The Seven Ravens

Once upon a time, there dwelt a man blessed with seven sons, and at last, one precious daughter graced his life. This wee lass was a vision of beauty, though frail and delicate to the eye. Her kin thought her too fragile to endure, but they were determined to baptize her without delay. 

a crib in an old cottage
The baby girl was cosy in her crib, but the man was worried she was too frail to live. Pic credit:

And so, the father hurriedly dispatched one of his sons to fetch water from a nearby spring, but the other six siblings hurried beside him, each vying to be the first to draw water. In their haste, they clumsily dropped their pitchers into the water, leaving them standing foolishly, staring at one another in bewilderment. None dared return home without fulfilling their task.

Meanwhile, their father grew increasingly anxious, puzzled by their prolonged absence. “Perhaps,” he mused, “my sons have become ensnared in some captivating game.” As time passed without their return, his patience wore thin, and in a fit of frustration, he muttered a wish he would soon regret: “May they all be transformed into ravens!”

In a twist of fate, scarcely had these words escaped his lips when a chorus of croaks filled the air above him. Looking up, he witnessed a sight that struck both dread and sorrow into his heart – seven coal-black ravens circled ominously above.

Seven ravens in the sky
The man’s sons were turned into jet-black ravens before his eyes. Pic credit:

Though he lamented the fulfillment of his ill-fated wish, he could not fathom how to undo the irreversible. With heavy heart, he sought solace in the company of his precious, yet frail, daughter, who, with each passing day, grew stronger and lovelier. 

The young girl remained blissfully unaware of her lost brothers for the longest while, for her parents had taken great care not to speak of them in her presence. But one fateful day she overheard whispers from those around her.

“Indeed,” they said, “she is a vision of loveliness, yet it’s a tragedy her brothers were lost because of her.” Her heart ached, and she turned to her parents with a question she could no longer suppress: “Do I have brothers, and what has become of them?”

Unable to conceal the truth any longer, her parents explained that her birth had unwittingly set their terrible fate in motion. 

The little girl mourned deeply for her brothers and was determined to reunite her family. She could find no rest, no peace, until she set out on a journey to locate her lost brothers, no matter the cost. Armed only with a ring given by her parents, a loaf of bread for sustenance, a pitcher of water for thirst, and a small stool for rest, she embarked on her odyssey. 

And so, she ventured forth, crossing vast landscapes and reaching the very edge of the world. First, she approached the sun, but its fiery brilliance deterred her. Then, she sought refuge with the moon, yet its cold and distant demeanor chilled her to the bone, warning, “I sense the presence of flesh and blood!”

Hasty to escape, she moved on to the stars, where the celestial bodies extended a warm welcome. Each star rested upon its own small stool, and the morning star graciously offered her a precious gift: a small piece of wood. He explained, “Without this token, you cannot unlock the castle that stands atop the glass mountain, where your brothers reside.” 

With this gift carefully wrapped in cloth, the determined sister continued her journey until she reached the foot of the glass mountain. Alas, she found the castle door securely shut, and when she reached for the piece of wood, it was nowhere to be found – her lifeline had vanished. Desperation gripped her heart. She was resolved to save her brothers, yet she lacked the means to unlock the castle’s door. With unwavering determination, she drew a knife from her pocket and made a painful sacrifice – she severed her own little finger, a perfect match for the missing piece of wood. Placing it in the door’s lock, she turned it, and the door swung open.

Inside, she was greeted by a dwarf who inquired, “What brings you here?” She replied, “I seek my brothers, the seven ravens.” The dwarf regretfully informed her, “My masters are away at the moment, but if you can wait, please come in.” Meanwhile, the dwarf diligently prepared their dinner, placing seven plates and glasses on the table. The sister partook of a morsel from each plate and a sip from each glass, inadvertently dropping the ring her parents had given her into the final glass. 

Suddenly, the air filled with flapping wings and raucous cawing as the dwarf announced, “My masters have returned!” As they entered, they noticed their disturbed dinnerware and demanded, “Who has eaten from my plate? Who has drunk from my glass?”

“Caw! Caw! Well, I think, 
Mortal lips have this way been.” 

As the seventh raven reached the bottom of his glass, he discovered the ring and recognized it as his parents’. Overjoyed, he exclaimed, “Oh, if only our dear sister were here! Then we would be free.”

Unbeknownst to them, their sister had been eavesdropping, and she rushed forward, causing a miraculous transformation. The seven ravens returned to their human forms, and in a heartwarming reunion, they embraced and kissed, joyfully embarking on the journey home together.

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