The Song of Ceber

Argument: Years after Ceber leaves Valayis, Ceber's children are speculating on who their parents might be.

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Six: The Vengeance Quest


Each egg hatched       as expected.
Three daughters       designed to perfection:

Estika inherited good manners.
No fighter she,       but fair, focused,
The most polite, considerate wasp
To come to the       Kuroni.

Melè was unto her mother       martialistic
Eager to anger       an attacker.
With bright orange wings
And black carapace
Who could doubt her mother?

Breah was brightly colored       black and orange
Striped like a tabby       or a tiger.
Striking in song       she had a poet’s heart.

She and her sisters       speculated on their parents.
Because of Takara’s curse       they couldn't know
Ceber or Medy.
Tamara raised them       right and honest,
But still they wondered.

“We must be Ceber's daughters,”       Melè said.
“We are hawkwasps like her       harriers of spiders.
Not a common wasp.
Of our hive       we are the only hawks.
A noble breed.
A stately wasp.”

“The dragon take you,” tigered Breah said.
“Everybody claims to have heroic fruit in
their family tree. I’m surprised they don’t
snap under all that weight.”

“Ceber is a good guess,”       gallant Estika said.
“We’re well-respected       even without parents.
Queen Nikki lets us eat at her table.
I tell you we’re famous.”

“She feels sorry for us,” said Breah. “Tossed out
by a cruel mother. Ceber wouldn't have done that
or else she isn't as heroic as they tell us.”

“Maybe she died,”       Melè said.
“They would hide an embarrassing death.
Especially of a hero.”

“But she left!” Estika said.
“Ceber left town for adventure.
So said the Poet.
And the Poet never lies.”

“Poets are made of lies,” Breah said. “You believe
crazy wasps who talk to blind worms if you wish.
I will face cold reality. Our mother left us. Ceber
left the town. But the two are not the same.”

So it went       winding on four years.
When one day their arguments were interrupted,
A commotion in the front of the town,
Down by the gate       a crowd was gathering.
The wasplets       wandered that way
Wondering what visitor       woke the entire town.
The crowd parted for them.

A black wasp,       wingless stood,
Greeting all as old friends.
In her middle years       mildewing
Whitening on her edges
But limber yet       if a bit listless
And tired.

“Ceber,” Melè said.
She was to Ceber so exact there could be no doubt.

They rushed her       in a flutter of
Orange and black,       but Breah held back, saying,
“Mother, Famous Ceber, why did you let us believe
ourselves orphans? Why forsake us?”

At this Ceber cried,
“O! It’s been hard,       hurrying all over the world.
Your father and I       have braved the farthest shores
Barely in front of the Clockwork Goddess.
She hounded us at every turn.
Dogged us over ice and snow and years.
Misspent years.
If you had been with us,
She would have killed you.
But now your father is dead
And I can travel no more.
When She comes, I will fight her.
So will end Ceber.”

“Mother!” Breah cried. “You’re very valiant! But I
can see you are near your end. Now, let me tell you
a tale. The wasps tell me I am good with words, so
listen here a space: In late fall a few years ago, I
was out in the early snow looking for amusement
when I cam across a young wasplet, fair of form and
striped like a tiger. She approached me as a friend
and asked whence I came. I said, ‘Over the sky,
where all travelers come from.’ She asked me my
name and I told a lie and then said, ‘I’m from Terbeir
on Vada and I’m looking for a friend. I’m traveling to
Valayis to find her. Ceber Carapace-breaker, she’s
called. Do you know her?’ And the wasplet said, ‘Oh!
She’s the hero of my hive, but she’s been missing for
over twenty years. They don’t say so in town, but I’ve
always suspected some relation. I may be her daughter.’
Sadly, I slew her. Broke her to pieces! And then I took
her form for even a goddess can’t posses living flesh.
I’ve been waiting ever since.”

The crowd backed away       from Breah as her form fell.
Takara, the Clockwork Goddess stood replete
Where Breah       had stood before.

Melè raged,       “You’re dead, goddess.
My sister whom I loved destroyed?
I wretch to think       that her flesh was defiled by you.”

“No, little child,” Takara said. “I have come to kill you.
Despair is the only thing I want from Ceber.”

“Goddess!” Ceber cried. “Not my daughters!
Take my life!
I gave offense, not they!”

“Truly, I see no difference,” Takara said. “Mortal
lives pass so quickly that families become one
person, blurring. But you’re passing and this
impertinent grub has life yet. ‘Let the generations
handle it.’ Stupid Ceber. You are forever mine. But
I won’t kill you or your impertinent daughter. The
other daughter, the polite one, I consider my due.”

She struck Estika dead.

Ceber screamed       and struck.
The goddess had gone       however.

“What Justice is there?”
Ceber called       to the sky,
“To be tortured       through all time?
To suffer       yet be sinless!
I’m through with it!
She claims war on       my offspring?
I declare war on her!
In gilded heaven       high above
She may reside       assured of her safety,
But I’ll come to her haven       and have her head!
Half my life and more       I've lived in fear.
Not knowing my daughters       never at rest.
I only have one child now and never knew the others.
TAKARA! I defy you!
I shall see your poisonous cult flee from the land!
Your devotees broken!
Your power smashed!
Every temple toppled!
Every idol thrown down!
No longer shall sage burn at your altars.
There will be no altars.
No altars for the demon goddess.
You shall watch from heaven
Powerless to stop your despoilment.
For what powers do gods have
Over one who has lost everything?
Inflict drought,
I won’t care.
Boils, sickness, fever,
I’ll keep coming.
You can only kill me!
If there is a way to hell,
Then there should be a way to heaven.
I’ll find it and slay the demon!”

“Mother,” Melè said, “I want to come with you.
Shall we avenge       my sisters together?
Dear mother, one thing       matters to me now.
Evil is up there       everything in me loathes it.
You need a pair of wings       willing to fly with you.”

“I cannot risk it,”       Honest Ceber said.
“Besides, this is my battle       brave as you are,
I must go alone       and attempt to end this.
If I do not return       remember me well.”

They parted company then
Perhaps never to see each other again.

The Song of Ceber

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