Friday, August 10, 2012

Phoenix

Write on Edge gave us a prompt around the word phoenix.  We could use either the mythical creature definition or the definition involving the constellation.  We had 450 words in which to write our prompt.

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.

17 comments:

  1. I love the idea of vengeance, here, and redemption for his faith. I was left curious as to why he was caged to begin with. But it was very satisfying when she burned it all down, and I liked that she was a woman, rather than a bird.

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    1. Thanks. This was one of those scenes that just kind of came to mind, you know?

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  2. Love the take on the prompt. It's great stand-alone but if you wanted, I could see this as a longer piece. Nicely done!

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    1. Thank you. Not sure if I'm going to do anything else with it or not. I'm glad to hear it works as a stand alone in case I don't ever get back to it!

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  3. Rebirth is also redemption, I think. So it is good that he was going to be rewarded for his faith. I liked the imagery of the prisoner and the whip over his head--well done!

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad to hear the imagery worked.

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  4. Yeah, whether as stand alone or a part of a longer piece, this story is good. I like the idea that his faithfulness is finally rewarded.

    ~Imelda

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    1. Thanks. Part of me sees where this could go (cuz I can't just let go of something most of the time) but, the more I think about it, I do like leaving it just as is. Glad to hear others think so as well. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Ooooh. The depiction of faithfulness despite doubt and commitment in the face of suffering, is just wonderful. This is a man who has proven himself worthy. What a great piece! I want to know more!

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    1. I've thought about exploring this more...after a few other projects are done I may do so since I kinda want to know more as well.

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  6. You gave us a tantalizing view of a larger world, raising lots of questions. I was intrigued that the stone blistered and yet the fire didn't hurt him. Deliberate?

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    1. Yes - that was deliberate. The more I think and hear from others, I may have to go back and explore this a little more. At least maybe turn it into a bit longer short story.

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  7. Yes, you should explore this to become something more. :)

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  8. Interesting - definitely works as a stand-alone, but there are so many parts I'd love to know more about... like, who she is, and how he came to be in a cage just for loving her.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. I will have to explore this one further I think...

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  9. A fiery woman bent on revenge and redemption? yes, please.

    "The vicious kiss of the whip" is a fantastic image. Harsh, but perfect.

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