The dully gleaming ebony feathers of the crow seemed to absorb the daylight into its black mass.
The motionless bird stared unblinkingly at the motion below from its perch in a tree, looking more like its deceased and stuffed counterpart than a living creature.
Below him the little butterfly flitted weightlessly, bobbing on its wings over the flowers in the garden, oblivious to the danger above.
The crow blinked just once, the thin membrane moving across its cold emotionless eye a heartbeat behind the eyelid in a slightly off double motion. The bird tilted his head.
Spindly legs reaching, the little butterfly landed on a flower. Its wings moved slowly to some soundless rhythm.
It tasted the air with its antennae, picking up only the sweet pollen of the flowers.
Feeling safe, the butterfly stilled its wings, letting them soak in the delightful warmth of the sun.
With slow languid motion, the crow spread his wings and took flight, his shadow passing on the ground below.
The fleeting shade was a cooling pulse across the insect's back, the warmth returned as quickly. Only its antennae moved in response.
Landing soundlessly on a wooden post closer to the flowers, the crow ruffled his feathers and settled to watch the little butterfly.
The insect lifted one spindly front leg and froze. It sensed danger. Its antennae twitched, feeling for the source. Nothing moved except the barest dance of the flowers in the soft breeze.
The butterfly relaxed again.
The crow bided his time, watching the butterfly groom its head with its front legs.
He half spread his wings and tilted his head, coldly eying the morsel below. His wings came up and his head down, wings spreading to their full span.
He pushed off the post, bringing his wings down against the air, pushing his feet out ahead of him. He dove down at the garden.
Danger trembled in the little butterfly's antennae. Its legs quivered and wings twitched as it sought the source. The shadow came down, growing, and covered it.
It realized the danger too late, flapping its wings and bobbing and dodging on the air.
Faster, the crow dove straight for it, closing the gap quickly.
The insect felt the displaced air before it could flit across two flowers. Desperate to live, it tried to weave in the air.
It could not move fast enough, its bumbling flight too weightless for speed.
The crow's beak clapped closed a wing's hair from catching and crushing the little butterfly just as it dropped below the flower heads.
Twisting mid flight, the bird reached for it with its talons of one foot, catching only the velvety softness of flower.
His claws dug into the blossom, tearing the stigma from style, anther from filament,
and ruined petals free in a single violent moment that left the spoiled flower trembling with motion in its wake.
Swooping up to land on the post, the bird shook its foot to knock off the petal impaled on one claw. The torn petal fluttered to the ground.
The crow ruffled his feathers in irritation at missing the snack.
The quivering butterfly clung to the bottom of a flower head beneath the watchful stare of the hungry bird above. Hours passed and neither moved.
The sun crossed the sky, its light getting old and tired, and finally turned to the gloom of dusk as it hung lower in the sky.
Lifting his beak to stare balefully at the weakening light, the crow finally gave up and took flight across the yard and over the trees towards his night roost.
His ugly caws carried back on the wind.
The little butterfly was still afraid to move. It clung there in the growing darkness.
The sun on the horizon made the sky burn with the colors of sunset as it slipped behind the skyline, plunging the world into night.
Rising waxy and pale, the moon cast its dull light into the night.
Moonlight reached down through the flowers and touched the wings of the little butterfly. Its wings quivered and rippled, shriveling into themselves.
It trembled, its body twisting in grotesque reaction to the trauma. It fell into the full light of the moon.
Its antennae withered and shriveled, its body convulsed in wretched spasms and twitched as it morphed.
The lower part of its body split and pulled apart into two as its legs pulled into the body.
The front legs thickened instead of withering like the rest and it shook its head in agony, legs splaying at the ends to become hands with fingers.
When at last it lay still, gasping raggedly from the pain ravaging it with the transformation, it was no longer a butterfly.
Clutching at and shaking her head, she moaned and pushed herself into a sitting position. She groaned hollowly and looked around.
She is still the size of the butterfly, but has shed all insectile appearances for human-like. Hair cut in a short bob framed her tiny face.
Her appearance was almost elven, slender and diminutively angled.
Ibris stood weakly on unsteady legs, wavering a little. A gossamer gown hung off her, limp and tired.
Putting an arm out, she stumbled over and leaned on the flower stalk for support as she gathered herself.
"That was close." Her voice was rough and high with anxiety. She blinked; looking dazed, and tried to clear her thoughts.
"Craven the Crow is back. This is not good. He has killed too many of us. I should alert the village."
Still weak from the transformation, Ibris shuddered and her gown shifted.
Part of it lifted on each side, splitting apart to reveal wings so delicate they seemed they would tear on the barest breath of a breeze.
She looked up anxiously, expecting to see the ugly crow suddenly appear. She could not fly yet, so she started walking, climbing between flower stalks and blades of grass.
Everything towered massively above her.
When her wings have dried, she took flight, moving more quickly. Ibris flew recklessly through the flowers, rising above them and speeding up, darting across the garden.
She crossed the yard to the woods beyond and vanished into the shadows of the trees.