Raven – Part Two
Raven & the Secret in the Forest – Serial Fiction
book 1 in the ‘Raven Kingdom’ series
by Lëaf Ednïwinga
Dedicated to my son, Raven. Love -Lëaf
“A young boy who lives with his grandmother in the forest is amazed to discover that one day he can understand the words of a raven. The raven leads him to a secret buried deep in the forest, one that will change the boy’s life forever…”
The cool twilight wind rushed past Raven’s ears as he darted after the raven through the flickering trees. The raven weaved to and fro through the branches, always up ahead, never looking back. Just when Raven thought he couldn’t run another step, the raven came to rest in the boughs of a great, gnarled oak tree. He perched there like a bird of evil omen, silent, solemn, eyeing Raven with a long face as Raven stood there, panting. The tree was as old as the hills, and its twisted branches seemed to scrape the sky, and it seemed to have a face, that stared out at him from the knotted bark, a face that was all furrows, but still kindly.
“You must dig,” said the raven. “At the base of the tree. Three feet down. Hope you don’t mind. You’ll find a spade inside the tree, as you can see, I was well-prepared.” Raven found an old rusted spade stowed inside a crack in the trunk of the tree, just as the bird had said. “I’d do it myself, but it’s nearly impossible for wings to wield a shovel, as you may imagine.”
“I can imagine,” said Raven, “but what I don’t understand is why you chose me.”
“Why? It’s very simple, really,” replied the raven. “My secret should only be revealed to someone whom I can trust, someone with a kind heart.”
“And you think that person is me?”
“I told you, I’ve been watching you,” said the raven. “I have sharp old eyes and I know that you brew your grandmother’s tea in the cold evenings without being asked, when she is plagued by her rheumatism. You go out into the forest and gather sticks for the fire when her old bones are too tired.”
“Grandmother and I live alone,” said Raven. “She’s taken care of me for as long as I can remember and even though I’m small, I try to help her whenever I can.”
“I know,” said the raven, nodding his glossy black head, “and that’s precisely why you are the excellent heir for my secret.”
Raven was already digging. The earth around the tree was soft and relatively loose, and as he dug, he unearthed layers upon layers of leaves, the leaves from many summers past, red and brown and golden. The raven watched as he dug, and once, when Raven stopped for a moment to rest, he thought he saw the bird’s eyes full of tears.
After he had dug a hole almost deep enough to bury him, Raven’s spade knocked against something firm and hard, like wood. CLUNK! The thud shook his bones.
“There! That would be my secret that we hear!” Squawked the raven, his voice cracking in excitement. “My nest egg is hatching!”
Raven set the spade down and began scraping the dirt away on his hands and knees. As he brushed leaves and dirt away, something golden gleamed out at him, and he saw that what he was uncovering was a heavy box. And SUCH a box! It was made of rich, dark wood, that gleamed magnificently out even through the dirt and moldy leaves. The box was clasped by twin dragons with sapphire eyes, each of them swallowing their tails. Their golden bodies were slender, and plated with hundreds of tiny, fitted scales, that glowed as he revealed more and more of the box.
Raven’s little hands shook. He was hardly able to contain his wonderment.
“It’s glorious!” He whispered.
At last he took hold of both sides of the box and lugged it up from the hole. Out in the open the box was even more enchanting. The dragons had fangs as sharp as thorns, and they almost seemed ready to spring off the box and pounce on him. Their clockwork wings embraced the box protectively, the tips interlacing with each other at the center where the keyhole should be.
“You must spread their wings,” said the raven in a hushed voice. He too seemed bewitched by the magnificence of the box, the box that until this moment had been a secret under the forest floor. Raven put his hands on the top of the box and let his fingers slide down over the golden wings. The metal was silky but icy-cold, and it spread chills through his whole body. With one gesture, he lifted the wings at the same time. The box gave a shudder and the wings sprang apart. Beneath them was a small keyhole, rimmed with mother of pearl, that gleamed like the silvery panes of stained glass.
“Don’t be afraid, child,” said the raven gently. He could see that the little boy’s nerves were unsettled, and his pale hands were shivering like white leaves.
“I’m not afraid,” said Raven, “only I feel excited, like something wondrous is about to happen.”
“And it is,” clucked the bird, coming right up next to Raven for the first time. He wrapped one fringed wing over Raven, who noticed for the first time that he was chilled, and he huddled in closer to the wide, warm wing, so close that the raven’s feathers brushed his cheek. Raven was surprised at how much more downy and enormous the raven’s wings seemed than they had before. There was a steady gleam in the raven’s eyes, a burning glow that came from deep inside.
…To be continued…
Don’t miss out on “Raven, Chapter 3,” airing right here next week!
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buy Lëaf Ednïwinga’s book on amazon: Em: A Picture-Book Fable
more by Lëaf Ednïwinga
photograph by Ignacio Giri