#11 “I thought she was dead,” Linnea says.
Linnea’s eyes grow impossibly wider, and at first I’m convinced Hräsvelg’s appearance crumbled what little progress I’d made with Linnea. But she takes a few deep, strengthening breaths, then looks between the two of us.
“Wow,” she says, and shakes her head.
Her hair is even lighter in colour than Queen Venla’s, and it’s tied up in a ponytail, which bounces adorably when she moves her head. My own hair is long, straight and black as coal – sometimes when the sun catches it there’s a touch of purple in it too, but realistically this has more to do with my lavender skin colour and magic than with my hair.
At least I’ve kept myself neatly dressed and proper looking, which is more than I can say for my rough companion. I imagine he’d scare most people in this part of the world.
“S-sorry, but um, your friend looks like he just stepped out of a fantasy screen set,” Linnea says.
“What’s that?” I wonder because I have no idea. Hräsvelg merely mutters something inaudible.
“Movies,” Linnea says, and bites her lip. “But perhaps you don’t have movies where you come from. Theatre?”
“We might have something similar,” I say, remembering that Queen Venla spoke of moving pictures at some point.
“You should come inside,” Linnea says, and looks around warily. “I hope no one but me saw you.”
She gets to her feet, dusting herself off, then heads inside and we follow. It’s a nice space she calls her own – light colours and lots of green potted plants. I spot a portrait of her and Queen Venla smiling happily.
Linnea offers us to take a seat in her soft-looking couch, and I do. Hräsvelg, just stands there hovering. I’m not sure what’s going through his mind – if he’s merely being difficult or if he truly has a good reason for not sitting on the sofa. Finally, Linnea fetches him a wooden chair and he reluctantly sits.
“Coffee?” she asks, her ponytail bouncing again.
I accept, and it’s an unusual brew. I sip it politely, pondering the complex flavour. Hräsvelg mutters under his breath and puts the cup on the table with an uncoordinated clonk. I close my eyes for a moment, not wanting to be mad at him just now. It’s a fragile moment.
Linnea is quiet. She’s reading the letter from Queen Venla, and silent tears are streaming down her face. I study her, sorry she’s sad.
After a long moment she puts the letter down. She must have read it at least five times.
“I thought she was dead… She just vanished. No one could find her,” Linnea admits. “She’s been gone for a year without a word.”
“I’m sorry,” I say. What else can I say? I know how she must have felt. “My sister is missing,” my mouth betrays. I didn’t mean to say it out loud, but there it is. I feel Hräsvelg’s eyes pierce my skin, but I just can’t look at him. Linnea’s large blue-green eyes are soft and compassionate.
“I’m so sorry,” she says. “For how long?”
I sigh. I don’t want to talk about this.
“A very long time. It’s a long story,” I admit.
“Okay, I’d like to know,” Linnea prompts. “I mean, obviously, Venla wrote about the curse and how you guys are ravens again…”
“Good,” I say, relieved I don’t have to recount the raven history. “My sister went on a journey just before the curse. She never came back,” I say, leaving out my parents. I’ve said too much already. This mission is about Queen Venla and Linnea, not about me – even if I keep my eyes open for clues.
“I hope you find her,” Linnea says, her voice kind and sincere. “Well, looks like I need to pack.”
“Oh, you can plan the trip and I can come back later to fetch you,” I reply.
“Absolutely not, I’m not letting you out of my sight. Maybe you never come back. I want to see Venla,” Linnea says, and there’s nothing hesitant about her. I see her as she is – a woman of authority and control. A woman who knows her own mind. I like it, and it makes me feel less other – like despite our differences we’re also similar.
I want to object, though. I have no means to carry her, and I was supposed to visit the Kingdom of the Shadowed Valley… But I can see the determination in Linnea’s eyes.
She is coming with us.
Feathers and lore,
There’s much, much more,
I didn’t realise walking would take so long. Ravens don’t normally walk for long stretches. We fly. But since Linnea and her father don’t fly, walking is our only option. For a long time, I’ve had no choice but to accept my circumstances. This is just the same. I just have to accept what is […]
#16 A veterinarian
Summer nights are bright, the sun merely kissing the horizon. I’ve taken a seat on the tiny front step to the small cabin – and as I sit here I let my eyes wander. The red painted wooden houses, and the small yard in the middle – then the tree line closing this place in […]
#15 A moment to myself
Travelling by wing is infinitely better than travelling by machine. And you all know how I feel about changing into my raven skin after centuries trapped in it. Still, this is freedom. I find myself rethinking the ways in which to be imprisoned, and I wonder if perhaps my sister is too – somewhere in […]
#14 Maybe we should fly
Pizza lacks enough meat to satisfy my raven and is completely drenched in melted cheese. Remind me to never have it again. My stomach is still rebelling, and it’s known to be made of steel. It might also be the means of travel upsetting my stomach. I’m no longer trying to follow the road with […]
#13 What if it’s a trick
Everything is a flurry of motion. Linnea is here, then there. Making more calls. Someone’s at the door collecting a set of keys to her ‘practice’, and by the time Linnea’s father shows up, she’s all set and ready to go. I’m impressed, despite myself, of the efficiency completely disguised by chaos. “Ást, Hräsvelg, this […]
#12 And then they were four
“I need to make a few calls,” Linnea says, and goes to collect a strange, flat device. When she flicks her fingers over the glass surface it lights up in different colours – just like magic. I study it, pondering what she means with making a few calls. Are we visiting people? A beep is […]
#10 The realm of machines
The morning sky is the same, yet different. Another realm – it’s such a strange and uncanny feeling to be here. I’m further from home than I’ve ever been. “Where to?” Hräsvelg asks me. I can’t believe he’s still here, and yet, undeniably he is. He kept the fire going all night, then he got […]
#9 Please steal me away
We’ve stayed the night at the Gränstorp central inn – a small, quiet town where reality wears a crack. A good night’s sleep has at least restored some of my patience. Still, I don’t blame the innkeeper for the wary looks he’s giving Hräsvelg. My ‘companion’, despite the large variety of elementals visiting this small […]
#8 Friend or foe?
I’m still staring at him – this stranger that I’ve apparently flown into unwittingly. I can’t wrap my mind around how it happened. I was so careful reading the winds and the landscape – I should have noticed another flying creature. Well, I’m supposing he flies, how else could he have been up there in […]
#7 A stranger
All set. I take one last look at the petite city behind its protective wall, surrounded by tall mountains. There’s something about this place – wild and tame all at the same time. The stone cottages, and the winding streets. A restless part of me can’t wait to leave, another can’t wait to come back […]