Chapter Twenty Six
Solai Has The Answer
We pushed our backs up against the door of a store into the darkness, that had a longer entry way than most as gendarmes ran past not seeing us.
“Have they gone?” Dougall whispered.
“We will wait just a little longer.” I whispered back.
When it seemed that they were not coming back we left the door way and edging along walls making our way towards the castle.
“So, ye have a plan bràthair?”
Dougall shook his head. “Typical, ye never do, just go gun ho and hope fer the best, unlike me.”
“What? Ye never have a plan. Did ye forget ye tried to break me out of the dungeon without a key?”
“I got ye out didn’t I? It was also me that had daggers when we hit Garrisons office, oh and not let’s forget that it was me who got yer pendant back after Ula hid it.”
I gritted my teeth, now thinking I should have left him at the farm. He was though right, without him I would have been in a lot more trouble and possibly dead.
“Ye are right bràthair, I’m sorry.”
Dougall pulled up to stare at me with wide eyes. “Ye feeling alright Connie?” He put the back of his hand to my forehead.
“Didnae say ye were right? Get yer hand off me ye bampot.”
A wide grin broke out across his face. I shoved him back, so we could move further along the wall. Getting to the end and peeking around the corner I could see the walls of the palace not far down the street.
“How we going to get through the gates?” Dougall asked watching carts of goods being hauled towards a wrought iron gate. It was then I noticed a cart coming up full of pots and pans. I motioned for Dougall to follow me up behind a cart. I grabbed two rolled carpets from the back, praying thanks that the driver of said cart hadn’t noticed. In fact, he looked half asleep or hung over from a night of drink.
We waited until the cart was further a head then hauled the carpets over our shoulders and headed for the gate. I was surprised we weren’t stopped or questioned, considering we were dressed as gendarmes. These Milanese were far too trusting, this would never have happened at Sutherland castle.
Once through the gates we dumped the carpets in the shadows of the wall and headed to a staircase where two guards were slouching on the rail. Again, this would have gotten the guards whipped for being so slovenly at home. I straightened my back and tidied my one sided shoulder cape, Dougall doing the same. We strolled up to them.
“And what do you two want?” One of them growled.
“We wish to see Leonardo da Vinci.” I replied hoping they had not been told yet that two gendarmes had been attacked and had their clothes stolen.
“He’s not here, he’s away.”
Not what we were expecting. “When will he be back?” I demanded carrying my usual air of authority.
I ken that Dougall did not understand a word of what we were saying watching my face intently, so he would ken how to react to their answers. Dougall’s face however, was one of delayed reactions. I moved so the guards could not see his face. Any other time it would have been comical to see him change from a stupid grin to serious, then a grimace, confusion and back to a grin.
“What’s wrong with him?” The guard asked pointing at Dougall.
“Don’t worry about him, he has had too much to drink and is star struck from meeting his girl.” I hoped my excuse was sufficient. The guard just grunted.
“You can talk to the thief Solai, he’ll know when da Vinci will be returning. Wait here.” The guard snapped before disappearing down the walkway.
I turned to Dougall. “Dougall can you no keep ye face straight? Ye look like a fool.”
“Oh, so the idiot is calling me a fool. I told ye I don speak Italian.”
“And ye don need to react to my face, ye are just being a dick.”
The guard returned with a young man with a mop of curly blonde hair.
“Who are you and what do you want?” He said folding his arms across his chest.
“Are you Solai?”
“Yes, what do you want?” He repeated.
“My name is Conall and I wanted to talk with Leonardo da Vinci.”
The young man eyed me suspiciously. “He’s not here.”
“Yes, I know that, but we were hoping to find out if he had seen a young woman, long black hair, deep brown eyes with a beautiful face.”
“No.” Solai grumbled. “There is no such woman here.” He went to turn back to the door.
We had journeyed here to find Morgan, and this was the only place to start. I was desperate. “Please, her name is Morgan, she is my wife, and I…we have travelled a long way to find her.” I pleaded.
Solai stopped then turned. “I don’t know anyone called Morgan, there is no woman here of that description.”
I sighed dropping my shoulders, running my hand over my face. I was sure that she would be here, but maybe the time is wrong and she hadn’t yet arrived.
Dougall patted me on the back, even though he couldn’t understand what was being said, he knew my reaction was not a good one.
“Conall it must be the wrong time, perhaps she hasn’t arrived yet.” He could be right, but I felt so defeated. I noticed Solai watching Dougall and realised he also wouldn’t have understood what Dougall had said.
“Where are you from?” Solai asked.
I took in a breath. “We are from Scotland.”
Solai shook his head. “I do not know where that is.”
“It is in the north of England.”
“Ah, that is a place I have heard of, but not this as you say Scota…land. Tell me about your wife?”
This seemed like a strange request seeing as he just told me that he hadn’t seen Morgan. Still I was happy to answer him if only to hold my temper back about coming to a dead end.
“She is…beautiful, intelligent.” I smiled thinking about her anger. “And she can fight well and use a crossbow better than most men.” I caught the raise of an eyebrow from Solai as if he just remembered something. “Solai, do you know her?”
Solai bit his bottom lip. “How do I know that you don’t want to harm her?”
My breath caught swallowing the rock lodged in my throat. “Solai, she is my wife. I love her with every breath and being of my soul. I could never hurt her.” Tears pricked my eyes. I cannot remember the last time I cried, well not since I was a child. Now, though I fought to hold them back. My voice came out hoarse. “Please tell me if she is here?”
Dougall grabbed my arm. “Conall, what is it?”
“He kens her.” I whispered my mouth dry, hardly believing that I could be close to her.
Solai moved closer to me. “You had best come with me.”
One of the guards grumbled. “So little thief, you into men now, a little arse entertainment, while your maestro is away?” He chuckled.
I was so caught up in emotion that I didn’t think about it, grabbing the guard by the scruff of the neck. I punched him hard, knocking him against the wall. Dougal had his sword out fast and up against the other guard’s throat, waiting for my command.
I held my hand up to Dougall to hold and stand, leaning over the one I had punched, my face red with anger.
“You speak to him again like that, and I will personally, cut your heart out of your body, and feed it to your mate here.”
The guard nodded, and I signaled Dougall to drop his sword, noticing the grin to Solai’s face. We followed the young man to his room, leaving the guards to adjust themselves.
Once inside I turned to Solai. “Please do you know where my wife is?”
Solai went to a table and poured some wine into three cups. “You know she handled those guards as well as you did.”
My heart was pounding in my chest. “Did she attack them?” I ken if her temper had gotten the best of her she could have very well done that. I told Dougall what Solai had said and my answer to him.
Solai laughed. “No, she did give them a tongue lashing though. I did get to see her fight when she was attacked at the market.”
Fear and anger rushed over my body. “She was attacked, by who?” I growled out, making Dougall jump.
Solai had his hands up straight away, in case I took my anger out on him. “Do not worry signore she took the man down leaving him on the ground in a mess. She was not harmed.”
I couldn’t wait any longer. “Please tell me where my wife is?”