A Letter for Crows

A Letter for Crows

Postby catch » Sat Oct 05, 2019 6:06 am

The Letter is jammed in the door. It is not the way that a Letter is meant to be delivered. The writing is careful, blocky, filled with pits and errors of the hand if not in spelling. It is unaware that a boy has already discovered something gruesome.


I know that there was a Man that you loved who called himself Bertram.

He did not Love You.

There are Three Things. He could not Create or Destroy. What he could do was Change.

He could Ruin.

He could Change a Lonely Boy to give himself friends. He did not do this for altruistic needs. He did this to hurt.

You should not go and see him. He has been taken care of.

He will not Hurt you further.


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Re: A Letter for Crows

Postby Cherny » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:56 am

Wedged between door and jamb the letter is a pale scrap caught and fluttering between wooden jaws, at the mercy of the autumn air. It is spotted by bead-bright eyes, carefully plucked free and carried to the youth's hand as a human thing, a curiosity, an item of interest. And perhaps, the crows hope, a distraction.

They find him not far from the lodge, where brambles and berry bushes cluster around a small clearing with a flat stone at its centre. He sits hunched with arms wrapped about his knees, huddled into a too-large coat still greasy with lampblack and dubbin that hides deeper stains, a shock of white fur at his collar and a mess of black hair above. Silent as he has been for days now, barely acknowledging the concerns of crows or rats or hounds, lost behind his own eyes.

The letter draws only a dull glance before he looks away again, the faintest shake of his head to signal his disinterest; the crow bearing the letter - Bone Button, hatched the spring before last, already earning a reputation for stubbornness - croaks impatiently and sets the scrap of paper down on the flat stone, working with beak and feet and clawed thumbs to unfold it, weighting the corners with twigs and pebbles. For a time sharp eyes inspect the marks and scratchings with an unseemly shrewdness before the crow feels confident in assembling shapes into sounds, the hoarse voice of a young boy speaking in stilted monotone.

"I - know - that - there - was - a - man - that - you - loved - who - called - him - self - bert - ram."

The youth's spine stiffens, his gasp sharp enough to give Button a moment's pause before forging on, encouraged by having prompted any kind of a reaction.

"He - did - not - love - you - there - are - three - "

The recital abruptly becomes a corvid shout of alarm and reproach as the letter is seized, snatched from beneath its reader's feet, the boy's lips moving silently continues the crow's task of deciphering the letters inexpertly scribed. A moment to feverishly check the back of the paper for more before he starts again, reading the message a half-dozen times through before he sits back, staring at nothing, the paper forgotten and crumpled in a fist clenched white.

* * *

An hour after, and the woods echo with the calls of crows; they move with purpose through the treetops in groups of two, each pair keeping a steady distance from the next, bead-bright eyes scouring the forest floor below.

Searching.
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Re: A Letter for Crows

Postby catch » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:15 am

There was no way to avoid the Crows.

He did not wish to. There was a sense that, perhaps, he should. But there was also an (amusing) thought that such an idea was futile. He did not know if he was meant to be amused, or frustrated, or angered by it.

So he did not move the way that he wished to move, save in the dead of night, when the moon was heavy and yellow and Sang, and Fionn wanted and he wanted. Night, when crows and boys must sleep, no matter how clever they were.

When they find him, he is sitting on a rotted log; it is not a clearing except for now, in Autumn, when the leaves begin to drift downwards. He is not dressed for the chill, never dressed for the chill, and his head his down.
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Re: A Letter for Crows

Postby Cherny » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:29 am

He is a smudge of soot against the blaze of autumn, a black silhouette as he hastens through the woods; black leather boots, black iron hat, black mailshirt chiming beneath a dead man's coat. One hand grips a rune-carved spear, relic of bloodshed and deceit, for years kept tucked away in a dusty corner until today. Until now.

Scraps of black flutter and croak through the trees above him, and he corrects his path at their direction, though the crows around the clearing are quiet as the distant cries grow nearer. In the higher branches a pale shape perches, bone-white against the autumn sky, keeping watch with eyes like gold pennies.

The boy is running by the time he glimpses a pallid flash through the trees, ducking below branches and hopping over roots and stones, but slows before he draws close enough to hail the pale figure, breath clouding in short huffs before his face. He turns to inspect the woods around him, to either side and behind, a glance for the branches above before before treading a few cautious steps closer closer, a soft crunch of leaves beneath his boots.

"Ser C-catch?"

His voice is deeper than it once was, though still hoarse and harsh, still sticking and stuttering behind his teeth; taller than he was but by no means tall, not so much skinny as lean, still not all the way grown.

Quicker now, a brisk crackling of leaf litter as he closes the distance, and a moment later he is knelt at the madman's side, spear dropped against the rotted log and forgotten as he peers up at features half-veiled by silver curls before looking to the rest of him, searching.

"I'd n-not seen you for, for d-days. I was w-worried." A slender hand reaches for the young giant's own, a gesture of familiarity, reassurance.

"I'm glad you, you're s-safe."
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Re: A Letter for Crows

Postby catch » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:56 am

He didn't want this. But he's not sure what the alternatives would, should, could possibly have been. It's not as if he could have always avoided Eater. Like the Crows, the idea was a conflict of amusing, frustrated notions. He cannot hide. And he does not mean his Body, the heavy thing that sits on this log as the Crows silently gather

smart enough to gather silently; smart enough to whisper and plot


scarred thumb kneading into the meat of his palm, eyes desperate and distant and bright as they glare past the strings of his curls at some point beyond his toes. The pain of his too-hard press fights to keep the smell of the Coat out of his nose. It smelled of teak-slop and polish. Bertram's revenant clung to it, but it was Cherny's steps, Cherny's still-small hands seeking to stop his pain-inflicting own

and that was familiar. worry

"I waited here for you."

There was no stutter on his tongue.

His eyes refused to meet Eater's. That was familiar, at least.

"You don't have to worry."
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Re: A Letter for Crows

Postby Cherny » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:33 am

How many years has he known Catch, has he hopped and darted about him, an attentive little shadow to the madman's silver fire? How often has he cared for him, seeing that he is fed and clothed, groomed and watered, his hurts tended and his troubles calmed?

Enough to know the man well, enough to pay more heed to his gestures than his words, enough to recognise those little signs of agitation and distress. Enough that he has learned a multitude of small things which might soothe them, might offer the madman an anchor in the storm of his own thoughts, might ground him in something real and draw him back out of his own head. This is something he can do, something upon which he can focus his attention and push aside recent horrors, at least for a time.

So it is that the boy's thin fingers touch Catch's own, tracing the creases of knuckles and the silvery lines of ancient scars. Firm enough to be noticed, but no more than that.

"I, I do, though." He does, and he must. "I sh-should've looked for you s-sooner. It, it's c-cold, and you've no w-winter coat, and you'll c-catch your-" A stumble. "a, a chill."

Quiet for a span of heartbeats, apparently intent on Catch's hands, before he speaks again.

"That w-wasn't true, what I s-said. I, I wasn't worried." Eyes downcast beneath the brim of his iron hat, struggling with his words. "I w-was frightened. I thought s-someone might, might've h-hurt you. Or, or w-worse."
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Re: A Letter for Crows

Postby catch » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:46 am

He wanted to laugh. The hysterics threatened, pitch-black and thick, like the awareness, the sanity, the words. Unbalanced. Easier when he was Nothing. Catch turns his hands, waiting until Cherny's natural tracing led to his palm, so that his fingers could close on the boy's - gently, very gently. Bird-thin bones.

"I didn't want you to go there." Eater may lie. He hadn't meant to lie, and he apologized for it, he had. Immediately corrected himself, because he is Eater, and he is nothing but Good.

Catch didn't have it in him to turn aside.

And Cherny wore the Coat.

"I'm safe, you're safe. We'll all be safe, soon."
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Re: A Letter for Crows

Postby Cherny » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:43 am

The squire allows that touch, that grip, indeed welcomes it; a wordless sign that the man has not retreated, has not gone into his own head. It reassures for that reason and others, and brings some fleeting flicker of a smile to his face in gladness that this, at least, is familiar. He devotes himself to granting Catch a moment of something like comfort, and the giant, by his presence, repays it in kind.

Too soon, however, the moment passes, as this small measure of calm at last allows him a chance to notice the madman's words and how they are spoken.

A breath half-drawn, perhaps to offer some amiable agreement, paused in his throat.

Thin hands, an instant earlier in soothing motion, fallen still against silver-scarred skin.

A span of quickened heartbeats in which the boy's eyes widen and blink beneath the brim of his iron hat, before reflexes learned through the Lady's Summer assert themselves in placid features and gentle voice.

"Go w-where, Catch?"
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