The War Games were fast approaching. As she swung her sword and practiced a light defensive parry, the warrior clan matriarch felt rather than saw the balladeer approach.
Her balladeer was new in town, seeking advanced vocal training. Unlike most other balladeers, her brown-eyed friend was a she with a voice so strong she actually qualified to compete in the troubadour sessions at the War Games.
Using her War God connection, she looked into the unseen realms. The vision was fuzzy, and she knew clarity required greater experience. Even in the ambiguity, she sensed weariness, exhaustion, and unnamed anxiety bordering on shattered will.
Wiping sweat from her brow while hiding her sword under her cloak, she asked, “You okay lady?”
The balladeer’s face was tense and tired. She looked everywhere but at the warrior clan matriarch. “It didn’t come.”
“What didn’t come?”
“My moon cycle…”
“Oh.” The warrior clan matriarch knew that to a skirmisher or rider that was a most devastating event, especially unplanned. But balladeers… that storyline provided fodder for years.
“You sure? Did you count right, ’cause sometimes math escapes songbirds?”
The warrior clan matriarch’s mind reeled. Despite many proper and improper questions, something in her War God connection told her the source wasn’t a belly-full.
“You know, you’ve been under stress lately. You sure your body isn’t just going into a slower mode for your health? I’ve seen it happen all the time, at least with my skirmishing cohort.”
The balladeer tilted her head, a sigh indicating a lack of conviction.
“Let’s think about it. You just moved into town. You’re trying to establish yourself as a serious balladeer. The War Games are coming, and you my lady friend are some stiff competition for the men, every pun intended.”
Still silent, the balladeer sighed, “You know this is a mark of shame for my hometown if I am?”
“So, don’t go home; stay in town. That said, let’s not plan any pity parties or blessing ceremonies until after the War Games. Just slow down until the War Games end.”
The balladeer left. Alone again, the warrior clan matriarch practiced more routines, including a secret one known only to seers of unseen realms.
Each day that passed, the warrior clan matriarch practiced, especially the secret routine.
On her day of the War Games, her exhaustion permitted a passable performance that was barely worthy. Sweaty and grimy, she went to her living quarters. A note was tacked to her door.
In large, happy scribbles that could only be the balladeer’s, she saw, “MOON CYCLE CAME!!!” With fist raised in warrior salute, the warrior clan matriarch let out a joy-filled victory cry heard only in the unseen realms. Then she collapsed.