Finding a Raven
I take in the trees and the sounds of nature around me. I love how everything feels so alive, even though I am the son of death. I am the only one out of my seven brothers who tend to favor this world over the one I was born into. I prefer to live here because this is where I want to meet my queen, while her heartbeats and to see the beauty of life within them before they help me rule over the undead. Sadly, however, my father seems to have other plans. He didn’t seem to want me to find her, and take my place on the throne. In fact, he killed the first two women I thought would be my queen, banishing their souls to damnation before I could do anything about it. After that, he encouraged me to separate myself from other people, and I agreed. I never wanted a person to be hurt because of me, nor did I ever wish to have my heart wounded like that again.
Now I walk among these trees, alone, but happy to feel the sun warm my skin. The sound of birds and wild things fill the air in a pleasant song. Then the crystal sound of laughter fills the calm atmosphere. I glanced around startled, few manage to find their way so deep into my land. I was only about a half-mile from my cabin.
My curiosity being perked, I start to wander closer to the sound. My walking stops as well as breathing when I come upon a young woman crouched in front of a small litter of kittens within one of the small clearings that pocket this forest. Her hair shiny black and chin length. Her full pink lips pulled into a dazzling smile that could put the sun to shame. Her brown eyes shining like diamonds filled with excitement and love for the small creatures she has between her hands.
I walk up behind her, but she is so focused on the kittens, she doesn’t seem to realize I’m there. That is until I purr softly behind her, “My lady?”
I get the satisfaction of watching her nearly jump out her peach-colored skin. Her eyes wide in surprise as she looks up at me confusion coloring her words. “Do I know you?”
I shake my head but smile at her, “No, but you are on my land, my lady. ”
“Oh,” she stands coming around a head shorter than my six-foot frame. “I’m sorry.”
I offer her an arm, it was the sign of a real gentleman back when I last had contact with a woman. “It’s fine. However, I am curious as to why a young woman like you are doing way out here?”
She doesn’t take my arm; instead, she favors looking at me with hesitation and mistrust in her eyes. “Just got a little turned around. ”
I relax my arm, keeping my voice light, “Would you like some help? I would offer you a decent meal along with directions; however, you don’t seem interested.”
The woman smiles, and it steals my breath away. Only to crush my hopes as she shakes her head, her hair brushing against her cheek. “Oh no, I’m fine. I think I can find my way. ”
“Of course, my lady.”
“It was nice meeting you.” She gives a polite nod and turns to leave, walking deeper into my forest.
In between fake coughs, I manage to get out, “wrong way.”
“I know that!” She snaps, not even looking over her shoulder at me. I like a woman with a backbone to her. I watch her back muscles twitch and spasm before the fabric of her shirt ripples and a pair of huge, black-feathered wings sprout from her back. I wave as her mighty wings flapping, forcing her body into the air. She waves back before flying away.
I watch her form begin to fade as the sun goes down over the tree line. There’s a bright light that shoots across the sky towards the way she went, and then I see something fall and come crashing to the ground. I step back startled by the turn of events “What the-?!” Hearing a final thud as whatever it is makes its descent through the trees and into the unforgiving earth. I run towards the other side of the clearing, a little past the tree line I find the woman from before spiraled out unconscious on the dirt. Cuts and bruises from her fall mar her peach-colored skins. The gorgeous black wings now bent back at weird angles behind her.
I run over beside her, kneeling on the ground. Her chest struggles to rise and fall, as breath rattles in her throat. I place my hand in between her breast, trying to get as close to her lungs as I can. The familiar itch behind my eyes lets me know they changed from warm brown to a bright gold color. I feel my life force flow into her body, helping to heal her lungs. I can’t channel my magic because it’s used more for killing things and not saving them, leaving me to use my very soul to save her life. Thankfully my efforts seem work, and her breathing becomes even, though she was still unconscious.
With her taken care of, I glance around trying to find what in the seven levels of hell shot her down. My eyes see a figure hidden in the shadows cast by the trees. Their eyes shining with a malicious glint in the dying light from the setting sun. I quickly pull the woman’s body into my arms, holding her small frame against my chest protectively as I stand to my full height. My eyes never leave the person, watching as they flash a wicked smile then disappear father into the tree line and out of my line of view. I continue to glare at the spot until the woman starts to mumbles in her unconscious state. I growl one last time at the general area the person disappeared to, and shake my head before turning towards my home. It was going to be a long walk back, carrying an extra hundred or so pounds in my arms.
Along the way the women keep mumbling in her sleep, I listen closely by only catch one word she repeats over and over again, “Shawn.” I’ll have to remember to ask her about that later when she wakes up.
My cabin isn’t the best home in the world, but it’s precisely what I wanted. The four log walls stand tall in a small clearing I had made myself. I kick the door open carefully, but the lady in my arms still whimper softly in pain. I move into the only room in my cabin, a combination of kitchen, dining room, library, and bedroom. The door on the far side leads to the single other room, a small add-on bathroom. Turning to the side, I set the woman down on the deer skinned bed. Then proceed to light the four oil lamps with the darkroom. I didn’t really see a need for electricity when I had added running water to my cabin. Other than a single solar panel on the roof that attached to the water heater and a charger for my phone, I lived without it. I do everything with my hands that’s how I’ve always done it and I like it that way.
Once done with my task of brightening the room, I grab one of the four hands carved wooden chairs, dragging it beside the bed. Sitting down as I study the woman. The lamplight flickers across her face, casting shadows over her closed eyelids and delicate cheekbones. Her soft rose pink lips pull down slightly at the corner.
Her long eyelashes flutter slightly as she struggles to open her eyes. I place a gentle hand on her forehead, brushing a loose strands of hair out of her face. “Hey, relax,” I whisper, watching her flinches away from my voice then whimper in pain. “Shh... it’s ok. You’re safe here. ” slowly her body relaxes as I wait for her eyes to finally open enough so she can see. Her eyes lazily wander over the fireplace set in the wall that warms the room, a small cooking pot hung over the hungry flames. Her eyes linger on my collection of books, the hand-carved table, and chairs dining set, then slowly back to me.
She looks me over incomplete distrust, her jaw set on a hard, unyielding line. I felt a pang shot through my heart for some reason, but I try to keep it out of my voice as I defend myself. “hey, I could have felt you to whoever was staring you down back there. But I didn’t. I brought you here because I wanted to help you.”
She closes her brown eyes again, her voice barely over a whisper. ” I’m fine...I don’t need any help...”
This made me angry for some reason. How could she lay in bed, unable to even open her eyes, and she says she’s fine? I know I am the son of death and unpleasant to be around, but does she really favor the one that shot her down over me? I could help by snap a little with my next words. ” stop lying to yourself! Without me, you would be god knows where and probably not ending up in a nice bed. So why don’t you chill out and trust me a little.” she doesn’t reply to me, she doesn’t even move. I would have thought she fell back to sleep if it hadn’t been for the uneven rise and fall of her breaths. I sigh, standing up as I rack my fingers through my hair. “So what happened to you?”
She opens one lazy eye, “got shot down...”
“Well, no shit! I can see that much!”
She chuckles softly, then regrets quickly covers her face as she winces in discomfort. Her shaking hands holding on to her side. A cold feeling washes over me as I stare down at her pain, I never liked when people were in pain, it really wasn’t my style. When I was doing my work for my father, my deaths were quick and painless, unlike a few of my brothers who liked to draw it out. A hard edge comes over my tone as I watch the pain slow fade from her face.
“Where were you shot?”
It takes her a second to reply, “...they did multiple shots...one hit my back, one to my ribs, and one to my left-wing...”
“Mind if I see the one in your ribs?”
She slowly lifts her black tee-shirt, and I see an already swelling bruise forming over the side she clutched before. Turning the peach-colored skin a nasty black and purple tone. I noticed there were a few long cuts along her skin, but they all seemed to be burned closed; therefore they were lower on my concern level right now. I gently press my fingertip to the surface feeling the bones cave in under pressure, a clear sign her ribs were at least fractured.
“Well your not coughing up blood,” I state in what I hope is a positive voice. “That means it’s not completely broken or at least hasn’t punctured your lungs yet. Now let me see the wing?”
She turns into her right side, without saying a word. One of her wings laying limp and bloody, which meant she was shot. I internally kick myself for letting myself run out of bandages, but I just haven’t had the time to go into town and buy them. So, with a lack of a better option, I take off my leather jacket, pulling my shirt over my head right after. With a little flex of muscle, the shirt, which was one of my favorites, rips cleanly into strips. With the distortion of my shirt finished, I began the work of sorting through the feathers to find the wound. The whole area of the wing is a mess and when finding the injury I can tell the bullet went all the way through her bone. I do my best to bandage the wound with the ripped up cloth. Trying hard to ignore her winces when I touch her wound. Then moves on to her back, gentle rolling her so I can see it better. Her back has a huge bruise that spans from her shoulder blades to the small of her back along her spine and spread a little outward. The whole thing looks more painted black and blue then it did real skin. The worst of it seems to be over her spin and that worried me. If there was damage to her spine, there’s not much I could do to fix that.
There’s one way to check, “Move your leg for me.”
She seems confused by my request but moves her leg anyway. I watch pain flicker across her features, but I also watched her legs move. I sigh in relief as her leg lifts slightly off the bed.
“Good job my lady... mind sitting up for me now? I need to bind your ribs before they get worse.”
She nods, starting to struggle into an upright sitting position. I gentle place an arm on her shoulders as I help her, trying to ease the pain. I whisper small encouragements, “here we go my lady... you’re doing good...” I briefly leave her, going to my closet and pulling out another four shirts. With a quick count, I see that leave me with five more shirts left. Walking back over to her, ripped them up into makeshift bandages.
Her eyes wander over my chest, and I smile slightly enjoying the attention. I’m not the beefiest guy out there, but I’m proud of my lean build and the six-pack I do have. Her eyes snap back up to my face as I joke. “you owe me new clothes by the way, at this rate I’ll run out of shirts. ”
She chuckles softly, eyes checking me out again. “that doesn’t sound too bad.”
“I thought you had no interest in me.”
She shrugs her right shoulder, “just because I don’t act on a feeling doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
I look over at her curiously as I finish ripping the last few strips from the shirt. “oh really?” she’s blushing slightly, the pick coloration dusting over the smooth flesh of her cheeks cutely. Her hands fidgeted with a loose strand of her chin-length hair. Her eyes no longer look at me but instead is studying the ground with sudden and complete interest. I don’t think much about it, as I start to warp her chest a back tightly. Leaving just barely enough room for her to breathe comfortably but that’s about it.
She breaths a soft thank you, and I feel my heart warm slightly. “Of course my lady.” I can feel the smile pull at my lips.
She seems to study my face, her voice is cold and emotionless. “why did you help me?”
I can feel the smile fade from my face at her words, “look, I might be a flirt, but I’m not a cold hearted dick. You were hurt, there’s no way I was leaving you out there when I could help.
“You could’ve just left me, and you’d have no problems...”
I make a point to look her in the eyes, “I couldn’t. That just wasn’t an option for me.” I refuse to go along with the nature in which I was born. Son of death or not, she wasn’t ready to die, so I wasn’t going to stand around and let her. She just stares at me after the declaration. I sit down in the chair next to the bed again. “now my turn to question you.”
She nods in agreement. “Shoot.”
I feel my features harden as I stare at her, arms crossing over my chest. “Who shot you out of the sky? And why did they do it? ”
“I didn’t see who shot me,” she answers helpfully.
“Ok. How about why you were shot?”
“I’ve made a lot of enemies.” she shrugs. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
I take a deep breath trying to help keep the annoyance out of my voice. “Great. How big of a war zone is my house about to become?”
“I have no idea. It depends on who shot me.”
A final question comes to mind then as I study her guarded form. “Plan on making another enemy out of me?”
She doesn’t look at me as she answers coldly. “Depends.”
’On?” I push, but she just shrugs in answer. I roll my eyes half expecting that response from her. When I settle my gaze on her again, I start to try and figure her out, but she was like a puzzle missing an unknown amount of pieces. One of which was her what was she. She had the feathered wings of an angle but they’re black. She has the short haircut preferred by the demons. Her short stature didn’t run in either, however. Thus it leads to my confusion about what she is. If I knew, then it might help with the puzzle that is she.
She starts to squirm under my eyes, and I give up trying to guess and just ask her. Her gaze shifting from me and away then back again nervously. “So what are you?”
“You could call me an angel...or a demon...or even a monster...” her voice fades brokenly in and out. I quirk an eyebrow at her in curiosity, encouraging her to continue. ” I’m a mixed breed. One part demon. One part angel.” she looks at the wall, her voice was barely even a whisper. “all alone.”
“You’re not alone, you’re here with me now,” I said softly trying to make her feel better.
She keeps her eyes trained on the wall as she chuckled dryly, her words bitter. “For now.”
I stand up, the chair flying out behind me as to hear flared in my chest. I had tried so hard to hold a temper with her, but there’s only so must a man. Every kind act or word I try to tell her she had twisted like I was some bad guy. “if you hate me so much there’s the door. I won’t stop you.” I snap, turning my back to her as I storm into the kitchen area.
I hear her stand up, muttering. “sorry for causing you so much trouble.” then there’s the sound of my front door opening and closing.
I lower my head at the sound, a nail being hammered into my coffin. She was wrong though, she isn’t the only one destined to be alone. I swallow hard, I’m already regretting snapping at her. I don’t even know her name, and I feel terrible for telling her she could leave. I don’t know if that said more or less about me. I know right now I feel like a kicked puppy left on the side of the road.
I sigh, shaking my head as I try to rid myself of the thoughts. I pick the chair up from where it lay discarded on the ground. Dragging it’s over in front of the fireplace, sitting down. The flames dance happily within the stonework. The heat beating out the cold night. The gentle sound of the flames popping lolled me into a well-needed sleep.