While his retainers looked at the object with interest and curiosity, one second was all it took for Hadrian to realize what was in front of him.
Perched comfortably upon the velvet plush was a large egg with the size of his palm. And unlike the eggs that he had seen before, this one was displayed in a deep royal blue color, decorated with gold and silver intricate details that caused its appearance to stand out. At first sight, the object appeared to be akin to one of those colorful Easter eggs that he had seen in the past.
The one in the box, however, was different.
Appearance wise, the egg seemed nothing more than a richly decorated object meant for artful display.
To a mage like Hadrian, or others who are highly adept in sensing magical energy in their vicinity, the answer as to what the egg really was could not be more obvious.
Judging by the unnatural aura that the egg was exuding, combine it with its unique appearance and the subtle signs of its magical energy, it was well and clear that the egg was –
"– a mystic beast." Hadrian stated aloud, slowly tearing his gaze away from the egg and to the ancient alchemist. "A yet-to-be-born Phoenix, am I right?"
The smile on the Flamel's faces was the only answer he needed as confirmation.
But, another came to mind and Hadrian could not help himself from saying it.
"Why?" The young mage asked, brows furrowing lightly.
So far, the ancient couple had been accommodating to him and his retainers, more than willing to assist and support them with all the resources at their disposal.
And while he was quite grateful for their willingness to assist him in his cause, he can't deny feeling a bit uncomfortable in being given more, especially since he has yet to actually begin following through his side of the agreement when it comes to ensuring the eminent demise of a certain dark lord in the future.
To have a Phoenix egg presented to him in this manner, Hadrian wondered what their reason could be this time.
After clearing his throat, Nicolas began to speak.
"Penny and I have been speaking to Zel, and we found that this –" The ancient alchemist gestured lightly to the Phoenix egg. "– is an appropriate gift to pass over, from us and down to you, considering that your bravery and sense of honor to hear out and accept our request has been quite admirable."
"Thank you, but I have yet to follow through my part of the deal, and you're already giving me a gift. I don't think I should accept this. I've not earned it." Hadrian refused politely, shaking his head.
"That's true, but part of the reason why we are giving you this is to show you our support you." Penerelle interjected calmly, causing Hadrian and his aides to turn to her questioningly.
"What d'ya mean, milady?" Astolfo asked, curious as was his nature.
"Having us give this egg to you is not just a sign of our support, but also to help ease your endeavors in the future. I don't know about the Phoenixes in your world, but here in ours, being bonded to one comes with a lot of benefits, all of which are positive in nature. I assure you." Penerelle said with a smile, causing Hadrian to raise his brow out of curiosity.
"What are those benefits, milady?" Charles asked in his master's stead.
"Phoenixes are extremely loyal creatures. They are gentle but difficult to domesticate for many wizards and witches. Many had tried, and many also failed." Penerelle smirked, amused by the memories she recalled in the past, then she paused. She shook her head lightly as she continued, internally reminding herself to stay on topic. "But that's not the reason why Phoenixes are revered and famous for. No, that would their magical abilities. You see, this magical bird has a startling ability to regenerate itself. It would periodically burst into flames when its body becomes old, then rises from the ashes as a newborn chick. This event is called 'Burning Day', and gives this bird a great life span, as well as the ability to take the full force of a Killing Curse and still be reborn."
Smiling at the amazed looks they were being given, Nicolas took over for his wife, who gave in to the urge of taking a sip from her tea to douse her slightly parch throat.
"Not just that, but the tears they shed have potent healing capabilities. A few tears from them can bring a person back from the brink of death. Their singing – yes, they can sing. Quite wonderfully so, in my opinion. They might even give most muggle singers a galleon for their money." Nicolas smiled wryly at the surprised expressions of his young audience. "As I was saying, their singing has a deep emotional impact, magical in nature and is able to provide support and comfort. What else is there? Ah yes, they are also capable of lifting great weights with their tails. This, I've experienced it myself when a friend of mine and myself were being carried up by a Phoenix to the roof of a tower."
"Uh, what?" Charles said with a laugh.
"What's your business up there, old man?" Astolfo interjected with a grin, amused and incredulous at what he heard.
"Oh, just one of those adventurous moments I had when I was young." Nicolas paused, thinking, then he laughed out loud. "At least, far younger than I am now. Ahahaha~"
"Misadventures of an overly curious wizard, more like." Penerelle cut in with a disapproving shake of her head, which went ignored by the ancient alchemist himself.
"Back to what I was saying, I've listed quite a number of what a Phoenix is capable of, but it's this thing that convinced us to give you a Phoenix. It's ability to disappear and reappear at will, I mean." Nicolas elaborated, chuckling at the sudden attention that was heaped on by Hadrian. "A Phoenix has an ability to transport itself from one place to another in bursts of flames. The distance does not matter, and they can take whoever is holding them along. Penny and I had taken to calling it as 'Flaming'. It's almost similar to 'Apparition', which is a magical form of transportation, in case you lot aren't aware yet."
"Apparition is a popular method of magical transportation. But, it's safe only when done successfully and properly. In my case, I prefer using the Floo or Portkeys. At least, with them, the chances of tearing any parts of my body by accident are nigh impossible. With apparition, one can never know what will happen." Penerelle commented nonchalantly with a delicate shrug of her shoulder.
"Right. Quite dramatic, those things are." Nicolas agreed with a solemn nod and a sigh, then turned to his young charge with a smile. "Anyways, the main reason we are giving you this Phoenix egg is so that you can have access to its Flaming ability. It will be a significant benefit for you since there will be wards in place surroundings Beauxbatons and Hogwarts, once you transfer to the latter."
"There are anti-portkeys and anti-apparition wards within school grounds. It's a must for all magical institutions to have to prevent outsiders from trespassing." Penerelle added.
"That, and also because this is also a belated present from us for all the birthdays that we missed." Nicolas admitted with a sheepish smile.
"Zel has been boasting about you to us many years ago, and yet that eccentric man had never arrange a date for us to meet. Honestly, that man…" Penerelle sighed, wrinkling her nose lightly in irritation.
"Oui, he's weird like that. An oddball, truly." Nicolas chuckled, shaking his head lightly. "But, now that we've met, I suppose it's only right we give this to you in person."
"It may be strange for you, but Nicky and I had wanted to meet you for a long time. We're both glad that to have you here with us." Penerelle said with a gentle smile.
Throughout their additions here and there, Hadrian merely remained quiet as he listened to them.
Having sense the sincerity from their words and emotions, even reading their body languages, the young mage can only acknowledge that they being simply being truthful to him. There were no lies in their words, no hidden motives behind their reasons, and as much as he wanted to refuse their gift, Hadrian knew he can't, not when they looked quite determined.
Furthermore, that bit about the Phoenix's unique mode of transportation caught his interest.
While he has 'Teleportation', the ability – while powerful and safer than apparition – was limited by the fact that he can only transport from one location and into another if he had seen or been to the desired area before.
Short distances were of no issue to him, but the long ones and the ones that he had no memory of, limits the range of his teleportation.
He has many magic transportation on standby inside the treasury and his two spatial inventory, but he had only ever used them to go to areas that were far away and so that his retainers can also tag along.
The idea of having a new feathery companion to assist his retainers to any location with utmost discretion was beginning to sound great as he played with it in his mind.
After a few moments, Hadrian nodded lightly to himself before turning his gaze to the ancient couple, having come to a decision.
"Okay…" His words were a bit quiet, but the smiles that bloom on their faces were telling enough that they heard him clearly.
"We got a new bird in the fam!"
Ignoring the little peanut gallery behind him, Hadrian glanced at the blue Phoenix egg.
Tilting his head in curiosity, he mused aloud.
"Why is the egg blue? Is this normal?" He asked, causing the ancient couple to turn to him.
"That we don't know, actually." Nicolas frowned, scratching the side of his trimmed beard. "From what I know, Phoenixes usually come in colors of red and gold. This one is seems to be different."
"Zel, your grandfather, assumed that it must be a different type of Phoenix. Given the colors of its shell, I can only agree with the man, despite the lack of proof behind his words. I suppose we'll know once it hatches." Penerelle said with a sigh.
"Where'd you find the little guy anyways?" Charles asked, catching their attention.
"A few centuries ago, somewhere around the Isle of Skye in Scotland." Nicolas answered, a bit unsure.
"No, that was Fawkes, husband." Penerelle cut in gently, laying a hand on his lap.
"Ah, désolé (sorry)! Non, we found this one near one of the large volcanoes of the Philippines. I think they call it 'Mayon Volcano' now." Nicolas recalled with a laugh. "Penny and I traveled there to amused ourselves, enjoy the sights of beautiful nature and all, and then we saw this blue stone nestled in the ground, almost buried and it was covered by a bunch of large leaves."
"Turns out, it was actually a phoenix egg." Penerelle giggled behind a dainty hand.
"We didn't see any phoenixes around, so we took the egg with us before any of the non-magicals take it." Nicolas said with a light shrug. "I hear Mayon Volcano has become a tourist spot over the years, but that mountain is still dangerous as it had been in the past. I remember losing one of my slippers when we were about to take a portkey home. Dropped right into the lava."
"I think we were the first wizard and witch to have ever visited that mountain up close in that time." Penerelle added with a smile.
The ancient couple shared a laugh at that.
As for Hadrian, he looked down at the egg in curiosity.
Sensing the subtle magic energy within it, despite its inactive state, he can only agree with their views in silence.
Although, for some unknown reason, there was a familiar feeling coming from the egg, as if he had sensed it before.
Frowning, he slid that thought to the back of his mind, opting to think on it at a later date as he turned his attention back to the Flamels.
"Now, how do I hatch this little fella?"
"Oh, that would be…"
As he listened to Nicolas explain the method of hatching a newborn Phoenix to him, Hadrian cannot deny that he was excited to have a new familiar.
While he was content with Ryu and Fou, having another for them to play with was enough to make him smile in anticipation.
Hadrian left the ancient alchemist's office that night with a bit of a spring in his step, the fancy box containing the blue Phoenix egg under his arm as he made his way to his room.
Tomorrow would be a far busier day for him than usual.
For now though, he was more than happy to introduce the new addition to his fluffy familiars.
Needless to say, Fou and Ryu were just as excited as him to the idea of having another playmate around.
Like familiar, like master, he supposed.
Yes, Hadrian is going to get a Phoenix. You heard right. Guess what though? It's not going to look like Fawkes ;)
I know it's long and a bit boring in this chapter, but I'll make sure that the next one isn't going to be like this. Since both Flamels had been teachers in the past, I cannot make them act as if they are not with the way they explained things in detail.
I'll try not to do this often since its a bit tiring on me. Just this once, I had to make them seem as if they displaying their professor-like behaviors in this chapter.
Anyways, many thanks to: Hybrix, kieshi, blueDaoist, Xins, DelX, MrMedina, Von_Krieg, Little_Blue, Ghuus, i3bdul, Shadowalker35, ninjo, SR_2027, KingOfStoners, Nyvii, gg_vg, MAGE_OF_FLOWER, and the others for their continued support for this story.
Thank you very much, guys! :)