I am a bird, flying so far beyond the mountains of my ancestral home that I am free. Free from the shackles placed upon my royal feet, and the weight of crowns hanging above my head. I am only slave to the sky, the patterns of the air pushing my feathers as I float in bliss. I breathe in the cold air and the smell of evergreen forests. I watch wildlife as it runs and I am completely and utterly free. No snare traps me, no burdens hold me down. I am no longer Cyra, hope of my people. My blood is no longer valuable to my enemies. I am only this bird, and this moment.

But these things do not last. With a gentle pressure I am released from the bird and fly towards the earth, back to my body. Once more I am tied to burden in which I have been born. And with a gasp I am once more within myself, looking into the absent eyes reflected in the mirror.

My father stands behind me, his imposing frame twice my size and covered in scars of battle. His fingers are painted the blue colors of our people, rich and dark. I have not earned my paint yet, but when I do I will dip my fingers into the stream of gods and receive it gladly. Not for my people, but for my father, who looks at me warmly in the candlelight.

"Cyra," He begins and I know what he is going to say. To travel by another is risky, and I am not to be risked. I ache to lash out, claim the freedom my people have, but I do not. Instead, I hang my head. He will know I understand. "You know it is for your own good." I know he is right, and that each time I wander off I risk my entire kingdom. But I have seen things he could not dream of.

His hand reaches out and touches my braid delicately, the magic in him making the small flowers that have been woven in bloom once more, each one richer in color. The reds and oranges dance against my skin like fire and I relish in the sight. When he sits and begins to tuck away stray hairs from their thorns it is he who sighs. To be a leader is a burden, I know this. I see it in the lines of his face, each cutting deeper with age. He claims they are wisdom; I know they are not. My Father screams in his sleep in languages I do not understand. He fights wars I have never seen, and he bathes himself in blood he is careful to wash off before I see. His magic fights him in his dreams, lashing against him over and over, relishing the control it has over his mind and body. He has seen cruelty no man ever should. Each line on his face shows me this.

While he braids he loses himself, and his magic becomes docile again, kind and loving as it showers my hair with affection. He is careful to ensure my hair is immaculate before he lets go, his hands resting on my shoulders, bringing me warmth and comfort in a time that is challenging.

"What were you this time?" He asks me, his curious nature getting the best of him. When I was still young and an inexperienced traveler I would jump through the small animals of our palace, navigating the halls and gardens through the eyes of mice and squirrels. My father would listen to every tale as though he were living through it for the first time, although he had made the same journeys himself several times. It was only when I grew older and ventured further his fears set in. When I look at him his eyes are sparkling once again.

"To the forests beyond the mountains." I tell him. "I was a bird."

"Tell me of the forest." His eyes are closed as he makes his request, his hands slackening on my shoulders. I know he could look into my thoughts if he wanted, see the bird and the mountains, but he does not. I believe he respects my privacy and fears my truths.

"They are cold," I begin; "There is no snow though. But the air flowed through the feathers so easily. The trees are alive, deep in their color, rich in their smells."

"And the water?"

"The water looks clear. They are truly the god's rivers," I say to him and I close my own eyes and see once more the rivers the gods have gifted us. I see the rapids tumbling over the rocks that make up the riverbed, and the golden fish within the waters. My body begins to drift, deeper within the vision.

"No." My father is no longer relaxed. His muscles are tense and I know I have upset him. "How many times must I tell you?" His voice has lost its gentle edge and I am no longer looking at my father, but a king. "You cannot travel so easily. You must learn to control yourself. You must control your magic Cyra; it must not control you." Although he does not yell I know he is angry. I have been reckless with my magic, allowed it to take over my body, and he is right- it is dangerous. Many people have lost to their magic through the years and put to death, unable to walk amongst us. Magic has no rules, no alliances. Magic is a chaotic force within our blood that we must challenge. We are the vessel that determines right from wrong. I cannot allow it to happen again.

"You will doom us all if you do that." I hang my head and take in a breath unable to meet his eyes. The magic within me rises, desperate to come forth and apologize in its own way. I push it down. It has no place here.

"Get ready. This is a big night." My father says before he leaves, the door slamming behind him.

I do not weep upon his exit although I feel I should. I cannot. Rulers do not cry. Not while we are awake. Not within these bodies made of flesh. I long to call for the bird, to take flight once more. Within the clouds the tears may roll off my cheeks, and nobody will know they are not raindrops.