Earth’s Wrath: The Rage of Fire

I have lived in darkness for the past three days.

I am alone in this small room with nothing but a bed, a pot for my wastes and a door. No windows or candles to provide the smallest hope of light. My hands are tied behind my back. I have tried to escape thrice only to be thrown down by a man twice my size and my bonds made tighter. But I am not the only one suffering.

There are four of us — there have always been four — here in this temple. I hear one of the girls at night, crying to sleep. One prayed, only stopping when it’s time for dinner — the only meal the men provided us. The other one is silent that I wonder if she can’t talk at all. Then the last one is me, who always fought. I will never stop fighting till I died.

Today’s the fourth day, the last day. And the men have come for us.

The sun is almost setting but the light still hurts my eyes. The men lead us out the temple, toward the raised dais where four posts were set, facing each direction. Below the dais are people whom we know. We have lived in the same village, smiled at one another on the streets, and helped each other in the time of need. But tradition dictates that four women must give their own life for the continuance of other’s. There are many who supports this tradition; I am one of the few who don’t.

The men tie each of us to individual posts and I flex my wrists apart so they can still move. Kindlings are set upon our feet, encircling the posts themselves. They intend to burn us. I will not let them.

A priest starts bringing the orb of Fira into the middle of the dais, his lips moving faintly with his prayers. The crowd is silent as the priest bellows, “Praise be to the goddess of Fire!”

“Praise to her and all her glory!” the crowd answers.

“Today we shall witness yet again our goddess’s love and passion sweep over our lands and families. And how else can we show her our gratitude? How else can we make sure that she never leaves our side? Today! These four young, beautiful souls will enter our goddess’s sweet loving arms and make the goddess divine satisfied!” says the priest.  The orb glows bright red in the center and I know that if I somehow get a hold of it, I might get the chance to live.

The priest then takes hold of a torch, walks toward the praying girl at my right, shouts, “Let the fire burn our diseases!”, and sets fire to her.

The crowd cheers but the sound of the girl’s cries rings louder in my ears. Soon her cries are doubled by the girl opposite from me and then tripled by the girl at my left as the priest lights them up one by one, burning away “calamities” and “conquerors”, as if us girls are manifestations of the things they hate and fear.

I am wrong to stay in this village for too long. I am wrong for thinking I could live here in peace. And I refuse to let others live while I die for their sakes.

The priest comes for me but I have already loosened the rope around my wrists.

“Let the fire burn the wicked!”

I wrench the torch from the priest’s hands and hit his surprised face with the burning end. A satisfying crunch and the sizzling of burning flesh fills my ears as the priest went down. The crowd gasps and the closest to the dais backs away. But I don’t worry about them; let them help him to his feet. The orb of Fira has already caught my attention.

I sprint toward it; the men guarding us realizing too late that it isn’t the priest’s demise that I am after. It is my freedom and life of all the girls that would have succeeded our sacrifice. I reach towards the glowing orb and I’ve prepared myself to be burned but —

What? The orb is…cold?

Suddenly I feel…lighter than I’ve ever felt before. My flushed body calms as brightly colored wind — no, not wind but fire! — envelope my body. Flashes of blues and greens and golds lift my hair and swirl around my arms.

I look up the sky and laugh. So this is power.

I lower my gaze upon the crowd that not so long ago cheered for the deaths of four girls. Four. Because the girl I was died and now I am reborn as fire. I open my arms and release myself unto them.

            Burn them all.

Advertisements

Earth’s Wrath: The Stillness of Air

It wasn’t meant to happen. This wasn’t meant to happen. I never meant for it to happen. I did everything I was told and I did it perfectly; there was simply no room for errors.

The temple of Aera was set on the edge of a cliff, its long pillars chapped from centuries of harsh weather conditions. The old tales referred to this temple as the birthplace of storms and of hurricanes. I knew what to expect but calling the place ‘windy’ would certainly be the understatement of the year. The wind shouted warnings that my partner and I continued to ignore; warnings that were simply overlooked knowing what treasure lies within.

Inside the temple, the wind sang its history. Its lyrics were of monks who had long ago turned into dust and of hunters whose dead bodies remained a mystery. In a line or two, the wind whispered locations of hidden rooms and trap doors but only those who have been trained knew how to listen and interpret. I was one of the chosen.

“Slowly…slowly…,” my partner murmured.

“I know what I’m doing,” I snapped. My palms sweat even though the air was cool. I took a breath or two to calm my racing heart. I was hyperaware of the treasure that was laid before me and of its replica in my hand. All I had to do was quickly replace the opaque Aera orb with the fake, taking the genuine one with me and scram. And I did. My partner and I got out of the temple safely, a little out of breath, but safe. I remembered looking into each other’s eyes, our success shining in our faces. Then it happened.

It started when one of the temple’s pillars cracked; a deafening sound of stone against stone. The wind blew harder—we had to fall on our knees just to stay on the ground—and after a moment, it suddenly stopped. I looked up and saw that every natural movement—the swaying of trees, the sound of the wind, the crumbling temple—stopped. Then my partner made a choking sound.

He was clutching his neck; his eyes bulged, his face growing purple with his mouth opened as he made gasping sounds. I reached his side and tried to pull his hands away and demanded what was wrong.

“I can’t…breathe…”

“What?” I was dumbfounded. I didn’t understand what was happening till the first bird dived to the ground. I tilted my head and saw that the sky shed birds as tears, all of them plummeting to the ground, some instantly died while some in the same state of my partner then went limp.

My partner grabbed my arm with fading strength, his face pleading for me to do something.

“Help…me…”

But I couldn’t. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what to do. My naivety had caused this catastrophe and as I watched my partner sigh his last breath, I became aware of a faint glow tucked in my coat. The treasure—the orb—was glowing and it was this, I realized, that triggered everything. I looked back to the temple only to find its remaining half, the other half now fell to the sea beyond. There was no hope.

Unintentionally, I dropped the orb to the ground. The instant I lost contact with the orb, my breathing was cut off, as if I’ve swallowed a cork to my esophagus. No, I thought, clutching my throat. Panic engulfed me as I frantically searched for the orb. The moment I touched it, air came rushing back to my lungs and it took every inch of me to stay conscious even as I heaved like a fish out of water.

What have I done?

Earth’s Wrath: The Stillness of Air

It wasn’t meant to happen. This wasn’t meant to happen. I never meant for it to happen. I did everything I was told and I did it perfectly; there was simply no room for errors.

The temple of Aera was set on the edge of a cliff, its long pillars chapped from centuries of harsh weather conditions. The old tales referred to this temple as the birthplace of storms and of hurricanes. I knew what to expect but calling the place ‘windy’ would certainly be the understatement of the year. The wind shouted warnings that my partner and I continued to ignore; warnings that were simply overlooked knowing what treasure lies within.

Inside the temple, the wind sang its history. Its lyrics were of monks who had long ago turned into dust and of hunters whose dead bodies remained a mystery. In a line or two, the wind whispered locations of hidden rooms and trap doors but only those who have been trained knew how to listen and interpret. I was one of the chosen.

“Slowly…slowly…,” my partner murmured.

“I know what I’m doing.” I snapped. My palms sweat even though the air was cool. I took a breath or two to calm my racing heart. I was hyperaware of the treasure that was laid before me and of its replica in my hand. All I had to do was quickly replace the opaque Aera orb with the fake, taking the genuine one with me and scram. And I did. My partner and I got out of the temple safely, a little out of breath, but safe. I remembered looking into each other’s eyes, our success shining in our faces. Then it happened.

It started when one of the temple’s pillars cracked; a deafening sound of stone against stone. The wind blew harder—we had to fall on our knees just to stay on the ground—and after a moment, it suddenly stopped. I looked up and saw that every natural movement—the swaying of trees, the sound of the wind, the crumbling temple—stopped. Then my partner made a choking sound.

He was clutching his neck; his eyes bulged, his face growing purple with his mouth opened as he made gasping sounds. I reached his side and tried to pull his hands away and demanded what was wrong.

“I can’t…breathe…”

“What?” I was dumbfounded. I didn’t understand what was happening till the first bird dived to the ground. I tilted my head and saw that the sky shed birds as tears, all of them plummeting to the ground, some instantly died while some in the same state of my partner then went limp.

My partner grabbed my arm with fading strength, his face pleading for me to do something.

“Help…me…”

But I couldn’t. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what to do. My naivety had caused this catastrophe and as I watched my partner sigh his last breath, I became aware of a faint glow tucked in my coat. The treasure—the orb—was glowing and it was this, I realized, that triggered everything. I looked back to the temple only to find its remaining half, the other half now fell to the sea beyond. There was no hope.

Unintentionally, I dropped the orb to the ground. The instant I lost contact with the orb, my breathing was cut off, as if I’ve swallowed a cork to my esophagus. No, I thought, clutching my throat. Panic engulfed me as I frantically searched for the orb. The moment I touched it, air came rushing back to my lungs and it took every inch of me to stay conscious even as I heaved like a fish out of water.

What have I done?

Plaything

“What happened to your human, Princess?” asked a servant faerie to its mistress.
“I think it is broken,” replied the princess who prodded the curling figure beneath her feet. “I do not understand. I feed it enough summer fruit and spring water to make its sanity last. I make it rest when it has to and perform only the simplest things within its capabilities. I do not let the hounds chase it nor expose it to other nobility for amusement. It is my plaything and now it would not move.”
“Should I get another one, Princess?” offered the servant.
“No. My prince brother gave it to me and I treasure it,” declared the princess, “I will find a way to fix it.”
The servant moved towards the figure and observed, “It cries.”
“At first it does not. It laughs and sings and dances but now all I hear is a faint whisper of a name on its lips,” said the princess.
“Perhaps we should return it to their world if only for a moment. You know what happens to humans who stay long in our realm,” reminded the servant.
“I do. They lose their value and become mere decorations on my mother’s ice garden,” answered the princess.
“They lose a piece of their sanity the longer they remain here and time is insignificant in Faerie. It’s a shame for your plaything to end up this way for I have seen other humans ending in a more…absurd state. Quite entertaining, if you ask me.”
The princess glared, “You speak too forward, servant.”
The servant bowed, “Pardon me, Princess.”
A thinking look settled over the princess’s serene face. A moment after she ordered, “Prepare the carriage.” She crouched over her human, cupped its face with the both of her hands and whispered, “You will be fixed.”

They stood just outside the forest’s outline; the princess in her blue-green spider-silk dress that swayed at the slightest touch of wind, her servant at her side and her plaything on the other. The princess peeked at the human’s face and saw realization and reason and awareness slowly creep in.

“You know where we are, don’t you?” the princess asked.
The human was silent for a moment, then, “Home,” it said that sounded like a sigh and sob combined.

Beyond the forest lies a cottage owned by an old woman whose once beautiful face now marred with time’s passing. The old woman sat on her porch, hummed a lullaby and looked to where they stood in the forest’s shadows. She kept turning a golden ring on her finger that was identical to what the plaything always wore.

“Go,” the princess ordered.
With struggling movements, the human stumbled and turned to her and cupped her face with its hands which caused the servant to gasp. “Thank you,” it said with tears running down its face.
“You do not thank a fey, plaything, if you do not want to be indebted to one,” she said with a straight face.
“Even then, I am grateful to you for bringing me back.”
The princess slowly separated herself from the human’s touch. “You should not be. You needed to be fixed so here we are.” She tilted her head to the side and regarded the human’s expression, “Perhaps if I find myself in need of amusement, I will have someone to fetch you.”
She stepped back and melted into the shadows, her servant silently followed, “Until then, plaything.”

The two faeries watched him stumble towards the cottage, watched as the old woman rose from her seat and welcomed her lover; once lost and now returned.

“Do you think it wise to return the human to its lover?” asked the servant.
“I do. I treasure my plaything and it is the best that I could do,” said the princess proudly.

Together they slipped back into Faerie but not without a last glance and a smile on their lips.

Pretend to Dream

When you realize you’re afraid of someone you love is like crossing the bridge to silent hill. Fog covers up everything; your smiles, his kindness, your feelings for each other. With every step you take, your anxiety goes with you. You waver with each action, afraid you’ll step into a land mine and set everything into chaos. When the fog clears and you discover everything, you’ll want to make a wish and go back in time before you stared at the devil behind his eyes.

So i close my eyes and pretend this is all a dream.

Watching Eyes

watching
i watched them both.
how she leaned into him and
how he stole a glance at her.
how he made fun of her and
how she laughed with him.

i asked her of what she thinks of him.
she told me he’s annoying.
she told me he’s fun to be with.
she complained a lot
yet she smiled through it all.

i asked him of what he thinks of her.
he told me she’s weird.
he told me she’s very understanding.
he shrugged at most of my questions
yet he remained serious through it all.

i wondered who’s going to realize it first.
who’s heart will light up and
who’s mind will clear.
and so, i continued to watch them both.