She stood in the rain and let the water wash the dirt from her hands.  It was a warm storm.  The shower was refreshing despite the lateness of the day.

She reached skyward, tilting her head back, eyes closed.  The dirt turned to mud and sloughed off in heavy chunks.  It felt like the water was cleansing her soul as well but she knew she would wear the stain of her sins for the rest of her life.  She didn’t expect that to be very long.

Her sins would catch up to her, no matter how clean she got at the end of the day.  She had no doubt about that.  And then she would find the peace that had so long eluded her.

On that night, though, as the full moon stay hidden behind the formidable clouds unleashing their torrent upon the earth, she let the rain wash away all thoughts of what had come before and what she still had to face.  For those minutes in the gentle wrath of the storm she focused solely on the feel of the water splashing against her, the feel of the grit being pulled free from her skin, the feel of her soul rising from its hidden depths to exalt in the joy of the experience.

She opened her eyes and gazed into the swirling darkness above.  It looked like familiar, like how she imagined the place within her where her soul went to hide as she worked.  A smile crossed her lips as she dreamed of slipping free of gravity and climbing into the darkness to hide away forever.  She would enjoy being there, folded in the clouds, surrounded by the thrum of natural energy, traveling the world until spent only to be reborn again and again, like a phoenix of water rather than fire.

She laughed into the storm.  Her voice boomed in her ears but was quickly muffled by the wind and rain.

In many ways, she was a phoenix.  Each new hunt was a cycle.  She was born when she located a target.  She grew, aged, and lived on the hunt.  Then she died with each kill only to be reborn again.

She was dead beneath this storm.  Soon she would pull herself free of the flood and flourish in her way.  One day the cycle would end.  Until then, she would fulfill her fated role.

rising from the ashes

He was almost there.  It was almost time.  And he was ready…  It had been a good life, but it had also been long and hard and he was very tired.

The phoenix, resplendent in reds and oranges, stretched his wings out to their full length one last time.  He turned his beak first one way and then the other, taking in the full expanse of his wing span.  There had been a time when his fiery colors could sprout fear in even the sturdiest warrior, but over time his hues had faded, muddled, blurred.  But, that was to be expected.  He’d gone through this process many times before.

Raising his beak to the heavens he opened his maw wide and gave voice to his final shriek, his last act in his current life.  His piercing voice echoed down the valley, deer paused in their foraging, lesser birds went silent, the few humans few called the valley home looked to the sky and trembled.  He couldn’t see any of these things, but he knew them to be true regardless.

With a brilliant burst of light that originated from his breast and spread outward with a ferocity and quickness no eye could catch, the phoenix burst into flame.  Every inch of him was consumed in the inferno.  As the last bit of his physical essence crumbled into ash there was a mighty flash that emanated down the valley just as his voice had seconds before. 

The magic had happened again, as expected.

His tiny beak poked out of the pile of ash, and he flexed his wings clumsily.  His feet teetered forward and he stumbled free of what remained of his prior life.  He was young again.  He was new again.  His colors were vibrant again and soon he would grow and take flight and be the fearsome king of the sky again.