Part 2 - A Gift from a Fox
(Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)
It was on a warm, clear summer night shortly before my eleventh birthday when I first met the fox who was to become my companion for the short time I was barred from the outdoors. Why was I so forbidden? Because my fool of a father feared that one of his sons would become a druid, which he ranked just above musician and well under gardener, who he considered to at least be useful. You can't have a member of the aristocracy stooping so low, of course.
I had been staring into the distance at nothing, musing about how I could get away and become something other than what my family had planned for me (yes, tall thoughts for a child, but this was frequently on my mind), when shrill yipping pulled me out of my reverie. Looking around, I spotted a large fox barking at one of the stray cats that occasionally joined me on my secret walks. The poor cat looked ... well, when I later thought back to it, she looked confused rather than frightened, but my reaction was to scoop her up in my arms to put her out of reach of the much larger opponent. Shouting to the fox as loudly as I dared (not wanting to bring any notice to the fact that I was where I shouldn't be), I demanded that it go away. That sounds strange, but I've always had a way with animals and often just talking to them would get them to do what I wanted. This time, however, not only did I not scare the fox off, it sat down in the grass and stared at me with far more intelligence that I'd even seen in a wild animal. It was as if the gaze was reading me, or weighing me for something. That eerie action flustered me, and for some reason I tried to hide that fact by whispering soothing words to the cat and pretended to ignore the fox.
Time passed; it couldn't have been more than a few seconds but it felt like far longer, when suddenly, not sensing those keen eyes on me any longer, I looked up to find that the fox had vanished. He could have ran away, I suppose, but that didn't seem quite right. The cat jumped out of my arms and began sniffing where the fox had been sitting- that was when I noticed that the cat was confused, not frightened or worried. As I stood there, rather bewildered, the cat noticed something on the ground shining in the moonlight and began to paw at whatever it was. I walked over and picked it up, finding it to be a small, flat piece of amber. I held it up to the moonlight to get a better look and saw that inside was a tiny, flawless feather. I'd spent much of my life outdoors and never had I found a stone or the like to be so perfectly formed, so I stuck it in my pocket to get a better look at later. The cat seemed to approve of this action because she rubbed against my leg as I put it in my pocket, then followed me back to the house.
The next day, feeling like I should keep this treasure a secret but wanting someone's opinion, I revealed it to my brother Kendric and explained what had occurred the night before. Not knowing much (okay, nothing) about rocks or things found outdoors, he could only shrug, but added, "Cyn, that sounds uncanny. I wouldn't tell anyone else if I were you". Ken was well aware of what had happened when my family learned of me sneaking off to spend time with animals, and knew that telling them that I still did so would just get me into deeper trouble.
I began wearing the amber knotted on a length of cord tucked under my shirt where it has remained ever since, and, at the good advice of my older brother, told no one else.
(Part 3 can be found here.)