Creating the Parliament
Mother and I were walking home in the reverse twilight of the early morning. We listened to the owls call to one another for the last round of hunting, because it was so close to sunrise. Their voices were close, so we both moved a little faster.
We were returning from an unexpected chance to listen to music in a field by the river, where a group of wild musicians had held a clandestine concert. It had been attended by small clusters of other unusual people, most of whom could only be seen in silhouette, and then just when the moon gave off enough light to show them against the small trees and scrub of the riverbed. Silvery glints and sparkles on metal and gemstones gave the shapes and postures of some away; others could be found by the scent of the smoke they exhaled, or by the glowing of their eyes as moonlight reflected from the slow-moving water.
Music is one of those things that causes all who are disparate and different to relax our guards and allow a distinct sense of truce to permeate outwards, almost creating the feeling of a benign gathering. Some of the wilder, less cautious spirits even dance, drawing in the unwary weak and the powerful uncaring. My mother and I are neither of those, yet one dances with these beings only if one is not concerned about returning home in any particular decade. Still, it is beautiful to see and gripping to listen to, and we were both full of gratitude for the spectacle and the powerful emotions that the musical interlude had provided during these difficult times. We stepped onto our own property, and felt the familiar energies greet us like old companions.
Overhead we heard the sudden soft whumping sounds of great wings unfurling, and there was clearly more than one pair. We both froze, even as the prey of the great winged predators does when they feel that displacement of air that announces their doom. A chuckle sounded from just above my head as something flew by, a wingtip making my hair stand up from the force of its passage.
“Did you enjoy the music?” a deep, cultured voice inquired politely, and we saw the Lord of Owls settle gracefully on a branch a few feet from us. Mother and I exchanged a quick glance; she speaks for us with the Others. I nodded to myself as I watched small silver sparks crackle in her hair and twine about her fingers; if I saw them, then so could the Owl. There was recognition in his bright amber gaze now, as she responded. I looked around, spotting a dozen or more of the great birds perching in the foliage, most of them awkward in their first attempts, none of them nearly as graceful as the Owl.
“It was lovely, and well worth the time,” she said politely. She paused for just a couple of seconds, but it was long enough. “So- it was good hunting?” she asked. He flared his feathers for a second and looked twice our size as he perched on that branch. His huge eyes scanned the area to either side of us.
“It was excellent hunting,” he said, and there was no mistaking the pride and satisfaction in his voice. The first rays of the sun struck part of the tree he was sitting in and the colors of the leaves beside him changed from silvers and blacks to a blurry but bright green. The Owl chuckled. “Oh, I think not, my dear Lord Sol”. He paused, looking about at his winged companions with a possessive air. “They are mine now,” he said more quietly. Giving my mother and I each a polite, regal nod, he regarded us with those bright eyes and spoke again.
“Until next time,” he said, and as Mother and I both gave the appropriate bows he leapt skyward and was gone, his awkward retinue bound as closely behind him as if he were casting multiple shadows.
“He cut it very close,” I observed, looking after him. “Ten seconds later and they would have been freed.” I always find such bindings troubling to observe, but Mother is older and stronger than I am. She gave me a sympathetic look, as a mother will, but then she simply shrugged.
“With a one like that,” she said, “I would say that “close” is what he lives for.”