The Black Bird Faced Queen by BloodySpaghetti

Perganon has been wandering the land for days on end, trying to escape the plague’s ghastly grip. However, wherever his feet managed to carry him, he would find the wretched Scarlet Massacre. The plague had started with a child falling ill, an old man was blamed as the source of the disease, and the child’s father forced his whole village into believing the old man was a diabolical warlock. They roasted him alive, and then fed upon his remains as it was custom in the ancient times. Unbeknownst to them, his flesh carried the plague within it, and in a matter of days the whole village had fallen ill, soon enough the whole continent had gone down with the terrible cursed besmeared upon this earth by an unseen force of nature, or perhaps the gods themselves.

The plague was named soon after as the Scarlet Massacre because it left no survivors in its path. Mostly, it was named Scarlet for the signature blood red blisters it would cause on the victim's skin, mostly around the groin, joints and appendages. The first symptom of the disease is delirium and the loss of touch with the world. During the initial stages of the outbreak of this invisible mass murderer, the ailing villagers would become so delirious they cried out with great panic that the skies had turned black on them.

Perganon had gone tired of seeing death and suffering and thus he had left his hometown to find some solace in a place the plague had yet to strike down. He could not find such a place. Wherever he went, there were sick and dying. There was rot and disease, awful smell of living corpses filled the streets of each and every city and town Perganon had gone to. He kept on walking, alone, for weeks on end. Searching, hoping to find a place filled with the living and not the living dead.

Wherever he went, his Black Bird Faced Queen followed him from a distance; she was dressed in a black battle dress of sorts, with plates and guards, spikes adorning the shoulder guards and forearm guards, not a single patch of skin was visible on her, only cloth, leather and metal. Her head was covered with a bird shaped mask topped with a large crown made of cloth membranes. Her silence was even more menacing than her appearance but Perganon was used to her company. He would occasionally try to talk to her. However, she would never dare break her silence.

Around dusk, Perganon reached a long and twining river, its waters were as clear as glass, a remarkable sight these days. The wanderer had rejoiced he managed to see a river that was not filled with the blood of the dying. He knelt down, cupped his hands and placed them under the water, raising a bit of the cold liquid within his hands, he then slowly drank the liquid, enjoying every drop of the clean water. His queen watched him silently as she always did, drinking the water. Without a warning her head snapped away from him, he noticed the sudden change and look at the direction she was staring towards.

A corpse was being slowly dragged about by the rivers quiet current, as it drew closer, so did the foul smell that came from within it. Perganon got back to his feet and examined the decomposing chunk that used to be the mortal shell of a man. It no longer had recognizable features upon its face; instead, it was covered in blood and gore, multiple red and black spots all over its shape. Exposed muscle at certain placed was showing and the hairs that used to cover a man head were now floating gently behind it, detached from the scalp.

Deciding it is best to keep the water as clean as possible; Perganon gently pulled the body out of the river and placed it over a nearby large rock. He then discarded of his gloves and kept on walking in the same direction he walking before he came across the watery body. Perganon ended up following the river’s path and found himself at the gates of a town. As he approached the gates, the guards welcomed him with open arms, an occurrence that was not common in such a time of great disaster. The wanderer tried to inform them of the possibly dangerous water of the river, but they reassured him that the town would be fine as long as the festival of the day would be carried out, inviting him to take part in the process. Perganon took this as a chance to spend some time away from the death and rot he had encountered for so long and entered passed the gates of the town, his Black Bird Faced Queen following undetected behind him.

Upon entering, any man, woman or child the wanderer had encountered were polite and hospitable, directing him at the destination of the upcoming festival. The wanderer and his queen found themselves inside a wooden amphitheatre near the center of the town, as part of an ever-growing crowd of spectators. He did not know what he was about to witness, nor could he even expect the spectacle that was about to begin. A large, fat man in fine garbs had entered the stage with a large wooden box and the energetic crowd had fallen silent. The man began speaking of his son, referring to him as a saint and a martyr who had fallen as per the will of the gods in order to ensure the survival of the town in the face of the plague. The man then raised the box to a vertical base and removed its lid. In the box stood a skeletal figure. It was of a small frame, perhaps a young child. It was covered in fancy garbs, and jewelry. The large fat man called out the name of his son, indicating that the skeletal figure is what remains of his dead child and the crowd roared wildly.

Perganon knew better, there was no will of the gods when it came to the death of this child, the large gash at the front of its skull resembled greatly the gash his own axe would leave whenever he struck down the smaller game of his hunts. In the wanderer’s mind, there was nothing but murder in the death of this child. Perganon decided to keep his silence and observe on further what would happen that evening in the surreal town where they had worshiped the needless killing of innocent children.

The townsfolk did not let the wanderer down; they were savage in nature, letting madness take over their senses in the face of extinction by the Scarlet Massacre. The large fat man announced the arrival of the Yaghkas after displaying the fruits of his murderous madness. A group of young women dressed in snow white dresses came onto the stage, clearly intoxicated by something, very powerful, they began tearing into one another as the music around the amphitheatre began playing, tearing away at each other’s hairs, plucking out chunks of hair at a time, biting, scratching, beating and tearing one another apart. After an hour or so, only two were alive, the rest were nothing but mangled shells that had met their end in a drunken rage for a useless cause.

Perganon began feeling his chest tighten and the sensation in his heart became one of a grape being crushed underneath rocks, as if something was trying to milk the blood out of his heart, he began to cough. Only to find there was blood left on his palms, he quickly rubbed it off on his seat before anyone could notice. At that point, one of the two remaining women was gnawing on the neck of the other, blood filling her mouth and tainting her already soaked dress. The second woman was screaming in agony, desperately trying to beat her assailant off her, to no avail, the bite had only gotten stronger and deeper, spilling more blood, causing more unbearable pain. The women fell to the ground and eventually the bitten one stopped moving. She was dead and the crowd cheered, and roared like wild animals. Perganon felt he was in the presence of wild hyenas while the remaining woman raised her head and stared at, what it seemed like, directly at him.

The woman got up to her feet and screamed praises at Goravs, the scorched god of fire and war. Before she was done screaming, a masked man ran onto the stage and tackled the woman town to her knees, she fell without uttering a sound, she just smiled, a maddened smile as the man wrapped one arm around her neck and tore the backside of her blood stained dress, revealing her back to the whole town to see. The man ordered her to scream and plunged a large knife into her back. She wailed like a wounded animal as the knife tore downward through her skin and flesh. Once making a large enough cut the man yanked out the knife from the woman’s back, the woman was now prone on the man’s arm, he dropped the knife from his hand and proceeded his free arm into the wound, making the woman scream louder than she ever did. The man let go of the woman’s neck and grabbed her by her blonde hair, yanking her back to him all the while, he digs with his other hand inside her organs, as if he is looking for something in particular. Blood started running out of the woman’s mouth and onto her neck and chest. After a few moments of digging, it seemed like the man had found what he was looking for in the woman’s body and began trying to punch his way out through her chest. With each attempt, a bulge appeared on the skin on her chest, and with each attempt more and more blood came out of the woman’s mouth, the color was fading from her green eyes that seemed to have had been locked with those of Perganon. Her stare would not look anywhere but at him, as if she was judging him, as if she knew something about him.

Just as the man punched his way through the woman’s chest and showed her still beating heart for the whole amphitheatre to see, Perganon had decided he has seen enough of this town’s insanity. He got up from his seat and began climbing down the stairs towards the gateway out of the amphitheatre when suddenly a man pulled at his cloak and asked him if he was not interested in seeing the avatar of Goravs. Perganon pulled the jolly man close to him and whispered slowly in his ear, “I come from a place where it is rumored that the Great King had seen the face of a God and lost his mind, I don’t wish to share the same faith,” before letting go of the man and proceeding to leave the structure. The man’s face went pale as he watched Perganon go out of the amphitheatre; he set back in his seat and did his best not to look at the woman’s face as her corpse was being placed on a makeshift pyre on the stage. Through the whole ordeal the man thought he was being watched by the dead woman, but he wouldn’t dare stare back at what was about to become the avatar of his god.

Just as Perganon reached the gateway out of the amphitheatre, he felt as if a battering ram had hit him in the chest, he lost his breath and the pain pulsated throughout his whole body. He clutched at his chest with one hand and grabbed one of the wooden walls with the other, he felt like vomiting his stomach’s contents, but all that came up as he gave out to the urge was blood and with it horrible pain coursed through his chest cavity. The wanderer began catching his breath; he smeared the blood on his hands over the wooden walls of the structure he was leaving. Slowly, he made his way to an inn with his Black Bird Faced Queen following steadily behind him, the sound of her battle dress clucking and squeaking with each step she made. Perganon had never heard her make so much noise before, and when he turned around to look at her. She appeared to be emanating the darkest smoke one can imagine, a smoke that distorted her appearance in the slightest.

The wanderer found the Inn to be empty of costumers and so he approached the counter to find inside an elderly man, the one who owned the place. The elderly man, he was surprised to see someone entering his inn at such a day, but he became happy when he learned that Perganon had planned to stay inside the old man’s facility for the rest of the night.

After a few shared drinks the man informed Perganon that this festival had been occurring every year ever since the plague came upon the land, it had been orchestrated by the large, rich, fat man who was on stage at the beginning of these sacrificial ceremonies after he found out that his kid had contracted the plague. The old man told Perganon what he had already figured out, the fat man’s child contracted the plague and so the fat man slaughtered his kid like a sick cattle and burned his remains in hopes of avoiding certain death himself. Claiming some divine intervention in the process of butchering his own son, the fat man must’ve gone truly mad according to the old Inn owner. The old man concluded on the sacrificial ceremonies noting that the women who end up giving up their hearts to Goravs become his supposed avatar after they are burned on stage. These women end up being reduced to nothing but a black humanoid husk with various shining red, yellow and orange cracks on their surface with a gaping hole in the center of their physical core. These women end up taking the disfigured, disgusting appearance of the god of fire and war that had been brought upon their lands by the Great king who had gone mad.

Perganon and the old man ended up sharing drinks for the rest of the night as the crowds outside were celebrating their self-indulging collective idea that they have been saved from the disasters of their world all the while the Black Bird Faced Queen was watching Perganon drink his troubles away.

Early in the morning, just as the sun rose, a young woman ran into the inn with terror in her eyes, she was breathing heavily and seemed as if she had been to hell and back, the sight had sobered both man right away. Both of them tried to calm her down to figure out what was wrong, but she just kept mumbling something incoherent, the inn owner could not make out what she was saying, but Perganon slowly began to understand what she was talking about. The young woman began pointing out to the outside and the inn owner had decided to take her outside to figure out what was wrong, all the while Perganon stared at his empty glass and kept to himself.

Once the old inn owner and the young woman were gone, Perganon heard the clucking of metallic boots on the wooden floors of the inn and before he could turn around to look at his queen, he felt her cold touch on his shoulder. The cold sensation ran down his back and towards the elbow but he felt nothing passed the joint. He pulled back his sleeve and stared at his rotting arm, blood red blisters and black dead spots painted all over the decaying appendage that is attached to his body.

Truth be told, even if Goravs did not orchestrate the plague, he was not a god to care for the lives of lesser beings like men, he is a deity of menace and destruction, so such a plague would benefit him. Kreta was destroyed by the madness of men, self-inflicted or not, it was the path the inhabitants of the island had chosen for themselves that had lead to the demise of all human life upon its surface.

Perganon stared at his dying organs as he listened to the panicked conversations outside of the inn, he then looked at the Black Bird Faced Queen and smiled, holding his laughter he said; “You are the omen of my upcoming doom, but he, the one who was brought upon them by the river, he is the omen of their upcoming destruction.”

After the passing of the wanderer to the Scarlet Massacre, the Black Bird Faced Queen had visited the lives of many who were sick with the plague, and when the last of the last had died, the queen slowly walked into her final sunset, casually degrading into smoke until there was nothing left.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three