I believe, for her living away from the village in her hermit like ways, she was missed. Or ignored. Very few knew she was my grandmother or that Naimh was my great-aunt or Cathal my cousin. I’m not sure why she was spared.
I had taken Callum and Albin up to her for the day, to give Osla some time off from them. They were still young. She had dried up too early and needed help. I was out looking for limpets and cockels along the seaside after I had finished Walking Cathal into The Forest. It was my way of clearing my head after saying goodbye to one of the clan. I – ” his voice broke. He buried his head in his hands. He had been doing good there, telling his story. He had even gotten past her name for a moment without choking up. He had tripped over another point of pain that had taken it’s time before exploding in his chest. He could not fathom how saying a name could still cause that reaction in him after so many years.
Fearchar and Seonaid glanced around wildly at the wave of fire and blood that washed out the glade. Eoin rose from his seat in a trance, his eyes glazing over. He started running. The glade shifted disorientingly from midnight to dusk. The tall trees shrank back to rocky hillsides and cliffs that circled a chill bay at sunset. They stood on the rocky beach, staring out at a murky red horizon. The sea tugged at the shore, demanding its due.
The man, now ten years younger, stood calf deep in the water, his great kilt a soft sky blue, lavender, and white. Fearchar had never seen such a tartan of the like on the Isle. The physician’s shirt was peeled off and tossed up in the heather. Massive red geometric lines of tattoos spanned his back. He had caught his hair back in an intricate braid.
Eoin stared in confusion at the smoke coming up from a rise on the hill across the bay. He dropped his pouch of mussels in the waves and clambered out of the water. Ignoring his wrap shoes, he pulled on his shirt and ran. He sprinted up through the hills and across the cutthroughs until he came to what Seonaid and Fearchar recognized as the Daleroch estate. It was trampled and upended in the memory with corpses and pools of blood littering the yard. The short round house and a building behind it was belching fire and black acidic smoke. Screams slashed the air to bitter ribbons.
Men and women had been gathered along the beach edge at the bottom of the hill behind the house. Guards kept the gathering from escaping with knocked arrows, sighted aquebus, drawn long swords, axes, and pitchforks. Children cowered behind women’s skirts as men shouted at the guards, trying to plead for their freedom.
Eoin came around the house, his chest heaving, his feet bloody and torn from the ragged road. The stench of burning flesh engulfed him in suffocating plumes. There were three burning stakes and more were being erected. Terror coursed through his body. Fearchar’s heart constricted painfully at Eoin’s fear.
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