Birdie’s Song—The Invasion-- Part IV Conclusion ( big thanks always to VX, my number 1 reader, and to Nancy G, my number 1 feeder…. And to IQ… I need all of you…)
. I am Robin
Of the Warrior
And the Bard.
The Roman contingent consisted of four centurions and their general. Though the five of them were on horseback, and my Baba Xe was on foot, she took not one step back as they approached. Behind her stood first Gabrielle, Queen of the Amazons and the Amazon Nation of the Forest, The Amphipolis Militia, and Chief Jom and the Decedents of Zon. And I stood there as well. Robin of the Warrior and Bard ; I had proved myself a warrior this day among other things. My mother kept hold of my hand; it was clear that I would not escape from her again.
The Roman Leader removed his helmet.
I caught my breath,” It’s Dax,” I whispered to my mother.
“The one who held you captive?”
“Yes M’am, but he was quite decent to us.”
“Yes,” Mama G thought back,” He was the one your Baba set free, wasn’t he?”
“Yes M’am. Even though Baba knew that he might return one day.” I sighed. “ And here he is.”
“Dax. Or General Dax now, I see.” The Conqueror inclined her head forward.
“My Lady Conqueror,” The Roman gentleman dismounted and walked forward to his friend, his enemy.
“I am sorry we meet like this, though I knew that we would, Dax,” Xena extended her arm which Dax grasped tightly. “How are your sister and nephew?”
“They are well, Conqueror, worried about me and this assignment. With good reason , alas.” he chuckled mirthlessly. “How are Gabrielle and Birdie?”
“They are right behind me.”
He looked around her, “Ah, they are beautiful Xena.”
“Worth fighting for.”
“Family always is…” he voice dropped.
She tried to interfere again, “Dax, my offer stands. I could use a man like you.”
He smiled, “It would be my pleasure to serve with you, My Lady Conqueror.”
It faded, “However.”
“My sister and nephew would forfeit their lives for my treason.”
The Conqueror spoke before he did, “So I must kill you to guarantee their good care and safety by the Empire.”
“Perceptive of you, Conqueror.”
“I have been at the game awhile, Dax.”
His head was bowed. “Yes, old friend… you must kill me.”
The Conqueror’s head joined his.
“I would very much regret to do that, Dax. You are the only decent Roman I have ever known.”
He met her eyes, “ I would be honored to die by your hand.”
The Conqueror turned, “Birdie!”
Her young daughter was by her side immediately.
“Yes My Lady?”
Lord Dax bent down.
I looked at Baba.
“It’s ok, Birdie.”
He held out his arms; the onlookers must have thought it odd, but I went to them. We had a bit of a hug and I kissed his rough cheek. He smelled like horses , sweat, and blood.
“Good to see you Lord Dax; sorry we beat your army.”
He laughed, “It’s all right, Birdie, it’s quite all right.”
Baba ruffled my hair, “Go back to your mother now.”
“Yes, My Lady, Good bye Lord Dax.”
“Thank you , Conqueror,” Dax said, “A taste of innocent love before dying.”
I head Baba Xe say, “I do not wish this, Dax.”
“Nor do I, old friend. But fate rolls our dice.”
I stopped to listen, but I did not turn to watch.
“Then I will make it quick and painless Lord Dax. First the pinch and then select pressure points, so you will have no pain, and then the heart for speed. It ‘s the best I can do.”
I heard his deep voice, “Very well, My Lady.”
Hers softly, “May the gods speed you to the Fields, my friend.”
I heard her fingers hit his neck and the choking sound a man makes. The Conqueror didn’t give her usual ultimatum that went with the pinch though. Her fingers made a few other tapping sounds.The next was the slick smooth sound of the Tide leaving its scabbard and the slisch --very unsmooth sound of it entering a body. Dax made no cry at all. When I turned back, Baba Xe had dropped to one knee cradling Dax in her arms like a brother as his life thinned into nothing. They must have shared words, because he smiled at her.
The Roman guard approached, retrieved their leader and tied him across his horse. Then they rode away.
Baba Xe cleaned the Tide in the grass, set the blade over her shoulder, and walked toward us. She looked, sad, tall, proud, tired, bloody, disheveled so many adjectives that do not mix together---she looked more like a woman defeated than victorious until she saw my mother. Their eyes met and my Baba Xe, the Conqueror began to glow somehow from within and the glow rebuilt her soul into a titanic goddess. I cannot not tell you how that happens, I only know that it never fails when she looks upon her Gabrielle.
Mama G took her hand as she arrived, and the three of us walked together toward her combined armies. At a central point, Baba walked into the back of a wagon to achieve a bit of elevation.
“Keep stacking the dead and burn them with the remaining Greek fire.” She ordered looking out at the masses, scruffy soldiers and bodies of men and horses. “We are victorious, but I do not wish our victory to be sullied by sickness. We will celebrate tomorrow my friends!”
She raised the Tide high, “Victory!”
Her voice echoed across the masses, carried by the wind.
And every soldier, Amazon and hairy fellow around raised his or her sword, staff, or fist, and roared back, “Victory!” and then, “XENA! XENA! XENA!” until the hills rang and echoed, “XENA!”
I thought my heart would explode from my chest; there were tears in my Mama G’s eyes, The Conqueror only smiled.
Rach was no longer in the tree, but I didn’t think she would be. Instead, she was with Pony and Effie inside the gates.
When she saw me, Pony approached in quick and angry strides to grab my arm.
“You little Beast! Do you have any idea how worried I was about the two of you?”
“Pony...” my mother spoke softly.
“You think that you can ride into any situation…like Xena the Conqueror and…”
Her grip on my arm was painful, but I stood with my head lowered. Zephyr had gone very still. I sent mental message of peace to my fox.
“If I have my way, you and Rachelle will not see each other for a MOON!”
Her voice lashed at me like a strap; I would have bruises on my arm.
“WEAPONS MASTER EPONIN!”
All was silent. The Amazon Queen had spoken.
“Ephiny, will you take Birdie? Pony, we need to talk.”
“Yes, My Queen.”
My aching arm was passed to my godmother who steered me back down the road to watch the smoke rising from the fires in the distance.
The ebony ears turned.
“You can go to my room until I come. All is well for now. Take a nap.”
If you are certain, Little Mistress.
Sometimes Zephyr needed a break from my human complications. It was especially difficult for her when I was in trouble.
“I’ll be fine, dear fox. Please go and rest; you have earned it.”
She touched my hand briefly with her nose and she was gone.
In the distance we could see Baba riding slow rounds on Argo still chatting with the soldiers who were working clean up.
I waited for Effie to begin harsh words or a lecture for me, but she only gazed across the fields at the smoldering fires.
A ten count of silence was all I could bear.
“Effie,” I said tentatively.
“Yeah, kid.” Her dark eyes continued to survey the scene quietly.
“Are you mad at me too, Effie?”
The dark eyes met mine; there was a slight snap of anger there but laughter in them as well. I did love my godmother. Her hand, rough with years of work from arrow, bow, sword and staff came to rest on the back of my neck.
“You know, Birdie, you beat everything I ever saw, kid. You must have lied to your parents, to show up at the west attack, Right?”
I nodded head down.
“You kidnapped Rach, but she might have been hurt or killed if you hadn’t, I assume? “
I nodded again.
“Sooo that one might break even, if you are lucky.” She was counting on fingers now.
“ Then you out rode a patrol of Roman cavalry the full length of Wild Horse Valley with Rachelle hanging on to your tail, and you didn’t get killed.”
“ And then you somehow returned time to take out not one, but two mercenary nasties at the final battle. I don’t know how you managed that. I saw those giants.”
She sighed and returned her gaze to the billowing oily smoke rising from several stacks now.
“Ashes to ashes...” she whispered to herself.
Her eyes cut towards me.
“Frankly I don’t have the energy to be mad at you or anyone else; I’m just very glad that we made it through this war, and that all of the people I love are still alive.”
She fell into silence.
Not knowing what else to do, I watched the smoke too.
After more meditation, she spoke to me.
“ Give Pony time, Birdie. She’s new at being a parent. You scared her.”
“Tell her I’m sorry, Effie.”
“Oh I think the Queen will learn the straight story, Birdie. She will ask Rach, and Rach will tell her.”
I leaned my head against my godmother a moment; she gave me a little nudge which was an inquiry.
“The Queen is angry with me, Effie.”
The Amazon Regent’s dark eyes looked down at me.
“Is she now?”
“And does she have good reason to be?”
A few tears gathered, but they didn’t fall. This was a warrior to warrior conversation.
The rich worn smell of leather and soft feathers brushed my neck as Effie pulled me close to her.
“Gabrielle will forgive you, Bird. You and Xena are her whole world.”
“I hope so, Effie; it makes me feel so horrible.”
“It should, kiddo,” Effie’s voice was very serious. “I would be worried about you if it didn’t.”
“Effie, do you think Pony meant it when she said Rach and I couldn’t see each other for an entire moon?”
“Well, I can help with that some.”
She gave me a slightly evil smile.
“I will tell her that we talked, and that you realized the error of your ways, and that I whipped your little butt.”
She was still smiling.
There was a certain logic.
Well, I really wanted to see Rach.
Bracing my self, eyes closed, I readied myself as Effie took my arm and turned me sideways to her position. I wasn’t afraid of Ephiny, but I did know from experience that my godmother had the hard hand of a warrior and could wallop a person almost as hard as Baba Xe.
But the two swats were barely at the level of Mama G’s smacks.
And then her arm was back around me and we were walking again back toward the village.
I was afraid to ask.
“That was it?”
“Yep. Hope you learned your lesson.”
A few tears appeared unbidden. Not warrior-like at all.
My emotions were shaky. So many experiences today.
My godmother continued studying the ground, “Like I said Birdie, I am happy that everyone I love is alive... That includes you. And you have some hard roads to ride yet this evening, don’t you?”
We were coming close to the gates.
On to the finish then.
She had pulled me in close again, “Yeah, kid?”
“I care a lot for Rach, you know.”
“I know, kid.”
Her voice was very soft.
I put my arm around her waist and squeezed hard.
“Love you, Effie.”
Her hand came up into my hair and rubbed the back of my head gently.
“Love you, kid.”
Everyone was making their ways home. We would feast tomorrow after a good night’s sleep. Ephiny released me to the safety of my mother’s hands and fortunately, Pony looked far less likely to beat me black and blue. Rachelle cast a glance at her guardian, and Pony released her hand.
My mother’s eyes gave me leave, and we walked to the oak for a private moment.
She took both of my hands in hers.
“Thanks for taking care of me today. You were wonderful.”
I didn’t know what to say and so remained silent. Her fingertips touched my chin lightly raising my gaze to hers.
“You are very quiet, Birdie.”
“ I have to work through it all with my parents yet.”
I looked at her.
“Yes, but worth it for you.”
“Absolutely. Worth much more. Worth…. Anything actually.”
“You’re romantic side is improving.”
Grinned at her.
“Aunty Pony will let me see you soon, don’t worry.”
“Well, I will probably be in trouble—grounded or pounded for a bit of time, so I’ll let you know.”
I opened the leather pouch at my belt.
“Rach, I have two of these rings.”
I handed her the silver ring my Grandba had given to me recently.
She took it and turned it carefully in her hands.
“It’s beautiful, Birdie.”
“Will you wear it?”
She slid it onto her right ring finger. Perfect.
“I will, Birdie.”
“It doesn’t mean we are married or anything.”
She smacked my head gently and chuckled. Then she turned the ring on her finger contemplating.
“But Birdie, it means something.”
“Yes ,Rach. It means something.”
She took my head in her two hands then, moved my hair, and kissed my forehead like a blessing. My courage was reinforced. We walked back to our parents.
“I’m ready Aunty Pony.”
Eponin gave her a look of adoration when Rach took her hand. Ephiny took the other, and the Amazons headed back to camp for the evening.
My own mother’s eyes regarded me coolly.
“Go clean up and let’s see what kind of stitches and bandages we need. Then we will attend to other concerns.”
My stomach dropped a little at the chill in her voice.
She walked away to meet Baba who was riding in from the fires.
After washing up in the bowl in my room, I changed into my tunic and cotton pants leaving the laces undone in the one pant that took the sword slash. I hadn’t even thought about it for awhile, but it was rather nasty. The head wound was only a deep abrasion, but Mama would want to see it. I gave Zephyr a pat and told her to stay. I would be back later on after all my “discipline”. Her eyes gave me sad support. Zephyr hated it when I was punished, even when she knew I deserved it. She had hidden under the bed when she was a kit.
Down stairs in the kitchen, Mama cleaned my head.
“It doesn’t look as if this needs any stitches, Birdie,” she said, running gentle fingers over the scrape. “Show me the leg.”
I opened the pant leg and she drew breath through her teeth.
“That will need stitches; you know the drill, little girl.”
I crawled up on the table and she pulled a stool over and sat down and my leg’s height.
“Mama, are you injured?” I attempted.
“The answer to that would depend if one looks on outside of me or the inside,” she said stiffly. “Outside, I am fine. A little tired.”
Even though I had arrived in time to watch her back, it was evident that she was furious with me. The stitches went in without a word from either of us.
“All right, “she said taking my hand firmly, “We are both healthy enough. Come with me.”
Time to face the music of the bard. I followed her; we were walking the path to the armory. This gave me some pause; Baba Xe always punished me in the armory, and I had come to associate it with tougher discipline for larger offenses. My mother had never taken me there. Her disciplinary methods were no less effective for their gentleness, however.
I trailed behind obediently-- as if obedience mattered now. She had never been so angry with me. We stopped at the birch tree and she meditated on it.
“Cut a switch for me, Birdie.” the cold command.
Cut a switch?
This was unprecedented; I had never felt anything but firm and loving hands from both of my parents. They had always been sufficient. Certainly a line had been crossed if Mama thought the use of a switch was merited.
I bent, pulled my boot knife, and walked to the tree, studying the branches. The thought of it had brought tears to my eyes and I was damned if I knew why. It wasn’t fear of the switch. It was the advent of this reaction in her.
Cyrene came to stand beside her daughter, who was watching the motions of her lover and child from the doorway of the inn.
“My Grandbirdie is in some trouble, is she?”
“I am afraid that she is, Mother,” the warrior chuckled slightly.
“Xena, you two have never taken a switch to Birdie?” Cyrene sounded alarmed.
The Conqueror cocked an eyebrow at her mother, “You used one on me often enough...”
“Ay I did,” the innkeeper put her hand on her daughter’s arm. “Too often, I expect.”
Xena shrugged, “I was a handful; you did what you had to do.”
“Still, this is my Grandbirdie, and that’s different story, you know.”
“Aren’t you worried about what is taking place out there, Xena?”
She received a second smile, “No Mother I am not worried, not even a little bit. Gabrielle will not use that switch on Birdie. She may want to, but she won’t. It’s not her way.”
I selected a long slender branch that looked like it would sting good and sharp. Cutting it carefully I presented it to my mother and held my breath.
She took it, stripped it of its leaves, and then she again took my hand and led me to the doorway of the armory. My heart was pounding so loudly I was sure that she could hear it, but my courage came to me, and I resolved to take whatever she chose to do quietly.
At the door of the armory Mama regarded me for a long moment, shook her head, then she reached back and gave me a light tap on the butt with the switch. She broke it in two kicked it away and said softly, “Just leave me alone, Birdie.”
“Mama?” I was more confused than ever.
“BIRDIE-- GO ON!!”
She sat down on the steps with her head in her hands.
I stood in front of her—bewildered-- tear gates wide open now.
Her voice was dull.
I had broken my mother’s heart. There was no atonement for this sin. I turned and banished myself to the fertilizer.
Silence. Inside the bard continued to rail at herself for answers, searching for a way to deal with her daughter. Birdie had looked her straight in the eye, and she had LIED. The audacity of it speared the mother in the soul; anything would have been easier to cope with than a direct lie. It was so unlike Birdie. Gabrielle put her face in her hands and rubbed it hard. A shaft of light gradually worked into her awareness.
“So are you here to offer the services of the flat of your blade, My Lady Artemis?” she muttered glumly. “It would appear that I have hit a sizable snag in the raising of the child you take an interest in. Perhaps you were right. Perhaps I have not been harsh enough with her.”
“You are disappointed.” The goddess spoke.
“Yes.” The bard admitted. “I am.”
Artemis smiled, “You expect I would have forgotten my lesson from you, dear Bard? Shall I be the teacher this time and pose questions to you?”
“You can question. I have no answers regarding Birdie right now.”
“Because Birdie has lied to you?”
“Have you sought the reason for her lie?”
No answer but tears from the emerald eyes.
“Birdie lied because she loves, Gabrielle. She loves with the fervor that she has inherited from her mother. And now Birdie has exiled herself to the manure because she loathes herself for hurting you. A mother holds the soul of her child, Gabrielle. You hold the soul of the little warrior, just as you hold the soul of the Conqueror.”
The bard remained stubborn,” Then how could she lie to me?”
The goddess folded her arms. “Her choices were trouble for her either way. Do you remember when you told me that Birdie might equal you in height now, but that height does not bring age or wisdom, and that I should remember to consider her youth?”
A slight smile looking down.
“Yes I do, My Lady.”
“Then I ask you, my dear bard, and MY teacher. Which of you is the adult here, and which of you is the child?”
And the bard’s eyes lifted to look into the ageless amber wells of wisdom. She swallowed, considered, and spoke.
“Thank you, My Lady Artemis,” Gabrielle reached for the large mahogany hand and was brought to her feet, “I think I have some manure to work through with my child.”
The goddess returned the smile, “My pleasure.”
The shaft of light faded.
Tug, shovel, tamp around a plant; tug, shovel, wipe the tears. As was her way, Zephyr had sensed my distress, and she came to family garden plot where I was spreading manure in the twilight. My faithful fox was so worried she couldn’t convey her thoughts but could only whimper and whine. My sorrow held me in the motion of tugging the manure wagon in the garden row, shoveling some out and tamping it about the plants, sniffing and wiping my tears away with my sleeve. It was almost too dark to see, but it didn’t matter. The motion was automatic. Zephyr’s whining only followed my actions as if she were imploring me to stop. But she whimpered to my silence.
There was a break in her protests and she made a sound that was comforted. I heard my mother’s quiet voice.
“Zephyr, I will take over now.” There was lantern light. “You go on to Birdie’s room. She and I will be along.”
Little Mistress, I do as your mother bids.
“That is fine, Zephyr.”
I returned to her and kept shoveling.
My mother’s voice was low, coaxing and quiet; a voice that carried me back to being a toddler. The voice trusted above all others. I stopped, but I could not look at her.
“Birdie, come here; that’s enough for now.” I obeyed taking the handle of the wagon to turn.
I dropped it in the row and stumbled from the garden out and under her guiding arm.
“Gods, you smell,” she chuckled lightly, but my laughter had gone to stone.
“How shall we remedy this, my girl? Shall it be a Mama G smacking?” she asked as she pulled me in. I felt so cold.
“No Mama,” I whispered. My mother employed her special method of discipline to release my tears, and I was far beyond that. She held me closely a moment, despite my rank odor, saying nothing until I relaxed a little.
“Come,” she commanded, “You need a bath, so let us begin with that.”
At our family spring, she undressed me as if I was a child again. She had brought the lantern and clean nightwear, and she helped me out of the dirty garden clothing. The warm spring water eased the tension gradually, and the tears recommenced, only more slowly. She washed me carefully, delicately even scrubbing my hair, letting the warmth and clean smelling soap, ease me. There were no words spoken; all was communicated with the tender ministrations of her hands. When I waded out she patted me dry, helped me into my nightshirt and sleeping pants, and she combed my hair.
When we arrived in my room, there was another lantern; Grandba had left chamomile tea with honey; my Grandba has amazing timing. We sat together on the bed and drank the good tea, and then we reclined; my mother taking my head to her breast.
I was a castaway washed upon the beach of her heart. But it was time for me to step up.
“Mama, why are you doing this?”
Her hands stopped momentarily and then continued their delicate motion through my hair. I listened to her heart- heard her take a breath.
“Because you are my little Bird and you need me; why would you ask me that question? You know that no matter what problems arise, or what mistakes are made, I will always love you.”
Could I ever run out of tears? The next pair rose silently and began their treks down my cheeks, and my voice trembled.
“Mama, I am so sorry; if you had used that switch, I wouldn’t have blamed you; it was what I deserved.”
She was quiet for some time then and then she spoke softly,
“Birdie, I have never and would never use a switch on you. I tried to convince myself and you, that such was the degree of my anger..”
She paused, putting her thoughts together, “But a switch would have served absolutely nothing-- nothing at all.”
She ran her hand through my hair and I could hear her words begin in her heart.
“Honey, I cannot dismiss how frightened I was for you, or that you placed yourself in terrible danger; if anything had happened, I don’t know what wo…” her voice shook, and she stopped and swallowed deeply.
Her hand gripped my hair firmly and I was forced to look into the deep forest of her eyes which grew misty with her emotion.
“You are my child--a gift of love and-- I ---will--not—lose-- you.”
I nodded my acceptance of that quiet reprimand and two more tears made new paths.
She withdrew a small hankie from her sleeve and patted against my cheeks and under my nose. I sighed against her and waited for her to continue.
“Birdie, we are going to move past all of this difficult time. Past all of the stresses and ravages of war, and work our way into forgiveness now.”
The tears kept rolling down my face.
“Mama, I still can’t explain why I was so driven to disobey you and go to the west battle,” my voice disappeared into my shame. “I desperately didn’t want to lie to you; I knew it would hurt you, but… ”
Her hand stayed quiet in my hair.
“Honey, I understand now why you felt that you had to go, and why you felt it so fiercely. I am sorry that I didn’t see it sooner. And yes, even though you weren’t truthful with me, I know that you had your reasons, even though I might not agree with them.”
I looked at her through bloodshot eyes. “You KNOW?”
It was an indescribable blessing to see her understanding smile, even a small one.
“You love Rachelle. You LOVE her. And I made you choose. . I didn’t know that I was putting you in such a bad place, and I am sorry for that my little Bird.”
Her voice was quiet, thoughtful.
“You are growing up, and I must allow you to. You have certain heroic abilities and the favor of one of our greatest immortals. That doesn’t mean that I am ready to set you totally free from my arms, Birdie. But it does mean I should respect your communications completely.”
She had put into words what I could not; calm began to settle about my heart.
My mind and thoughts were quiet on her chest; my arms wrapped around her; I was thinking.
“However..” Her voice moved about me as gently as her arms.
“It is a painful thing to realize, that someone that you love has lied to you.”
There was no way to spare me the lash of the truth.
I winced and hid my face. Tears began anew.
“Mama, I am so very sorry. Please believe me.”
She gathered me up.
“Shhh, honey… You are long forgiven… I am just not accustomed to it from you. You always tell me the truth.”
I leaned on her against her; she deserved my attempt to answer it on my own.
“Mama, I don’t love Rach any more than I love you.”
Could she help me to understand this?
She pulled me in closer.
“I know that Birdie.. It’s my job to know that. “
“Well,” I sighed. “I wish I had told you. And I am still sorry about all of it. I don’t think Pony will ever let me see Rach again anyway...”
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that happening, Birdie,” her fingers caressed my hair,” You DID save Rachelle after all; she told us the whole story, and Pony will come around to that. We adults aren’t completely impossible to reason with, you know.”
“Really?” I chuckled in a hiccup.
She laughed then and I wrapped myself around her almost fetal like, needing her comfort and safety. Someone many leagues removed from the warrior who had fought and killed several men only candle marks earlier.
I kept my head on her shoulder exhausted, “So you’re sure you don’t hate me, Mama? I feel like I’ve done a lot of bad things.”
Knew better; needed to hear it.
She pulled me to her closely, placed a couple of pats to my bottom side, and brought her hand up into my hair pulling it away from my forehead with gentle fierceness, forcing me to meet those emerald eyes.
“NEVER could I hate you... I told you that.”
Her whisper echoed throughout my soul and it believed. I couldn’t blend closely enough into her as the child in me found home again. She pushed away my hair to kiss my forehead reassembling me piece by piece. Her voice was quiet.
“I think that you and I need to spend a few days in this room doing some heart to heart work. We can talk, write, and uncomplicate life a bit. Do you ever feel as if life is complicated, Birdie?”
A little sigh, “Sometimes, Mama.”
“Well-- now, I am a trained warrior, and I know how to kill. I can save other people’s lives-- sometimes .”
I gave her a slightly guilty look, but she was listening, so I continued,
“Sometimes it’s necessary to kill, but it’s never good to lie. Not to you. Not to anyone. I don’t live with myself well at all.”
She smiled. “That is what I am talking about Little Bird; we need a few days’ heart to heart time. Everything has moved too fast lately; we should slow it down, sort it out. Just you and me, a few pots of tea, parchment, quills, some serious writing. It will help to keep things in perspective, help you see the bigger picture.”
Her calm voice eased my troubled heart finally; my self loathing and insecurity eased. I lay in her arms quietly.
“This is your nice way of grounding me, isn’t it, Mama?”
She moved a strand of hair over to the other side.
“UmmHumm… it is that my Little Bird…”
“Three days or so, Mama?”
How could my mother ground me and look at me with so much love?
“I believe three days will be enough, Little Bird.”
Well, that was easy to accept; it was a gentle hand in the punishment area, and it was golden in the “make Birdie better” field. She was very good at that.
A long sigh escaped me and the tension was too. I leaned my head against her shoulder spent, but calm.
“Can Zephyr stay with us?” My voice sounded very young, asking a child’s question.
Zephyr chose that moment to come from under the bed and put her nose on the edge flicking her eyes back and forth between us.
“Of course Zephyr can stay; I doubt that she would leave, don’t you?” Mama stroked her dark fur.
“Well, you know how Zephyr is.”
She scooted down against the pillow and readjusted me underneath her arm. “Now fly away to sleep, Little Bird.”
“What about you, Mama?”
“Don’t you worry about me; your Baba will come and fetch us later. For now; don’t worry about anything but a good deep safe sleep in my arms…”
“I love you Mama..”
“And I love you, Birdie.”
“Awfully much…” I snuggled down at last. The final bits of the tension running out..
“Yeah, awfully much…”
I slept as her kiss touched my hair.
A candle mark passed and the Conqueror entered to gaze at her little family. Gabrielle felt her presence and stirred from a light doze.
The Conqueror sat gently on the bed, sliding an arm around her soul mate. “How are we?”
“Much better,” Gabrielle looked fondly at their daughter sleeping quietly in her arms with the streaks of tears showing on her face.
“Did you give her a Mama G smacking?”
“No,” The bard was pensive, “Birdie may have finally outgrown my little smackings; that’s why she had put herself in the fertilizer.”
“ Hmmfp, I wouldn’t be too sure; she’ll certainly never be too big for me to smack.” The warrior’s voice was gruff, but the fingers moving through her child’s hair were tender.
Gabrielle put her hand on Xena’s arm, “I know dear, nobody is too big for you to smack; that’s why we call you “The Conqueror.”
She punctuated the tease with her most disarming twinkle of
Xena the Conqueror chuckled; Gabrielle the Bard joined her.
They chuckled so much that the Conqueror was compelled to slide down on the floor with her head leaning against the bed. The trio sat quietly for a few moments. Xena leaned back allowed her hair to be caressed. Zephyr padded a few steps over and fearlessly laid her head in the Conqueror’s lap.
“You are a good friend, Zephyr; you take care of our girl,” were the quiet words Conqueror.
Her answer was a grave stare from the hazel eyes in the midnight fur.
Greece’s greatest warrior gave the animal several gentle strokes.
She took a breath and began to move; it was a mistake to sit and be still. Zephyr licked her hand; the Conqueror looked down and smiled as she clambered to her feet groaning with assorted aches and pains.
“Here.” Xena leaned over and scooped Birdie into her arms.
“She won’t out grow sleeping with us every now and again either.”
“No, I don’t believe that she will.” smiled the bard.
“Now, to bed with all of us. The Queen commands it.”
Daylight peaked on my pillow; I awakened in my room; Baba must have returned me to my own bed this morning when they awakened and allowed me to sleep in. Well, it was nice. I stretched, and leaned down to pat Zephyr who had slept in as well.
“Get up you lazy fox.”
I beg your pardon?
I dressed and ate from the tray in my room; my grandba was spoiling me rotten, even I could tell her that now.
“These ‘Passage’ periods are a little rough, Zephyr,” I said as I fed her a bite of muffin.
Do you speak of the times you make strides towards adulthood?
I agree, Little Mistress. Far easier to be a fox.
“Unless you belong to Robin of the Warrior and the Bard.”
I glanced out of my window taking note of the sun and judged it to be not yet midday, when amid the normal daily drone of the outdoor din rose a terrible commotion.
It sounded like the crushing of a wagon, the screaming of a horse, and then shouts and orders given. Then chaos, and running within the fortress. My heartbeat stopped within my chest. I felt a panic to the core of my soul.
I stumbled from my room to witness Baba scrambling to the top of the stairs carefully cradling Mama in her arms. She kicked open the heavy door to their chambers but met my eyes with a haunted stare as she walked inside. She laid my mother on their bed as gently as if she were a newborn.
Mama’s face was untouched; she was unconscious. But her body was in tatters; blood covered her completely from the waist down. After recovering to a point that I would not faint, I walked in quietly to the bed where my Grandba grabbed me and held me to her side.
“It was one of the fire cannon wagons, Birdie,” she whispered. “They were taking it to storage; a crow spooked the great horse and he bolted. The smithy’s granddaughter, little Jory she’s only begun to walk, was right center in the road. Your mama, Gabrielle had no thought of herself of course.”
My grandba stopped a moment to gather herself and I gripped her hand. She took a breath.
“Gabrielle managed to toss Jory to a soldier. But your mama, Birdie. Too late for her. The entire contraption ran over her.”
She stifled a sob, “Her poor little body.”
My knees gave out. “NO.”
“Don’t Birdie, “she said, pulling me up.
“Stand up here.”
I tried; it was hard.
Not my mother- who had just reconstructed my heart; who had just rewoven the tears in the fabric of my soul.
Baba was kneeling by the bed her hands clutched in the bedclothes, her face in the covers trying to compose herself enough to even look at Mama.
“Birdie,” my grandba said,” You must go to your Baba.”
The fog thickened as I moved to the Conqueror.
She lurched suddenly, wrapping her arms around my waist holding on to me—trembling. I was undone but embraced her, realizing that I must hold her steady.
“Birdie.” She whispered.
“Baba, she’s strong. She’s stronger than all of us. Baba, we have to believe.”
She sniffed, “You are right.” She pulled together, “Right.”
The healer had arrived.
“Beg your pardon, My Lady Conqueror; shall we examine the Queen together?”
The Conqueror was composed, “Yes. Clear the room except for family please.”
“Baba, I will return in a moment.”
I ran to my room and fell on my knees into the thick black fur which so often was my comfort and my strength.
“Zephyr.” She nosed the tears flooding my face.
Little Mistress. Your mother. I know.
It was a candle mark before I returned. My grandba sat in the chair close to the fireplace staring into the flames. She looked up at me and smiled sadly, holding out her hand to me. At her side, she pulled me close.
“Go to your Baba dear,” she whispered. “She needs you Birdie.”
The words frightened me. How could the Conqueror, the greatest warrior in all of Greece, need me?
How could we have been victorious over Rome, our greatest enemy, and then have this happen? How could this happen to my mother, the best of all of us?
The master bed beckoned. I could see my mother’s pale hair against the pillow. From the distance, I could reckon only that the skin of her face was as pale as her hair-- ashen. But she was sleeping peacefully enough. Perhaps that was Baba’s doing. My Baba Xe was a field healer of some experience and knew a great deal about relieving the pain of others. At the side of the bed sat Xena the Conqueror, staring at my mother in silence, as if she could by her own powerful will, heal her. Zephyr padded over behind us turned in a circle, and lay down quietly.
I placed my smaller hand over the battle scarred, deeply veined hand of my Baba Xe. In that hand I could feel all of the tension, all of the energy of my powerful parent.
“Baba, what did you and the healer discover?” my voice was just above a whisper.
The waterlogged cobalt eyes flicked toward me and the great hand squeezed.
“Not good, Birdie. Both legs are broken and her knees are crushed. Even if there weren’t so many serious internal injuries, I doubt that she could walk again.”
Tears rolled down silently from the famous icy eyes.
“I know that there is damage to her spine as well; there has to be.”
She stood restlessly near hysteria, and pulled back the coverlet, “But look here Birdie.”
From the shoulders upward, my mother’s body was pristine; the snowy white of one of her right shoulder darkened by the wing of the dragon tattoo which peeped over it.
Baba smiled at me “From her breasts up, she could be just taking a nap, couldn’t she? It’s funny, isn’t it?”
She squeezed my hand so hard it hurt, but I said nothing.
“By the gods, not a single casualty did we give to ROME, and now THIS? I cannot bear it. Birdie, I cannot bear it!” She clenched her fists and drove them at her own head.
My Baba Xe was not much herself.
She stood staring and worked her hands together pacing in a short path.
“I’ve put all of the pressure points I can on her to keep the pain away. We stitched all the cuts that were deep and she felt nothing. And we have siphoned herbs into her as well, so I know that she feels no pain.”
As her brief pacing came to me, I caught her hand.
“Baba, sit down.” I said it kindly, but it was a command.
She looked at me, almost in surprised. Then she sat, a surprise to me. I reached to touch my mother’s fingers and ran my hand gently up her arm and back to hold my Baba Xe’s hand.
Grandba came with tea.
“Baba, drink some,” I begged the haunted indigo hollows in the disheveled mane of hair. My conqueror parent had the haggard look of some exotic species of lion, starving, pacing a cage, mad with worry. The feeling of absolute helplessness was driving me to panic as well.
It was unfair; I had protected Rachelle; we won the war; but not for this. The gods were insane.
We must have sat a candle mark in silence. We needed change--—talk-- so I stood and brushed the dark shadow of the tattoo.
“Baba, will you tell me about the dragon? Mama never would---will-- tell me.”
Shite. Almost used the wrong word. Baba Xe was walking a tightrope.
Strangely enough, she smiled. But it was a bitter smile.
“You should know now,” she said in a slightly sarcastic voice, “It is fitting.”
She leaned forward and put her chin on the bed, taking Mama’s hand, “A few seasons before you were born Birdie, I died.”
It hit me very hard, like a slap in the head.
“You died, Baba? All the way dead?”
Her hand came to mine.
“I did. In a far away land called Japa, I went mad on the journey of atonement for awhile and was stupid enough to take on a few thousand samurai soldiers by myself. The odds were not good. ”
“No Baba, not even for you.”
We shared a cynical snort.
“Well, they killed me,” she continued,” and in order for Gabrielle to bring me back, she had to carry my ashes, after she won my body in battle by the way, to Mt Fuji, to pour them into the Fountain of Life. It was a long journey. She was given the dragon tattoo by some spirits of Japa to protect her.”
“Did the dragon protect her?”
Baba Xe paused for a long while-- thinking.
“It protected her against a great many dangers, but she could not bring me back to life at that time. It’s a long story Birdie; she should tell it to you. I cannot do it justice.”
Large tears were running down her beautiful face.
“I only now understand what she went through those six moons that she waited to bring me back from the spirit world. Only now do I know what I put her though.”
Her hand went back to my mother’s again.
“Gabrielle,” she whispered. “Please don’t leave me.”
The raven dark head lowered on top of their joined hands.
“Zephyr,” I said softly, “Stay with Baba Xe.”
I returned to my room.
Respect was not new to me; prayer was.
“My Lady Artemis.”
No blinding flash, no thunderbolt, I blinked and she was there—ironwood skin, golden eyes, celestial armor.
“Robin of the Warrior and Bard.”
I was shaking; I did fear her. She placed her large heavy hand on my head.
“My little Robin. Be at peace with yourself. Please. There is enough strife.”
“I was afraid you might still be angry with me My Lady,” my voice was inaudible.
“No child, you are long forgiven that venture into hubris.” Her giant fingers caught the tears coursing down my cheeks and smoothed the hair from my forehead. It was the first time Artemis had been gentle with me.
“What is it, Birdie? I know what troubles your heart, but you must speak the words, little one.”
“My parents, My Lady. They are in crisis, and it is tearing my heart into shreds.” My eyes stayed lowered; neither my tears nor the tremor in my voice were contained to my liking.
She smiled, “And so you would enlist the help of your goddess.”
I looked at her for the first time, “If possible, My Lady.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“That you might heal my mother.”
“And if that isn’t possible?”
“That you take me instead.”
“And if that isn’t possible?”
She wasn’t making this easy.
I stood silent.
“There is something I would like for you to consider for me, Birdie.”
“Yes, My Lady.” I whispered.
“You are Robin of the Warrior and of the Bard; you would agree?
Why were we reviewing my pedigree at a time such as this?
“Yes, My Lady,” I repeated.
“It is easier for you to be ‘of the Warrior’ than ‘of the Bard’, is it not, Birdie?”
“There are different requirements, My Lady. One is more physical, and I suppose yes, it is somewhat easier in that regard.”
The resonating voice continued, “In other words it is easier to fight than to love.”
That was a thought. “Yes, My Lady, I suppose it is. One may actually train to fight.”
“I desire that you concentrate on your ‘of the bard’, Birdie.”
Were all of the immortals this cryptic?
“Your families, your fortress, your Conqueror, YOU all depend on Gabrielle to supply the love for your world. Yet you also Birdie, are ‘of the Bard’. You must step up and begin to support Gabrielle in that regard. It is not enough for you to match the fighting talents of your Baba Xe, nor is it enough to parallel the eloquence of your Mama G. You must work on the wisdom and leadership talents that you have inherited from your Baba Xe, and the spirit of unconditional love that you have inherited from your mother. Gabrielle has shouldered the burden of love for many seasons. You must begin to share the task.”
It was quite a revelation for me, and it took all of my strength to control the thunder in my heart and the well of my tears, when Artemis made me understand my Mama G was the pillar of love in the oftentimes dark architecture of our lives.
“I will do my best, My Lady...” it was difficult for me to whisper.
It was quiet in my room for a time; I made one last attempt, this time sinking to my knees.
“My Lady Artemis, Goddess of the Moon?”
The golden eyes watched me.
“I have one final request; will you please consider it before you deem it impossible?”
“Of course, child.”
“ I would ask you please, My Lady, that if my mother must be taken, that my Baba Xe be taken as well, so that one isn’t left without the other.”
Her eyes looked deep inside me.
“And make you an orphan?”
I could not meet those eyes.
“Yes, My Lady.”
“You are still quite young to be alone, Robin of the Warrior and the Bard.”
“Better I be alone than the Warrior without the Bard or vice versa, My Lady. I will manage. I have my Grandba, my Godmother Ephiny, Pony, and I have Rachelle. And you would guide me as well, would you not, My Lady?”
Her large hand fell gently upon my head again. I still could not look at her; my mind was firm but my emotions were not.
“Are you certain of this, Birdie?”
“I am very certain, My Lady Artemis. I apologize for my emotional state.”
Sniffed and wiped my nose on my sleeve, smiled a little to myself as I thought of how regularly mother thumped my head for doing that very thing.
“But I will manage if I know that Xena and Gabrielle are together.”
The great hand was still on my head.
“Your unselfish courage pleases me, Little Bird. Rise.”
I came shakily to my feet.
The great hand moved to the back of my head and pulled it gently toward the goddess’ body. I resisted, but the pressure would not be denied. Finally I raised my eyes reluctantly to meet the golden ones looking down at me. The mahogany arm encircled my shoulders and pulled me closer. Though my head only came to her waist, I put my arms around her and leaned against her royal tunic allowing her to rub my back and hair gently. There was energy in her touch, feathery lightning streaking my hair. Her tunic was soft as one would imagine clouds might feel.
But the sister of Athena was not quite finished with me.
“Birdie,” she spoke as softly as my mother did when she desired my undivided attention. “Take note of this feeling of grief and worry that you are experiencing over the fate of your parents.”
“Do you experience that pain fully?”
I nodded into her tunic.
“That emotional trauma is what your parents felt when they did not know your whereabouts during the height of the battle.”
My hands clutched the royal material as tears squeezed from my eyes again. Her quiet words stung like a lash. She felt the tension in my body and allowed it to remain for a moment. Then her hand was back in a motion of gentle comfort in my hair again. I looked up into the ageless eyes and she smiled at me.
“Come now,” she turned me out and we walked, “Let us pay a visit to your mother, Gabrielle the Bard. Perhaps, there is something I can do.”
Cyrene came later to the Conqueror’s chambers with tea and muffins to bolster the troops at whatever was happening within. In the hallway off the chambers was tall woman in flowing robes who was observing the scene inside.
“May I be of service to you, M’Lady?”
Cyrene was polite though she couldn’t recall ever meeting this woman previously.
“You are the proprietor of the inn aren’t you? Mother of Xena the Conqueror. That would make you Cyrene of Amphipolis?”
The woman’s voice was melodic but strong to match her appearance, decided Cyrene. She was as tall as her own Xena, but with dark finished wood hued skin, black hair with silver streaks striking it with lightening, and golden eyes like those of a feline predator. Cyrene chose hospitality as the wisest tactic to use with this mysterious visitor.
“If you are knowing my little family in there, then may I offer you tea and muffins, stranger?” she said graciously to her guest.
“Why thank you very much,” the stranger took a mug and a small portion of muffin.
Cyrene set the tray on a small table outside the chambers and the two of them stood contentedly together for some moments while the stranger ate and drank.
“This is ambrosia, Cyrene; your reputation is well earned,” the dark woman’s smile shone brightly from her face.
“Might I ask how you know my family?” Cyrene inquired still staring into the bedroom.
“I met them while traveling many seasons ago; they gave shelter to a weary wanderer who was both tired and hungry. While I was in the area, I wanted to look in on them.”
“Well, they have only just returned from a long journey as you can see, good traveler.”
“They have indeed, and I can say the journey was successful.” the stranger reported calmly.
Cyrene wanted to ask many questions, but she was a wise woman who never questioned the ways of gods or miracles. She could see that the flush of Gabrielle’s face was normal again, and that the blood stained bedclothes were gone. As they looked on, the bard’s legs kicked slightly, as if she might be riding or running in a dream.
Under her right arm, dark head cradled on her bard’s shoulder, lay Xena the Conqueror sleeping peacefully as a child, her tall frame relaxed against the bard’s quiet repose. Robin of the Warrior and the Bard lay curled around the Bard’s left arm facing away from her mother’s body, but completely embraced in the gentle anchor. The youngster gripped the hand as if it were her life line. Zephyr dozed quietly at the foot of the bed her bushy tail wrapped neatly around her paws.
“Quite the portrait aren’t they, my family?” Cyrene whispered proudly.
“They didn’t have the little one when I first met Xena and Gabrielle. How old is she?”
“Birdie is in her thirteenth season, though at times she’s going on her twenty- fifth season, and other times acting like her fourth season.” Cyrene chuckled.
“Ah, I know the age well,” the stranger’s voice pitched low with amusement, “Keeps everyone busy, does she?”
“Every waking moment and some sleeping, My Lady,” Cyrene wondered why she found herself addressing the traveler as royalty, but it felt right.
“Birdie is a constant challenge, but she is also our joy, and one of the greatest gifts of our lives—my grandbirdie.” She finished.
“Well, it is said that often the greatest gift is returned to the giver.” The stranger said with a warm chuckle.
“I don’t quite understand what you mean, fair traveler,
said Cyrene looking back, “Would you care to ex…?”
But she spoke to empty space.
Cyrene only nodded to herself. “Ay, I thought as much…”
She cast a final loving look on her family and closed the door.
Mama continued to gain strength, and so did Baba. They never asked me how it all came about, and I never told them. We just accepted the miracle and remembered to say prayers of thanks to Artemis often.
Mama chased Baba and I out of the fortress the next evening to do sword drills so that she could soak in a hot bath for awhile. Baba said that was fine because she and I hadn’t really “talked” since the war. I knew that meant we would cover some old ground.
It was a beautiful evening—chilly and bright—my favorite kind of weather.
“I heard from Ephiny that you saved Rachelle during the Amazon fire attack, “she said seriously her hand resting lightly on the back of my neck. We were making our way out to the nearest drill field. We both carried our “Tides” just in our respective hands tonight; neither of us wanted to see battle gear for awhile.
“Ephiny also said that Pony lifted the ban as far as you and Rach ‘fraternizing’. ”
That was a relief; but as far as rescuing Rach, no hubris-- not from this Bird.
“It kind of worked out right. You have trained me well, Baba. “
She sighed and looked far away. “Let’s step inside here a moment.”
We entered the armory. Take a deep breath, Bird; you were warned. Now be prepared to surrender the hide.
Her actions were quick and sharply delivered but ceased far more quickly than I expected. Nevertheless, even a brief trip across my Baba Xe’s knee provides a significant wake up call.
My Conqueror parent set me down straight again and put her hands to either side of my head forcing my watery gaze to meet her own.
The Aegean orbs held an empathy and kindness that was surprising to me considering what had just transpired between us. Despite my own discomfort, I noticed the new lines of strain and exhaustion this entire cycle of the moon had drawn in her angular beauty. Some of those lines were my doing; I felt ashamed.
“Birdie,” she spoke softly, “I knew that you would go for Rachelle the moment I told you not to; I read in your eyes that you would disobey me.”
She shook her head and chuckled slightly running her hand through my hair to the back of my neck.
“Had I been your age, in your place, I would have done exactly the same thing that you did.”
The gaze narrowed to ice, and her fingers squeezed the back of my neck, “But understand me clearly Birdie; I will not again suffer lies or any kind of miscommunication between us. If you intend to go and rescue someone as opposed to an earlier discussion we may have had, YOU WILL come to me and TELL me, whether I may approve or not, do you understand? I very much dislike the way you handled this; you were EXTREMELY lucky.”
The tears were on my eyelashes; I couldn’t look at her but just sniffed. She checked her anger and drew my head back up to meet her eyes.
“Birdie, I know how you feel about Rachelle.”
She smiled and rubbed my head a little, but continued in a firm voice, “That is why I’m not tanning the hide right off your backside at present, and I really should do it anyway, shouldn’t I?”
I dropped my gaze again; there were lies and insubordination to answer for.
“Yes Baba, you should.”
My Amazon friends were insanely curious about what it must be like to be punished by Xena the Conqueror. I was quite unspoiled for an only child, and they thought surely she must have put me near death at least a few times... All I ever told them was that it was a private matter between the Conqueror and me.
The truth was My Baba Xe was a patient and loving parent, and she was never tougher on me than she needed to be. However, if she witnessed my adolescent attention wandering dangerously outside the boundaries that she and Mama G had set for me, she could administer an intense reminder which left me reluctant to sit for a half candle mark or so. Maturity had assisted me in becoming smarter at keeping track of those boundaries most of the time.
Except… She was letting me off easily for this offense, and I knew it. On the scale of Conqueror lickings, this most recent had been almost friendly.
She flicked my chin to force our twin gazes to meet again, “I was very caught up in the battle with Rome, and I didn’t take the time to confront you on the spot. It was negligent on my part, especially when I knew exactly what you would do.”
I remembered clearly how her eyes had burned into mine that day. Words escaped me, so I whispered, “Yes, My Lady.”
But then she went for my heart.
“What upset me most was how hurt your mother was.”
A shadow crossed her eyes, and she looked away.
“Little Bird, I have trained you; I have a fair notion of your battle skills, and still I worry about you. Your mother will NEVER believe that your battle skills are sufficient, even when you become as competent as I am. Can you understand that? “
Tears escaped that I had held back earlier. My mother’s injury was still too close to both of us. I could take half dozen licks or more of Baba Xe’s battle-hardened hand without a whimper, but any consideration of my mother and her accident broke me down fast. It was difficult to control my voice, but I spoke,
“Baba, I misled you about my intentions on the day of the attack, but I outright lied to Mama… In my own eyes….”
My voice broke; there was no warrior left in me… but I forced onward,
“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. She has forgiven me; I ask now for your forgiveness.”
She pulled me into her chest then, and I wrapped my arms around her waist.
After a moment her words were soft, “Birdie, I know that you did what you felt you had to do to watch over Rachelle. “
No words of comfort; no sympathy, just acceptance. One warrior to another. But her strong arms sent their own message as I disappeared in their enveloping strength.
The Conqueror allowed me to hide against her body for a moment, her fingers ordering the messy locks of my hair. The steady beat of her heart soothed me. Then she pushed me back to meet her eyes again.
“And now, so have I. That little tanning was not a punishment, Birdie; it’s far too late for that. It was a reminder of who I am, and who you are to me. I want you to remember that when you make decisions.”
Now she shook tears from her eyes but they continued their lock on mine,
“You are made of heroic stuff, and you will want to follow your heart. But you are still our young Birdie, and when you lie to us for any reason, and put yourself in danger, you will answer to us. We love you and it’s our job to guide your decisions and to keep you as safe as possible,”
The Conqueror sighed and closed her eyes, her strong arms holding me tighter.
“In this very unsafe world.”
She rested her chin on top of my head and kept speaking, “So understand my little Bird that I must hold you accountable for following your heart into danger, even for the best of reasons; even if you are fortunate enough to succeed, and no matter how proud your mother and I are of your success. It is my duty as the Conqueror and even more so as your Baba Xe. Do you understand?”
Her voice had become near a whisper and it hissed it authority. She
pushed me back her firmly giving me a little shake by the shoulders..
I bowed my head submissively.. Accepting.
“Yes, My Lady.”
And I’m not finished, Birdie.”
I looked at her ready to face more responsibility if there was such, “Yes M’am, M’ Lady?”
“We are extremely proud of you, and we love you more than I can say.”
She smiled and opened her arms as I threw mine around her neck, and our embrace made us one person as she lifted me, moving in a slow circle for many breaths.
“I love you too, Baba; I love you so very much.” I whispered, allowing two tears to fall silently.
She set me down and knocked on my forehead gently with a knuckle, sky blue orbs twinkling now.
“I promise, Baba.”
She looked at me and sighed as if a great weight was off. Then she swiped her hand through my hair smiling.
“Let’s go run those sword drills.”
Her arm went across my shoulders and we stepped out into the evening sun. It was a little odd, even though she had just delivered a message to me in a fashion that might have made me feel humiliated, I felt only love. Baba Xe’s long arm was warm and relaxed over my shoulders and it drew me closer into her body as she kissed the top of my head.
Apollo began his downward journey behind us and I noticed that while Baba’s shadow was taller than mine, our steps were in sync, and our forms were identical. The arm came up and the hand brushed through my hair.
“We better step it up, my Little Warrior Bird,” Baba’s voice was low and calm, and her eyes surveyed the amber fields.
“We don’t want to worry your mother.”
I smiled up at her standing straight, “No, My Lady, we mustn’t do that.”
Thus in perfect harmony, we jogged together into the golden peace of the coming evening…
From the time of simplifying with Gabrielle..
The first definition of darkness
Is the absence of light.
The first definition of light
Is that which enables vision.
If we fear what we cannot see
Then the universe should be
For we have ventured only to
Its microcosmic edge.
Beyond is vacuous ice.
A timeless abyss
In which we can
Only dare to leap
From star to star.
Our best hope is to kindle
Campfires and lanterns
To glow bravely against
The endless night.
We hold each other,
Provide our own warmth.
By love alone,
We shall become
In the abyss.
Our joined hands
Beside the warrior.
Our joined hearts,
To the song
Of the bard.
Robin of the Warrior and the Bard.
The end for now….
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org (the feed keeps us battling on, you know. J)
And as always… thanks for reading….
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