The Lone Crow
The docks of Falmouth were oddly crowded on the 16th of April in the year 1422 as night fell slowly onto the town. There were children, women, and men of various ages grouped together, all peering out at the sea hoping to get a last glimpse of Flock. There was a little girl, maybe aged at around 5, who held her mother’s fingers in one hand and a chewed stuffed bunny in the other looking out at the sea with tears brimming in her eyes. There was a drunkard cursing at himself for not being sober enough to see off his best friend. There was a wife trying to reassure her two sons that their father would come back to them soon, as her own hope slowly dwindled and died inside of her. They all knew that those who had gone before to the land known as China rarely ever returned.
Aboard Flock the restless movement and shouting of the crew had finally ceased. The ship was afloat now and, their chores over, the hardened men came to the port side of the ship. The men knew the risks they were getting into, they knew they might never come back, but they were willing to take these risks to be able to support their families for a lifetime. They all were poor, not counting the captain, and such a voyage might bring them a nobleman’s wealth. Now, at peace with their mind, the crew stood tall, a peaceful silence enveloping them, and stared eastward hoping to catch a glimpse of those they loved most.
That is, all of them with the exception of Septim Drake. Drake had tiny slits for eyes, tousled brown hair, a nose that was beaked in appearance and mouth that looked like it had never smiled nor frowned. Despite this outlandish appearance Drake was never made fun of and had a very good reputation in Falmouth and its neighboring cities. He was regarded by all to be of the most colorful personality; jesting, serious, and thoughtful all in equal amounts. Thus you may find it odd that such a well liked and highly regarded figure in the community would not be found amid the ship crew.
If one were to search the decks, as well as the under-decks, they would find not a trace of Drake. This may be because the sky was the dominion of Drake, for he was as close to a hawk as a human could get. Both his appearance and his sharp eyes lent to this. As the crew stood assembled on deck, Drake could be found leaning at the topmost part of the ship, the crow’s nest. His body was hardly distinguishable from the night sky as he swayed with the motion of the ocean. His narrow, almost black, eyes were turned away from the docks, indeed he was looking in every direction but that one. His eyes darted continuously, right, left, right, left, as he searched for a sign of danger. This continuous, lulling motion in his eyes continued for a while, until he realized that this close to shore there would be no danger. He slowly drifted off to sleep in the place he liked best.
The shadow of a massive vulture was cast over a body that looked drained of all its life power. The vulture hovered in the air, flapped its wings and, sensing that a meal was close at hand, let loose its waste to make space in its body for another meal. The waste dropped down to Earth and landed squarely on the face of the dead body resting on the island beneath. Except, that body wasn’t really dead, but unconscious, and so it woke up with a start, hand reaching towards its face to find out what had so rudely awakened it. Once the face was clear the features were distinguishable. It was a face with tiny slits for eyes, tousled brown hair, a nose that was beaked in appearance and mouth that looked like it had never smiled nor frowned. It was Septim Drake.
Septim Drake, finally awake, looked around at his surroundings. He was sitting so that he was facing the waterside, and he could tell that this was no ordinary beach. The beach has almost no sand to speak of, but instead was made up of many jagged stones. His location and the sharp edges of the beach brought Drake’s attention to his own body. Only the fragments around the shoulders of his shirt had survived, and his britches were in tattered pieces. Underneath the clothing his body was mutilated beyond recognition. It was as if a baby had been handed a knife and assigned to “paint” his body. There was blood seeping from various spots, and Drake now had only 7 fingers to speak of. These various injuries should have left him screaming, but Drake did not feel anything, and he did not understand why.
He twisted his body to look behind him, and as he did so some of the skin on his back cracked open and let forth a torrent of blood. As his blood spilled on to the already bloody rocks, he inspected the forest that he now gazed at. It was not a pretty forest, the word pretty could even be used to describe such a forest, and looked rather out of place on the island. The trees were packed closely together, leaving almost no space for entry into eh forest, and they were old, scrawny, and looked extremely hostile. Some had blood on them, some had huge chunks missing, and most were infested with maggots, leeches and unknown bugs.
The inspection finished, Drake tried to rise so that he could quench his thirst from the only possible source, the dangerous ocean water. With an extreme amount of effort Drake pushed himself off the ground into a standing position, but within a split second fell back down again, wounding his back some more. With no way to crawl over the craggy rocks, he relaxed into a sleeping position.
As his eyes closed, two things happened. One, the pain that had been withheld for so long suddenly burst forth. Two, Drake’s mind filled with a nightmare, one that combined his new feelings of hunger, thirst, and loneliness. The resulting scream reverberated through the island. Drake’s eyes burst wide open, filled to the brim with fear of what the nightmare had shown him and pain from the injuries throughout his body. He lay there, sweating in fervor, eyes open, jittering, for the rest of the long night.
As the sun rose so did the hope within Septim. Slowly through the night the nightmare had subsided, and even though the intense pain remained, he was happy for the passing of the nightmare. Once again Drake sat up and took a closer look at the beach. He noticed something he had not in the dark, that there were pieces of wood sprawled all around him. One of the larger pieces had on it printed the letter F and from the way it was written, with jagged cursive lines, he knew it was part of Flock. What had happened to the ship as he lay asleep in the Crow’s nest? And how had he survived to make it to this hell-hole of an island? Grabbing a long piece of wood, Drake hoisted himself onto his feet, and perched there with the help of the wood. Slowly, ever so slowly and painfully, he made his way to the water. Once there he leaned down and scooped up some of the salty water into his hand. The salt in it stung his wounds but the mere sight of the precious liquid in his hand overrode the pain. As he raised the water to his mouth, a monstrous crab snapped off his little toe as easily as a scissor would a piece of paper. The little remaining blood in his body bathed the crab in its sticky hotness.
This pain Drake could not ignore and the water he held dropped to the ground as he quickly backed away. Now he could see that the whole shore was lined with crabs, little ones and big ones, and there was no way he would be able to get a drink from there. He picked up the piece of wood he had dropped and hobbled off in the direction of the forest. The sun had reached its maxim and its heat scorched Drake. There was no possible way he could stay on the open beach without getting even thirstier.
Soon he reached the shelter of the haunting trees. He flung his wood piece to the side and slid down, back on the tree. As he gave out a small poof of exhaustion a noise, like a “plop” caught his ear. Septim stared up, hoping to find the source of the noise, and to his horror he saw about 6 leeches letting go of the tree to fall down on him. The leeches soon landed on his chest with the similar “plop” sound and started to suck out blood, bloating as they did so. In his maddened, desperate state Drake grabbed one of the leeches and shoved it in his mouth. As his jaws moved up, down, up, down bloody saliva dripped out of Drake’s mouth onto his skin. After swallowing the first one, he quickly moved on to the other 5 and digested them too. Refreshed by the meat and liquid within the bugs, Drake closed his eyes, and sleep finally came to him.
Septim’s eyes fluttered slowly awake to the sight of orange flames and the first thing his ears heard was the methodical beating of drums, tap-tap-taap---tap-tap-taaap. As he gazed at the twisting colorful flames beneath him Drake was slowly turned up and about, his eyes wrenched away from the red of the flames to the blue of the sky. An urge to itch his buttocks overtook him, but the spot was unreachable. His hands were tied to something flat, long, rough.
Slowly he was twisted around again to face the flames, and then toward the sky, and then toward the flame, and then toward the sky again. A male face entered his vision soon as he was faced toward the sky. It was a very mystical and awe-inspiring face that stared at him inspecting. It was unlike any he had seen. The hair was long, tied at the back with a piece of rubber, and the face was either scarred or painted all over. There was a gold ring piercing the nose, as well as a smaller one in the lip. The hair was a fiery orange that seemed to cast a shadow over the face itself, and the mouth was twisted back in a mocking smile.
Seeing that Septim was awake the man turned toward someone out of the line of sight of Septim and fed him some words. They were delivered in a very odd throaty language, “Yakha nakhi bala wo tai, bully Wo.” Another similar voice responded in a similar manner and soon the air was filled with different voices. One prominent word Drake heard among them was “bully”, and he seemed to think that among these humans it was a way of expressing respect. Hearing these human voices in the air Drake’s visage quickly changed. A slow, uncertain smile spread across his face until it was the prominent feature of his countenance. He now had finally seen another human and his feelings of loneliness were gone, replaced by hope.
The same person who had checked on him before came to check on him again. The man stared at Septim again with that same idiotic grin, which under the gaze of Septim slowly faded into a face of horror and disgust. The jungle dweller gasped, he was not used to seeing his prey smile as it was cooked. What manner of man could smile as he was cooked alive? To the cannibal the answer was clear enough, no man could do this, only the devil himself. Letting out a single shout the cannibal stood as far from Septim as he could and untied him, running away with the rest of his tribe as soon as the deed was done.
Drake, free but now abandoned by humans for the second time, lay in the fire sobbing the tears that had been held back for so long. His tattered clothing took afire and his body cooked ever so slow, exuding the smell of burned meat through the surrounding forest. He died blind, still crying fiery, bloody tears of loneliness. His ashes remained, not disturbed by wind or beast, fated to never be visited by humankind.
© Copyright 2016 Zelord. All rights reserved.
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