Telling Tales 25
Raven and the Thunder and the Rain
“Imiq was already failing. He was too close to the sun and it burned at him. Raven flew as fast as he could with Imiq’s bag in his beak. I took my brother’s bola, two lengths of bone connected by a long piece of sinew, and whirled it over my head the way that I had seen my brothers do it. The stricture that the elders of the ocean spoke to Imiq applied equally to me. He was my husband and although we were new to one another, my help was his due. The bola created a mighty wind. It pushed Raven farther ahead and the lands of the sky howled as the air coursed around the bones. I threw them at Raven, but Raven is canny and not easily trapped.
“The bones sped faster than Raven’s wings and shortly caught up with him, but at the last moment, just when it looked as though they would catch his wings and bring him down, he folded them together and dove underneath the bola. It flew over him, and its sound faded to a low rumble as it soared across the lands of the sky. He cawed in triumph at his feat of flying, which was his mistake. The bag of ocean fell from his open mouth, but from where Raven was, it fell out of the lands of the sky and back to earth and ocean.
” ‘I just wanted to see inside!’ Raven called. ‘Why is everyone so mean to me?’ My people sent him away from the sky. He still visits from time to time, but he is not allowed to make his home among us.
“But we had to return Imiq, and the elders of my people had no more ideas than they had had before. Imiq and I returned to Turtle’s back, prepared to admit defeat, but the brown earth had turned to green grass and the animals were healthy and rivers and lakes ran across the cracks in Turtle’s shell. ‘Thank you,’ said all of the animals.
” ‘What have we done?’ we asked. They told us, ‘It has rained and filled the fields and streams, and the water is perfect for us!’ ‘That was me!’ said Raven from the top of a tree. ‘I did that! You should thank me! I dropped the ocean over your heads and cleared the salt from it.’ So you see, sometimes things work out with Raven, but often it is not because Raven plans it. He taught us how to make the rain all because he was curious and impatient and disobedient. You cannot trust Raven, but sometimes you can hope for the best.
“That is why my husband and I travel, each of us. He goes to his people and gathers the ocean without me, for it is unhealthy for me to travel to that place. He brings the ocean back to me and after a time I deliver it to my people’s lands. The sky and the fall cleanse it of its salt and deliver it here to earth so that all of the world can profit by it. Some days you can still hear the rumble of my brother’s bola. We have become a part of one another, my husband and I, and although we began our marriage in duty and obligation, we have grown together through love and respect. In both of our travels, neither of us has encountered your Koschey the Deathless, though we know his name. It is possible that his older sister, Natanh, in the Kingdom of Gold, might know something.”