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Lakewood Times

“The Seven Ravens”

Fractured Fairy Tale

There once was a young girl anxiously looking out the window of her small cabin for her brothers. She was the youngest of her seven brothers. She was also the only daughter in her huge family and her name was Katerina. Her seven older brothers were the only family she had left after her parents died from a terrible accident (as is the case for most fairy tales). So now Katerina now helps take care of her older brothers in their cabin by the edge of their village. But on this day she is terribly upset. Her brothers had left early that day to join the other men from the village in the hunt. But none of them have yet returned.

The sun was already setting when the young maiden heard a knock at the door. Her hand pulled the handle on the door to reveal a few of the village men that had left earlier with her brothers. She looked around these men, but there was no sign of her brothers being with them. 

“Where are my brothers? Why are they not with you?” she asked as her voice started to crack. One of the men pulled something out of his pocket. He revealed a small wooden amulet with the symbol of Trojan on it. It was supposed to represent the three elements: air, earth and fire. 

“Does this look familiar?” he asked in his old gruff voice.

Of course she recognizes it. She had made it herself for her eldest brother to protect him and their brothers from the spirits of the woods. Although, she had a feeling that it had done nothing to protect her brothers from whatever horrible fate they have brought to themselves. She looked at the amulet for a long time and slowly nodded her head yes

“We found it where your brothers were last seen. Right when we were about to enter the forest, your brothers went in before leaving an offering for Lechy. We believe that the spirits may have something to do with your brothers’ disappearance,” the young maiden’s mind was racing. Lechy is a guardian spirit of the forest and a notorious trickster, as long as you leave him an offering he will leave you alone. But her brothers went into his domain without leaving anything to show their respect and must have upsetted him. 

Katerina snapped out of it after a while. The man looked at her sympathetically and handed her the amulet. The young girl held onto the precious object, for it is the only thing left of her brothers. 

The man watched her for a while then said, “I suggest you go to the elder and ask for her guidance,” then after a pause, “we are deeply sorry for your brothers.”

And just like that, the men turned around and left her all by herself. After a moment of clarity she started running at an unprecedented speed. Later, she had finally reached her destination, the elder’s cottage. The elder was a wise old woman who knew just as much about life as the magic in their world. The young girl knocked on the old woman’s door. No answer. She knocked again, this time more firmly. Again no answer. Then she started to bang on the door so loudly that birds in the surrounding trees flew away from the comotion. The sound of bottles, boxes and whatever else falling and breaking were heard inside the house.

“Alright! Alright! Quit your hammerin’!” an old withered voice called out from behind the door. When the woman finally got to the door, she gave Katerina an annoyed look.

“What do you want?” yelled the old crone. She must have lost most of her hearing for the old woman’s croaking voice could be compared to the volume of the young girl’s banging.

“Please, wise elder. I need your guidance to help find my brothers. They have disappeared during the hunt and there is reason to believe Lechy may have had something to do with it,” Katerina explained.

“Alright,” the old woman coughed out as she stroked her thinning goatee. The forest was completely silent, then the sound of raven cawing echoed throughout the trees. The sound was so powerful that the young girl had to cover her ears from the noise. But the old woman listened intently as if she could hear them talk. When the birds were finally done, the woman turned to the young maiden. 

“Okay, so your brothers were cursed by Lechy and were turned into ravens,” the old woman said a little too casually. She paused and listened to single Raven cawing some more, she then proceeded to say, “Looks like they have been trapped in the Glass Mountain,” again far too casually.

“Trapped! Where is this Glass Mountain? I will head there at once!” Katerina proclaimed, but before she could turn to leave the old woman gripped her arm.

“Hold it! Listen, nobody in this world knows where the mountain is. So, this is what you are going to do. You are going to ask those of the other world,” she showed an almost wicked smile, “You will travel east to the tallest hill and talk to Dazlog, the god of the sun. He will tell you where to go to find Glass Mountain.” the old woman concluded. After saying her peace she let go of Katerina’s arm, turned around and slammed her door right in the young girl’s face.

The maiden ran back home, packed up her things and headed east. After about three moons, she was finally able to find the tallest hill. 

“It is still night but the sun should be rising soon,” she says a loud. As if right on que a golden chariot road down from the heavens and with it brought the light of the sun. It is so bright that the girl had to turn her head around so as to not blind herself. But determined to find her brothers, she closed her eyes and turned her head straight towards the chariot. Within the chariot stood a tall imposing figure. 

“Why are you here, child?” asks the bright figure. 

The young girl could still not look at them directly but she can make out that the voice is from a man’s. This must be Dazlog, she concluded. Swallowing her fear, she asked “I have traveled for many moons to find you. I need your help to find the glass mountain where my brothers are held captive.”

Dazlog looked at her in annoyance. “I know not where the glass mountain is. You must go west to the lowest valley and talk to Devana, the goddess of the moon. She will help you.” And just like that, he was gone and the sun had fully risen in the sky.

And so, the maiden moved her quest east and within six moons she finally found the lowest valley. She waited there for a while as the sun started to set. And from the darkness a faintly glowing figure came from the clouds. The light from the silhouette was much softer than Dazlog’s. This light was much more comforting, like the shine of the moon when lost in the forest, protecting you from the darkness. 

The glowing figure came floating toward Katerina and asked, “Dear child, why are you here?” 

This must be Devana, the young girl concluded. The maiden asked, “I need your help. Could you please show me where the glass mountain is? My brothers are trapped there and I must save them.” As she pleaded to the goddess, Devana only gived her a sympathetic look.

“I know not where the glass mountain is. I am so sorry dear child.” And just like Dialog, she is gone, the moon now sitting high in the sky. The young girl then fell to her knees and started to weep the tears she had tried so hard not to shed. She had gone to all those that she thought could help her, but in the end they have all turned out useless. Just as she was about to sink into the pit of despair, the young maiden felt a warm touch on her cheeks. She opened her eyes in shock to see a small glowing star trying to wipe her tears. This lone star came down from the heavens just to bring her a small bit of comfort. The maiden then whipped her own tears.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“There is no reason to thank me. I have come down from the sky to give you this,” the star’s voice was so small and so young, it sounded as if a child was speaking to the girl. She looked at the star in confusion..

“What did you bring me?” she asked.

“This,” the star pointed down and right at Katerina’s knees was a chicken bone. It was white and smooth having been cleaned thoroughly. The star said in its meek voice, “Go south and will find the Glass Mountain. This bone will unlock the door that holds your brothers captive and they will be freed from Lechy’s curse.”

The maiden was in shock. Who would have thought the one to show her the way would be this lone star. She bowed her head and again said, “Thank you. You have my eternal gratitude.”

The star floated there for a while, then shot straight up back to the sky. When Katerina looked up she thought the stars shined brighter than usual. After seven moons had passed, the young girl finally arrived at the Glass Mountain. The mountain looked nothing like she had imagined. It was not actually made of glass, but of a sparkling stone which shimmered in the sun’s glow. The maiden ran as fast as she could to what looked to be the entrance. It was a large  entryway carved from the mountain and to the left was a key hole. She reached for her pocket to take out the chicken bone, but her pockets were empty. She started to panic, frantically searching through her pockets, her bag, but there was nothing. After coming all this way, there was no chance that she was not going to leave without her brothers. She grabbed the knife that she had brought with her and ran her finger on the blade. It nicked her finger and she knew it was perfectly sharp. The young maiden steeled herself and placed the knife right at her smallest finger and slice! The pain was unbearable, blood poured out of where her finger once was. She lets out an animalistic scream, filled with all the agony she has felt throughout this journey. 

But there is still a job to be done. She bore the pain and wrapped her hand with some cloth. Then she grabbed her severed finger and picked the bone out from her own flesh. She turned the bone into the keyhole and the door swung open. She ran inside the mountain looking frantically for any signs of her brothers. She only stopped when a dwarf came out of nowhere and stopped her in her running.

“What are you looking for?” asked the dwarf.

“My brothers!” she shouted, the exhaustion of this journey had gotten to her and she felt exhausted. The dwarf looks at her amused, seemingly completely unaware of her torture. 

“Ah! Why not ask them where your brothers are?” the dwarf then pointed behind Katerina. And there they were, seven young men with the same eyes and hair as her. The no longer young maiden ran to her brothers as they embraced each other. There was laughter, there were tears, there were smiles, there were frowns. Then they went right back home and lived happily ever after.

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