I knew I should’ve been happy for him. After all, he was my only son and I’ve made it clear from the time he was born that I’ve had very high expectations for him. But I’ve also made it clear that my time in politics is not yet done. So many came and congratulated me on having such an ambitious son, but their words were devoid of any sincerity. It was obvious to me that having my own son run against me for office was a sign of weakness to my political rivals. It was also obvious to me that, given my ruthless history, my opponents would pounce upon any sliver of fragility they could find. They would tear me apart. Like ravens ripping the eyes from their victims. I couldn’t have that. Remedying the situation quickly became my top priority. I had to ensure my reelection, whatever that took.
The first time I ran for Senate, I was the underdog. Not because it was the campaign strategy I thought would work best or because I was running against a descendant of some political dynasty, but because I really had no qualifications. I figured I could sneak into office and assert my power from there, but when election night rolled around, I realized I had no chance. I was desperate. So, I turned to the crows. My enemies may have been like the vicious ravens, but a crow can pluck out their rival’s eyes just as easily. All it took was a few small offerings—peanuts, shined coins, and a strand of hair from my opponent. The crows mobbed all the voting locations and, well, I won. Not the most subtle gimmick in the world, but it worked. And it worked again. And again and again, it will work once more.
So I set out to the hill where I first fell begging to my knees all those years ago. I placed all of the usual objects in a triangle and waited. When I was greeted by my corvid savior, I knew something was wrong. Each time before this, three crows had come to meet me. Now there was only one. The sole visitor seemed to sense my confusion and spoke to me. It’s long been known that the Corvus Brachyrhynchos possessed remarkable speech patterns, but this one was particularly impressive; he was the Elder in his murder’s hierarchy. He told me that this wasn’t enough anymore; his people needed more. They wanted the hair of the father.
“But why?” I asked.
“Because,” the Elder replied. “We’ve performed so many favors for you already and the cold months are upon us. We want a little extra; after all we’ve been through. Is that so much to ask?”
“I suppose not.” I saw the familiar glint in his eye, but I ignored it. It was the same carelessness that led me to buy my terms in the first place. I complied and placed one of my hairs at his feet.
“And you know the meaning of the second hair?”
I gulped and nodded my head.
The Elder cawed thrice. Almost instantaneously, two other crows appeared at his side, just like normal. Then, taking note of my relief, he cried out again. I felt the wind shift from behind me. I turned my head to see what was going on, but my vision was blotted out before I could process anything. I tried to scream, but I didn’t have the space. It was the murder. The whole of it. Every single member.
As I writhed on the ground in agony, the words of the Elder echoed in my mind.
“Foolish human, contracting us for harm. Don’t you know? Don’t you know why your kind refers to us in murders? It is not because we lunge into violence unprovoked, no. It is because people like you seek us out in the name of death. We did not mind swarming the buildings because we took care to make sure not a soul was notably harmed. Human politics are of no concern to us. But life, and the balance of it… Well, that’s vital to our ecosystem, is it not? If we went through with what you asked of us, there would be innocent death. If we did nothing, you would have turned to the greed-driven ravens and reached the same outcome. This way, no innocents die. Only you.”
I finally got out a scream, something guttural and horrifying that I did not know I was capable of. As soon as I did, I wished I hadn’t. It only led to another avenue of attack.
The Elder continued. “Oh, cry no more! No one can hear you!” A pause. Another cry gurgled out of my throat. “Enough already! Didn’t you hear me? Shut your mouth!”
Then I heard his voice no more. I heard nothing.