Monday, May 02, 2005

vignette: let her pale light in

Glorious rose from her fiery nest within the heart of St. Catherine’s Volcano like an arrow loosed by mythical archer, a single beat of her rose-tinted wings carrying her massive frame high into the cloudless sky, leaving behind a trail of crimson flames that burned for the briefest of moments. At the point when the air began to thin, the dragon arced herself gracefully, extending her wings to level herself, taking a moment to look at the world that had suddenly become smaller to her eyes, before flipping over to best view the velvet expanse that unfolded beyond the moon.

Where other dragons eschewed heights, rarely breaking the invisible demarcation of the higher atmosphere, Glorious reveled in flight. There was always a part of her that longed to break the relentless embrace of the world and soar to the stars, those glimmering lights that promised wonder and secrets yet to be discovered.

“There is nothing beyond this sphere,” Garrulous told her once too often. “The voices of the stars that call you are figments of your mind's eye. There is nothing but death out there, yes, even for us.”

Glorious suppressed a sigh, imagining the wince that accompanied Garrulous’ tired stentorian tone. No doubt he would shake his old azure head, expel the smallest iota of electricity from his nostrils and resign himself to the stubbornness of youth, completely unsurprised that she flew as high as she could yet again.

“There is nothing up there,” Garrulous told her. “There is nothing beyond Luna but trackless space, an endless ocean of emptiness.”

“But how do you know?” Glorious had asked him on more than one occasion. “How can anyone know?”

“Trust in the evidence of your senses,” Garrulous had told her curtly, suspecting that
Glorious trusted more in the evidence of her heart.

The first time that Glorious broke the world’s atmosphere, she almost died. The dragon found herself abruptly without air – air for her wings to push against, air for her lungs to breathe. She became aware that she was suffocating mere moments after she experienced the brutal cold of the void between the world and Luna, a cold unlike anything she had ever felt in her three hundred years of existence. An image flashed in her mind, of dragon-shaped ice drifting aimlessly in orbit. Her resulting panicked motions somehow brought her back to the thinnest edge of the sky and Glorious fell to the sea, her frozen wings unable to correct her flight, her lungs greedily gorging on sweet air before spitting out seawater. She did not think that she would drown, for there was nothing in the world that could kill a dragon, but for a moment, while she was transfixed by the void, she thought it was the end.

It was Resplendent who found her and raised her, with little gentleness, from the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Resplendent, who was two generations her senior and a stranger to frivolity, whose talons left scars where he held her. He waited until Glorious regained her senses and watched in silence as she tortuously recovered her balance.

“Thank you,” Glorious said, fighting the nausea that threatened to overwhelm her. “I could have saved myse-“

“You are a fool,” Resplendent said, before extending his iridescent wings and taking flight. “Get yourself home before someone else sees you.”


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