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The Wingless Crow

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Summary

A broken human finds himself caged within a prison of his own making as a punishment for his past actions, only to find a voice guiding him so he can fly once more, and sore after that which he once lost.

Genre:
Other
Author:
Paul
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

A Shortstory, The Wingless Crow

There are many flashes through my head, pieces, scrapes from an ancient life I once knew. I know naught why I was cast down to the depths of the void, yet I find myself surrounded by familiarity. A tiny glimmer rests well above the clouds, in a place so far I dare not reach, for fear that I’ll burn my already destroyed wings. Normally, the “why” would be the first necessity one would have, but this feels different. An inert feeling surrounding that which I now call my home, forcing me onto eternal slumber. As I gaze around, standing in the middle of the seemingly endless darkness, I dream, I doubt, I worry…but I don’t regret. Something deep inside tells me, it is I who is blameworthy for my predicament. I can see others fly, so many others. Ravens, Eagles, Jackdaws…but not a single Crow.

Is this what I deserve?”.

I seem to be unable to get a hold of my mind, as if forces that reside on the evermore dared to command the contents of my soul. Imprisoned within a cage I could yet not understand, I layed there, standing, wondering, dreaming…but regret naught. Suddenly, a warm breeze stutters my senses, overcharging my already weakened consciousness. A deal was presented to me, by one of the puppeteers of this cursed game. A thunderous voice filled with the heat of one million volcanoes spoke to me softly, gently, as if trying to persuade me, even on the everafter.

In order to gain something, another must be given of equal value. What is it that you value the most, my child?”

A hard question for an accursed crow like myself. How did a being as mighty as a divine expect a mere personage to comprehend such a formidable concept. How can one value what they have, when only an endless void exists within a vision? Memories, that is always the answer. I have lived before, I guess. My mind is filled with visions of events of a time distinct to my current paradigm. My memories, organized like books on a shelf, contained very little that wasn’t pain. An overwhelming desire to rid my soul from the contents of said knowledge overtook my mind, and it was only then that I comprehended the truth behind this Archfiend.

Upset that a mere mortal had been able to figure out the truth behind its words, the flame that lit my once dark slumber faded, and alone I was again. Once more, I had nothing –nothing but the tiny glimmer that sits well above the clouds, a glimmer so out of reach that not even within the realm of dreams can’t I seem to reach it. Grief overcame my very soul, and I vaguely started to wonder down the misty path. Suddenly, a whiff of an ancient forest overtook my senses. A smell so nostalgic, I almost came to believe that I had found myself outside the prison that now holds me. It was only when it spoke, that I realized what was happening before me.

Come Child, for I am that which always has been, and always will be. Come with me, and you will see a truth unlike any other you’ve dared to dream before”.

Tempting, I must admit, for the offer seemed too good to pass out. I sat in the middle of the woods, gazing at the bleak-dark sky, unable to see the glimmer I once admired. Deep in thought, my soul reached towards the hellion now standing before me, covered in the most beautiful of flowers. A beauty unlike any other I’ve ever laid my eyes upon, it called me, slowly, gently, breaking in a soothing chant of the ancient days. Sensing my fears, I watched as the forest withered and burnt to ash, leaving me once more in the cold gutter, gazing at the incandessence of the glimmer standing in the clouds.

That was the last time anything would approach me for eons. I sat in my dormancy, surrounded once more by the infinite darkness that had become my destiny. It was only then, when I was finally letting go of the final shard for which I had remained true, that another voice spoke to me. This voice was different, though. It spoke of nothing, but rather just graced me with its company. We spoke for hours, while separated by a veil of black smoke. It was only when I showed it my broken wings that it revealed itself to me. As if made by the gods itself, there stood the perfect embodiment of mankind, missing a single feather to be able to fly.

It didn’t ask for anything but my company, it didn’t require anything but my voice. Unlike anything else, this one seemed true. And so, one night, when the clouds grew so thick that even the glimmer was hidden within, I took my final feather and placed it upon her wings. In a spectacular show of lights, the being rose in the air and soared high above the clouds, disappearing deep into the dark sky. I stood there, wondering when it would come back, without realizing that now, I was alone once more.

“Why do you stand there when you can fly”?

I heard a single question, with no idea where these words came from. Startled, I started to run around, trying to determine the source of these words which for reasons unknown to me, resonated deep within my core.

Why do you stand there, broken?”

At this point, panic had started to take over, as my heart pumped more and more blood through the empty veins of my body. I now felt no cold, but a despair unlike any other I remembered feeling before. Had this been the punishment assigned to me by the one that sits above it all?

Why do you give up, human?”

Human? Bewilderment stormed my mind as I struggled to make sense of what I was listening to. Had the truth been all along, that this void was naught but the cage driven by my very soul to punish me for the sins I had committed over a millennia ago? Would I truly be so wicked as to cast me in the depths of hell, for reasons I could not remember?

“Why do you not fly?”

The truth is I wished I could fly, but I had no way of doing it. My wings were so broken, my feathers were gone, and my strength had escaped my very soul. I had given so much, yet was let down so many times, that I was only a fragment of the crow that once soared the skies freely, unlike any other of my kind. All that was left was a poor impersonation of a once magnificent creature, one so driven that it carried the evils of those he cared about, all so that they don’t suffer as he once did. And he did so, without fail, until the day those very evils drove him mad, and yet not a single one of the ones he had helped had been there to aid him in his madness.

Why do you not fly?”

I don’t fly because I lost my wings. I don’t fly because I lost my strength. I don’t fly because I dare not face who I am, who I’ve become, because my soul is terrified of standing trial to those events which had led me to the very position I found myself, shattered, abandoned, erased from the minds of those which I once held dear, forgotten by the cruel tides of time that drive it all.

Are you a coward?”

No. I had survived countless battles. I had seen the world burn and dove deep into its flames to save those who could not do for themselves. I had stopped the very rain that shattered the proudest of cities so that the weak could find a way to safety. I had tyrannized the strongest of beasts, so that the protectors of humanity could raise arms in time to save that which they held dear.

Are you dull?”

No. I had written the very books which serve as the foundation for technological advancement. I had further the development of important treatments that allowed even the sickest of patients to recover the strength that was natural to their bodies. I had created a system so intrinsically tied to the primordial understanding of human nature, that it allowed for them to live in community without the civil strife seen by other civilizations.

“Are you weak?”

Am I weak? That is a question I cannot answer. What is strength anyway? Some would define it as the ability to carry three times one’s own weight, while others would see it as the power to stand above others. I, however, could not help but see these definitions as ludacris. How can one seal the definition of strength as something so trivial? Strength, you see, is not something that depends on the fiscal, but rather on the fortitude of the mind, the ability to do that which others cannot, the ability to strive further than even the brightest of stars. Yes, that is the real definition of strength, and one where I find myself to be completely fulfilling. No, I am not weak.

“Then, why do you not fly”?

I gazed at the glimmer, dumbstruck by the mockery this voice had become. It was as if it held no ability to understand me, as if there was something deeper within its words whose meaning I was unable to reach. Why was its drive such that it wanted me to fly? Can it not see that I no longer hold any wings? Can it not see that I was cast out by those I claimed to be my friends? Is it truly unable to comprehend that I am broken beyond repair? Perhaps this was punishment, yet again, for the actions that had led me to this cold void in the first place.

“It is only you who is able to break the chains imposed onto you, for it was you who casted them in the first place”.

Self punishment? Fitting, really. The knowledge that the void was a product of my own making somehow seems to bring calmness to my existence. I was punished not by some higher power, but by the sentencing carried out by my very soul upon the actions that my consciousness once took on the plane of existence. It was only fair, and fitting, that I now was a prisoner in a cage of my very own making. In a sense, I was thankful for this voice, for it gave me the solace I needed to finally go to slumber.

“Will you give up”?

I gazed at the sky once more. Never had I given up before, no matter the odds or what could be lost. So long as it was I who held the possibility of losing something, I rose to whatever challenge dared appear before me. The concept of giving up was always foregin to me, but the irony of life has made it so my very soul forces me to give up within the prison it made to lock myself away. Was giving up so bad? It would mean losing myself, of course, but what was that worth anyways when the world has already swallowed me whole.

“Will you really give her up after granting the last of your feathers?”

“Her”?

She who appears to be the exception to your own every rule, the one who you tell no lies to, who can read you like an open book, she who does not run away at the immense darkness that resides deep within your very soul.”

Why should I fight for someone that abandoned me here when it had the chance? I gave her everything that I had left, and yet, I was left alone. All my life has been about granting to others that which I was never given in the first place, all in a futile attempt to protect those I cared about…a futile attempt because once I needed them, they were gone, content with what was given to them at my expense. Yes, I am willing to give her up.

“Why?”

Because I soul cannot stand the suffering of being betrayed by another. Because my mind cannot bear the thought driven by the forthcoming solitude. Because my heart cannot sustain another mortal blow to its capacity to feel emotions. Because in the end, I am nothing but a cold being, a product of the evils that I carried for so many years. All because I wanted to protect what I held dear, and I was punished for it.

“What if you’re wrong?”.

I can’t be. Even if I answer the question through the assumption that everything which I’ve ever believed to be true no longer was, then the determining factor would be the result of the experiences which compose my train of memories, all of which lead to a painful road I end up walking alone. How can one claim that they’re wrong when the pain of their actions becomes too eminent? When the suffering caused by those effects becomes so attached to your own consciousness that not an hour goes by without being forced to remember what once was.

“Then, why don’t you fly for the one thing that isn’t bound by your thoughts?”.

Because I am afraid.

“So you a coward?”

No. I have suffered, and refuse to suffer further in my eternal slumber.

“So you are weak?”

No. I’ve done that which was in my power, but choose to lay to rest for the rest of eternity.

“So you will give up?”

I gazed at the glimmer one last time before I replied. I held my fist to the sky, ready to reach for it one last time as I bid goodbye to this world. I started walking from my eminent demise, when out of the dark sky descended that girl that not too long ago had taken flight with my final wing. With her, a pair of feathers were contained in a short glass box. She smiled as she handed them to me, and flew up towards the clouds. No, I don’t want to give up.

Then, will you fly?”

Yes, I will fly. I will fly because there is something out there worth flying for, worth traversing the stars at the cost of losing myself once more. Something different, something pure, something that sees me for that other which I see myself.

Fly, then”.

For years I worked on my wings, fixing them with whatever scrap I was able to obtain. Bargains and deals were struck with creatures of the day and the night, countless crashes when attempting to sore once more broke even my own spine. It was a millennia of sacrifice, pain and sorrow that had finally led to this unavoidable moment. A moment so irrelevant for the universe, yet imperative for my own being. Before me stood a pair of broken wings, forged with a pure recollection of bizarre materials. All the effort and sacrifice that it built had entailed strove behind the burning desire to reach for the stars, and eventually reach the exception to my every understanding. Now, I was able to fly.

“May you hold true to yourself, for only then will you be able to reach for the stars”.

I nodded at the glimmer which stood in the sky, understanding that it was what had spoken to me all this time. Deep within a prison of my own making, a mechanism of self resolve had been so perfectly blended with the darkness that at no point did it seem like an escaping light, but rather as a tool of my eternal damnation. A tool that was, in fact, the reason why I would be able to escape the everlasting void.

And far I flew, faster than I’ve ever flown before. I passed the glimmer and quickly snatched its golden gem, as the clouds formed a thunderous snare. I kept going, going further than I’ve ever flown, trespassing the barriers that I thought were the limits of my own mind. I fought for hours, against angels and demons alike, against the strongest of the creatures of darkness whose plan was to hold me back down, and even when fighting against all the evils of this world, I sored towards the sky.

I opened my eyes, slowly regaining my ability to see as the bright lights disorientated me. I felt weak, hurt, but strangely alive. I looked at my surroundings, realizing that what I saw was a hospital room filled with people familiar to me. Gazing at me from the side, there she stood, the one exception to my every rule, the one which had come back to give me those feathers that gave me the strength to fly. She embraced me, realizing I was actually alive. It was only then that I understood that I was not smart, strong or brave, that I was not kind, brazen or cold.

I realized that even after all, I was a human capable of love.

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