~ Birdie's Song II The Little Warrior ~
by Onesockbard

The continuing story of Birdie, the young adolescent daughter of the warrior and bard in a light -handed Conqueror setting. Birdie is a kid who is not only coping with adolescence; she is also coping with the yin and yang of being the offspring of a warrior and a bard. And of course, her parents are not just any warrior and bard.

Disclaimer: All of the usual disclaimers. Xena and Gabrielle and Cyrene still belong to Renaissance and Universal and all those business people; they belong to none of us, even though our love has kept them alive for years and doing very well. Robin of the Warrior and Bard, (Birdie) Zephyr the Fox, Hades the Horse, Icarus the Hawk, and so on, live in my head and I hope will continue to do so.

Subtext: of course…Violence: sometimes.. But in both cases, I try to be more concerned with writing well than with being graphic.

Comments to onesockbard@aol.com and receive my deepest gratitude for being out there and taking time to read. We play important parts for each other in the joy that we find in the Xenaverse. Battle on…
And thanks always to my main reader, VX

Birdie's Song II The Little Warrior Part 1

I am Robin
Of the Warrior
and Bard.

"Icarus! Here!" A small golden hawk flew a single circle of us before alighting on my leather sheathed arm. She gave me her usual impatient, "Well?" snappy- eyed look, which subsided as I fed her a tidbit of dried fish from my pocket.

"Whoaaa, she's bloody beeeautiful, Birdie.. How did you snag her?" my human companion, a tow-headed boy of my same twelve and a half seasons exclaimed in a voice charged with awe.

"I didn't 'snag her', I found her one day maybe a fortnight ago, when out riding Hades," was the story. "She was grounded and half-starved, tried to fight me, but I wrapped her in my coat and took her back to the fortress. She was injured by a dried curved fishbone that had gone through her beak somehow. Perhaps she was injured when she was eating or perhaps a fishing accident. But I managed to keep her still enough to remove it with a pair of Mama G's hobby tweezers. My hands were bloodied by her beak first thing; she was one angry little bird. But then I nursed her back to heath on bits of fish and she thought better of me."

Icarus flapped and sat on my arm glaring irritably at Talus, but she continued to take the fish from him. "She's free and on her own now, but if I am out, she always finds me. Sometimes she comes to my window as well. You know why I named her Icarus?"

"Of course, Birdie, for the boy who fell from the sky," Talus gave me an annoyed look, "I can hardly wait to carve her."

"She's not very good to be still."

"Neither was Zephyr, but I got her, didn't I?"

"You do have a remarkable talent, my friend."

He grinned, "It's a passion, Birdie..."

My experiment was complete. While Talus continued to distract Icarus with pieces of dried fish, I had

secured a small band on her left leg. She gave me the evil eye a time or two, but then settled in to tolerating it well enough. I gave her the last bit of fish and stroked her head gently.

"Ok, my pretty girl, are you ready? Icarus, FLY."

And she did, soaring up into a sky the color of my Baba Xe's eyes, my own as well, I suppose. I ran to spring flip onto Hades' back, gave Talus the quick arm up and we rode into our second adventure of the day with Zephyr loping along easily sniffing out all threatening ground squirrels ahead.


A candle mark later, breath by breath I crabbed carefully to the edge of the precipice.

Below me and across a small creek were the cone shaped huts of the Descendents of Zon, a vagabond group of barbarians, a group who frequently gave my home settlement some very aggravating moments, as they felt it necessary to attack Amphipolis at least three or four times a season. This feud dated back to the days of my ancestor the warrior Xenarone, going on nearly one hundred seasons now. For lack of a greater challenge, I had taken to spying on the DOZ every seven day or so, and today, Talus had come with me. It wasn't the smartest way for us to pass our leisure candle marks, and Xena the Conqueror would surely hang my hide on the armory wall if she gained the knowledge of my past time, but for now the diversion seemed worth the risk. The huts were constructed of slender poles and different animal hides--quite practical for a nomadic society. The barbarians themselves favored clothing made of longer haired animals, like mountain goats and sheep. Their clothing made it difficult to differentiate between the sexes, but most of the men sported filthy beards.

There was a noisy rustle to my right, and Talus joined me. His dark green eyes grew large,

"Whoa, Birdie lookit !" he whispered not very softly.

I gave him a sharp elbow in the ribs.

"Shhhh Talus!! Announce us to them wouldja?"

He immediately ducked his head. Talus was a newcomer to the world of adventure; he made mistakes but he was a very quick study. Heavy panting nearby pulled my attention right into the large furry ears of Zephyr, my black fox, and my closest companion.

"Zephyr, hold it down a little," she licked her chops and closed her mouth. The fox understood every word I spoke.

I squirmed my way back to the edge of the precipice peering my nose just over the rim. Once again... all right… two hundred or so of the huts, which meant probably at least two hundred fifty of the "hairy fellas" as we of Amphipolis called the DOZ's warriors. Several of them were working on what looked like a new siege engine. This one had a modified construction to the catapult portion, actually rather innovative for the hairy fellas. My mind took note. I had walked around the siege engine that our militia had captured in the DOZ's last attempt, and it was an interesting machine. The engineers and smithies of Amphipolis had done some reinventing of the wheel however, and the DOZ would receive a very unpleasant dose of their own medicine the next time they attacked. I caught sight of a few DOZ wives as they went about cooking and caring for the small hairy fellas. Life could not be easy for them in the rough as they lived.

Talus crawled up once more, and this time he loosened a larger rock from the cliff which fell over the edge

. "Ahhhh Zeus's thundering horse feathers!!" I yelled; we released and rolled like crazy people down to the bottom of the hill where Hades was waiting. Gaining my feet, I sprinted towards my huge horse, who immediately bowed his head and bent his knee from which I took a light spring forward and half-twisted over his head into the saddle. Leaning down, I gave an arm up to Talus and we were off. Zephyr was already quite a bit ahead loping low and fast like a black lightening bolt. Hades galloped like all Hades was after him, and I leaned into his neck. Talus leaned into my back; I felt a certain wild excitement in the chase, confident that we would make it back safely. After turning back once to make certain we weren't followed, I slowed Hades at a cold rushing creek within view of Amphipolis and slid from his broad back. Talus fell immediately to drinking in huge slurping gulps from the creek and trying to catch his breath; he had something to learn yet about taking this kind of activity in stride. I ran my hands over Hades to make certain he hadn't suffered from the run, put a steady palm on Talus' back for just a moment to calm him, and then stretched out beside him to partake of the creek. I flipped over happily, only to discover that a tall figure was blocking the sun and would very likely the block rest of my joy in the day. My eyes traveled up the black buckled boots, lean leather pants, and a long dark coat with cobalt stars on the sleeves. The Conqueror. Minotaur shite. I couldn't see her eyes for the sun, but I could feel the icy burn slicing into the top of my head.

"Talus, your father is looking for you." The ever calm and Conqueror cool voice resonated.

Talus hung his head, "Yes, my Lady Conqueror, right away, m'am. G'day My Lady Conqueror, See ya, Birdie."

He bowed quickly and jogged off, with hardly a limp. Talus was extremely well brought up, his parents were good citizens of Amphipolis, and I was especially found of his father, Atticus.

"Let's walk," continued the low voice as I found my feet. I took hold of Hades' lead and felt a light firm hand fall on the back of my neck as we turned toward the fortress of Amphipolis. Zephyr continued up ahead, checking out the peripheries as was her habit.

"So, Little Bird, would you like to tell me what made you and Talus and Hades ride in here like the Roman Army itself was after you?" was the Conqueror's quiet inquiry.

I stayed silent trying to think of how to answer this intelligently and safely.

"Well?" the voice was lower, more dangerous.

"Baba Xe, I've never lied to you, right?"

"No, Birdie, you have never lied to me; it's not really in your character. I think that's your Mama G in you."

"Well, I think that you would be happier if you didn't ask me that question."

"Clever, Birdie, except that I have already asked the question."

Oh this was not going to be good then. We walked a while longer while my conscience cast about for courage. There was really no way but to say it.

"Talus and I were spying on the DOZ's; Talus knocked a stone over the edge of the cliff, and I was afraid we would be caught. So we found it necessary to depart and travel quickly."

My tall and dangerous parent stopped dead still and closed her eyes.

"Birdie, please tell me that I didn't hear you correctly."

Her reaction gave me pause, but I said it.

"You did, Baba."

"Eurylocus!" She waved at one of the militia who worked in the stables; he trotted over to take Hades and Argo while we continued walking; Zephyr had gone ahead into the fortress through her special "foxhole". She was smart.

She swallowed and composed her next question." And it is my guess that this was not your first time at this activity?"

"Well, it was Talus's first time."


"No, My Lady, it was not the first time for me."

I waited my head bowed for her to pass sentence. It would be harsh, because my activities had been most unwise, and I certainly knew better. Most likely, Baba Xe and I were going to spend extensive quality time in the armory, with my backside catching a thorough demonstration of the power of her hard sword hand. My crime merited such action; I expected such to be the price of being caught at foolish activities.

But Baba Xe remained silent. I sneaked a glance at her, and she was walking slowly, looking at the ground, boots jingling slightly. I couldn't read her at all, and it clawed at my belly. After a few more moments walking, she sighed, tilted her head at me a little and said, "Go to your room, Birdie."

"My room, Baba?"


And with those words, she simply walked away from me.

Devastated and confused, I ascended the circular stairs to my tower bedroom on the west side of the fortress; Zephyr had rejoined me, tail down, for she sensed my mood.

"I don't understand, Zephyr." I told her, "She's never done that before. She's never just walked away."


"I don't understand Gabrielle, "paced the Conqueror, "she seems to be getting worse, more defiant and using that head of hers LESS instead of MORE!"

"And you just walked away from her?" responded the gentle bard. "That must have hurt."

"Gabrielle, are you listening to me? Birdie was SPYING on the D-O-Z!! For F-U-N!!"

"Why did you walk away from her, Xena?" the question was repeated. "The very few times in our relationship that you have walked away from me, you might as well have stabbed me in the heart. I couldn't breathe; I couldn't think: I couldn't move. My life stopped. My body was in motion, but my life stopped."

The warrior took her soul mate to her heart immediately, drawing her in closely.

"I should never have done so, and I regret it to this day…" She sighed and sat on the bed. "And obviously now, your greater concern is Birdie's reaction to my reaction, and NOT Birdie's wrongdoing?"

The bard sat beside her with an arm around her.

"I'm sorry, Xena." She pulled the dark head close to her shoulder. "That pain returned so fast and so fierce. Perhaps it shouldn't still be so tender, should it?"

"Maybe it should, Gabrielle, "the indigo eyes were a little watery. "It was a rough time. Birdie shouldn't feel distress of the heart at my hand; she is just a wayward kid. I better go give her a different kind of distress." She chuckled humorlessly. "Honestly, I was so upset and disappointed in her for doing something---- just ridiculously dangerous, I felt sending her to her room seemed the wisest action until I could calm down and think it through a bit, and perhaps talk to you."

The bard looked at the floor smiling,

"Then it was the wise action, Big Warrior, and you are absolutely right. It was a ridiculously stupid and dangerous thing to do."

"Gabrielle, this little spy outing was just the first time she had Talus with her. She has done it before on her own. I didn't ask her how many times before kicking her off upstairs."

"She took TALUS with her? She's corrupting Talus?"

"I am sure that Birdie believes that she is teaching Talus."


"Well, she probably is."



"See, now you have thought about it too long!!"

The bard pounced on the giggling warrior and they rolled backward on the bed in a happy embrace. After a moment when all four eyes were staring at the ceiling, the bard spoke,

"Xena, I am going to ask you a question that you aren't going to like, ok?"

"That's nothing new Gabrielle," came the purring reply.

"Why are you afraid to deal with Birdie when she needs correction?"

"I don't understand, Gabrielle, afraid?"

"I think that you do understand, Xena. Ever since she was missing for that seven day, when I was hurt; that was a very rough time for you, and Birdie discovered some of her own darkness then. But you have been unwilling call her on misbehavior more than once, since that time. You retire; you leave it to me, almost as if you wish it would go away, or….. As if you are afraid."

The famous eyes filled.

"Shall I bring the target closer so you may skewer more effectively, my bard?"

Her bard pulled the dark head into her arms to tell the truth more tenderly.

"Birdie is still our CHILD, our child who desperately needs her Baba's guidance; in fact, it seems to me, that she is practically begging for it of late."

"Do you really think so, Gab?"

"What are you afraid of, Xena? Do you believe that she has changed so much?"

A deep sigh.

"Maybe. It seems like your gentle ways are better right now for her than mine. Yours are the better example. And as I have said before, Birdie adores you; she can't stand to know that you are upset with her."

"And as I have said before, she worships you, Xena. If you told her to walk into a lake and never come up for air again, she would do it. She so needs your guidance, your love, and yes-- your firmer hand at times. She must learn the firmer ways of the world from YOU."

The warrior had rolled over and was staring at the ceiling, rivers of tears running down the sides of her head into her raven tresses.

"It's very hard to explain, Gabrielle. But it's the darkness. I guess that I feel like I have no right, with my past, you know; it feels almost hypocritical for ME to stand on her too hard."

The bard sat up to look hard at her soul mate.

"Xena, you have been many different people in your life, but I don't believe that you have ever been a hypocrite. You have always done what you believed, right or wrong. You have some regrets, but who doesn't? And now you hesitate to cope with our child as she struggles with what you see as your own character flaws developing in her? Not the case, Big Warrior, Birdie's flaws are her own. Do not give her that excuse; do not give her any excuse. And don't excuse yourself from responsibility either."

The bard paused a moment pondering.

"Let me deal with Birdie on this, Xena. I'll give her a little quality time-short and sweet."

The warrior turned over to look into the serious jade eyes. "But I think that you are correct, Gabrielle. I should deal with her."

"No it's playing out a certain way in my head, and it feels right. But it would be good if you make an appearance; ask her what she discovered about the DOZ."

The warrior flipped back over blowing her hair out of her eyes.

"I will follow your lead then, my love... Gods be damned enigmatic adolescent kid."

"You LOVE that phrase, don't you?"

"My mother used it all the time."

"Do you think we were this difficult to raise?"

"ummmmm, yeah."

"Remember, there are both of us in one kid though."

"She will make us OLD, Gabrielle."

"Well, we shall make her suffer for it sometimes…" the bard winked at her warrior, ran her hand through her shaggy hair and turned to exit the room.

"However," she turned back suddenly placing both hands on the broad shoulders, "You and I are far from finished talking about this, ok?"

Her soul mate's sky colored eyes radiated love, "Yes m'am."

Zephyr and I were sitting in my big window sill, watching the militia drill out on the practice fields, when a soft knock at my door took my attention. I looked at my fox, "Best you skedaddle, Zephyr, you don't want to be in trouble."

She gave me her tilted head sympathetic look, and quickly slid under my bed. My opened door revealed the Queen of the Amazons, the Queen of Amphipolis Fortress, the Lady Gabrielle, the Battling Bard of Potidaea, soul mate to The Conqueror, my small, but very formidable mother.

"Spying on the DOZ?" was her greeting. She walked past me as I closed the door and as she turned to face me, it was difficult to meet the fire snapping in her eyes.

"Yes, m'am."

"Robin of the Warrior and Bard, did you consider even remotely how dangerous your little sport was?"

Uh oh, full name and title time.

"Not so much, Mama G."

"And now you are taking Talus on these wild endeavors? Birdie, he's not as well trained as you, and he has the weak foot; he could be hurt or killed!"

I hung my head.

"Very poor judgment Birdie!"

"Yes m'am."

"You've upset your Baba as well, you know that."

"Yes my lady, I do know that."

"Come here, Birdie."

I moved front and center and she took my arm, turned me sideways toward her, and pulled me over just a bit. Her right hand delivered a fair swat to the seat of my britches.

"So this one is for Baba."

"Yes, Mama."

I straightened up, blinking hard, but she tugged me over again.

Another, some sting to it.

"That one is for Talus. Don't you ever hurt Talus. He is your friend." She put her hand on the back of my hair.

"I know, Mama."

More sting on the next one. My eyes were watering and I knew that she wasn't finished.

"That one is from me; you worry me, Birdie." She closed her eyes with the word "worry" dropping to a whisper.

"Yes, m'am, "my voice wavered.

My mother's swats weren't hurting my backside; the pain was to my soul, my spirit, where true remorse lies.

Her small but determined hand landed again smarting just a bit more and the tears spilled from my eyes, as they met hers once again.

"That one was for not using your wits, Birdie. You are reckoned to be the smartest child of your age in this entire area."

"Yes, m'am." A whispered acknowledgement.

The final whack was gentle, but it broke me down completely.

"That one is because I love you." Now her voice caught.

"I know, Mama. I'm sorry Mama." The words were just barely managed and I couldn't look at her.

She took my hand then, and led me to the red loveseat where she sat down, tugged my head into her lap, and ran her hand through my hair saying nothing, until I settled and quieted. Mama G had a unique ability to take me quickly into her hands and heart and chasten me thoroughly, and gently.

"What are we going to do with you, Birdie?" She said softly.

"I don't know, Mama. I don't mean to do stupid things... "

Her hand gripped my hair and turned my head to look into her eyes.

"You are telling me that you were spying on the DOZ by accident? You are telling me that you didn't know it was stupid and dangerous?"


She laughed then.

"You sound so much like your Baba."

"I do?"

"You have an upset Baba though. You two will need to talk."

"She doesn't want to talk to me, Mama. She walked away."

"She was angry, Birdie. She didn't trust herself. She wanted to be cool and careful when she dealt with you on this."

She gazed down at me and her hand stopped in my hair.

"That's why I came first. To do the hard part."

The sea foam eyes filled and ran over; I reached up to brush a tear from her face,

"The 'hard part', Mama?"

Her fingers pulled my hair for emphasis.

"Birdie, the application of tough love is not fun-hence, the name -- 'tough love'; it's painful for everyone. However, the 'hard part' is necessary to make certain that you stay on the path of becoming the best kid in the whole world."

"Well, you are really good at it, Mama; you are very smooth."

She laughed as the tears ran down her face; she was blessed with that ability as well; it enhanced her skill as a poet. It gave me comfort to be the cause of her smile. Her hand reached around behind to place another gentle swat.

"Well, try to stay out of trouble for awhile, Little Bird, ok?"

I sighed and stared out from the pillow of her lap before the handle of my hair had me again looking up into my mother's intense countenance, accented by her beautiful jade eyes.


"Yes M'am."

She sighed- one of those half annoyed loud sighs which blew the bangs of her bright hair up.

"Everyone is saying that to me lately; it's like I am royalty or something..."


"Hmmmmmmmmm?" she was pondering.

"You are royalty."

Zephyr chose the moment to creep from her hideaway. I scratched her ears and she brushed her nose under my hand.

"Hello Zephyr," My mother patted the couch, and the fox put her head on the red upholstery. "You always know the perfect moment to reappear, don't you? 'sly as a fox,' right?" I KNOW you were with Birdie. You pull nothing over on me."

Zephyr folded her black ears back a little and licked Mama's hand gently.

"Is that an apology?"

A little whine.

Mama rubbed her soft black ears.

"Ok, you are forgiven this time."

Zephyr scooted over and nuzzled a moment against her Lady's leg and put her head in Mama's lap giving her serious fox eyes. Then with a final hand lick, she returned to me. My mother's gaze followed her.

"She understands a great deal, doesn't she?"

"Mama, Zephyr understands every word I say, and she has ever since the day I found her. She is like my furry soul mate."

Another smile.

There was a light tap at the door.

The door revealed my Baba Xe, and I leaped to attention nervously.

"My Lady."


Mama G crossed immediately to slide into her spot under the Conqueror's arm, her arms wrapped around the powerful body. Baba kissed the top of her head and Mama closed her eyes, squeezed, and breathed a moment as if drawing life and comfort from her soul mate, replacing what I took from her. I looked away to give them privacy.

"How are things?" came the question from the Conqueror.

"Better, I think," was the answer from her Queen, "Birdie?"

"I offer apologies for my foolish, reckless, unthinking behavior, Baba." I said with my eyes lowered. "It won't happen again."

Baba Xe extended her hand and lifted my chin so that my gaze met hers. Our eyes mirrored each other.

"I am glad to hear that, Birdie," she spoke evenly, "Because if it does, you will find that all of our previous times in the armory were merely practice, I promise you. "

The ultimatum was given in the voice of the Conqueror - absolutely no question. I closed my eyes from the intensity of her words. She put her fingers in my hair and lifted my head to meet her eyes again.

"Do you understand me, Little Bird?"

"Yes m'am."

I was saying that a lot today.

"Good. " She then pulled my head forward and kissed my hair; Baba was returned.

"I hope so. Now tell me about the DOZ."

"Really Baba?"

"Really, Birdie."

She sat on my red couch, her arms resting on her knees and looked at me, blue eyes direct. Mama G stood beside her stroking the dark hair.

"If you are going to be in trouble, Birdie, you might as well be of use, kiddo." She smiled.

I lowered my head humbly for a moment, swallowed, then looked up.

"They are located about a half day's ride from here and have been so for a fortnight. That would indicate to me that they plan an attack soon, wouldn't you think?"

"Possibly." The Conqueror listened carefully. "Anything else?"

"It appears that they have modified their siege engine. It now has a large star shape on the catapult end. My guess is that it will actually catapult soldiers over our fortress walls, perhaps five at a time if they aren't too heavy, and they will land in our residential areas, where they hope we will have no defense. It seems like a bad fall for the fellas though."

"That's good intelligence, Birdie." My head felt almost light at the praise, until my mother's eyes indicated to me that I better rein in the stampeding horses of my ego.

"How many times have you watched them?" The Conqueror's voice, very soft, very dangerous.

I hesitated, but seeing no shelter from the Conqueror's voice in the flashing jade eyes, I decided on evasion.

"A few times, Baba."

She glanced over at Mama G, and then smiled,

"You and I Little Bird will talk about ALL of this spying activity at an appointed time in the not too distant future. And our chat will be in the armory."

What was there to say? She was my Baba Xe but she was also Xena the Conqueror; neither was happy.

"Yes ma'm."

"But in the interim, we shall ride out tomorrow and you will show me this camp."

"XENA!" Mama G's voice was electric with disapproval. I was a silent bird.

"Gabrielle, I promise if she offers to take the smallest step out of line, she will feel the full wrath of the Conqueror in a manner that will be unforgettable."

Well, there was a good threat. My insides shuddered a little.

Baba Xe put her hand on my shoulder,

"Go on to bed, Birdie and be up with the sun. We will make our plan at breakfast and depart soon after."

She kissed my hair, "Good night, Little Bird."

I closed my eyes receiving the blessing, "Good night, Baba."

My mother pulled me into a fierce hug, "I love you, Birdie; you know that."

I hugged her back, hard.

"I know, Mama..." the words were soft in her shoulder, "I love you too. I'll do better at stuff. Promise."

She pushed me back and kissed my forehead a little teary again and then mussed my hair.


I smiled at her. She went to my desk, removed one of many small candles in the drawer, placed it in a holder and lighted it from the lantern in the window.

"All the same, Little Warrior, sit and write until the candle is burned down."

"Yes, M'am." My mother intended that I should do some contemplating. That meant writing.

I opened another drawer and removed my quill and scroll and sat down losing myself in the candle flame.

The Bard of Potidaea took my quill, dipped it into the ink well and placed it in my hand. She then left a gentle kiss on my temple, and I had to blink away tears for love of her.


"Xena, What in Hades are you thinking? I have only just finished working the kid over for 'spying on the DOZ', and now you will take her with you tomorrow to 'spy on the DOZ'?" I haven't read too many parenting scrolls, but this seems to be a good example of a 'mixed message' to me."

The warrior swept the bard into her arms completely, spinning her in a circle round and round kissing her , kissing her, kissing her, kissing her……

"XENA, this won't work!"

Kissing her,

kissing her

, "Xena…"

kissing her,

kissing her…

"Xena, "

softer, deeper,

kissing her, taking her down…

They lay on the bed.

The woman with hair like the sun sighed and looked up at the raven haired woman in her arms.

"Xena,seriously. What is your thinking?"

The warrior took the bard's hand in her own.

"Many thoughts actually. One, if the kid is going to spy on people, I want her to learn to spy' properly'. And second, I would wager that before we even arrive at a suitable place to actually SPY, Birdie will do just ONE THING that is stupid or reckless. I will then take her firmly in hand and put a quick end to this habit of tempting danger for recreation. Some lessons are better learned at the MOMENT. Birdie and I always understand each other very clearly when I catch her in the act. You my love, are the parent for talking, reviewing, and consequences after the fact."

The bard sighed, "No I'm not really, Xena, it's just that sometimes that's how it has to be. It's hard on me, but I do it because it must be done, for Birdie's sake."

She received a warm embrace and a gentle Conqueror's caress on her cheek. "You are the finest mother a child could possibly have, Gabrielle. I marvel at you; Birdie is clay in your hands. You rarely raise your voice, your temper, or your hand to her, and even when you must do one of those, you are gentle but firm, consistent but kind, our child is heartbroken at causing you pain, and you quickly forgive. You are a wonder with her."

Gabrielle propped herself up on an elbow. "You and I are different people, Xena, and our differences change the ways we approach Birdie. I am trying to raise the poet, which means I must teach her that while Birdie may believe she is acting in the best interests of everyone consequences will follow, right or wrong. Poets dream, and while dreams make beautiful words, they can be quite painful in the reality. I learned that from you, my wild and woolly warlord. "

She received a kiss for that lovely little gratitude.

You, on the other hand, believe that you train a warrior whose very lifestyle means constant vigilance and practice for defense and danger. Yet you seem to fear taking that responsibility; do you fear the darkness in Birdie, or do you fear your own?"

The Conqueror was silent…. Too long. Gabrielle knew that her words had traveled home.

"Xena don't be afraid of our child; don't be afraid of what you will teach her. You are no longer a warlord." She thought another moment.

"Remember how horrified I was when Birdie chose Hades as HER very own horse?"

"You were not alone in your fear," chuckled her soul mate. "Leave it to Birdie to love the biggest horse in all the land, the horse that could kick her over the moon with one hoof."

"But they understand each other completely, and Birdie couldn't ride a better horse. That horse would die for her."

"It is truly amazing to see them together." Agreed Xena the horse trainer.

"Well," mused the poet, "from what I have seen and heard of Birdie's talents as a warrior, our child has another Hades in the ring. "

Her soul mate regarded her- understanding the image.

Gabrielle continued, "Yes, I am an excellent fighter, and I have killed to protect those I love, but do I have the innate talent and drive to be a great warrior? No. Birdie does, Xena. It is running loose in her like a huge wild horse, and you must be her guide, you must mold our little warrior. Think how it might have been for you if someone had worked with you at age fifteen when you were angry and full of darkness-if someone had sat you down firmly and made you deal with that energy in a less destructive fashion?"

That brought alarm to the azure eyes,. "Do you believe that Birdie is in so much trouble? So nearly out of control?"

The bard encircled her lover's waist with her arms and listened to the heartbeat which had increased at the intensity of their conversation.

"No, Xena I do not believe that Birdie is in that much trouble. What I am saying", she moved her head back to meet the blue eyes,

"Is that Birdie must have that guidance from YOU. I am not of the required character or strength to help her develop that side of her personality or talent. I can always bring the poet in her home, with love, firmness and WORDS, but that isn't always enough. She knows that. She expected stern correction from you for her latest misadventure, and while I dealt with her misdeed, it would have been better if YOU had dealt with her, Xena."

The warrior sighed, "So I am failing her."

The bard took the great shoulders in her hands and shook them slightly.

"NEVER have you or shall you fail our child, my love. You are Xena the Conqueror, the greatest warrior in all the lands we know. You will never fail Birdie; I know how much you love her. Love never fails."

She smiled and reached for the dark hair, "Buck up big Warrior… you have very likely put yourself into an adventure tomorrow."

"Don't you want to come with us?"

"I can hardly bear for you to go without me, but this is a journey for my two warriors together. There will be growth only the two of you can give each to the other. And besides, it's only for a day."

The big warrior swept the bard up in her arms and kissed her,

"Are all bards as wise and patient as you are?"

The kiss was returned,

"Are all warriors as strong and romantic as you?"

"I doubt it."

"Me too."

"We certainly are fortunate."

"Oh yes we are."

And then there was only candlelight and soft laughter.

At the end of the day… by candle

Who holds my heart?
Is it warrior or bard?
Shall I play either part?
Or shift with no warning?

From yang into yin
From kindness to sin
Without and within
How shall it begin?

The light on my path
Is never quite clear
Might all I hold dear
Be harmed by a wrath
We never saw coming?

I reach with my hands,
To grasp two as one
A test for me comes
And now as it starts
Please calm my faint heart
My warrior and bard.

To be continued…..

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