The White Raven flew high above the trees, twisting and turning singing her joy to the sun. In the forest below a hunter stood on the moss at the edge of a spring of sweet water. The raven flew down, her wingtips rippling the surface of the water. Ivory feathers a blaze of white in the forest gloom. Sharp claws scratched against stone as she landed on a smooth grey rock at the edge of the pool of clear water. The raven tilted her head to the side, observing the hunter with winter blue eyes.
The hunter nodded to the raven and wandered into the deep woods in search of his game. The white raven followed. The forest was bountiful, deer, elk, hares, grouse, and ptarmigan fell to the hunter’s bow. The raven made a game of following the hunter, hopping from tree to tree, gliding above the forest and diving down to scare game from tall grass and thickets. Each night the hunter and the raven met at pool. The hunter would cut small gobbets of flesh from his kills and offer them to the raven perched on her rock.
The white raven fell in love with the hunter. She wove the wild magic of the forest to change her shape. The raven stood in human form, glowing white skin, and winter blue eyes, and feather soft hair the colour of snowy white wings.
As the moon rose the hunter crept through the forest to the pool. Standing on the rock arms raised to the heavy moon the white raven stood in her pale human guise. The hunter covered the girl with his cape and took her home as his bride.
The raven was happy in the small cottage in the forest with her husband the hunter. She bore seven children, four sons and three daughters with milk white skin and downy hair white as new fallen snow. White raven was a good wife, loving and kind, but she held her secrets and would not speak of where she came from or how she appeared at the pool in the forest or where she went on the days she went walking among the trees.
One autumn, when leaves tumbled from the trees, the sun was warm, but the wind smelled of winter the hunter’s wife disappeared into the woods. The hunter was furious that his wife was gone. He left the children alone in the cottage and searched every path through the twisting woods. Creeping from shadow to shadow, boots silent on the leaf strewn forest floor, the hunter scoured the forest. Morning turned to noon, noon to dusk and still there was no sign of his beloved wife. The trees opened up and the hunter found himself standing on the edge of the pool shaking with fury as he held his bow in his hands. The forest was silent all around, no leaves whispered on the wind, no squirrels chittering in the trees, or birds singing in the sky.
The white raven perched on the smooth grey stone beside the water, wings stretched out in the sunlight. The hunter was angry and notched an arrow in his bow. The raven folded her wings and looked at him with a winter blue eye.
The hunter loosed his arrow. It flew true across the still pool reflecting in the icy chill of the water. The arrow pierced the raven’s snowy white breast. The raven cried as red blood flowed across her white feathers and dripped onto the cold grey rock. As the white raven fell light filled the clearing brighter than the sun, the hunter hid his eyes, and when the light faded a woman lay on the rock, an arrow piercing the heart of his beautiful wife.
The hunter stumbled to the rock and held her as she lay dying. The clearing filled with the rush of wings and seven white ravens plummeted from the sky, they circled around the hunter and his dying bride before landing on the mossy ground. The hunter gazed with grief stricken eyes as the ravens transformed into seven small children. They turned sad eyes to their mother, faces solemn as they ripped the arrow from their mother’s chest. The eldest held the arrow and dropped it into his father’s hands. The world shifted and pulsed as the children changed small feathered bodies taking flight.
White feathers turned black. The colour of their sorrow.