Chapter 8: The Blackbird
("The Time, the Light, the Heart")
The Old Man was the first to wake that morning. He took care not to wake any of the others; not this morning. They had come so far and done so much. Today the group would arrive at their destination…the Great City. He let them sleep a bit longer; there was no telling how their lives would change once they entered those gates.
But the eagerness that sprung through the Old Man also worked its way through each companion. They arose to the sun shortly after he’d pulled his shoes on. They were a strong bunch…a good bunch. They all quickly rallied around him—as they always did—and awaited his directives. The Old Man marveled at the fact that they still did this, despite being able to see their destination clearly ahead. Did they even still need a guide?
Just as they set themselves to move out, a blackbird landed on the tree stump beside the Old Man. “Thank you,” it said in clear and well-spoken words.
A collective gasp issued from the group. The Old Man smiled softly and nodded. “You are quite welcome, little friend.” Then the Old Man rubbed his chin. “Forgive our ignorance but we’ve never seen a talking bird before this.”
The bird laughed lightly. “We are very careful with words...since they hold such power.” The bird looked from person to person for a long moment. “She is real, you know. The Woman.”
“You know of her?” Asher blurted out.
“Oh heavens yes! She is real and her song fills us all. You need only listen with your heart. We blackbirds hear her always; we soar on the melody and carry it with us. Follow and you shall know it too.” The bird flapped his wings in place as several more of his kind flew from the rocks and the fields and the trees to join. “You risked your lives to save ours. We owe you quite a debt, kind travelers. For now, let us escort you to the city as friends. But we cannot follow further than that.”
“Oh, the city is the end of our journey,” Claire said foolishly. “We’ve traveled all this way. The city is our destination.”
The birds remained silent for a time and then rose into the sky in formation above their heads. They all traveled this way across the fields until they met the road. Then followed the road to the city’s gates. There the bird landed once more on a nearby tree and watched on wordlessly.
The Old Man reached out and grasped the gate’s pull-ring. With all his might, he tried to pull the gate open. It wouldn’t budge, but he did not relent.
The bird spoke as the Old Man continued to pull. “The faith of one man alone is like having only one eye. Yes, you can see in front of you, but it takes at least two for true depth. And after that, the more there are, the clearer the image.”
With the bird’s wisdom still ringing in their ears, every member of the party joined the Old Man at the iron pull-ring. And all at once, the door to the Great City slid open.