

"That if a favour is done for a Pixie then that Pixie must always repay the one or ones who have done them the favour. They are bound by ancient magic whether they like it or not"

"Well, great Al'Rean!" I exploded, "I never knew that! I'll have to make a note of it! What use is it to me? Telling me something I already know?"

"Because it will be of great use later on. Each Phoenix will give you a piece of a puzzle. It is your job to make sense of them and put the pieces together for the Final Confrontation," Al'Rean murmured, still gentle. I met her eyes and absurdly began to sob and fall to my knees.

"My poor child," she repeated, heartbroken for me.

"Will he ever forgive me, Al'Rean? If not, will things at least get better for me?" I managed to ask. There was no answer which caused me to look up. Al'Rean was gone but her sorrow for me lingered.

The End

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