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He takes flight at dawn. He has fasted for three days beforehand; that makes it easier to leave.

When the first shy sunrays carefully thread over the sky, a black raven can be seen flying over the forest with determined wingbeats. Soon it is just a dot on the gold-and-red sky canvas, and a moment later it is gone.

An early riser with really good eyes would perhaps notice that this raven have one greenish blue eye and is a little bit bigger than the ones you usually see here, before it disappears into a large bruised cloud bank over the horizon...

... But most people probably wouldn't notice it at all.

Here we leave the raven for a while, and look back at the forest.
Deep within the woods, hidden among lush grasses, flowers and ferns, a small black doe sleeps. She is with child, and she is the reason for the raven's journey. The day when the little black doe and her large black mate asked the raven to help protect the doe—against those in the forest who wish ill upon such small black does—that day the raven felt that he had a Purpose.

And now, the doe needs stones. Stones for magic and protection, and that is why the raven leaves: the place he calls home is full of stones.

Let us return to the raven, now.
He emerges from the clouds, and now the landscape beneath him is vastly different. The forests are not as lush and welcoming as before, but wild and dark; dead trees claw at the sky and needle-sharp firs prick it. Bleak plains soon replace them, dry brown colours mingled with heath violet. The air grows colder and the sky is grey.

When night falls the raven perches in a large tree; it stands alone in the bleak landscape, with crown wide and gnarled upon a thick trunk. The branch he sits on shows signs of much use — the raven has known this tree since it was a mere acorn. Now it is dying the slow and peaceful old-age death of a tree.

Night passes slowly for those who do not sleep. The raven is statue-still, merely resting, and when dawn comes he is quick to rise. As the day passes so do the landscapes under him, from dry plains to billowing hills and then the foot of a mountain range. Rocky slopes rise on both sides when he soars through a pass and into a valley. He knows this labyrinthine way well.

When the shadows grow long and the sun's light turn to gold he can see it: his home, his prison, his beloved cathedral; it stands as it always have, cold and tall.

He shift his wings, turning downwards, and lands quietly on the ground before the building. A moment later the raven is gone and a man-shaped being stands in its place. The man is very tall, clad in black, and his long hair goes dow to his thighs. He is barefoot, but doesn't seem to mind the cold ground.

He walks up to the weathered wooden doors. They open without a sound and the man steps into the great hall. His quiet footsteps echo between stone walls, bouncing back and forth and eventually nesting in the nooks, arches and corners of the ceiling high above. The air seems utterly still, miniscule dust particles floating slowly in the light from high windows. It smells of autumn's first frost and old books.

The word 'cathedral' might not be the best word to use for this building. It very much resembles one, but this has never been a place of worship for the Christian faith. There are no crosses and no pews, and the stone floor has that special shine stone gets when it has been walked on for a very long time. Beneath the great dome stands an altar, but it is not an altar you ever would se in a church. It is a massive, blackish stone, its flat surfaces like mirrors. It looks like it would be very cold to touch.

Behind it stands a number of crude statues and stones of varying size. The largest of them looms over the others, a great rock, kind of egg-shaped, cut so it features something like a neutral face and short arms. The other stones seem unfinished, most of them still looking like ordinary rocks. Thin grey twilight seeps in from high windows, barely illuminating the scene.

The man walks slowly through the nave of the building, stopping for a moment before the few steps that lead up to the altar. He looks at it with a thoughtful expression before walking up to it; running his hand briefly over it while observing his reflection. On the dark surface of the stone his pale skin seems grey and his tired eyes black.

He turns away, instead looking at the statues. On the floor among them lies a myriad of stones, rocks and pebbles in a multitude of shapes and colours. Each of them a memory, a small souvenir taken from its own time and place and eventually placed here at the end of the world.

Crouching, he begins to pick them up, looking at them one by one, letting the stones turn in his long-fingered hands. Some of them he sets aside, but most of them he puts back on the floor. Eventually a small pile of stones accumulates beside him and he stops only when the sky outside turns into a deep blue, a sign of the coming night.

He picks up the stones, wrapping them in a part of his shirt. With a small nod to the biggest statue he leaves the altar area and heads through the quickly darkening building for the left wing. Black shadows already nest in the ceiling, spilling forth from corners and into the aisles.

An easily overlooked, undecorated wooden door is his destination. When opened it reveals an anonymous stone staircase.
At the top of the stairs there is another door, and behind it a room. It is not a particularly welcoming room; its stone walls are bare and the floor is made of rough wooden planks. There are a couple of windows and a small fireplace with only a few faintly glowing pieces of coal in it. There is no furniture in the room besides a rickety wooden chair, a woollen blanket in a corner and a small pile of wood beside the fireplace. The air feels cold and unused, and smells of old things with a hint of burnt wood.

He kneels before the fireplace, putting wood on the coal. After a while small flames begin to lick the wood and a warm light flows into the room while he sits down and examines the stones he brought.
When the fire dies down and the room goes dark the man still sits there, unmoving, thinking.

There is no one in the valley to see the raven once again take flight when dawn comes. Its flight is not as graceful as when it came; it flies as if it is carrying something.
There are two things, in fact, two small stones, soon to be delivered to a small black doe.



I really love this. It's all

I really love this. It's all so beautiful.. The imagery.. wow. Just wow.
MoonAngel's picture

O.O This is fantasticly

O.O This is fantasticly gorgeous! You have done an amazing job with everything,i really like the solid blacks and greys. The whole layout looks great,the paintings are beautiful and go perfectly. You're writing is beautiful too,thank you for sharing. XD
Laughing out loud


Sighthoundlady's picture

Wow. Just wow. Apel, this

Wow. Just wow. Apel, this is stunning. Your writing it truly magical, you create such an atmosphere and mood, your artwork only amplifies that. I really felt like I was flying along with Eph Raven and then walking with Eph Human through the stone cathedral. Very lovely. Herla will be so honored to have such meaningful gifts from Ephire for the protection of her and Geh's fawns.

Thank you again, this is beyond moving.
GlobalBeauty's picture

(No subject)

<3 Beautiful. Inspirational, too.
Siggies by Carry & Amazengalo
Mis's picture

Wow! Really amazing! Sight

Wow! Really amazing! Sight gave me the heads up you had made a post and my first reaction was "oh man." You never dissapoint do you? XD I really love the images, but also the images you put in your writing. I think it's a lot better than you realise yourself.
WonderfullySarcastic's picture

How you wrote this story is

How you wrote this story is beautiful.
Fincayra's picture

I was hooked till the end.

I was hooked till the end. You're a great writer as well as an artist, Apel. Loved reading this.

Wow. This is beautiful!

Wow. This is beautiful!
No longer active in the community or forest.
Momochi's picture

Absolutely lovely. The flow

Absolutely lovely. The flow of the writing plus the paintings and descriptions is amazing~
Kaoori's picture

I love your stuff, Apel.

I love your stuff, Apel.
Apeldille's picture

Aw, thank you all for your

Aw, thank you all for your lovely comments! They make me really happy ♥

And I'm glad you like it Sight! It was very fun to do, so thank you for making the stones-blog!

I wanted to make more pictures but got tired. XD

This is truly gorgeous.

This is truly gorgeous.