Now, I have to be honest. My first impulse was to write a scene from a longer piece I've been working on and posting bits of as this prompt fit so perfectly into the storyline. But that would give the ending away and I didn't want to do that. Instead, here's something else that randomly showed up in my mind. Please enjoy and don't forget - you have until the end of the night tonight to link up with the Don't Panic Picture Prompt for the week!
From the Flames I will be Reborn
From the Ashes I will Rise
In Flame I will Rule
In Ash I will Rebuild
The old storyteller’s words ran through his mind again even as the vicious kiss of the whip bit into his back. It was so hard not to be bitter. He tried but often failed. She’d promised not to leave him. She’d promised to right what had gone so horribly wrong in the land. Then she was gone, her promises broken. The storyteller insisted the words were a prophecy, that she would return. He’d been hearing them since that day so many years ago.
“When?” he mumbled through cracked and bloody lips, “If it’s true, when are you coming back?”
The whip fell again. There was no point in screaming out his pain or begging for mercy. It didn’t matter to them. They just continued to beat him regardless of his reaction. That was the Overlord’s command and they followed it.
The twentieth stroke fell, curling around his back in a fiery embrace. Just as they had every week, the soldiers curled up the whip and hung it on a peg over his head. His chains prevented him from reaching it. But the Overlord left it there as a reminder of his choice.
A choice to remain loyal to a woman who’s been dead for years. A woman who, he kept telling himself didn’t deserve that kind of commitment. She’d broken hers. Why was he still faithful to his?
In that same ritualistic pattern, his heart reminded him of the answer once again. He kept that faith in her because he loved her. It was that simple. No matter how long it had been, his heart still believed in the storyteller’s words.
A break in the years old macabre dance came that night. He heard shouts and booted feet running outside the cell that had become his world. Straining to make out words above the noise of the confusion, he could hear something about a fire. Or was it many fires?
He didn’t have to wait long to find out. The heat from the flame penetrated the cold hard stone walls to warm his frigid cell. Soon it rolled in unseen waves down the corridors, heating rock enough to blister. Still he sat, chained, in his prison.
Then came the flame, licking and lapping at wood and rock alike. It shimmered in a mesmerizing dance down the hall, closer and closer. Out of the fire wavered an image of a woman. He scrubbed his eyes with heat blistered hands. Had she really come back? Was that heat mirage really her?
It couldn’t be. But it was.