Swimming on the Winds

The wind felt good under my wings. It always did. It was almost as if I was truly free.

My feathers were ruffling both from the breeze of my movement as well as from the updraft that I had managed to catch a lift on. I didn't have to move a muscle…just ride the updraft up to the roof of the sky, leaving all my troubles behind.

When I was in a dream, anyway. If I could have spat, I would have.

I looked upwards, my black eyes scanning it for anything that might be interesting, but, as usual, there was nothing there of interest. A cloud that reminded me of a dragon's rear, but nothing that would keep my attention for more than a few minutes.

Even though I was not born a wind serpent, I still shared their general quality of lacking a long attention span.

My gaze was wandering like crazy, but it one knew anything about wind serpents at all, then it would be no wonder. Normal snakes have incredibly poor eyesight: they rely on scent and heat and vibrations to find their prey, not primitively following them with their eyes. However, flight needs eyesight in order to function correctly, so my body lacked their ability to sense heat, and my vibration-sensing is rather dull compared to those of normal snakes.

But, unlike normal snakes, I was a scavenger, not a hunter.

I sighed as best I could with a non-movable lip and pin-like teeth. Below me, perhaps miles, I could see a human kingdom. Up on its towers there were the emblems of Pegasai, the white and black colorations of the winged horse visible even from my height. The castle walls were spread in a triangular formation, with outposts at even intervals so that the entire complex looked like a hexagon or a six-pointed star. For anyone foolish enough to attack it, it was a suicide, since all points of fire were covered on all sides. All in all, it was a brilliant design for any warring kingdom.

My design…

I tilted my emerald wings, my tufted tail following suit. My body rotated off the updraft that I had been riding for some time now, and I pumped my wings, which had ironically fallen asleep, to get the blood flowing again. My descent was a slow and lethargic one, though it passed faster than I could blink. I could begin to make out the outlines of the individual bricks now, and the vague blurs of people strewn about the castle walls also became apparent as well.

It was here that I veered off slightly, heading towards the nearby forest. Humans didn't take well to creatures just dropping in without warning.

"Humans"? Did I just think that?

I shook the thought out of my head. This was probably going to be a suicide rout, I knew that. But I had to do this, or I would go insane.

The very tops of the trees whisked past my head, and I folded my wings, dipping into the green sea of foliage. I held out my tail, and snagged a branch.

I bounced for a moment, waiting for my momentum to stop. Too much speed that time, I had folded my wings too early. Cursing mentally, I coiled up around the branch, working my tail muscles to try to get the kinks out of the vertebrae.

My tongue flicked in and out a few times. No woodland creature would attack me, for it was some instinctual feeling to avoid me. Perhaps it was the fact that I was poisonous, or because I was just such a rare oddity. Who knew?

It was probably just the same instinct that caused me to constantly check for danger.

I snorted, a strange sound coming from a snake's nose. I needed to get this done. I had to know…

My grip around the branch slackened somewhat, and I swung down, hanging by my tail.

My tongue flicked one last time, and I let go, plunging into the dark depths of the forest. I opened my wings, slowing my descent greatly, then flapped, getting some air moving.

It was always at times like this that I felt like I was swimming rather than flying. The dense, muggy air of this forest was so thick that you could probably cut it with a sword…not like that would accomplish anything, but one would understand what I mean.

I could feel the waves of air reverberate down my wings and then to the nearby trees and back. There was no feeling quite like it, and for a moment I felt free again, despite almost flying into 4 trees consecutively.

I quickly shunned the idea from my thoughts. It was that type of thinking that had got me in this mess…

I continued to flap, flying in one direction, tongue flicking. For a moment I glided through the trees, a few squirrels staring quizzically at me as I went past. They would have made easy meals, but I paid them no heed. This had to be done, whether it killed me or not.

Soon the castle wall was in sight, the clichéd moat flowing in a steady stream towards the lake.

Another invention of my design, however uninspiring it might have been.

I swooped over it, the guards taking no notice of something so small going so fast. If they had seen me, my silhouette would have looked like a bird or something.

Not like I was dangerous to them, anyways.

My underbelly scales almost scraped the top of the wall, an indication that I was getting careless, but once again I paid it no heed. I had to know if they were still here.

There was a tree that appeared before me, and I landed in it, incredibly tired from what should have been a trivial flight. People were less than 15 feet away from me now, and had they looked up they probably would have seen me, but, as usual, they were too indulged in their own processes to really care about what was going on.

I zipped from tree to tree, staying unnoticed throughout my journey. My eyes were scanning almost frantically now. Where…?

I was there.

A sigh of relief would have escaped my lips had I been human. I could see them, all three of them.

Taran, a little taller now, was growing into a find young man. His chocolate hair was somewhat longer than what it had been, his blond/gold eyes shining in the afternoon sun. Although his face reflected annoyance at the work that he was currently doing, (something having to do with moving some large stones around, I couldn't really tell,) he still sparked something inside of me.

This feeling was only spurred further when I saw Lynne sitting on an old lump of rubble that had turned into a child's chair. She was wearing her mother's dress, still too large for her, but it was so cute that I could hardly stay still. Her freckles that were scattered about her face were only accentuated by her green eyes and fiery red hair.

My heart was swelling so much that I didn't think I could feel anything else at that moment but the feeling that a parent feels when they look at their children. It was the kind of feeling that a father gets when he can tell their child "I love you and I'm proud of you." A single tear started to fall down my scaly face. I didn't think I could feel any more proud and loving than I did at that moment…

Then I saw her.

My wife, Anaya, came into view, and instantly I melted. The sun shone across her face like candlelight across a bowl of water, glimmering and shining for all to see, a face that even the gods above would admire, though not envy. She was not perfect, but gazing into her feathery blue eyes was looking into the purest of souls, a simple candle in an endless night. She was calling out to Taran and Lynne at that moment, an angelic voice unaffected by age.

Then, from behind, a set of arms snaked around her waist, and she playfully yelped in surprise. He was tall, a man far more masculine than I had ever hoped to be. His long dark hair fell in cascades about his face and cheeks, Anaya punched him playfully.

It was then that I knew what it was like to have my heart shatter.

The pain was gut wrenching, tearing up and down my long body as my heart yelled and screamed in words that would never be heard to the world. My body lashed for a moment, and then I laid still.

A few moments passed, and my unblinking eyes could do nothing but watch how my family turned towards this new man who had taken my place, laughing all the way. My heart couldn't take it any more, I had to turn away.

The first thing that I saw was a hand.

I recoiled in surprise at first, but then relaxed.

"Argadra." I said simply.

The teenager smiled, her raven hair waving slightly in the breeze over her milk-white skin.

"Current, I was getting worried…" Her brown eyes looked me over, then down at the people below.

"Ah. Come to see paths not taken?"

I nodded slowly. I had been a fool then…I had always been such a damned fool…

She offered out her hand again, and I sighed, slinking up her forearm to my usual spot wrapped around her elbow.

"I'm always here, you know." She said. There was no hurt or anger in the voice. It was a calm, reassuring tone that caused me to emotionally smile.

"I know. Thank you."

I knew that she was smiling: I didn't have to see it. There was the familiar purple light of one of her portals, presumably to take us back to her home on the other side of the forest.

With one last look, I tore myself away from the view of my previous life. Argadra, though she had said nothing, was right. That was my previous life…there was nothing that could be done about it now.

My breath came out in a long exasperated breath, and she patted my crest of feathers on my head gently, before we both disappeared into the purple void, leaving behind everything I had known and loved forever.

They had their own lives to live. Just as I was to live out my days swimming on the winds.