Versione Italiana

di Grazia La Fauci

Illustration by: Daria Epifanova

Corvina, The Raven Queen

 

- What a strange face - the doctor says.
- There are two more. What ugly faces! - the other replies while they help them out. In that very moment Manfredi enters the room and, with a shocked face, falls down the stairs. Then Corvina sees them and, coveringher eyes with her hands, screams hysterically.

Over there, in the plain of the Reign of the Sicels, the old Cinisi Manor House raises dark and menacing. The shepherds tell weird stories about those centuries-old stones: something weird happened many years ago. In the middle, a crenellated tower oversees the valley where crows and owls flutter about. The wise men of the village believe these to be sign of bad luck. The white windows of the palace are decorated with colourful geraniums and a young queen with long black plaits and white cheeks supposedly used to live in those rooms. When she was born her father looked at her dark hair and a crow cawed in the woods. He had no doubts: she was the Raven Queen and Corvina would be her name. The beautiful valley was full of bovine, hides and fine meats farms, all belonging to the local breed of Cinisi. The King could not be prouder. Springs and winters went by and all those animals grew fat while Corvina grew tall and big through the hot summers and the grey autumns. The princess became a woman and that spring she would marry prince Manfredi of Monreale in a wedding that sovereigns, nobles and notaries would all attend. The rooms and the gardens were decorated and in the kitchens succulent dishes were prepared. The entire reign was celebrating. However, that year, only three calvessurvived the winter through incredible difficulties. One morning the farmer was quickly summoned to the castle. With his big surprise the princess ordered: -Don Alfonso, I need the calves. Slaughter them for my wedding banquet.-
The farmer, with tears in his eyes, replied: - My princess, they barely stand, they are very skinny and their meat will not be enough for the banquet -. But she was furious and would not listen to him. So Don Alfonso, hunched and pensive, returned to the stable and, for the last time, dejected, fed the poor calves. On the grand day, the reign exploded in a great party, full of music and colours. The wedding was celebrated with songs and applauses. Right before the dance, a girl approached the new queen and silently put three white lilies on her lap. Corvina had a weird dream that same night: three red lilies dancing in the lawn.  One year after their wedding the queen, among screams and tears,gave birth to their first child.
- What a strange face- the doctorsays.
- There are two more. What ugly faces! - the other replies while they help them out. In that very moment Manfredi enters the room and, with a shocked face, falls down the stairs. Then Corvina sees them and, coveringher eyes with her hands, screams hysterically.
- They have calves heads- the court whispered unanimously.

Corvina hid forever in the tallest tower and never left it again. She was too ashamed of her own faith and decided to wear a cow head until the day she died. After the labour, the three little princes, who were looked after by the shepherd, became wonderful lively children. The queen never got to see the enigmatic phrase that her servants wrote on the rocks of the castle, next to its door:
- We are monsters hidden under masks -.
Or at least this is what the wise men of the village tell. 

 

Grazia La Fauci

translated by Alessandra Lo Duca