Staying in the Heat, Moving in the Cold

Glancing over at the vast woods, she was able to see the smoke rise from the nearest village. That’s all she could see of it, considering the village was miles away, beyond acres of trees. No one could see her. No one could hear her. No one could find her. The tower she was subjected to had become surrounded by a thick brush of thorns off the path. All travelers stayed on the road, and everyone avoided the thorns.

She sighed heavily and stepped back inside her prison. There was no entrance or exit to this tower created for her. The only connection she had with the outside world was a window in which she can stare longingly out toward the village she has never seen. Though, it’s not that she was wanting. Inside her tower, she had books, music, food, comfort. Everything she could need. Except freedom, what she desired most. As she began to settle into a book, she heard the ever-familiar flapping of strong wings. She prepared herself to greet the dragon.

Through the window slithered a serpent-like being, with scales as black as night, fangs as sharp as the thorns keeping her prisoner, and eyes as red as drawn blood. The dragon clawed his way into the tower, his tail whipping about threateningly. She had already pinned herself to the opposite wall for safety. He slowly stood on his hind legs, blocking the window’s glow. Sighing a deep breath of relief, the dragon started to shrink, the scales burrowing into his pores, the fangs retracting into his gums, and the wings shedding off into a pile of white feathers in one fluid motion. Her father stood before her.

Brushing off the remaining feathers on his sleeve, he wished his daughter well. She simply nodded. “Daughter, you would look more beautiful if you graced your face with a smile”. Smiling meekly, she grabbed the broom. It became her daily chore to sweep the white feathers out of the tower window, and watch them turn to dust before they floated to the ground. With every feather out of the tower, she took one last look toward the village. She closed her eyes and sent her wish of freedom to the stars above. As usual, her wish was interrupted by her father demanding that she close the shutters and begin her studies. She doesn’t dare question or confront her father. It would only make matters worse. So, with a shiver, she closed the shutters, and began her nightly studies.

Every day was the same to her. She would awaken ungodly early to see her father off. He would transform into his otherworldly being, growing wings, scales, and claws so he might strike fear in the heart of his prey. As he would fly into the sunrise, she would stare at the disappearing stars until they finally faded. Once the day had started, she would begin her chores. She would read. She would stare at the trees hiding the village. She would wait around until sunset, when her father would come to the tower. And the cycle would repeat day after day after day.

Well, until one fateful day. As she stared out the window toward the smoke rising from the village, she heard something. “Hello”. Taken aback, she looked over the trees, behind her in her own tower, and in the skies above. “Down here”. She looked down. There stood a peasant girl, dirty from her travel through the woods, wearing pants and a men’s shirt. “Can you come down?” The peasant girl spoke with a soft tone, but a power sat behind her words. The imprisoned princess leaned over her window, staring intently at the person below. She had never seen another person before, and could not believe one was speaking to her now. “Do you speak?” “I do”, she replied. The peasant smiled; “Can you come down?” “I cannot”.

The peasant girl looked directly at the tower, and began to circle it. She came back to her original spot and said, “There is no entrance. Are you trapped?” “I am”, the towered princess replied hastily. But the peasant girl simply shrugged; “I can do nothing right now. I have no rope and no way to climb this”. The towered princess slumped. The girl below could see she was upset. What was the story behind this maiden in the tower? She wanted to know more. “My name is Nevia. What is your name?” she called above. It occurred to the tower-trapped girl that she didn’t know her own name. Did she even have one? She didn’t know. “I do not believe I have one”. “No name?” Nevia was more fascinated than confused; “A name seems a right of passage. To live is to have an identity”. The towered princess could see the peasant girl’s large blue eyes sparkle with curiosity. Nevia sat in the grass and leaned back on her elbows; “What does your captor call you?” “Daughter”.

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