Monday, March 05, 2007

Ravenswood Stories

A friend of mine is moving out of a place called Ravenswood at the end of the month. Ravenswood is quite an interesting name. On the one hand it's purely descriptive: a wood of ravens. On the other, it's evocative of a dark, mysterious place, something a bit like this:

This sounds like some kind of gothic novel, with maidens in dark towers lamenting over cruel twists of fate, and young men with Destinies riding out of the forest. And don't go into the locked room...

In other words, old-fashioned, unsubtle and manipulative, right? Well, perhaps. Anyway, as my badly phrased introduction above notes, the Ravenswood has a thousand stories. Here's one of them; the story of how the Ravenswood stories came about.

Ravenswood Stories

After the Lord of Ravenswood castle brought home a wife, he left to go to war. His new wife spent her days hawking and hunting with hounds, and in the castle library reading codicies of history and legend. A young, athletic woman, the people of Ravenswood slowly came to respect her, for she always had time to listen, and would gladly pass the time of day with a young mother or an old midwife. She would always send game to the villagers when she was successful in her hunt.

She would always feed the Ravens.

A year and a day after the Lord of Ravenswood left, a messenger rode up the hill to the castle. The Lady met him in the courtyard, and, on one knee, he told her how her husband had been killed. She thanked the messenger and sat alone in her solar for the rest of the day.

A few days later, a distant cousin of the Lord arrived, with his wife, his daughters, a train of friends, servants and guardsmen, and a commission from the King, declaring him Baron of Ravenswood and Master of the Castle. The Lady welcomed him to the castle, and he threw her out, giving her jewels to his daughters.

In the forest, the villagers built the Lady a hut. At her request, it was outside the village. It became common for the villagers to see her in the forest, dressed all in black, the Ravens silently pointing out the game to her.

Now she lives in her hut, hunting deer through the forest. She makes finest vellum from the deer hide, and writes on it with quills made of Raven feathers. She writes letters, testaments and petitions for the villagers. And in the evening she listens to the tales village elders and writes the stories of the Ravenswood.