Chapter Thirty Four
Chapter Thirty Four
I sat over the bowl with eyes wide thinking why would you add a lizard to a stew. Conall learned towards me and whispered.
“Fish stew it doesnae need a name.”
I shot him a questioning look. I did however try a little. It was quite nice, very fishy. I noticed that Conall while shoving food into his mouth had a smile on his face. While Dougall simply looked puzzled. I was surprised that Conall had not told him about bugs the poor rabbit, seeing as he never failed to mention it.
I was also glad of the wine I was served instead of ale. It was a little sour but drinkable, and much better than the bitterness of the ale. When we had finished our meal, Maggie returned to take our bowls.
“Milady if’n ye don’t mind I ha taken tha liberty of havin’ a bath taken to ye room. Tha lads are fillin’ it now for ye.”
“Thank you Maggie I appreciate that, I would love a bath”
“Do I no get a bath too?” Dougall asked looking like a child who had missed out on a sweet.
“Aye me lord, yers tis oot back wi tha pigs.” Maggie sniped as she took the bowls huffing off to the kitchen. Conall shook with laughter.
“Is no funny.” Dougall snapped.
“Aye it is.” Conall laughed. “A mud bath would do ye well.”
“Aww Dougall, maybe you can have mine after I have had a bath.” I said sympathetically.
“Nay he can’t.” Conall snapped with a mouth full of bannock. Dougall rolled his eyes and tutted.
When the boys had finished their ale, we followed Maggie up a wooden staircase. Maggie grunted at the first door which was Dougall’s. Ours was the third door. The room was a little bigger than the last inn we stayed at. As we entered the two young stable boys ran out of the room with buckets in their hands.
Maggie shouted after them. “Off wi ye scalawags.” She turned and said if we needed anything to let her know closing the door behind her.
The bath looked inviting and I started to strip off my clothing.
“Do ye need me ta turn my back?” Conall smiled.
I smiled back continuing to strip, no longer feeling embarrassed to do so. Getting into the bath a knock came at the door. Conall strode to answer it only opening it a fraction so whomever it was couldn’t see me. I couldn’t hear who it was but heard Conall say he would be there in a moment before shutting the door.
“Who was it?”
“Lass there is a problem with one of the horses. I’m just going ta go an see what the problem is.”
“Take Dougall with you just in case.”
“In case o’ what?” he questioned “I dinnae need Dougall ta go with me. Am sure it is nothing.”
Conall leaned down and kissed me softly on the lips.
“I’ll be back before ye finish yer bath. If ye are still in it I’ll join ye.”
I stayed in the bath until the water began to cool. Conall should have been back by now. I got out of the bath, and dried myself. I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach something wasn’t right. I don’t know why I just felt it. I dressed and knocked on Dougall’s door. When he answered the door the look on my face told him something was wrong.
“What is it Morgan?”
“Conall went to check the horses, he hasn’t come back.”
“When, why would he go check tha horses?”
“Someone came to the door and said there was a problem. He went to check. Something’s wrong I know it.”
“Wait here I will go and find him.” Dougall said as he rushed to put his boots on.
“No! I am coming with you. No arguments.”
We hurried down the stairs and out the door to the stables. Dougall shouted for Conall as he moved quickly between the horses. One of the stable boys came around the corner surprised to see us. Dougall questioned him, but the boy didn’t know anything. He hadn’t seen Conall and he said nothing was wrong with the horses.
I ran out of the stables shouting Conall’s name. I was shaking thinking the worst possible thing that could have happened to him. Dougall came up behind me placing a hand on my shoulders. Then I spotted the wolf running towards us in the distance. When the wolf saw me, he stood his ground and howled. I went from a shaking mess to a controlled angry woman. I knew as soon as I saw Silver that Conall had been taken.
I turned to Dougall. “Saddle the horses. I’m going to go get Abbey.” I yelled as I headed back to the Inn. Dougall didn’t question me he ran back into the stable.
When I returned with Abbey on my back and the quiver hanging at my side Dougall was waiting with the horses, saddled and ready to go. He helped me up and we took off after the wolf. Silver ran like the wind and we were right behind him. We rode hard in the saddle for near an hour. I just hoped that we could get to Conall before he was hurt. Why the hell would they take Conall? I was determined not to lose him now, and not to a bloody Brollachan.
Why would they take him when it was me they wanted and what I had? The question burned in my mind. As we swept over a hill coming down into a low valley we caught the sight of four horses ahead of us. A body was slumped over the saddle in front of one of the riders. We pushed the horses faster keeping pace with the wolf. When I was close enough I dropped the reins, pulling Abbey out of her brace. Pulling a bolt, I caught the look of shock on Dougall’s face. I simply nodded and loaded it.
Even though we were thundering down the hill I held my aim and let the bolt fly. It lodged into the back of a rider. His body tumbled from his horse. The horse kept going. I loaded another bold and lined my aim again. The bolt took out a second rider.
“Lass can ye leave one fer me.” Dougall yelled
I dropped Abbey into her brace and took the reins back. The last two riders slowed their horses and turned with swords in their hands.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about.” Dougal shouted pulling his sword and waving it in the air. I wondered when he’d gotten it as he hadn’t been wearing it when we went down to the stables. As we raced towards the riders the wolf leaped in the air and took rider three from his horse. The last rider threw his load to the ground and charged Dougall. I rushed to Conall jumping off my horse. He was out cold his hands and feet tied. His face covered in blood from a head wound. I quickly untied his hands then set about healing him.
Dougall was fighting the Brollachan with his sword on horseback. He also appeared to be enjoying goading his opponent. Then with a flash he took off in one sweep the head. As he rode up to us he jumped from his horse before the horse had time to stop.
“How is he?” he panted dropping down beside Conall.
“I’ve healed his head wound. He should wake soon.” I couldn’t find any other wounds on him. I just hoped that I had gotten to him in time. We both turned when the wolf howled. Our eyes followed where he was looking. Coming over the hill were more riders, a lot more riders. I drew my breath in.
“God’s blood.” Dougall exclaimed. “There must be at least fifty or more.”
“That’s it! I have had enough!” I yelled as I got to my feet. Dougal tried to pull me back down.
“Lass we no can fight so many.”
I pulled away from Dougall and marched forward. I was angry. No, I was more than angry, I was incensed, they took my husband and now they were going to pay. I raised my hands palms down. The ground began to rumble and shake. I raised them higher as a wall of dirt, stones and rocks rose in front of me. Then I flung my hands forward. The wall moved towards the riders increasing in speed as it went.
The wall took out most of the riders leaving a dozen still coming that had somehow managed to miss the swirling wall of dirt. I pulled Abbey and loaded her with a bolt. As one bolt was released I loaded another. Five riders down. The wolf had reached a rider and took him down swiftly, going for the next. Dougal mounted his horse and raced headlong into the foray, sword once again swinging screaming his war cry.
I had one bolt left and held Abbey loaded waiting. The wolf took out another rider tearing him from his horse. Dougall finished the last two off. I unloaded the bolt and put Abbey back in her brace. I returned to Conall just as he was coming around.
I put my hands on Conall’s face searching his eyes to make sure he was ok. I kissed his face and his mouth. He didn’t respond he sat looking owl faced at me. Dougall came to his side. I was worried by the look on Conall’s face if he had a head injury, I checked him again, feeling for any bumps or wounds.
“Bràthair are ye ok? Ye should ha seen the lass she was amazing. Ne’er missed with her bolts, and tha wall o’ dirt and stones. She took out near on fifty o’ tha bastards.” Dougall ranted.
Conall got to his feet, his attitude was cold and distant as if Dougall hadn’t said anything.
“Dougall ye’ll need to give me a lift back ta the inn.” Conall said as he walked towards Dougall’s horse.
“Conall.” I called. I was worried he seemed irritated and was ignoring me. My heart sank.
“I’m fine lass. We need ta get back.” he said indifferently. I looked to Dougall silently pleading him to help. How I wasn’t sure. I didn’t understand what was wrong with him. Conall hoisted himself into the saddle with Dougall getting up behind him.
We rode back to the inn in silence. I gave Conall a few side glances but he kept his sight forward. I knew Dougall was whispering to him but received no response. As we brought the horse to the stable Conall jumped down and disappeared into the inn leaving Dougall and the one of the stable boys to unsaddle the horses.
I felt lost as I walked towards the inn. I couldn’t work out what was wrong with him. Maybe the hit on the head had done more damage than I thought. That would account for his strange behavior. I found Conall in the corner of the sitting with an ale. I sat down at the table.
“Lass ye need ta sleep.” He said staring at his ale. “We be sailing for the isle in the morn.” His voice that more of a father than a husband.
“Conall. Did I do something wrong, have I upset you somehow?” I beseeched wringing my hands.
He looked at me as if he was looking at a stranger. My heart sank lower.
“Ye saved me twice.”
“Yes, and you saved me twice.”
“But I am yer protector. If’n ye no had yer ability. Ye would be dead an I would nay have been able ta save ye.”
What was I to say to that. In one way, what he was saying was true but in another it was not. I said the only thing I could think of.
“You are not only my protector, you are my husband. I’m sorry.” I was saying I was sorry but how could he be angry that I saved him. Did he expect me to just let them take him? Tears were streaming down my face.
Conall turned to look at me a frown creasing his brow.
“An why would ye be sorry?” he stood and left the inn without another word.
I was shattered. As I got up Dougall came through the door. He gave me a distraught look before I turned for the stairs and ran to the room. I removed Abbey and the brace, my boots and jerkin. I laid on the bed thinking about what Conall has said. I didn’t really know how to deal with this situation. Conall had looked dejected, defeated.
I understood the words he had uttered I am ye protector. How was I going to fix this, my head swirled with possible answers? None making much sense. Would it make things better between us if I was to give up my new-found ability? I didn’t think I could continue the journey without him, damn I love him, our hearts and souls were joined. I would do anything he asked me to without thinking about the consequences.
Could I give my abilities up, wouldn’t it deny who I was, who I had become? I was drowning in my thoughts when a knock came at the door. I jumped up immediately thinking it was Conall. Opening the door, I realised that Conall wouldn’t have knocked. A distressed looking Dougall stood there.
“Dougall, have you spoken to him…as he-.”
Dougall interrupted me. “I have lass. I have to go-.”
“Go where…where are you going?” The thought of Dougall leaving now was too much.
“Lass do you trust me?” he asked. I nodded. “Morgan, I will be back. Do not leave the inn until I return.” It was more as an order than a request.
“Where are you going?” I asked in desperation. “You can’t leave now I need you, we have to help Conall. Oh Dougall it’s all my fault.”
Dougall took my hands in his. “It’s not your fault Morgan, Conall doesn’t seem ta be able to come ta terms with your abilities. I guess he thinks he has let ye doon. I will be back with help.” Tears once again ran down my face. Dougall leaned forward to kiss me on the cheek. “I will be back. Wait for me.” with that he left.
I stood in the doorway feeling totally helpless. Unsure of how and where Dougall could find help. What sort of help could he bring back. I closed the door and returned to the bed. I sobbed into the pillow feeling utterly desolate. I didn’t think my abilities would be such a problem. I needed to finish my parents mission but at what cost. My mother had lost my father because of the mission. Would I also lose Conall? Was it worth the cost?
I got up angry with the conflicting thoughts in my head and took the pendant off throwing it on the bed. Pacing the floor, a tap came at the door. I opened it to a young woman around my age. Shorter than I, her red hair plaited over one shoulder. She was dressed as a maid but I couldn’t remember seeing her before.
She curtsied. “Pardon me milady me name is Betty. Mistress Maggie asked if ye could be of assistance.”
“Maggie? What is wrong?”
“Tha mistress well she has a…woman’s problem and thought ye being a lady that ye could help her as such. Would ye come with me milady?”
Unsure of what Maggie’s problem was I didn’t think about it and followed Betty downstairs. She led me behind the counter.
“Where is Maggie?” I asked. She hadn’t exactly said what Maggie’s problem was. She just waved her hand frantically at me to follow her as she disappeared around the corner of the counter through a door. I followed.
On the other side of the door were a set of well-worn stairs with little lighting. Betty was hurrying down them.
“Betty, where is she?” I called after the scurrying girl. Again she didn’t answer me. This was very strange why would Maggie be down here. Still I followed the girl.