Hilander

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Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:51 pm

The King of Scotland had a big problem. Actually he had two problems. The first was England. The English King had decided that Scotland needed to be invaded, conqured and made a part of England. Now this did not agree with the King of Scotland. But his army was not sufficient enough to repel any army that England was to send against Scotland. His Kingdom was divided. He had the clans of the Lowlands and those of the Highlands. The nobles and clans of the lowlands were mostly farmers and such but got along pretty well with each other. But the Highland Clans were a different story. There were constant clan wars and a general mistrust among the clans. They were fierce fighters and with the constant little wars, were well trained in the art of war. They seldom came when called and then only a couple of the clans perhaps. But they were apart of Scotland and obeyed the King.

That was his problems and he could only think of one way that might unite the Highlanders and Lowlanders. He decreed that the Lairds, or the sons of the lairds of the Highlands would take a lowlander bride. He hoped that by doing this that the highlanders would wish to defend the clans of their brides and therefore join him when it came time for war. This made much grumbling among the lowlanders who thought the Highlanders were nothing more than savages, barbarians and unsuited to marry their daughters. But the King had made a royal decree and they were obligied to obey.

Now it didn't really set well with the clans of the Highlanders either, but they to obeyed the Kings Decree. So it was that Duncan McCloud of Clan McCloud set forth with four of his clan to go fetch is bride to be. Duncan was not really happy about the matter. His parents had married because they had fallen in love with each other and not because of some arrangement which was quite common. His father had died a couple years earlier from health reasons and left him to be the Laird of the Clan. He didn't want no empty headed, whinning and scared of her own shadowed, weakling woman for a wife. The Highlander women were tough, high sprited. Oh there were those that thought noting of themselves of course and were probably empty headed. But he thought he had a better chance of finding one that was to his liking in the Highlander Clans.

So it came to pass that he came down from the Highlands with four of his clan to meet with the father of his bride to be. For the King had chosen families of various clans to be the ones to give up their daughters for the good of Scotland. The soon approached the farmstead of one of the McNally Clan's families. As they approached Duncan saw the Head of the Family, one Cirus McNally standing before their humble home with his wife and two daughters. He was not looking forward to this. He could picture their return trip. She would be whining and complaining the whole trip. Probably crying and making his life miserable.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Sat Oct 18, 2014 3:05 pm

The day previous -

"I hope he's a beast with a beard as long as my arm and smells of pig shit." May said with mirth, "And I hope he rapes you that first night and brings you to heal."
"That's enough May." Her mother smarted back, "I'm sure he'll be a nice man. He's a Laird, so he will have some decorum, I'm positive. Now, enough faffing around, we have work to do. Samhain, sit still while I cut your hair."
The young redhead did just that, ignoring the cruel remarks from her older sister. She would have vengeance some day for this, but she had known from the day the King had made his decree that she would be the one to go. By rights, it should have been May as she was the oldest, but their father was easily swayed to be rid of his cursed younger daughter. Besides, being born on that one night no child should be born under, it would always have been an obvious choice. With her mother snipping away at the straggles her in hair, Samhain looked at the smirk on her sister's face and simply smiled back.

After some time, a bath and some more preening, Samhain was presented to her father for approval. As a final touch, she was dressed in his wife's old wedding gown of soft red wool and white muslin. He looked her up and down, checked she was clean and presentable and then nodded. "You'll do, lass." He said as he stared down at her. "A fine bride for any man."
"A whore for a highlander more like." May said with sarcasm.
"Would you care to take her place, May?" Cirus asked sharply, "It can still be arranged, you know."
May shook her head quickly, "You need me." She said back quickly, "And you've wanted rid of the omen since the day she popped out."
"Enough!" Heather snapped, actually striking her daughter with her hand. The last years, she had actually come to love her youngest daughter and she was acutely aware of how much it was to hurt when she had gone.
"Yes, enough." Cirus said as he sat down again. "Now, serve dinner, Wife. Samhain will need a good meal ready for tomorrow. I doubt very much the highlanders will feed her so well."
"It doesn't matter, Father." Samhain said quickly, "I won't need them to feed me, I can hunt for myself."
"Indeed you can." He replied as he sat back to let his wife put his plate on the table. Roasted piglet with bread, pulse gravy and mead.

****

Cirus was nervous. He knew the man coming for his daughter was a Laird and a born noble, but he was still a highlander. He wasn't entirely sure what to expect. With the other clan elders waiting inside the house, he waited outside with Heather and the girls and felt his shoulders tense up as the horses came over the rise and into his near field. "Remember Samhain." He said quickly, "Best behaviour."
"Yes Father." She replied softly as she fidgeted in the dress. She could feel the weight of her hair pulling at her scalp from the way her sister had tied it there. At least she hadn't put the entire lot up, though she probably would have if their mother hadn't of walked in then. That would be one thing she didn't miss. Her sister's temper to her had ben cruel from the day she was born, but the last few years, it had become worse and she looked forward to never seeing her again.

As the riders moved closer, a strong wind suddenly picked up, kicking up Samhain's hair. As a bride, her hair was not yet covered by muslin as was her mother's. May's lifted to the winds too, but not as high and not as gracefully either. It also showed the strong red in Samhain's hair as with May's being a dull brownish colour, made her look even more plain and boring. That made Samhain smile, but their mother quickly smarted her daughter and Samhain's eyes hit the ground once more.

As the riders came to them, Cirus stepped forward, looking Duncan up and down openly. "Highlander." He said with some respect, but not entirely. "Clan McNally welcomes you, Duncan McCloud." He gave the cursory nod of respect before he turned back to his wife. And what a shocker the meeting turned out to be! Far from being the heavy beastly monster May had been hoping for, Duncan McCloud was incredibly handsome and well built.
"Oh my!" May breathed, her eyes wide as she quickly straightened herself out to look her best. At her side, her mother did the same.
"Well now, so much for the heathen monster you wished for, May." She said with a smirk.
"My wife, Heather." Cirus said, introducing his wife properly. "And my oldest daughter, May."
"A pleasure, my lord." May said as smoothly as silk.
"And my youngest, Samhain." Cirus continued, "The one you have come for."
"My Lord." Samhain said quietly as she dipped her head and curtsied to him.
"Come, I have refreshments arranged inside with the clan elders and we can begin the negotiations. I assume you have brought a reasonable sum for her dowry." Of course, it had to come to money. Cirus was little if not a money minded cretin. Always was and always would be.

As the men went inside, Heather followed behind, but May lingered outside a moment with her sister. "Oh, I am so changing Father's mind." She said, "Bad luck, little omen."
"As you wish." Samhain said without emotion and followed her mother indoors. May was hot on her heels and quickly made sure she was in his line of vision with a warm and flirtatious smile. Samhain made no notion to copy her sister. In fact, she did almost everything to avoid his gaze and only entered the room to serve drinks and food. She made it clear he was not her priority, though really, he should be.

As the day wore on, the pleasantries were passed and done with and Cirus wanted to get down to actual business. "So what kind of life can I expect for my youngest daughter?" He asked, "She is a hard worker don't get me wrong, but as the bride of a Laird, will she lead an easy life, or one of warfare and hardship?"......
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Oct 18, 2014 3:40 pm

As the introductons were made, Duncan made note of the two daughters. The oldest he thought was going to be the one he was to fetch was plain looking and he was about to sigh his disgust, when he was informed the younger and the more beautiful one was the one he was to have as a bride. He looked from her father to her mother and then to the sister. Samhiain's hair had the red of the highlanders and the look about her did not seem quite like that of the lowanders. This made him raise a brow when he saw her and he even smiled. But was she the whinny type, the one to compalin about everthing and think of only how she would be dressed and the like. He could already see she had dressed in finery already.

The Cirus spoke of the dowry. He leaned forward in his saddle and looked at the man. "Of course I bring a dowry. A fitting one it be." he said and then looked again at his bride to be and dismounted. The others did as well and they followed Cirus inside the house to meet the clan elders. He nodded his head to them in respect. He noticed how the older daughter now seemed to be trying to get his attention and how Samhain seemed to be trying to avoid it.

When it came time for the negotiations as it were, Duncan had one of his men place the bulging saddle bags on the table. "Oh your daughter will be well cared for. The highlands be a magnificent place to live and be. Me mother, she be making sure that all is good and proper. She been waiting for this day for a long time now. Being the wife of a Laird has some note but The Clan McCloud is not lazy people. Even their Laird gets his hands dirty. Me people are what make the clan and I make sure they have what they need and help make sure of it."

He pushed the saddle bags of gold coin and jewlry towards Cirus. "I think that should be a fair dowry." he told Cirus. Then to Samhain "Come sit and join me here." he patted the bench beside him. He still did not no what to make of her. She was quiet that was for sure.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:07 pm

Thus far, Samhain had managed to avoid much contact with the highlanders, but invariably, she would have to sit with him at some point. As he bade her to sit by him, Cirus laughed some and shook his head at his daughter. A fleeting moment of joviality before he started checking the bags for how much the girl was worth. It was much and that made him happy. A pity the same couldn't be said about her mother.

Once inside the house and serving with her daughter, Heather shed her head cloth and it showed then from where Samhain's strong colour had come from. Her mother was much the same, albeit a little lighter. "Samhain." Cirus snapped as it was clear his daughter was hesitating. "Sit with your betrothed, child." He then smiled as she put down the flagon and moved to sit with them. She perched carefully on the chair, not wanting to ruin her mother's dress and it was clear then that she rarely spent time in such garments for how carefully she moved in it. Across the room, May looked on in pure jealousy.

Making sure the layers of soft cloth were well out of the way, Samhain sat neatly on the very edge of the bench and lowered her head some. She sat her hands on her thighs and put them together to be polite. It showed that her hands were used to heavy work for they were marked with rough skin from handling farm tools and leather from the horses. "Smile for your betrothed." Cirus ordered and so she did. "Much better. Isn't she much better when she smiles, wife?"
"Indeed Husband." Heather replied dutifully, but she could see the nerves in her daughter and the uncomfortable way she was sat.
"Well now, aren't you a lovely pair. A good match." Said Cirus happily. The other elders agreed, but Samhain felt they were happier with the dowry than with the match. "May our clans be forever joined in peace and mutual benefit." Cirus said, offering a toast. The others joined in, but Samhain did not. Instead, she looked up and around slightly to Duncan.

Showing fully to him her deep emerald green eyes, Samhain regarded Duncan with caution and care. She remained tense, ready to move in a second if anything happened, but nothing seemed to. Still, she didn't relax and she wouldn't for a long time. Her eyes began to flicker some as she tried to think of something to say while her father and the clan elders discussed how best to use the gold for the clan. Eventually, Samhain settled on the first thing that came to her mind to say. "Is there much to hunt up north, my lord?"

Well, that small question pretty much silenced the elders and Samhain quickly turned her head to them before looking at her sister who suddenly had such an evil smile on her lips that it could have soured the milk pale. "Typical omen." She said openly, "Always looking to kill something instead of concentrate on her duties." Around the table, the elders laughed some and shook their heads in jest, but Samhain had had enough and quickly rose to her feet.
"I beg your leave, my lord." She said quietly, "I have chores to attend to." And she quickly skipped away as fast as the dress would allow......
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:31 pm

Duncan noted how nervous it seemed his bride to be was. He could not blame her for being nervous. He was after all a stranger to her as she was to him. He could not help but also note how careful she was in the dress she wore. It was something it seemed she was not use to and that again made him raise a brow. She sat down by him and looked as if she was almost ready to take flight. But she asked him a question and it made him smile. He loved to hunt and there was a lot to hunt in the highlands. But before he could answer her her older sister spoke and by the tone of her voice it seemed there was no love between the two sisters. Omen? Now he wondered what that comment had meant.

Samhain rose to leave and beg her leave of him. "No. Sit. The chores you once had now belong to your sister and if they need to be done, then it is her duty to do them." He rose from his seat as Samhain tried to move away and placed a hand gently on her arm. "Please sit. This is your time. Tommorow we leave for the Highlands and it will be a long time fore you see your mum and father."

"Aye lass." came Angus McCloud's voice. Angus was Duncan's cousin. "On the marrow you be heading to the Highlands and soon will be the wife of Duncan here." Angus slapped Duncan on the shoulders and chuckled again. There had been a long standing bet on which of them would marry first and Angus was making sure Duncan knew he was going to collect on the bet.

Duncan gently pulled her back to the bench and asked, "Now what is this about an omen. He looked at the assembled people there with demanding eyes.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:44 pm

Samhain couldn't help but stare at Duncan with utter shock, as did her father, mother and May. And how well he had silenced the arrogant older sister too! Samhain felt she could maybe like this man in time after all. When he touched her arm though, she flinched and went rigid, but it was fleeting and she returned to perching on the very edge of the bench. After a moment, Cirus suddenly burst out laughing, the elders with him as they decided they liked this man after all. "Very well said!" He chortled, then snapped his fingers at his chastised older daughter. The girl left without a word. But then the tone changed and Samhain looked down at her covered feet, twiddling her thumbs nervously.

One of the elders, after chewing his lip some, finally spoke. "Samhain is her namesake, Highlander." He said. "Born on the night of death, Samhain. It is an old pagan belief the church has tried for many centuries to rid us of, but some of us still endeavour to uphold it. That and what she did to her mother, she was named aptly, I believe."
Across the table on her own stool, Heather looked away some and steadied her breathing. Samhain noticed this, so spoke on her behalf. "Mother suffered from melancholy during and after my birth for many years." She said quietly, "It was believed I was at fault so they named me an omen of bad luck to her."
"Yes, but all that is passed now." Cirus spoke up quickly, not wanting the dowry to be diminished or the supposed celebration cut short by Duncan's change of mind. "She has become a fine young woman and will be a good wife, won't you Samhain."
Samhain quickly nodded and looked down once more, "Yes Father." She said in her rehearsed tone.
All around the table, the elders began to smile and make jovial once more, hoping the matter would be dropped as quickly as it had arisen. "Let us celebrate then." Said one, "And begin the ceremony, as we're sure you wish to return soon. Do you Highlanders still bless a marriage over the black stone?" The black stone was the large naturally black boulder that many a druid in ancient times had blessed unions over and each clan had their own even though many had moved on to accept the church.....
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:05 pm

Ducan listened and then looked at Samhain. Born on the day of the dead, will now that was something his mother would love to hear about. Even though every one in the Highlands were Christians now, there were many that still clung to some of the old ways. It had been said that his mother's family its fair share of Druids in the liniage. But to those in the Highlands being born on the day of the dead was something to be celebrated. Well at least among the Mcclouds anyways. For it meant that death had no claim upon those born on that day. Instead of a bad omen, it was one that was good. Duncan laughed and moved a hand to Samlain's hair and touched it. "Aye we still use the black stone, even though the church frowns upon it. But to keep the peace and all they have moved the stones to their churches in the towns and villages. Better bringing it to be a part of the church then having the people move away from the church teachings." he chuckled.

"Aye my mother will be liking you me thinks." he said quietly in her ear. "The two of you me thinks will get along quite well." He still did not know what to think of her and then he remembered her question. "As for hunting, oh there be a variety of beast s to hunt. Angus and I love to hunt and bring back meat for the table. My mother to loves to hunt. I think she is a better shot with the bow then most men of the clan."

The celebration went on for some time and then it was time to bed down for the night. The homestead was not big enough for Duncan and his men so they unrolled their bedrolls and slept on the ground outside of the house. As Angus and the other prepared the bedrolls, Duncan lead Samhain out for a short walk. "What be on your mind." he asked her.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:19 pm

Duncan's reaction caused Samhain to look twice again at him. He was happy she was born on that cursed night? Well, that just about did it for everyone after that and the celebration began in earnest then and when Duncan touched Samhain's hair, Cirus was given a firm nudge of approval and he smiled openly on the act. Samhain turned her head away some at the touch, but didn't stop him or attempt to stop him touching her hair. As it had been washed and thoroughly brushed through, it was as soft as silk and the smell of flowered water came through to prove it had been washed and cleaned properly for the occasion. When he whispered in her ear after that, Samhain turned her head back some and looked at him once more.

So his mother would like her, would she? Samhain wondered about that. Highland women were feared even more so than the men in some clans, but if Duncan was the product of such a woman, then she couldn't be that bad, surely. She offered her first real smile then, albeit a small one and she nodded, "I hope she and I will be good friends." She offered quietly and then smiled again as he answered her question, even offering up another compliment to his mother and her skill with a bow. Samhain decided she would really like this woman. Angus on the other hand, she was still very wary of him and would keep her distance for a while.

The celebrations continued for some time and Cirus managed easily as usual to get himself into a stupor enough to leave his poor wife alone for once. While he snored in his bed and the Elders returned to their own homes, Duncan's men bedded down outdoors, but he offered a walk with Samhain instead of joining them. Samhain was sure there were a hundred or more things she should be doing, but the thought of avoiding her sister a little longer was too much to resist. She consented to the walk.

After going from the house for some ways, Duncan asked her to speak her mind. She took her time as usual and lifted the skirts of her dress so she could step over a moss pile near the road. It showed she had no shoes on her feet. "Women do not speak their minds, my lord." She said dutifully, "But as you asked specifically. I worry for my mother, my lord. She and I have been able to love each other these last few years and I fear it would send her back into her melancholy when I am forced to leave with you under the King's decree. I do not know you, nor do I have the option to even like you, yet I am bound to marriage with you against my will because of a slice of parchment written by a man I will never meet or speak to. It be alright for you my lord, you can love a woman and take her as you choose. I have no choice in the matter at all and I never shall."
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:38 pm

Duncan smiled as she told him what was on his mind. He chuckled at the part of her not having a say in the matter. "Aye that you have no say at all and likewise I have not say in it either. As for chooseing the one I want, well that is only because my mother would allow it. Though my father and mother met and fell in love and married before their parents could make arranged marriages, my father would have probably had me married off to seal some treaty." The walked a bit further on.

"As for speaking your mind. Well now, it may be here in the lowlands that a woman can't or won't do it, but the women in the highlands will let you know in the beat of a heart what is on their mind if you say the wrong thing." Again he had to laugh. "I would dare say if we let them they would be taking up the sword and going off to war with us men. But we hold them in high regard and to much to let them go off getting themselves killed."

At the mention of how her mother would be he rubbed his chin. "Well she be welcome to come and see you when ever she liked. Have her send word and I will ensure she has a proper escort to fetch her. That also goes for your father and sister if they like. Your family will be under the protection of the McClouds when we are wed, as will the Clan McNally."

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:48 pm

"But that's my point entirely, my lord." Samhain said quickly, "You can still choose the woman you love and do whatever you wish with her. I will never have that choice. Your mother was lucky I think to have wed the man she loved before a more suitable match was found for both of them." She took a deep breath then and carried on walking. "That is the entirety of our union, my lord. The benefit of the clans, not you nor I. We are merely the puppets to which they play their politics. I have no love for such wasteful games."

when he started speaking about the high regard the highlanders had for their women, she raised an eyebrow and looked at him once more. "I believed they actually did that already." She said. The topic then moved onto her mother and Samhain started looking at the ground once again. "It would make no difference to her state of mind, my lord, whether or not she ever saw me again. Our bond was never made and though we may have deep feelings for each other now, I doubt very much it would matter to how she feels when I am gone. Besides, were she able to visit and it's unlikely she ever will be able, it would only compound her sadness, for she would have to leave again to help Father tend the farm. As for my sister, I wouldn't piss on her if she were burning, let alone have her visit me. It is likely she would be a far better match than I anyway. It is only because she and Father are so desperate to be rid of me that she was not chosen. And anyway, it's likely she will be betrothed shortly to one of the Campbells. She and Marcus Campbell have gotten awfully close this last year. Urghh I speak too much!" She sighed then and picked up the pace of her walk. It was getting late anyway and no doubt she would be needed first thing in the morning so she needed to sleep at some point....
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Oct 18, 2014 6:21 pm

Well she was well spoken and indeed would speak her mind.  She wasn't whinning or complaining per say.  She was worried about her mother and how she was going to fare.  It was a concern that he could understand.  As for the arranged marriage by the King, there was nothing fore either of them to do.  "Well what is done is done."  he put a hand on her arm and turned her to face him.  "One never knows though what can happen."  he smiled and then began walking her back to the house.

Duncan was there waiting and smiling as they walked up.  "Well Duncan she might make it in the Highlands."  he chuckled.  It looked as if he was looking her up and down.  "The red hair and being born on the day of the dead."  Me thinks she will make a good highlander.

He could hear the other three chuckling as they got comfortable.  "Well now may hap I can arrange a marriage for you cousin."  he looked at Angus with a stern look which made the mans eyes go wide.

"Oh no.  You would not dare do that?  Would you?"  Duncan had Angus worried now.  He turned to Samlain, and gave her a slight bow, before she entered the house.  "We will talk more on the trip home."  he told her. Then turning back to Angus, before Samlain entered the house. "I most certainly would cousin. Mayhap Cirus' other daughter. I hear she has a sharp toung, as sharp as a sword and could make your life a lot less adventureous and free." Now that made Angus lick his lips and put fear into his eyes. Before Duncan could say more and perhaps even go speak with Cirus he made for his blankets. Duncan grinned as he watched Samlain enter the house.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:08 am

What was done was done and there wasn't anything either of them could do about it. Duncan was definitely right about that. The hand on her arm made her flinch again, but not as much as before and he did have one more point to make. One could never know what the future held. At this, Samhain nodded in agreement and then carried on her walk back to the house. Somehow though, she knew their conversation was not yet done and she felt for some reason that going back to the house was a mistake. As it happened, Angus was waiting there for them.

Unlike his cousin or whatever Duncan was to the other man, Angus was truly the image of what she considered a Highlander. Massively built, stocky, shockingly curly, knotted hair and a giant beard that covered half his face. Samhain couldn't help but cringe and flinch away from the giant man as he spoke to them both, but then Duncan turned the tables on the other man by threatening a marriage between him and her sister. At this, Samhain had to bite her lips to stop her from laughing. Now there would be a match made in Hell for sure!

With Angus suitably frightened by the prospect of being joined with May, Samhain moved inside the house and made her way to the back room and her bed. Like many farmsteads in the area, the bedroom was shared by the entire family and often, the same bed was shared, more so by the children than older siblings. As it stood, Samhain shared a bed with May by the fire while their parents slept on the other side of the room. This would be another thing she would not miss when she was taken away. Shedding the stiff outer dress, Samhain slipped carefully into the bottom of the bed and curled up into a ball. May had been clear about that from the very first day she had been forced to share it. Samhain could have the bottom corner, or she would be forced onto the cold stone floor. Many a childhood fever had been the result of Samhain breaking that rule.

The rest of the night passed without incident, but the morning brought with it a new challenge and that same old hatred between siblings. Feeling her despised sister near her feet, May tensed her legs and viciously kicked the younger right out of the bottom of the bed. The resulting shout of shock and the noise of Samhain being so rudely ejected from the warm blankets instantly woke their ale wounded father. So much for a quiet beginning.

Heather had been up a while already when the chaos ensued in the next room and she sighed with a shake of her head. She had honestly hoped this day would be different, prayed even. So it was a matter now of the fight that would rumble through the house until both girls rolled outside to settle things for the morning. She even went so far as to open the door so the hinges wouldn't be damaged again. She then sat near the fire to warm the ale while the fight happened. Then she waited some more. And some more. Nothing happened. Getting to her feet again, Heather entered the room.

Far from the usual fight, Samhain was stood some ways from the bed in silence as she tied on her dress. May sat on the bed with her head high and a vicious smile on her lips. Heather moved across the room to see why Samhain was so silent. As it turned out, May's kick had quite the impact. The entire left side of Samhain's face was blackened and swelling. Before she could say anything, May stood up from the bed and walked out of the bedroom into the main room of the house. Cirus rubbed his face with his rough hands and rose also, saying absolutely nothing. "Cirus!" His wife snapped, "Do something!"
"Why?" The old man asked as he cracked his back some and swilled his mouth of the old ale.
Heather growled at her husband and dragged the still silent Samhain to within his view. "This!" She snapped.
Cirus looked and then furrowed his brow before he squinted. "A slight bruise, nothing more. It will fade."
Heather had to look at this from his point of view. Lifting an eyebrow, Heather regarded her husband, "But will the Highlander see it that way?" She asked, "He won't want a marred bride, Cirus and he's clearly not interested in May."
That seemed to hit the mark then and Cirus quickly left the bedroom to deal with May.

Half an hour later, May hobbled back into the bedroom to get dressed and Cirus came through with a cold cloth and some mead to help with Samhain's bruise. It was painful, but she kept her mouth shut and within the next hour, the bruise was little more than a blemish on her cheek and around her eye. It was still clear what had happened, but at least it wasn't so blatant anymore. Shortly after that, the house was in order and the morning meal was being served.

Samhain was not allowed to serve with her mother and sister that morning. She had to sit in view until the time for the ceremony. As a bride, she wasn't allowed to do anything until after the ceremony. It was considered bad luck in case she got dirty or injured during her chores, but in reality, it was to make sure the bride couldn't disappear or run away before her wedding, as so many had done over the years. That thought had crossed her mind. She could run far quicker than either of her parents and May too, and it wouldn't take much to whistle for Blaze, her horse and he would carry her away far faster than any other animal could keep up. It was such a tempting thought, but she also knew the shame brought on her family would be deeper than any loch and it would probably kill her mother outright. In fact, the only one who would benefit from it would be her sister. Any idea of running away then left her mind and she just sat there in silence until the ceremony.

Duncan and his men were welcomed back into the house after the preparations had been made and breakfast had been served. Heather offered Duncan a warm smile as she poured him some ale. Cirus had started packing up Samhain's meagre belongings onto Blaze and would take down his stall to make room for other animals once they had gone. May had been banished into coop. This gave Heather an opportunity to speak with the man that would marry her youngest daughter alone and unhindered by the standard of decorum. "My Lord." She said quietly, well aware that though her husband and her oldest daughter were not there to interfere, Samhain was still within earshot of them. "What can my daughter honestly expect when she reaches your home?".......
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Tue Oct 28, 2014 11:07 am

Duncan had awakened early, before the morning light and was about getting cleaned up and shaved for the coming ceremony. This would be the first of two. The ceremony here would see to it that it that the marriage was recorded for the church and such. But the second one, the one in the highlands would be a proper celebration. The head of the families and such would all be gathering at the castle and there would be music and dancing and plenty of drinking and eathing. His father and mothers celebration had lasted an entire week, and there had bee a couple of the other lairds and their families that had been invited and come.

He looked to the house as he heard Samlhain cry out. He shook his head knowing that it was more then likely a sibling thing going on. He made sure he woke Angus and the others up in time to get cleaned up and looking proper. "You know Angus, that massive piece of hair on your face doesn't do you justice you know. Me thinks the women would like to see you with out such a wooly face.

Angus laughed as he stroked his beard. "Naw the women like it plenty. Especially......." and he grinned as he gave Duncan a look. Duncan rolled his eyes and shook his head. He was mulling over what he had said to him the night before. The man probably needed a good woman to keep him in line.

Once back inside the house he saw the slight brusing on the side of Samhain's face and he raised a brow. Earlier he had seen Cirus take May out to to a shed and heard her cry out in pain. Evidently punishment for what she had done. This made him smile. Then Heather approached him and asked him what Samhain's life would be like in the highlands.

"We be a hardy folk in the highlands. Everyone pulls their weight, even myself. Like any wife she will be in charge of the servents and seeing to the daily running of the castle.and other duties. But rest assured, she will be treated well and with respect. I take it she likes to hunt? She asked about hunting in the higlands. If she likes she will have ample time for that as I love to hunt myself."

He looked around and saw his men sitting them selves down at the table. "In a couple weeks time I be sending an escort back to fetch you, your husband and your other daughter for the celebration and Highland wedding ceremony. After that, any time you wish to come a visiting, you come and you will be most welcome. And don't be surprised is she comes a visiting you. You are now apart of the Clan McCloud and family is family."

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:33 am

Heather smiled and nodded as Duncan began telling her what Samhain could expect up North. It sounded like a fair life and one that her daughter could fit into quite well. "She is a hard worker, I'll give you that." She said, "It will be hard when she has gone." She then nodded, "Oh yes, she is a very good hunter. Brought home her first rabbit when she was five. Thing was bigger than she was, wee tot."

The conversation moved on when Duncan's friends arrived at the table and she snapped her fingers at May to help serve them all. She continued to serve Duncan as he explained what would happen in a couple of weeks. Heather lowered her head at that and shook it, "We can't leave now." She said, "It will be the first harvest and after that, we have to prepare for winter. The seer believes we are due a deep winter this year. There won't be much we can do until after winter has passed. By then, I expect you will have her rounded and full. A spring child would be a good omen for both our families." Across the room, Samhain looked almost terrified at her mother's words.

Shortly after, Cirus arrived back at the house and was accompanied by an old druid dressed in his finest robes. Both May and Heather lowered their heads to him and backed away as he approached Samhain. She too lowered her head. The Druid looked her over briefly and then nodded before he turned to the table and to Duncan. "I feel this is a good match." He said, "Bring your bride to the black stone before the noon sun and we shall begin."
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:18 am

He looked at Heather when she spoke of the harvest and the coming winter and then raised a brow when she mentioned him having Samhain round and full by the spring. Well that would all depend on things as they happened he figured. Samhain would be his wife and expected to be bedded. It was going to be a bit akward, as the two did not really know each other. He was no virgin in the matter of making love. There had been many young lasses that was willing to share a bed with him. Though none of them ever matched what he wanted in a woman.

When the old Druid entered again he raised a brow. The old ways were long gone though some traditions still lingered. It was the Priests of the church that did the marriage ceremony these days, even if it was before the Black Stone. For with the Black Stone there was the cross as well. A blending of the two cultures. He wondered where they had found the old Druid. But there were some that still liked to cling to the old ways and traditions. He did not mind, for soon enough there would be the highland ceremony that would be the christian one.

He wanted her family there with that ceremony and so he sent one of his men back to the highlands ahead of them. With in a day or two there would be several men and women coming down to help Cirus and Heather with the harvest. Men to help in the fields and the women to help Heather with the other chores and cooking for the men. They were soon to be apart of the McClouds and it was only fitting that he seen that they received proper help.

"Have no fear for the harvest. You will soon have enough help to gather it all in and be able to come to see your daughter married in the Highland way. He smiled at Heather. He had seen the crops in the fields about the homestead. They were not of the best quality as the land was not that good. He had seen better on his way there, and he had seen much better in the Highlands. There was some land that was not used in the Clan, that belonged to him as the Laird of the Clan. He had an idea that he hoped Cirus and Heather would agree upon.

The morning pasted quickly and with Cirus, Heather, May and Samhain, Duncan and Angus went to the Black Stone. The other two men were left to pack up things and make ready to leave upon their return. The old Druid was there waiting for them.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Thu Nov 13, 2014 1:58 am

It was only when her head began to spin that Samhain realised she had been holding her breath. Why, she wasn't quite sure, but what her mother had said and the possible response from Duncan on the matter was sure plenty to be blamed. As it happened, he said nothing about it and began speaking about the harvest instead. For that, Samhain was eternally grateful.

Heather smiled back at her future son-in-law and nodded in gratitude, "Thank you, My Lord." She said with genuine thanks, "You are truly a gracious and kind man. I feel Samhain truly safe and cared for now with you." At this, the girl lifted her brow again, but this time, she knew why. The harvest was hard and the yield was far below standard for the year. A dry spring and then a wet summer had destroyed almost everything.

The morning passed and it wasn't long before the clans started their way to the Black Stone at the edge of the forest. Cirus held back a little with Samhain, making sure she was settled neatly on Blaze's back to be brought to the stone for the blessing. The bride was never allowed to walk there. Mostly because she had more opportunity to run away. With his hands firmly holding massive cob's reigns, Cirus looked up at his youngest daughter and grinned. "You look just like your mother did the day I married her." He said in a rare moment of kindness.
"Thank you Father." Samhain replied with some shock. Such a statement from the man was a rare thing to be treasured.
"I remember she looked so frightened at first. Her father had to tie her to the horse, but when she made it to the stone and she saw me, she smiled. It was the first time I'd ever seen her smiling." He laughed and shook his head as he made a final check to make sure his daughter was secure and steady. So much for the kind thought, she wondered, but he wasn't finished yet. "I think she could see I was as nervous about it as she was. I'd only met her the day before, just like you and McCloud. Only, she and I hadn't been allowed to talk to one another. I could only look at her across the hall. After he ceremony and all that thought, things were much easier. And by the time we were put to the bed, it was like..."
"Dad, please!" Samhain interjected.
Cirus laughed once more, "Oh don't fret, Omen." He said, "McCloud will probably by too drunk to notice and you'll be too tired to feel the pain."
"Father!" Samhain said before she gave Blaze a light kick to his flank. The horse began to move forward.

Everyone was waiting at the stone and Samhain swallowed hard as Cirus walked her to it on Blaze. Only when she was surrounded was she allowed down and Cirus literally carried her and put her into Duncan's grip. The Druid smiled over the stone and then cast the runes for the blessing. The ceremony was short and Samhain didn't have to say a thing, just stand there and nod to agree with the terms of the union.
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:17 pm

Duncan and Angus had rode to the black stone and dismounted to await his bride to be and the rest of the family. It was to be a private ceremony and a good thing as well. If a priest or one not holding to the old ways had seen, the church would have had the Old Druid's head. In the highlands the Druids had long ago went to ground and even though the marriages were done by priests they were held at the black stones. Thus it would be when Duncan and Samhain would be wed there. But it would not be a very private affair. There would be many of the towns people and hopefully a couple of the Lairds and their families that the McClouds were friendly with.

When they finally arrived. Cirus helped his daughter down and looked as if he carried her to the stone. The old druid cast the runes and spoke in the old language that none had spoken for a long time. There was not much to the ceremony but the passing of a cup of wine from the Duncan after he sipped from it, to Samhain so she could drink from it. After that the old druid pronounced them husband and wife.

They rode back to the farm house and did not dismount. The two clansmen were mounted and ready with Samhain's things packed on the pack horse. "We will start for the highlands now and should reach the McCloud lands within three days." Duncan told Samhain.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:43 am

Samhain remained almost silent save for the prayer to the old Gods over the wine and the runes and then just like that, they were married. At least it had been a private affair though, she was grateful for that. Having the whole village there, happy and smiling that their death omen was finally leaving them, Samhain felt she may not have been able to go through with it. After a few hands were shook and smiles all around, Samhain was put back on Blaze and the reigns were handed to her this time. She was married now and therefore no longer her father's problem if she ran away. All that was down to Duncan now. Cirus did however, give Duncan a small warning. "Blaze will shake his left shoulder, ready for her kick, so be mindful. He's the fastest horse this side of the loch."

As tempting as bolting for it with Blaze was, Samhain refrained from doing so. Instead, she simply stared at the horizon as they rode back to the farmstead. She somehow knew they would not be stopping for long and so didn't bother shifting her weight to dismount. As it turned out, her things were already packed up on another horse and her mother was waiting with a fur stole. She leaned up as Samhain leaned over. Duncan was speaking to her, but she felt this moment was more important. "My mother gave this to me on my wedding day." Heather said with a small sniffle, "It will keep you warm in the wilds up there."
"Thank you Mother." Samhain said almost warmly.
"Do not fret, my little daughter, we shall see you again soon." Heather said in another attempt at motherly care.
Samhain nodded and faked a smile, "I can barely wait." She lied. With the moment then suitably done, she turned her attention back to Duncan. "Three days." She said, "If that be the case, I ask for a slow pace for a while so I may change my clothing?" She could get changed on the back of Blaze, had done many times over the years, "I do not wish to soil my mother's dress anymore than it has been already." More to the point, she couldn't bear to be that uncomfortable for that long....
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:37 am

"Yes three days and we will be home." he told her. He nodded when she asked to change clothes and she said she could do it on her horse. It would be better to get out of the dress she had on and into something more comfortable and suitable for riding. He had the others ride ahead so that she would have some privacy when changing. He watched her change and smiled. She was now his wife by law and the old ways, but he would not concemate it until after the church wedding after they got back to the highlands.

That day was quiet and it seemed that they would be ridding in silence the whole way. He didn't know what to say to her at the moment. He knew she probably did not like the idea of having to marry a man she did not know. But that night when the evening meal was cooked, he brought her a bowl of the stew and sat down beside her with his. "I know this must be hard on you and you probably do not like it. But I think it is time to get aquainted some. The best way I think is you to speak your mind and ask the questions I am sure you have."

About then one of his men called out that a horse was wandering into the camp. He stood up and saw the horse and a rider slumped in the saddle, three arrows sticking out his back. Angus and the others stopped the horse and took the man from the saddle. "He is dead." Angus called over to Duncan. "A Kings Courrier." one of the others said and held up a satchel that the man had been carring over his shoulder. One of the others spat on the ground, "English arrows."

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:10 am

Samhain kept her mouth shut as Duncan openly watched her on Blaze. It was his right as her husband of course, but it didn't make the scene any less uncomfortable or rather more sordid than necessary. At least he sent the others on first so it was just him she had to deal with. Shuffling back slightly on Blaze's long back, she pulled out the clothes she needed and opened them out over his mane and shoulders; a long cloak with hood and tunic, a pair of soft woven under-bloomers and soft leather booties. It didn't take her long to swap the clothing, though she did make sure to put the trousers on under her under-dress and she threw the cloak over her head before taking off the underdress and putting the tunic on. She may have belonged to him by law, but he hadn't earned what lay under those layers yet.

That first day was long and silent and she wondered if it would be that way for the entire journey, silence and staring. Evening came and the horses needed rest. She took a spot reasonably near the fire, but far enough away that she could make a run for it if any of them got too close. The day's meal was handed out shortly after dusk and Samhain looked up as a bowl was put in her line of view. Duncan sat down and started eating next to her. Meat stew. It smelled good and she took her and up-ended the bowl to drink the broth of it. And then he started talking again. She continued to drink the stew. He told her again to speak her mind, get to know each other and all that. Nothing that he hadn't already asked of her. She was about to open her mouth and do just that when something caught her attention just beyond the tree-line. For a few seconds, the others missed it. It was a full minute before the intruder was noticed.

A King's Courier, a well respected and well tended position, dead with English arrows? Samhain forced herself to bite her tongue at first. For all intent and purpose, yes, he had been murdered by an English bowman. At least, that was until one looked closer. Samhain opened her mouth before she even realised it. "Those are no English arrows." She said quickly, "They be too long. English don't carry a longbow no more, they carry cross-bow. That courier isna dead by no Englishman. That murderer be home-grown by my reckon." It was only when every eye turned on her that she realised she had opened her mouth and she quickly dropped her bowl and ran for Blaze, grabbing one of her packs from the other horses. "You wanna beat me, you gots to catch me first!" She called, fully expecting a lashing like her father would have given for such an outburst........
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:04 pm

As Angus two of the others had grabbed the Courier's horse and had taken the satchel from the dead man, Samhain said they were not English Arrows, that they had gone to the Crossbow. Duncan knew better, he had seen some of the English not but a year ago and they had their longbows. No they were definately English arrows. Then she was running and Duncan shook his head as he stood there watching her. She was watching him, and Angus and two of his other men. She didn't see the third man that had been on guard duty.

The man grabbed hold of her and held her until Duncan could get to her. "Now where ye be off to. You are me wife now and it isn't fitting for you to be running away." he told her and sighed. "Yes they be English arrows, but this far north of the boarder, now that may be meaning that we have those siding with the English. Now tell me why are you wanting to run from us." he caressed her face gently and shook his head slowly.

"Duncan, you will need to see this." Angus said as he had pulled papers from the satchel. Looks like reports from a spy or someone. Tells of the massing of English troops. Might mean that they plan on coming north." Angus walked over to him and handed him the papers which Duncan read.

"This not be good." He looked at one of his men as he stuck the papers back into the satchel. "Saddle your horse and take what you need to get ye to Edinsburgh. Get this to the King and only him." he gave the satchel to Thomas and he turned and got his horse and began saddling it.

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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Sat Dec 27, 2014 10:41 am

Samhain had thought she had counted for everyone, but just as she was to reach Blaze, hands grabbed her tightly and stopped her fleeing any further. The man kept a firm hold of her until Duncan reached them and she struggled the whole time, that was at least until Duncan spoke and touched her face, shaking his head at her in disappointment. Not fitting of his wife to be running away, ha! She thought. So he was sure the arrows were English was he? Samhain had a dozen reasons to make him think otherwise, but something told her he wouldn't listen. She could see now he was one of those men that was convinced he always knew better and no doubt that attitude had served him well over the years by the way he so easily dismissed her outburst on the matter. She decided from that moment on she would never speak out like that again and when the truth finally did reveal itself to the men, she would already be gone and away from the danger. She decided also that she no longer cared what happened to them after that point.

Knowing that she would have to explain her flight, one of his men came forward and distracted him from the answer and Samhain swallowed hard and turned her face away and looked to Blaze. The massive cob was furious that his mistress was being detained in such a manner and prevented from getting to him and he made his thoughts clear on the matter by stamping his feet and snorting. When that didn't work, he began to rear up and whinny loudly. By this point Duncan had given his man the couriers job and the one holding Samhain was beginning to worry about the massive horse behind them getting more and more agitated. "You'd best be letting go of me now." She told him quietly, "He doesn't like me being manhandled like this." She then shrugged, "Or your illustrious leader could try and deal with him if he likes. Might be fun to see what he does with 1500lbs of pure fury." She laughed quietly then, remembering the last time someone other than her tried to calm him. Blaze sent the person flying a good ten feet in the air with but a simple swing of his head. One would dread to think what would happen if he ever dared kicked out at anyone. Then again, Duncan would probably do something to undermine her authority with him with some simple move that made him placid and easily led. It would be just her luck really and yet more reason for her to hate the man she had been forced to marry.
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:52 am

Duncan looked back at Samhain and her horse. He took her from the man that held her and lead her back to the fire where the dead body lay. "You say they are not English arrows. Look here." he pointed to certain things on the arrow. "I know them well. My father showed them to me after he returned from fighting the English." Oh he knew English arrows. "The English have not gone to Cross Bows except to defend their castles and cities. Out here the Longbow is still used."

But it disturbed him that a Scottish courier had been killed by Englishmen in the lands of Scotland. "I looked at the dispatches in the satchel. It seems the English is massing an army to come invading Scotland." There was to be war and it would be coming soon. He looked at her, "Why do you want to run? Are we not married?" They were in the eyes of the old ways and the land. He didn't know what was going on with her. He didn't like it, but he was doing what he suppose to do, for his king and his country. "You have now really no where to go but with me back to the highlands. You do not want to see if you would like to be there?"


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Re: Hilander

Post by LadyRaven on Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:08 pm

Blaze still stamped and snorted and whinnied at the way Samhain was being handled and then taken from him entirely, but the touch seemed more gentle than before and so he calmed enough so he no longer disturbed the men and the other horses he was tethered with. Samhain looked back briefly and nodded to her steed in thanks before she followed Duncan back to the fire. She did snap her arm away from him though when she was faced with the dead courier. Her face became somewhat stoic then and she regarded the body and the arrows still embedded in the dead man's flesh. Duncan was quick to point out how English they looked and how they only used the cross bow for their castles and citadels. Samhain could only shake her head at what he showed her and she moved away from him and the dead man after that. Again Duncan was quick to tell her what he knew to be true before he asked her why she wanted to run away. He reminded her they were married and she really had nowhere else to go now except with him. That wasn't strictly true on her part, not really.

"First and foremost, McCloud." She said, the whole Lord title being non important to her anymore, "You are a Highlander. Most of your ilk wouldn't know an Englishman if you were surrounded by a thousand of them, not to look at anyway. You'd only know them once they opened their mouths, but even that is becoming difficult, for the bastards are mastering our native sounds rather well these days. You think us lowlanders are soft and stupid in the head, but you know nothing of what we see and hear every day. You think that courier is the first of his kind to bring news of an army?" Samhain shook her head, "The English have been amassing an army for years, sending out scouts to turn our own people against us to join their ranks and teach them how to blend with us and get around us without being seen. And we stupid, soft lowlanders have seen every step of that process. They've turned whole clans already, not that you'd know that of course, being so safe and hardy up in your precious North. And I do know they use Crossbow more than Long Bow now because I have seen them with my own eyes, slung over their backs like prized meat, loaded and ready to go in a heartbeat." She laughed again then, "And you yet question me why I wish to run. Ha! Do you truly believe the Gods would protect us against Church and English? They have long forsaken this land and its people, McCloud. The sooner you learn that, the better. I'd rather run and hide and keep my skin and my virtue intact from such monsters, including you if needs be."
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Re: Hilander

Post by questor on Sat Dec 27, 2014 5:14 pm

That was about the time six men rushed the camp.  They came running in with swords and shields.  Duncan turned drawing his sword to engage two of the men and Angus and his other two men came forward to meet the other four.  The ring of steel upon steel rang in the night air.

Duncan spun and blocked a sword thrust and with his dagger he blocked the second.  He ducked and plunged his dagger into one and got slashed in the side with the other's sword.  He spun and ran the second man through.  The others took care of the other four men.  Duncan clutched his side, feeling the blood flowing.  He went to one knee, drowing his sword.

The second the attackers rushed through the camp, Samhain made her escape to Blaze and the horse was happy to see her safe.  "Time to go!"  She called to her beloved steed and quickly hopped up on his massive back and pulled him free of the tether.  She watched as Duncan tried to defend the camp and when she saw him become injured, she felt something pinch at her heart.  "Oh, for the sake of the Gods!"  She sighed.  "Blaze, turn around!"  There were more men coming at the camp and she knew that once they were done with the protection, their attention would turn to her.  She had no choice but to get involved.  She drew her bow from Blaze's saddle and strung it.  The Longbow was taller than she was, but atop Blaze, it didn't matter.  She knocked an arrow and fired.  

Her shot was clean and precise, taking out the attacker and he hit the deck with her arrow sticking from the side of his neck.  Samhain knocked another arrow and fired again, taking down a second and then a third man.  She blazed through the camp on Blaze's back, ending up covering Duncan as he dropped to his knees.  She could see and smell the blood running from his side and she shook her head at him.  Another came at them and Blaze quickly defended them both, rearing up and kicking at the attacker.  His chest was caved in and he was thrown far from them.  Samhain then got down, turning her bow side on so she could still defend them, but it seemed the attack was over.  "Still think they be English?"  She asked as she heard shouts from the distance in a perfect celtic accent........

His men came running to Duncan.  Angus had his twin blade ax in hand, running red with blood.  In the distance there was the sound of steel on steel, the yells of men and the frighened scream of a woman.  A few minutes later more Highlanders appeared, lead by a huge man with a redish beard.  With him was a young man that was not as big as him but had his looks, and five more men and a woman .

Duncan looked up, "Connor McFallon."  he said with pain in his voice."

"Aye that it is."  Connor replied.  "Seems you have had a bit of trouble here lad.  What be Scotsmen doing with Englishmen.  What be going on here."  

"Seems we have traitors among the clans of the lowands."  Duncan said and then passed out.

"Like I said."  Samhain said, "Those arrows werena English."  She then looked down at Duncan as he passed out and shook her head again, "Men.  One scrape and they be dying."  She got to her feet again and went back to Blaze.
"And who might you be?"  McFallon asked her quickly as his men took Blaze carefully by his bridle.  A big animal like him could do a lot of damage very quickly if left loose.
"I'm nobody."  Samhain replied just as quickly, "And not here by choice, so I'd like to be leaving now."

"She be his wife to be."  Angus came up.  He looked over at the other woman that was clearly frightened.  "And I expect that to be your son's bide to be."  he nodded to the Woman.

"Aye that it is"  Connor said with a smile.  He then turned to Samhime.  "So I take it you know something about this business."  he asked her.

Samhain scowled at Angus before turning her attention back to McFallon, "And what if I do."  She said with some scorn, "I already done give these stupid men a warning when that dead courier turned up and they ignored me, so why should I repeat myself with yet more stupid men?"  She then snatched Blaze's bridle from McFallon's man and began turning the massive cob about.  "We're leaving to somewhere safe and away from this..."  She waved her hand at the bloodstained ground and the dead men that made it so.  Once she did that, she looked up at the terrified woman on the horse with McFallon's men and she shook her head, "Find your spine, girly."  Samhain said with some disdain, "Afore you give us all a bad name."  She looked at Duncan once more before she mounted Blaze....

Angus looked at Duncan.  "He can't be moved yet.  His wound needs to be stiched up."  He looked up at Samhain.  "You know anything of such things.  We must stop the flow of blood."

Of course Samhain knew of such wounds.  She had tended enough of her father's after he'd been handling a scythe whilst drunk on ale and mead.  Shaking her head, she let it drop and laughed emptily.  "So much for the warriors of the North."  She teased before she pointed to the still terrified and now whimpering woman with McFallon.  "About a yard of thread from her dress should do the trick."  She said, "And some soft tweed to cover the wound while it heals.  Make sure you clean it of dirt before you be stitching him back together or it'll fester and kill him.  Anything else you need of me before I leave?".....

"So you would desert the one you are to be wife to."  Angus said with distasted.  "Then go, Be on your way.  He be better off without such as the likes of you."  He looked over at Connor's son and he went to his wife to be and cut some of the dress and pulled the threas from the cut piece.  He handed it to Angus and Angus went to his saddle and took out a needle, and water skin.  

He then knelt by his Laird and heated the needle to sanitize it.  "From what that poor excuse of a woman who thinks she knows all, some clans of the lowlands have made deals with the English.  Typical of the Lowlander clans!"  he said with disgust, so Samhaine could hear him.  "The courier had dispatches saying that the English was massing an army and will be heading north soon."

It took only a heartbeat for Samhain to turn Blaze about and she swung her bow right out, striking Angus right across the face with the sharp point of it.  "Don't you ever!"  She yelled at him, "I am no traitor!  How dare you!"  She watched Angus then pick himself up and Samhain then looked at Duncan.  "I made no choice to be bonded with this man, don't you forget it!"  She snapped, "And just because I was born south of the Clyde, don't you think for a single second I am like them!  And don't think either he wouldn't pass me off for a Northerner the first chance he gets."

"Enough!"  Connor commanded and pulled the bow from Samhain's hands.  "He said to go now go if that be what you want. "  he spat on the ground.  He threw the bow down on the ground and gave her a look that told her she had not better mess with him.  

Angus cleaned the wound and began sewing the wound up.  "When ye done with him we be putting him on a horse and getting from this place.  The scum that attacked may have others about."  Connor said.

Samhain grunted as her bow was yanked from her and thrown down and then glared at Connor, "You dinna tell me what to do!"  She snapped, "And aye, I do wanna leave here and go anywhere far away from you and him, and them!"  She pointed at Duncan before looking at the hideous attempt Angus was making to stitch him up.  "Oh, for Their sake!"  She sighed and dismounted.  "Get away from him afore you kill him!"  She snapped at the huge hairy man.  She pushed herself to Duncan and took up the needle.  Taking a deep breath, she ripped open Duncan's shirt fully so she could see and deal with the full extent of the damage.  She re-thread the needle properly and then heated it once again.  "Girl!"  She called, "Fetch me some clean water and some more layers of that pretty gown you be wearing!"

The gilr slid from her horse and came over to where Samhain was and tore some more of her dress off.  "Me brothers and da had to be sewn up many times.  They have answered the Kings call to defend our cuntry often."  she moisened a piece of her dress and cleaned more blood from the wound so Samhain could sew it up.

"Why don't you want to go with them?  Is it not for the best of our country that we brings the clans together?"  she asked Samhain.  "I am proud to do what needs to be done.  Besides, Jamie is not a bad looking man.  He is strong and he has a kindly way."  she smiled at her husband to be.  "Your man here is handsome and strong and he is a laird.  You do not want to give it a chance?"

Samhain began stitching behind the cleaning the other girl was doing and she shook her head when the girl started talking.  "I have no brothers."  She said, "I left my mother barren and me da would rather be drinking my dowry than fighting in any war.  The wounds I tended on him were for handling his tools drunk on the farm."  Didn't she want to be married to Duncan?  She agreed that he was handsome and strong and as a Laird, he had far more standing than most.  Samhain bit her lips and tried to concentrate on stitching Duncan up, but the girl just wouldn't stop.  Eventually, and thankfully done with the needle, Samhain turned to the girl and scowled.  "Aye."  She snapped, "I really did want to marry a man I'd never met afore, never even known existed for money I'd never see and standing I'd never have once he got back to his precious castle and whatever whore he prefers over me to be there awaiting him.  And aye, I really do want to live somewhere far away from everything I've ever known and never see my home again and be surrounded by folk I don't know and that don't want me around when they finally figure it out that I'm their damned omen!"  She grabbed the cloth from the girl and roughly wrapped Duncan's chest with it before she stood up and faced Angus, "Anything I missed, ye great hairy beast?!"

Angus listend to her and shook his head, "Aye she knows our people and our laird.  She knows everything about us and him."  he said to Connor then turned to her, "Be gone then if you have no stomach to find out what you are certain you know all about.  Be gone so we can be done with y

Samhain turned to Connor once more and scowled, "I told ya's afore."  She said darkly, "I dinna take orders from the likes of you, understand?"  She then lifted her chin, "And I know what I know simply because I've been there, ye dumb ape, all ma life.  The English been massing their numbers for years not far from the river.  Me and some of the others used to stand on the riverbank and throw stones at them to see if we could hit them so far aways.  And no, I've no stomach for being made an Englishman's whore, no more than being made a Laird's one, so for that, I should be running as far as I can, so should you."  She jabbed her finger at the McFallon bride.

Angus shook his head.  She had no idea of what the highlanders were like.  "Well none of the highland clans have taken up with the English."  he smirked and picked up Duncan and got him up into the saddle.  Taking rope he tied it about him to keep him on the horse.  "Come let us be gone from here and you can be on your way to where ever you were going."  Angus said and mounted up behind Duncan to help keep him in the saddle.  

Jamie helped his wife to be back up in the saddle and mounted his horse as the other mounted theirs.  "Ye know nothing of the Highland clans, Jamie said. You seem to condem us without even knowing anything about us, and you don't even seem to be willing to find out."

Samhain took up Blaze's bridle and mounted up onto his back.  "I don't condemn the Highland clans."  She returned quickly and sharply, "Ma mother came from one.  I only condemn the men of them that dismiss common sense and logic in favour of their own minds."  She looked back to Duncan one more time before she lifted her chin, "Angus!"  She called, "Ye's make sure he doesna start bleeding again.  Take an easy pace for him afore ye do him any more damage."....

Angus shook his head.  "She still doesn not know what she talks about."  He put his heals to the the flanks of the horse and began riding off.  Connor and the others followed.  "Begon and bother us no more."  he called back, "Go back to throwing rocks at the English.  Maybe they will take you for one of theirs."  he laughed and rode on.

Samhain shook her head and turned Blaze about to go in the other direction, away from anything that even resembled civilisation.  She could survive for months without any human contact at all and she would only need to be around them long enough to trade for what she couldn't find on her own.  Angus seemed to have forgotten already what her mother had told him and Duncan.  Samhain had been a skilled hunter and survivor since she could barely walk.  She did wonder briefly what Duncan would say when he finally woke up and realised she had abandoned her wifely duties in favour of her own freedom, but the moment was brief and she was soon leaning into Blaze as he galloped his way across the open ground...

Angus held on to Duncan as the group rode further towards the highlands.  He would tell Duncan what had happened and how Samhain had went her own way.  He would be better off with out her.    The distance between them grew with each hour they traveled.  

In the distance Samhain could see the flames of a large fire.  It was coming in the direction of where her home had been.

Without knowing it, Samhain had been heading South.  It was only when she found herself in a familiar part of her home forest that she realised she had been heading home the whole time.  And when she saw the flames that could only have come from the main house of her clan, she felt her heart suddenly sink quite deeply into her stomach.  "Oh Gods!"  She breathed.  Blaze took her closer still and Samhain could see then the devastation of what had happened.  The Campbells had turned on their neighbours!  Samhain could only watch from the tree-line as her clan houses were burned and her clansmen were slaughtered by their once friends and allies.  It was then she was spotted by some of the marauders and she had to flee.  Not that she made it very far.  Blaze was ambushed by a tripwire and they were brought down with force.

There were also English soldiers among the Campbells.  They were there helping to slaughter the village and Samhain's family.  When her horse was brought down with her she was set upon by a group of the Campbells.  "Now look what we have here boys."

Samhain screeched in terror and struggled as she was roughly dragged to her knees and her head pulled back by her hair.  One of the faces looked rather more familiar than she wanted and she scowled at the man she knew as Daniel, one of May's many suitors from the clan.  As it happened, he was the one that spoke, "What's the matter Campbell?"  She snapped, spitting some blood at him, "Bored with May already?".....

He laughed.  "Oh she will be mine now."  he chuckled.  "She will be my little whore.  Now you my dear will be the whore of the English soldiers.  You threw rocks at them across the river.  Now you will be used by them.  Be one of them."  he laughed again.  "Now were be your new husband.  Did he tire of you already?"

Samhain remained stoic and unemotional, "Englishman's whore, Laird's whore, it makes no difference to me."  She said coldly and when he asked about Duncan, she gave him a dry grin, "With a little luck, he be dead afore he makes it back to his castle in the hills."  She said, giving the impression she had done the deed.  It would make most think twice about attacking her and it did make some of the men around them hesitate some..

He laughed even more.  Then turned to the men holding her.  Take her to the Engish and let them do as they please with her.  Warn them first about her temper."  The men began to drag her away, but the flash of a blade in the fire light firs took the man on the right and then on the left.  Another blade found its mark thorugh the back of Daniel.  He died blood flowing from his mouth as he choaked on his own blood.

Duncan stood there beathing hard, holding his side, the blood flowing again.  Anoher man had her horse and brought it.  It was Jamie.  His sword bloodied by the blood of Daniel.  "Up with you and hurry.  He told her.  There was pain in his face and one could tell he was weakening from loss of blood.

Samhain hit the deck hard and it was then she felt her own injuries.  Blaze's fall had thrown her quite some distance.  At first, she couldn't fathom what had happened, but her attackers were dead, all of them.  Turning quickly, she saw Duncan, sword in hand coming at her and she first made to scramble away, thinking he had come to regain his honour by killing his unfaithful wife, but no.  Then, Jamie appeared on her other side with Daniel's blood on his blade and she realised what had happened then.  Duncan had made them turn around to collect her and bring her back.  For the first time and the only time, Samhain felt genuine gratitude for her new husband.  

Obeying the order, Samhain quickly got to her feet, but then stumbled and fell.  The fall had dislocated her hip and when she tried to get up again, she realised her shoulder was broken.  It didn't stop her though, but she didn't go to Duncan, she went to Blaze.  The horse had been felled like a great tree and he was suffering, but despite his injuries, he was still on his hooves, all of them....

Once they got Samhain up on her horse, they lead it away to their own.  Duncan barely was able to mount up and then he was leaning fowad on his horse.  Jamie took his sword and sheathed it and then mounted up on his on.  He took Samhain's horses reigns and began moving.  Duncan put his heels to his horses flanks and they moved away into the night.  They eventually cam upon the other waiting for them.  

Angus did not look pleased to see her.  He turned his horse back to the highlands as everyone began moving in that direction.  They were short one of Duncan's men again.

Duncan wasn't the only one suffering from his injuries and by the time they got moving back to the main troupe, Samhain had all but passed out on Blaze's back.  She didn't see the look of disgust in Angus' features and she wouldn't have cared even if she had seen it.  The way she saw it now, she had saved Duncan's life from the first attack and now he had saved hers from Daniel Campbell.  Shame it meant the rest of her family was dead though.  Now McFallon really was right.  She had nowhere else to go now.  With her head on Blaze's shoulder, Samhain could do nothing but let the darkness take her until her injuries could be dealt with...

They kept going for some time.  Duncan would not let them stop until he was sure they were clear of the Campbels and the English.  When they did stop he slid from his horse and fell to the ground.  Angus was there to help him away from his horse and made him as comfortable as possible.  Jamie's wife to be looked to Samhain and found that she was hurt as well.  With Jamie's help she moved Samhain next to Duncan and as a fire was started she began cleaning Duncan's wound and sewing it up again.  She then took a look at Samhain.

Samhain was only vaguely aware that they had stopped and it had been some time before they had.  She felt the warmth of the fire and she could hear people around her, but that was it.  It was only when Jamie's wife touched her shoulder that the pain reminded her she was still alive and she yelped.  She yelped a second time when the girl touched her dislocated hip.  She didn't know how to deal with broken bones and such, only war wounds like cuts and stab wounds.

"My name is Heather."  Heather told Samhain.  "This is going to hurt alot but I have to put your hip back in place." She gave instructions to a couple of the men and then she took hold of Samhain and put her hip back into place.  It was over in but a moment but the pain was intense but would fade over a bit.  "Now you rest."

Samhain was only aware of what the other woman had done when she had done it and it brought Samhain back to reality with a bang.  She felt the click and then the pain and her eyes shot open and she screamed with it.  Had the men not restrained her, she would have wrapped her hands around Heather's neck.  Wait, Heather?  Gaining some of her senses again, Samhain tried to breathe through the after shocks of the pain and she stared at the other woman.  "You said your name was Heather?"

"Yes."  she said with a smile.  "I am Heather McClain.  Now rest.  I am not sure when they will want to move again.  One of the Mcclouds was sent off to warn the King of what is happening..  The traitors must be punished.z

Samhain nodded and then felt a single tear slide down her cheek.  "Mam's name was Heather."  She said quietly, "They killed her didn't they."  She then nodded and tried to move her wounded shoulder.  It wouldn't budge and she yelped with the pain of it.  "I was there when Duncan sent him."  She said, "I'll see every last one of them burn for what they did."

"The Kings army is not strong enough to face the English.  My Da said that it had sustained to many losses.  That is why he is hopping thse unions will bring the highlanders down to fight with him.  I have been with Jamie only a couple of days now, but we have talked.  They are fierce warriors and the king needs such men."

She looked at her shoulder.  "Badly bruised, but it will be alright."  She then sat there her legs drawn up to her and she wraped her arms around them.  She looked over at Jamie.  "What I was told about them does not seem to fit him.   Maybe his Da the laird, but not him.  I like him.  Is that wrong?"

Samhain lifted an eyebrow at Heather's thoughts on her shoulder.  Badly bruised?  So why did it crunch when she tried to move it?  Samhain decided she would deal with the break in her own way.  She laid on her good side and listened to Heather speak about Jamie and his father.  "Men are men no matter where they come from, Heather."  Samhain said emptily, "North, South, they're all just men.  If you like them, then that's your choice."  She looked across at Duncan and worked her jaw some.  "The unions between North and South won't do a damned thing for anyone.  Duncan promised me that my family would be protected now because I had married him.  My family are dead, my whole clan are dead.  Where was his protection?  It won't be any different for any of the lowland clans, Heather, it's just paper and politics, nothing more."....

"Why do you hate men so much?"  Heather asked.  "Men are not all alike, and as for him promising to protect your clan, I think he would have if he had the chance.  That attack came  I think not because of the Kings order but to disrupted and put the fear in the lowand clans.  My Da has been warning our clan of such a thing for some time now."  she sighed seeing that Samhain was one with a one track mind.  

She stood up and moved away to another part of the campfire.  Connor called one of his men over.  "Ride like the wind to the clan.  I want men here and at the McClain clan ready to fight.  If these bastards of Campbells and English wish a fight they be having one."  The man mounted and urged his horse to a gallaop and was out of sight in the night.  He thenturned to Heather.  "How is he?"

"He will live.  He has lost alot of blood, but if he doesn't break the stitches again he will recover in a few days."  Heather said.  "He almost killed himself by going after her."

Samhain looked over at Duncan as Heather did her best to defend him and on some level, rightly so.  He probably would have sent protection for her family if he'd had the chance and thereby, keeping his promise to her.  She closed her eyes and turned her head away then before she heard Connor give out orders for his clan and Heather's family clan to be protected.  Lucky them, she thought.  Wouldn't do much good for her clan, now would it.  Samhain felt quite lost and alone then and she felt her tears begin to slide down her cheeks in silent grief.  Heather's comments over Duncan's injuries didn't help matters and Samhain actually wished for a moment that she had died when Blaze had thrown her.  Poor Blaze.  Though still on his feet, the poor beast was likely to be lame for quite a while.  That tripwire had cut deep into his front ankles and she felt it would be a long time before he could belt out at a gallop again.  Everything had stacked against her and she felt confused and lost over what to do about it.  In the end, all she could do was silently cry herself to sleep...

They remained at the camp all night with guards posted throughout the night.  Duncan woke in the morning and tried to move but Angus pushed him back down.  "Not yet Cousin.  Just rest.  We be leaving shortly."  The rest of the men were packing things up and making sure that they had not been followed.

"How is...."  he began.

Angus answered before he finished.  "She is safe and well."  he said with distain in his voice.  He did not like what she had done or had said about the Highland clans.  He could not understand why Duncan had gone after her.  "Heather put her hip back in place.  Her horse is hurt worse then her.  I bound the horses legs last night.  It can walk but will not be able to run for some time."

Samhain woke around the same time as Duncan did and she heard every word out of Angus' mouth, or more to the point, the tone of which he spoke, "Absolutely."  She said coldly at Angus, "So you can stop trying to get yourself killed over her.  Besides, it's no like I'm actually worth anything anymore, is it.  I'm just another silly girl you and your folk could do without, isn't that right, Angus."  She got to her feet then and carefully hobbled over to Blaze.  At least he was faring better.  Samhain hadn't noticed it yet, but her arm from the elbow down had turned blue over night, showing the bad break in her shoulder....

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