Prologue pt. 2

As I dropped with the rain toward the downtown street, skyscrapers flanking the traffic-heavy road rushed up at me with frightening speed. The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach was intense. If I couldn't stop, I was screwed. Good thing was, in an instant, I almost regained my composure.

Holy hell! I'm gonna die!

Almost.

Swirling winds crashed into me from all angles, carrying the rain with it. Water slammed into me, pelting my flowing coat and my oh-so-handsome face. I pinwheeled through the air, but stayed oriented. I've fallen from Keira's back enough times to be almost okay with dropping through the sky.

I needed a solution. Fast.

What was the problem? My near death, brought to you by our good friends at Pull-of-Gravity incorporated.

What is gravity? Energy.

How do you stop energy? I had an idea.

Clutching my staff tight, I focused my magical energy into it. The runes grew a brilliant blue. Then I centered my thoughts on one thing: using my energy to cancel out the gravitational energy pulling me down.

I fired off a wild shockwave of translucent energy from the staff. It burst down through the zooming cars and pavement far below, colliding with the gravity energy there and forcing it in every direction away from me.

But who knew gravity had some fight in it? It pushed back like a spring, reclaiming it's position.

"Come on!" I gritted my teeth and shot multiple pulses into the earth rapid-fire style.

But it didn't keep the gravity away.

I didn't have time for this. Shouldn't have been this hard. This was too much of a struggle. Like I was arm wrestling momma nature for the rights to her virginity.

I'd warded off gravity before. Not while being so close to death -- though I did do it in Los Angeles once, which was close enough.

Brilliant as I am, I instantly realized why I was screwing up. I swiftly switched tactics.

I fired a powerful needle of energy into the sea of gravity below. Stabbing it's way deep, it got where I wanted. Then I pumped more through the hole it created, forming a thick pillar of my magical force.

Then I screamed, "Go!" and expanded the pillar of energy outward in one burst, forcing gravity away from the area. I had to maintain the energy though.

And I couldn't do it forever.

But boy did I screw up traffic with that. Cars trying to break at the red light found themselves hovering, not stopping. I had to grin at that. I heart traffic jams.

Took me a split-instant to realize that, while gravity was on vacation, my momentum still rocketed me down and I wasn't slowing fast enough.

Crap.

Keira, I thought. Hello. Any birdie there? If you don't have anything better to do, could you drop by sometime? I'll download that Justin Bieber song you love so mu–

Mention that song again, I will let you die, Keira replied. Then I will assassinate your soul.

She was the most unreliable reliable phoenix I'd ever known. I loved her much.

I'll be there soon, Keira added. It's just this foolish sorcerer and these clouds and that obese lizard . . .

I was on my own. I had to think. What else could I do to decelerate? Elemental control. Of course.

Except that last time I tried screwing with the wind, I made a tornado. No lightning around to use. And I wasn't terrible with water, but there weren't any beaches around like that time in LA.

Looks like I had to do that. Yeah, that. Once I made the decision, I knew pain wasn't far away.

Keira, I thought tentatively. Flame me up, Miss.

You sure? Keira questioned. I didn't say a word, so she continued, You got it.

Using our connection that was physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, she sent her lava-eradicating flame into my soul. I growled in pain as it surged through me. My body shot up in temperature like a microwaved meal, but I didn't catch fire. I'd been connected to her since my mother conceived me, so I was born resistant to Keira's heat.

Resistant enough to stay alive, at least. Still felt like a large cigarette burn all over and inside my body.

Plummeting dangerously low, I was quickly nearing the skyscrapers' rooftops below. I had to act now.

Channeling the fire energy into my free hand – didn't want my staff to go matchstick on me – I held it there. It sizzled, turning red. I felt like a Kentucky Fried Wizard.

I cried out sharply in agony, but gritted my teeth and forced the pain down.

Then I eyed the nearest rooftop far to my side. I was still twisting and flipping like mad. So I zoomed my vision in and out, bending and curving it at unnatural angles as needed with my shades. I was gonna try to get over there.

I needed to line it up perfectly.

When I was sure I had it, I held my hand out just the right way and fired a booming explosion of fire. It evaporated raindrops with a loud hiss and launched me down at an angle, headfirst, right at the roof.

I felt like Superman flying through the sky. The wind howled in my ears as I rushed ahead.

My plan was going perfect. I was gonna land on the roof in just a moment. Then I'd be safe. No more falling. I was ready for the crash landing. That was no problem. I've survived those before. I was ready for anything, at that point.

But what happened was the one thing I wasn't ready for. I flew right over the roof.

And shot right past it.

And I couldn't help but think, My name is Roy Radigan and I am not smarter than a fifth grader.

Keep trying, kiddo! Keira called out. You can handle this!

Keira must have looked through my eyes and saw my failure. Now I felt worse as I sped toward the glass windows of a smaller-but-tall office building. I saw my reflection in the glass.

I looked like a maniac kid flying to his death. Even worse, I was getting exhausted with all this magic.

Come on, Roy! Keira thought urgently. You're too cute to die! I'll be there in a second. Just stay alive for now. Just think: next plan!

Next plan. Yeah, right. I had no plan. What else was there? I had tried everything. It was over.

Wait. Yeah, I did have a plan. I always did. I never ran out of ideas. My ideas were like lazy security guards. They didn't always work, but they were always there.

Next plan? Elemental plan version two.

Now, I was done with her fire. I couldn't take any more of that. But I found a source of water to use. It was right in my face the whole time. Can't believe I almost missed it.

Rainwater.

I was running low on power. This was it. My last magic trick, either for the day or forever, was to use my staff to call out to all the rain falling from as far as I could see. Then gather it in front of the windows ahead of me.

Droplets from everywhere froze in the sky. Then they rushed to the window like bullets, speeding past me with ease. They formed a giant liquid sphere fast, just below where I was headed.

Right before I crashed into my reflection, I made the water surge skyward like a geyser. I was elated and excited as it boosted me up alongside the building, then beyond toward the clouds. As I got higher, I heard the whoosh of flame being spat, and a dragon's agony-filled roars. Then the geyser carried me up through the clouds.

Right in the Sorcerer's face. And he had the girl in his arms.

I double-gripped my bat-staff, twisted, and swung with all might strength, screaming, "Wanna kill me? Kill this!"

I bashed him in the skull, connecting with a sharp crack. And the power of the bat-staff activated on contact, blasting that bastard backward at jet speed.

Hayliana flew from his hands. She landed on the clouds. But then the Sorcerer activated his magic as he flew back.

And she dropped straight through.

I was horrified. She would fall to her death. She didn't have magic like me. I had to catch her. But my magic gave out. I couldn't control the water anymore. Or gravity.

I was falling too.

"Keira!" I screamed.

I reached wildly up for her, flailing in mid-air. Keira stopped spitting flames at the blackened dragon, flew in a downward arc, and caught me with her red beak. Then with a jerk of her head, she tossed me up, and I expertly landed on her back ready to ride.

"Can you get through?" I asked.

Keira landed on the clouds. They were still solid to her and the Sorcerer, who had finally crash landed and skidded to a halt. He lay sprawled out on his back looking barely conscious, with a pained, wicked smirk on his face. He was toying with us.

Keira frantically thought, What do we do? Too far to fly in time!

I had an idea. I made my decision fast then went with it.

I reached up my sleeve, into my pocket portal, and pulled another item from the Radigan storeroom: a crystal, wooden-corked cylinder with electricity dancing inside it.

Lightning in a bottle.

Then I jumped off Keira's back. And fell through the clouds. I knew the Sorcerer wanted us separated and would let me fall.

Roy! Keira thought. What are you--?

Fly! I replied as I fell. I'll buy you time!

And for the second time I plunged down through the foggy gray clouds. I saw Hayliana falling far from me, with her red hair twisting in the wind. I needed to reach her. Had a plan for that too.

I aimed the bottle of electricity at my chest, then popped the cork. The lightning struck me fast, filling me with blinding pain as it electrocuted me. I couldn't even scream, even with my mouth agape. I could only moan.

Then I blacked out.

Not sure how long I was out. But I snapped awake with a sharp gasp, hearing Keira screaming in my mind, Wake up! Now!

It took a second for my eyes to focus then I was fine. My body was numb from the shock, but I wasn't paralyzed. I could move enough.

Most important, I had absorbed the lightning. And it jumpstarted my magic energy like an adrenaline rush. This would wear off soon, I knew, so I had to be quick.

I charged up electricity in my hand in one long strand, like thread, gripping it tight. I fought off the pain, while struggling to maintain feeling in my arm. Then I extended the strand and shaped it into a ball.

Spotting Hayliana, I aimed at where I thought she'd fall. I had to aim better this time. No mistakes. She'd die if I missed.

On the count of three, I thought. One . . . three!

Then I fired the electricity. It uncoiled into a bolt then hurtled toward her, leaving a deafening thunderclap in its wake. I kept a tight grip of the electricity.

And I rode the lightning. Right down to Hayliana. It was like I'd teleported beside her.

I forced the wild lightning to stop and aim itself up. I grabbed the adorable red-headed kid with my free arm and held her close. Just in time.

Because the lightning was off again. Another roar of thunder as it flashed upward, carrying us with it near the clouds. Then I lost my grip as the magical rush wore off and pain overtook me. I kept a tight hold on the girl, though.

And we started to fall again. I hoped that bought Keira enough time.

Using our connection, I decided to look through her eyes like she had with mine.

Keira was over the clouds. Her body was on fire. A red and orange blaze spewed behind her, propelling her like a missile as she winged onward at nauseating speeds. Then she reached the end of the massive mass of clouds and shut her flame off, tucking her wings in.

And she dropped silently through the sky, in a part of the city where the rain hadn't reached. A small ray of sunlight followed her down, riding her back like I had. She flared her wings majestically.

Then she ignited her flame and burst forward beneath the clouds, into the rain.

Hold on, Roy, Keira thought. Just hold on.

Then I felt myself loosing grip on Hayliana and I was forced to see with my own eyes again. I tightened my grip on her and shut my eyes, trying not to panic, but not wanting to look at the ground.

We fell for some time. When I opened my eyes, they shot open wide. We were just over street level, a heartbeat away from smashing into a pickup truck. I knew we were dead.

Then I saw Keira, flameless, swooping down from above. Just before we hit the concrete, she snatched my coat with her talons and yanked us up into the sky. We were safe.

"Yeah!" I was breathless from fright, but still managed to scream, "That's my girl!"

Keira giggled in my mind, replying, "Maybe when you're older, kiddo. And I'm human again."

We soared through the city over the people below. They were pointing and gawking for some reason. As if they'd never seen a boy wizard get saved by his phoenix. I couldn't figure it.

But I knew one thing. I was going to be an internet sensation. Because most of those people down there had cellphones, with their phone's cameras aimed at us.

And that's what you call a YouTube moment.

But there was no time to think about that. Keira and I just needed to get Hayliana home safe. But that wouldn't happen if we didn't take care of that Sorcerer guy. He would keep coming for her over and over.

So we took her to my house, where my parents – who were so proud of me and my wizardry -- would keep her safe. Then Keira and I flew into the sky, straight for our target. This time, there were no more hostages, no more distractions. No more tricks for the Sorcerer to play.

He was going down.