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.”