16th September 2015.
“Oh, Raven Blackbeak!” called Morgan with a wicked cackle which echoed within the walls of the cavern.
A raven flew into the cave, leaving behind it an ever growing trail of black smoke that consumed the creature entirely. The smoke parted and standing before Morgan LaFey was a girl. Her dark skin as soft as cotton, her hair as dark as the raven she just was and as soft as silk. Raven Blackbeak was a Familiar – a human soul bound to help the witch that saved her from death until their debt is paid.
Raven remembered the first time she met Morgan, the witch had saved her from the plague at the very brink of death. To this Morgan had simply proclaimed with a sinister smile, “What a pretty girl you are. You are mine now.”
“There you are! I have a job for you.”
“What is your will, Mistress mine?” Raven stood shoulder back, back straight and looked right ahead of her. An almost perfect soldier for the mad woman’s army.
“Well, to kill the boy of course. You see, Raven, the boy is Merlin’s descendant which he adopted after the death of the boy’s parents in a terrible car accident one night. What a pity that bridge collapsed when I happened to be flying over it.”
“Why the boy?”
“Merlin’s weak point of course. He feels responsible for each and every Apprentice that he takes on. One more death will be the final blow, especially when it’s a Magician as promising as Jackson Hardacre.” Morgan’s eyes were like sharp daggers, always ready, as cunning as a snake hiding behind the flower.
“How do I find him?”
“Talons please, my dear.” Morgan held out her hand.
Raven flicked her left hand and her talons sprung from her nails, thick black hooks as sharp as nails. Morgan took hold of Raven’s fingers and with a knife scraped off some of Jackson’s blood from the night before into an obsidian mortar.
As Morgan walked away with the mortar to her shelves of magical herbs and ingredients, Raven put away her talons. Morgan mixed a concoction of dried bat bones and eye of hawk, crushing the ingredients together with her pestle. The Witch then began to chant and the mixture began fizzle and sizzle, bubble and toil. Trouble was brewing.
“Come, child. In hale the smoke and you shall be able to track him down.”
Raven breathed in the smoke. It smelt of death and disease, and Raven could not stop herself from gagging and being sick on the ground. Then images began to flash before her eyes: the Tower of London, Tower Hill station, a tube map whizzing all the way to –
“Covent Gardens,” puffed Raven a little breathlessly. “He’s heading there now”
“Then what are you waiting for! Go after him”
Raven turned and ran out the cavern, jumping down towards the sea from the white cliffs of Dover. Black smoke surrounded her as she plummeted down head first, transforming her into a raven allowing her to swoop upwards. Then with great speed not allowed to a natural raven, Raven flew faster than a rocket, heading towards London.
Already over Parliament, Raven flew down towards Trafalgar Square flying over Nelson’s Column. The wind was cool beneath her winds, she could feel the rush of the wind all around her, unrestricted and free. In just a few moments Raven found herself circling the plaza in Covent Gardens, keeping an eye out for Jackson Hardacre.
It was a difficult task in all of the hustle and bustle of tourists, but in a small crowd circling a street performer stabbing a knife through a coat without piercing a hole in the fabric, was Jackson. Raven took measure of him. Well-built but not muscular, not too fat but not skinny either.
The crowd began to disperse and Jackson headed towards Drury Lane and entered the Theatre Royal. Raven swooped down and stealthily flew in behind Jackson before the door shut. Jackson lead her through many twists and turns until finally they arrived on the stage where Jackson sat its edge. Raven was ready to pounce on him like a tiger, but then he started to speak.
“So, the Tower was broken into last night. This Witch Morgan LaFey, she wants the Dragon Heartstone, wants to use it to bring back her son, Mordred. Apparently he killed Arthur, so Merlin killed Mordred or something like that.”
Jackson let out a small shudder and a tear fell from his eye and down his cheek, the small drop falling on the dark stage. His voice echoed in the empty auditorium. “Mum, Dad, I don’t know what to do. Merlin wants me to kill the Familiar. I don’t think I can, because she’s not really a monster – just an imprisoned soul. I wish you were still here, I miss you guys, sorry I haven’t come to visit in a while. It’s been hard with all that training. I should get going, at least track down the Familiar for now. I promise to come back soon, love you guys.”
That’s when Raven done something she hadn’t allowed herself to do in a long time. She let a tear escape and fall upon the dark stage, and in doing so revealed herself to Jackson as he turned around. His face was a mixture of shcok, intrigue and confusion – his eyebrows were furrowed, his mouth made an “O” shape and his eyes seemed to be scanning Raven.
“Hello, Jackson Hardacre. My name is Raven Blackbeak and I am the Familiar who attacked you last night.”