Happy Friday, Aledans! Yesterday I told you that my submission for the Women in Practical Armor anthology was rejected, and since I have nothing else to do with it I figured I might as well use it for Fie Eoin Friday. So for the next six weeks we’ll be following Ocean, the winged warrior. For those of you who’ve read the rest of the Fie Eoin Friday’s, this is set about 50 years after the first book, so you may not recognize anyone 😉 Enjoy!
The Winged Warrior
Her parents named her Kaye after the High Priestess, but the Warrior Goddess named her Ocean. It was a powerful name—close to the Goddess’ own.
She hauled herself onto a low, thick branch where the forest and field met at the top of the cliff, and spread her wings. The branch groaned under her weight.
“The armor is too heavy to fly in,” Yule warned from the ground. Her long blonde hair lifted in the wind before settling over her own wings. “You’re going to break something.”
“Won’t be the first time,” Ocean said. She could fight in the air with sword or spear, and she’d even managed to get airborne with greaves and manica, but the segmented cuirass was too heavy and uncomfortable, even when altered to accommodate her wings.
“You’ve never broken a wing before. I can’t heal them if they break too close to the base.”
Yule’s face pulled into a worried frown, but Ocean smiled at her. “I have faith in you. Besides, I’ve been strengthening them. It’ll work this time.”
Without waiting for an argument, she spread her wings and jumped. The cicada-like appendages caught the wind and kept her airborne for a moment before the weight of the armor pulled her down. She threw her arms up in front of her face and let the manica take the brunt of the fall.
Yule ran to her. The annoyance in her voice had drained away to worry. “Are you ok? Let me see your arms.”
“I’m fine.” Ocean pushed herself up with a groan. She’d left two deep gouges in the dirt, but other than some chafing she wasn’t hurt.
Yule unclasped the manica and checked her arms, then began the long process of unbuckling the cuirass. Each thin, curved piece of metal wrapped around Ocean’s side to buckle in the front and back. They were held together with thick leather cords that tied up like a corset.
“That was a stupid idea,” Yule finally said. “I told you it wouldn’t work.”
Ocean lifted her arms to make the unbuckling easier. “You think all my ideas are stupid.”
“Because they are.” Yule stuck her tongue out. Ocean kissed it.
“Eww! You’re disgusting. I don’t know why the Mother let a creature like you on this earth.”
Ocean grinned. “She has an excellent sense of humor.”
Yule shook her head, smiling, as she finished with the buckles. “I still don’t see why you need to learn to fly with all this weight. They let you fight without it, and you aren’t going to the front lines regardless.”
No, Ocean was babysitting a princess this summer. “I don’t like the idea of being land-bound if I’m in it.”
“When will you be in it?”
“Whenever I’m in the presence of the king.” Ocean’s shoulders tightened as Yule pulled the cuirass off, careful not to nick her wings. Ocean immediately felt better without the metal. As a winged Faye, she was able to sense the energy of the earth, although she didn’t have the natural magic that a priestess like Yule did.
Ocean sat on the edge of the cliff, legs dangling over the side, and watched the standard-bearers descend from the southern pass. Sunlight flashed off the armor of the soldiers who had accompanied the royal family from the Known World to Fie Eoin.
Yule twisted a golden strand of Ocean’s hair between her fingers. “You should probably get down there to greet him.”
“He’s already walking into a wall of disdain. I won’t add mine yet.”
“Ocean,” Yule tsked. “You can’t blame him for leaving. He had a wife whose country was falling apart and a newborn daughter. Of course he couldn’t stay.”
“He also had a tribe in turmoil and a twin-bond he’s stretched so thin Bar never smiles anymore.”
Yule tucked the strand of hair back into Ocean’s braid. “Bar has plenty of other reasons to not smile.”
“Which is why Hemlock should have stayed.” She could never forgive her cousin for leaving Fie Eoin, for betraying his twin-bond. Soon Barracuda would be a husk, as empty as her father.
Yule ran the tips of her fingers lightly over Ocean’s wings, leaving a trail of warmth. “Nuh-uh,” Ocean said. “No using your magic on me.”
“I’m just trying to calm you down, love. You can’t start a fight with the king of the Known World. You’d never win.”
Ocean sighed—someone needed to put Hem in his place.
Yule stood, dusted herself off, and planted a kiss on the top of Ocean’s head. “Whatever sent Hemlock all the way to Fie Eoin must have been significant. He’s family—he trusts you.” She gathered the armor and began the long walk down the path, speaking over her shoulder. “I’ll see you before the feast to help you get this madness back on.”