Oct 25, 2010
The White Raven
It was summer; early evening.
A voice: Save me.
I looked around. No one.
Again the voice: give me water!
Who is speaking? A scratchy voice, deep, husky.
Of course! A tree.
Save me it says again. So I did. I am a Melbournian; I carry my water.
I pour a whole bottle of Mount Autumn spring water onto the roots of the tree. The water sinks into the ground with a sound not unlike gulping.
Thank you, says the tree.
I say; now what is my reward, talking tree? Riches beyond the dreams of Oil Barons? Beauty like the sun?
No, says the voice.
Oh well, I say.
…But, says the tree, if you take a jewel I have hidden in my roots you could undo a great wrong…
Better than nothing, I say.
… And save a beautiful princess, it finishes.
That’s more like it!
So I did as the talking tree advised. I found the jewel hidden in its roots. The tree explained where I should go and what I should do when I got there.
She is being kept in a cage like a beast.
The circus is closed. I have watched her for 3 hours, she neither moves nor speaks. When I try to address her she will not even look in my direction.
In a glass case next to her cage I see a sword. The hilt is of ivory carved in the shape of a raven. The eye is missing. The stone given to me by the tree begins to hum in my pocket.
I don’t know what came over me. The sound of breaking glass, of men running from all directions. I fit the jewel into its socket, and finally I seem to have her attention.
Give me the sword she says in a hoarse voice, unused to speaking. I pass it through the bars… and she passes the blade through the bars, melting them like butter.
Before I can say ‘enchanted sword’ three men are dead. I put my hand on her cold, scaly arm, and suggest we flee.
She agrees, we run, we hide.
Under a bridge, or perhaps it was a storm drain, she tells me she an exile from another world. Because she was born paler than most of her race she was hidden by her shamed parents until she was 13. Then, at play in the Royal gardens she was seen by some urchins and mocked. She flew at them and for the first time in her life found herself outside the Castle walls.
As she stood amazed, those who lived clustered about the foot of the castle crowded around her, touching her pale hair, staring into her pale eyes. She retreated, terrified. But word of the royal freak spread.
They called her Alva Corvea: the White Raven.
A palace coup. They came for her at night; too many of them.
She escaped, with her mother’s enchanted sword, and her life, and ended up here.
She says; I have lost my parents, my people, my world. Many years have passed, and all of them hard years.
What will you do now? I ask. Return to your land and claim your lost throne, your inheritance?
No, she says.
I think I’ll open a bookshop in Carlton.