Niall the Handsome spied her through the boards covering the window, though it took a moment for him to notice. In the middle of an otherwise empty room stood a large metal cage on a marble column. It was much too large for a bird but movement inside it caught his eye.
The first thing he observed was some fluffy, womanly cloth, as white as the cage. Was it a nest? As he stared, trying to figure out what he was seeing, the creature inside pressed up against the bars and stared at him. He fell back in shock. A woman? Who could be so evil as to put a human being inside such a prison?
Gold fever may have brought him to this distant castle but life was more precious and he must save her. Besides, Niall was a knight and she was beautiful. Had not she looked at him longingly? The gallant knight always saved the damsel in distress. Duty first, then riches.
He circled the ancient building, searching for an entrance. The back door was unlocked. He entered cautiously. When he encountered no guards or magic traps he boldly rushed to the grand hall he’d seen the girl in.
She stood when she saw him. He was surprised there was enough room but she was small. Good, he thought, her added weight wouldn’t strain his horse when they rode off into the sunset. Plus, he would be able to carry much of the purported gold.
The girl seemed nervous so he checked the room for magic traps as he made his way to her. After what felt like ages he reached her. There was only a metal pin for a lock so opening the door was easy. She must be simple, which suited him perfectly. Smart and beautiful damsels were not the type of lady Niall preferred. He smiled with the knowledge this would be the best day he’d ever had.
He pulled the door and reached a hand out to her. Her eyebrows knit in fear and she backed away from him. Sympathy welled in him. The poor thing probably thought he was going to hurt her. He smiled reassuringly and leaned further into the cage.
Suddenly she smiled and he felt himself pulled all the way inside with her. The door slammed shut and the pin magically appeared back in its place.
“What is going on?”
She put a finger to her lips and pointed over his shoulder.
“She doesn’t speak but I can hear her thoughts,” a cold voice sounded.
“Free me at once,” the knight tried to demand but his voice quavered when he saw who spoke – the great wizard Zehagan.
“I cannot. She has wanted a pet for so long and it took weeks of work on my part to get you here. She wanted someone stupid enough to believe the rumors of riches but handsome enough to spend the next five years with.”
“What happens in five years?”
The wizard pointed to a pile of well-gnawed bones in a corner. “I’m surprised you didn’t see them when you broke into my home, Niall the Handsome.” Then he laughed and turned to the girl. “Yes my sweet, stupid and handsome. I’ll let you two get to know each other, I have work to do.”
Niall screamed and shook the bars as Zehagan departed. He kept screaming as the girl, who was much stronger than she looked, held him tightly.
This came from a picture prompt found by the leader of my writing group. It was a black and white photo of a woman in a cage. I don’t know what color her dress was but I chose to see it as white. She was sitting on seat surrounded by tulle.
While talking about it with my friend I suddenly, and inexplicably thought of my dogs. They sleep in a five foot pen with no top. At bed time one of them, Link, comes into my bedroom and starts the stare down. If you speak to him he runs to the living room. One of us opens the door and he goes right in. He knows when he is ready and his internal clock is spot on.
If the door is not closed within a few minutes he repeats the process. He will keep this up until someone closed and latches that gate. If a dog can wear a relieved expression, this one does. Neither he or his brother can sleep with that door open. They don’t care that it’s open on top, as long a foot and a half of tiny metal rods is closed in front of them.
Thus my story seed was planted. I thought about the girl in the cage being rescued by a brave, handsome knight (for the cheesy factor) but she doesn’t want to be saved. She was perfectly content in her cage. Then I decided her cage protected her from something that could/would eat the knight but I’ve actually done something similar so I dismissed the idea. When I realized she didn’t need protection, but maybe a snack at some point, more words filled in the blanks and I ended with this story.
I know it needs editing. In fact, I planned to polish it up and pare it down to 500 words as soon as I got home from writing group. I even opened the file. Then life. So many distractions occurred (although it only took the first one) I simply forgot to do it. Still, I wanted to post it tonight so this is probably the roughest rough draft I’ve posted in a very long time.