The Faith of the Raven

Carania lay on the cold, wet ground of the Hernon forest. The ground was cold and wet from the melting frost of an early spring morning. The sun was just rising to burn the cold away and the morning was still in that middling period between cold night and warm day. There was also a decent fog going which is the excuse Carania was giving herself for why she had not seen the arrows heading in her direction. Three of them had hit her and one of those three was currently buried deep in her gut. It had been like this for quite a while but Carania no longer had the strength to move. She was powerless to do anything but watch her blood mingle with the wetness of the grass beneath her. She suspected some sort of paralyzing agent or enchantment. Either way, she was definitely going to bleed out and it would not be long.

She wished she had seen who had shot her. It would not have helped her situation any but it would have lessened her confusion as her life dripped out of her and fed the grass. She could see the fletching on one of the arrows and there were some greasy black feathers sticking out. The work was crude but it had obviously done well enough to end her life. That was the only real evidence she had of her murderers. She had not been expecting trouble. In fact, she had merely been looking for a shortcut as she traveled toward a gig in Silverlight. She had been a bodyguard for a niece of the Silverlight family for years but the family had gotten her a more prestigious job in the Capital. She hated to say goodbye to Amela but she could not turn down an offer to walk the streets of the capital. Of course, now that was definitely not going to happen.

As her vision started to grow dark, she wondered if the Silverlight family would have her resurrected. She doubted they would ever find her body to perform the ritual and somewhere in her heart, she doubted their professed loyalty to her even in return for her years of loyalty. She had given up a normal life and more specifically any chance of romance for years of service. Now, she would die and it would not even be in the defense of a client or for any good cause. Her heart began to hurt and she was not sure if it was literally hurting or if it had broken from thinking these thoughts. She realized at that point that she could not see anymore and in the darkness, she tried to reach out but her arms still could not move. She tried to cry out but she made no sound although she wondered if she could even hear anymore. Then there was nothing.

Then her eyes were blinking open and there was black tile beneath her. She was in exactly the same position on her side she had been on the grass of the clearing but there was tile instead. Carania was intensely confused. She slowly moved her eyes toward her stomach and she could not see the arrow anymore. This was even more confusing. She stayed there on the floor for some time and nothing changed. She felt weak and helpless for the first time since she was a little girl. She never wanted to feel this way again. She used that desire as power.

“Help,” she called out but it sounded weak, her voice cracking. “Please help.” A little stronger but not by much.

“Oh, are you going to lie on the floor any longer?” A feminine voice called out. “Feel free but I am getting bored over here.”

“I got shot,” Carania said. “I can’t move. Some sort of poison or magic. Sorry for boring you.” She sounded annoyed. The woman was not being nearly sympathetic about the situation as she should be.

“Do you not remember what happened after you were shot?” The woman asked. “You’re dead. You don’t have to act hurt after you’re dead. Especially in my domain.”

It was as if a spell was cast and suddenly Carania could move and she realized that she felt no pain. She was not even breathing. She rolled onto her hands and knees and, from there, she pushed herself to her feet. She realized her armor was gone and she was in a dress that had previously been shoved to the bottom of her pack which was also missing. It was a pretty dress that she had been forced to wear at formal occasions that Amela attended. She hated it now just as much as she hated it then. She looked around the room. The floor was matte black tile and there was jet black wallpaper with dull silver detail. There was a spindly onyx chandelier hanging above with blue-flamed candles that somehow cast the perfect amount of light. Black on black on black was an interesting style choice.

She turned toward where it sounded like the woman had been. There was a young woman sitting at a table. She had long black hair but her face was covered by what looked like an expressionless porcelain mask. Carania blinked twice and the mask was now smiling. A laugh came from behind that mask as if it was not there and the effect was a little disturbing.

“Welcome to the Outer Planes and my home,” the woman said. “At least, this is one of the more stable parts of it. Do you like the decor? It’s easy to keep changing it when reality is so… subjective.”

All Carania could do was make a confused, hopeless noise as she just stared at the woman. This was not what she had been expecting from the afterlife at all.

“Sit down, Carania,” the woman said. “We have much to discuss.  I also have tea.” There were two steaming cups of tea sitting on the table. Had they been there before?

Carania slowly, cautiously lowered herself into a chair. “I don’t really like tea.”

“Wine? Ale?”

“Wine? It’s not even noon yet,” Carania said with disapproval.

“You are dead,” the woman said. “I think the rules don’t apply to you anymore.”

There was suddenly a glass of dark black wine in front of Carania and she decided to sip it. It was surprisingly sweet. It reminded Carania a little of the one glass of wine Amela had convinced her to drink back in Silverlight. “Who are you? Where am I? How do you know my name.”

“You haven’t guessed?” The woman asked. “I am the Raven Queen and I wanted to meet you.”

 

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28 Responses to “The Faith of the Raven”

  1. Tasha Duncan-Drake (@beren_writes) Says:

    Great story – and now I want to know what happens next :) The descriptions were so clear.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Movie Monsters

    Like

  2. Pamela Wright Says:

    Very interesting – now I want to know who shot her, will she ever find love, and why is the Raven Queen getting involved. Great flow of writing.
    Pamela @ Days of Fun

    Like

  3. Silvia Writes Says:

    The mystery unfolds well, stirring my curiosity. The descriptive detail of the grass, place, complement the character mood, and together with the Raven’s appearance it makes for an interesting read, demanding of attention.

    Like

  4. Sue Bursztynski (@SueBursztynski) Says:

    Will it be long enough for a novel? A novella? I should probably wander over to the earlier posts! Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wolf of Words Says:

      I’m not sure yet. It’s connected to the campaign setting I created for Dungeons and Dragons. I have another currently ongoing story called When it All Ended about some other characters in that world. I might eventually figure out how to weave it all together along with a few other ideas I have.

      Like

  5. Shirley Corder Says:

    Fascinating story. Like others, I’d like to read the next part! Stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip! Loving my Fitbit

    Like

  6. Retirement Reflections Says:

    I want to read more! I look forward to reading what comes next.
    (“Stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip!”)

    Like

  7. Deborah Weber Says:

    Stopping by from the #AtoZ Challenge Road Trip and am thoroughly delighted to say hello. I’ll be heading to your archives for more.

    Like

  8. sarahbutland Says:

    Impressive tale! Thanks for sharing your imagination with us all.

    Keep it up!

    Much success in everything you love,

    Sarah

    Like

  9. heatherericksonauthor Says:

    I’m here from the A to Z Roadtrip. I wonder if this she has found herself in the afterlife, or if the woman in black saved her life? I’m thinking the latter, but she hasn’t described feeling continued pain. Great job! Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

    Like

  10. slfinnell Says:

    AtoZer on the Roadtrip. You grabbed my attention right away! This will definitely bring me back :)

    Like

  11. Ronel Janse van Vuuren Says:

    Interesting story :-)

    Ronel from Ronel the Mythmaker A-Z road-tripping with Everything Writerly: F is for Folklore

    Like

  12. Survivor Says:

    Stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip! I love a good paranormal story!

    Like

  13. irenemchugh Says:

    Not at all what I would expect from the afterlife either. Like Carania I would forego the tea and enjoy the wine! Intriguing hook for a story setup! Stopping by on the #AtoZ Road Trip. Cheers!

    Like

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