“You could do with more training, Chief.” Blake chuckled, blocking Cador’s puny thrust with ease and shoving him backwards in one skilful move. “You should let Nyle here give you a few lessons.” The Duros cheered at the mention of Blake’s firstborn and heir to the tribal lands.
Nyle stood around the edge of the circle, his arms folded across his chest, a smug grin plastered across his chiselled face. So, this was the lean brother of my Morven. Now I understood the animosity between them. He was tall and muscular, with a scar down the left side of his cheek. His status among his people was clear to all and obviously earned over many summers of leading raiding parties. He was the scourge of our borderland homesteaders.
“I can’t do that, father.” Nyle snorted. “You taught me not to play with my food.”
The old Chief howled with laughter, setting off the jeers and taunts from all those surrounding my brother. I’d heard stories of northern tribes who would cook and eat the warriors they’d slain, in the belief that they would take on their life’s spirit and wisdom. Were the Duros really going to make my brother their next meal?
Cador winced at the suggestion. He was a good five fewer summers than Nyle and much shorter. Cador was entirely at their mercy. Why were they delaying his death? He thrashed his blade towards Blake in a flurry of activity as if to prove he was not yet beaten. All who watched knew that they could end him whenever they chose. Blake defended himself with little effort and far superior skill.
“Shall we roast or boil him?” Blake guffawed, playing to his audience.
Cador panted heavily, bending in the middle to catch his breath. “End this and be done with it. My tribe will have their vengeance and your people will pay the price. These men are a mere fraction of my warriors.” He waved his blade towards those of our men who’d survived the skirmish and were tied back to back and bound for foreign slave markets.
“As Cernonnus and the Morrighan look down upon us now, hear this. You will suffer for this trespass on our lands. The wreck and all the spoils lie in our waters and your attack will be avenged.” Cador’s face reddened and shone with fury, his inexperience and stupidity bleeding through the veneer of calm.
Blake tilted his head and paced closer to my brother. The smile fell from his face. He was close enough to feel my brother’s fetid breath on his cheek. “We did not attack you. This land belongs to us.” If Cador had been taller they would have almost touched noses. As it was, the old man towered over Cador exerting his dominance.
Blake lowered his voice to speak to Cador. I was too far away to hear what was said. My curiosity piqued, I edged forwards and strained to hear them as I peeped above the shrubs on the ridge. What were they saying? Was he holding his short sword against my brother’s navel? What had stopped the fight?
Leaning ever closer, I crept through the shrubs to the very peak of the rise. As I found myself a clearer view of proceedings, my foot dislodged the pebbles on the seaward side, sending them skittering down the slope and attracting the attention of the entire Duro tribe.