He awoke with a start, eyes-wide and head pounding with a pain so intense it made him dizzy. He squeezed his eyes shut, only to find that the pressure only increased the pounding. Reaching up to hold his head, he was surprised to feel cloth wrapped firmly around his head. Where was he anyway? Green eyes fluttered around in near-panic. All he could see was the morning light pouring through a slightly ajar window, wooden walls, wooden roofs, blankets and nothing else. However the smell wafting by was delicious and made his mouth water.
Groaning, he made a move to sit up only to hear a soft yelp and gentle hands helping him up and propping a pillow behind him. "Be careful," The voice said, it sounded like a woman's voice. He blinked his eyes open and looked up at her blearily.
"Where…" He croaked, only than realizing how horrendously dry his throat was. The woman, the queer woman who had a pale blue scarf wrapped snugly around her face, seemed to have noticed this and hurried to fetch a cup of water. She offered the cup to him and he took it with mild suspicion before drinking hungrily from it. Water dribbled down his chin but he made no move to clean it. "Where am I?"
"In my house," She replied simply, taking the empty cup from him and moving to the pot hanging over a fire. "Within the forest that surrounds the Kingdom." She added while ladling what looked like soup into a bowl. She returned to him and offered him the bowl, "Its soup." She notified him as if he didn't already know.
Why was he here? He frowned slightly but took the bowl from her. He finished that in a hurry as well. His head still throbbed but at least his body was warmed by the soup. "Thank you." He said, watching as she nodded and set aside the bowl. "Who are you?" He asked, finally.
She paused for a moment's time, thinking before replying him, "People call me Mummy."
He waited, assuming that she had something more to say. What about her birth title? Was that her real name? Instead, she remained silent and gazed at him calmly with startling blue eyes. Finally, he nodded.
"What about you?"
He grinned; suddenly feeling a rush of pride hit him. Why, he was the fantastic…Fantastic…"I'm…I'm…" He stuttered; his grin fell right off his face as he struggled to recall his name. He furrowed his brows, "My name is…" He clutched his head when a sharp pang hit his head, it made him catch his breath and tense up as he waited it over. There was a hand on his shoulder and he could sense the concerned gaze of Mummy on him.
Staring wide-eyed at the colourful layers of blankets pooled around his hip, his hands grew clammy with cold sweat. "I…I don't know," He whispered, utterly shocked when he drew a complete blank on his name. The sharp pain had, at the very least, faded to a dull throb now. "I can't remember…"
"That's alright," He heard her soothe, "Don't try to think too much. You've hurt your head; maybe it'll come back to you when you rest a bit longer."
"No, no, no! How can I go around without a name? That's not right, people should know who they are…who am I?" His mutterings were urgent and slurred together as he desperately racked his brain for his name. He could feel the pain starting to rise up and strike him again, but he couldn't stop.
There was a soft clatter that echoed throughout the silent cottage.
The two of them froze. Mummy lifted her head and looked around but he didn't move. "What was that…?" She asked, but he was too pre-occupied by the sense of cold dread engulfing his being. He lifted his head slowly and looked out the crack of the window.
There was nothing there but a raven.
"R…Raven." He said quietly, wondering why the word induced such fear in his heart.
Mummy took it as an answer, "Ah! Ravens are common in the wood, I feed them sometimes, during the fall so they can fatten up before the snow. They must have knocked something over."
Of course, of course, why was he getting so worked up over a mere bird? "That is kind." He commented.
"Thank you," She said graciously, "But first, we must give you a name – one that you can use until you remember your real name." Mummy gazed at him intently, sky blue eyes boring into his.
"I don't know what to call myself." He stated blandly.
"Why not we name you 'Raven'?" She asked, "They seem to like you." He looked at her quizzically, but she gestured to the window. Turning his head, he found that the same bird had a beady eye turned on him. He shuddered, feeling extremely uncomfortable under its gaze.
"I'd rather not be named after a bird." He said.
"How does "Imber' sound, then?" She suggested as he turned back to look at her, "It means 'rain' in the forgotten tongue. I found you in the rain, so it's quite fitting."
What woman living in a cottage in the middle of nowhere would know such a language? He made a face, "I don't like how it sounds, how about just 'Rain'? It's simple and it will do for now."
Mummy blinked, her eyes lit up in a smile, which he found strange. Didn't people usually smile with their lips? Why did she have a scarf around her head anyway? "Alright, we'll both have odd names to go by then."
"Why do you wrap her face in such a manner?" Rain asked her, unable to keep his mouth shut.
A look of pain flitted in her eyes, but it was quickly covered up. "It was my parent's request, and, as they are my parents, I will honour their words with utmost loyalty." She explained, with an air of defense surrounding her tone.
"Why? You live alone, do you not? They are not even here, they won't know." He asked her, bewildered. There was no reason to follow their words even now. What they didn't know wouldn't harm them. He saw no sense in her actions. The scarf must be stifling and a huge hindrance to her daily activities. But he was growing tired, with the pain increasing in velocity as his eye lids drooped slightly.
"Rest," She got up, sounding slightly relieved. Mummy moved to help him back into a sleeping position, "Do not plan to go anywhere until you have fully healed. The forest is thick, you will get lost without my guidance." She placed a cool hand on his forehead as Rain closed his eyes. "Good sleep."
A light sigh escaped his lips before he fell fast asleep.
Well, it seemed like she would have a stranger to take of now, which probably also meant that she would need to buy more food. And what when her sister's assistant came for his monthly visit? She gazed at the Rain's sleeping face and blinked, had she seen him before?
Outside, a wrinkled and calloused hand scribbled hastily on a piece of ripped parchment. The paper was eventually rolled up with shaky hands and a cracker was produced from within the sleeves of this person. Having noticed the delectable treat, the raven hopped off its stand and grabbed the cracker from the trembling hand. While the bird ate, the rolled paper was inserted carefully into the carrier case tied firmly to the raven's leg.
Picking up the bird, the person whispered 'Domus' before throwing the bird into the air. Clucking and flapping clumsily the first few rounds, the raven took off with an indignant squawk.
Landing gracefully onto its master's shoulder, the raven dipped its dark head and shifted its weight from side to side. The man paused and grasped the raven, roughly pulling out the parchment from the carrier case. Reaching for a stale cracker in his drawer, he tossed both bird and cracker on the desk before leaning back in his seat and reading the note.
A grin spread across the marred face of the man, "Interesting, definitely interesting," He commented to nobody in particular. "Oh…Rain…my dear boy, you sly dog, you cold bastard …your plan is brilliant - slave!" His voice boomed suddenly, "Fetch me my letter kit; I have an important mail to send."
The young, dark-skinned boy yelped in fright before nodding and stuttering out a 'Yes sire' before scrambling away.
It was time for a family reunion.
Oh thank you to those who have commented and provided me with criticism! I will keep all in mind while I write and try to improve them. Please, keep them coming so I can get better for your utmost enjoyment!