Sir Caedwyr looked down on his ruined coat of plates and split open shirt of mail, and then on to his own intestines. Surprisingly, and despite all tales to the contrary, it hurt. A lot.

He remembered charging across the field on Marybelle, his fine black charger, when some cheeky Scotsman had ducked under his lance point and swung an axe at him. An awful, big axe. What ever had become of his fine steed?

There she was, with what looked to be that cheeky Scotsman sticking out from underneath her. Served him right. Marybelle had always been a boon companion in battle.

“I suppose I am dying. I wish I could get on with it. This hurts.”

A flutter of wings distracted his musings. Two ravens had settled to ground just past his out-flung arm, which he was sure by the angle was broken but which still clutched the stub of his lance.

“Filthy birds!” Sir Caedwyr spat.

“I beg your pardon!” the nearer raven exclaimed. It spread its wings and tail feathers in a display of sleek sable plumage. “We are most certainly not filthy birds. See? I’m as sleek and shiny as a maiden at the marriage alter. It is you who is covered with muck and filth, lying there wallowing in that blood-churned mud and drawing flies. And you call us filthy!”

Sir Caedwyr flushed with shame. “Your pardon, good ravens. My insolence is reprehensible, and my only excuse is that I am having a bad day.” He had always prided himself on his courtesy. No reason at all to fail at that, right at the end.

The second raven spoke. “No offence taken, Sir Knight, for we can see that you are indeed having a bad day. Take heart though, it looks to be your last one.”

“Yes,” admitted Sir Caedwyr. “I suppose it is.”

“Well, what did you expect?” This from the first raven. “The world’s a hard enough place, without running around swinging and poking at each other with sharp things. Not that we’re complaining.”

“No, indeed,” the second chimed. “A feast for us. We and all our cousins will be a week or more cleaning up this lot.”

Sir Caedwyr grimaced as a wave of pain and nausea washed over him. He cried out, “Oh, why has my lord left me here to die like this? Why has he not granted me at least the mercy of a quick death?”

“Your foes have broken and fled over yonder ridge,” the first raven replied. “Your lord is harrying them.”

“He left some men behind, to succor the wounded and help along the dying. They’re off over there a way, where the fighting was thickest,” the second raven said. “You’re kind of off to one side. I expect they will work their way over here, eventually.”

“Not too soon, though,” opined the first. “They are despoiling the dead as they go along, and hauling the ones from your side for burial.”

“Less food for us and more for the worms.”

“But easier pickings, that, without all that metal wrapped about it.”

“True enough,” agreed the other, who hopped up on the broken lance shaft and picked at a bit of intestine.

“Do you mind?” asked Sir Caedwyr, “I’m not all done here.”

“Sorry. I forgot. Not too long now, though.”

“This,” Sir Caedwyr lamented, “is not the end I looked for.”

“What?” asked the first bird. “Did you look to fall amid glory, to be borne off the battlefield amid the lamentations of your fellow knights and laid in honor on a bier of spears?”

“Not at all,” Sir Caedwyr replied. “I’d hoped to pass peacefully in my bed, surrounded by family and friends. Long into old age.” He eyed the birds. “All I ever wanted was to keep the king’s peace on my lands, to husband them to prosperity and perhaps to increase them modestly. Happy tenants and a well-pleased liege lord would have put me well pleased to find my grave.”

“Then why all this running about and making war, Sir Knight?” asked the first raven.

“That was my lord’s doing, and none of mine. I hold my land from him, that I answer his call to arms. He fell into some disagreement with the Scots and their lords, and called. And so I answered, as was my duty.”

“See that Scotsman laying yonder, Sir Knight?” asked the second raven.


“Do you suppose he wanted this any more than you? Do you think he wanted aught but that his daughters marry well and his sons tend his flocks after he was gone?”

“I suppose not.” cough cough “That’s the blighter what did me, eh? Well, I bear him no ill will. We’re both meat for your table, now.”

“As may be. There is no bad without some good in it. For someone,” the birds replied.

“You’ve been decent enough, for carrion crows. No offense.”

“Not at all. You are rather well spoken yourself. For carrion.”

“I wish I could see my good wife. And my son, my poor young boy…” Sir Caedwyr fell silent. The voices of the men working the bloody field grew closer.

“He was quite the gentleman,” said the first raven, plucking an eyeball into his beak.

“Yes,” agreed the second, while worrying at the intestines. “A very nice sort.”


# # #

Two Ravens by Michael D. Turner
originally published January 5, 2009



Michael D. Turner is a writer from Colorado Springs, Colorado. His writing has appeared multiple times in Big Pulp, and in Aberrant Dreams, AlienSkin, Between Kisses, Flashing Swords, Every Day Fiction, and Tales of the Talisman.  

For more of Michael's work,
visit his Big Pulp author page


Purchase books and subscriptions
in the Big Pulp book store!


Store ø Blog ø Authors ø Supporters ø Submissions ø About ø Exter Press ø Home
Art gallery ø Movies ø Fantasy ø Mystery ø Adventure ø Horror ø Science Fiction ø Romance

All fiction, poems and artwork © the authors. Big Pulp © 2012 Exter Press