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Chapter 1

JAHNA

AD 82 November


I will die when I choose to die.

And as I die, my thoughts will be of Fox, the man who taught me to live, to talk to the gods, and to love. We failed to change the future, and now I beg the goddess Morrigna to allow my daughter a safe journey. I have only time for one more passage dream to tell our story.

Then, I shall die.

AD 72 October

"Jahna, you will marry Harailt."

We stood in front of our clan Chieftain's table, like thieves, as he ate goat cheese and bread, crumbs falling into his beard. My hands were sweating. I held them behind me. I did not want to show that I was nervous.

I did not want to be in his lodge that afternoon. Uncle Beathan's dogs chewed on old pork bones under his table, and the smell made my stomach churn. He had summoned my mother and Harailt, as well as me. Harailt's father, Cerdic was there, too. No good ever came from being summoned. Beathan would usually send his slave to ask us to join him for family discussions. When our Chieftain sent his warrior Braden, we knew he wanted to discuss official clan matters.

Beathan swirled his dirk in our direction, looking at his food. "Harailt. Your father is prosperous, and you are the only son. Ach, Cerdic. It is too bad your wife birthed so many girl babies," he said shaking his head. Cerdic's eyes lowered, as if in shame.

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