“Please Papa no!” The cries and pleas of the young woman rang through the old house, sinking into the wooden boards that made up the rickety foundations. Thunder rumbled and growled, the ground seeming to shake in fear as rain lashed angrily at the windows. Lightening raced across the skies in a disjointed web of illumination that lit up the landscape in a terrifying display of Mother Nature's power and majesty. At the onset of the fall season the island of Maui was drenched in a nearly constant downpour of rain and wind. The inhabitants forced indoors for much of the season, praying that the rains wouldn't flood them out of house and home.
Marina Murphy had gone into labor just as the tropical storm had hit the island, with a midwife's assistance and her father pacing nearby the young mother struggled for hours to finally bring a healthy baby girl into the world. The pregnancy had been unplanned, an accidental side effect of her loneliness and naivete. From the moment she had announced her condition, her father Seamus had become distant and withdrawn. After the massacre he hadn’t been the same man who had raised her, even less inclined to act like his old self when he had found out she was pregnant.
“I’m sorry my heart, but it must be done. For our protection as well as the good of the child.” He moved towards the bed, carefully yet firmly moving the midwife aside as she attempted to block his path to the birthing bed. His daughter then turned away as best she could, clutching the babe to her chest with tears streaming down her face. As he reached for the child she began crying, the sounds she emitted like those of a wounded animal. It broke his heart to see her so distressed but it was his job to keep his family safe and safe they would be. Even if the act made him a monster.
A small blur shot across the room, little fists hitting the small of his back ineffectually but drawing his attention for a moment. Lowering himself to a knee Seamus took hold of the small wrists of his first granddaughter, tears in her wide luminous eyes as she struggled against him. “Leave mommy alone!” Her voice was pure and sweet yet filled with confusion and fear, her fierce little heart spurring her into action to protect her mother even against her beloved grandfather. Muttering soothing words he calmed Spring, handing her off to the midwife before returning his attention to the task at hand.
Reaching out he smoothly removed the babe from his daughter, steeling himself against his own instincts as her father. “Papa please, please don’t do this. Our bloodline is strong, she will be like us.” He shook his head, hatred and sympathy warring within him as he stared down into the newborns wrinkled little face. A small voice within him had to admit she was beautiful, angelic even like her sister. Her parentage however made his lips thin into a harsh line, moving his feet forward and out into the raging storm. Rain lashed against his body, the crack of lightning scarring the little one into bawling in fear. Her little arms and legs kicked wildly, strength and resilience written in her every movement, impressing his despite the resolution to end her little life.
The father, that unspeakable abomination had brought this upon her, both him and his people had destroyed so much. The Phoenix race had been wreaking havoc upon the Initia tribes for generations, his wife and his son-in-law had been lost in the slaughters forcing him and Marina to flee their home in order to keep themselves and little Spring safe. Then his darling daughter had gone and found the only abomination on the island and beget a child beneath the Phoenix constellation. Seamus was too heartbroken and superstitious to see anything but a bad omen in the conception, having warned Marina from the start that he would do what needed to be done to protect her and Spring.
Reaching the cliffside Seamus held the squirming, crying bundle in his arms eye flickering between the turbulent waters of the ocean and the vibrant life cradled against his chest. The longer he stood there the more the keening wails of his second granddaughter chipped away at his resolve. Maybe she wouldn’t end up like her father but could he take that chance? Was there perhaps another route that he could take to ensure her life while keeping his family and others like them safe. Finally Seamus stepped back from the cliff, muttering soothing sounds to the babe that quieted her almost instantly as he carried her back inside.
Marina let loose a ragged sob of relief at seeing him return with the babe unharmed but that relief was short lived. “Calm my heart. There is much to do before the storm breaks.” Seamus turned away from his daughter, preventing her from taking the little tyke back in her arms. For the next several days father kept his newest granddaughter away from her mother, giving them as little contact as possible in preparation for what was to come. The morning the sun shone brightly once more he broke the news, “I’m leaving with the baby. I’m going to find a way to make sure she is either human or her powers as a Phoenix never manifest. It’s the only way to keep her safe.”
His daughter was noticeably upset, ranting and raving and screaming in hysterics. She didn’t understand yet, but hopefully would come to see that his decision was the only one possible, given time. In the midst of her ire Seamus calmly packed with his things and the necessities needed for the baby and headed for the door. Pausing long enough to give Spring one last kiss, letting her know how much he loved and adored her, he let the sisters have a moment before leaving.
“She needs a name Papa.”
Marina’s voice broke, a sob muffled by her hand as she knew in her heart she would never see her second daughter again. “She has a name. Autumn.” He spoke softly and then left, Autumn tucked away in her carrier sleeping the sleep of the protected and innocent. Seamus never saw Marina or Spring again, focusing on Autumn and Autumn’s future. Being a scholar and a historian he traveled around with his granddaughter in tow, searching for any scrap of information that would help him save her.
It became clear from a very early age that Autumn was gifted, confirming his worst fears by the time she hit the age of 4. As a toddler she was precocious yet quiet, observant and far too perceptive for her own good. Shortly after her birthday Seamus came home after a long day of combing through historical accounts surrounding an Initia Tribe in Italy, Autumn came streaking into his study giggling like mad. Her arms were outstretched, flames licking up her little arms as she ran around flapping like a bird and making squawking noises. Despite his outwardly calm appearance his insides turned to ice at the sight, heart dropping like a stone at the apparent display of power that only added to his suspicions.
From there they traveled through Europe, over into much of Asia and even through much of Africa. Everywhere Seamus looked he found nothing that could help him, nothing that would save his granddaughter from her fate. He became even more obsessed after Autumn turned 7, faint black lines beginning to grow down her back in a pattern that would no doubt become her wings. His precious Autumn was a Phoenix, a murdering mad firelord that would battle the madness of her own mind along with the prejudices of his own people.
Forced to switch tactics Seamus began avoiding populated areas, and as Autumn grew older is became a struggle to keep her entertained and under control. Autumn was a sponge, soaking up everything the world had to offer and more. She often acted out against her grandpa, restricted to only him for company she became extra curious about everything and everyone else in the world which often got her into trouble. Challenging Seamus at every turn, both physically and mentally, they were often caught in shouting matches or little struggles of power.
Autumn was aware of what she was, her grandfather had never hidden her heritage or lied about why her life was what it was. The knowledge of being a Phoenix, of the sort of power she wielded and the potential for harm that lay within her fingertips kept the young lady grounded into her teenage years. The few people Seamus and Autumn came into contact with often commented that for such a young woman she was incredibly contained. Acting out in other ways became her way of coping with the stresses in her life and eventually she joined her grandfather in trying to find an answer to her predicament.
Finally, around the age of 16 Autumn herself came up with a radical idea, suggesting that a place with colder temperatures might suffocate the flames surging through her bloodstream. It was a novel approach, a hail mary as they had exhausted all other possible solutions and found nothing documented no matter where or how far back in history they looked. So the pair once more packed up their meager possessions and made their way North. They started out in Norway, moving into Finland, and finally into Russia. Turned out the colder climate helped but couldn’t put out the fire completely and Autumn began to lose hope, her sadness at being a monster with no way to change that fate overwhelmed her. Seamus however was not ready to give up, resolving that they simply needed to travel even further North to the frozen Antarctic. Boarding a fishing vessel Seamus and Autumn joined the crew, working for their passage and keeping to themselves as much as possible.
Autumn found she liked life aboard the ship, the world became both smaller and bigger in many aspects. She was cut off from people save those one board, limiting the potential for harm and yet out on the waters of the ocean the world seemed a much more vast place. The night the young Phoenix turned 18 she felt the solidification of her powers, the fire within her heart exploding to its full potential as she reached adulthood. Though with some relief she couldn’t even call upon a solid flame being so far away from her element, an observation that brought both her and her grandfather some measure of peace.
Another year would pass that the pair lived on the fishing vessel, offered permanent positions among the crew Seamus and Autumn both agreed that it was the best choice. Traveling the open waters around the Arctic, isolated with only a handful of other people and so far from anything resembling fire they could live and let live. Autumn found she enjoyed the quiet company of the hardened fishermen, even the youngest among them held a quiet nobility that she adored. Cooking became a favorite pastime and the men on board were more than willing to test out and try even her craziest of experimental dishes.
On the eve of her 19th birthday a storm hit, one that reminded Seamus of the night of her birth and made everyone on board uneasy. Deep into the night the winds howled and the ocean roiled with an anger they hadn’t known was possible. A mayday went out close to 2 am, the freezing waters rising in waves that crashed over the decks and tossed the ship like a toy. Before help had ever been dispatched a gigantic wave turned the fishing vessel upside down and pulled her deep beneath the surface.
Autumn was in the galley, clinging to the kitchen counters while her heart remained lodged in her throat. Murmuring silent prayers for safety her body was thrown backwards as the entire vessel was tossed upside down. In a rush that knocked the air from her lungs she suddenly found herself engulfed in freezing water as the fishing vessel sank slowly beneath the ocean. The darkness was complete, her instincts making her reach out and swim blindly in a bid for survival but it wasn’t to be. As her lungs filled with water and her body went numb with the cold she accepted her death and closed her eyes.
Autumn Murphy died at sea around 3:40 in the morning during one of the worse storms the area had seen in the last 30 years. At least that was the story that read in the papers the following day, several miles along the coast in a remote area visited only by seals and polar bears a young woman washed up on shore. Blinking slowly Autumn came awake with a start, her body cold but not numb and frozen as she had expected. Her mind was clear, though something had changed within her.
Memories surfaced slowly, of taking that last gulp of frigid water that had sealed her death and feeling her heart stutter to a stop sealed her doomed fate. Strangely however her body had been consumed by blue flames, the chemistry of her internal organs warped and mutated. Somehow she made it out of the ship as it sank ever deeper and surfaced, the tide or maybe her own stubbornness propelling her towards land. Struggling up great icy blue wings sprouted from her back, the icy ground moving and shifting in response to her unspoken will. Confused and scared Autumn made it to a small village, the elders taking her in without question. The old woman who ran the village told her a story of others who had met her fate and where she might find creatures of this new species she was now apart of. Once her strength returned fully Autumn flew south to Evermore, Colorado where she met Anivia Frostbourne and a whole slew of people like her.
While the death of her Grandfather greatly affected her, she felt it her duty to honor him by continuing on. With her new faction surrounding her and supporting her, teaching her how to use and control these new abilities she could start fresh without fear. For she was no longer an abomination, she was a Niveis and a proud member of a brand new species.