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


4: Couple- Riding

    A big, warm blanket in her hands, Ayrien moved out of her house's door, heading back toward the village's center where the celebration was still taking place. However, she only made two or three steps before she heard something that made her pause where she stood - she was not alone. Someone was there - and this someone was right next to her horse! Immediately and angrily she changed direction, stepping firmly toward the stables. "If someone just DARES to touch my Storm…" the raging thought blinded her, and she almost got stuck in the stable's wooden door. Paused for a moment, she could hear a talking voice coming from inside. "More then one… wait, wait 'till I catch thee, you won't know what fell on ya…" Sneaking quietly, silence as a mouse in front of a sleeping cat, Ayrien placed herself in the shadows of an empty horse cell. Helped by the full moon's light and her sharp senses, she looked around for the invaders - and almost burst into laughter when she found the young warrior that was the first to dance with her, talking to himself - and to her horse. Taking advantage was always something she excelled in, and there was the finest opportunity to take advantage on her handsome wooer. She listened to him.
"Would you ride with me? No, no no no. That sounds too simple. May I take you to a ride? Nah, she'll never let me just "take" her. Will you ride with me, O beautiful star of the night? No! She will laugh at my face! OH! Common, horsie, you was with'er long enough. Don't you have an idea?"
Ayrien indeed was close to laughter. "Such funny creatures, the boys are" ran a though in her mind. But she was a decent girl, and would not embarrass the young warrior like this - she caged her laugh deep inside and sneaked out of the stables. Once out, Ayrien made sure her steps could be clearly heard, and loudly enough declaring "I wonder how Storm is doing in this freezing wind", stepped back in, "surprised" to find Tune…
Looking at his scared eyes, she couldn't help herself, and asked: "Would you like to ride with me?" Indeed, the look on his face was something she will not forget for long…
"How did ya… I mean… know… how did ya…" Tune was confused, and standing in front of Ayrien did not help him concentrate.
"How did I know you wish to invite me for a ride? Well, what other reason can be for ya standing next to my horse?"
Get to your senses, you silly boy, get to your senses! "None at all, O wise lady" He smiled. That's better. Now… "And that is me' reason indeed. I would be thrilled to ride with thee".
"Good. Go get your horse. Hope he's fast enough to ride with my Storm!" In a half of a minute, the magnificent silver-gray mare Tune was talking to was saddled and mountained by Ayrien, who rode her out to the road. "I'll meet ya in the other end of the village!" She called behind her shoulder, just a moment before disappearing, leaving Tune a bit confused, but unexplainably happy. "No, not an ordinary lassie" Was the last thing he told to himself, shrugging his shoulder, before running to the inn's stables.


     The few celebrants still sitting around the fire were pretty surprised to suddenly see a horse among them… they were staring at the beautiful mare, which got much closer to the fire then a horse should, when the rider dropped something heavy next to the village's head, and disappeared again into the night once again. Only Lord Taru fully understood what just happened; the others looked on the caps in their hands, thinking "too much ale can make you see weird things…".
Taru, half smiling and nodding his head, took the blanket and thankfully covered himself, murmuring "when will you grow up, Ayrien…"

The girl herself was already too far to hear this, and definitely too excited…
Do not take it as Tune's feelings made their way into Ayrien's heart as well - the lass thought Tune to be a handsome warrior, no more but not less. She was excited from the fact such a handsome warrior - FIANNA warrior - is interested in her! She had a few wooers before, a girl like her can't escape that, but none seemed worthy to her. They were no more then grown kids in her eyes, eager to conquer her rebellion heart in order to glorify their name, telling that story to the other men around the fire. None of them would have asked her to ride with him, she was sure.

When Tune arrived to their rendezvous point, she was already there, sitting fare and proud on her silver tall horse. Silver seemed to be the color in control over the whole scene - silver was the moon light shed all over like an unseen blanket, silver was the many stars in the sky, silver was the little stream that float by the silver grass. Ayrien found it looked almost magical…
"You came, at last" she jeered at the rider of the night-black horse approaching.
"My apologies for the delay, fare lady. I had to wake up the innkeeper to open the stables for me, and he wasn't very enthusiastic to do so"
Ayrien laughed heartily, and with a mischievous look in her eyes spurred Storm into a light trot, and then, after checking that Tune is following, to a steady gallop. Soon enough Black Star was right after Storm, and after a few moments - almost before her.
That's what YOU think! Thought Ayrien when she noticed Tune is about to overtake her, fastening Storm into a real galloping pace.

Both horses were fresh after the good day rest they had, and the ride became a friendly race. How frustrated was Ayrien to find out she is being beaten by the laughing Tune! She could see his position clearly only when he turned his smiling face toward her - in the rapid speed they were riding, his Black horse, his dark brown cloak and the even darker brown hair was blurred, swallowed by the darkness of the night. Only when the silver moonlight shown on his teeth and his sparkling eyes, Ayrien could see he is more then a horse-length before her. She could not allow such a thing! Well, it's just like in the training. She thought. What I miss in strength, I must complete in cunning. She turned Storm just a little bit to the right, and when Tune followed with a bigger movement, eager to win the race, she moved Storm - who was not unfamiliar with that move - left again. Tune understood his mistake just half a moment too late, but that was enough for Ayrien to regain the first place…
She let out a victorious cry, which was cut in the middle - Tune did not become a Fianna without excelling in horseback riding. The big body of Black Star soon blocked her way… the stop was too sudden even for a well experienced rider as Ayrien, and she was thrown out of her saddle, flying in a graceful arc above her horse's head before she hit the soft grass…
When she opened her eyes after closing during it during her fall, she found Tune above her.
"Are you hurt? Oh, I can never forgive myself if you are… Please tell me you are fine!" His face was so worried she couldn't help laughing… her laugh sounded like the clearest bells to him.
"I am fine, you silly. 'Tis not the first time I fell like this" There was a moment of silence, and then "But I must admit, T'was a long time since I last did… and a longer time since someone had beaten me' riding! You are a worthy rider, ammm…" Thinking about it, Ayrien realized she doesn't even know his name!
"Tune, my beautiful lady. Tune is how I'm called"
"Tune?" Ayrien raised herself on one elbow, curious. "Is that your real name?"
Tune sat down and spared a moment for thinking, before answering.
"Actually, 'tis not. Tune is the name I'm called because of this," He said, taking out a little shepherd's whistler from a pocket in his cloak. He closed his eyes and put the whistler to his mouse - a clear and cheerful tune was soon to be heard, breaking the natural quite of the night. Looking at her again, he found Ayrien seating next to him, eyes wide open and looking amazingly on the little whistler. "That was beautiful! What was it about?"
"It was…" Tune suddenly stopped himself. Should he tell her that was a love song? " 'Twas just a little something I like…" Dark as it was, Ayrien still saw the deep blush on his face - he need not tell her what was it…
"Play another tune for me… please?"

Tune smiled, and took a deep breath. "Anything for you", he finally said, and once again approached the whistler to his mouth. He thought for another moment, and then began playing something he found most suitable for his companion - a quick, joyful jig. Ayrien clapped her hands, letting out her bell-like laugh once again. In an urge of the moment she got up, and started dancing on the soft grass, laughing as she realized the comic in her dancing alone, so far from the stage.
"Common!" She pulled Tune's hand like a little child, "Lets dance!"
Tune thought he could already predict the moves of this unpredictable lass, but that one took him by surprise. Dance? Here? Well, one thing is for sure, he though while getting up, life with her won't be borin'!
"I can't see why not, Oh brave lady" He smiled to her. Fluting with one hand and holding hers in the other hand, he lead her to a pair dance… closer and closer their bodies went, and Tune, his heart beating excitingly, started wondering if he should try and kiss her… looking deep in her amazing blue eyes, his own head was drawn to hers in magical unseen strings. In no more then a second their lips will meet…

Suddenly, Ayrien pushed Tune and pulled of his hand. Seemed like I shan't kiss her after all! He though, worried he might got too close for her taste. But that was not the reason for her departure, he noticed - she was gazing in the direction of the village, fear dimming the sparkles in her eyes.
"What is wrong, dear Ayrien?"
"Look! There!"
"I see no more then the red fire in the middle of the village"

"Exactly! The fire… it's so much bigger then before! Something's wrong over there" With these words still on her lips, Ayrien leaped onto her surprised horse's back. "Common!" She cried over to Tune, fraightened. "The Druid's house is on fire! ".

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