The Gospel According to Saint Cuervo

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When Rotell was caught, he knew it wouldn't be a quick and painless death. He had seen what the Crows had done to the city. How even on sunny days, the world seemed like a dark place. The Crows were all a ruthless bunch, at least the ones that had arrived in their city. Rotell had heard of a lot of rumors from the South about how the Crows were slowly taking over the surrounding towns and poisoning the innocent grounds on which they thread upon. It was only a matter of time, he supposed, before they reached them and now, funnily enough, he had chains around his wrists and ankles.

"What, are ya crippled? Move faster!" Rotell felt something hard as stone smack the back of his head, urging him to move faster. The crowguard was much bigger than him, almost reaching the ceiling of the stone hallway. The guard to his right laughed in an odd clicking way with a scratchy croak. They all sounded scratchy.

They had reached the spiral staircase with two other guards on either side of the entrance. The one on Rotell's left suddenly gave a squawk and spread its black, leathery wings abruptly, almost reaching either side of the hallway they were on. Black feathers flew randomly as Rotell jumped back instinctively and with a yell, tripped on his ankle chains. All of the guards started laughing their scratchy laugh. The one that had pushed Rotell lifted him up by the front of his robes with his hard, onyx beak and put him roughly on his feet, making him almost fall over again. They laughed heartily again at his loss of balance.

"Careful, you might end up without a few select limbs before you even reach Cuervo!" said the crow that had spread his wings, "You fall again, we'll make sure you got no legs to fall on!"

Rotell knew better than to yell a retort; he knew that those weren't empty threats. He had witnessed himself some of The Feasts, the days when the crows chose select villagers to satisfy their hunger. It had not been a pretty sight and all hope in him that the Crows might have an inch of remorse were destroyed long ago. But he felt his fear for Saint Cuervo overwhelmed him even more than the prospect of losing his legs. They had said he was the worst of them all, the one who had started all of this. The one who had started the empire. He was pulled away from his thoughts when he was roughly pushed forward, making him almost fall over for the second time.

"Move, monkey!"

Rotell moved towards the staircase with an apathy that had plagued him since he was kept in the prison chamber. He hadn't had anything to eat (the food they had given him was suspiciously familiar to the food present in The Feasts), he had drunk nothing but dirty water and he could think of nothing more than his family. It was odd how even with his life on the line he could only think of his daughter and wife inevitably being the next ones, and not of his own safety. It made him feel empty that he couldn't even be there to attempt to protect them. It took away all motivation in him for an escape. He had cried all that he could have on the first night in the dungeon and he was not going to give the Crows now the pleasure of his grief.

The stairway was tight and cramped, but mostly because the two crowguards were crowding the space in front and back of him. Now and then the crow in the back pushed Rotell harder and harder each time. When they reached the end of the stairs, the crow had pushed him so hard Rotell fell face first on the ground. He immediately heard a room full of that scratchy laughter. The room sounded spacy and felt drafty. He could stay like that for the rest of his life, face-down on the dirty floor. The crow behind him grabbed the back of his robes and pulled him up again. He felt a sharp stab on his back as the crowguard pecked him and he walked forward. There were crows all around the room, all staring intently at Rotell and tilting their heads in apparent curiosity. He noticed why it had felt breezy and it was because there were windows the size of the Crows along the left walls, all overlooking a grey, silent ocean.

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