AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Forty Four

McTabbot’s Brollachan Pack

I couldn’t believe my eyes, there at the top of the hill stood Mrs McTabbot the woman that had taken over my home after my mother died. The same woman who was always whispering to Joe when they thought I didn’t notice.

She stood with a sneer on her face surrounded by six wolves in the same predatory stance as Silver. Her face was white like she had risen from the grave, deep purple tinges under her eyes. Lord she was a Brollachan. I felt sorry for her that this is what she had become. I never liked the woman, but I wouldn’t wish the miasmic breath of a Brollachan on anyone.

The growls and sneers of the wolves dragged my attention from my ex neighbour. This didn’t make sense there were no wolves left in England, except maybe in a zoo. Behind them stood at least twenty men, none of them I recognised, all of them Brollachans too.

“Brollachans.” Conall ground out between his teeth.

Mrs McTabbot was newly made, but the wolves, they had to come from somewhere, and the fact that Conall was referring to them as Brollachans too was horrifying.

Brollachans were only ever people, not that they were anymore, they ceased to be so when a Brollachan sucked their breaths in. The six wolves were without any doubt, Brollachans, it showed in the red of their eyes. Eyes that looked like orbs of molten lava.

Sloane moved closer to Conall and whispered out the side of his mouth. “We need our swords.”

Conall nodded grabbed his pendant, said the words and promptly disappeared.

“Yer husband’s a coward then.” Bridey huffed behind me causing all of us turn instantly. Not for the first time, I wanted to march up to her and smack that mouth of hers right off her face, but aunt shook her head in a silent gesture for me not to take any action. She still had the girl by the wrist and wasn’t letting go any time soon.

“Should have dropped her off to live with a bunch of cave men.” Sloane mumbled not loud enough for anyone to hear but me. I was thinking more of a mental facility.

Conall appeared in the same spot he had left carrying several swords including his own. He handed Dougall an Sloane there’s, it was then I noticed he had changed into his kilt.

“When did you have time to change?” I wasn’t complaining, damned he looked good in his kilt. He just grinned at me, cheeky beggar.

“You could have brought back a kilt fer me too.” Dougall whined.

Silver stood at the front of our troupe faced off with my Brollachan neighbour, men and wolves. I was surprised that Silver hadn’t just attacked as soon as he got out here. He seemed to be waiting, for what I had no idea until he turned to eye Conall. Right so he was waiting for Conall to give the commands, interesting.

“Wolf.” Conall said not taking his eyes of the Brollachans. “Swords at the ready. “Wolf take the left. Morgan with your bow take the one’s on the right. Sloane, Dougall we are going through the middle.” Aye came the answers from his brothers.

“Don’t you just want me to blast them with earth and be done with it?” I asked. There would be no need for any swords or fighting. I could deal with them all in a matter of minutes and if aunt accompanied me with her air powers this could all be over in a matter of seconds.

Conall turned to grin at me. “Nay love, we’ve got this.” A nod came from Dougall and Sloane. They looked excited as if they were about to have a horse race, not go into battle. “Morgan ye don’t leave this spot, shoot from here, we’ll do the rest.”

“Let them have their battle love.” Aunt said quietly behind me. This reminded me of the conversation I had with her at the tavern before I was whisked away to Milan. When Conall was having trouble accepting my abilities, thinking he was of no use to me, seeing as I was mastered in the use of my cross bow and then having my earth abilities unhidden.

Okay I can do this, I didn’t need to be the hero here, not that I thought of myself one. I needed to let the men be men. If things got out of hand, I knew they would call on aunt and me to deal with it. This is what she meant by sharing the load, working together, and let the three of them enjoyed battling the foe.

An almighty bellow came from Conall. “SUTHERLAND!”

Followed by the same roars from Sloane and Dougall as they raced towards the fray. The wolf bounding forward veering to the left.

I cocked a bolt and took out a wolf on the right, second bolt a male charging behind them. I dropped two more males before the Silver jumped through the air to sink his jaws into the nearest wolf taking him to the ground.

I hated having to kill a wolf, such a beautiful creature. It was hard enough killing a Brollachan knowing they were once people, I had to remember that they were monsters now, no longer human. They were rotting from the inside out, the humans they were, already dead.

Awed at watching our three men swing and parry their swords with practiced ease I almost missed a wolf and male getting past them racing towards us. It was aunt who broke my attention with her yell. Cocking a bolt, I took the wolf out first, he was faster than the male.

When I looked back up to the chaos half way up the hill, I couldn’t shoot lest I catch one of our men. They had already decimated most of the Brollachans, Mrs McTabbot though was nowhere to be seen.

I raced towards them seeing as only our men were still standing. Dougall and Sloane began walking down the hill patting each other on the back. Conall checking on the fallen no doubt making sure they were dead, which they already were, I suppose.

Just as I reached uncle, I looked up to see Mrs McTabbot appear behind Conall. I screamed, Conall’s eyes went wide then he dropped to his knees. A blade dripping with blood in the hand of the woman, a smirk on her face. Conall stared straight at me a look of regret written on his face as if he knew this was the end for him. No, no, no.

I cocked a bolt and shot it aiming for her heart. Even when the bolt hit her true, it didn’t wipe the smug smile off her face. Still running I cocked another, it’s mark the centre of her forehead.

She went down face planting next to Conall laying face down on the road, no scream, no hurt on her face just that damned smirk. That was what a Brollachan was, a monster that felt no pain, no remorse.

Reaching Conall tears running down my face I threw myself down beside him.

“Conall.” I screamed turning his head and feeling for the pulse in his neck. It was there but faint as if I was trying to feel movement of water beneath a sheet of ice. His eyes were closed, his breath low, his face had turned a deathly white. No, no, no, no. “Don’t leave me, please Conall, stay with me.” I kissed his eyes and his cheek. “C’mon baby open your eyes.” He didn’t move.

Aunt dropped down beside me checking the pulse in his neck as I had done. “I’ll be alright Morgan, he’s still alive. Dougall get over here.”

She reached under Conall and pulled his pendant over his head handing it to Dougall flnging himself beside us.

“Is he dead?” He asked panicked that the answer would be a yes.

“No, here take the pendant get us to the house, quick.” Wrapping her arm around me and holding onto Conall’s shirt Dougall threw the pendant over his head clasped us both and said the words instantly transporting us to the spare room that Dougall had been using.

Aunt rushed off to get her bag. Conall had landed on the floor only to be picked up by Dougall and placed gently on the bed, first on his side then carefully rolling him to his stomach. He pulled a blade from his hip cutting Conall’s shirt to reveal a stab wound to his back just below his shoulder blade. It was deep and still bleeding. Aunt returned with her bag and dropped it onto the bedside table.

I watched in terror holding Conall’s hand. I couldn’t lose him now, not after everything we had been through. I sat on the edge of the bed on the opposite side to where Ula was adding compounds into a small glass container.

Dougall had left at the request of aunt for boiling water from the kettle. Bringing Conall’s hand to my lips I kissed his knuckles and stroked his face with my other hand. “Will he be…ok?” I asked my breath shaky, tears still running down my face.

“Yes love.” Was all that aunt said concentrating on adding liquids to her glass holder. She pulled out a syringe once the ingredients were mixed and without hesitation injected it into the wound. Conall didn’t move. I had never seen her use a syringe, this went beyond simply working with herbs.

Dougall returned with a kettle and a large metal bowl and aunt threw some dried herbs into the bowl then had Dougall added the water leaving it on the floor to steep. Sloane came in the room towing the girl by the wrist behind, Silver padding beside him.

“How’s the lad, love.” Sloane wasn’t looking much better, the fear on his face evident even though he contained his anger.

Ula dropped a cloth into the bowl, wrung it out and then began washing the blood from Conall’s back. “I think he will be ok, the wound is deep, but the blood is slowing now. Morgan check his pulse love.”

I felt his neck; his pulse was steady but still feint. “I can feel his pulse but it’s still weak.”

“That’s ok, it should get stronger as he heals.” She said as she kept washing his back the bowl of water now pink with blood. “Sloane tie the girl to a chair in the kitchen, out of harms way.” Not sure who’s harm she was referring to, but I didn’t want her in this room.

“Aye love.” Sloane pulled the wide-eyed girl from the room and dragged her down the stairs.

Dougall was threading a needle with cord before running scotch from a bottle over it. He had done this before not being told what needed to be done. Totally doused in alcohol he handed the needle to Ula.

I laid on the bed my hand stroking his face whispering to him. “I’m right here love. Your going to be ok. Did I tell you today how much I love you, I’m sorry if I didn’t? You’re my world baby, I don’t want to live if you’re not in it.” I kissed his forehead wiping his hair back from his face. “Ula will make you better, your going to be well soon and I will stay right here with you.”

When aunt had finished sewing Conall’s back she pressed a pad to it and taped it down. “Morgan I’m going to go and make him some tea for when he wakes up. I’ll be back up soon. Is there anything I can get you?”

“No, I’ll stay here.”

“Ok but if you need anything you just shout ok?”

I nodded still smoothing Conall’s forehead with my kisses and hand. I was glad when the room was empty. I lay there watching him breathing as if he was just sleeping.

Then it suddenly hit me, I could have hit myself in the head. I had totally forgotten that I could heal with my hand. How could I have forgotten something so fucking important. Even aunt had obviously forgotten going through the whole procedure with efficiency and practice of a surgeon.

I sat up wiping my face of the tears that hadn’t stopped falling. Get yourself together girl, you have a job to do. Holding my hand over the padding of the wound I reached deep inside feeling for the bead of energy I knew was in there somewhere. I couldn’t feel it. I took a deep breath relaxing and tried again.

Ah got you. Feeling the heat rise to my hand as if I had put my hand in the light of a candle, I felt the energy pulse in my palm. I pushed with everything I had into Conall. I pushed it harder, willing every bit of it into his body.

I kept pushing until my energy began to fade and exhaustion took over. I just hoped that it had worked, that it was enough. I still couldn’t believe I had forgotten I was a healer. Now that I think of it I could have healed Mario of the wounds he had suffered after the beating he had received trying to help me. A sob hit the back of my throat, I could have lost Conall.

I laid back down my hand on his face. My eyelids felt as though they were weighted down, I succumbed slipping into sleep.

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