Avisland: The Corvus Castrum

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Verloren Schwester Raben

"We're lowering down now, we've zeroed in on the location. The great ravens smell something. We've drawn claws, and Narr has his Jezail Rifle. I still find it so odd that Bedded can develop forbidden weapons but only gives rifles that shoot a foot long cylinder at a sluggish rate of fire, or a low caliber rifle. They let us have side arms only recently in history, maybe thirty years ago. But the tech tribe of Bedded still has no issue giving us better and better armor and swords. So we're not stagnant, just regulated apparently. I hope we can trust them to allow advanced weapons before our foes get one step ahead. Following the rules in war can get you and a whole lot of people killed."

-Personal Note: Marshal Verner-

Avisland: The Corvus Castrum, Holding Cell.

They removed the black bag off my head when they had moved me away. I felt faint and numb in my hands. I could feel my body wasting away, only to recover and then waste again. My train of thought was just the same. One idea, then it was gone and replaced with a searing headache. Everything was dark.

“I hear music Verza.” I said. “I don’t feel in control any more. I’m an entirely new person and nobody at the same time. I feel so heavy...”

In one day, I lost my sashes, my tribe, my eyes and my hair. Then I'd lost my friend. Goldfuast... I tried to rope him into this somehow. I was completely out of control.

After a pause in the mental changes, I stopped feeling so bad; relaxed almost. I could just pretend not to notice what I was doing and just retreat deeper. If I got smaller and if I took a step back and let this whole thing go, I could fade away.

“She ready?” Verza’s support asked behind the door.

“She’s there. She’s restrained and Frem has the nutrients and the machine tuned. Right now she's processing the supplements and her body has reached the physical completion. She'll only improve from here if she survives. The detoxification is slow but it's one of the last things we're waiting on.” Said Verza.

“Verza. I’m lost again. But I don’t think I want to be found.” I said.

“I know how you feel New Bird.” She walked me carefully forward.

“Verza...”

My elbows jerked and slammed at her but she pulled me to a wall and her support aided in the pin. They led me forward like a lamb to the slaughter.

“I can’t feel my arm Verza!” The arm I had beat on Gold’s chest in my madness had bled profusely. But now it looked shriveled.

“We’ll get you to Frem.” Verza said as we finished our way through the halls. A few more Rabenites and even children poked their heads through the doors behind them to see me.

The next hall looked no different, but Verza led me to a hatch in the wall and pulled it open to reveal an entire laboratory. Beakers and valves dotted desks and an area was sealed off for low light cultures. A man working several machine greeted us in a hurry. pumps were on pause and loads of tubes and needles were on trays that reflected the low-light in an unnerving fashion.

“Verza!” The man shouted. His Black hair like the rest of the tribe. His feathers were in long medical gloves that went to his forearms. "I’ll start the next stage, it’s a good thing you and the Marshal were on her so quickly. I heard we had an unexpected guest.”

“We weren't on her quick Frem. Some kind of elite Roostman managed to trail us here and attempted a rescue." Verza said as she worked quickly. "Same one that our Marshal incapacitated."

"You serious?" Frem prepared several chemical mixtures and dozens of nutrient supplements.

"We were told to capture not kill him when Lord Folter tipped us off. And it’s a much harder task as you can imagine. A few fliers caught sight of Roostmen on there way here but he mixed himself with the convoy that we cleared in. He moved quick.” Verza said as she had me clamped in a chair.

She continued as Frem worked. "The Roostmen we spotted from the air were actually a Roost patrol ordered to retrieve him but we didn't have him. We sent out the caravan with confirmation that he wasn't here, and we weren't even lying for once we hadn't seen him. We knew he was coming but we didn't spot him."

“What’s going on Verza?” I could feel my body withering. Not just my hand now but I felt cold everywhere. Something was hitting me now. It was underlying before but it was reaching full strength.

I felt sweat and my eyes were gazing upwards. Possibly the worst of all... I had to pee. Fortunately Verza was well aware from experience having gone through the same recruitment, and allowed my legs and one arm to be unfastened and she lifted me to a lavatory. I couldn't run if I wanted to right now.

The moment I finished I struck out. I could escape! I tore at the rest of my bindings but Verza was on me. She was graceful because my escape attempt had me crawling across the floor at a snail pace.

I grew dizzy.

“Hurry girl, you need to get to the machine.” There was a weird demeanor about Verza. Never angry at my attacks, but like one caring for the elderly, she was patient and had a mix of pity and honesty. There was no deception with her. She spoke how Robin's often spoke to animals during medical examinations. A sense of urgency masked under a calm and gentle voice.

Frem wore a medical face mask with black goggles, he was working hard to keep me alive and I was still trying to escape. The Robin Tribe wore the same sleeves to keep their brown feathers out of their patients. He was like me. He was from Robin, he must have been. Finally Verza and Frem had me down and placed several devices in me, it was not pleasant.

But I spotted Frem's black feather's through his transparent gloves. He was Raben as much as Verza was. As much I was about to become.

Frem poked two needles on tubes straight into my arms and I felt a surge. Two more joined them on my legs and several other s in various locations basically everywhere. The pain was magnified when he activated a pump. The needles felt like hot pokers. Then pressure drew blood from my forearms and . But as the blood flowed out, my haze over my eyes dissipated. The blood was flowing through correctly.

The walls grew grey from their original brown. It was the blood in my eyes leaving.

“Her metabolism isn't stabilized yet but it's getting there, that’s sort of good.” Frem said. "Her blood is being cleansed as we speak though, that is progress."

“How stable is the metabolism?” Verza asked.

“We need it down more, of course, but the decline has already occurred. We just need some calm dear. She’s definitely a third generation Rabenite, maybe more than third. Her grandmother is on the Warden family records. And so is another ancestor. That explains why she resisted violence for so long. Her dormant genes were signaled and her body was mostly prepared. She only resorted to violence within the hour.”

"The blood is getting cleansed perfectly, but I can't tell if the damage is done. Especially with that arm of hers if it gets worse we've lost her.

The pain increased but I couldn’t move my mouth. My teeth were clenched shut. And with a massive release, the dam burst, I broke into sobs and shudders. And only after the pain subsided, after a minute, I blacked out.

Verza put her helmet back on and left the medical room.

Two familiar faces were outside. "Verza?"

"How's she doing?" The two asked. "Every recruit is different."

Verza broke down on her knees and her two friends lifted her up and leaned her back against the wall. They lowered themselves down and sat with her. "This is the first time I've done this," she said to them. "I've never seen someone go that far."

"If she pulls though we'll greet her. Get some sleep Verza. You might be needed tomorrow." Said Felsic.

"No I'm going to be on watch with Frem tonight. You two will have a mission tomorrow and I will too. Trish will cover for us both if she pulls through. A Rabeness can bounce back quick if I remember. I was back at full strength in a few days."

-

Two figures woke me up at some point. They wore their tinted black helmets and were closer than the others now. They had me back at my cell but this time it was different. I felt fresh. They were quiet at first. But they spoke with intermingled sentences and a merging of their dialogues.

“We are your new sisters New Bird, whether you live or die from now on, you live or die as a Raben. You must make your name new bird.” They spoke in unison.

"Mafic the door." Felsic motioned as she spoke.

She rushed me in an instant but I froze. I perceived what she was going to do before she did. It was a hug of fulfilled hopes. Her breathing was not clear and little pants interrupted it.

"We didn't think you'd make it when your arm was as frail as it was. You might have lost a limb to the feathering if Frem hadn't been so good at his work. But you're better than ever!"

I knew about this, it was not unique among the tribes. They preferred that names changed when one changed tribes.

“My name is Felsic.” She removed her mask with her sister.

“My name is Mafic.” Their red eyes held me at perfect contact.

“I feel so lost...” I got up before falling backwards. The two pulled me back to my feet before I struck the ground. My senses were in a haze and my balance was asleep.

"Have you always felt lost?" They asked. "Are you frightened by that?"

“With respect sister, you could adopt the name of your family. Frem, a doctor from the Robin tribe tracked your ancestry through an archivist’s book in our possession.”

I looked down at myself and instead of uncertainty and disbelief, a sense of pride and great clarity rose up. like the beating of my own heart.

"I always felt happier when I didn't know where I was. The farms were always so known, but the wood with Pavise and Gold... We always found our way back. I was let down. I'd rather spend a night in the woods than find home, but we never stayed lost for long."

The two were taller than me and their black uniforms were blots in the cell and only their pale faces stood out fro the cobble of the walls and the aged interior. The old ruins sported young life in abundance, I had learned only recently.

"You feel doomed to wander? That is ironic because your new duties will oblige your desire." Mafic said in good humor.

"Doomed..." I said. "I like that sound. It's rather fitting." I said. "You have Raben in your last names, right?” A spark of creativity zapped me. I felt right and my moment of clarity expanded.

“Yes sister.” Felsic said as she leaned back relaxing. My mind had cleared and no impulse or instinct and the twins knew it.

It came as a revelation. I would never rise in Robin. Forever banned from higher positions from birth by the lack of the specialization. Here I was born for this. Whatever this was, I could never be barred from my birthright.

I new many words in several of the old languages. Some dead, some spoken by foreigners, but one word rang pleasantly.

“Verloren."

"Verloren Raben Schwester, if I am to be your sister.” Said back with my best shot at being formal. I realized this was initiation of some sort.

“The Lost Raven sister. An interesting title. Your name will change as you grow in your clan. You will join the Fate Clan sister. We test the unconscious recruits with three different forms of stimuli, a pheromone, a frequency, and scent, you didn't notice the smell did you? ” Mafic and Felsic said with alternating lines.

"No I didn't." I replied. The two were happy but not their happiest I could tell.

They embraced me like my own mother would.

"We did. It isn't pleasant. You're not a scout. You also showed no stimuli towards the frequency we played too." Felsic held out a whistle.

"But you did respond to the pheromone. A drop in several areas, including heart rate. You loosened up and relaxed, even after a recovery from the feathering. You're a fate. We didn’t think you would make it at first. Once your skin shrivels it is an indicator of death. You were so frail last night and Frem and Verza took shifts all night for you.” The Twins said.

“What happened to me? I need to know that, and I need to see my family!” I demanded with confidence and anger. "As a member of the tribe, is it in my rights?"

“Oh sister, yes at once, we will have agents retrieve them-” The other finished. “At once, yes.” They were an odd pair. But an innocent enough pair for two abductors in a tribe of potencial assassins.

“But first we must take you to Dee! You need Raben clothes. If you wear your Robin clothes you’ll itch and break out in a rash soon.”

“What do you mean by that, my clothes are fine... No wait, it’s tight.” As I heard their words I felt my black quill feathers rubbing on the inside of my shirt. I though it was just the bed I was lying on. But it got worse when I stretched out.

The two opened my padded cell from the inside with a key and opened double doors into the grand hallway again. Their hair was up in a short tail that fit into a hole in their helmet.

I felt wobbly. The cell wasn't spinning or anything. They lent me a hand and helped me regain my balance with a few near falls again. A few doors down we entered a pristine dark room. And a new face greeted us. I couldn't seem to grasp how much pressure my foot needed to rise and fall again. Everything was strung up a little to tight. Every muscle was far more tense and every motion felt exaggerated.

"Oh no." I had forgotten last night for an instance.

"I'm sorry, I wasn’t in control. I couldn’t stop myself. There was a Roostman. My friend." I burst out of my mouth.

"Goldfuast Roost Dan?" They asked.

"Is he okay?"

"Roostman... Goldfuast, he's a very annoying man. We don't like him." They said and their demeanor changed. A flash of interest into my questions faded into hesitation.

"He is alive Verloren. Do not worry about him. He was foolish and ignored not only our marshal, but Verza, and his own command structure. He almost interfered with your feathering. You could have died if you were not placed into the machine as soon as you were." Felsic said.

"Small window." Mafic said. "But now is the time for your arrangements, please, Dee's room is here." They said as they rounded one last corner in the endless maze of halls.

"Try not to wander until you know your way around."

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