The Song of Ceber
Argument: Ceber is washed to the bottom of Mount Cran and on the banks of the River Vada lies comatose. She is found by Medy a mud-dauber wasp and taken to the dauber-hive's doctor.
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Terbeir on the River Vada
The storm star passing in the night
The river wasps, amazed by a halo of lightning
Around Cran’s peak, said,
“There will be wood washed down
In the river tomorrow.”
These were dauber wasps
Skilled in making nests
from wood pulp and mud
Descended from wise Whylight
They knew all crafts possible
Work was their world
They knew no laziness
So knew no hunger
Gratefully glad good days
drove them on.
Thankful for luck they praised the divine.
Medy, son of Myelight
Set himself tasks after the storm
Sweeping the stream for strong wood
To feed his father’s kiln fire
Through the rocks and weeds he went
Testing his strength with weight.
Never had he failed to yield
Ten cords in his travels.
Upon the bank
A lucky star
cast its light intensely on a heap of rushes.
Luck by some goddess’s favor
Found a shine silver-light on Ceber.
“A storm-soaked refugee,”
Medy mused, pausing in work.
“Drowned by Storm
That greedy great giant.
By the god’s she’s beautiful.
A vision for the stars!
Cooked in Heaven’s cauldron
To amaze a male’s mind
Almost asleep, I’d swear,
but for the storm, her stillness.
The rushes matted on her black carapace.
Like a straw hat
and her feelers twisted in knots
Never to move again!”
It is the custom of daubers
to inter bodies in mud
least the dead rise to devour the living
He went to her and saw that she yet moved.
Certainly Ceber had never hurt more in body.
but belying a benign spirit
The spiteful plot spinner sundering Takara
Kept her promise.
No soul entered Ja-Kara Zăd in that storm
Medy forgot his day work
Elsalay had granted him a big heart.
His breast could not bear
To see Ceber suffer so.
The wood was lost, but Ceber found.
No greater gift could fate give.
A medicine man was needed
Or the brave wasp would die.
In the dauber wasp’s town
Lived a cultured doctor
A devotee of Ausohara
The mistress of morning glories made him wise
Taught him the secrets to cure all ailments
Alcuin, wondrous sorcerer Miracle Worker
Dauber doctor of great dependability
Medy carried Ceber calling
“Run and get the doctor
by his power alone will she live.”
They brought Alcuin and gathered ‘round
casting wonderings to her wanderings
Whence came she?
What deity battered her so?
When did such strife beset her?
The doctor, good soul! did not ask
but set to his work singing.
Having her brought by his house
mixing magic with medicine
and treating her directly.
It was two things
that brought her back from beyond
Alcuin’s skill Her fighting spirit
Nothing else stood between her
and the pale folk’s dark kingdom
In between the dark place
and the bright place
Ceber slept and saw a great beast
Made of vibrant green grass
and thistle moving like a turtle
Weaving among the wind-formed waves
This she knew from fairy tales
The giant governing Genius, reason, and Structure
Slowly he waded through the whale-road
toward an invisible end
on an island nation beyond the sky.
Celibate Ceber cheered for to see
Him finding his way on the sea
Near his shell she spied a bit of metal
And it grew a fine gossamer
Until the giant’s gait stumbled
And with his passing
The waves became green grease
The clouds became cogs
Stars choked and were extinguished.
Ceber slept but not silently
No restful sleep readied her
In dreams disturbed she dozed.
Alcuin’s doctoring and the sweet smell of food
woke Ceber on the seventh day.
Roasted wood cricket brought by Medy
The crickets have ceased since those days
No more will they grace gullets of the wasps.
Ceber woke surprised that she lived
So sure was she of life’s defeat
“Is this a dream still?” said she.
“Did the restless night claim me?
Where am I?
Surely no sleep-ridden corpse could see so clearly.”
The doctor said, “Not dead yet, wasp woman.
The worms have not yet woven you out.
This is Terbeir on the River Vada
The same stream you were soaked in
Rescued by our people’s hardest worker
Reliable Medy pulled you out
Saved you from death
Be kind to him he is fond of the sleeping girl
But I see the awakened wasp is much fiercer
than he could reckon with.
Elsalay gave him a big heart
But I fear it may be too large on occasion.”
Ceber Warsong struggled with her wrappings
“I don’t need pity from folks I’ve never met.
I don’t need any Medy’s either.
I am Ceber, Shield-Maiden of the Kuroni.
One hundred battles mark my hide.
Enemies fear my jaws
I have ended ants on my sting
The rock-hornets of the north know my name!
I sharpened my sting on some for my first battle!
They came to Comely for plunder and easily pickings
but they found no rings or gold trinkets
The doctor deferred,
“You have no enemies here,
Ceber of Comely.
I knew your Queen Fyrness since she was a child.
A white-wasplet of wise Sindra
No threat to anyone
But she grew into a fine guardian
for her people.
Battle Queen, may her progeny thrive.”
“Ah,” Ceber despaired.
“How can you welcome me so warmly
When you were friendly with Fyrness?
You see my clipped wings.
You know I am outcast!
What shame I carry!
I’m surprised you didn’t sting me
While I lay helpless.
No one would fault you.
No dogged cries of ‘murder’ at your heels.”
The doctor was quick in reply.
“What nonsense! What garbage!
Why I tell you the most appealing worker
In town is smitten with you
and you call it pity.
Then you refute my care because it is kindness!
Aye, I do think you need no pity
You pity yourself enough for mine
and Medy’s and half the town besides.
Wasp open your eyes.
A dauber town judges not.
We see you neither as criminal or victim.
You could have a life here
and the handsomest hardest working wasp around.
Ceber shamed said,
“I beg forgiveness.
Times are hard, I am harried
Stressed beyond measure.
I am not divine
Merely mortal prone to meek morals
And deplorable compromised judgment
Appraise me of my accolades
Not my deficits.”
Agreement came hot,
“Only if you pay me the same honor.”
Thus Ceber came to Terbeir on Vada.
Terite nodded to see her safe,
A job well done.
Takara saw too and mischief-minded
Stole among the daubers
To watch and wait.
The Song of Ceber
Song of Ceber 0: Explanatory Notes ¦ 1 ¦ 2 ¦ 3 ¦ 4 ¦ 5 ¦ 6 ¦ 7 ¦ 8 ¦ 9 ¦ 10 ¦ 11 ¦ 12 ¦ 13 ¦ 14 ¦ 15 ¦ 16 ¦ 17 ¦ 18 ¦ 19 ¦ 20 ¦ 21 ¦ 22 ¦ 23 ¦ 24 ¦ 25 ¦ 26 ¦ 27 ¦ 28 ¦ 29 ¦ 30 ¦ 31 ¦ 32 ¦ 33 ¦ 34 ¦ 35 ¦ 36
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