Star Dreamer

Chapter XXXIII: Surprise Reunions

[Laurelyn]

Laurelyn noted that little changed in Morrow’s Hold – at least in flavor since storms did their share of damage – as Thomis and she walked the lanes to her mother’s house. Even now she could smell the heavy scent of a storm coming in. Softly she said, “I had forgotten what it was like to feel a storm in my bones – no inland storm ever feels this way.” She had chosen back lanes so they could walk – reasonably – unmolested by kin and neighbors, or family friends. And it wasn’t long before they approached the white-washed fence that surrounded the yard to a white cottage. A tri-colored Sheltie, who had been inspecting the wind, saw them and began running along the fence – barking his alarm.

The storyteller smiled nervously at Thomis – her husband she reminded herself with the familar feel of joyous disbelief – and said, “I think it’s too late to turn back now…...”

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Chapter XXXII: Morrow's Hold
Bar fight!

[Laurelyn]

The journey that brought the travelers to Morrow’s Hold took nearly five days – two days longer than norm.

As Laurelyn had led the way from the Dun of Br’on she had weighed the advantages of the shorter, usual, route, which would have taken them through the heart of Hillrover territory. And much as she wanted to be in Morrow’s Hold she knew that in every homestead and village they would be asked to stop and bring word of fathers and sons. She was in no mood to relive the nightmare of the Dun everytime she had to remember which names had been called out by Naomha at the funeral; or if the warrior had lived – then she would oft have to speak of the dire wounds.

And she thanked the Gods of Sea and Stone that the five day journey had been completely uneventful; granted, it had not been easy traveling since they rode through wild, empty land of rocks, wind and bracken, but no ill-fortune had befallen them. A fact that Laurelyn hoped indicated that a trend had been broken. “Does this look familiar?” Laurelyn asked, when she finally could ride abreast of Thomis – and the road finally wound its way into Morrow’s Hold. She had never heard whether they had arrived in Morrow’s Hold by land or water – back when Thomis had come with Drwyen and Allenel. Morrow’s Hold mostly clung to the mountain slopes, and sprawled downwards towards the docks – and a restless sea, where fishing boats – plus some faster looking vessels – were tied up. The salt-thick wind carried with it the sound of fisherfolk coming up from dockside – they had erred on the side of caution for the afternoon – since the sea was playing fickle and many an old hand believed that a storm could come in unexpectedly.

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Chapter XXXI: Dowries and Farewells
The bride and groom have registered for one baby rabbit, two mountain ponies, and a toaster

[Laurelyn]

Only a couple of hours past the break of dawn Laurelyn had risen and begun to get Beast prepared for the journey. Most of her father’s camp was up – though many of the warriors looked worse for wear – not only fromcontinued fatigue, but from the quantities of liquor consumed in celebration and rememberance. And though Laurelyn had little to drink she sympathized. Her shoulder ached from the knife wound, and her body was stiff from sleeping on stony ground – in a camp where the singing and talk went on well into the first rays of dawn; nor was she rested from the battle two nights before. Or from what little dancing had been required.

For though Farrell MacRorie had relented in claiming a dance with the bride for each of his clansmen – he had claimed one for himself. A relatively slow dance – by mountain standards, but enough to leave her with tired feet and a bit dizzy.

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Chapter XXX: Hour of the Living, Hour of the Dead

[Laurelyn]

The twilight that had lain her misty cloak over the Dun and the surrounding countryside was lit by hundreds of torches that marked the tent encampments. All of the wounded, both Hillrover and McLenan, had been carried out, and settled in the two nearby caves that had been the McLenan hiding places before the battle. Maybe not the most conducive of places for wounded men, but better than the makeshift tents, since there had not been enough true tents to go around and the temperatures were cold.

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Chapter XXIX: Stone Is My Heart

[Tirlina]

Having been ousted from her fairy dreams and nearly discovered among the folds of Rue’s blanket when the campfollower gathered up the child for a feeding, Tirlina had retreated safely to a dark nook nearby. There, she settled onto cold stone with a disgruntled “hmpf” at having been deprived of her warm nest against Rue. But her annoyance was short-lived as she watched her tiny charge feed, forgotten by her own mother, but accepted by another. “Poor wee thing,” she whispered in a sing-song tone, then fell silent with fond adoration of her little human.

When Fionn approached the woman and made it clear that she had his permission to be nursing baby Rue, Tirlina scampered from her nook and off into the shadows, so that she could discreetly take flight. Humming very softly to herself with a voice like tiny bells, she flitted off down the now deserted corridors toward the kitchens, in search of milk for the other hungry baby that rode snug and safe in her pocket.

[Keir – Upstairs in the Dun]

As he climbed the moans and cries from the main hall faded but the signs of carnage were still there to see, or worse, to smell. Keir’s sensitive nose recoiled at the mixed scents of fresh blood and rotted flesh that permeated the Dun. Covering his nose gave little relief for his hands were steeped in the beetle juice he had used for an antiseptic and the foul fluid made his eyes water. Other smells registered as he neared their quarters, the unmistakable odor of burnt flesh, both long dead and recently live, plus a hint of one all too familiar – the same as when his own fur got singed. His pace quickened, slowing only when he reached his small room and saw the door lay ajar. He stepped gingerly over the blackened corpses lying on the floor, his focus intent on the small pile of charred straw that marked the remains of his pallet – and the small still body that lay upon it.

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Chapter XXVIII: Cairn of Sorrows

[Laurelyn/Acair/Bheag]

With the parlay done, and Toisich leading Fhios off, Bheag was left to work with Acair and Naomha on what needed to be done. And with them so occupied Laurelyn had taken the opportunity to actually check on Thomis – and simply to revel in the fact that they both were alive.

Though she knew she would very shortly need to go check on her other companions she felt almost too weary to move or think. And Thomis had said they were accounted for – looking reasonably intact.

[And, announcing the arrival of a new character, shoe-horned into the storyline with little care for continuity or even making much sense …]

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Chapter XXVII: Parley Among the Living Dead

[Acair/Laurelyn/Bheag]

Acair saw Bheag’s more than skeptical look as the dark-haired boy, Rudolpho, presented himself and asked if he could help in some way, but the Chief said, “Aye Rudolpho, ye can.”

He studied the lad for a long moment before continuing – hating to send the boy into such danger, but amongst the mountain clans there was little time for youth and more than a few boys Rudolpho’s age had died this night. “I need ye to cerry word to the McLenan chief that I wesh to parlay – thet I have his son, Bheag.”

“Hew cen…..?” Bheag started, still looking in disbelief that the Hillrover chief expected a mere boy to fight his way through to the McLenan Chief.

Laurelyn’s expression was neutral, not wishing to show her own fears for her young friend, but firmly said, “Trust that he can.”

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Chapter XXVI: Small Charms

[Thomis]

Whatever drove the McLenans forward through the gates – battle fury or terror, or a combination of both – was enough to start pushing the first line of Hillrovers back. Those who had followed Geill, and cast their fortunes with him, found themselves caught, and cut to ribbons, between McLenan sword and Hillrover blade. For the movements of those Geill had sent against himself and Laurelyn had not been overlooked, and around them sharp mutterings in the Highland tongue – undoubtedly curses on those who would turn against the chieftain’s daughter – could be heard.

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Chapter XXV: What Walks These Halls?

[Laurelyn/Acair/Naomha]

As Laurelyn and Thomis stepped back amongst Jacques, Ulric, and the “hound” Rudolpho – she sent, ::We are to keep a tight eye on Geill and what men of his we can – at any sign of treachery lay claim to him. Kill, if needed, but that may take some explaining if things go bad.:: Before she could explain further or point out Geill Hillrover from amongst her father’s officers she saw Naomha signaling his bards around him, and heard the soul-tearing words of the incanation that would call the Hillrover dead to mete out Justice.

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Chapter XXIV: The Fickleness of the Heart

[Laurelyn]

Their descent down the stairway was unhindered, which told Laurelyn that the McLenans had not yet breeched the gates – for there was no sound of battles in the lower halls. She glanced at Thomis – again sorry that he was caught up in yet another battle and grateful that he was at her side. And a prayer rested in her heart that they live – so that they could at least claim a night of peace together, though she thought they had earned more than just one night or day.

“It looks like we may have a small chance,” Laurelyn said softly as they made their way to the courtyard. The din was echoing through the enclosed space – nearly killing voice and thought – as the warriors pounded shields and worked their way to a frenzy. But even with the noise the voice of Naomha, the High Bard, could be heard; calling down the blessings of the elements and summoning courage for the warriors. Laurelyn could feel the power of his words sinking into her bones, making her blood burn for battle, and knew that the High Bard’s words were not empty ones. Part of her didn’t want to fight the incantation – for it was blending with her desire to fight for her father and clan. But she made herself focus – she had to keep thinking and warn her Da!!

She felt like they were losing precious time as they worked their way through the men – but they finally reached the inner circle – where Acair, Naomha, Measail, and Geill stood!!

At the sight of the possible traitor Laurelyn pulled up – a chill cutting through the war fire. “Any ideas,” she asked Thomis – having to lean close to even be heard.

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