The Three Scavengers [Reddit Original]

Another piece from [WP] on Reddit. I now write there under the name Book_Wizard. This one needs a bit of editing but needed to post it up on here for the time being. I want to focus on Spring Town. Hope you enjoy!

No one knows how the festering remains of Kain came to lie in the furthest reaches of the forgotten wasteland. Only that once found, two would wish to feast upon the flesh and bone, whilst another would seek to read more into the carcass for tale and truth.

The first shadow bounded across the scarred landscape like a spectre. Its owner panting hard, flecks of drool slopping from its jowls. And with each placement of paw and wag of tail, the dog honed in on the delicious scent that it had unwittingly picked up only a few hours previous.

A second shadow, only a fluttering smudge no bigger than a book, came at a slightly slower pace. It’s faintness merging with the charred lumps of rock and grass, but were it not for the birds ominous span across a twilight sky, it would have flown invisible. A squawk erupted harshly from it’s beak. It too, following the scent of human gut.

Third and last, a slower, closer and more lumbering silhouette moved inexorably toward the shape of a dead man in the dirt. Tiny bones crunched beneath his boots, a curdling cry of wind whooshed passed setting his hair on edge, and before he could look up from the cadaver in time, the man, the ghost, the wanderer, met in company with that of a dog and a crow. Both sat patiently as if awaiting his command.

A smile split the thin lips hidden behind a newly grown beard. The wanderer raised his head so that moonlight may illuminate his features, his eyes and the words came hoarse and almost in humour.

“Service leaves a lot to be desired here, out in the wastelands, don’t you think?” And smirked.

The crow squawked.

The dog barked.

“Just what I thought. But hey, You can’t have this one. At least not yet.”

The dogs head tilted. The crows wings twitched impatiently and the wanderer ignored their tantrums, bending down into the hard baked ground and examined the carcass in detail.

Weather had done considerable damage. Clothes still largely intact, the recent rain and heat had increased the rate of decay and propogation of organisms looking for a meal, which left much of his guts and bone exposed, which was still a startling bright white in colour. Something the wanderer found always amused him with each and every body he’d seen. Peering ever closer, the pines from the dog beginning to irritate him, he spotted his first clue. The nick of a blade across the bones of the man’s rib cage.

“Kain. You were simply not quick enough.” His fingers touched the jagged groove, then found behind the front, the other bone, and the spine completely broken in two or three places. “But you stood not a change. A savage blow from the back. Perhaps unseen. Which begs me to wonder why you are dead on your back?”

The wanderer stood, having finished with the little the body offered in terms of clues, and allowed the dog and the crow to feast uninterrupted. He stood for sometime. Letting the quick winds rush across the wasteland and catch him hard across the face. His eyes stinging. Lips cracked and dry. But a reverie had caught him and after what seemed like hours, his cast looked down toward the ground, to the broken twigs and grass, to the fallen body, his open jacket and no sign of the blade that had robbed Kain of his life.

He whispered, “Another. At least one. An ambush…” Knuckles turned white in the clenched fist he shook at his side. His face red, his teeth clenched. “We should never have assigned you the… it was never going to… Kain… I will fucking kill them. I promise.”

When the wanderer turned and left, before his silhouette became a ghost on the horizon, the dog and the crow stopped in their eating and watched. Peering aimlessly and ominously at the spot where he would vanish behind the curvature of the earth, and when he finally vanished, the dog and the crow became man and woman. Tall, dressed in rags and their eyes both leaf green and bright with intrigue.

“They will not believe his return to be true.” Said the crow, a woman slight of figure.

“They will not. But we must inform them all without delay.” Said the dog, a man of taller build.

“But surely the death of Kain means the end of it all?”

“No,” Said the dog, stepping forward to hold the crow. His sister in his arms. “It has not been felt. It is worse than we think. It moves on without influence. Life and death. We must tell them before it’s too late. Without delay.”

“Or…” The crow tried to remember a phrase from a prophecy she had been told by the master. “Or… the universe will shriek…. shrink….”

“…Shudder. And all of reality will crumple and vanish and naught of any being from any dimension shall perceive such an end. It will be as if it always was. Nothingness.”

She gasped again, and the pair looked back toward the place where the wanderer had gone. The air around them twitched and where they once stood, a dog and a crow occupied the space. And without so much as a furtive glance or a reassuringly look to one another, they took flight and sped out across the endless wasteland of the world, to the reach the place where an ancient race of things lived. What they called the masters. The watchers of time and space. And the steady crawl of fate, toward a point none of them would be returning.

 

© Jason R. Vowles 2015

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