The Raven’s Birth (Part 1)

The street was dark but for a few fire pits dotted along the street, giving off an orange glow. Homeless traveller’s sat huddled around the pits, searching for any warmth they could find. The street was silent but for a couple of hushed conversations over the flames. As a crescent moon made its way further into the dark void that was the sky, everyone drifted into sleep.

A figure, leaning against the rough log wall of the local tavern, breathed out a sigh of white mist. A dark brown tunic with buttons down the front, hung over a pair of baggy black pants. A thick belt of black fabric was drawn around his waist, various pockets hidden in the folds of the fabric. The figures hands were rested in two of these pockets, seeking warmth in the woollen folds. A hooded navy scarf was wrapped tightly around his neck and shoulders, the hood pulled down over his eyes. A silver raven pendant peeked out from under the scarf, gleaming slightly in the dull moonlight.

Ravel Hehir was the figure in question and had stopped in town for the night. Sleep rarely came to the young man though, and his mind continued to buzz even as everyone else dreamed.

A clatter and roar of unrestrained laughter, interrupted the peaceful street. Ravel’s eyes glided to look at the scene of the crime. For a crime it definitely was, to interrupt such a silent moment.

A fire pit was overturned and a group of young males were kicking the coals around with their boots. Several of the travellers around the fire pit, jumped up in defence but another quickly pulled them back. The man shook his head at the others, warning them not to pursue their anger any further.

The group’s leader, who was wearing a thick fur coat, yelled obscene words at them and laughed aloud. He then motioned for the rest of the group to continue up the street. By now the whole street was awake, with the exception of a few drunks, and they drew back as the group of thugs approached. The leader sauntered in front of the others, yelling terrible jokes and then laughing.

Ravel tilted his head slightly and he hunched his shoulders as a sudden icy breeze seemed to cut straight through his clothing. The group of thugs must have noticed this small movement as they started nudging each other and started to approach.

“Listen punk, this is our street!” the leader of the group yelled, his cronies gathering around.

The others in the street seemed to take an interest in the scene, but they flinched out of sight when any of the thugs looked their way.

“Did you hear me, stupid?” Leader spoke again, poking Ravel in the ribs.

Ravel’s green eyes remained dull, as he quietly watched the group. Ravel was bored, so very bored and the drone of the leader’s voice made him sleepy. Thugs were all the same, repetitive and dull.

The leaders face was growing red with anger at his unresponsive target. He poked his prey again; harder this time. The only response he received was a small resigned sigh.

“Are we boring you, ya bastard?” the leader sneered.

“A little,” Ravel responded this time, he voice low and smooth.

“You should know that I’m the son of Sir Valenio, I’ve more money on me now than you’ll ever be able to-“ the leader spoke proudly.

“And yet I’m still as bored and uninterested as the first time you opened your mouth,” Ravel murmured, purposely interrupting before the man rambled on.

“You dare to speak to me in such a way! You’ll come to regret that.”

“If you’re trying to impress me…” Ravel paused, taking in a long breath. “You’re shit at it.”

The leader clenched his fist and looked around at his mates, sneering with disdain.

“This guy thinks he’s a smart ass. Do you know what we do to smart mouthed idiots?”

Ravel’s head was beginning to pound with a headache. If only he’d chosen to spend the night camped in the forest. In fact the only reason for not doing just that, was the reports of a family of owl bears attacking travellers in the dead of night.

“Listen here you rude, piece of-”

“Ha, you’re a funny guy,” Ravel interrupted, every word dripping with sarcasm. “But…you may be right. I was always told that I should bid people ‘goodnight’ when going to sleep. So… goodnight.”

Ravel began to lean completely against the log wall, his eyes closing as he did so. A second later a fist made contact with the lower left of his jaw, the impact forcing his head to jolt to the right.

Ravel rocked back into position, throbs of pain shooting up his jawline. Ravel’s blood pulsed, adrenaline rushing through his veins. He pushed his hands deeper into his pockets, clenching them into fists unconsciously. Ravel focused on distant sounds, an owl hooting to it mates, the running water of the creek that ran through the town.

Ravel doubled over, another punch making impact to his lower chest, forcing the breath out of his lungs. A left hook crashed into his jaw, as he doubled over. His attacker paused to allow him to straighten up again. Ravel did this slowly, rolling his shoulders and neck as he did so. But yet again, instead of retaliating, he lent against the wall. Ravel took a ragged breath in through his nose and out his mouth. His hood had slipped off his head in the last attack and the chilly air tingled on his slightly pointed ears. Ravel took a long breath again, testing his jaw by moving it in a small circle.

“Stuff this,” Ravel whispered, more to himself than to any of the thugs.

In a second Ravel pushed himself gently off the wall and straightened to his full height. In a swift movement, Ravel kicked his right leg upwards and sideways. As he did so his left foot slid to allow him to stand with his right shoulder to the group. His right foot hit its mark. A loud crunch was heard as Ravel’s soft leather boot made contact with the leader’s bottom jaw. The leader’s teeth banged together, his head jolting backwards from the impact. He was out cold even before his sturdy figure hit the hard ground. Ravel’s leg hovered for a moment as the Leader’s unconscious body remained still. Ravel then shifted his body weight through his shoulders and abdomen, rolling his upper body to thrust his other foot into the air. Both legs were airborne, as they shuffled positions through the air. Ravel’s left foot made heavy contact with a thug’s stomach, as he landed on his right leg.

There was silence from the rest of the group as the injured party member groaned in agony. Ravel’s eyes flickered open, another couple of roundhouse kicks left one member nursing a broken nose and the other nursing a fractured arm. The group began backing away, leaving their injured friends scrambling on the ground.

Just then a couple of town watchmen walked around the corner, alerted by the commotion from their post. Moments later Ravel was being escorted willingly to a holding cell where he would be questioned in the morning after ‘cooling off’.

Ravel’s hands were still in his pockets as he took a seat on the dusty, rundown cot in one corner. He sighed and closed his eyes, the adrenaline was leaving his body, leaving him feeling drowsy.

Ravel drew his hands out of his pockets, revealing them to still be clenched tightly. A black flame symbol was tattooed on the back of each hand. Ravel turned both hands over so that his curled fingers and palm were facing upwards. A red stain coated his fingers and palm and even began dripping down his wrists as he sat gazing at it. Ravel straightened his fingers, revealing several cuts on his palm. With the release of pressure on the wounds, fresh blood swelled to the surface. His fingernails, though short, were rough from being bitten short and when pressed into his palm with great pressure had broken through the skin. A pillow was at the head of the bed and with a swift movement he emptied the contents of the pillowcase and proceeded to rip the cloth into shreds. Ravel bandaged his wounds and glanced at the feather down that had been in the case. He shook his head and sat against the wall. It wasn’t like he was going to sleep much anyway.

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