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.
“Have you seen Isaac?” he asked a passing maid. The maid frowned, and Quirk corrected himself. “I mean, the crown prince. Have you seen him?”
The maid shook her head and hurried on, obviously wanting nothing to do with the otherworlder who called the crown prince by his first name. And she didn’t even know the half of it.
Quirk sighed and walked on. At the beginning, he had told himself he was looking for Isaac, but as he had kept searching, he realized he just wanted a quiet place to think. A place in which an ogre hadn’t died. No, not just an ogre. Isaac’s father. He couldn’t keep thinking of Isaac as a liability, or just a random person with weird relations. He was a friend, with a mother, and a father who had just died. How would he feel if someone accused his single living parent of treason while he was still getting over his father’s death?
Well, he didn’t have parents. But he could imagine.
Now he asked after Isaac just out of habit, so no one would wonder why he was wandering the halls alone. If he stopped to think about it, he would realize he had no idea how to get back, but there were people around. Surely one of them would be able to get him to the throne room or something. But that was later. Now he just had to think.
He hadn’t meant to hurt Isaac’s feelings. He hadn’t realized how much the prince disliked him, how much he hated his time with the Phils. With Liam as Head Phil, he had been fine— with Quirk, he wanted out.
He pushed open a door and stepped through it, realizing only too late that stairs were on the other side. He tripped and fell down the length of the stairs and came to a painful stop at the bottom. Groaning, he pushed himself up, then stopped. The stone beneath his hand felt different somehow— sharper. He lifted his hand.
Carved into the stone were two parallel lines, directed down the hallway. The Flit might still be in the castle.
But where was Isaac? If the Flit couldn’t find him, what would it do? If Quirk had been right, it wouldn’t do anything— the queen was controlling it in the first place. But if Quirk was wrong… it might still be after the queen.
Which to go for? If he tried to find Isaac and he was wrong, the queen might die and Isaac blame him. If he went for the queen, Isaac might die, and worse yet, Quirk might have been right about her. He could be saving a traitor.
He knocked his head against the floor. What should he do?
Innocent until proven guilty. It had been wrong of Quirk to accuse the queen. The best way to atone for that would be to save her, even if he thought she was a traitor. And if she turned out to be— well, he’d be right there to stop her when it was revealed.
But for now, he was wasting time.
Quirk scrambled to his feet and took the stairs two at a time, bursting through the door and narrowly avoiding a servant carrying a tray of food. He had to get to the throne room before something happened.
Waves of pain rolled up his arm from his wound as he ran, racing back the way he had come. He was still lost, but he remembered this much.
The next servant he saw, he grabbed by the shoulders and questioned. The servant sniffed Quirk’s breath, probably for signs of drinking, just before pointing in the direction of the throne room. Quirk took off running.
He burst into the throne room, out of breath, and looked around. No one was in sight. Not even the queen, and she always seemed to be here. That was good, but she could be anywhere— Quirk wouldn’t be able to find her before the Flit did.
He cursed himself for not following the Flit’s lines of motion from the stairs, but the queen wouldn’t have been down there anyway. He had been in the servants’ section of the palace.
Wait. Something was wrong with the carpet in front of the queen’s throne. He walked slowly toward the thrones, trying to make it out.
Lines of motion, carved into the stone through the carpet. The threads around them hadn’t been trampled down, as would happen if the queen had been here since the scratches were made. It might still be in this room.
“What are you doing?”
Quirk whirled. The queen walked into the throne room from the balcony across the hall.
“You’re in danger,” said Quirk, not bothering to explain himself. “The Flit is still here, possibly in this room. In fact…” He looked down at the lines, then up at the queen. They pointed at her. “Get away from the lines!” Quirk looked around, trying to make sure the Flit hadn’t already begun reappearing somewhere else. When he looked back, the queen hadn’t moved.
“What are you doing? It could appear any second!”
The queen smiled slightly, and Quirk frowned. “What?” Then it dawned on him. A Flit could take someone else’s appearance if they held something owned by that person— all it had to do was find something of the queen’s. Either that, or the Flit was actually the queen. That would be far worse than simply accusing her of treason, but Isaac had to know.
He was so lost in thought that he didn’t realize the Flit had disappeared, leaving in its place two lines of motion. He whirled, just in time to see it reappear, swinging a fist at his head. He crumpled to the ground.