An excerpt.

As she grew older and bigger, so did her phoenix flame. It burned inside her like a furnace, causing her to sleep naked at times or bathe in cisterns filled with cold water. Her temper also grew, to the consternation of her mother.

“My dear princess Min Feng,” Empress Ze Tian beckoned to her adolescent daughter after a particularly bad temper tantrum, consisting of broken vases and pottery. “You need to learn how to curb your flame. A phoenix in mindless rage is an useless phoenix.”

“Your Majesty,” the Empress’s Chamberlain interjected in worriedly. “We cannot continue dousing her with cold water.”

Empress Ze Tian eyed her daughter intently. She was growing tall and slender, beautiful even. Her black hair was streaked with burnished gold, a sure sign that she was over-using her phoenix flame. She stood sullenly, ready for another reprimand.

“One day, Min Feng,” the Empress’s use of her intimate name surprised the girl and she immediately straightened, standing at attention. “You have to realize that your phoenix flame is a gift, passed down from mother to daughter. Use it not in moments of anger.” The Empress did another surprising thing: she kissed her daughter’s forehead affectionately.


The training continued, day by day. The food remained the same – cold and bland. She was getting very tired with the cold-water treatment. Resentment set in like a sore tooth. She bristled, restless in mood and obnoxious in attitude.

“I refuse to accept this any further!” She declared hotly, halfway through a meditation session aimed to silence the static in the mind. She stormed out of the class, leaving the rest of the acolytes gaping at her.

She stalked out of the nunnery, feeling heat rise from her skin like a shimmering wave. She craved action. She craved flying. She wanted to get out of this wretched place. With a cry of release, she spread her arms and called forth the phoenix flame –

— And she flared up, like a nebula, pulsating and glowing with immense power. She gave voice and it was a phoenix’s cry, high and undulating. The heat burned bright, relentless. She gloried in it, dancing in and with the fire. She moved her wings and they crackled like electricity. Unleashed, all her frustration and anxiety poured out, making the flames roar even louder, more violent, drowning out the voices around her.


From my YA novella Phoenix With A Purpose.


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