Black Blood, Black Birth
Two hours after Sihle Nabkei’s death
A crow sits outside the Mistress’ house. It’s carefully watching some cherries when a figure appears. One moment the cul de sac is empty, and then a man in a sweats stands there. His appearance is so sudden that his body displaces several small rocks and kicks away a plant. Startled, the bird flies away with a dismayed caw.
The barrowman enters the house without ceremony. It makes sure that most of Its weight is placed on the left leg– a precaution seeing as Its right leg, and left arm are still healing. It shakes Its head. ‘Apparently’ the Mistress had forgot to mention that one of the Stoneborn was present in the school. For a moment It entertains a notion of sentimentality. This strange world is so foreign, with lightning harnessed and metalbeast that run on fire– but to meet one of the earth-natives, those who wandered freely in ancient days…
Of course, that sentimentality died when the giantkin ripped Its arm off.
It makes Its way up a stairway, gingerly and mindful of Its injuries, and finally inside the circular room. The Mistress is tinkering with something, a spear-shaped object made out of glass. She glances up. “Holy… what happened to you? You look like something the cat dragged in.”
It’s clothes have been torn haphazardly: the fabric of the right leg of Its pants is simply gone. And Its left arm hangs lamely, still healing with supernatural grace. A motley rainbow of bruises, helped by the very healing that allows the barrowman to take so much punishment has spread across Its face, Its lips are split. Other, more recent and threatening wounds have already healed.
“I did as you bid. I executed the Moor. But the noise drew someone. A giant– one of Surt’s kin.” “I see you’ve met Gomagog.” “G o m a g o g”, the barrowman slowly prounounces his name. “I didn’t mention him, did?”, the Mistress asks with a nonchalant tone. “In our battle he ripped off my arm, but I bit him.”
The Mistress scratches her head, a hand going through the little tuft of black hair. “What will the bite do to him?” “For someone of his age and power it is merely an inconvenience. One that will heal rapidly.” “Too bad. Getting rid of Gomagog would have been a nice bonus.” She sighs.
“Give me your arm.” It knows better than to disobey. It extends Its right arm. The Mistress places the spear-shaped object against Its skin. “This will sting a little.” She pulls a lever of some kind, and the spear is filled with a black fluid. Blood. She holds up a small flask of the black blood against a light. “Oh I have so many ideas….” She repeats the procedure ten times, until she has collected over a gallon of blood.
The barrowman clears Its voice, spotting an opportunity now that she appears content. “Will you be… requiring my ….services, in the next span?” “Actually no”, she says without taking her eyes of the blacken flasks. “Might I then ask a boon?”
She inclines her head. “I want to explore Fallowfell.” “Why?”, she frowns, as if the notion is completely unheard of. “I haven’t been awake for long. I wish to see this new world, to take in it’s wonders.” “Alright. For one week you may do as you please. But-” and now she looks the barrowman into his eyes “- you will not communicate with anyone. You will be as inconspicous as possible. You will not draw attention to yourself.”
It nods slowly. “Then you should be on your way.”
It leaves the Mistress to her bloody vials and cups.The barrowman walks down the steps and stops, feeling eyes on Its person. Sitting in what the Mistress once refered to as a ‘sofa’ are her family. Dead– but not like It. They stare at him with hollow eyes. There is no judgement in those eyes. No hatred. No joy. Obedience.
As the barrowman walks through the door and out, he starts to plan a scheme. For freedom. Liberty. Life.
The Mistress holds a vial up to the light once more and thinks. She opens a window, and a crow with heterochromatic eyes, one red, and one brown enters on her command. The crown lands on her right forearm. She pats him with love and affection. “Oh Corvus.” Then she grabs him by the throat and injects Corvus with the black blood.
He tries to fly, to escape, but crashes down on the floor.
Corvus screams and cries and convulses and Corvus dies. At first she thinks her experiment is a terrible failure…. Then the crow breathes and–
–her connection and control of him increases tenfold. His and her breath has become syncronized, like a clock. She realizes that now she could easily erase his personality, subsume his entire being. She opens her mouth, and says a single word. “Curious….”, the word doesn’t come from her mouth, but from that of Corvus.
She and Corvus and starts to giggle together, a horrifying, mechanized symphony of sound, which foretells death and destruction.
She stands up and walks through the house. She grabs a key she has placed on a string of metal around her neck and opens one particular room, one that she has kept locked up for some time. The door opens with a creak, revealing a young man’s room, preserved as it was as his time of death. She doesn’t enter, merely inspects it.
Books are neatly arrayed in a case above a desk. A bed with a starry-pattern cover takes up the left side. There a large screen mounted at the right side-wall. The room is covered in a thin patina of dust.
She opens one of the vials and pours a single black drop on the floor. The drop burns through the dust, creating a millimeter wide circle.
“Soon Alexander. Soon I will avenge you. Soon…. they’ll all be dead.”