The Song of Ceber

Argument: The feast is underway. Ceber and Medy walk between the tables talking. Takara, disguised as the poet Elle, prepares to tell a story, and the doctor Alcuin contrives to get Ceber and Medy drunk so that they will be more likely to finally start their romance.

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The Feast

On the day of the feast
The whole town gathered
Food had been brought       by all routes.
Beer from the forest
Fish from the falls
Nectar, wine, ale
Topped the tables.

Excitement for the tale
Blue Sendy hinted that his wife
Had something new       never heard
Since her childhood
She’d been augmenting it all night
No sleep and nearly no food
Recalling from memory
Times when the gods were freer with mortals
Heroic times when Ayeguay was uninhabited
By wasp, man, or fairfolk
When cricket people sang in its fields
When Vada and the River Run
Connected to the River of the Dead
And spirits walked the land.

Strong-armed Ceber was excited
For she used to enjoy tales
When Comely’s teller was Aros the Brave
But Aros died and Therdy took over
And secretly Ceber,       she believed,
That Aros was the better poet.
She knew better than to expose
That sycophant       to the skilled Fyrness
Fyrness’s friend       being the boy’s mother
It had been a long time
Since she’d heard       a sincere master
Walking among the tables

Eager Medy followed her, saying,
“Ceber have you tried the trout?
I think that       this town catches the best.”

Ceber replied,       “Really?
How do you know?
You told me that you grew up here,
Were born here,       and that you wish
To die here.
Having never left,
I believe you can’t know the quality
Of trout one dale to the next.”
Seeing his disheartened expression
She quickly amended,
“Though in truth,       I've never had trout
As good as this.”

“How about the boar?” he asked.
“My cousin Card       killed it.”

As they passed the tables, he said,
“There is a dance later.”

To which Ceber replied,
“I’ve never danced in my life.
I should have,       when I had wings,
But now I’ve nothing
No bright wings to flash the crowd
When I was       a warrior
My wings attached
I had no time for dance
And though my orange wings would have been great
I thought nothing of it.
But now that I do
My wings, a dancer’s choicest asset are gone
The town,       they’d laugh,
‘Look at crippled Ceber
Trying what the able-bodied can do,’
So, let it alone       less my loss makes me sad.”

“Sorry,”       Medy said.
“I did not mean to upset you,
But surely with an understanding partner…”

“A partner I’d trip over,
A partner I’d handicap.
If I had a partner, he’d go with someone else
For who would       want a war-girl
Past her prime?
I’ll watch.”

“There are those who like you,” he said.

But to Honest Ceber       so set in her mind
She only heard the words, not the meaning.

Now the doctor, Alcuin
Knew the Queen’s plot
And sauntering over to the couple
Played his part.
Saying to them,
“Have you tried the wine?
They say that grapes alone of all the fruits
Are under Elsalay’s power
Not garden-scented Ausohara’s.”

Thanking the doctor, they sampled
And found it went to their heads
His work done he mingled
Until the crowd cheered to see Elle arrive.
Poor Elle with Takara behind her eyes.

“Elle, word-slayer!” Queen Sochek said.
“Tell us a tale of happy days long gone.
Show us the power of the word!”

Takara, deceitful cockroach wasp, replied,
“I will if the worms grant me the power. Happy
dreams of such lost days are hard to come by,
but I have memory enough to pass into the
verse or the prose.”

The company gathered round
And Ceber and Medy sat together
Leaning on each other for support
As the night came
And the fire was built up and then burned low and long
They leaned more and more.

The Song of Ceber

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