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….