Vicky Zhuang Yi-Yin
The City of Crows - Chapter 1
Crows darkened the sky above the flying city of Aviana. The scene was horrific at the royal court. The black birds landed themselves on every perch they could find after their battle had ended. Everywhere, on the ground, there were dead birds. Their feathers hovered in the air, as they slowly and slowly drifted downwards to kiss the ground. Bit by bit a little boy, dressed in all black, with spiky auburn hair and eyes that lacked sleep for days, walked towards a body lying in the middle of all the clutter of dead birds, blood, and a myriad of feathers.
The boy looked sullen. There was a glare in his eyes that could pierce the heart of anyone who looked into it. Such anger in such a young boy; he was almost thirteen. And now he was the king. With his army of crows, he had achieved what his father could not. He had completed a task his father had bestowed on him before he was exiled to the lands down below; a punishment only fit for the worst of crimes. His father was a traitor to the throne, a sly worm who tried to take over Aviana, or so he was told.
The King lay on the ground. His face – stripped of all the dignity that a royal should have – was abused by the claws and beaks of the crows that now glared at him and cawed mockingly at him. His clothes were all torn to hanging shreds. He threw his gaze at his favourite eagle, Dignity. Its beak opened towards the higher skies. Its agile body was not moving, not even breathing. Dignity was dead.
The fallen King stared at the boy with questioning eyes. He did not have the strength to speak. He had to strain to breathe. He breathed, holding on to his dear life. His body was shaking. His soul was trying to break free from the body. His hair was strewn in a mess. Blood dripped from his wounds into the pool that he now laid on.
The boy picked up the crown that lay on its side after it rolled off the King’s head a few tantalizing moments before. He looked at it with his hungry eyes. “This really is pretty,” he said, teasing the King. “See uncle, you are weak. You were beaten by the mere crows that you insulted a few years back. Remember that day you exiled my father to the Lands below. I watched it all happen, now I complete what my father started.”
He put the crown on his head. It was loose, but he did not mind for the time being. He pranced and danced around his dying uncle. He looked like he had not been this happy before.
“Uncle couldn’t think the rebellion would’ve been started by little me!” he shouted gleefully and haughtily. Triumphantly he looked down at his uncle again as he halted his victory dance. The crows began to caw loudly and excitedly. The Sceptre of Royalty was now in the boy’s hand. It signified the Kingship of Aviana. Whosoever held the Sceptre after the defeat of the preceding king was to be crowned King of Aviana; with no word of argument.
“Now, I am the King! Father would be so proud of me!” the boy cried.
“Au-aub-beron,” his uncle croaked.
“Papa!” a voice squeaked in anguish.
Auberon’s gaze whipped about, looking for the tiny speaker. He knew who she was. He knew her very well. “Come on out Hymn!”
“N-no!” the fallen king muttered. “D-don’t h-hurt h-her!”
“Silence, now I’m the King! I can do as I please!” Auberon snapped a reply with his arrogant voice.
A little girl, dressed in a white sundress ran towards the body. Papa, slowly, with a small fight, put his hand on her soft rosy cheek. “Hymn, r-run a-away,” he stuttered. “I c-can no l-longer take c-care of you.”
“Don’t listen to him Hymn,” Auberon said defiantly. “He is a traitor, he deserves to die.”
She had spent ten years of life and she had never heard of the word ‘traitor’ before. Hymn stared at her father with tearful eyes. “Papa, what is he saying?”
“Leave him Hymn. He is of no use now. He is as good as dead,” Auberon said. His voice seemed to be warming up when he spoke to the girl.
“No!” Hymn shouted. “Go away! The King needs to heal!”
Auberon clicked his tongue thrice. The King’s breath halted abruptly. A smile scarred his face. His eyes were fixed on his daughter.
“Papa!” Hymn shouted.
“Come with me now Hymn,” Auberon said. He half-smiled to himself, the beginning of a new dynasty for Aviana was at hand. He could not care for the death of his uncle. “I’m the King now, I will protect you.”
His father had wanted to forcefully take away the throne eight years ago.
“Papa!” Hymn cried, tears welling in the corners of her eyes. “Papa.”
She grabbed his hand tightly as Auberon came closer and pulled her away from him. “No, I want to be with Papa!”
“Forget about him. He betrayed Aviana by taking over the throne that did not belong to him,” Auberon said. He clapped his hands, and the thousands of crows that were perched in the courtyard flew downwards covering the fallen king’s body. “Come Hymn, let’s have something to eat.”
“No buts, you will listen to me now.”
Hymn opened her mouth to protest, but Auberon merely put his finger in front of her lips. He pulled her away from the courtyard and took her inside, to the halls. His mind raced with the preparations for the official coronation. There was much to do, but for the child-king, it was going to be an odyssey to his very own legacy.
To Be Continued (If I find the time)
An Older Version was Published on StoryWrite
I also tried to do a painting a long time ago to go with this story. Hope you like it.