Chieftain’s Daughter Excerpt

daughterMaggie’s insides rose in her throat begging for release, but she had nae time for that nonsense—her father had trained her better. Acting swiftly she raised her shield, her one advantage since, at ground level, it became obvious that it wasnae only the height of the boulder that had made him look tall.

The blow landing on her shield might have pummelled her into the ground if she had been standing around to let him have it all his own way. She stepped forwards. Pushing up against his weapon with her shield, she thrust her sword at ribs left vulnerable and open. Caught by surprise, he leapt back just in time and she laughed, enjoying herself.

Once more he used his sword as a battering ram and as he lifted it away she followed, pushing her shield higher and the sound of the sword scraping across the metal bosses decorating the shield’s face was like a scream. “Out of practice are ye?” she taunted, hooking the metal rim of her shield under his sword’s guard, catching him unaware a second time. His height gave him the advantage, allowing him to retreat afore she could hook his sword out of his grip.

“Almost had ye there,” she goaded, poking out her tongue to add insult to injury. What else would he expect frae the wee bit of a bairn he thought her. “A quick lesson will do ye guid,” she said, then realised her mistake.

By the look on his face, he was breathing fire, but too much temper could make one careless. Over the edge of her shield, she saw him leap towards her and, as she’d been taught, twirled away. Unfortunately, his sword must have nicked the metal rim. Why else would her bonnet have caught the edge of her shield, sending her knitted head covering flying. Aye, it took flight, the pin and her hair with it, tumbling loose frae its long twisted strands and suddenly she was looking through a black veil until at last it hit her shoulder and freed her vision.

The look on his face was worth all the treasure her uncle Gavyn had hidden away under Dun Bhuird. She swiftly took advantage, thrusting her sword at his ribs. He didn’t defend, didn’t have a chance. He fell. She glanced down, saw the clump of tussock under his heel and might have withdrawn if her blade’s tip hadn’t already slid into the curve of his shoulder. She ended up with nae choice but to withdraw the blade. His own momentum saw to that as he fell backwards sprawling at her feet. Blood bloomed on the sleeve of his shirt, leaving her with naught to laugh at this time around.

Thankfully the wound didn’t look o’er-deep, and she couldn’t let the sight of his blood overturn what her father had taught her. Pointing the reddened tip of her sword at his throat she demanded, “Do ye yield?”

He clutched at his shoulder, eyes screwing up as though in pain or so she thought, till his mouth gaped in amazement as he gasped, “Yer a wee lassie.”

Her lip curled, “Not much of an excuse for being beaten.”


Copyright © Frances Housden