Birdie of the Tower
She had been called Birdie so long she barely remembered the name her mother gave her.
She sits in the window of her little garret looking out over the vast eastern ocean of Amber. Her tower room is tiny, one of four on the floor of the small tower attached to the east side of the Castle Amber. The other three had long since been abandoned. No one would live on the floor with her. Nor the two below or the tiny attic room above. But to her they were bliss.
As she looked out at the stars and the moon above Amber she remembered her childhood. In Tazilwere there are two moons and few stars. If she needed a reason to be reminded that she was on another world she need just look out her window.
A gray cat climbs up into her lap a moment before a brown one was going to claim the spot of pride. He licks his paw as if he had not been about to leap.
Above her on the window sill she sees the trio of colorful song birds from Diaga. Flora once adored them and when she comes to sit for tea she remembers them with special seeds from across shadow. They show up to serenade her in gratitude for their lives. But in their hearts they belong to Birdie.
Across the tiny chamber is a long large bed. Its magnificent engraved posts and boards are so out of place in this tiny garret but she loves it. That once a Queen of Amber and the King of the Multiverse had slept in it, and had done so for several hundred years, is often forgotten by its current owner. It was a gift from a king who often forgot the servants in the great castle but to whom he was gracious in person when he remembered.
Sitting on the end of the bed, in their corner, is a pair of ancient mastiffs that had rode to war a thousand times beside their master. Often Birdie thinks the the reason she got the fine bed was when Great Oberon replaced his dogs and his queen, he replaced the bed and gave the bed to the room the mastiffs most often went to sleep. She had slept on a soldier's cot in those days.
She remembered the day the bed was brought. The maids made it up as they always had, as they still do, as if the bed itself was the lady of the chamber. The two great dogs slept in their corner given them by their master when he remembered to summon them to bed. Usually they slept under her cot.
When she went to sleep in her cot that night the two dogs growled angrily. She moved to a corner in case they had turned on her but instead they attacked the cot, rending it to shards and shreds, then calmly climbed to their corner, looking to her and waiting. They laid their silver tipped teeth down once she climbed under the covers. There they slept ever since.
Now she slept in the bed a queen bore two princes and a princess in.
She looked up at the canopy. A dozen birds and several cats lay up on it. She laughs at how all her friends have learned not to foul this room. Otherwise it might be too much for the maids. She was raised sleeping in a barn so the smells never bothered her. Still, it was polite of them to mess elsewhere. She giggled at a memory when she had asked her friends to foul the office of the Chief Librian of Amber when he issued a writ refusing servants use of the library except on one day a week. Margot had stood toe to toe with the old coot when he demanded to know why all the ats were pooping in his office. She said she couldn't guess. Of course, she didn't need to.
The birds on the canopy this night looked to be two of the pigeons Brand once loved. Several of the sparrows that once followed Flora. Two of the parakeets were Caine's. Though most of Caine's birds now lived on various ships of the line these two adored her now.
The cats among the fowl were a tabby of Julian's and its mate, a black and green, that was once Fiona's. The only times the ancient pair left the room was to visit Margot for meals and sit in the Sea View gardens in the evenings. They could have eaten in the floor two below their resting place as the others did but that would not have been proper for the pair that had considered themselves king and queen of the castle until Prince Arloxedra arrived with his companion Cat. That day they rolled and showed their belly along with the other cats of the Castle Amber.
She walks down stairs leaving a disgruntled cat in the window. On the 13th floor of this small tower she goes about arranging the plates as the animals come from all places throughout the castle to eat. They know she will summon food 4 times a day and they have learned not to crowd each other. They know Dame Margot and others feed them as well but they like Birdie the best.
Cats first, then the dogs. Clarissa's three powder-puffs in brown, yellow, and green. The maidservant Meleisa's two tabilin dachshunds. The puffs had outlived Clarissa's regain and the dachshunds had outlived their mistress.
Then the others. The black pig long since freed of the fear of becoming bacon. The goat that once followed Eric around. Birdie remembered how Corwin had trained it wearing Eric's clothes and leaving Eric's sweaty gambison in its cage till the Goat loved the smell of him. Then the New Years gift to the merriment of all except for the oh so serious Eric. The goat followed him till Eric threatened to rend him down. Birdie had defied the dread prince at the fear of her own life but the prince just shrugged,. After that the goat followed her and gave its milk to her.
She looked into the the turtle land; a wide shelf at shoulder height that circled the room. In it the heat stones warmed the sands and rocks that lizards and turtles and snakes lived among.
“And who are you?” She reaches to a unfamiliar snake as it slithers out from a collection of hot rocks to curl on her arm.
“Oh? Really? I have not met her yet. Oh, I'm sure she is lovely if she adores such a fine friend as you.. You are welcome here anytime Cicero.” She takes a chair and spends a pleasant hour cherishing her new friend during the week his companion is off doing two leg things. The pair sleep for a time.
Dawn is coming she thinks as the bare hue of night changes at the farthest lengths of the sea. She must wash and visit the stables or else the horses will be wroth with her. Slipping her new friend to the turtle land she grabs her shawl and starts her day.