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Chapter 27 · Chapter 28 · Chapter 29


Uneasy lies the soul upon which rests a crow.
Shakespeare, Henry IV Pt. 2 paraphrased.

August 12, 1870

After a few days of travel I came across Ryan's trail and followed as closely as I could. We followed two false leads which seemed to be on the order of mental echoes reverberating through the area.

Being in a more temperate climate with a good deal more moisture than the desert, my body's flesh moldered. The stench had not been so strong in the desert but now it grew so foul that not even I could stand it. Dio traveled with a mesquite berry soaked rag held against his nose. I knew that I would soon have to find some way to preserve or cover my rotting torso. And find some way to keep me from bouncing all over creation when I rode on my horse.

Although the land was more temperate it was still dry and vegetation relatively sparse. So seeing a large pond out in the middle of nowhere was surprising to say the least. To make matters even stranger the waters seemed to be black and flowed in the strangest fashion, as if composed of eddies, whirlpools and constant ripple

As we drew closer a black whirlpool rose from the surface of the lake high into the sky and in a dense, ebon cloud that swiftly veered in our direction.

Within seconds it became apparent that this was not an ordinary cloud but one composed of thousands and thousands of crows. They flew towards us shrieking and cawing, smelling the carrion I had become.

Dio looked at me with a worried expression. I knew that in their feeding frenzy the crows would kill me, Dio and the horses.

Without regard for his safety, I slammed and locked the thought of holding onto the horses into Dio's mind. Despite what terror he felt, he would continue to do this until I released him. The migraine this caused him flitted across my mind but skimmed past before it could affect me.

Closing my eyes, I concentrated on any thoughts I could feel in the area.

The experience nearly overwhelmed me. Flickering touches of a thousand thoughts all similar, all geared towards the consumption of food, skittered across the surface of my consciousness. The flock mentality was beyond description. A million animals with one similiar, momentary purpose yet composed of individuals minds whose intelligence, although different and inferior in scope to mankind, had memories, desires, identities and needs beyond their immediate surroundings.

Crows were intelligent if driven by instinctual behavior. Upon feeling my mind contacting mine, they did not veer off but strengthened their resolve.

The flock mentality meshed becoming more a solid and interlocked consciousness. Individuality was subsumed into the flock mind, yet the flock was not a nebulous undirected entity, from the mass several individuals, elected by some arcane means or through some ancient heritage, began directing the thoughts and desires of hundreds of crows. These were the Kings and Queens of the Crows.

The Royal Crows channeled the mental energy of their fellow crows and attacked my mind in swift rapacious assaults which swept down on me in every possible direction. My brain was simultaneously pierced by thousands of needles, smacked by hundreds of two by fours, boiled in oil, hacked to bits and stomped on by hobnailed boots.

Although the pain was immense, almost paralytic, I kept my sanity and withstood the cerebral barrage.

By this time the crows had reached us, covering us in a heavy blanket of soft, light feathered bodies. Sharp agony shot through me as the crows picked at the decayed flesh of my body.

The pain I felt was not my own, since my body no longer felt anything. No, the torment sweeping across my mind was from the birds ingesting my flesh. As soon as they had swallowed a mouthful, the first set of crows fell off my body in stunned shock, only to be immediately replaced by another group of birds who followed suit.

In one burst of agony and anger I lashed out at the flock mind. A wave of mental force swept over the thousand bird flock in a chain reaction, reaching not only the crows comprising the dark mass on the ground but most of the corvidae in the United States, this included Ravens, Magpies, Jays, Rooks and Jackadaws. Those crows in my immediate area fell over like bowling pins, those in the sky dropped like canaries in a poison gas pocket, those on the ground tumbled over like a million beaked and feathered dominos.

I gleaned something of the crows history and solved the mystery of why such a multitude of crows had come to such a small area.

Crows, Ravens and Sparrows are psychopomps, they escort the souls of the dead from the earth to the afterlife. Many Indian tribes have a special regard for the crow as such beings. The sudden deaths of a massive amount of people in one area had brought the crows to this place. Yet the crows were confused and captivated by this area since they could not find any tormented souls to free, yet felt the souls' aching desire to be freed.

Most of the crows recovered from my mind explosion in a few minutes. They flew back to join their companions in the area directly before our path, perching on the ground before us like a black lake.

As Dio and I approached they cleared a path for our mounts. As we entered the outskirts of the crow horde, I felt an ever increasing uneasiness. The earth seemed to be filled with the silent cries of the dying and the dead. A discernable gloom rose from the soil of the area, hanging over the ground like some dry, gray mist.

The dirt was a peculiar whitish gray, often soft and fluffy, clumped and hard. Realization set in that this was human ash and bone a shiver of revulsion rattled my teeth and horror gripped my soul as I understood that this was all that remained of the Hopi village destroyed by Donegal Ryan.

The crows were confused because Ryan's powers were supernatural in origin and so their results were also supernatural, which is to say they were unnatural, removed as it were from the natural order of the world. Donegal Ryan had upset the chain of being, disrupted the life and death cycle of this region and in so doing had not only ended the lives of several innocent Hopis but had wrought severe ecological and environmental damage. I barely understood these latter concepts which the crows related despite a serious attempt to do so.

I understood that each I used my powers in a manner which changed the physical environment or disrupted the life and death cycle it could have serious consequences. After a second's reflections, it was a risk I was willing to take, after all, I was dead, what could happen to me.

The crows also told me that although it was not in my power to change things but I could at least put them back on the proper path. I agreed to try.

I have heard of several accounts of my following actions including Indian legends which bestow on me some heroic and altruistic qualities. Some say I did it to make things right with the earth, others say I did it to make amends for my blood brother's deeds. There are even those accounts which say that because the spirits of the dead Hopi filled my heart with such sadness I aided them. That is the closest to hitting the mark.

Actually the dying agonies of the Hopi souls gave me a such a splitting headache and their continual tortured yammerings got on my nerves so badly that I was willing to try anything so they would leave me the hell alone.

The process was simple yet long and time consuming. I sought out and calmed each tormented Hopi soul, peeling off the ectoplasmic scar tissue which Ryan's horrific punishment had caused. Then I had to bind the newly cured soul to a crow so the bird could carry the soul to the afterlife and so on and so forth. I did not mind helping out and all but it took so damned long and I had things to do and people to kill.

Home · Ryan's Psalm
Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3· Chapter 4· Chapter 5· Chapter 6·
Chapter 8· Chapter 9· Chapter 10 · Chapter 11 · Chapter 12 · Chapter 13· Chapter 14· Chapter 15· Chapter 16·
Chapter 17· Chapter 18· Chapter 19· Chapter 20 · Chapter 21 · Chapter 22 · Chapter 23· Chapter24· Chapter25· Chapter 26·
Chapter 27· Chapter 28· Chapter 29


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