Sunday, September 9, 2012

"A Feast For Crows"

They came in flocks.

It started with doves, lightning-white, swarming across the sky like stratus clouds. They skidded across the rooftops, raking long cuts through them, creating the most horrible shrieking sound as they did so. Below, people stared, gawked.

Their eyes were beady and black, calculating, nothing even remotely natural in them. They only had one goal: to nest.

More birds came. Parrots, repeating back the screams of the people below; crows, bringing warnings of death; vultures, there to pick the bones of those that did not survive.

Their cries sounded more like thunder, and, indeed, lightning cracked, volts shooting through their feathers and connecting bird to bird. The electricity struck the ground over and over, shearing off entire patches of earth, ravaging it. Roofs caved in and fires started, burning brightly.

They gathered in a cluster, almost as if guarding something - or, as it was in this case, someone. In the center of the flock, the eye of the storm, were a group of monstrous-looking hawks, their skin blistered, throbbing with red, bulbous pustules. They carried a woman, dressed in a cloak of black feathers. She grinned madly, her teeth looking more like fangs.

The vultures carried her downwards and the woman landed on the ground in front of a tall, stone tower. Her smile didn't even falter as she was approached by several heavily-armored guards. Of course the place was guarded - she'd been expecting that.

"Halt," one of them cried, approaching her with an air of authority. "We know who you are. You are not permitted to come any closer."

The woman reacted with mock surprise. "Oh, I'm not? Why is that?"

"We know about you," the guard repeated, his comrades shifting impatiently on their feat behind him. "You're her - the Witch."

The woman's voice suddenly dropped into a deadly whisper as she moved closer. "You do not understand. My... friends, my children, they need to feed. The crop has been... ah, poor this year. They need to grow, and they can't do that without anything to feed on."

"You may not move any closer to the Observatory," the guard said, unyielding. "Do not make me use lethal force."

"Before my babies eat?" the woman crooned. "Oh, but that would would be rather cruel, wouldn't it? No, I think they should have a meal first. A feast."

She drew an old-looking stone dagger from her cloak's pocket, and traced the blade along her skin, drawing blood, and the heads of several birds emerged from the wound.

"Open wide."

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