Tragedy of the Raven Part 3, Chapter 2

By Prince Nightmare

The wind shrieked from outside. Raven couldn’t believe it could snow so hard. He shivered at the thought of how close he came to getting stuck out in the terrible storm. He watched the blizzard, amazed at the ferocity of the weather. They never saw anything at all like this in Guardia. It had been storming for a day and a half now, and showed no signs of letting up.

“Does it always storm like this here?” he asked, turning to the pale haired boy that was digging around for something to eat. The cave was nearly bare of food. Vah’ryiah and Klaveer hadn’t had time to hunt before the blizzard hit. Raven’s stomach growled but he ignored it, thankful at least to be out of the weather and safer than he had been for

Vah’ryiah looked up at him looking confused. “This isn’t too bad of a storm. I wouldn’t want to get caught outside for long in it, but I’ve seen worse… haven’t you?”

Raven fidgeted with the thick bearskin Vah’ryiah had given to him to wear over his shoulders. He didn’t want to admit that he was a little scared of the harsh land of ice and snow. “Well, not really. We have snow sometimes, but not more than an inch or two… we have bad thunderstorms in the summer a lot though.”

“Thunderstorms? What are those?” Vah’ryiah asked as he pulled out the last remaining strips of dried venison. He tossed some to Raven. The strips of meat were tough and hard to chew, but at least it was food.

“Well…” Raven began between bites, “it rains a whole lot and there is thunder and lightning…” he stopped when he saw Vah’ryiah’s confused expression. “Uh… never mind. So… uh… are you really a warlock?”

Vah’ryiah laughed and flopped down next to Klaveer, who was dozing by the fire. The wolf’s ears pricked up and he licked the boy’s hand quickly, and then went back to sleep. Vah’ryiah chewed on his venison a moment, thinking of how to respond. “I… I don’t think I am. I mean, I can’t burn down lodges like you can or anything…” he looked shrewdly at his companion. “How did you do that, anyway?”

“I really don’t know. I just got really mad and it was like a flame in the back of my mind exploded…”

“Hmm. Well I can’t do that or else I would have a long time ago. They deserve it for treating you that way.” Vah’ryiah’s violet eyes narrowed and he scowled. “Anything they don’t understand they try to kill… anyone who is different they call a warlock or a wizard and they track them down and kill them!” The young boy growled under his breath and stared into the fire, stroking his wolf. “They hate me because I didn’t die four and half years ago when…” his voice trailed off and he stood up suddenly. “I don’t care! Let them hunt for me and try to burn me or drown me! They’re so stupid anyway they’ll never catch me.” He realized what he was saying then and looked down at his feet. “I’m sorry. You don’t want to hear all of this… I shouldn’t have said those things.”

Raven didn’t say anything for a few moments. Vah’ryiah had told him briefly about his strange, hard life being hunted by the clansmen. He bit his lip and tried to think of something to say. “I think wizards are different than warlocks actually…” Raven tried to change the subject. He didn’t like talking about anyone killing anyone else.

“Huh?” Vah’ryiah looked up and raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean, different?”

“Well, Glenn told me warlocks didn’t really use magic and they used to be called “Druids” back a long time ago. But then when magic became forbidden they were called warlocks because people thought they made a pact with the Devil for their powers. Glenn said warlocks are those who are, for some reason, closer to nature than everyone else. He told me it didn’t have anything to do with magic at all and that they can talk to animals and even change into animals…” he looked over at Klaveer. He was no longer afraid of the big wolf, but he was still amazed at the size of the animal. “…And they were all supposed to have kept an animal spirit around them as a Familiar… a sort of protector. For a long time they were considered holy men and were priests and shamans, until the Hunters said it was evil.”

Vah’ryiah smirked. “Hm. I prove my point. What they can’t understand they hate. So, what is a wizard then? Can’t they change shape too?”

Raven rubbed his forehead and shrugged. “Glenn said they can, but only with spells. Wizards can’t talk to animals either, I don’t think. They use Magic. It… it’s just different.”

“Did they hate you down in that place… Guardia? Did people make you live alone?” Vah’ryiah kicked at a piece of firewood. His eyes were filled with anger. “I bet they did, didn’t they!?”

Raven felt uncomfortable. “Well… I remember when I was real little people in the town I lived in were very mean. They said I was cursed because I couldn’t talk. I guess they were cruel, but then Glenn found me. After that it wasn’t so bad, because he took me to live with him. People in Guardia didn’t like me much either, but I didn’t care because…” Raven’s eyes filled with tears and he bit his lip. He looked away from Vah’ryiah and said in a quiet voice, “I don’t want to talk about this. I’m never going to see them again so what’s the point?”

For a long time neither of them said anything. Raven poked at the fire with a stick and pulled his knees up to his chest, sighing. He missed his home so much. Suddenly he threw the stick down angrily and glared outside at the snow that he was sure would never stop. “Does it always snow all the time here?!”

Vah’ryiah looked at him sympathetically. “No… not always. Sometimes it doesn’t snow for weeks and then it is nice, even though it’s always cold.” His face brightened at an idea. “Hey! You’ll love it when I show you where the bears live and where you can spear fish through the ice. It isn’t all bad here, sometimes it is very beautiful.” He sighed when Raven didn’t answer and continued to glare out the cave entrance. “How’s your arm doing?”

Raven glanced down at his arm. Luckily the bite hadn’t been serious at all. The wolf had barely broken the skin. Vah’ryiah had wrapped it in leather strips soaked with the boiled remnants of some kind of bark that he said would stop any infection “It’s almost healed.” He suddenly felt stupid for acting so childish. “I’m sorry too… for what I said. I think we’re just bored and that makes us say dumb things.” He looked around to an unused pile of hearth stones and got an idea that he thought might brighten the mood a little. Vah’ryiah kept a few extra in case the ones next to the fire cracked from the heat. “Hey! I’m going to teach you a game, one Glenn taught me so we could have something to do on rainy days. It’s called ‘Chess’. It’s really fun once you get the hang of it.”

“A game…?” Vah’ryiah asked, handing him the stones. “What do you have to do?” Raven smirked at him as he drew a playing board in the sand of the cave. Vah’ryiah watched him, intrigued.

“Now, I’m going to mark your stones with black coal so we can tell them from my stones…”


Porre wasn’t nearly as nice as Liegh had hoped it would be. The streets were crowded and muddy from all the rain the night before, and people paid her no heed whatsoever. Tired, hungry, and still damp from the weather, Liegh looked for someone to ask to point her to the Inn. She glanced around at the sea of strange, unfriendly faces and felt more lost than ever. Alheid nickered and nudged her shoulder with his nose.

“I don’t like this place either, but we have to try Alheid.” Liegh whispered to him, stroking his muzzle. Taking a deep breath, she made her way to the nearest merchant stand. The merchant, who sold cooking supplies and herbs, was fat and looked flustered. He paid Liegh no attention until she cleared her throat loudly, drawing stares from several of the man’s customers.

“What do ya want, boy?” he growled over his shoulder. “I got paying’ customers here and I ain’t got time to be bothered with kids.”

Liegh swallowed her pride. “Sir, if you would kindly point me to the Inn I would be much obliged…” Liegh felt her face burn as a few of the people around her snickered and glared down their noses at her. She was determined not to show her nervousness, however, and ignored them.

“Down that street over there,” he said gruffly, pointing towards a muddy street between the market place and the town hall. “It’s called the Griffon Inn and has a big sign. If you miss it you’re an idiot. Now I got work to do, so be off with ya.”

“Thank you , sir…” Liegh began, but saw the merchant was already talking to a potential buyer. She turned awkwardly and led Alheid towards the Inn.

The merchant had been right, the Griffon had a huge sign that was gaudily painted, its namesake taking up as much room as the elaborate lettering. Liegh could hear laughter floating out the windows of the Inn, and delicious smells made her stomach tighten. She dug into her cloak and pulled out her life savings; a gold coin, two silver coins, and five coppers. It wouldn’t go far in a big city like Porre, but surely it had to be enough to get a meal and a room for the night. She looked around for the stable boy, who was cleaning out stalls. “Hey! I’m going to put my horse in a stall here.”

The big, sturdy looking lad glanced at her. “You don’t want me to do it, young sir?”

“No, you’d better not. Alheid has a bad temper. But here’s a copper if you give him lots of oats and water.”

The boy quickly snatched up the opportunity for an easy copper and nodded enthusiastically as he grabbed it from Liegh’s hand. “I’ll make sure he gets plenty to eat, young sir! And I will clean your saddle for you too!” He pointed Liegh to the stall he had just swept out. “You can put him in there, it’s all cleaned out now.”

Liegh nodded her thanks and led the stallion to the stall. She began to unsaddle him and saw that her tack badly needed a cleaning. It was caked in mud and grime from the hard traveling. Alheid was dirty too, and tired looking. A good rest would do them both good. She brushed his mane out the best she could and patted him affectionately. “Just be good, don’t give the stable lad too much trouble.” Alheid snorted as if to say he’d give anyone as much trouble as he wanted to.

Liegh left the stall, laughing at him as she made her way to the front entrance of the Griffon. The main doors had a carving of the strange, mythical beast the Inn was named for. It made the place look even more foreboding to the young girl. Liegh slowly pulled the heavy door open and peered inside.

The scent of stale beer instantly assaulted her nose. Almost as strong was the scent of tobacco and food. A few men sat around a table drinking and laughing. A plump girl was serving them more beer from a pitcher that looked very heavy. They all turned and stared at Liegh as she made her way into the main room.

“Oh-ho! What is it we have here?” said the serving girl, laughing and slapping one of the men on the back. “A little knight, is it?” They all began to laugh and Liegh felt smaller and smaller.

“I’m not a knight, I am a Hunter of the Ein’deresch. I want a room for the night, and some supper please.” She gripped harder the leather bag that swung at her side. It held her few belongings, and the Blackskull. Liegh bit her lip and didn’t blink as the girl looked her up and down in amusement.

“Ein’deresch, is it? Well, young sir, I will get Hans to show you to a room. My name’s Hilda and I run this place, since my husband is dead. We serve dinner here at seven o’ clock sharp, so if you want any, you best not be late coming down.” She disappeared through a set of swinging doors and Liegh could hear her barking at someone. Probably Hans, she thought to herself.

“You one of those Hunters, eh?” said one of the men at the table. He had a black beard and large belly, though Liegh could see his arms were knotted with muscle. Belly or no, this man was probably strong as an ox. “You don’t look like much of anything. I could pick you up and snap you over my knee, I bet.” He said, taking a swallow of beer from his mug.

This time Liegh couldn’t swallow her pride and ignore the rude jab. She sneered at the huge man who towered over her by a foot and a half. “If you could move your belly from that seat, you mean.”

The other men began laughing in an uproar. For a moment Liegh thought the bearded man was going to come after her, the look on his face was so angry. But to her amazement, he began to laugh too. “You got a temper on you, don’t you? Ah, come sit here boy, I’ll buy you a beer. I like a man who’ll stand up for himself, even though he knows he’s outmatched. My name’s Petyr, by the way. This here is Gref, Jon, and Culler,” Petyr said, pointing to his companions. They all grunted as he said their names.

Hesitantly, Liegh sat down next to the big man “I’m Liegh.” She was about to go on when a pudgy, blonde man came out of the kitchen, followed by Hilda.

“Hans is going to show you your room now, so go with him.” Hilda said, rushing off to the kitchen again to bring the men more to drink. Hans stood there stupidly, waiting for Liegh. Petyr scowled at him and waved him away.

“The boy’s havin’ a drink with us first. You just wait till he comes and tells you he’s ready to go upstairs. Go tell that Hilda to bring out an extra mug of beer.” When Hans didn’t move Petyr barked at him loudly. “Go on now, lad!!” Hans scuttled off. “Now,” Petyr said, turning back to Liegh, “What brings a young Hunter to Porre? Has Magus the Black returned from the dead?” Petyr’s laugher boomed loudly, his companions laughing as well.

“No, it’s not that I’m here hunting a wizard, if that’s what you mean. I’ve been exiled and I carry the Blackskull now.” Liegh decided not to hide the truth from anyone. Lying about it all would just make it more difficult in the end.

“Why’d they send you off, lad? Did you steal something?” the big, blonde haired man called Jon spoke up. “You’re just a mite of a boy, you can’t make it alone now, can you?”

Liegh smirked. “I’m not a boy at all. That’s why they exiled me and made me carry the Blackskull.”

They all stared at her in disbelief, their laughter silenced for once. Hilda brought out the pitcher full of beer again but stopped short when she saw the silent men all staring at the young Hunter. “What’s going on in here? Cat got your tongues?”

Petyr ignored her, still staring at Liegh. Finally he shook his shaggy head, a slow smile spreading across his broad face. “Well I’ll be damned! You sure are a sassy little thing, Liegh! I don’t know what a Blackskull is but if you made it all the way here from that little mud hole Lenstahn by yourself…why… you deserve two beers!!” He pounded his fist against the table and he and his companions were laughing again. Liegh began to wonder if they thought everything was funny.

“Have you all gone mad?” Hilda asked, looking round at them. “What’s this all about? I won’t have secrets in my Inn!” Her face grew redder and redder as the men kept laughing. She glared at Liegh. “What are they laughing at, boy?” Liegh shrugged and the men guffawed harder at the mention of the word ‘boy’, which drove Hilda to near hysterics. “You’ve all been eating yarrow weed, I swear it!” Disgusted, she stomped out of the room.

Liegh looked round at the men. “What’s so funny. You think I can’t take care of myself just because I’m a girl? Well, I can fight just as good as any boy!”

Petyr wiped a tear from his eye. “Aye, I don’t doubt you could, fierce as you are. But you can’t seriously go wandering around by yourself, it’s too dangerous. I’m going to talk to Hilda into letting you stay and help her with the Inn. She’ll do any favor for the Brotherhood of the Three Stars… she’d better, anyway. We’ve saved her butt a few times in the past.”

Liegh gasped. The Brotherhood of the Three Stars! That was the notorious band of assassins and bounty hunters that terrorized the whole kingdom… the Ein’deresch hated them almost as much as wizards. “You… aren’t really part of the Brotherhood, are you?”

“Aye, we are at that, young miss,” Gref, the youngest and most handsome of the foursome said, winking at Liegh. “Though lately a few bad apples have been giving us a reputation that is far from good. We four here are bounty hunters, looking for a madman who murdered a whole family of people. They say he’s lurking around just south of here, in the woods.”

“So you see, young miss,” Petyr went on, shaking a finger at her, “it’s a dangerous world to be out alone in. From the look on your face, I say you came by the way of the southern woods, didn’t you? And you didn’t even know how close you might have come to dying.”

Liegh shivered inwardly, but she gritted her teeth and glared at the four bounty hunters. “I don’t care if it’s dangerous. I can defend myself and I will not stay here and be a serving wench! There’s no way!”

“Hush, girl. It’d be better for you. If you don’t have no one to look after you, you best be staying here where it’s safe. I’ll be talking to Hilda tonight about you, so don’t go running off, you hear?!” Petyr commanded sternly. He turned back to his partners. “We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning boys, so no staying up late looking for pretty wenches. We’ve got a bounty to catch.”

Already a plan was forming in Liegh’s mind as she listened to them discussing the capture of the criminal.


Go To Part 3, Chapter 3

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