Illustration by Jane Wantland, The Freelancer
The Phoenix and the Dragon
December 8, 2016
Phoenixes, with their vibrant coloring, illuminating flames, and perpetually graceful wings, slowly periled under the hands of humanity not long after these two-legged creatures walked the earth and made it their own. All inhabitants stayed away from these beasts of weak nature but of yet pervasively malicious minds. Rarity came with kindness and all of those who roamed the land, flew the skies, and swam the seas did not attempt to take a chance on the odds of being treated kindly by the select few. Non-human creatures hid and turned themselves into legends, myths, fears of the night, and gifts of the day. Still, some fell victim either out of the goodness of their hearts, or out of the last straws of their luck.
These bird-like beings were easy targets, for so many of them were curious and the smallest amount of distress would spark their nature to help. There was no doubt that they were near immortal beings, able to resurrect from their own ashes after burning up in their own flames. Phoenixes had the pulse of life running strong through their veins, even beneath the ashes they eventually became.
Why not share what you have been gifted with? Not all agreed with this opinion, and that is what caused this creature to be sprawled and wounded upon the cliffs of the furthest mountains, uncharacteristically high for a phoenix like Amber. Obviously this was the result of an escape attempt from humans – which, by far, not many managed to achieve.
Amber laid belly down with her long feathered wings on the hard stone and gravel, rocks and debris pressing painfully into her injured skin. Battered and beaten by the hands of the humans, they left her left wing broken. It was only by the power of her will and desperation that carried her up the chilly ledge, where she promptly lost altitude and made a very painful, graceless flop onto the cliff.
Amber’s feathers were now matted with dried blood and dust from the ground from where she was caught and held down to witness and experience what humanity can inflict. The gold tips of her feathers were barely visible due to the coat of mud that formed as the moisture in the air mixed with dust that clung stubbornly to her. Amber believed she could stay there, and that she might be able to survive this, even against the foreboding chill from an oncoming storm. Amber’s doubts begin to rise when she senses an ominous presence behind her; large and lumbering, cold as the wind that threatened to choke her unaccustomed breathing.
. . .
Sebastian felt the approach easily. When you’re one of the largest beings in a mostly isolated territory, it isn’t hard to miss new arrivals of new creatures. One too many times it would be a group of humans climbing the side of his mountain. That only made him even more vigilant.
This time it was different, this presence had a warm and comforting feeling, something that Sebastian needed desperately. It was a phoenix. He opened his blue-grey eyes and raised his large head, poised with large horns and looked at the opening of his cave. The phoenix wasn’t visible, but he could feel its presence. He made swift work to get out of his home only to find a destroyed version of a once magnificent being. What Sebastian saw was a bloody and broken creature on the cliffs of his mountain. This causes him to frown, but he continues with his usual procedure of getting rid of unwanted visitors.
He said it firmly, making sure to appear more intimidating by blowing warm white smoke into a cloud, pronouncing his element: fire.
This little show of his wasn’t going to work this time because he realizes that the phoenix could barely focus her gaze when she turns her head weakly. Amber groaned before speaking,
“I won’t do you any harm, dear dragon,”she said gently, much like the nature of her species, “but I am unable to take to the skies. I won’t ask for more than the space that I have already taken so gracelessly. Please don’t make me leave.”
She pleaded. Somewhere between those words, Sebastian felt the urge to take the poor bird in his arms and care for it; keep it warm, stop it from hurting. That was all irrational. The more you gave, the easier you’ll be taken advantage of. This he learned the hard way.
He said again before turning back to his cave, his tail coming inches from the phoenix’s figure. Sebastian does not attempt to getting rid of Amber though. He thought the storm that was about to commence would force her off his mountain.
Sebastian, with his gun metal grey scales and a sudden shock of white on his left arm, was very much mistaken.
To be continued in Chapter 2…