Colors swam over his vision, a liquid ball of pigments swirling over and around one another, but never mixing. His hands began to tingle and his legs were already numb. This was the cost of life, and payment was due.
Half his skull had been shattered by the red knight wielding his awful mace. He somehow retained consciousness as he had fallen from his own steed to land beneath stomping hoofs and fighting men. He had lain there, bodies piling up all around him, cloaking his still breathing corpse under a guise of death. The battle still raged on, but this piece of blood soaked ground had already been claimed. Its true victor waited for one more soul to pass into its grasp.
He closed his eyes, but the colors would not dissipate. He longed for oblivion’s sweet embrace to take away the pain, the nausea, the involuntary twitches that wracked his body. Death did not come though, and had it, it would not have been so merciful.
He had lived a hard life. A mercenary’s life. He had killed innocents and vented his rage and lusts on the victims of his warfare. The gods, whether he believed in them or not, would not grant him peace everlasting. Instead he had a visitor.
The crow looked down on him with an intelligence one only thinks capable of men. A new fear welled up inside him. He wished to flail his arms to shoo the little beast away, but they did not obey. He growled at it, but all that came out was a choked gurgle. The colors danced more brightly from the strain and his head throbbed in pain. The bird hopped forward and in one fast motion, plucked his left eye out with its beak. The man watched in stunned horror with his remaining eye as the thing tilted its thick black neck back. It opened its beak and scoffed down its morsel. A savage urge of delight welled up in the man, mixing with his already present anguish and horror as it choked on its prize. It only lasted a moment and a deep feeling of loss replaced delight as the creature managed to get its meal down. It cocked its head at him, stepped forward again and plucked out the other eye.
The man tried to scream, but met the same shortcomings as before. Colors still swam before the vision that had so permanently been robbed of him. A flutter of wings foretold of the beast’s friends arrivals, but the flutter soon became a chorus, and then a roar. The air about him stank of carrion and a rhythmic wind pattered his face, drying to his cheeks the blood that dripped from his empty sockets. The man now knew fear. This was his payment; to be eaten alive. How he wished he had been luckier.
Had he not blocked most of the red knight’s furious assault, he would already be dead. The jealousy he had of his fellow corpses flared with each moment as the murder descended on them. Tiny claws gripped onto exposed flesh as the clinks of feet on metal were all but drowned out by the ruckus. Then he noticed a voice in the commotion, as if the thousands of wings themselves spoke.
“Mortal man” the murder said. “You can hear us mortal man?” It asked of him.
The man gurgled, “yes”. He choked on his own words and coughed hard, relieving the phlegm in his lungs for a moment. He reiterate with a stronger voice, “yes.”
The murder responded, “Good. Mortal man, We have need of you. Will you obey us? We will return life to your dying body.”
The man cried, “My eyes. I can not see.” He whimpered, crying too difficult to achieve. “How can I help without eyes?”
The murder said, “We took your eyes. You will not need them. Had they remained, you would be dead.”
The man just sobbed in self pity.
The murder said, “Will you obey us? Or will you die? We are not patient and grow ever hungry.”
Fear jolted the man again. The thought of a god consuming him was a horrible one. “I will obey”, He squeaked as another coughing fit racked him.
The murder said, “Then sleep.” He obeyed.
Copyright © 2019 Nathan Washor, All rights reserved