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.
“I think we should go down,” said Feiron.
“But he’s probably upstairs,” said Percival. “He wants to be alone, and the most solitary place around any castle is the roof.”
“He’s blind,” said Feiron flatly. “You really think he’s on a roof somewhere?”
“Well,” said Percival, trying to see how that would work. “You’re right. Down it is.”
“Wait,” said Feiron, looking down the hall.
Percival followed his gaze. He could see the doors to the throne room standing open, but no one was in the hallway.
“I just saw the queen,” said Feiron. “She was talking to someone inside the throne room.”
“He probably isn’t in there,” said Percival. “He wants to be alone, not talk to his mother.”
“But if he wanted to find out the truth, he might ask her directly,” said Feiron.
“Doesn’t sound like Isaac.”
“He’s changed a lot since we’ve been with the Phils,” said Feiron. “Let’s check, just to make sure.”
Percival shrugged and walked toward the throne room. His agreement to help Feiron search was fruitful— the fairy knew the castle and Isaac much better than he did. Unfortunately, the fairy was not easy to hold. He tried to keep as much of Feiron’s body in his arms as possible, but every so often an arm would start to ooze toward the floor and he’d have to grab it.
They reached the throne room. At first glance, nothing was of interest— Isaac wasn’t there. The queen stood by her throne with something shapeless at her feet. She looked over her shoulder and her eyes widened.
“He ran in here babbling about something,” said the queen before Percival could speak. “Then he fainted right here. Get the doctor immediately.”
At first Percival didn’t understand who she was talking about, but then he recognized a face in that shape on the floor— Quirk’s. His eyes were closed and his nose was bleeding, but it was definitely Quirk.
The queen waved at them frantically. “What are you doing? He needs a physician!” Blood dripped from her hand as she waved it.
“Are you bleeding?” asked Percival.
The queen looked at her hand and hurriedly covered it with the other. That didn’t help matters— the other hand was even more telling.
A spike— more like a stub— projected from the knuckles of her left hand. The beginning of a moving spike.
The queen was a Flit.
The queen snarled at him. The noise sounded unmistakably like a Flit. The moving spike completed its growth, the fancy appearance of the queen fading into the ghastly form of the Flit as it crouched to dig its lines of motion into the stone.
“Out of the way!” shouted Feiron, but Percival was already running to the side, away from the Flit’s trajectory. It began reforming, torso first, in the place he had just left.
“Take care of Quirk,” shouted Percival as he threw Feiron toward the Head Phil’s prone body.
Percival was in motion before the fairy landed. The Flit had already formed spindly arms and legs— they looked weak, easy to hurt. But no, it could heal itself by drawing more lines of motion. He needed something more permanent. Instead of running at the Flit, he began to run away.
The Flit snarled at him, but it couldn’t chase after him. Instead, it ran along its lines of motion toward the thrones again, forming a bulky fist and aiming it at Feiron. Percival threw himself toward them, pushing at the Flit as hard as he could. He only made it stagger slightly backward— his angle had been wrong, the lines of motion keeping the Flit from flying to the side. He attacked as savagely as he could, keeping himself between the Flit and the throne. The creature could turn without leaving its lines of motion— it just couldn’t deviate from them.
The creature was dangerously close to fully formed, and Percival wasn’t having much of an effect on it. He had to find some way to slow down the creature’s forming ability before it could—
It kicked him in the chest. He stumbled on the dais steps, falling to the ground almost on top of Feiron. He rolled to his feet, but the Flit had drawn new lines of motion, pointing straight at him.
Just as the torso began to form again in the air, Percival dove sideways, out of its reach. The Flit snarled at him again, then turned toward Quirk. Its lines of motion kept it halfway between Percival and Quirk, no matter how hard it strained.
Percival took the respite willingly, trying to slow his breathing and soothe the bruise the dais steps had left on his back. If only he had his coat— so many useful things were stashed in those pockets. He could use a weapon right now.
He felt in his pocket. Something was in there, something… Percival shivered as his hands encountered some sort of liquid covering a piece of plastic. He pulled it out. It was a bag of soap balls from the game before they had left. The only one left had burst, flooding blue liquid through the bag and on the outside.
He frowned. The soap should have had some effect, but it did nothing when it touched his skin. He didn’t have any experience with this soap. He looked up.
The Flit was gone. Two lines of motion were in its place, pointing straight at him.
He tried to throw himself sideways, but the Flit had already appeared behind him, wrapping an hand around his neck to keep him from getting away. Percival lost hold of the packet of soap as he clawed at the Flit’s arm.
“Stop!” shouted a voice, so full of authority Percival thought for sure the king had returned. It wasn’t the king, but Isaac. Percival closed his eyes in despair. Isaac was no match for a Flit, not with Quirk down and Feiron occupied with him. Percival felt himself weakening as well— soon it would be just the prince.
But the Flit didn’t mind if Percival wasn’t dead yet. It wanted the prince. Dropping Percival, it bent and drew lines of motion pointing straight at Isaac.
Percival crumpled to the ground, trying to catch his breath and get up and run— anything to get Isaac away from the Flit’s path. He had to do something, but all he could do was crouch and wheeze as the Flit began to reappear in front of Isaac.
“One step forward and swing!” shouted a voice. Isaac obeyed the suggestion, sending the Flit flying backward on its lines of motion with a well-placed punch. The speaker stepped into view, and if Percival hadn’t already been choking, he would have gasped in shock.
Wasn’t that the woman they were trying to stop? No, the Flit had simply taken her form. This was getting confusing.
The Flit realized what had happened and suddenly, there were two queens standing in the throne room, both of them glaring at each other. The transformation happened so fast, Percival would have missed it if he had blinked.
“Three steps forward and swing!” shouted the queen nearest to Isaac. That was the real one, or at least Percival thought it was.
“She’s trying to trick you,” shouted the Flit queen. “Quarter turn to the left and swing!”
“No! Three steps forward! She’s the one tricking you!”
Percival tried to shout to Isaac, but he couldn’t get out more than a wheeze. He staggered to his feet, throwing himself at one of the queens— he had lost track of which one.
He had picked correctly. The Flit queen sacrificed its disguise for the moving spike, whipping it around at Percival’s head. Percival ducked, but it was more of a collapse. The spike whipped by over his head. His victory was short-lived— the Flit landed a solid kick in his stomach. Percival doubled over and tried to crawl away, but the Flit was faster and fully formed. It landed two more kicks before Percival lay still, just trying to breathe.
Percival finally remembered what the blue soap was supposed to do— he had seen Quirk use it to great effect in their soap fight. It stopped things from dematerializing.
The Flit turned back to Isaac and began carving lines of motion. Percival rolled over slowly, looking for something, anything, to stop the Flit.
His eyes landed on the soap packet, just out of reach. He tried to crawl toward it, but his lungs couldn’t get enough air. He sagged against the floor, barely staying conscious.
A bandaged arm reached down and plucked the packet from the ground. Quirk looked at the soap, then at Percival, grinning through the dried blood from his nose. Feiron had managed to revive him.
Quirk flung the soap, plastic and all, at the Flit, just as it completed its second line of motion. The soap splattered across the Flit’s back. Part of it had already dematerialized, but the rest of it was stuck, contained by the soap.
The Flit screamed, clawing at its back, but the soap was just out of reach. That scream seemed to Percival like a terrible waste of good breath— especially when he was still struggling to get enough of it himself.
The scream didn’t stop Quirk. He leapt on the Flit, careful to keep from wiping off the soap, beating at its half-incorporeal body. At first the Flit tried to fight back, but without support in its limbs and without the moving spike, which had disappeared first, it was helpless. Eventually it sagged to the floor, unmoving.
Quirk looked up from the Flit at Isaac, who still stood at the door with his real mother. He cleared his throat. “Sorry about all the things I said, Isaac. And if this is the real queen… I apologize. For thinking that low of you.”
“It’s perfectly understandable, considering the way she portrayed me,” said the queen, waving a hand.
“And Isaac, I hope you’ll forgive me for treating you like a kid.”
“It’s all right now,” said Isaac.
“If you don’t mind me asking, though,” said the queen, “what is that slime?”
Quirk glanced at Percival, who did his best to grin, then at Feiron. He and Feiron said simultaneously, “It’s magic. Don’t worry about it.”