Bound by a Duke’s Timeless Love (Post 1)

Dunvegan Castle

Isle of Skye, Scotland

May 1725 – Beltane

 

“It is time, my laird. If we don’t move forward with this now, you may not get another chance.”

Hugh MacLeod, Laird and Chieftain of Dunvegan Castle and Clan MacLeod, turned from the tower window to face the old woman sitting at the wooden table across the room and wondered once again if he’d made the right decision by summoning her back to his home after everything that had come to pass. He’d first laid eyes upon her more than a year ago when she’d appeared at the front gate requesting to speak with him and refused to leave until he granted her a private audience in which she claimed was necessary to divulge information she had pertaining to a threat on him and his people.

He agreed to the request and met with her in the study where he sat and listened as she warned him about a vision she claimed to have the night prior. She spoke of a child that was to be born among his people that would bear the mark of the Fairies. In her vision she came upon a child surrounded by a dark fog tainted by pure evil. It seemed to grow thicker and more powerful as it slowly drained the life essence from the child and all who came within it’s grasp while attempting to rescue the helpless one. That was until out of the dense woods stepped a shadow of a man with a face of a demon and eyes the color of the pale silver moon. He alone parted the fog with his bare hands where another’s sword shattered when striving to do the same, and lifted the child to safety before it was completely engulfed and lost to all.

If only he’d listened to her warning back then instead of ordering his men to remove her from his sight and his land. He’d assumed she was nothing more than a ranting old woman seeking attention and quite possibly some sort of compensation from anyone who was willing to believe her stories of gloom. Now the people closest to him were suffering because of his actions, or the lack thereof, and he swore to do all that was in his power to atone for his grievous mistake.

He remained at the window knowing this could be the last time he would see the sun set and watched as the horizon turned a dark orange and purple hue causing the trees and land in the distance to appear ablaze as he was certain his soul would soon be for what he’d done and for what they were about to do. He stood there as nightfall descended swiftly enveloping everything in darkness and noticed each flicker of a lantern as they passed underneath carried by his men. Over the past year he’d doubled his guards, even tripled them in the past few months around the castle and land with all that had happened, yet it didn’t seem to matter as somehow his efforts were being thwarted at every turn.

Releasing a frustrated sigh, he pushed away from the stone wall and walked to the table where Leona sat patiently awaiting him to come to terms with what needed to be done, taking a seat across from her as he prayed that one day he might be absolved of his sins. Until then, he felt that there was no other solution except to put his trust and faith in this woman, though even that didn’t stop the trepidation he felt. If anyone were to find them together, especially after he labeled her a witch, and discovered what they were doing, it could cost him everything including his own life. However, if this guaranteed the safety of his people and loved ones, then he’d willingly pay any price.

“What do we do now,” he asked, sounding frightened to his own ears as his voice cracked. He despised the feeling of helplessness though the old woman showed no outward signs that she’d heard his voice falter when he spoke.

“Did you gather everything that I requested? Remember that they must be exactly as I described in my letter for this to work in your favor and to keep this precious one safe,” she said as she laid a soothing hand upon the slumbering child.