Part 32

A favourite character dies in part 32 of the never-ending story, written by St Aloysius Catholic College students Isabel Scanlon and Megwyn Mosenthal…

ELIZA’S heart plummeted. How could the ravens be evil? Rourke stood staring into the distance. Was there any way he could rescue Alice now?
Musta began to talk again. “There is one way we can kill the crows and ravens and escape.”
“What is it? WHAT IS IT?” Eliza demanded of the bird. “I can kill Virginia
… I can become the alpha crow … I can destroy them and take you home.”
“Isn’t that a suicide mission?” asked Rourke. “If you kill the crows and ravens when you are the alpha, won’t you die as well?” “Yes,” replied Musta. “I will die. But I would rather die than live with those evil birds.” Musta was interrupted by a horrendous sound.
“We’re the evil ones now are we?” said Virginia wickedly. She had appeared behind them, holding Alice in her grip. At the sight of Virginia, Musta retreated. He would not give his life to the crows, but he would give anything to the humans – even his heart.
Virginia flew over to Rourke and dropped Alice at his feet. She stared
at Rourke and commanded: “Now it’s your turn… GIVE ME THE BONE!” Rourke slowly shook his head. “You can’t have the bone. You are a cold-hearted, damaged woman who I used to love… but now you will die!” He pulled the bone out of his pocket and plunged it into her heart. A direful screech left her body. She fell to the ground before exploding into a sea of feathers that transformed into a murder of crows. The crows tried to snatch Alice, but she fought them off. They retreated, threatening: “We will get her in the end.”
Eliza turned to see a crow standing over the lifeless human form of Rourke. Having killed Virginia, he was the new alpha crow. Eliza cradled his empty human body and turned it over to find the bone he had used to kill Virginia still in his hand.
A blood chilling scream pierced the air and Eliza instantly recognised who it came from. “Alice!” she called. She ran in the direction of the screams, pushing away the trees that seemed to lock her in their branches, preventing her from reaching her distressed friend.
She called Alice’s name over and again, but the only response was a baneful scream and the caw of a crow. She emerged in a cove where she found Alice menacingly encircled by crows and ravens.
As Eliza shooed the crows away she saw Alice, impaled on a large branch, white as a ghost and covered in blood. Eliza crouched next to Alice and through distorted sobs asked what had happened.
In the moments after Rourke killed Virginia and transformed into a crow, Alice had seen his image walk out of his body and into the scrub.
She was curious and followed him to the cliff high above, where he transformed into a murder of crows and chased her off the edge.
It had been the shapeshifters. They had tricked Alice into believing that Rourke was still alive in human form as well as crow, and then they pushed her over the cliff.
Eliza started reassuring Alice that she would be ok, but they both knew there was nothing they could do. Alice lay there gasping for air, reaching for the last few minutes of her life, grasping Eliza’s hand and staring into her face with big dark eyes.
Eliza’s father had always said that the eyes are a window into one’s
soul, and as Eliza stared into Alice’s soul she saw an innocent girl who had lived a life of heartbreak, loss, and pain. Eliza started to cry.
A crow swooped down from the cliff above and settled next to Alice’s dying body. Eliza lashed out, screaming “keep away from her!” until she noticed a patch of grey feathers on the crow’s head. It was Rourke. He had come to say goodbye to Alice. Alice reached out and gently ran her hands along his feathered back, whispering: “It’s OK, I believe in you.” With her last breath Alice said to Eliza: “You can kill the crows… you can get back home… do it for me.”
With that, her eyes slowly dropped, her gasping stopped and she lay there lifeless. Eliza collapsed to her knees, head in her hands. She heard the crunch of paper, and pulled out the diary she had found a few days earlier and opened it to the last page where a pocket had been stuck.
She opened the pocket to fi nd two bird bones, and a scroll of paper. It was a list with a title: “Requirements for island escape”. The list read: three alpha-crow bones, blood of a dying soul and the heart of a raven.
Eliza stood up and screamed into the sky: “I will kill the crows… for Alice!”

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on November 20, 2012

St-Aloysius---Megwyn-webSt-Aloysius-Isabel-webSTUDENTS from St Aloysius Catholic College at Huntingfield, near Kingston, have provided five of the last 10 chapters of the Lovesong of the Crow. This tremendous level of support has been co-ordinated by English teacher Sally Broadribb who identified a number of talented writers in the school and offered them the opportunity to take part. “It’s been great to have a number of our students recognised for their literary accomplishments,” Mrs Broadribb said.
This week’s student authors are Megwyn Mosenthal and Isabel Scanlon. The Grade 7 girls both enjoy reading and writing as well as
outdoor recreation. Isabel, 13, is interested in horse-riding and equestrian competitions as well as music and technology. Megwyn, 13, likes bushwalking and netball, going to the beach and playing the piano.
The Lovesong of the Crow has been a special project for the National Year of Reading. The story is nearing its conclusion, with New Town High School students now working on the final instalment.

Part 31

A small bone is shaping up as the key to the mystery at the heart of the never-ending story as five girls from Riverside High School present Part 31…

“WHAT’S that, boy?” Rourke asked curiously as Johnny silently slipped the bone from his pocket and thoroughly examined it. “I found it on the beach, ages ago,” Johnny replied. Andre watched the exchange from afar, leaning on his uninjured leg patiently. “Is that the bone they were talking about?”

Rourke reached out one solid arm and snatched the bone from Johnny’s fingers, ignoring the look of outrage on the teenager’s face. A few minutes of silence passed and Rourke finally looked up, acknowledging everyone in the group and trying to be as calm as possible when he answered the question that was on everyone’s mind.

“This is it. This is why Virginia was here; this is what they’re fighting for. This is now the key to our survival.” Andre nodded, accepting this new revelation. “Perhaps we can use it to our advantage; maybe if you, Rourke, are the one to kill the alpha crow, you can reverse the curse on Virginia,” Andre wondered out loud. “You might be able to reverse the transformation on your wife, Rourke,” Johnny agreed.

Rourke felt a surge of hope in his heart, he was scared to dream of the possibility that his wife may be returned to him in the fear of it failing horribly. “There’s a chance it could happen,” he murmured. “We should stick to what we know,” Eliza coughed as Johnny rushed to her side, concerned.

Despite her pain and injuries, she refused to be silent. “Virginia killed Harry and kidnapped Alice, or did you all forget? She won’t ever be your wife again Rourke and I want her dead.” Rourke stepped forward angrily, opening his mouth in protest when Andre interrupted to defuse the heated argument. “What happens to Virginia is not important at the moment; we need to find somewhere safe to rest,” Andre said. “We can think about this later, but right now Eliza is slowly bleeding to death, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

They all looked over to Johnny and Eliza, where he cradled her head in his lap and whispered, “Everything is going to be okay, Eliza, we’ll get you through this. I’ll be right here for you.” Eliza looked no better though, blood stained her top and it dried on her skin in irregular patches. There were scratches crisscrossing her arms and legs, deep and thick, contrasting the pale colour of her skin as she grew fainter.

Time passed and Eliza sat rigidly and silently at the campsite, with Johnny beside her silently. Her breathing had returned to normal and the spare bandage she was carrying was now wrapped tight around her right arm. She was watching Johnny and Andre by the fire and thinking of the events of the past day. “What do you think we should do? With the bone, that is?” Eliza whispered, keeping her eyes on the fire. Andre considered the question. “Maybe we could give it to the ravens? They are on our side,” he suggested. Johnny shrugged. “Well, they would be more capable of killing Virginia. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea?”

Rourke had been listening to the conversation from the other side of the clearing when he heard a sound from the sky. He squinted and watched as a black shadow flew across the sky straight towards them. “It’s a crow! Run!” Andre yelled behind him to the others, and went to grab Rourke to pull the motionless man away. “Wait, no, there’s only one, Andre. If this was an attack they’d bring more,” Rourke said. The black shadow drew closer, its wings open in the air. It settled beside them without a sound and Rourke’s eyes widened in realisation as the shadow transformed into a familiar shape.

“Musta?” Rourke asked and Andre looked at him in surprise. “You know this crow?” “Don’t affiliate me with such scum. I am a black bird of the night, but the crows are only my cousins. My brothers are ravens and I am one with them,” Musta snapped, settling onto the hard ground with a cold authority. “I have terrible news,” Musta continued, “I didn’t want to say this, but the ravens are not what they seem. They are not to be trusted with the bone, or your life and the lives of the ones you love. They are evil as well.”

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on November 13, 2012

CREATIVE writing students at Riverside High School worked together on part 31 of the Mercury’s never-ending story, Lovesong of the Crow. Teacher Jenny O’Shannessey presented the opportunity to her Grade 9/10 creative writing class and it was taken up enthusiastically by a group of five girls.
Ms O’Shannessey said Taniesha Cane-Wickham, Yullee Koesmapahlawan, Jacinta Mancini, Nausheen Mohamed and Michayla Harris had previous experience with collaborative writing. “They have all participated in the national competition Write a Book in a Day,” Ms O’Shannessey said. Four of the group were highly commended in the competition’s ES section covering entries from Queensland, Northern Territory, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
The Write a Book in a Day judges remarked that Riverside’s entry was so good they wished there could have been two first prizes. The fifth student was part of a team which earned a commendation in the same section. “They just love writing and jumped at the chance to
participate in writing Lovesong of the Crow,” Ms O’Shannessey said.
Riverside High School was the first school from the Launceston area to write for the never-ending story.

Part 30

Five Grade 10 students from Hobart’s Mount  Carmel College took on the task of writing the emotionally charged part 30 of the never-ending story…

BETRAYAL raged through Rourke as he stared into those golden eyes, searching for his beloved wife within the evil stranger before him.
“It’s good to see you again, Rourke,” her laughter was drowned out as the screeching chorus of crows formed an arc around her.
Rourke said nothing. He stood rigid as Alice’s hand slipped into his, only for it to be jerked away again as two dark shapes swooped past, gripping Alice in their sharp talons and throwing her at the alpha’s feet.
Virginia’s head snapped up, eyes scanning the surroundings. “It’s here… I can feel it!” she breathed.
Like a true bird of prey, her sharp eyes darted along the line of ragged survivors until at last they rested on Rourke.
“My dearest Rourke, you have something that belongs to me. Do not deny it. Do not even attempt to deny what I can feel so definitely.”
Her eyes neither blinked nor wavered from her husband as she spoke these words that
rang with chilling accusation. She held his gaze for what seemed like an eternity, until finally Rourke managed to choke out the words.
“That day, when the plane went down, I thought I’d lost you forever, and with you,
almost everything that was dear to me. How, Virginia, could I have anything
left that belongs to you?”
They were the words of a broken man. It was heartbreaking to watch Rourke, such a strong, capable man, crumble before their very eyes.
Virginia, however, looked upon him with cold, unsympathetic calculation. “Love, Rourke, is a weakness. You have grown weak in my absence. No matter. You will tell me. You will tell me where the bone is hidden.”
Her words echoed through the tangible silence. No one moved but Eliza, who shifted
and moaned in pain. “We’ll do this the hard way then,” she said, ominously.
The crows thrust Harry into Virginia’s eager grasp. Gripping his collar, she leaned in and whispered, “Tell. Me. Where. The. Bone. Is.”
Harry shivered as her talons began to slowly pierce his skin. “No.” Rage clouded Virginia’s features as she let out a vicious snarl.
Reaching across, her talons gouged deep across the boy’s pale throat. His screams of agony matched the violent cawing of the crows as they flew at his dying, convulsing
body, smothering it in moments.
Virginia locked her eyes on Rourke as she reached behind her, searching for Alice.
She dragged her in close and let her talons dance across her rosy cheeks. “Shall I… raise the stakes?” Rourke jerked forward out of his shocked silence, “NO! Please! I don’t have the bone. But I …. I can find it.”
Virginia let out an evil laugh. “I thought so. Love always was your weakness.
“We will return in the dark of night, when the sky holds no moon, and when the stars retreat in fear of our wake.
“Fail to bring me what is mine, and I will take what is yours. I will kill your darling
Alice.”
With a vicious smile Virginia’s body contorted back into that of a crow and she swept to the skies with the writhing Alice in her claws; her murder shadowed her flight.
Eliza gasped in agony and Rourke collapsed on the ground, as the crows became mere blemishes against the stark whiteness of the clouds.
Johnny averted his eyes from Harry’s mutilated remains. Finally he uttered, “Why would she want a bone?”
Rourke found his voice. “The only thing that can kill a crow is a crow. The last remaining bone of the first  alpha crow is the key to their immortality, and this is what she wants.
“It can secure their survival and determine their fate. If that bone is used to kill
the alpha, then she and her murder will either perish or take back their original human form.
“She wants the bone only so that she can destroy it. So long as the bone is out of the picture, they live.” Rourke’s voice had regained a hint of his old ferocity.
Slowly, Johnny reached into his pocket, remembering what he had picked up off the beach on his first day on the island.
Beneath his fingers, he felt the pointed edge of a bone – the wing bone of the first alpha crow.

To be continued

First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on November 6, 2012

PASSIONATE English students Olivia Fleming,  Chelsea Alderton, Sarah McCarthy, Phoebe McCormack and Jessica Dobbie are the writers of Part 30 of the Mercury’s never-ending story Lovesong of the Crow. All five are Grade 10 student leaders at Mount Carmel College in Hobart. The girls are all enthusiastic writers with their own individual writing style and creative flair. The writing was done in their own time, with a final writing session after school as the deadline approached.
“The opportunity to write a chapter of the story was met with a great sense of anticipation and an awareness of the many possibilities presented by the plot and characterisation thus far,” principal Laurie Wolfe said. Although the
thought of working in a big group seemed difficult, there was no trouble putting
all the ideas together.
The girls worked collaboratively and enjoyed bouncing ideas off each other. “Already great friends, this was another chance for us to further develop our negotiation, communication and leadership skills,” the girls said. “Over all it was a great experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it, although there were times when we wished we had put our names forward to write one of the earlier chapters before the plot became so complicated,” they said.