“And welcome, dear Ellie, to the brightest room of my home...”
The light nearly blinded her as they stepped through the doorway. This room was not dark like the others had been; rather, it was surrounded by immense stained glass windows. Patterns of white and blue and blue ran throughout the room, interspersed by the black silhouettes of a thousand crows in flight, all heading for the center, the opposite end of the room from where she stood. Against the opposite wall stood the room's lone piece of furniture; an odd sort of chair. It appeared to be-or had been, in some past life- a cast-iron gate, with swirling patterns of blackened metal around stiff bars that stabbed upwards into the air. The seat was stitched together with the same bright-blue thread that held everything else in the castle together, made of mismatched patches of leather and cloth.
She felt him enter behind her, and the shimmering brightness in his hand vanished as soon as it the beams of stained light touched it. He chuckled at her amazement.
“Do you like it?”
“It's beautiful.” She admitted. “What is it?”
“It's the throne room, of course.” He lead her across the spiral pathways tiled into the floor to the cast-iron chair, running a hand down the black metal of it's back. “I am a king, you know.”
“It doesn't look very comfortable,” she mused.
“It's not,” he admitted. “But it serves it's purpose.”
“Do you have a court?”
She glanced upwards, and her eyes met an enormous white window, somehow contrived so the crows could come and go as they pleased, and hundreds of them lined the circles of the ceiling, staring down in silence.
“They aren't my crows.” He stared up with her. “They are their own. Whether they listen to me is their choice entirely.”
“But they always do.” She looked down at him. “Don't they?”
“Mostly.” He met her gaze with eyes bluer than blue, and smiled. “But they are as much mischief as I am. If they choose otherwise, I cannot control them.”
“But you are their king,” she ventured. “So it seems like...”
“Haven't we already learned,” he said with a smile, “that nothing is ever as it seems?” He gestured upwards, and the crows flew from their perches, swooping down around them in a black swarm. She gasped, and he pulled her close, as the crows circled fast, closer and closer with every pass. She felt the tickle of wingtips against her more than once as the black mass surged through the room. It was terrifying, but more, it was beautiful. The Crow King pulled her closer, and laughed amidst the deafening roar of wings meeting air.
“But they do obey me,” he whispered, “as long as I am what I am. But it is not my choice that they do.”
New story, for the millionth time. I don't even know where I'm going with this one, but enjoy anyway.