quork: A sketch of a raven, black on white. (Default)
It was.. glorious to fly again.

Up and up he went, great black wings working the wind like clay, creating fanciful not-shapes that blended into the soft grey down of the clouds. Still the rain fell in a capricious mist, but it was certainly no trouble for a knowledgeable bird. No, the sky was far too open to ignore; the clouds parted before him like a lover's arms and he rushed headlong, heedless, into that embrace.

It had been far too long.

The land spread below him, a pastoral quilt of muted greens and browns, now that he was well away from the city. Here and there were cottages and patches of trees, noted but fairly insignificant from this height. He wanted to soar, to drift, to glide - he did not want to be bogged down by thoughts of earth and stone and noise.

So for the moment there was only the great rush of the wind, the gentle whisper of the rain and the disapproving grumble of thunder, somewhere far off to the northwest.

He flew. And began to shed the stresses and shocks of the past few weeks. In the body of the bird, his thoughts were swift and abbreviated, jittering from point to point with the tiny thunder of his pulse. He felt relief in the shape of his wings, the pattern of his sooty black feathers. This felt right, this felt pure. But the image of the woman - the woman he knew he was, just as the woman knew she was the bird - pestered him, returning just as he would lull, gliding in a lazy circle before pressing harder and faster through the low clouds. He had spent so long as the woman. For now, he wanted to forget that. He wanted to fly.

He thought about the things that had happened, the conflicts, his new mates. He was disturbed that the images of his mates came from the perspective of the woman, when it had always been the other way around. He thought about how satisfying it had been to wrest that unholy creature from the water, how it had felt to cling to it with his - her, his traitor mind whispered, but they were layered together, one and the same - human body as it burned in the strange sunlight of a late Budapest afternoon. He dropped a dozen meters, well below the cloud line. These thoughts were so strong that his form felt insubstantial. It felt weak.

It simply wouldn't do to fall from the sky as a naked, wingless, awkward-bodied creature. His great pride existed no matter what shape he wore, always a little larger, always a little brighter. He spiraled down, wings shamefully wobbling as the rain thickened. There was a likely field just over that narrow line of trees. A twitch of his wings steadied his course, which sent a short shower of feathers drifting toward the ground.

The field was soft green grass, silvered with moisture. He landed, hopped twice, little birdy feet slipping through the dew, and croaked out a phrase in a tongue long dead. The bird strained, wings arching out and up, head curling in to his feathered chest.

In the bird's place lay a naked woman flushed with the ecstasy of flight, her coarse black hair damp and heavy as it tumbled over her shoulders. Her left arm was extended, bent over her head, and in its fist was a hornbeam dagger. She twitched once, a violent spasm, and for a moment lay still, reacquainting herself with her human body.

She had to acclimate herself to it, she could not change who and what she was. As she lay there, face down in the freshened wet grass, it came to her that she could perhaps cope by accepting that being both was now her truth. But she knew that she could be even more than just both.

And for the first time since her initial transformation, she began to feel something akin to hope about the life that now stretched in front of her. She could be one, or both, or many. Her chin came up defiantly. There was nothing that could tell her otherwise.

She stretched out in the grass, fingers combing through the damp blades. In the distance, she could hear a herd of animals bleating. It was a familiar sound; she had tended sheep with her people, long and long ago. It was time to see about moving on. She was halfway to her feet when she was startled by a sharp whistle.

"An' what's this, then?" barked out a gruff woman's voice. "Yer as naked as th' day ye slid from yer mother! Can't see much these days but I can see that. Mind tellin' me what yer doin' on me patch o' earth?"
quork: Color painting of woman facing a lightning storm. A mix of hair and raven feathers pours down her back. (lightning storm)
The city was noisy.

The city was busy and noisy.

The city was smelly, busy and noisy.

She felt quite out of sorts as she wandered the streets most adjacent to Elleshar's garden. Her senses were continually assaulted by the bustling activity and oppressive air. She had seen all of these things slowly come to be, of course, but the perception was quite different when wearing a human body.

She was becoming better acquainted with that body, putting it through its paces to reacquaint herself with all that it could do. She supposed that she might never entirely return to what it was, before that first change. She would drop things. Her entire body would be overcome with uncomfortable, violent temblors. She still tried to break eggs with her nose. It was often embarrassing. She felt that she could probably come to accept these tics and tremors as just another part of her, no different from her long shins or her fuzzy, unkempt eyebrows, no different than the sharp red seed of rage that had taken root near her heart.

And what was she to do with that? She walked down the drizzly streets, turning the matter over and over in her head. She had always been fierce but this was something else entirely, a screaming fever beneath her skin, a fire that could not seem to be quenched. The force of it quickened her step, and before she knew it she had walked quite a distance away from the garden. These streets were not so familiar. But she kept on. She had the right to be furious, no one disagreed. Her people were gone. The worst part of that was that she had already lived that pain on the night that she had been taken, but time in its slow but incredible kindness had blurred the memory until it was gone. Upon regaining her true human form, all the memories had come slamming back into her mind, sending her reeling at a time when she had no solid foot on the ground.

Her sisters, gone. Brothers, gone. Parents, beloved aunts and uncles? Gone. She had loved her entire clan, and now it seemed there was no sign that they had ever existed. Her grief was large and ragged and had to be put aside and ignored to deal with the ever-present dangers in her current reality. Still, she would not go back to total confinement in the Tower for all the corn in the New World. She counted herself fortunate that she could return to the raven form at will. Once the connection was made, she felt monstrously stupid at not having known it immediately. It was a great comfort to her, taking the shape of the raven. For the moment, it felt more natural to her than did her true form.

She came to a gradual stop near a large intersection, quite close to the bridge that she hoped would take her over the Thames and into the countryside. The wind chose that moment to give a great gusty push, and it flapped the left side of her cloak back over her shoulder, revealing a good portion of her naked white body. It did not take long for someone to notice, of course.

"Indecency! Ruin! Oh, look away, children! Indeeeecenceeeeeeeeee!" howled a gnarled old harridan just across the way. She was pointing at Croárc with the tip of her umbrella. "Poleeeeeece! Stop her! Save the children!"

Croárc couldn't see any children about, but she did see the dutiful policeman running up to assist the old woman. She fought the urge to sigh; these people were so ridiculously repressed! No wonder they all had pinched faces and cruel mouths. But she knew she couldn't get caught by these gaolers. Too much was at stake, and certain things simply could not be explained to the wrong people. So she gathered herself and sprinted off, dodging the small crowd that had begun to form around the poor, sad offended old woman.

"Stop! In the name of Her Majesty the Queen!" the gaoler shouted, but Croárc could move faster than he could ever hope to. She felt no shame, but she was starting to feel the thrill of the hunt. A razor sharp grin showed amongst the wild toss of her thick black hair. But she knew she couldn't run forever, she had gleaned enough from society to know how these things eventually ended. She knew what to do, it was as natural as breathing. Quickly shooting down a little left-hand alley, she drew her ritual dagger from a fold in her cloak. Still moving, she spoke the dark, ancient phrase and with a great gesture, brought the dagger down into the twisted white scar between her breasts. The cloak - and a handful of bright farthings - fell in a heap to the muddy cobblestones. And a great black raven took to the rainy sky, cawing triumphantly as he climbed up and up.


quork: A sketch of a raven, black on white. (Default)
Croárc ná Corvain

May 2012

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