Chapter 5: A ragtag team

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Recap: The Connarii are making their way through the mists of a featureless land, the gateway to the Otherworld(s) in search of a new homeland. Crown Princess Edana and ambitious upstart Camlin have just been awarded co-leadership of a yet-to-be-formed guard in the absence of the warband, who were lost when the Connarii were banished. This is a huge opportunity for Edana, a chance to prove her leadership capabilities, as well as her martial prowess, but she takes it as a failure to have to share any of her power with Camlin, and it doesn't help when her 'troops' think the whole thing is a joke.


The scraped-together band of trainees, b-string recruits and elderly has-been warriors certainly didn't take their king's declaration at face value. They rolled with laughter as Toryn announced Edana's position; co-captain with Camlin, at that. A handful of men stood upright with expressions ranging from distaste to full-out disgust fixed on their faces.

Camlin grinned as Edana's eyes widened. She stepped forward, and a few more of the men stopped laughing and looked questioningly at Toryn.

"And what exactly-" Edana planted one hand on her hip, dangerously near the dagger strapped there, "-is so amusing?"

A flurry of shouted answers to her question rang out from between the guffaws, although slow patches of confounded silence were spreading. Some of the sharper, or less intensely amused, youths began to realize that something was wrong. The range of unwise comments mainly focused on Edana's gender and a deep-rooted doubt that her combat skills rendered her deserving of the posting. The hilarity petered off into stillness as Aislynn, in full druidic regalia, stepped up beside her sister, who was staring into the middle distance with steely eyes.

"Fools." Aislynn said crisply and with genuine regret. A number of young men looked crushed. Aislynn was well-liked, even respected among many members of the tribe for her gentleness, knowledge, and generally elevated position (her delicate beauty didn't hurt her popularity among the ranks, either.) To put it bluntly, they worshipped the ground she walked on.

"It is not as if there has never been a female warrior before." Aislynn continued more gently. "There is even precedent for a woman battle-chief. You forget your own history. The Connarii of old were much more varied in their skills. In these uncertain times, it is only fitting that some of our customs change with necessity."

"And if any doubt my capability to lead, let him choose his weapon, and I will prove my worth, and the worth of the Ffarach bloodline, in front of any who care to watch." Edana raised her staff, edging her sister off to one side. Aislynn rolled her eyes, but turned back to the men.

"Camlin and his men may go and prepare. The rest of you will gather at the head of the tribe and ensure that you are properly prepared for the responsibility of protecting our people. Your captain will join you shortly." More than a few of the men looked as if they would have liked to argue, but under Aislynn's steady gaze, none were willing to speak up and the crowd dispersed. Camlin looked less than pleased as he stumped off with his band in tow.

Aislynn waited until Edana's group had vanished into the mists before turning to her sister and laying a hand on her shoulder. Edana stared off after the men, and spoke without looking at her sister.

"You should not have interfered." Edana was quiet for a long moment. Aislynn waited. "They thought I was a joke."

"You cannot blame them."

"Really? We grew up with those boys, 'Lynnie. I trained with them, right from when we couldn't hardly stand to lift the wooden training swords. I've beaten most of them, at one time or another. Not to mention, you and I carry the purest blood of the Connarii in our veins. That means power, however you look at it. How could they dismiss me like that? I'm perfectly capable of-"

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