Silly Ole Crow – A Companion Animal Who Altered a Character’s Course

I’ve often talked about animal characters, but there remains one who’s unique. That animal is Mazatta the crow. Something of an afterthought when he was added in Kovenlore Chronicles Book2, A River in Each Hand, he ended up having a huge impact.

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Courtesy: Pixabay

This is a bit tricky because I have to avoid spoilers, but I’ll do my best.

Companion animals are invaluable for my heroines because they provide someone to talk to when they’re alone. That was the initial reason for Riparia’s horse, Doppla, who appears on the first page of Book1. The same is true of Cinder the Barska Cat in Case of the Deadly Stroll or Shade the fox in Stealing Light. They all serve as foils and friends for a human, providing comic relief and comfort.

Some animals, like rylls were invented, though Cinder doesn’t count because he’s basically a Maine Coon, but I couldn’t use the name. I’ve resurrected animals like mammoths, pterosaurs, and a saber toothed cat while also using mythological animals like gargoyles and unicorns.

And then there’s Mazatta.

A crow? What’s so special about a crow?

He’s a companion animal who humanizes and serves as a foil for an antagonist. Fantastical? He’s capable of limited speech. That crow with attitude also saved a human character — from me.

Sorceress Crimson. Picture: CA Hawthorne

Sorceress Crimson. Picture: CA Hawthorne

It’s time to talk about Sorceress Crimson. She’s mentioned multiple times in Book1, but enters the story with her own POV early in Book2, A River in Each Hand.

Sorcerers are men with a wizard’s gift who draw on lifeforce for power (wizards use natural magic). For women, sorcery manifests as the Wizard’s Curse and is lethal — unless the woman consumes lifeforce frequently to remain alive (the gift manifests at age twelve).

In the story, Crimson’s origins are as murky as Mazatta’s. Living in Knoss Citadel, she has no memory of life before Knoss at age twelve. All her remembered life has been in a citadel full of men, her lone companion the talking crow who landed beside her in the courtyard after she arrived.

Thing is, this backstory didn’t exist until after her first scene with Mazatta, which occurred early in Crimson’s first chapter…

Flapping echoed down the dim passage.

Flipping her curly, mahogany locks over her shoulder, they settled against her back and brushed her waist. She stretched out her left arm and the crow settled on it.

“Have you no sense of time?”

Obsidian eyes mirroring her own reflected her pale skin. “Caw, Mazatta loves Crimson.”

A half smile formed. “You sly bird. How fortunate for you we’ve been together since I was a girl.”

“Crimson love.”

“And you’re quite the charmer today.”

“Caw, caw.”

“You silly ole crow, keep your voice down, and no cries within. Remember the rules.”

She shoved the panel inward and closed it behind.

Crimson’s role changed forever the instant she used the phrase, silly ole crow. It spoke of a backstory more intriguing than I’d planned. It hinted a little girl robbed of memories and without a friend in the world — until a talking crow befriended her. Evil, self-absorbed Crimson, an antagonist, was slated to die at a point I won’t divulge.

And then, Mazatta and silly ole crow (sometimes it’s silly ole bird).

The irony is, I decided to add him at the last minute. Sorcerers are consumed with power and lifeforce, but not conversation. Lifeforce enables tremendous power, but requires a lengthy process to consume, unless it’s done via a crypt vessel at Knoss, inhibiting travel. Sorcery also means the inability to calm or heal.

Mazatta. Courtesy: Pixabay

Mazatta. Courtesy: Pixabay

In a parallel to Mazatta’s origins (there are no other talking crows), Crimson can calm via magic.

Again, all this backstory is different than the plan and added when I rewrote the novel in 2018 (drafted in Nov 2016). It’s an ability she uses to keep Radru (Uncle) on her side, but that causes great suspicion among the other sorcerers.

All because of Mazatta.

There’s Crimson’s ruthlessness and cruelty, but other moments add up. Crimson rescuing Mazatta from a practitioner. Crimson first encountering technology (a metal firefly) while Mazatta pecks at it to protect her. Crimson ignoring her own wounds and failing lifeforce to save Mazatta.

I won’t divulge Crimson’s fate, tragic or otherwise, except to mention it’s the most surprising character arc I’ve ever written (whatever you’re guessing, you’re probably wrong). It’s still surprising the changes because of silly ole crow, three words.

It all goes to show how one little change can have huge ramifications. I give all antagonists a dollop of humanity, but she was the first given a companion animal.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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