Avisland: The Corvus Castrum

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The Mark

“Verza let the new bird to make some distance in some sort of escape attempt parody. She’s not supposed to do that. Robin’s are the least violent natives to convert fortunately. She’s also loose in a Tribe of secret police operatives. They want me to be the bad one today, I will be in pursuit. I can apologize to her when this is done. Verza gets to be the good cop.”

-Personal Note: Marshal Verner-

Avisland: The Corvus Castrum, Entry Hall.

I ran like a keeper, as fast as two legs could cycle across the ground. Minute by minute I was unraveling, they had striped my mother's eyes from my body. My father's hair had just left me too. What would be next? I’m not sure where I would be running but I needed to move.

-

“Her eyes just bled everywhere. I just hope she doesn’t trip or run into a wall. We're also going to have to clean that." Mafic said with a groan.

Mafic and Felsic went through a check list. "Feathers: check. Hair: check. Eyes: Check. Last is the madness and the body's last withdraws. Then that’s the Raben Mark all rapped up.” Mafic and Felsic walked up to Verza.

"Verner on that?" They asked.

"He certainly is. I can't run someone down. How am I supposed to work with a mutating psycho who thinks I'm her enemy? I need to be on her good side."

"I'm sorry," Mafic and Felsic said.

"Don't be, we've all been there before." Verza said as she made preparations for the enevitable.

-

I made it down a well lit flight of stairs from the last room. The place the bird landed in must have been an entry way because this led to a grand hall. It was ever-reaching into the distance and it was electrically lit and tiled. That wasn't slippery but perfectly polished and absolutely white. The floor might have been marble or perhaps even some sort of crystal. It was a nice floor I must say, but I couldn’t ogle a single stretching piece of ground. I had to leave and I didn't want to get myself caught again.

The walls had a few cords, pipes, and metal latches dotting them. The latches made a pattern of sorts. Every ten steps I passed a latch. They looked like they stretched into the distance forever. It was not a comforting observation. The end of the hall, if there is one, wasn’t in view yet. Until I spotted the mirror. The hall ended wit ha mirror and a quick turn down a much shorter hall.

This was a ridiculous lay out. The castle wall wasn't this long from the outside. The hall was air conditioned and heated in various lengths of the tunnel-like passage. But after a time, I noticed the end of the hall, almost. A fork in the tunnel. I thought I was underground perhaps. Yet the ruins of the Corvus Castrum could not be holding facilities larger than it’s own area. They must have had sections of it underground but why? Why build under crumbling ruins?

Which way? Which way? Right, turn right. It doesn’t matter.

I turned and continued down the marble hallway. The same hatches, pipes, and wires were still covering the walls. Then I notice a blaze of sparks and in an instant darkness swallowed the lights behind me.

"What are you doing?" Some shouted.

"I'll fix this later, we have a rogue New Bird." A second voice said behind me.

I ran even harder and the darkness moved at speed. Eagerly it chased the light out as fast as it could flee.

It was one of the twin abductors. She jammed a hand down and several rows of lights went out.

I heard a scrape of metal behind me, then again in front of me after a moment. I was standing under a single light now that the other twin had killed the lights ahead of me. A flicker of a spark drifted from the dark hall. The electric lights are out and only a silhouette can be seen barring my path. The light just down the hall is still on and dozens of other figures were moving in the distance. None in uniform and even a few kids. Most had black feathers adorning their bodies. But not the kids. They were natives like I once was.

“You fled from the Tribes woman Verza Raben Krass.” A voice echoed down the hall slightly. It’s a colder tone; very disappointed. It was a cold and sort of whimsical attitude. “She’s the most rational and polite trainer here. It’s a shame. I guess I’m not the worst but I trust Verza more than I trust so many others.” It’s a he, and it’s the ‘he’ that hurt Goldfuast. I saw them leave him behind to deal with him when they took me.

“I'm Marshal Verner, and you need to go back to Verza at once.” The Marshal explained.

“No!" I shouted at the dark. Why can’t you let me go?”

“Because you’re getting worse. First it was feathers, now it’s your eyes, and ultimately your judgment over right and wrong will completely collapse.” He answered. “And you should count yourself lucky you’re doing as well as you are.” The Marshal’s visor was drifting in and out of the lights at different intervals. "Your friend Verza-"

"She's not my friend!" I shouted back.

"She will be. She stabbed the man she would later fall in love with. You are very lucky to be as stable as you are. No body dislikes Verza. The longer you can maintain stability the better you will recover and you should be grateful she's taken a liking to you. You'll need friends her in Raben."

I caught the slight glare from his shaded face visor in my peripherals. He walked into the light. It’s the leader who fought Goldfuast without a doubt. His voice echoed out.

I just don’t know what to do. Running won’t save me and I’m out of options.

I shouted into the darkness. The electric light left a strange focus on my eyes. I could make out the pipe along the wall and the cords. I could see him standing even in the dark for a moment.

“I’m the Marshal of squad thirty-three, Verner. You are the New Bird.” He responded. "You were once Wren Koko, but that will change."

“What is going on here? Why is there this random danger everyone talks about! Spit it out already, what is so scary that you all hide in some secret clubhouse pulling people from their homes?”

“Do you truly know why you’re here?” He says.

“No.”

He shows me his arms. Slick black feathers unfurled along his arms. “Tribe Raben was one of the first tribes to build Nest Reacher.”

“What?” I snapped back at him. My stance was different, I was weary of him now. I could see him so he couldn’t make any move against me without me being ready for it. He was right about my thoughts. I could almost feel his every step against the floor and my knife felt closer and closer. They never managed to disarm me and I still had the blade on me.

“Good, it means we’ve hidden pretty well. And just so we’re at least clear on this: you just feathered into Raben. Congratulations are in order after your trials. And please do not worry, these trials will not demand anything from you. The entire abduction was to secure you as quickly as possible and to make sure you don’t kill any of your friends and family.” Said Verner “You’re lucky your resistance to the Raben mark is so powerful, most are brought to their knees by it. Then they try and kill people.”

I’d been schooled and taught our origins. I’d spent a week memorizing every Tribe and the sub tribes. Raben was this enigma. But apparently, we’d been fooled. It was a fairy tale at best and even then it was a fairly obscure fairy tale, my father's kind of fairy tale.

“Robin, Roost, Arbit, Bedded, Macaw, and Raben. Food, law, peace, innovation, art, and counter corruption. We like to keep away from the history books. It helps to keep out corruption when when no one believes we exist. It took generations to conceal Raben. Every child born out of Raben has to circulate into the other tribes. And your friend Goldfuast basically undid the entire secret to a team of Roost. We don't silence people, don't worry. We're just irritated. The ”

“Counter corruption?” I asked back. “But what about Roost?”

“They’re the problem as much as the solution. The highest authorities in Avisland consort with us regularly. We have no right to spare you from the mark.”

“You can turn around and walk past me back towards your trainer, or you can continue down that hall. Either way, you end up back with your trainer and still inside the Corvus Castrum. If you run we catch you and restrain you. If you rejoin us willingly, we still restrain you.” Said the Marshal. “This is not an ordinary feathering. It's a very invasive process and it's already happening. The closest featherings to this are Roost and Bedded's but they go through physical changes more than mental.”

“Alright I get it. I’m not going crazy though, you can let me go.” I said. “I can just implant into Robin.”

“You have something beneath your eyes. You are about to go mad and don’t even know it. Your hair has already grown out black for the most part. Your arms have been entirely swallowed up in feathers. If we implanted any of the other tribal strains into you, it would kill you, or you would be wracked with so many conflicting mutations it would be torture. And those tests were performed without the Raben genes. Raben's mark is far more unpredictable and much less stable, which is why you have a forty percent chance of death right now over the next two days.”

My hand moved up. A few pats on my cheek with a slight rub and I felt fluid. It trickled down my eyes to my chin in the dark. The lights reappeared in a blast. The blinding light from the electric ceiling brought my red haze into full force.

It wasn't a total white blast but a crimson surge.

My blood dripped down my eyes like a slow leak. Just drop after drop. I panicked. I turned around, then forwards. I’d lost direction. I sprinted down the hall in a burst of adrenaline.

There was a whipping snap.

A thin cord caught my leg. A string broke, and I tripped into a net. My arms were strung up and I tumbled over. I made panicked squeaks when I was scared. I was just bracing. I had bruises in a few places; landing on metal chains tends to do that.

I was coiled up and instead of Verner with his claws, it was a Rabeness with chains.

It was Verza, “Any bruises? You'll have a few... I'm so sorry. But you look okay, sorry about the chains, we’re still trying to get better cords from Bedded but some people still like them.” She stress the "some" and pointed at herself. Verza walked over to a switch and lowered the light intensity. “Old habits die hard, and hey! Your Raben eyes are in.” Said Verza. “Let me see?”

The Marshal and Verza walked straight from a side hatch of the wall. "You have a lovely red there. I can get you in touch with some Macaw tribe jewels eager to impress some foreigners." She said. They usually save rubies that Bedded finds for Raben jewelry.

I didn’t even have words.

They were all rooms. Every hatch and all these pipes and cords. Every series of grooves in the wall were entire rooms behind such odd doors. Well furnished rooms.

“Okay new bird, let’s get you to a cell. You haven’t slipped yet but it’s coming. You need to be ready if you want to survive.” Said Verza.

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