The Frethoni Book of Fables   
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Introduction. Fable No. 32, ca. 120 b.S. This story may be found in the Frethoni Book of Fables, as well as (in a rather different version) Aunt Sannie's Babetales. The version here is similar to the way it is told in the Mithrals. The "White Corbie" tells us about a farmer's little boy, who encounters something he thought impossible to exist: a white corbie, who can even talk to him. For a little help, he even will answer the boy any question he might have. What will it be? And what will the white corbie answer? - Read and find out!


n the long ago and far away there was a little boy, and his name was Vanyan. Now long ago and far away are not so long and far as to change a boy’s nature, and Vanyan was very like you…and you… and you. Vanyan enjoyed his mother’s kao-kao cookies but hated going to bed on time. He would gladly throw stones to keep the corbies off the grainfields, but was very good at vanishing when it was time to help his father bring in the firewood…

One day Vanyan was out by the edge of his father’s fields, pulling up carroots idly and rubbing the dirt off on his breeches. It was almost lunchtime, but Vanyan was not fond of porridge, and porridge was going to be on the table for lunch again. He pulled up another carroot, but just as he was about to crunch into it, he heard a sharp cawing from the forest edge beside him. “Vaaaaah! Yaaaw!”

The noise came again; “Vaaw-yaaaw, vaawn-yaawn…” and it sounded very like his name!

Vanyan dropped his carroot and looked into the forest. It was a thick, dusky place, with the pine branches clustering close together and shielding the light, and Vanyan could see nothing but a faint white spot, moving ever so little like a fireflicker. He stepped inside the edge of the forest and began to walk towards the white flicker.

“Vaan-yaan!” the caw sounded for the third time, and the white spot remained flickering ahead of him. Vanyan pushed his way through the pine branches, and there in front of him, hanging upside down by one sharp-clawed foot, frowsy-feathered and bright-eyed…. was a pure white corbie!

Have you ever seen a white corbie? Well, no more have I, but that’s what Vanyan saw. And that’s what Vanyan was hearing, as it cawed his name once more.

“Vaanyaan, help meee..” it squawked. “I haave caaw-ght my foot in dzis treeee branzch and caawn not ezcape… Help me and you zhall haave dze anzswer to any quesztion you want…”

Vanyan nervously put his hands out, and with a quick tug upwards the corbie’s foot was free. It hopped up to a broad branch above his head and sat with its bright eye fixed on him. “Aaask your question, Vaanyaaan. Asssk dze White Corbie and you zhall have your anzswer!”

There were many questions Vanyan could have asked the White Corbie, and then we should have known the answers – like, ‘Where can I find treasure?’ or ‘How can I help my family?’ or ‘ Why does death take people?’ or even ‘How do you know my name?’ but he did not.

Instead he asked quickly, “Why are you white instead of black like other corbies?”

The Corbie shook its feathery head from side to side, sadly. “Aaall corbies are white, Vaaanyaaan. It iz humansight dzat iz dark…”

And with that the bird spread its broad wings and leapt upwards into the darkness of the pines and vanished. “Faaarewell, humaaan laaad!” Vanyan thought he heard it caw at the last, but he was not sure.

Vanyan turned and went back towards the light that showed him where his father’s fields lay, beyond the forest edge. He gathered his shirt full of carroots and brought them home to his mother, and told her his tale. His mother shook her head, rather like the Corbie, but said nothing.

And for lunch there was carroot pudding instead of porridge, and they finished it off, and I’ve finished my tale.

What would YOU have asked the Corbie?

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Fable written by by Bard Judith View Profile