by Angela Lee
Read by Danielle Daly
A PodCastle Original! One last little treat for Artemis Rising!
It is a simple matter to track a deer, to bring it down with a single shot to the neck. I follow it by the red droplets in the snow, then drag the carcass back to the clearing of the crow gifts. Each bit of offal in its turn: black heart, worm-like entrails, pink spongy lungs. I save the liver for myself, and a haunch. The rest I cut apart, leave in a starburst – and by now I am surrounded by crows, a circle of beady-eyed children in cloaks of iridescent black feathers. As I back away, the crows descend, cawing loud enough to wake the dead.
The crows give me gifts in turn. At first they pelted me with rocks that shone ruby and emerald when broken open. I am richer than any king I could name, here in my empty forest, far from any human city. I began it by sharing my kills, inadvertently at first; I give blood and flesh, and they give me what humans want.
Rated R. What do you call a group of crows, again?