Meadhbh verch Cadell was annoyed.

To be fair, that seemed to be the normal emotional state with the fiery redhead as of late, however this day her annoyance had climbed to a new level. The near-constant awareness of the packs of wolves roaming the countryside had begun slowly scratching away at her sanity. She could not rid herself of their presence, even while she slept. And worse yet, the wolves seemed to not be as bothered as she was by the unnatural connection. Some of them would even loll their tongues out in canine laughter at her whenever she managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of them. Meadhbh was far from a solitary person, however everyone had their limits. And she had just about reached hers.

So when Baron Owain ap Edern had called for a feast to celebrate the devastating victory over the Irish and Meadhbh would be expected to be in attendance AND she was not allowed to join the hunting party that had gone out in search of game? She decided that while she might be miserable, she could at the very least make as many other lives nearby as miserable as she. She snapped at just about anyone who came near all day long, even going so far as chasing her brother Marcus out of her room with a sword and a string of curses when he stopped by just to say hello.

Once she felt sure she had frightened away most everyone in the household, she strode from her room, fully intending to leave the town at least for a little while for the relative solitude of the surrounding country. The afternoon sun was shining brightly, blessing the people with a rare taste of warmth, and she felt her mood improve with every ste—

“M’lady Goldeneyes!”

“Oh for all that’s…what is it now?” Her mood darkened once again as she turned around, only to find one dark-haired warrior staring her down from several yards away. He held a large cup in one hand, and he was grinning from ear to ear.

Meadhbh clucked her tongue at him. “Morgan ap Rhys, are you drunk already? The feast hasn’t even started.”

“No, I’m not drunk!” Morgan frowned indignantly, then stopped himself and looked down at the cup in his hand. “Ah, well maybe a little drunk.” He chuckled to himself. “I have an idea! Why don’t -you- come back with -me- and we can both get drunk together.”

Meadhbh arched an eyebrow. “Oh really? Well, there’s a problem with that because I have no intention of going anywhere with you!”

“Pfft, you tease me, M’lady. I see those sideways glances, the pining looks when you think I’m not watching!”

“Morgan, don’t be an arse. Go back to your camp—”

“No, no no,” Morgan cut her off, with a wave. “You see, there’s my problem. If I go back to my camp right now, then I want you to come with me. But if you won’t come with me, then I’ll be going alone. And that just isn’t something I’m willing to do.” He tossed the cup away, splashing his drink all over the ground nearby, and fumbled with the hilt of his sword as he began to draw it. “I didn’t want to do this the hard way.”

Meadhbh became painfully aware of the crowd of men who were gathering behind Morgan for the show. The men had all seen her fight. Stories about the Goldeneyed Lady who defeated the Commander of the Irish in combat had already been circulating before the army had returned to Bryn Euryn. The sea of faces now bore a mixture of pity, shock and even a bit of dark humor, all of which was directed at Morgan. She made one last attempt to stave off the inevitable, even as she drew her own sword. “Morgan. Go sleep off the drink. Don’t—”

Morgan closed the distance between them and lay a single finger on her lips. “Shhhhhh,” he whispered, as he swayed slightly. “I meant to woo you proper, M’lady. But I suppose this’ll have to do.”

Meadhbh laughed without mirth and shoved Morgan’s hand away from her face. “You’ll regret this in the morning, Morgan. I promise you that.”

With that, words were abandoned for the sound of swords meeting in combat. Meadhbh realized very quickly that this match would not last long as Morgan was far too drunk to measure his attacks. Every step he took was more of a stumble than the calculated footwork she knew he was capable of. When he thrust his sword straight at her, he overstepped the attack and she easily sidestepped him, and brought the flat of her blade around to smack him on the hindquarters. The men crowding around them howled a mixture of laughter and cheers, and when he paused to rub his now tender cheeks, she called out, “Do you give up now, you fool?”

Morgan laughed and charged at her. Their swords met once more, and despite herself Meadhbh found herself becoming lost in the patterns and rhythm of the swordplay. Sideswipe met with parry, thrust met with dod-

Two legs.

-ge. Morgan brought his sword down in an overhead sweep and Meadhbh parried the attack and kicked him away and into the mud. Morgan, still not willing to concede defeat, hauled himself out of the mud to continue the duel.


Morgan grinned wolfishly at Meadhbh. “I could be wrong, men, but, I think I’m starting to wear her down!” Raucous laughter echoed around them as Morgan approached her once more, sword held ready.


Meahbh’s vision focused down to a pinprick of light as the wolf sense cut through her like a blade. She saw only a brief flash of auburn hair, but the worst was the intense pain, followed by anguish. The sound of a wolf’s cry of pain echoed through her head.

Meadhbh blinked as her senses returned to the present, only to find the courtyard had fallen deathly quiet around her. She looked down at her hands, now empty, then glanced over several yards away where her sword lay in the mud. Before her stood Morgan, staring down at her over the point of his sword. The sea of faces around her registered shock, all of which was directed at her.

Morgan’s voice rumbled out drunkenly. “M’lady. I do think I’ve won.” Morgan ap Rhys, the man who defeated the Lady Goldeneyes in armed combat, then turned and walked a few paces away before emptying the contents of his stomach in a nearby shrub.