A Small Murder of Crows
I came to with a splitting headache. The skull was still intact, but the rest of the skeleton was gone. And now the other eye-socket had a hole in it, while most of the inside of the skull was covered in blackened soot that apparently came from the explosive elf-magic that destroyed our bone walker.
“Kack? Are we still alive?”
“You are. I wasn’t technically alive at any point in this mission. But now my magic power is completely exhausted. Used up by keeping you from being burned. “
He was telling the truth. My skin was not covered in the charcoal and ash that everything else was.
“Thank you for saving me, Kack. I know you didn’t have to.”
“I have grown fond of you, Derf.”
I rolled off the spoiled dandelion blossoms and got to my feet. The skull had landed right side up, and the new eyehole was big enough to easily step through out into the wider world outside.
“Hey! Pick me up and take me with you!” whined Kack.
I reached back in and picked him up by the one unbroken horn he had on his little severed head. “It’s not like you are any good to me with all the magic blown out of you.”
“I am rechargeable, you know. And I saved your life. Don’t you owe me?”
“Yeah. I don’t have anything better to do. The fairy army of Cair Tellos will be here any second to execute me.”
“Oh, surely as sugar they won’t do that. Charm them with your naked sex appeal.”
“I’m a Sylph, but I’m not pretty like most Sylph girls. I’m plain… homely even.”
“I’d keep you around for romancing if I could.”
“You are just a dirty old demon. And not even a live one.”
“Well, of course you would have standards… that figures…”
As we were ragging on each other in our defeated misery, two huge crows landed, looking us over with both eyes on both crow heads.
“What are you looking at?” I said to them.
“Derfentwinkle? Daughter of Bizzbumble the Mediocre?”
“Yes… wait a minute, you can talk?”
“I’m Homer. This is my brother and best friend Bert. I… uh… don’t know how I know this, but I’m your familiar.”
“What? Impossible! Familiars are always magical creatures like dragonets or spirit doves, never full-sized, real animals.”
“I don’t know anything about that. How am I even talking to you?”
“Um, your mouth is not moving when you speak, so, I’m guessing you do it the way all familiars do… by telepathy.”
“Hmm… well, how about that?”
“That’s the silliest thing I eva hoid!”
“Stop with the Groucho imitations, Bert. It’s annoying.”
“Who’s Groucho?” said the other crow, apparently Bert.
“How can I be hearing both of you?” I asked.
“Well, you talk to me in my head, just like Bert does,” said Homer.
“So, this familiar arrangement is a package deal? And you are both way bigger than me?”
“I guess so,” apologized Homer. “I don’t really know how to be a familiar.”
“Um, Derfie… Dearest?”
“An elf and some Sylphs are coming to kill you.”
“Uh-huh. I know. Wrong time to be a first-time familiar, bird-o.”
And then, without further warning… they were there.