She's the One Who Gets in Fights
She’s the One that Gets in Fights
(Book Three of the War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters)
by S.R. Cronin
Do you know what your problem is?
Sulphur knows hers. This 13th-century woman has trained as a fighter all her life in hopes of joining the army. Then, within days, both of her older sisters announce plans and suddenly Sulphur is expected to find a man to marry instead.
Is it her good fortune her homeland is gripped by fear of a pending invasion and the army now goes door to door encouraging recruits? Sulphur thinks it is. But once she’s forced to kill in a small skirmish, she’s ready to rethink her career decision. Too bad it’s too late. The invasion is coming, and Ilari needs every good soldier it has.
Once Sulphur learns Ilari’s army has made the strategic decision to not defend certain parts of the realm, including the one where her family lives, she has to re-evaluate her loyalty. Is it with the military she’s always admired? Or is it with her sisters, who are hatching a plan to defend their homeland with magic?
The problem with being a woman who fights for what’s right is that now, she has to figure out what is.
(The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story and perspective of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. While these historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.)
My father repaired the railing on the front porch as the three men rode up, two of them wearing the bright yellow cloaks of the officers. He spoke to them before he brought them inside.
My mother was out for the day, but both twins were home. On a day so mild, Olivine sketched in the backyard and I heard Celestine humming in her room as she composed a song. I envied them and their seemly pursuits. Art and music were acceptable and even admirable activities for educated women. Their lives were so much easier than mine.
We all gathered in the main room as my father and the Svadlu came in. I swear Olivine and Celestine looked hopeful, as if they expected the men brought an invitation to a royal ball. I wanted to remind my sisters I’d been to one and it had been quite a disappointment.
As I watched the men, my father glanced my way. Did the soldiers’ visit have something to do with me? When my father met my eyes before he spoke, I knew it did.
“Did you girls know the Svadlu have recently decided to double their numbers before winter comes?”
“I heard something about that in the market,” Celestine said in a tone that conveyed she hadn’t been expected to be asked about anything so boring. She rolled her eyes. “The Mongols.”
“It’s a serious threat,” my father rebuked her. “These men have come seeking candidates to join the army. Those who wouldn’t normally consider such a move are being encouraged to do so, for the sake of our realm.”
“I’ve never known the Svadlu to go door to door recruiting,” I said. “People struggle to get in, not the other way around.”
“You’re right,” one of them answered, appreciative of my acknowledging the Svadlu’s status. “But these are unusual times, and we face an unprecedented problem. We targeted your farm today because we were told there was a daughter here with fighting skills.”
His eyes took in Olivine’s slight build, the passion in her green eyes, and the artwork in her hands. His gaze moved on to Celestine, who’d been the family beauty since birth. Her grooming and dress were both exquisite, particularly for a farm girl in the middle of the day.
He looked at me. “Would you be able to come with us?”
“Are you going somewhere I wish to go?” I couldn’t help grinning at him.
“If you hesitate, we’ve been asked to give you a message from your sister’s new husband.” The man cleared his throat and recited in the singsong tone of a messenger. “Given the circumstances of Ilari’s great need for competent fighters, I hereby request that you, Sulphur, choose to apply for admission to the Svadlu. You may consider me as your sponsor.”
The man resumed his normal tone of voice. “Davor is one of the best we’ve got, so you’ve got a Heli of a powerful fighter in your corner. To be honest, few would turn such a request from him down.”
I couldn’t begin to imagine how Coral had managed this, but I knew this abrupt turn-around had to be her doing. I’d be grateful to her for the rest of my life.
“How long do I have to pack up my things?”
Another of the soldiers answered. “We’re going to four more farms in the area, all reputed to have contenders for recruitment. We’ll be back for you shortly after noon, perhaps with other recruits. Will that give you enough time?”
I turned to my father with questions in my eyes.
“Go on,” he said. “Get ready. I’ll explain everything to your mother when she gets back.”
About the Author
Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.
She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.
All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.
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