The Fox HTML version

The Fox - Arlene Radasky –
Chapter 1
82 AD November
I will die when I choose to die.
And as I die, my thoughts will be of Lovern, the Fox, a 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.
72 AD October
Peat smoke darkened the room and firelight struggled to glint off the weapons behind
Uncle Beathan, our clan chieftain. I kept my eyes on the weapons so I did not have to look at
him. A bronze shield, two spears and two swords -- one short, and one long -- were balanced
against the wall. The sword hilts showed our smith’s interpretations of animals, trees and the
spirals of life. If I squinted just right, the bear, Uncle Beathan’s name sign, shrugged its
shoulders as if alive. When he was in a better mood than today, he let me touch them. I wished I
had worked with my cousin to create this art.
We stood in front of my uncle’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 jumped when he spoke.
“Jahna, you will marry Harailt.”
He had sent Braden to summon 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
the girl who did his cooking, Drista, to ask us to join him for family discussions. Drista, a
farmer’s daughter honored to be chosen by Beathan to serve at his table, was almost at the
marrying age and would leave Beathan’s home soon. He would pick another and another to come
to him, until he married.
When our chieftain sent his warrior, Braden, we knew he wanted to discuss important
clan matters.
I did not want to be in his lodge that afternoon. Uncle Beathan’s dogs chewed on old pork
bones under his table. The smell made my stomach churn.
Mother did not look upset when she glanced down at me. I wondered how we could be
mother and daughter. As a small girl, I held up our polished bronze and compared our faces. She
told me I was vain. I told her she was beautiful. I felt like a young goat next to her. Mother’s hair