“But…you talk,” Corrie said.

“You’ll have to forgive me if it’s a little difficult to get around that,” I added.

Erroi spread his wings, perhaps the feathery equivalent of a shrug. “All right, then. Let’s get this out of the way. I’m a crow. I talk. Oooh. Call the circus to see if you can sell me. Call the king to see if he’ll offer gold.”

“I would’ve expected a parrot,” said Corrie. “I’ve known parrots who can talk.”

“I think a saw a talking budgie once,” I added.

“Really? Surely you’ve seen one of my brothers or sisters speak before,” Erroi said. “We can all do it, you know. Talk, that is. Parrots, I will confess, tend to be better. But they also have far less to say, so I feel we still come out ahead.”

“I think I heard about a crow that could croak ‘hello’ once,” I said. “It’s a long way from that to holding a conversation.”

“Well, okay, I will admit that I am better at it than most crows,” said Erroi, sounding like he was making a major concession. “My brothers and sisters tend to rely more on context, gesture, and nuance. But they can all understand, even if they’re not as good with speaking as I am.”

Corrie shook her head vigorously. “That’s like saying alll humans can fly a little bit while they’re falling, and then insisting a flying person isn’t all that remarkable.”

“All right. Oh-kay. I’m the best-talking crow there is. Maybe the best-talking crow there ever has been. I’m a genius at talking. Maybe it’s magic, maybe I’m a horrible mutant, maybe it’s just random chance. But I can do it. I’m here. We’re talking. Has the shock worn off yet?”

I looked at Corrie, with a little grin. “No, I’ll probably be going on about it for at least a week,” I said.

“I was thinking two,” she said.

“You two are murdering me here,” Erroi muttered. “And don’t either of you make a pun about that, either. We hear them all the time, and none of them are any good.”

“Hey, there’s no caws for alarm,” Corrie giggled.


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