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Do you remember back when I was writing Fluff? And then I told you that I was going to be able to use that Fluff? Yeah. I cut that entire chapter out of Fie Eoin after a round of critiques, and since it’s Fie Eoin Friday I thought I would show you some of that fluff.
So I give to you, Chapter Five, the fluffy version. Meet Carrick Wain:
The nerve of Gar to say such things to Kindra. That she would be kicked out for leaving. Back bloodied, abandoned by her tribe, just for trying to keep their precious future priestess safe. Her knuckles were white against the wood of her spear she held it so tightly. She should have given him another scar for his words.
Someone stepped in her path and she raised the spear, expecting Gar.
“Warrior Odion.” The man who stopped her was broad shouldered and built as a warrior, with dark blonde hair cut short and a large, hide-covered package in his rough, callused hands. She knew him – he was not from Fie Eoin.
“Carrick Wain.” She stopped and nodded to the son of Fie Wain’s Chief. All of the highest families of the Seven Tribes were close, and when Kindra’s grandfather, Bear, was chief she had played with Carrick often. “What brings you to Fie Eoin?”
He smiled and held out the package. “A gift from Fie Wain to the last Odion warrior.” He bowed formally as he presented it and she took a step back. The last Odion warrior? She had always thought of her father as the last, but no. She had become the end of the God’s line.
“I…I don’t even have my name yet.”
Carrick looked up at her with that disarming smile. He’d become quite handsome since they were twelve. “You’ve shed your blood for the Tribes, including Fie Wain. Why would you be concerned about a name?”
“A warrior name means you’ve been accepted by the God.”
“You’ve been accepted by me, and everyone else in the Seven Tribes. Please, at least look at the gift before you decide not to accept it.”
She nodded and he flipped back the hide to reveal a sword – thin and short and dangerous. She could feel her eyes go wide and she reached out involuntarily to run her fingertips down the blue blade.
“But I don’t use swords,” she said. It was the only thing she could think to say that made any sense.
“They are too big, right? Unwieldy?”
She nodded, unable to tear her eyes away from the beauty of the thing.
“You’ve been using a blade that was made for your father, balanced for his size and fighting style. He fought more like your friend over there – the one with the fish mark.”
He nodded at Gar and Kindra caught his eye briefly before looking away. Gar’s face hadn’t been passive or curious – it held barely concealed jealousy. She hoped it was for the sword.
“You have a different style,” Carrick continued, unphased by the look on Gar’s face. “One all your own. Fierce, not quite as calculating, but crowding. You like to wear your opponent out, crowd them, and then surprise them with a fluidity that is all your own. This sword has been made especially for that.”
“How would you know my fighting style?” She asked. She didn’t crowd her opponents – she liked her spear so she could stay back as far as possible from them.
“I’ve spent a good portion of the summer watching you train.”
Kindra’s ears burned hot, which she attributed to her workout on the training field and her anger at Gar. She’d seen men from Fie Wain watching the trainees all summer, planning the weapons that would be commissioned for their naming ceremony. But there was no one to commission hers and she hadn’t expected one. She looked at the sword again. She had never seen anything like it. “How did you get it so thin? And…blue?”
He whispered in her ear. “That is my little secret, and your advantage in battle.” He stood up again but the smile never left his face. There was something about that smile that she didn’t like, but she couldn’t place it. Maybe it was just that no one had ever been so… playful with her. Gar might occasionally tease her, but for the most part he was very straightforward. She wasn’t used to flirting.
“So,” he said when she was silent, “don’t you want to try it?”
No. She didn’t want to try it, because she knew she would accept it and she didn’t want to accept any gift so beautiful. There must be strings attached.
“Come on,” he leaned down and whispered in her ear again. “I didn’t spend all summer on it just for you to look at it.”
“I prefer my spear.”
“You will prefer this, trust me.”
“The spear was my father’s…”
“And the sword is yours.” He stood up, tiring of this argument. “I can’t sell it. It was made for you. No other warrior could wield it as well or would want it.”
She looked around again but the other warriors were gone except for Pike, who was scowling at her. Jealous rage clouded his eyes, but at least his was for the sword. His own naming gift was much cheaper than this, although he bragged about it for days after.
The corner of her mouth twitched at his expression and she reached out a hand, running it over the hilt as his scowl deepened. The flash of jewels inlaid in the hilt caught her eye and she paused once again, Pike forgotten, before she wrapped her hand around it and lifted it.
A breath escaped her as the sword came up easily, as much an extension of her arm as her spear had come to be. It was so light – much easier to hold and swing than her father’s large sword. It cut the air with a sound like the ceremonial whip just before it cracked, and she found herself unable to avoid it’s siren call. She swung it around in a pattern that her muscles knew and fell into automatically, and stopped only when Carrick tested it against her father’s spear.
“Stop!” Kindra stepped back, dropping her arm before she cut through the spear.
“Neither is damaged,” Carrick said and showed her the spearhead. “I thought you might like to test it out against a weapon. I know my way around a spear.”
She grabbed it with her left hand. “It was my father’s. I wouldn’t risk it in a mock battle.”
“Shall we get his sword then? I promise not to let it come to any harm.”
Kindra hesitated. She didn’t trust Carrick with her father’s sword, even if it was made by his family. She would rather test the new sword with Gar. He was the only one she trusted with her father’s things. But that was out of the question with the flute and fight still hanging between them.
“Fine, but you must be very careful with it.”
He smiled. “If I break it I’ll re-forge it. I promise.”