The Adventures of Sir Rupert the Bold: The Unlikely Tale of the Raven Prince I-II
The Cursed Prince
Chapter I - The Prince
After serving sometime at Arvid’s court in the Fairyland of Charm, Sir Rupert the Bold took a leave of absence to return to the sweet environs of Verde Wood, but as was often the case with our intrepid hero of a mouse, he was to be waylaid in a most peculiar fashion. As he walked down The Green Path, an old road made by the ancient dragon riders, Rupert thought of all the pleasures and comforts of his home, a small cozy mousehole beneath a great oak tree in Verde Wood, and he wondered how his neighbors and friends like the raccoon brothers Anselm and Ansgar, were getting on in his absence.
While he was thinking on such things, something most distressing occurred. Sir Rupert tripped and fell over a twig lying on the ground in his path. As he got to his feet, our brave mouse noticed that a great black bird, a raven in fact, was following him, but this raven was a most disconcerting bird, the likes of which Sir Rupert had never beheld before in all his life in the lands of Animalis and of Charm. So he at once tried to escape from the bird’s field of vision. No matter how hard he tried though, the raven continued to follow him as though it were desperate for something. Finally, Rupert decided that it was hopeless and allowed the raven to follow him. He then began to wonder if the raven was in need of some sort of help, and if so, if he could provide it. To be helpful was indeed a great part of Sir Rupert’s nature, and it often landed him in trouble. It was a very knightly sentiment though.
As night fell across the world of Somnii, the bird alighted on a great boulder against which Rupert had been planning to sit to eat his dinner. Then something amazing happened. Many times after the event, Rupert tried to describe what exactly it had been like, but he never could quite put it into words so great was the awe and beauty of it. The raven grew, but as it grew, it changed. Its head grew large, and its beak grew small and transformed into a nose and a mouth. Indeed, the raven became in form a young man robed with black feathers.
Understand that in those days, there were still such things as skin-changers at large in the world of Somnii. These were beings that could change their shape and take upon themselves the form of beasts. Most were cruel and wicked men, who added the nasty traits of man such as greed, pride, and hatred to the nasty traits of beasts. There were a few though that were not such. Rupert was not as startled by this as you or I might have been. He at once asked in his squeaky voice, “Are you a skin-changer.”
“Not by choice,” the man replied. “This is my curse, and I have no control over it, and I believe that you are Sir Rupert, the knightly mouse.”
Rupert was taken aback by this for men often seemed not to know of him, and those, who had heard of Sir Rupert, undoubtedly thought him someone much taller than a mouse. “Indeed, I am,” he replied with a flourishing bow. “How did you know?”
“I have heard of you from, my lady love, Sigrun, daughter of Arvid and sister of Sigrid,” the raven replied, “and I have come here seeking your help.” It should be noted that in the past, Sir Rupert had saved Sigrid the daughter of Arvid from an ogre.
“How were you cursed?” Rupert inquired.
“Let it be known to you that I am Prince Aurelius of Zephyria, the land of the kindly west wind,” the raven began. “I was escorting my lady love, the Princess Sigrun, back to her father’s kingdom a few short months ago when we were set upon by the forces of the Lady Dagrun, a fearsome sorceress and witch. She captured Sigrun and imprisoned her in a tall tower. To reach it one must cross three bridges, each of which is guarded by its own fell knight. There may be other dangers within the tower of which I do not know for none have ever reached it. She then cursed me with the form of a raven to prevent me from ever helping Sigrun. Every night though, I am given a few hours in my human form.”
“Why did you not go to King Arvid?” Rupert inquired.
“The magic curse that lays upon me prevents me from entering the Fairyland of Charm,” Aurelius said with a sad bow of his head. “If however, I should ever reach the tower, the curse shall be broken. Shall you help me?”
“I shall indeed,” Sir Rupert said with a twitch of his nose. “Follow me, for I do believe that there is someone nearby, who can help us with the curse.” Then Rupert turned and began to walk once more upon The Green Path.
The Prince of Zephyria
Chapter II - Krikik
In those days there lived a gnome named Krikik along The Green Path in the wild lands that lay between Charm and the Verde Wood. Krikik was indeed a skilled smith as many gnomes are, and he came from a line of skilled smiths and enchanters. His great-grandfather was the famous Kijik father of Kilik, who himself was the father of Kiyik. Krikik had not yet achieved the fame and skill of his famous forebearers, who enter into many of the tales of heroes and men of renown, yet he was still quite famous in his own right. Krikik had also forged the blade that Sir Rupert carried, and Sir Rupert had helped him on many occasions so Krikik owed him many favors for favors are the currency of Fairyland.
When Rupert and Aurelius came to the forge, they found the gnome already busy with his morning work. They also found that Lennart the Lion had been standing guard over the forge for the wild lands in between Charm and the Verde Wood had grown troubled in those day as trolls, goblins, and ogres had began to prey on unwary travelers. Lennart immediately greeted Rupert for they were old friends. Then he stepped into the forge and informed Krikik that he had visitors.
Wiping his brow with a grimy, well used rag, Krikik stepped out of the forge, which was quite hot and smiled when he beheld Sir Rupert. “What brings you to my door, Sir Rupert the Bold?” he asked. Then Sir Rupert quickly related to him the tale that I have already told you.
Krikik shook his head gravely and said, “I would be delighted to help you, my old friend, but I am afraid that all my orichalcum, the best metal for the enchantments that I must work on your behalf, was stolen from me by an ogre before I employed Lennart. If you could retrieve said metal for me, then I would help you quite gladly.”
At once Rupert and Aurelius departed, and they came at length to find where the ogre rested at the top of a rocky crag that they could not climb. Then Aurelius said, “Perhaps, the curse shall itself be useful for this task. For look, there next to the ogre lies the metal orichalcum, which is quite light. When I am a raven, I can pick it up and bring it down.”
So they waited for the hours of Aurelius’ humanity to elapse, and when they had, Aurelius took flight in the form of a raven to the top of the rocky crag. Swooping down, he picked up the bag containing the orichalcum and headed back to the forge, but the ogre gave chase. Rupert, being the sly mouse that he was, however, had had Aurelius dig a pit along the way and cover it so that the ogre fell into it as he gave chase.
When they had returned to the forge, Krikik at once set about working on forging a weapon and armor for Aurelius. When he was finished he presented a fine suit of armor and a glorious blade with a beautiful sheath to Aurelius, who was at this time in the form of a raven. Then he tapped the sheath against Aurelius, and Aurelius was transformed once more into a man. “The curse is still upon you,” he said to Aurelius with a bow of his head, “but as long as you bear the sheath the curse shall be contained and controlled. Now, go and rescue your lady love.”
So Sir Rupert and Aurelius set forth.