Patrolling with the Ravens

Night. It is quiet and cold in the time between midnight and dawn. We are out in a patrol, walking quietly, rifles and eyes sweeping the horizon. We are emissaries of death on this night, there are no schools open to give books to, no village elders to discuss community projects with, no goodwill mission tonight. We are looking for the enemy.

The sounds of Baghdad are all around us, far into the distance on all sides. We are making our way through a swamp area, free of the sprawl of Baghdad’s shanties, relatively open, the sound of wind rustling through grass, the moon gliding behind scarce trees, the glimmer of moonlight on water.

I am point man, out in front and my eyes dart from shadow to shadow, looking for anything human, anything that I can shoot, or that might shoot me.

I hear corvids in the night. Why they are not roosting, I do not know, but I hear them. I’ve watched them before while on guard duty. I delight in the sight of corvids, from the common Crow in Eugene, to the Ravens in the wilderness of the Cascades. Corvids are my favorite birds. I never tire of watching them.

The wind rustles some leaves and I can hear the quiet, stealthy sound of the rest of the troops behind me. They are like ghouls in the night, almost invisible to my eye, moving silently over the landscape, searching for a lost soul here in the swamp.

The corvids caw out. I smile. I do not take it as an omen, for I have not had the insight intuition for a couple years now, but it is comforting all the same. Ravens are the birds of the goddess Morrigan, and Morrigan is the goddess of battle and death.

If we find our enemy tonight, the ravens will feast.

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