Chapter 11 – Golden Bird
Nixon begged for mercy. To Aurora, she wasn’t even moving that fast. She punched him, but he didn’t even groan. So she punched him several more times. After about the sixth or seven blow, Nixon finally started screaming. She stood up and waited for his brain to process the blows.
When he stopped writhing around on the ground, Aurora gave him one last kick for good measure. Just as he had done to the dead boy. Nixon didn’t even see her foot coming. He only felt the explosion of pain in his side.
“Please, don’t kill me,” he begged. “Please, just let me go home.”
Aurora picked him up by the nape of his neck and dragged him back to the stable. To her, it seemed as if she were walking normally. To Nixon though, it seemed as if someone had tied him to the horse and were dragging him through the street at a full gallop.
Grandpa and the stable boy’s mouths dropped when she dropped Nixon in front of them. They had seen Nixon yelling for mercy way down the street, and then suddenly he appeared at their feet.
Aurora dusted her hands off as the golden birds slowly began to fly away. She smiled at them as they went. The red light of sunset gleaming on their fiery golden feathers. Finally, only the original golden bird was still there. It chirped quietly as the sunset.
Grandpa and the stable boy helped her tie up Nixon and Matt. Matt was still blubbering about his hand as he clenched it, trying to press it back onto his wrist. They waited for the constable to show up. He seemed nervous when he saw the two men, and they glowered at him. Aurora wondered what he was going to do, but the sheriff was there.
The constable did his duty of placing them under arrest with the help of another colleague as the sheriff questioned grandpa about what had happened. They told Grandpa pretty much everything except the part about Aurora’s transformation into whatever that had been.
Grandpa had a reputation around town as a man not to be trifled with, and the sheriff had seen Aurora compete in races and fights. So, it didn’t seem to bother him that an old man and his granddaughter had beaten up two other men.
To Aurora’s surprise, the stable boy didn’t say anything, either. He just nodded and backed up grandpa’s story. Aurora thanked him after the sheriff and the constable had left.
Aurora and grandfather walked down the street toward their home. Grandfather finally asked her what had actually happened during those brief moments of the scuffle. She tried to tell him, but it was hard to explain. In his mind, everything had happened so fast that he had barely seen Aurora moving around.
“Look, that looks like the bird that came out of the clay jar. Only it’s a lot bigger than the jar. I guess it couldn’t have been that one.” Grandpa said, pointing to the golden bird that followed them down the street, still chirping and singing.
It surprised Aurora that he could see it, too. She had thought it was still just a part of her imagination since grandfather told her he had seen none of the other hundreds of birds that had flown into the stable.
“Yeah, it sure does,” she said with a smile. “Do you think if we take the pieces of the Firebird Jar to the Goulbern Mountain that your friend Lort can tell us what it is?”
Grandfather shrugged. “Maybe, but sometimes it’s more fun to figure things out for yourself instead of looking to others for answers. Give it a few days. You’re a smart girl. You might learn more just by observing and questioning things. If others provide all the answers, it can take the mystery out of life.”
Aurora paused at the steps to their home.
“Yes, sometimes a little mystery and adventure can be fun. But not too much. No more getting poisoned and beat up by bad guys. What are you going to do with the gun?” she asked.
“Play around with it. Observe it. Ask questions about it. Maybe I’ll hand it over to the sheriff. Maybe I’ll keep it in case Matt or Nixon come back and you’re not around to protect me with your golden firebirds.”
“Oh, I’ll be around. Don’t worry. I’m not leaving your side, Grandfather. At least until I get married.”
Aurora gave her grandfather a hug and squeezed him tightly.
“But even then I’ll still protect you when you need it.”