Paradigm - June 1997
To Spread My Wings - ShadowCat
Smaug - ShadowCat
(page 9/20)

To Spread My Wings

The smell of mildew and damp straw...The steady slow drip of seeping water...Cold stone beneath me. Slowly I roll over and push myself to my feet. I clutch at the wall as a wave of dizziness sweeps over me. The cold rough stone scrapes my fingers. I open my eyes slowly, blinking to adjust them to the dim light that streams through the small window set high in the wall. The light illuminates a small patch of the floor slashed across with the shadows of the iron bars. Damp straw is piled in the corners and a few scraggly tendrils are strewn across the floor. My head throbs dully and gingerly I reach up to touch the bruise on my temple. Despite my care a shaft of pain shoots through my head, blurring my vision. I breath slowly until it clears. A cold wind blows through the open window and I draw my tattered cloak tightly about me The ragged material does little to prevent the cold. I pace the room the keep warm. Five paces to the door and five paces back to the window.

Five paces, five paces. Back and forth, back and forth.

The crowd around me calls out for my death, calling me witch and sorceress. I walk calmly through the crowd surrounded by guards who shield me from the flung stones and dirt. I am grateful for their protection, it allows me at least a small scrap of dignity. The turn out pleases me. It seems somehow flattering that so many people are here to witness my death. The stake is in the centre of the square, dry kindling already piled around its foot. I step up to it, too proud to struggle when it would be a futile waste of energy. The guards tie me firmly to the stake and step back clearing the area around me. The town priest steps forward carrying a flaming torch. He says something but my attention is fixated in the flame as it twists and writhes sinuously on the end of the branch. The voice of the priest and the shouts of the crowd recede to a dull droning buzz. I watch the flame as the priest brings it nearer. I can feel the rising panic as the flame approaches but I force it back.

I will not give them the satisfaction of seeing me beg!

The kindling around my feet catches fire swiftly and I can smell burning resin in the smoke which wreathes around me like a shroud.smaug I fight back the fear but when I feel the heat of the flames licking at my legs and feet it becomes too much and the terror overwhelms me. I scream wordlessly, pouring out all my fear, pain and hatred. The scream flows through me and in that moment of utter fear and pain instinctively I reach down to somewhere deep inside me and twist.

The ropes stretch and snap.

I rise above the crowd. The feel of the wind against my wings , flowing through my scales, brings a sense of release. With each wing-beat I rise higher, roaring with exhilaration. For too long I had remained trapped within that ground-bound form, I had forgotten what it felt like to fly, to feel the wind rushing past you and the utter freedom of movement. The crowd below scatter but the are far beneath my notice. The wind carries the scent of others of my kind and spreading my wings I fly to meet they glorying in my re-found freedom.