The old raven, as loyal to the princess as he was to her mother before, had followed his mistress to the sea. Once he was assured of the Princess’s safety with her new husband, he flew back to the palace in hopes of learning of Midas’s plan. It was many days before he returned, exhausted from his flight.
The night was clear and still. Franz and Marigold had long-since retired to their cabin for the evening, but the ever-loyal John was still on deck, lost in thoughts and memory.
“Oh, Stefan” the graying man sighed. “Franz grows more like you every day. You would love his new wife. She makes him happy; the happiest I’ve seen our boy since you left us.” John sighed again, rubbing his tired face in his hands. “It is hard to keep living with you gone. Franz, and the Princess Marigold are my only family now. I will keep my promise, and live for them until it’s time to see you again.”
“Do you mean that?” A croaking voice asked.
John jumped, having not heard footsteps approaching him. He looked around for another person, but his eyes landed on the large, old grow resting on the ship’s bow.
“Do I mean what, good Raven?” John replied, cautiously approaching the creature of shadows.
“Do you mean to protect the Princess with your life?”
“Yes. As King Franz is like a son to be, so too is the Princess my daughter.”
He could feel the raven’s careful evaluation of his person and character, and wisely held silent for the seconds that contained a lifetime. Finally, the raven nodded his head and beckoned John to his confidence.
“Listen closely to what I say, for I have news from the palace. I cannot tell my lady, for Midas’s sorcerer caught me spying. He could not catch me and stop my flight, but he did manage to cast a spell. Whomsoever tells the lady or King Franz what I will tell you now will turn to stone the moment the words leave his lips!” And with that warning, the old Raven told John the sinister plots Midas had made for revenge.