AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Sixteen

Escape

The lass had taken my shiver as a sign of something else and pushed her lips to mine, this was one wee brazen lass. I put my hand behind her head to hold her in place as I reached into my pocket and emptied half of the contents from the bottle of laudanum into the two tankards.

I continued to kiss her as I helped to hold the tray just in case, she dropped it. She tasted of berries, tart and sweet at the same time. If I wasn’t on a mission, I might have thought about taking this further. But no, I had to get my bràthair out of their dirty dungeon, it wasn’t a time for fun and games.

Regretfully I pulled away from her letting her sweet lips go. I had to keep a hand to her shoulders the way she was swaying heady from the kiss, and one hand on the tray. Yep I still had it, Dougall here, could make any lass swoon.

When she seemed to be steady enough, I let go of her shoulder. “Are ye well lass?”

She blinked a few times and nodded her head. “I am, so will I be seein ye again, ye kisses are…sweet.”

Sweet, I think it was better than sweet. I smiled at her. “I will be around. Do ye no have to deliver that food there?” I asked pointing at the tray.

“Aye, I best be going, or they will be grumbling. So, I will see ye later then?”

“Aye.” I hated to disappoint her but just in case we had a problem getting out and of course getting the pendants back, I may need her help again. Not that she realized how much help she had already been.

I watched her enter the building, once she closed the door behind her, I went back to hiding behind the bush. It wasn’t long before Moira came back out without the tray looking around probably hoping I would still be there waiting for her. Sighing she headed back around to the kitchen door.

It was then the thought hit me. How long would it take for the laudanum to work? Blast, I should have asked Morana. I didn’t want to be sitting here half the night waiting for the damned stuff to knock the guards out.

I sat down on the ground and waited. When I thought enough time had passed, having no damned idea of the time, I scanned the grounds making sure no one was about. Pulling the door open I listened, sure enough two snores could be heard from down below, thank the lord for snoring sleepers.

Closing the door quietly as I could behind me, was a wasted effort the sound rebounded around the walls and down the stairs. I crept down the stone steps and sure enough the two guards where slumped over their table. They had been in the midst of playing cards which were now scattered across the table and the floor.

Creeping past them I called out to Conall.

“Shite Dougall ye are as loud as a banshee at a funeral.”

“Stop ye whining bràthair I’m, here aren’t I?”

“So ye have the keys then?” Conall asked pushing his face between the bars.

“Er…no, where they be?”

“Ye damn keely go an find them.”

“Hold ye knickers, I’ll be right back.”

Conall shook his head and huffed. “Thank the lord ye don do this fer a living.”

I found the keys hanging just above the guard’s head on the wall with about twenty keys on the ring, this was going to take a minute or two to find the right one.

I crept back as quietly as I could to Conall’s cell.

“Why are ye creeping. Looks like the guards are out fer the night?”

I ignored him and began trying the keys. First three nothing.

“Jesus Dougall get a move on or it’ll be daylight before ye find the right key.”

I stopped and looked at him. “Bràthair can ye no see am going as quick as I can. Haud ye wheesht. I dinna ken how Morgan puts up with ye.”

Sadness slide over Conall’s face. I ken what he was thinking. “I’m sorry Connie I did no mean any offence. I miss her too.”

“Aye, I ken ye do. Dougall find that key and let’s get out of this fucking place.”

The fifth key was the right one and as the bar swung open Conall let out a breath in relief. Passing the guards Conall stopped to look at them, and then punched each one hard in the face, breaking their noses and maybe a cheek as well before striding after me rubbing his knuckles.

“Why’d ye do that?” I turned to see the fixed line of his mouth. “Ye could have woken them up.”

“That was fer sending me face to the rat-infested floor and trying to serve me a fucking dead rat in gravy fer me dinner.”

“Fair enough then.”

Opening the door that led outside, I peered round to make sure no one was there. I half expected a full garrison to be waiting for us. Coast was clear, we headed for the trees as quiet as we could.

Once we were far enough away, we stopped next to a cropping of rock boulders to catch our breaths.

“We need to get into the castle.” Conall groaned dropping to the ground, his back against the rock.

“An how do ye think to do this?”

Conall ran his hand over his face. I sat down next to him happy to just catch my breath.

“Dougall do ye think yon wee maid, ye were chatting up near the well, might ken how we can get in without being seen by the guards?”

“Aye maybe, but we have to wait till sunrise, an hope she goes to the well.”

“It’s a long shot but worth trying.” Conall seemingly lost in thought stared out into the darkened trees. There was a slither of a moon, just enough light though, that we could make out our surroundings. “Ye ken this was all a set up?”

“Aye I think ye might be right bràthair, I don ken though who would have done it, surely not the Cailleach?”

Conall gave me a frustrated sigh. “I cannae say who, but someone ken we were coming and ken what my pendants are.”

“I think we need to move further out; the guards will be looking fer ye.”

“Aye ye be right about that.” Conall got to his feet, I could tell he was tired and not just physically. It seemed a cruel twist that he was so close to finding Morgan only to be sent on this wild goose chase.

Walking between the boulders the land dipped lower. Scanning the area in the rays of the moon I spotted, what I thought was a small cave. I motioned for Conall to follow me being careful where we tread just in case any soldiers were nearby.

Sure, enough it was a small fissure in the rock only just big enough for us to squeeze in. At least it provided enough cover to sleep for a few hours until dawn. The opening smelt musty and of blood and moss. I was just hoping that we weren’t disturbing some animal’s sleep that thought we were dinner. If Conall goes first it will be him that gets bitten if there’s anything in there.

A quick look told me the space appeared to be empty, if there had been an animal here it was long gone, but at least the ground was softer than outside. I stood back and let Conall slide in first. Because the space in the cave was so small and tight there was little room to move laying with my back to Conall’s front. Just like when we were kids, I smiled shutting my eyes to sleep calling.

At dawn I woke to something sticking in my back and I send my elbow back hard into Conall’s side.

“What tha hell, Dougall?”

“Get ye fucking cock out me back, shite Connie it’s like the barrel of a gun trying to snap me spine.”

“Haud ye wheesht before ye alert the guards they could be anywhere out there.”

Well if there is then ye have a weapon, ye could break their heads with that thing.”

I nearly saw stars when Conall slapped me in the back of the head with his hand. “Shut ye trap, ye bampot.”

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