Birdie's back and this time her challenge is to live through six months (six moons) apart from Rachelle. She has also been “grounded for life” after her adventures in the story “Gone”, but Birdie's boundaries are never too harsh; her famous parents make certain she is kept very busy. Meanwhile, Zephyr's son, Rain, is learning to communicate with Rach in similar fashion to how Zephyr works with Birdie. Both are gifts of Artemis. Singer, another miraculous gift from Artemis grows within Gabrielle, and she can already understand and speak a great deal with a chosen few members of her family.
Thanks as always to Trace the Tyrant, my faithful beta reader, and to VX who keeps saying, “are you writing Birdie?” and to all the readers who have helped keep Birdie, and her muse receiver moving in a more positive life direction…
Part 11 of The Birdie Series
I am Robin of the Warrior and the Bard.
The volcano wasn't dormant, but it had lacked stimulation for a time. At present the elements combined and blended as if encouraged by the Celestial Big Dipper itself. Massive activity of molten matter charted the circle, repeated the pattern more rapidly, frenetically, as steam and smoke pierced the cap. First a mere puff of smoke, but then all hesitation gave way to an intensifying, soaring spire of volcanic conflagration. There were weak sounds of enigmatic quivering remonstration, and then a full surrendering to reverberations which seemed to shake the stones of the fortress. The bed embraced the energy, and the eruption went on with almost unbearable passion until all corporeal bodies involved collapsed in its cooling wake.
There were tears on the bard's face mixed with perspiration. She reached for the ironwood hand and received an affirming squeeze. Azure and emerald eyes turned locked and two gorgeous smiles met from under disheveled heads of ebony and wheat.
“Whoa,” the Conqueror breathed deeply and turned to pour two glasses of cold water from the pitcher by the bedside, “I needed that.” She offered the glass to her partner who accepted it gratefully.
“Oh, baby, did I ever need it,” Gabrielle clicked glasses with her lover and they both chugged the first glass. Xena poured seconds and the couple fell against their pillows. “You've still got it, Warrior.”
She was rewarded with a second smile from her soul mate, her warrior, her Conqueror. The glass was lifted, “You are my source, Gabrielle. Don't you know that by now?”
The blond head drank more slowly, “You tell me that often, Xena and it is a wonderful feeling. But I will NEVER take anything for granted; don't YOU know that by now?”
The dark head ducked just slightly in chagrin. Gabrielle surmised that her warrior was gently reminded of the long journey after Xena died. No matter how day to day life became, the poet did not forget; she never could forget.
“Will you always hold that against me?” the sapphire eyes filled as they gazed at her lover.
Gabrielle lay back down and pulled the dark head to her breast. “I don't hold it against you, Xena; that isn't what this is about. In fact it is more my problem than yours; I just can never quite forget that life can become small and empty and without warning.”
She stroked the ebony tresses soothingly. “No worries, My Love. I guess I just had to say it. I do not take anything for granted, no matter the reassurances…. It's just me.”
“Ok, “ the voice under her hand was sounding dozy, “But you need not worry either, Love. It will never happen again.”
“I believe you,” came the soft whisper, “let's get some rest…”
Suddenly the warrior jerked up on an elbow, “Hey.”
“It's a bit late, I realize, but what does Singer make of us……. Making…. Uh.. You know…?”
The bard chuckled without opening her eyes, “You are so funny sometimes.”
Indignation stiffened the elbow, “I think it is a very legitimate question.”
Now the emerald eyes graced the warrior and a gentle palm touched the face, “Singer makes nothing of ‘making', My Conqueror. She sleeps. I believe that Artemis built that in, knowing we might need some privacy.”
“Good,” the taller woman collapsed against the pillows, “Wouldn't want a newborn to know more about my sex life than I do…”
Laughter again, brought the long fingers in to play, “You think that is funny do you? I'll show you funny...”
“Oh Xena, don't tiiickkle meeeee……….”
I HATE Summer. IT seems to me to be the most unyielding season; there is no evolution of color in the tree leaves, which reminds me of the phoenix building its pyre for death, or gentle emerging silvery jades and emeralds, as in spring. Summer is just interminable heat, day after day after day. Grandba loves the dry Greek heat for her washing. She and her collaborators, Caleb and Jori can wash an entire day's worth of linens and it will be all be dry and ready to go before dark… flash parched in the unceasing sun.
I learned to better tolerate warm weather by the ocean. But Poseidon provides change; the sea's hues and moods range from deep cobalt, to aquamarine, according to Helios, or it can be murky as mud and foam like a rabid monster during a storm. My mother says it is my restless nature, it craves CHANGE, and summer is a time when the only visible change is plants are dying, going brown, and animals are thirsty seeking water wherever it can be found. She bade me take care around the watering troughs for the horses; snakes swim very well if they need water, if there is little found in the wild. Minotaur shite that was the last thing I wanted to hear. Now every time I go to check on Hades, I envision a huge Ochia waiting for me in the trough. Baba Xe asked me why I always carry the Baby Tide with me when going to the barn. I just told her to ask Mama.
I know that all plants need the warm nourishment; I know that human beings derive nutrition from the intense light. But for the most part the relentless tyrannical beat of the sun god wears on me to the point of near lunacy. I am not complaining as much as I am just talking to myself about it. But at present, I guess that I ‘talked' too much about it in Grandba's company, for I found myself out doing fertilizer.
“Ah Grandba, you can't mean it—in this heat?”
“Don't test me Grandbirdie,” she shook her big wooden spoon at me and then gave me a light swat with it. “Ya do a couple of candle marks in the garden, Birdie girl. It will feed our vegetables and perhaps curb your grouchy tongue.”
“Doubt it, “ the mutter invited a second swat of the floured spoon. I sighed and brushed it off my backside as I climbed the stairs to change into my ‘yuck' outfit. It consisted of pants that were too short now and a tunic in the same shape. I put on a pair of boots that Mama G had given me as a “gift”. They fit but Baba Xe had treated them with saddle oil many times, making them waterproof… and shite resistant. They only had to be held under the pump for all the muck to wash off and then dry in the sun for a few days being sprayed with tea tree oil to banish the lovely scent. “Attitude boots,” Mama called them. Not my favorite footwear at all.
“Hades,” I addressed my munching mount, “Hades, you are the best horse a girl could wish for, and I am grateful for the times you have saved my life. I love you.” He swung his great head around to regard me with enormous brown eyes. “But you make an ungodly amount of fertilizer, ol' fella.”
The eyes simply returned to the good corn mash. Hades made no apologies and would soon make more fertilizer. My cart ranneth over and I felt streaks of sweat carving furrows in the hay colored excrement on my face. Charming… wow this was royal living. Had everyone forgotten that I was Robin of Amphipolis and Consort to Rachelle, Queen of the Amazons by the sea?
I paused just outside the barn and pulled a long swig from my water skin. Only half the chore was done. Now I had to distribute the fertilizer neatly into Grandba's garden. Heavy sigh, ok Bird Horse, pull.
The third row of vegetables was nearly done, and I had to admire them. Though a proper PAIN to fertilize, nonetheless, we had good fertilizer, and Grandba swore by it. “Recycling”, she called it, from garden to plate to latrines and horse barns, re gathered and spread once more to feed the young plants.
A soft voice interrupted my labor.
“You aren't ready for staff work, Birdie. And WHY do I find you out here, little girl?”
MY mother stood arms akimbo, jade eyes flashing slightly. Singer created a small hump in her belly now, so Mama G was wearing soft flowing trousers and tunics of silk. Today's outfit was sand colored, the better to put my butt in the dirt with...
I hung my head, “I got Grandba perturbed with me; I was grouching too much about this interminable HEAT.”
“It has not been pleasant, “ she admitted, “ however, your bellyaching, moaning and groaning makes it no less tolerable for anyone who is around you.”
“Have I been that bad?” I felt a little chagrinned.
The blond head just nodded. She extended a hand. “Come, you are relieved of fertilizer duty.”
“Ulggk, don't touch me, Mama,” I said, stepping delicately over the aromatic mix, “I am pretty intolerable right now.”
“Yes, we shall dunk you in the bathing pool first; I've brought fresh clothing.”
“Thank you Mama.”
She escorted me back to the barn where I left the cart and shovel alongside, so the sun could dry the mess.
“You don't put it away, Bird?”
“I will later on Mama; the sun dries the sh-- … fertilizer, and later on, I can scrape it from the gear much more easily and pleasantly, I might add.”
“So the sun is useful.”
I sighed, “It is, Mama, point taken.”
We strolled in silence to the bathing pool, but the refreshing water loosed my tongue again.
“But Mama,” I said, treading water for a minute, “don't you think that Demeter and Persephone got it wrong?”
“Persephone and Demeter got it wrong; I can hardly wait to hear this,” My bard mother rolled her eyes a little, but she was a captive audience. “Mind the hubris, Birdie.”
“The myth says that Persephone spends four moons with Hades each twelve moons and we have winter, because her mother, Demeter is so depressed. The trees are bare and animals struggle and winter is a bad thing.” I surfaced, spouting like a whale. “I feel oppositely. I think summer is the killing season; rivers dry up, trees die, and it is so hard on gardeners and livestock. Fall changes colors before the purity of winter white, and spring is the result of the nourishment of snow. Summer seems much more like a season in Hades to me.”
Just as my words faded the huge tree which sheltered the water hole, dropped a large branch. There was no warning crack or creak and it missed my head by a breath, trimming my hair with leaves and twigs.
My mother was waist deep in the pool fully dressed. She grabbed my hand and began hauling me out of there.
“By the gods, Birdie,” she whispered loudly, “Take your butt and your thoughts out of that pool before Demeter drops the tree on you!”
I had to hop and jump into my britches, as Mama G never broke stride, and did not release her hold on my arm.
“Mama, I didn't mean to show hubris,” I whimpered, “I didn't.”
She stopped and helped me into my shirt chuckling, “I know that Birdie. It wasn't precisely hubris, sweetie, I know that.” She ruffled my hair. “You just never know who might be listening, Little Bird, and it is always dangerous to criticize the works of Gaia and the old bards.”
Now she had her hands on her hips again. “That's it? ‘Oh?'”
I rolled up my soiled clothes and took another drink from the water skin, “Yes, Mama G. I may not know how to predict the wrath of the gods, but I certainly know enough not to provoke YOU before a staff fighting work- out.”
My mother rarely laughs, and I do love the sound of her musical amusement. I was treated to it all the way back to the fortress.
“Be patient, Son.” The ebony fox regarded the silver kit.
“Mother, I am not a ‘kit'… I can do this…”
“You look as if you are constipated… very. “
“MOTHER!!” The young fox's eyes snapped open, “Please.”
Zephyr's amber eyes showed the gentle mother's laughter, “Rain, my son, Artemis has chosen this path for you, so I have no doubt at all that you can do it. Relax. Don't try too hard.”
“Ok,” the silver fox closed his eyes and concentrated again. His midnight mother sat nearby, lending support.
“Rain,” the voice came from behind a sand dune. “Rain, are you calling to me?”
Bright blue eyes opened and after licking his mother's cheek, the young fox bounded up the hill.
“Better.” A rumbling voice which only Zephyr could hear, “Much better. How is the ‘god fox' coming?”
“I do believe that he can do it, My Lady Goddess, “Zephyr shared her thoughts with Artemis, “I am wondering if you might provide inspiration?”
“Baptism by fire, yes?” the thought came from the invisible presence.
Zephyr sighed, “I hate to do it, but I also know that it will work.”
“Alright, the mother gives permission; I shall talk with my brother Poseidon.”
Zephyr turned to see a happy pair scrambling down the sand dune. Midway down, Rachelle lost footing and brought herself and Rain tumbling the greater distance together.
“Oh, Rain, I am so sorry!” Zephyr had not heard the young Amazon queen giggle like a girl in quite some time.
The silver yearling found immediate footing in the sand and sneezed twice while shaking vigorously.
“Hey, is this your revenge?” Rachelle spat sand and also sneezed in the cloud of sand which Rain loosed.
“Oh my no, Little Mistress, I am incapable of revenge.” Zephyr could hear the thoughts exchanged, “To serve, protect and love: those are my charges.” Again he showered his companion with sand.
“Rain, stop! I will give you a drink.” Rach unslung her water skin.
“That would be wonderful Little Mistress.”
“Here,” Zephyr watched the girl pour a careful handful of water which Rain lapped gratefully. She poured a second and then took a swallow herself. “Ick. Sand.” She said, “We will have to go shower. I heard that.” She ruffled Rain's silky fur.
“That ugly thought about showers. Well, just get ready Mister.” The queen commanded.
“I suppose it will feel better to rid ourselves of the sand,” Rain remarked. “Why does sand seem to grow on a body?”
Laughter from the queen again, “I don't know, Rain, but you are right. Sand grows into a storm of misery. What is it Zephyr?”
The black fox's fur was standing straight up and a quiet rumble of growl was issued.
The question was answered at once as an enormous barracuda hurled itself high from a wave and bore directly down on Rach.
“Little Mistress, ROLL!”
Rach did as she was told as the silver fox moved into the shadow of the falling fish. The Barracuda's mouth yawned wide and daggery teeth were exposed.
Even Zephyr could not stifle an alarmed yip, but she needn't have feared.
Rain had tripled his size and was now a match for the fish. His sky blue eyes had turned to fire and he sank huge fangs deeply into the fish's gills. It flopped about, but Zephyr watched her son draw energy from both deep and high to hold on. His eyes were closed in concentration.
“Rain, Rain, let go now; it's dead, “ Rachelle extended a tentative hand, “Good job, Boy. Good work.”
“Indeed, Son. Well done.” The sound of his mother's thoughts pierced the god fox and soon the sea monster was held conquered by a small silver fox.
“Wow, “ his queen knelt to examine the fish, “Rain, he is at least three stone; he will feed the whole tribe tonight. Good Boy,” tender fingers drew the silver face to her own, “That's my good Rainboy.”
Zephyr sneaked a thought heavenward, “Thank you, My Lady. I believe my son understands well now, the god fox power.”
“He did very well, “ the goddess answered, “You have raised a fine son, Zephyr, noble and courageous.”
The little mother bowed her head humbly, “He is your creation, My Lady.”
“He is also yours, little fox. I am well convinced that our Rach will be in good hands now.”
Zephyr did not voice her next question, but the goddess answered, “And yes, it is time you returned to Birdie.”
Zephyr did not need to voice her gratitude either. Swiftly she trotted first to the Amazon queen. She laid her head in the lap only a moment, then rose and licked the sandy cheek. Her son felt what was happening and there were no words necessary between them. He moved into close contact with Rach.
Zephyr trotted to the top of the sand dune. She turned and looked back.
“Thank you Zephyr, “ Rach's words were only slightly teary, “Go and take care of Birdie now. We will be fine, won't we Rain?” Her glance lingered on her silver fox for only a breath, but her return gaze revealed that Zephyr was gone. She simply wrapped her arms around Rain and he leaned into her providing comfort to both.
“Thank you Brother,” the goddess said to the god of the sea.
“Not too much?” Poseidon loved his independent sister.
“Perfect,” was the answer, “just perfect.”
We were working by lamplight and I was tired. After Mama had worked me over at staff practice, Baba Xe commenced to run my butt extra hard at sword and chakram. I was accused, (but it wasn't true) of falling asleep at dinner, which prompted my mother to send me upstairs. She had joined me soon after with a pot of sleepy tea, and we had worked some on my attempts at writing. It just was not a good writing day for me.
“You need another word here for ‘green,'” She marked my scroll.
“What is wrong with ‘green'?” (I said I was tired.)
“It isn't descriptive, Birdie; what is the MEANING of ‘green'?” Now the quill rapped my head.
Sigh, “Green means….green… uh, how about ‘evergreen'?”
The quill rapped hard enough to send my hand up to my head, “Ow, Mama!”
“You know better. What is the rule?”
I put my head on the desk, “Never use a word to define a word.”
“Birdie you are muttering; say the rule now, or we will be here all night!”
I had just hauled my head up from exhaustion when a breeze entered the room with a cedar scent. I crossed the room with new energy and through to the open window.
“ZEPHYR!!!” My fox leaped into my arms and we collapsed upon the floor. I hugged her and hugged her as she covered my face with sweet kisses.
“Oh Zephyr, I missed you so much!” Now tears came. Minotaur Shite. Warriors don't cry Bird.
Zephyr left me, padded over to my mother and bowed her head.
“Hello, Zephyr,” Mama stroked the ebony head gently, “Birdie has missed you terribly, and actually, all of us have for a simple seven day. Nothing felt right without you.”
Zephyr simply laid her head on Mama's knee for a moment and gazed up with amber eyes.
“Why don't you see if you can help our girl with one question and I will allow you both to retire?”
“What is it, Little Mistress?” It was grand to hear her thoughts again.
“I need a different word for ‘green'”. My thoughts sighed in return.
“Green. Jade, Emerald, Olive, Lime, Pine, Spruce, Sage...”
“By the Gods, I did MISS you, Zephyr.”
To my mother who was waiting at the door now, “Jade, Emerald, Olive, Lime, Sage, Pine, Spruce... actually any evergreen tree.”
My Queen Mother shook back wheat hair and chuckled, “Welcome Home, Zephyr. Now to bed with both of you.”
Zephyr climbed into my bunk with me. We were desperate to be together. Mama G crossed the room again to kiss first my fox and then brush her lips against my forehead. “Good night, girls.”
“Thought of another, “ I looked up one more time.
She stood, waiting.
“My mother's eyes, “ I whispered, “a gentle spring emerging color.”
The referred to eyes sparkled, “Very nice, Birdie.” She swallowed, “Sleep well.”
Snuggled into dark fur, I barely heard the door close before joining Zephyr to greet Morpheus.
Xena the Conqueror slumped on her “throne”. Truth be told, she really hated the throne now; it represented a Past Conqueror which held little relevance to her present day, mind, heart, soul, everything. Still, she had a city to protect and to serve and some old customs remained if only for formality's sake. When citizens were quarrelling over trivialities of lot line, or who actually owned THE ESCAPED PIG, it helped to sit on the throne. Thank the gods she only heard cases every seven-day.
“What's next?” she whispered to Scrubbers, who had held forth as MC for the event for longer than anyone could remember.
“Visitors, My Lady.”
“From Rome, My Lady. They have been kept under close watch for the two days since they arrived.”
The Conqueror sat up straight, “Anytime anyone or anything hales from Rome, I want immediate notification.”
“Yes, My Lady. Sorry My Lady.”
“Show them in.” Xena sat back in an attitude of casual authority.
A woman younger than Gabrielle entered the hall. Dark hair fell to her waist; she was dressed in traveling clothing and she held the hand of a young boy perhaps eight seasons round.
“Thank you for seeing us, My Lady Conqueror,” the woman moved into a graceful low curtsey and the boy bowed.
“I hope that you haven't been too uncomfortable,” Xena apologized, “I was only now notified of your arrival or you would have been seen sooner.”
“We have been well cared for, My Lady Conqueror, “the woman chanced a gorgeous smile. Xena tried to puzzle out who was brought to mind by this woman. She felt that she had seen her before.
“Good,” the Conqueror responded, “Now, what brings you HERE all the way from ROME?”
The woman stood but looked at the floor. “My brother said, if we ever should need shelter from harm, we were to travel to Amphipolis to seek Xena the Conqueror. And so we have…”
“Your brother... a Roman?” it was coming now.
“My brother's name was Dax, My Lady.”
Dax. Cerulean eyes brimmed, “Dax. I loved him well, young friend and still regret his death. He was the most honorable Roman that ever was. So you must be….”
“Aurora, My Lady, the younger sister of Dax. And this is my son, Gaius.”
Xena had long left the throne and now took the young woman's hand in her own. “You and Gaius are welcome here for as long as you need or forever. I promise no harm will come to you.”
“Thank you My Lady Conqueror,” the woman curtseyed again.
“But please stop that!” Xena chuckled. “ Dax was my friend; thus, you are my friends and need never bow. Scrubbers!” she beckoned her bailiff of the court to come.
“Please see that Aurora and Gaius are set up in one of the guest cottages inside the fortress,” she told him, and then turned again to her guests, “Do you have many belongings?”
“Only what we have on our backs,” Aurora answered lowering her eyes. “Our departure was sudden.”
“Scrubby will see you set up with suitable clothing as well as the boy. If you are feeling settled enough, later on, I invite you to the ‘family' dinner within the fortress. My mother is the best cook in all of Greece, and she loves to meet new people. We meet just after sunset. Perhaps then,” the Conqueror spoke kindly with gentle eyes, “You will be ready to tell your tale.”
“We are most grateful, My Lady,” Aurora stopped mid curtsy, which made the boy smile.
Scrubbers offered a gallant arm, “If ye'll come wit me, Lady.” He escorted her to the big throne room door.
Aurora cast a lovely dark-eyed smile over a shoulder, “Dax spoke so highly of you,” she said, “I can see why he did. Thank you My Lady.”
“It is my honor, “ The Conqueror bowed her head. “I hope to see you later.”
Aurora turned in a circle of delight at the center of the cottage.
“You have no idea, My Lord Scrubbers, “ she whispered.
“Please, Mum, call me ‘Scrubby'”, The older man's dancing grey eyes twinkled, “I wouldn't know what ta do with ‘My Lord'”.
The young woman crossed the floor to access a drink from the clay pitcher and mugs which graced the small dining table. She handed the first serving to Gaius who drank thirstily.
The old man's dancing blue eyes could not remove themselves from the young woman, whose beauty was not hidden by the rigors of the road. She was a little taller than Queen Gabrielle, but she had the classic Roman Aquiline nose which was softened by huge mahogany eyes.
The boy was beautiful as well, blessed with similar hair and eyes. He wore his hair longer than most Roman boys were allowed. No “Caesar's” cut for him.
“I tink you'll find plenty of ‘generic clothing' in the closets ta outfit you and da boy,” he was bowing a retreat before his mind got in trouble. Cyrene had a way of reading a man's thoughts, no matter how harmless and “harmlessness” did not mean innocence to her.
“Our queen instigated a recycling process for village clothing. In Amphipolis, no clothing is discarded until it is a worn out rag. We have a public market every other seven -day, and folks bring and trade goods, clothing, gardening, you name it. What isn't taken is carefully laundered and placed here for guests.”
“What a fantastic idea, “ Aurora fixed her doe's eyes on the older man. “Such a thing would never be allowed in ‘Rooo mmme'. But one counts for nothing if one has no soldier in the Roman army.”
“Ya won't find that here,” Scrubby chuckled, “Here everyone is trained in some kind of self-defense,” he squinted at Aurora, “I would measure you a ‘staffer' I tink.”
“Really?” her voice was beautiful too, “I have always fancied learning the staff.” She rolled her eyes, “Again, not allowed in Rome.”
'f ya don' mind me askin', “The old man ventured, “How didja come to know the Conqueror?”
The young woman drew circles with a toe in the packed hard dirt flooring. “I didn't,” she admitted, “In fact my coming here was a rather audacious leap of faith.”
Scrubbers nodded, asking for the story to continue.
“My brother Dax, was a centurion in the Roman army,” Aurora raised her eyes to look out the window, “He first met Xena the Conqueror when he part of a small scouting party in this area. He was under the command of Titus Aresenius Brutus. They captured Xena and Birdie. Later on, my brother was forced to lead an attack on Amphipolis. Someone thought he might ‘like' the Conqueror overly much, but before he left I told us that should he not survive, and should we feel unsafe in Rome, to come to Amphipolis. The assumption I made was that the Conqueror knew of the arrangement and would honor it.”
“I remember well, but by the gods those Roman names, “ the elder fellow exclaimed, “How do you ever keep up with them?”
The woman chuckled, “practice, I guess, “ she replied, “When one grows up hearing them, it doesn't seem so hard. Also, Roman men are fond of shouting out their entire names and lineage to empower themselves somehow.” She chuckled, “It all seems a bit pretentious actually unless you know some of the meanings. My brother Dax Cato Amato, for instance... every part of his name is gentle and loving. My son is Gaius Cato Amato, and I am Aurora Cato Amato. Our family was not in the habit of over speaking our names however.”
“I ‘ope you'll join us for supper,” Scrubby opened the door, “ we'll be waiting to hear yer whole story.” He exited.
“This looks good for you, Gaius,” Aurora held up a worn but clean blue tunic. And look at these britches with lacings down the legs; you will be handsome after a bath.”
“Aw, Mama,” the boy attempted a half-hearted protest.
“Don't even try,” He recognized the “all business” look in his mother's eyes, “We have been gods knows how many days on the road. I would think a warm soak would feel good.”
She selected a long linen robe and clean sandals for both of them. “I hope they have a ‘rags' barrel at the bathing pools,” she said, “for what we are wearing are nothing but. Here, carry your sandals, Gaius. Placing a gentle hand to the back of her son's head, she steered him through the open door and followed the signs which read “Public Baths”.
“Dax's sister? You mean the Roman, Dax?”
“Only one, Gabrielle. Or the only Dax I never would have killed and yet, I did,” Cerulean eyes brimmed.
“He was an uncommon man, Xena, and for certain, an uncommon Roman.”
“I still feel regret for killing him; he would have been a commander in the militia by now.”
“You only did what he asked of you, Xena.”
“And now I must do more. His final words were to watch over his sister if she ever asked,” Xena crossed her office to gaze out the window and further.
“And you will.”
“I will,” the Conqueror spoke to the landscape, “But I cannot disclaim the uncertainties of what may follow her here.”
“I know,” a gentle bard's palm encircled the tree hard waist. “There are bound to be repercussions, no matter how careful she was; Rome has an eye like the Sun.”
“Yes, and we are about due a ‘visit' with Rome, can't you feel it?” The warrior's voice dropped to a whisper.
“I hope you won't be angry with me, Xena,” now the bard lowered her eyes, “but Singer has been speaking a new word. ‘Sails': now I wonder if she is seeing Roman sails in the distance.”
“I am not angry, Gabrielle,” the Conqueror turned to her love, “I only wonder why you didn't tell me sooner.”
“You always have so much on your mind, Love, “Jade eyes melted any irritation the warrior could muster, “I wanted to be sure there was a threat.”
“Well, I guess we have confirmation, don't we?” The Aegean eyes returned to the horizon, “has Singer Voiced this word for a long time?”
“No,” the bard leaned wheat hair against the blue silk shoulder, “Only a day or so.”
“Which would coincide with the arrival of Aurora to Amphipolis.”
“Yes, Minotaur Shite!” the bard spat. “Grrrr! I should have done the math!”
“The Conqueror laughed, breaking through the sobriety of the moment.
“Now… language…Gabrielle. I am just at the age where I will pick that up.”
“You….” A light punch connected with the arm.
The Amazon Queen found herself encircled with blue silk.
“No…” she whispered, “You.”
And very quickly, all thought was dismissed with a kiss.
The sky was sharper tonight; the stars were more vibrant than they had been all summer; it raised hope the heat might break soon.
“You are sure this will work, Zephyr? I don't want to be thought of as a mad girl who talks to the stars…”
The amber gaze this remark elicited was not quite disdainful.
“Little Mistress, Do you really think I would be so cruel as to tell you a LIE, and not only tell you a lie, but one which would hurt you deeply?”
“I am sorry, Zephyr,” great move Birdbrain. “Of course, you would never do either; you have only ever spoken truth and love.”
“Then trust me, “ I was forgiven with a soft paw to the face and we cuddled closer.
“It's almost chilly,” I remarked, “Thank the gods for chill!! I am ready.”
“Try wearing a fur coat all the time,” my fox's thoughts were amused now.
“Zephyr, are you calling me an annoying adolescent?”
“Not yet, Little Mistress, though I have seen the entrance a few times.”
“I bet. Hope it doesn't get worse before it gets better.”
“No comment, Little Mistress. Just know that I will always be at your side.”
I leaned my head into the ebony silkiness. “Thanks. We have been through a lot together, haven't we? Part of my soul was missing while you were gone.”
“As was mine, Little Mistress. I do love you.”
“I love you too,” I sniffled, “ok, let's try this.”
“Close your eyes.”
There was an immediate energy shift; I commanded myself to stay focused; only our foxes could communicate at such a distance, but Rachelle and I could hear their conversation.
“Moth… Mother?” Rain had a lilting tenor voice; I had never heard it.
“Yes, Son.” My own Zephyr.
Had to stifle an inner “Whoo hoo!”
“How are you Mother?”
“I am well; I am with Birdie. How are you and how is Rachelle?”
“We are good; our ability to ‘talk' has grown by leaps and bounds...” He sounded … happy.
“So Rachelle is healthy, happy?”
“She misses Birdie ineffably, but otherwise, yes, Rachelle is flourishing. She wants to know if Birdie survived the enormous amount of trouble she faced.”
Zephyr's chuckle sounded like a creek running merrily over stones, “Yes, she did, or she has thus far. Our Lady Artemis gave her a sound staff thrashing, and she has been grounded for a moon. Her parents seem determined to keep her busy from first light until starlight. She is working on sword and chakram with the Warrior and the Bard works here with staff and writing. In fact…” my fox was just a little too pleased, “I arrived just in time to save her from her mother's wrath over a writing situation.”
“Rachelle is laughing,” Rain sounded amused as well, and he is a serious fellow.
“Of course she is, “ I muttered and was rebuked by the swipe of a fox's tail on my hand.
“It is good that she laughs, “ Rain said, “Tears cannot change the situation. And I love her laugh.”
“Well, Birdie is off restriction very soon, and happier times will follow.”
“My Little Queen sends love, “ Rain spoke softly.
“As does my Little Mistress,” Zephyr, “Keep her safe, Son.”
“I will, Mother,” the answer. “I love Rachelle.”
My eyes filled immediately with deep gratitude.
“It happens, “ Zephyr spoke with experience, “We don't know why...” another swipe of her tail hit my face.
“Rachelle sends love to both of you,” we were ending; it made me sad.
“Birdie does the same,” my fox answered. “You will let me know when you need to talk?”
“I will, Mother, “ he said, “Good Night, until then.”
“Until….” Zephyr's concentration on the stars seemed indissoluble, and I ran a hand through her fur.
“Then,” I whispered softly, “Thank you, Zephyr- Oh thank you...”
Zephyr, fox of gentle breezes
Fix your gaze upon the sky
Find a longing lonely soul
Set adrift by space and time.
“She is well.” The words I seize
And feel my own heart finally ease
Its single beat which caused such pain
Comforted by gentle Rain.
Rachelle, Queen of the Amazons by the Sea
Questions and comments may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org , and thanks to one and all for your loyalty to Birdie. You really have no idea what you, the readers and she, the character have done for me. ((((Birdie readers)))
To Be Continued...
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