Chapter Thirty Two
I was the first to rise as the dawn broke, sending streams of light through the trees. I kicked Dougall not as hard as I normally do after listening to his wish last night.
“Bràthair do ye have to wake me by kicking me, shite man ye are either trying to break me spine, with ye cock, or ye are trying to kick the ribs out of me.” Damn I was glad that Fiora couldn’t understand a word of what we were saying.
I ignored him and retrieved a flask of whiskey from the pack. I downed a big gulp. Not as good as whiskey from home but it would do. Fiora stirred and stretched, she probably wasn’t used to sleeping on the ground, still we had to get going.
Dougall pulled the flask out of my hands and took a gulp. “Shite, that tastes like ground shoes and gunpowder.” He offered the flask to Fiora, she waved her hands and turned it down deciding on water. Clever lass.
We had a quick bite, saddled the horses and rode again hard. My heart beating in my chest I ken we were getting closer. It took everything I had not to push the horses to riding harder, I was never cruel to these majestic creatures and I wasn’t about to start now.
We were stopped near noon by a unit of soldiers.
“Dougall don’t say a word, keep ye mouth closed.”
They surrounded us.
“Who are you and where are you going?” One of them barked out.
Before I could open my mouth Fiora spoke. “Good day, my cousins and I are off to Bergamo, my father has taken ill. I must get to him as soon as I can. I am his only daughter.”
The soldier huffed. “What are your names?”
Again, Fiora took the lead. “I am Fiora Marguretta della Rovere, this is my cousin…”
The soldier interrupted her. “You there what is your name?” He asked pointing at me.
“Rafaella della Rovere. Capitan, Rafaella della Rovere, at your service.” I answered, it was the first name I could think of. When he turned to Dougall I added. “This is my brother Frederick della Rovere, he is a mute.” Keep your mouth shut Dougall. He just grinned at the soldier like a damned keely.
The soldier raised his brow at Dougall then turned back to me. “Who is your commanding officer? I could do with someone of your size in my unit. You can fight I hope?”
I tilted my head. “Yes, I can fight, very well. I am currently under the command of Cesare Borgia.” Again, it was the only name I had and knowing Borgia commanded a full army I hope that I haven’t put my foot in it by mentioning his name.
The soldier sneered. “He is nothing but a Condottieri. I am Antonius Viareggio. When you return, from your journey, report to me and we will see about having you transferred to my unit.” His eyes glanced at Dougall. “Do not bring your brother. I have no room for…muto idiota in my unit.
“I will do that, thank you.”
With that the soldiers left riding down the road in the opposite direction to where we were going. I let out a sigh of relief, that being easier than I expected.
“So, what did he say, and did I hear you mention Cesare Borgia’s name, what was that about?” Dougall asked.
“I told him I was a Captain under the command of Cesare Borgia, he wants me to come find him when we come back so he can have me transferred to his unit.”
“Oh well that’s quite a story you gave him, do you think it was necessary?”
“I do, by the way, he told me to leave the dumb idiot at home.” I clicked the reigns to move ahead, to Dougall’s shouting behind me.
“Dumb idiot, ye did no have to tell him that. Conall have I told ye are a dick?”
“Not today.” I shout back.
We spent the next three days travelling during the day and resting where we could. Dougall did most of the hunting for our dinner and filled the canteens when we came upon fresh water streams.
On the fourth day we rode for several hours and finally reached the gypsy campsite. Jumping off my horse I grabbed the first man we came to. “Do you know Rosa and Germaine?”
Fiora rushed over. “The gypsies speak Romanian and some in Latin only.
I asked the man again this time in Latin. He pointed to the other side of the campsite that was surrounded with caravans. I raced across with Dougall and Fiora behind me.
A large woman in colorful skirts had her back turned to me pulling blankets down from inside her caravan.
“Excuse me are you Rosa?”
She turned as a man with a big moustache came to join her.
“Yes, who is asking?”
I thought my heart was going to shatter right there on the spot. “Morgan.” I breathed out.
She shook her head. “I do not know any…Morgan.”
“My wife, she was given to you by Leonardo da Vinci in Milan for safe keeping. Please I need to see her.”
Dougall and Fiora came running to my side.
The woman gave the man a weary side glance.
“Who are you?” She asked.
“I am Conall Sutherland, her husband. Please Rosa I need to see my wife.”
Both Rosa and the man’s face turned sad. “I am sorry, but she was taken by the Holy Soldiers, four days ago.”
“What?” My heart literally stopped.
Dougall grabbed my arm. “Where is she?”
“Four days ago, we were stopped by the Pope’s Holy Soldiers, I’m sorry.” The woman began to cry. “I tried to stop them, but she chose to go with them.”
I was stunned, I couldn’t believe this. “Why?”
The man stepped forward. “If she did not, they were going to kill us all, she made the decision to go with them to save us.”
“Conall?” Dougall whispered.
I told Dougall what Rosa what was said. Fuck if they have hurt her, I will kill every last one of them.
“We will find her.” Dougall said looking as angry as I was.
I turned to walk away but Rosa called after me.
“I still have her clothes and her crossbow, if you would like them. If you find her, you could give them back to her.
I nodded before she ran to the caravan and climbed aboard. Dougall was talking to the man that I guessed was Germaine. It seemed that Germaine also spoke some English. Rosa returned and held out the clothing and Abbey, Morgan’s crossbow. I took them not believing I had them in my hands. I sunk my face into her clothing smelling her scent.
“Conall we need to go I know which direction they have gone in.” Dougall yelled taking Fiora’s arm and running back to the horses.
“I hope you find her.” Germaine shouted, his wife was tearful nodding. I ran back to the horses and after stowing Morgan’s clothes and crossbow away we set off in a hurry. I followed Dougall, assured of our direction.
We raced along the road stopping for as brief at time as possible, so the horses could drink and rest.
As night fell Dougall was adamant about stopping, I didn’t want to, I wanted to keep going, we were so close. When my horse faltered, I agreed, and we set up camp. I brushed the horses down and checked their shoes, admonishing myself for pushing them so hard.
By the time I sat at the campfire, Dougall had two rabbits cooking. I didn’t eat my stomach cramping with anxiety, I just wanted Morgan back. I paced for hours and only stopped at Dougall’s moaning.
I could see though that he was as anxious as I was to get back on the road. By the time we catch those damned Holy soldiers both Dougall and I would be ripping heads by the fury that was rising.
I tried to lie down and sleep, sleep though was uneasy and I’m sure I woke to every sound and snapping branches by local animals and birds. I just couldn’t rest and was thankful when the sun broke for the dawning.
I was already packed by the time Dougall and Fiora stirred. We’re coming baby hold on love, we’re coming for you.
“Come on Dougall, we need to get going.” I snapped at him, impatient to be on our way. The soldier’s horses would be faster than the sluggish caravan’s, so they could be half way to Bergamo by now.
I had already made my mind up that I was going to kill them all, every fucking last one of them, for taking my wife.
I paced waiting for Dougall and Fiora to drink some water and eat some bread. I was on my horse before they had even finished. Dougall nodded and helped Fiora onto her horse.
“Alright bràthair, let’s hit the road.” I ken he was as impatient as I was, well almost. We sped down the road, praying that we could reach her before the soldiers hurt her, but by God if they had they wouldn’t just die they would suffer first. They weren’t going to live anyway.
Even though Morgan didn’t have her half pendant on, safely tucked in my pocket, I could feel her the closer we got to her destination. Gritting my teeth. I ken it wouldn’t be long until we came across her. We just had to. Hang on baby I’m almost there.