Twenty-Five Blackbirds, part two

First was Jenny darling, apple of all eyes.

On swift and careless wings did she fly to her demise.

Young Diego tripped and fell upon the ground,

Several hungry wolves made sure that he was never found.

Diego is the youngest of us. He had been around far longer than I. Don’t give me that look, that’s just how it works. He is Young Diego of the Shining Eyes. So regardless of how many of us moved on or joined, he was always going to be the kid. Of course, last I saw, they put the nail in one of his shiners, so he might be Young Diego One-eyed now. Hard to say.

In any case, Diego’s trick was the standard will-o’-the-wisp gambit, but with a twist. You’ve heard the story of the boy who cried wolf? Yeah, those stories started because of Diego. Folk nowadays have it in their head that they are supposed to be cautionary tales against lying. Used to be that they were warnings against a much more physical threat.

See, years past, Diego would pull his routine, be the little boy on the edge of town, crying about the monsters coming to take the herds. When they farmers rushed out to fend off the wolves, the mist would close in. Then Diego would lead them on a merry chase, dancing about as they tried to follow his shining peepers through the bog. The lucky ones fell and woke up the next day with a bump on their heads. The unlucky ones were never heard from again. Diego has a bit of a nasty streak.

Those stories started as a precaution, saying it was better to lose a sheep or two than follow the cries of wolf into the night. Of course, they’ve had much less to worry about since Diego got bored and found our service, but the lesson remains. Or doesn’t, since the meaning has become twisted with retelling.

I can’t rightly say what caused Diego to join us. His methods are pretty straightforward though. Cry wolf in the night, and we get in and out unnoticed while the villagers are stumbling about in the fog. Which may be created by Diego, or summoned when he’s playing his trick, or maybe he even becomes the fog. I never was quite sure, but didn’t bother to ask. It worked.

In any case, if you are undertaking this task, know that you must always stick to the roads while travelling. If an unnatural fog sweeps over your camp, stay put and wait for morning. Whatever you do, don’t follow the lights.

Twenty-Five Blackbirds, part one

This is part of an ongoing project of mine. Bear with the apparent nonsense, because there will be more than a few updates from this character’s viewpoint. Maybe not every week until they are done, and not always one-by-one, but they will be a recurring theme.

***

First was Jenny darling, apple of all eyes.

On swift and careless wings did she fly to her demise.

First is┬áJenny O’Toole, the Dead Girl at the End of Every Sad Song. Her light green raiment was still damp from the bottom of the riverbed where she drowned, though the way she pranced from cloud-to-cloud, you would think the water weighed her down not at all.

She was not always first. Thing is, when they nailed them down, bound their forms to strict concepts, she laughed it off. She ripped the iron nail out of her flesh, and seized the end of the chain that bound the rest of them together. Their captors had likely planned to toss them over a cliff, chained to stones to prevent them from rising out of the waves. Just like in the stories.

When one of us would get bound to a thing that we have already used to define ourselves, it only makes us stronger. So, she yanked on the chain, and went on her merry way, dragging twenty-three assorted bodies behind her as though they were wheeled toys on a string. Must have caused quite a stir throughout town that day.

Time was, Jenny would be our best infiltrator. A touch of glamour, and no one commented on her pallid skin. She just looked like any lost waif that got caught in a storm, and you folk just love to take in lost children, especially ones that sing as prettily as she. Sure, there were a few times that her game was off, or the couple was rude and miserly, and she would end up tossed at the stoop of a church or orphanage, but that never stopped her from playing her game. Instead of sneaking about, opening locks and raising a ruckus, she’d show up face-down in the well and cause some poor sod to have a heart attack while drawing the morning water.

Especially in smaller communities, thing like that happens, it can go one of two ways. Either the people get suspicious, throwing accusations and witch-hunts at one another, and chaos descends until someone inevitably dies. Or, the town simply decides as one that it never happened, that it is a taboo subject. They blissfully lapse into willful ignorance, deliberately ignoring anything even slightly out of the ordinary.

Either way it went, it was beneficial for us. Either we could take advantage of the chaos and strike while the people were rioting, or else enter and exit with barely a hooded cloak for a disguise, taking our due and vanishing without comment.

Please understand, I am not by any means defending our ways, or our methods. But unless you understand them, you will be hopeless in your efforts to overturn them.

My other projects

This week is kind of getting away from me, as the fact that this post went up on Sunday rather than Saturday. The reason is that I have been focusing on writing for other projects that I have been deeply involved in. While I do enjoy writing this blog, I’ve also been writing fictions for a fan-run game of Legend of the Five Rings, that have currently breached 30k words in length over the few months that I have been writing them

Legend of the Five Rings is an absurd sprawling game setting of the “Not Quite Fantasy Japan Samurai Drama” sort. It really deserves a post of its own, so I’ll likely do just that next week. However, for the moment, I leave you a link to the project, if you care to read.

Winter Court 5

A warning for the uninitiated: Legend of the Five Rings is a ridiculously huge setting with literal years of writing about it. As such, these writings are full of jargon. It is completely OK if you do not get them.

Heck knows I sometimes don’t, and I write them.

Cheers