Image of a raven with its wings spread. Text reads Carrier of Souls: Barthelow Mooreshire by Daniel Kuhnley & Jase Rosenburg

It was no ordinary night.  The moon was full.  The sky buried in clouds.  The wind marched through the treetops singing its melodic tune of death.  The cemetery gates sat crooked on their hinges, creaking and wailing in step with the wind.  Mercian, a carrier of souls, sat atop the gravestone of Barthelow Mooreshire, waiting to escort the poor man’s soul into oblivion.

Moments of time flew by like demons in the night.  Losing patience, Mercian cawed and pecked the stone with disgust, already late for his next appointment.  He was not one known for his tolerance, as he had rushed Judas himself into oblivion two thousand years ago.  Just a moment before all sanity drained from him, the ground cracked open, releasing the banished soul.

Without hesitation, Mercian breathed the soul into his nostrils, filling his lungs with the putrid taste of death.  It was not a long process, but the pain of it was nearly unbearable.  Souls who are banished carry with them the burning fury of Hell itself.  Mercian could feel the inferno burning the tissues of his lungs just as a person who smokes for the first time feels the sensation in theirs, only his was compounded a thousand times.  After nearly ten thousand souls carried in this way, you would think the feeling would be dull or even lost, but in fact it grows stronger each and every time.

With the deed of capturing the soul being done, Mercian took to the sky.  The flight ahead was going to be long and treacherous.  From Pennsylvania he would fly west across the country, hugging the border between the United States and Canada.  Then, once reaching the west coast, he would head northeast, traveling up through the mountains in Alaska.

Thoughts of Alaska made him cringe.  If it was not for the fire burning in his lungs, he would most likely freeze to death in mid-flight and plummet into the snow-covered banks where neither he nor the soul he carried would ever again be found.  That would be a most tragic situation.  If he were to die while transporting a soul, that soul would be lost between worlds forever.  Not to mention the pain and agony his soul would suffer.  God himself would punish Mercian for his stupidity and banish his soul into oblivion if it were to happen.

Thoughts of death always traveled with him, and, as he saw it, kept him alert and on edge.  They were like second nature to him.  Every moment without a thought of death was like spending an eternity in Hell.   They were so comforting.  They made him feel the way a baby feels when cuddled and nurtured by its mother, or like that special blanket children often have.  They made him feel loved, in a twisted kind of way.  Of course, after living two thousand and seventy years, things of that nature tend to get a little twisted inside your head.