Afterwards, when I was next aware, everything was dark. I had my eyes closed, but couldn’t seem to open them.
My entire body felt strange. I was in some crouching position, and couldn’t move my arms or feet, or, really, my back or torso. My back felt particularly stiff and odd. At first I didn’t think I could move my head, but was gradually able to. I couldn’t tell how hot or cold it was, and it didn’t seem that any light was falling on my eyelids. I suspected I was in a dungeon somewhere, waiting to be tortured.
Oddly, although I couldn’t feel it, I definitely heard wind. There were other noises, especially the sound of birds.
I don’t know how much time passed. I kept trying to open my eyes. Eventually I was able to feel a slight movement of my left eyelid, and this encouraged me. Some interminable time later, I saw again.
It wasn’t dark. It was quite sunny, and I was outside.
I could see the blue sky. I could see the hills. It took me some time, but I realized that I was quite high up.
I was on the outside of the tower. I looked left and right, up and down. My arms and legs and body were grey stone. I was a gargoyle, an ornament.
Was this better than being dead? Was this the torture I had feared? I wasn’t in pain. I was in shock, but that passed. I had expected torment and death. But I couldn’t feel any pain. I couldn’t seem to feel anything at all.
The parts of me that could move were the parts not directly connected to the tower. Slowly, I learned to be able to move my knees slightly, and my elbows.
I worked on trying to increase these movements. I had nothing better to do, and I didn’t tire. I think I did sleep, although I was never sure how much time passed when I did. I do know that I saw the passing of the seasons much more quickly than I expected.
My left arm came free first. It had been connected to the stonework at the wrist, and I eventually freed it. I felt triumph, but was still trapped. Having the arm free let me twist around to look behind me.
Behind me I saw the tower, and that I had wings.
Furled, stone, grey wings. They were also connected to the stonework.
As I tried to pry my right arm loose, I also learned what muscles controlled the wings, and started to try to move those also.
I was impatient, but I was convinced that slow, repetitive, steady movements were safer for me. Quick movements might strain the wrong place, I could end up leaving chunks of myself embedded in the stone. It was slow going.
But without tiring, and without anything distracting me, it was inevitable. I freed my feet and my legs, and my hips. Only my wings were still connected to the stone. Now I had to brace myself with my legs, to make sure that if I broke free I would not immediately fall.
The wings were harder, but freeing them was also inevitable. And then I could move.
Moving let me turn around, gingerly, on the ledge. That ledge was the only foothold or handhold anywhere on the tower, apart from the roof, which I could reach. I already knew entrance to the tower from the roof was impossible. So I had gained freedom of movement, but was restricted to an incredibly small area.
I would be able to do nothing from where I was. And so I decided to jump. If I shattered below, so be it, I would have the death I expected.
I could not feel the air as it rushed by. I could see the ground as it rushed closer. Fear, unknown for all this time, returned as soon as I jumped. That fear triggered some knowledge, some memory, and I unfurled my wings. They were much larger than I’d thought, the stone very thin and curled upon itself until I spread them out.
The wind caught them, and I stopped falling.