The Farm 2016 - Ula
Ula yawned entering the kitchen startled to a stop to find Conall and Sloane sitting at the table. She had spent most of the night scanning her computer as she had done every night for the past two months, to find who the dead Brollachan was that had sent Morgan on a journey to another place and time. Conall looked grim and tired, dark patches beneath his eyes. He had his hands around a mug, and his head bent as if he was trying to find the answers in the bottom of it.
“Conall I didn’t know you were here.” Ula lifted the kettle to see if there was enough water in it to put on the boil.
“Aye, I’m here.” He muttered without lifting his head.
It had been two months since they were at Callanish Stones, so Morgan could complete her parents’ mission by handing the box over to the spirit of the mother stone. A box that held a pendant, a dagger and an ancient agreement between the Tuatha de Danann and the Picts.
A battle had pursued and while Morgan readied herself to hand the box over, a Brollachan was hiding in an old dug out burial cell close to her. If Conall’s travel pendant hadn’t fallen to the ground and if Morgan hadn’t picked it up, she wouldn’t have been sent hurtling through time.
Conall had fought with the Brollachan and eventually killed it but not before the half dead thing had said the words. The words would have had no meaning if it wasn’t for the fact that Morgan was holding the travel pendant at that moment. Before anyone realised what was happening, she was blanketed behind a thick grey mist, to where no one knew, only the dead Brollachan. Morgan had dropped the pendant seconds before she disappeared.
The first few days Conall, Dougall, Sloane and Ula had travelled to Haig at clan Sutherland in 1735, to the Cailleach and the farm. Haig had offered to send his men from one end of Scotland to the other. It would have been no use though, Conall had said numerous times that it was a wasted effort, if she had been in this year, he would have felt her. The half pendant that he wore around his neck was quiet, which is how he discerned she was not in 1735 or here in 2016.
He sat at the table drowning his sorrows with hot coffee and it wasn’t hard to smell that it was heavily dosed with scotch. The kettle whistle as it boiled, while Ula filled the teapot with tea leaves. She knew Conall had no idea where to go next, he had already travelled each year of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, stopping only long enough to check his pendant. The travelling though, had taken its toll on him. One was not meant to travel to so many time periods in such a short time. It caused his nose to bleed and pain in his chest.
Placing the tea pot on the table she glanced a look at Conall, his body was weary from the time changes, his spirit dampened, his heart breaking. Glancing to Sloane he wasn’t in any better condition. Sloane had travelled with him to every year of the last hundred years, both returning exhausted.
She had remained at the farm to keep Morgan’s store running and to try and track down the Brollachan that had sent Morgan on her journey. Receiving some assistance from the police department in her search using the photos she had taken of the dead Brollachan, although it had been necessary to cut everything out of the photo except for the face. If the police knew Morgan had disappeared outside of England they would not have helped, simply palming her off to the Scottish authorities.
If she had have reported to the Scottish authorities, it would have meant being stuck in Scotland indefinitely or travelling from there to the farm every couple of days. Ula loved Scotland but trying to run Morgan’s store and carry on her own research would have been too complicated.
Ula poured the tea into her cup. “I was hoping to see Dougall, I wanted to thank him for coming back after he transported Sloane and I to Morgan, so she could heal me.”
Conall looked up from his cup giving her a quizzical look. “He came back?”
“Aye he did just after dropping us off. He returned to dispose of all the Brollachan bodies and return the swords to Morgan’s training room.” She took a sip of her tea.
“Aye lad, he did.” Sloane answered for her.
Ula knew Conall had been aware that Dougall with the help of the residents of the Isle of Lewis dealt with the dead Brollachan’s near the Callanish stones.
“I do have a worry though.” Ula said almost in a whisper.
“Aye love, and what that be?” Sloane asked sitting back in his chair.
Ula directed her question to Conall. “If Morgan doesn’t have her pendant on can you still feel her?”
Conall sighed. “Nay lass, if Morgan removed her pendant or if someone else has, mine wouldn’t sense her even if I was in the right year.”
Ula sat watching Conall sink into despair then remembering today the store was expecting a shipment of armor coming in from Egypt, Morgan had ordered some months ago.
“Sloane there’s a shipment coming in today and I was wondering if you could come in and help me move the boxes?”
“Only if you are up to it, if you prefer not to its ok, perhaps you should go and sleep awhile.” She felt guilty asking but there was no way she could move the boxes on her own, even with Morgan it would have been a struggle.
“Nay lass I will come, I will bring Conall too, he could do with a break.” Sloane patted his brother on the arm. Conall simply shrugged.
Ula left for the store after her tea, a quick shower and a change of clothes.
The delivery man was already waiting for her when she reached the store and by the look on his face, Ula could tell he wasn’t happy about having to wait for her.
“Sorry I was a little held up this morning.” She apologized to the driver unlocking the door. “Just leave them next to the door my husband will be here momentarily to take them inside.”
“I thought someone would be here to help me get them out of the truck, there are quite a few and they are heavy.” The driver whined.
Turning her head to him he was a tall stocky man that looked like he could take on a bull. “Don’t be such a wimp, your built like an ox, the boxes can’t be that heavy, and you only have to carry them three paces to the door.” They certainly didn’t train them like they did in the eighteenth century. She had no time for princesses and in no mood to deal with this drivers groaning and whining.
Ula would have gone inside the store but with the animated huffing and puffing the driver was doing she didn’t trust him not to fling the boxes instead of carrying them. When he had dropped the last one, he return to his truck to retrieved the invoice from the cabin and shoved it at Ula.
“Well you had better come inside so I can write you a cheque.” Ula turned to enter the store, the driver right behind her.
“I’ll expect a tip for having to carry those boxes, they were heavy you know, I could have injured my back.”
Ula stopped suddenly turning to face him, making him jump back. “Listen princess the only tip you will get is a punch to the throat, that’s your job. You should have carried them into the store, but I let you drop them at the door.” She poked her finger into his chest to his shocked expression, his mouth dropping at the fury coming from this tiny woman. “You’re lucky I don’t charge you for being a lazy arsed mule.”
Sloane’s deep rumble of a voice came from behind the driver. “What’s amiss then?”
The driver turned to see two men standing in the doorway like two muscled gods, arms folded in front of their chests, scowls on their faces.
“I…I didn’t mean any trouble.” The driver groveled not wanting any bother from the two burly men stood before him.
“He’s whining about wanting a tip for dropping the heavy boxes at the door.”
“Nay.” Sloane said with a startled look. “Are ye not supposed tae have brought them in? What are ye a woman or a mouse?”
The driver moved to the side of the room putting his hands up to Sloane in submission as if he was afraid he was about to get bloodied.
“Tis not me ye should be afraid of lad, it’s the missus.” Sloane chuckled pointing a finger at Ula. “If’n she wanted, she would lay ye flat before ye even see her coming, she has one mighty fine right hook.” Ula snorted shaking her head handing the cheque to the shrinking driver who looked about ready to piss his pants.
Conall and Sloane moved back outside and picked up two boxes each to the drivers dropped jaw, his body quivering in fear, coward.
“I thought ye said these were heavy?” Conall eyed the driver trying to squeeze himself past them to get back to his truck. He pulled in a breath and maneuvered himself between the guys running out the door getting into his truck and taking off down the road, tires squealing.
Conall and Sloane shake with silent chuckles taking the boxes down the hall to the storeroom. When they were finished Conall sat in the chair behind the desk, his mood unchanged from the morning. Sloane took off to Mrs McKinty’s pie shop.
The phone rang. Rushing to answer it Ula’s hip collided with a stack of books and magazines that teetered on the edge of the desk before falling to the floor. Conall bent down to pick them up, gathering the magazines together, most from auction houses dealing in historic weapons, armor and gun safety.
The call was a woman wanting to know if they would be interested in her recently departed husbands gun collection. Ula caught Conall in her peripheral vision picking up a magazine folded backwards. Whatever was on the page had caught his attention, the magazine gripped fiercely between his fingers, as if frozen to the page.
Conall knew straight away that was a painting of his wife, he recognized Morgan’s look of defiance anywhere no matter how she was wrapped. He had seen that look more than once and had been on the receiving end of her wrath, her determination and her rebelliousness many times. This was a painting of Morgan and no one was going to tell him otherwise.
Ula didn’t hear the woman on the other end of the phone rattling something about what was in the collection. She was focused on Conall’s sudden paled face and widened eyes as if he had just seen a ghost.
Hurriedly finishing the call Ula told the woman they were not taking stock at the moment, wanting only to find out what had her brother-in-law so entranced.
“Conall what is it?”
He didn’t move continuing to stare at whatever was on the page his eyes still wide. Ula knelt to see what it was he was looking at.
“Oh that, yes I showed that to Morgan. I thought it was a remarkable likeness of her.” She said taking the magazine from him.
The page was an advertisement for an exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci paintings on loan to the Glasgow Art Gallery. The photo was of one of da Vinci’s paintings named La Bella Ferronnière, or as the advertisement stated also called The Unknown Woman. The exhibition had only been for two weeks, the time well long since passed.
“Ula it’s Morgan.” Conall declared pulling the magazine back out of her hands.
Ula took another look at the painting. It did look like Morgan but there were some differences. The woman in the painting was beautiful, just like Morgan. The face though was rounder and eyes that where larger. “I don’t think so love, it looks like her, but it couldn’t be our girl.” She really wanted to believe it was her niece, her heart said it was, her head though felt she needed more information.
The desperation in his face was more than she could stand. “Tis her. I ken it.” Conall rose his fingers still grasping the magazine, he feared to let go.
Sloane strode through the front door with pies in hand from the bakery for their lunch. “What’s amiss then.” Catching the look on Conall’s face and a saddened one on his wife’s.
Sloane reached the side of Conall to see what it was he was looking at, his brows shooting instantly up to his hair line. “That’s our lass.” He turned to Ula with the same certainty as Conall.
Conall didn’t need his brother to tell him this was Morgan, he wouldn’t be persuaded it wasn’t. Sloane must have seen the same thing he did, the same look in her beautiful eyes.
“It’s in the eyes.” Conall murmured.
“Aye lad, there is no one that could emulate that look, its unique to our lass, I would ken her anywhere no matter what painting she appeared in.” Sloane added.
“I think it just looks like her I don’t think it is though, it couldn’t be.” Ula took a deep breath, wanting to believe it was Morgan, but she just couldn’t get her hopes up. They could be wrong, but then again, so could she.
Her husband though thought to disagree. “Love that’s our niece. Conall I think we need tae pay that gallery a visit.”
“Exhibitions over Sloane.” Conall said with a deep sigh.
“Aye it is but I have a feeling they may ken our Brollachan. Love will ye be alright if Conall and I take a quick trip.” Sloane said hugging her.
“Oh no you don’t! Sloane Sutherland, I’m going with you. Give me a minute to lock up.” Not waiting for his answer, she rushed to close and lock the storeroom door. After the hours she had put into research, talking on the phone with the police and scanning every possible lead, there was no way they were leaving her behind now.
Sloane groaned shaking his head, she knew as well as he did, he would be wasting his time trying to argue with her. Once Ula’s mind was set, there was no changing it.
Conall couldn’t belief after all this time they had found a clue of where his wife had gone. He thought what would have happened if Ula hadn’t hit the desk with her hip sending those magazines to the floor, not to mention that the magazine with the painting of Morgan was folded to that page. If it had been closed, he never would have seen it.
He sent a silent prayer to the spirits of the Tuatha, sure that they had a hand in this, even though it took them long enough to get around to it. He bit his lip hoping beyond hope that this would lead them to where Morgan had gone or at least a time period for him to start his search. His stomach filled with anticipation and hope, he had a feeling, a very good feeling that he was getting somewhere.