It was too late to hide. They’d all seen the pebbles tumbling and with them my graceless fall halfway down the bank. Nyle sent his men dashing up the ridge after me, but even with a head start, I could not out run them. One of the men grabbed my tunic, wrenching me to a halt and snapping my head back in the process.
With a Duro warrior bruising my arms either side, they marched me back to the circle to join my brother for our inevitable deaths. Cador looked shocked to see me as the Duros parted to allow us into the centre. Now they’d be no one left to lead our tribe; Cador’s son, Aebba was still a babe, our father long since dead and our mother too frail to take on such responsibilities. It would fall to a lengthy trial between the sons of our elders to find a new leader. Until such a time, the Dumnonii would be vulnerable to attack.
I was ashamed of my own idiocy and scared out of my senses. I wanted to present myself as a figure of strength, a daughter of Chieftains, but every muscle in my body shook. At least Cador faced certain death. I wondered what plans these ruthless men had for the likes of me.
The warriors threw me with some force down onto the shingle before their Chief and his son. I peered up at them both, narrowing my eyes in an attempt to appear defiant. Blake’s sword still dripped with blood at his side. Both it and he stank of death. How many foes had this fat Chief eaten in his time? Was I to be served up to his warriors on a roasting dish, or raw and wriggling for my life?
I snatched a glimpse at my brother, but there was nothing he could do to help me. His expression was neither sour nor indifferent, as I’d expected, but pained and wretched. Did he care for my wellbeing after all? Was his ill-manner and gruff exterior just a show for the tribe? My head spun and I was dizzy with fright.
“Well, what do we have here? Another Dumno spy?” Blake looked me all over, his stare lingering on my backside and chest. He licked his teeth and made a sucking noise. It turned my stomach, but I held back the waves of nausea.
“What shall we do with you?”