This is my blog (now there is a surprise!). I will be sticking in it poetry, prose, random musings, things that take my fancy and more than likely lots of pictures of cats. I hope you find something to amuse and/or interest you here.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Taking Flight

 I wrote this for a picture inspired story contest.  I can't include the picture due to copywites but I hope the story stands alone.  The maximum word count was to be 1500 words.

Third row, seventh column; being careful to tread only on the paved squares, she found her assigned place, and stood bare foot on the bare soil.

No full ceremony with row after row of brethren linking, today Tyrr was here alone. The fresh tattoos of her rank in the brethren still smarted in the chill air. Today she must link and find her own answer; she must learn her name. In the dormitory, her fellow fledglings would be waiting their turn, rehearsing the correct procedures over and over in their heads, as she had. In the refectory, the brethren were waiting, greeting each successful initiate and welcoming them to full status. A joyful party she longed to join.

Gradually, she brought her breathing under control, slowed her racing heart and focused on what she was here to achieve. Piece by piece, Tyrr filled in the image in her mind. There, the tree of knowledge. Overhead, the birds, messengers of the air. Her breathing became slow and rhythmic, and she forgot the cold soil beneath her feet, the sting in her face and shoulders, the restless stir of the wind.

The image in her mind was so real she almost flinched as the bird brushed past her face. It was right, it was good. Relaxation and a sense of purpose flowed with her breathing.

Then there was a second layer to the image. A building, a great hall shimmered in her sight, gradually solidifying until the tree and the birds were gone. Tyrr was surrounded by solid stone.

Moving without moving, she passed grand statues, grave, impartial figures which appeared to by judging her. This was not under her control, this movement, this vision. Tyrr thought she should be afraid but her emotions were numbed, blanketed by a soothing calm. She was not here to do but to see and learn.

Through more archways she moved, then into a hall. The stone was no longer grey but a luminous, soft gold. The sourceless light focused on the raised dais and the lectern standing as its centre.

Her feelings flooded back. Tyrr shook with the terror and awe that ricocheted through her soul. Her movements were under her control again. She quivered with the urge to flee, to run from all this. This was not what she had been taught to expect.
The tree of knowledge, yes. The birds, yes. Even the bird who had skimmed her face, yes. That bird should have landed, should have whispered her name. But this? This was terror. Unknown and unasked for. By now, she should have been Tyrr no longer. She should have been back in the refectory, feasting and celebrating her new status with her friends and fellows. Not here, not in this unknown hall. Not crushed under this terrible weight of foreboding.


It wasn't a voice, this command from nowhere. It filled her with knowing yet it was knowledge beyond her grasp, hovering at the edge of her mind like a forgotten memory.


The force of it nearly dropped Tyrr to her knees. What was the choice she must make? Grasping her tattered courage, Tyrr took a deep, ragged, cleansing breath to steady herself. Turning her thoughts back into herself, working to regain control. After a brief fight with her inner demons she brought her attention back to the hall in which she stood, calmer and more in control, if no less afraid.


The feeling was gentler, more approving. The fear lessened a shade.


No need to ask what. Tyrr moved with a firm, slow step towards the dais. The stone steps were cool and smooth under her bare feet and she wondered now who had trodden here before her. Whose feet had worn these smooth depressions in the stone?

The light thickened around her as she moved towards the lectern. The glow became blinding in its intensity, but Tyrr knew she must not shade her eyes. She forced her way through the solidifying air. On the lectern in front of her was an open book. The writing was the old script, with illuminated lettering so ornate the words could be lost in the elaborate pictures.


It was clear Tyrr was to read aloud.

Tyrr felt the air swallow her words. She had projected them to ring off these stone walls yet they seemed to vanish as she spoke them, leaving her with no memory of what she had read. The book looked the same and yet the words could no longer be read, they held no meaning.

'So be it.'

This time, the feeling came as regret; sad yet resolute.

'It is time.'

And the bird landed on her shoulder, there by the tree of knowledge. The stone halls, a dreamlike memory, were gone, leaving her doubting what she had seen. The bird's beak parted and it whispered a word.


Her name. She was successful. She was a full initiate.

Tathinal stepped from the soil and walked towards the refectory. Reaching the entrance, she returned her mentor's silent, smiling greeting. They entered the preparation room together and Tathinal relished the soothing touch of the warm water as her mentor helped her wash. A smile so wide it made her face hurt came as she was robed for the first time as an initiate, fledgling no longer. Now nothing could remove her from the brethren. No act could change her status. Oh yes, there could still be punishment for transgressions, and she was still one of the lowliest of the low within the brethren, but her status in the world was set.

Her mentor indicated that she was ready and, with a waved arm and smiling bow, ushered her into the refectory. Time for her first public announcement. For a split second her poise deserted her and her knees trembled. Ridiculous. Sternly she regained control. All she had to do was say her name.

'My name is Tathinal'

Silently, she rehearsed it in her head. Simple. Four words. So why this sudden fear?

At her mentor's questioning gaze she shrugged, smiling wryly. Her mentor repeated his earlier gesture with a reassuring grin. He had seen all types of reactions to this moment, she guessed.

The swirling, laughing group paused, turning to look at her as the gong's soft chime announced her entrance.

Tathinal stood tall and faced the assembly. Into the welcoming silence she spoke so that all could hear. The words that came from her lips were words she did not remember; words she had said once before, standing at a lectern in another silent, expectant room.

'Behold, I am come. I am the destroyer, the changer, the reaper and the one who sows. I will bring down and raise up. I will remove and replace. I am the past and the future, the present will fear me. All things will be done anew. All endings will come and all beginnings start. I bring terror and destruction; there will be no peace until my work is done. Do not fear me, for I must be. My name is Tathinal, the necessary one.'

In silence, they turned away from her, forming into ranks.  The Hawkmaster moved to face her, bowed, then took his place at the head if the files.  It was her only acknowledgement.  The Brethren followed him out through the arched doorway, out of the building.

As the marched to the sacred ground, the last of the fledglings, herded by their mentors, stumbled to join them.

The deathly hush continued as the hallowed spaces were filled. Each of the brethren moving to their place with solemn deliberation, linking with practiced ease. 

Tathinal walked along the diagonals, not stepping on the sacred earth, lightly touching each person.

Finally she returned to where the Fledglings were huddled in uncertainty.  

‘Go.  You have no place in this.  Yours is a beginning not an ending.  Start it now.  Leave.’

They stared back at her in blank incomprehension.


Her shout broke the spell and they ran.  She did not look where they went but moved to stand in the space she had occupied earlier.   Bowing her head, she linked with her Brethren.

Behind the fleeing youngsters, Fledglings no longer, flames exploded outward; engulfing the sacred ground.  Greasy smoke rose skyward, thickening into the form of great black crows. 

The Brethren flew.


  1. Have now read this twice, and fully intend to read it a few more times. I love the imagery and the sense of anticipation and potential. Again, it is a short story with the promise of much more either from the reader or from the author......LOVE IT!!!
    Penny you have a habit of disrupting my planned reading for the evening as your writing tends to be exactly what I want to read :).