The house was dark save for the banked fire. Eoin eased himself in through the door to be greeted by Seonaid and Fearchar cuddled together on the floor in front of the hearth. They looked up at him as he entered and smiled. Eoin ducked a nod of hello.
“A job well done, doc!” Fearchar exclaimed, untangling himself from his wife. She raised an eyebrow at his outburst. Pulling herself off the ground, she shook out her skirts and resettled her apron. She retrieved a cup from the she handed it to her husband. “I do believe a toast is in order,” he proclaimed as he pulled down a jug from the rafters.
“The beer from Edinburgh?” Seonaid smiled sweetly.
“I think this calls f’r somethin’ special,” Fearchar pulled out two more mismatched tankards.
Eoin tried to waive them away. Fearchar placated,” I ken, doc, I ken. Ye dinnae have’a be such a worry. We’ll leave ye ta yer’s, but see here,” he handed over the filled cup, “it’s celebratory!” Fearchar and Seonaid downed their cups. “Oh, that’s stiff!” Fearchar blew out, his chest hot from the dragan. Seonaid poured them another before motioning Fearchar to the bedroom. “Least I’ll have a warm bed t’night,” Fearchar smiled happily at Eoin. The man gleefully followed his beckoning wife. Eoin was only too glad to hear the door close behind them.
He held the cup up to the firelight. A toast? More like a Wake I was never allowed to have. He sighed. He reached up and unclasped his mask. He raised the cup to his lips and savored the dark robust flavor. It was a touch more bitter then he would have liked, but it was a kind gesture from his hosts. He wrinkled his nose at the brew in thought. He downed the rest of it in one swift gulp. A job well done? I was never given the option of washing, of winding, of wailing. There was no plate of salt and earth. No bell-man. No watch set. No dance. So too shall the Daleroch fall from the tongue of man. No one to watch them, to wail for them, to see them over to the other side. He snorted as he toasted the room with his empty cup.
He replaced the mask and secured it before deciding to seek out his bed near the fire. He stood up and his legs wobbled beneath him. The room tilted ever so slightly as his limbs began to warm. I’m either getting too old for these late nights or the beers are becoming more stout in their age.
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