Flight of the Raven #fridayflash #tuesdayserial #spokensunday

Via Flickr by Stuart Herbert

Flight of the Raven

     Soriayana had felt a shift in the winds several months ago. The air started to smell strange, a mixture of human sweat and power. She called upon the Merfolk who told her humans had been arriving at Selkie villages to offer a proposal of marriage to an Emperor from the East. She did not know what to make of it and sent Corbie, her smartest raven to find out.

     As the days went by Soriayana’s anticipation grew for Corbie’s return. She waited at the window and looked along the rugged coastline for any sign of his black shape flying toward her sea stacks. She had lived in the sea stacks for many moons. They consisted of two stacks, one large and one small, which were connected by a small passageway. The smaller stack had two small rooms which she recieved guests in. The larger stack held her bed chamber, a large room for her potions, herbs and feathered companions and a smaller room for her scrolls.

     She had several other birds that called her sea stacks home, but none were as dear to her as Corbie. Soriayana had raised Corbie from a hatchling. She could still remember the day he cracked his shell and his scrawny face peered up at her. Since that day, it was rare for Corbie to be far from her side. He would fly around the islands, as all her birds did, but Corbie would always return by nightfall and tell Soriayana all that he had seen and heard.

Via Flickr by Ingrid Taylar

     On the seventh day Soriayana saw a black form far on the horizon. She took out her looking glass and peered into the sky. The shape was still too far away. She asked one of her smaller birds to fly to the sea eagle’s nest and ask him if it was Corbie. The bird flew out and returned a short time later. The sea eagle confirmed it was Corbie. Soriayana smiled and thanked her little friend by dropping some crumbs in front of it. As the bird ate, Soriayana let her fingers swoop across its back with the gentlest of touches.

     Soriayana walked back to the narrow window. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest. Corbie had been gone for days. What news would he bring her? She watched as the sea eagle joined him. They flew alongside each other for several moments, then the sea eagle veered off. Soriayana’s brows crinkled. That was strange, the sea eagle rarely flew with any bird but its mate. Resting her head on the window sill she took a deep breath of air and crinkled her nose. The scent still smelled the same, but now an acrid smell was mixed in. That smell usually meant war.

     Soriayana backed away when Corbie flew toward the window. The raven landed on a large table scattered with dried herbs, tucked its wings in and pranced on its feet. Soriayana held out her hand and touched his head.

“What did you see my friend?”

Corbie tilted his head. “Change is afoot. It is as the Merfolk say. A human Emperor, from the Sea of Okhotsk, wants to marry a Selkie.”

     Soriayana was silent. Human-Selkie unions were rare and were never made so public. This Emperor was very audacious.

“What is this Emperor’s name?”

“They call him Wei Shu.”

“How has he come to know of Larithria?”

Corbie cawed and flapped his wings. “They say he has power, that he is guided by the gods.”

 “Guided by the gods? This cannot be…unless he is the one the Ancient Seers prophesied. What of the smell of war in the air? Is it brought by this Wei Shu?”

“It does not seem so. They say another Emperor, called Li Long, wages war on everything. He does not have true sight, and unbeknownst to him wreaks havoc on Larithria. All creatures from the seas, to the forests and mountains are distraught.”

     Soriayana let her hand glide down Corbie’s back. He pressed against her and cawed.

“You have done well, my friend. Rest, and then we shall talk more.”

     Corbie flew to his nest, which was perched in a large rocky opening on the wall, and tucked his head into his feathers. Soriayana gathered her long skirt and headed to her scrolls. She hoped the answers would be written in the glyphs of the Ancient Seers.

Friday Flash Fiction Series

This is part of a flash fiction series I am doing for side characters in Pearl of the Sea (previously The Vanishing Island – rethinking the title) with Emperor Wei Shu and Aine the Selkie. Check my other flash stories – The Revenge of Emperor Li Long, The Escape of Wei Shu, Kail’s Sorrow.

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. John Wiswell says:

    I dug the black spot on the horizon and the old-worldly quality of this. The Chinese-sounding visitor could be very interesting (unless he’s already shown up and I’m too new to have caught up the backlog yet).

    Typographically, I think quotation marks are missing in the sixth-from-last paragraph, given how it sounds and the tense. Also in the 4th from last, I think you meant “It does not seem so” rather than “I does not seem so.” Hope you don’t mind me pointing it out, I just never catch all my own errors and try to look out for others.

    1. laradunning says:

      Thanks for catching those errors John. I am always appreciative when a comment includes that. I wrote this one on the fly, so I did not have as much time as I normally do to think on it, before I published it for fridayflash. I do have some chapter excerpts posted about Wei Shu and one POV fridayflash for Emperor Li Long. The links are at the bottom of the story. Great to hear from you!

  2. Lara, as all of this series, I thoroughly enjoyed this short snippet. I became so anxious for Corbie and I love the connection Soriayana has with her birds.

    Your Flash Fridays are intriguing stories. Keep it going 🙂

    1. laradunning says:

      I had a heck of a week and wrote this one on the fly. Usually I give myself a couple of days to edit and sit on it. Thanks for your encouragement. I’m glad you liked my deleving a little more into Soriayana’s world.

  3. Enjoyed this – hooked now.:)

    Useful/useless info – The Isle of Skye, where I live, has sea eagles or ‘iolaire’ in Gaelic and I regulary see them over the loch at the foot of our croft. Coirbidh is the Gaelic for crow or raven (as well as corbie being lowland Scots for same). Skye’s Gaelic name is ‘an t-Eilean Sgitheanach’ which means winged island – this is because the island is shaped like an eagle in flight – and Skye’s unofficial Gaelic name is ‘Eilean a Cheo’ or Island in the Mist.

    Keep the stories coming, Lara.

    1. laradunning says:

      Wow thanks for all the info. I have to admit I did name Corbie on purpose as I knew it meant raven. I love that Skye’s Gaelic name means winged island and it has a great unoffcial name as well. That is one great thing about the internet I get to meet people from all over and learn first hand knowledge. Thanks for stopping by to read my story!

  4. M L Poncelet says:

    Love the way you can write so fantastical! I really like this series.

    ps. interesting picture of the raven – at first glance it looks like a northwestern crow about to have a difficult landing!

    1. laradunning says:

      Thanks for checking back in. I love that picture of the raven-made it my screen saver. It almost looks fake the way the wings flip and his feet are spread. In Alaska the raven’s were so commical and fun. I can still here their warble caw in my mind.

  5. Gracie says:

    I have a soft spot for selkies. I’m just diving into the middle of this, and it makes me want more.

    Lovely description, and I worried for Corbie just as she did. Well done. 🙂

    1. laradunning says:

      Thanks for your comments and stopping by!

  6. ganymeder says:

    Such a beautifully told tale. I was worried for the raven, so at least he’s okay… 🙂

  7. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Wow, this sucked me right in – I got so worried Corbie wouldn’t come back!

  8. Aidan Fritz says:

    I liked your use of the name Corbie (enjoyed reading Anne’s comments as well). This piece had some nice tension to it in the wistfulness of waiting for the raven’s return. I initially didn’t feel like this resolved much, but after some consideration I think the piece opens with her query for information and therefore it resolves by learning what is up. I think since I could guess this from the other flash pieces I already knew that so it was less up-front for me and I focused on the tension around Corbie’s return.

  9. juliorvarela says:

    Your beginning is a good one and draws me in. The idea of the scent of power is such a strong one. That is how it hooked me in.

  10. KjM says:

    I love the names in this, they add to the strangeness of the tale.

    You have me very concerned for Corbie – it seemed it was taking too long for him to return. You communicated Soriayana’s worry very well.

    Now I need more! 😀

    Very well done.

  11. laradunning says:

    So great to hear everyone was concerned about Corbie. I think I’m going to have to turn this flash into a Part II.

  12. Hi there Lara – I really enjoyed this story. You created a lovely story space to visit – the kind of thing I could read all day. I love the birds, the stacks, the fact she sent her ‘smartest Raven’. The one thing for me that felt a little strange was the mix of what felt like western environment with the Eastern Emperor. But then, I think I was well at home in your sea stacks, and wanted an adventure entirely centred there. Nicely written. St.

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