She entered

She entered, and the room went dark. Silence washed over them like a black fur. Everyone listened, but heard nothing – not her voice, though her mouth was moving; not her feet, though she was walking; not her nails, though she rapped on the tables as she passed. Once in the center of the tavern, she stopped and lifted her arms to her sides like a cross. Listening still, ears straining for the slightest noise from the dark void of her body, they leaned unsurely forward. As soon as they did, they flew back again in their seats, for in through the door swept two dozen ravens; however, though they were a bluster of a sight, they made no noise.

The villagers realized with some discomfort that not only could they not hear her, nor her flock, but neither could they hear each other. They heard no breathing, no beating, no scruffing boots or creaking stools.


She seemed to shout a command, and at once the ravens leapt from her arms and shoulders where they had perched. They rove around the great room, darting here and there, pecking at hats and heads. The room of unsettled patrons felt as though they were in a storm at sea – a black sea. Slowly the ravens seemed to recede, carefully choosing their landing places. Perched on tables, staring at the patrons, they dared them to stare back into their infinite dark eyes.

Suddenly, everyone heard a whisper flowing from the beaks of the black messengers. They heard nothing else but the whisper.

“You gossips all
You busybodies gnaw
on souls and hearts half dead

You craven hall
Your tall tales call
Fall on your ears as lead”

So the grim wisdom of the Raven was enshrined that night on a cold hill’s tavern. For a month, the vicious maligners heard only the truth about themselves, whispered by a raven perched before their faces. Meanwhile, their victims young and old had ravens on their shoulders speaking wise and comforting truths gently into their ears. The gossipers soon learned mercy, and their victims soon learned how to lead them.

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