Tragedy of the Raven Prologue
By Prince Nightmare
The shadows of the forests no longer made mortal man shy away in terror. Nothing sinister took refuge in the dark of the night now, and no supernatural beasts slithered nightmarishly through the silent places in the meadows, waiting for some innocent passerby
Magus, Savior of Demons and Prince of Shadows, was dead.
The dark race of Mystics had been wiped out, save for a few straggling clans that made their living by begging from the scraps of the traveling merchants. They, who were once so proud, were now a pathetic race that even the dogs scorned. Some, those who refused to believe their Prince was gone, would mutter that one day their Dark Lord would return to free them from their bondage of shame, but many of them simply got on the best they could. They had suffered much in the long years of war against the humans, their brother race that was ignorant to the powers of Magic, and most longed to forget what had happened. The secluded, ragged tribes that remained tried to live quiet and subdued lives.
The humans in the nearby villages and towns also tried to forget the past 10 years of war. The First Priest, of the Einderesch, Krischtiahn the Blessed, had said that he was sure that the Dark One was dead. In fact, his vision had come to him the very night Magus had died. That day, he spoke to the other priests and paladins of the Einderesch of his prophetic dream.
The Dark One is no more, Krischtiahn reported solemnly before the gathered congregation of the Einderesch, he has died in a far away land, in much pain and blood as he deserved.
The sect of Wizard Hunters was silent as it listened. The people would rejoice at this news, this they were sure of.. This was a blessing for the Kingdom of Gaurdia, and no more young men would go off to die on some battlefield far from home. No more maidens would weep, nor would children grow up without a big brother or father. Magus had been defeated and carried off into the Ever Burning Lake, and this was surely a miracle from Heaven. However, the Hunters themselves felt a sharp pang of disappointment, and a small exclamation of dismay echoed among the ranks. The Last and Greatest Wizard was dead and their Holy Order would become obsolete. In a few generations, the people would see them as nothing more than a bunch of gossipy old men, relics of a barbaric age best forgotten. They had all been trained since childhood to fight outlaw mages and wizards, to track down them and outsmart them. They had been hand picked for many reasons, perhaps a clever mind or great physical strength or tracking skill. For most of their lives they had rode together and they were now as brothers. But what purpose remained for them if the Dark One himself was no more? All the other wizards had either been killed or captured long ago. The Mystics were no longer a threat, what protection from evil magic did the Kingdom need with Magus gone? More than one of the Einderesch was silent as they pondered their fate.
Even Krischtiahn the Blessed stood silent with his head bowed, mourning the inevitable demise of the Order that meant more to him than Life itself.
She screamed with her last breath, her body going stiff as a board as the muscles tightened in a valiant effort to defeat Death. For a moment, it seemed as though her frail body would jerk itself upright, and the girls eyes widened as she gazed towards Heaven beseechingly. No angel heard her prayer as her body crashed violently back down unto the ragged bed, trembling for a moment. Then she lay still and silent.
The old midwife made the sign of the cross over the forehead of the dead girl and placed two silver coins over the unseeing eyes. Her face had already begun to take on the waxy, emotionless glow of the dead.
The midwife turned to the stout woman behind her and shook her head sadly. Her look of sorrow deepened as she gazed at the shape of the small infant her companion had wrapped in a coarse cloth.
What a pity, she sighed, glancing back at the young woman who had strained so hard to give birth to her son. that both the mother and child had to die though perhaps it was better.
The stout woman frowned sternly and without sympathy. Greta, you could have pity for a mongrel dog. She was a heretic anyway. No doubt the father was either a thief or some politician who would never admit hed fathered a bastard son .
Greta sighed. But she was so young, and such a beauty. I never knew her to be anything but kind. Why, she was always taking in hurt animals and things she couldnt stand to see anything suffer she smiled up at her companion, but saw she wasnt paying attention. In fact, the stout woman looked like she had seen a ghost.
Mary? What is it? Why are you staring like that!? Greta trembled. She had never known Mary to be giddy in the presence of the dead MARY!?
Marys eyes were wide with shock as she stared open mouthed down at the bundle she held. Neither woman made a sound for a moment as they stared intently at the wrapped figure. Suddenly, there was a small movement from the bundle, and then another, this time more obvious.
Good God! Mary gasped, frozen in disbelief. That child hes alive!
It was Mary who had carried him to the poorhouse, where he lived until he was nearly five years old.
There, they named him Raven, for like the bird, he couldnt sing. Nor could he cry out or speak at all. No one knew why he was a mute. His utter silence, so unlike the usual squawking of a newborn, was what had led Mary and Greta to believe he was stillborn.. But he had not been dead, he was very much alive. Though most said this was a very unlucky thing.
They named him Raven also for his black hair, and the fact that he had been born in October, which was the month when the raven, according to an old legend, was most powerful. To be visited by a raven in October meant certain misfortune and sadness. They were the most hated of all birds, and the villagers would try to kill them with stones if they could.
He was a strange looking child, with pale skin and large blue eyes that never seemed to blink. His ears were slightly pointed at their tips, causing people to believe his father had been a demon and his mother a dark elf. He was frail, often sick, and never played with the other children in the village. In fact, they often ridiculed him and threw rocks his way if they saw him outside the poorhouse. The adults would kick him out from underfoot if he accidentally got in their way, and even the mutts of the village would chase him up a tree if they got the chance.
The poorhouse was a wretched place where all riffraff and orphans ended up. It was a rough existence for a sickly mute boy who had not the strength of voice or body to fight for a warm place to sleep or a decent meal. Raven often chewed on the bones that were tossed to the dogs after the poorhouse cook had served the rest of the people that resided there. His bed was most often a hole in the dirt floor next to the wall, where all the worst drafts were. During the winter he would fight for a place near the small fireplace in the kitchen, but he was too young and too small to ever beat out the older orphans and the ragged adults that swarmed to the scant warmth.
How he survived to his fifth birthday was a mystery, for he had no one who cared for him. If he were to come up missing one day, there was not one who would spend a sleepless night looking for him. Raven survived on the ragged outskirts of the scum of society, battling everyday just to get a scrap in his belly and air in his lungs. There was no doubt he would not have lived to be a man under such circumstances, his luck and his health would have eventually run out at one time another.
But the winds of Fate had something different in mind for the boy, and in the month of August just before his fifth birthday, Ravens life was changed forever.
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