Grayne swung under the scorching rays of the summer sun. His body hung limply at the end of rusting chains supported by cruel hooks that had days ago stopped hurting. He felt only a buzzing numbness as he slipped in and out of conciousness.
At first, his prayers to the Seven were verbal, but now were silent as his voice was too dry for words. He had prayed for escape and bloody retribution, but now he silently wished for the strength to survive to be with his beloved Summer again. The image of her soft hair and smile kept him alive, the memory of her gave him the mental strength to endure.
Even the peasants that had enjoyed the public brutality he had been sujected to had long ago lost interest as his screams had faded away.
Grayne suddenly became aware of a fluttering and a weight upon his right shoulder. He turned his head until he could see a black raven perched on his shoulder with his left eye. The vision of a flail impacting the right side of his face was the last memory he had with that eye. He only felt discomfort from the area his eye once was as the dead eye was exposed to the elements without even an eyelid to protect it.
The raven cawed at him. Grayne tried to shake the bird off but was reminded painfully of his situation as the sharp hooks dug deeper into his infected flesh.
“Go away. Scat!” Grayne commanded the black bird. Though ravens were routinely used to send messages between men rich enough to afford such beasts, he suspected this was an ordinary wild crow.
He believed, that is, until it spoke.
” Whatcha doin’, Grayne?” the bird asked.
Grayne hissed at it, trying to frighten it to flight. “Well, that’s a fine howdyado,” it responded.
He knew he was having a fever dream, but the raven looked and sounded real enough. The legends spoke of ravens being the messangers of the gods, but they only sent ill omens and he didn’t believe in such childlish stories. “You’re not real. Now go away and let me die in peace.”
“Fuck all that!” it said flapping its wings but remaining on his shoulder. “You ain’t gonna die. What about Summer?”
“She’s better off without me.”
The raven turned its head away from Grayne and said, “That’s the truth. She’s a fine piece of meat, she’ll find a new man with no trouble. Especially with how you look.” The raven turned back and shrieked in alarm. “Ye Gods, man. What’s wrong with your eye?!”
Grayne said nothing.
“Looks painful. It is, isn’t it?” The raven bobbed up and down with excitement. “It’s all pusy and WHEW does it stink!” It scrutinized the eye with a diecerning vision. “Yeah, that’s got to go.”
With his good eye, Grayne saw the raven open and close its beak as it moved closer to his face. “No. Don’t!” he shouted.
“It’s got to go.”
Grayne screamed as the raven pulled the dead eye from its socket like a worm from the ground. Peasants slowly returned with grim humour to watch and laugh as the raven tugged on his infected eye until it was torn free. They clapped as the raven flew away with its grisly prize, leaving Grayne sobbing and moaning with renewed agony.