I chose the image of Edinburgh Castle for my twenty-minute sprint this week.
Sonja crept along the edge of the wall. Every few feet she paused to listen. She could hear the patrol making it’s rounds above her. As long as their steps remained slow and regular it was unlikely they’d noticed she was gone. If they were looking for her there would be running.
She moved a few more feet and paused again. She heard voices. There were guards right above her.
“I don’t see the point,” a woman said.
“We’re getting paid, who cares why?” a man replied.
“It just seems like such a waste,” the woman answered. “Fifteen of us at all times just for one prisoner.”
Sonja crept forward a few more steps. If they were talking and dismissive, maybe this really was going to work.
“One very important prisoner,” the man reminded his fellow guard. “You remember what they told us, don’t you?”
“I’m not sure I believe in any of that stuff,” the woman replied.
Sonja crept forward again, coming to the spot where the wall met the living rock. She needed the guards to move away. It was too risky with them so close.
“Believe it or not, they do,” the man said. “And if they believe, you bet your ass we’ll be in for it if we don’t do our job.”
“Whatever,” the woman replied. “I don’t shirk,” she added. “It’s time to check the south wall.”
“You want windows or exterior tonight?” the man asked.
“Windows,” the woman replied, their voices already getting quieter.
Sonja pressed herself against the rock at the base of the wall. This was her only chance at this. They were moving away, but they were also about to find an open window and raise the alarm.
Sonja gripped the rock and pressed her foot against the wall and slowly managed to inch her way up onto the top of the rocky ledge along the edge of the wall. She had to stay crouched to not be visible from the arrow slits in the wall above, so she inched forward carefully.
She heard the shout when the woman found the open window. Scrambling forward as fast as she could in her crouch, she made it to the corner, where the rock face dropped precipitously and the next portion of wall was flush with the sloping edge. She glanced back at the old castle they’d turned into her personal prison.
Every light in the place was on, but she was still in shadow. She prayed that she had enough time.
Sonja closed her eyes and sought her magic. It had been so long since she’d been able to let it out. So long since she’d been her true self. It took a heart-pounding moment before her magic answered her.
The magic boiled out of her in a rush, transforming her body as it enveloped her in flames.
Sonja spread her wings, fighting every instinct she had to keep from crying out in joy as she let herself fall off the cliff.
The wind caught her, the air around her wings lifting her up as she soared out over the city. She headed straight for the most densely populated area. The lights there would help her hide.
Anna looked out over the wall as they ran back toward the east end of the castle.
“Gods defend us,” she gasped, coming up short at the east wall.
There it was. The phoenix she didn’t think she believed in.
“She’s headed for the city!” Anna cried, unable to look away from the beauty of the giant bird soaring out away from the castle.
“Bring it down!” their commander yelled from somewhere behind her.
Anna drew her weapon as her partner came up beside her, his already drawn.
Sighting carefully Anna’s finger touched the trigger, but she couldn’t make herself fire on such a beautiful creature.
Her partner’s rifle went off and Anna held her breath, still tracking the phoenix, so she saw it dip one wing, her partner’s shot missing completely.
Anna fired, and watched the majestic creature dodge her shot as well.