Echyd told tales, and Oesoedd related parables. The younger fledgelings of the flock much preferred Echyd’s rollicking and often bawdy yarns of nuthatches and titmice, but Oesoedd was the elder bird–close to the eldest, in fact, near as anyone could tell–and respect demanded that his windy moralistic tales be aired and heard.

Sparrows who had lived with Oesoedd or heard his father speak once upon a time knew that certain situations would automatically result in certain stories. For instance, when a fledgeling began to accept food too readily from llew, the great striding two-legged predators, showing signs of tameness, Oesoedd would flap over to them and relate one of his favorite parables.

“Have I told you, youngster, the tale of the Cat and the Birdfeeder?”

The fledgelings always knew better than to answer that they had, so Oesoedd would continue.

“Once, there was a birdfeeder with a cat that lived nearby. A sparrow that frequented the feeder was wary of the cat, as he should have been, despite the cat’s assurances. ‘You have nothing to fear from me, sparrow, the cat would say, ‘for I am a housecat and well-fed by the humans, and your scrawny bones aren’t worth the effort to catch.’ The sparrow decided to simply ignore the cat and keep eating at the feeder every day. And, seemingly true to its word, the cat seemed content to sun itself lazily nearby. In time, the sparrow grew used to the cat’s presence and regarded it almost as it would a rock or a shrub. But then, one day, the housecat was not fed as it usually was, and the sparrow approached unawares. In a flash of teeth and claws, the cat caught the bird, toyed with it for a bit, and then slew it to be devoured. For you see, the cat had let the sparrow grow accustomed to its presence just so it might strike easily when the time came.”

The implication of Oesoedd’s parables was always the same: tameness of any sort led inexorably to grisly death.

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