Guardians of the Treasure Ch. 01byArtOfLove©
This story was whispered down from generation to generation as a secret tale. Therefore, as to be expected from any word-of-mouth tale, the Author would not deny the admission over any details fabrication or erotic part additions in this story.
The original story tellers could be traced back to the medieval era. However, to protect the privacy, and to honor the vow of secrecy to the last generation of this clan, all names have been reproduced and modified.
Today, over six hundred years in the future, at precisely 20 March 2010, the last descendant of this clan has passed over, carrying along the only last bloodline left of the clan. Angus MacEirc willingly urged The Author to finally release these words into writing; to tell the world of a story that led the golden butterfly to live on forever.
The clan is extinct. Therefore no living descendant may claim proprietorship over the real characters, clan, or place. The Author cannot be held responsible upon any claim or misuse of the names from this story.
Any similarities of name, information, or background, are purely coincidental, and by no means related to the original tale in this memory recollection.
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May the golden butterfly leads you throughout your reading of the journey of the last MacEirc's royal bloodline.
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The story began when Coinneach was just a little boy.
The servant picked him up and kissed him once on the cheek. Streams of tears flowed down her face. Silently sobbing, she cradled his tiny body in her arms, and together they penetrated through the chilling mist of the long wooden bridge, crossing over the border, leaving the lines of carriages due for another transit post in Beinn Dearg.
Indeed, they were heading towards the further North, the most unfavored arrowhead for any man wishing to blend with the civilization. Even the town butcher would wince over the idea of moving and living there.
"'Tis silence and peace, lad, I promise I'll be here...," softly she whispered to his tender ear, her steps weak but steady.
What am I to do, Laird, what am I to do with him? At first, the poor woman kept on slipping this question inside her head, while praying for Laird Croibhdhearg's and Lady Inghean's souls. Soon, as if soothened by an unknown force, deep inside she was certain that both the Laird and Lady MacEirc had reached the heavens, watching over them.
She was right, the white mist might have blinded them; days and days of non-stop walk had certainly torn the skin of her feet, numbing hunger might have clouded their minds, any sane man would wager them dead by nightfall. But the peace, aye the peace and silence of the white clouds surrounding them did not block away the spirit of Angus calling after them.
She did not carry extra cloak, in fact there was no other belonging except the worn ragged clothes on their bodies, and her hard-earned but now torn feet cover. But throughout the walk, she was more and more certain that they would reach Angus' keep.
Coinneach did not cry. The boy had barely any strength left after the crying fit he gave the night before. The servant's whisper constantly cooed him with kind words, soothing him, helping him to forget the unresolved hunger.
Just when she thought she couldn't walk anymore, she fell on knees with her right hand still holding onto Coinneach to protect him from the rocky ground. Slowly shifting to a sitting position, her left hip bore their body weight on the ground. Trembling, her tears had dried, and she could not muster even another whisper of comfort.
For minutes, she stayed there, trying to take deep breaths to invigorate herself, and tried to stand up again. This time, she fell, but her right arm shielded Coinneach's head from hitting the ground.
Suddenly from the distance, she could hear a horse galloping, heading towards them. If she had any strength left, she would've woken up and run away to safety. But even the golden butterfly that landed on her ear could not help her now.
'Twas the beginning of spring 1300.
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'Twas a night before winter 1327, and a night before the fall of the black hearted Baron Sighere, when Eanfled was being dragged in ropes, towards a small cottage in the middle of nowhere. She was barely conscious as the drowsy potion forced upon her for days on the horse ride, still lingered in her.
A lady was giving her the treat, and then everything else disappeared.
She had no idea how many days or weeks the rides had taken, but she remembered being shifted over from one horse ride to another. Her hand could barely touch anything before the dark unconsciousness fell upon her repeatedly.
The last hand carrying her did not force down the liquid anymore. However, after putting her down from the horse, he half dragged half carried her towards his small cottage, the cluttered old place, as old and as fragile as his body seemed to be. Racing against the time to her complete consciousness, he bound her legs again at one corner of his home.
His blue eyes did not warm up when he talked to her, and explained that Baron Sighere himself would personally collect her tomorrow.
"Have I not been dreadful for my head, you would be writhing by now, Lass. Aye, I can tell you I am as strong as a young horse," it was all bluster, of course, for the shameful fact was that Baron Sighere had castrated him many years ago. And he did not actually have the heart to hurt these maidens.
But young Eanfled, no older than 13 summers, would not know that. She could barely understand what he was talking about anyway, for he spoke in a strange language, blending it with as much English as possible to ensure his captive understand, which made it even harder to.
The old man, Oswyn, or so she had heard the previous captors call him with, looked incapable of harming her barehanded. But her ankle was chained at the edge of a bed at one corner of the home. The chains were long enough for her to walk at least one meter away from the bed, but not long enough to reach any other furniture.
She just watched as he put logs into the fireplace, warming up the incoming night. Throughout the evening, he did not move much from his seat in front of the hearth, obviously enjoying the relaxing warmth. She was afraid, but too weak to say anything to him.
Suddenly, a slap of wind hit the cottage. Strange, but the old building possessed much more strength than it appeared. The series of storm trapping them the next few days did not blow off the roof either. Many times she woke up in fright, but her esteem kept her mouth shut. Until one night, a month after her admission to this cottage, when the storm raged the hardest, she started crying and trembling.
The old man took pity on her. Despite the thin blanket and old clothes from his belated Dísa, the cold meals he had provided, and a piece of metallic bucket for her to dump her stool in, somehow he felt there was nothing else he could provide to help her. The lass might miss her home. But 'tis the truth, she was destined to suffer and die.
He approached her curling body, and embraced her in his arms. The show of kindness startled her at first, but her misery and the month full of fear and sorrow, threw away any modesty and fear she had left. She cried against his ragged tunic, the whole night through.
Oswyn did not intentionally harm her after all. He was forced to survive the cruel life in the secluded area in highland, alone, after the passing of his Dísa. He had to serve Baron Sighere, who bound his whole family into life long slavery in the keep. The Baron spared him the hard labour, but made him run certain evil errands which required his frail disposition and old age as a disguise.
He whispered her that story, slowly, and gently. He wanted her to understand. But he didn't tell her that he had meant to end his life, just as soon as this last captive was taken away from him. Aye, she would be his last.
But all went wrong, they both knew, because neither Baron Sighere nor anyone else had knocked on the door to claim her. At first, Oswyn assumed that the storm had kept anyone from visiting them. But then, the spring went by, and the summer, and the fall, another winter, and after a year, there was still no news of Baron Sighere.
Since the revealing stormy night, Oswyn lengthened her bond, providing her more room to move about in the cottage. He seemed to care for her like his own daughter, but because his family's life was in Baron Sighere's hands, he had to keep the chain on her ankle, to hide her away from anyone else except the mysteriously silenced Baron Sighere.
Oswyn dared not touch her, for it was the most important condition Baron Sighere had stressed upon him clear enough. The perverted Baron required that his slave remained a virgin, until the day he claimed her. Or the warranty for his family's life was off.
Oswyn's kindness had not deserted him, for whenever Eanfled was denied her freedom plea and burst into tears, he would comfort her in a fatherly hug, whispering words to strengthen her faith, as if trying to cleanse her soul and prepare her for the expected incoming dark fate.
She was to meet her maker, just as soon as Baron Sighere unleashed his perversion, Oswyn thought. Poor Lass, he kept on calling her that.
But many nights Oswyn would try to comfort the captive, by telling her heartwarming tales of hopes, and of the beautiful time he had shared with Dísa. He kept on apologizing to her, and trying to make her understand of his circumstances. He even taught her the local language and dialect to keep her preoccupied. Never once did he confide in her the depression he had been having before her arrival.
The poor lass had given him new hope to stay alive. Her hazel eyes burnt fiery aura, stabbing into his heart. Whenever she grew exasperated of the confinement, she would yell indecent words, tearing apart his soul, making him see the anguish he had given her. He had to save his valuable belongings from her grasp and throw, not that he had many.
But he knew the lass had pure heart, for she would apologize and fall crying in his arms again, just as soon as she realized that condemning Oswyn was a faulty judgement. She knew he was another victim, just like she was. She didn't realize, however, that her anger and sharp words, had kept the flame of Oswyn's will to live and protect her, burning.
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'Twas a month before Fall 1333
Oswyn had been pondering these whole six years whether he should finally send for the MacEirc Laird. He was terribly afraid of this man, and for certain reasons in Oswyn's past, his family had been avoiding the MacEircs as much as possible. But he knew that something was wrong because Baron Sighere had not come to claim Eanfled.
Six years was a long wait enough. Deep inside he prayed that the cruel Baron was dead and Oswyn's dear family lived. But if the Baron were dead, why hadn't Oswyn's family returned? Could it be that someone stronger had taken over the place?
Oswyn knew the way to Baron Sighere's holding, and was determined to find out what happened there himself. But he dared not leave the little captive alone, for the distance was almost ten days of hard ride away, very close to England. He could not risk the possibility of Baron Sighere's man stealing her away without honoring the deal. Nay, he would not put his family's life in jeopardy. The Baron's reputation for committing such foulplay was rather well known.
And if Oswyn were to take her along and Baron Sighere made his way to the cottage only to find Eanfled was not chained as the deal had dictated, he would kill Oswyn's family.
Finally, Oswyn decided to execute the only alternative plan there was. Meaning to barter his life over Eanfled and his family at the same time, Oswyn sent the pigeon with a short note on it. Angus Be Here.
Laird MacEirc would understand the meaning, for it was the very same words Oswyn and Angus had used to summon each other for secret meetings at this cottage, faraway from their clan. The Laird knew of this cottage, he had even combed the whole place in search for Angus seven years ago.
After Eanfled was handed over to the trustful hands of the powerful Laird, Oswyn planned to hang himself and make it look like the savage clan had done it after robbing Eanfled off. This might put Laird MacEirc in a danger of provoking further war possibility with Baron Sighere. Oswyn knew of their past history, but at least this plan would keep both his family and Eanfled safe. Aye, he would barter his life for those he loved.
However, the Laird arrived earlier than Oswyn had expected. The distance was 10 days of ride, at Oswyn's pace. But they made it in merely 7 days, since the pigeon's estimated landing on the laird's hand. Oswyn had not yet found the time to say goodbye to Eanfled, or explain why he had summoned the laird. However, he was glad he had declared his deepest apologies to Eanfled the last few days, as many times as possible.
Oswyn had apologized to Eanfled for taking part of the abduction. But he would not apologize for handing her over to the MacEirc, because he knew without doubt that the Laird would take good care of her, and would protect her from all harm. No one dared to offend the Laird, especially not any English man, for they would usually buckle at the sight of merely the Laird's shadow at the distance. And they would have to get through him before laying a finger on Eanfled.
Why would Oswyn care for the little English lass? She was a mere captive, aye, but she was innocent and such a kindhearted one he had grown to care as much as his own daughter. She had a soft heart, as pure as snow, and her voice was such a soothing melody to the old man.
For the last 3 days, Oswyn had been waiting further away from the cottage for the MacEircs. He had meant to explain everything to them before permitting an entrance to the cottage.
The band of warriors in war paint was very impatient. Their stallions came in thundering noise. As soon as Oswyn intercepted them, their leader jumped down from the horse and almost shook the old man by the shoulders. He was unhappy, and demanded a quick answer to any hint of Angus.
Oswyn stammered out his explanations, and the Laird muttered expletives. They argued, and it was obvious that he had offended the Laird by the deception of the message. Oswyn struggled to wring out some soothing words for at least a good hour while explaining the whole thing, and was glad that Eanfled's view from the cottage was blocked by the thick trees. She might faint at the sight of these barbarians in war paint. Not to mention that they were here to claim her.
The laird fought the urge to beat Oswyn, for beating a frail elderly was out of question. They could not harm the innocent and weaker ones. Oswyn was not innocent, but he was definitely old and frail. So he growled out some mean words and unbending commands to him, he even lectured him about the trouble Oswyn had caused them. He raked out all of Oswyn's misbehaviour in the past, and muttered out his wrath upon the stooped old man. And last but not least, he made sure the old man felt threatened enough to completely repent.
They were all disappointed that there was apparently no real hint towards either Angus or Sighere's new ally. The warriors had been rushing to this very spot, expecting to break a real war at somebody's fortress, to find their long lost Angus.
"This better leads us to Angus, Oswyn, or I swear I would cut your tongue out before killing you," the threat was a mere bluster, of course, for Oswyn knew the laird inside out from the stories Angus had kept on repeating to him, although for some reasons he always felt intimidated and extremely afraid of the gruff leader. The laird had no idea that he would not dare to fool around with the MacEircs, ever. Oswyn mumbled out further explanation, intending to fill the laird's mind with important information surrounding the lass, whether he liked it or not.
If the laird's scorching glare wasn't frightening to Angus' best friend, the thirty other soldiers' disgruntled glowering was enough to wilt Oswyn's heart with panic for being the center of their attention, and shame for causing such havoc. But the gravity of this matter was imperative, he justified. His objective was harmless and clear. They would be led to Angus if they had Eanfled. At least that was what Oswyn had in mind.
Unaware of the happening outside the cottage, Eanfled assumed that Oswyn was still gathering fruits and other highland goods for supper. She had not seen the real outdoor scenery of highlands that Oswyn kept on boasting about. But she believed him just fine.
Determined not to show disappointment if the old man failed to bring meat again today, she even prayed that he would not feel guilty for failing to hunt down one or two rabbit. It seemed he was getting really old. Why, he had failed to do so these 3 days, and she assumed it was the rainy weather that had denied them decent food.
She had just taken a bath in the small wooden tub Oswyn had thoughtfully built for her at the center of the cottage. She drained out the tub and wiped the wet floor around it. Absent mindedly, she also wiped the whole cottage, resuming the task she was doing the day before. Or was it the night before, she could not remember. Her mind had been restless for the past three days. Sometimes at night, she could swear she saw a golden butterfly flying about in the carefully sealed cottage.
But she would not nag Oswyn over the small matter. The poor old man had been apologizing profusely over the smallest things to her the lately. It was as if he were about to commit a great sin. She doubted this motive, however, for his eyes looked depressively sad and hopeful instead of cunning whenever he made these apologies.
While waiting for Oswyn to return, she checked on her handmade soaps and nodded satisfaction, tidying them up in neat piles. The vegetable soup she was boiling on top of the fire gave out nice delicious scent that would surely please the old man. She tasted it when she heard heavy footsteps approaching before the door flew open. She sniffed the nice scent once again, before turning around, feeling proud of herself.
"Oswyn, I think you would like the...," her sentence turned into a sudden chilling silence. Horror filled her face as she caught the shocking view in front of her.
Instead of Oswyn's frail stooped figure, she saw the largest gigantic man ever. He barely fit the tall wide doorframe. But Eanfled thoughtfully assumed he must've ducked down before entering, because she had not heard any thudding. He was already inside the room, standing with his muscular legs braced apart. But that was not all, she saw Oswyn with a gag on his mouth, another gigantic man behind the first giant held him still. War paint made them look even more savage and fearsome.
Silence filled the room. Oswyn was trying to say something in his gag, but the grab on his arm silenced him. The first giant did not say anything. He was a man, of course, but she could hardly believe that because he must be the tallest, strongest, and hardest man on earth. These savages might be dangerous heathens, she assumed, and she felt panicked all in a sudden. Are they cannibals?
Why, The Beast, yes, she would call him The Beast now because he had not said a word of introduction yet, had very broad shoulders with muscles all over his body, which no doubt would make the task of bending a thick iron bar as easy as snapping a thin wood splinter. His attire could barely hide those tanned huge muscles covered in war paint.