Persephone was three when her mother sat her down by the river one chilly morning in early spring. She will never forget the way her momma looked to the graying skies above and smile contently when the first rays of light shined on the two of them, warming their bodies. Nor will she ever forget the way her momma's beautiful wings unfurl from her back to stretch out to the sun.

Her mother's wings were massive, spanning meters when extended, and were incredibly beautiful with their lustrous gold and intimidating reds that flashed the world around them as both an invitation and a warning: You may look, but you must never touch my wings.

Her mother would flap her wings twice, testing the air around her before standing up and gesturing for Persphone to rise and release her wings as well.

Persephone's wings were little twin puffs fluffing behind her back and much darker than her mother's, her feathers were gray, ranging from ash to cobblestone. However, her mother always told her that she will gain color as she got older. And being that Persephone was so young her wings were too weak to let her fly like her parents.

A Phoenix Shifter's wings were the most important part of their identity. They displayed mood, warnings, and even helped in courtship. If a female Phoenix Shifter were to flash her wings at a male it was an invite and if the male responded, then they would begin their courtships. Phoenix Shifters mate for life. If the courtship was a success then they would immediately start preparing for their family. Mostly Phoenix Shifters had multiple children, one child every century if possible. Both genders fell into heat once every hundred years and that was the only time that a Phoenix Shifter couple was allowed to have offspring.

Scooping her up, Persephone's mom beat her wings once, air swelled beneath them and soon they were soaring through the open skies. This would end up becoming Persephone's favorite part of the day where it was just her and her momma. They could fly for hours upon hours before tiring out and after that, they would return home to Papa, who was waiting for them outside.

Upon returning, Papa would usher them inside and the family would eat their breakfast. Unlike, her mother, Persephone's father was a bit frailer and his wings were slightly duller. This was because a Phoenix Shifter's wings displayed not only their emotions but also their gender. Females were brighter and more dominant than males and were the ones who instigated the courtship for potential mates.

Following that day, Persephone eagerly awaited for her flight feathers to arrive. When she turned six, most of the fluff shredded off and she found her wings to be sleeker and longer. The end feathers of both wings gently grazed the heels of her feet. Still holding their gray color, Persephone still had a lot to learn about flying and her magic. Like all Phoenix Shifters, she had the power to manipulate the mind and senses. By looking into the person's mind, she could find recent memories and greatest loss and create realistic illusions to the point where the person seeing these illusions will believe they're real.

She practiced her magic on mice and squirrels, allowing the flow of her Phoenix Shifter magic to swell behind her eyes, peering into the mind of their animal neighbors. Animals were relatively simple-minded, in that they preferred their basic necessities. Food, shelter, and sleep.

In an old mouse, gliding across the grass, Persephone found a recent memory of a farm with lots of crops. It took some time to make it appear, but when it did the mouse seemed overjoyed and bounced towards the rich fields full of grain and other yummy treats, not realizing that they were all an illusion. Persephone was overjoyed that she managed to trick a mouse into eating a few dead leaves.

By the time Persephone was nine, she could create realistic illusions from the memories of both large and small animals, making them act in an unorthodox manner.

The ultimate test came some months later before her tenth birthday, where she had to use her magic on her own parents. Not one of them, but both of them.

Persephone was nervous, as one would expect, but with some encouragement, she managed to reach out and peer into her mother's mind and then with more of a stretch, her father's too.

She saw open blue skies beaming proudly down on a lovely city with a few temples made of marble. Overlooking the city, she noticed, was an ominous short, fat mountain sitting begrudgingly in the distance. Even though it was only a distant memory, Persephone could feel her parents' combine dread for it and growing fear the more she focused on it.

Deciding to ignore it, for now, Persephone looked deeper into her parents' memories. She saw thousands of people coming out onto the cobblestone streets to celebrate. She could hear the words "Vulcan" being repeated in prayers, with many people standing around bonfires and tossing in fists full of wheat and corn. In other parts, some were sacrificing small animals and fish to their fires.

The ground began to shake beneath everyone's feet, but this went unnoticed by the celebrating peoples. They were used to it. Earthquakes were the norm of their lives, just as it was the norm for the sun to rise and set each day. However, in the distance, Persephone could see the mountain's top puffing out thin gray wisps of smoke.

The feeling of fear came back again. Persephone was no fool, her parents had told her months before of their heritage and where they had come from. The mountain in the distance was a volcano set to erupt the day after the Vulcanalia Festival.

Shivering a little, she ignored the feeling of impending doom and instead focused on creating the festival. After acquiring a good look of the city and it's people, she cast out a nearly perfect illusion. The tall fields they were standing in shifted, the wheat and grass were mowed down to reveal long winding narrow roads made of gray stone. Any nearby trees faded into oblivious and were replaced with hundreds of people standing around their bonfires, throwing in some grain as sacrifices to the God of Fire, and were accompanied by prayers for a safe harvest from the upcoming droughts that were sure to arrive with the intense summer.

Buildings came in, with a few temples and statues in honor of the many Roman gods the fair city worshipped.

And, of course, in the distance, sitting quietly was the volcano Mount Vesuvius.

Persephone focused all of her magic on solidifying the illusion, reaching into the deepest parts of her parents' memories and hoping beyond hope that it was enough to convince them, because if the mind believes it, then the illusion becomes real.

It was exhausting, putting so much power and fighting to hold it together. She struggled for a while watching in dismay as the illusion seemed to stay solid and real for a few moments before becoming translucent and weak; when that happened she would reach into her parents' minds again and recreate the illusion. Persephone repeated this several times before she grew faint.

Her parents beamed with pride. Even though she had failed to make the illusion last, Persephone knew her parents didn't care for that, they were more worried about her losing her temper. It was important to always remain calm no matter the situation. The fact that Persephone had minded her temper and continued to work towards her goal, despite her limitations. She was doing well for her first time working with something much larger and more complex than a mouse. Even more impressive as she was able to conjure an illusion from the memories of both parents, instead of just one.

Persephone was on the right track.

As time passed, her powers grew. Soon she was able to keep the illusions grounded much longer and could even manipulate the sounds her victims hear. Plural intended as she was now able to make multiple illusions from two different memories of separate people.

Her next challenge was to use her powers on humans. Humans were one of the most complex beings in the world. They were full of imagination as well as curiosity, and if they had suspected she was behind the illusion there was no telling how they were going to react.

After mapping out a plan, Persephone went with her father into town for the first time. The bright flags that flapped outside of shops and small businesses caught her eyes first, followed by the display of delicious fruits and vegetables in their wooden stands. They looked so good that Persephone wished she had the money to purchase some of the apples that shined on a sunny day, like precious jewels of the same shade.

Her wings were tucked beneath the dark green cloak that was pined at her shoulder by a golden pin. Her sandals, strapped below her knee clicked politely on the street side she and her papa walked along.

Soon they came around a corner where they came to a part of town that was much more crowded and dense, with a brothel house nearby. A few of the women of that house saw her papa and made lued gestures to gain his attention. He blushes and waves them away, tugging earnestly at Persephone's wrist. If Mama had been there, she would have attacked the other woman for even daring to look at her mate.

They moved on until they saw a drunken man, stumbling down a dimly lit alley, mumbling incoherently to himself in Latin. He wore cheap clothing, no doubt a slave. How he managed to end up here, she didn't know.

Persephone's father gave her the go-ahead motion, and the young Phoenix Shifter summoned her magic. She peered into the slave's mind and found he had managed to escape with his master's finest wine and was hiding out until dawn the next morning so no one would be suspicious. Apparently, he had managed to excavate his plan so that his master would believe he was going to another part of town to deliver a letter to an associate, while another slave took the fall for the stolen wine. This slave, the man had no liking towards and he wasn't the least bit guilty in what would become of unfortunate fellow. Given that Roman slaves were essentially property, having about as many rights as a piece of furniture, there was no limit to how the master will treat the falsely accused servant.

Had the slave been a gladiator, perhaps mercy would have fallen into his hands. Sadly, that wasn't the case. And no doubt he would be beaten to death by the lord of the house in the next few hours.

Such a fate left a bad taste in Persephone's mouth. She might have been born in Rome, but she did not think of herself as better than anyone else. So she focused on the memory of the master and made him appear before the slave, screaming at him and making threats of death. The slave fell to his knees in fear, begging for forgiveness. Persephone added more to the illusion, finding his pathetic plea disgraceful. She made the master held up a barbed whip and ordered the slave to turn around.

The slave cried and begged for mercy, but the master's orders were absolute. The slave turned to expose his back, showing the ugly scars he acquired as a boy. It was a sight she had not expected, despite knowing the consequences an unruly slave received if he or she were to be disobedient, her illusion flickered for a second, not enough to catch the drunk's attention, but she did curse herself for losing focus and aimed her magic into the master's appearance as he raised his whip and brought it down hard across the man's back. The metal barbs attached to long strings of leather fazed through the man's back, however, Persphone altered the slave's sense so that he could feel the barbs tearing through his skin, ripping shreds. He cries out for mercy, just as the poor slave he framed was probably doing right now. Sadly, only one of them will live to see the new morning.

She decided enough was enough and had the pseudo master order the slave to return home and never leave again, or frame another person. If he did then he'll receive triple the amount of licks and would have his tongue removed for lying.

The slave, still sobbing, nodded, and staggered away. After he left, Persephone released the illusion and grew faint again. Altering the senses of a human was much harder than she expected. Her father came out of hiding and clapped Persephone on her shoulder, beaming with pride. They went home after that and celebrated with some cooked apples that her father had bought and roasted boar Mama caught while on a solitary hunt. It had been a wonderful day for their small family.

A while after Persephone turned fourteen, she and her momma went out hunting for dinner. Her papa stayed home. Unlike in most traditional households, the female Phoenix Shifter was the one who hunted, while the male remained behind and used his magic to ensure their home was safely disguised. Since Persephone was growing up, she needed to learn how to hunt and survive on her own.

Upon arriving at their hunting grounds, Mama urged Persephone to hide and observe in one of the trees. This wasn't the first time she's done this, but it was necessary to watch the proper way in the hunt. If she is too quick, she might miss her target and waste energy. If she is too slow then the killing blow will be painful and the animal will suffer. Not only that, but Persephone had to know how to utilize every piece of her kill, to make use of every part of a body is the only way a hunter can pay their respects to the dead.

Despite being predatory in nature, Phoenix Shifters didn't take pleasure in killing as a sport, nor did they like wasting their abilities on their game for the sake of practicing for the real hunt.

Persephone watched her mother eagerly as she swooped down towards a small herd of deer and released a loud cry to alert them of her presence. It was always a show of respect to give their prey a fighting chance. Attacking them without any warning was considered bad showmanship and disrespectful toward that animal.

Mama flew over the herd, her massive wings spread out wide, cast an ominous shadow over the herd. Soon the group spread out, galloping in separate directions. One, in particular, had tripped and fallen. It would have been a quick, easy kill if they hadn't heard a terrifying scream echo from the distance.

Papa's scream.

It was a terrible, chilling sound. A high shriek under the afternoon sun that pierced the thin veil of nature's hum.

Mama's head looked on in alert, her golden eyes flash like lighting before she unfurled her wings and released a booming sound, similar to a thunder strike as a summer's storm began its approach. She took off in a flash of fire, rising to the skies and shooting off to defend her mate.

Persephone was alone, she knew her parents would have wanted her to remain where she was.

She remained on the same branch for hours, hugging her knees to her chest, and wrapping her dove gray wings around herself to stay warm as day became night. A sick, icky feeling, like slimy eels, curled in her stomach, but she refused to move, forcing herself to believe that her parents would come soon.

She waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Night soon gave way to dawn, and dawn turned to noon.

They'll be here, she reminded herself. They're going to come here soon.

Her stomach crunches up with hunger, low growls sounded out, begging for food. She looked out to the small field and could see no more animals. It was as if they too were waiting for Mama and Papa's return.

Persephone soon nodded off to sleep. It wasn't until late in the evening did she hear the fast beat of wings and woke up alert. She looked to the skies and saw two dark silhouettes gliding towards her.

Beaming, she rose to wave but stopped short when she saw a dark-skinned man, darker than hers, with wings of an eagle approach her. Accompanying him was a woman with a fair complexion and similar wings. They were duller and darker than Persphone's mothers, which mirrored the warm and hot shades of dawn.

They are not her parents.

Persephone whimpers when the Wind Walkers float before her. She curls herself up tighter, ruffling her feathers and curling her lips to display her fangs in a warning.

The male Wind Walker winks away tears as he regards her with a sad expression. The woman beside him looks like she's trying to keep herself together.

Persephone reaches into their minds and is horrified by what she sees: Two bloody corpses, with holes in their chests. One man, one woman. Their wings were out and damaged, with the woman's wings being much larger.

Persephone could see a man covered in bloody scratches with gray hair holding a knife in one hand and a blood-dripping heart in the other. He stabs the organ, cuts it into several chunks, and pockets it. Then he smirks down at Persephone's mother and begins to saw off her wings, his smirk grows into a sinister grin. "This one almost severed my head."

Persephone couldn't take it anymore. She cries and shoots off into the skies, flying as fast as she could. The Wind Walks call out to her, begging her to stop. She doesn't listen. Instead, Persephone uses her magic and alters their senses so they would think a flock of geese was swooping down to attack them. She flies onward band soon is flying above the humble cottage that she had once called home.

The man is there, giving other people pieces of her parents' hearts. The small group eats it.

One of them, an elderly woman asks, "Is it true that the heart of these Phoenix Shifter Shifters can give someone immortality?"

The nods, "I have reason to believe so." He takes the last piece and eats it.

Fury boils inside her soul. Hot tears burn over her eyes and Persephone screams down at them, her wings spread wide and her nails sharpening to claws. She starts to decent at a fast rate, her claws extended to tear the man's face off.

"No!"

She is seized suddenly by one of the Wind Walkers. He grabs Persephone by her waist as she screams, cries, thrashes, and then turns back to claw at him. The second Wind Walker flies over and restrains Persephone's arms so she wouldn't claw the man's eyes out.

The group of people below stare at her in astonishment. The same elderly woman points at them. "There's more! I thought you said these two were the last of their kind!"

The man next to her smirks and shakes his head, "There is always room for error." He reaches inside his sleeve, drawing out a stick, and shoots a blast of magic at Persephone and her captures. The two Wind Walkers separate in time, with the male holding on to Persephone's thrashing and kicking form. "We need to leave!" He yells to his partner. The woman nods back and the two take off, flying high into the skies, with Persephone still kicking, screaming, and sobbing for the loss of her family. Sobbing at the loss of her home. Sobbing at the reality that she is the last of her kind.

AN: I've been wanting to write this for a while, but never got around to it. I decided to go ahead and write this. Special shout-out to AquaTurquoise who made the picture of Persephone a while ago and gave me more inspiration for her character. You're awesome and I hope you and your students are safe. Thank you, everyone, who is reading this, I hope all of you are safe too.