The following morn became a solemn one for more than one person. After the fire at Castle Baroche was snuffed by its own accord, Connor and Algernon searched the rubble for any clansmen they could find. Between the two, they recovered a total of twelve bodies, burned or otherwise marred, including the four knights Melinda had kept in her dungeons.
“Scarlet?” Algernon said, moving closer to her.
“Aye?” her response being cold.
“Connor and I, we-we have found yer brother’s body among the rubble,” he said solemnly.
Without answering him, Scarlet got up and walked away from where she sat. She re-sat herself down on a large root of a willow tree nearby, curling her knees up to her chest and resting her head on her knees. Without her consent, Algernon sat beside her and silently stroked her fiery locks with the gentlest of caresses.
“I’m sorry,” he said and kissed her forehead.
Scarlet could not contain her emotions any longer and wept. She wrapped her arms around Algernon and cried. Algernon could do naught but comfort her. She clung to him as if he was the only thing left to hold onto and did not let go until he finally pushed her body away and looked deep into her emerald eyes.
“We will give yer brother a proper Scottish burial, as we will give to the other clansmen that have perished this morn,” he declared.
“What about yer sister?” she asked innocently.
“What about her?” Algernon asked defensively.
Scarlet swallowed hard before she answered. “Will ye be giving her a proper Scottish burial as well?”
“With me sister ‘tis different! She will not be buried with the rest, but instead be left for the vultures to feed upon her seared flesh!” he replied.
Scarlet was taken aback by his harsh words but remained silent. She knew she could ne’er question his authority, even if she be the Lady of Locera. Or was she? The thought came fleeting through her mind and shocked her down to her bones. Was she still the Lady of Locera or had Algernon truly banished her from her title?
“Algernon?” she attempted to question sheepishly.
“Aye?” He looked over at her, his eyes still held a storm that Scarlet feared even now.
“Am I still--?” she began but was interrupted when Connor stepped forward.
“Aye, Connor, what is it?” Algernon asked sternly.
“’Tis Byron, me Laird.”
“What of him?”
“He-he cannot seem to part with Britney, me Laird. And he-he refuses to let any of us lay a hand upon her.”
Algernon chuckled softly to himself before he spoke. “So ‘twould seem our gallant knight has a soft heart after all!”
“Mayhaps he truly did love her, me Laird,” Scarlet intervened, breaking his comical slander.
Algernon looked sharply towards her, his eyes no longer held a storm yet somehow there was a slight mist in his sea-green orbs. He regarded her words nonchalantly but somehow noticed a hidden double meaning to them. He pulled her chin up with his fingertips so that he could speak into her eyes, the green gems he had fallen in love with since their first encounter.
“As I you,” he said softly enough for only her ears to hear. “Come, Lady, we must get back to Locera,” he said more boisterously for all to hear. Then he quickly added, “To our homeland!” Together they rode, side by side, to Locera, stopping once to kiss their fears away. Scarlet ne’er found the secret she so long sought after and the ashes of the ancient parchment papers were buried with the remains of Castle Baroche.