The Fate Clan
“In the Dark we were unable to see were unable to track the additional great ravens in the sky. It was Lord Folter in the sky above us. A Fate Knight, one of the three strongest member’s of the Tribe. He wasn’t in full armor tonight, but he made contact. He told us the Corvus Castrum was blocking all messages with non-warden Marshals, and any force near the Arbiter Tribe caravans. This was political, aggressive, premeditated, and a preemptive strike. I trusted Folter, during the seasons of disaster he’d saved my entire squad. He was no kin killer. I would follow him to my death.”
-Personal Note: Marshal Verner-
Avislad: The Corvus Castrum, The Great Raven Dome.
I stayed through the night with Hex, feeding her, and rubbing just along her back where she couldn’t reach her claws.
“Hey Loren?” Verza gave me a shove and black feathers all around me rustled.
“Your bird took off. He’s getting breakfast. And it’s time for you to meet your clan! Since it didn’t eat you I guess you’re pals now.” She said with a hand to lift me up.
Her helmet wasn’t with her. Her hair was hanging at her neck, only passed her chin. Her pale skin and scarlet eyes must be just like mine. I haven’t seen a mirror in a while. But she looked soft.
I startled, wondering why I was so warm and I didn’t even notice them. They blended in with me. Dozens of crows were nuzzling and perched on me while I slept. They were calm and didn’t fidget or move. The large crows around me sat and cleaned their feathers while others stretched their wings and picked at the woods around me. The smell was a bit strange but not unpleasant. The birds were clean and well-groomed to a fluffy texture.
“Do you have a shower, tooth cream? A comb?” I asked.
“That’s the most ridiculous question ever. Come on, let’s get you over to the Fates.”
We weren’t the only people under the dome. “Oh, looks like someone has her murder.” Two Rabenite’s jeered from two perches across from us.
“What the heck is a Fate?” I asked as I nervously tried to removed the birds resting in a nest on my shoulder.
“Fates are a clan of Raben. The Raben mark is really, really, unpredictable. It has variations. There are a handful of clans we’ve made based on these. Wardens like myself, we have an affinity you could say for metal. Chains for instance. THe way they rattle, the way sound moves through it, we’re actually sensitive to it. The worst afflicted need ear pieces. Our bodies have an over developed sense of balance and awareness, mostly hearing and we’re sensitive to vibration, thats why the floors are so level. And we really hate Tribe Bedded because they make so much noise with metal, its just... annoying. It’s a wild and savage cacophony. They don’t send wardens to Bedded anymore.
"Our helmets have noise dampeners for that, but we don’t even risk it. We hang out up high on missions. Chain launchers, lassos, nets, hooks, it sounds like a beautiful dream to me. Just to lie down on two wires and stare at the ground.” Verze said holding a light chain in her hands moving the medal just right to give of rhythmic rings.
“Terra to Verza, come in Verza, what’s a Fate?” I ask again. Wardens sounded a bit medieval to her but in a classy way.
“Right, Fates. I’ve been told fates have an itch. It’s an unstoppable over riding notion. The idea is Fates think a little differently. They think a few steps ahead when they make decisions. And some compulsively need to scheduled and plan anything they can. And last were the ravens. You have a body chemical in your sweat that the Ravens and crows like. It instills a docile nature into the birds. It’s typically harmless.”
“What does my clan... do?” I asked.
“Mostly coincidences adding up to into something more. Like booby-traps, trigger sensitive mine fields, excessive boiling point death traps.”
We left the dome when the last bird hopped off my shoulder.
“You’ll meet Nadel, she’s a real riot. Her plans are too chaotic for my tastes but they’re effective. She likes to use a barbed wire tired to a giant needle. Sows people up. Ties branches, trees, and nets of rocks for catching stuff or ambushing things.”
“Those seem unrelated. I’m not following you that well.” The Greater Ravens didn’t mind our presence, a few of them were being fed from a few Rabenites tossing food. Fruit, scrap meat, and a water feeder kept a murder of them occupied. The rest were playing in a pond sized bird bath.
“So where is my clan at?” I had dozens of questions again.
“Hang on. I’ll follow you. Frem just got in touch with our tech group, Bedded trains a few teams for each tribe to work simple stuff. They’ll have your helmet’s guidance system soon.”
We’re back in the marble hall way. The narrow and vaulted corridor stretches on again.
“If you’re going to live there then you can lead the way. And I’ll have to leave you when I get there. They like me normally, my knight doesn’t want us in other peoples areas right now. Here is a map.” She handed my a square of fine paper with the bird dome marked and the Fate clan labeled on an elevator.
“Oh, same, I haven’t met a knight yet.”
You hear about Shrieklich? Big man, always wears armor. You’ll know him when you see him. If you see him, and he sees you, kneel and look at the floor. He’s erratic and prone to violence. Or salute him, depends on his mood.” Verza said.
“So who’s my Knight for the Fates?”
“Oh you have a few, all the tribes do. You’ll have Folter, Armina, and a few more you’ll meet. They’re going to present you to your parents today for your Raben initiation. Just a short meeting, then some food and a good time to talk to some elders about any more questions you have.” Verza made me jump for a second.
“My parents? Today, oh thank you so much, they’d be so worried about me.”
Verza and I traveled down the hall. The air felt still but not cold or stuffy. A weird equality between hot and cold.
“No, we had new rules made by the Arbiters just last year. No more recruits will have to fake their deaths.”
“Wait, you had to fake your death?” I asked Verza.
“Oh, yeah, most of us didn’t talk to our families again for a long time. The Arbiters did away with that. And a few other things that have had some nasty effects. Our birds have to be fed from Robin’s animal feeding supplies. A few here got stupid and tried to fly off with sheep and a whole cow once.”
“I heard about that in Robin. One of the dairy cows was just gone one night.”
“Yeah we got in alot of trouble for that. Oh, there’s a third group, Scouts, the scouts are going to be their own clan soon. Right now we call them a clan because most of them are out in the field, but they come back all at once they have significant numbers. But right now they’re sheltered in the main groups when the weather turns bad or they need supplies.
She left me at the door to ”The Vault.” One of the only doors in the Corvus Castrum with a sign out front.
Verza held her hand to her helmet to catch a message.
“Got to go Loren, scouts gave us a signal. They need me to observe and intervene if things get tense at a Roost Barracks, a report of an authority feud. Macaw wants their work in the right spot. Trust me, Macaw is possibly the most controlling of the tribes, you mess with their paints, you move a stone out of place and they’ll catch you. I’ll be by later we might have a mission together in a few days.” Verza shouted as she waved.
She ran backwards away from me with a notification coming through her helmet.
“Thank you so much for everything Verza!” I shouted back.
She slid her visor on and broke into a wild dash. Her half cape floated lightly behind her. She doesn’t make a single sound in her sprint. Each step was deaf.
My own helmet, mask, visor, thing, started to beep. I tried it on for a moment.
“Miss Kind.” Words were floating along the glass in a light blue text. “Coordinates to THE VAULT acquired. Make an entrance to the hatched door, then proceed down an entry way, take the lift four levels down, and your destination will be in view.”
This thing worked now.
Living quarter’s arrival elevator ready.
A lift stood perched for me. The navigation went out immediately. The room was grey with the same marble floor. But the Marble stopped short.
In a way, it was what I asked for. I wanted a tribe away from farming. I was lonely on the Tribe’s land, I didn’t have feathers and would be leaving. I have feathers now, and they’re not blue but I still get to see the world.
I was led at an automatic lift; a metal cart with a powerful cable to hoist it up and down.
It’s going to be so weird. I’m not a Robin.
I climbed into the lift and it jolts to begin lowering. Good bye Robin and hello Raben.
It’s not a sweet good bye, but it’s serious still. I’ll have to keep peace now. I’ll need to keep the Robin Tribe safe, maybe even the Roost Tribe. Wow. There won’t be a Roost patrol to keep out things or raiders. It’s me.
I didn’t want to be a farmer. I didn’t want to be in Tribe Bedded or Robin. I could have ended up in Roost. I suppose we’re sort of like Arbit. That trainer mentioned the scouts. I guess they get to live outdoors and they get to enjoy the scenery when they’re off duty. I even get to negotiate and work out peace, in a darker way but it’s relatable. By different means we reach the same end, right?
The lift halted.
There was a clear receiving room, same marble as the long hallways, grey walls. Now I’m seeing a bright white entryway with a an electric chandelier just behind two double doors with glass windows to them. The walls were paneled with creases and every other crease showed a bright red carving of an eye.
A clamor rung out from behind the pair of double doors. Beside it was a hole in the wall with a sign written in the old tongue.
Place talons and relics in hatch and select your room number. A second little paper was stuck to it.
New Bird, please select eleven on the dial.
I pulled off two buckles on the claws and placed them inside. It’s set on a tray and a light started to blink. The tray rolled down a line and it was off.
Here goes nothing.
I step to the doors but freeze, I hear voices inside. But then a laugh.
I pushed one of the doors open slowly. Bright lights were everywhere. No the elevator was just dark.
My sensitive eyes soak it up like the sun’s warmth to a spring field. Crimson red flows from curtains surrounding stain glass high above me, lit with artificial light. Obviously it’s not sunlight down here but I couldn’t trust it. It felt better than sunlight. But that was just the walls. Rabenites flooded the room. To call it a room was shameful, it took the form of a grand hall way. A black carpet was rolled out for me. Purple lanterns hung from a arched ceiling. Capes, gowns, scarfs, and tailored suits decorated many a woman and man.
Most of them still had leather uniforms on with gear and harnesses. No claws were on though. Three halls branched off from this zone and I smelt an aroma from one of them. I hadn’t realized this place could make me feel at home until now.
They’re making a breakfast. I smelt dried onions sprinkled along stir fried noodles. I’ve lived around these ingredients for years. I saw a few hard-boiled eggs in a bowl of soup pass me to a long table to my left down a separate door.
“It’s the New Bird! Robin Girl! Didn’t you hear? Her name is Verloren.” I’m greeted by a crowd as I step in.
“Welcome, please get her a room, find her space, get her something to drink. She met Dee already, uniform and everything.” Several voices overlap in excitement. A child finds its way next to me.
“You’re the one that stabbed the Roostman, was he okay?” A younger child lacking feathers asked. The little girl has rich black hair and remarkably dark eyes. Very brown. Not red.
That one stumped me and only added more silence to my voice. I honestly have no clue. I went to answer but I start racing.
Is Goldfuast alive? I just tore him up. They told me they sent him home I guess.
“Yes, he should be okay.” An older gentleman answers for me. The other voices quieted down. “I’m Diener, the elder of the vault, and a Nacht knight, at your service, New Bird.” He gave a strong smile and a gentlemanly bow. He wore a robe that flowed down both shoulders but doesn’t touch the floor. His chest is armor plated and a beaded lace hung from his collar. Some sort of necklace.
“Is she here?” a voice called out. It’s my mother’s excited and very comforted. Not like the last time I heard her.
“Wren?” My father called out alongside her. They part their way through the crowd and I make eye contact with them before they start to examine the crowd.
“Mom! Dad! It’s me.” They double take back. “It’s me Wren.” The sound of that name is still bitter. Still soaked in a friend’s blood.
“Wren? It’s…Come here!” Mom only caught my voice. My eyes, and my hair changed. I’m decorated in feathers of onyx and my eyes are dyed in scarlet.
I rushed to her arms. But stopped. I could tell from my clan’s faces that I was too fast. Most of them were holding back a gasp, and a few flinched. I slowed myself in time but it was close. I hugged her with force she wasn’t expecting. And my father embraced me for a long hug.
Mother muttered with her face pressed against my shoulder. “It’s only been days but it’s like you’ve been gone weeks.”
“I’m okay Mom.” They released the hug and get a good look at who I’d became.
“I heard Gold tried to save you,” said Dad. He wishes he’d kept those last words tighter, “Oh no, you didn’t need saving.”
The Rabenites chuckled at his concern. “ I know, I know, the only one in any danger was us, and Gold; the Roostman. I’m so sorry. It was just so confusing. He didn’t cause you guys any trouble, not too much?”
A few more of them laughed but in an agreeable way. One of them didn’t. He had a chin strap, clearly a victim of Gold at some point.
“No Mr. Koko, or Muller, the Roostman gave two of the wardens a run for their money and one of us, but getting Verloren off him was the challenge.”
Dad looked over at me in disbelief. “No, you were attacking Goldfaust?” Even mom was worried about the answer to that question.
“I went a bit mad. No, not a bit, I was a lunatic. The feathering was harsh. Gold lived though.” I shrugged through it.
“Oh.” Dad was caught off guard by that answer. Dad stood quiet trying to comprehend who I was now.
“I see why they abduct their recruits now. Safety reasons…” Mom broke the silence.
An armored and figure marched in. A tall woman with skin like dark caramel, but not an ounce of her could possibly be sweet, hair like a tree bark. She arrived in the entryway with a grace uncharacteristic of so much gear. Her armor was dressed in ribbons and a massive but thin cape, it stretches behind her for almost two meters.
She announces her introduction, “Armina Tage Nacht Raben, Knight of the Fates, and I am extremely pleased to meet our new bird.” Her face was bold and her posture follows. “Allow me a moment.” She walked out of the room. All of Raben had gone quiet but began their conversations again.
“Oh, that would be your knight, it’d be great to meet her. Robin’s knight has been so helpful too, but they dont’ do as much fighting. Mostly engineering landscapes.”Said Dad.
Armina’s armor opened outside the main room to release a formally dressed Rabeness to the occasion.
“So much better.”
Mom gave a light bow, “My Lady.”
“Mrs. Koko, Mr. Koko,” Armina bowed back in a curtsy. “We are honored to receive guests from Tribe Robin. And to our New bird, we have much to teach you. And I just heard word from your friend of the Warden Clan; Verza Raben Kass. She has asked you to train on her squad this evening from your first lesson in the field. You’ll fill in for her. Unfortunately she will not be able to join you as she will be sent on a mission with one of our other squads shortly. These will be her close friends I can assure you. It will be a good way to include you into the tribe as much as possible.”
“That’s great. Mom, Dad, Verza helped me so much, she got me through my feathering. She’s been a great friend so far. Oh, thank you… my Lady.”
Diener entered to our greetings, “Excellent to hear, now we need to sit and talk. Your stay here will be a long one and your provisions will be arranged. “Please follow us to some tables.”
“Of course,” Mom and dad followed the Knights to a smaller room. A masked Marshal walked into the crowd after us.
“Scouts have detected a disturbance along the southern border, six days, threat level minimum, but it is moving towards the mountain range. Vlad, Hel, and Eile, you’ll move along with another Marshal, you leave in four hours, eat, and gear up.”
Dad asked, “Will my daughter be getting attacked and fighting?” His face was concerned and showing worry. He was familiar with peril. Once dad was rallied into a militia to fend off the first wave of Fiends during a frightful season, Robin never saw combat on our boarders unless no other Roost units were available. We have a few enemies but nothing civilized. Only wasteland horrors moving on Avisland, and attempting to strike Nest Reacher. He didn’t see more than one battle but he was aware that the Roost tribe was in the thick of it.
Armina reassured them of my position, “Verloren Raben Kind will escort a pair of our finest as they teach her. She will not engage danger if she does not need to. Not until she is competent and confident with her claws and her skills. Even then members of Tribe Raben, tend to find our bodies so swift we are rarely attacked. Not much meets our caliber, but I stress that ‘much,’ we are not invulnerable but we can make it appear that way. It is usually us that do the attacking anyways.”
“I’m no Rooster, but I was in the counter rally many years ago, do those things still roam the outskirts?” Dad asked. I’ve been silent for the most part. The seniors of the tribe do care for my safety, but dad has no idea who he’s talking about anymore. He never saw what I did.
Diener informed my folks. “Yes, Mr. Koko, standard Raben technique is we strike fast and at a distance if possible, and retreat and repeat. If pursued, traps wreak havoc. If they are persistent or foolish, they walk into more ambushes. If we are forced into hand to hand, we end it in one attack. Our claws are sharp and we have deadly weapons. Also, you’ll find your daughter could outrun a fully-grown Keeper on foot, even more so in the air. In the sky she is in no danger. Her feathering went very well, most cannot retain this amount of calm so soon. And rarely this much composure, I must applause that Miss Schwester.”
“And Wren is ready for this?” Mom asked.
“More than ready.” I interrupted.
“And you’re so sure?” Dad made eye contact with my crimson gaze, but broke it. “Sorry girl.”
The Nacht Knight Armina took a new point in the conversation at our seats. “Tribe Raben is genetically deadly. Honed killer instincts, opportunistic mannerisms, sensitive eyes and ears, and perfect night vision. All of this is achieved within one week of a feathering. You know what she did to your Roostman friend?”
“Um, I’m sorry but I’m not sure if they want to know that.” I interrupt.
“Verloren, I honor that request. “But know this. with her bare hands Verlore could have killed Goldfuast.” Her countenance reflected a vulture’s gaze. It knew it’s prey squirmed under it’s ever present eye and she reveled in it.
“My apologies Armina, my lady, but I must put a stop to this.” I Interrupt, look over to my parents, “It’s for the best. Maybe we should meet later.”
“Wren! Please no, Wren. Verloren… When you left, it was like a scar. It healed when we knew you were okay but the skin’s not pleasant. It still hurts.” Mom halted me.
Mom interrupted again with her hands. She stood and walked to me. Her hands reached across and begin to touch my face. Armina was confused and Diener was a bit surprised.
The sensitive palms and finger tips give her all she needs to know. Robins feathered and grew sensitive skin on the palms and the finger tips. They could read a pulse, heart beat, vibrations and even sense soil quality through their hands. Something I could never do being a native.
“No feathers can trick me girl, I love you and I need to know you now, what happened when you were taken, tell me everything, please.” She said after she placed her hands off my face in delicately in her lap. “We will always love you.”
“Ah, Mrs. Koko, you are quite wise, perhaps a tale can create a middle ground.” Diener tried to mediate with a degree of success.
“Alright, sorry this is going to be rough but I’ll start. I was taken in the fields, Dad tried to stop them, he rang the alarm. Goldfuast tried to stop them but Raben got to me first. Gold’s escort got hit hard, and she’s right. We can out run a keeper. Those chickens trot but they don’t sprint like we can.” I said with a bit of pride. The potential still spooked me but also excited a new part of myself. My parents were hung up on that detail.
“Gold fought a few off but when Verza’s bird carried me off and she helped me settle in for the first day of the feathering.”
My dad was listening intently, and mom had sat back down. Her face worried but understanding.
“But I got flown off to this castle, the Corvus Castrum. That’s when my eyes and my hair turned colors. Brown to black and brown to red. It would have been so much worse without Verza there.” I told them everything. Lust, desire, and passion. Gold got that personally, with a side of wrath and rage.
Diener and Armina listened to my every word, they’ve experienced this story in their own memories. Plus a few reports. It was nostalgic and they grinned once or twice, even finding my experience with my bird Hex to be a great tale.
An oak door slid open while I talked. Two Rabenites carried out five metal orbs the size of melons. But they were hot. The handed one to each of us.
The Knight twisted the top of the orb and it opened to reveal food of all things.
“Oh, pardon the interruption Verloren. Our food is all ready. My thanks to our cook, you’ll meet him shortly Miss Kind.” Armina paused my tale. “Now Mr. and Mrs. Koko, please eat, this comes from your farms and consists of rations delivered to us from Tribe Arbit.” Her gaze was ever observant in her blood pooled eyes. But neither myself, or my parents even knew what these orbs were at first.
“Find the seem and just twist.” Diener said.
“Salt processed on our coast has been seasoned over eggs and a rosemary with potatoes. These are paired with toast and with mashed fruit to produce a jam. A different jam is centered inside a flaky pastry.” Diener continued.
“I built the bowls myself. Its so much fun to fiddle with something. To invent, to devise. I was from Tribe Bedded, I still tinker a bit, and plenty here still do. A few from Robin cook, a few still practice medicine. Specializations don’t get neglected here.”
“We Fates are no chain whipping wire runners, we plan and execute very complex and interwoven plans without flaw on an obsessive level. We command and orchestrate our will to the peak of our purpose.” Armina was roused with pride for her clan.
“I see.” Mom said as she began to eat.
I like the bread more than I usually do. Something about my tongue is even more tuned and I’m quick to devour the entire portion.
“There are more in our tribe than just Knights, so I’ll let the rabble out to meet their new member in a few moments. I’m just joking, Fates don’t structure that harshly, we’re no royalty here.” She held a finger to an ear piece, “Thank you so much for your patience.”
She stood with her food bowl empty, she ate so subtly I didn’t even notice. Diener was a bit different. I saw him eat with large bites and entire mouth-fulls’, pretty much my style.
“Diener and I will need to brief squads for our next wave of patrols, we’ve been experiencing blackouts in communications. And we haven’t been able to contact many of our patrols. You’ll be our last wave later on today, Miss Verloren Raben Kind.”
“It was a pleasure to meet you both, Robin guests, Mr and Mrs. Koko.” She addresses them by the old tongue. Her respect was very sincere, even after her mannerisms and antics.
“I guess I’ll see you for my first assignment?” I asked Armina as she rose with Diener.
“Yes, new bird. And to you Mr. and Mrs. Koko, Verloren will be able to visit you any time she is off duty, and she may have full marriage rights among any of the clans. But you will be issued a messenger raven to send messages to her and receive them from her.” Diener said as they bowed and departed.