(Raven Leigh) Prologue:
It was the blackest stormiest December nite anyone in the valley could remember. It was a moonless, starless nite and the howling wind whipped snow and sleet and ice across the sky. The winds were cold and fierce and the icy snow was piling up in drifts. The violent gusts were shaking the trees causing the icicles to rain down. The midwife was afraid that one of the powerful gusts would blow over one of the surrounding trees causing it to land on her meager home. Venturing outside would be ludicrous in such weather, which is why she was so surprised when the young woman came to her, belly huge, eyes wide with pain and fear. She was in full labour. Gran could not for life of her figure out how this beautiful young stranger had even found her way to her little gypsy caravan. It wasn’t even on the direct path, but nestled in amongst the trees to provide a bit of shelter, just past the meadow. It seemed that one moment Gran was alone with her thoughts and the next there was a brisk chill in the air and the young woman was just there standing in her doorway. The woman was beautiful; she had a calm, gentle peace about her even in the midst of her pain. She kept very quiet, not saying a single word; she didn’t even ask for help, perhaps she knew she didn’t have to. She appeared to be still quite young, roughly a quarter century old. She had large brown doe eyes, which seemed to say all the things that her lack of words could not. They were filled with wonder and would flicker with what seemed near panic at each contraction. Her hair was short and tawny, her skin soft and brown. She only breathed loudly as the child came, still no words, no utterances. Gran was curious as to where she came from, how she got there, where the father of the child might be, but this was not the time for questions and even if it were certain questions are best left unasked. This was definitely not the time for such things; there would be plenty of time to talk after. Right now tending to the wee one who had just arrived took precedence. The young woman looked at her new born child and smiled gently, then laid down her head and closed her eyes.
Gran held the baby and carefully looked her over. Everything was as it should be five fingers, five toes. It was a girl; in fact she was an extremely beautiful baby girl. Gran poured some warm water into the washing dish and carefully cleaned the wee one up. She had huge dark eyes like her mother and a shock of inky black hair. She was very pale, and delicate, and quiet like her mother. The wind outside was relentless; it howled like a child in a full blown state of tantrum and shook the little caravan like as if a giant was outside bashing it about, making the baby whimper quietly. Gran sang softly to babe and mum, lulling them as she went about her business. She called out would you like some raspberry leaf tea? It will ease the cramping and make you feel better. As she wrapped up the now clean little bundle and was carrying her over to the mother, but the young woman was gone! There was no trace of her anywhere. Gran opened the door and scanned across the meadow she couldn’t make out anything it was so dark and windy, the sleet was coming down almost vertically creating near white out conditions… did she see movement a hundred feet or so off? Could it be? No, it was just a lone doe heading into the bush. What on earth? Thought Gran to herself.
Well little one looks like you are stuck with me for now. Gran half sang to the babe. So sweet, so helpless and already alone in the world, we’d best give you a name; no we can’t have you nameless on top of it all. Gran peeked through the moon shaped cut out in the shutters into the blackness of the nite. Black as a raven’s eye out there it is; Aye dark as their feathers out in the leigh. Hhhhmmm… Raven Leigh, that’s what I shall call you little one, that’s what I shall call you.
Yes, that was nite she came into the world.
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