That night Myle was awoken by an unpleasant cold below his belly button. He rubbed the cold spot and his hand grew sticky, there was a little blood. Bewildered he opened his groggy eyes to see the woman in the cloack from the village croughed atop him, her face shoved into his. “This girl is not for you to despoil, and if you had, I would have fed your worm to my birds”. It took a while, because of the shock, but as understanding flooded through him, he could feel his manhood shrink at the prospect. “The girl is ours, and you will bring us to her when the time is right”.
The woman sheathed her knife and stood with a rustling of her cloak. She turned and stepped off into the night. Shortly after her disappearance, Myle heard the flapping of large wings, but dismissed it, he was more worried about the cut on his belly, for it had only just begun to hurt; that knife must have been wickedly sharp to make such a clean cut. When he was done tending to himself, he looked over at the other men to see Issa looking white as a sheet. Unbeknownst to Myle, Issa had seen the woman stalking into to camp, and with nothing but a wave of her hand, she had given him a shock of cold so intense his body failed to respond in any way. He stood there unable to move, see or think for quite a while before the spell, for surely that was what it was, wore off. He would never speak of this to any of the men, he did not feel comfortable with another being able to dominate him so easily and none of them would have believed him anyway.
When he was able to move again, he woke the nearest man and told them he had seen the woman again. The camp was roused but the woman was long gone, and Myle explained what had happened. Calire looked shocked at what the woman had said, but it was nothing compared to the disquiet Sir Brychan’s felt as he realised that this woman could saunter in and out of his camp with utter ease. Issa said that they couldn’t have stopped her if we were all awake and ready, and Sir Brychan knew Issa was not prone to exaggeration. He prayed to all the gods that this business be done with soon. As the men gradually wound down to a more uneasy sleep, and Myle decided to move away from Calire just in case the woman was still out there. Issa did not sleep that night.
The next day, Sir Brychan ordered the men to ride on, and with no protest, they did. Myle did not start a song today. He was still quite shaken by last night, and although Calira was sat in front of him on his horse, he kept his hand very much to himself.
At about lunch time, the men came into another clearing and quickly recognised it. It was the clearing from the vision that they had already been in. A quick scope of the where the sun was told all the hunters that they had been travelling in the same direction but somehow ended up back here. Those who weren’t looking at the sun were staring at what was in the clearing.
Ravens on every tree, every stone, some perched on the floor, some stood in the pool. All quiet as a stone, and all staring at the newcomers.
“The time is finally right and you have brought us the girl” proclaimed a voice. Two women were stood near the altar stone, one with black hair, the other with grey. The grey woman had spoken, and she made eye contact with Petyr, bobbing her head in a peculiar manner as a greeting to him. Petyr felt full of dread as he realised this was the same greeting the large raven he had wished a good evening to the other day. The younger of the two witches spoke “Now we are gathered correctly, at the proper time, and the proper place. You have been terribly disorganised,” she scowled. Sir Brychan spoke up “If you had told us what you wanted from us, maybe we could have been of more assistance, rather than going about it in this strange manner of yours”. As he said this the ravens all became agitated, bobbing their heads all together and croaking quietly. The older woman pacified them “That is true, but we acted the way we did for a reason you could not understand,” the younger witch took over “Regardless, it is time for the young one to accept her mantle”. Sir Brychan showed his courage once again by addressing the witches “Calire is under my protection… what mantle is she to take up?” The grey witch sighed “The flock grows old and needs its young to carry on,” some of the larger ravens looked at her, then snapped back to the men. “Surely she could have more time?” asked Petyr. “The time is now,” came the response. “What if she doesn’t want to do it?” Asked Aedon. Both witched glowered at him, and Aedon felt cold, invaded and weak. Finally Calire spoke up “I will go,” she stated.
She swung off the horse and started towards the witches. The ravens parted to let her pass. Myle hurredly swung down after her, and followed her across the circle. He caught up to her and reached for her arm “Do you want me beside you for this?” She smiled, “Thank you for your kindness, Myle”. Never one to give up easily, he stole a glance over at the black haired witch, who was waiting suprisingly patiently, and leaned in to kiss Calire. She blushed one last time and turned so he kissed her cheek. “I hope I see you again” he said, as she turned and went towards the altar. The Black haired witch was smiling at Calire, but Myle noticed her dagger was in her hand. He swiftly retreated back to the rest of the party.
“What must I do?” asked Calire.
“Accept the flock,” came the answer. Then the black haired witch raised her arm and every raven leapt into the air at once cawing and flapping in a black whirlpool of feathered bodies. Just like in the vision, A single raven descended from the sky to land on the witch’s exposed hand. Sir Brychan expected for the raven to draw blood, as a hawk would on an unprotected hand, but not a drop appeared. The raven eyed up Calire before hopping onto her hand, glanced at the grey witch, and took flight. Then the mass of ravens flew low around the altar until it was obscured from vision. When they departed, only two figures stood where three once did. Calire’s hair had darkened to black and while nothing had physically changed about her face, her expression was more wild and hard. She was not the same person she had been minutes before.
The clearing is now empty and the men in the group feel as if they are truly alone for the first time in weeks. The remaining witch called over to Sir Brychan. “You aided us and I will give you a guide. Good luck with finding your wife,” and with that, she turned and left. Calire waved to Myle, but turned before he had a chance to wave back and headed off into the woods.
After a few minutes the men came to their senses and realised there was no sense in just standing around. Aedon turned to Sir Brychan, stating that it didn’t look like any guide was going to present itself, and asking which way to head. As if on cue, a single raven flapped down onto his shoulder and cawed loudly in his ear. Sir Brychan smiled, taking the raven as a symbol of good faith, extended his arm and the raven hopped happily onto it. It turned to face North and Sir Brychan led the way out of the clearing.