The forest was beautiful. The lush green and sounds of thousands of small animals made the forest itself almost feel alive. The few rays of sun that penetrated the thick foliage danced on the ground, as if they were performing before me. The smell was intoxicating with its richness. But I didn’t notice any of this. All I could notice was the terrible pain. As it took over me, my mind drifted back to the circumstances that brought me here.
Our race took great pride in our mastery of the sky. It is told that Lilendra, Mistress of the Winds entrusted or race with the mastery of the heavens, to defend and protect, elevated high above the mundane races who have never ridden the winds, heard the music of the spheres or witnessed a sun rise in its full glory. But the truth was, that our race was dying. Our grand cities on the clouds could no longer sustain themselves without the resources the surface had to offer. My brother was the first to understand that. He argued that we must return to the surface, or we would not survive the next winter. He was called a dreamer, a madman. They said that our wings would become entangled in the foliage, that we could never pass through. To that my brother responded we should shed our wings, and become as the other races. Now they no longer called him a madman. They called him a traitor and a heretic.
In the middle of the night, they came, with clubs and torches. As my brother tried to calm them down, they beat him. As he begged for his life, they beat him. They beat him till nothing was left of him but a red pulp of broken bones. “You like the forest so much?” they asked, “then why don’t you go there!” they said as they tied my wings together and threw me over the edge, down at the trees.
Sharp branches tore through me flesh as I fell, until I was finally stuck, my wings torn in numerous places, safely impaled on the branches. I screamed with pain as mercifully my consciousness drifted away.
But the will to live prevailed. I recalled what my brother said about shedding our wings and walking on out own two feet, like the other races. We never spoke about this, but I was sure my brother envisioned clean surgery rooms and months of slow healing. Neither were luxuries I could afford right now. My hand found the knife on my belt, the ceremonial crystal knife I was given when I came of age to signify Lilendra’s watchful eye over those who carry the blade in her name. I stuck the knife right above my shoulder blade, and passed out once more. When I regained my senses, I slowly and painfully started moving it across muscles, tendons and bones, painfully freeing myself from the prison that was once my wings. I don’t know how many times I blacked out in the process or how many painful hours it took me, but I finally cut enough of my wings to allow gravity to take its course. A sheering pain shot through my body as the final remains of my wings tore and I was sent crushing to the ground.
After what seemed like an eternity of pain, I regained enough of my senses to try and stand. Oh, how vain we were. To think that after a millennia of effortless flight through the heavens our legs could actually support us. My legs buckled under me, and I fell. Slowly, I began pulling myself forward using my hands, crawling on the ground like the lowest maggot. Towards what, or what I would when I got there, I did not know. The only thing I knew is that if I stopped moving for just one second, I would not find the strength to start moving again.