Le Petit Romani et les Corbeaux’
© 2002 Eric C. Lind
Kostas, having been born into a gypsy family, has always known what the good times are. Since he was just a young boy, in The Vast, his Kumpania traveled the lands, learning from the whole of the Kumpaniya. Diversity was not a barrier for him since the Vardos traveled to him, and brought strange languages culture and artifacts. Always known as the troublesome little one, Kostas regularly went into the strange Vardos to see great things from other lands. None of the Romany seemed to mind, patting him on the head, and encouraging his playful antics and curiosity. Still he got pretty good at hiding and after some time, even the best of the Romany hunters had a difficult time finding him during games of hide and seek.
Sometimes Kostas would jump out of unexpected places and deliberately startle his pursuant, often from the top of a Vardo. Other times Kostas would just smile and wave at them until they finally noticed. When others wouldn’t play with him, because they knew they would only find him if he wanted them to, he would sneak into the local Suvanni’s Vardo and read the magical books for hours and hours, often till he fell asleep. The Suvanni never minded, often covering him over with warm blankets and setting a few small candy treats for him to find when he woke up.
As Kostas got older he matured very little, with the exception of his knowledge, and as is obvious even his physical size changed little. One of the Gaje, while making a speech in front of a temple, said something that Kostas didn’t agree with. So Kostas, with his bright smile told the Gaje what he believed to be true. The Gaje looked down at the little Kostas, smiling, and called him Impetuous. Kostas so curious what this word meant, given how it was said, pestered the Gaje to tell him for hours. The Gaje would laugh at him and pat him on the head, finally insisting that Kostas should ask some of the Rom. Well that was about enough to placate him at least for a little while.
Kostas returned to the Kumpania, and immediately began asking all the Rom what this impetuous thing was. None of the Rom knew, and could not tell him. Kostas became completely dedicated to finding out what this word meant, despite the fact that he’s a living definition. He begged his mother to let him find the Gaje and coax it out of him. Kostas’ mother knew that no Romany could trust the Gaje, for the Gaje would either deliberately break the trust of the Romany, or at the very least, incidentally do so.
When he was old enough, he finally told his mother that he was going to ask the all the Gaje he could what impetuous meant. Well his mother let him go, and he asked many Gaje what this word meant, but one word led to another and Kostas became curious about the new words he would learn, and have to ask what those meant.
After acquiring a decent vocabulary and a bunch of words that only a very few of the Gaje seemed to know, he became disappointed. So in a very impulsive way he decided to that way to know the Gaje was to travel with them. Still adhering to the gypsy way of always finding happiness in everything, he hobbled off to a little inn. He would tell stories for the Gaje and talk of many things he dreamed of when he was fastest asleep.
One afternoon a raven came to the window. The Gaje, now disinterested in the elaborate dreams of a small Romany boy, Kostas turned to the raven and began to tell it wonderful tales of flying through clouds of cream, and to stars made of the finest gypsy candies, then down through valleys of wonder and beauty the likes of which no Gaje could imagine. The raven, later named Piccolo by Kostas, was so entranced by the tales of the small Romany boy that he vowed to travel with him till the end of his days. Piccolo, nearly as great in size as Kostas, could still manage to stand on Kostas’ shoulders, and not be a weighty burden to him, and the two were fast friends.
Piccolo never let the two go hungry, and for such a small boy it is difficult to get food, or the money for food. The first encounters were a little strange as Kostas endearingly allowed Piccolo to eat the whole meal. The Raven didn’t understand that worms and other such things are not in the diet of a small Romany boy. Kostas later climbed an apple tree in a nearby grove and fed himself and Piccolo with the fine meal. Piccolo later understood what little Romany boys eat when they’re hungry, but not before Kostas told him a story.
Kostas told Piccolo the about the great feast with the bird-people. The Avids are a kind folk you see, and they would fly through the dreams of the Romany and bring great gifts of comfort to all they chose to bless. On cold nights they would bring a warm sun into the dreams of the Romany, or soft clouds to bed in when the Kumpania would be traveling in the hard wooden Vardos, far from the cities and monuments of the Gaje. The Romany often celebrate the Avids, throwing large festivals in their honor, with so much dancing and drinking that one would either ache from the pain of dancing or be wretched from the stint of the ale: a grand old time indeed.
You see, the bird-people, so entranced by the love of the Romany people, decided that they would fly to greet them and join in the celebration. The Romany were so thrilled by the visit that they insisted the whole of them dance and sing and laugh and feast. The Avid and the Romany were overjoyed to have such a feast. Each and every one of them would have a meal greater than any before it, and the lot of them went to scour the lands for the ripest and heartiest of meals. And the Romany made breads and harvested fruits of such splendor and sweetness they could hardly resist eating them before bringing them to the table, and the Avids brought rare fish and Sweetwater from the hidden lakes and rivers about their sacred mountaintop homelands. It was the greatest feast that man or bird has had since or before, and the joy that filled the hearts of them overflowed into the cups of Sweetwater and apple wine.
It was just then that a drunken gypsy man, who thought nothing of it at the time, brought out the finest roast chickens for the whole of the crowd to eat. And the Avid looked at their fallen pena on the platter and were immediately enraged. The drunken gypsy man fell silent, knowing his error, for who would you be to eat your own sister. The Queen of the Avids, Endalia, looked at the man with the greatest of scorn and was breathing down wrath upon him.
“You Fool!”, she said, “Can you not know we are not cannibals!”
And it was then that the wisest of Gypsy women among them went to the Avid Queen, and begged for forgiveness for the terrible and heinous act. Endalia wanted no part of it, insisting that the crime was too great for forgiveness. The wise Gypsy woman appealed to the Avid Queen for three days and three nights, with no forgiveness and the terrible weight of the burden on her.
A small gypsy girl tugged lightly at the feathers of Endalia, Queen of the Avids, and smiled to her. Endalia looked down at the sweet child, smiling at her and patted her on the head saying,
“Sweet child, this is not your burden. I will come to you myself in a dream this night and take you on a flight into the twilight of dawn, over the great mountains to the east, but for now you must let me speak with your Grandmother.”
The sweet girl, Milena, looked back at her, rubbing the sweet sleep out of her eyes and said,
“Endalia, my Grandmother is very old now, and she hasn’t eaten or slept in more than three days. Please, you must find forgiveness in your heart somehow, or the pain of this burden will kill her.”
The rage that Endalia felt was complete as she turned her rage on the innocent child.
“You would ask me to forget the dead? You would ask me to eat the fallen Pena that has had no choice in this world than to be a fit supper for your table!!”
And the sweetness and wisdom of Milena shown through in the dreamiest of states a little girl can be in as she told Endalia this.
“My Endalia, did you ask for the blessing of the fish you brought here?”
So moved by the statement that Milena made, the Avid Queen cried the sweetest tears; tears which ran into what was once known to the Romany as the Valley of Sweet Sorrows. And Bird and Rom cried tears alike until the whole of the valley was flooded, and the whole of them were up to their waists in water. The Avid Queen took the last fish from the patter and carefully held it to her breast, and the tears flowed down her face until her feathers had been soaked through.
When all but the last of the tears were through, Endalia gave the fish to Milena, and Milena dripped a last single tear upon the poor fish. It is said that the magic of the Romany blood is great, and the purity of Milena’s heart shone through that day as the gift of love and water gave new life to the fish, but not at first.
You see, Milena turned the fish into the new waters, and the twilight of the next dawn was peaking over the sacred mountaintop homelands of the Avids, into the valley of sweet sorrows. The whole of the people, Romany and Avid alike began to head to the shores. And as they walked they heard a great splash in the water. Milena could hardly believe it, but she already knew what happened. Endalia turned away from the sunrise and looked back at the now Lake of Sweetwater Down, and saw the great king of the waters, Coron, fly into the air so gracefully, that the Romany and Avids both believed the flying fish could dance in the air.
Coron looked at the peoples and insisted they celebrate his rebirth, and have the greatest of feasts in his honor. So surprised was Endalia that she asked Coron how he would wish a feast in the midst of his Prala and Pena’s deaths. And Coron turned to the dear child Milena and nodded. And Milena turned to Endalia, Queen of the Avids and said,
“If you take only what you need you will find there is enough for everyone.”
And so Kostas told Piccolo that he did not need the worms, but if Piccolo would help him find a ripe apple, he would save the worms just for him.
It is often said that Endalia and Coron were married, and their first child was a Mirfolk, but that is another story.