- Author: Angeline Fortin
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A Time and Place for EveryLaird
Smashwords Edition Copyright 2013 Angeline Fortin
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The Drummosse Muir
Near Culloden, Scotland
April 16, 1746
It was a colorful battlefield. The green ofthe springtime moors and the Highland kilts contrasted with theturbulent grey-blue of the sky and the vivid blue of the regimentalflags. But mostly there was red. The red coats of the Hanovarianarmy, which vastly outnumbered the supporters of the bonny PrinceCharlie, offered a bright counterpoint to the duller red of theHighlanders jackets, whose kilts of green, blue, and red werestained by the sickening hue of their bloodshed, washing the moorsof Drummoisse.
There was also the red of anger, veiling theHighlander’s vision as he watched the carnage. More than a thousandof his countrymen—brothers, clansmen, and friends—were deadalready, fallen amid the vicious hand-to-hand melee while many ofthe enemy who still stood. His mount shifted restlessly beneathhim, eager to join the fray as he was, to avenge the lives of thosealready lost. To spare others a certain death.
The cannon fire from the Hanovarianscontinued relentlessly until the blasts were ringing in his earsand raining earth upon their small group as they watched theslaughter from a rise in the distance. Swords clashed and menshouted out their clan’s cry for battle or cried out in pain asthey were run through.
“Your Highness, we must retreat.” The wordswere neither his own nor directed at him, but as they were spokenthe Highlander’s jaw clenched in denial. Mayhap they should. Ifthey could not save or avenge, fleeing this ill-conceivedcatastrophe was one of few options remaining, but he was aHighlander by blood and right. The blood of his ancestors raging inhis veins demanded that he not accept defeat.
Their forces on the left flank had notjoined the fight that was ripping apart their countrymen by cannonfire and sword. Their main attack had been forced by soft ground topush right and was now pressed from both sides, with no escape fromthe slaughter, and the combat had waged for no more than half anhour thus far. At this rate, the battle would be lost in the sameamount more.
He couldn’t stand for it. He hadn’t wantedit. This Jacobite cause wasn’t his own, but he was a man whosupported his clan, supported the uncle who had called him to arms.Nae, he hadn’t wanted this, didn’t believe in it, but he would notstand by and be an observer to bloodshed and death… his ownpristine jacket red as well but not dyed so by the blood of brotheror foe.
His mount shifted under the clenching of histhighs and started forward as he unsheathed his mightyclaymore.
“Nae, cousin!” a voice shouted over the din.“Ye dinnae hae tae!”
“Aye, Keir, I do,” the Highlander ground outand spurred his mount into a gallop as he headed into war. Behindhim, more of his clansmen followed, including his cousin, and heplowed through the fringes of the bloody battle, swinging his swordleft and right at any red-coated soldier he encountered until hewas at the heart of the melee. His mount reared against the pressof bodies, but he held on and continued to swing, ignoring thescrape and prick of glancing blows and the trickle of blood downhis neck and arm.
It was a massacre. Their weary band stood nochance in this fool’s errand. They were outnumbered more than twoto one. Even at their best they would have stood no chance, but hewas proud of the Scotsmen who refused to concede victory, whocontinued and would continue to fight to the last man. He lashedout again and again, growling viciously when he felt a blade piercehis leg. The Highlander turned with murder in his eyes to face theman who had done him harm, his face not the blue of his ancestorsin battle but red with the blood of his foes. The Englishman’s eyeswidened and he spun about, eager to vacate the area, but theHighlander would have none of it. Kicking his mount, he pressedforward with a fierce cry. His horse screamed and buckled beneathhim, falling to its knees with a shrill cry. The Highlander had nochoice but to leap away, but he couldn’t abandon his enemy. Hechased after the fleeing coward on foot, cutting down any who stoodin his path.
The ringing of swords faded until all hecould hear was the sound of his footsteps striking the ground, hisharsh breathing, and the pounding of his heart. His prey glancedover his shoulder and started to sprint in earnest from theHighlander’s pursuit. Horns sounded, calling for the Jacobiteretreat, but the Highlander ignored the call. Before this was over,this last Sassenach would be his.
A grim smile pressed his lips into a tightline as he focused on the soldier’s back, just an arm’s lengthaway. He swung his sword and caught the man across one shoulder,and the soldier stumbled and fell… no, fell and slipped out ofsight through a wide hole before them.
Heels digging into the ground, theHighlander tried to turn aside before he met the edge of the abyss,but his momentum was too great and he too slipped over the edge,through the darkness and into the light beyond.
Early May 2013
Claire knocked firmly on the office door,only to have it give under the pressure and swing inward with a lowmoan of the hinges as if inviting her in.
“Dr. Fielding?” she ventured once more,sticking her head through the portal, but found the office empty.Claire hesitated, gripping the stack of folders she carried againsther chest, and debated whether to simply leave them or come backlater. Finally, with a shrug, she stepped in and went to the deskto drop the