I apologize in advanced for any spelling or grammatical errors -- while I did read over this twice, I may have missed something. Sorry!
"The December wind wrapped itself around the two as they briskly made their way down the crowded sidewalk. They didn't mind the cold all too much for their sheer excitement kept them warm. A mother and a son had traversed into the Inner Sanctum of the Main City to prepare for the festivities. It was the 20th, and on the 21st a world-wide celebration would ring out in glory of their leader's name and birthday. It wasn't just a celebration for him, as on the 21st everyone shared in on the gift giving and good will spreading amongst their friends and loved ones. The mother and son, however, had missed out on their shopping and were forced to rush and see what they could get the night before.
"Every corner they turned and every step they took left them visually bombarded with fantastic, glowing displays of old time toys and new wave technology. Adding to the light were the countless souls that hung high in the sky: small blue and orange orbs of life that floated lazily up to their judgment. Waves of people passed them by, either dressed extravagantly in the season's colors of gold and red, or clad in black and white attire. Compared to everyone else, the mother and son looked rather mediocre. They shared the same raven-black hair, though hers fell in loose curls and his in choppy waves, and they both had stunning yellow eyes that seemed to carry a light of their own, even amidst the shops' glow. Warmly snug in simple coats and boots and maroon-colored scarves, the two often whispered and laughed to each other at how strange just some of these demons' fashion senses were.
"They walked and they walked, stopping at store front and store front, peeking in every so often, until his mother wore three bags on her arm -- two on her left and one on her right. He carried a bag himself, all of them holding trinkets, ornaments and gifts for their extended family. The night was still young and the two decided to sight-see for just a little longer. After all, this was their first trip into the Inner Sanctum. For most of their needs, they went to facilities located in the Seven Providences, as the Inner Sanctum was much too long of a trip to take.
"Though, this first trip carried with them ignorant bliss of the dangers that lurked around every corner in the seedier parts of town. Their lord had done the best he could with keeping petty criminals at bay, but some still slipped through his law enforcement's grasp. The poor mother, and the poor son, would fall into the cruel hands of fate that night. Soon the streets became like mazes and they found themselves disoriented and lost, without a single soul on the street besides their own. Of course, out on the streets there were none, but hidden in the depths of the alleyways, rotten, orange souls crept.
"Two low-life thugs were sprawled out amongst the heaps of garbage and cardboard boxes that littered the alley. When they caught sight of the two confused newcomers walking past their turf, their eyes widened, their gaits twisted, and their hearts began to pound. With quick movements the demons sprung from their dismal depression and fled on foot towards the mother and son. Quickly drawing knives to their backs, they forced the two back into the inky depths of the trash-ridden corridor where, if anyone could have saved them before, they certainly couldn't be saved now.
"The older of the criminals kept his knife at the mother's neck while he demanded that she place any jewelry of value she wore into the largest of the bags she carried, along with her money and presents. The younger mugger made the son empty his pockets of any little change he had, and after inspecting his bag and finding nothing of amazing value, simply kept an eye on him to make sure he wouldn't run.
"Once the veteran crook had nabbed up the heavy bag brimming with stolen goods, they began to walk backwards towards the exit of the alleyway, holding their knives in front of them as if their victims would charge at them any moment to try to take back what was theirs. Suddenly, the older stopped in his steps, a confounded look on his face. When the other inquired as to why, the crook vocalized his worries about the police. Surely as soon as they left, the mother and son would report what happened. Within a minute's notice that section of town would be gridded and surrounded and they would be trapped and at the mercy of their lord's enforcement.
"The youngest swallowed a nervous lump in his throat, shifting the weight of his blade around as he questioned whether or not they were to kill their victims. The mother let out a sharp gasp, and the son's knees grew weak. They were but powerless demons of only average strength and speed. Human ancestry had muddied their powers to nothing, and they stood no chance against their attackers. The older of the two gave a subtle nod. With a drop of their stolen bag, the two charged forward. The mother let out a terrified shriek and turned heel, running down into the darkness of the alley as their only sure escape path was blocked.
"He hesitated for only a moment, but knew what he had to do, or at what he had to try, at least. The son raced forward, his mind starting to black out and letting his rash heart take over. He caught the youngest crook with a right hook to his stomach, making him falter in his steps as the older one raced after his mother. The son tried to hold him back, but his speed and the strength he received from the adrenaline were starting to fail him. Back on his wits, the robber slashed at the boy's torso and threw him off, quickly following after his partner in crime into the darkness.
"The son clutched at his chest to feel the warm liquid rush to meet his hands. The blade had sliced through his clothing as easily as it did his skin, sailing through both material and flesh as if it were butter. The gash reached from his upper left chest to his right hip and was deeper than he had at first perceived. He gasped for air as the pain seemed to constrict his lungs and started to stagger out of the alley. The mixture of white noise that rang in his ears and the pounding of his own heart deafened his ears to the wailing shriek that came from his mother.
"Just as he reached the street, he dropped to his knees, unable to continue on. His hope was shattered and he was losing his blood, and fast. He probably would have died right there if this next event had not happened -- A single person was walking on those deserted streets that night. That single person was his Lord, Skye.
"He was considerably dressed down from his normal, garish attire. Just a simple coat that reached to about his knees, and black pants that peeked out from under leather boots. His tail waved back and forth in a rhythmic pattern as he simply stared down at the bloodied heap of a boy with curiosity. The son took a shaking hand and clasped it on the heel of his lord's boot, struggling to form the words of his plea. After a few failed attempts, he was finally able to convey his mother's plight. Skye had simply watched him, unmoving, saying not a word -- but he cracked a smile, a terrible, grotesque thing that seemed so foreign on his face. He told the dying boy to just give him a moment and not to move -- not like he could have run away if he even wanted to -- and the monochromtic demon slipped into a tar like state, zipping into the shadows and melding with them.
"Only five or so seconds later,though they seemed a life time to the son, two distinguishable yells echoed through the trash-ridden hallway, and the son instantly recognized the voices as the criminals'. Surely enough, two loud thumps came from behind him. He quickly turned his head to take in the horror, or perhaps the sweet justice, of the sight. The mangled body of his and his mother's assaulters were sprawled carelessly on the ground -- their faces were unidentifiable and chunks seemed to be torn out from them. Above lingered Skye, tugging carefully at his blood soaked gloves, making sure that none of the red liquid had gotten on his mock skin.
"For a moment, the sight made him forget all about the pain -- it made his mind feel numb and fuzzy and his stomach feel as if it had turned over and inside out. He choked down the urge of puking, and his lord casually mentioned that if he couldn't bear this sight, he shouldn't dare think about seeing his mother. This comment startled him back into reality. The numbness subsided and the pain returned-- both physically and of heart ache.
"He began to beg to his lord once more to help him. He didn't care about his dwindling life -- he asked for Skye to help his mother. In a disillusioned state, he believed that she was still alive. Perhaps -- brutally maimed, but still alive. The son told him he didn't care about his wounds, but pleaded for his mother's immediate aid. A moment of terrible silence brought about another terrible smile. Skye agreed once more, but now for a price. In exchange for saving his mother, Skye asked for his servitude. Only for but a year or two. The son agreed without hesitation. If anything, Skye himself asking for a commoner's service was a high honor.
"The demon held his bloodstained, gloved hand for the boy to shake on and seal their deal. The son reached out with enormous effort and grasped it. He felt a yanking sensation grow from behind his brain and throat. His whole body began to tingle and he began to feel a sensation of weightlessness. Skye began to fall backwards into the building's shadow, dragging the son along with him. In a blink of an eye the darkness began to suck them both in. It was a method of travel Skye was able to access, and only a few other demons could as well.
"To this day -- the son remembers the next scene with disgusting clarity. As the darkness enveloped them, they continued into their downwards fall with Skye's hand still clasped firmly around his. Wind rushed past the poor boy's face, letting his hair fly back and his eyes wide open to a horrible, disgusting face. The snow white "skin" that composed Skye's face tore off in chunks and pushed his eye patch off, letting a black tar-like substance take its place. Two large, swirling vortexes of white light took the place of his eyes. Where these new eyes touched the black and almost liquid composition of his skin, they seemed to fight. The eyes tried to expand and almost devour his face, but the tar kept pushing them at bay, causing a swirling motion. The cunning grin turned into a gaping mouth of the same intense white light that his eyes. The substance clung in thin columns from this odd mouth, causing an effect of a smile composed of bright white ovals. Slits began to form on his horns, and suddenly, all at once, they burst open to reveal black, sharp teeth. In unison once more, they opened up to reveal black and white iris eyes, swiveling mad in their mouth-sockets.
"The sight only lasted for a blink of an eye. Before he had time to fully take in what had happened, he was pulled upright from the darkness into Skye's personal office. Skye regained his normal form, eye patch and all, and let go of his hand. It caused the son to collapse to the floor and begin to convulse violently, with nothing coming up successfully. The physical stress of his wound and the fact his body had just been pulled through a nearly-impossible method of travel for regulars such as himself, coupled with seeing what he believed to be the 'true face' of his lord -- it was simply too much."
Deadbird stopped his story. The petting of a large raven that rested on his forearm subsided. He pressed his legs closer to his chest and rested his chin on his knees, taking in his surroundings with wide eyes.
He sat on top of a pile of corpses stripped clean of clothing. Most of them had their chests ripped open and their inner organs tossed carelessly about. The pile he rested on was the highest of them all, and could oversee an ocean of bodies below him, with other piles forming. The bodies closest to the bottom were nearly skeletons, with maggots and worms cleaning out the little flesh that still clung to their bones. even below those bodies was a carpet of picked-clean skeletons, completely obscuring the floor. In every direction he looked, there seemed to be no end -- even the ceiling above him located at about 500 feet seemed barely visible through a hazy, red fog that obscured the far distances of the massive tomb. The occasional torch was jammed into the bodies here and there with their eternal flames flickering. Besides Dead Bird's raven, a murder of about fifty crows sat close to Deadbird, listening to his story. Or so -- he liked to think that they were. They simply sat there, staring at him, with the occasional twitch of their heads or wings, but they never made a sound. That's why he preferred to talk to them, because they never talked back.
Deadbird leaned against his crooked scythe that was stuck into the pile behind him and resumed to pet the raven.
"The son heard his lord laugh, even through his volatile retching. As he paced around his circular office, he babbled about how the soul was the most delicious if extracted in a terrified state. In quick strides he made his way over to the boy and squatted down to face him eye to eye. With a rough shove of his hand, he grabbed the boy's raven hair and yanked his head up and threw him back into a sitting position. Skye drew his free hand back and flexed his fingers. With one swift movement he thrust his hand forward and pierced into the son's flesh wound with blinding speed, straight into his chest cavity, and grasped onto something located between his heart, lungs, and nestled within his ribcage. He pulled his hand back out and let go of the boy's hair, leaving his limp shell of a body fall to the floor with a splatter of blood.
"In his hand, Skye held a small, blue orb with a light blue aura flickering around it. He pinched it in between his thumb and middle finger, raising it above his head delicately. He opened his jaw to such an extent that caused the sides of his mouth to split open, letting a black ooze seep out from their holes. A long, black tongue slithered out and curled around the sphere and his fingers. Immediately as his tongue touched the soul, its blue color drained and was replaced with a dull gray to prevent it from burning him. This desaturation only seemed to happen with souls, almost a partial defense mechanism of his body since he needed a handful of these life forces a day to keep his power at maximum.
"But he hesitated. His tongue uncurled from the sphere and he closed his mouth, bringing the soul close to eye level. He glanced from it, to the lifeless body of the boy, back to the soul, and then over to the window that engulfed half of his circular office. He tossed the orb into the air and caught it again several times as he made his way over to it. Artificial light was pumped into the window at this time of night from the several blinding advertisement screens plastered on the buildings on the street. During the daytime, however, he kept the window behind a thick, black drape. A beautiful, scenic shot of his city rated less than being safe from the sun's harmful rays."
Dead Bird stopped again and sat upright. Another group of crows landed around him from distances beyond.
"But, I digress.
"His favorite bird had died that day -- a majestic thing, it was. A large carrion crow that challenged the size of a hawk. It was his favorite to send out on surveillance missions and messages, and perhaps he even though of it as a beloved pet. Regardless, its age had gotten the best of it and unlike Skye, it wasn't impervious to the kiss of death. Its corpse still sat upon its perch by the window, its cold talons clutching the wooden post fiercely, even in death. Skye had watched its orange soul pass through the glass and travel up into the sky earlier that morning -- and couldn't bear to part with it physically just yet.
"On a whim, he wondered if he could put a new soul into its empty shell. The worse, he figured, is that the new soul wouldn't take. He tore a small piece of the soul out from the main sphere and tucked it away in his coat's pocket. The soul shivered at its loss, but soon regained its spherical form. He pressed the boy's bright blue life force against the bird's chest and, much to the lord's delight, it took.
" After the soul vanished into the bird's feathers, it began to re-animate. Its wings twitched, its beak snapped, and its eyes blinked rapidly. Skye exclaimed joys like nobody had heard before, and he urged the bird to climb upon his arm. It did as it was told.
"Jubilation lasted for but a short, sweet time. Soon the bird's twitching began to increase and it flew from its master's arm and landed clumsily on the floor, appearing as it had been thrown into an epileptic shock. Horrified, Skye could only watch and wonder if the body was rejecting the soul. But something more...interesting happened.
"The raven's body began to dissolve into a black, liquid mess. From that liquid, a hand emerged, pulling out a half-formed body that shivered and twitched upon the floor. It soon began to harden into an actual form. Separate fingers emerged with the same paleness of its master's. Along with a face, a tragic looking face, with eyes no one could ever mistake for a humans. Black in base with a red ring for an iris and a white "x" as its pupil."
For the third time Deadbird stopped his story. He lifted his hands in front of him and examined them. The raven that rested on his forearm shuffled its way up to sit on his shoulder. His wrist gave a twitch that he ignored. He often twitched, his jaw often snapped and popped as he talked, and his joints often stiffened if he tried to make expressive hand gestures.
"And I became this. He doesn't know what I am, and neither do I. I'm simply forced to work under his every whim and command for the rest of my new life -- or until I'm able to retrieve that part of my soul he stole. If I could get it -- maybe I could rest in peace. I retained my memories though, but i gained the memories of his bird as well. I'm not sure which are my own or its, at this point."
His neck suddenly snapped to the side as he continued to look at his hands, which gave the bird on his shoulder a jump. Deadbird's face retained the same, emotionless look.
"He gave me a job, he gave me a new name, he gave me a new purpose. And I hate it. A lying son of a bitch, he is. But I cannot defy him. I cannot tell anyone the truth. I simply have to sit here and wait for his command. At time's I feel unnaturally loyal to him -- I fear that means the bird's mentality is taking over my own. But how can it? It's soul flew off far away -- shouldn't its memories and mannerisms have gone with it?."
Deadbird's neck snapped back into its normal position. The crows seemed to become unsettled.
"I don't understand it. I don't understand what I am, why I am -- I don't even believe my lord knows either. I am but an asset to his benefit, I suppose. An asset he can't afford to loose, so he keeps part of my soul close. It's terribly ironic, I go about harvesting souls to feed his gluttonous hunger for power. I am doing unto others what he did to me-- Am I repeating myself? I feel like I am."
A low hum started to resonate through the air. Deadbird, along with the crows and the raven lifted their heads to the hazy ceiling. Skye was calling for him. Still in his more human appearance, Deadbird let out a shrieking caw the resonated through the chamber. The crows answered him back in unison and began to take off in a flurry of feathers. He stood up and grasped his scythe, yanking it out from the mass of bodies beneath him. Jet black wings appeared on his back in a small explosion of red light. With a single flap he began to soar through the red haze with the murder of crows about him; the raven following swiftly along.
A small girl stood unseen, clutching the side of a half-devoured body, watching Dead Bird as he flew off for the ceiling's exit. Her black hair was tied into neat, even ponytails, and her white dress was terribly bloodstained from walking through the field of decay. Her face wore an oddly determined look on it.
"Ohhh, I knew that bird was ungrateful! He bites the hand who feeds him with his words. I must tell Skye...that dumb bird! His voice is so annoying, I'm glad he doesn't speak much. But Sammy Ann must go and tell Skye of this stupid bird's ramblings!"
With a huff, she turned around and began to storm off through the red haze in the opposite direction, her delicately polished dress shoes making a sickening crunch against the bone and flesh beneath her feet.