Keira helped her father with his armor but he noticed she was more silent than usual. Though a king and excellent leader of his people, Egan was very protective of his daughters.
“What is wrong?” He asked adjusting his heavy mail.
“I am a little worried that is all.” She said.
“It is just a battle Keira. Just as many others I had been part of.”
“I know…” She sighed. “It’s just that…it is the Saxons this time. Horrendous stories have been told about them. The pillage, the rapes, the murders. They are merciless…”
“We are a strong army Keira. It won’t be an easy job for them.”
“I just don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” She kissed his cheek before handing him the helmet.
“I will come back still the king of Avon. I promise you that.” Egan caressed his daughter’s face. “Now go say goodbye to Cahil. He is going to battle too.” Keira nodded and bowed her head before walking away. “Is it true the wedding will take place after this battle?”
“Yes.” She said turning around. “Cahil wants to marry right away.”
Egan looked at his daughter expecting a little excitement on her face but somehow there was reluctance and maybe a little sadness in her eyes. Cahil was the best husband a woman could have, he was sure of that but Keira seemed to have lost the initial glow in her eyes as time went by.
“Aren’t you happy Keira? Cahil is the best husband I could ever arrange you.”
“Yes.” She nodded. “He is a wonderful man and very brave. Any woman in this village would be delighted to have him.” Keira forced a smile and Egan smiled back.
“I will have brave grandsons.” He cheered and somehow that remark made her shudder. She bowed again and left to look for Cahil.
It had been raining all day so the streets of the village were covered in mud. Winter was approaching fast and cold and snow would be there soon. As her feet splashed on the mud, her mind traveled again to the conversation she just had with her father; the marriage. Keira wondered why she wasn’t as happy as any other woman would be? Cahil was wanted and loved by everyone. Any father would be pleased to have him as a son in law. He was the strongest and the bravest warrior in Avon and still she couldn’t feel happy about it.
She was glad she was going to have a good man by her side. She was happy Cahil was even good looking. He was blue eyed and had a childish smile that warmed up her heart but she couldn’t feel as enthusiastic as Cathleen was about marrying Jacob. She could see her sister had learned to love the man she had been promised to and Keira expected the same to happen to her but instead there was respect and friendship and great communication between the two of them but she didn’t feel anything else than that.
She also heard stories of how great he was in bed. Once when she was walking past by the tavern, the prostitutes were praising how Cahil was good in bed and not even that has made her curious. It was common for men to look for prostitutes so that didn’t shock her and it would stop once she was married to him for he’d have at home a wife to satisfy him.
“Keira…” She heard a voice calling her and she forgot about her thoughts. Cahil had seen her and approached.
“I was going to look for you.” She said.
“I am ready to go.” He told her. Cahil was ready for war, only his helmet was not on his head yet.
“Please be careful.” She asked him.
“I will kill as many Saxons as I can.”
“I cannot teach you any war affairs for you know it better than I do but please be careful. They are cunning Cahil and barbarians…”
“I can just promise you than I will come back to make you my wife Keira.”
“I will be waiting for you.” She said smiling at him.
Cahil grabbed her by her shoulders and pulled her behind a house away from sight. “Give me a kiss Keira.” He asked.
Keira opened her eyes wide at his request and felt her heart beating faster. She thought of a way to deny it gently but nothing was coming up and she was a little in panic.
“We are to be married. I am going to battle…please…” He asked again. His blue eyes stared at hers and she felt his body coming a little closer. Keira felt the muscles of his torso against her, he had never been that close.
“I…” She stuttered a bit. “I…have never…” Her mouth was so dry that moment. She felt embarrassed even.
“I know you have never kissed anyone but if you allow me…”
Keira felt she had no other option but to let him. She was going to marry him so she might better get used to his touch so she nodded. Cahil smiled openly and rested a hand on her face. Keira looked at both sides just to make sure no one was seeing them.
“Close your eyes.” He said softly and she did so.
Her heart was beating so fast she thought she was going to pass out. His body came a little closer and Keira tensed and soon she felt the soft touch of Cahil’s lips against hers., then he pulled away and she opened her eyes. She wasn’t disgusted, his lips were soft, she was even a little surprised but she also didn’t want more.
“Did you like it?” He asked her and Keira nodded blushing a little. “Another?” He suggested and she nodded again.
Keira closed her eyes one more time and this time Cahil pressed his lips on her a little stronger and a little longer. She opened her eyes before he broke the contact waiting for him to let go. His lips were still soft and Cahil was still a handsome man and she hoped she’d learn to desire him with time and even love him.
“Good luck.” She said then breaking the silence.
“Take care of the village while we are gone.”
“Without men things are a little easier.” She said. Cahil ended up laughing loud.
“There’s no drunken people around that’s for sure.”
“Still it will be just us women and children. Don’t you think it’s dangerous?”
Cahil shook his head. “No…it would be worse if we waited for them here. That’s what they are expecting but we are going to surprise them out of the village. It’s the best way to protect Avon.”
“May God be with you.” She said.
“He will.” And with that Cahil left, leaving Keira with a lump in her throat.
He always rode near the king. Egan had always been a big fan of Cahil’s dedication ever since he had joined his army. He could count on him to rule his village like he would if anything happened to him. Cahil was faithful and trust worth as proven many times.
“Cahil…” He called for his attention.
“My king…” He answered.
“If anything happens to me I ask you to take well care of my daughter.”
“Nothing will happen, my king.” He reassured.
“I count on you Cahil.” Egan continued. “You will be king of Avon. Rule my people like I would. Protect its people and be a king they love.”
“I cherish all you’re saying my king but you will return Avon’s king. You have a powerful army to protect you.”
“My men are brave.” Egan agreed. Then he motioned a hand for his army to stop.
It would be there on that opened field where they would wait for the Saxons. Egan looked up at the sky. The night was almost falling; it was getting dark and then ordered for the men to get down from the horses. Men began to build a fire and Cahil went hunting for dinner.
“They are near…” Egan spoke to himself. He was experienced. He could smell them in the air. “Put the fire down.” He yelled. “Put that fire down! They are near!” Then he waited.
Keira was sat by the fire in the village’s saloon. Women were singing and some dancing around the table but she was sat on a little wooden bench lost with her thoughts in the battle. She feared…mostly for her father and then for Cahil and Jacob and then for all husbands and fathers in the village. She feared the Saxons would enter the village coming from another side.
She walked outside upset with the noise. She wished for silence that moment. It was drizzling. In between some women’s song she heard a huge noise coming from the forest. Keira ran a bit ahead to isolate herself and the noise became clear to her. It was the noise of battle. She could hear the men yelling, the swords hitting on one another. The horses were neighing. Tears came to her eyes that moment and she mentally asked for everything to be alright. Then she ran back inside.
“They are fighting!” She yelled bursting inside.
The chanters stopped immediately and all women ran outside. The silence in the village was almost dreadful; they all were hearing the horror of war. It was impossible not to wonder if the yells they were hearing were from the father of their children, from their husbands or even their own fathers. The village was like a ghost one, full of people but completely mute. Eyes searched comfort in others faces, hands united and then the women prayed.
Hours later the noise came to an end. It was only possible to hear some loud moans, probably from the wounded. No one knew who had won that battle, only when the men began to arrive. Heads turned to the main street of the village but nothing appeared, not even a shadow.
“We should all come back to our houses.” Keira said. As she was the heir all women obeyed without saying a word.
“Sister…” Cathleen grabbed her hand with tears in her eyes.
“We must have faith.” Keira said pretending to be strong. She just wished to know right away who had won the battle. “Now go to your bedroom and we must wait.” Cathleen ended up nodding. No one was strong enough to argue that moment.
Cathleen entered her chamber and Keira waited outside until she had done so and then she walked to hers. She looked up the street once again while walking but still no shadow was visible. She wished so much to see her father that moment or even Cahil but she needed to see a familiar face. Nothing though. Keira entered her chamber and closed the wooden door. Suddenly a noise made her turn around.
“Who are you?” She asked horrified looking at the stranger.
Keira grabbed a knife and pointed it at the man. She was sure he was not one of hers, she had never seen him before and his mail was quite different from theirs. Keira knew he was a Saxon.
“WHO ARE YOU?” She faced him bravely but the man didn’t answer. He just looked at her with fainted blue eyes and gave a step near. “Don’t come closer. I will kill you.” She menaced. Her legs were trembling. The man took a hand to his blond hair and pulled it away from his face, he had blood on his neck.
“What are you doing here?” She asked again but the eyes of the man just rolled to the back of his head and he fell on the floor as dead. Keira opened her eyes wide opened and looked at the body without knowing what to do.
She kneeled still pointing her knife at him but he didn’t move. There was still blood running down from his neck. Keira pulled the man’s hair away, she saw the wound on his neck from where the blood was coming out.
“What do I do?” She asked all alone not knowing exactly what to do.
If she didn’t help him the man was going to die but if she helped him he could be the one killing her. She stared at him a little more and then shook him. Nothing…he didn’t move or opened his eyes or said anything. It was clear to her he was one of the enemies so she should just let him die and still she took her hand to his wound and pressed it to stop the bleeding.
“What am I doing?” She frowned knowing it was wrong.