The Lady Raven
A Dark Cinderella Tale
by Rebecca Henry
Genre: Dark Fantasy
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“I call upon the spirit of my mother. I command you to leave the grave in which my mother’s body rests. Awaken now and bring forth the tree of life!” Zezolla held her hands up to the moon invoking its powers. “I am the daughter of the witch Avelina. I invoke the powers of the night. Come to me, my mother’s spirit. I welcome you!” A silver mist traveled above. The raven flew down to his princess. “She is coming, princess.” Zezolla watched as a tiny branch came forth from the dirt. Slowly it grew, taller and taller. More branches came. Zezolla thought she saw the figure of a woman in the tree. Shards of glass formed together creating glass leaves, dangerous to anyone who touched it - anyone but Zezolla. The princess stood up amazed by the beautiful sight before her. “It is complete, my love. My mother is here and her spirit resides inside the tree.” A remarkable hazel tree stood before her, 15 feet tall with a small opening at the base big enough for Zezolla to fit through. She examined the leaves running her long fingers over the glass. “It cannot cut me my love.” She held out her arm for the raven to perch. “But it will be dangerous to anyone else who tries to touch it.”
The two men made it to the barrier, gasping in horror. “What entrance is this!?” cried out Jack. “This was never here. There has never been an entrance to the forest.” Jack backed away, terrified that Zezolla awakened a spirit inside the forest. “It’s just a narrow passage. It must have been caused by the cold ice.” concluded Edward logically. Jack shook his head. “No, Hexe did this. She has opened the forest. Who knows what evil lurks inside? These grounds are now cursed.” “If that is true then I will not venture in.” Edward turned to leave but Jack stopped him. “This might be valuable to me Edward. If Hexe possesses some magical entity inside the forest then I want it.” Jack grabbed Edward by the collar and moved him through the opening. Edward clung to his knife, jumping at the sounds around them. “There is a light coming from beyond the trees. Could be lightening. Let’s go see what Hexe is up to.” Edward tried to turn back, but Jack had a strong hold on him. “Courage man! You’re no better than a scared boy.” snarled Jack. Zezolla, unaware of the servants approaching, entered the hazel tree. Edward ducked down behind a bush as he saw Zezolla disappear.
“We must leave now! I told you this would be our death! She is a witch! Did you just see how she entered that glass tree?!” Jack was too fascinated to leave. He had never witnessed true magic before. “I want to take a closer look.” “What? Are you mad! If you go near that tree that will be the end of you!” Jack did not listen to Edward and walked over to the magical tree which was shimmering in the moonlight. “I just want to see it. Stay where you are if you are afraid,” Jack snorted. “To hell with curiosity. I don’t want to end up without my head like Princess Guinevere. Go on then, you fool! Go see your magical tree.” The tree seemed to call to Jack, beckoning him forward. “It’s so beautiful. Look at the sparkling leaves.” He reached out to touch one. The branch moved slicing his finger off his hand. Jack screamed in pain, clenching his finger to his chest. He tried to run away, but the tree caught him in her branches. Edward stayed hidden, watching in horror as Jack cried out for help. “Edward, help me!” “Stupid fool. I told him not to get closer.” muttered Edward The tree tightened its grip around Jack, cutting him as it squeezed. “Please! I am sorry! Please let me go!” The tree would not accept Jack’s pleas and brought down another branch lined with razor sharp leaves. “No! No! Please, I will do anything! I will protect the princess from her stepmother. I swear to protect her as long as I live! Please, spare me!” The branch came down, slicing Jack’s throat with a row of deadly leaves. “She needs no protection. I am with her now.” said the tree.
Rebecca Henry is a world traveler living abroad in England. Besides being an author of two published books, Rebecca is also a podcast talk host on the show The Latte Talk. The podcast was inspired by her latest novel, Louisiana Latte and her diva sister Deb. She is a serious vegan, gardener, crafter, wife and mom who practices yoga. She loves to laugh, her drug of choice and loves all things witchy with a hint of the macabre. Her favorite holiday is Halloween and her favorite movie of all time is Practical Magic.
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I believe in the possibility of the paranormal. With that said, I do have an experience to share, but whether or not it was a product of the paranormal, or a shift in energy which can be determined through scientific explanation, I don’t know. But, I’ll leave that up to you to make the decision. It’s a bit more interesting that way. The first time I moved to England I was in my twenties with my husband and our daughter who was a toddler. We lived in an older brick townhouse. About two years into our move I began to notice strange happenings in the house. My daughter’s room was riddled with all your quintessential toddler battery operated toys. One of my daughter’s favorite toys was a Disney speaking kitchen oven and stove combo. Snow white would say “It’s a beautiful morning!” and other sweet phrases. I was sitting at the dining room table with my little girl, Penelope, when I heard the familiar sound of snow white’s voice saying from the upstairs bedroom “It’s a beautiful morning!” followed by the sound of an egg frying. I went upstairs to check on the toy oven to discover it was turned off, and obviously the room was completely empty of people. That was the first of many odd happenings in my daughter’s room with her toys. Over the next year this would happen weekly. Battery operated toys turning on and making sounds. Things eventually progressed to my kitchen radio switching on while I was cooking dinner. I was never frightened by the occurrences, but rather puzzled and alarmed by why this was happening. I used to investigate the wires and batteries and finally began removing batteries and unplugging the radio when I wasn’t using the items. This remedied the situation until the lights in my bedroom began to turn on not off, but on in the middle of the night waking me up. A few months before we moved my neighbor who lived in the adjacent townhouse came over for a cup of tea. She mentioned something that shook me to the core, making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. She said “Rebecca, I had the weirdest dream last night. I woke up in the middle of the night to a little girl dressed in old fashion clothes standing at the foot of my bed. She didn’t say anything but when I turned on the light she was gone.” I never did tell my neighbor what I was experiencing as I didn’t know what I believed it to be. A shift in energy? A current of magnetic energy? Loose wiring? I didn’t know so I didn’t say, but I did start to yell out into the room whenever my radio would turn on “Don’t do that. Please stop now.” Just in case it was a little girl who needed a mother’s direction. I moved shortly after and my daughter’s toys never did spontaneously turn on again.
Tell us about your main character in the book.
Zezolla is the main character in The Lady Raven, A Dark Cinderella Tale. Essentially she is my take on the classic story, Cinderella. I named her Zezolla, from the original version, The Glass Slipper which was a dark folk tale. Unlike the Disney version of Cinderella, I made Zezolla a witch. Born from a powerful white witch, who preserved her soul inside the twig of a hazel branch, so Zezolla could plant it and communicate with her departed mother. This is how Zezolla learned to use her powers and become a grand witch herself. Zezolla is not a product of her environment. She does not wait to be rescued in The Lady Raven, she instead rescues herself through her magic, her bond with her pets and her mother’s spirit inside the tree. Zezolla is a believer of justice and balances the scales of her life to find completion. She is extremely loyal to her pet Raven who she refers to as “my love”. Zezolla also has a pet wolf who she rescued and now cares for and has developed a deep love and appreciation for him. Zezolla embodies the strength I see in solitary women who are not afraid to be their own person, live their truth and seek justice when they know it’s deserved.
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