Author's Note: The words from Sandra Stigen's "The Ash Grove".


Her father takes her on his knee, with that smile she will one day learn to miss, and weaves the tales to her, magick lacing with his words, his melody, and she closes her eyes and feels the bravery, the adrenaline pump of the battlefield.

The knife in her hands trembles, and she breathes in deeply, and takes her hair in her other hand. She remembers the words of his favorite song—her favorite song—and she stops shaking, and stands tall and strong, shoulders squared against the world.

"I only remember the past and its brightness, the dear ones I mourn for again gather here."

She remembers his face, that rapture of song, that joy, that smile, and smiles herself. Her hair falls to the ground as she mouths the words to the songs, and the power is not there, yet, but it will be.

"Ah, my daughter," he'd smiled sadly at her. "Your path is not mine; my way is not yours. The path of Bard is closed to you, my daughter."

With that gentle kindness, he had brushed aside her tears.

They will not take this from her—she will follow his footsteps and become a Bard. Whatever it takes.