Monday, October 22, 2007

Ravenswood Stories: The Slave who Shot himself with an Arrow

There was a man from the Ravenswood who went away to war and came back with a great fortune, and also with a slave. This was the first slave to be kept in the Ravenswood, so he caused great excitement, envy and disapproval.

(It's not true that this was the first slave; when the First people built their hill fort, they had slaves working with them; a thousand years later when the Iron Empire tore down the fort they brought (and took) slaves with them to work the fields; when the Iron Empire left and the Sea People came, they made slaves of many of the Ravenwood's inhabitants; when the Northmen came they bought, and sold, and took, and brought slaves; but by the time of the Conqueror there were few slaves and he made no more, so by the time of this story no one had been a slave in the Ravenswood for as long as anyone could remember)

The slave was mostly hardworking, and knew a lot of animal husbandry, which made him in great demand amongst those herdsmen who didn't dismiss his skills as foreign witchcraft. So it was, that when a cow strayed, he was the one to find it.

He found the cow on top of a ridge, looking down a cliff and the slave was separated from it by an overgrown gully. To try and scare it back towards the farm, he shot an arrow to just in front of it. A gust of wind came from nowhere and blew the arrow back at the slave, hitting him in the forehead.

The slave's cries spooked the cow back to the farm, and attracted the attention of the other searchers, including the priest. When the story got back to the Bishop, he went up to the ridge and declared that this was a miracle (of sorts) and that a shrine should be built there. The man who owned the slave took great pride in this, until the Bishop learned the nature of the slave's relationship, and shamed the man into freeing the slave.

This pleased everyone but the former slave, who complained he now had no home or work. The Bishop, thinking quickly, made the former slave warden of the shrine. The man who had been a slave (as he was now known) sent abroad for his wife and children, and they came and joined him (as did his wife's mother who he had not sent for). They lived at the Arrow Ridge Shrine for many years, until the Night of the Fires.

But that's another story.