They say its never a good sign when a crow shows up and that its the last thing a damned spirit sees before traversing the veil of Urcaen. It’s a saying my father used to say when I was young, and I never understood why until I was much older.
I was thirteen when they broke in to my house. I had just got back from a food run with some of my friends when we heard a scream about a block away; I instantly recognized it as my mother. Even though I wasn’t far, the distance felt much greater, like my feet were lead or I was traversing quicksand to entire straightaway there.
When I arrived she was dead; her flesh still warm and a look of voided distance had been cooked in to her eyes like a lifeless doll. Her lips were speckled in dirt from the cobblestones outside of our house and broken glass lay embedded in her flesh. I watched as the ribbons of red silk poured from the wounds as everyone gathered around in commotion. I heard the City Watch yell as they scrambled to push back the crowd – then I felt Ras’s hand on my arm.
“Hey, come on. You don’t need to see this.” His voice was stern and guiding as he pulled.
I followed, but I remember never taking my eyes off her. I wanted the image stained in my head as I never got to say goodbye.
My father spend years searching for the burglars and putting pressure on the local magistrate to comply with his requests. When he was turned away due to no leads, he began burglarizing the locals to bring the case back to the forefront. When they broke in to our house, they left a Cygnaran half-shield covered in white paint; it was the only clue anyone had.
As my father burglarized homes, he left their coins scattered about. He took valuables that stood out, smashed the house and broke the lock hinges in the same character they did to ours. After a month, the magistrate came questioning my father if he could remember anything else about his wife’s death and in his eyes; he had won.
My father was murdered several weeks later; his body washed in to port and the investigation suggested he had been dumped at sea and floated here with the tides. With two parents gone, the magistrate vowed to bring the murderers to justice.
Their promise was kept when the brought in a man by the name of Darren Godspell. He was young, charismatic and kept a ring on his finger that resembled the embrace of a crow or falcons claw. I remember seeing the gaudy thing pass by my face as he was ushered in to the prison-hold; ill never forget it.
Darren knew he was a dead-man walking. He’d turned his back on his organization and decided it was best to spill the keg while his carried a breath in his body. He told them things that they wanted to hear; simple things, but never anything elaborate. He kept saying over and over “Im just an errand boy. I’m just an errand boy.” with the slickest smile a cocky con artist could muster. But the case was clear as day to me, although not as transparent to the Magistrate; they wanted fame. And what’s the quickest way to fame? Get caught.
Darren was blamed for the deaths of my family and multiple others in Ord and as such, he was sentenced to death. I remember the snap of the rope, the crack of his neck as he spun there; his eyes lolling in the back of his head as the pain wracked his body. I remembered my mothers face, lifeless and broken; his death brought me a smile. That smile would not be good enough for my younger self, as I knew their fame was only just beginning.
Years passed and I collected what I could of their ascension. I kept every news article that I found and interviewed everyone I ran across who was a victim of their illicit pursuits; I was obsessed. I knew I wouldn’t stop until…until I had closure. The problem was: I didn’t know what that would be, so it continued to escalate. I could not stand to be considered the stepping stone of their rise of terror and tumultuous affairs. I would not stand aside while others got hurt and they profited off break-ins and death; so I bought a pistol.
The gun was oily and used, handed down from one criminal to other. The handle was wrapped in a stained red handkerchief to prevent splinters from the shoddy grip and I had to pay a Smith to rework and bore the barrel, but it was all I could afford.
The gun represented a tangible promise; a promise that I intended to keep.