He entered the home of the clan of McDougall once again, with no intention of taking to wife Lily, or even Scarlet for that matter. His blood ran hot for a new battle. He knew his first love had been being on the battlefield with his father, and now, that love came back to his heart like the rush of a spring tide. Duncan McDougall was where he had been before, sitting in the dining hall, staring at his beloved wife’s painting above the mantle. Algernon cleared his throat as he entered, trying to draw the clansman’s attention away from the painting.
“Welcome, me lad,” Duncan said, with a smile on his face. “Have ye finally located me missing daughter? Praytell, where is she, if she be not with you?”
“She-- she is down by the lake. Her amulet fell off its chain when she spun around as I startled her with me presence. It fell into the lake and she went in after it, garments and all, before I could stop her. She is there now drying herself off.”
For Duncan, Algernon’s story was sufficient enough, but for Lily, twas pure lies. She saw them there, together. She knew she had to act fast or twould be too late for her. As luck would have it, twas her that this man courted the evening before, not her sister.
“Papa, did ye not have something you wanted to ask Algernon?” she pressured.
“Aye, that I do. Thank you for reminding me, me darlin’.” Algernon gulped for he knew what was going to be asked of him and he knew what he had to say to get himself out of the situation safely.
“Algernon, I would like to ask you what yer plans are for me daughter,” he said bluntly.
“And which daughter would that be?” Algernon asked, trying to buy some time for his excuses.
“Well, the one standing before you lad!”
“Oh, well, actually, sire, I do not have any plans for yer daughter Lily.” He remained calm while both Duncan and Lily were taken aback by his words.
“Well then what of yer plans for me other daughter, Scarlet?” Duncan asked with some concern.
“Papa, you cannot be serious!” Lily protested, anger rising in her voice.
“Actually,” Algernon stated, sensing the anger in Lily’s voice, “I was not thinking of Scarlet in me plans, either. Me horse has rested enough and I wish to return to me clan. I heard that another clan wishes to start a war over the lands I keep, so I must uphold me honor and fight.”
Duncan knew he could not plead with such an honorable man and he knew what Algernon had decided to do. Without another word, Algernon stepped past Lily’s angry stare and walked out towards the stables to fetch his horse. While tying his saddle to his stallion, Scarlet returned. Her heart almost stopped when she saw what he was doing.
“Algernon, what-- what are ye doing?!”
Without looking her way, he answered, “I am leaving, me lady.” After saddling his horse he walked his mare out of the stables.
“Leaving?! But where will you go?”
“I am going back to me homeland, Scarlet. ‘Tis under siege and I must uphold me honor by going back.” He could see that his words hurt her but there was no choice, he had to go back. He quickly added, “Do not worry, Scarlet, when all is well again at Locera, I will return, I promise you that. And when I do, I might just take a wife.”
With a smile, he kissed the top of her forehead and mounted his steed. Kicking his feet into its side, he rode off towards the east. He never looked back at her once as the distance between them grew greater and greater. For a third time, Scarlet felt cold and alone; for a third time, the emerald amulet began to glow under her garments. . .