“New bird Wren, I mean, Verloren Schwester Raben... Reporting.” I said nervously. A selection of knights were arranged before like never before. I had seen parades, I attended celebrations when I was younger but this was nothing of the like.
They were armed.
The Festung’s main hall was in use for the wounded and we had assembled in the Knight’s conference hall. This room lacked grandeur and was only just big enough for knights in full armor to stand in.
Only the black flags of Raben coated the hall. Even then the flags had seen war. These were old banners with purple borders that had faded into tatters.
“We are here to elevate you from your previous home and sanctuary, from your initiate status as a new bird, to your home and rightful place among the tribe. The last rite begins now. My name is Lord Folter. And I call upon you Verloren.” Lord Folter spoke as he stood with the rest of the arranged knights.
His form was withered and his face was sagging with the weight of more than just his years. His feathers were dry, had not been oiled, and bore patches left him spotted. Numerous other wounds and scars littered what could be mistaken for a walking corpse.
Another spoke afterwards, “We are in a time of war and not through the rite of veterancy, but the rite of death. I are promoted on the condition of battlefield losses. You shall enter into the regardless as an equal among the clan and the tribe. You shall now be presented with your symbol of the rite.” Said Lady Armina.
I had seen a mean sharpness about her in the past. She thought highly of her self I imagined but now there stood a ghost. Her face was paler and her eyes had bags.
Representatives from Roost were there as well. Lord Kaiser and another by the name of Lord Schutz drew swords with Lord Folter and Lady Armina.
I felt weight over me like no other. It was a weight in life that was no longer mine own. I carried more than one life in my body. If I failed others would be snuffed out. This gathering was significant. Folter and Kaiser began a conversation after the ceremony commenced. But Armina had tears beneath her eyes.
“Are you alright Lady Armina?” I asked. No answer came. Only a hiss as her suit opened and she ran out to embrace me.
“We were blind to the north and we feared the worst.” She breathed with pressure and she spoke with a shuddering sob. “You found my niece in the outposts.” She tried to compose herself but sat with me at a bench just out side the main room. “Volker and Trish told me you helped bury her. You have done so much and worked so hard for a tribe that worked to kill you and betrayed you from the beginning. Have faith I beg of you. We can mend this tribe.”
I felt anger. A pressure in my head with a boiling of my blood. She had suffered more than I had but I could only wonder: “How?”
She paused. She shook her head and I learned that day the price of Raben.
“There will be no traitors.” She said as she handed me a weapon, a sword bayonet and a jezail rifle. The weapon was polished, the blade fastened to the end.
I held the instrument of death like a life line in a storm.
First I had dreamed of blue feathers only to find black. Then I was to learn alongside a united tribe and be raised anew. I was meant to be a spy and a scout but now I was a meticulous soldier.
And I already knew where I would go. They would send me to the new front line.
That afternoon Lord Folter and Kaiser gathered the collective force. Last night Roost from the south along with Raben reinforcements had arrived.
“Greetings one and all.” Folter risked a bow.
Kaiser stood and took the center. “We have gathered to repay a grievous insult. Forces from Raben under the Traitor Shrieklich and the Traitor Hugo. Our first move will be a forward assault on the Corvus Castrum. From the surface ruins and the underground systems we will launch a preemptive assault on the fiends approaching from the north.”
I knew it from the beginning. There was never a chance we would allow traitors and murderers to occupy our homes.