Chapter Twenty Eight
Chapter Twenty Eight
I awoke to someone coming in the door and the burning of the pendant against my skin.
“Conall!” I screamed. As quick as a flash, two men ran across to where I lay on the bed. I screamed again. One of the men grabbed my arms digging his fingers into my skin, while the other took hold of my legs. I struggled against them, trying to flay my arms, and kick my legs from their hold. “Get off me you bastards!” I yelled at them only to receive a hard smack to my face.
A metallic taste bit into my mouth. I was dragged to the floor towards the door. I continued to kick and squirm trying to release their hold on me. I managed to bite a hand, wanting to retch at the familiar stench as it hit the back of my throat. A sudden punch to my face served only to heighten my anger. I thrashed harder.
Conall’s heart stopped when he heard Morgan scream. He sped to the hut, pulling his claymore over his shoulder. Dougall was right behind him with sword and dirk in hand. Two men were dragging a screaming and kicking Morgan through the door. Conall’s anger roared through his body rushing towards the Brollachans who had not let go of their prey to charge swords drawn towards he and Dougall.
Conall reached the bigger of the two swinging his claymore into an arc. The big man evaded the blow and spun to bring his sword with an under arc to Conall’s side. Conall was quicker, he parried, side stepping him. They dodged and ducked two and fro. The clash of steel on steel.
Dougall had taken on the second man. As he swung his sword around to the left, the villain’s blade nicked his arm. Dougall continued with the fight, swinging back slicing his opponent across the midriff. His adversary went down just as Conall’s did. Conall wiped his sword on the dead attacker’s jerkin and placed it back into its holder before running to Morgan.
I sat in the doorway watching Conall and Dougall fighting with the two who had dragged me from the bed. Conall moved with such speed and fluidity it was amazing to watch. Dougall also moved and fought with provocation and speed. I caught my breath when Dougall’s opponent sliced his arm. It didn’t stop him he continued as if he had not been hit.
When the two Brollachans lay dead on the floor Conall came to me, his face full of concern.
“Lass are you alright?” he asked as he picked me up and walked to the bed, but instead of putting me down, he sat on the bed cradling me in his arms. “Are ye hurt?” he wiped the blood from my chin causing anger to blaze across his eyes as I had seen it when he was fighting the Brollachan. Dougall came in and stood in front of us his face tight with worry. “Conall I checked tha perimeter. Two horses wi tied nearby. I have sent them on their way. Are ye hale lass?”
“I am fine you too, now stop fussing.” I begrudged getting off Conall’s lap. Then I remembered that Dougall had taken a hit to his arm.
“Dougall sit in the chair and let me see that arm of yours.” he gave me a puzzled look but did as I asked. I ran my hand above where blood had seeped from the wound. Within a minute it had healed. Dougall looked at his arm and then at me.
“Aye she can heal too.” Conall added.
I was happy to heal Dougall’s arm but the thought as to how the damned Brollachans knew where I was all the time had gotten to me. “How do they know where I am all the bloody time?” throwing myself on to the chair in frustration.
“I no ken lass.” Conall said raking his hands through his hair as he got up. He was wondering the same thing. “Do ye think maybe the pendant is attracting them, like a beacon of some kind?’
I had no idea, though I had thought of that. It was a possibility but then anything was a possibility.
“Lass when ye came from yer time what did ye bring with ye?” Douglas asked as he brought me a wet cloth to wipe the blood off my face.
“My box, pendant and Abbey but no one got to them. The box and the pendant were in hiding since my mother gave them to me. Abbey well no one has touched her except for Sloane.”
“Are ye sure ye brought nothing else with ye, no jewellery, anything on ye skin that shouldnae be there? There has to be something that’s causing the Brollachan tae track ye.” Dougall began raking his fingers through his hair, in the same way that Conall did, and was doing.
“Even the clothes that Ula gave me I left at Conall’s cottage. These clothes I found in his cupboard.”
Conall had been pacing the floor. All of a sudden, he stopped a look of revelation on his face. He came to me and put his hands on my shoulders. “Lass ye have a tattoo on yer back. When did ye get it?”
“It’s not a tattoo. I told you that at the inn, it is a scar.”
“Nay lass it’s a tattoo. When did you get it?” he asked again with more urgency.
“I got it the night I was in London, when I had dinner with Joe, he said that on the way back to my room I had fallen on a carpet tack on the stairs.” I was confused, why would I have a tattoo.
Dougall’s face changed, his eyes widened and his mouth fell open in shock.
“Dougall lad do ye ken what it is?” Conall asked fear creeping across his own face from the look on Dougall’s.
“Aye I think so. Lass can I be ill-mannered and ask ye if I can see it?”
I looked to Conall. I was still confused as to why he thought the scar was a tattoo, and what it had to do with the Brollachans. Conall nodded to me as I got up and stood before them.
“Bràthair ye need to turn ye back.” he said as he came to stand next to Dougall and turned around. The two of them stood there with their back to me.
I turned as well before I undid the buckles on my jerkin, then removed my shirt. I splayed the shirt to my front leaving my back exposed.
“Ok you can turn around now.” I said holding the shirt firmly against me.
“Gods blood!” this exclamation didn’t come from Conall but from Dougall. I twisted my head to try and see them. They were staring at my back, a somewhat slightly disconcerted sensation.
“Ok lass we are turned so ye can dress now.”
I turned just to make sure, seeing as they had turned I dressed quickly. “What is it?”
Dougall turned as he gave Conall a devastated look. “Bràthair she has the deamhan tatú. Now I ken why da sent me.”.
Conall had seen the tattoo at the inn and thought something wasn’t right when she had insisted it was a scar. Why he didn’t think of it being a deamhan tatú he wasn’t sure, but now Dougall had confirmed it, this was not good. “Lad he nay saw the mark on Morgan’s back.”
“I dinnae think he was sure Conall, but with Brollachans turning up so fast he may o’ thought it was a possibility. I was hoping tha it wasn’t though. I am tha only one of our clan tha has seen one afore.”.
“I don’t understand what is it?” My anxiety had just taking a step up. Was the scar an actual tattoo put there by Joe. “Why would he tattoo me?” I looked from Dougal to Conall.
Conall led me to a chair and sat me down. He and Dougall sat opposite.
“Lass it is no just a tattoo.” Dougall said as he looked at Conall. “It’s attached to ye spine like.”
I jumped up. “What! What do you mean it’s attached to my spine? God no!” Conall jumped up and eased me back down to my chair.
“Lass it’s going to be alright.” he said but his face showed the opposite.
“I’m sorry milady but it is leading the Brollachans to ye. It tracks ye.” Dougall continued.
“You mean the bastard put a tracking device in me? I have a piece of metal attached to my spine that can track me wherever I go?”
“Nay lass it’s no metal” Conall said with a sigh. “It’s alive, it has tentacles wrapped round ye spine.”
Oh sweet mercy, I felt as if I was going to throw up. I couldn’t breathe, my head was spinning. “I’ve got a fucking octopus in my back.” oh this was too much. Sweat was beading on my forehead. Conall took hold of my hands trying to keep me calm as my breathing had quickened, I was hyperventilating.
“Get it out!” I screamed. “Conall cut it out now! Conall please!”
“I no can do that lass. Dougall do ye ken who can remove a deamhan tatú.”
“Aye I do bràthair. He is Fingin, the fáithliaig. He’s a Druid.”
“Well let’s go find this Fingin.” I said searching Conall’s face.
“Tis not as easy as that milady.” Dougall said sheepishly.
“Why where is he?” panic was setting in further.
“He’s no in this time. We have ta travel to him or somehow get him here, but I nay think he will like tha too much. He does no like ta travel.” Dougal had begun pacing.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I have a parasite with tentacles, wrapped around my spine that’s a beacon to the Brollachan of my every movement. The only person who can remove it is some Druid in another time who doesn’t like to travel. Is that all of it Dougall?” He nodded. Was I distressed, agitated, incensed, hell I would say so. I took some deep hard breathes to bring my breathing under control calming myself.
I needed to think logical. This was no easy feat as the thought of a creature in my body was overwhelming. It had however been there for the past thirteen months. Another day or so would make no difference. I pulled myself together, rising from my seat I walked and paced the floor with Dougall.
“Ok how do we get to this Druid here?” Both of them were stunned by my sudden composure. “Which do we do first. Get the pendant to the Callanish stones or get this…this parasite out of my body?” I stood feet apart, arms crossed.
Conall jumped in to answer my question. “If’n we continue ta head to the Isle of Lewis the attacks will no doubt increase, seeing as they can detect ye, no matter where ye go. Even with the three of us it will be a miracle ta get there in one piece. If we get it oot it will take more time, but once it’s oot we will have nay problem with them. The challenge is that we have to be at the stones before the next full moon. If we miss the time, it will take nineteen years before we can send the pendant home.”
“The next full moon, but that’s only a week away. Well no pressure then.” I declared with a huff. “Ok then we best get to this Druid and get this done. Dougall how do we do this?” I returned to my chair.
It was decided that Dougall would travel back to the ninth century to retrieve the Druid. He suggested that we head to Ben More Assynt. It was only a fifteen to twenty-minute ride. There were a vast number of caves on the mountain and some ground caves at the base near the Traligill river.
He knew of one cave he had used before where you could see anyone coming for a mile or so, being only one available route to the cave. It would be safe and we could see anyone including Brollachans well in advance. We packed what little there was into the saddlebags, including the extra blankets that were on the bed, should we have need of them. Loaded we headed out.
We crossed two small streams before the hills became steeper and rockier. Travelling beside a river we climbed higher. At first the journey was not too arduous but we soon came to the point where we couldn’t take the horses any further. It was just too rugged, stones from the size of a marble to mammoths littered the ground.
Conall and Dougall stripped the horses of baggage and saddles. The saddles and reins, they hid behind a clump of trees on the river bank, covering them with fallen branches. I cooed goodbye to Flora before Conall slapped Torq on the hind quarters to go back down the hills. The other two horses followed.
As we travelled further up the western flank beside the river we were confronted by Ben More Assynt’s huge scree girt flanks. The sight of airy approaches of scrambling on awkward tilted slabs was amazing and daunting at the same time. Although, the surrounding was a most desolate rocky area strewn with rocks, boulders, slabs and pebbles it was also majestic.
“It looks like there was a war here between two giants.” I huffed, the climb was steep and made more arduous by having to climb or move around rocks.
“Well.” said Dougall. “Assynt is an old Norse word meaning ridge end, it is said tha two brothers Unt meaning man of peace, and Ass Unt being man of discord fought here.”
“Don’t tell me, Ass Unt won?”
“Aye he did.” Dougall smiled.
“You know Dougall you are quite knowledgeable for a teenager.”
“Teenager?” Dougall asked obviously not knowing the word.
“Aye it means ye are a clever dick.” piped in Conall.
Dougall gave Conall a sardonic look and a raise of an eyebrow. Not impressed Dougall charged up the slope, not to be outdone by his brother. It took a couple of hours to reach the cave that Dougall had mentioned. Conall pointed to a mountain in the distance.
“That be Conival and the wee smaller peaks are Quinag, cul Mor and Caniep.” he said heading towards the opening of the cave.
“So, I have two clever dicks on this journey.” I retorted. Conall kept walking shaking his head. Dougall turned to give me a sly grin.
The opening to the cave was larger than most we had passed. Turning around I could see what Dougall meant. The track we had come along was the only way in and out. Anyone approaching could be seen for a good mile or so.
Conall lit a torch just inside the entrance with his flint handing it to me while he went to retrieve another further in.