Raven's Ring Pinby John Anacker
Fifteen-year-old Samuel has just moved with his parents to Yellowstone's Geyser Inn for the winter. Samuel has no friends, his on-line classes are too easy, and the TV has only one channel. Life basically stinks until one snowbound day when he decides to explore the creaky old attic. There he finds a ring pin engraved with weird symbols. A strange voice commands… See more details below
Fifteen-year-old Samuel has just moved with his parents to Yellowstone's Geyser Inn for the winter. Samuel has no friends, his on-line classes are too easy, and the TV has only one channel. Life basically stinks until one snowbound day when he decides to explore the creaky old attic. There he finds a ring pin engraved with weird symbols. A strange voice commands Samuel to drop the pin, and the adventure begins.
The ring pin has mysterious powers that allow Samuel to communicate with Rag and Thokk, the ravens that live in the attic. The ring also has the power to transport the trio to the perilous and magical world of the Nordic gods. Suddenly, the three find themselves in the midst of a battle among the most powerful gods of the Norse pantheon-Thor, the thunder god; Aegir, the sea god; and Loki, the trickster. But the ring pin can't-or won't-bring them home again.
Samuel is drawn into the timeless conflicts of the gods as he searches for Thor's magical hammer Mjollnir, and eventually must answer a challenge that will determine the fate of the gods themselves.
- Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.26(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.89(d)
- Age Range:
- 9 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
The pine cone whizzed past Thokk’s head, careened off his frantically flapping wings and bounced off a nearby tree trunk. Weaving desperately, the raven dodged among the pines and firs, hoping that another missile wouldn’t dislodge the meager scrap of bread clamped in his beak. Finally, with a sense of overwhelming frustration, he swooped to a stop on a high branch well out of reach of his human attackers. With a quick snap, he gulped down the hard-won crust.
After awhile he was joined by the source of his anger and irritation, a much larger and weather-beaten raven named Rag. Spitting with fury, Thokk said, “Once again you have ruined a perfectly good opportunity to pinch food from a clutch of tourists. The dolts were ripe for the picking. Didn’t you see that feast they were setting out on their picnic table? All you had to do was distract them while I glided in to snatch that wonderful, soft loaf of white bread.” Here a dreamy expression filled
Thokk’s tar-black eyes, only to quickly harden again into anger. “But noooo . . . You had to be all friendly with that little girl, sitting quietly as she came closer and closer. How could they not help but hear me trying to undo that plastic bag? I wish it had been you who had to dodge those pine cones. Just look at my wing.”
Thokk held up the injured appendage, flapped it in
Rag’s face and then went on. “To think I daily risk my glossy feathers to feed your mangy hide. Just look at you! You’re a mess. Don’t you ever preen your coat or trim your claws? Look at how carefully I keep my legs and claws. Not a nick or scratch. I say, if you weren’t so
God-awful big, I’d never have taken you in. You had better thank your ancestors that Grackle and his gang of crows run at the very sight of you.”
To all this, Rag said nothing. He never did. Some terrible childhood catastrophe had left him both an orphan and completely mute. He just looked at Thokk’s clever and cocky face with a calm, steady glance, betraying neither anger nor dislike.
With a groan, Thokk rolled his eyes and said: “Well,
come on then, let’s go home.”
Like two black leaves caught in a puff of wind, the ravens launched off their high perch and flapped off through the trees. It was late July in Yellowstone National
Park. The air was full of shimmering waves of evergreen pollen and the smell of pine. The sun was warm, but not hot. The sky was a clear azure blue. A
small herd of buffalo, grazing in a golden meadow of ripening grass, ignored the two black shadows that flew low over their backs.
As the two ravens glided along, Thokk glanced over at Rag and wondered for the thousandth time about his friend. Even though Rag was unkempt and dusty,
there was a dignity about him that went beyond mere appearance. Something very good and profound was hidden behind his sad eyes. Unfortunately, this concealed dignity seemed to make him incapable of many practical things, like stealing food. Thokk only shook his head and marveled at his own folly for sticking with such a strange and, at times, completely useless partner.
Suddenly something caught Thokk’s ever inquisitive eye. With a deep throated “quork,” he signaled for Rag to stop while he himself veered onto the branch of a slender old lodgepole pine. Down below, several people were engaged in a beehive of activity. A beat-up orange pickup truck had been backed up to a slight depression in a small meadow. Crates of equipment, shovels, tents,
and other camping gear were being unloaded from the truck bed and spread out over the ground. A car, bouncing as it drove across the uneven ground, pulled up beside the truck and disgorged several more people,
including a tall elderly gentleman with white hair and skin like leather. He at once began giving orders and pointing out where tents should be positioned and equipment stowed.
All this was of immense interest to Thokk. Longterm visitors were always more welcome in his territory than day tourists. More permanent guests could be flattered and courted until they were trained to provide a regular supply of treats. All that was needed was time,
and these people appeared to be planning to stay for months.
After making a mental note of the location of this potential gold mine of food, Thokk nodded to Rag and the two resumed their journey. Their destination was not very far awayjust over a clump of Douglas firs and across a broad asphalt parking lot full of cars. With a graceful glide, both ravens alighted on the roof crest of their home, the Geyser Inn.
Thokk was extremely proud of his home, even though it was an exceedingly awkward and gloomy structure. A gigantic log cabin several stories tall, it sat brooding on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. From its moss and lichen-encrusted roof, Thokk and Rag could survey the lakeshore for dead fish and the surrounding picnic tables for scraps of food. Or, at least, Thokk could. Rag was usually looking for something else.
Rag had an obsession. He loved shiny objectsanything that sparkled. He was forever peering at the ground and rustling under leaves in search of some new piece of junk. Over time he had amassed a collection of bottle caps, coins, nuts and bolts, and even a wedding ring. Rag stored his treasures in the attic of the Geyser Inn. Every evening he would squeeze through the slats of a broken air vent and deposit his latest find beside a rafter. He would then roost on a nearby ceiling beam. It was here that Rag now retreated, not only because the day was getting on, but also to evade Thokk’s bitter jibes.
“Yeah, just leave me to fend for myself, you incompetent crow. Go mope in your dusty cave,” Thokk shot after Rag as the latter disappeared.
The next day Thokk awoke hungry. After the pine cone incident and Rag’s escape, he had not been able to find anything to eatnot even a dead squirrel along the road. His empty stomach made Thokk’s mood black.
When Rag emerged from the attic into the early morning light, Thokk eyed him angrily and growled: “Did you get your beauty sleep, my friend, or did the rumblings of my stomach keep you awake all night? I’m sure a few thin shingles couldn’t have possibly blocked out the sound. I suppose you satisfied your hunger by gnawing on one of your precious treasures. You do eat them,
don’t youa bolt-and-bottle-cap soufflé perhaps? Maybe you saved a slice for me since it was your fault we lost that loaf of bread yesterday. No? . . . Well, I tell you what! Today you’re going to learn to beg, since larceny seems to be below you. Perhaps a good dose of humiliation will rekindle your interest in thievery. Who knows,
it might even unstick that stubborn tongue of yours.”
In reply, Thokk’s partner bobbed his head twice and looked out over Yellowstone Lake. The sun had just risen and the water, tinged with salmon and pale yellow,
sparkled with a thousand fallen stars. Rag seemed enraptured by the sight and was unable to remove his eyes from it.
In disgust, Thokk scoffed, “Come on, you emptyheaded bag of feathers. Gawking at sunrises will not fill our bellies. We have dark deeds to do. Our first stop is that new campsite. You know, the one with the orange truck and the whole gaggle of people. Perhaps we’ll make their breakfast.”
Unfortunately they did not. The people at the campsite must have risen before dawn, for when Thokk and
Rag arrived, they were already hard at work. Not a scrap of food was in sight. With a weary sigh, Thokk alighted on the crown of a nearby pine tree. Rag perched on a limb a few feet lower. Bending down, Thokk said: “Even though we’ve missed their feeding time, we might as well stay and spy them out. Maybe they’ll have a snack midmorning or drop a candy bar in the dust.”
All through the long morning Thokk and Rag stayed perched high in their tree. There they tried, without success, to understand the meaning and purpose of the human activity that went on below them. At first the people paced around the shallow depression in the ground with a long silver tape and now and then pounded a stake into the ground. After numerous stakes were positioned, bright orange strings were stretched between them to form a large grid. Shovels and wheelbarrows appeared. Soon the humans were busy digging up the top layer of grass and dirt and carting it off.
Once a large area had been cleared and a smooth under layer exposed, the elderly man and two assistants began to excavate a deeper hole with small spades. Every once in a while, the men would put down their trowels and begin to gently dust away dirt with a brush. At these times, an air of excitement would come over the site. Everyone would gather around. On one such occasion, the searchers lifted out a black obsidian arrowhead, next a needle made out of bone, and then a broken shard of potteryall Native
“Fools,” Thokk muttered with a sneer. “If they want to dig for real treasures, they should check out the dumpsters behind the inn’s kitchen.” But then suddenly,
Thokk’s mood brightened. “What’s this?! I think they’re quitting for lunch.” And indeed, as he spoke,
shovels were leaned against trees, brushes set aside, and two large red coolers placed atop a folding metal picnic table. The people began to talk and laugh. The hiss and pop of opening soda cans floated through the air.
An eager gleam filled Thokk’s eyes as he whispered to Rag, “This is it! This is our chance. I’ll go first. You just stay back and watch. Follow my every move. Remember.
You’ll be doing it next.”
Rag dutifully nodded his head, and, together, the two ravens left their perch and glided down to the edge of the excavation. Once on the ground, Thokk hissed,
Confidently, Thokk turned his attention away from
Rag and hopped over toward the picnic table surrounded by humans. With a loud croak, he turned all their heads in his direction. For a second, everything was quiet and then Thokk did an amazing thing. With a frenzied flap of feathers, he did a somersaultan awkward, ungraceful flip. The crowd of people gasped in amazement and then laughed. Here was something completely unexpected,
strange, and hilarious. All of them would tell the tale of “that crazy raven in Yellowstone” for the rest of their lives. The gift of a story like that was worth a reward. The tag end of a ham sandwich sailed through the air and was deftly caught in Thokk’s beak. Glowing with pride, Thokk glanced backwards, fully expecting to see Rag admiring his expertise. Of course, Rag was nowhere to be seen.
Rag was on the bottom of the excavation pit, pecking at a silver object peeping through the dust. His keen eyes, much sharper than any human’s, had caught the faint glitter of metal as his ever-wandering eyes had turned away from Thokk’s performance. He had immediately fluttered down to investigate. He grew more and more excited as he scraped dirt away from the buried object with his beak and claws. What appeared was a strange piece of silver jewelry.
It was a large brooch, or more accurately, a ring pin,
as Rag was to later learn. It was about the size of an apple and shaped like a crescent moon, with a big bulge in the middle and two smaller ones on each horn. The middle protrusion contained a large carved eye, while the other two were filled with extremely tiny symbols.
Surrounding the eye and symbols were intricate borders of interlaced ribbons.
As Rag looked closer at these ribbons, he began to see that they were really violently contorted animals,
their limbs extended to fantastic lengths and positions.
Around one side, right along the central bulge, a rather deadly looking stickpin was attached. It extended between and beyond the encircling horns of the brooch.
The whole thing looked vaguely like a tadpole with the stick pin as the tail.
As he scraped the last bit of dirt away, Rag had the queer feeling that this was not a mere bauble, but a special talisman of great worth. A sense of awe and foreboding overcame him as he lifted the brooch in his beak and flapped out of the hole and onto the branch of a nearby pine tree.
Thokk sputtered angrily as he dropped down on the branch next to Rag. “What are you doing?! I told you to watch me and instead you wandered off. Good God almighty, you have the attention span of a starling.”
And then, in a voice full of sarcasm, he cackled, “What piece of junk have you unearthed now?”
As Rag set the ring pin down, Thokk fell silent. Even he felt the mysterious power of the brooch. It glittered in the strong afternoon sunlight, painful to look at, its polish strangely undiminished by burial, its silver surface untarnished.
Thokk gasped, “Ugh, if that isn’t the weirdest thing you’ve ever found. It’s creepier than a cabin full of cats.
Go get rid of it! Why not drop it in the lake or, better yet, down a geyser?”
Rag, unmoved by these suggestions, picked up the pin and looked his friend straight in the eye with a piercing glare. Thokk, for once abashed, looked away.
Rag then launched himself into the air, flew to his secret hideout in the inn and deposited the brooch among his other treasures.
Thokk shook his head in dismay as his friend disappeared.
An unpleasant premonition filtered through his mind and settled in the pit of his stomach. Under his breath he cursed. “This is a bear’s toe! The beginning of something big, bad, and very, very ugly.”
Splashing through the cold rain and slush, the car carrying Samuel Johnson finally came to a halt in front of the Geyser Inn. He shivered when he looked up at the brooding castle of burled logs, darkened dormers,
and leaking gutters. As he stepped out into the downpour, his breath came in puffs of steam and the rain on his shoulders felt like someone was poking him with icicles. Even now, in late October, the sodden sky was flecked with snow. Under his breath Samuel cursed. Yet again, his father had dragged him away from home to a new, unfamiliar, invariably worse, place to live. Samuel did not like to remember how many times before this had happened to him in his short, fifteen-
“Come on, Sam,” growled Jim, Samuel’s father. “Stop gawking and give me a hand with these bags.”
Sullenly, Samuel trudged to the back of the car,
grabbed a tattered duffle bag, and followed his father up the inn’s steps. Glancing backwards, he saw his short, slightly chubby mother, Carol, sitting rigidly in the car’s front seat, her large eyes staring straight ahead and her mouth tightly pursed.
The inside of the Geyser Inn was little warmer than the outside. Samuel shuddered as a trickle of water ran off his light brown hair and seeped down his neck.
Goose bumps appeared on his fair skin and he had to rub rain out of his hazel eyes. His father motioned for him to wait while he went in search of somebody. The inn appeared to be abandoned. Miserably, Samuel peered around and saw that he was in the middle of a huge lobby. The ceiling soared more than four stories from a worn hardwood floor to a gloomy ceiling crisscrossed by dark wooden beams. At the room’s center,
sitting like a huge, squatting troll, was a gargantuan fieldstone fireplace. Several wagon wheel chandeliers hung down from the beamstheir meager light barely illuminating the far corners of the room. Countless layers of varnish and shellac coated the log walls and railings like coats of maple syrup.
Samuel heard a cough. He turned around and saw that his mother had finally followed them into the inn.
With shaking hands, she was lighting a cigarette. The sudden flare of a match illuminated her freckled complexion,
red hair, and green eyes. In a sad voice she said:
“This is really not what I expected. I thought this place would be . . . well, more modern and not so far from the nearest town. We must be fifty miles at least from West
Yellowstone. To think we’ll be here, by ourselves, all winter.”
Just then Jim reappeared, walking behind a nervous young man at least ten years his junior. Jim’s worn plaid shirt, carpenter’s pants, and pot belly contrasted sharply with the man’s slender build, cheap polyester suit and somber tie. The man said: “As I told you several times, I’ve left a detailed list of the projects the director and I thought you should concentrate on. But you know, the most important thing is to just keep the furnace running. We really, REALLY, don’t want the pipes to freeze up. If you can keep the boiler’s pilot light lit,
we wouldn’t care if you watched TV all winter. Now, if you would please excuse me, I must be on my way.”
“Sir,” Carol said with a hesitant wave of her hand. “Is it always so cold?”
The young man stared at Carol and then chuckled nervously as he glanced sideways at Jim. “Lady, this is as warm as it gets.”
“Oh,” said Carol and then, feeling a need to explain her question, she went on. “This weather is just such a change from where we’ve been living. Do you know that it was still ninety degrees in Big Bend National
Park when we left three days ago?”
“Don’t worry so much, Carol,” growled Jim. “Everything will be just fine.”
“Well, I must be off then, before it really starts to snow,” said the young man as he quickly backed away toward the door, nearly tripping over himself. “My car’s just outside and I’m all packed.” And then with one last quick backward glance and a frozen smile he mumbled:
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