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CH 3 | Of Change (Part 1)

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  1. It had come as a great surprise to Darrah when Corvus appeared in the ruined tower. The ravens and crows cawed at the sudden gust of wind. Darrah turned calmly when the wind died down, and his mismatched gaze met the Raven God's own of dark-hued amber. He looked as ageless as all Forest Gods did, and framed by long silver hair, but his aura proved that he was one of the old Forest Gods - having existed for thousands of years versus Darrah's few centuries.

    His layered robe was a shade darker than deep winter snow, embroidered with black thread that seemed to swirl as the cloth swayed in gentler breezes. Though the Raven God did not have a cloak of feathers like the Crow Lord, he did possess a simple mantle of white ones that trailed down and barely touched the weathered floor.

    Corvus stood there with a kind expression as he inspected his lord. Darrah held his gaze as he then asked, "You have returned?"

    "For a moment," Corvus replied softly in his aged croon, "I wanted to make sure you are doing well."

    Darrah nodded. "I am. It is not the first time you have had to take an extended leave, and I am capable on my own during such times."

    "That you are," The Raven God agreed, "But I like to check after your welfare nonetheless, Darrah. I do worry about you sometimes." He looked around the room, and his birds were noticeably quiet with only the occasional rustle of feathers. "It is rare when you leave this tower of yours."

    "I will not be needed for my other duties until winter comes," The Crow Lord pointed out calmly, "And I am taking your place at the last meeting of the Summer Court during the remainder of your absence."

    Corvus focused on him again, and there was a sadness in his eyes. "You know you have your place in the Courts as well, Darrah. You are not simply my stand-in."

    Darrah glanced away and found himself focused on the outside world through the crumbling window.

    "Darrah-"

    "I have my place in the Winter Court, not Summer's."

    Corvus sighed as he said, "Oh Darrah, is the Summer Court truly that terrible for you?"

    "I am ignored when you are not there, Corvus." the Crow Lord told him quietly, "Not even the other lords pay me much attention. It only stops when Geamhradh rules - when the Great Forest is home to winter's gods. The Winter Court listens when I speak, not Samhradh's Summer Court."

    The Raven God stepped toward him, the only sounds of his approach soft leather on wood and the whisper of his mantle. His pale hand rested on Darrah's shoulder, and the Crow Lord looked at him finally. He found a deep measure of sympathy from Corvus, and within himself his own uncertainty.

    "You are still young Darrah," Corvus soothed, "Perhaps I am expecting too much too soon. I only worry for you as I never see you connecting with the other gods or lords beyond the Holly King. Though," he mused, "I suppose of all the friends you could make, Geamhradh is a wise choice."

    Corvus then released Darrah's shoulder as he said, "I can understand your favor for his Court over the Oak King's. We deal more with the end of things than their beginning - the fundamental difference between the Courts."

    "Life into death, and summer into winter," Darrah replied, and the Raven God nodded.

    "It is all a cycle. What begins must end, but what ends shall begin again."

    Corvus let silence pass between them, and it allowed Darrah to form his thoughts. Eventually, Darrah asked, "When will I see you again?"

    "In spring, when the sickness has passed. My duty this coming winter will be over by then."

    Darrah nodded. "Then I will see you in spring."

    The Raven God gave him one last look before vanishing in a whirlwind of white feathers, and as the Crow Lord stood there quietly he did not know what to do with that concern.

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