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It's when you hear the crows caw that you know that death is near.



 
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Nemain O Breasail

The slight breeze slid across the silk clad form, shifting the fabric to move against the sleek and lean curvature of the form beneath it. She pulled the belt of the black robe closer together, blocking the wind from nude skin, even if she couldnít stop the gooseflesh that rose under the soft down on her arms. Bare feet stood against the tiled floor of the balcony. Thick hair rustled slightly, where it lay in loose waves down to her waist. The potted plants in the corner of the large area did little to block that breeze, a small dinette set with four chairs in the other corner just begging for brunch and champagne. In the morning, perhaps, but not now in the dead and dark of night.

It was still too chilly in the evenings to be out there, but she liked the fresh air so much more than the recirculated atmosphere being pumped through the room behind her. Even as large as it was, she preferred the true open-ness of outdoors.

Her head shifted slightly, shifting in the same moment that the form in the sheets behind her, his muscled body nestled into the soft, plush, comfort of the hotel room bed. Then, not too long after, she could hear the soft sounds of light snoring coming from his direction. A small smile pulled the corners of her mouth up. There were perks to these little trips. The Brook Penthouse at Claridgeís in London, courtesy of her family business. The gentleman she had met in the hotel bar downstairs. Ben, she thought his name might be, but it didnít matter. When she was planning that lovely brunch in her mind tomorrow, it was a solo affair. They always were.

OíBreasail Whiskey. They had owned the business for as long as anyone could remember, their whiskey produced and their company ran completely by women. In centuries past, it hadnít been advertised as such. In a manís world, a female centric business would have been laughed at and boycotted, no matter how good the product was. And it was good. She would even say it was the best.

Now, though, it was one of their main selling points. Women for women, contributing to countless fundraisers and foundations for education, both personal and scholastic. Not that they were against men, of course, but it was in their blood to promote sisterhood. Blood or not.

It was this business that sent Nemain all over the world, a sales representative and business partner to their familyís legacy. Her legacy.

The lithe frame turned towards the room once more. The night wasnít over yet, and he was still here. The King bed lay centric in the room against the wall opposite of her, a settee to the right with an empty bottle of wine and two red stained glasses. Clothing littered the floor and she waded through it like a shark through water, the hands that had just before been tightening her sash now pulled it free.

Until the hairs on the back of her neck and arms stood up for an entirely different reason that the cold air.

Death called out to her.

Somewhere nearby, screaming for her to come and release the soul that was about to be taken from its body.

Instead of going further into the room, she stepped back, drawing the thick curtains down in front of her to block the view of the man in case he should wake all the way. The glass doors followed. Black silk slid down the length of tanned skin until it pooled at her feet like a puddle of ink spilled from bottle. Long form bent over, spine curved until her forehead nearly touched her toes.

That tanned skin started to ripple. Bubble. Long tresses pulled into her scalp, sliding through the follicles as if someone from the otherside were tugging them through. Receding until she was as bald as the day she was born. Her mouth opened in a silent scream. No matter how many times, how many years, she had done this...it still caused immeasurable pain.

It now looked like her skin was boiling, round masses pushing up and down all over her body, a body that was darkening now. Even her hazel eyes had gone completely midnight, the pupils bleeding outwards through the irises and then the whites. Pink lips ebon. Black tinged her every inch, growing even more so every passing moment until she looked little more than a gurgling tar pit kept upright in her hunched position only by sheer will.

The feeling seemed to last forever, for her, but in reality it was a matter of seconds. And then she was ripped apart.

Where a writhing and wriggling form just knelt, in a moment of confusion and complete silence, the Murder burst forth. One body became dozens. Moonlight gleamed on silken, onyx wings. Beaks held shut, the only thing heard was feathers rustling as they took to soundless flight.

She didnít know exactly where she was heading. They were all her, but not her, a collective mind residing within dozens of bodies. They still thought as one, felt as one, though could move independently of one another. Death was like a homing beacon, though, pulling them/her towards the sensation. Only now, as their/her wings beat through the night sky, did they/she sound out a cacophony of caws signaling to the darkness that they were coming.

Towards Grosvener Square. The park was nearby, only a few minutes as the crows fly. She didnít know what was waiting for them there, only that this is where she needed to be. The Harbinger of Death. Unless, of course, she arrived beforehand. Death called to her, but it didnít always get the answer that it wanted.
June 20, 2019 09:16 pm

Gyldi

"Look at that big fvckin' dog, I know you see it-- RIGHT. THERE."

The large man gestured wildly at Gyldi, and she swished her tail in companionable agreement. Here I am, she concurred, but the woman stared hollowly through her, unseeing and growing more and more uncertain as to her beau's mental state. The poor being hesitated, though, chewing at her lip with a vigor only brought on by great anxiety. Gyldi could practically see the thought process written across the lines of the strange woman's face; she'd have to start working again, who would take care of his ailing, devil of a mother, and - god forbid - the children.

It was best she address it now, as the death bed was an unforgiving place to be making plans. Besides, hope would give her a brighter outlook, and if she thought there was a chance her husband was just cracking, that meant he could get better. Too bad they weren't of the religious variety; even the most cynical Catholic got nervous at mention of a black beast that no one but the adamant eyewitness could attest to.

As they settled into their heated discussion, the woman being as soothing as possible in the face of the man's purple-hued rage, Gyldi canted her head to the side, considering. Would it be a heart attack? Judging by his elevated emotions, it wouldn't be a stretch. Perhaps an aneurysm... Again, not improbable. Whatever the case may be, the beast rarely got to see it carried out. No, she merely acted as the Omen, a sign of things to come, and the Protector, though she no longer looked after a churchyard. Cruel as it was, the nature of a Church Grim was to deliver the souls buried in its yard to an absolution it would never see. Being that it was usually just a measly old dog, sacrificed and thrown ceremoniously into the foundation of the church itself, most didn't bat an eye at the life lost, nor the soul tied to its duty.

But she had been a girl, favored by the old gods, and the faith she was deemed to protect was not even her own.

None of it mattered now, though, and the large, black, beast of a dog turned her spectral body toward the building her makeshift priest had entered. They were leaving London today, bound for home, and after spending centuries away, the girl could not get enough of the word itself.

Home.

But she was an Omen, and just as she was about to break into a loping gait, a chorus of caws whispered on the wind, and her hackles stood on end.
June 22, 2019 08:23 pm

Nemain O Breasail

They watched the sky through 24 eyes, scanning through the dark as their song spread across the darkness. Street lamps and the lights of buildings guided the way, following the strong pull of death. The closer they got, the stronger the sensation was. Like a line of string, and each moment they got nearer, another strand was wrapped around until they would end at a rope.

It was fitting, finding Death at the end of their rope.

Clawed talons landed on the iron gate, curving around the dark metal to keep their grip. Others found their purchase on the slanted roofline of a building. Others still upon the large cross jutting from the top. Cold stone, steel, tar pressed into the scaled underside. Upon their landing, the cawing came to a halt. Still a shadows, blending in to their surroundings, unnervingly watching the two arguing forms below. They might have noticed if they werenít so wrapped up in the scene they were playing out.

The Murder known as Nemain could see the aura of the man. Once a dark green, it was starting to fade, diminish, like a flame that was starting to go out. The woman with him glowed with cloudy red, anger making it seem to flash. Angry that he seemed to be dying? Or that he wasnít dying quickly enough? With the shade of red that haloed around her, it could easily be either or both.

They couldnít make out all the words. They only kept some of their human intelligence in this form, mingling with the innate intelligence of the crow, they were definitely quite brilliant together...for birds. But only some words were understood. And only when concentrating. For this, all they really needed to do was wait.

And then, it happened.

The dark green snuffed out completely. The man fell to the ground. The woman started to scream for help. The thought of him dying and the reality of it were two different things, for there was real panic in her voice. She fumbled in her pockets, reaching for the phone, tears streaming down her face.

Where the man lay, a brilliant glowing haze started to lift up from his dead body. The crows began to hop closer, those up on the roof and cross flitting down to the ground, creating a large semi circle around the form on the ground and his grieving widow.

It wasnít until then that they noticed the canine.

Not a dog...not a physical thing...it was unlike any creature that they had ever seen before and half of the heads turned, watching as it crept back towards the church they had just come from. The caws began again, curious. Excited. Five of them hopped towards the creature, wings flapping even though they stayed grounded. The others watched the glowing mass, their wings starting to flap as well, to guide it. A few lifted from the grass, circling over the soul. In their wordless beseechment, telling it where to go. That there was peace now. All eyes. Everywhere. Watching the world and spreading consciousness.

There was a sensation. If tearing paper was more feeling than sound, thatís what it would have been. A pop of air, swift and cold. The bright white of the released soul...ripping. A feeling of a scream punched the atmosphere surrounding it. And then, as if being pulled, it shot through the air more quickly than the crow eyes could follow and then was gone.

Not gone as in passed on to the other side. Gone, gone.

There was a flurry of sound. Wings beating on the air. The screaming of crows, louder and more fierce than just caws. It was a tornado of wings and confusion as they circled the area. It was enough to make the woman do some screaming of her own as she ran full tilt down the street.
June 24, 2019 03:05 pm

Gyldi

The initial caw had gripped her heart, dropping it like a stone. When it bounced back into place, she was almost sure that it stuttered into a semblance of Life again, but what was not there could not also be, and the ghostly muscle remained still as ever it was. That same shrill note had preceded her demise and the arrival of the One that had abandoned her all those centuries ago. Hearing it in that setting, just on the cusp of her homeward journey, set her alarmingly on edge, as any crow's call did. But this was a chorus high on the wind, and she found herself searching amidst a sadness she hadn't expected, or felt, in quite some time.

They came into view, followed closely by the curious, earthen gaze of the large beast. It wasn't uncertainty or fear that held her in that frozen state, but a sense of camaraderie, of kindred experience and purpose. Gyldi had no idea where the odd feeling awakened from, having had no inclination toward a murder before, but something about that brood gave her pause, rooting all four feet to the ground. More intriguing still was their own draw to the man who was still rather fixated on her.

Her assumption proved increasingly accurate; the murder seemed called by Death.

Life stuttered and stumbled around the dying man, always hesitant to let go its hold completely. Its very nature was to latch on, to fight, but Death is persuasive and unforgiving, and it didn't often relinquish those which it so adamantly hunted. Gyldi's appearance in his waking world had signed that certificate for him, for once you saw a Grim, Death had staked its claim.

A claim reinforced by crows, it seemed.

Curiosity drew her ever forward, back to the man that she'd only just lost interest in. Set to die so soon, she couldn't help the renewed investment, even if it was trained on the effect, rather than the cause. She'd never encountered anything remotely like her, and a thrill of anticipation went down the length of her spine. Her tail swiped the air in greeting, the large maw lowering to the ground if only to inspect more closely the five birds that were more taken with her than the one that called them there. A mutual interest then, and her tail swished more fervently.

She felt it, then, and it dragged her head upward in a sharp movement.

The weight of it startled her; having had no churchground to protect, the need to do just that hadn't been prevalent in quite some time. That soul wasn't hers to guard. Yet, without conscious regard to what she was doing, she was vaulting over the birds to get at anything and everything that might seek to harm its ascent, an electric surge charging the air around her as she gathered up the ability to fight...

But she was too late, and as the soul was ripped from existence, a dreadful howl echoed from the deepest confines of the incorporeal form. It was a silent anguish to those that walked the material plane, felt more in the rendered gooseflesh and sudden shivers that took the living unawares, but the girl-turned-beast felt it deep in her being. She still contended with every failure, making her amends when and where she could and falling short even in that, and now... Now, this soul wasn't just wrongfully taken, but utterly destroyed.

With another defeated whimper, and no attention to spare to the circling crows, Gyldi plopped back on her haunches, nosing the discarded body. An air of sorrow encased the slumped being, dragging her down until she was flat on her belly with her muzzle resting on the corpse. Mournfully, she apologized without words to one that would never hear, to all those she'd wronged, in some kind of sick penance of rehashing her past.

A low whine set her gaze about, her head only lifting when she found the murder once more. It was only there, as she looked upon it, that she really began to question their arrival. Had they brought about whatever had destroyed something so sacred? Or, more pressing, had they done the destroying themselves?

Cautiously, Gyldi rose to her feet, though her head remained low and protective as she stood over the body. A growl emanated from her chest, low and questioning, but with a hint of unspoken hostility as well. There was no way of telling if she was staring down a futile battle, or if they even stood on opposing sides, but if this was to be her end, she would meet it head on in a flurry of teeth, claws, and feathers.
August 03, 2019 05:05 pm
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