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Heros (Crows) Part 1
In the world, there are people of great importance. Of the cities, you will recall, Arthur the King
who reins with his knights; by his side Lancelot, Guinevere and Merlin. But there are others who do not make the history books, others who played a crucial part in the fight for the throne. A select group of people known to the city dwellers as the Birds. Merlin needed a better way to talk with his people across the land and thus he made the Doves. These Birds were hearty and could travel for days without rest. Next he created the Sparrows, fast flighty birds that could travel short distances at great speeds. After that he needed a bird to fight alongside his people. The Hawks were created to aid in the battles. They were loyal and fierce, never backing down and always ready to defend. Still, Merlin required the assistance of one more species. He needed Birds that were cunning and sneaky, Birds that could slip off in the night and never be noticed. He needed Birds that you couldn’t tell apart. Thus the Crows were birthed.
And with each of these came a tribe to worship them and follow their ways.
In the years to follow, other mages of nearly equal strength of the young Merlin took his ideas and created their own messengers. The Snakes, the Felines and the Canines were set upon the world. The War of Stones gripped the world for centuries. Soon all of the breeds were killed out by one another, only to be survived by their worshipers. They continued to follow in their guardian’s footsteps, striving to become one with their Guardians in a hope that one day they would be granted an afterlife.
A great war had spread over the land, unknown to the people of civilization. Tribes fought with one another, wiping sub-species from existence. Finches had lost to Rattlers and Panthers had lost to Wolves. It was a never ending battle and tribes began to train themselves to be fighters first, tribesmen later.
Alliances were formed to maintain tribes. Amelia of the Crow, a born fighter, lives among the Hawks with an older fighter by the name of Junine. Their homes are currently besieged surrounded by an army of Vipers.
It is the middle of the summer months when the Hawks’ elders decide that they need assistance and require the aid of a messenger to send a letter to their allies.
This is where our story begins.
There is a moment in every person’s life when it is time for them to step up to the challenge and accept the consequences. I knew now that time for me was at hand.
“Allow me.” I met Councilor Halik’s eyes steadily and nodded. “They will not be expecting a Crow, nor will they ever see me.” He pursed his lips and cocked his head. Junine slammed his fist against the table he was leaned against.
“You will not! This is too dangerous, especially for you!” My gaze flashed to him before settling of the floor.
“Papa, you have not the right to decided anymore. Besides, I’m sure others along with you can attest to my skills in the dark. They will not see me coming.” I could not completely defy him, nor would I ever want to, not with everything he had already done for me. He grimaced and looked away. I turned back to the councilors who had been watching the display. I was conscious of everyone else watching us as well.
“Very well, we’ll talk later to prepare you. Next topic…” I droned them out from that point, working to ignore the heavy gaze of my father and the heated glare of another at my back. I bowed and excused myself when I was collected for a briefing. My center shook violently and my fingers twitched to be picked out. I tightened my stomach to still the butterflies. I was led into an antechamber where Councilor Idik was waiting with a rolled piece of parchment in his hands. We bowed in greeting to one another.
“First and foremost, do you understand the severity of the consequences if you should not succeed?” I nodded curtly and stayed kneeling. “You accept the fact that if you can’t get through their lines, we cannot offer you any assistance without a full out battle.” He spoke of it as more of a statement than a question. Once more I nodded my acceptance. He held the parchment out to me.
“If you don’t think you will make it, burn the letter. Don’t let it get into the hands of the enemy. You leave in the pitch of night. Be ready, you will be summoned then.” I nodded again and bowed. There was little chance to ask any questions and I knew that they expected me to understand fully. I was to break through the line and take my parcel to the allies.
I was five strides through the paths home when my arm was yanked and I swung around to slam my fist against the face of my attacker. It was caught just seconds before it made its mark in a tanned, thick muscled hand. Instantly I was sorry. I looked up to see Everett standing with a dark look on his face. I frowned and moved away. I pushed onward, sunken deeply in my own thoughts. There was silence for a time as we moved quietly about the shadowed village. Finally I was stopped fully by his strength. I leaned away, not willing to have this argument. He tried to pull me closer.
“Do you even know what you are getting yourself into?” He hissed vehemently. I yanked my arm from his grasp and moved on.
“Completely.” I murmured speeding up as home came into view. At this point I was annoyed that he had to live in such close proximity. If he had lived across the village, at least I could complain that he was following me.
The stairs were worn and smooth with use, I opted to leap the four steps and push through the unlocked door. He followed without noise.
“I don't think you do. You are too young to be doing something of this magnitude!” I moved to the kitchen, not quite sure where I should start. I supposed I should change; the clothes I wore now were impractical for this mission. He spun me around and glared harder.
“Are you even listening?!” He spat. I shrugged.
“I do not wish to argue. You will say what you want no matter my arguments. It is a waste of energy and time to fight you.” I glided past him as he fumed and closed the door to my room in his face. I respected him greatly, far too greatly to allow him to lower his esteem in my eyes. Stripping, I pulled my outfit out from the second drawer. I slid the leather and cloth straps over my shoulders and chest with practiced ease. This armor had seen many battles in its time but I wasn't inclined to break in a new set. New leather would rub sores on my breasts and no matter how you looked at that, it didn't sound pleasant. Vaguely, I could remember the red marks on my chest when I had first been given the traditional Crow armor at the soft age of nine, four days before my first battle. I had gone to war with raw sores on my skin, fighting to keep from complaining. Next I slipped my sarong over my loincloth, tying it tightly. The black material swept left and right with my every move. On the way out of my room, I grabbed the black wraps that would adorn my thighs, ankles and upper arms. I sat at the eating table wrapping my legs when the distinct thump of my father's cane passed through the hall.
“In here papa.” The noise halted if only for a few seconds before resuming.
“Amelia, I want you to reconsider. It is not too late to recall your offer. They can find another...” I glanced at him from the corner of my eye and raised my chin just slightly feeling jilted. He sighed.
“I know it will be a strike to that pride of yours, but some things are more important than pride...” I cocked an eyebrow. He frowned. “Try your life.” He drawled bitterly. His coarse fingers replaced mine as I struggled to pin the wraps on my arms. I adjusted the tightness of the cloth, avoiding looking at him. I didn't want to make him mad, I didn't want to upset him, I didn't want to do anything to cause him even the slightest discomfort, but some things were necessary. His coarse fingers found their way to my chin, forcing me to look to his face.
“Child, I have never asked anything of you. Do me this favor and refuse. You are far too precious to risk so much. We'll find help some other way, we'll figure it out.” He ran his nails through what loose hair I had. I reveled in the preening but shook myself from my stupor.
“My apologies papa; this is something I must do. Others are far more important than I. I am but a Crow among Hawks; I must have been placed here for this very reason. You need someone who can slip into the darkness and never be seen again. Only I can do that. Fear not for my safety, I will return to you.” He pulled me to my feet and enveloped me in his arms. His silver blond hair which had been an assured thing to earn him the females' choice when he was in his youth had more gray in it than silver. I patted his back lightly.
“Fear not papa, I am no longer a child. I stopped being one the moment I let my first arrow fly.” He swore under his breath and gripped me tighter.
“I would refuse the chance for any child of mine to be trained at such young of an age. You were a stunted thing because off all your training.” I grinned and pushed away, moving to fill a bowl with water and paint. I peered at him from over my shoulder, noticing Everett leaning against the doorway.
“That very training is what will keep me alive tonight.” And I turned my back on them. The paint was thick, pasty almost. I dipped two fingers into the bowl then dragged them across my cheeks. Two horizontal lines from nose to ear and two vertical lines from eye to the corner of my mouth were painted in slow strokes. I repeated the process on the other side. With the pad of my left index finger I placed three dots lining my left eyebrow horizontally. With the same finger I lined three vertical dots just underneath my right eye. Next came the messy part. I dipped the entirety of my hand in the bowl then squeezed them together until my palms where black. I smeared the hand prints down my forearms and across my ribs.