She saw the raven and smiled and in return it winked back at her. The great bird dwarfed her small frame as she hovered before him.
“Glorious weather today.” He said without sarcasm, despite the downpour. Droplets cascaded over his innumerable black feathers which had a hint of pearlescent to them.
“It is,” she replied , “I love the lightning, its beauty is thrilling.” Her smile was so genuine the old felt he`d caught it. He smiled as well as he could which was either completely or not at all. He twitched to flick off the water. “Have you ever flown amongst it?” She asked excitedly. The raven's yellow eyes stared again towards the glowing forks of lightning. He wanted to frown at the young girl but didn't have the required muscle structure.
“Do I look mad?” He asked. “I wouldn`t stand a chance in that.” A breeze chilled him and he shivered. The girl failed to notice the breeze.
“What brings you here?” The girl asked, she only saw the ravens when they were on duty.
“I have to pick someone up soon.” He hopped and fluttered his giant wings and settled, more comfortable. “He should be here soon.”
She stared about at the mud and rock all about them and saw a figure approaching slowly from the horizon behind the raven.
“It's not him is it?” She asked, uncertain and pointed towards the figure.
“No, it can't be. He's too overdressed.” The man was wearing a plain shirt and an overcoat.
“Can you help me?” The man pleaded loudly. The girl looked to the bird to answer. The bird said only;
“He's not coming with me wearing that.” She nodded.
“Why are you staring at that bird! I need help!” She looked at the man, puzzled.
“Are you talking to me?” She asked pointing to herself.
“Of course, I'm dying, help me.” She looked at him, he didn`t look like a dying man, only disheveled. The raven felt likewise, the man would not be traveling with him, not like that.
“He's early.” Said the raven. She stared more closely at the man and he howled and spun, pointing to the knife in his back. It was buried up to the hilt.
She nodded to the raven who winked back. “So I am here for him,” the old bird noted the red stains down the back of the overcoat, “I'll have to wait.” He looked at the girl he saw shimmering like a reflection on moonlit water whereas the dying man saw a beautiful maiden.
“Can you help me?” Asked the raven. “This one will not be easy.”
“Of course.” She replied, watching the man in his flesh and bloody finery.
The tall man would die eventually. He would leave behind the shell that weighed him down. When he was ready the raven would return as she was; ethereal and at peace with the new plane of existence.
Until the man could accept that he was dying he was only see her as he wanted to and the raven merely as a bird and not the steed to bare him away from life.