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Unravenly

by ExOmelas


It would be surprising, conference, if you had not heard tales of the Raven King and the glory - the beauty - of his reign over Northern England. The King in the North is a figure much revered by scholars, bedtime stories and assorted other enthusiasts alike. Perhaps it is the ability of such a strong, powerful figure to gracefully change his form into that of the majestic bird that is his namesake. Perhaps it is his skillful mastery of the arts of magic that elude many of even the brightest minds today.

One thing that takes little study to be certain of is that whatever his essential quality is, it was not possessed by all in his family. What is contained within the paper I present today is a detailing of his bloodline, with a stronger than customary focus on his niece, Rowena the Abandoned.

Rowena grew up around her uncle's estate. Occasionally her own mother, Deani, the Raven King's sister, would take her on long, meandering trips round the kingdom. Even from an early age she showed an affinity for the forestry of the countryside. She would slip away from her mother on their walks and hide for hours in the dens and hollows. Often Deani would find her asleep, curled up in the nook of a tree's roots. She would lift her up, and Rowena would curl up in her arms. She was one of the happiest children in all of England.

Of course, the day soon came when she was too big for her mother to pick her up. She started to grow, to resemble more the womanly princess that she was destined to be in the absence of an heir of the Raven King's own. Except, as is often the way with overlooked figures, it did not quite go to plan.

First of all, there was her blind hatred of shoes. Conference, I have yet to discover, even in the depths of Britain's resources on the subject of magic, the term for someone who has a fear of having their feet clad. Perhaps we shall term it Rowenism. She wanted to be free, and apparently this was to start with her feet.

Around the castle gardens she ran, little sparks of magic following behind her as her feet picked up their pace to a speed that behoved her bloodline. She climbed, she hid, she chatted to the caterpillars and the mice.

But her mother found her. Her father chastised her. Her uncle provided her with a dark green velvet gown and a pair of thin-soled black shoes that need only be slipped on when they had guests. They put a circlet round her head, and beads round her neck. They made her womanly.

Then the unrest came. Surely you remember the first time you heard of the risings against the Raven King by those who sought to take his place. They found magic unnatural. Yes, conference, you may well scoff. It seems nonsensical to us now that the harnessing of the land - of course, as long as you give yourself fully to it - be seen as anything other than the true way in which to prove our love to the world we live on.

Conference - conference! I appreciate the support - of course this is nonsense - but there is far more to tell. If you could just quiet down... Dr Hatton, thank you! Right, where were we?

Rowena was old enough to understand what was going on, but far too sane to understand the logic that is today so widely disproven. Why should people be threatened by her uncle's power? Why not embrace it? Why not work with it to make everyone's lives better? When she reached her potential, which her classes had had her on the way to, she was planning to provide sanctuary for each and every soul in the forest. There would be no danger from hunters, or those seeking to destroy their homes. What could be threatening about making souls safe?

Then there came the night of the abandonment. Or at least, that must be truly how she felt. On that fateful day that is well recorded in the few accounts of Rowena's life that do exist, her parents, her uncle, the servants - all disappeared. They all struck fear into the hearts of those who couldn't compete with them. But Rowena, the ungainly, unruly child, escaped unscathed. Who would be frightened of a young lady who couldn't even fasten up her own dress?

And so it came to her to save Faerie, where her family must have taken refuge. It was on her to keep practicing in secret, to master her uncle's arts. She would bring back the Raven King. She would be the spirit of the Raven while he remained banished from this realm and the evil ones worked to destroy his place of sanctuary once and for all.

She trained, all by herself. She focussed harder on this task than she had focussed on anything in her life. She wore shoes for it. She hated it, but she loved her family.

Then came the most important day of her life. It was on her eighteenth birthday, the day when her people diverge from their mortal neighbours - the day they become the Raven - that she would truly begin to take on her uncle's mantle.

But it didn't work. For weeks, months, a year, she tried to force her form into the majesty of that great bird. But its beak was too tight, its feet too spindly. She couldn't cram her energy into that rigid little form. It was hopeless.

It is said that exactly a year later she ran through the streets howling and screaming. This is where the term Abandoned comes from, many of those who saw her being under the impression that her family had left her all alone in that big house on the hill and that on this day the loneliness had finally got too much of her.

And so she ran back home, or rather, to the forest. But truly, that must be what is considered her home, given what we know of her now. She grew wild, less womanly than her mother had ever seen her. She lived with the wolves, the birds, the insects. Her life was perfect, in all honesty, other than the fact that her family were missing, and in terrible, unstoppable danger.

It became too much for her. The fear, the guilt, the longing to see them again. One day she could take it no longer and wandered further into the forest than she ever had before. She found what she was looking for, a nice big cave. It was hidden under a small mound adorned with fir trees, and its darkness called to her. In the dark she could sleep. Sleep. She had to sleep.

There are few children who do not know the story of the Wild Rebellion. The day is marked in history as when the most powerful arcane magicians in the land were assailed by all the wildlife around them, all the wildlife that they ignored while they hid away in their studies. The life that they destroyed when they took the land for the houses that held those studies. The life that obeyed the call of one and one alone. Their leader - the Great Bear.

What those children don't know, is that these events took place exactly one hibernation after Rowena felt that uncontrollable urge to rest, to sleep the pain of winter away and awake when the time was right to strike. When she awoke, she had found her true form. A bear, the caring, joyous, free spirit of the forest, was a far more natural transition for young Rowena than the stick-like rigidity of the Raven.

And so she led one family - the animals of the forest - to save her other. They got the magicians at their weakest - when the banishment spell had reached its second anniversary, marked by an extra large dose of complacency.

Rowena, the enormous, lumbering hero of it all, has been largely overlooked by the Ravenite scholars. But what has been found must surely begin the process of remedying this. The songs of the faerie Jaicinth Godax, recently summoned by renaissance magician Henry Thorpe, must be taken into account. As you, and the rest of most of civilisation are aware, faeries are incapable of outright lies.

"From hibernation I saw awake,

Miss Rowena on a spring day.

That evil spell she then did break,

Oh what glory on that spring day."

If the literary scholars wish to present an alternate reading of these words to me, I await your papers. I however am convinced that these two stories are linked by these recent findings. I look forward to conference's report next year on the less ravenly heroes of the Aureate age.


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7 Reviews


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Fri May 12, 2017 8:00 pm
wallacies wrote a review...



Hey Bisc! I haven't written very many reviews, so please be patient with me! I also don't know how to embed quotes so, sorry about that. This review isn't THAT good, in that it's not really giving you any new information, but I hope it's helpful somehow! <3

I think the issues with the pacing have already been covered, so I won't discuss that here. Personally, I feel like there's an awful lot of interesting lore here, and I hope this piece is only the beginning of you developing this universe. I enjoyed the decision to frame the story as a speech, although I have to admit I didn't realize this was what was happening until:

"Surely you remember the first time you heard of the risings against the Raven King by those who sought to take his place."

This could either suggest that I didn't pay enough attention, or that the choice of "conference" as an address term wasn't clear enough. You could write a tiny little bit of exposition closer to the beginning to clarify it because it personally felt jarring. That being said, it's nice to see what is essentially a story-driven monologue not dragging due to the lack of dialogue in it.

I feel like you've written in an enjoyable, descriptive fashion. It didn't feel like a slog to read, but I definitely think it's not for everyone (isn't that always the case though). The writing style is definitely appropriate for the piece in that it feels like someone is telling a story - probably comparable to the writing style of folktales, but combined with the scholarly voice of your narrator it produces a very interesting effect.

Personally, I feel like you should write more, and refine what you have written. I'd love to understand the position of the narrator more and the universe surrounding the conference that he's speaking at. Like, is he a historian? Is he himself a literary scholar, or was he throwing shade at them at the end? Perhaps the only thing this piece is really desperately missing is a development of ideas in that respect. The bulk of your story is solid, but I feel as if the framing for the piece is slightly too ambiguous. I have however just seen that there are related works in this series that probably clarify a lot of the problems I have with this! So I'm gonna backflip out now.

FINALLY - your tense is consistent, I didn't see any glaring grammatical errors, so you clearly proofread or are good at not screwing up your wording \\o// It was a great read, thank you!




ExOmelas says...


Thanks for the review! :)



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Thu May 11, 2017 12:39 am
Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey there! MJ here for a quick review. I'm delving into this with no prior exposure to any of the books this may be based off, but I'll do my best to give you some helpful pointers!

The King in the North is a figure much revered by scholars, bedtime stories and assorted other enthusiasts alike.
Okay, so here you start with a list of people and then move to a list of objects. So it makes it sound like bedtime stories are people who revere the King. So one of those has to be changed so it fits.

This entire piece was written as an informative story, and an uninterrupted exposition can become very long and even push the edge of boring. While sometimes it is necessary, I would suggest avoiding it if possible just because of its monologic nature.

but far too sane to understand why.
This seems to be worded a little strangely. When I first read it, it seemed to me that she didn't understand the reason for the people's anger, but what I think you're trying to say is she understood that the people were angry because her uncle had power but disagreed with that view. I would reword that section to make it absolutely clear what was going on and also state earlier why the people were upset so the reader isn't forced to guess according to the clues here and there.

One day her parents, her uncle, the servants - all disappeared
This seems really sudden. It's basically a huge rush of information where there was just description before. I would add a little more buildup. To put it into musical terms, it's like a ff where there was a mp before. A crescendo of that information helps to add some suspense and mystery to the equation and makes it more interesting to read.

I feel like a bit more detail and emphasis should be given to what exactly she's doing and training for. It's pretty vague right now and slightly confusing to work through as a reader. It took me several read-throughs to understand just what was going on. A lot of emphasis was given to some less-important elements of the story, and not as much emphasis was given to some other key components.

Overall, this piece was written in a very formal tone that sometimes got difficult to read in some sections. You have a clever idea here, but the delivery can sometimes get a little fuzzy here and there. You also changed the target audience, beginning with a book-style and mentioning the 'reader' as if it were personally being delivered to someone and then ended it as if it were an address to a group of scholars. Other than that, the plot doesn't need very much work. Most of the improvement here is with the writing and delivery. Feel free to PM me if you need some more help and want some assistance :)

Best wishes,
MJ




ExOmelas says...


Thanks for the review :) this was written quite speedily last night so I'm not too surprised the execution needs work xD



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Thu May 11, 2017 12:33 am
GoldenQuill wrote a review...



Hey Biscuits! It's GoldenQuill, here with a little review! Hope all is well!

To my knowledge, this is a standalone piece. Perhaps it is fanficition, perhaps it is connected to something you have written in the past -- I do not know. So please bare with me, as I may point out things that may be easily explained away had I known further backstory.

This piece was nice. Short, simple, and quite fascinating. Though their appearances were never stated, I could clearly picture all of the characters. Of course, me being me, I'll suggest more description, because I'm always description-hungry.

There was some vagueness that confused me. You mention that people are afraid of her uncle, but never mention how she knows that (the way people talk or things they do), so it's kind of sudden and confusing, because up to this point we haven't seen any signs of aggression of any sort. Her family disappears suddenly, too, and then there's this line.

All struck fear into the hearts of those who couldn't compete with them. But Rowena, the ungainly, unruly child, escaped unscathed.

Before, you made it seem like no one knows what happened to the family, and now it's clear that there was some form of attack. Why were they captured and not murdered? Who is this 'all'? How did Rowena escape, who continued training her, and how did she know where her family was being held? Were their factions? Fighting? A revolution? I have absolutely no idea, and thus, find myself not relating with or connecting to the story as it continues as much.

Other historical events are mentioned, which are nice, but again, they feel almost haphazard and very vague. The story is being written as if attempting to explain something to a reader, but then the speaker just assumes the reader knows other events and doesn't tell them anymore about what they are writing. It's interesting.

All in all, this was great. Loved your characters, your length, your focus, and the whimsical style of writing. So fantastic. I will only ask for some slight expansion on events and other characters!

Keep writing!




ExOmelas says...


Thanks for the review :) this was written very speedily last night, so I'm not surprised it's not at its best. I'll definitely work on it a bit more




There is a difference between being poor and being broke: broke is temporary; poor is eternal.
— Robert Kiyosaki