Cador dashed forward between me and Blake, flicking his sword about to any who dared to come closer. “She’s my sister, a healer. Not a spy, not a slave or a plaything, but a daughter of Chieftains. Treat her with respect.”
His proclamation shocked me to the core. We’d fought and argued our entire lives and now he was defending me. The archers moved forward into the circle to protect their leader and heir to the Durotriges but Blake raised his hand, forbidding them to take action.
“Put down your blade, Cador the Cruel of the Dumnonii. If I wanted you dead, don’t you think by now you’d be sitting with your ancestors?” Blake’s former bout of humour vanished. He was all seriousness and stern.
Cador glowered at the Duros all about him, as confused by the turn of events as I was. The two Chiefs stared at one another for some time, until Cador lowered his sword. “What do you want?”
“Now there’s a question.” He smiled. I was starting to think that this old coot was addled in the head, finding everything amusing among the violence and bloodshed. Both sides had lost men in a senseless fight over a few pots of exotic goods. Blake nodded to his son. “Untie his men and bring them to the camp. It’s time the Duros and Dumnos forged an alliance.”
I’d heard about trade deals between our tribes happening in the past. My grandmother told me all about the gatherings at solstices and joint binding and funeral rituals at stone circles on the moors, but they’d never happened in our father’s time. He hated the Duros as much as we did, although I couldn’t say why. It was just the way it had always been.
Cador slipped his hand beneath my elbow and lifted me to my feet. My legs were still wobbly from the fright and I was glad of his kindness. Blake’s men stripped Cador and our men of all their weapons and ushered us to follow Nyle. I stayed close to my brother, wishing that I’d never left home.
Together we hobbled along the pebbles flanked either side by large numbers of scowling Duro women and children, warriors and elders. If it wasn’t for Blake, I was sure they’d be tearing us limb from limb. I could see the hatred in their puckered faces. One or two of them spat on the ground just before my feet.