EXERCISE Picture Challenge #36: Birds

Discussion in 'INSPIRING MUSES' started by redblood, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. INFO: They say that a picture can tell a thousand words. How many can you find?

    Each week a new image will be posted, and your challenge will be to write whatever the image inspires you to write. It can be anything as long as it relates to the picture. A plot, a scene, a short story, a poem, a character, etc. You can write as much or as little as you wish. It's not the length that matters, it's what you put into it. There is no time limit to these challenges, so feel free to jump in at any time.

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  2. [Title: Crappy-wannabe sonnet I wrote at 2am <3 ]

    Flittering so beautifully from the trees
    They are so elegant, so very calm
    Wings flutter softly as they surround me
    I reach out, they rest, in my center palm

    I hear guns in the distance, they are here
    Oh stay not now, my little feathered friend
    For danger is so surely drawing near
    And if to meet it, you would meet your end

    Fly away, fly away and don't look back
    For there'll be nothing left when you return
    You take the solace, we so sorely lack
    Take it and go, everything else will burn

    My little friend I'm sorry, do take care
    For this world is broken, beyond compare
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  3. Her soft smile seemed so out of place to him. Here he was, threatening her very life for entrance to the sanctuary, and she was smiling so gently? A flash of orange caught his gaze and his eyes jerked to follow the blur of color. For a moment his eyes wouldn't make sense of it. Nothing natural could be that color of orange, could it? And yet, there they were. A whole flock of them, birds of the most gorgeous color of orange he had ever seen in his life. From the corner of his eye he saw the woman moving, and as she lifted her hand a bird lighted there, giving her a small pecking kiss with a twitter. She watched him with her huge, dark eyes and that smile still lurking on her face. He fought the urge - he was on the job after all! - but it didn't take long for him to waver, then give in. He lifted his hand as well, and in moments one of the beautiful birds landed. It shifted it's weight from one foot to the other as it studied him with bright, intelligent eyes.

    "They like you. You are good of heart." The woman's voice startled him, and he looked back to her. "They tell me that you are a trustworthy and good person, despite your...initial impression." Her eyes flicked back down to the weapon that hung at his side. He didn't remember lowering his arm, but he had. "It is decided then. Come, we are going to the temple. You must meet Grandfather."
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  4. The raucous calls of the flock saturated the air every bit as much as the humidity that made her sweat gather beneath her black robes. She stood in a patch of shadow tinted green by the rich life around her and felt both hot and cold. Aamaal lifted her gloved hand and pressed the back of it to the beads of sweat that formed on her brow. Perhaps it was the movement that exposed her, perhaps she’d been exposed all along, but an orange bird overhead pulled in its wings and sped down towards her. It threw out its wings at the last moment, the rush of air startled Aamaal as much as the motion and she threw up her hand to shield her face, a hand which the bird obligingly took for a roost.

    Her gasp of surprise was joined by a silken laugh, not mocking but merry and sweet. Out of the green undergrowth flowed a small figure in an orange robe a shade or two darker than the birds that now slowly gathered around them, dropping from the sky like petals from a spent flower to land on branches around them. It seemed impossible that such a bright shade, in such contrast to the verdant forest around them should have approached unseen and yet until the woman laughed, Aamaal hadn’t seen her. Was it magic or some trick of the priestess’ who tended this temple?

    “They are opportunists,” the smaller woman said, her face young, untroubled and full of the joys of life as Aamaal’s had never been. “They will settled for branches if nothing else presents itself, but they seek to raise themselves up by being different.”

    She smiled ruefully and plucked a bird off of a nearby branch. It was silent as it flapped its wings and settled in her grip though Aamaal couldn’t help but note the hint of caged panic in the creature’s eyes.

    “You are Aamaal and you wished to speak with us?” the woman asked, not offering her name. She stopped before Aamaal and looked up at her, her face smooth, untroubled around dark eyes that were deep and inscrutable.

    “I do.” Aamaal said, finding her voice was slow to come from a throat gone dry. What she was about to ask flew against the customs of her people, the very customs these women were the wellspring of. The bird perched on Aamaal’s hand shifted, flapping its wings before settling, though its grip on her hand loosened as if it were readying itself to fly.

    The priestess gestured for Aamaal to proceed and Aamaal found the words stuck in her throat. Her husband was three days dead and she mourned him now no more than she had three days ago when he’d taken his leave of this turn on the wheel. Three days and he now lay on his pyre, awaiting the dark of night so that his light would show the heavens he was ready to try again. She, Aamaal, according to custom must join him or join these women. She wanted neither. She tried to swallow but all the words that she wanted to say, words filled with wants that could not, should not be spoken, made the effort painful.

    “You do not wish to join your husband?” the priestess said gently, her mouth curving into a sympathetic smile as if she’d had a great many such conversations and had seen the signs in Aamaal’s grim visage.

    Grateful for another moment to collect her thoughts but frustrated at her inability to speak Ammaal shook her head.

    “No.” she managed at last. “I do not wish to join him.” For to join him on his pyre was to cement herself to him for another turn around the wheel. He hadn’t been cruel, he hadn’t beaten her, but neither had he loved her. He had been indifferent if anything, no more invested in their union than she was. Only he could leave the house, he could move freely and make choices of his own. Aamaal had wed him when she was just past girlhood and so her choices had been taken from her. This moment, standing before the priestess was the first choice she’d had in over a dozen years, to burn or to serve. She wanted neither.

    “I do not wish to join your order either.”

    The priestess was still and then took a long, deep sigh. Her face, which had seemed so young and untroubled before suddenly seemed lined with the weight of the world. Her dark eyes seemed so ancient, so sad.

    “I see.” She said and the bird in her hand made a soft little noise. “There is a third choice.” She said into the heavy silence that had fallen over the forest, a silence so thick that the birds around them seemed loathe to break it.

    Aamaal’s heart skipped, her breath caught and then she breathed, “There is?”

    The priestess nodded. “There is.” As she said this she let her fingers open and the bird in her hand flew free, spiraling up through the canopy and vanishing. The sounds of its wing beats were frantic like a racing heart.

    Aamaal nodded, certain she understood. A great welling of gratitude filled her as she turned and began to walk away. Her motion set the bird on her hand to flight. She lifted her eyes to watch it fly and did not see the priestess move. She did not see the flash of light as the sun caught on the honed edge of the blade before it plunged into Aamaal’s back. Aamaal made no sound as she dropped to the floor of the forest, a spent petal whose body would feed the plant that had sprouted her.

    “There is always another choice,” the priestess said as she knelt by the woman’s side and began the prayers that would see her soul back to the wheel for another try.
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  5. "The Petalin Sunbird," Asim murmured, reaching out with his hand extended, though his palm faced the ground so that he didn't frighten the bird he wished to make friends with. "So many years have passed since I first heard of them."

    He looked to his companion, a pretty younger woman named Sina, skin tanned as the norm for the natives of the large island known as Petalin. He blinked and then smiled, seeing a bird had already made her its temporary home on her hand.

    "There are none where you come from?" Her large dark eyes gazed at him curiously.

    "Well no," Asim replied. "We don't have many things you have here, which is why many men from my country come here-" He stopped speaking abruptly as he felt the bird climb onto his finger.

    "Looks like it wants to be friends!" Sina smiled, quite pleased that the bird in aviary finally decided to give Asim the pleasure of its company.

    "Sina!" The call came from outside, and in an instance the woman's smile disappeared.

    "My Master calls." She gave Asim a formal bow before exiting, though she looked to him furtively one last time before leaving.

    Asim watched disappointedly, but there was nothing he could do. Petalin did indeed have many things his homeland didn't, and that includes slavery. One day I will free you, and then you will be just like these birds, able to go and do whatever you will.

    It was then and there Asim made it his life's goal to end slavery in Petalin, no matter how long it took.
  6. Samara held the Golden Firebird in her hand as she watched the dark King of the south lift a hand. Would the bird accept him? she was delighted by the image of the bird gently landing on the dark one's finger. "So, this one has chosen you. She will protect you with her life from this day forward."

    "I have no need of protection."

    "Oh really? You have willing come to my domain alone. I could have killed you many times."

    "And why didn't you then?"

    "I am amused by your arrogance."

    "Arrogance is based in a false sense of worth or ability. I am confident not arrogant."

    "Perhaps you lie to yourself unawares."

    "Perhaps it is you who are arrogant Queen Samara." A tiny curl of his black lips was the only warning he gave before a black cloud surrounded her completely obscuring her vision and stealing the air from her lungs. She fell to the ground gasping for air that would not be found as the birds attempted to save her by attacking him, only to have the same fate befall them as well. The single bird who had chosen him, was the lone survivor of the 'battle'. "Come my pretty...let us announce to this place its new king."
  7. "They are beautiful," Ama said with breathless awe, his eyes tracking the golden birds that flitted about him.

    "Aren't they just?" his guide, Tlayla, noted with reserved pride, her head held high as several landed around her in anticipation for the crumbs and seeds she had in a small bag at her side. "It is said that the Child God Enri gifted the birds to the royal family, as a symbol of their house."

    "Is that so?" Ama asked, looking about. "Is that why there's a net?"

    The guide looked the emissary up and down, her head ever-so-slightly lowered as she began to walk away from him. He followed along, realizing his inquisitive nature had perhaps done him a disservice. Yet, he had heard all the stories of Enri, the Child God, and while the story could well be true, he also knew that royals were not beyond a little bit of fibbing.

    "You will be staying on the grounds outside the Aviary," Tlayla stated, heading towards a squat, stone building with an entrance shaped in the fashion of a jaguar's maw. "Guards will be posted and the King will have an audience open tomorrow. I am sure he will be very interested in what it is you have in your possession."

    "My thanks to His Grace," Ama said, nodding his head at her as she walked off. He glanced at the guards posted at the door - imposing, wearing parrot-faced helmets that hid their eyes - and he felt a pang of homesickness for his stolid, unwavering, bellicose traveling partner Xochitl. He entered within, well aware that those swords were just as much net as shield.