Above a wheat field, a bird circled. It swooped down and broke off a piece of wheat before retreating back into the sky to enjoy its snack.
Unsatisfied, it went down for more, but this time it got a taste of something far less delicious.
A hand made of hardened straw was extended out, blocking the bird from the crop. The bird let go and retreated, going to a different part of the field, but the hand was there too.
This time the hand swatted at the bird before it could come close, and continued to do so until it flew away.
The hand retreated below the tall stalks. Of course, it wasn't just a hand. That would be ridiculous.
The straw hand was attached to a straw arm, which was attached to a straw torso, and what good is a straw torso without straw legs to carry it around.
And what could would legs be without a head to lead them. And of course no head, straw or otherwise, is complete without a hat to shield from the rain.
The scarecrow watched the bird fly until they determined it had left for good. They nodded to themselves and were teleported back to the middle of the field.
There they would stay until they were needed.
Barely a moment had past before they were teleported to almost the edge of the crop, expecting a stray robin they were very surprised to see a dozen or so black birds.
Some were perched precariously on the thin stalks of wheat, still wet from the previous night's rain, and some were hovering close in the sky.
They stared at the murder, wondering how in hell they were going to get rid of them all. Then they realized they weren't alone.
A voice was heard, it seemed to be having a conversation but the only ones who responded were the birds.
Screeching their nonsense as the voice grew close, and curiously a smell the scarecrow could not place grew stronger as the voice grew nearer.
The scarecrow tried to teleport away but they were firmly rooted to the spot. The land had decided the murder was more important than its guardian being discovered.
The voice grew louder still, "so I was like, 'no you fucking moron-'" the voice cut itself off as a stranger crossed the row of wheat separating them from the guardian. They were both silent.
"Oh," the man said after a moment, "just a scarecrow. Jeez you scared me."
"I did?" The scarecrow was confused, they hadn't done anything yet.
The man's eyes widened in surprise, "you talk."
"Of course I do."
"Right, of course you do. You must be the guardian of this land," the man's shock faded as he realized the situation.
"I didn't know this land was so old, my apologies for appearing unannounced and without permission."
For a stranger he was remarkably well mannered, a pleasant surprise for the scarecrow. "It's alright."
Just then, one of the crows began snacking on the crop. Acting on instinct, the scarecrow moved forward and grabbed the bird.
In retaliation, the crow started attacking their hand, ripping apart the straw.
Though the pain was familiar it was still pain, and the scarecrow heaved the bird into the air at an angle where the wind would catch it as a warning.
The rest of the murder saw it as an attack and descended upon the scarecrow, prepared to rip them to shreds.
The scarecrow threw up their arms to protect their head from the murderous birds, but there was no need. The stranger grabbed the scarecrow and pulled them into their chest.
Here so close to the man, they noticed that the smell from earlier came from him.
Strangely, the birds retreated back to the skies, though they watched the pair vigilantly. Waiting for a reason.
"Y'all really have no respect," the man scolded the birds, who retreated further into the sky as if ashamed.
"Sorry about that, are you okay?" The man asked, letting go of the scarecrow and stepping back.
The scarecrow examined their hand before answering, "nothing that will last. If I may ask, what is that smell?"
"It smells almost like a skunk, but not quite. I don't know how to explain it, but it originates from you."
"What?" The man eyed the scarecrow strangely for a minute before understanding, "Oh. It's weed. Sometimes I forget it has a smell."
At this, the scarecrow returned the man's strange stare, "how do you forget a scent that follows you?"
"Oh, I don't have a sense of smell."
"One can lose their sense of smell?" Surely this man was not serious.
"No- well actually maybe. I'm not sure. But not me, I was just born without a sense of smell. It happens sometimes I guess. Gets me in trouble sometimes."
A strange smile appeared on his face as he finished speaking, the emotion seemed real enough for the scarecrow to believe him.
"I've never heard of such a thing, you truly have never smelled anything?"
"I guess it's pretty rare or something, I've never met anyone else who can't smell. But yea, my nose is totally broken. Can't smell anything." The man spoke as if it was nothing to him.
The scarecrow supposed it was. How could something you've never possessed mean anything to you? Despite understanding, the scarecrow could never imagine a world without scent.
Curious about something the man said, the scarecrow inquired, "how would such a thing get you in trouble?" They tilted their head to the sky to keep an eye on the crows.
The man giggled, "funny story, so apparently some herbs look so similar that unless you know what differences to look for the only way to tell them apart is by smell."
"Really pissed off one of the Gods and had to spend months burning offerings just to get them to stop fucking with me."
"Another God thought this was so funny he sent a bunch of birds to hang out with me."
"Murder," the scarecrow interrupted.
"They're crows, three or more of them is called a murder."
"Oh. Neat. Pretty cool, having a bunch of birds following you around. They do wonders for my reputation and attract the right people. They're really smart too.
"Yes. Too smart."
"You don't have to worry about them. They know I don't want them to attack you or your land so they won't."
Reluctantly, the scarecrow's gaze fell from the sky and landed on the stranger. Unable to contain their curiosity, they asked another question. "Am I correct in presuming you are a witch?"
"Mhm." The witch nodded.
"Is there anything you wish you could smell?"
The witch's eyebrows furrowed in confusion, "what do you mean?" Though he had asked, the emotions shown through his eyes said he already knew.
"I am bound to this land, as you know, but if you wish to know the scent of anything here, I can give it to you. Not... forever but, for a moment."
The witch's gaze wandered to the sky where his murder awaited. Then to the wheat around them, tall, thin and wet from a heavy rain but still standing strong.
Then back to the guardian of the land he currently stood on, offering him something he never thought attainable. Curiosity and desire gripped at his very soul, but all he said was, "why?"
"It was a witch who created me, I do not know how long ago, but it was long enough. In my time I have developed a connection to this land, but too late."
"I never had the chance to repay them for giving me the gifts of a life and purpose."
"And now you stand before me. Not the same witch but a witch nonetheless, and this may be my closest opportunity to repay a gift long overdue. Do you understand?"
The witch nodded, his gaze falling to the damp ground below. He stared a long while, and the scarecrow refocused their gaze to the murder in the sky.
Although they trusted the witch, they did not trust birds so smart as corvids.
After a long moment, their gazes found each other and the witch spoke, "I accept the gift if you still wish to give it, but seeing as it is a gift I do not wish to choose."
"Whatever scent you wish to give me I will accept because you wish it to be mine."
The guardian nodded and held out their hand. "My gift to you is the scent of dirt after the rain, my favorite scent of this land and one I feel worthy to gift to you."
Wordlessly, the witch took the scarecrows hand and instantly rain soaked soil filled his senses.
He saw the formless flow around, through and in between the shaped.
He felt it sink deep in between the crevices and cracks.
He heard the water splash onto the hard soil.
He tasted the dry and the wet combine to something that was both and neither.
He smelled the bitterness of the soil amplified by the cool wind accompanied with the sweetness of the rain.
Overwhelmed, the witch sank to his knees, tears streaming down his face. He never knew something so simple as rain and dirt could smell so beautiful.
Still holding his hand, the scarecrow sat down beside him. The witch laid his head on the guardian's straw shoulder and they let him stay there.
And there they sat for a while, enjoying the smell of rain soaked soil as a murder circled the sky high above.