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In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done. When every member of his domestic and political systems moved smoothly in its appointed course, his nature was bland and genial; but, whenever there was a little hitch, and some of his orbs got out of their orbits, he was blander and more genial still, for nothing pleased him so much as to make the crooked straight and crush down uneven places. Among the borrowed notions by which his barbarism had become semified was that of the public arena, in which, by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured. But even here the exuberant and barbaric fancy asserted itself. The arena of the king was built, not to give the people an opportunity of hearing the rhapsodies of dying gladiators, nor to enable them to view the inevitable conclusion of a conflict between religious opinions and hungry jaws, but for purposes far better adapted to widen and develop the mental energies of the people. This vast amphitheater, with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and its unseen passages, was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance.

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The weather is calm with a bright sun beating down overhead. A slight breeze brushes against your face carrying a soft fragrance in the air as you explore through a garden full of blossoming roses. The crimson color of the gorgeous flowers stands out boldly against the cold, gray stone of the path you walk on. As you search the interesting garden, you walk through bush after bush of pure, red roses. You wonder in your mind why there’s but a single kind of flower in this large garden. Whose garden is this?

Continuing down the path, turning past this bush and that bush, you finally reach the center of the garden. Stepping out onto an open, circular stone path, you discover a large fountain in the center of the road. The fountain is made of the same bricks as underneath your feet, and reaches just up to your waist. A soft trickle of water spews out of the spout growing out of the top of the rounded feature, emitting a soft, soothing sound. You close your eyes and begin to dream until you suddenly get the urge to explore some more.

Quickly, flashing your eyes open, you decide to continue your exploration. Walking past the fountain you’re suddenly caught by surprise when a small creature glides across your feet. The creature passed quickly, and you were unable to see what it was clearly. There was a rustling sound as it dove into the rose bushes lining the side of the path.

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Claire sat on the edge of her bed and looked out her window to the forest that stared back. The tall woods were dark and looked unfriendly as they reached up towards the sky. The sun was just setting casting a watercolor effect on the sky. Pastel colors of red, orange, yellow, pink, and purple mixed and swirled together, fading into the horizon. She brushed her short, blonde hair with her fingers as she thought silently to herself, watching the sunset.

It had been nearly three months now, since the accident.

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I wasn’t always this way. I led a normal life. I was perfectly happy before. I was even married. Yes, believe it or not, I had a wife. Oh, how I miss her dearly. I wish that I could take this curse from my life, but it will not leave. I wish that it had never come, never chosen me, but it’s here and it’s a part of me. I must deal with it as I go about my day and I must learn to pay the consequences.

This curse…the curse of the phoenix.

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