Manannan’s Daughter-Cantos five-Medb

She rides the gray stallion toward her village, stopping only to retrieve her weapons. It was good to run free, feel the wind, the sun on her skin. Time now to return. Her duties as chieftain’s daughter were many.

Sudden sound stopped her. Sliding from her mount, she was stealthy death moving through the undergrowth. Some slight sound warned her as she spun around, her sword struck from her grasp as she moved it to ready. She was slammed to her back before she could move to use her shield.

“The lady should return her toys to her father before her brothers miss them or she hurts herself.” He leaned down to help her up.

She easily evaded his hand, kicking his feet from beneath him, her sword kissing his throat. “I have no brothers. I’ll keep my toys.”

He rolled away from her sword, grasping his own, “Careful my lady, you could get hurt.”

“Better yet, I could hurt you.” She spoke through a wolf’s deadly smile.

They circle cautiously, watching each move of the other, studying, evaluating, planning. Shields ready, sword tips lazily circling, they watch for an opening.

She springs, slashing, then out again. The clang of her sword against his shield shatters the stillness. She hisses in disappointment at his escape. He swings his sword while she moves to balance again. She parries and spins, deflecting his strike.

Their dance of swords continues stroke for stroke, the advantage of one quickly taken by the other. Spinning, weaving, leaping, rolling, their bodies grow slick with sweat, lungs burning for air.

Approaching hoofbeats break his focus for just a moment, but enough. Her shield sweeps his legs from beneath him. Her sword dives for his throat.

“Stop.” Her father’s voice is imperious. “It is generally thought poor hospitality to kill the bridegroom before you bed him.”

“Lucky for you that my father arrived when he did.” Her sword still at his throat.

“I would not be lonely here.” He looks from her eyes, lower. His sword is at her stomach. She hadn’t noticed its light kiss. A scarlet thread seamed her belly.

She reached to help him rise, “My name is Medb.”

©2019 Maggie Grimes

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