The Final Flight

A soft glow emanated from below the canopy. Whether it was the reflection of the overhanging moon or something altogether different, this was as of yet unknown. My wings slowed to a rhythmic beating, bringing them in-line with my breathing. A magnificent scene awaited me below. This is the place.

Something had stopped me in my flight, not the pale blue glow that pulsated below but rather a feeling of peace; a feeling that I had arrived at the end of a long journey. My journey. The warm breeze tickled my feathered wings as it brushed past me, the wind was silent tonight. The smell of oak and maple trees carried itself on the gentle air, a whispered scent that reminded me of home. The canopy below me was thick and unyielding, the only point of entry being the rabbit-sized hole from which the budding light shone. As quietly as I could, I swooped down towards the opening. As I passed the clambering branches I felt the air change around me. The night was still down here. Every whisper of the wind was silenced here in the arms of Mother Nature. Nearing the muddy ground below I focused for the first time on my surroundings. A serene calm I had not felt in quite some time found me as I marvelled at the scene before me. A narrow stream ran from my left across to my right in the direction of the now long-forgotten moon. No light penetrated the trees that stood watch above me, yet it wasn’t dark. The blue light that had beckoned me from above was filling this secret garden with iridescent light, warping and changing shade depending on how hard you looked.

Now I was certain. The moon granted no light from its reflection, this light was a magic all of its own. The source of it was impossible to find. It simply filled the entire space from corner to corner as if it was moving of its own accord. It seemed strongest within the waters of the stream I now found myself looking into, from the riverbeds either side. The water entranced me. To begin with, I couldn’t tell why it moved me so, until I realised the sound. There was no sound of rushing water. Instead, the noise that came from the stream was quiet, a hushed melody. It was as if every bird in the sky was singing in perfect chorus in a cacophony of golden notes. This was the sound of something magical. The water ran as far as the light would shine and far off into the darkness beyond. The shadows surrounding this glade were a black canvas that formed a vignette around this near perfect scene. Across the other side of the stream, dewy grass sprawled across the earth, unperturbed by weeds or flowers. Nothing but green as far as my eyes could see. Everything was still, the only life inside this portrait being me. Spaces where insects and bacteria should have lived were instead filled with silence and light. I was alone.

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I had known this place before. The longer I stood listening to the melodic tones that bathed my ears, the more certain I was that this was where I was meant to be. I had been searching for this place my whole life, whether I had been aware of it or not. My reflection in the water at my feet shocked me out of the trance I had found myself in. I’d almost forgotten I was here myself. Azure eyes penetrated the water’s reflection, my feathered wings began to outstretch far beyond either side of me. My features were chiselled and flawlessly defined as they always had been, but somehow, in that moment, they seemed worn and frail. Not true of course, as my body wasn’t granted the sacred gift of growing old. My naked torso still every bit the same as it had been all these many years; hard like marble, but supple and soft as a new-born’s. The markings that enveloped my body fingered their way around my skin, as black as the night that encompassed this place. Those were the only things that had changed, a sign of my true age and tumultuous life. A tattooed black line that wound itself from my neck down and around my torso, ever-growing for every miracle I had granted. Every so often the perfect line was broken and formed a fine ring, a reminder of every life I had taken. All woven together, the tendril-like markings that adorned most of my torso; a map of my life. That which I would be judged upon, at the end. Even now, the tattooed line extended its way from the latest ring on my abdomen, down towards my hip and stopped just above my trouser line. I knew what would come next and yet it still caught me off guard. Suddenly the water below my feet began to swirl, ebbing itself ever closer towards me. Reaching towards my toes and circling around my feet, the liquid was piercing cold to the touch. The white hot burning that followed contrasted the unsuspecting clear water that began to blanket me. Travelling around my feet, wrapping itself around my ankles and upwards, covering my skin. It travelled faster, up my legs and around my posterior, circling towards my front. An invisible and unnatural agony. As it reached my waist-line the water stopped momentarily. For a second my tears betrayed me into thinking it had already reached my face. This is it.

The dark line upon my skin reverberated, making its last journey to meet the sprawling water atop my skin. Those three seconds felt like a thousand lifetimes. Like I was reliving each moment of the past eleven-hundred years all over again. Finally, the two tendrils met, one black and chaotic, the other crystalline and pure. As they connected the surrounding light refracted. Followed by a blinding white flash that pierced the night, so strong it felt like the whole world would have seen it. Perhaps they had. A thunderous roar ripped through the night above the canopy shortly after. As I looked down I noticed my body had changed for the first time since its creation. For it was no longer there. My whole being had been unmasked, radiant and blue-white, all that was left behind was a blinding cascade of light and the two feathered wings that adorned it either side. I felt free for the first time in over a millennia.

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“You have done well Taeithin, and now you have returned” the voice was almost not a voice at all, it felt like it had come from my head. But it was not mine. Around me, the scene had changed, as if my unravelling had burnt away the world around me. A tight grip on my shoulder and the same voice from before returned. “Welcome home, my son”.

In that moment my eyes were the overhanging moon, my wings were the canopy and my being was the magnificent scene that awaited below.

(This is an excerpt from a larger story im working on, and is situated towards the end of the story. But I thought it works as a short little piece that makes you wonder who the protagonist is. It's also just a big excuse to do my favourite thing: descriptive writing!)

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