“Thanks for letting me go.”
“You did great, sport.”
“Not bad, kid,” Todd added.
“We’re all proud of you.” Fin’s words brought a smile from ear to ear. ****
“We should go with them.”
Liz agreed with her sister’s words. “How do we convince these Neanderthals that women can help?”
“Ye don’t, lass,” Ian told her.
“All of us together. That’s what Elise said.”
“Like last time, you’ll be with us in here.” Fin pointed to his head.
“That didn’t work last time.”
“It will have to this time.”
Liz stood and started to pace. “I don’t like it. It isn’t right.”
“Our women are not accustomed to fighting.
They will be a hindrance.”
“If something happens to all the men, the women will get a crash course in fighting. Grainna isn’t going to be happy until we’re all dead.”
They had moved into the keep. There were people everywhere. The men suited in armor and geared up for an all out war. Many of the women were more than happy to hide, but Liz had heard a few mumbling women questioning the wisdom of the planned approach.
“I’m coming with you.” Liz declared.
“No, you’re not.”
“Yes, I am! Fin you’re not going to win on this one. I’ll dress as a man if I have to, but I’m coming.”
“I am, too.”
One by one the women stood.
Ian started to speak and Lora held up her hand.
“Don’t ask me to stay and wait for word of your slaughter. If we all go, none of us will have regrets.”
“If something were to happen to you, I’d have more than regrets,” Ian said.
“Do you think it worse for me? The men should go in front, fight with swords and armor. We will fight the war with the witch. Together.” Lora lifted her chin with her last word.
Ian crossed his arms over his chest, his face pinched in stone.
Liz held her breath. She knew without his support, they were screwed.
Fin glanced between her and his father. Duncan mirrored Ian’s expression. Todd seemed a little more resolved with the idea. Then again, he’d worked around female police officers and knew women could hold their own.
“God’s teeth,” Ian muttered.
Liz allowed a smile to cross over her lips.
The only tearful goodbyes were for Briac. Tara left him with the safety of Alice and the few capable knights at the keep. The rest of them headed out in the center of the men. Liz, Tara, Myra, and Amber all slipped on men’s leggings and oversized shirts. Lora refused.
When they left their one designated room, dressed that way, a few women protested. To their surprise, a half dozen more complained, argued, and eventually joined them. From what Liz could tell, all of them were Druids.
As the keep slid into the distance, Liz turned in her small saddle. There must have been over a hundred of them, maybe more.
While in the open field, they brought their horses to a gallop but once they met the forest, they had to slow and spread themselves thin.
Donovan’s sister, Emma found Liz’s side. “’Twas ye, wasn’t it?”
Emma lowered her voice. “The angel.”
“Ah, I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about.”
She laughed. “Ye do, but I understand yer need for secrecy. We’ve all kept quiet.”
Liz glanced behind her, noticed the other women speaking with her family. Worried glances were all around.
“I can call the wind and rain,” she said while she stared ahead. “I’m not certain how I can help, but I’m willing to try so we can survive.”
Liz noticed Myra turn in her direction and shrug her shoulders.
“Fire is easy…and well, you know the other thing I do.” She couldn’t come right out and say it.
Maybe by the time all was over there wouldn’t be a need to say anything.
Emma nodded, understanding. “What of the others?”
This was where Liz refused to offer more. “You’ll have to ask them, but leave my son out of the questioning.”
“I suppose I’d say the same if I had a child.”
From there they rode in silence. At some point Myra and Emma switched places. Myra confirmed that the woman speaking to her had similar questions. In the end, Liz knew that all the women held some power. It would be easy to deduce that the men in the clans with the same name would have Druid blood as well.
That brought their number to over thirty.
No bad. Not great, but not bad.
After riding for over an hour, the lead knight brought them to a stop. Ian moved forward and hoisted his falcon from his arm. Simon rode alongside Fin. Her son’s eyes were closed.
Are you looking through the falcon’s eyes?
Yup. Can you move over to Ian and let him know what I’m seeing?
Liz guided her horse from beside the women.
The men stared her way but paid little attention to her. Oh shit.
What is it?
We’re riding into a trap. There are at least a dozen men, some on horses, others on foot. They’re spread out and not more than a half a mile ahead.
Some look like they’re starting to surround us.
Ian spoke with Lancaster and MacTavish.
Between him and her were a dozen men. One pulled his horse in front of her when she tried to reach him.
“Ye may be dressed as a lad, but ye have no business up here.”
Not a Druid, Liz decided. “Get out of my way.”
He refused to move.
“Maybe you didn’t hear me…” She flicked fire from her finger, hit the backside of the horse, and surged forward while the misguided knight tried to stay atop his mount.
The commotion brought many sets of eyes toward her.
“MacCoinnich.” Liz pointed to the right and left.
“I saw men on both sides of us.”
The men in charge quickly surveyed the brush.
This close to the sea, the low-lying vegetation gave them some security.
“Anyone in front?” Ian asked.
The men surrounding Ian didn’t ask how she knew. They simply reacted.
Swords were drawn, shields raised. A hush went over the men. The women knew better than to utter a word.
A twig snapped. Eyes shot to the source.
Then hell broke loose.
Duck! Simon yelled in her head and aloud.
“Get down,” she hollered at the top of her lungs.