AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Fifty Two

Two Women Saved

We landed inside the round cairn. The air was musty, smelling of bones, dense and suffocating. There wasn’t much room in here and the light was dim we could barely see anything.

“It smells like death in here.” Dougall whispered.

“It’s a cairn what did ye expect?” I had to agree with him, it did smell like death in here.

The wolf gave a yip to let us ken he was just to our left. Taking two steps in the darkness I felt his muzzle touch my leg. A thin beam of light seeped through a small narrow opening above us, enough though to show the frail arm of someone laying on the floor.

Getting closer I was taken back at the sleeping form of the Cailleach.

“God’s blood, what the fuck is she doing here?” I said more to myself than Dougall crouched beside me.

Dougall leaned closer pressing a finger to her neck, then a hand to her chest. “She has a pulse and she’s still breathing.” At is touch the Cailleach stirred, her lashes flickering.

“Where am I?” She groaned in a dry hoarse voice from dehydration. Lord kens how long she’s been in here.

“Dougall do ye have a flask with ye?”

“Aye, but it’s no water, it’s whiskey.”

“It will have tae do. Why if ye had whiskey, did we have tae drink that god awful mead at the inn?”

Dougall shrugged. “Ye ken how Sloane is, it would be gone in one gulp with him.”

“When ye two are finished pass me tha flask, am parched tae death here.” Agnes gasped.

“Aye right.” Dougall pulled the flask out of his pocket and flipped the lid. I held Agnes up by the shoulders while Dougall gently tipped the whiskey into her mouth.

“Agnes how did ye get here then?” I asked laying her back down.

She gave me a desolate look. “Andrew.”

If I wasn’t stunned that she was here in the first place this news sent me for six. “Andrew did this tae ye?”

“Aye.” Was all she said looking to the wall.

“Why?” Dougall asked, he was as stupefied as I. We had kent Andrew for as long as Agnes. Longer for me. I was five when I first met her, Dougall wasnae born yet.

Agnes looked back at us, anger now evident in the frown of her brow and the thin line of her lips. “He was bamboozled by Aoife. Thinks he’s in love wit tha demon, tha eejit.” He wouldn’t be the only one, Aoife was leaving a trail of hearts through the centuries.

“I have tae ask, are ye no stronger than she, after all ye are tha Cailleach?” Dougall asked looking abashed.

“Watch ye tone, lad.” Agnes snapped at him.

“Agnes.” I warned. “It’s a fair question.”

She huffed out a breath and conceded. “Aye, ye are right. I cannae believe Andrew would do this. He told tha demon how tae take me power.”

Dougal ran a hand across his face. “Do ye mean tae tell us ye power can be stolen?”

“Aye, but ye will no get it oot of me, how.”

“Agnes can ye stand?” I had to get her out of here, now regretting leaving Morgan out there by herself. I just hope that Sloane and Ula had retreated from the other cairn with the lass and joined her.

“Aye just help me up.” We got Agnes to her feet and transported the three of us to where I had left Morgan. Agnes had passed out again, dougall taking over and layed her on the ground.

Sloane and Ula had the young lass on the ground, she was out as well, they were trying to bring her around.

“Where’s Morgan?” I asked starting to panic.

Ula got to her feet. “I thought she was with you and Dougall.

“Nay I left her here.”

Sloane clamped a hand on my shoulder. “Ye left the lass here, by herself?”

Suddenly a black cloud descended in front of us. When the darkness of it cleared stood a short woman with blonde hair and dressed in what looked like a Roman toga and wearing a back cape.

I ken straight away who this was, Aoife. Anger surged in my chest, more at myself than anything else. I’d fucking left Morgan alone again, and this demon had her.

“Where’s my wife?” I growled at her, taking a step in her direction.

“Ha you would be seeking your wife then?” She sing song in a melodic voice. I wasn’t fooled though this was no innocent young lass, this was pure evil. There was something very familiar about her though, that I just couldn’t rightly place.

Sloane clamped a hand back hard down on my shoulder when I went to take another step forward. I was shaking with anger. Wanting only to put my hands around her neck and squeeze the life out of her.

“Where. Is. My. Wife?” I spat out as if she was demented as well as evil.

Aoife laughed. “She’s in good hands. Now I will have your pendants.” She held out her hands as if I would just simply hand them over to her.

My teeth gritted so hard I felt they could break any second, muscles strained against Sloane’s hold. “My wife, first.”

Aoife strolled as if she was taking a Sunday walk in front of us, stopping at the Cailleach. “Don’t get your dander up, it looks like the old bat is finally dead.”

My eyes snapped to where Agnes lay on the ground. She seemed fine a moment ago, yeah she’d past out but according to Dougall her vital signs were good. She couldn’t be dead. Aoife took a step towards me, I thought I saw Agnes move her little finger. Glancing to Ula her mouth in a tight seal a slight shake to her head that said not to say anything. Ok something was going on here, that Aoife was not privy to. Ula’s eyes jerked towards the trees then back to me.

“Conall.” Aoife crooned stepping up to me and running a finger down my face. I shivered, not because I was attracted to her it had more to do with my rage at wanting to rip her fucking head from her shoulders.

Shuffling slightly so I could get a better look at the trees that Ula had tried to lead my sight to, and avoiding Aoife noting if anything was there.

“Ye are such a handsome man Conall, muscles as big as mountains.” Fuck. My body froze, shoulders stiffening, I ken I had seen her before, Glasgow Art gallery. I caught a sharp intake of breath from Ula, yeah she recognised her too.

Aoife continued, her finger now running down my chest. A quick scan at the others told me they were holding their breath.

Scanning the trees over the head of Aoife, being a short woman, scratch that, demon, I spotted the wolf sitting on his haunches at the edge of the tree line. He had something in his mouth. Damn he had Abbey, Morgan’s crossbow gripped in his jaws.

Turning my head to Ula she sighed and gave me the smallest nod of her head.

“Ye ken Morgan dosnae go anywhere without Abbey. Dougall said. It all added up, Morgan was in the trees, not far away.

Aoife turned to eye Dougall. “Abbey? Who is this Abbey? There was no one with her.” Dougall shrugged.

“I can give you riches beyond your wildest dreams.” Aoife continued her ministrations of running her finger up and down my chest. It was more like being strokes by the claws of the devil himself.

Ula and Sloane edged their steps to stand in front of the Cailleach. Ula raised her brow at me.

“Nay there is nothing you can give me except my wife.” I retorted taking a step back from her and moving to my right keeping her from seeing whatever the Cailleach was planning to do. God, I hope she was planning to do something, and soon.

There was no telling what condition my wife was in, though I felt somewhat better that the wolf was there, he would give his life to protect, so would I.

It would have been an easy move, with Aoife so close to wrap my hands around her neck. However, I was more than aware she could snap back into a black cloud before I reached her neck with my hands.

Dougall moved to stand behind me. “My bráithar is not interested demon. Give us back our lass and crawl back into the hole ye fucking crawled out of.”

I could have punched him, he was simply trying to distract her. He was going to get himself killed. Aoife had an ice heart and wouldn’t think twice at turning him into powder.

Aoife pouted coming around me to face him. “Oh Duggie, I’ll won’t leave you out, you are quite a handsome man too.” She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “You can warm my sheets every night.”

“Aye well that’s tis going tae happen. I would rather sleep with a Brollachan than take tae ye bed.”

A wicked smile crossed over Aoife’s face. “Perhaps I will give you Morgan to warm your sheets.” She studied her fingernails as if she was bored. “That’s of course when I’ve finished with her.” A salacious smile crossing her lips.

The words came out of my mouth before I could stop them. “Ye touch one hair on her head and I’ll rip the heart right out of your black chest.”

Dougall’s gasp and his eyes widened in horror we were frozen on the spot. I couldn’t move and guessed Dougall was the same. It didn’t stop heat flooding my body and washing over my face at Aoife’s implication of giving my wife to Dougall when she was done with them.

“Tut, tut gentlemen, that is no way to treat me when I can do so much for you.”

The only thing I could move was my eyes, and spotting Sloane move away from Ula he stepped back quite a distance.

“Aoife.” Came his voice. “Do ye have an offer fer me?” What the hell was Sloane playing at? It was only Dougall and I that had been frozen on the spot.

Aoife’s brow shot up then a smile creased her face. She stepped away from us towards Sloane. Barely being able to see him in my periphery Aoife sashayed towards him.

“Oh, you want to warm my sheets too big boy.” She cooed at Sloane. Why she thought that Sloane could help her to get my pendants was beyond me. She couldn’t take the travel pendant unless it was given freely. Even my bráithars couldn’t remove it if they wanted to, no one could.

I flicked my eyes back to Ula who was now standing holding hands with the Cailleach. A gentle wind was starting to form in front of them. I snapped my eyes back to the demon still cooing at Sloane. The wind creeped between Sloane and Aoife.

Aoife spun around to face Ula and Agnes, her eyes narrowing in fury. She began changing into the black cloud state she was in when she came, Ula’s lips turned up at the ends into a smile. I guess this was a good thing, I hoped.

The black cloud of Aoife was sucked into the now eddy spinning with increasing speed. Dougall and I were suddenly released. Not waiting a second longer I ran to the trees. Following the wolf, he led me to a huge tree that had deep fissure close to the base.

Morgan was lying inside, looking as if she was asleep. Picking her up a trickle of blood ran down her hair. Sitting down I checked to see a small cut at the back of her head. One hand holding her the other gently ran over her body checking if she had any other injuries.

Not wanting to run and jostle her I transported us to where the Cailleach and Ula were still standing.

“Ula, Morgan’s hurt.” I sat down on the ground holding her on my lap, not willing to let her go. Ula rushed to her side and checked the wound.

“It’s not deep, she’ll have a headache when she wakes.” Ula was about to tear a piece of her shirt when Agnes placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Let me.” Agnes crouched down and placed her hand on Morgan’s head. A glow began from the Cailleach’s hand. The wound sealed within seconds leaving only small traced of dried blood in her hair. “The lass will be fine now.”

“Thank ye Agnes, truly.” I tenderly rocked my wife in my arms, and hating myself at the same time for having left her to the clutches of the demon.

“I’m afraid we won’t be going anywhere until Morgan wakes up.” Ula sighed. “There’s no way Conall will let her go till then.” She kent me so well.

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