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We’ve reached the end of the cut scenes from Chapter 5, so at the end of Part 4 stay tuned for a poll on what you want to read next!
“Warrior Odion, welcome.” Isalde Ronna smiled as she stepped aside to let Kindra into her tent. “I thought you might come today.”
The flap closed behind them, stopping the chill from entering, and Kindra felt better for the warmth and welcome. Here was someone who hadn’t heard the flute in the night and who hadn’t seen the door it rested at this morning. No rumors would have reached this far yet and Isa wasn’t studying her, trying to figure out who left it and why she hadn’t accepted.
“Tea?” Isa took the boots from Kindra and poured a cup of hot, fragrant tea as she instructed the warrior to sit. “It’s a wonder it hasn’t snowed yet. My husband swears every morning he can feel it in his bones but it’s still dry.”
Kindra sat on the cot and took the tea. She didn’t want it to snow. Once the snow came Kaye wouldn’t be able to get home until after the spring thaw. “It’s been snowing in the passes. It will be here soon enough.”
“Then I had better get these boots made quickly. What would people say if I let an Odion warrior’s toes fall off because I took too long?”
“People are not concerned with my toes right now.” Kindra frowned and took a sip of her tea as Isa knelt and slipped one boot on.
“No? Are they too concerned with your love life?” She looked up and smiled. “I thought we might have more to talk about today.”
Kindra spilled tea on her pants. “But… how did you know?”
Isa grabbed a rag to mop up the mess and slid off the boot. “Patricia Bayn is a cousin on my mother’s side. She was here yesterday trading and talking of her headstrong boy who was going to try the impossible and give a flute to the Odion warrior.”
Isa’s smile grew. “And I saw the two of you walk out from behind the tents at the Warrior’s Ceremony. You looked flustered and I can’t think of anything else that would make you look so.”
Kindra blushed. If Isalde Ronna had noticed then the rest of the tribe did too. Was Kindra the only one who hadn’t known Gar’s intentions?
The look on Isa’s face turned to pity. “I suppose he left his flute last night?”
“He did,” Kindra hid her face in her cup of tea, “and now everyone in Fie Eoin is trying to butt into my personal life.” She didn’t want to talk about it. When she talked about it her mind felt less sure about her decision and she didn’t want to change her mind. “I wish he wouldn’t have. I told him not to.”
“You discussed it beforehand?” Isa looked at her in surprise.
“Well, not exactly, but I saw him with the flute and told him I wouldn’t accept it. There wasn’t much discussion.” Kindra drank more tea for a reason to stop talking.
“And he gave it to you anyways.” Isa tsked and grabbed the other boot, slipping it on Kindra’s foot. “It sounds like you’ve found your one man in the tribe that is neither afraid of you, nor gossiping women.”
Kindra smiled despite herself. “Well, he hasn’t yet met my aunt. I’d be afraid of her tongue with how much it wags. And it’s going to wag over this. First a sword from Carrick and now a flute from Gar. She’s already started running her mouth about matters that are not her concern.”
“Oh yes?” Isa grinned. “Is she pressing you to accept?”
“No.” The tea was going cold in Kindra’s hands and she looked down into the cup as if she could read a message in the leaves, like a priestess. When she spoke again it was very soft. “My aunt and mother don’t want me to accept. They say Gar is beneath me.” A short laugh erupted from her as she swirled the remains in the cup and drained them down, the bitterness coating her tongue.
“Beneath you?” Isa sat back with a scowl. “The Bayns are no Wains, but they are good people, and your parents have always been friends with them. Why would they say such a thing?”
“I don’t know, but they were hiding something from me. Some real reason that I shouldn’t accept the flute.” Kindra set the cup down. “I cannot think of what it is. Perhaps they would rather I move to Fie Wain and stop shaming them with my nameless mark. I considered accepting the flute just to spite them for not telling me.”
Isa rinsed out the cup, frowning as she dried it and set it back in its place. “Spite is not a good basis for marriage.”
“But I don’t love him.”
“Perhaps not, but it’s obvious that you care about him enough to not want to hurt him.”
“I don’t want to hurt him. But I’m not marrying him just to keep his feelings from being hurt. And I don’t want to marry anyone, at all. Ever.” Kindra added so Isa wouldn’t suspect she wanted Carrick. “If I wanted a husband, I wouldn’t have become a warrior.”
Isa knelt again and bunched up the extra fabric of the boot. “Now I’m not you, but it seems to me that being the first woman warrior would be pretty lonely.” She drew a line on the fabric with charcoal. “And if I were that lonely and found myself loved by a man, even if I did not love him back, I would cherish the companionship and support.”
She drew another line to mark the extra fabric she must cut and took the boot back off. “But I’m not you.”
The End (of the cut scenes from Chapter Five).
And now for the really fun part – I’m giving you guys a chance to vote on what I’ll post next for FEFriday!