The Unkindness of Ravens
However, after the full day’s riding, the men had not come to a town and dusk was well upon them. Sir Brychan told the men to start looking for a place to rest up for the night, and in this search, Aedon spotted a raven… and another… and once he started looking for more, he could see them everywhere, jostling for position on the many trees that surrounded them and peering on in silence. He pointed the creatures out to the other men, who tried to dispel them with stones and shouts, but the black creatures were eerily unflappable, especially for birds.
Just as the ravens presence was getting too intense, a pathway appeared off the beaten track which led to a small house. Sir Brychan, while wary of how convenient the house was, ordered the men inside and told them to light a large fire. It was sure to be a hell of a night.
The men were awoken by a piercing scream at some unholy hour of the night and with no hesitation, the ravens attacked. Myle had slipped inside to rouse the men for the next watch, leaving Issa and Rand outside, unprotected by the mud brick walls. Realising that they were in danger, Aedon flew out of bed, grabbed a burning brand from the fire, and ran outside into the flapping, croaking maelstrom. The other men saw this to be folly and were proved to be correct as seconds later a scratched and bloodied Aedon ran back inside. Judging form the scratches on his back and arms, this was a truly ferocious attack.
Meanwhile, outside of the hovel, Rand had been knocked to the ground by the birds and was fighting a losing battle until Issa bravely left the safety of the hovel, which he had had the sense to run to when the fighting started, to grab Rand by the ankle and drag him back to safety. It was not a glamorous rescue, but rescues seldom are.
After about ten minutes all activity stopped as suddenly as it had started and an eerie silence blanketed the forest once again. Daffid poked his head around the door to confirm their suspicions (particularly brave, considering the ravens seemed to attack the face the most, judging by Rand’s wounds) and saw a clearing scattered with feathers and a single small footprint in the centre, leading away from the house.
He looked back inside and noticed that the girl had vanished.
The next day they left the clearing and the hovel swiftly and after a full days riding found themselves at a small village. Understandably, at the sight of a force of armed men, the villagers started locking their doors and heading to other houses to warn their neighbours. Sir Brychan sent Myle and Aedon to the nearest house to try and persuade the peasants to give the men a place to stay for the night with the promise of good behaviour. They were greeted by a visibly armed husband and wife behind a barely opened door. Still, despite the less than welcoming atmosphere, Myle managed to charm the couple, especially the wife, and got them to agree to “maybe let a few of ye stay the night… but not HIM!” meaning Aedon, who had been constantly propositioning the woman since she became visible through the crack in the door. “Ye’d be best off talking to Alfred if ye want room for everyone, he’s in charge around here” she advised.
By now most of the villagers were peeking through doors to gague whether the men were a threat. So Sir Brychan put them at ease, making an announcement to his men very loudly. “If any one of you misbehaves while you’re here, you WILL be buried here, no exceptions, no excuses. Keep your weapons and your hands to yourself.” He looked at Aedon and Myle “that includes you two”.
After this, Sir Brychan went into Alfreds house and convinced the leader to led the band of men stay the night, promising good behaviour from every single one of his men.
Overnight, the men gathered some information about the ravens which had attacked them, without saying they had been attacked, in case they were viewed as cursed. What little the folk knew about the birds, was to stay away from them at all costs. Rand’s face got healed more properly than Myle’s basic first aid could do and was given deadly nightshade for the pain. Rand’s wounds raised a few questions from the healer and when the men tried to tell her Rand had fallen into a holly bush from his horse, it was obvious she did not believe a word of it. Despite that, the night passed without incident and the men were indeed well behaved, although Myle pushed his luck by trying to get a kiss from the wife he had first spoken to when he was saying his farewells. He was rewarded by a shove from the husband and a dark glare.
So, refreshed from an undisturbed night, the men set off with a jolly and rude song led by Myle, who enjoyed the song so much decided to himself that he would try a song like this every day to raise morale!