The line from the song: 'Looking for freedom, and to find it, cost me everything I have.' inspired this tale of courage and freedom...
Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)
Rosa started down the cliff path to the bay, giving no heed to the wind whipping through her voluminous skirts. She moved swiftly, her heart full of resolve and determination. She pushed damp hair away from her face and gazed down at the beach. Smoke seeped out of the caves below and Rosa cast a hurried look over her shoulder.
Mournful cries carried across the bay on a gust and she swallowed hard, her fingers moving unconsciously to her pocket and stroking metal. A few more steps and she jumped down onto the dark, wet sand. She glanced up the path once again then headed for the smoking caves.
Another lonely lament echoed, booming through the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the hills and it was matched by a sounding horn up on the cliff.
It wasn’t her they were missing, surely not, a common kitchen maid would not be noticed, there or not, but she hurried on.
The horn called again and soldiers reached the cliff edge, weapons glinting in the sun.
Rosa headed into the gloomy cave and ducked behind a rock, as the smoke cleared she slowly raised her head and as her eyes adjusted to the shade her jaw dropped.
Restrained in chains was a creature more beautiful than anything she’d ever seen.
She gasped and the fledgling dragon turned, its scales dancing in streams of sunlight from gaps in the roof. She stood, transfixed by the opalescent greens and pinks playing across the dragon, who reared up on its hind legs and spread its wings.
Rosa’s breath caught in a lump that threatened to tear her heart out. The young dragon’s wings were laced with wounds and rents, and for a moment she thought all was lost.
She gripped the key in her pocket and she mustered her courage.
Soldiers, cascading down the cliff, echoed and she stepped away from the rock and stood before the dragon. She waited, with breath locked deep inside her chest as the creature stared back at her, its eyes black and wild.
Purple flames licked its maw and small wisps of smoke escaped its nostrils. Rosa refused to breathe as she stepped closer. The dragon tensed and coiled, its tail swinging slowly back and forth.
Woe grumbled through the cave from outside and the dragon’s attention flickered. Rosa followed the heavy chain from a thick metal post at the rear of the cave, across the sand, to the dragon.
The tight manacle gripped the dragon’s leg, and Rosa winced at the crusted blood and broken scales beneath the cruel metal.
She drew the key out of her pocket, resolutely flung a few words to the Gods and strode forward. The dragon reversed, dragging the awful chain, and threw a violet blaze at her. Undeterred she advanced, backing it into a dark corner. The dragon flapped and tried to lift off the sand, but the chain hung heavy and tugged at the bloody mess. Rosa threw herself at the dragon’s feet and grappled with the iron cuff. The creature flapped and screeched and flames flashed through the dark. Rosa unlocked and released the shackle then rose, before the creature, and waved her arms and shouted. Confusion filled the cave as the dragon’s panic, fire and smoke burst forth and her cries could barely be heard above the commotion.
Outside armour chinked and the whip of arrows filled the air and the dragon was suddenly up and free. Chaos reigned and soldiers fled as the creature tore out of the cave breathing fire and roaring in reply to the dragon call that now echoed across the bay.
Rosa stumbled out onto the beach, heedless to the burns blistering across her arms and her scorched hair.
She watched as the young dragon soared, despite damaged wings and escaped into the ocean sky. She wandered forward, in oblivious relief, and blissfully unaware of the singing arrow that lodged between her shoulders. She’d done what she came to do…the caged dragon was free, as now so was she…
(675 Words inc title)