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The Mad Shepard (An epilogue)

There was merriment within the halls of the Boot Boys, who were happy that the dock strike was over even if the curfew continued.  Outside of their hall unnatural whipporwills and ravens had gathered for their prey, prey they had continued to hunt after Aessesser’s demise.  They had no cause to leave after their demonic cousin had been lost.  They were also able to sense a moment in time when death would be close at hand and they could swoop in, in some of their cases completely unseen, and claim their prize.

The citizens were distracted now, too busy fightning amongst themselves to bother the birds.  The curfew and the strikes had played into their hands, allowing them the ability to continue as they had been without intervention, even those mechanical constructs had ceased their unending annoyance.

But then they took to wing and fled as something else approached and entered the building to collect the little boy.  He was a tiny child, no more than eight years of age despite his claims, and he had just started to choke on his dinner.  The boot boys his age were moving to save him, but none of their attempts were dislodging the food.  While they called for someone older to help, the boy was lost…

He found himself standing before a rather unusual man in black clothing covered in white lace, and a very distinctive hat.  They were surrounded only by mist, which lead Weasel to an unfortunate conclusion, “Amma dead?”

“For the moment,” Henri replied in a voice that Weasel recognized, one that he had convinced himself was just a nightmare and discarded months before, and he was filled with renewed horror. “They’re doing everything they can to breathe life back into you, so we only have a short time together.”

The man turned, and as he did he was still wearing the same clothing, but he had taken on the shape of a very large bird, “Ya were tha’ rafin!” Weasel cried out in terror, “Ya here far ma sole!”

Henri laughed at the accusation, “I swear, you go on one bloody rampage before you die and all of a sudden everyone thinks you’re some kind of villain!” Henri continued to chuckle and then went up to Weasel and looked at him with a twinkle in the dark pools that Weasel was percieving, “If I were a villain, then why have I saved your life on two seperate occassions?”

Weasel blinked, confused, which just made Henri laugh more.  “Yes, I fought Aessesser, that raven you saw, for control that night.” Henri still remembered that night fondly, watching Joffrey try to fight off birds only he could see.  Aessesser had not only had friends, but could get into people’s minds and make them see what he desired.  Some of the ravens had been real birds, some had been aethericly brought forth, and some had not been there at all.  That this would confuse their enemies only made doing it this way even more desireable. “If it had been up to him you’d have been a meal too, but I saved your life.  I’ve also prevented his friends from taking you just now as well.”

“Ya did?”  Weasel asked.  He was confused, but he was young and innocent yet and he believed Henri.  “Why?”

“The first time,” Henri replied with a small chuckle filled with simple mirth, “I saw that you were crying and needed my help.  I wouldn’t have needed any other reason, but there was another.  The same purpose which prompted me to keep him from consuming those souls completely into itself.”  

That had made things worse in a sense, because the raven had begun to get desperate and hungry.  It had begun to take chunks of flesh off of dead bodies the spirits had already fled and try to use that to hunt them down beyond.  It had also begun to hunger more and more for the cat, who if he had succeded in consuming would have allowed it to overpower Henri.

“My other reason however, is that I am not my own man.  I serve the city, in my own fashion, and it is simply not what the city would have desired.”  Henri said this simply, but it only confused the young boy even more, who felt as if he was slipping away.  “This city is alive and perhaps, after you die, I’ll be there to take you to meet her.  I know your friend is waiting to meet you there at least.”

Henri laughed benevolently, to only his ears, as Weasel faded back to his own body, his own life.  He would wake up with memories of their conversation, but would continue to question if it really happened until the day he died.  Henri continued to laugh for some time before he moved on.  He wouldn’t always step in to save someone, nor did he intend to always be there to shepard people to a meeting with the city after they died, but for now he found this to be a good way to pass his time.  Sheparding the fallen to meet the city they had loved in life.

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