The Crows of London- One for Sorrow

They say the sun never set on the British Empire. Whoever said that had obviously never been to London. It seemed the rain never stopped and tonight was no exception, the cold sheets of half-frozen droplets pounded the cobblestones below in an unceasing torrent. Ah yes, tonight was quite ordinary
The fact is, I love ordinary nights. Why? Because you can never tell when a random or not so random event might turn a single night extraordinary.

The heavy dismal clouds hung low over the virtually abandoned streets, bathing the capital in a gray fog that haunted every shadowy corner and dingy alley. This was a night made for murder and a deep-throated cry from above assured that it would not be disappointed.

The moon managed to slip for a brief moment from its gray prison, it’s smooth rays silhouetting a lone figure, wings outstretched, framed against a lunar background. It lasted for only a moment as the figure folded its midnight wings, dropping into the thick darkness below as the moon once again slipped behind the thick curtain.

As it plummeted to the city below, the single crow suddenly snapped its wings open as it soared unnoticed over the rooftops, drifting towards the more well-kept part of town. With a caw, it swerved, hopping onto a window sill high above London’s streets. Shaking the beaded water from its glossy feathers, it made its way further under the ledge. The bird cocked its head as the warm flicker of candlelight drew its attention to what appeared to be a masquerade ball of sorts in full swing inside the lustrious manor. Here the crow sat, sheltered from the rain, content on observing the proceedings completely unnoticed. By everyone, that is, except for a pair of deep violet eyes, framed by the midnight feathers of a sleek raven’s mask, fixed on the avian creature from their spot in an oddly shadowed corner of the room.

The eyes shone with a certain intelligent madness and were possessed by a tall, stately, rather thin gentleman who, had one not been searching for him, would have remained unnoticed in the darkness which seemed to envelop him almost as if he was somehow woven into the inky ethereal fabric of the shadows that encompassed his lithe figure. His dress was the epitome of refinement and unsolvable enigmas. The high collar of a white shirt peeked out from underneath an ebony vest and matching britches tucked into polished black boots. A slim dark overcoat encompassed the assembly, a black puff tie seemingly tying it all together. He stood in an easy but squared posture, his gloved hands folded and resting on the hilt of his cane which appeared to be in the shape of a silver raven’s head.

The eyes in question finally broke their somewhat disquieted scrutiny of the esoteric creature to briefly but concisely survey the large polished ballroom, his steady gaze flickered across the vague twirling figures who seemed to fade from his view as if they were but a backdrop for a much more compelling engagement.

The orchestra, although distant in his ear, played exceptionally well as strands of the swelling tones managed to slip through his concentration. Somewhere between the beginning of the affair and now a lone voice had managed to join itself to the ensemble. Although quite irregular, he noted how remarkable the voice was as the delectable notes seemed to flow around the swaying figures, almost as if shaping the very atmosphere. He paused for a moment puzzled. The voice sounded familiar… almost recognizable. He cast a glance through the sea of swirling coattails and dresses, catching mere glimpses of a young gentleman; his black top hat tipped precariously over a red and gold fox’s mask as he danced about.

He turned slightly when a single figure blocked his view of the fox eared singer. A smirk brushed the suave gentleman’s lips as he spotted the prize of tonight’s performance. Sir Howard Gadstone; Aristocrat, Tory, and prejudiced against birds of all kinds. The feathered gentleman’s eyes flashed with something akin to hatred as he observed the heavyset lord. His gloved hands tightened around the cane as he stepped in the direction of the jolly embodiment of liberality and compromise. The Holy Bible commanded that one love their enemies, however, he was certain that the chubby politician was the single exception.

His deep violet eyes dripped with thought as he considered the numerous steps and precautions that had been taken to ensure that the unsuspecting Gadstone stood in this location at this particular time. He cast a look at his pocket watch, precisely 3 minutes and 48 seconds to go. Slipping his watch back into his vest pocket, he raised his head just as he managed to step headfirst into a mass of feathers.

In an instant, he stepped to the side; an apology on his lips as the figure turned, the silver-tipped feathers of her attire glinting like blades in the flickering light. She was a tall elegant figure, her dark eyes glittering dangerously from behind her mask. The guests seemed to draw away from the dark figure as if her aroma was poison rather than a peculiarly pungent perfume, forming sort of a wide circle around her.

The feathered gentleman smiled a pleasant but caution lined smile as he recognized the Lady of the Night. “Salutations, Baroness Murdoppe,” he weaved his words carefully as he bowed politely, “I trust you are enjoying the evening?”

Her eyes gleamed as her astonishingly scarlet lips parted in a disconcerting smile, her white teeth shockingly contrast against their crimson frame. She curtised gracefully as she addressed the ebony host, “Lord Allan Poe.”
The deep violet eyes of the Raven himself sparked at the utterance of his title as his lips formed the single word that seemed to echo through the midnight streets of London. Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”


The Baroness was quite startled at a bump from behind. Usually, people at parties tried to stay out of her way as much as possible, except for the exceptionally curious. She turned to see who this individual might be. Her mahogany eyes behind the feathered mask met those of her host for the evening, also dressed as a raven.

“Lord Allan Poe,” she said with a smile and appropriate curtsy. “Lovely evening, is it not?”

Her voice was smooth as silk, and low like a finely tuned cello. The silver-tipped feathers of her costume glistened in the candlelight. There were as many rumors about her host’s family as there were about her own. Whether or not they were true was a different matter entirely.

“You’ve done an excellent job with this affair.” she continued, gesturing to the lavishly dressed attendees and the masked waiters who moved among them as silent as phantasms.


No soul quite knew what to make of Angelise Jennifer; her paper-white hair; her unnatural pink eyes shaded by pure white lashes; her thin, sharp figure; her ghostly paler save an artificial beauty mole. Not a social spirit, by goodness no! For none would see her rise from the chosen chair from whence she rested to the hour of her departure.

Rather young was Angelise Jennifer; nineteen if inquired of the gossips, twenty-two if the lady in question were asked. Not a soul could admit they respected such a lady, yet none confessed any hatred. She merely existed, drifting amid the much-envied realm of the upper class as little more than a ghost of flesh and blood.

The strange young soul rarely uttered a word, and any trace of a smile was utterly estranged from her being. Her action most noted by the party guests was her odd knack for writing. As the hours crawled by, she would etch letters with a lovely white plume. Her gaze shifting from the happenings of the event to the parchment before her, as she does now this night.

Bedecked in a silvery gown, Angelise Jennifer remained in her chair; the silver wings of a butterfly served to hide the solemn face from the joyous glamour of the masquerade. In this present moment, she beheld two figures a brief distance from her vacant table.

Both figures, adorned in raven’s clad. Such secrets bind the speech to be had. Angelise watched them thoughtfully, her stained right hand etching the present reality onto a page. Oh the wondrous works such words will waken! Come the hull of Meadowkeep.

Angelise Jennifer continued to perceive the two, both she had but common knowledge of.

Oh, what a wondrous wordful work in the wake! thought she.


Poe nodded glancing once more in the direction of the fox eared singer who, noticing the feathered host’s gaze, gave a curt nod as he ran two white-gloved fingers along his glossy brim, tipping his hat to the Raven.
A twirling masked dancer once again blocked his view as a wisp of the inimitable fragrance pulled his attention back to the waiting baroness.
“Why thank you,” he smiled pleasantly at the midnight lady, “I hope you enjoy yourself.” He chose his words carefully, “the night is still young.”
She smiled back, her eyes sharp with understanding. “I trust that I shall. It will be interesting to see how this night plays out,”

Poe nodded, his finger tracing the raven’s beak of his cane, “Indeed it will.” He lifted his head a little as the faint sound of chimes rang out as the hand of the large clock in the town square struck midnight. Time waits for no man.

If you will excuse me," he bowed slightly to the baroness, “I must attend to other business.”
She curtsied as he turned and melted into the dancing sea of figures. Slipping his pocket watch from his vest pocket, his eyes followed the second hand as it ticked out the seconds, not one of them wasted. The Raven dropped the small watch back into his pocket. Time waits for no man and neither did he.

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12… His index finger tapped the head of the small black knight piece that he clutched in his gloved hand with each chime. He grunted slightly as he adjusted his position, trying in vain to get some feeling back into his tingling legs.
Although a prime position of surveillance, saying the large oak rafters high above the polished ballroom were uncomfortable would be an understatement.
The gray-clad figure scanned the large ballroom from behind a white half-mask, the ivy covering ending in jagged “teeth” giving him a rather frightening appearance as a suave smile brushed his lips. It all led to this night.
The dark eyes scanned the faces below, making a note of the chubby politician. He smirked at the host’s interest. Gadstone was filthy, a disgrace to his title, but the grim hunter in the rafters was not here for him. The index finger paused mid tap as he spotted the single guest that did not belong. His black-gloved hand deposited the chess piece into his coat pocket his lips forming the name that was like poison on his lips…, “Noir.”

@ScienceSiren @Exploding_Kitten


Birds of every beak and breast
Flocked in adoring parade
Each poised to look their very best
For the Raven’s masquerade

Feathered beings gaily fly
Twittering in merry tone
Soft! A sacred silence cry
The Raven lingers not alone

Another of his breed alight
Knowing glances to exchange
Softly caw upon the night
With mysteries to soon arrange

Angelise Jennifer observed the cheerful sight before her. Each guest twittering carelessly about as the Raven presided over his birds. But soft! The figure was not to be found! Angelise laid her plume to rest and observed the remainder of the night, the silver butterfly ever concealing her somber face.

Amid the frivolous flock of birds maneuvered quite a funny one indeed. The feathers of this foreign bird quite contradicted the Victorian fashion on parade. This familiar young woman -only two years removed from Angelise’s own age- sported a heart-shaped complexion with a button nose, framed by rosy cheeks, dark eyebrows, and large, sapphire eyes. Her thick, blonde hair was woven into two perfect braids, which hung an inch or so past her thin shoulders. As for her extravagant garment, she wore a large yellow neckerchief with a green fringe atop a white bodice with the largest puffed sleeves any British seamstress could possibly imagine. The torso of said bodice was decorated by a navy blue corset precisely laced with a pink ribbon. Her flowing, pleated skirts began with red, than sported a thin strip of white halfway down, and a modest segment of green before ending with a stripe of red, blue, and red again. Each color separated by a border of white to prevent the touching of them.

The young woman’s face was concealed by a flowery red and green mask. If this were not a costume ball, the former Beatrisa Wolff (currently known as Beatrice Blakefield) would appear quite odd to the British attendance. After some time, the young woman presented herself before Angelise, her flowery mask failing to conceal her concern.

“Angelise Jennifer!” Beatrice hissed in her light, german accent, “Richard sinks something dangerous vill happen tonight!”

Angelise blinked slowly, her solemn complexion unchanged.

“He hes reason to believe you are in trouble, as often you are!” the young Mrs. Blakefield hissed, crossing her massive cloud-sleeves.

Angelise Jennifer sniffed slightly, her face unchanged as she stared from her chosen seat.

“I don’t believe zere is a vey to stay long for you. If Richard sees zere is danger, we must go!”

Angelise blinked slowly, her posture unmoved.

“It is foolish to argue ageinst safety,” Beatrice stated sharply, “Richard hes kept you living from other attempts. To not leave could ruin you, please-”

The young woman froze to assess a signal unbeknownst to Angelise. Beatrice nodded stiffly before resuming matters with her acquaintance. Before another word could be uttered, Angelise Jennifer slowly rose to her full height. The pale lady well towered over the young Mrs. Blakefield by a good four inches. From her restored advantage, she observed a familiar young man across the room.

There is trouble, Mr. Blakefield? she thought simply, her sad pink eyes trained on the man.

He nodded once, nearly as if her thoughts were audible. The Blakefields had quite a gift for reading the intentions of Angelise regardless of her silence. The solemn lady’s gaze resumed to look upon Beatrice and found the foreigner’s fluster had melted into concern.

“Zis vey,” Beatrice whispered, guiding Angelise through the crowd.

Little did Angelise Jennifer know that a treasured possession was left upon her chosen chair, and what distress would it cause her to know the dear notebook of her poetry was forgotten!


The Baroness moved away from her host with a smile. She continued to glide through the party like a feather-clad angel of death observing everything that caught he mahogany eyes. There was the dainty, sylph-like society belle who could drive men mad with her pink-lipped smile and tittering laugh. Eveline moved past her with a haughty tilt of her chin. She had no use for women who centered their entire lives on being “fairest of them all”. There was a politician who siphoned power from the people with an appearance of virtue and patriotism. A mischievous smile played around Eveline’s blood-red lips. What was hidden in the darkness would soon come to light, and no amount of denial would save Gladstone’s reputation when it happened.

A chuckle like the laughter of a tigress with her prey escaped through the Baroness’s grinning teeth. Britain’s high society, her ears caught all their secrets. She knew all the gossip, but more importantly, what of it was true. If knowledge was power, Eveline Murdoppe was the Queen and Prime Minister combined.

“What have we here?”
She had been keeping an eye on the shy lady in white for some time. She had a sorry, pitiful air like that of a street urchin caught alone in the rain. She was of an interest to the Baroness, mostly because she knew nothing about her. Oh, she had heard all the gossip, but she did not know the truth from the lies.

Now, the lady was being led away in haste by a foreign woman, and she had left her little notebook on the chair. “The writings could shed some light on the writer.” Thought Eveline as she moved across the ballroom. Picking up the little book and quill, she opened it. She was surprised to find it full of poetry, and delighted to find the poetry good. “Interesting, I must keep this. It may prove useful in the future.”

“Dusk,” she said in a low whisper, “keep this well.”

She slid the book into a hidden pocket in her feathered skirt. As she did so, two mechanical appendages grasped the book and pulled it deeper into the fabric, glinting briefly in the candlelight before vanishing into the feathered darkness.