AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Eighteen

Scotland 1366

We made our way back to the castle, as covertly as we could keeping to the shadows. Considering I had escaped from the dungeon I half expected there to be guards everywhere searching. There was no one around, none of this felt right, uncertainty crept up my spine.

This was not right, everything was to quiet, no guards, no sound. I didn’t like this, it was making my skin tingle expecting a trap somewhere.

Dougall huffed. “Fer Christ’s sake ye escaped, guards should be searching the grounds by now.”

“Aye, I ken but we need tae get my pendants back.”

We waited behind some trees near the well hoping that the young lass would visit it soon. To our relief she came with a bucket. I moved back behind several more trees while Dougall whistled lowly to her. She looked around, spotting Dougall, dropped her bucket and ran to him.

That was Dougall, he could impress any young thing. I could barely hear their conversation and when I chanced a look at them from behind a tree, Dougall had the lass in a very seductive hold kissing her. Come on Dougall, let the damn lass go.

When he returned to where I was standing behind the tree, I had my arms crossed over my chest giving him my usual glare.

“What?”

“I thought ye had a mind to bed the lass right there in the grass.” I snorted.

“Ye are just jealous bràthair, I always get the lass.”

“Nay ye don’t, Duggie, ye get young lassies, and everyone’s left overs.”

“Awww, now that just hurts, Connie. At least I don’t go sticking me cock into me bràthairs back while trying tae sleep.” Dougall stepped back in case I had a mind to slap him, I thought about it.

“So, what did yon lass say?”

“I’ve tae meet her at the side door after dark and she will let me in.”

I raised my brow and gave in an incredulous look. “What did ye promise her?”

“Don’t worry, she will let me in and take me tae her room. I’ll make sure tae drop a wee bit of laudanum in her drink. It’ll be fine, she’ll sleep, an be none the wiser. Then I’ll slip back down and open the door.”

I was worried if he gave her too much laudanum it could have devastating effects, too little and she could wake and call the guards. Dougall must have seen the worried look on my face.

“It’ll be right, I ken what I’m doing. Have ye no trust in me?”

“Aye, I trust ye as far as I can throw ye, if anything happens tae the lass, I’ll be throwing ye off the mountain.”

“I’m starving, at this rate I’ll waste away before we leave this place. We need to find something to eat.” Dougall said ignoring my comments looking around as if a table was going to appear. I groaned, but agreed I was hungry myself. If truth be told I could eat a horse.

We skirted the trees away from the castle to some huts not far away, how Dougall found a hut that just happened to have a pie cooling near the window got me. I’m sure his nose could sniff out a pie a mile away. Still we snatched the thing without anyone seeing and took off into the trees with it, reminding me of doing this as a kid.

It turned out to be an apple pie and went down well, just unfortunate we didn’t have a tankard or two of mead. It didn’t half satisfy me after spending time in the dungeon without any food. Still it was better than nothing at all. We moved further into the trees to wait out the day.

As the sun was setting there was still no sign of soldiers, surely someone would have noticed me missing from the dungeon by now and sent out an alert. I didn’t like this.

“Do ye no find it strange that no soldiers are looking fer ye?” Dougall muttered reading my mind.

“Aye, it’s mighty bizarre.”

“Keep your eyes open, I don’t want us walking into another trap.”

“Ye is the one that walked into a trap.” I gave him a disbelieving stare. Dougall grinned then took off through the trees heading back to the castle before I had a chance to slap him. Yet, if I had to be with anyone in this situation, I was happy it was Dougall, he might be a pain in the ass at times, but he was resourceful.

As arranged Dougall met the lass by the side door and let him in, I crept close to the wall and waited in the shadows. It seemed I had been waiting hours for Dougall to come and open the door. The last thing I wanted to think about was what he was doing.

Finally, I heard the lock click and the door opened. I waited in the shadows just in case this was another trap. For all I ken Dougall could have walked straight into a ruse and be headed for the dungeons.

“Connie where are ye?”

I sidled to the door and slipped inside.

“How’s the lass?” I asked still unsure of whether Dougall had overdosed her.

“She’s fine, have a wee bit of trust bràthair.” Dougall shook his head.

“Do ye have any idea where my pendants are, or are we just going to search one room at a time?”

Dougall stopped and gave me a frown. “Bráithar ye have absolutely no faith in me, do ye? Moira said that they will be most probably be in Garrison’s room, he’s the one that gave the command fer yer capture. He’s in charge while part of this castle is being rebuilt an tis why there aren’t many guards. His rooms on the second level. Follow me.” Dougall flashed a grin at me. Cocky bastard.

“If ye spoke tae the lass about my pendants, why did ye need tae give her any laudanum in the first place?”

Dougall stopped once again, turning to give me an incredulous look. “The lass would have followed us, of course.” He turned back but muttered. “Not hard to see who the brains of this here operation is.”

Twice on our way to the second floor we had to duck into an alcove as guard’s past. There didn’t seem to be anyone but guards and maids at the castle. The wee lass had mentioned that the castle was being rebuilt but other than some half-finished walls at the back it looked fairly completed to me.

When we got to the room, Dougall knocked. No answer. He knocked again for safe measures, still no answer. Opening the door as quietly as he could he slipped in, I was right behind him. The room was in darkness but a door at the other end was open wide into a hallway. A dim light shone beyond. We made our way to the other side and peered around the corner. The hallway was short with just one torch at the end next to a closed door. Creeping along the wall to the door something still didn’t feel right, and my spine tingled with danger.

Dougall pressed his ear to the closed door listening to see if there was anyone in there.

“I cannae hear anyone.” He whispered before turning the handle, it wasn’t locked and opened with enough noise to wake the entire castle. We slipped into the room to discover we were surrounded by guards lining the walls. The man obviously Garrison stood behind a desk a wide grin on his face. Shit I’d walked into another god damned trap.

I shook my head this is twice now I had been caught. This has never happened to me before, I felt like banging my head against the wall, just so I could knock some sense into myself. The guards stood with swords at the ready.

“Welcome gentlemen.” Garrison looked to be enjoying himself. “Are these what you are looking for?” My pendants swung by their chains from his hand. “Come in, come in, we’ve been waiting for you. Tell me Conall Sutherland how you managed to knock my guards out and escape from the dungeon?”

I stood straight not letting this asshole intimidate me. “Your guards are weak, useless as a new born lamb.” A few sneers and groans came from the guards with their backs to the walls. “See this is what I’m talking about, just a bunch of amateurs with toy swords.”

Garrison snorted and shifted looking around the room. “You do realize that you are surrounded by my men without a sword?”

I turned to look at each one of the soldiers, some showing signs of feeling intimidated by my unblinking stare. Then I caught the grin on Dougall’s face.

I gave him a disbelieving look. “Really bràthair, what do ye have tae smile about?” We were surrounded by guards and us with no weapons and here the blasted shithead grinned and winked at me.

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