AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Fifteen

Dougall The Rescuer

I ken as soon as I saw Conall being dragged by the soldiers that this had all been a giant bloody trap. When he turned slightly, and his eyes started frantically flicking, my first thought was that they had clouted him over the head and he was having a seizure of some kind.

It’s not that I am slow it just takes a moment for my brain to process information, a mark of a genius, well I think so. I caught on to the fact that Conall didn’t have his pendants on and that could only mean one thing. Someone ken what they were, which not many people did.

I ken it wasn’t the Cailleach or Andrew, and it certainly wasn’t Sloane or his wife, or any of my other brothers and my da. That really didn’t leave anyone else. It could be Lir, but he couldn’t move from where he was bound.

Still the first thing is to get my bràthair out of the dungeon.

From what information I could get out of the lass, Malcolm II had stayed here and had returned to Glasgow. He hadn’t been kidnapped at all. When I asked her if she had even been down to the dungeon, I was relieved that she had been, although only once.

Her vague outline of it and the fact that there were only two guards on at all times was enough for the moment.

I needed to find a seer woman or a woman that worked with herbs. It turned out the lass could help with that too. Her aunt was a seer and the local healer.

I made my way with the lass’s directions to a hut not too far hidden in a clearing surrounded by trees. I approached the door and knocked to an old crusty voice beckoning me to enter.

Taking a step into the hut old floor boards beneath my boots moaned in distress and I worried the floor would give way under my weight. The light was dim in this place only just making out the outline of an old woman inside. The scent though of herbs hanging from every available ceiling space, knocked me back a bit, they were strong and heady.

“Are ye Morana?” Clearing my throat called out to her sitting at a table tearing herbs up with her hands.

“Aye, an who wants tae ken?”

“I was talking tae ye niece, Moira an she said ye could help me.” I took another step forward shutting the door behind me with hesitation that the pungent scent of the herbs could make me black out.

“Oh aye, she be me niece, not much upstairs wit tha one, pretty though, like her ma.” Morana got to her feet and wiped her hands down her apron. “So, what be ye want?”

“Well it’s me bràthair ye see, he goes a wee bit loopy, temper like a mad dog at times, I would be beholding tae ye fer a sleeping draught.”

Morana was a very small woman no higher than my elbow. She approached hands on her hips, eyes wrinkled as if she can barely see me. It didn’t look like she had any teeth the way she was pulling faces causing her cheeks to almost recede so much that her nose was touching her chin. Standing in front of me, she sniffed me. I took a step back.

“Ye don smell like ye are from aroond ere.” How the hell can ye tell where someone is from by their smell.

“Er, no my bràthair and I are travelling up north.”

The old woman huffed. “If’n ye say so. I can give ye a wee bit of laudanum, enough tae make ye bràthair sleep fer a while.”

I think I need a bit more than one dose I just don’t want to make her suspicious, but there is no way around it. “Would ye be able tae give me a wee bit of spare, fer the journey like.

Her face began an animated movement that took me back a bit, it really was quite creepy, looking like her face was being sucked into her head.

“What wi ye give me fer it?” She asked looking up at me with her hands on her hips. It took a moment for me to register that she was talking, I was transfixed on the movements her face. I know I ’m going to have nightmares after this.

I didn’t have any coins on me and if I did, they would be from 1735, not really a good thing to give someone in this time. “I don have any money.”

She stood eyeing me from foot to head, licking her tongue over her lips, well it was more she licked her whole lower face, really, it was making me feel quite nauseous, I was thinking what it was that this old woman wanted, and none of my thoughts were good.

“Then I’ll take ye brooch, a nice wee trinket fer me box.” I sighed in relief, yeah, I really did think she wanted my body.

Morana laughed sounding like the cackling of a crow. “Ye thought I wanted ye cock.” She screeched in laughter pointing to the apex of my thighs. If I could have crossed my legs still standing, I would have, instead I squeezed my thighs together while my face flushed with embarrassment.

“Did ye hear that Mary? The wee lad thought I wanted his pole an tackle.” Morana cackled again.

“Aye a heard.” Came a voice from the back of the room that had me jumping being unaware that there was someone else here. An old woman wearing a patched dress and a shawl that had seen better days hobbled to stand beside Morana, slinging her arm around her shoulders.

“We’ve ne’er had a use fer a cock an we ain’t startin’ the noo.” The woman named Mary spat narrowing her eyes at me. Damn another one without teeth. Right then, glad we sorted that out.

“I’ll be takin’ ye brooch now.” Morana said holding her hand out.

I wasn’t happy to give it to her, my da had given it to me years ago. I had to think, bràthair or brooch, I huffed, damn it. I unhooked the brooch and handed it to her. Conall can just damned well get me another.

Morana gave me enough laudanum for five hits, that should be enough for what I wanted it for. I was happy to be getting out of there having had to wait while Morana prepared the draughts with Mary’s incessant scornful glaring the entire time, she was downright scary, both of them reminding me of evil witches.

After leaving the hut running to get away from the two strange women, I made my way back to the castle and hid behind a bush near the door to the dungeon. Settling in on the ground I kept a watchful eye on my surroundings.

Finally, after what felt like hours a pretty young lass approached with a tray of food and two tankards of mead. I moved out from behind the bush scaring the lass so much that I had to dive to stop her from losing the tray.

“I’m sorry I did no mean tae scare ye.”

She gave me a disparaging look and thankfully she hadn’t lost the contents of her tray, only a slight spillage of the mead.

“Ye frightened the heart right oot o’ me. Why were ye hiddin’ in yon bush?”

“I’m sorry lass I no meant to scare ye. Where ye be going then?” I smiled at her and moved closer.

“An why is it ye want to ken?” Her face was flushed glowing in the moonlight.

I moved closer so that I was right up against her looking down into two pale blue eyes. This was the same maid; Moira, I had spoken to at the well. “A pretty wee lass like yeself should no be out so late.” I whispered breathing in her hair smelling of lavender.

She looked up blinking through her dark lashes, her breath quickening. “I’m no afraid, I was raised here, it’s quite safe, though I’m no sure now, with ye jumpin’ oot o’ bushes like ye did.”

I put my arm around her waist, bringing her closer to me, my mouth a hair’s breadth from hers. “Ye are such a pretty wee thing, would ye let me kiss ye.”

She was almost breathless. “Ye take such liberties, sir. So, do ye always go hiding in yon bushes jumpin’ oot tae kiss tha lassies?”

My mouth was so close to hers that I could feel her breath on my lips. “Only the beautiful one’s.” I growled. I ken she was taking the food to the soldiers on duty down below in the dungeon, this is what I had been waiting for. Thankful she was pretty and not an old woman or man. The thought of her aunt slipped across my mind and I shivered.

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