Chapter Two

"Cousin Ailig?"

Ailig MacDougall nodded, holding a finger to his lips for silence.

"I am getting you out of here, Duncan." He whispered, pulling his skeleton key from his cloak once again.

"Are you insane?" Duncan hissed.

Ailig smiled and shook his head. "I have everything planned out. You just need to be quiet and go along with it."

Duncan nodded, grunting with pain as Ailig released the chains that had held Duncan's wrists. Duncan rubbed his wrists, regaining circulation, while he watched his cousin.

"There." Ailig whispered, returning his skeleton key to its inner pocket. "Can you stand, Cousin?"

"Aye, I think so."

Duncan managed to stand on his own but he needed Ailig's help in order to walk. His ankles had been chained for so long that the blood had to slowly and painfully return before he could walk by himself.

The cousins quickly and quietly made their way out of the cell and down the darkened hallway, being careful to stay in the shadows. They stopped at the end of the long, winding hallway, and found themselves confronted with a fifteen foot tall, stone wall.

Duncan looked to his cousin expectantly. "Well? How are we going to get out?"

Ailig smiled and pointed to an open window which was about ten feet above them. Duncan was skeptical, until he saw his cousin reach into the folds of his cloak and pull out a small rock. As Ailig gauged the distance and prepared to throw the rock, it was Duncan's turn to smile. Out of everyone he knew, Ailig was by far the most accurate when it came to throwing things, which could be potentially dangerous if the blonde Scot was ever angry.

Ailig's rock went soaring through the window and not ten seconds later the end of a knotted rope shot down through the window, landing on the ground in front of the boys.

"Who's up there?" Duncan whispered the question to his cousin.

"My father, two brothers, and my father's brother, not to mention your father and all four of your brothers."

"God help any man who gets in our way!"

Ailig's smile broadened. "Well said, Cousin. Buaidh no bas!"

"Aye, buaidh no bas!" Duncan repeated, and began climbing the rope.

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The village was on fire now, it was going to burn with everyone in it and there was nothing he could do. He stood rooted to the spot, wanting so badly to run towards that village, wanting so badly to help his best friend. But, no matter how hard he tried, he just could not move. He tried to shout but no sound came from his open mouth.

What? The English cavalry were heading in his direction now and he could not move. They were only yards away and he had no weapon to defend himself. Closer and closer the cavalry came and then…….

Ian MacDermott sat bolt upright in his bed, breathing heavily and covered in sweat. He swung his legs over the side and sat there, his head in his hands.

"Dear God, what does it all mean?" He whispered, "I do not understand."

A faint movement from the bed interrupted his thoughts.

"Ian?" A female voice asked, "Ian, what is it?"

He turned slightly, lifting up his head, "It is nothing, Marion. Go back to sleep."

Marion MacDermott moved across the bed to where Ian was sitting.

"But, something is the matter, Ian. I have not been married to you for fifteen years not to know when something is wrong." She slid her arm around her husband's waist. "What is it this time? Another dream?"

"Aye, yet another dream."

"What happened in your dream? Was it Torcall again?"

"No, it was not that." Ian told his wife, "In this dream, Artair's village was on fire, everyone was trapped inside and there was nothing I could do to help. It was as if some strange force was keeping my feet from moving and keeping my mouth from shouting. Then, the English cavalry who had set fire to the village came charging at me. I had no weapons to defend myself with and was about to be cut down when I woke up."

There was silence for a moment.

"Why are you so worried, then?" Marion asked Ian. "This dream is just the same as the others."

"No, it is not."

"How so?"

"This one may come true, Marion. Remember the dream I had about my friend Jock dying in his sleep? And the other one I had about Lewis and Pierce showing up at our gate? Both of those dreams came true and this one could also."

He paused, thinking about his two adopted sons. Lewis and Pierce had been without family or friends when they had arrived at Ian's gate four years ago. The brothers had been nearing starvation, when Ian volunteered to take care of them and eventually adopted them. Lewis had been only seven years old at the time and he had been doing everything he could for his three year-old brother, Pierce. But now the boys were as much a part of the MacDermott family as Ian and Marion's real children. Pierce knew nothing different than life with the MacDermotts, having no memory of anything else. Lewis, on the other hand, remembered more than he would have liked to, but he had only told Ian what had happened to the rest of his family.

"We helped Lewis and Pierce." Ian reminded his wife, "Why can we not help Artair, he means as much to me as the rest of my family."

"Oh, Ian. You need to stop thinking that you can save everyone all the time."


Thanx to:

Lady-kyelian for the first awesome review.

Enjoy this, people!

Anna