Friends or Foes? (Chapter 2)



Chapter 2

Angus gave an amused scoff and sat at the opposite side of the wooden table. From behind him he drew out a glass bottle almost full with some golden-brown liquid and placed it on the table with a pair of small mugs. “While waiting till the time is right you can give me the full story in return. Tell me, how did you kill the king and why the king wanted you and your clan dead?” He asked curiously while pouring the drink.

“Over a whisky is it? You’re more generous than I’ve ever thought.” Grinned Lorcan and reached for his mug. Angus remained silent, gave an agreeable nod and grinned back.

“Well, where shall I start?” Paused Lorcan to think and while taking a sip of the whisky. “I’ll try to make it simple and start from the very beginning before the King’s reign.” He paused with a sigh and glanced for a moment to the ground. “Back then when everyone I knew from the clan were alive and I was a wee lad, I had a dear friend. His name was James, James Gladstains. His clan and mine were at that time in good terms and made even profitable treads when hard times came. James and I played a lot together. Foolish games like every lad would do in their village. Trying to steal unnoticed a pair of apples, fought with sticks against each other or compete who can stay the longest in the cold water of the loch and other such things I believe you did that too as a lad.” Lorcan grinned and took a sip. Angus gave a short grin to agree that he too had such a childhood.

“Well, one normal day made it all as it is now. James and I were taking a swim in the loch on a hot summer day and competed then who can dive the deepest and longest. Everything went fine and it was enjoyable until it happened. Out of some odd reason James dived but for a long time did not appear again on the surface. I began to worry and dived to see. I found him struggling at some sea plants that curled round his ankle. He was fighting weakly and was relieved to see me coming to aid. Quickly as I could I untwisted the sea plant’s knot and pulled James to the surface as fast as I could. I gasped for air and realized I was underwater for quite a while. I looked to James. His eyes were closed and mouth open, barely breathing. It was not over. Quickly I swam and pulled him to the shore and tried to shake him awake. Nothing changed. I began to worry greatly and hope he would wake up. Ma heart raced with fear and concern. I called for help as loud as I could and hoped few men would come to aid soon. Luckily few hunters from my clan were near by. Immediately they knew what was to be done. While few stood by my side to comfort and assure others tried to revive James. Not very long James coughed out water and opened his eyes. We were all thankful that he was still amongst the living. After that we escorted him home and bid good evening. On the next day I went to the place that he and I usually meet but he wasn’t there. I waited a good while hoping he might come. Soon I decided to visit him, maybe he’s got a cold from the swimming yesterday. At his village I saw him sitting alone on the ground behind his house and drew strange things on the earthy ground with a stick. I asked him how is his heath and why he didn’t come. He did not answer. His reaction remained unstirred as if I was not there to interrupt. I asked again. Not very long I left angered and confused. I told about it to my father in the evening. My father grew concerned and invited me to come along on his discussion about that matter with James’ father. James’ and my father were not the Chieftains of their clans but important men. James’ father was a piper while mine was a hunter and warrior. On the next day we met with James and his father. James was still in that odd mood but began to speak to me. But what he spoke of was the James I knew few days ago. He somehow changed. He spoke of freedom and power. Wanting to become a strong man and more than that of a warrior. He mentioned similar sort of things such as kings and what he would change. I, then as a lad, found that odd, unpleasant and not interesting. I remember then he said few days back that he would become the greatest piper like his father. He despised it as I mentioned. Quickly as the summer ended so did alas our friendship. James drifted away from me and I from him. I focused on becoming a strong man like my father and practiced especially archery. Even my clan slowly began to drift away from the Gladstains through the years.” Lorcan drank his mug empty in one large gulp and sighed.

“Until one day my clan, the MacDonald, got wind of a king that is ruling now a part of the land. Especially the Gladstains and a part of the MacDonald. My clan were not contented to that knowledge and protested several times to the king. Deep in my heart I could not forget of thinking of James and the warming memories we’ve built. Hoping he is the not the king. One night I could not find sleep because my mind was too concerned of the thought with James and wished to see the old him as I knew. That open-minded lad who could give you a warming grin when you got sad, offer a hand when you fell and shared his things together without hesitation. That old urge got the better in me and headed to his village. The house he lived in was abandoned and in ill state from the harsh weather of the past years. Absent-minded I headed a longer route back to my village through the forest and along the loch. I returned as the sun began to rise in the horizon. All the houses were gone. Burned down to dust and ashes. Few bodies lay on the ground cold and lifeless. I was frozen in awe and remained so for a very long moment. It took me a long time to collect me strength to move and realize what really happened. Suddenly my knees felt weak and my shoulders heavy. I dropped myself and gave out a cry in anguish. I wanted to cry like a lad but nothing came. I felt like I was all dried up and wrung like a wet towel. Everything began to burn within me. After few heavy breathing I had the strength to stand and walk to the closest lying body. It was one of my friendly neighbours I’ve known from my childhood. Suddenly my father flashed into my mind and began to search among the bodies his, hoping not to find him or at least alive. It took a while until I found him. He was already dead. But he died fighting ’fore I found his dagger at hand. It is the same dagger that rests now beside me.”

Lorcan smiled and placed the dagger upon the table. In the dim light of the few-lit candles Angus was able to see the dagger well enough. It appeared like a normal dagger at first sight but if closer inspected, close at the handle below the blade, there is a large round shaped piece of metal. Printed with few special figures, forms and letters.

“That is the seal of the MacDonald clan, the clan that depends on me. As of now I am the only living MacDonald and have sought revenge. Now, back my story. The king was once my friend, James. The rest I believe you know.” He winked at Angus and placed his dagger back to his boot.

Angus took a deep breath. “What harshness you went through until now. Mine is nothing to compare and less worse.”

“Oh, aye?” Wondered Lorcan. “What’s your story then?”

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