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Chapter 2
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Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

 

Chapter 2: Rehearsals

"All right, girls, we'll do it one more time and you can go home! And Ayrien, do try better this time…"
Ayrien's good mood entirely vanished away, and the hot noon sun was shining on a very sour face. Can't these foolish girls understand that she is saving her powers to the evening? The great night to come was the important time to dance well, not this horrible never-ending rehearsal! And besides, she needed no further rehearsals… "what can another tiring foolish jumping-around in that boiling sun can do good to my dance?" She groaned quietly toward Saoirse, the teacher. Saoirse, however - if she did hear the whisper - chose to ignore it. "Come on, girls, to your places! And one, two, three…"

Ayrien danced without any heart in. Very suddenly her foot hit something - and she had found herself face of the floor. Hissed laughs came from all around. "You see, that what I mean!" She heard Morena, her step cousin, "whispering" loudly enough for everyone to hear. "If she wasn't the daughter of the village's head, she would never have been chosen to lead the dance!" In one angry jump Ayrien was on her feet again. "So that is your excuse for not being chosen!" She replied, looking at Morena with all the contempt she could put into her eyes. "Even you could come with something better then that crap!". If eyes could fire lightening, a storm would have appeared between the two young women.
"Enough, girls, enough! Get back to your places, and lets start over again". Saoirse' soothing voice forced the two back into dance position. Just to angry Morena, Ayrien gave everything she got - which gained her best cheerful applause from the villagers watching the rehearsal. Morena was so furious she almost fell down on the dancer behind her.
"Very well girls, you are dismissed. Go get some rest before the great night! Ayrien - very good! I knew you can do it! Morena - wait a minute, I want to get over some steps with you…"

Ayrien smiled when she heard the last sentence, but it was an unhappy, bitter smile. What if Morena DID have a point in that ugly remark? Would Ayrien have been chosen if not for her father's position? The shy girl deep inside her, far away from the others' eyes, was almost in tears - despite of the smile presented on her face. Her walking was getting faster and faster. She did not want to hear the villager's joking remarks, couldn't bear to see their knowing smiles and winks. She wanted to get as far as she could from where she was humiliated so much…
Suddenly, she could not bear even the sight of her little village. She wanted to fly far, far away, to a completely different place, a place where girls can do whatever they want, just like boys. Where she can learn, run, ride - even fight! - Without people mumbling "it's not a thing a girl should do". A place where she will never hear again sentences like the last one - "Don't fall like that in front of the Fianna, ah, lassie?". Still deep in bitter thoughts, she finally reached her home and fell on her bed, burying her face deep down in her pillow.

A short while after, Ayrien could hear the footsteps of her father entering the house. Her eyes were closed, but she still could "see" what he was doing: Now he is hanging his cloak on the peg… now he is taking his boots off… Now he is getting up from the heavy chair he was sitting on… Ayrien could hear him walking around, probably looking for her. His footsteps entered her room, but she pretended to be asleep - she didn't felt at all like listening to his cheering comments about the coming evening. He sat beside her, and she could feel his hand petting her curly hair tenderly.
"Sleep, my child, sleep." His soft, low voice surrounded her, floating around her head like a cool breeze in the hottest day. "The gods know you need it. You have a big night tonight… and I know my little fairy will not disappoint her old father, ah?"
A single tear found its way to Ayrien's pillow, and she realized one thing - the only thing that can keep her from flying away, if she had the chance, is her beloved father. She can never leave him.

***

Not many miles away, a line of magnificent horses was doing its way quietly but cheerfully toward the village of Taru.
Should anyone watch this line of riders, he would see a single horse breaking the strict line again and again, getting back there only after the leader of the group would order him to… The same thing just happened, and the silence was broken by the leader once again:

"Get yourself back to yer place, Tune!"

The young men to whom Finn was referring to slowed his horse and took it into the line, peeping on the way back at his master, in fear he had anger him. But Finn's good, familiar smile was still on his face - and it seemed to Tune as if it was even wider then before. "I'm sorry, my lord Finn" He smiled back when the leader's horse passed next to his. "Black-Star just can't wait to rest in a stable again - and so does his master!"
"You'll fit well into a stable now, lad!" Came a comment from behind, rising a short good-hearted laugh from the riding company.
"You'll fit there even better, Duive - Your face are brawnier then your horse's behind!" Tune was very proud for his answer - joining with the Fianna not a long time before, he had to get over years of admiration in order to say such a thing...
"Hear o hear, the boy opened his mouth! Lucky for you I'm too weary to teach you some manners!"
"Too weary, Duive?" Finn decided to join into the cheerful conversation, "Or maybe too afraid that the boy will decorate your delicate face just before the women of the village can see'em?"
"The little fox IS quick with his sword…" Duive's semi-serious voice released another rough laugh.
"Talking about women" another rider broke his silence, "Will I not be right to guess that this is the reason for your rush, ah, Tune?"
"Hehe, save your breath, lad - your red face reveals it all!" Duive was quicker to answer then the subject of the remark. "I can see right through you're little head… I'm a Fianna warrior now, the women will sure to be lookin' at me differently!" Poor Tune, his face was redder then a tomato…
"Don't worry, laddy. You can be sure 'bout that! And when the leader of the Fianna tells you somethin' like that, you might wanna listen!"

The Fianna's laugh was heard long after… and looking at them carefully when they proudly rode into the village, the villagers was delighted to see them smiling from ear to ear.

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