Because of the great response last Friday here is part two of Wild Rose of Ireland, enjoy!
As the hours ticked down to her first night in the castle, the dinner bell rang. Daniea slowly made her way into the main hall. As all eyes turned towards her, Dougal stood up and motioned for her to sit next to him at the Laird’s table.
“Thank you Mr. Mckenzie.” She smiled taking her seat in between Dougal and Colum.
Colum slowly motioned Daniea to the stately woman sitting on his other side.
“May I present my wife, Letitia? Letitia, Mistress Daniea Douglas, the Irish Lassie,Taran’s daughter.” He introduced.
“A pleasure to meet you.” Letitia smiled, looking her over cautiously.
“The pleasures mine, ma lady.”
“I trust Mrs. Fitzgibbons found you comfortable lodgings?’ She inquired.
“Yes my lady, your house has been most gracious, I don’t know how I will ever repay your family’s kindness.” Daniea smiled half- heartedly, sadness creeping into her eyes.
Letitia began to speak when a young boy ran full speed at the table, bowing slightly towards Colum.
“Mistress Douglas this is my son Hamish.” Colum stated with pride.
“Hello Hamish, it’s very nice to meet ye. I’m Daniea.”
Letitia quickly called for Hamish to take his seat next to her, scolding him slightly for being late.
“Dougal has informed me that you’re quite the healer mistress,” Colum boasted, pouring a glass of rhenish for her.
“I do try my Laird.”
“It has been so very long since we have had a healer at Leoch, while you’re staying would you..” He began, Dougal cut him off, “Of course she would. Wouldn’t you Lass?”
She began nodding while she attempted to choke down her rhenish.
“She did a bonnie job on young Jamie on our journey back,” He chirped.
Daniea’s nerves began to flare. Just a few hours ago Dougal was coarse and rude to her, now he was her biggest ally and supporter. What was he up too?
“It’s settled then, while you’re at Leoch mistress your duties will be that of a healers.”
In a matter of a few days, Daniea’s world had been thrown into a whirling dervish. First running for her life after being attacked, held captive, forced to parts unknown and now having a place under a Scottish Laird that she can feel is keeping a secret from her. Is life about to get better or much, much worse.
Near a week went by as she settled into her position as healer, rejuvenating the surgery that belonged to her predecessor and becoming acclimated to the castle grounds. As the noon day sun was rising high in the sky, it dawned on her that Jamie had not been to see her to change his bandages. So she quickly ran to the kitchen, filled her basket full of meats, cheeses and other treats, then began walking through the meadows to the stable.
Approaching the crest of the hill she could see Jamie working with a white horse in the pen. With each step, the soft words of gaelic flowing from his lips became clearer. The horse’s stride seemed to beat in time with the rhythm of her heart.
Quiet not to disturb them, she sat on the soft grass to watch him follow the mare around and around. Uttering soft words of encouragement, creating an intricate dance of trust and power. When Jamie finally slowed the horses pace he spotted Daniea patiently sitting in the long grass. He couldn’t help but smile as he pulled the mare to him, patting her soothingly as Daniea walked over to greet them.
“She’s got spirit.” She beamed, gently outstretching her hand to the mare.
“Aye, that she does…much like you Lass.” He stated, his voice thick.
Her smile finally reaching her eyes, “I thought it was about time we change those bandages, and by the looks of ya,” She raised the basket, “Feed ya as well.”
Guiding her into a shaded overhang, he sat down beside her and began enjoying the contents of the basket.
“I’m sorry I haven’t tended to your shoulder sooner, but ya been scarce at the castle.” She admitted, feeling terribly about neglecting her first patient at Leoch.
“Dinna fash yerself Lass, Dougal thought it best if I stay out of sight for a bit.”
“Why’s that? If ya dont mind me asking.” She inquired before taking a bite out of a piece of fruit.
“I’m a wanted man,” he smirked.
She couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow, “Escaping a prison for obstruction seems a bit much to make ya have to hide.”
“No Lass, not for escaping… I’m wanted for murder.”
She couldn’t stop the look of surprise from reaching her face before he began to laugh.
“I should have ye know Lass that I didn’t actually kill the man though.”
“Your a very complicated outlaw Jamie.” She snickered.
“Nay it’s simple really, remember what I told you happened at Fort William.”
She shook her head.
“I could hardly move for a day or two after I’d been flogged the second time. And I had fever from the wounds. Once I could stand again, though, some friends made shift to get me out of the camp by means I’d best not go into. And there was some ruckus as we left, and a Redcoat was shot.” He explained while finishing his lunch.
“That seems like a lot of valuable information. Wouldn’t it be dangerous to be out in the open like this?”
“I doubt there are any informers in the castle itself, but the countryside is another story.”
“Does the Laird know?”She asked, immediately regretting the question.
“Colum, aye Lass and Dougal. They’re my uncles on my mother’s side.”
Ease washed over her, “Why tell me, I’m a stranger?” She blurted out, curiosity overwhelming her.
“Well,” he began, “The way I see it, anyone who threatens to thrash me if I ruin their tending as much as you do, would be in very poor taste to go and ruin their hard work by handing me over for a beating….and I trust ye.”
All of a sudden Alec, the horse master of Leoch and their elder, interrupts,
“Are you done stuffing your face? The horses are running wild! And when will the colt be broken?”
“None the sooner for starving myself,” he calls as Alec rushed away, clearly frustrated.
“I best be returning to work,” He huffed, “Thankyou for the food and the company.”
“Yer welcome,”She answered, suddenly remembering the real reason she came. “Oh, I didn’t change your bandage.”
“It can wait Lass.” He stated, clearly uneasy. Then it dawned on her… his scars.
Is it because Alec doesn’t know you were flogged?”
“Old Alec knows, he just hasn’t seen it is all.”
She looked at him perplexed, not understanding.
“To know something like that is well, it’s not the same as seeing it with yer own eyes. I think if he were to see the scars, he couldna see me anymore without… without thinking about my back.” He explained, his expression becoming sad.
“Do you mind me seeing your back?”
“I don’t…you have a way about ye that lets me know your sorry bout it but ye don’t see me as any less of a man.”
She nodded collecting her things, “Promise me you won’t get stabbed, shot or kicked today.”
“I promise, but I can’t guarantee I won’t tomorrow, “ he joked, turning away reluctantly to return to work. Yet as she walked back towards the castle he turned, leaned against the fencing, unable to take his eyes off her.
Later that evening it was time for a gathering in the hall of all the castles and nearby villages tenants, in the Mackenzie lands, to come and dispute issues that the Laird would rule upon. Mrs. Fitz kindly found more formal dresses for Daniea to wear to such occasions, ensuring her presence at the Hall by request of the Laird.
Struggling to find a proper spot to stand, a red haired woman quickly pulled her into the front, “I’m Geillis Duncan.”
“I’m…” Daniea began, completely stunned by the woman’s forwardness.
“I know who you are Daniea, the village has been humming with talk of Taran’s bastard since you came to the castle.”
Her words sliced her through like a knife. She had never been called a bastard before or even knew that it true for that matter.
“You’re a healer aren’t ye, I dabble in a bit of healing myself from time to time… people think I’m a witch.” She giggled.
Daniea could only look at her, words too far away to reach.
“You should come visit me down in the village, I have cabinets full of medicinals and potions I wager would tickle yer fancy.”
Before a response could be mustered, Geillis hooked her arm through Daniea’s as Colum entered the Hall followed closely by Dougal. Dispute after dispute was brought to Colum’s attentions, everything ranging from fights over property and cows to payment arrangements. Geillis all the while whispering comments in her ear as if they were best of friends. Near the end of the meeting a young blond girl was forced before Colum by her father. He accused her of loose behavior and asked that she be punished by the Mackenzie for disobedience. The girl struggled and fought against her father who kept ahold of her as Colum thought the request through.
Finally he nodded in agreement. Rupert, the scotsman that almost put Jamie’s shoulder back in the cabin, stepped in to grab one of the girls arm, as her father held fast to the other. As she screamed and begged a voice rang out from the crowd. It was Jamie offering to take the girls punishment. A stir began in the crowd as Colum and Dougal argued it.
“What is the fool doing? He’s still injured.” Daniea whispered, trying to think of how far her heart seemed to drop within her chest. Yet Geillis took it as an invitation to converse once more.
“Aye, but they usually stop when they draw blood, most times it’s when the nose breaks.” She smiled.
Daniea’s breath caught in her chest, her heart pounding as they waited for the decision. Colum slowly spoke, announcing to the crowd that he was going to allow it. Daniea frantically looked over at Jamie who was busy arguing with Murtagh.
“He chose fists.” Geillis whispered, knowing she wasn’t paying attention.
“Fists, instead of the strap.”
Daniea knew why he chose fists but as Rupert began pounding on Jamie, harder and harder at Dougal’s command, all rational thought went out the window. A few minutes of slow torture began to bring out the worst in Daniea. Not only was she going to refuse to treat Jamie but give him a sound thrashing in the process. Or so she thought, until with a simple nod from Dougal, a reluctant Rupert drove his fist hard into Jamie’s bad shoulder, making him barrel over in agony.
Geillis held fast onto her arm, not allowing her to run to him. Within seconds Mrs. Fitz was taking over, guiding her down to the surgery to await Jamie and avoid causing a scene.
Daniea waited patiently, bandages and herbs at hands ready to treat his new injuries. Jamie slowly emerged from the stairs and took a seat in front of her by the hearth.
She looked him over closely, his lip and nose has mostly stopped bleeding and his eye was swelling, soon he would not be able to see out of it. He cradled his bad shoulder and tried to smile as she looked at him completely unamused.
“You promised me you wouldn’t get hurt today,” She stated, her voice soft and solemn.
“Sorry Lass, at least I didna get stabbed.” he chuckled trying to make a joke when he saw how sombre she was acting.
She shook her head and slowly began treating his wounds, trying to prevent his eye from swelling shut first of all.
“Why did you take that girl’s punishment? Is she your girl?” Daniea asked, puzzled by the action.
“Naye, but I ken who she is. Haven’t really spoken to her though.” he answered, flinching at her dabbing his new bruises.
“Then why?”She pleaded, needing to focus on something, anything but what was on her mind.
“It would have shamed the lass to have been beaten in the hall before everyone that knows her.Would’ve taken a long time to get over, It’s easier for me. I’m sore, but nae really damaged I’ll get over it in a couple days.”
She rolled her eyes and handed a cup she had been mixing herbs into. “Rinse your mouth with this, it will clean the cuts and ease the pain.”
Mrs. Fitz reappeared with more herbs as he was complying to her order.
“What you did was kindly meant lad.” She turned to Daniea explaining, “Laoghaire is my granddaughter ye ken?”
Daniea smiled and nodded as Mrs. Fitz patted Jamie on the shoulder and scurried back upstairs.
“I’ll take the bandage off in the next few days,” she told him as she examined his shoulder.
“Are you ill Lass?” He asked standing up to face her.
“No, why do you ask?”
“You haven’t threatened me or took pleasure from my griping.”
She refused to answer, so he took his hand and gently lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. He could tell she was upset but was delayed in inquiring as to why when the door of the surgery creaked open, Laoghaire peeking through the doorway.
“I think someone would like to speak to you,” Daniea stated, pulling away from his touch. He tried to retrieve her hand but she didn’t allow him too,quickly adding, “Alone.” to her previous statement.
He huffed, “Aye. Looks like it. Goodnight Mistress.”
She smiled slightly at Laoghaire as she exited the surgery, murmuring to herself when the door shut behind her. “Goodnight Jamie.”
Days past and she tried her best to keep to herself, a lingering numbness had overtaken her being and she was simply trying to get through the days ahead. Mrs. Fitz soon informed Daniea that a celebration known as The Gathering would be upon them in a weeks time, and how she needed to prepare, Quickly acting on her advice, Daniea wrangled Rupert and Angus to help her collect the extra supplies needed to tend such a large amount of clansmen,
After breakfast, when the kitchen was slow she asked Rupert to help her gather up the unneeded pots, cloth and medicinal herbs that Mrs. Fitz instructed her to take. While sorting through the vials of herbs Daniea heard a faint giggle coming from one of the cellars. As she approached the opening she discovered Laoghaire in Jamie’s embrace, her giggles now muted by the kiss they both were consumed in.
Not knowing the reason, the numbness she had let consume her had quickly transformed to sadness. Feelings of betrayal clinging to her heart making the moment stop and last, torturing her, until Rupert loudly cleared his throat from behind her, informing them they had been caught. Laoghaire was the first to look up, smile brightly and brush past them away from the scene. Jamie though stopped in his tracks once he saw Daniea, his eyes locked on her, ignoring the jokes Rupert was berating him with.
Silence. Not a word, joke or warning escaped her lips. She simply looked at the ground and continued on with her work. Hours later she was called from the surgery to Colum’s chambers. Nervously she climbed the stairs only to discover the Laird screaming at his tailor, who in turn agreed to whatever was asked of him and ran from the castle fearful for his life.
“What can I do for you my Laird?” She asked, worried she would be received poorly.
“Our old healer use to massage me, made movement easier,” He explained, “I hoped you would do the same.”
Daniea could see that the man was suffering from his leg disfigurement, and knew well that she could help alleviate some of the pain.
“Of course my Laird, I would be happy too.” She smiled.
Colum slowly prepared himself and allowed Daniea to work her magic along his spine and legs. The tension seemed to flow from his body and a grateful man emerged from the table,
“You work wonders mistress, my pain has eased considerably. Gwyllyn the bard will be singing in the hall tonight, I’d be pleased if you would attend as my guest.”
“I’d be honored my Laird,”
That night, as she emerged into the candle lit hall Dougal was the first to greet her, handing her a glass of Colum’s rhenish.
“My brother looks very well tonight mistress, he say’s its because of you and your healing touch.”
“I’m happy I could be of service to the Laird, if you will please excuse me I better be finding a seat.”She stated taking her leave.
She spotted Laoghaire but quickly moved to a dark corner of the hall, making sure to nod in greeting to her so she didn’t seem rude. The soft melodies that rang through the hall that night soothed her tired nerves, entranced by Gwyllyn’s performance she never noticed Jamie leaning against a pillar behind her, arms cross and paying very little attention to the music. Midway through the performance when there was a short intermission Jamie quickly took the time to maneuver around the crowd and sit next to Daniea.
“Evening mistress.” He smiled.
Hello Jamie,” she uttered taking a long drink from her glass.
“Colum’s rhenish, is it?”
“Aye, this is my third glass, it’s very good,” She remarked, voice still, void of all emotion.
“Most folks who drink with Colum are under the table after the second glass.”
“Well I guess its the mix of Scotch/Irish blood in me, I can hold my own when it comes to drink.” She spat, downing the rest of the alcohol.
He could sense the unease growing as he sat next to her.
“This dressing’s been chafing me for days, Would you mind helping me with it?” he questioned.
“Well…” he groaned, clearly favoring his arm,
“Fine…I’ll have a look at ye.” She agreed.
He held out his hand, which she took only so he could guide her through the crowded hall without disturbing anyone. Once downstairs she began to gather her tools for addressing his wounds.
“If it was bothering you that bad why didn’t you just rip it off?” She asked as she gently began undoing his jacket.
“I was afraid to.” he chirped, her closeness making his heart beat faster. “Thought I’d get my arse skelped if I touched it.
“Aye, but it wouldna been your arse that I smacked, you would have enjoyed that.” She retorted with a smirk.
He couldn’t help but laugh, nodding his head slightly as he watched her face, calm and relaxed.Working her fingers through the layers of clothing, undressing his torso in a matter of minutes. After removing his shirt she gently unbound the bandages, exposing his bruised and scabbed shoulder. As she examined the healing wound, he tried not to stare at her or seem too anxious.
“Well it’s healing nicely, I won’t need to re-bandage anything unless you get yourself hurt again.”
“I’ll try my best mistress,” he said as he got dressed, “Thankyou Daniea, I don’t know what would have become of me if you hadn’t of stepped in to treat me that night.”
Daniea turned slowly towards him, looking him in the eye. “You would have survived, but im glad I was able to help… it’s getting late I best be heading to bed Jamie.”
The next morning at breakfast Daniea was invited once again to dine at the main table with Dougal and the Laird, she was ever watchful because she was sure Dougal had plans that he wasn’t disclosing. Rupert and Angus joined Jamie and Murtagh at one of the center tables.
“Your lip looks a bit swollen Jamie, did you get thumped by a horse?” Rupert teased.
Jamie rolled his eyes, “Aye.. swung his head when I wasn’t lookin.”
“That’s to bad, those fillies can be dangerous.” Rupert snickered as he took a bite.
“Fillies? Alec has you working the fillies now?” Murtagh questioned worried the lad might be overworking himself.
Jamie tried to kick Rupert under the table but missed, yet Rupert returned the favor which ended in the table jostling.
“Hey! What’s wrong with you?” Murtagh asked as he noticed the death stare Jamie had fixed on his face.
“Bit my tongue…I best go see if Alec wants anything.”He stated, rising from the table.
After he was out of earshot, Murtagh turned his attention on Rupert, “Hey, if you’re teasing the lad about Laoghaire… if her father or Colum comes to know about it, he could get more than a bloodied nose.”
“Like a wife,” Angus chirped.
“Maybe, that’s not the wife he should have.”
“No?” Rupert questioned, not seeing what was wrong with the young blond girl.
“No. He needs a woman, not a lassie, and Laoghaire will be a girl till she’s fifty. I’ve been around long enough to ken the difference very well,” he scolded the men, glancing quickly back to the main table, “ and so do you two.”
Over the next couple days the castle bustled to life with the arrival of clansmen ready to take their oaths. Mrs. Fitz was busy decorating and acquiring all manner of treats and wine, while Geillis helped Daniea overstock the surgery for everything ranging from hangovers to poisonings. After an extremely long night treating all manner of foolish injuries, she slept in past day break and allowed herself to wake up naturally for once in many weeks. It was nearer noon as she was leisurely dressing, disregarding the bum roll which aggravated Mrs. Fitz to no end. As she was brushing her hair, a scream sounded from out the window. Quickly she looked, it was a young boy on a runaway horse. Within seconds she was out of her room running as fast as her legs would carry her to the meadow. The closer she came, the boy’s identity became known, it was Hamish the heir of Castle Leoch.
Moments later the massive stallion, blacker than the night sky and meaner than the devil, reared and bucked throwing Hamish a fair distance away. While the men were busy trying to corral the horse back in the pen, Daniea was busy tending to the boy.
“What in the world were you thinking lad, you could have been killed!” She screeched, happy to say he only had minor bumps and bruises along with a nasty scrape on his chin that would need a bit of looking after.
“I…If I could ride Raven the other boys wouldn’t pick on me no more. No one can ride him, not even Alec.”
She shook her head, understanding full well how mean kids could be, “If the horsemaster can’t even ride him shouldn’t that be enough to say you shouldn’t.”
Hamish looked at the ground and nodded.
She glanced over at the pen, the hollering of the men was beginning to annoy her and not helping the beast at all.
“Hamish, go find Mrs. Fitz and tell her you’re all right and that I will be in shortly to fix that chin of yours, there’s something I must do first.” She huffed, hiking up her skirts as she stomped over to the horse pen.
Hamish intrigued by her statement found a wagon full of hay and hid there out of sight, waiting to see what she would do.
It was almost like the night when she was first thrust into the cabin, all the men except for Dougal that she had journeyed with surrounded the poor animal, calling to it, throwing stuff at it, anything they could think of to get ahold of it long enough to throw a rope over its head and get it back to its stall. Anger welled up inside her, but she pushed it down knowing it would not help the situation. None of the men knew of her presence but they abruptly stopped and became silent when they heard an angelic voice singing over them. Slowly they turned to look, Daniea was slowly making her way towards the horse, her eyes fixated on the animal. Murtagh couldn’t help but smile as he saw her .
Her long ebony hair, flowing behind her in the wind. Her porcelain features and striking voice making her resemble a siren of old.
“May it be an evening star shines down upon you. May it be when darkness falls your heart will be true. You walk a lonely road, Oh how far you are from home….Mornie utulie..” She sang as she neared the pen. Rupert tried to grab her arm and halt her but she brushed it off, never breaking her concentration. She slowly stepped onto the boards and the stallion, who had been rampaging around, throwing his head and kicking wildly, began to settle. The more she sang, the calmer he became and so did the men surrounding them. Finally she ventured into the pen. Her voice lowered to that of a lullaby. The stallion paced away from her, but finally he crept towards her. His eyes, light blue as the Arctic sky, stared her down, his nose inching towards her still form. When he decided she wasn’t a threat, he rubbed his nose against her hand, a signal that she had his permission to touch him. The men were stunned by what was happening in front of them. The prized, untamed stallion that no one dared to get near, not even Alec unless it was feeding time, was being gentle and kind as the girl caressed him lovingly. Alec held his breath as the stud wrapped his enormous body around her, in a protective manner as she soothed him.
Daniea was finally happy, her worries drifting away with every stroke of his fur, As she ran her hands over his side she noticed a lump that made him shy away slightly. She hummed to him, calming him back down as she uncovered it gently. It was a thorny burr that had grown deep into his flesh. The most gentle nudge to it, crested waves of agony throughout his body.
“I need a clean cloth.” She demanded, all the while stroking the horse’s mane.
Angus rushed around locating one, and sat it on the fence next to Jamie.
“Shhh, there boy… hold on.” She whispered to the animal as she wrapped her hand around the burr, thorns now burying themselves into her skin.
Blood began to trickle from her fist as she slowly pried it from its resting place. With one strong yank the burr came free, he reared slightly at the sudden pain but soon settled into pawing the ground in relief. She threw the burr as far from the pen as possible, grabbing the cloth quickly to stem the bleeding on his side. Once both of them had stopped bleeding, he began happily trotting around the pen. Alec began to believe this was the end of the show but as he drew near, Raven began backing away and snorting at him once more. He stopped and allowed Daniea to continue on. Moments later he was nudging her arm in a playful manner, thankful to her for her kindness. She slowly moved her hand into his mane and leaned against him, testing her weight on him. He didn’t move, just began to nibble on the tiny bits of grass in the pen. A smirk spread across her face as she swept herself onto his back in one graceful motion.
“Mistress I don’t think…” Rupert began.
She didn’t give him a moment’s glance as she gently squeezed his sides, breaking him into a trot and then a brisk canter. Around and around the pen they went. Two beings melding into one. He was as untamed as he ever was, the only difference was Daniea hadn’t tried to break his spirit like everyone else who attempted to possess him.
As she galloped around the pen, Jamie couldn’t take his eyes off her. It was a pure wonderment what she had accomplished. Murtagh noticed his fixation immediately, Alec leaned over with a crooked smile on his face.
“I’m not sure who’s more taken with the Lass… the horse, or young Jamie.”
Daniea slowed Raven to a halt and dismounted, stroking his neck while he began to graze.
“Who will be training him?” She asked, expectant of the answer.
“I will.” Stated Jamie who had been snapped out of his trance by her words.
“Slowly come in and stand behind me.” She said quietly as she glanced over at him.
After what he had just witnessed he was not going to argue with her. So he quietly climbed into the pen and took his place behind her. Raven lifted his head for a second, then lost interest and focused on his lunch once more.
“I need you to get as close to me as humanly possible.”
He hesitated, unsure what she was wanting. She rolled her eyes and slowly backed up to him, his chest was now against her. The closest he had ever been to her, “Now wrap your arms around my waist like a belt.”
He did as he was instructed, the closeness began to make both their hearts flutter.
She slowly raised his hand like a puppet and began stroking the horse, using him as an extension of herself while protecting him from Raven’s temper.
“He is not any different than your spirited mares, he deserves respect not a hard hand.”
Softly spoken gaelic flowed from his lips and she withdrew into his embrace, allowing him to take over gentling the horse, while protecting him in the process. His warmth consumed her, his brough deep and melodic next to her ear.
Finally, she stepped away leaving him to fend for himself. The stallion allowed Jamie to guide him and manage him like the others but once he was bored with it, he trotted over to where Daniea was now standing and began nudging her to embrace him.
“You can’t blame him for choosing a bonnie lass over you lad.” Alec called.
“Well at least you’ll be able to work with him easier Jamie, he won’t try and kill you anymore, most likely.” She joked, knowing that if Jamie respected him, he would return the favor.
“Lass, you will be needing a mount in the morning.” Alec reminded her as she was walking away.
“Yes, for the boar hunt, I trust ye will chose a fit one for me.” She stated.
He nodded adding, “Would you be willing to come work with this beast every now and again? He’s taken quite the shine to you mistress.”
“I’d love too,” She cheered as she slowly spun towards the castle to tend Hamish along with her daily duties.
The next morning as she stepped out into the morning sun, fresh dew clinging to the trees, clansmen were preparing for the boar hunt. Daniea patiently waited with her supplies for Rupert, who was to be her guardian while in the woods, yet Alec was the first one to greet her.
“Morning mistress,” he chimed as he slowly walked a chestnut gelding towards her.
“Good morning, and who might this be?” She inquired, immediately cuddling the horse.
“This is Cobhar, he will look after you.”
She snuggled the horses neck, “Im sure he will.” She responded as he turned away to tend the hooves of Dougal’s mount.
As the drums beat and the men cheered, chasing the boars from hiding, there was bound to be an accident. A foolish young lad cried out when a tusk raked his leg open, but it wasn’t five minutes later when the next shout came, except this time it was a curdled scream in agony. Cobhar carried her carefully towards the scream, as she halted him the sight was saddening.
Dougal was on the ground cradling another man, blood stained the leaves around him. Daniea quickly sprinted towards them. First she noticed a very deep gash in his leg which could be treated but the ever growing pool of blood was spreading from his abdomen. Dougal was trying to reassure the poor man that everything would be alright but Daniea knew better, She shook her head showing Dougal that he wasn’t going to make it. Slowly she released the pressure she had been applying to his leg, allowing him to bleed out quickly, reducing the agony he would have to linger in until heaven claimed him. As panic took over the man’s system Daniea softly began to sing, taking his mind off what was happening, calmer and calmer he became until finally he past.
As the boar hunt came to a close and they headed back to Leoch a hush came over all the hunters. It was a time for celebration but now it had been stained with an unnecessary death of a good man. The festivities were raging on in the form of a game of shinty, the hunting party slowly dispersed. Some joined the game, others went to take care of the deceased man, and Daniea returned to the surgery to finish the work she began in the woods.
As the sun began to dip below the horizon an unexpected guest made his way into the surgery, Dougal.
“You’ve seen men die before and by violence Lass.” He stated as he leaned against the wall.
“Yes.” She quietly answered as she began cleaning the blood from her hands, “Many of them.”
“You’ve done a fine job here as healer, and I wanted to thankyou personally for what you did for poor Georgie up there on the hunt.”
“I didn’t do anything…I….I couldn’t do anything.”
“ No Lass you’re wrong, ye did. You took him to a peaceful place and that’s all any of us can ask for when we pass.”He convinced her, his walls lowering letting her in.
A tear ran down her cheek, “Aye.”
“After the gathering I would like if you joined us on the road .” He asked
“We have to travel throughout the Mckenzie lands to collect taxes, a healer would be an answered prayer to some of the patrons.”
“If you wish it,” She replied
The day’s events muddled her mind as she prepared for the oath taking that night. She tried to be as chipper as all those surrounding her, especially Mrs. Fitz, but knew all the emotions she had been bottling up since she arrived were pushing past her threshold.
After Mrs. Fitz approved of her formal appearance she pulled her around the hall, guaranteeing the beginning of the oath taking was the best part. When they spotted Murtagh on the balcony they rushed to his side to claim a spot. Colum soon made his entrance, grand and formal. Dougal followed and was the first to take this oath.
“ I swear, by the cross of our lord Jesus Christ, and by the holy iron that I hold, to give ye my fealty and to pledge ye my loyalty to the name of clan Mackenzie.
And if ever I shall raise my hand against ye in rebellion, I ask that this holy iron shall pierce my heart.”
Man after man stepped up, took his vow, and drank from the quaich. She maintained her resolve to stick around and enjoy the festivities afterward, but the drink that she has been plying herself with was simply making her want to retreat to her room. After she excused herself to Mrs. Fitz she made her way upstairs, trying to dodge as many people as possible. Yet when she came to the next floor, three very drunken scotsman caught sight of her. She began to back away slowly, but they ran towards her. Two caught up to her quickly, she fought against them, kicking and punching her way out of their grasp. Once they had lost their balance she began to run downstairs, towards the hall in hopes of finding help but the third one caught her arm and jerked her to him. Throwing her against the wall he began to kiss her neck as she struggled, he tried his best to wriggle his leg in between her knees but in the process left himself open. She swiftly headbutted him as hard as she could, making herself woozy. Once he was stumbling she kicked him hard in the groin dropping him like a rock. As fast as her feet could carry her she ran downstairs, through the hall and outside, oblivious to resume her search for someone to help. Instead she knew where she would certainly be safe, and that was the only goal in her frenzied mind. Raven’s stall.
The cold night air nipped at her bare shoulders and face, hidden branches snagged her dress, but finally after running for what seemed like eternity the stables faint glow was in sight. As she slipped through the door and jolted down the aisle towards the end she suddenly found herself mid air. With a hard crash she was on the floor, and a very confused scotsman pinning her down. She couldn’t catch her breath, her heart pounded and the pain from the attack and tumbling to the hard ground was overwhelming her.
Jamie looked down at her, tears silently fell from her eyes. Realization occurred quickly that he was still pinning the poor girl down so he rolled to her side, waiting for her breathing to normalize.
“Daniea, what are you doing Lass? You shouldn’t be here.”
She didn’t answer, she just rose from the ground and made her way to Raven’s stall door.
“I’m sorry,” She said meekly.
“You should be at the Hall enjoying the celebrations.” He pointed out, trying to get her to open up.
She clung closer to the horse, burying her head in his shoulder, finally releasing all the emotions she had let build up for weeks.
“Did I say something mistress? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…” He prattled, thinking that he had reduced such a strong woman to a sobbing mess by some unknown act. When she quieted down he crept closer to the stall.
“What you did with that beast is a wonder. How did you ever learn to do that?” he questioned, very curious of her roots. He expected her to not utter a word like before but to his surprise she began to speak.
“My grandfather.” She began with a smile, remembering. “He was a horse master of sorts in the village where I grew up…”
She finally opened her eyes, which were now red as beets and sore but made her green eyes glow even brighter. She took a deep breath and settled back against Raven’s neck, all the while never taking her eyes off Jamie. “He taught me many things, one was that horses or any animal deserve respect and love. He use to soothe his horses with kind words, much like you but I always preferred singing and so did his horses” She giggled.
“He sounds like a great man,” Jamie stated.
“What about the healing, did he teach you that as well?”
‘No, that was my grandmother.”She told him, “They raised me with my mother, teaching me all they could. They wanted to make sure I could take care of myself no matter what.”
He beamed at her, gently reaching for her hand, “ They certainly did a bonny job.”
Jamie knew it was getting late, “I’ll take you back up to the castle.”
Her eyes widened.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, I had an encounter with some drunken clansmen in the corridor.”
His face grew serious, “They dinna touch ye now?”
Her tears began to form once more, “I can’t go back.”
He guided her out of the stall, “ How many were there?
“Three… I got away but…. I… I can handle myself, I don’t want you thinking I’m some damsel who needs to be saved but..” Her emotions rushed through her,
He pulled her into him, wrapping his arms around her tightly.
“You were out numbered Lass, you’re strong, so very strong, don’t you ever let anyone make you feel different. Remember, as long as I’m with ye no harm will come to you I promise.”
He reassured her, his voice thick and deep. Anger interweaving with empathy.
“It’s alright to be scared and to let someone in… to tell you the truth that night when you saved my arse, I was scared.”
She slowly withdrew from his chest, looking him in the face.
“I was scared that I wouldn’t make it out alive, that I would have to be left for the red coats because I was too injured to go on. But then you came in with your healing hands and sharp tongue.”
She laughed remembering her scoldings.
“You took my fear away… I knew that with you looking after me, I was going to be ok and now it’s my turn to take yours away… come,” He told her, leading her out of the barn and up the dark hill.
“This isn’t the way back.”
“Naeh, there’s an opening to a hidden tunnel over here. Found it when I was a bairn, brings us out into the cellar.”
“Thankyou for seeing me back.”She said as he raised the opening to the tunnel for her.
“No Lass, thankyou for healing all my scratches.” He smiled.
Then suddenly a few men crowded around them, two grabbing him, the others Daniea who immediately began to struggle.
“God’s eyes, if it’s not the young lad, Colum’s nephew. Come late to the oath taking, are you not?”
He struggled against their hold, “Ye don’t want to miss you turn in front of himself.” One of them said with a drunken grin.
“Na, let me go and change first in the cottage.” Jamie retorted, “I’m not going to the oath taking like this.”
“Don’t worry about that laddie, we will outfit you proper inside.”
As they were beginning to drag Jamie to the castle the bigger of the men holding Daniea chirped up, as he began to try and slip his hand down her dress, “Can I keep the Lassie for myself?”
“Let Her Go!” Jamie yelled, escaping his captives grasp.
As he punched the man hard in the face, setting Daniea free from him, the main man smacked him in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle. Rendering him unconscious.
“Jamie!” Daniea screamed, wriggling from the others hands. She couldn’t help but follow as they dragged the knocked out boy into the castle and into a side room. Daniea cradled his head, and waited patiently for him to rouse.
About fifteen minutes later he finally awoke, “Ye dinna have to hit me so hard, I was willing to come.” he assured them rubbing the back of his head.
“Aye but I dinna want you maiming half the clan while ye were making up yer mind.” his clansman half joked, glancing over at Daniea.
A younger man ran in, “Here’s your clothes Jamie.”
Jamie nodded to him, turning his back to the wall. He quickly switched shirts, careful that no one but Daniea caught a glimpse of his back.
“You’ll be needing this,” Another man stated, handing him a kilt pin.
“Luceo non uro… I shine, not burn.” Daniea read outloud,
“Aye, the Mackenzie motto.” The clansman answered as he went out the door with the rest of Jamie’s captures to wait till he was done changing.
“I’m sorry Jamie, I didn’t mean for you to have to do this.” Daniea pleaded.
“Dinna fash yourself.”He smiled.
“How’s your head?” She asked worried he might have a concussion.
“Fine, my sister Jenny says it’s harder than an iron pot.” He then rolled over the clan kilt pin in his hand.
“I canna wear this.” He sighs, “I’m not a Mackenzie.”
He tossed the pin aside, “Do you know my motto Lass? My clan’s I mean.”
She shook her head, “I don’t even know what clan you’re from.” She answered.
“Je suis pret.” He told her, the words dancing from his mouth.
“I am ready.” She translated with a smirk, leaving the room to be escorted to the hall to await Jamie’s arrival.
Bagpipes bellowed as she quietly found Murtagh, meaning to remain safe. Moments later Jamie entered and took his place in the line.
“Why’s everyone so tense? What’s going on? “ She asked Murtagh, noticing a hush fell over the crowd.
“Why? I’ll tell ya…If Jamie pledges fealty to his uncle, Colum, then he’d be in line to succeed as Laird. He’d be part of clan Mackenzie, ye see?”
It took her a moment, “If enough clansman want Jamie to be Laird, then he would be.”
Murtagh nodded, “and being his nephew and here at Leoch he doesn’t have the choice to refuse taking it. So either way he’s a deadman.” She stated knowing that it was because of her.
He had been hiding out in the barn till it was over, they would have let the whole thing go, but now.She now was as tense as the rest of the crowd and without thinking about it, she wrapped her hands around Murtagh’s arm. He gently patted one, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
Jamie slowly walked up to Colum and it took many long seconds before he spoke.
“Colum Mackenzie, I come to you as kinsman and as ally, but I give ye no vow. For my oath is pledged to the name that I bear. I give you my obedience as kinsman and as Laird. And I hold myself bound to yer word, so long as my feet rest on the lands of the clan Mackenzie.”
Colum accepted his word, and the crowd roared back to life.
“I’m getting too old for this.” Murtagh whispered, releasing the breath he had been holding. Daniea smiled widely, gently pecking him on the cheek making the old man blush.
Letitia then checked to make sure Jamie was the last of the clansmen and announced that Gwyllyn would be performing in honor of the Gathering. As everyone found seats Mrs. Fitz grabbed Daniea’s arm and dragged her to the middle, while the men stayed by the posts drinking quietly, rejoicing about the day.
Gaelic melodies flooded the Hall for hours, when it came time for Gwyllyn to take a break from singing, Rupert snuck over to Colum and had a word. A minute later Colum stood.
“I have been told that a certain Lass in our presence has a voice capable of calming the most savage of beasts.. Mistress Douglas would you grant us the gift of a song this joyous night.”
Her cheeks flushed with heat as she rose, all eyes turning towards here. She whispered to Gwyllyn who quickly smiled and picked up a violin.
“I am very fortunate to be with you all tonight, and very thankful to the Laird and his family for taking me in and welcoming me so fully. This is a song that I hold very dear and dedicate to all of you,”
But as the music began, and she started to sing her eyes locked with Jamie’s and to him, it was as if her words were meant just for him, and him alone.
“When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary. When troubles come and my heart burdened be. Then, I am still and wait here in the silence, until you come and sit awhile with me.You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. I am strong, when I am on your shoulders.You raise me up, to more than I can be.…..” She sang. Her voice entrancing and full of love.
When she finished, the crowd greeted her with massive applause and teary eyes. A warmth consumed her being, and she was finally ready to let the past go and enjoy the here and now. Yet Jamie was discovering something of his own, as long as he had this bounty on his head he could never be truly happy or for the matter… in love.
The next morning Daniea woke early feeling refreshed and like her purpose had been renewed. Skipping down the stairs to the kitchen she couldn’t stop grinning as she quietly made plans around the castle. When the noon day sun rose high into the sky, she made her way to the stable as the drunken clansmen began rousing themselves awake and into the hall for food.
As she approached the barn it was unusually quiet. Looking around she spied Alec cleaning tack and Jamie stacking hay.
“Morning mistress.” Alec greeted with a smile.
“Good morning, how are you today?”
“In fine health Lass.”
“Good morning Jamie,” She chirped, clutching onto the basket in her hands.
He shook his head, barely acknowledging her presence.
She glanced over to Alec, who winked at her and motioned for her to keep talking.
“Jamie? I was thinking perhaps we could go for a ride this afternoon together. Maybe you could show me around some more.” She smiled.
“I’m busy.” He grunted.
Her stomach began to tighten. “Ohh.”
“Ah this will keep. Why don’t you go with the Lass, sounds like a wee bit of fun.” Alec pushed.
Jamie turned suddenly, an angry glare plastered on his face.
“ I said I’m busy, and there’s no reason you should even be down here, you were not sent fer. Now get woman and leave me be!” He yelled.
Daniea backed up a few paces, her heart beating furiously. She sat the basket down on the bench and began to walk away.
‘I’m sorry Jamie…. I..” She choked on her words.
Alec rushed over to her, grabbing her arm gently.
“Don’t mind the boy ma lady, he’s acting a fool. You are always most welcome here.”
He guided her over to Raven’s stall.
“Why don’t you and this beast go stretch your legs for a bit, the gatherings almost over so the moors ahead should be a bonnie place to ride.
She simply nodded as a tear fell onto her cheek, swung up onto the horse and rode away as fast as Raven’s legs would carry her.
“Have you lost all your senses boy!” Alec screamed at Jamie when Daniea was out of earshot.
“I don’t know what your talking about.” Jamie stated, never stopping his work.
Alec grabbed the pitchfork from his grasp, making him turn around.
“What!” Jamie screamed.
“You know what, why did you treat her like that? She’s your friend, she cares about you.”
“That the problem.” Jamie snapped, cutting him off. He could see the perplexed look on Alec’s face, he took a deep breath trying to release some of the tension within his muscles.
“I can’t let myself get any closer to her, I can’t fall in love… I can’t marry, not with this price on my head.”
“Who said anything about love or marriage you daft fool,” Aggravation and a bit of understanding crept into Alec’s mind.
“It’s lunch, let’s go ” He ordered, pushing Jamie up the hill and into the hall.
As they stepped into the castle Mrs. Fitz spotted the two and gestured to Alec, wondering what Jamie was doing with him. All he could do was shake his head and take his seat.
When Daniea reached the top of the hill she dismounted and sat against the trunk of a large tree, Raven happily grazing around her. As the cool winds of the highlands dried her tears she could hear hoofbeats coming from a distance. For a brief moment she thought it could be Jamie coming to apologize but her hope was soon squashed as a stranger reined in his horse and began to walk towards her. She cautiously crossed her arms over her knees as he approached.
“Good day mistress.” The middle aged clansmen greeted.
A grin spread across his face, “ What would a girl like you be doing out here all on your own?”
“I’m not alone.” She stated slowly rising from the tree and inching over to Raven.
He looked around, then began to look her over.
“Ahhh that accent, your that Irish Lass the Lairds keeping around. I saw you in the Hall the last few nights” He moved towards her, “I sworn allegiance to himself, so I figure I’m entitled to the Mckenzie Healer.”
“Are you ill?” She asked, dreading the answer.
“Aye, but nothing a romp with the Mckenzie’s whore won’t cure,”
“I’m no whore you bastard!” She screamed as she ran for Raven but he was too fast.
He grabbed her, tackling her to the ground. He tried to kiss on her but she squirmed away. He took control once more, yanking her head back by her hair. She groaned as he touched her. When his grip loosened for a mere second, she rammed her head into his chest, managing to flip over and claw at the grass. Before she knew it he was back on top of her, only this time he was punching her anywhere his angered fists would land. Blood soon streamed from her face, as it became bruised and cut. He rolled her over keeping her disoriented form pinned with one hand and pulling his long knife with the other.
A sudden pain pierced her hip, the knife slicing its way through her petticoats deep into her flesh. Down he dragged the knife, slashing its way from her hip to foot. She managed to reach around for a second, clawing at his face but even the blood she drew was not enough to stop him.
He stood up slowly, proud of what he had done and began kicking her repeatedly for the insolence. Again and again he kicked her as hard as his body allowed. The breaking of bones could be heard a few feet away.
As he crawled back onto the ground, her struggling permanently ceased. He began moving aside her flayed dress to have his way with her, but without notice Raven bolted towards him and clamped his teeth around his wrist. He pulled away from the mad horse, but Raven kept after him. Rearing and trying his best to keep him away. Finally he fled leaving Daniea to die on the moor.
Awhile later the injured clansmen stumbled into the hall raving about how a mad horse had attacked him. He wanted retribution in the form of gold for being attacked by an animal belonging to the Laird, he protested. All eyes drew to him and the men that accompanied him to the gathering.
Laughing and hushed whispers spread like fire around the hall as Colum calmly began to think about his demands.
Outside Murtagh was walking towards the hall from the smithy when he noticed Raven cantering wildly down the hill. He threw his hands up to stop the stampeding animal and then he saw it. Blood dripping down his fur from the body sprawled across his back. He gently rolled Daniea into his arms, He stood in shock, sickened by the brutal sight in his embrace. Carefully he carried her into the hall, the closer they came to the tables the louder the argument within rang clear.
“Those scratches on yer face weren’t put there by no horse!” Murtagh boasted.
All eyes landed on him and the limp form in his arms. It took a few seconds for the men to realize who it was but when they did, they pushed their way through the crowd to surround him. Fear and anger flooded Jamie’s veins, Alec and Rupert kept a tight grip on him. Mrs. Fitz inched closer but screamed and had to turn away when she saw what the monster had done to her.
“That horse you’ve been complaining about, was it a large black one with blue eyes.” Alec questioned.
“Maybe.” Was all he said, he underestimated how quickly she would be found.
“My laird, Daniea was out alone on the moors riding Raven this afternoon.” Alec stated, his eyes never leaving Daniea’s broken form.
Colum could barely speak, “Mrs. Fitz would you go tend to the Lass and let me know what you find.”
With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Fitz agreed.
“Jamie! Take her upstairs.”
Cautiously Murtagh placed her into his shaking arms, He nodded to Jamie understanding how much will power he was mustering to not kill her attacker that minute.
With each step, and each jostle up the stairs to her room, blood stained the walkway as it dripped from her open wounds. Jamie barely let out a single breath in fear it would cause her more pain. Mrs. Fitz scurried around the room and instructed him to lay her on top of the bed, which he did as gently as possible.
Minutes of silence fogged the room as she began collecting herbs and cloth preparing to uncover the real damage.
“I… I need to be downstairs Mrs. Fitz.”
“No you don’t, you are needed here.”
“What can I possibly do here, I need to make that filth pay!” He growled.
“I need your help and so does she, if you just would of…” She began stopping mid sentence,
“If I would have what mistress.” He pried, curiosity overcoming him.
“None of this would have happened if you would have went with her like she asked!” She screamed.
Her display of anger took him back for a second.
“How did you know…”
“I bet you never even looked in the basket the Lass brought down to you did ye.”
He didn’t answer.
“I will not be saying another word on the matter, but for her sake you better hope and pray Lad!”
As she was beginning to clean the blood from the gashes on her face she noticed the bed sheet staining with a great amount of blood.
“Jamie, carefully lift back the folds of that rip on her skirt.”
He hesitated for a second, then slowly exposed the deep slash that extended all the way up her leg. His stomach churned as Mrs. Fitz quickly acted applying pressure to as much of the wound as possible. Jamie remembered Daniea’s quick action on his shoulder, so he retrieved clean cloth and binded the enormous wound shut, halting the bleeding till it could be sewed closed. Mrs. Fitz took a deep breath and nodded to Jamie in gratitude.
He took a few steps back and leaned against the bedpost, his anger transforming into dread. He watched as the multiple bruises and gashes became known as Mrs. Fitz continued to clean off the blood. Her eyes both swollen shut, her nose appeared broken, too many cuts to count. This pattern extended down both arms and her other leg.
“Jamie your dagger.”Mrs Fitz ordered.
She cut off what remained of Daniea’s corset and through her chemise. Carefully she rolled the cloth up just exposing her stomach and ribs which were swollen and jutting in odd places. Her skin no longer its lustrous white but shades of black and blue.
Jamie had to turn away, scalding tears silently spilling from his eyes.
“Jamie the next part we need to be alone, go downstairs. I will be there presently.”
He nodded his head and removed himself from the room, he knew what was left to be done, but he couldn’t fathom the thought. Mrs. Fitz was checking to see if she had been raped as well.
Each step was agony as he rejoined Murtagh and the rest. Rupert and Angus surrounding him, making sure he didn’t do anything rash just yet. Twenty minutes later a very sullen Mrs. Fitz descended the stairs and took her place in front of the Laird.
“Mistress Fitzgibbons, have you thoroughly looked over our young Daniea?” Colum asked.
“I did my Laird,” She responded, choking back sobs.
“And what did you find?”
Mrs. Fitz took a deep breath, “ It appears she was beaten with both fist and boot. She has bruises, gashes and broken bones all over her body. Her attacker also took a long knife and ripped it through her skirts and leg down to the bone, from her hip to her heel. It also appears that he either attempted or succeeded to rape her my lord. There was so much damage I couldn’t tell fer sure, ye ken.”
Bile rose in Jamie’s throat, Murtagh now joining in to restrain him.
“Lastly… will she live Mrs. Fitz?” Colum asked softly, fearful of the answer.
“If I…. if I was the healer she was… maybe. But…. but I’m not. I…I don’t think she will make it through the night.” Tears spilled down her face, Murtagh quickly wrapping his arms around her to comfort her.
Jamie sunk to his knees, it had to be a dream he thought, it couldn’t be real. Just that morning she was sweet and beautiful, full of life. Now she was lying still and cold in a bed, beaten nearly to death.
While Colum and Dougal dealt with the questioning of her attacker and his clansmen, the rest of the castles tenants were ordered to disperse till judgement. Alec told Jamie to return to the barn while he took care of an exhausted Raven.
He had to keep it together he kept telling himself over and over. As he reached the barn he noticed the basket she had been carrying that morning. He sat down beside it on the bench and hesitantly opened it. Inside was a feast of food accompanied by a letter. He unfolded it and read,
I know it is strange reading a letter when your sitting across from the person who wrote it but I have always been better at writing than speaking. I want you to know how thankful I am for what you did last night, not only for putting your life on the line for me by escorting me back to the castle, but for protecting me through all this and above all for being kind, and a true friend.
I never thought I would meet another kindred spirit in my life after my family passed away but your generous and loving heart thankfully has proven me wrong. I hope you enjoy the food, I’m not much of a cook but Mrs. Fitz taught me to make all your favorites this morning as a special surprise. Also Alec allowed me to steal you for the afternoon. I want you to know you will always have a special place in my heart Jamie, and if you ever need anything at all I will be here.
Racking sobs finally found their way through Jamie, he crumpled the letter in his fist and cried harder than he had in years into the paper. Not only could he have prevented this from happening if he had only went with her. But she only wanted to thank him for his kindness, and he repaid her by trying to push her away with anger and cowardice. Pushing her away because his feelings for her were becoming too strong and the thought of not being able to be with her because of being a wanted man terrified him
As the sun began to set over the highlands, Alec fetched Jamie for sentencing. He pulled himself together and stood beside Murtagh and Rupert by their Laird.
“Robert O’ Connell, you have been accused and found guilty of attacking a daughter of the Mackenzie Clan, beating her half to death and possibly raping her as well. Your clansmen are in agreement, that you not only committed this horrendous crime but you also beat your own wife and bairns. Therefore they stand with their laird. You are now sentenced to death by way of your crime, to be carried out at sunrise.”
The man screamed in protest all the way to the pit to await the battle that would be awaiting him in the morning. Through dinner many people including the Laird, Dougal and Letitia visited Daniea’s chamber. Finally Murtagh pushed Jamie back upstairs, Mr. Fitz had finished cleaning and binding her wounds. She now was tucked in her bed, clean in a soft chemise. Her breathing slow and shallow.
They simply watched her and spoke softly to her, within an hour Jamie was asleep in the chair next to her bed. Refusing to leave her side even when his nightmares jostled him awake. Murtagh and Mrs. Fitz reappeared at sunrise, he brushed Jamie’s arm waking him. He bolted upright scared that she had passed while he slept. Surrounding the bed they discovered she was still alive. Murtagh couldn’t help but smile,
“That girl right there is as stubborn as a wild rose, it’s going to take more than a beating to kill her.” He half joked, half prayed. Knowing all too well she could die any minute. But it was just enough to give Jamie the hope he needed to not worry about her while he went to carry out the Laird’s sentencing. It was time for retribution.
Thanks again for reading part 2 of one of my fanfiction, more to come next Friday!!