It has been a year now since Culloden and every night I dream that I am still in battle. Clansmen lay motionless on the ground, some gaspin’ for their last breath, while others, wi’ their bloodied faces and eyes wide open stare up to the heavens wi’ shocked expressions that I’ll ne’r forget as long as I live. Bonnie Prince Charles . . . a short man, feared God and didna fear what his actions would cost him and the men that died for him. He was a wee bastart. I’m just grateful that I am still here, alive, breathin’, but I, too, have changed and not in a way I ever thought. Sit down and I’ll give ye a dram of whiskey while ye listen to my story.
The day was dreich. I, along with what was left of my clansmen walked the wet, spongy moor that was the death bed of so many. There wasna a spot of green grass to see. I had one British soldier grab at my ankle, gaspin’ as blood trickled out of his mouth. I didna know what he expected me to do, for I wasna goin’ to help him any. I yanked my leg away and continued walkin’.
There were times where I didna know where to go, as did the rest of us. We were tired, hungry, cold, and wounded too, but we did what we could. Some of us made it to our destinations, offered the rest of us food and shelter, before continuin’ on to our own homes. Sleep didna come easy for me. I lost my Uncle in the battle.
The next few days, one by one, of the twenty that was left of the clan, it now came down to just me. Alone. Home wasna far and I kept my sights on that. That was the only thing that kept me movin’. I didna have a wife, but I did have a small home in the Highlands. Home . . . a bed to lay me weary head. I was a bit peely wally and it took all my strength to keep movin’ forward until . . .
“My, dinna ye look like ye been through hell and back.”
She was bonnie. Blond hair, skin as pale as ivory, and a dress I havena seen many women wear except for at a brothel.
“Aye, that I have. Culloden. Now, if ye dinna mind, I need to get home.” And walked past her, keepin’ me eyes toward the horizon.
“I can help.”
“No thank ye.” Ne’r stoppin’ the whole time. Home was beckonin’ me.
She started to laugh. I dinna see what was so funny, but I ignored her.
“Ye daft man, I may have seemed like I had offered it to ye, but actually, I’m goin’ to give it to ye whether ye want it or not.”
I stopped and turned. My eyes blazed down into hers. “I dinna know where ye came from, but I dinna want anythin’ from ye and I can and will stop ye if need be.”
“Ye dinna know me verra well, but I can assure ye, in time, ye will come to thank me.”
Her eyes closed as she held up her wand.
“Ye’r a witch!” and I ran to tackle her, but instead I froze in my steps. She watched me wi’ a critical squint. They were empty as her heart. She didna want her way wi’ me, she planned on castin’ a spell of some sort.
”Ropo chétach cétblíadnach, cech cét diib ar úair.”
My body began to stiffen and burn deep from within and intensified as she repeated her incantation. All I could do was scream. I gasped, realizin’ a shiver of panic. I watched as she began to shake as the fearful images built in her mind started to reveal themselves. A dragon. She had an outer glow about the edges of her body and all the while she spoke the dragon wrapped its tail around her, claiming her as its own, but that was not so.
”Is snáth-gherradh saeghail ocus is aitherrach aimsire dam-sa!”
After the last word was spoken, the dragon flew toward me. I couldna see any more. Darkness covered my eyes, but the pain had now changed its course, for it felt as though a dozen dirks had impaled my insides and demanded to be brought out.
I awoke, but not as myself. I felt larger than life. My limbs felt heavier, bulky. I still couldna see verra well. The world blurred around me, but she was still there.
“My, my, my . . . ye do look masterful now. See, I told ye I’d help and I did too.”
I tried to talk, but no words would come forth. My throat felt parched, sore and burnt. What had she done to me?
“Ye willna be able to talk, but only through ye’r mind. Try it.”
What is she talkin’ about talk wi’ me mind? But seein’ how I couldna the other way, I thought of the words I wanted to say, and it wasna verra gentleman like either.
Ye’r a right scunner ye are!
“Well, I wouldna call that a thank ye, but it’ll do for now.”
A thank ye? She wanted me to thank her?
” Willna be thankin’ ye, not now, not ever! I went to get up when I noticed not me hand, but a paw or worse a dragon’s foot. As I stood up I towered over her, not by inches, but by feet. She done turned me into a dragon!
“Pleased are ye?” She said wi’ a smugness that was thick as the mud she stood on.
Pleased? I’m not human. I’m a dragon!
“Before ye get ye’r tail in a bunch, ye can change back into a human. Ye just need to practice a wee bit.”
Practice . . . PRACTICE! And how pray tell does one go about doin’ that since ye are the one who has done this to me?
“All ye have to do is concentrate on what you want to change back into. It gets easier the more ye do it, but for now it will be a bit tryin’. Go ahead, practice. Let’s see if ye can.”
I have a good right to mind to stomp ye like a bug, but . . . I wlllna just yet.
I did as she suggested. I closed me eyes and thought of myself. In my clan colored tartan, white linen shirt, sporran, and boots. My black hair hung just at shoulder length, curly, and my father’s dirk in my belt. I kept picturin’ myself as such, wantin’ nothin’ but to be that. I even blocked out the noises of the day to help out. After a few moments, as I stood there I felt something quiver in my belly, then crept to my limbs and filled my head. I didna know what was happenin’, but I kept on concentratin’ regardless. The ground below me felt different too. Instead of feeling the ground wi’ four feet, I felt only two and opened my eyes.
“See, ye did alright for ye’r first time.” Her smile was cunnin’ though she be bonnie, I still wanted to do her great harm, but I ne’r struck a lassie, nor would I ever.
“Ye’r look verra muscular in all the right places.”
I looked down at myself and saw that I was naked. “What happened to me clothes!” And did my best to hide the bits of me that shouldn’t be showin’.
She laughed at me, but only for a short time, then her eyes grew large and liquid. Oh, this wasna good. As bonnie as she was I wasna in the mood to let her have her way wi’ me.
“I think we should celebrate ye’r success as a dragon. Wouldna ye agree?”
I could tell her body ached for my touch and she was temptin’ I’ll give ye’r that much. It had been a while since I’ve been wi’ a woman, but somethin’ inside me said it would only cause more trouble.
“As temptin’ as that may sound, I dinna think that would be wise.” I said, backin’ away.
“If ye stay and pleasure me, I’ll give ye back ye’r clothes.”
Now, I knew, out in the open, that no one would see me and that my house wasna that far, so I took my chances . . . and ran.
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