He looks up, eyes wide as he watches an iridescent butterfly alight on an equally vibrant flower. He makes no other movement. The sun shines down on the insect and the plant, marking them as ‘things out of his reach’.
He is content to watch from afar, but the butterfly has other plans. On delicate wings, it glides through the gaps in between the bars that lines the boundary of his small world, slipping out of the warm sun into his chilly shadow.
A younger him would have instinctively snatched the small being out of the air, likely shredding those flimsy wings in the process. Current him has centuries of imprisonment to learn to remain still.
So the butterfly flutters, uninterrupted as it explores his prison in lazy circles. It’s the most interesting thing he has seen for a long time, and for a few precious moments, he remembers that he lives, not just exists.
Then the butterfly flutters out, taking the colour and life out with it. He’s left with himself, in a quiet cage with only the cold as his companion.
Back in the sun, the butterfly skims the air down to the lake at the foot of the mountain. It presents its whole, undamaged wings to its master, a contrast to its predecessors, who had returned from their mission with torn wings, if they returned at all.
The master smiles in satisfaction.
“Looks like I’ll be able to free him after all.”