Αριθμός Λέξεων: 1242
Σχόλια: Για το διαγωνισμό Νοεμβρίου 2006
Murder of crows into the nights
Caw and screech when the moon shines
Dubbed harbingers of bad news
Deathly shadows for my muse
Lady of Ravens
The slender young man looked outside his window at the high bell tower across the street. A crow was sitting on the roof, oblivious to the deafening noise coming from the heavy brass bell a foot or two below it. Instead he took his quill, dipped it in the ink and started scribbling on the piece of paper in front of him.
My name is Jeremiah Coltrane, born 784 in Anaria of Zimor. My childhood and adolescence are meticulously chronicled in previous manuscripts so I shall skip those chapters and instead concentrate on facts concerning the last year only.
The flutter of wings made him look outside his window to see more crows landing on the tower. Paying no attention to them he returned to his writing.
As is known to all my fellow citizens, the legend of the three Ladies looms above our peaceful little town. Word has it they are three witches, spawned of darkness and born out of the womb of the Pits to plague all those good and virtuous. The three hags have power over a certain creature each and from these beasts their names derive, for the people call them the Ladies of the beasts, the Lady of Vixen, the youngest and the prettiest of the three, known to enchant men to their doom, using her feminine wiles and her dark magics, the Lady of Wolves, the most savage of the three, known to steal the newborn from their cradles and to sacrifice them to the dark gods of the woods, and last but not least the vile Lady of Ravens, oldest of the three and known for sadistically preying on the weak and helpless.
The crows outside were restless, cawing and fluttering on the bell tower. Word had it crows in the night meant death, horrible death for those listening to them. Jeremiah had heard the legend hundreds of times, yet he ignored the crows and focused on his writing. He dipped the quill in the ink once more and then went on.
My other journals, chronicling my life up to last year, often describe the awe the three ladies inspired in me, the fear mingled with longing. Adulthood and my studies took me away from my town both physically and mentally, thus the Three Ladies I forgot and instead of their secrets I uncovered the secrets the flesh holds inside, studying medicine. Upon finishing my studies a year and a half ago I returned home to succeed my old father as the town doctor, having completely forgotten my childhood fears. Then, a year ago, the fears came a-calling.
The crows were louder now, restless, excited, as if they had found a fresh corpse to feast upon. Jeremiah tried to ignore them, however hard it was, and finish his manuscript.
In most fictional stories of this kind there is a hidden desire, a desperate plea, such as ailing health or a love denied to push someone to darkness, but this report is real and no such dramatic element was introduced and no redeeming qualities are to be given to yours truly, for I have met the sisters and helped them with their evil Crafts.
It all started the night I was called to examine Antonius Guthings, who lived in a shed in the woods a mile or two outside the town. It turned out he only had a cold and I was returning home when, in the dark of the night, a young woman came out of the woods. She was a young, radiant woman; such was her beauty that I held my breath. “Jeremiah Coltrane,” she told me, “Me and my sisters know your heart’s desire and we are here to fulfil it. Take my hand and you shall find what you always wished for.”
Without any ado I followed her through the trees, until we got to a clearing. There-
“Writing, are you not, dear Jeremiah?” he heard from behind him. It was a raspy deep voice he knew too well. Immediately he turned around and looked straight at the hag standing in the middle of his study.
“Long time no see, eh?” the witch asked him, her voice mocking him.
“How dare you!” Coltrane asked, stepping away from the old woman.
“How dare I?” the hag asked, her wicked teeth gleaming in the candlelight. “How dare you run away from me and my sisters, after all we showed you.”
“All the blasphemies you filled my mind with,” spit the young doctor.
“You came to us willingly,” the hag told him, “and so you did all the times you returned to our clearing and danced around the fire and drank from the cauldrons and lay with us.”
“It was your glamour that chained me, vile witch,” Jeremiah shouted, “your charms that enslaved my will to you.”
“Our glamour?” the witch laughed, “that was precious, oh young one, for you were born a slave to darkness. Shall I remind you the delight you felt every time you cut human flesh, all the times you felt elated at the sight of blood? You were a slave to yourself, that’s the reason why we came to you and showed you our secrets.”
“I was a fool,” the doctor said, “but now I see the error of my ways.”
“Aye, a fool” the witch said, “for only a fool would betray the Three Ladies and only a fool would think of divulging those things done by the three Ladies in the dead of night, in the woods, under the moon, around the boiling cauldron. For, all the things you did, can only have one outcome: Death, Jeremiah Coltrane! Your death! My children hunger for you, dear Jeremiah, hear them shout out your name.”
The crows outside were cawing wildly in a deafening crescendo.
“So the Lady of Crows comes for me,” Jeremiah said calmly.
“Yes,” the hag answered, her wrinkled face gleaming with a savage joy as she showed him her sharp claw-like nails.
“Why you?” the doctor asked, “why not the Lady or Wolves or Vixen?”
“My dear,” the witch mocked him, “you are such little a threat to us even weak old me can do away with you.” She took a step forward, as the crows outside stopped their maddening screeches and left the foolish man who betrayed their Lady do the screaming for them. For the man screamed and screamed and screamed some more, until there were no screams left in him.
Then, on his final scream, the crows laughed evilly and flew away from the bell tower, as its bell tolled once, ending the first hour of this new day. All that remained behind was Jeremiah Coltrane lying in his attic, both his eyes pecked out, his body cut in many places and his throat torn in two by what seemed to be sharp nails. The only thing found in the attic was a parchment of paper too soaked in blood to be legible.
Edited by Nihilio, 01 Δεκέμβριος 2006 - 00:51.