Pale gold light reflects off the growing puddle of water. The light ripples, shining silk in the darkness.
I fantasize about the puddle one day growing to become a lake. Then an ocean.
Gorging on the forgotten droplets from the city overhead to devour and drown me in my prison below. During the rainy season the puddle grows wide enough that I can touch the chilled waters through the grate. I dip rag ends in to wash a year’s worth of grime away. When the hot summer months come the puddle steams away, untouchable.
The drops were my friends. Sometimes the rippling is the only movement I see for days. Trapped in a pit, bereft of even guards for company. A bucket is lowered at odd intervals from the hole lost in the darkness overhead. Food lowered down is traded for my bucket filled with refuse.
Movement cuts the golden afternoon light. The puddle goes dark. And then the shadow moves on.
I hope it is a bird singing high over the city. Free and alive in a way I will never be again.
Rubbing my bare shoulders against the stone wall, I watch the puddle. The rain goddess is generous this year. I lick chapped, bleeding lips in eager anticipation. Cold, unrationed, water. What a treat!
A few months, yet. A blink of time. For what is time to a person in darkness? I close my eyes, dreaming of the life stolen from me.
Armor clatters against stone.
I sit up, looking around in the familiar gloom for the invader in my private peace.
There! In my puddle! The beautiful golden silk fading to midnight black is filled with the body of a guard. His head, alas, is elsewhere.
Such omens never bode well.
Rope coils down from the blinding light above.
I crush my body against the bars of my cage. Strain to look up. To see. The golden light makes my eyes water.
A blessed, cooling shadow fills the light. Descending. Alighting on the fallen corpse.
A second followed. A third. Four. Five. Ten.
Cowering back in the shadows, I watch the invaders as they drop from the sky. Silence betrays their true nature.
Mages, all. Writhing black body armor constructed of fallen souls and dark sorcery.
Death magic twinkles a spectral white on their fingertips.
Deep inside, a forgotten emotion stirs. Pride, perhaps. Or hope. The evil that created and destroyed me will fall. Freedom will come, in its final form, the dark death of every soul.
The dark army climbs the walls, attacking at the soft center of the enemy.
A woman pauses outside my cage. She tilts her head, yellow eyes glint like my precious puddle of golden silk. Carmine lips turn up in an endearing smile. She holds a single finger to her lips, ordering or begging me for silence.
Then she reaches out with the hand of an angel and touches the bars.
Freedom, in the first form.
She ascends, climbing the treacherous walls with ease.
In front of me is the corpse of the guard in my desecrated puddle.
And a rope.
And a future.