Fictober, Prompt 3 – “Now? Now you listen to me?”, Original Fiction
Warnings: none especially. Fantasy, with a stubborn (but smart) raven.
“Would you please just help, for one moment?” I pleaded with the raven.
It was not actually my companion, of course, and was under no obligation to assist me. But it had been hanging around for several weeks now and had offered help on several occasions during that time. I’d thought that we had an understanding at least.
The raven turned its head and began preening a wing, ignoring me.
Taking a deep breath and blowing it out in frustration, I turned back to the rock wall in front of me. I was not skilled enough at rock climbing to make it up on my own, and rock was strangely resistant to magic for reasons I hadn’t been able to pin down. I could use magic to assist myself up…but only if I could get something physical of mine up to the top to use as an anchor for the spell.
Resigned, I re-tied the hook to the end of my rope and resumed my fruitless attempts to toss it up high enough to hook around a thin tree I could just make out at the top of the cliff face.
It was nearly half an hour later when I finally sat down, put my back to the wall, and buried my face in my hands. Tears of frustration welled threateningly in my eyes, and I tried to breathe through the emotion, knowing that it wasn’t helping. I needed to get up that wall, though, so I was stuck here until I could somehow get the rope to the top.
A slight whoosh of displaced air was my only warning before the raven was suddenly on the ground next to me, croaking softly and pecking at the rope where the hook was attached.
“Now?” I asked, lifting my head out of my arms to stare at it disbelievingly. “Now you listen to me?”
My hands were already moving to untie the heavy hook, though, being somewhat ahead of my mind in that moment. If the raven had decided to help after all, I shouldn’t question it.
Sure enough, it grabbed the rope immediately and launched itself into the sky, going up and circling around the small tree I had been aiming for a time or two before dropping that end of the rope and croaking.
It would never had held if I’d needed to put all my weight on the rope with no other support, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. Rising, I took several calming breaths before beginning the incantation that had the rope working itself into a new shape, extra length pulled out of the coil still sitting on the ground as it wove back and forth along the rock. Within a few moments, it had formed a ladder that I could climb easily, magic keeping it stiff and stable enough to support my weight. Slinging my pack back on and making sure that I hadn’t left anything else on the ground, I began to climb.
It was quick work to reach the top, and the raven greeted me with a croak that sounded partly like its usual greeting, and partly like something it had done once or twice: a warning call of some kind, I thought. Frowning, I was quick to release the spell and pull the rope up behind me.
The last of the rope slithered up over the lip of the small cliff just as I heard hoofbeats on the road below.
The raven was silent, and still.
Uneasy, I laid down flat and eased up to the edge as silently as I could, being careful not to knock any small pebble down. Tilting my head just so, I was able to look down the rock face without exposing too much of my head.
A horse and rider stood on the path below…but it was no ordinary horse, and no ordinary rider.
It was him.
I froze, and even my heartbeat sounded too loud in my ears. If he could tell that I had come up the cliff…
After a long, terrible moment, he gave a frustrated shake of his head, and spurred his horse onwards.
It was long after they had disappeared around a bend in the lower road that I could force myself to move, and to take more than the shallowest of breaths. I’d had no idea he was so close behind me.
“Thank you,” I said, keeping my voice quiet, looking up at the raven. It bobbed its head at me, then swooped down and landed on my shoulder, leaning over to tug at a lock of my hair, apparently wanting to preen.
Oh. Well. That was a request to be a companion if ever I’d seen one, and I felt my mouth stretch in a shaky smile. I reached up and pulled my hair out of its tail, to make the requested grooming easier.
This raven had known, somehow, and had gotten me up the cliff in time to be safe, but late enough that I would see him and know how close my pursuit was. Fortunately, my path should now lead us away, and with a little luck I could feed us both well tonight.
The raven more than deserved it. I was glad that it wanted to stay with me.
Together, we set off up the tree-covered slope.
(I had intended to have this done much earlier today, but then my computer wanted to do a couple hours’ worth of updates. -_- Ah well. Are all of these going to be random first person POV? Who knows.)
ETA: Now with a continuation here.