Chapter Three - Ailsa

Chapter Three - Ailsa

A Chapter by NicMac

Ailsa and Calan attend the village's 'manhood speech'.


Under the cold grey sky, the busy little courtyard was full of impatient young men when Ailsa arrived, ruby cheeked and out of breath. She was dressed in a pale blue tunic, that was cinched at the waist by a long dusty apron. Her full eyes were deep blue and childlike, distinct against her pastel white skin. She was rather small for fifteen, causing her to spend a lot of time on the tips of her toes. She scanned the sea of drab coloured clothes and hopeful pale faces, biting her lip and squinting her eyes. Her body relaxed when her eye caught a scruffy haired boy standing alone at the back, leaning against the old oak tree. She smiled widely as she ran towards him, locks of her pinned brown hair fell loose to her shoulders with each bounce.

“What are you doing here, Ailsa?” he grunted, keeping his arms crossed and his shoulder firmly glued to the rough bark of the tree, “This is for men, not silly girls.”

Ailsa rolled her eyes, “Oh, stop being so sour, Calan, you knew I’d come.” she reacted, pulling a small piece of confectionary from her pocket, holding it up in front of him teasingly. He looked ahead and exhaled deeply, then suddenly smirked and hurled his hand forward. Ailsa snapped away sharply and gave him a stern look.

“Say it.” She demanded “Say you are glad that I’m here.”

Calan crossed his arms again in defiance, pouting slightly as he stared down at his boots. “I’m glad,” He murmured, looking up to see Ailsa raising her eyebrows in anticipation. “I’m glad you are here!” Calan exclaimed, a rare smile framing his face as he pounced at her. He hastily grabbed his prize and pushed it into his mouth whole, gazing back beyond the crowd at the main house. Ailsa laughed and pushed him playfully as he wiped the crumbs from his grin. 

“You know, I’m not here for you anyway,” she jested, crinkling her nose at the pungent smell of unwashed, juvenile boys in the breeze, “my future husband is somewhere in this filthy lot.”

Calan raised his eyebrows, chortling at the thought. “lucky guy,” he mockingly complimented with his mouth full, to which she crudely stuck out her tongue in dispute.

A loud horn sounding three deep blasts quickly wiped the smile from Calan’s face, he swallowed hard, shifting his stance as shiver shot through him. The main door of the house softly opened, and the aged Chief Ashford emerged, his plump frame adorned by his usual lavish robes, striding towards a wooden podium in front of the courtyard. He was accompanied by Han, a miserable, hardened looking guard who stood a few paces behind him, scowling at anyone that dared look in his direction. Ailsa rose onto her tiptoes and clicked her tongue in frustration, using the guise of a bad view to shuffle slightly closer to Calan.

“You strong young men before me today,” the chief began, boldly, “are the future stonemasons, bakers, farmers, blacksmiths, tailors, soldiers, and of course, leaders of Falaisgear.”

Ailsa snorted contemptuously, sending heads spinning back and glaring at the source of interruption. Her eyes widened and she let out a quiet whine of discomfort, sliding her body behind Calan’s to avoid the unwanted attention.

“In a few days, you will be expected to come to me and confirm your chosen trade,” the chief continued, “We have this ceremony, not to say goodbye to our childhoods, but to formally welcome our responsibilities as men. I myself, chose to be a tailor like my father, before I married, and accepted the honour of becoming chief. It is a time-honoured tradition, that we should take the trades of our patriarchs.”

Ailsa’s eyes trained on Calan, watching his hands move up and massage his neck uneasily as he listened to the Chief.

“The passing of the torch bolsters the bond of father and son and creates the ideal successors of these noble duties. For those of you without fathers, you must decide for yourselves, as men, if you will build the walls that shelter us, grow the crops that feed us or enforce our laws that protect us.”

Ailsa moved back beside Calan, her worried glances examined his reddening face and glistening eyes. She gently put her hand close to his, slowly moving to hold it. His fingers softly grasped hers for a split second, then he swiftly pulled them away, sullenly tucking his hands under his arms. Upon the rejection of comfort, Ailsa shifted a pace away, continuing to watch over Calan affectionately.

“If you cannot find a place to be of use in the village, you will be trained as a gateman, it may not be the most popular choice, but it is a crucial role and comes with a great deal of responsibility, protecting the village from the cursed beasts outside our walls.”

Calan grumbled, wandering away from Ailsa and the captivated crowd, rubbing his hand over his face and up through his hair. Ailsa followed him for a few moments before stopping and calling out to him, “Want to test out the new axes?”

Calan stopped and took a deep breath. “Fine,” He replied, “but I don’t want to talk.”

Ailsa pressed her lips together in an effort to conceal a smile, and answered “Who said anything about talking, I don’t want to talk, honestly, if you say a word to me, I’m out of there.”

As he turned unenthusiastically to join her, she shrugged and gave him a playful wink, casually gesturing for him to follow. She spun round and began to saunter toward the smithy with Calan sluggishly marching along behind her.

© 2021 NicMac

Author's Note

Not as long as I'd like but I plan on coming back with fresh eyes to see what I'm missing.

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Added on March 25, 2021
Last Updated on March 25, 2021
Tags: fantasy, fiction, objective, magic, discovery, coming-of-age, rehabilitation



Scotland, United Kingdom

Just starting out. Trying to fight the desperate urge to extensively world build before writing. more..

Chapter One - Han Chapter One - Han

A Chapter by NicMac