[For those of you who are actually following this blog, here’s what raw writing looks like, at least when it comes from me. Life is significantly interfering with my writing right now, and isn’t leaving me much opportunity to even flesh out my writing ideas, much less edit them or weave the several plot lines together into the story, so I’m posting this bit as an example of my raw writing. I hope you find it enjoyable in spite of its sketchy nature.]
“What do you think about a raven for a familiar?” Patton asked Elaine.
“A raven! Whatever made you think of that?” She looked at him quizzically.
“One stole my keys the other night. Then when you were fighting with the wizards he came to warn me and Rich. I think he wants to apply for the job.”
“A raven!” She turned to Margaret. “Have you ever heard of someone having a raven as a familiar?”
“I think I’ve heard of some shamans having ravens, but then again, shamans have all sorts of weird animals as familiars.” Margaret looked Patton over. “You know, Lover Boy, you really don’t look like the shaman type to me.”
“I think a raven would be a good fit,” said Elaine. “Nobody would expect it, so they won’t be suspicious if he’s hanging around them.”
“True, and ravens can travel a lot farther and faster than the usual cats or dogs, so he can gather information over a wider territory. On the other hand I don’t think he’d be all that good in a fight.” Margaret shook her head at Patton.
At that moment the bird in question dove straight at Margaret. She ducked, but instead of diving in to peck at her, which she was expecting, he pulled up and covered her head with droppings. With powerful flaps of his wings he headed to the peak of the roof where he alighted and laughed at her.
“I think you might be underestimating him,” said Patton.
“That bird shit all over me!”
“If he were serious about hurting you he would have bombed you with a stone, or car keys, or something smellier. I wonder if he could lift a skunk?” Patton looked up and winked at the bird, who laughed once again and bobbed his head.
“As your familiar I bet he could,” said Elaine. “He could tap into your levitation ability.”
“The only reservation I have is that this is awfully sudden,” she added. “Once the bond is forged, only death can break it.”
“Well I, for one, am getting tired of being the patsy around here. I’m going to take a chance. How do you establish a familiar bond?”
The witches walked Patton through it, and a few minutes later Patton was bonded to the raven, which he named Hutton.
“Let me show you how this works,” instructed Elaine. “Place your hand on his back and I’ll guide you.” She took hold of his free hand, and showed him how to pass messages and share images with the bird. Messages were simple because Hutton was already able to understand and form many words, but the vision thing was difficult. The way bird vision works is quite different from humans, so it took Patton quite some time (and headaches) for him to adapt to and make sense of what Hutton saw, but when it finally clicked it was liberating! He could fly with Hutton, seeing through his eyes as he soared overhead, at least when the bird was nearby. Messages could be exchanged over quite some distance, but the vision thing was pretty short ranged.
Patton took to talking to Hutton — it helped clarify communications. Hutton, on the other hand, was a bird of few words, and most of those were jokes.
“I know we’ve only just connected, but there’s something I need you to do.” Hutton gave him a quizzical look from where he was standing on the patio table. “You know Yvonne?” Patton tried to project a mental image of Yvonne, and Hutton replied with an affirmative caw. “I need you to help me find her. I think she’s somewhere downtown. Do you think you can do that?” Hutton let out one loud “Caw!” and took off from the table. A quick turn over the house and he was headed toward the center of the city.
“I hope he finds her,” said Margaret.
“Me too,” replied Patton.
“So, what’s your bird up to?” asked Margaret as she took a break between phone calls.
Patton closed his eyes and focused his attention on Hutton. The Familiar Bond was a whole new thing to him, and he was still learning to use it. He found that if he left it “active” all the time he was confused by the duality of information, but turning it off and on was not a natural act to him, at least not yet. He sent out a message and listened for Hutton’s response. When it came a smile crept across his face.
“Hutton is smarter than we give him credit. He knows who kidnapped her, so he’s hanging out around Caldwell’s office, watching for him. Any time he goes someplace he’s followed. So far he’s only gone out for lunch, but Hutton figures he’ll go check on his stash before the end of the day. After all, that’s what Hutton would do.” He sent a Good boy! thought to Hutton, and then winced at the reply.
Margaret noticed. “What’s the matter?”
“Hutton wants me to stop treating him like a dog.” He sent some thoughts of apology, then turned back to Margaret. “How do you reward a bird for doing a good job?”
She looked at him and shook her head. “I have no idea. I can tell that the two of you will need to spend some time together working out the terms of your new bond. At least you both volunteered for it.” She glanced at the clock, then said “Break time’s up!” and went back to dialing for favors.
Hutton returned at sunset, carrying a rat — a live rat — in his claws. He announced his arrival by cawing on his way in, and slowly settled onto the picnic table, letting go of the rat a few inches before touching down himself. The rat scurried to the edge of the table and stopped, waiting for attention.
“Margaret! Elaine! It looks like Hutton’s found something!” Everybody came out to gather round the picnic table.
Margaret sensed it first. “This rat has been marked by Yvonne! She’s alive and putting up some sort of fight, gathering what creatures are near her to her aid.”
Elaine added, “He also carries images of her locked inside some sort of sealed room. Perhaps a refrigerated storeroom? Someplace with metal walls and a drain. He got in and out via the drain.”
“Great,” interjected Patton. “Does the rat have any idea where this room is? Which building?” At this Hutton jumped up and batted Patton across the face with his wing, then flew up onto a nearby branch. “Oh. Sorry, Hutton! I forgot — you know where the building is. That’s where you found the rat.” Hutton started laughing at him as Patton blushed in embarrassment.
“OK,” said Margaret. “Now we know where she is. All we have to do is go get her, right?”
[Patton gets on his motorcycle and follows Hutton into the city to the warehouse where Yvonne is being held. He scouts things out while waiting for activity in the area to die down as night falls. Margaret and Elaine go pick up Rich in the Coven Mobile.]