Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Caladria's Captivity

I came across a mythical creature that I never knew anything about this past week and I was assigned with writing a short story about it.  I chose the Caladrius.  The short story was only meant to be about 2-4 pages, but I of course had issues with that.  As a result I ended up ending the story more abruptly than planned, and I also ended up with a new character that I had never thought about whilst writing.  Either way it was an interesting story to write, and I wanted to share it's unfinished portion with my readers!  Please let me know what you think.

Caladria's Captivity
Written By: Brittany L. McCann
June 7, 2015

The sun lazily dropped down from the sky, projecting orange hues along the castle walls as it steadily fell.  Tiptoeing down from the magnificent spires of the outer wall and cascading down the stonework to a square-cut window.  Just inside the square-cut hole in the wall, sat a beautifully ornate cage.  A cage larger than one might expect for such a small creature standing at a little over a foot tall.  The cage was sitting in a beautifully landscaped garden and part of a shallow pond sat underneath the cage.  With the orange light pouring in, the creature took on the orange hue with her otherwise brilliant white plume.  Her keen eyes foretold more than anyone might guess.  The creature’s name was Caladria and she was a beautiful, petite, snowy white bird. 
            Caladria had been captured just a few days earlier, previously living in shallow waters beneath a waterfall.  The water under her waterfall was as clear as a window into the fish, rocks and plants that could be seen underneath its surface.  Caladria belonged to the kind and healing goddess Aceso.   Aceso was a mostly forgotten granddaughter of Apollo that chose to live amongst the humans in the guise of an herbal healing witch.  She was frequented by soldiers who needed healing of wounds, and was also able to work her magic to move along the cure of an illness.  Caladria’s brother Caladrius was stolen a couple of years earlier and she was never able to forget the other half of herself. 
            Caladria possessed the unique power of healing.  Sitting in her cage, she thought that this must have been the sinister reason that her brother Caladrius had been captured by the King of the East.  She always wondered if it was the gossiping nature of the soldiers, whom Aceso healed, that had lead the king to somehow learn of her brother’s healing ability.  Aceso had raised her and her brother from the moment they were hatched, passing on her mystical teaching in how to become great healers.  The secret of her powers lie in the power of the spirit, or aura of all living things.  Caladria was able to work with the energy of a person.  If a person was mortally sick, she would sense it immediately and look away from them so as not to bring the sickness unto her own energy.  However, if the sickness was not mortal, she had the ability to take out any dark or affected energy from the person, replacing it instead with streams of green healing energy.  The green energy would reconnect the person to the Earth and ground them, not unlike the roots of a tree.  The energy that she coaxed out of a person would flow into her own lithe bird body starting at the beak and she would then release it into the atmosphere in pieces to disperse into nothing.  Thus, eliminating the sickness that had been inhabiting the energy of a person and affecting their health. 
            As a newly caged bird, Caladria was standing more still than normal, as if she were holding her breath.  In reality she was determining the patterns of her captive and how best to put together her escape plan.  Caladria was not meant for the life of a caged bird.  She was meant to be the great and powerful assistant and healing companion of her goddess mother Aceso.  She simmered with anger under her feathers, but quickly regained composure with some preening to keep up the sheen of her white plumage.  She knew that she would not be able to escape this prison unless she was level headed about it. 
            Her perceptive inky black eyes took in the large garden where her cage was set up.  There was a man-made waterfall that had sparking stones from the colors of the rainbow.  The overflow went into a shallow pond that came up to her knee joint.  She would not be able to swim under the cage to escape.  The bars of the cage were beautifully ornate, but strategically placed close enough together that she would not be able to fit more than her head through the space between them.  There was an intricate lock on the small door opening that was positioned in a way that she would not be able to pick at it with her beak from the inside.  An immense sadness at her state of captivity filled her heart.  She found herself singing a sad song, almost beyond her control. 
            The sorrowful song filled the garden, travelling through the air and into the king’s quarters.  One of the laundry servants, Isla stopped her washing and took in the sorrowful song of the little white bird.  She had felt pity upon its arrival and also distressed at its captivity.  Isla felt that something so beautiful should not be owned by anyone; something so wild and beautiful should instead live happy and free.  She had heard rumors from the cooks about the bird’s healing abilities and was curious about the validity of such rumors.  Isla had been born a servant and had never complained of her duties.  However, her mother had recently taken ill, and no charms or healers had been able to help her.  Rumors existed of a medicine woman that lived in the woods, but Isla’s duties did not permit her the time to travel so far and with her ill mother.   Isla had been plotting a reason to be in the garden for an entire day since she had heard of the bird’s rumored healing abilities.  She had no idea how to test these rumors, but she knew that she must find out the truth for the sake of her mother. 
            During the lunchtime feast preparations, one of the head mother servants came for Isla.  She was a plump, greying woman with a nasty temper.  Isla immediately snapped to attention with the order to fetch fresh flowers from the garden, informing her that the garden servant had fallen ill that morning.  Isla had to bite the inside of her lip to keep a straight face as the joy of her good fortune washed over her.  She briskly walked towards the garden entrance from the castle, her skirt swishing behind her. 
             As Caladria was plotting various ways to escape, a young woman appeared in her line of sight.  The woman was walking quickly but with an aura of happiness that Caladria had not encountered since become a slave to this castle.  The woman had milky white skin and sky blue eyes, with wisps of chestnut brown hair flowing behind her.  Her scarlet colored dress lit up the garden path that was lined with more flowers than Caladria had ever seen in one place.  Caladria’s sense of positive energy increased her own happiness, in hopes of finding an ally for freedom. 
            The woman almost walked right up to Caladria’s cage, but then seemed to change her mind and turn towards a path of blue flowers.  Caladria could see the woman peering through the flowers at her, just as she was doing in return.  Her white head cocked to the left to get a better look at the woman and the woman’s face lit up with a smile, followed by laughter.  Caladria’s happiness burst out of her in a happy tune and the startled woman suddenly turned away as if to look for intruders to the garden. 
            As soon as Isla entered the garden she was immediately drawn towards the cage of the white bird.  As she walked as fast as she could without breaking into a run, she suddenly remembered her reason for being in the garden in the first place and diverted down the path of the blue flowers.  While she picked the most pleasing aromatic flowers she could find around her, she couldn’t seem to take her eyes off the bird.  Although its entire body was a shimmering white, the eyes were black as coal and seemed to hold the soul of the universe within their depths.  Isla immediately knew that the rumors were true, she could feel it inside her very soul.  As she was staring deeply at the bird, it suddenly cocked its head in a silly manner that made Isla burst out with laughter.  At the sound of her laughter the bird broke out into a beautiful song, and Isla knew it was time for her to go back into the castle with the flowers, lest she be caught doing other than her duty. 
            The quick departure of the young woman brought Caladria’s happy song to a strangling stop.  Despair began to take over, as Caladria busied herself with the meditating act of preening once again. 
            For over a week, the young woman snuck into the garden late at night to just sit next to the white bird.  Caladria did not feel as alone with the presence of the young woman, and somehow knew that this was her avenue of escape.  She could feel it in her wings and her small bird bones that this woman must have been sent by her goddess Aceso to save her from a life of slavery to this lonely garden.  Caladria did not know how to speak to the woman, but she knew that they were somehow bonded.  Words are never necessary in the heart of true friendship. 
            Ten days had passed since the young woman first entered into the garden where Caladria was held and the sunrise on this particular morning was filled with foreboding and dread for Caladria.  She somehow felt fearful without knowing why.  She sunbconciously preened herself to calm her nerves and almost gave herself a small bald spot under her wing.  Quickly she ruffled the white feathers to cover any evidence of her nervous tendency. 
            Shortly after the rising of the sun was complete, Caladria noticed that there were guards entering the garden from the castle entrance.  Two of them silently appeared at the entrance and stood like ceremonial sentinels.  Within minutes another ten guards, all dressed in the same glinting silver armor came to line the path at equal distances leading up to Caladria’s cage.  Not long after, a man in luxurious furs was slowly carried out from the entrance, painfully slow in making his way closer to the cage.
            From the castle window Isla looked on in panic as the king made he was to be placed before the white bird she had come to know as her only friend in the castle.  She knew that today would be the day of his healing, and if rumors were true, his sickness was past the help of any force of nature.  Isla no longer cared if the bird was the only option in saving her mother; she knew that she would have to save her new feathered friend somehow.  The rumors she had heard also foretold of the bird’s refusal to look at someone with an incurable illness.  With a resolute sturdiness to her steps, she quickly made her way towards the kitchen section of the castle. 
            Caladria’s interest was short lived as the fur-clothed man neared her cage.  She could tell that he was a man of stature, likely the king, but she knew more than that about this man.  His energy oozed the blackness of disease and she moved to the furthest corner of her cage away from the approaching men.  She stuck her beak out of the cage towards the castle wall and away from the man that was being brought before her to inhale the clear fresh air.  She knew within her soul that this man was beyond her saving. 
            The men closed the distance quickly without her watching them and a tall sturdy man in a long robe appeared before her without her knowledge as she tried to block out the suffocating sickness behind her.  Before she knew it, he had clasped a small loop around her head of leather that was meant to control her and act as a leash.  The man then passed the lead to a guard and commanded him to enter Caladria’s cage.  
            Before now Caladria had longed for the lock on her cage to be opened, but now her bird legs shook with fear and she puffed up her feathers to appear more threatening.  The guard gruffly laughed at her attempt and she saw nothing but cold steel in his eyes.  He reached further into her cage to loop the leather leash through the cage, allowing him the ability to yank on her small white head.  Yanking harder and harder left Caladria with a pain that she had never felt, even in her initial capture. 
            Caladria quickly realized that the guard meant to force her to look at the king man, and she snapper her black eyes shut as tightly as she could.  The guard grabbed her small body forcefully, squeezing her wings into her body and she squawked out a cry of pain.  Slowly the garden filled with an eerie song of death.  Caladria put her entire soul into the song to buy her time to get away from the sickness.  If she were forced to look upon one meant for death than it would mean her own demise as well.  Just as she thought she could not hold out any longer, shouts arose from the castle. 
            The smell of smoke slowly wound its way to her beak and the guards made sounds of panic and their armor clanged together with the sounds of movement.  Caladria still refused to open her eyes for the sickness was still dangerously near her own life force.  As the smoke grew stronger, she could sense the departure of all but the remaining guard that was holding tight onto her.  Caladria knew that she could not hold out for much longer as she would either have to open her eyes or have her neck broken from the force of the guard.
            A familiar swish-swish sound lightly carried through the shouts, cries and the smell of smoke.  Caladria sensed a friend was near and she sent out a coo of encouragement.  The guard was surprised by the noise from the bird and was late to look up as a long object came down on his head.  Caladria wasn’t sure what happened but suddenly she was whooshing towards the ground; with a hard knock to the cobblestone garden path she finally felt the grip loosen on her wings. 
            Tentatively, Caladria risked a peek at her savior and saw it to truly be the young woman from her nightly visits.  She sang a song of thanks as she tried to take flight and was quickly yanked back by the rope around her neck with the sneer of a guard that wanted feathers plucked from his next meal.  The young woman cried out in surprise and brought the long object down on the leash line before the guard could get his hands on her. 
            Caladria shakily took to the sky without a good sense of balance from the pressure she had felt on her wings.  She allowed herself to look down at the young woman and knew that there was no way for her to survive.  Without thinking, Caladria took the essence of the energy of the king and slowly sucked it towards herself in a risky maneuver.  She was barely successful in gauging the distance and was able to merge the sickness into the energy of the guard as he grabbed for the young woman’s skirts. 
            The sickness was fast acting and Caladria sped up the pace with her own energy, perching on the top of the castle wall as she found herself breathless.  She knew that the energy she had expeneded would not allow her to fly home for quite a while, yet she could not risk the young woman’s life.  Being able to see the woman run from the guard and out of the garden filled her with a sense of duty fulfilled. 
            She tried to take flight again, but was too late as realization of the depth of her pain and exhaustion hit her and she haphazardly fell down the tall castle wall.  She was so close to her freedom, she was even on the right side of the wall, but somehow she knew that she would not survive a fall from so far, without anything to catch her on the stony path below. 
            Caladria closed her eyes to feel the air rushing around her small feathers and sang a song of goodbye.  She knew the ground would be rapidly approaching and she instinctively braced herself for the impact.  Motherly hands somehow suddenly snatched her out of the air.  Caladria opened her black eyes and found herself peering up into the eyes of her goddess.  

**I do not own the rights to the photos, I am just borrowing them to show a visual representation of how the bird may look in real life

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