In The Fox, you will follow the lives of Jahna and Lovern, two people who lived in what is now Scotland, during the time of the invading Romans. The Romans threatened Jahna and Lovern, their clan and most importantly, the life of their child. They struggled to find a way to stop the coming invasion and in doing so, left traces of their lives.
Aine, an archeologist, is working to rebuild her career and is led by instinct, or a vision (or is it a ghost?) to a hilltop in Scotland.
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 was long and straight, the colors of autumn, amber laced with gold and red. Her brother Beathan’s hair was similar. Hers smelled of herbs when she washed it. She wore it loose. Mine was black as a raven’s-wing and never where I wanted it. I wore mine tied back. Her eyes were blue as clear snow water, mine the color of mistletoe leaves with oak splinters. She reached Beathan’s chin, and my head came to his lower chest. Smiles were rare on her solemn face, and I seemed not to know how to be serious. She blended into our family, the village, the clan. I was like none of them. She told me I was like my father, a trader from the south. I wished I had known my father.
Beathan sliced another large piece of cheese and stuffed it into his mouth. My stomach groaned. Chewing, he continued. “However, Cerdic. You do have a rich farm. You will be able to provide your son with sheep and pigs to start his own family. And he will inherit your land one day, goddess willing.” He drank long from his cup of mead.
Cerdic was a small man with arms strong enough to lift one of his sheep out of a ravine and shoulders broad enough to carry lambs. Harailt, like his mother, grew tall, thin and quiet. His shorter father looked up to him but Harailt heeded his father’s wishes.
Blankets and pieces of clothing were strewn all over my uncle’s home. Bridles and parts of his chariot lay on the table in the midst of repair. His hunting dogs laid asleep on his bed, or at his feet, gnawing on the remnants of last night’s dinner. In the gloom of the room, we had to be careful not to trip over whatever was on the floor. My aunt used to straighten after him, but she died two planting seasons ago.