Chapter Forty Nine
By the time we reached the dining room the men were coming through the door laughing and patting each other on the back. Some were covered in blood and other things I didn’t want to think about.
As soon as Conall saw me he made a bee line to where we stood. He made to grab me in a hug, I stepped back. “Don’t you touch me until you have cleaned yourself up.” I said waving my hands at his shirt and kilt covered in God knows what.
He looked down at himself, a sheepish look on his face. “Oh aye, ye are right.”
“You too.” Aunt shouted at her approaching husband. “Touch me with that shite on you and I’ll send you to the top of mount Everest.
“Right love.” Uncle chuffed then grabbed Conall and Dougall by the scruff of their shirts heading to the stairs.
Does that include me?
Came the voice of Silver in my head. I thought he was still keeping guard outside the room where we had drawn the pentagram and had Bridey call her mother. I suppose when there is a battle on everyone joins in, and it looked like Silver had done just that.
Silver looked no better than the men, his muzzle clumped with dried blood. “Yes, you too wolf, go wash yourself.” He shot out the door no doubt going to the river to wash, he wouldn’t be able to use a shower, then that wouldn’t have surprised me either.
“Why do I have to go too? I want a dram, I just killed me a dozen of them brolly’s. I’ve earned a drink.” Dougall whined being dragged none too gently by Sloane.
Several of the other men including Haig looked down at themselves, shock on their faces and then headed for the stairs at Haig’s command. They got the message too. Why they thought it was ok to give everyone hugs and praises covered in blood and guts was beyond me, men. I shook my head.
Sitting around the table with aunty and Bridey and Mrs MacLeish, the castle cook, who brought the tea and several apple pies we chatted about the legends of Nicnevan and Aoife.
Mrs MacLeish was a surprise in the area of legends comparing them with the research aunt had done. The table suddenly went quiet all eyes on something behind me. It wasn’t hard to tell who it was, the scent of lavender soap, heather and well everything that was Conall told me he was stood behind me. I got up and turned to face him. He was indeed clean in a fresh shirt and kilt, his hair still wet.
“Am I clean enough, can I hold you now?” He asked biting his bottom lip, damn that pretty much undid me.
“If you don’t, you’re in trouble.”
“Aye, well we can’t have that.” He chuckled literally jumping at me pulling me into a full body hug, his lips slamming into mine, none too soft. Hey, I wasn’t complaining.
“Ula.” Came Sloane’s voice behind us. I pulled my mouth away from Conall and turned to see aunt rise from her seat, crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow.
“I guess you’ll do.”
Uncle’s mouth dropped open. “I’ll do?” He took a step forward towards aunt. “I’ll show ye lass how much, I do.” Aunt giggled then took off like a jack rabbit across the room to the door that led outside. Damn that woman can run fast. Uncle though was right behind her, his long strides catching up fast.
“Conall, do ye think I could have a hug from ye wife?” Dougall asked coming to stand at our side.
Conall snarled at him, so I did the only thing I could and punched him in the shoulder. “So possessive.” I pulled out of Conall’s embrace and went to give Dougall a hug only to be intercepted by the wolf. Me first. He said in my head jumping so his paws landed on my shoulders.
Conall rolled his eyes. “Shite I don like this sharing.” I laughed and gave Silver a hug before giving Dougall one. Although Conall must have thought it went on a bit too long, and pulled me back. “That’s enough of ye hands on ma wife.”
Haig came into the room and headed straight for us pushing Conall away and wrapping his arms around me to hug me. “Gees, what is with all these hugs, it’s not like you have just won WWIII.”
Haig stepped back. “It’s our custom when we return from battle, we give a beautiful woman a hug, and a bit more, but we can just dispense with a hug this time.”
“He’s right ye ken.” Dougall interjected.
I had to smile, I doubted it was a cultural custom but who was I to argue. “Right then, sit and have some mead and apple pie.” They didn’t have to be asked twice each of them clambering for a seat at the table.
A voice came from behind me. “Hiya beautiful.” Oh lord I knew that voice, Aiden. “Seeing as ye are giving away hugs, after our…huge battle could I have one too?”
Adjusting my look to one of no emotion I turned to him. “No.” Then sat down next to a chuckling Conall. Even though Aiden was Conall’s brother I didn’t care for his attitude, our last meeting at Conall’s cabin had left a bad taste in my mouth.
Mrs MacLeish laid down pots of mead for each of the men and somehow managed to find four more huge apple pies. Dougall scooped the last spoonful of apple pie from a dish to the grunts of the other men. He had already eaten a whole one by himself in less time than it took to get everyone seated.
Running footsteps made me turn to see who it was. Murtagh. I got up from my seat as he ran to me to wrap me in a hug. “It’s good to see you again Murtagh.”
“And you ma lady.”
“Oh, now that’s just not fair.” Aiden whined to an up slap across the back of his head from Haig.
“Hey Aiden, how longs it been since I gave ye a knee kiss?” Dougall chuckled.
“Haud ye wheesht Duggie, still eating us out o’ house and home, I see.” Retorted Aiden to another up slap from Haig. “Da can ye stop hitting me.”
“Aiden.” Conall warned.
“I will, when ye mind ye manners, lad. There are ladies present and ye are just being a wee bampot with ye carry on.” Haig reprimanded.
When everyone had had several pots of mead and demolished the apple pies, I cleared my throat to get everyone’s attention, when that didn’t work aunt yelled, that worked.
I told them what Nicnevan had said and how Aoife had gained her extra power. Speaking of how we, well I had decided that Bridey should stay had a few eyebrows raising. Even more so when I told them that we needed to save Bridey’s sister Marigold where she was being held at Camster Cairns.
Haig leaned over the table towards me. “Lass do you need us to come with ye?”
I shook my head. “No, thank you da, I think aunt and I will take this one, with Conall, Dougall and uncle of course.” The wolf growled. “Don’t worry you can come too.”
“Well I’m ready fer another battle.” Dougall said his smile dropping seeing as all the pies where gone. He looked to the shaking head of Mrs MacLeish, and pouted knowing he wasn’t getting any more pie.
I thought for a moment about the attack of Brollachans. It was just too coincidental that they attacked when aunt and I called Nicnevan to the pentagram.
“Da I think that you should remain vigilant just in case more Brollachans attack. By the way how many where there, did we lose anyone?” Something I had totally forgotten to ask.
Haig sat back and folded his arms. “I think ye may be right, we estimate there were about a hundred.” The others nodded at him. “We didn’t lose anyone.” A cheer went up by all at the table. Conall had his hand on my back, rubbing circles with his fingers. He knew I would have been worried about any loss of life.
“Don’t fret Morgan, I have left men at tha guard, should any more o’ them dirty braggarts dare ta attack Sutherland castle.” Haig said with a smile.
“Morgan when do you want to go to the cairns?” Uncle asked.
I looked at Conall. Would he be happy if I said now? Nope of course he wouldn’t, silly question. “Tomorrow morning at dawn. What do you think aunt Ula?” She nodded her head.
“And Bridey?” Conall asked.
“She has to stay here but we do need her when we save her sister to send her back to her mother. After that….” I hadn’t really thought what to do with her, only to separate her from her mother. I looked to Haig.
He nodded at me understanding what I was asking. “Bridey my cousin Jacob McKenzie has a healer woman that is getting on in age. Would ye be willing tae go and work as her apprentice?”
Bridey’s eyes lit up. “Oh, aye I’d be able tae do that, I ken about herbs and tha like.”
“Right then that settled. What do ye think Morgan?”
I smiled at the joy on the girl’s face. “That’s a splendid idea. You would have to work hard, listen and learn.” Bridey nodded her head furiously. “And you would have to be respectful at all times.” More nodding. “You will have a proper bed to sleep in, you won’t be expected to sleep on the floor anymore.” That brought gasps from around the table and a bow of the head from Haig.
“I will Morgan, I will be a good apprentice.” Bridey said with a smile beaming across her face.
“Just so you know if you don’t, I will find out and you will have to answer to me.” I said to her in my sternest voice.
“I’ll no let ye down.” The girl continued to grin.