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 and deal with it. I may be frustrated, and my feet may hurt a bit. It doesn’t matter.
I accept what is.
It works, most of the time. But not when it comes to Hräsvelg. I ponder this. Perhaps it’s because I can’t quite grasp him. I don’t know what he is, who he is – or what to accept.
Said eagle shifter scouts ahead. I’m some distance behind him trying not to lose sight of Linnea and her father. Simultaneously, I try to not lose track of Hräsvelg either. Favouring different shades of brown, he’s well camouflaged between sturdy tree trunks.
I’m certain that if Linnea made an effort, she could easily keep up with us. But her father is slow. The old man doesn’t complain, but I’ve seen the grimace on his face.
Looking up, I realise that Hräsvelg has stopped and is waiting for me to catch up. I’m reluctant to reach his side. He’s not doing anything to provoke me, and yet, he does.
A couple of thoughts later, I reach him.
He’s quiet. He’s always quiet.
I’m annoyed. Why would he wait for me if he doesn’t have anything to say?
A shrill scream cuts through the forest coming from somewhere behind us. Before I know it, both Härsvelg and I are running. My hurting feet temporarily forgotten. As we reach Linnea, she’s squatting to admire a tiny flower.
“It’s an orchid,” she exclaims with a revered expression.
“An orchid?” I echo stupidly.
“It’s a ghost orchid. These are so rare. They don’t even bloom every year… It smells like vanilla… Some tropical orchids do too…,” Linnea says in a waterfall of appreciation.
“Don’t scream like that. We thought you were in danger,” Hräsvelg says reproachfully.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to,” Linnea replies, but without taking her eyes off the tiny brownish stem with white flowers. “I just can’t believe I finally get to see one for real….”
Not sure what to say, I kneel to take a whiff of this little flower. Its scent is a unique and pleasant one.
“Why is it called ghost orchid?” I ask, thinking this is a rather unpleasant name.
“Oh, it’s a parasite. Not sure how it got its name. In Swedish we call it ‘skogsfrun’, the lady of the forest after one of our elfins…”
“Right,” I reply.
Some of the troll ladies like to run around naked in the forest. In folklore humans call this naked lady the mistress of the forest and from what I gather there are quite a few tales.
“What’s wrong?” Hräsvelg asks, and as I turn to look at him I find him studying Linnea’s father.
Gunnar is sweating and he looks pale.
For being Hräsvelg, he’s actually chatty.
“My legs…,” Gunnar grunts.
“Pain?” Hräsvelg continues.
“Yeah,” Linnea’s father admits, probably because it’s difficult to lie when someone like Hräsvelg stares at him.
“Why didn’t you say something? I’ve got painkillers,” Linnea says immediately and starts rummaging through her backpack.
She produces a couple of small, white pills and practically shoves them down Gunnar’s throat.
We take a short break, then continue until nightfall.
And I realise this will be a very, very long journey.
Feathers and lore,
There’s much, much more,
#1 When I’m only thought
Black feathers, and a croak that’s heard for miles. I’m not aware of time when I fly. Endlessness and eternity breathe the existence – and all I am is thought.
#2 Where I grew up
I’m restless when I’m here, back in the little town of Ravnea, and the raven kingdom, that I suppose will always be home. I’m observing the folks that do call this home, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t feel the same. Where I find Ravnea a quint, little town, the shops satisfactory […]
#3 Hamr and hugr – and changing skin
Perhaps you are aware that many elementals (elementals are human-like beings with affinities for different elements like air, fire, water and earth) have more than one skin – ‘eigi einhamir’, meaning ‘not of one skin’ in the old language. Hamr is our body, our skin – and because of my raven nature I can alter […]
#4 Your true talent
Hamingja is an internal part of our self, of our spirit, but something that’s still been regarded as a separate entity. Some believed that their ‘hamingja’ could be inherited by children in their linage, to which I’m doubtful. But what is ‘hamingja’? It translates as ‘luck’, and has over the ages deteriorated down to skill […]
#5 The secrets of the vaults
My raven ancestors have always been carefully keeping notes of the realm, the different elementals, the kingdoms, special occasions, interesting decisions and fates – it serves as our lore, inspiration and guidance for future reigns, future leaders and elementals. To falsify the historical notes was considered a very grave crime, not only in the present […]
#6 Been underground
I’ve just come back from an ambassador assignment. It took me away from writing. Perhaps you’ve learnt by now that there are many, many kingdoms in the Elemental Realm? Or Fairy, on the other side of the thin borders, faultlines – or whatever you choose to call it. I’ve just come back from Fenilya, which […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]
#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 […]