TN: I did not proof read so there will be some typos and error… please tell me if you spot them!
From a distance, I heard a gentle voice, calling my name. Who could that be? I looked around yet there was nothing to be seen except darkness.
"Phikul," again the voice resounded. This time louder. I looked around into the obscure mist, perplexed. I could not see anything or anyone. The voice sounded peculiarly familiar as if I had heard it before. Did I know this person? No. That could not be possible. Ever since I could remember, I had only known two people, mother and father, who only came when they needed the golden medlars. Perhaps, I might have heard the voice through the wall? I could not tell whether how owner of this voice was male or female. It was both. There was a glimpse of vehemence, yet it was, too, sweet.
"Phikul, everything is over. You are safe now." The voice echoed, this time it brought a dim light along with it. As the warm hue replaced the dark, the pain on my spine became more vivid. My vision gradually became crisper than it had ever been. The room was peculiarly bright. The lamp beside the wall, which was left unlit for years, was illuminating. Perplexed, I looked around. 'Where is mother,' was the first thing that popped into my head.
"She is gone." Without hesitation, I turned toward the source of the voice. I let out a soft groan as an abrupt turn caused my open wounds to twist, twinging my back. I brushed off the pain and stared straight in front of me. The tall figure came into my sight. I was stunned by its godlike appearance for a moment. I could not find a word to describe this person—creature, perhaps. It had a human-like appearance, but it was covered in black feathers, making it looked magical. It was hard to tell whether this thing, was male or female. It had the body of a man, but beauty of a lady.
"I am the Lord of Griffon, and I am neither male or female. If that is what you are wondering," the 'Lord of Griffon' said, casually. Wait. I did not say anything, didn't I? How could this Lord of Griffon knew what I was thinking? The sudden chill surged through my bones, freezing me still.
'Shit. It is not human,' I thought.
"Of course, I'm not, you insignificant being. I am too gorgeous to be one of your kind. I am a divine creature, unlike you, human. " It said with its soft and sweet voice. How could someone with this lovable voice say these pompous words. Such a waste. Wait. Did it just replied my thought again?
"What do you mean by 'such a waste,' you useless being. I rescued you from your wicked, twisted mother. Well, I don't know if that was the right word to call that filthy woman. She wasn't even the one who gave birth to you. Such an imposter. And you, brainless little girl, were stupid enough to believe she was you mother. Ugh. I cringed every time I heard you called that mad woman 'mother this, mother that.' She was not your mother, you fool. Your 'real' mother was long gone. Dead would be a better word." I was stunned for a while, trying to process information that was spilled out from those elegant lips. First, this claimed-to-be-divine creature just confirmed that it could hear my thought, which was convenient for me because I did not have to bear the pain to speak. Second, I was lied for my whole life by that fake, turbulent mother. I did not feel any sorrow discovering that she was not my real mother. I did not feel any affection toward that woman anyway. She always forced me to sing so that she could collect those golden medlars. She made me feel like I was living through hell everyday. And, I could not care more about my real mother being dead neither; what could I possibly do about that anyway? I could not bring her back to life. What intrigued me was how this Lord used past tense when mentioning about my fake mother as if she was dead.
"Yes. You were right. I killed her. Your fake ugly papa as well." Again, this rotten-mouth Griffon Lord answered me. 'Oh' was the only thing that popped up into my head. I did not know how to describe this feeling. I felt contentment. I felt like this creature who murdered the wicked couple had avenged me. But, I also sensed fear. With the emotionless expression on its charming face, I could not tell what it was thinking. Was it here because it wanted to kill me? Then, why didn't it end my life when I was unconscious? Why did it bother waking me up? Questions kept pouring into my head.
'Nothing makes sense,' I thought, staring at the creature's defined face, awaiting its answer.
Silence. No words came out from its mouth. I knew it could hear my thoughts. I knew it could read my mind. I was certain it was messing with me, pretending it did not hear what I was thinking.
'Well then. If you want to play silent game, I accept your challenge,' I thought. I hadn't spoken for most of my life. I wouldn't lose this game. I closed my eyes and commenced to imagine what outside looked like. I did not know how many minutes had passed, but I could stay like this for the whole day. It was the only thing that kept me alive. Imagination. It gave me hope. Well, it was the only thing I could do in this cell anyway.
"I gave up. I gave up. You won, little scum," said the creature. I opened my eyes and smirked in triumph. Its flawless face twisted slightly in frustration. "Don't you dare laugh at me. I could kill you within a split second."
I halted as sudden chill ran down my spine. From its look, the Griffon Lord was serious. I made a bad move messing with it.
"Good. You know your place. I am not here to kill you, to answer your question. I am here to liberate you from this disgusting cell. Why now, you might ask. Well. No reason. I was ordered to watched you, making sure you weren't killed by your fake parents—your kidnappers. And, I came to rescue you because I was ordered to do so. Period. Without further to do, get away from here. Bye." Just like that, the Griffon Lord disappeared. Everything happened so abruptly that I was not sure what this was all about. That Lord was ordered to keep an eye on me? By who?
The creak of the wooden door brought me back to reality. It was wide open, tempting me to go through it. Did that Griffon leave the door open for me so I could escape? Well, it did tell me to get out from this prison so I ought leave this place, right?
I, with all my strength, pushed myself up. The wounds on my back twinged me as I moved, but I could not let the soreness stop me from seeing the sky outside. Each step I took was agonizing, not only because of the injuries, but also because of my lack of vigor. My whole body was aching and my legs were shaking. I hadn't really walked for a long time. The room was too dark, I was afraid I would trip. Besides, I was too exhausted to do anything except staying still. I had no spare energy to do anything since I only had one meal a day. My fake mother would come in with water bucket once every few days to bathe me, though throwing water at me was a better description. As I reached the door, turned around and give at the cell I had been living a final look. I did not realized the hole I used to dump all the waste from my body looked this terrible. Each day, when it was dark beyond the wall, a mysterious person, which I had never seen their face, would open the small portal, locked from the outside, took away the waste bucket, and replaced with the new one. That was the only thing I felt thankful of those deceiving parents, for not letting me live with the smell of my own feces.
I panned my eyes across the room to the other side, where I normally stayed. The stains of my blood were all over the place, evidencing the brutality I had gone through. Thinking of those excruciating moments made me want to vomit, flowers crawling up my throat, the rusty taste of my own flesh; the memories I wished were just a dream. I shook my head, telling myself to get over the past. It was time to move on and leave this room—this prison—behind. I needed to start a new life. I turned around and continued to walk down the corridor. Each step I took echoed through the narrow path. It was the same thumping sound that used to terrify me. It was the signal that told me it was time to spit my flesh out to gratify the partner in crime. Soon, the sound of my footsteps was replaced by the sound of my pounding heart. I could feel my body heating up as the muscle inside my chest was accelerating at an unusual rate.
As I approach the gate, the sudden fear of the unknown froze my hand from reaching the handle. The sky I had been longing for was right there, beyond that gate, and yet, I was scared of what was awaiting me. What if the outside was not like what I saw in my imagination? What if there were others who wanted the medlar from me out there, would I be captured again? What if that Griffon tricked me about the death of mother and father? They would definitely kill me if they found me wandering out there.
I felt lost. Confused. I did not know whether I still wanted to go outside—to the place I knew nothing of. I was about to step back, but the sound of birds singing halted me. If beyond this gate was a cruel place, then how could those birds still sing so delightfully? I closed my eyes and placed my right hand on the handle. With my eyes shut, the song sung by those birds became more vivid. I, once again, pictured the landscape of the world on the other side—thriving trees, vibrant floras, and, of course, little birds. 'Everything is going to be alright,' I told myself as I twisted the handle and pushed the door that had been separating me, locking me away from the world. As the door swung open, the gentle light cast on me. I could feel the warmth from the sun, for the first time, on my body. It felt as if the sun was embracing me, telling me there was nothing to be afraid of.
'Everything is going to be alright,' I told myself one more time before I opened my eyes.
The Griffon was one of the villains in the original story. It was the one who captured Phikul in the very beginning of the story. Actually, because of that abduction, Phikul decided to cut out a potion of her hair and wrapped it around the message, asking for help. Then, if you can remember, the protagonist, the prince, found her hair and the message, and went to rescue her. That was how they met.
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