Painted Lady

 

Maeve let out an earth shattering cry as she cleaved her sword through the last man standing, driving its side into his ribs. The light-haired enemy howled in pain as he fell to the earth. He tried to grab what he could of the blade stuck in his flesh, but was met by Maeve’s swift foot, landing square in his chest. He fell back with a grunt giving Maeve the opportunity to raise her sword and finish him.

Rage danced in the mad man’s eyes like a flame, pulsing with both his fury and some sadistic pleasure. He groped his hand around her ankle and pulled her down into the blood soaked soil. Before going down Maeve heaved a ragged breath and managed to drive her sword into his shoulder, but not without injury. The man had grab a knife from the dirt and drove it into her abdomen.

There was a jolting burst of pain as the small blade sank into her flesh. She could feel the muscles tightening around the opening, the rest of her body stiffening before going numb with the shock. Maeve felt her tense muscles relax as her body went limp, her kept threatening to shut, fluttering slowly as they grew heavier and heavier. The last thing Maeve remembered was staring up at the clear blue sky as ravens flew from overhead, swooping down for their feast.

“Maeve,” whispered a voice in the darkness.

Maeve awoke to see that she was not on the feild, but on a soft pallet of leaves in a dense forest, surrounded by shedding autumn trees and lush fern brackens. She drew her sword and walked out slowly, careful not to touch any crisp leaf or twig on the forest floor. Maeve found herself at a lake before long, her dry mouth and throat reminding her how parched she was. She knelt to fill her water skin and lingered on her reflection.

Princess Maeve, she had forgotten how young she was, her wide green eyes and freckled skin still showed her youth under the painted blue spirals tattooed along her face and body giving her the name “Painted Lady”. The fifteen year old had become a terror on the battle field in less than a year, and a desirable match for many Chieftains and their sons.

“If it isn’t the Painted Lady,” spoke that same voice from behind her.

Maeve spun around to see a woman standing before her. The woman was robed in whiteand holding seven golden braids in her hand with preternatural features making her a spectacular beauty to behold…but also frightening. Maeve backed away knowing that she was in the presence of the sidhe.

“You…”

“I am Feithlinn, a prophet of the Rath of Crdachan,” she said walking toward her. “I come to warn you, Princess Maeve of the West. I see greatness in you, but I also see horrible terrors in your future.”

“Yes, the druids at Cnoc Tara told me that I would unite Tara and become queen of Connacht. I would be remembered as a great warrior and queen. I would be the hero of the west.” Maeve remembered the fear and desire swelling within her the day the druids told her of her destiny. “I will be as a goddess.”

“And you will meet your end in a most viscous way,” Feithlinn promised. “Tell me Maeve, are a few short years of greatness worth the fall of Tara?”

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