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.
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.