A white dove planes over a crude amphitheater of wooden structures on beaten soil. At its center, two warriors bout and exchange blows. Or, better said, one deals them and the other either barely deflects or poorly endures them.
A long golden curly mane waving with the wind as she swishes and hacks from left to right and then down to up, her opponent barely able to hold her merry onslaught, canines at full display on a toothy grin. On the other side, a contrasting mantle of night cascades down the back of the cornered warrior, though it would have been charitable to name her so given her appearance: the strong crimson flush on a particularly pale face, a drumming heart on an exhausted chest, the obvious signs of one approaching their physical limit and pushing a bit past it. Yet for all the differences, the two opponents share some obvious traits: the same thin-ended nose, the same contour of the cheek and chin, and while the attacker's eyes were steely gray and the defender's of a more lively sky blue, the same lively intensity could be perceived. It would be hard not to notice they flesh from the same blood.
Yet to all of this the avian creature was oblivious. A much more coveted prize could be found on a dais overlooking the training battle, in where yet another two figures loomed over a table full of what the bird would qualify as delicacies: dried apples, breads of rye, wheat, barley and other grains, berries, and even cold meats of varied types of game, a warning for the animal not to approach too incautiously, not to end in one of those plates.
It was on such dais that a man, whose facial features strongly resembled those of the combatants - as it is not uncommon for progenitors to, observed each movement with a relaxed expression, but very attentive eyes, his hands deftly playing with a knife that could either fit as cutlery as well as a tool of murder. Next to him a muscular yet wiry thin woman, clad in vestments of authority, observed the same scene, though her looks were much more expressive. And it was disappointment what the frown of her mouth shared.
"She is not ready," she offered, to which the man merely nodded. This not enough of a prompt, she added: "she will not be ready," reinforcing her point and giving him a pointed stare, which he met, with his frank and insincere smile.
"She does not need to, she is a smart girl," he offered charitably.
Shaking her head, the chieftess let a few heartbeats pass before further passing judgment on the man's daughter, "She does not wield any weapon with skill, she lacks attention to perform administrative duties and has caused more than one incident, she takes no interest in spiritual matters, and she spends all days long behind those books..." Her eyes turning briefly to the man with a look of something resembling regret, she sighed, finishing, "I am not sure how she could be of use to the clan."
His cold smile never fading, as a puppet for whom emotions are merely something to emulate, his tone could easily be mistaken for gentle, "She could be of use in foreign courts, forging valuable alliances. The spirits know we could use those."
A look that transpired pure and unadulterated skepticism held for a few moments, the chieftess merely nodded, her looks of defeat and resignation. Yet the man's unnatural smile did not change one bit as he raised a hand for a second one servant to, prompted by the sign, beat a drum three times.
Down at the arena a sword slash cut in mid-movement, and Mæva looked up at the dais, with her sister cowering beneath, spared of this last blow, her hands shaky on her own slim sword, sweat plastering the hair now wildly falling over her eyes and impairing her sight. But at the sign of this truce she inhaled deeply and followed up in summon.
"You are to travel west, girl, and pay respects to the Zarmian peoples. And then to visit the freefolk of the Thalis, and you have also been invited to Old Havengate." The chieftess voice was rather flat, only a hint of something resembling kindness. But the face of Ásdís, at whom she was directing those words, was of the pure joy that only honest surprise and true innocence can produce. "Then you may continue your travels and establish diplomatic connections to other realms that may be of use to the clan, you must always carry a proper supply of lendan stones and be ready to-" continued the chieftess, but while her head was eagerly nodding in agreement the truth is that the girl was no longer listening, to where her mind had gone one could only speculate.
And this was how, with a cheerful but rough noogie from her sister and the simulacrum of a gentle smile from her father, Ásdís started her journey west first and then south, the chieftess Rivkah Kleykirya and a few others relieved of a problem postponed, while she herself ecstatic on the possibility of living the tales of knights and romance of her dusty tomes, in a world completely unlike the frozen and harsh wastes of the north, where true beauty had no truly arrived - in her eyes.
Of all of this that little pigeon can bear witness, should its wits allow it, for it has observed it with its own little eyes - despite its focus was predominantly on the bread slices, of which it did end up gaining some crumbs.