I Await Thee Ravens, Among The Briars

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Start your story with an unexpected knock on a window.... view prompt


Fantasy Romance Teens & Young Adult

The bird flies at me, it’s sharp beak pointed at my eyes. It lunges and I duck, screaming. It’s talons get tangled in my long, golden brown waves. As it tries to fly away, I can feel some hairs giving way and snapping, allowing the bird to get farther into the sky. 

I yank at my hair, trying to untangle the raven, but it’s beak stabs at my hand, and I feel something cool leak over my skin.

A second later pain follows, and I draw my hand back, examining the blood that pools over my light creamy skin, the two colors contrasting, almost reminding me of a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. 

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Now I have the strange urge to lick my hand, in hopes that the sweet creamy sensation of the frosting will mingle in my mouth with fluffy cake. As my hand inches towards my mouth, my mind screams at me to retract my tongue before I can taste my own blood. 

I know I won't taste the cupcake. I will taste the bitterness of metal, but my eyes relate the colors back to my brain, and I—

Tap. Tap. Tap.

This is the second time I have heard that. I assume it’s the raven trying to peck at my scalp, but I feel no pain. I ignore it, and—

I wake up.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

I hear someone whispering, but I can’t place who—

“Syl. Open up!” I rub at my eyes and look around my room, my eyes making note of everything, my ivory wardrobe, my matching writing desk, my velvet chaise. All my possessions lay scattered about from earlier.

Nothing seems to be inside.

But then I see a shadow behind my closed drapes.

Fear rushes through me, but a surge of curiosity overwhelms that soon after. I slip out of my silk sheets and creep across the polished tile floor, all the way to the window. I press my back to the wall and rip open the pale pink curtain. No one sits upon the bench seat, but someone sits outside on the branch of the nearby tree.


A surge of love- and something else that isn’t quite so wonderful- rushes through me, but that unpleasant feeling is overwhelmed by my elation. I quickly unlatch it and let the pane swing open. “What are you doing here?” I whisper-yell. “It’s in the middle of the night!”

His green eyes stare into my hazel ones. “Yes, I know, but I had to see you.” He touches his forehead to mine and closes his eyes. I follow suit. “I had to see you before I leave again.”

He says the last bit so quietly, I almost think that I imagined it.

 My eyes fly open as I grip the fabric of his plain cream shirt in my fists. “What do you mean… again?”

Derrick blows out onto my face, his warm breath caressing my cheeks. “My father is sending me overseas to deal with princely matters.”

I mean to be somber, I really do. So I try to hold in a short giggle, but I can’t help it. The laugh escapes my lips as easily as soap slips between my hands. “Princely matters?”

This brings a smile to his lips. “Yes.” 

“What sort of princely matters?” I ask.

“Secret ones,” he replies.

I roll my eyes. “You can tell me. Who will I gossip with about the kingdom’s great plans? My mother? She is the only one who ever bothers to climb this dreadful tower other than you.”

“You make a good point.” He taps my nose as he slides something around my neck. The jewels are pretty, sea green apatite I think. “But I have been forbidden.”

I finger the necklace as Derrick kisses the corners of my lips which have since melted downwards.

“Fine,” I say, arching my neck away from him. “I wasn’t that interested anyway.” He immediately inserts his lips in the crook of my neck, but I pull away, turning at the last second so he won't see my smile.

“Go attend to your princely matters, and return to me when you can,” I say. 

“I will be back after a full rotation of the moons,” he promises, and here I will live with his vow. 

Derrick walks over to the window and swings his legs out, hooking his feet into the uneven stones of my tower. He slowly lowers himself down the side and I watch until his feet hit the grass far below my window. 

Then I take one last good look at him before I close my eyes. I picture his kind face and rounded jawline, his soft green eyes, and his skin against mine. How would I survive a full moon rotation in this tower without him?

Without trying to spot Derrick in the distance, I turn and go inside. My tower is my home and here I will stay. I will stay until I turn 18 years and then Derrick will take me away to his palace. 

One more year.

My bare feet slide against the cool tile, all the way over to the velvet chaise where I plop myself down and sit with my thoughts.

You would think leaving one person alone with their mind would drive them insane, but not me. Here in the early morning, I can go on daring adventures and dream of far away places. Somewhere far, far away from here, and preferably with Derrick.

Slowly I nod off into a sleep, just as the sun rises and shines through the open window.

The bird flies at him, its sharp beak pointed at his brilliant green eyes. It lunges and he ducks, screaming. Its talons rip into the flesh of his face, cutting down his cheek. 

He swats at the raven, in an attempt to usher it away, but its beak stabs at his hand, and I see a pool of blood leak over his hand, tiny bits of torn skin hanging at the sides of the wound.

I gasp loudly and fall off the chaise. I clutch my hand, which hurts as if the raven had pecked clear through the bone, not just in my dream.

Derrick was in trouble, I knew it. 

I had to get to him. I had to warn him. I had to save him. 

I ran to my wardrobe and threw off my nightgown, not bothering to take off the necklace, letting the warm stones brush over my bare chest. 

I pull on a gown that would be easier to walk in. One of my more humble outfits. Mother likes to spoil me often. She was currently on a trip to bring me back a youthful tonic she had heard of overseas. I wonder if Derrick will see her.

I grab a satchel and stuff it with as much food as I can. If I’m lucky I can catch Derrick before his ship leaves.

I run to my window which is still open, and I throw my legs over the ledge like I have seen Derrick do so many times before.

I lower myself downwards and clutch the stones. I hate this. I glance downwards, but the soft grass looks so far below and my vision becomes hazy for a second.

Don’t look.

I descend, gripping the rocks so tightly that my knuckles turn white.

I risk a glance down again, and this time the grass doesn’t look so far away. My heart pounds and adrenaline rushes through me. I am so close to my freedom, why haven't I done this before?

I loosen my grip as I continue down, no longer am I so afraid. But as I take my next step, I slip. My feet give way and my arms aren't strong enough to hold me on such a small stone. I tumbled into the grass but for some reason, it didn’t hurt. I picked myself back up and Stared out at the forest before me.

I don’t know how to find Derrick. I guess I could follow the horse’s hoofprints to wherever he went. If he went to a village first I could probably catch him. 

I scour the mud for any distinct marking that his horse had been there before. 

I find what seem to be other animal tracks. I can’t be for certain that the horse went this way, carrying Derrick upon it. However this looks like the most traveled path, and so this one I shall take.

I follow the trail as it curves around trees and hills, only pausing at a small river where I briefly lost the tracks. They resumed about four yards upstream, and from there I continued.

My heart beats wildly against my sea green necklace as I travel onwards, and as the horse’s hoof prints separated from the foxes and the deer of the woods it gives a little excited jump.

I can only hope this will lead me to Derrick, so I can warn him of the impending danger. What that danger is, I don’t know. But I have a feeling. A strong one. Something other than love. A certain tugging in my chest that is pulling me after him. 

The dream was warning me, I know it.

At the thought of the ravens, I pick up my pace- hoping to reach him before the metaphorical birds do.

I glance up at the sun, and it’s barely peeking over the trees. I can see rooftops in the distance. I was right. 

I press a hand to my chest and sigh. “Oh thank heavens,” I mutter. Then I break into a run, heading towards the docs; hopefully, I will make it before the ship launches, taking my prince with it.

“Derrick!” I call out as I run through the streets. People glance at me strangely, but I don’t care. One day I will be their queen.

I pass shops and kiosks, their tenders yelling at me to buy their latest deals. But I ignore them and continue towards the harbor, where I spy billowing sails peaking above the terraced houses with their wooden shingles.

My lungs are about to explode, it feels like they cannot take air in or exhale it. I force myself to pause and catch my breath. I lean against a building and tip my head back, gulping in air, trying to steady my racing pulse.

And then… there. I see him. Derrick.

He stands next to a lady wearing a deep purple dress, his back to me. But I know it’s him. He sported the same cream shirt from earlier, as well as the same grey pants and black polished boots. His perfect blonde hair was slightly tousled from the ride here. It had to be him.

And then he turned, slipping something in his pocket, and walked away from the lady. But as he turned, his brilliant green eyes found my hazel ones. We both froze. His jaw tensed and his eyes were wide as we stared at one another, not knowing what to do.

“Derrick.” I breathed. And finally, he strode over.

“Sylvaine, darling,” He nuzzled my neck. “What are you doing here?”

“I came looking for you!” I started, everything coming out in a rush. “I had this dream and you were in danger. It felt so real I thought it was a sign and so I—”

“Syl, breathe. You had a dream so you came out of your tower, risked angering your mother, for me?” He looked concerned for my well-being. I wanted to kick him. I was so mad I could… Spit! He was the one in danger! Not me! “I love you to death, but I have a whole army and bodyguards to protect me. I wish you hadn’t come out here and put yourself in danger.”

“What danger have I put myself in?” I fold my arms and back away from him. 

Derrick glances over his shoulder and then back at me, his shoulders tense as he grips my arms. “Sylvaine, you have to leave right now. I must go soon and I can’t bring you on the ship. I will return, and when I do, I will take you from your mother and we will rule together.”

I look down at the uneven cobblestones and sigh. Tears start to leak from my eyes as I look back up at him. “Derrick, please don’t leave me with my mother. I am so sick of her. I want you. Only you.” I collapse into him and start to bawl.

He lets me sit there and waits patiently for me to finish. “You have to be patient a little while longer, darling. And then I promise I will come for you.”

“You promise?”

“I have vowed a million times, my love.” He bit his lip. “What more do you want?”

He knows what I want. I’ve told him so many times, so instead of answering I push myself up onto my tiptoes and I kiss him deeply. 

He kisses me back and pushes me against the wall where my back now presses comfortably, one of his hands in my hair, the other holding tightly around my waist.

My neck is wet from the kisses when I push him away. “Fine,” I say. “I will go.”

He smiles at me.

“But,” I pointed a finger at him. “I will be counting the days until you return, and if you aren’t back by my eighteenth birthday, I will walk up to the palace gates and from there I will await your return.” 

“I will keep that in mind,” he chuckled. “Goodbye, my dearest.” He planted one last kiss on my forehead and turned, walking down the street, never glancing back.

I watched him as he went around the corner, and then I ran after him. I don’t know why, but regardless, I ran.

I turned the same corner just as I watched his hand slip into the pocket of an elderly man’s waistcoat. However, as I watched him draw his hand away, shouts rang out through the streets and a few men came barreling towards Derrick. 

“Callen Meyer! Halt!” One of the men yells. “You are under arrest for theft, breaking and entering—”

I zone out at that. Theft? He is a prince! What could he need to steal?

“—and impersonating his majesty. You will be sentenced to death at sunset, by way of the gallows.”


I drop to my knees and all I can do is cry. 

No. No. No. No. No!

I can’t think about it. I pick myself up and run for my tower. I run through the people, and into the woods, letting the branches scrape my arms and tear at my dress until there is hardly any fabric covering my top. But I keep running. If I can get back up my tower I can stay there safely. Away from the world and the people in it. Away from the gallows and a lying loved one. I would run to my dazzling prison, with its plush fabrics and piles of dresses. There I would live out my days. 

I pushed harder, even when my lungs felt like giving up. Tears blurred my vision, but faster and faster I ran.

Then I cried out. My foot had hooked on a tree root and I tripped, my open bodice let the dirt inside, smearing my milk pale breasts with the mud. There I noticed the apatite necklace resting. I shrieked with rage and tore it off as I got up, throwing it into the nearby briars. 

I discarded that piece of him, but I knew he would never truly leave my heart. Despite what he had done, I still loved him. He tricked me but my heart still yearned for the facade he put up against me.

I screamed again. 

Please ravens, come for me. I realize my mistake. It was I in danger of him. You warned me but I did not heed it. Instead I thought of the joyful delicacies of his touch. I wanted to drink him in like my own blood. Please come for me.

But not a wingbeat filled my ears. The ravens weren’t coming. I took off towards my tower. Maybe the ravens didn’t know where to find me. They will come to me in my tower.

My ankle has a slight limp to it as I run, I can feel the pain, but I can't, so I continue onwards over the dipping land. Short hills take me by surprise a few times.

Soon enough, my anger wears off and I am left to stumble about the forest. I don’t know where I am going, and I don’t care. Fatigue takes my body and I let it steer my path. 

I trip again and I roll down a hill. I don’t care anymore. My arms flail about, I don’t even try to grab ahold of something. 

I see the blood before I feel the pain. Among the dirt on my chest there is blood there too. And blood on my arms, and legs. And in my hair. Thorns dig into my flesh and there I lay. I have given up. I will wait here for the ravens to find me.

June 11, 2021 05:23

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Monica June
05:31 Jun 11, 2021

This is DEFINITELY a new favorite. I love the fairy tale story with a twist, and also the Grimm Brothers ending... but with a twist. I loved reading this, I was captivated all the way through! Great job, Charli!


Charli Britton
05:35 Jun 11, 2021

Thank You! I have such a fun time with fairy tales and I love both Disney, Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Anderson, so I figured why not write something within my interests?


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14:25 Sep 10, 2021

Wow!!! Amazing story with a twist! Soo good I loved it! Good story! I have noticed in your stories you are really good at world building! Keep it up!


Charli Britton
19:51 Sep 10, 2021



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14:47 Jun 18, 2021

Great plot! It really drew me in. There were a couple of things that kept taking me out of the story though. One was the physical description of her skin. I get it in the dream because of the contrast with the blood, but later it felt out of place. The second is the flipping back and forth between present and past tense. I was so excited to see a story written in 1st person present because I’m working on one myself and there aren’t many examples out there. Like you though, I keep struggling to stay in the present tense instead of slipping ...


Charli Britton
14:44 Jun 21, 2021

Thank you for your comment. I know I need to work on my POV. I really struggle with that. FOr this particular story, I didn't get much time to edit, which is probably why it's a little rougher around the edges. Thanks!


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Gip Roberts
19:58 Jun 12, 2021

The vividness in every sentence pulled me away from my reality from start to finish. It kind of reminded me of that fairy tale Rapunzel with the girl living in that tower.


Charli Britton
01:14 Jun 13, 2021

Yes the idea was to do a retelling of rapunzel. I didn't get a chance to do a good round of editing, but im glad you thought it was good!


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Cole Lane
04:11 Jun 12, 2021

Charli! Ok, I am a big fan of the fairy tale feel, but ravens always bring an element of the 'Poe' dark side, so extra points for that! Let me say, and maybe I didn't read the character right, but Callen didn't seem like a total scoundrel? Sure he dropped a few big fibs, but I think he was just trying to survive? I don't know, maybe he was trying to swindle Sylvaine as well? I'm so conflicted lol! I mean Aladdin was a thief, right? And he turned out pretty good, I mean at least in the Disney version. :) Sylvaine's emotion was the drivin...


Charli Britton
01:13 Jun 13, 2021

Oh I def. plan on it! I was going to write more, but I feel like the way I ended this chapter was for the best. he idea was to write a story about brothers grimm and the dicey version, so I tried to combine the prince and thief version of the guy if that makes any sense. I am so excited for part 2!


Cole Lane
01:19 Jun 13, 2021

I need part 2!! Bring it!!


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Arwen Dove
03:52 Jun 12, 2021

Amazing story! :)


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