The Raven

Author's Note: As any of you that are reading Prophecy know, Kimberly "Call me Raven" Wood is one of the third year Manticores... (That is, she was chosen to be a Manticore in Chimera's third year.) This is how she earned the nickname Raven... and it has a little twist.

This story is true, minus the references to magic. Once upon a time, there was a little girl who encountered a raven, and earned a nickname that has lasted sixteen years.

Kimberly Wood looked at her guests very seriously. She frowned at one of them. "You have to keep your hair out of the tea," she chided Miss Opal. She reached out and pushed the offending hair out of the small cup of juice in front of the doll. She looked at the bear next to Miss Opal. "I know," she agreed with the silent message, "Miss Opal is being messy." She nodded at the serious looking bear on the left of Miss Opal as he agreed with her.

Kimberly was two weeks past her fifth birthday, and she was having another tea party with her friends. Mr. Bear, Miss Opal, Mr. Dragon, and Miss Pretty Princess were welcoming Mr. Unicorn to the family. They had done this three or four times already in the last two weeks, but it was a good excuse to get lots of juice and cookies from mommy.

Kimberly looked at the new doll she had gotten for her fifth birthday, a stuffed Unicorn. "Since you are the guest, you can wear my shiny necklace," she told him importantly. She took the costume jewelry necklace off and put it around the neck of the Unicorn. "Don't lose it," she confided, "it's my bestest treasure."

The tea party continued and was going quite well until the juice ran out. Kimberly frowned at the empty cup. "You wait here," she told her guests, "I'll get some more." Kimberly ran inside and opened the refrigerator. She took the juice out and carefully poured some more, chewing absently on her tongue as she concentrated on her task.

Carrying the cup carefully, she went back outside, starting toward her party. She glanced up, looking at her guest, and the cup fell to the patio, forgotten.

Her friends were being attacked by a large black bird. The bird had her best treasure in his beak and was tugging at it, trying to get it away from Mr. Unicorn. "Get away from there!" The cry was reinforced with a burst of accidental magic that turned the bird a glowing blue color. Kimberly charged into battle, angry at the bird for scaring her friends and trying to steal her treasure.

The bird flinched at the loud cry, and the abused necklace's clasp broke, freeing the bird to fly away from the rapidly approaching Defender of Stuffed Friends and Treasures.

Kimberly saw the bird flying away with her treasure, and her blue eyes went a dark shade. She ran after the bird, following the glow.

Normally, as birds have the advantages of speed and wings, the treasure would have been lost. Kimberly was assisted in several ways though. First, the bird had problems flying. The stolen treasure was flapping loosely, interfering with his flight, and forcing him to fly slower than he normally would under the circumstances. Second, the bright blue glow of the bird from Kimberly's first magical action helped the little girl keep track of him, and last, the bird didn't live far away. Kimberly had seen this bird before, and knew where he was going.

About two hundred meters behind Kimberly's house stood an old, old tree, gnarled and dying slowly, as trees do. The bird headed straight for it, and landed somewhere in the upper branches, disappearing from sight.

Kimberly came to a stop at the bottom of the tree and looked up. Near the top of the tree, she could see a blue glow coming from a hole in the tree. She turned to go back to the house to get her father, and then stopped. What if the bird flew away while she was gone? Her treasure would be lost.

Kimberly Wood turned around and stared at the tree, chewing on her tongue as she thought about her problem. The bird was up there. The stealer had her treasure. Therefore, she had to find a way to get up there and get it back.

She looked at the tree again, noticing for the first time that the branches looked like some of the jungle gym things on the playground at school. She looked at them again, realizing that they went all the way up to the bird's house, and could be climbed.

Kimberly went to the lowest branch and began to climb.

Kimberly's father was in the house, working out his latest stunt when an owl tapped on the window. He looked up and sighed. He loved magic, loved being a Wizard, but the whole Wizard world was incredibly behind the times. There had to be a better way to get your mail than from a bird, for god's sake.

He crossed over to the window and opened it, taking the letter from the bird. The bird flew to the small perch he kept for the owls that were waiting responses and helped itself to water and some of the owl treats Sean Wood kept there. He grinned at the bird. "You've been here before," he said.

Sean Wood looked at the message, expecting a personal letter, and was mildly surprised to find yet another letter from the Ministry of Magic. He frowned as he tried to figure out which of their rules he'd broken this time.

Opening the letter, his confusion grew. Accidental magic? He froze, staring at the name of the offender. Kimberly had inherited magic? He blinked, and grinned. Now he'd have somebody to teach his tricks to.

He turned, walking out of his office. He went outside, looking for Kimberly. Her dolls were sitting around the little table she used, but there was no sign of Kimberly. He looked around and called her name a couple of times, but she didn't answer.

Sean wasn't worried yet, as the Woods lived quietly, far from any neighbors or people. He cast a spell, and a glowing arrow appeared, pointing towards the house. Sean's one fear for his daughter was that she'd get lost in the woods around the house, so he had charmed her favorite necklace.

The glowing arrow would point to it, and as he walked, it would continue to advance in front of him until he found her. He followed the arrow through the house and out the back. He frowned as it continued through the woods. It was not like Kimberly to leave her dolls out when she went off.

Sean followed the arrow, beginning to walk faster, until it stopped by a tree and pointed straight up. Looking up, his heart nearly stopped.

Kimberly had taken nearly thirty minutes to reach the glowing hole. She had to stop and rest several times and now she was level with the hole, but nearly a meter to one side without a branch to help her. She leaned forward carefully and grabbed the edge of the hole.

She looked into the hole, and for an instant, Kimberly and the bird were eye to eye. The bird exploded out of the hole, scaring Kimberly and nearly knocking her from her perch.

She grabbed a branch, and held on, waiting to see if the bird would return. It did, but only to settle on a nearby branch and complain loudly about the intruder in its domain. Kimberly looked into the nest and saw her treasure laying in a pile of other things that the raven had collected over the years.

She reached for it, but it was too far away, and she chewed her tongue again. She edged as close as she could to the hole, and began pulling her upper body into the hole. She finally got far enough inside the hole that she could retrieve her treasure and smiled. She coiled her treasure into a small pile and closed her hand around it.

She started to wiggle back out of the hole, and ran into a problem. She couldn't find the branch with her feet. She wiggled out a bit further, and still couldn't find it. She stopped and tried to think as the first stirring of fear began.

Sean looked up and saw his daughter's legs sticking out of a hole in the tree some twenty meters off the ground. He grabbed a branch and started up the tree, only to have a branch snap off in his hands.

He looked at the branch in his hands and swore violently as he realized the tree was rotting away from the inside. Kimberly's light weight didn't break the dying branches, but there was no way he was going to be able to climb this tree.

He reached for his cellular phone and hit the first speed dial number. When his wife answered the phone, he told her to bring his Broomstick and gave her directions to the tree. He looked up, and saw that Kimberly's feet and legs were coming further out, wiggling around. "Kimberly," he shouted, "don't move."

Her feet continued to move, and he realized that she couldn't hear him with her upper body in the tree. He pulled out his wand and pointed it at his throat. "Sonorus," he cast, and tried again. "Kimberly, don't move." The shout echoed through the woods and Kimberly's feet stopped moving. "I'll be there in a minute, honey. Just wait a few minutes."

He watched, casting glances toward the house, looking for his wife. When she finally appeared, he waved, attracting her attention. He looked up again, finally noticing the bird. He grinned briefly at its bright blue color, recognizing it as a raven that had been here since before he bought the house.

Maria Wood came up, her eyes bright with questions until Sean pointed up. Her eyes followed his finger and she saw her daughter sticking out of the hole. Maria covered her mouth and watched as Sean lifted off, slowly flying around the branches until he reached Kimberly. He took a second to remove the "Sonorus" spell, not wanting to scare his daughter to death.

He steadied the broomstick, a major feat for him, as he'd never been very good with a broomstick, and reached out carefully. He grabbed Kimberly and eased in close enough that he could reach her waist. When he was ready, he told her to let go of the tree, and started going backwards.

When Kimberly's weight was added to the Broomstick, Sean nearly lost control, dipping sideways and bouncing his shoulder off a branch before he could regain control. He drifted down, carefully staying away from the branches, but not willing to try real flight with a passenger, especially one he was holding onto with one hand.

When they got down far enough, Maria took Kimberly from him and hugged her tightly. Sean landed, and took his wife and child in his arms. Kimberly squirmed around, turning to face them both. She opened her hand, showing them the broken necklace. "I got my treasure back," she said, "but the bad stealer bird broke it."

Sean and Maria looked at each other and then smiled and Kimberly. Setting her down, they both took one of her hands and started back toward the house. "Let's go back to my shop so I can fix it," said her father, "and you can tell us all about the raven."

A/N: It actually took the Fire Department nearly an hour to get me out of the tree, and according to them, I was eighty-two feet in the air. I still have the necklace and the nickname that came with my little adventure. Miss Pretty Princess, Mr. Bear, and Mr. Dragon have departed, given to younger siblings, but Miss Opal and Mr. Unicorn still grace my bed at home, with the necklace around Miss Opal's neck.

It's been sixteen years since that incident, and to my rather intense embarrassment, it's still one of the commonly told tales at family reunions. Raven