[The] Raven’s Omen

When I checked out the Blog that had first created the Blogger Recognition Award, I noticed that Eve was currently holding a writing contest with the following premise:

The theme of this contest is called Raven’s Omen. You’ll be given a prompt, consisting of both words and an image, and your goal is to create a memorable piece based upon that prompt in the form of either a poem or a short story.

It sounded interesting, so I let my mind wander and came up with the story that you can read below.

The Prompt

Dunkelheit” by Vickie666 on DeviantArt

The raven lifts his head, sensing impending trouble. He takes off from his post above the dark, abandoned tower; a message of warning upon his wings.

The Guidelines

  • Create a story based upon the prompt.
  • Decide which category you want to enter into: Poem or short story.
  • Short stories should be between 100 and 1000 words in length. Poems should be between 5 and 15 lines long.
  • You must enter by August 23rd, 2015. No entries will be accepted after this date.

The Story*

High on top of the broken and charred remains of a tower, a flock of ravens had found its home. On each side of the tower one or two birds sat on the outer walls, watching over the field that lay beneath them. The tower used to be a watchtower for a once mighty castle and guards stood sentinel over the lands in every point of the compass. Now it was abandoned and the unspoken duty had fallen to the birds. The day had started like any other; a calm morning had turned into a warm and sunlit afternoon. Suddenly a shiver ran through the black birds as a dreadful feeling fell upon them. They sensed that something was not right. Something wicked was on its way. Wings fluttering and cawing loudly, the flock dissipated in every direction to spread a warning to everyone that crossed their path.

Down below the tower a field of grain stood proudly, its stalks swaying slightly in the wind. Men and women stood amongst them, shielding their eyes to follow the black birds. One man looked behind the tower and noticed an especially large shape.
“The ravens get bigger and bigger each summer.”, he commented.
“That’s not a raven…” mumbled another one that had seen it as well.
“DRAGON!” now ran the call throughout the field.
Every last one of them dropped what they had in hand and laid down flat on the ground.
Everyone except one boy that still clutched his fork in his hands, staring at the fast approaching dragon like prey looked at its predator.

The others yelled and called out to the boy, but they were ignored.
The beast flew lower and lower, his large wings spread widely he used them to glide over the field. Soon he was low above the field, his feet touched the grain and the wind below his wings, with every graceful flap he made, pushed it aside and sent clouds of dust and dirt into the air.
Now close enough the dragon stretched out its claws to simply snatch the boy away.
Another farmer boy gathered up all his courage and jumped up to tackled his friend down. Just in time they landed in the dusty field when the creature flew right above them, darkening their view; the sharp claws slicing the empty air it hit. They could hear its wings flapping strongly as it tried to assent again and regain its momentum.
“That was stupid!”, the boy reprimanded his friend, one hand still on the others chest, his ear touching the earth.
He could feel the others racing heart and ragged breathing. His own heart was bumping in his chest as if he had just ran many miles. Patiently the boys and the other field hands waited for the dragon to either return or disappear.

After a few moments had past someone finally yelled: “SAVE” and they knew they could get back to their work now.
He helped his friend up and continued his scolding: “Everyone knows you have to lie down flat when a dragon attacks! They can’t reach that low mid-flight!”
His friend was still pale, but nodding in understanding. One of the older men came to give him a sip of his water skin and an encouraging pat on the back.
“Why didn’t it burn our crops to get to us more easily?”, one of the younger men asked after they had stood a while, watching the direction the dragon had taken.
“Because it knew we wouldn’t be worth it.”, an old man simply stated, leaning heavily on his hoe.
His remark was followed by several questioning stares.
“Don’t give me those looks. Dragons aren’t as stupid as you think. They know good prey from bad and in our case, we looked far too skinny for its taste to bother hunting us down and waste energy it could use to get better prey.”, he explained.
“Scaly bastards.”, another man commented.
The rest of them took this as a sign that the conversation was over and without further ado they went back to their work.

High above the field the flock of ravens one by one returned to their posts on the old sentinel tower, resuming their watch over the fields.

~ old: 485 new: 710 words

Afterword

I hope you enjoyed this little thing.
The word count for this was a nice alternative to our usual 800-1700 words and was therefore easily filled. I don’t know if I even can write a complete story under a hundred words any more… Notes and rough versions, yes, but not stuff that actually makes sense…
Anyway, I ended up not using the raven itself that much and also only noticed the eye it is holding in the picture when I had already written my first draft and did no longer fit into the storyline at that point, but well, inspiration sometimes strikes in the most unusual ways…

PoiSonPaiNter

© Rights for the story lie by me, those for the picture by Vickie666, as named in the description. Do not use or repost without my permission.

* Edited version 23.08. 13:20 UTC+1: Added and changed some things and included a last nod to the ravens for Breagit (😉 ).  If someone is interested in the original version, feel free to let me know and I’ll add it.

28 comments

  1. Great story Anne, I was expecting visions of Poe at the bevining, but it went in a completely unexpected direction, really enjoyed it. Although the poor old Dragon always gets a nasty rap in Europe for some reason. I reckon this would be a great piece to develop further.
    Perhaps all the dragons come together to fight of an evil foe? Just a thought, I’ll leave the writting to those who do it best.

    Well done👍😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ed.
      I’m not that good that I would try to compete with Poe, though I blame that thought on our recent discussion about the ravens in Tara.😀

      That’s true, dragons usually are seen as something bad, even though they are absolutely fascinating creatures. Who knows maybe I will take up your idea and write something like that one day.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well there is no reason why you couldn’t, you got the tools, I’m sure he said the same thing about a writer he liked?
        I would love to read what ever you do with the Dragon😁
        How did I get on with the publishers?

        Like

      2. Maybe you’re right and who knows what was going on in his head.🙂
        We’ll see.🙂
        I haven’t dared to sent them the excerpt yet…I did prepare it and have it ready for printing, but it’s still a push of a button away from actually being printed…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. LOL, I know that feeling, Im thinking of trying to get a colum in a local or national paper for my ruinhunter series. Its just that initial contact thats putting me off. I guess we all fear the unknown.
        Tell you what, if you do it, so will I. We can set a date, send our stuff off and have a good laugh about it, when its over?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, I’ve read about that. Congrats on the already published pieces by the way!

        Hmm…that sounds like quite a plan…
        Would it be more like: On that day we will send it off or we have time to send it off until that day? 😀

        Like

  2. Hey there, PoiSonPaiNter! First of all, congrats on the award nomination. It’s great that that little thing is still floating around out there.

    I love the story that you managed to cook up from the prompt. You took it in a direction I hadn’t quite expected, and I’ve always loved fantasy. Dragons being a big part of that.🙂 You used wonderfully colorful language in many of your sentences – especially in the beginning paragraph. Great imagery there!

    Being honest, I think it might have flowed just a little smoother with a bit more detail, and there are a few grammatical and spelling errors that I have to take into account when it comes time to pick the winners. But I really did enjoy this, and please know that it’s impressive writing even if another’s work is chosen this time around.

    Thank you once again for your interest in the contest – I wish you the best of luck! Keep writing.

    Eve
    Edge of Night

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,

      thank you for your kind words, I’m glad you liked it (and my comment reached you).

      Don’t worry I didn’t enter the contest with the expectation to win anything anyway, I just wanted to use the chance to do something creative for an interesting prompt.🙂

      As for the grammar and spelling: If you don’t mind, it would be great if you could point those mistakes out, as I can’t see them (both because I read the story too many times and because I simply don’t know if the words I used were the correct ones and I know tenses aren’t my strong suit either), so I can correct them after the contest is over and know what I did wrong for future stories.

      At some point in a story I just don’t know what to add any more without making it sound like filler, so I just leave it, which sometimes creates bumpy writing, sorry.
      Thanks again and good luck finding your winners!

      Poison

      Like

      1. You’re more than deserving of the kind words, and your comment did indeed reach me.🙂 I apologize for my responses being a bit slow – busy this week!

        That’s how I always enter things, with no expectation to win. It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable. I’ll of course point out anything that could be corrected! However, all contestants are allowed to edit their pieces for any issues that they themselves find until the contest end-date (August 23). So, if you’d like, I can tell you now (but you would have to wait to do any editing), or you can continue to polish the story until the contest is over. Either is fine – please let me know.🙂

        No worries, I have the same issue! Sometimes I just go ahead and add the “filler,” because it often turns out sounding better to others than it did to myself. You’re welcome, and thank you as well!

        Like

      2. Hmm…in that case I’ll have another look at it myself and would prefer to get your feedback when the contest is over. Thanks for telling me that!

        And don’t worry about the “slow” reply, I was just confused that your side didn’t show me the comment after I posted it, but I figured you’d have to allow the comment first, so I just waited for any kind of reply and would have sent you an email if blogspot had decided to not accept my comment.😀

        Like

      3. Yeah, that’s something that I wish Blogger comments did. WordPress is nice that way, where it let’s you see your comment even if it requires moderation.

        Alrighty! I’ll stop by again sometime on or after the 23rd, then, and leave you some more detailed feedback (I’ll also let you know who won the contest).

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Just so you know: I made the last touches on the story and it’s now a tiny bit longer than before… (I didn’t manage to work on it again before today, so they are kind of last minute changes, sorry…)

        I commented on another blogspot Blog before, but I could see the comment there, but I can’t remember if there was any kind of note saying “needs moderation” or if that feature wasn’t activated…

        Like

      5. (Incoming giant wall of text.. lol)

        No problem! And about the blogspot comment, I’m thinking maybe they had some sort of other commenting system (Disqus, for example), if there was a moderation notice on there. As far as I’m aware, the default Blogger comments can’t do that (unfortunately!).

        Also, the contest has been judged, and your piece, especially after those edits you made, has won! You can view the post announcement here: View post. You now have bragging rights and the choice between a tailored or surprise award image to display wherever you’d like! Please take a look at the original post, decide which you prefer, and let me know.🙂

        Now, onto my promised feedback. To keep it as short as possible, I’ve left out what I liked about the story (it would get very lengthy, and I’ve described some of it already in the winners post):

        You’ve corrected many of the mistakes that stood out to me previously. I’m really quite impressed with the extra detail! It is much, much less bumpy and flows more smoothly now.

        Here’s what I’ve noticed that could be corrected (and most are very minor things):

        – Dialogue tags (He said, she said, the boy commented, the man yelled, etc.) don’t need to be capitalized. Commas are usually used at the end of dialogue unless you didn’t use a tag. Examples: “‘..bigger each summer.’ He commented” should be “‘..bigger each summer,” he commented.” Same goes for “‘Scaly bastards,” another man commented.”

        – “send” in “..send clouds of dust and dirt” should be “sent.”

        – In the third block of text “The sharp claws slicing the empty air it hit” is a sentence fragment. You could join it with the previous one to make it, “..darkening their view, the dragon’s sharp claws slicing the empty air they hit.”

        – “Man” in both “One of the older man came” and “One of the younger man asked” should be “men.” (You’re referring to them as “one of” so that turns it plural.)

        And that’s it, I think. Sorry for the long comment. I’ll leave second (shorter!) one with a few things I’m not quite sure on but might be useful in the future.🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Wow…I’m speechless…thank you so much! This is amazing…
        Give me some time to process this then I’ll get back to you regarding your feedback (Thanks a lot for that too and don’t worry about the lengthy comment!).

        As for the picture: I’ll let you surprise me.🙂

        Like

      7. Now for the Feedback:
        – I hope I caught all the dialogue tags. I heard some different views on this that say if a sentence in the direct speech ends with a dot then the tag needs to be capitalized, then there is the version where you still add a comma and then the tag, so I’m not entirely sure which version I should use while writing.
        – Send and man are such silly mistakes… I know what the correct version is and I still use the wrong one…
        – Added the claws sentence to the one before

        Thanks for the Feedback!

        Like

      8. Some others that I’m not 100% on, but thought I’d mention:

        – “an” in the sentence “..an once mighty castle..” should probably be changed to “..a once mighty castle..” This just feels more natural to me. However, I could be wrong.

        – Commas. I have issues with commas as well, so again, just noting some potential errors; but I do believe a comma is needed after “abandoned” in the first paragraph to avoid a run-on sentence. “Now it was abandoned, and..” Similarly, one is needed after “loudly” in “Wings fluttering and cawing loudly…”

        On the other end, the comma after “knew” in “Because it knew, we wouldn’t be worth it” unnecessarily interrupts the sentence flow. You could either change that to two sentences: “Because it knew. We wouldn’t be worth it.” Or one continuous sentence: “Because it knew we wouldn’t be worth it.”

        I hope that helps.🙂 Not meaning to nitpick or anything, and again, apologies for the long comments.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. – Honestly? I struggled with “an once” for quite some time. I added and deleted the n several times. It sounds better without the n, but I also had in mind that you have to add it before a vowel. But now I decided to delete it permanently.😀
        – Commas and I are not friends, I added/removed some of your suggestions.

        Thanks again for your feedback.🙂

        Like

    1. You’re welcome! I’m so glad that you decided to enter.

      As far as I can tell, you got all the tags. However, the commas replace the existing end punctuation and go inside the quotations.🙂 I can’t say if what you heard is right or not – I do remember hearing that myself before. It may be some sort of exception rule that I’m not familiar with. The advice I received from a fellow writer is that the dialogue tags don’t need capitalization (even when there’s a “?” or “!”), and sentences end outside of the dialogue if there is a tag and/or action described.

      I did some Googling and found this article that might help explain what I’m talking about: Punctuation in Dialogue.

      The rest looks great. And don’t worry about “sent/send” and “men/man.”😉 Sometimes the wrong words slip out anyway. How rude of them lol.

      And lastly, your image is finished! Do you happen to have an email address that I could send it to? No biggie if not.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks a lot for the link! It is really helpful and even explains something that didn’t make sense to me while reading books (quotation marks for different paragraphs). Though I’m not sure when I’ll change it in the story…

        You can find my e-mail addresses on the Impressum page. The proper name version at the top, the nickname version at the bottom, just pick the one that strikes your fancy.😉

        Thank you again. It really lifts my spirits to read that someone enjoyed something I wrote as much as you did.🙂

        Like

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