Algernon’s eyes glared fierce and furious as he called his clan together early the following morn. The calm seas of his eyes blew a storm that no clansman had ever seen before. His motif for the fire in his eyes was not the rescue of his lady fair but the ultimate destruction of the Sorceress and her power. He knew once the gemstones and the scrolls were gone, her power would be reduced to naught, and his lady fair would be returned to him. She would no longer fancy to find answers that did not exist and focus more on her life at Locera, and their life together.
“Captain?” His thoughts were interrupted when his commander in chief entered the great hall and kneeled before the throne.
“Aye, what is it?” he asked sternly.
“We have been informed by a messenger of the Sorceress that all four of our best knights are being held for ransom. She holds them in her own fortress dungeons, me Laird.”
“Her own fortress?!” he bellowed. “Wherever did she gain a fortress?!”
“I do not know but I have heard she resides in a Castle Baroche,” Byron said, rising up to face his Laird.
“No! ‘Tis cannot be!” Algernon exclaimed, almost leaping from his throne.
“Ye know of this place, Captain?” Byron questioned.
“Aye, that I do! But I only thought it existed in fanciful minstrel’s tales!”
“Byron, round up the clan immediately! If this castle be the one I have heard of, it alone can harvest powers greater than any Scotsman has ever seen!”
“Aye, me Laird,” Byron bowed once and exited the great hall. Algernon was about to leave when a guard came in and bowed in front of him.
“Ah, Connor, rise and report.”
“We-we have a-a prisoner, me Laird,” he stuttered.
“Who be this captive?” Algernon questioned.
“She be Britney, me Laird,” he answered.
“Excellent!” Algernon hissed. “Bring her here so that I may look upon her pitiful face!” he commanded.
“Aye, me Laird,” Connor said signaling another guard.
Britney was pushed forcefully into the great hall where she dropped to her knees and hung her head in shame. Her clothes had been reduced to rags and her body bruised and dirty from the trek to the fortress, which she had made on foot. Because Byron had refused her plea for mercy, she was forced to walk instead of ride.
“Please, me Laird, have mercy on me!” she pleaded.
“Whyever should I give you mercy, me lass?” Algernon asked. “Ye have been a servant lass at Locera for many years, aye?”
“Aye, me Laird,” she whispered.
“And when Scarlet became the Lady of Locera I ne’er argued when she chose you as her lady-in-waiting, aye?”
“Aye,” she sobbed.
“Britney, look at me,” Algernon demanded and Britney quickly obeyed. “Let me ask you one question.”
“Aye, me Laird?”
“Whatever compelled you to steal the gemstones from yer Lady?”
“I-I have no use for the gemstones, me Laird,” Britney stuttered nervously.
“Ye lie!” Algernon shouted, pounding his fist down against the throne, causing Britney to jump back. “Ye intended to give them to a sorcerer who could very well eradicate yer very existence!” he accused, pointing a threatening finger at her.
“Nay! I swear to you on me life! I ne’er intended to give Eric anything!”
“Ye lie again!” a voice shouted from behind her, causing both to turn in surprise.
“Byron!” Britney gasped.
“Ye lie, Britney!” he repeated.
“Nay! Byron, ye know I cannot lie about something that be not true!”
“Algernon, do not tell me ye believe this lying wench!” Byron exclaimed.
“Nay, I do not!” Algernon answered.
“But-but!” Britney tried to protest.
“But naught!” Byron argued. “You are a traitor to this clan! Ye should hang from the gallows for yer crimes!” he exclaimed viciously.
Britney could not believe her ears. Her one true love, the man she thought loved in return, was sentencing her to death. Yet she did not care. If she was to die, she would die alone for their love had also died some time ago. She could not bear her sorrow any longer and burst into tears, dropping heavily to her knees and weeping in defeat. Byron could bear the pain in his heart no longer and finally pivoted and left the great hall.
“Britney,” Algernon said in a more calmer tone.
“Nay!” she shouted. “Ye do not believe me words, Scarlet does not believe me words, and now me own love does not believe me words! If I am to be sentenced to death, then so be it, for I have surely died already!” she cried.
“Who be yer love?” Algernon questioned. Britney bet her lip for she knew she had let her emotions get the best of her and let her tongue slip.
“I-I cannot say,” she stammered.
“You are in no position to not speak! Now, answer me question! Who be yer love?” he bellowed.
“Byron, me Laird! Byron be me love!” she sobbed.
“Nay, ‘tis cannot be!” he exclaimed in shock. “Ye cannot love a man who treats women like whores and cares for them not! Ye must have mistaken love with lust.”
“Nay, I have not! I loved Byron with all me heart! But now all be lost, all be gone!” Britney sobbed. “He had loved in return, yet he loves not now! His blood runs cold and wicked, blinded by fury and hate! Eric be the evil one, not I, and yet Byron believes me not! ‘Tis why I say I have already died. The loss of a great love be more powerful than death itself!”
“I see,” Algernon answered, knowing full well how she felt. “Connor!” he shouted.
“Aye, me Laird?”
“Bring Britney down to the dungeon-room. We cannot have her escape to try to warn her sweet Eric!” he mocked. Connor snapped his fingers and obediently a guard took Britney by the arm and took her away.
“No, Algernon, please! Ye cannot do this to me! I am telling the truth!”
Byron slowly stepped forward from the shadows. He ran his fingers nervously through his hair as he approached Algernon. When he finally reached his captain, he was practically in tears. He could not bear the weight on his heart any more and knew Algernon sensed it. ‘Twould be in his best benefit to forget her and think only of war and battles. Yet, for some reason, he could not keep his mind from wandering back to his “Scottish Princess”...