She stood in the flames and looked at all the villagers that surrounded her fire.
She saw their fear and wonder clearly displayed on their faces. One day… One day they would
She moved out of the fire and raised her head to the sun.
The village priest moved in closer, bowed his head to her and then turned to the villagers, “The great Arisha has burned for us, and has brought the light to our village. May the village be blessed this year.”
She stood still, her body trembling, her tail swishing left and right until the fire was only smoldering embers. She bowed her head.
Immediately the crowds moved aside, and a double row of heavily armored soldiers lined up on either side of the pathway she was meant to walk, back to the cave that was her prison.
She looked left and right, her eyes seeking, as they did every year, somewhere she could run. She hissed, thinking of the wings that dangled, useless, on her back, and soft flames scorched the ground in front of her.
The tips of many spears pushed her forward, puncturing her scales until pain was her only reality.
She entered the cave and turned around to see the sunlight, its brightness making her want to close her eyes.
She didn’t. She could hear the stone roll, and moments later it started to block off her view. It slotted into place and finally, the last flash of sunlight left the cave.
She blinked, adjusting her eyes to the moment of darkness. Then the crystals that spread around the cave wall lit up and bathed the cave into their dim light.
She wished they would give the cave time to recharge, so she wouldn’t have to live in darkness the last few months of each year.
She sighed, walked to her bedding and lay down. She blew her fire over the rocks that lay around her and curled up, her body shivering as her scales shifted color from the fire’s bright red to her natural blue again.
She breathed her fire over the stones again and then slept while soft curls of smoke drifted up from her nostrils.

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