My arms turn into wings, feathers cover them. My voice is no longer human, but that of a bird, hoarse, raspy, dark. This bird does not – cannot – will not utter any song except chilling, haunting one – that of a raven call, neither melodious, nor alluring. Liminal. Otherworldly. Deathly.
The raven shakes its head, ruffles its magnificent feathers, and a cry emerges from its beak. It flutters, and echoes throughout the forests and glades, resonating in mountainous caves, deep hollows and dark depths of the pools, rivers and seas. The bird is ready to take flight. I am this bird, and I glide, I soar. I stretch the mighty wings, that carry me, and revel in the crisp winter air.
I follow the great rivers – from la Rhone to Loire, and my path is smooth and clear before me. Days and nights I follow the shimmering, beckoning waters, yet I know it is too early to stop. My way flows and ebbs, as the river,towards the lands of woods and mountains, waters and winds. The land that has a mystery hidden deep in its womb, a cave of silver and black, where my lord is asleep.
To Danube, the clear Danube, my endless yearning pushes, to its nest, to the very beginning, to its birthplace high in the mountains. To the deepest of caves, hidden so well that no mortal can reach it. No mortal knows who dwells in that cave. No living soul but me possesses the knowledge. No living soul but me.
I reach the cave by the sunset, and follow its tunnels till I reach the underground hall – no longer a bird, but myself. There, it the farthest corner, the black throne of extraordinary, unearthly beauty stands. Carved of black stone, with glimpses and sparks of silver and white, it stands out in the dark,as does the one who occupies it.
Clad in black and silvery gray, this hooded figure is the one I am looking for. His hands lie on the armrests, the fingers pale, long and strong. A single ring of silver with a large sapphire adorns his right hand. The face shadowed by the deep hood of a cloak, the breath inaudible.
No crown, no signs of royalty- yet his presence alone makes you bow your head in reverence.
He raises his head. The hood falls back to reveal his face. Stern, pale, otherworldly, with big, hooded eyes of sapphire blue, that see you through – effortlessly, calmly, examining you inch by inch. Dark hair flowing down to his waist, with two silvery traces on the both sides of his face, is held firmly by a circlet of silver, bearing a single gem – a dark blue sapphire.
When he speaks, his voice is steady,calm, solemn and quiet, the voice of eternity, depths any mystery, the voice of velvet and iron, silk and stone.
He has no need of company, yet he listens. He has no need of long speeches, yet he answers, and the cave rings, echoing his words.
‘Your path is clear. Your guides will see to its completion. If you desire to know my mysteries, the time is not here yet. When you are done with learning from the others, you may return. Now go’.
That is how the lord of the depths is. People call him Arawn, yet in the olden days he was called Arubianus- and that is how he is still remembered in some places. The only one that makes you want to bow down, never tearing your eyes from the floor. The lord of the depths, the king of Annwfn. The king of the Underworld.