February 2010 Deadline Dames writing prompt.
Click to see the prompt picture.
The village was gone. Molten rock seethed where a meadow once stood. Charred frames outlined the ghosts of brightly-painted shops and twisted corpses smoldered on glowing cobblestones. The crows had arrived long ago. Their harsh voices echoed oddly through the blackened city streets as they bickered over remains.
Sudden and miserable, a baby’s wail lifted above the coarse din.
The stylized bird carved into the apex of the city gates flashed at the sound, bright enough to startle the nearby crows. When the light subsided, the bird symbol was gone and a massive raven perched upon the wood, dark eyes surveying the ruins that had once been a city.
The baby cried out again, weaker this time, and the raven’s head swiveled sharply. Releasing the gate, the great bird glided to the source of the sound, the crows below parting in its path like water before a ship.
The babe was easy to find. The same design that had been carved into the gate traced itself in white glowing lines across the infant’s left shoulder and torso. The raven walked a slow and measured circle around the infant three times before giving one summoning cry, loud enough to silence all of the crows in the city streets.
The child of prophecy, born into a world already determined to see his death.