Read Raven Online

Authors: Shelly Pratt

Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban

Raven

 

 

 

RAVEN

 

 

 

Written by Shelly Pratt

 

A Young Adult Paranormal Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raven is edited in English-Australian.

 

 

 

All contents herein are a work of fiction.

 

The written material contained within this novel is subject to the Australian Copyright Act 1968. The Author Michelle Pratt, writing under the pseudonym of Shelly Pratt exercises this right and does not hereby give permission for this work to be copied or reproduced in anyway shape or form for public or personal use. All other applicable international copyright laws are reserved including federal and state.

 

Quotations may be used for the purpose of book reviews; and marketing if permission is granted by the author prior to use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raven is dedicated to my sweet Paris.

 

My little book worm who delights in words and the world that is reading. I can see you now with a glint in your eye, delighted that you have yet again got your hands on a good story.

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

I would like to make a very special acknowledgement to all the women from my BA group who have supported me no end! You know who you are and life without you guys would just not be the same. Thanks so much for the laughs, friendship and advice, with a special mention to Karly, Rhonda and Paula – you guys have been there from the beginning xxx

 

AND how could I forget THE most important person in my first monumental moment of being an author: Tressa Sager, thank you. You were the first to buy my book and for that I am forever grateful – Thanks for believing in me!

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise

 

              Quote by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

 

Aiyana had always shunned society. She had felt like she had never really fit in somehow. Never found her niche where she could belong and just be herself. But just lately, she felt like she was getting closer to perhaps finding a calm that would come to those who had found contentment. Riding her motorbike gave her such a feeling as well. Even though she wore a helmet she could feel her jet black tresses streaming out from under it as she whipped around the corners of the mountain. She knew she shouldn’t be riding nearly so fast with all the fog on the road, but honestly, when had it let up in the last decade?

 

The Gold Coast had once been a bustling metropolis, a place where the lucky lived and the vacationers descended every moment that scheduled holidays would permit. Her great grandparents had moved to the coast with their young family back in the early years of the twenty first century in the hopes of a better life than what suburbia was offering at the time, but the glam and glitz had long since passed. Robberies and murder rates were up leaving a seediness to take over the city, and with it, the fog. The endless days of rain that enveloped the coast line brought dark skies of clouds that rolled over the mountains behind it. The once golden city as it neared the end of the century now represented a dilapidated and dark foreboding place. The new arrivals hadn’t helped tourism any either. It wasn’t just man that walked amongst the people anymore, but a new race that had integrated into the urban jungle that littered the coast line.

 

There was of course only one way to tell if they were one of them, but actually getting close enough to identify the trait specifically was another matter altogether. Because of this the citizens had begun to view each other with scepticism and mistrust. Aiyana could see it in their eyes whenever she ventured out into the streets. Certainly most avoided going out after dark. She wasn’t afraid though. In fact, she felt certain that this new race could offer her the normalcy she craved, but couldn’t find anywhere else; which was why she was on her bike this morning ascending the winding road that led to the top of Springbrook Mountain.

 

She felt free up here, almost as if on some parallel level that the place itself was part of her destiny. She smiled to herself as her bike ate up the concrete road beneath her, exhilaration beating through her blood as it pumped its way around her veins. It wouldn’t be long now before she would arrive at her destination. There wasn’t any real reason she was here - it was just a feeling she had after she had one of those dreams.

 

As she crested the mountain top, she down shifted the gears on her bike to slow her momentum. She could see up ahead the signs that indicated she had to make a left if she wanted to head towards the Purlingbrook Falls section of the national park.

 

She took the corner with ease and then gunned the engine back up to a speed she preferred. The end of the street loomed quickly and she had probably wasted more petrol than was necessary to accelerate so fast only to have to brake so suddenly. Aiyana didn’t care though; she loved the thrill that the speed gave her – it was the closest thing she could feel to flying.

 

She took off her helmet and secured it on her parked bike out the front of the old café that sat nestled underneath the vines and weeds that were desperately trying to reclaim the wooden building back to the earth. It had long since closed with its owners heading a long ways south like all the rest of the inhabitants of the mountain. The whispers around the coast led one to believe that sinister happenings were underway up here and that people would do well to steer clear of the mountains that surrounded the city. But Aiyana had no such qualms though and had been coming here every spare moment she could. She remembered the café from when she was small - her parents used to bring her up here to go hiking on the weekends and then spoil her with a milkshake afterwards.

 

She stared at the remnants of the building with sadness. Like her parents, it too no longer held any life within it.

 

With a backwards glance she turned to head towards the walking track that was part of the national park, but stopped suddenly when she caught the darkness of a shadow in her peripheral vision. In the split second it took her eyes to focus, it was gone, leaving her feeling like she had imagined the whole thing.

 

She shivered slightly as the wet fog crept around her ankles and swirled at the roots of the trees. Aiyana decided to get moving and headed off towards the track that ran a circuit around the falls. One would think that the path would be completely overgrown by now, with the abandonment of the community that had once resided on top of the mountain; but like Aiyana, there were others who not only embraced the old world but craved it.

 

This select group of people trampled the tracks regularly enough that they didn’t succumb to the groper vines that suffocated everything else. Coming up here and immersing oneself in the woods quite often left one with a sense of vigour and fulfilment.

 

Yes it was dark and dreary, maybe even a little spooky, but the mountain air left the adventurer feeling like they had just discovered a whole new side of themselves. Aiyana always left with a renewed sense of calm and clarity.

 

She would walk in feeling lonely; and whilst she left alone, the sense of loneliness had completely abandoned her. Here, she felt at home. Perhaps it was to do with the fact that she felt closest to her parents and to the history of her family here in this place, but lately Aiyana felt that it was even more than that.

 

Her footsteps fell softly as the moisture in the fog had softened the bracken underfoot, leaving whisper quiet trails as she walked the forest floor. A bleak ray of sun filtered through the branches that hung overhead, allowing a fluorescence that enhanced the already green leaves that covered both canopy and floor of the trail she was walking.

 

The weather was cool, even with a scarf around her neck her breath came out in a streaming mist in front of her. Her lips had turned a blood red from the sting of cold air as she had ridden her bike, and with her black hair cascading down her back, she almost looked witch-like.

 

Aiyana walked on around the track, following the path she had taken a million times before. It started out at the top of the falls, and whilst she could hear the water plummeting to the river below, she couldn’t see it for all the fog that swirled the mountain top. She pressed on regardless - she wasn’t here to sight see.

 

She took an apple out of her rucksack that was slung over her shoulders and munched on it as she plodded along happily. The crunch of the fruit’s flesh was a welcome sound in the silence and the juice of it satiated her thirst. As she took the last bite she flung the core into the bushes beside her and it was then that she thought she heard a noise to the right of her.

 

The direction was straight off the edge of the cliff face that ran the rim around the top of the mountain. More than likely it was a bird or the like; she had often seen little robins dancing around trees. Whilst the people had been long gone, the animals hadn’t seemed to have felt the need. If you strained your ears hard enough you could still hear the sound of a brush turkey foraging through the ferns in the distance and see the birds nesting in the trees.                                                     

 

Aiyana picked up her pace now that she had finished eating and started her descent down the steps that were carved into the rock surface of the mountain. There were five hundred and seventy six in total, each one taking her lower into the bowels of the valley and one step closer to the glorious spray of water that bathed you as you reached the bottom of the falls.

 

She still had another couple of kilometres to go once she had reached the bottom of the steps, although she was confident at the pace she was travelling that she could knock it over in about half an hour. It was only as she neared the last hundred meters or so that she could hear the stream of water trickling down the valley below her.

 

She stopped suddenly, for the fog seemed to be following her to a point where she now found herself completely engulfed in it. It swirled thickly around her legs and covered the vegetation around her and the skies above. She couldn’t see even a few meters in front of her.

 

Her eyes closed as her ears strained to tune in to her surroundings. The water still ran, and the birds still tweet their tunes to each other, but right now there was something more interesting that her senses were tuned in to. A hum, almost like a vibration buzzed in the sky above her.

 

Face tilted skywards Aiyana opened her eyes as the hum increased. She didn’t feel afraid, but rather thrilled instead. What followed next could only be described as a huge force of wind bearing down on her. It chilled her instantly and her brain started to run through all the possibilities of what could be causing such a downwards gust of air. It was almost like being underneath a helicopter as it was making its landing.

 

She had stood near one as a child, although she had to admit that this gust of wind wasn’t nearly as forceful. Suddenly she caught sight of the blackness she thought she had seen earlier in the car park, but just as quickly whatever it was moved away before she could make it out.

 

The draught as whatever it was moved away left a very visible path in its wake as it cleared instantly. She knew with every fibre of her being that she was close to what she was looking for. The months she had spent trailing these paths told her that, and she didn’t feel she would get a better opportunity than the one that had presented itself to her right now.

 

She made a snap decision and took off at speed down the path, following the uneven trail that led towards the waterfall. By the time she had reached the basin of the valley she was puffed and out of breath. Her lungs screamed for more air, but she was so taken by the view that she wasn’t focused on her lack of oxygen.

 

The fog here has seemed to completely vanish. The valley lay wide and open below the cliff walls and the water off the top of the mountain poured down to the rock pools below. The height of the cliffs alone was magnificent but the falls gave the place an enchanting appearance. She had seen a similar landscape when she had visited Port Villa in Vanuatu as a child, but the sheer cliff-face that ran circular around the basin of the mountain offered a different dimension to the eye. As she stood panting against the rusty rail of the footpath, she noticed the blackness gracing the sky.

 

The sight was nothing that she had been expecting. Of course she had heard the rumours and watched the news reports that claimed to have seen the ‘real’ race that now integrated with them. But nothing had prepared her for this. Halfway up the cliff-face, suspended in flight, was a raven. Not just any raven though, he was glorious and beautiful and large - so, so large. This raven was the size of a small boy in height, but the wingspan was spectacular. It was well over three meters long with glorious shades of black with a blue-ish green hue that caught in the rays of sunlight that filtered through the valley.                                                                                                         It would only be when Aiyana was alone later that she would ponder why she had instantly thought that this creature was a male. Indeed he was though. What happened next though truly took her breath away. Never did she expect to see such a sight in all her lifetime. The raven was suspended halfway up the cliff face, wings flapping wildly with strength, the muscles on the bones of his wings flexing as they whooshed back and forth. He seemed to hover right in front of a large opening in the granite of the rock wall, well beyond the reach of any passers-by. The feathers of his wings ruffled as they continued to bat back and forth in a steady rhythm.

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