Raven Valentine: Chapter One

by quillwielder

Raven felt the cool earth beneath her stomach as she laid under a berry bush in the forest west of her village. She had waited without movement or sound for almost half the day and she was beginning to get agitated. Raven didn’t like sitting around for too long, she was a girl of action and her fingers trembled on the ground like she was playing an instrument. She’d picked the forest to hide because it had the best cover and Kaw wasn’t the most graceful person. She’d hear him coming a mile away, lumbering through the foliage with brute force.

They were playing a child’s game and Raven thought she’d be over it by now. Seventeen was much too old to be playing around, but she enjoyed the time with her brother. She would hide and he would find her, he’d always come find her. But today Kaw was taking longer than usual, Raven had watched the sun move across the sky and felt her stomach growl. Where was he?

The game had lost it’s appeal and Raven decided it was time to give up and check on her big brother. She squirmed along on her belly until she was free of the bush and stood to her full height, taller than most in her village but still a head shorter than Kaw. Raven brushed the dirt from her clothes and pulled the leaves from her dark hair. She didn’t want Kaw to know her hiding place when she could easily use it again next time. The slivers of light slipping through the trees above danced on her dark skin as she ran toward her village in search of answers.

Raven’s tribe were as ancient as the mountains that surrounded their village. She had learned from the elders that they were one of the first creatures to walk the land. It was their land and they would never leave it and always protect it. Raven had taken the elders’ words seriously and spent her years training to fight with her brother. Women didn’t usually take up the guard, but the occasional few that did were welcomed for their abilities. Gender didn’t matter to Raven’s tribe, what you brought to the survival of the village mattered and Raven would bring all her skills to the table when she was of age. She had excelled at hand to hand combat and weapons training, she was almost as good as Kaw who had four years on her. Kaw had been chosen by the elders as the Eyes, the lead protector in charge of the safety of the tribe. Raven couldn’t think of anyone who deserved the role more.

Branches and vines grabbed at Raven’s clothes as she strode though the forest at a fast pace. Nature didn’t bother her, she didn’t fear it, she welcomed it like an old friend. Her pace grew faster and faster, each step only fueled her worry about Kaw even more. Where was he? He always came to find her. The trees began to thin and Raven smelled the smoke before she saw it. She broke through the forest barrier crouching low as she saw the large plume of smoke rising from the village a few hundred yards away. It was too early for the evening fires to be lit and even then it was far more smoke than usual. The breeze carried the scent of burnt wood and flesh and Raven’s heart pounded. Something was terribly wrong and she cursed herself for not noticing it sooner.

In the distance large things moved across the horizon toward the village and Raven lowered herself to the ground like she was hiding in the bush again. A high-pitched scream pierced the silence sending shivers down Raven’s spine. She had to get back, find Kaw and help her tribe. Swallowing whatever fear was holding her down, she pushed up against the ground and broke into a run toward to the village.

The closer she came the more strange noises she heard. Woman screaming, fire blazing, and a roar she couldn’t place. Raven’s fears became real when she spotted the body of one of the tribe guards, his throat ripped out, gurgling in a pool of his own blood. The sight caught Raven off guard, never had she seen a wound so great.

“Ra..grr..brrg.” His words mixed with blood.

Raven bent down to the man, she recognised as one of Kaw’s friends. He was suffering, she knew, but she’d never killed anyone before. Animals for food, sure, but someone from her own tribe. She looked away, unable to stomach the thought, but the man grabbed her wrist, smearing blood on her skin. She gazed into his eyes and heard their plea. His death wasn’t about her, it was about letting him rest in peace. Raven pulled out the dagger she kept in her boot and held it over the man’s face.

“I’m sorry,” she said and plunged the knife into his skull, watching the life wither from his eyes.

Raven wanted to throw up, but that was not how a true warrior responded so she swallowed it back and looked to the village. Many of the wooden huts were on fire and she moved into the village boundaries more bodies littered the ground. She was thankful they were already dead than plagued with guilt for thinking such things. She stayed low, still unsure what the threat was though if it could have killed that many people then it was serious.

Raven circled one of the few huts that weren’t on fire and stopped short at the sight of a giant creature lying dead on the ground. It was a snake but five times the size with a whole head full of fangs. It’s skin shimmered like a ripple on water, changing it’s skin colour to match it’s surroundings. Raven knew these creatures from the bedtime stories she’d heard as a child and a single word left her lips summing up all the danger and dread she felt.

“Basilisk.”

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One Comment to “Raven Valentine: Chapter One”

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