Chapter Thirty Nine
Chapter Thirty Nine
“Well she is one mighty big amazon of a woman.” I said daring Conall with my eyes in case he had any thoughts of slapping me in the head. He grinned and leaned towards me giving me a quick kiss.
“Ock get a room.” Dougall snapped to another slap in the head. “God’s blood bràthair can ye no stop hitting me. Ye are gonna scramble me brains. I’ll be no fit ta think fer meself.”
Dougall suddenly pushed his chair back, flapping his arms in the air, his body shaking profusely, head lolling to the side with his tongue hanging out like a rabid dog. Ula and I burst out laughing at Dougall’s antics. Sloan covered his face with his hand hiding a grin. Conall looking somewhat alarmed at his brother’s sudden animation.
The female amazon who had brought plates to the table suddenly stopped dead in her tracks. A look of total incredulity on her face, unsure whether Dougall was having a fit or transforming into a demon.
Dougall straightened himself up and apologized to the keeper. She slammed the plates down so hard that they bounced. What looked like herrings spattering onto the table. She was visibly not impressed. Ula and I did our best to tamper down our amusement.
“Wi ye be stayin tha night then.” the keeper asked, still eyeing Dougall suspiciously, lest he take another fit.
“Aye” Sloane said. “We would be needing three rooms if’n ye have them?”
“Ye can ha two rooms, that one can sleep in tha stables wi tha beasts. I want nay trouble in ma place.” she said pointing to Dougall.
“Why do I ha ta sleep in tha barn all tha time?” Dougall protested folding his arms across his chest.
I thought I had better jump in quick before Dougall found himself once again tossed out on his ear. “I’m sorry if he has caused you any problems, he’s a good boy really, he’s just silly at times. You must know what young boys are like at their age. He won’t be any trouble. I take full responsibility for him.” I pleaded in earnest to the woman.
“Aye then, make sure he does.” she answered sternly leaving the table, eyeing Dougall sourly one more time. She returned with ales and two cups of wine. “He’ll no be drinkin’ will he?” she said with a still serious look to her face. I assured her he wouldn’t to the dismay of Dougall.
A few minutes later I spoke to Sloane. “Uncle could you stand and tell me where the innkeeper is please.” he looked perplexed but did as I asked.
“She is talking with a couple of men at the end of the room lass.”
“Is she looking this way uncle?”
“Nay I can see her back.”
“Thank you, uncle.” I pushed Conall’s ale to Dougall. “Half Dougall, no more.” I whispered to him across the table.
“Hey that’s my ale.” Conall said giving me a grim look.
“Thank ye sister.” Dougall said as he drank some of the ale before pushing it back to Conall.
Sloane sat down. “Ye are a good lass Morgan.”
Conall drank his ale looking at me with slanted eyes, still unhappy at having had to share his drink. I gave him a salacious wink causing him to raise his eyebrows over the edge of his tankard. Ula chortled behind her hands. Sloane coughed and looked away. Dougall hadn’t noticed he was intrigued by a conversation going on at the next table. So much so he balanced his chair on the back legs. Conall nudged his chair with his foot, causing Dougall to crash to the floor.
The Amazon came bounding to the table hands on hips. Dougall unsure whether he should get up or stay on the floor. I managed to calm her by saying it was a simple accident. By the look on her face, I didn’t think she believed me.
When we finished our meagre meal, a man approached Conall whispering in his ear. After he left we all looked to Conall waiting for him to share what he had been told by the stranger.
“Tha was one of the Mackenzie’s. He said that two ships came in yesterday at the other end of the island. A lot of men departed the ship on foot. We will have company at the stones tomorrow night.”
“Are the Mackenzie’s going to send men to help us?” I asked Conall.
He shook his head. “Nay they dinnae want ta be involved.”
Sloane shook his head, and Ula simply sighed.
“Well not to worry. I think between the five of us and silver, we should be able to handle a few Brollachans.” I said with alacrity.
Ula leaned over the table to take my hand. “Lass together we will be a force to be reckoned with.”
“Aye between us we will drive them back ta hell.” Sloane voiced taking a swig of his ale.
When we were ready the inn keeper led us up the stairs to our rooms. Even standing the woman towered over Ula and I, her hands looked like they could easily snap the neck of any man that dared affront her. She did though have a sweet smile, which she showed when pointing to our room.
In the morning Conall and I met Sloan and Ula on the landing to descend the stairs together. When we reached the bottom Dougall came from behind the bar straightening his clothing.
“Dougall?” Conall said with a raised eyebrow.
“Aye bràthair an how are ye this fine morn.” Dougall replied tucking his shirt in.
“Dougall where were you?” I asked.
“Just paying me respects to Mertyl.”
“Mertyl?” we all asked at the same time.
“Aye the innkeeper.” Dougall grinned. His grin was as wide as his face.
“Oh, Dougall you didn’t?” I asked outraged.
Sloane grabbed Dougall by the shoulder and dragged him outside muttering braggart, peacock, blockhead as he did. Ula followed shaking her head. When we got to the stables to saddle the horses Dougall went to the back, and retrieved something wrapped in an oil cloth. He handed it to Sloane smiling.
“What’s this then?”
“It’s ye sword ye left at home.”
Sloane unwrapped the cloth. “Oh, aye it’s me Nessy.” Sloane looked extremely pleased. Ula came to stand beside me.
“That’s his favoured sword. He has had that since he was two and ten.” she said with pride.
I was thinking I was not the only one to name my weapons.
“Dougall how did ye do it?” Sloane asked as he lovingly stroked the blade.
“Well that was no so difficult. It was getting the horses here. Now that was the hard part. It’s no easy tryin ta shift time wi two horses.”
“I dare say it’s not.” I said catching an annoyed look on Conall’s face.
“Bràthair ye have no been abusin’ me travel pendant now have ye?” Conall was still irked at him for doing whatever it was he was doing with the innkeeper. He held his hand out. Dougall reluctantly took off the pendant and handed it to him. Conall set the pendant around his own neck.
“Bràthair you and I will go sort the payment oot. Dougall ye can saddle the horses.” Sloane and Conall walked back to the inn.
Three of the stable boys ran in to help Dougall. Ula and I stepped out of the out of their way.
“I am glad to see you and Conall have sorted your…wee difference out.” she said taking my hand.
“So am I.” I truly was.
“When it’s time to send the pendant and box home, you will need to focus on your task love. Leave the fighting to us. If you miss that window you will not get another chance for another nineteen years.”
“Yes, I know the Cailleach mentioned that, as well as Conall. I’m just worried how many Brollachans will be waiting for us, what if you need help?”
“Now don’t you worry. Sloane and I have been fighting battles for a long time. Conall is the finest warrior I know, and for all his fooling Dougall is no stranger to a battle either. By the way love where is your wolf? I’ve not seen him since just before we arrived here yesterday.”
“He’ll be around. He doesn’t much care for people. He will be there when we need him. Aunt how are you going to use your mag…ability at the stones? If you do you could damage them.”
“Aye that’s a bit of a problem. I think we have to drive them out into the open away from the stones. It will work out, everything will be ok.” she patted my hand. Her reassurance felt more for her sake than mine. Dougall and the stable boys led the horses out with Sloane and Conall returning shortly after. They carried what looked like a table cloth tied up.
“Breakfast” Conall said tying the quite large bundle to his saddle.
Sloane sent Dougall a scowled look. “We only had to pay for two rooms. She had a message for ye Dougall.”
Dougall’s grin widened if that was possible. “Oh Aye what is it.”
“Tell tha stud ta stop in on ye way back.” Sloane said with a raised eyebrow and a sneer to his face.
We all looked at Dougall. Ula broke out in a fit of laughter repeating the stud. Dougall smiled while looking at his boots kicking a stone around.
“We will travel to the stones and hope we can eliminate the Brollachans before Morgan can do what she needs to do.” Conall said as he mounted his horse.
Sloane agreed. “Aye I think that is best. Conall ye ride the front, Dougall ye at tha rear, I will ride the left o’ Morgan, love wi ye ride her right?” Ula nodded to her husband.
Riding across the island was fast and I was feeling a little crowded in with them all placed so I was in the middle. It was a worry though finding out that quite a few Brollachans had landed and were either on their way to the stones or already there.
The land was fairly flat with barely any hills to climb. We at least would see anyone if they were within range, there wasn’t anywhere for them to hide. I shouted to Ula riding at my right and pointed to the east. She turned to see the wolf far off keeping pace with the horses. She smiled back at me as relieved as I was to see him. The boys kept searching our surroundings for any signs of the Brollachans. So far none were to be seen.
When the stones came into view they stood as proudly as the ancient relics they were of a culture and time long ago. We rode down an avenue of assemble stones towards the centre circle, I felt a tingle to my arms as if we were entering a sacred and holy place. Stopping just outside the ring. Ula and I dismounted, the three men rode around the outside widening the gap from the stones with each round they made. Returning to where we stood after the fifth pass.
“I see no one.” Dougall shouted.
We led the horses to the outside of the stone avenue and sat on the grass to break our fast of what was contained in the cloth. Conall whistled to Silver and moved his hand in the air in a circle. The wolf began a systematic search circling the stones. I wasn’t sure when Conall and the wolf had come to such an understanding. The wolf acknowledging and carrying out Conall’s commands by whistle and arm movement was an endearing sight that made me smile. Ula also noticed.
When I looked at Sloane sitting close to Ula I realized he was wearing black jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of The Rolling Stones on the front.
“Uncle I only just noticed your clothing. No one said anything at the inn.”
“Did ye think they would lass?” cocking an eyebrow at me.
I laughed. “I guess not uncle. You’re not a person to be wrangling with.”
“Ye have tha right of it lass.”
Ula untied the cloth to herrings, black pudding, bannocks, apples, and a slab of cheese.
“This is better than dinner last night.” I was surprised at the bounty.
“Aye ye can thank the stud fer that lass.” Sloane mumbled giving Dougall a side glance.
Dougall bit his lip to stop his smile crossing his face looking down should he not be able to hold it back.
Ula and I giggled.
Dougall had obviously made an impression on the Amazon woman, I wouldn’t have thought too many could have achieved that. I smiled, talented lad.
As I ate I watched Silver run, stop, lay in the grass then run again, all the time circulating the stones. I felt blessed to have such a magnificent creature with us. It was as if the Gods themselves had sent him to help. As I turned I noticed Conall watching me.
“Lass he’s a fine wolf.” he said running a finger slowly down my cheek. “Morgan when we fight we fight together, but no this time. Ye need ta get the pendant and the box home. It will ensure Nuckelavee can no e’er be free, and no mention that Aoife wi no have a chance o going to tha otherworld, ye wi be safe. Tis time ta take ye pendant off and put it in the box.”
“But if I do that I won’t know when the Brollachans arrive.” I said as fear began to seep through me.
“Lass we are at the end of the road, we ken they are coming. Take the pendant off, it will no serve ye now.” Conall went to the saddle and removed my bag. He laid the bag next to me and took out the box sitting it on my lap.
I knew he was right, the box had to go home with the dagger, parchment and the pendant. The only things that would not be going were the two half pendants that we wore. I held my hand out above the box. Conall removed a dirk from his belt and took hold of my hand. Ula suddenly gasped.
“It’s ok aunt it is the only way to open the box” I assured her.
Conall struck my finger tip with the point of the blade and blood welled up. Turning my hand over he laid it on the box. Once again, the box clicked from inside and the lid appeared. He replaced the dirk and leaned towards me so he could undo the pendant still around my neck, placing it in the box. I waved my hand over the box. It clicked from inside and the opening sealed shut.
Ula released the breath she had been holding. Sloane looked on in awe.
Conall kissed me. “Good lass.” he whispered. Then he got stuck into the food. Yep that was my Conall, when there was food about he was like a ravenous dog.