I went back after a few days. There was no way of knowing if Shadow would go back and she'd need someone watching over her.
I was shocked at how normal the girl, Midnight, was acting. No tears, no mourning... nothing but smiles and laughter.
What the heck?
I frowned in confusion, it wasn't healthy, right, to not grieve.
Grieving or no, she needed protecting and I had the time. I climbed a tree in the garden and sat on one of the highest branches. I called Nature to hide me and kept watch over Midnight.
"I am Al'Tijd," an Element Phoenix said to someone I couldn't see. Or was the Phoenix addressing me? I shrugged and responded anyway.
"Well, that's nice but can you tell me where on Nature's World am I and how the heck did I get here?" I asked quietly. The Phoenix half turned and I stepped back when I saw who it was he'd been talking to.
Mazany was lying unconscious on the floor. As I stared his eyes fluttered and he stirred. He saw me and leapt to his feet. Mazany snarled and I took another automatic step back.
"Oh, excellent. You are both here," Al'Tijd said and then I felt disorientated. When I felt steady again I realised I was in the same place I was in when I'd met Al'Feugo. It was just a black nothing.
"Hey, I know this place but Al'Feugo never actually said where I was," I muttered.
"We are in a place that has no Time yet is the very essence of Time itself... Correct?" Al'Tijd answered cryptically, "This is the In-Between... Correct?"
"Wow, that really cleared things up for me! Thanks for being so helpful, Al'Tijd," I said sarcastically and, shocking me (as well as himself), Mazany laughed.
Al'Tijd smiled. "The In-Between is a place where there is nothing, nothing grows or thrives, but it is the core of life... Correct? It is the world of the Phoenixes... Correct?"
"Why are you asking me if you're correct?" I asked under my breath and Mazany smothered another chuckle. Then I noticed the picture frames, floating around.
"What are they?" Mazany murmured.
"I am the Time Phoenix and they show the lives of everyone... Correct?" Al'Tijd replied, "I cannot gurantee what you shall see when you look into a frame. You may see that person's past or future... Correct? Or perhaps you'll see the present... Correct?"
"I don't know," I snapped, "Not very certain of things are you, Al'Tijd."
"Time is very uncertain, young Zuri, nothing is set in stone... Correct? There are arguments about Time. 'To look back upon history is to, inevitably, distort it' and 'the future can always change'... Correct? You can never be sure of anything when it comes to Time... Correct?"
"I'll take your word for it," I said and Al'Tijd smiled.
"But then, looking back on Time does sometimes make things clear, young Zuri... Correct? Remembering the past often helps in the future... Correct? Perhaps the two of you should have a look at your own past, young Zuri," Al'Tijd said slyly. A frame began to move towards Mazany and I. My name was embossed on the frame. I saw it was me and Ice in my bedroom... one year ago.
"No!" I cried and shook my head. I backed away from the frame. Mazany was staring with a look I couldn't discern. He stepped closer to the frame. I turned to Al'Tijd.
"Please, I'm begging you. I don't want to relive that day," I sobbed. Al'Tijd looked at me with pity but said nothing.
"You know Ice?" Mazany whispered without looking at me. He was staring at the scene.
"She... she's my... older half... older half-sister," I managed to say between sobs, "Please, Al'Tijd. Don't make me live through that day again."
"You want to forget... Correct? Mazany here has chosen to forget, you can choose to as well... Correct?" Al'Tijd said. I thought it over.
"What did Mazany choose to forget?"
"Midnight and Elizabeth... you could forget that too... Correct?"
"No, I choose not to have you take my memories," I whispered.
"You would get them back one day," Al'Tijd assured me and glanced over to Mazany. I copied him and gazed at Mazany, who was still staring at the frame.