The Phil Phorce is a fictional periodical featuring my favorite characters from my own writing. It comes out in episodes, once every three months or so. To find out more and to read previous episodes, please go to these two pages: About the Phils and the Phil Phorce. Please enjoy Phil Phorce, Episode 7.
Quirk was glad to be out of the darkness of the mirror. He didn’t like traveling between worlds.
“Where are we?” asked Percival, putting distance between himself and the mirror they had just come through. He was good at hiding it, but Quirk could see his distaste.
“I asked the mirror to put us out somewhere near where we were taken,” said Feiron.
“Great,” said Quirk. “That tells us nothing.” The room they were in looked like a bedroom, but an abandoned one— a four-poster bed sat in the middle of the room, hanging with cobwebs. Dust floated in the light of the window, which was shattered as if a cannonball had crashed through it. The walls and floor were made of stone.
“Before we were whisked away to join the Phils, we were somewhere near the Forgotten Forest, near Rapunzel’s tower.” Feiron frowned. “This doesn’t look like a forest. The mirror must have redirected us.”
“How does that work?” asked Quirk. “I thought it was just transportation. It shouldn’t be able to—”
“It’s magic,” said Isaac. “Don’t worry about it.”
“It’s a castle,” said Percival.
“Well,” said Feiron, “although I agree that compared to your mediocre apartments, this seems grand, this is not the wealth you might see in this world’s real castles. If this was a castle, all the expensive stuff would have been stolen.” He hopped from Isaac’s arms onto the bed and fingered the sheets. “These are very fine, however. Whoever lived here before this was abandoned was rich. Look at the gold frame on the mirror we came through— maybe it is a castle, but I don’t see why robbers haven’t visited.”
“Maybe they just haven’t been here,” said Quirk.
“If there’s a ruined castle to be found, thieves will have stripped it clean within days of its abandonment.”
Percival wandered around the bed, looking over the room. “Feiron,” he said, crouching. “These stains. They look like—”
“Blood,” said Feiron.
“I was about to say pea soup,” said Percival. “They’re green.”
“Creatures in this world bleed all the colors of the rainbow,” said Feiron. He swung down one of the bedposts to look closer at the stain. “This is definitely blood, though— ogre blood. A lot of it.”
“Ogre?” asked Percival. “Why would an ogre be in a castle like this?”
“Especially if it was bleeding,” said Feiron. “You can’t see the view out of that window, but we’re rather high up. Why would it climb all those stairs while bleeding?”
“Maybe it wanted to use the bedsheets as bandages,” said Quirk.
Feiron snorted. “It wandered into the castle bleeding, walked up all these stairs, found this room with its convenient bedsheets, and suddenly decided it didn’t need them and went back out? It probably just died here.”
“Then where’s the body?” asked Quirk.
“If this is a castle, where are we in it?” asked Isaac. “Describe it.”
“It’s what looks like a royal bedchamber, but it’s been abandoned for a while,” said Feiron. “Four-poster bed, single window, large dresser near the mirror where we came in. Single door at the opposite end from the mirror—”
“And you say you found signs of an ogre?”
“A lot of its blood, yes, but no indication of how it was wounded or how it got in or out. Or why.”
“My father had a room like the one you described,” said Isaac slowly.
“Your father the king?” Quirk asked.
“None other that I can think of,” said Isaac. “He also had a slight problem: from dawn to noon, he turned into an ogre.”
Feiron clapped a hand to his mouth. “I know where we are!” he said, sounding horrified. “Isaac, I’m so sorry.”
“He probably just had a fit of rage and smashed his hand into something sharp,” said Isaac. “He’s fine.”
“No, listen to me,” said Feiron, squeezing his eyes shut. “When we first tried to come back to your world, I brought you back to your father’s castle, so you could go straight to your parents. We came out in the middle of a battle between… well, it must have been your father— it was an ogre and an assassin, I think. The ogre was winning, but when we came out it got distracted and the assassin…” Feiron swallowed. “It must have been your father. I’m sorry, Isaac.”
“Liam’s plot twist,” muttered Quirk.
“Is that why you said we had to go back to the Phils?” asked Isaac. “Why didn’t you tell me? We could have helped!”
“We couldn’t have survived in that battle,” said Feiron. “Neither of us. I have the consistency of mud, and you’re blind— we couldn’t have helped.”
“But now my father could be injured somewhere, and it’s been months— he might have seen me, and then we both disappeared. What will he think?”
Feiron took a deep breath. “Isaac, the assassin got him in the neck. It… it wasn’t just an flesh wound— it had to be fatal. All this blood has to be his. Your father is dead.”