LittleWolf

Australia

Just a normal girl trying to follow her heart in this new world.
16
Australian
Dancer, Singer
Equal Rights for All
Can speak limited French and German

Message from Writer

Hey there, please comment or give some feedback :)

And Ravens Fly #r&scontest

July 21, 2019

FREE WRITING

4
She stood barefoot in the middle of the small field, a weed amongst roses. Nobody stood within ten paces of her as if scared to catch her history of violence and bloodshed. They didn't even look at her, instead they averted their eyes to the deadened tree which stood in the middle of the field. They waded through the knee-high stalks of last seasons wheat, an impoverished army of fools parting around her like the plague which had taken so many. Like minutes on a clock, the army surrounded the tree whose desperate branches grasped at the periwinkle sky leaving her to watch from a distance.

She could see a line of women, bound and gagged, kneeling at the trunk of the tree with their heads lowered and their backs facing the growing audience. Midwives, healers, nannies, all of them had had some experience with the use of herbs and medicine. All of them had been prosecuted for witchcraft. In the future, many would doubt if there ever was a single witch who was captured. In fact, there would be a lot of doubt that witches even existed. But she knew otherwise.

She scanned the line for the waist-length plait and blue skirts of her mother. Her small frame barely reached the mid-torso of most of the villagers which obscured her vision and prevented her from viewing the women. She closed her eyes and gripped the roughhewn fabric of her over-dress concentrating solely on her mother's face. Her delicate features, hazel eyes with the smile lines and the way her deep-brown hair curled around her cheeks and even her chin if it grew long enough.

She thought of the soft cotton dress that she had fallen asleep on night after night and how her mother had tied a sash of ribbon around the middle and just under her breasts to create a belt and show that she was more wealthy than most in the village. She thought of how her mother was dragged from their tiny house on the outskirts of the village by men who had swords and knives. How her mother had heard them coming and hid her amongst the cloth scraps in her sewing station. She remembered her mother's screams of anguish and sorrow.

Her thoughts were broken by the sharp cry of a large raven which flew past her ear close enough for her to feel its feathers. Her gaze followed the bird as it soared over the heads of the villagers' army and landed on a deadened branch above the bound women at the front of the line. She recognised the woman immediately. Her mother. Without thinking, she ran forwards oblivious to the multitude of ravens which were congregating in the field.

The whistle and thwack of an axe rang out in the still air. The faint thud of a head rolling changed her run into a stumble then a limp. As she neared the tree, the villagers parted showing her the image of her mother's decapitated head on the ground. Its eyes stared out over the field but seemed to find her as she staggered forward.

One step.

Another step.

Another.

Until she fell to her knees, mimicking the position of her mother's corpse. She forced her eyes to the clear sky and uttered a mewling cry of disbelief. Her mother was dead. Tears leaked from her eyes as she sat there, unmoving. The past six years had been the best of her life, learning how to use herbs and plants in treating the sick and injured during the day and at night how to create light and wind and water. Those nights when they would travel into the forest and train for hours before staggering home tired but satisfied, the best kind of feeling she knew. They would wear lazy smiles and chuckle giddily to each other before falling asleep in each other's arms.

Now that would never happen again. She stood, her sorrow morphing into a blazing fury. Slowly, she turned to face the villagers, her eyes alive with unconcealed rage. She strode forward in complete silence towards the ravens which were now at least one hundred strong. Suddenly she started to repeat the nursery rhyme her mother had told her over and over:

                                                             One for sorrow,
                                                             Two for mirth
                                                             Three for a funeral,
                                                             Four for birth
                                                             Five for heaven
                                                             Six for hell
                                                             Seven for the devil,
                                                             To whom we fell

When she came in line with the first ravens she stopped and held out her hand. All of the villagers gasped in horror as the largest and most iridescent of all the birds flew and landed on her arm, moving its way up to her shoulder. Then came the whispers.

"Isn't that the witches daughter?"  "Isn't that the child who killed her father?"  "That's the girl who broke Jeremiah's arm!" "How old is she? She seems too young to be here..."  "She's twelve." 

But she heard none of it. All she could hear was the cry of the ravens and the echo of the axe swinging over again and again. She started to speak to herself, quietly at first, but her voice was soon loud enough for the villagers to hear.

"You killed her, you all killed her! After everything she had done for you! She tended your wounds, strengthened your ill, wove your clothes and stitched together your broken hearts! She never said a mean word, and I would know because I was with her always! You have no idea what you've done! The plague will come here now, your crops will fail, and the winters will be harsher. But above all, she kept me in check! She was teaching me control and how to keep my powers in check but you! You killed her! My mother! My mentor! And now all of you will share her fate!" Her chest heaved with the power of her statement, and there was a new glint in her eye. The wind started to pick up and carelessly tossed stray hairs across her face and ruffling the raven's inky feathers.

Her hands started to burn, causing her to glance down only to recoil in shock. Brilliant orange flames encased her hands, and its greedy tongues lapped at the dried grains of the field. The circle of flames extended, engulfing her. In the eyes of the villagers, this young girl clothed in flames and surrounded by ravens was a demoness, sent from the eternal depths of hell. A demoness who had been gifted with the task of fiery retribution.

Striding forward with the commanding presence of a panther, the young girl raised her outstretched hands. The now raging fire obeyed her diligently. Stray hairs from her single plait whipped her face and her dress and overclothes smouldered, the hems glowing faintly with embers. Where she stepped, the greedy flames fell back to create a path through the destruction leading to her mother's body. 

Following the path, the girl stood over the corpse. The raven on her shoulder, who had been silent the entire time, let out an almighty cry which trembled with emotion. Seconds later an answering cry ripped through the girl as she fell to her knees and leant over her mother bawling mutely into her dress. Around her, the flames rose higher and the smoke thickened the ravens cried themselves hoarse.

The girl was never the same after that. The villagers who survived her outburst were too terrified to speak to her, not that they would get a response if they did. She left the village shortly after, seeking somewhere without the menacing glares or complete strangers. But she always kept that raven with her, or rather she couldn't make it leave. War devastated her country and she was drafted in as a witch to help the war effort. She died twenty years later whilst on a journey looking for apprentices, but her body wasn't found for nearly a week. She died only a few kilometres away from her home village and she was buried under the tree where her mother had been murdered. Locals said that strange things happened at her grave, the most common of which was to see flocks of ravens around it at all times. So the girl became a legend, and years later an unknown person engraved a message on her tombstone:

"And Ravens Fly"

 
Sorry if this is a little long for the competition...

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3 Comments
  • rainandsonder

    contest results are up now!


    4 months ago
  • LittleWolf

    Cool thank you!


    4 months ago
  • rainandsonder

    excellent work! i love your vivid descriptions, and how you introduce the reader to this fiery character. i also loved the way the story turned out, and how you incorporated the prompt and that nursery rhyme near the middle. thanks for entering the contest, results will be up soon!


    4 months ago