GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy
The firebird sat atop an old-fashioned mailbox at Dharma Downs Lane. Rather than retreat to the safety of nearby trees and rooftops as any sensible animal would have done, it drew itself up, as regal as any queen, and waited for the shades to attack.
The shades in question were already closing in, and assuming frightening, monstrous shapes. Some took human form, with long sharp claws in place of hands. Others took on semblances of wolves and bears and strange winged creatures; black eyeless silhouettes with teeth.
The firebird chirped a warning, but the shades paid little heed. So it sighed - a resigned, I-really-did-warn-you-about-this-you-know sigh - and glowed. Its feathers, a variety of yellows and reds and oranges tipped with a subtle silver shimmer, flared. Its majestic tail fanned out like a vestal train, whipping at slow, concentrated intervals. Despite its bravado, it had a wide-eyed curiosity about it suggesting it had not been a firebird for very long and, if the shades had their way, would not be one for much longer.
The nearest shade reached out for the bird, claws extended and sharp. It was promptly engulfed in an angry red blaze.
For one brief second the firebird reared; smoldering, ardent, angry. In the next it shifted and lengthened, beak and wings giving way to limbs and legs.
Now, a young girl crouched. Feathered crown had given way to a spirited mess of hair that lashed around her bare body like coiled firelight.