They’re breaking through the Veil!
We can’t hold them back much longer!
Get the villagers cleared out now!
“Run, Raven! You can’t fight the Shadows! Run!” Raven’s feet froze to the floor as she watched the Shadow drain the life from her father. When his body hit the ground, she ran across the main room and scrambled through the window. She gasped for air; tears flowed at the memory of her parents succumbing to the Shadow’s touch. In her haste, she tripped and fell to her knees, a whimper escaped her lips. Her father’s last words echoed through her mind and Raven regained her feet and bolted toward the workshop.
Inside, she hurried to the far wall where the scarred workbench stood. Despite how her hands trembled, her fingers found the two knots under the edge and pressed them. A wooden panel slid aside; she ducked under the bench and crawled through. A few yards away the forest waited. She swiped the tears from her cheeks, stood, and found herself face to face with a Shadow. Quick as a snake the creature’s shadowy arm entered her chest and enveloped her heart. Intense pain spread through her chest; muscles tightened and breathing became difficult. Cold replaced the pain and her vision darkened. The creature withdrew its limb from the young woman; her body crumpled to the ground.
Screams and shouts filled the air ahead of the advancing army of Shadows. Mundane weapons and prayers did not halt the advance of the creatures from the Other Side.
Morgan Byrne watched in silence from a tree that overlooked the village. She shivered at the heaviness pressing on her spirit. The raven ring she wore on her right hand gave off a faint glow that throbbed in time with her heartbeat. Something else crossed with the Shadows to this world. Whatever it is will bring greater grief and destruction than the lesser Shadows. Cail, her raven companion, perched nearby, preening his feathers. A sharp whistle and thunk captured Morgan’s attention. An arrow quivered in the trunk near her hand.
“Fools. They will kill more of their own and not stop the Shadows.” She pulled the arrow free, studying the fletching. “Brendan Grignarson is still alive. Strange, I didn’t see him anywhere, and he’s the one taking charge when there’s trouble.”
“Last time there was trouble here; many villagers blamed Brendan for the attack by the slavers.” The bird yawned.
She nodded. “I know after that raid, he had a new set of armor and a new sword. Something he couldn’t afford before then.” I hope he isn’t involved with this. He’s been a good friend over the years.
“Is it possible he’s working with the Shadows? Or whoever controls them?” Cail ruffled his feathers, settling them in place. “What now?”
“Lady Raven instructed us to wait and watch. She hopes I will find recruits for the Raven Council.” Another arrow flew past, and she ducked. “It’s time we move to another position.”
Cail flew off while Morgan slid down the rope secured to the branch.
Morgan passed through the trees, around the bodies of villagers. A quick look at their white faces told her they were beyond help. She circled the village, the shouts and screams faded, leaving the sound of crows and the crackle of flames filling the air. A few homes burned, the village enshrouded with smoke and cinders. It won’t be long before nothing but ashes is left. A body lying near a once-hidden door caught her eye. The ring on her right hand pulsed and a brief glow appeared. Morgan hurried behind the barn and knelt by the young woman. She held her hand over the body, a silvery glow radiated from the ring on her right hand, expanding to envelope the body.
*Cail, come here. I’ve found one.* Aloud, “Hold on, youngster. I will help if you let me.”
On silent wings, Cail arrived. “I will keep watch while you cross. This area is free of Shadows.”
Morgan closed her eyes, sweat beading her forehead. She followed the link the raven ring formed between her and the half-living young woman. When she passed through the Veil, she stood before the white stone arch that led to the world of the living, aglow with a bright silver light. Across the way stood an archway made of black polished stone filled with a dark silvery glow that led to the world of the dead.
The Shade of the young woman stood nearby looking around with wide eyes. “Where am I? Who are you?”
“You’re in the place where spirits go before they cross the final barrier to the world of the dead. Your body still has a spark of life. I am here to make you an offer.” Morgan reached out and drew her aside. “Lady Raven needs help in the war against the Shadows. A Shadow attacked you, but unlike the other villagers, you continue to hold onto life. You have a strong spirit. What’s your name?”
“Raven. Raven Wyng. My f-father was a bowyer and fletcher. He taught me how to use a bow and to hunt.”
Morgan grinned and removed a ring from her belt pouch. “Raven Wyng, I extend the offer to join the Raven Council. This will allow you to continue living and to fight against the Shadows.”
Raven held out her hand, accepting the ring. When she touched it, a silvery glow erupted, surrounding the two. Morgan raised an eyebrow but kept silent. Raven placed the ring on the middle finger of her right hand. “Now what?”
“Time for us to return to the world of the living, Raven. Welcome to the Council. Follow me.”
They walked toward the white stone arch of the living world.
Our feathers glowed and when the brightness matched, we flew through the bright archway and into the world of the living. When my sight cleared, I found myself on the shoulder of a woman who – I hate to say this – looked like death warmed over. She was skinny, pale under tanned skin and the dark circles beneath her gray eyes made her look like a raccoon. She had short black hair with a few traces of silver mixed in.
“What the bloody hell?” Those were the first words I heard her say. “Where did this bird come from?”
Caitlyn smiled. “Ronne Donovan, that is Shado, your raven.”
“I’m bonded to you, Ronne Donovan, a bond that goes beyond death itself.” My feathers glowed and the raven ring she wore on her right hand responded. I could feel her tremble, and said, “Maybe you should sit down.”
She nodded, and then stared at me, eyes wide. “He talks?”
“I can’t write, so talking it is.” Despite the first impression I had of her, I was beginning to like Ronne.
She sat in a recliner and I moved to her lap. “Lady Caitlyn, how do I take care of a bird? Do I feed it bird seed?”
Caitlyn sat on the sofa, Fiona remaining on her shoulder. “Please, call me Caitlyn. Taking care of Shado is easy. If you like, I’ll go to the store with you and show you what to buy. Ravens also eat things you and I do.”
“No peanut butter! Nasty stuff gets in your feathers and takes forever to preen out!” I will eat a lot of things, but after one experience with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, never again!
“All right. I won’t feed you any. I hope you don’t mind if I eat PBJ sandwiches occasionally.” Ronne stroked the feathers on my back. She had a gentle touch.
“I like berries and melon. Pizza is good too,” I informed her. Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat, next to the berries.
Ronne laughed an easy going sound. I couldn’t help thinking she and I would get along just fine.
Fiona and I stayed in a tree near the store while the two humans shopped. Following our human’s thoughts is unintentional and we try to give them their privacy. When Ronne and Caitlyn were discussing brands of dog food, I had to put in my two cents. Suffice to say Ronne didn’t like discovering I could speak mind-to-mind at that moment. *Dog food? Do I look or sound like a dog?* Caitlyn said Ronne dropped a four-pack of canned dog food on her foot when I ‘spoke’ to her.
Fiona chuckled when Caitlyn told her what happened. She pecked me on the head. “That wasn’t nice, Shado. Don’t forget, Ronne is new at this and startling her in that way was impolite.”
For the rest of their shopping excursion I kept silent. The look Ronne gave me in the car warned me she had more to say on the matter when we were alone.
Ronne clutched the IDs in her hand, leaned back in the chair, and closed her eyes. She concentrated on the images of the two people and the ring throbbed in time with her heart. A silvery glow spread around with a bright point far ahead, yet as close as a thought. A faint flap of wings nearby made her smile. *Part of You couldn’t keep away, could you, Shado?*
*The way things are going, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Do you mind?*
*Of course not.* She concentrated on the bright spot and passed through. Ronne found herself in a paved court stretching as far as the eye could see. Columns stood in orderly rows. From what she learned in her studies, the columns connected to the regions where the Shadows spawned. In an unknown way, they created a balance between the worlds. Light and Dark is what she read in one scroll. She didn’t understand and often wondered if anyone did. Across the way stood an archway made of polished black stone and filled with a dark glow. She glanced over her shoulder at the brightly lit white stone archway she came through. Human Shades limned in silver moved toward the black stone arch, accompanied by ravens. A brief flash occurred when they passed through. Other Shades stood or wandered about, their glow fading. Shadows were present, emitting a bone-chilling cold when they glided past. Ravens limned in silver flew back and forth; several passed through the arches. Others headed to distant reaches of the Court.
The ring gave a brief pulse and Ronne used it to guide her. She passed among the Shades and gave wide berth to the Shadows. The ring offered protection up to a point, but if too many gathered, there would be trouble.
Shado took to the air. *I’ll see if any of the others will chat. Will you be all right?*
*Yes. See if you can find out more information on who wears the original ring. When I finish here, I’ll head back through the archway.*
*Understood.* He headed for a large group of ravens.
Now to find Michelle and Byron. Calling to mind their images, Ronne walked among the largest groups of Shades. Shaking her head, she passed on when none matched the pictures on the IDs.
She rubbed her arms when two large Shadows passed, the temperature dropping. Ronne stopped to watch; relieved they veered away from the bright archway. I’m in no mood to deal with them if they Cross to the living world.
A cluster of Shadows drew her attention when flashes of silver shone through. I bet that’s them. Using the pillars to hide her approach, Ronne counted the Shadows gathered. Six. I should be able to drive them off long enough for the other two to reach the archway they need. Ronne covered the last few feet at a run, using her spirit to increase the glow from her ring. When the light touched the Shadows, they had no choice but to move aside. “Michelle! Byron! Run through the gap!”
The two Shades hesitated before they ran and managed to avoid the touch of two Shadows. Ronne followed them, glancing over her shoulder to see what the Shadows were doing. The six moved, slowly at first, picking up speed when the effect of the light wore off. Wonderful. Now I must beat them to the archway. I bet going back will be rough. After I deal with Byron and Michelle, I’ll change to a raven for the journey back.
The Shades of Michelle and Byron waited at the arch that led to the land of the dead, unable to pass. Ronne ran up to them. “By the spirit of Lady Raven, I free you from the hold of the Shadows. Go to your rest, my friends. You have served Her well.” The glow from the ring surrounded the two, and peaceful smiles crossed their faces. They nodded to Ronne, held hands, and passed through the dimmer arch. A brief flash and they disappeared.
The Raven Collection
By Anna Dobritt
The Raven Collection
First Raven, Raven Voice, and Raven Flight are spin-offs from the Ravynwyng Chronicles Trilogy. Also included is the first two chapters from Ravynwyng Chronicles Volume 1: The Beginning. 3087 Words.
Morgan Byrne and Cail, her raven companion, head the Raven Council. Years ago, Morgan received two important missions from Lady Raven. First, recruit other members to Lady Raven’s service. Second, find a suitable human for the Raven Ring. She found recruiting new members relatively easy, but finding the perfect person to wear the ring took time and patience. Nearly forty years later, she succeeded. She found Raven Wyng. 9664 Words.
Shado is an unusual raven: he speaks like a human and communicates telepathically with his brethren and the human he bonds with. Here’s the short story of his life, as told to his human companion, Ronne Donovan. 6279 Words.
Six years ago, Ronne Donovan died when an IED exploded next to the Humvee she rode. She crossed the Veil and Lady Raven made her an offer: agree to serve her and return to life. Ronne agreed and in return received a raven ring and a raven companion named Shado. Serving Lady Raven also brought membership into the Raven Council. After performing a variety assignments for the Council, which includes earning a PhD in Linguistics, Ronne finds herself with a more difficult assignment. She needs to find the current owner of the special Raven Ring created by Lady Raven over five hundred years ago. 18,762 Words.
A short story about Lily Misery Mitchell, a demon hunter! In a world where the “powers that be” are trying to hide the fact that demons are among us killing people. Lily fearlessly hunts these demons. Not everything is what it seems when it comes to these creatures. 2881 Words.
Whispers from Within
A selection of short pieces of fiction with a paranormal twist. Approximately 5600 words.
LET’S WRITE! Writing Advice & Self-Publishing Tips
Writing Advice and Self-Publishing Tips