The Raven's Son
Cormac crashed through the forest, his earthen tone cloak flowing behind him. His breath came ragged and shallow. But now he needed to run. He wasn’t sure what he was running from exactly, but he could hear it crashing through the underbrush behind him and it sounded huge. The mist hung heavy in the forest giving everything an eerie feel. The mist engulfed him and dampened his bleach blonde hair, making it stick to his forehead. Flicking his hair out of his eyes he barely saw the branch before he hit it.
Blinking open his eyes, Cormac didn’t know where he was. After the amnesia cleared he slowly sat up. Glancing around his surroundings he realized nothing was different. It was the same forest he was in a while before. Except now there was a flowing shadowy figure gliding up to him. “Get up.” The figure ordered, the voice that spoke was rough, but was slightly feminine. Scrambling to his feet a wave of panic rushed over him.
“Who are you?” Cormac whispered, resting his hand on the hilt of his dagger that was hidden beneath his cloak. The figure said nothing and didn’t flinch when the underbrush behind them started to rustle and crack. Suddenly a pure white horse emerged from the bush onto the path where they were standing. “That’s a horse!” he squeaked frightened by its sudden appearance.
The figure, which Cormac realized was a person wearing a black cloak, was already mounted up on the animal’s back. Whoever it was sighed and shook their head slightly, “Yes. It’s a horse, what’s the problem?” Cormac stood stalk still, not quite sure what he should be doing at that moment. The person sighed again, holding out their hand, “Get on,” A crash sounded somewhere behind them making Cormac jump and the stranger freeze, “Now!” The person said grabbing Cormac’s wrist and hauling him up onto the horse’s back best they could. “Hold on.” Cormac instinctively wrapped his arms around the person’s middle, holding on for dear life as the stranger gave the horse a hard kick in the side and it sprang into motion.
Gravel sounded under pounding hooves, and Cormac tentatively opened his eyes for the first time since he mounted the horses back. It was sunny, and they were out of the forest and were whipping down a dirt road, a sudden gust of wind knocked down the hood of the stranger’s cloak. Cormac was met with a rush of long dark red hair. Gasping, Cormac almost let go until he thought better of it, and then rethought that because he realized he now had his arms wrapped around the middle of a strange girl. Whilst Cormac was lost in his thinking and rethinking he didn’t notice the giant gates looming up in front of him until the horse battered to a sudden halt and his faced slammed in between the girl’s shoulder blades. The girl grunted, sliding easily from the horse’s back. She pulled the hood back up over her head. “I’m not a girl to them, remember that.” she growled. Cormac could understand, considering he thought she was a boy for the vast majority of time they had spent together. But she was after all, wearing a pair of dark riding trousers, a black shirt, and a dark leather vest. He barely had time to answer before she strode off through the open gates.
“What about the horse?” Cormac asked slowing down.
“He’ll go back where he knows I’ll find him.” the girl answered over her shoulder, “Now, hurry up!” Cormac rushed after her and had to walk fast alongside her in order to keep up.
“Where are we?” he asked looking around at the courtyard of the castle. In the middle of the courtyard there was a giant marble statue of a rearing horse.
“We are in the Kingdom of R’hogar, or the kingdom of the horses. They are sacred animals here. Now shut up. We don’t want any more attention than we already have.” Says the one in the black cloak that makes her look like a demon, Cormac thought indignantly. Now that he looked, there were a lot of things with horses here; paintings, statues, even some wandering around. Cormac was about to say something when he was cut off by the sharp sound of a Herald trumpet. The girl whipped around, “Oh no.” she sighed with a slight groan. “Come on! You’re so slow!” She hissed, grabbing Cormac’s wrist, dragging him towards a wooden door in the wall.
“Aculé! There you are!” a man’s loud voice piped up, cutting though all other noise in the yard. The girl stiffened at the sound of his voice but stayed with her back to him. “I see you have found him,” the man said, Cormac stiffened at this, now both he and the Stranger were like statues. Cormac turned slowly to face the man, “the boy of the Prophecy.” He continued. Cormac was instantly confused, he tried to say something but nothing would come out. He was confused, too confused to be properly worried.
“I’m taking him to the king,” the girl, who must be Aculé said sternly, “right now.” With that Aculé strode forward and through the small wooden door.
Once inside they went up a few flights of stairs until they were met with yet another wooden door. Aculé refitted her hood and pushed open the door. Cormac now found himself inside what looked to be a maid’s closet. “Where—” Cormac started but Aculé glared at him and mouthed ‘be quiet.’ Cormac shut his mouth without question. I hope what we are doing is legal, he thought. Aculé pushed open the door and Cormac gasp as he recognized the throne room of a castle.
“Aculé,” a sharp voice spoke, Aculé pushed her hood off her head, and dropped to a knee in a bow, pulling Cormac down with her.
“What happened to, ‘I’m not a girl to them’ remember that!!?” Cormac piped bewildered. Aculé did nothing, not even glance his way.
“Is this the one?” the man asked.
“Yes, Your Grace.” she replied. That man must be the king, Cormac thought, looking at the deep sea green robe with fox fur trim. “He matched the drawing you gave me.” The king pulled a scroll from his robe pocket, opening it.
The king stared at the scroll of parchment a moment before a sharp gasp escaped his lips, looking from Cormac to the scroll, “You’re right, Aculé.” he said, “But, then again, when are you ever wrong” he said, his voice going from that of a King, to the voice of a grandfather.
Aculé approached the king and the two began to whisper in a fast and serious manner, every once in a while casting glances at Cormac, who stood awkwardly waiting to be told what to do. After a while, the king and Aculé looked toward him, “You are the man in the Prophecy, Cormac.” the King said solemnly.
“What Prophecy?” Cormac asked quietly.
The king looked taken aback, “You don’t know of the Prophecy?” he whispered. Cormac just shook his head slightly. Clearing his voice the king started to speak in a much practiced voice:
When all is evil,
The Raven’s Son brings peace.
After there is no more upheaval,
All danger will cease.
Cormac stood, stunned, starting at the king, “Is it true?” he asked. The king nodded his head, stepping down from his throne to stand in front of the two younger people.
“Of course it’s true, boy! It came from the gods!”
Aculé stepped forward, “Should I teach him how to wield a sword, Your Grace?” she asked with a slight bow of her head. The king just nodded and clapped Cormac on the shoulder before leaving the throne room through a door on the side of the room.
Cormac and Aculé spent three weeks straight training with various weapons, they used broad swords, rapiers and a bow and arrow. Cormac got arrows with turkey feather fletching and Aculé used arrows with peacock wing feather fletching. Cormac even used a mace once, until he nearly took out a page that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Within those three weeks, Cormac and Aculé became fast friends.
The castle that Cormac now stayed at was huge, with its giant courtyard, three floors and his room with a living area, bedroom, dressing room, and bath. It was an amazing life. Three meals a day and anyone is willing to do anything for you. The one thing Cormac still couldn’t figure out was how the Prophecy tied to him, and why he was doing all this training. So one day during a break in training, he asked Aculé. She seemed to know a lot about what’s going on around the castle, so asking her was probably the best bet. “What do I have to do with the Prophecy?” he asked.
Aculé looked up from the book she was scanning through, “You, Cormac, are the hero.”
“Hero?! I’m no hero!”
“Yes, you are going to free the kingdom of Oka.”
“The kingdom of Oka...?”
“Yes, it was once a good kingdom but it was taken over by Lord Cicada, the evilest man alive. When I found you in the forest you were being chased by something of his. I’m not sure what though.” she said, her sentence trailing off.
“Wonderful, I haven’t even met the man and he hates me. But how does all that tie into the Prophecy?”
“You are the son of Raven, Cormac!” She said sternly, fixing him with her dark blue eyes that were ever so intimidating.
It was true, Cormacs’ father was Raven, the hero who supposedly saved the kingdom of Avari from turmoil. But he also left Cormac and his mother ten years ago, when the family was in troubled times. “Your father was a hero, he saved a lot of people.” she went on, “and now, a Prophecy comes talking about you: white hair, tall, and you’re The Raven’s son.”
“It can’t be about me, and if my father is such a hero, why not find him?” Cormac objected.
Aculé’s face changed. Her patience had seemed to run out. She pointed a stern finger at him, “Don’t doubt yourself, Cormac. You have a destiny. Now, live up to it.” Her voice was dark and slightly menacing. She started to walk away from him but stopped, “Your father hasn’t been found in over a year. You are needed to lead our people, and the people of Oka to safety. If you are too much of a coward to do that, then tell the king yourself.”
Cormac thought about her words for a long time. He wasn’t a renowned hero like his father but he understood the gravity of the situation. He was willing to risk his life to help these people.
“War is upon us.” The King boomed mightily, “Cormac, your time to defeat Lord Cicada, is upon us. Are you ready?” It was true, in the last three week there had been two mild attacks, all fully dealt with without damage. But now the time has come and the true task has arrived; defeating Lord Cicada. It was time to go into battle.
“I’m ready, Your Grace.” The signal was given and knights jumped into action, suiting up into armor, and preparing weapons. Cormac was found and was forced into wearing a chainmail shirt with a white shirt, and deerskin vest. His broad sword in its scabbard on his belt and he mounted up onto a white stallion. The king came to his side, wielding a long bow and quiver, “Here,” he said seriously “one arrow, use it wisely. It has a golden, diamond encrusted arrow head. That should get the job done.” At that moment Aculé came riding up beside him.
“It’s time.” She said. A bugle sounded and a thousand knights were situating themselves into a centuries behind the King, Cormac and Aculé. Within minutes they were headed towards the enemy.
The battle was vicious, but at last Cormac had Lord Cicada kneeling on the ground with no army left, encircled in guards, and an arrow aimed at his heart. “Wait!” the lord said suddenly, “Before you kill me, I have something to tell you.” Cormac raised his eyebrows in question.
“What is it?” he asked suspiciously, keeping his arrow on Cicada.
He grinned evilly, “I killed the Black Raven.” He spoke in a menacing tone, “Your father!” With a curse Cormac let the arrow fly and it was all over. Cormac was seething. He stood before the murderer of his father.
“You’re a sick mongrel.” He spat. He dropped his bow on the ground in front of the dead lord and mounted up on his horse once again riding back towards the castle.
Aculé rode up beside him, “I’m sorry about your father.” She said sympathetically.
“Well it’s all over now. I shot the arrow. It’s done.” Cormac said not making eye contact with his friend.
“No you didn’t.”
Cormac gave her a questioning glance. “What?”
“Your rage blinded you, you shot him in the foot. I shot him from the shadows.”
“Oh.” He said still slightly confused. After a minute he reeled his horse around to where the lord still lay, and there it was; his golden arrow in the lords’ foot and Aculé’s simple arrow with peacock fletching buried in his heart. With a slight laugh, he turned his horse towards the castle and rode away.
Back at the castle a banquet was held in celebration for the start of a giddy time. The Kingdom of Oka was once again safe and was very thankful to Cormac for saving their Kingdom and taking down the most evil man in the realm.
Cormacs mother was taken into the palace and since the King had no sons Cormac was chosen to be next in line. So every Kingdom was safe. Or was it? It was common knowledge that even ghosts believe in revenge.