The Nine Gates of the Raven King's Kingdom -- Part 1
There are nine gates leading to the kingdom of the Raven King.
They open onto East, South, West, North, Above, Below, Centre, Inside and Outside.
Each gate has got a guardian.
Those who stumble upon the gates are led by great joy, love, loss, need, beauty, hatred, wisdom, truthfulness or melancholy, respectively.
Never has anyone crossed the wrong gate, except for Gunuld, a woman in her late fifties who had lost her son on the battlefield and decided to ask his life back to the Raven King.
Despite her age, she was still beautiful and she mollified the guardian of the Above gate with her piteous tears streaking her high cheekbones, while raising her eyes skywards.
The guardian looked like a boy, but his gaze was ancient.
Since he was not the guardian of the Western gate, whereby the wanderers could enter by experiencing great loss, he was struck by the beauty of her eyes and let her in.
She was hovering in the Above dimension and it took her a while to grasp her situation.
The guardian had told her:
"Keep your feet even and open your arms. You will move by floating in the air. The king will send his ravens to show you the way."
So it happened.
From above, she saw great valleys full of vineyards, and in the evening the crimson and violet sky was crammed with stars.
She had followed the huge black ravens and had landed in front of the strange mansion of the Raven King, a castle perched on a gigantic fir-tree on a mountain top.
Inside, she had been guided by the king's hoarse voice, resounding throughout the deserted halls.
"So you want your son back"-- he said.
A long silence ensued.
The Raven King had huge black wings on his manly shoulders. He wore a sleeveless black fur tunic. His arms were strong and he sat on his wrought iron throne barefoot.
He stood up in his might. His long jet-black hair framed his angular face. His jaw was set. His eyes were grey-bue, as cold as ice.
Gunuld stood five steps below the throne.
She summoned her voice. Her eyes met the king's directly.
Blood came back to the cheeks. She said:
"My son was my only hope. I am a widow and an outcast. Since I lost him, I have known no respite. Take my life and send him back to the world of the living."
The Raven King was taken aback by her offer and the unwavering resolve in her voice.
He said: "You came through the gate of beauty, when you should have come from the West. What makes you think I can grant your request?"
TO BE CONTINUED...
Picture by courtesy of Chanita Sykes via pexels.com