~ Birdie's Song... The Invasion ~
by Onesockbard

7th in the Birdie series.

I am Robin...

A sword blade's clash causes a strident cacophony which sends dogs running. The force of the blow jars the wielding arm to the shoulder, and the blade must be withdrawn and readied immediately for the following exchange. Yet the repeated strike of metal on metal could be interpreted as positive, as it signifies a blade has not entered flesh or bone.

Other animals collide over mates or territory, and they use the weapons they are born with such as teeth or horns. Why have human beings fashioned tools which we decorate highly, carry with pride, and if we are successful in our use of the tools, hack each other to death? Is this the way we were meant to use the intelligence that supposedly sets us apart from the animals?

When I was a small child, I believed that sword fighting must be the most exciting activity in which a person could take part. A few of the old timers Conqueror's militia still like to tell the story of how at age four, I came across a stray sword, dragged it up to the top of the fortress wall and stood brandishing it like the Conqueror herself. What I recall of that day is my mother making it very clear to me that I was neither the Conqueror, nor was I to be dealing with in any manner with any type of sword. She is still rather strict with me about my owning and using a sword, even though I have proved myself more than competent. Mothers.

Such are the idle thoughts of a squire as she polishes weapons in service of her Lady. I was perhaps three dozen paces from the Conqueror as she sat astride Argo watching her militia on one of the large drilling fields.

The Tide watched Baba Xe's back and the Chakram guarded her side, so I busied myself with keeping her war daggers, (there are seven) well sharpened. I had no hair left on my arms from trying the edges. This was another activity of which my mother would disapprove; it would be necessary to keep my sleeves rolled down. At times it was not easy to be the daughter of the greatest warrior in the land and also the daughter of Gabrielle the Bard. I had to temper my first instincts; they often had me in trouble later in the day. But at thirteen and a half winters, I was improving. This next fortnight would be chilly and anxiety ridden, with the Roman invasion foremost in our minds, suitable enough for long sleeves.

Having completed my sharpening task, I set to work on her shield. The Conqueror rarely carried her formal shield in battle; she preferred to use both of her hands, and actually both feet, as weapons. For battles she preferred, a very small hand-sized shield clipped to Argo's saddle ready for lightning fast use. I kept the large one pristine regardless because it was a showpiece; it was a representation of The Conqueror and her militia. Hers was lighter in weight and of a finer metal than the men's shields and the bronze dragon and stars could look quite stunning when I gave them some extra attention.

There was quite a bit of quiet time that I could devote extra attention to her weaponry, because my Baba Xe had been spending countless candle marks lately perched astride Argo with her indigo eyes locked in observation of the drills. She desired my presence behind her, and I felt that to be something of an honor. In my younger days, I would have been restless; but now there was plenty to keep me occupied. It was an occupation unto itself to observe Xena the Conqueror, which I loved to do. In the scabbard of my own Baby Tide, were quill and paper, with which I often captured my own meditations during these long periods.

In the next few days, the Descendents of Zon and the Amazons would converge in Amphipolis to plan for the invasion of the Romans which we were expecting sometime within the cycle of the next full moon. Every day since we had gained the knowledge that the Romans would come from Chief Jom of the DOZ, had been a little darker in character than the previous one. I wondered if indeed when the Romans did make their appearance, it would be night for all twenty four candle marks we counted. My Baba Xe hated the Romans, and her mood tended to tinge Amphipolis.

When she wasn't on the field, The Conqueror spent many candle marks in her study brooding about the best way to defend against her old enemy. Mama G said that was because Baba always felt a personal responsibility for the safety of everyone within her sight, be that ten people or ten thousand. Mama said such was the burden of a born leader and a hero.

At this moment, the Conqueror turned Argo abruptly and cantered in my direction. I hooked the shield onto Hades' saddle and patted his front leg. He bent it slightly to give me a quick foot up into his saddle. I sent a quiet airy whistle through the wind, and the head of a black fox appeared from between the high grasses.

I looked down at her, holding Hades to a circular dance, "Zephyr are the boys with you or will they remain with Fire tonight?"

She looked behind her and I caught sight of her large red mate bounding into the forest with his two gray sons in tow. They were spending more time with him and that was as it should be, because they were growing fast, eating more, and showing more of a wild nature. She gave me a quick look which I took to be affirmative. It must have been difficult for her, but she shook it off and trotted ahead.

Baba had ridden beyond me, so I urged Hades to overtake her quickly. The sound of horses hooves clopping, leather squeaking accompanied by its smell, the chill of approaching evening, and a breeze in my hair, was a plate of senses that I enjoyed very much. Even Baba Xe looked more relaxed than she had been of late.

"How are the daggers?" she asked.

I slipped one out of its leather sheath and handed it across handle first. She peered at the edge, holding it up to a squinting eye, and then shaved a hair from her glove.

"Good work," she tossed me a smile returning it. Then she grabbed my arm, "Any left or are you a newborn bird?"

I tried to retrieve my arm but she flipped the sleeve too quickly for me. "Birdie??" You must find a better way of testing the blades than on the hair of your arms." She shook her head, "You will cut yourself. No, I see you did cut yourself."

"Not badly, Baba."

"Any unnecessary cut is bad, Birdie, especially to your mother. You know that."

We rode in silence a moment.

"I need a hairy stick."

There was a pause and then incredulous cobalt eyes turned on me.

"Birdie, I am pondering large scale war, and you are thinking of 'hairy sticks'?"

"That I can use to test blade sharpness instead of my hairy arm."

"Your arms are not very hairy at all."

"Thanks for not saying that they are feathery, Baba."

The blue eyes rolled at my lame attempt at humor, so I continued, "And that is part of the problem-not enough hair for so many blades."

Now she just sighed. "Shall we return to the hairy stick, Birdie?"

"If I can locate the supply of proper sized soft pine, I can check the sharpness of one blade by whittling fine shavings on the stick, and use the next blade to shave them off. Or use the same blade to test the same. I can probably find the right sort of sticks in what Talus discards." "That makes better sense; a stick instead of an arm."


"And you haven't thought of this before." A slight growl to her voice. "Never talked it out before, Baba."

She shook her head and smiled. That was good to see. She wasn't smiling enough these days. Romans had that effect on her. As her squire, I felt that making her smile was a little part of my duty and so was pleased that I had succeeded. Her long arm extended and performed an affectionate swipe across the top of my head.

"Silly squire." She snorted, "Are you hungry?"

"Always, Baba Xe; shall we race?"


She won the race; she IS the Conqueror.


Washing up for dinner entailed bandaging the cut and donning a clean tunic. After running a comb through my hair, my appearance seemed passable, and my boots were hammering down the stairs when I ran right into my mother, Gabrielle the Bard.

"Turn around and go back up," she said firmly, "Back to your room, this instant."

Minotaur shite, this didn't sound good. I tried to remember a recent misdeed she might have discovered, but drew a blank in the immediate. Well, nothing to be done but face the music of the bard. I turned to her upon entering my room.

"Whatever it is Mama G, I take full responsibility and make apologies."

She cocked her head at me and allowed her emerald eyes to intensify, and they penetrated mine like fire through snow.

"What might that be, Birdie?"

Clueless, I just looked at her. She laughed.

"Birdie, you look like one of the hounds that's been caught in the kitchen honey, and you are much smarter than that."


This was torture.

She hugged me. "I have received a message on you today."

"Yes m'am," still cautious.

"You have been accepted into the Royal Academy of Bards in Athens."

So I wasn't in trouble?

"Truly, Mama?"

"Absolutely, my little Bird, and I am so very proud."


I hugged her and we did a little waltz in my room. "WOW."

"Wow is right, "she laughed, "You are the youngest ever, Birdie. It's an honor."


Poetic Bird. Think. Questions.

"What will be required?"

"As I have done these many years, you will have an 'on the road' membership. You will send something polished and perfect once a moon or so. Then we will go to the meetings once in summer, once in winter and everyone presents his or her best work. It will be very special to go together with my very own little Bard."

This was a change; she wasn't mad at me. I trained as a warrior daily and it came easily to me, but it nearly always had me in some kind of trouble. Writing was fairly easy for me as well, but it engaged an opposite part of my abilities. Writing took focus, concentration, stillness, and patience to work and rework the words. My mother didn't have to MAKE me do it, but she had to demand it of me sometimes, or ground me to my desk with reflection candles.

Well yes, sometimes she had to make me do it.

I loved writing once she settled me to it, and I knew that I was pretty good at it. Mama G had worked for years in the cultivating of that talent, and my acceptance to the Academy was really a reward for her work, or so I felt.

I hugged her tightly.

"This would never have happened without you, Mama G. Thank you."

"You know that I will be beating you over the head with your quill quite regularly now."

An acquiescent sigh, "More that ever, right?"

"Oh, quite more than ever my little Birdie Bard."

The intensity of my hug increased. "Good, Mama G. I want to be good. Like you."

"You will be, Birdie, but you know writing is like everything else. It's hard work."

"Yes ma'am."

We hugged a moment more.

"Mama, are you hungry?"


"Want to race?"


The Conqueror rose at the beginning of the meal. "I need to propose a toast this evening."

I was already tucking into my stew and so quickly swallowed, grabbed my mug and stood politely without knocking my chair over for once. Grandba stood, as did Mama G, mugs upheld.

Then I realized the Conqueror's eyes were riveted on ME.

"To the new bard in the family. I wonder how many families are fortunate enough to have TWO bards in their midst. Birdie, we are very proud of you. "

Grandba Cyrene raised her mug up and said, "Cheers my dears!" and we all drank.

My face burned; it always did if Baba uttered the "the P word" about me. It was seldom heard from her lips regarding her only child, especially within my range of hearing. To my writing ability too, I didn't know that she cared.

My lips managed to mumble, "thanks..." and I returned to my meal in a hurry.

They all sat smiling at my embarrassment.

"Birdie is going to help me teach the hairy fellas 'our speak'," said Mama, as she passed around the bread.

"Won't that be difficult after all these many years of barbarian tongue?" Grandba asked.

"Not as difficult as one might think. Mother." said Baba Xe. "They may be barbarians, but they are not unintelligent people. They use very little spoken language. So it shouldn't be too hard for them to pick up ours."

"You mean it won't be a matter of translating; it will just be a matter of learning?" I chimed in after a swallow.

"That sounds manageable; teach them the most important words of battle, such as ATTACK, RETREAT, CHARGE. "

"There are many more words for them to learn in addition to those, Birdie, "Mama G gave me a wilting look. I have made lists. You will help me."

"I will, if Baba doesn't need me on the field."

"You can help your mother with the language assessment, Birdie." The Conqueror gave me a serious eye. "The language acquisition of the DOZ is just as important as their weapons acquisition. Never forget that."

"When are the Amazons coming? I need to ready the kitchens," asked Grandba.

"Do you have some extra help for the kitchen coming?"

Baba shifted her eyes that way.

Grandba reached out a hand to pat Baba's arm," You bet I do, Xena. It's an area that the village loves to volunteer for. Help in the kitchen. Odd isn't it?"

"I know why!" laughed my Mama G, "They want to lay hold of some of Cyrene's Inn and Tavern's famous recipes! It's the best LEGAL method of finding out how you make some of that fantastic food of yours."

My eyes marked my Baba Xe just as her eyes went far away from our happy table.

"Well, it sounds as if preparations are underway as best as we can begin to make them," she spoke in that low commanding voice. The eyes fell down to her hands and then back up and looked out the window at the fiery sunset. "I only hope that all that we can possibly do, will be enough for what is coming..."

My mother's small hand crept across the table and upon the bigger callused one wrapping it in comfort.

"We'll be fine Baba Xe," her voice had a timbre that always brought comfort, no matter the situation, no matter the age of the person she was speaking to.

"We will be fine."

What could I do but look up brightly and echo, "We'll make it, Baba, I know we will."


It was a sight which no one could have described-- this mass of humanity, clothed in their hairy garb. We stood outside the heavy gate to Amphipolis fortress and evaluated the mass of DOZ for which filled our sight from the gate to the giant oak. They resembled so many bears standing on two legs. But they were neither bear nor buffalo; they had come to fight the human way with us and for all of our sakes and safety.

"I bid you WELCOME!" my Baba Xe shouted and everyone on our little platform spread our arms wide in a gesture of friendliness. The hairy fellas did the same. We had our sign language worked out, and for once the weather was beautiful. Apollo had sent us bright sunlight and the cold crisp air was the kind which fostered positive feelings.

I stood with Baba Xe, Mama G, Grandba, Effie, Eponin, Rach, Atticus and his family and Scrubby at the front of the gathering. On stage next was our biggest gamble. Because the Amazons lived in somewhat similar conditions to the hairy fellas, we had worked with them cooperatively creating a situation near a rear corner of the fortress where the DOZ could make their own domain. The DOZ lived in cone shaped skin tents, so what we had built more permanent frames for their skins, lashing big solid logs together in the familiar cone shapes, but providing fresh skins as well. They could tie their old skins on the outside for extra cover, but inside would be a fine fresh new home. Every frame had its own fire site, set of cooking utensils, clothesline, and fresh bedding. We had also constructed a large common area in the center with a fire circle of heavy white stones.

In the rear of the village, we had set up several deep latrines. Scrubby, Abstone, and Clayburg, bless them, had volunteered to teach them about the latrines and when new ones should be dug. There was also access to the river for all of their water needs. The DOZ seemed amazed and delighted at our peaceful gift to them.

Most of Amphipolis village had a job in settling the DOZ. At least one or two of us were with each family, and during the time we helped them set up, we taught language. I had helped Mama G compile a common vocabulary/ jargon list that all of us would use, so that for important times, we would all use the same "speak".

It was fascinating. I learned much of their"speak" as well. Mama and I worked with Chief Jom's family and his son, Tond, was the boy who made friends with Mama.

He and I had an easy exchange.

I showed him a sword.


"Ssssorrrr?" He tried.

I stabbed it in the air, hit my chest with my fist and collapsed, dead. He understood.

"Oh," He took the sword and pointed at it?


I looked at him, "Gudge?"

He nodded, and then stabbed hard with the sword at an invisible assailant. "GUDGE!" He hit his chest with his fist and closed his eyes." "Bon"

I made the same gesture, "dead."

He grinned, we understood each other.

So try it again.

"Ok, SWORD."


"Good." I showed him the thrust.

Then I hit my chest with my fist and closed my eyes. "Dead. Bye bye."

He mimicked me, "Bon. Byebye."

I laughed, "Great! High five, Tond!"

The high five slap is as universal as a smile.


The Baby Tide made a satisfactory snick as it re-entered the scabbard on my back and I quickly jumped aboard Hades as he circled back for me.

The Conqueror stood watching impassively.

"Again." Her only word.

I thought it was a satisfactory pass but knew better than to speak. Hades and I galloped to the other end of the field. We turned and approached the straw horse and warrior at a fast clip. As we met, I drew my sword, clashed it with his straw sword and flew out of the saddle kicking the straw man's head with both boots. Tucking tightly into a ball I completed the somersault landing on my feet this time, sword at my side.

She approached me purposefully and grabbed my tunic.

"Birdie this is SERIOUS. Don't waste time drawing your sword. Ride with it drawn! Why are you kicking the man's head? This is WAR. Go for the KILL. And the pretty acrobatics are strictly showing off unless they save your life."

She gave me a little shake and a smack to the back of the head.

"Now do it again and THINK, don't play!"

Chastened, I swung aboard Hades and we trotted back to the end of the field. Baba had moved to stand beside the straw warrior. As we advanced rapidly, I brought my sword around for a hard swing at the warrior's straw head, but Baba was standing there doing a fancy drill with the Tide. I couldn't tell where her flashing blade would rest. Her eyes were locked on me? Shite.

I completed my hard slash, removing the straw head and at the same time leaped from the saddle, flipping over Baba Xe's head and blade. Landing on my feet, I immediately turned and blocked her next slash at me.

"What would you do, Birdie?" she said throwing another thrust at me which I just managed. She was so much taller and well, she was the Conqueror.

My breathing was labored," If it were someone as good as you, I would try to stomp the blade into the ground and kick you in the face, hopefully disabling you long enough to get in my killing blow before you killed me."

Our swords met in that strident cacophony which jarred my smaller arms.

" If it were somebody less skilled than you, I could more likely fight it out strategically and win."

She pulled up, "That's my girl."

She whistled and Hades came to follow us inside-lesson over.

"I don't want to terrify you, Birdie," she said in a low calm voice, putting her hand on my shoulder as we walked, "But war is not play or tricks. You must act to kill every time, or you will be killed, do you understand?"

"Yes, My Lady, I understand."

She put her arm around me pulling me in close as we walked in silence to the fortress.


Gabrielle lay back in the large bed and watched her lover dress. Despite her high ranking, Xena the Conqueror never was one to put on a show of fancy dress for any occasion, preferring the leather pants blue silk shirts and the pewter breast plate and matching gauntlets when necessary. She felt that she had all she needed and that money should go for defense.

The blue eyes looked at her fondly now. "Thank you my love; you brought me back to center." She closed her eyes.

But the poet was playing harder ball.

"So are you a warrior who likes a good tumble in the sack before a war council? Happy that I could accommodate you."

She might as well have thrown a spear dead center into the Conqueror's heart.

"Gab," immediately, the warrior sat on the bed, hands on side of Gabrielle, indigo eyes full and anxious, "Gab, how can you say that?"

A knock came at the door.

"My Lady Conqueror, the room is assembled!"

"Served them the ale Andrew, and tell them I will be a moment."

The bard raised an eyebrow, "Ale?"

Xena chuckled, "Mother's idea and a good one. Begin with strong ale to relax everyone, and go with lighter ale as everyone needs to cooperate."

"That is a good idea."

But tears ran down the sculpted face.

"I'm not leaving until you talk to me."

Gabrielle caressed the tears with gentle fingers, studying the dramatic features.

"I am sorry, Xena. You want me to watch your back. That means I watch every single facet of your back. In our history the few times we have run into serious difficulties, it has been because of the Romans. Your personal hatred of Rome can cloud your judgment. To a fault."

She pulled the dark head into her arms, "It frightens me. Sorry to snap the whip at you. I needed to see that side of Xena that only I am privileged to see." She sniffed away her own tears, "It was a low blow; I'm sorry, love."

A relaxed sigh and relieved arms embraced her with warm strength.

"My mind is clear, Gabrielle. It's all right that you should test me; you are entitled."

She leaned back and looked into her soul mates' face. "Did I pass?"



They continued the soul searching embrace for another moment, savoring the time for only the two of them.

"Times like this will be few in the coming days, Gabrielle."

"I know."

"If you need one, you just grab me, you hear?"


"Your idea of building the homes for the DOZ was fantastic, by the way," said the Conqueror pulling back with composure, "It worked, I think."

"It made sense that if they had nice new homes, they would want to defend them," the bard smiled.



"Do you think it's wise to take Birdie to battle?"

"Gabrielle, you know the alternative is to tell her to stay here, and then she will follow us. That alternative seems more dangerous to me. This way we know where she will be even if it is dangerous.

"I know."

"You remember last time?"



"Gabrielle, Birdie is never going to do exactly what we want her to do; it is simply not her nature. I am only trying to train her and order her placement in this situation-- in an effort to keep her safe. Basically, you watch my back and she watches yours-and that is safer at least than out on her own somewhere."

"I hope so."

"It is my hope as well, love. Now, I must attend the meeting before they are really drunk and disorderly. You will come?"

"As soon as I dress."

"You could come as you are and they would follow you anywhere, my bard."



Cyrene had dialed the intensity of the ale to a lower strength and all of the leaders studied the great map spread on the long table in the tavern. Xena the Conqueror, Gabrielle the Bard and Queen of the Amazons, Ephiny Regent of the Amazons, Eponin, Weapons Master of the Amazons, and Jom, Chief of the Decedents of Zon were a powerful table for Cyrene to work her magic ales upon, but so far she had done very well. The woman was experienced.

"The Amazon scouts have reported the Roman legions en route are about one thousand give or take a few hundred," reported Ephiny, " Even with our new friends," she shot a smile at Jom, "the legions are double our numbers."

"Then we shall have to fight very very cleverly," said the Conqueror.

"With the great minds at the table, I have no doubt that we can," Gabrielle added her voice to the confidence.

Chief Jom studied the map silently. He spoke little, but he understood a great deal of what was said in any situation, and he certainly understood what was at stake.

Xena watched him, "What are you thinking, Chief Jom?" In the brief time she had known him, she had come to respect the older man's bedrock wisdom.

He pointed to Wild Horse Valley, a single entry to the great meadow prior to the road to Amphipolis village. Then he pointed to the road lying west of the valley. He made an X mark with his finger.

"You are saying that somehow the legions should be forced into the valley, of course you are right!" Xena immediately paralleled his thinking. "It's taking the fight to the Romans before they come here! It will require more preparation-enormous preparation-- on our part, but then they will fight on OUR terms."

"But how do we drive them into the valley?' Eponin voiced the next question.

"We will have to attack from the west somehow and definitively; that could be tough with our fewer numbers," her partner Ephiny echoed.

"Fire," Gabrielle whispered.

Chief Jom looked at her and nodded.

"We need to convert the DOZ's siege engines to fire catapults and we can drag our fire cannons out there. It would burn the entire west meadow, but it should work. "

Chief Jom laid his huge hand on Gabrielle's head and nodded in the affirmative. The enemies of the past thought together.

"It would take a smaller contingent to drive the legions into the valley with fire, thereby freeing more of us to attack from here, here and here. " Xena quickly pointed to either side of the valley and the front. "The fire team then could bring up the rear. We would take them easily ; surrender or die."

They all stood in silence looking at each other.

Chief Jom smiled. He raised his fist and brought it down on the table. The others laughed and followed his example.

"Done." said the Conqueror, "Mother, bring another around of ale. The plan is set; we have work to do."


"Tired of the war Bird?"

Rachelle, Zephyr, and I had gone for a long walk by the river during the big war council. I had begged to attend the council, but I was "too young."

"UMHUM, and it hasn't even begun..." I heaved a rock nearly across the river in my frustration. Zephyr looked at me with alarm.

"I thought you were a warrior's child."

"I am. But they won't allow my warrior's child full reins."

"Yeah, same here, but my warrior's blood doesn't steam along like yours.."

Our eyes met. It was nice to be understood.

We shuffled along kicking rocks.

"Do you ever feel homesick for the sea, Rach?"

Rach selected a stone and studied it. Then she tossed it hitting an exposed boulder mid stream. Good aim.

"Sometimes. The sea helps one keep perspective on life."

"How is that?"

Zephyr was listening to her.

"The sea is without end in sight, without measure in depth, and constant in movement and its ability to give life. We are but tiny creatures wandering along its sand for a short while. And because of my parents, I have always believed that when we die, we return to the sea. Knowing that has given me peace at times?"

"That's poetic, Rach."


"Yes, did anyone ever tell you that you might have a touch of the poet ?"


"You have been told now."

That was a good thing to say to her. Hooray for Birdie! Keep it going.

Zephyr looked at me, a silent coach.

"Are you going to return to sea someday, Rach?"

"Someday I hope to."

"Will you take me with you?"

She reached for my hand and squeezed it. "Yes, Birdie, I will."

"Zephyr as well?"

The granite green eyes lowered and stroked the dark fur.

"Of course Zephyr could come. She would love the sea."

Zephyr licked her hand. Zephyr liked Rachelle.

"That would be splendid, wouldn't it?" I mused, "To wander the road-on our own, no place to be, nobody to answer to, sleeping under the stars."

"That would be nice."

Zephyr thought it sounded wonderful.

I sighed, "My parents would never allow us to go alone. 'you're too young; it's too dangerous'." I said it in a silly squirrel voice.

"Yeah, Aunty Ep would say that as well," Rach chuckled and kicked another rock, "or she would say, "'it's your decision; I cannot stop you.'"

"That is what my parents keep saying, and I don't follow the meaning."

"It means that we are too big for them to physically stop us from doing something of which they might not approve or agree. Or that they won't be present in every situation to control our decisions."


"However, they remain in the position as parents to bring the wrath of the gods on our heads if they don't approve of the decisions we make."

"There's something wrong with that picture, don't you think, Rach?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, if I choose to drink until I am drunk, and fall off my horse and break my arm; wouldn't the broken arm be the natural consequence of my decision?"


"So, why should my parents kick my butt, ground me or take my horse away in addition to my broken arm? Haven't I suffered enough?"

She looked at me and shook her head.

"Birdie, you know the answer to that."

"No, I don't."

She stopped with her arms akimbo.

"Robin of Amphipolis, if I walked out into this river, until it was over my head and stayed there, what would you do?"

"I would go and fetch you out."


"Revive you if necessary?"

"Yes and further?"

"Well, I'd ask you why you did that."

"And if I had no explanation?"

"What do you mean?"

"Birdie, what if I did something dangerous just out of stupidity? What would you do?"

"Well, I guess I might want to shake you around a bit."


She sighed liked she had finished a race.

"For someone so bright, you can be thick as a woodpecker, Birdie."


"Never mind, tell me why you would want to 'shake me around'? Why wouldn't nearly drowning-the natural consequence of my stupidity-- be consequence enough?"



"Well, because?"


"I know that you know the answer? you know, Birdie.." She smiled.

"Because I --- "

Zephyr bit me.

"Zephyr!! HEY!!"

Minotaur Shite! Where was a rock to kick when I need it?

Rach just waited; Rach just watched me.

"Because I care about you--------kind of quite a bit." I met her eyes shyly.

Her smile was warm but her eyes were warmer.

"I'll take that answer for now, "she whispered.


It was very late. I sat at my desk staring at the blank parchment. Zephyr came over and put her nose under my hand, flipping it so that I would pet her.

I did even better.

"Zephyr," I knelt and took her head in my hands," how did you know with Fire? Did a flame erupt in your heart? Were you unable to think of anyone else?"

She had no answer for me except that she would stand by me no matter what my choices were, as she always had. We had a warm furry hug. I kissed her nose, dug into a drawer, lighted one of my reflection candles, and began to write.


If eyes are windows
to the soul,
Time spend in yours
has made me whole,
and I didn't even know
my heart was empty.

We've only just
exchanged our names
and one adventure.
do you feel the same?
Whatever, however
long it takes,
we'll be together.

the Fates will cut
and spin and weave,
and we accept
what we receive,
so you are here
in front of me,
and I will have you.

Some will say
we are too young
that we should only
look for fun, but
If your life- journey's
just begun...
Please take me with you....


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