The Ravens of Shee

by Patricia Gilkerson

The Ravens of Shee by Patrica Gilkerson
The raven was sent to find the young woman with honey skin, dark hair and purply-blue eyes who spoke the Old Language. He found half-Native American, half-elf Indigo and gave her a urgent message: The Green Lady of Faerie needed her help quickly. The Green Lady was Indigo’s mentor, but Indigo had been told never to return on pain of death or worse, imprisonment underground. How could she help the Faerie-folk and gain the affection of Griffin, her secret love and another half-elf, without being captured by the Dark Faeries of her nightmares?

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Release Date: November 14, 2023
Genre: Fantasy Romance



Chapter One 

I stopped sweeping the wooden front porch for a moment and breathed in the air that blew across town from the Forest. The fresh smell of green, growing things called to me, as always. The smell of the Forest, my former home. With a sigh, I leaned in again and finished with the porch. When I walked back into the shop and closed the door behind me, I shut out the aroma of trees and growing plants. I had agreed to be the shopkeeper of Things with Wings when the raven suggested it, and at first enjoyed it a lot. I lived in a tiny apartment above the store for the first few months; my only companion was Tucker, an enormous brown tabby cat. After a while, feeling constricted in that tiny room, I found myself a small cottage on the edge of town. The cottage was a few blocks away from the shop and I could easily walk there no matter the weather. A huge, old oak tree grew in the yard beside my cottage and the Forest was nearby. I felt better there, but it wasn’t home.

I bustled around, organizing the shop for the next day. This store was not difficult to take care of. Things with Wings was a gift shop in the small Minnesota town of Johnson’s Falls, which meant there were generally few shoppers except right before Christmas and in the spring, around Mother’s Day. The things with wings could be birds, insects, angels, faeries, even airplanes—it was a broad description and the owner of the shop pretty much sold what they wanted to. We carried tee shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, blankets, mugs, soap, candles, jewelry and toys. If you could put a picture of a bird, an insect, or a faerie on it, we sold it.

The shop had a lot of rustic wood in its design and furnishings, essential for that hint of the Forest world that the owner and I both needed. Most fabric items we carried were made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool. We had delicious homemade cinnamon rolls or cookies twice a week, made by the owner’s Aunt Maggie. The shop had a warm, cozy vibe, and I had mostly enjoyed it for two years now.

All I really had to do was keep things neat, take care of the merchandise, and sell things. Every night I went past the bank to deposit the contents of the cash drawer and checks, although more and more sales had been by credit card lately. Tucker inspected all shoppers in the store and let me know if any were planning on theft. He was a very special cat. Most shoppers were small-town friendly but, as I was not a chatty type, they didn’t push me to be buddies. Once in a while, men who came into the shop had an overly friendly and unwanted attitude. I managed to get them to back off and leave by distracting them in my own special way.

It was late afternoon as I walked through the shop to my cozy rocking chair in a back room where we had a sitting area and a small kitchen. No one else except Tucker can sit in that chair; it was built for me and meant for only me. I had only had it a few weeks and it was always a joy to snuggle into and relax with my weaving. There were no customers out front, but it was too early to close, so I began work on a baby blanket.

Tucker had kept my chair warm for me but jumped up and wandered out to the front when I made to sit down. Curling up in the soft cushions, I reached into a wooden bowl for spider silk. I made that bowl myself, smoothing the wood for hours until it was glossy and slick. I had fashioned the bowl so that it would hold my spider silk and gossamer without letting them catch or snag.

With a small handful of soft lavender fluff, I began to sing and weave. My fingers moved in rhythm to the song, making knots and loops of the silken threads. My mind drifted into a waking dream as I wove and sang, making mental images of the finished product. I sang of peaceful dreams and lullabies because this would be a wrap for a young child. Not mine, of course. I was not sure that a child would ever be in my destiny. But it could happen. My family tended to live long lives.

I hit a snag with a jagged fingernail and frowned. This never used to happen. When I got in my zone of singing and weaving, it was supposed to go smoothly and gently. With a sigh, I unwound the mistake and took up where I left off, singing, weaving, and humming.

Tucker padded into the room, yellow eyes glowing as he stared into mine.

There is a raven outside for thee.

Did I mention that he is a special cat?

I walked out the door onto the front porch. An enormous raven sat on the railing waiting. I glanced up and down the street lest someone wander by and see me conversing with a bird. They already thought I was a bit strange, but little did they know how strange. Luckily, it was late in the day, but few were walking around. It wasn’t yet time for the homebound rush of bodies to their cars and trucks.

I greet thee in peace. You have a mass for me? I asked him. I can communicate with many kinds of animals. I’ve always been able to do it and I don’t know how it works. For instance, I can’t talk to worms. The animals have to be one of the Forest Clans. I’d been getting rusty, however, so I was glad to practice using the Old Language by speaking to an animal besides Tucker. There were a lot of my old ways that I hadn’t used lately.

The raven cocked his head sideways, staring. Thinking back, I realized I had not spoken correctly.

Pardon. You have a message for me?

Peace to thee, also. Thou art she of the honey skin, long black hair, and purply-blue eyes. Thou speakest the Old Language. Yes, my message is for thee, Lady Indigo.

I stood still, waiting. One does not rush a raven. Black eyes like shiny beads stared at me. It ruffled its feathers and spoke. Not in words, but in thoughts. He was correct in my title, however. Being one of the elfin elite, my mother was Lady Skye. Her status decreed I was to be called Lady Indigo. Mostly my friends knew me as Indigo. Only a few from Faerie ever called me Lady.

The Green Lady requests thy help.

The Green Lady was Fauna Harper. I had not seen my mentor since she left two years ago, leaving me to take care of her shop. Except for the deposits I made, Fauna’s husband took care of the banking and my paycheck.

What kind of help? Where is the Green Lady?

Somewhere in the Great Forest, I know not where. I know only to tell you to come quickly. She needs help with your sisters.

To the Forest? My blood chilled at the prospect.

Yes, Lady, that was clear.

May I know your name? Ravens were notoriously private, sharing no more than necessary.

Corax, Lady Indigo.

Corax, Chief of the Raven Clan?

I am. I am pleased to see you looking well.

My thanks, Corax. It is good to see you also. Go in peace.

And you. But I was to repeat several times: Come quickly! Hurry!


* * *


You have to be polite when speaking with the Clans. Anything less brings up the old antagonism between humans and animals. I was given some leeway, but I always felt like they were waiting for me to prove myself only human after all, and therefore less worthy. Actually, I am not human, but half human and half elf.

The great raven croaked, spread his wings, and flapped up into the sky. He was gone before I could gather my thoughts about my mother and my sisters.

My mother, Lady Skye, passed away from this realm years and years ago. She was an elf of the air, living a life of freedom with many partners through the centuries. Since elves do not have the puritanical morals of humans, Skye always felt free to live as she would and she enjoyed male companions. She fell in with other elves, but also fairies, leprechauns, and the occasional human, such as my father. She definitely enjoyed being a mother and since elves live long lives, I had numerous siblings. I couldn’t be sure which sisters the Green Lady had spoken of. There were probably thirty or so, most of whom I had never met.

She had said to hurry, but I needed to think this over. I was terrified to go home again to the Great Forest, otherwise known as the Land of Faerie, where I had been born and lived my young life. I had spent months trapped underground and chained by Herne the Hunter, Leader of the Wild Hunt. For me, that was a fate worse than death. The Wild Hunt was a spectral troop who searched the Forest at night, capturing human and faerie alike, often killing the humans. They were part of the Dark Side of Faerie. I was not killed due to my half-elf status, but after my escape, I had been warned never to come back. Of course I had to go. The Green Lady called.

I looked forward to seeing Fauna, the Green Lady again. We had met as prisoners together in that cave underground. She had saved my life and I adored her. I had promised to care for her shop so that she could serve her new function as Green Lady. She had struggled with giving up her shop and not living with her husband, but she felt she had a duty to the world of Faerie.

My heart beat harder when I thought of the green, growing woodland. The trees, the birds, the animals, the smell of the Forest, the glitter in the air. I closed my eyes, trying to bring the Forest into my mind. In the past, I could always summon the Forest and feel myself wrapped in its cool green embrace. However, in the last two years, I had been in the human world and was losing that ability. I had dreamt of being able to go back to the Forest. It was one of my dearest wishes and now I could go. And I needed to hurry. The raven had said quickly.

I itemized the preparations I would have to make. I did not know how long I would be gone, but my needs were few. Even though I couldn’t summon the Forest, through her it was surely summoning me.


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