To Be Free – Serious Short

“You don’t understand, if you don’t free me we will all be doomed-”

“Are you threatening your king!” the man with the crown demanded.

The weather-worn woman before did not tremble from his anger, merely bowed her head in exhaustion and weary resignation.

The king did not wait to see what she would say before continuing, “You are guilty of the crime of sorcery!”

A smile flitted across her tear-stained face as she finally looked up, “That’s why I came to Camelot.”

The king was not surprised in the least, “To destroy us.”

For the first time, the woman frowned, “No, to be free. You slaughter all with magic.” she seemed to take courage from somewhere and stood straight for the first time since she’d been brought before the king, “Surely you can bring permanent death even to a phoenix.”

There was stunned silence in the court of law, even the king found himself speechless at this declaration.

“Death is a freedom I desperately need.” the woman, no, the phoenix trapped within human form, “Please, King Uther, you must execute me.”

I’ve been thinking about BBC’s Merlin lately and the fact that King Uther was very anti-magic. He killed anyone even hinted at using or being near magic, including magical creatures who were born with magic and, at the time, were believed to have no kind of agency for themselves.

(I extrapolate the last comment based on the fact that animals weren’t believed to have a soul at the time and only those with a soul would have a mind and be able to actually make choices and thus have agency to choose for themselves what they wanted to do.)

What if someone came to Camelot, not because they wanted to attack King Uther with their magic, but because they wanted King Uther to know they had magic and kill them?

Well, I thought about it and this little snippet wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it. I was never certain just how it would end, but maybe now I can write on something else.


Stranger To Me

There are times when she wasn’t sure what to do anymore. Her children were grown and visited her less and less. They listened to anything she had to say with distressingly less regularity. Her husband had grown distant, only coming to see her maybe once or twice a month. During months that held anniversaries like their marriage or one of their birthdays, she’d see him a third time, but no more during any of their children’s or grandchildren’s birthdays. She didn’t even see him at night anymore as he had started sleeping in a separate room, something that had been unthinkable until just four years ago.

She wasn’t even certain of when it started happening. He’d been working longer, but only one night every now and then at first. It had slowly grown from once a month to maybe three or four times a month and then several times a week.

Then, one day, she woke up and realized that her husband hadn’t shared her bed, not even just for sleeping, in over a year.

Then she realized that not only did she wake up to his side of the bed cold and untouched but she didn’t even get to see his face during the day, never mind getting to see him smile.

She was a stranger to the man that she’d pledged her everything to and he was a stranger to her.

“How did it come to this, my dear?” she whispered into his pillow from where it was pressed into her face.

It had long since stopped smelling liking him.

Different Phoenix, Different Ending – Reflections Traces Prompt #12

Sometimes she wondered how different life would have been for her had she the power to chose her own outcome. She had loved a man so much, much more than he had ever deserved, though that was something that she had not known until later in their life together. They’d had children, so many children and she thought they’d been happy.

It was only later that she learned there was more to life, their life, that she had not known about.

Her kind were often thought of as a blessing or a curse, depending on who was talking.

To her husband, she had been a blessing both in children, long life and in personal power. Those who came to their home to speak with her husband were always awed by his wife, though it was unintentional on her part. It was just what and who she was.

In many tales, it is said that those of her kind will die and then become reborn from their own ashes, ready to rise once again in glorious fire.

For her, she would die upon an altar, her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren around her and her husband standing over her. In her death, her children, some of whom were very sick, would gain some of her life force and heal from it. She had chosen this. She was old and if her death could have a purpose, then she would be grateful, even if it interfered with the original sequence of her kind’s death.

Her rebirth would happen not right away, but scattered throughout the lifetimes of her descendants. What she hadn’t foreseen was the outcome of that supposed one-time sacrifice. Every death thereafter would further seal her fate to what had once been her family but was now nothing more than her slavers.

Original concept for this particular story is actually a little old. I have some scenes for this story written down somewhere in another collection of shorts. When I saw the Reflections Traces Prompt for this last week, I thought of this story. It has no connection to my other long-standing story in Phoenix ‘Verse.