Chapter 13, Part 5 – Conclusion
“Be Careful,” Marta said.
Bonetapper launched himself off the rock and flew up toward the entrance to the cave. Once he was there he did a quick swoop past the opening, then again. On the third pass the landed on the lip of the entrance and looked into the darkness. After a few moments he called down to them. “No one in sight, but it does go back some distance. There’s a rope ladder anchored here.”
“Throw it down, if you can,” Marta said.
There was some rustling and squawks of complaint which drifted down, but not the ladder.
“Give me a minute. I’m only a raven and this thing is heavy.”
“Stand clear of the edge,” Marta said. “Man.”
“Got it,” said a less harsh and croaky voice from above. “Coming down now.”
The rope ladder rolled off the edge of the cave. It didn’t quite reach the top of the rockfall, but close enough to grasp. “I’d really like to be a raven again,” said the voice. “This feels very strange and uncomfortable.”
“Done,” Marta said. In another moment Bonetapper flew out of the cave.
“I know he’s really a man,” Sela said. “And yet….”
Marta shrugged. “A raven was the form my mother chose for him, and in that form he’s been the most useful to me. He’s had the chance to rid himself of it before, and yet here he is. Sometimes I think he’s simply a better raven than he ever was a man. Sometimes I think he knows it, too.”
Kian spoke to Loken who then shed his helmet and hauberk. He belted his sword back in place before he took hold of the rope ladder and started to climb up.
“Bonetapper, watch the cave. Warn us if anyone shows themselves,” Marta said.
The raven flew back to the lip of the cave and perched there. “Still clear,” he said.
Kian sighed. “I can see the advantages of having such a one for a scout.”
“I can see the advantages of having a bodyguard who is not easily flummoxed by such things as witches and talking ravens,” Prince Dolan said. Marta thought he was trying not to smile.
“I’m from Lythos, originally,” Kian said. “Such—forgive me—unusual things were not so unusual there, at least by reputation. Though I have to admit that I don’t think I believed even half of what I heard until now.”
“Once you accept the notion of a talking raven, the walls do tend to come down,” Prince Dolan said. Continue reading