To See Another Sunrise
There is tension in the horse runs; I walk through them at dawn, running soothing hands down their flanks, but they will not be gentled. Fear comes from the east. The mist rises from the ground, the sun not yet up, chilling the air and grass.
We all know there is something coming; traders and travellers come with it in their eyes, whispering of darkness on their heels. The gold and stones they come to trade seem of lesser importance to them, their nimble fingers and words stumbling and fading in the path of the unease they feel, that informs the actions of all those coming.
In the dying hours of the day, I bring the horses back in, watering them and checking them for the snarls and burrs that bring them discomfort, the stones in their hooves that stop them running so free and wild. And we need them in battle, fierce and poud, their teeth a welcome helper in the fight. When the last one is tended to, I step back. They are still not of the mood to be gentled.
I walk back to the village, along the hard dirt track. The track leads through the houses, past the smithy. I walk up to the altar, where the priestess waits. I stop, stand before her. She plunges her hand into the bowl by her side; it comes up coated in woad. I close my eyes and feel her fingers sweep across my face, leaving a trail of blue. Like the others ranged around me, we are prepared for battle. The Fomori are coming, demons from the darkest depths. Some wear the faces of men, blood suckers that steal souls. The eternal fire crackles and another piece of wood is laid on it by the priestess in her horse's mane headdress. The fire flares green from the salt that coats the wood; driftwood from the sea for the preparations for war.
I am Chosen, the one to fight the demons and protect my people; leading them into battle is my right and duty. I do not know if I shall survive to see another sunrise, but another will rise to fight after me; it is the Goddess' will that this is the way of the Chosen. A hundred of the womens' side, blood and spirit-sisters all, but not of my hearth or tribe.
The dying rays of the sun washes us in blood-red. I lead us forward, eyes fixed to the east. The warmth of the day has gone, and there is only the chill of the night ahead. The promise of morning is far away.