monicawoe (monicawoe) wrote,
monicawoe
monicawoe

The Two Ravens

Title: The Two Ravens
Author: monicawoe
Gift Recipient: my dearest quickreaver     Happy Antichristmas!
Pairing: none / gen
Rating: R
Warnings: gore, disturbing imagery and occasional rhyming couplets
Wordcount: ~3500
Summary: Your brother he is, and heir to my throne. He’ll feed on the damned and he'll turn them to bone.
Notes: All 3 prompts were intriguing and they all helped form this piece. I know ravens aren't blackbirds per se, but they are black birds and "The Seven Ravens" is one of my favorite fairy tales. I heard at least 6 different versions growing up, each more gruesome than the next.




The Two Ravens


Years ago in the town of Winchester, lived a woman named Mary and a man named John. They had a son who they named Dean, and four years later another son who they named Sam.

When Sam was six months old he grew very sick. He cried from dawn until well into the night, he was fevered and refused to eat or drink anything. Mary, frightened and desperate, sent John into town to get the healer.

The healer was an old wizard — eyes yellowed with jaundice. The townsfolk said he could heal any ailment, so despite his fear, John went to the healer with the few coins he and Mary had and asked him to heal his son.

“We have no more than this to give, all is yours if you help him live.”

“Bring me to your son, I’ll do what I can. We’ve no time to waste,” said the yellow-eyed man.

The healer came home with John right away and Mary brought him to Sam’s crib. The yellow-eyed man said he needed to work alone and asked Mary and John to wait outside.

Dean watched from the door, as his parents went to their bedchamber, but took a few steps inside when he noticed his brother had stopped crying. He walked closer, curious.

The healer had his hand stretched out over Sammy's crib and was giving him medicine one drop at a time. Dean walked closer, crawling on his hands and knees until he was hidden right behind the crib. He saw the healer's hand was empty — no dropper, no syringe, but the drops falling into his brother's mouth were red as rubies. It was then that the healer saw Dean, so the boy stopped hiding and went to stand beside him.

The old man smiled down at Dean, eyes glowing in the dimness — yellow as the Sun and pale as the Moon. He moved his hand closer to Sam's mouth and said,

“The boy was just hungry, he’s never been fed. He was made to devour, not made to be led. This will remind him that he is like me.”

"He’s my brother,” Dean said. “That’s all he should be.”

The healer laughed and his eyes seemed to shine even brighter. He withdrew his hand and took a step back from the crib, but did not leave the room.

Sammy made a happy gurgling sound from his crib, and Dean peered through the bars, reaching his hand through until he found his brother’s tiny fingers. The baby smiled at his brother, and closed his eyes.

Dean smiled back and thought perhaps the healer wasn't so bad. He was strange, but he'd made Sammy better.

Dean turned to the healer and was about to thank him when Sammy’s fingers let go. Dean looked back at his brother and saw that his dark blue eyes were now a bright yellow. Yellow as the Sun and pale as the Moon.

Sammy gurgled one more time at Dean and then laughed, his little hands curling into fists. His hair grew dark and thick, spreading down from the top of his head, spilling onto his face and down his neck until it was no longer hair at all but a soft down of feathers — black as night. His mouth opened wide and turned sharp, two black daggers jutting out until he no longer had a mouth, but a beak. His hands grew terribly long and thin, fingers spread wider than Dean's head. They too filled with black down which turned thick and shiny as the feathers got larger and stronger.

Dean recoiled, frightened. The monster in the crib, for it could not be his brother, opened its beak wide and let out a sound that made Dean cover his ears. It rolled onto its side, legs shrinking ever smaller — until they grew talons, sharp as a wolf’s teeth. The monster let out another shriek and spread its black wings wide. The bars of the crib shattered, as though the wings were made of stone and metal, not feather and flesh. The beast rose into the air, staring at Dean with eyes yellow as the Sun and pale as the Moon. It flew towards the window and broke through the glass, disappearing into the night.

Dean cried, “give me my brother! Give back what you stole! What is this darkness that’s swallowed him whole?”

“Your brother he is, and heir to my throne. He’ll feed on the damned and he'll turn them to bone.”

The healer threw back his head and laughed, a horrible screeching sound. When he closed his eyes, the last of the light in the room flickered out. There was a heavy beating of wings and then the healer, too, was gone.

Dean ran to the window and looked to the sky searching for the large black birds, but the sky was empty save for the Moon, which paid him no heed.

*******

Years passed, and the family in Winchester was filled with sorrow. They’d lost little Sam and their town was plagued by drought and famine. The healer had disappeared the same night they’d lost Sam, and no matter how many times Dean told Mary and John what had happened, they didn’t believe him. His brother had died, they said — the healer had done all he could, but he had come too late.

In his tenth year, Dean saw the black birds again. They flew over the town with wings so large they blocked out the sun. Dean ran after them, though they carried lightning and rain in their wake. He followed them into the hills and watched from up high as they circled around a farm. The smaller of the two ravens followed the larger one as it swept down and grabbed a farmhand. His screams were drowned out by the cries of the great birds, who carried him into the sky and through the heavy rain clouds.

Dean ran back and told his parents what he’d seen, but they looked at him sternly and told him that no birds were large enough to carry a man. They told him to stop dreaming of dragons, and get back to his chores.

The ravens returned during Dean’s sixteenth year. He followed them again and could hardly tell them apart at first. One was only slightly larger than the other. The smaller bird was fast. It folded its wings and dove through the air, snatching up the town’s judge as he tried to run to safety. The larger bird grabbed the bailiff by his meaty shoulders and carried him, kicking and screaming, up into the air.

Dean watched their large wings take the ravens higher and higher into the air. He knew they were headed north, so north he too went.


*******

Dean walked for years, stopping to rest and eat only when he had to. He asked everyone he passed if they had seen the ravens. Some looked at him as though he were mad, but others nodded, with fear in their eyes, and pointed to the North. So north Dean went.

He walked further and further, and the towns he passed grew emptier, then abandoned. Picked clean.

On the morning of his twenty-second year, Dean woke up to see the yellow Sun staring back at him.

“Have you seen the ravens?” Dean asked the Sun.

“I see all things, and I care about none.”

“Please help me find them. Which way did they go?”

“Why do you seek them? Why do you need to know?”

Dean closed his eyes, for they were starting to burn. The Sun was too bright to look at, and unhelpful. He turned away from the Sun and kept heading north. He walked until nightfall and laid down to rest by a river. The water was cool and clean, and the pale Moon looked down on it peacefully.

Dean asked, ”Do you know where the great ravens are?”

"I know all things, and I know they are far.”

“Tell me how to reach them, I know that I can.”

“You’ll do no such thing, you’re only a man.”

“The birds took my brother, they took him from me.”

“Your brother grew wings, and now he is free.”

Dean shook his head, and refused to believe the Moon. His brother wasn’t a monster. He’d been taken by the ravens, and when Dean found them, he would find Sam, and he would save him. He left the stream and walked on until the Morningstar came to greet him.

"You seek your brother,” said the Morningstar.

"I won’t stop ’til I find him, no matter how far.”

The Morningstar said, “You’ll need this key. They live in the castle that no one can see.”

Dean looked at the key, a small finger-bone. It was nearly the size of his own. "How can I find them? Where do I go?”

"Walk up the mountain, when you get there, you’ll know. Your brother's hunger tears the world apart. Evil is inside him, and it has a human heart.”

"Is my brother a monster? Is what the Moon says true?”

"His heart has stopped beating, and he’s forgotten you. Remind him who he was, with your blood, with your soul, or he won’t see past his hunger and he’ll swallow you whole.”

Dean looked past the Morningstar and saw the mountain. Its peak was so high, it was hidden in the clouds. The closer he walked, the more certain he was that he could hear the cry of the great ravens.

He walked on for days, always up, always higher, resting where he could and living off of the sparse berries and nuts he found along the way. On the seventh day there was nothing but stone and ice, and Dean shivered as he forced himself onwards. Lightning crashed around him when day turned to dusk. He looked up at the clouds and saw a great fortress, flickering in and out of sight along with the light in the sky. He hurried on, eager to get out of the cold.

When he reached the door of the castle he saw no way inside. There was a great star in the center with a key-hole in its core. Dean remembered the key that the Morningstar had given him and reached into his pocket, but it was gone. Dean cried out in panic, thinking all was lost. He pounded against the door with all his might and ran his fingers over the lock, hoping there was still some way for him to gain entrance. His smallest finger was nearly the same size as the key-hole. He pushed his fingertip forward gently, and hissed, for the inside of the lock was as cold as ice. The star opened wide, it’s five points expanding, along with the door. Dean’s finger was left fleshless, nothing but bone, yet he felt no pain.

He walked into the fortress, looking around warily, sure that the ravens were close. He moved quietly from one room to another, looking for any sign of the great birds, or of his brother. The castle was silent, strangely so, and it wasn’t until Dean reached the very center of the castle that he understood why.

In the center of the fortress was a great round room, with no ceiling. The floor was covered in bones — piled so high, Dean had to climb them. He climbed slowly, losing his grip more than once when the smell became too overwhelming, or when the bones shifted under his weight. When he finally reached the top, he saw a large chair, a throne made out of bone. That was all, nothing else. No enormous black birds, and no brother. Dean fell to his knees, weary and exhausted, and wept — for he knew not what else to do. He stared at the throne, and his weariness pulled him into a deep sleep. He dreamt of great black wings and eyes as yellow as the Sun and pale as the Moon.

When Dean awoke, he was covered in ice. He was so cold, he wondered if he was truly still alive at all. He tried to move, but couldn’t. His limbs themselves were frozen to the pile of bone.

Screams echoed through the castle walls as a man fell straight down from the sky above, landing on the pile of bones with a heavy thump. Another man followed, though he fell in two pieces, not one. Dean watched from his cage of ice to see if the first man was still alive. He didn’t appear to be, and Dean thought that was probably a blessing, as a monstrous sound pierced through the air — the call of the great ravens. The dim sky above them grew black as night as their huge wings covered the opening in the castle. Dean could only watch as the beasts grew larger and larger the closer they got. They were massive — far bigger than he remembered them being, one with a wingspan half as wide as the room itself.

The larger bird landed on the throne and pulled in its wings. The other bird landed a few feet away, and pushed the newly dead man towards the throne with its beak, until the larger raven leaned forward and snatched the corpse with one of his talons.

Stepping backwards, away from the throne, the smaller bird picked up one of the pieces of the body it had dropped. It held down one leg with its talon and tore at the other with its beak. When it lifted its head back up, Dean noticed that this raven had only one yellow eye. It’s other eye was missing, the socket hollowed out.

The raven on the throne finished its meal quickly and let out a loud caw. The smaller bird, which had started eating the second half of its meal, looked towards the throne with its one eye and then back at its food. It tore off another piece of flesh and then rolled what was left of the torso towards the seat of bone. The larger raven swallowed it down in one bite. It ruffled its dark feathers as it shifted on the throne, and its two eyes — yellow as the Sun and pale as the Moon — landed on Dean. It tilted its head and looked at Dean’s frozen form curiously.

Dean’s heart beat faster when the one-eyed bird took to the air for a moment, only to settle down again next to him. It immediately started pecking at the ice, which splintered under the force of its beak. Dean found he could move his arm, then his leg. He pulled away from the bird’s sharp beak and broke through the rest of the ice. There was still a large shard of ice attached to Dean’s pant-leg, so he broke it off, wielding it like a sword. Climbing to his feet, he backed away from the bird slowly, trying not to draw attention to himself. The raven followed him, each step of its talons shifting the pile of bones. Its one yellow eye was focused on Dean

The larger raven spread its wings suddenly, instantly tripling its size. It leapt off of the throne and grabbed the one-eyed bird with its talons. Dean backed away, terrified, as the two monstrous birds attacked each other. The one-eyed raven shrieked and clawed at the pile of bones, seeking purchase. Its wings beat furiously at the air and then froze as its head bent sharply to the left. The raven king had its beak around the smaller bird’s neck, and twisted steadily until Dean heard a loud snap. The one-eyed bird fell onto the pile of bones, its eye still locked on Dean, until the larger raven ripped the eye out with its beak and swallowed it. The air grew thick with blood and black feathers, as the raven king dined.

Dean backed away as quietly as he could, trying to creep down the pile, looking for somewhere to hide. The raven, done with its meal, noticed Dean again and lunged at him, beak open wide. Dean stumbled, landing at the foot of the throne. He covered his eyes, and raised the sharp icicle in his hand straight up.

He felt the heavy weight of the raven crash into him, and heard its deadly shriek as it dug a talon deep into his chest. Dean’s eyes opened and he saw the raven’s yellow eyes staring back at him. The icicle was lodged deep in its chest. Dean’s gaze traveled down and he saw that it wasn’t the raven’s talon that had pierced him, it was the other end of the icicle. He gasped as he felt the cold spike drive its way deep into his own heart and watched with fascination made of both horror and awe as his heart’s blood wound its way up the ice and into the raven. The raven screamed and struggled to pull away from the ice, but for all its strength, it was helpless. Its eyes flickered yellow and white, then fell closed right before the great bird collapsed, bones skittering around it.

Dean watched the bird’s talons twitch and didn’t dare move. Not until the raven let out an oddly human-sounding gasp. Dean pushed himself to his feet and walked carefully towards the fallen raven. It looked smaller than before, and its beak was missing. Dean walked closer and as he did so, some of the black feathers shifted in the cold air of the castle. A gust of wind moved even more of them, and Dean saw that the raven itself was no more. Where it had fallen, lay a man surrounded by black feathers. He was bleeding.

It was Sam. Dean knew this was his brother. He’d always known. Dean watched the blood trickle out of the hole in Sam’s chest where the icicle was buried and felt tears running down his face. He grabbed hold of the ice-shard and pulled. The flow of blood grew stronger, and Dean cupped his hands over the wound, hoping he could stop his brother from bleeding out. The blood flowed through and around his fingers and where it touched the bone of his small finger, flesh grew, good as new.

“Brother,” Dean said. “You cannot die here. I will not leave your side, have no fear.”

“I fear nothing,” Sam said, as he opened his eyes. “I’m the Raven King, the Evil that flies.” His eyes grew bright as the morning Sun. Where there’d been a wound, now there was none.

“Not a raven, Sam. Your curse is no more. You’re a man again, as you were before.”

“I was a child when all this began, but now I’m a monster, far more than a man. I feed on the damned, on their sin, on their fear. Tell me my brother, why are you here?”

“I’m here to save you from this prison of bone. Come back to your family, you won’t be alone!”

“What makes you think I care to be saved? Do you think the old vulture had me enslaved? He thought I would serve him, and stand by his side, but my hunger outgrew him and won't be denied.”

“You’re my brother,” Dean said. “That’s all you should be. Leave this place, leave this madness, and come home with me.”

“Home?” Sam smiled, his eyes bright as the Sun. “We are home, my brother, please don’t try to run. If you do, I will stop you and bring you back here, but stay in these walls and you’ve nothing to fear.”

Dean wanted to run down the mountain, past the Morningstar, past the Moon and past the Sun all the way back to Winchester, but his legs would not obey him. He stayed where he was and looked in his brother’s eyes.

“How will we live? Will we dine on bone?” Dean looked around him at the walls of stone. “We can’t stay here, we’ll surely die. We need shelter from cold, from the open sky.”

Sam looked up the tower and out at the night, and said, "Brother, this is from where we take flight. Cold will not harm us, we won't feed on bone, we'll dine on the damned and we'll rest by my throne."

The great pile of black feathers scattered through the air, and drifted back onto the bones as Sam stood to his full height. He was tall and strong, and as he turned towards his throne, Dean saw two large black wings emerge from his back.

"No," Dean cried. "This cannot be. With my blood, with my soul, I set you free."

Sam sat on his throne with his wings spread wide. "Your blood and your soul, I hold them inside, but I'm still who I am, who I always will be. And brother, you are exactly like me. My blood is in you, as yours is in mine. Mine is as damned as yours is divine."

Dean cried out in anguish, pain coursed through his back, wings slipped through his skin, feathered and black. "Brothers we are, and never alone. We'll feed on the damned and we'll turn them to bone." Sam's words echoed by Dean as they both took flight, and the two great ravens flew into the night.

Tags: antichristmas, dean, sam, sammessiah, supernatural
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