The Sword That Holds Answers

Tristinia could hear her feet in the silence of the sandy cave. Light and shadows curved the walls and passages from the ravine above, serpentine and forbidding like the coloration twisted into the rock of reddish browns and golds. the silence wasn’t eerie but sacred. The ghosts presences of emptiness felt so ancient here that their voices were as silent as the rock faces. An unknown history. Undocumented by drawings as other cultures would have, only written in the intriguing silence that drew her onward. The man of faith, ?, and ? followed her. She stopped. There was a dip in the path downward. “Stay here” she said. She ducked down and continued. Something throbbed within her heart, like she belonged here. Her steps carried her quickly and confidently toward the slivered light beam she saw ahead.

The passage opened its mouth to its end: a vaulted cave with one thin passageway from the heavens. In its warm friendly glow was a massive boulder and in the boulder was stuck a sword whose hilt was covered in the long dried and crusted shells of some sea creatures that had lived. Tristinia looked around the cave from her place in front of the boulder. In the shadows were skeletons in the rock walls. Giant skeletons of people, larger than her. She approached one of them, looking upward at it, in wonderment, knowing it would give her no answers. She walked around, passing her hand gently over the walls and their bones whose story she would never know and yet she knew, deep down somehow she was of their lineage.

The stories that the man of faith told her of the flood that had covered the world and left 8 people on a large ship, the days that boasted in his book of the men of renown, when angelic beings and humans produced. Resolve and knowledge and strength pulsed into her it seemed from the very air as her heart beat seemed to drum in her very ears. The silence seemed to encourage her, draw her to the sword, picking her, choosing her, righting her to its task that awaited her in her land so far away. She climbed the worn poor steps in the rock to the top, placing her hands on the hilt. The shells crunched and crumbled in her grip as her hands dribbled blood from the scratches. She strained, pulling it upward, wiggling it slightly. Tristinia clenched her teeth and her groan of determination echoed in the chamber.

? &? jumped up but the man of faith ordered them, “Sit.” They looked at one another, then at the path downward further in and obeyed hesitantly, hands to their weapons. Tristinia heard the friction of metal scraping the stone as it ascended its grave. The metal had deep sea things crusted latticed over it but she was able to see the metal was made of something ancient and strong, shiny and sharp and blessed. Alone on-looked by her long gone and silent voiceless ancestry in a place of her answered questions, she bellowed a warriors cry that rose from the inner most parts of her beating heart to her lungs and out her mouth, terrible and tremendous, royal that repelled death by its very reverberations. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

It echoed around the walls and down passages and ascended the single shaft where light was permitted. She raised the sword aloft, admiring it in the light. She saw her reflection and knew…the bravery inside her heart and confidence that came from above the sky was the answer to her land and her people. This sword was merely a blessed vessel, a symbol of her right, of her lineage, a bridge to where she came from and where she would go. She took it in both her hands to feel the weight and swung it in several moves ? had taught her. She wondered what metal it was borne of momentarily. She listened to its wind as she danced with it. She descended the boulder steps out of the cave and back up the sloping way to where her friends waited, standing weapons ready and wary as they heard footsteps in the sand. Emerging from the dimness glinted a sword lattice crusted but undamaged as if it were made from stars from the heavens. and then Tristinia.

 

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She lay there imagining what it would be like to be beside some special man, pale and peaceful, breathing softly, eyes closed, head resting on her hands as she lay on her side facing him. His eyes drinking in her slender curves and soft skin as her long hair tumbled down and over her. Maybe he would stroke her cheek with the back of his hand.

New Land

Tristinia rowed into the dark night with the sea gently licking the timbers. She had with her her husband’s neck crown made of gold, a small jar of the blue substance that comes from the northlands. She could not live married off to the brother of her husband. She wondered how her father and brother would have responded to the duty of a people who looked up to you but only second in command. Was it really desertion? He would rule anyway. Not her.

 

She had been someones and he had been hers, though they had only begun to discover that path. She lay down in grief, praying to mercy as she drifted forth to adventure or death. Above her the stars strewed the sky like dust moats due in the sunlight, clear and hopeful. She closed her eyes which were heavy having not slept but cried. Maybe he was watching over her from the heavens and walking along the star paths. She drifted off in a dreamless deep rest.

 

Tristinia heard the waves and felt the warm water reach out around her, pleasantly. She moved her hands, her eyes still shut, feeling the sand around her. It was fine, not course and chunky. She opened her eyes. Above her, gold of the sun star and blue sky. Beside her, her boat, which made hollow music from the waves. She rolled over. The ground was white powder, but not cold like her homeland. Not feathery, but grainy of texture. It sifted. It didn’t stick. The temperature where she had landed was warmer than she could ever remember living. Not unbearably so, however. Merely different. Quite different. Once again. She was in a strange land. She knew no one. She did not know her location. She had no allies. No enemies. Just the unfamiliar and the path of adventure. She stood, expending a looong heavy sigh from her chest. Would she ever see home again? Would she ever know what home was? Ever have someone to love and be loved by again? The momentary overwhelming of losses rolled off her back as practicality and immediacy of needs came forefront to her mind.

 

She looked up then down the beach. Her lone predatory bird screeched in the sky. What was this place? What sort of people lived here? What was edible? “Come on boots.” She said to the only thing she had to talk to that seemed within the bounds of reason when it came to inanimate objects in the lack of human company. The seal boots Tiennrod had made for her. And so, Tristinia gathered her preserved food satchel from her seacraft and the flask of blue clay and grease and headed down the shoreline eastward where her inner compass fancied and tugged for a yet unknown reason, her boots making soft sifting noises as she traversed.

 

Tristinia wandered in the lonely and wild deciduous landscape. The wind whistled an augment but understood melody to her heart. She belonged here. Some got lost amidst crowds of people but people would not leave her alone. So she must get lost away from humanity and their societal culture. No one saw nor understood the wind nor his song. They didnt hear songs from him. Only whining and howls. She gathered her velvet cloak about her, dark violet with feathers of black and blue barring as trim. The only soft thing amidst the rough, monochromatic decor.

 

She looked up at the heavy laden clouds. She curled up by a pool, sitting, staring at her relfection. She stuck her tongue out at it. “Stupid” She said to the flitting, rippling image the wind played with. She disliked herself. She disliked her nose, her face, she critisized along with the voices of her past had blemishes, though in truth, her peachy smooth complexion was quite lovely.

 

She listed all the faults of her character until they cluttered her heart like stacks of books with heavy binding and hard covers, their titles branded, embedded, embossed, indented by hot irons. She traced the titles with her fingers as she sat on the rock, one finger on the waters surface. She hated herself. She hated being too strong. Was she really meant to be alone in life?

 

Elsewhere it was a burden to feel as if she was meant for that. Here in the forest with the wind and the criss crossing of the branches it didn’t seem so lonely. She was too strong. But it was excused as not a bad thing. But it was a bad thing! It was horrible to her. She felt able to be touched but could never express herself or touch people around her as she hoped or truly wanted. Here, the wind, who no one could ever touch, was her friend. She leaned her head against a tree with a relieved sigh as the rain began to patter down softly and wipe away a hot frustrated tear from her cheek. She looked around for shelter.

 

Across the pool there was a rather large tree with a hollow down amidst the roots. In the gathering gloom it looked dry and welcoming. She walked around to it and crawled inside watching the rain dance and bounce on the green leaves. It made her think of home and the dancers of her tribe, though the images in her memory had faded in hues of vividness. Home. She wondered if she could say that word again. If she had finally found a home. Where she belonged away from the world. It was lonely to be strong. She hurt those around her and it didn’t allow them to be who they were meant to be or some such. She could not figure out in entirety because strengths burden was just too much. But she also could not bear weakness. Her soul abhorred it. She was born to live…and to die however and whenever time prescribed. Her mind and tongue, like the sword she carried with her were sharp and only cut those she cared about.

 

She wished more people were stronger. She couldn’t stand weakness, yet so many did not live, did not behave as she did. Life chastised her and she felt useless and unwanted. But not here. She settled down and let the relieved tears run down, warming her face as she closed her eyes and curled up to sleep until she decided to wake. The wind played a gentle lullaby outside.

What Tristinia did not know, and had she known, she would have run with all her will, was someone was tracking her in the forest. He was tall and thin but sinewy. A quieter heart, whose pale and smooth countenance sported the fine palette knived strokes of longer maple hair creating noble sweeps and shorter fine strokes of well kempt mustache and closely trimmed border beard. His dark earthen eyes remained clear and clean amidst the drizzled landscape, searching it intently. She had come this way. Bending down to investigate the bent bush, he saw the muddy tracks, filling with rain. She had to be close. These were fresh, and deep. Whatever pretty lass had made them trod slow and wearily, as if burdened. He tucked the feather he held into his satchel, wondering what this maid looked like.

The Selfless Decision

The terrain had a new feel to it, not only in stark contrast to the environment she had been, but it had an ancient forgotten sort of stillness in which many things hung unseen. She didn’t know what or who lived there, what danger or adventure awaited, so she kept up her vigil, always alert, always listening. Being here reminded her of the feeling she had being around the henge of stones back in her own country, unsure if what you cannot see but sense will turn out friendly or try to kill you. She stopped beside a brook. As she searched into the bottom of her pack for the last ration of bread, her peripheral vision caught a reflective speck on the moving stream. Munching, she leaned to get a closer look. Tricky. At first it looked like a bug skimming on the surface, but no, it was in the sky. Too high almost for her to follow except by watching the stream. She couldn’t tell what it was, but she melted back noiselessy into the shade. So there were things living here.

 

She continued on into the terrain following the stream, careful to stay out of sight. Now late afternoon, she kept a lookout for a safe crevice or somewhere to spend the night. The trees had changed now; taller like monuments with scatterings of plants and barren ground. Long shadows stretching the voids. Suddenly she heard a sound. It was like a wind stirring but the forest remained as eeire and still as ever. It drew closer. She hid in a cluster of trees that grew close together. Suddenly the whole air seemed a whir as the wind got increasingly louder. She looked around. Glancing up, her eyes went wide in amazement. it was a horse, with wings! Like those drawn on stones long ago. She ran renewed with strength and determination. She ran right out of the forest to a short grassy plain that dropped to cliffs. Running nearly to the edge, she stopped, panting for breath.

 

Above her were too many to count. She stood, watching as one, bigger than the rest and the color of flame swooped and descended toward her, not having to seem any idea of stopping. Alarmed, she backed up several paces. The majestic creature spread its wings to slow, letting out a fierce sound of its kind. It was much taller than her and three times so when it reared up.

 

She wasn’t used to screaming, being raised in a barbarous land but this she didn’t know how to communicate she wasn’t an enemy, and having never seen one, especially when its hooves could smash her skull without effort, she screamed. Unbenownst to her, someone heard her cry. He came running out of the forest, his feet speeding across the space, his wind making the grass dance in wake. He place himself in front of her, speaking soothingly, showing no fear. The huge equine with the dazzling coat and large dark eyes, pawed the earth with its front hoof, calming slowly out of its frenzy. Breathing like a bellows, it lowered its massive head toward the stranger.

 

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Tristinia watched as the grey prince of the elves ascended on his ebony stallion flapping toward the sky in the sacred grove. The grove began to glow cooly flooding from the grass and leaves of the circle of rhododendrons began to blossom. The haggard old soothwitch hissed at her like a serpant as she circled Tristinia. Tristinia held out the dirk in front of her. The blade began to sing the song of water. She had climbed and dove for this in the cave of ancient secrets. She recalled the wisdoms and warnings that still echoed in her ears from the waterfall.

 

Her heart struggled with love and selfishness. She had never held someones love and life and fate in her hands. Now, all that depended on what she would do with the blade. She had always been chosen. She had never had to make such a choice for someone else’s joy and path. She had tried to rescue her husband, the only she had known, if only for a short time as a royal decision. She had only woven her heart to his as he passed from here, and what they could have been she now had chance to share with someone she loved, but deep down past self deception, she knew in his eyes, he considered another more precious. Her love had gone from this world.

 

In that moment she connected with his heart. She knew how he felt. Breathing heavily with cluttered mind yet sharp eyes, she dodged several times the strikes of the old hag who was growing long nails and transforming into the hideous creature she had wounded in its attack on the village. The soothwitch grinned triumphantly seeing the battle in her opponents eyes.

 

“Look at how handsome he is,” she caressed her thoughts. “he would learn to love you. What can this mystery maiden you know nothing of do to make him happy? He doesn’t know she has changed. She wouldn’t love someone after so long.”

 

Their eyes met, locked. That was a mistake. Tristinias anger boiled and bore into the soothwitch’s eyes. Looking past her at Nefel on the boulder, his soul pleading her to release his love.

 

The soothwitch lunged at her, teeth tranforming. She knocked Tristinia down and they tussled. The soothwitch now grabbed her by the throat, squeezing the beautfully scented air from her lungs. Her nose was overwhelmed by the stench of her enemy. She still had strength in her arm. The enemy sensed her movement and grabbed at her wrist with the dirk to defend herself. Tristinia leaned her weight forward pushing with all her might, slowly feeling the strength of her enemy’s grip transfer off her neck and to her arm, allowing her to breath.

 

Her head clearing from the shock of near stranglement, she pulled back unexpectedly in a burst of energy her enemy did not anticipate, releasing the grip she had on the weapon momentarily as she shifted, landing it in her opposite hand as she jumped backwards, the ugly countenance with its teeth bared coming at her, her free hand now having the dirk shot forward slashing across the creatures throat as black blood spewed forth.

 

A raspy noise emanated as the whole grove seemed to lose all color in the lights glow which strengthened. Tristinia knew she had done right. She let a war cry out of her lungs, her eyes afire with determination. The soothwitch looked up at her pleading mercy from human eyes but Tristinia knew the truth. There was nothing human left of this creature. Only torment. She plunged the knife down with force deep into the demonic chest, to the hilt.

 

The light of the grove was now blinding as the key of the story of love turned in the light and a beautiful pale elven beauty stood in the middle of the grove as the light melted the dark creature into oblivion and the dirk shattered in a explosive shower of sparkles. The lovely woman encased in ice moved her fingers as the ice peeled away, puddling into the lawn. Quickly her body was free. Nefel came running toward his love and Tristinia was able to escape in the overpowering light, pulling into the forest as it changed to head south east.

Kalsh

Kalsh was tall and pale with piercing diurnal eyes as if the sky had frozen over but laughed and sang in such a way that drew people in. He had strong arms and long bony fingers. He was graced with silky, light, golden-brown hair, fine, tied back in a strand as it fell about his shoulders. Champion of the tree people, the last of few hidden colonial pocket kingdoms in the rising of men. He had lived with the tree folk since infanthood. His mother and father survived men’s own savagery and had brought their son to live here. He befriended the Tree prince and since they were boys they had been inseparable cohorts in mischief, advocates of study from the great library where books were made of the trees that had passed on as a way to make legacies and history sacred, and in battle of the hidden forest and its tree house castle, comrades.

But today Kalsh had decided to take solitude to hunt, as it was the observances of etiquette living among the tree folk. Clad in light linen peasant shirt of grassen gold, Jerkin vest of sage hue and pants of brown, he blended into his environs quite well. Barefoot and silent in the paths in the tall grass Kalsh followed the bird. It had iridescent shiny feathers and was almost too beautiful to kill. It didn’t seem to have noticed him, as it hopped among the tops of the grass puffs above like a game to entertain itself.

Suddenly the bird stopped. Kalsh stopped, hardly daring to breath. He stretched an arrow on his bow, fixing his quarry in his sight. The bird let out two chirps, Kalsh loosed the shaft and the bird darted just quickly enough that its life be spared, winging away to the riverbank whilst letting out a loud chortle of indignance and shock. Kalsh frowned. Still determined, he followed the path silently toward the river 40 paces away. A whistle answered the bird. But it didn’t sound like a bird. Someone was there.

Kalsh crept up to the sand, hidden by his grass screen. there by the river was a woman, most natural, tall and slender. Beautiful. She was glad in a lengthy white shirt with long sleeves, simple and donning pants of some brown foreign material. She wrapped a belt of checkered fabric around her sodden form and tied a smaller band around her forehead. She possessed green eyes that looked like mined jewels framed by delicate eyelashes and fine shaped eyebrows with a regally hewn nose and full lips of soft pastel violet pink of sunsets. Her dripping wavy dark brown hair cascaded down her shoulders. The bird Kalsh had shot at hopped excitedly on the ground in front of Tristinia, warbling agitatedly and making a harsh sound pointed at the reeds. Kalsh quietly stepped back a foot or two, eyes still on this beautiful woman.

“What is it Note?” Triss asked her alarmed friend.

When Note had uttered harsh short messages looking at the grasses, Tristinia deftly swept Note into her large leather satchel with one hand whist ducking down, drawing her dagger out of her boot, standing in attack stance facing the grass.

“Who are you?” the woman demanded. “How many? I dont want trouble. Im just passing through.”

Kalsh tossed his bow from him as a distraction. He watched her eyes dart to his bows movement unseen, skipping/skimming the tops of the grass as he stepped out onto the sand, hands up near his head in defense if she tossed her dagger or to grab it should she toss at his chest.

A handsome stranger stood before her, intense eyes made from sky. She looked him up and down then back at the reeds.

“There is no one else.” He said, “I hunt alone.” He looked fierce but kind and handsome.

“What is your name, hunter?” Triss said with a hint of irritation in her voice, “and why were you hunting my bird and I?”

“They call me Kalsh and I wasn’t hunting you. I am sorry. I did not know the bird was your friend.”

Tristinia shifted her weight, looking consideringly at the stranger named Kalsh. “I have some bread and if its meat you want, I slew one of the creatures that live in the swamp few days back journey. Dried the meat. Its a bit chewy but fairly tasty.”

She flung her dagger down in the sand. Kalsh lowered his arms now that he was no longer a threat and strode forward, sitting himself across from her as she knelt down, reaching in her sack and letting her bird come out.

The bird promptly hopped behind Triss, letting out three loud chirps to announce its dislike of his company.

A smart bird Kalsh thought, an amused smile playing on his lips. “So what do they call you?” He asked.

“My name is Tristinia.” She said, handing him a handful of dried strips of meat. He let her take the first bite since it was her hunt. He took a mouthful, chewed the savory salty meat. It wasn’t bad. A woman who could hunt and so beautiful, femininely aloof but friendly. How interesting. He liked her.

“So,” she said, looking at him interestedly, “Can you tell me a bit more about yourself, Kalsh?”

“You can ask me anything and I tell you,” Kalsh replied “and you can tell me anything you wish to share as well.”

Her eyes smiled. he could tell she had not been asked about herself in a while. She agreed to share her story as he took her to the great tree house castle of the druids. She liked how he described his home. She had done enough wandering about the wilds of the world. She had no kingdom anymore, her love had been killed, other travelers left her or she had parted ways with them because they had found their place, or A place. The place Kalsh spoke of sounded like a haven of rest where she could stay and find her niche, rest and possibly abandon her quests of avengeance and grandeur.

The castle was even more beautiful than Kalsh had described. More of a wooden palace amidst and ancient grove surrounded by plains where the people grew their harvests. Some people were half druid and percentaged on down from intermixing with the natives. some were simply just people like Kalsh who lived among them, taken in to live and settle in a peaceful spot. Druids had leaves wrapped around their thick and wild though kempt hair like some tribes might decorate strands of their own with beads or yarn for colorful decoration and had hair of different green or streaks of green. Some had rough skin, some smooth. The Palace’s planks and pillars had loving sheen and crafted carved designs, tall thin double arched windows and spiraling staircases, long halls for all the villagers, like a great long house amidst huts that peppered it all around, ascending into various trees with more stairs. It was surely one of the wonders of this world which was passing into a new era. Tristinia stopped, head following the palace to its height in the ancient elms to where library and other buildings branched off from the palace, her mouth agape in wonder of its splendor.

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Tristinia drempt she stood in the short grass by the waterfall in the courtyard of a palace, lying side by side in the cheery sunshine, content with having lunched and in the good of some handsome man’s company. Tris turned her face to look at him, smiling. Her eyes changed to question when he looked at her in return, propping himself on his side. Her eyes registered understanding. He leaned over her, his eyes never leaving hers, even as her eyes lowered in submission and acceptance of his advance. He kissed her slowly, longingly. Her lips met his. Wrapped in golden warmth and romance, they kissed at length, mouth to mouth cooly, yet hearts full of warmth. She had closed her eyes and as he pulled from the kiss, he reveled in the content in her countenance as she sighed smilingly, eyes still shut, preserving the dream she had just had come true. He stroked her cheek with his hand

Through The Swamp

Tristinia paddled down the river. On either side of her grew tall green grass and trees still overhung as if in some sad mystery. Like something ancient and long gone happening but no threat. Sunlight peaked through the leafy portals creating a dusty moat as if of some ancient home. Tristinia, who now looked very ordinary without her blue hair, looked over at her intelligent little friend on her shoulder.

“Do you know? Did something happen here?” She asked.

Her little companion just shrilly warbled and rustled his feathers.

She chuckled. “I only ask because the further I travel, the farther I am to ever seeing anything come to pass. I am grateful for your friendship though.”

Her little friend hopped down on the seat in front of her on the boat and cocked his head.

“No, I aint lonesome with you here,” she smiled. “Just sad, like these trees. I gave a precious gift to someone very very special. It just seems people, the world perhaps doesn’t know how to take gifts these days. Like they don’t know what or who they are whenever it or they come along. I don’t know why it bothers me so really to have gifts I give so thrown back in my face. I have come to this quiet peaceful spot I know nothing of, nothing of the road ahead of which I used to have dreams of like the warriors of old who had seer sense sometimes, like the Creator was speaking in their rest. I like being spoken to from whoever made me so clearly when I am at rest. Even when Im being warned of something, I know whoever lives beyond the sky can see everything and how it will all turn out ok. I just haven’t heard anything for a long long time. I used to think I was going home to avenge the death of my family, I used to think I could have someone in my life. I wonder if I will just be a warrior wandering doing little things that after I pass people over time will recall who i was and visit where I lie or if I have something even bigger round the bend. do you ever wonder about tomorrow or the next day? What do you want in life? Where have you come from and what have you seen?”

The bird hopped onto her lap and chortled a beautiful song in the ancient cove. Tristinia whistled its haunting cheery echo as they passed through the remaining edges of the swamp. She sat up taller as the sunshine warmed her and her feathered friend who needed a name, caressing her teary puffy cheeks from the grimness of loss, melting the sadness in her heart. She turned around one last time, looking deep into from whence she had come, her mind recalling the rogue elf, the declaration of his love that did not last, yet a love that for the briefest of time they had shared in bearing the depths of their souls, and how she had lost him in more than one way in that terribly dark land of confusion and couldn’t help him. Turning once more into the sunlight, she stroked the water with her paddle into yet more strange land headed south east. She whistled the song her friend had invented in his twortling. They sang together as the paddle strokes strengthened her arms and was like healing heartbeats in the journey.

Tristinia hauled the boat up along the yarning shoreline of the river. Good thing this place looked friendly enough. she did not fear anything hiding in the water for it was clear enough and not wide at all. The fact that disquieted her heart was sleeping next to the tall grass, next to a sea of the unknown possible danger, even though it was morning. But her body was weary and her spirit had cried itself out so the expanse of grass had a welcoming to her. The white bank sand next to the light green bushy topped grass that rustled gently in the breeze that disturbed this symphony of serenity was quite warm in the sun that was breaking through the uterine? fog as day gave birth. Note, her companion bird as she had decided to call him, ruffled his feathers and chirped, snuggling down next to her shoulder as they both let their eyelids shut and let the gentle atmosphere soak them in slumber well earned and well needed.

THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM MEETS THE BLUEBRAID

The blue braid lept upon the solid pine table, outraged at the quip of sarcasm pointed at her. A fearsome figure even for a woman, she strode purposefully across the circular division of space to him. The new king watched her without betraying expression of quiet quick turn of admiration in her capable leadership and spirit. She, clad in a fur top and tartan around her waist, boots of oxen halfway up her toned calves and leather gauntlets on her slender though swift arms, her thick woolen tartan cloak exhibited an angry swish when she stopped in front of him simultaneously drawing her sword, pointing it at his nose,rousing his soldiers reaction. Putting his had up to halt them, he looked up the blade cross eyed, and gulped, regretting his encouraged banter at this misjudged, very worthy opponent.

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The blue braid, as she was called, stopped bathing in the warm air of the hidden, hot pools in her Scotland’s hills. She had walked away from her army for a short walk by routes she only knew well from her childhood that she had discovered.. The warm water would renew her strategic mind and her weary body. Still clad in her armor, Blue heifer braced her feet on two rocks, put her hand down to the small spring that had burst into flight from its earthly home in a small waterfall.Suddenly, she felt cold and the the nerves of her neck tingled. Using the washbasin of the forest as a mirror, she looked down without moving her head. A southern soldier with medium length hair that teased the wind, and armor etched with the southern crest of origin had the sword at her back.

 

She timed her quick response, “Who sent you?”

 

She saw he was a young wheg, not yet wise in much of the world, yet cavalier. She turned in a deft movement, drawing her own sword,surprising him. In the southern part of the island, they thought mirrors only used by high religious officials. Her break on that ridiculous tradition she decided not to tell to him, as he didn’t knows he had seen him. It would keep her legendary status intact.

 

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Tristinia leapt with ease over the rocks scattering the hillside, much like a mountain creature. Sean had been more than gracious. She would never forget him. She traipsed onward into the forested altitudes. Three days of travel. She leaned her weary head on a tree and suited herself in her more loosely fitted undergarments. At first it felt awkward and immodest wearing a light shirt which she had sewn pants in a one piece from her underdress and a dark purple tunic that fit over her top, front and back with leather side lacing. She had shed any warmer attire including her fur cloak into a pack strapped to her back. Her sword and sheith fastened round her waist and a small dagger hung in her headband.

Triss & Tiennrod Meet

Tiennrod watched her on the rocky shore in the night. She spoke faintly but he remained close enough to hear her. He had been to the country whose tongue she spoke. Twas too days from his own homeland. His people and hers had broken their different ways long ago. As he listened to her Gaelic, he heard the longing in her voice as she listed to the air all the things she missed from home. Hearing her softly sob her loneliness broke his heart. He knew he wasn’t supposed to have heard the reverent soliloquy, but since he had, he dare not intrude. He carefully and silently melted back into the forest taking his path toward home.

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One evening, she came in his dwelling with a new pair of boots she had made–soft and warm inside from fur and sewn outside from seal skin. The fire crackled generous and joyful in the underground home. Above it on a wooden panel stuck on the dirt wall were different things Tiennrod had collected and valued. In the center was a plate vase with a thistle painted on it. She looked at it absent-minded walking up to it, not realizing Sean had come in from the outside. She broke from her reverie, feeling cold blade touch her under the chin. Sean stood, his sword held at ease in his left hand. She looked down at the thick gleaming sword, not daring to turn her head, only moving her eyes. Tiennrod’s face wore a reproving look, but not dangerous. He shook his head no. She dropped her hand. He nudged her with his sword to step back, dropped his sword from her neck, motioning to the chair with it. She sat, still watching him intently and silently, unsure of what he would do. He looked at her then with the vessel with the thistle on it.

 

“You know what that is?” he asked in her native tongue.

 

Her eyes flitted with recognition of her mother tongue before she lowered them.

 

He put out his sword again, raising her chin to make her look at him.

“Do you know what that is?” He asked again.

 

He lowered his sword sticking it in the ground firmly by his own chair. Then, scooting his chair closer, sitting back comfortably, he asked again in her mother tongue, “What is your name.”

 

“Tristinia”

 

A NEW LAND

The breath of the northlands, as they stepped off the ramp of the small, hardy vessel, savagely raked its icy daggers, swishing its attack all around them, in an attempt it seemed, not only to petrify their physical beings, but also to stab their heart of any perseverance or hope of a future. However, the young warrior queen and her friend had grown up in these harsh hemispheres. It soon became evident to her through the treatment of those ahead of her that they all were to become slaves for the current population on these new shores. Unwisely, she struggled, but perhaps without blame in a frantic attempt to outrun these evil men.

 

Her captors were stronger though. The man who came to look her over had the same cruel glint in his eyes as the head priest at Stonehenge when he had killed her dear father and all her brothers in the massacre she had escaped from. She stared at the sky colored eyes and deftly swept upward with her chained hands, striking him full on the jaw, as his hands had wandered to check her body. She cried out in pain as the ship master’s rope studded with metal tips cut the flesh of her back, not even minding her clothing, searing that as well. Suddenly her silent friend took his arms which were also chained and wrapped the flying studded rope round them, drawing it taught.

 

Tiennrod was his name. She heard their horned, brutish captors call him. She was still wincing from the blow from the whip, but she looked up at his kind, roundish face. She had not been able to see much below ships.She found herself looking into kind, yet sharp, intelligent blue eyes of the tall, sturdy guardian. He had short hair of flame and pale skin.He must be from the isle across the watery pass from her own home. He turned from her, saying something in a language she didn’t understand.The man who had offered the trader money shouted something angrily and slapped the guardian in the face. Wide eyed and scared, she watched silently as the trader and his workers drew their swords. Another man stepped up to make an offer. An ancient man with a long thick white-braided beard and good natured green eyes. He said something, then both she and the flame-haired stranger were shown to some horses.

 

Bor had had too much to drink. He had stumbled onto Verimer’s land near dawn. Unfortunately he was the type of man to grow violent with alcohol. Tristinia woke to a commotion outside the stable. Tiennrod was strong and large, but had taken several blows from his hefty opponent’s fists. She came out just in time to see Bor grab Sean’s dirk. Sean was doubled over. Swiftly She drew her own dirk out of her boot, racing forward. Leaping over Sean, she spread her arms, the dirk in her right hand, startling Bor as she leapt in front of him just as he was bringing down his blow. Ksh! The sound of metal meeting metal showered a small rain of sparks upon impact. She advanced aggressively, defeat not known to her royal blood, making Bor laugh and turn to mocking her.

 

Tristinia shoved her furry boot hard against Bor’s big belly, driving him backwards, off balance several steps. Recovering from the surprise of her attack, he laughed inebriated.

 

“You want to fight, you little wench?” he said over confident, eyebrows raised, pausing.

 

She yelled her challenge at him, her usually beautiful eyes glinting dangerously.

 

Unpredictably, Bor bellowed and swung several times, but she expertly ducked.

 

Several times their weapons met. Having the quicker judgement, she struck him several times but did not stab him. As she got close to him, Bor had an uncomfortable advantage and struck her full in her side with his blade at the same moment she drove her own into his shoulder.

 

Tiennrod had recovered and had began running toward them in the quick fight. “Triste!” he yelled as she looked beyond her attacker with the dirk missing going all the way in. Bor fell backwards with no one to catch him. Tristinia stood for a moment in shock, her face draining, and fell forward into Tiennrod’s arms as he gathered her to him, running toward the crowd of villagers who had come out, hearing the commotion as well. Warm red spreading from her blouse to his sleeves , the villagers hurried them to the physician.

Upon A Time In Scotland

Long long ago, there was a princess born who seemed cursed to wander. She was one of those rarest of princesses who was conceived with adventure in her soul. A heart with strong wings, fleet feet, among the biggest of hearts. She had a gregarious laugh and wise head upon her beautiful body and hair as orange as the flame but that was the one feature she was most known for. She covered her locks in blue greased clay as the warriors of her ancestry. She was known as Tristinia, the blue braid of Scotland. Women were not warriors, but she was. Long forgotten in a time when dragons and half creatures we believe to be extinct or never existed. I found her likeness drawn on the wall of a cliff side covered in leaves.

Usually the stones of my country tell of the deeds of men, but it fascinated me to uncover this lost world of a courageous princess who was much loved of men and  whose story was unlike so many others who were married as their lot in to a peaceful life. Very few stayed with her and I kept searching the wall, following her tale up the mountain that day to see if she had found what she searched for. What she hoped for. Had her kingdom and family been mended? Had she found love of one single man who would be her king with whom she could share her faith? I followed the mountain paths upward twisting and twining like a braid. Now I knew why. This was her mountain. The mountain of Tristinia the blue braid, worn with time.

When I reached the forested peak, at first glance, there seemed to be nothing. Just forest. Then, in the quiet of the stillness, when one settles one’s heart, almost giving up on their whole endevour, I began to see traces of the landscape of how it must have been in her lifetime. No trees grew, there were white stones, now consumed with foliage and moss. Even her tomb. The only thing untarnished with age lay atop her coffin. A magnificent sword. A polished glinting killer and protector, razor sharp to the edge as well as in reflection. The hilt was studded with diamonds and sapphires. My eyes grew wide with amazement. I approached reverently, almost expecting her to crash out of her resting place and utter a war cry. History’s ghosts seemed to give theirs in the friendly gentle breeze that played in the woodlands. The leaves and rocks seemed to whisper and hum a ballad which, as I stood, closing my eyes as I closed my hands round the sword hilt, took my mind and imagination back to the beginning of her story….