Chapter 11

Diaval watched the demonic glow resonate from the depths of Stefan's castle for many hours after his mistress lulled off to sleep. With humans eyes came human thoughts. At first, the raven had found the wash of emotion confusing but now he was starting to understand. When he looked at his mistress and then to the charred countryside beyond he knew that one was a symptom of the other. The world of man and fae could never hope to heal while ever the King and his mistress kindled their toxic feelings.

Sometimes he wished he was a bird. Their form had the sharpest senses. He could see things more clearly through those black eyes.

He lay down on the damp grass and stared at the night sky. Odd – the only time a bird saw the stars was as it lay dying on its back. He felt uncomfortable and rolled onto his side, casting is gaze onto his sleeping mistress instead. She was the first face his human eyes had seen. He'd smiled. Even now there was something of a raven in her.


The filthy glass hid all but a gruesome silhouette.


Dried blood.

Scratches from the tips of sharp quills.

The coffin King Stefan had build for Maleficent's wings had become the focus of his rage. One of his doctors was locked outside the small room, whispering concerned reports to a courtier. The King was mad. His country was failing and his people who once were farmers, artists and merchants were all put to work forging steal demons to greet the black fairy upon her return. Maleficent – after twelve years her name had slipped into myth. Some thought that she might be a figment of the King's nightmares. Only a few remembered her tapered horns and green flames rising up in the centre of the palace. Others could still hear her voice whispering around the empty corridors and making the candle flames tremble.

A raven stirred on the marble.

Diaval was hopping around the floor of the palace library. It had been shut up for years. Its windows were normally bolted shut but one had been pushed open by a passing storm with a rush of dried leaves, rain and a startled bird caught by the wind.

Diaval left a trail of black feathers around him as he preened the rest back into place. He'd had a rather ungraceful fall into the building. He'd been a man so often that he'd forgotten how light birds were – how easily pushed around by the whims of the weather they could be. He also had a sneaking suspicion that the weather was beginning to mimic the violent mood of the earth, swirling up in plumes of maleficent thunderstorms that ravaged the edges of the world. They were creeping closer, spraying sheets of rain and ice over the land.

Still, of all the places to fall into, Diaval quite liked this one. He'd never seen so many of these curious objects stacked away. Books he assumed. His mistress had a few of them tucked away in her caves on shelves made of vine and glow-worms.

The bird flew up to one of the shelves, perching on the edge with its sharp claws digging into the wood. It tilted its head, looking at the strange markings that adorned the cloth covers. He couldn't read. To Diaval these were like magical stones – full of precious information that he could never hope to unlock. He knew someone who could though. A tiny princess locked away in a cottage with nothing to do. The only question was – how could he sneak one of the 'books' back to the young Aurora?

Maleficent watched her bird with the most disgusted of faces. The raven was slowly pulling the entrails out of an insect that he'd toiled over for half the morning. She wasn't sure why but this morning Diaval had seen fit to involve her in this ritual of his. Maleficent didn't particularly want to offend the bird but she wasn't sure how much more of his breakfast she could watch before -

"Into a man!"

Diaval suddenly found himself sitting on the grass – presumably on the worm because he couldn't see where it went.

"What did I do this time?" he feigned complaint.

Maleficent was still twitching. "Being a bird."

He lofted his eyebrow rather high. "I am a bird," he defended promptly.

"Not today," she insisted. "I need a break from the constant feast of insects that has preoccupied you since you returned from your last flight. If you need to eat something, go forage for some berries in the forest. There are still some ripe ones clinging to the inner thickets."

Diaval got up and dusted himself down. He wondered quietly if it would be within her power to maybe transform him with some slightly less-torn clothes once in a while. He looked like a common beggar. "As you wish..." he bowed at her playfully.

Maleficent watched him wander off. It was only after he left that she wondered what Diaval was up to. He had an air of suspicion about him. Mind you – it was difficult to tell. Birds had a habit of looking guilty.

Diaval was guilty. Usually he manipulated his mistress into transforming him for trifling purposes. Today was different. He was going to attempt his first break in as a human being. He hoped that climbing walls was easier than stealing the farmer's corn...