Cassia woke to the sound of trembling stone. She sat up in bed and look about excitedly. A grin crept across her face as the walls shook again.
Today, she would be free. She knew it.
Cassia stepped onto the cold floor and opened the door of her room, she was instantly met by sunbeams and fresh air that poured out from the large cracks in the temple hallways.
“Enjoying the sunshine Cassia?” Came the angry voice of Judas, one of the two vultures responsible for her entrapment in the Iron Temple.
“You bet I am.” said Cassia, a beaming smile upon her visage. “This place is going down and you know it.”
Judas only looked at her with a murderous rage in his eyes.
Cassia, still grinning, never let her eyes leave the vultures angry ones. Within a couple of minutes, Judas left without a word.
The light that wafted through the cracks of the sanctuary had an almost eerie glow on the iron walls. Cassia sat in the very back of the sanctuary as usual, a silent prayer upon her lips. The other inhabitants of the temple, the birds, were in the sanctuary as well. They were all gathered in the front of the room, the atmosphere was tense.
Something wasn’t right, Cassia could feel it.
As the chatter of the birds grew higher in volume, so did the sinking feeling in her stomach. Cassia’s head snapped up and her gaze zeroed in on the group. All of the birds had gathered into a circle except for the two vultures (Judas and Delilah), and Cinna the quail who were in the middle. The other birds murmuring was dying away and the only thing that could be heard – albeit vaguely – were the voices of the three in the middle.
Cassia stood up and started inching towards the nearest exit. She kept her eyes on them fixedly; suddenly, an eerie silence fell over the group and the feeling in her gut worsened. The tension in the atmosphere continued to grow as Cassia noticed something strange about Cinna. He was changing.
The quail grew a little higher as green and golden brown feathers washed over his body. In a couple minutes, the transformation was complete. Cinna was now a pheasant.
There was one thing Cassia knew, pheasants meant calamity.
Cassia’s heart began to pound wildly, something in the air felt like it was being ripped apart. Then something like a scream and a battle cry met her ears as she began running down the hallway.
The temple shook uncontrollably as she could feel the gaggle of birds flying in fury behind her. Parts of the temple started to fall around her as she sprinted down the long hallway past specters of fear and hope.
For a second, Cassia looked back at the birds of the temple – her captors – that flew behind her quickly like a wall of water rushing in. She wondered if they would take her down with them. Suddenly, she felt lighter and she knew that her God would be with her to see her through this. Her pace quickened and a feeling of freedom and victory grew within her.
The first door that she came upon was already broken and hanging open, she leaped through into a small dark gray room. Cassia recognized this room. This was the room where she realized that she had been tricked into being here from the vultures. Straight ahead was a large iron door with many beautiful images etched into its surface. She gave the door a good strong pull and it gave way.
The next room she was in was a dim room, the only thing in here was a small crystal chandelier with strange white flames. Seeing that the large iron door to exit this room was open also, she wasted no time to sprint through it and into the very first room she saw when she entered the Iron Temple in the first place.
Cassia turned around to see if the birds were still on her heels, strangely, they were not. Her eyes caught the plaque that she saw on a small glass table in the middle of the white room when she first came here, but for some unknown reason, she understood the strange language that was etched in it before:
The Iron Temple:
Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
She grabbed the plaque and ran towards the last door, suddenly, the voice of Delilah and Judas rang out from behind her, their voices were angry and full of hate, “You’ll never get out of here alive Cassia. If we’re going down you’ll come down with us!”
Cassia kept her eyes on the last door and didn’t turn back, she could feel them flying behind her. The very last door was cracked open, with the plaque tucked under one arm she used her other arm and with the last of her strength the door flew open.
An indescribably bright light poured through the door from the outside blinding them all for a moment. Not wanting to waste any more time, Cassia took one last leap and ran down the temple steps to freedom as it crumbled around her.