The prisoners grumbled as they threw freshly chopped wood into a loose pile on the ground.
None of them had eaten in days. Their clothes were beginning to wear into nothing, their shoes coming apart at the seams.
All of them glared in malice at the wizard sitting caged in the back of the wagon. He sat against the side of the cage, seemingly without a care in the world.
Dirt didn’t cling to his robe; it was as white as the day they’d first seen him loaded onto the back of the wagon. The same wagon they’d been forced to drag for three days.
Every man present had been forced into this war for merely breathing, the wizard had been forced for his abilities.
Abilities or not, he’d provided them no use at all. Day and night he just sat, unspeaking, unsleeping. He carried nothing, he ate nothing, he just sat.
They’d been given strict instructions not to approach the wizard, but temptation drew them in.
Every day they’d get bolder, get closer. They’d jeer at him and poke his cage with sticks.
“Notice that he doesn’t move as we approach”
said Jerry. He was holding a particularly sharp stick and had grown bolder as the journey grew longer.
Aaron snickered. He’d been too scared to approach the wizard, but was happy to throw stones.
“If we hurled a stone from behind a tree,”
“No-one would be the wiser.”
Jerry poked his teeth with the stick and hissed with glee. Aaron picked up a stone, holding it behind his back, ready for action.
The two men angled their necks to see the wizard better, a move that was soon corrected.
“Get back to work!”
A burly guard belted Jerry against the back of his head, sending him careening to the ground. Aaron yelped and scampered over to the fire.
Jerry crawled to his feet and quickly joined his friend, the two men blowing frantically to get the fire going; trying desperately to lose the attention of the guard.
Before long the enormous guard lost interest, giving the two prisoners the chance they needed to get away.
They snuck behind a giant fern and sat watching the wizard.
He sat in a pure white robe, his legs crossed. His hands were clasped on his lap, his bright green eyes staring forward. He had long white hair that hung against his back, his pointed ears poking through.
It was the ears that riled up the prisoners, ears that matched those of the demons they’d been taught to fear as children.
“Let’s send that demon back to hell”
Jerry proclaimed boldly. Aaron nodded with agreement, feeling a lot less bond than his accomplice seemed to feel.
The two men inched forward hardly daring to breath. They finally came to a rest behind a felled tree only a few feet from the wagon.
Aaron dared to glance over the tree and immediately met the eyes of the wizard.
The wizard had turned and was now looking Aaron dead in the eyes. Aaron felt a deep shiver run down the entire length of his body.
Aaron gasped and ducked back down, Jerry slapped him.
Aaron moved so that he was close to Jerry’s ear,
“He looked at me.”
Jerry inched his face up and looked over the tree at the wagon. The wizard was sat facing the opposite direction. Jerry slapped Aaron again.
“You’re seeing things you idiot. He’s been facing the other way for three freaking days”
Aaron thought about it. He thought about the deep green eyes that had stared through his soul and sent a shiver through his body. He reached up his finger and without thinking, bit down hard.
“What the hell are you doing? If you’re going insane I’m staying the hell away from you.”
Aaron looked down at his bleeding finger. He didn’t really know why he’d done that. He stared at the stone still in his hand, the crimson blood soaking the stone and dripping onto the soil beneath.
Aaron stared into Jerry’s eyes; then for a moment - time stood still.
Jerry felt a sensation like warm water rushing down his body, soaking him from his skin to his bones.
Jerry took the blood-soaked stone from Aaron.
He pulled it out of Aarons hand with a hard yank. He then stood up, reached back and pelted it at the wagon as hard as he could.
The stone flew through the air, whistled past the guard and struck the wagon an inch from the wood with a quiet THUD.
The stone hung in the air, suspended by an unknown force just off the surface of the wagon.
The blood covering the stone quickly evaporated with a soft hissing noise, like air escaping a balloon.
Suddenly with an ear-piecing SMASH an invisible surface disintegrated like sand onto the ground surrounding the wagon. The stone turned white like light and vanished.
In less than a second, the wizard stood to his feet, pushing the bars of the cage aside like butter. He stretched out his hand towards the fire, a glow illuminating the tips of his fingers.
The fire that was happily dancing on the chopped wood was suddenly ripped through the air and surrounded the wizard, lifting him high into the sky like wings.
The sight was unlike anything the prisoners had ever seen. They sat down flabbergasted, unable to comprehend the sight of this robed man taking flight with wings made of fire.
The awe-inspiring event only lasted a few seconds before the guard stepped forward with his black leather whip.
Bracing himself with a strong stance, the guard flung his whip into the air.
He swung the leather around his head, then hurled the end of the whip through the air - at the wizard.
With a CRACK the whip struck the wizard in his shin. The fire immediately blew out, the wizard fell out of the air.
As he fell, the wizard raised his hands, willing the fire to re-ignite.
The fire fought to aid the wizard, wind whizzing past and sending glowing embers in every direction. The fire sparked and flickered around his waste, working as hard as it could to save him.
The guard swung his whip around his head once again, then threw it into the air, this time wrapping the whip around the waste of the wizard.
Once the whip was securely wrapped around the wizard, he held the handle firmly with two hands and pulled the magical being back to earth, landing him into the firewood with an enormous CRASH.
The guard turned and glared daggers at Jerry and Aaron. There would be hell to pay.