I’ve finished my fourth story, and first proper short story, The Wind Sall Blaw.  It’s an historical fantasy set in the Debatable Lands between Scotland and England around 1644.  The inspiration—and the odd title—came from a traditional ballad called the either The Three Ravens or the Twa Corbies (which means the Two Ravens).  The version with three ravens ends well (which is to say, badly for the ravens), whereas the version with two ravens ends well for the ravens and poorly for everyone else.  The story proceeds from that odd duality, and touches on a few other Border songs as well.  In fact, it’s also a sequel of sorts to a much more recent ballad: “All Along the Watchtower”…

Here’s how it starts:

“Where shall we our breakfast take?”

Regan’s lips startled up like a bird’s wings, settled as quickly downward; she arched her neck, and glanced sideways over the crowd.  The voice had been a smooth, ambiguous tenor, drifting through the hubbub in the Inn like smoke, and the words from an old, old ballad.  The last thing she needed right now was competition, some bard down from the Highlands or minstrel up from the South with new songs and stories, not with half the town crossing themselves at the sight of her, and Andrew torn between catering to the disapproving wives of Crichehope and the need for entertainment in the Inn.  The latter requirement was winning out for now; the flow of travelers swirling through the Inn was likely to spin into chair-smashing conflict unless provided a distraction, and Regan could be very distracting.  But if Andrew had an alternative, with voice enough and knowing the Border ballads, then she had no doubt he’d take it; Andrew was a pragmatist, as befitted an innkeep in troubled times.

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