Highlander’s Dawn of Doom – Maddie MacKenna

J onathan Mackenzie, son of the Laird of Sinclair Clan, waited patiently atop his horse, hidden behind a copse of trees. His eyes were forward. He could see the outline of a stag as it crept tremulously through the forest on the edge of the rocky glen—its eyes moving one way and then the other. He waited, feeling the cool spring breeze ruffle his blond hair. Quietly, he lifted the edge of the bowstring upward, touching his thumb to his cheek. He was well-practiced, even though he was still young—twenty-two years. He glanced from side to side at his men, who grinned in encouragement. He pulled back as slowly as he could. Jonathan sometimes felt that he could almost slow his heart rate when he was hunting and narrow his focus so much that nothing else was in his vision, only the object of his aim. He pulled the arrow taut and was just about to lift his finger to release it when a groan filled the air. All three men’s heads snapped to the right. Jonathan’s finger slipped, and the arrow buzzed through the air, getting caught in a pine tree, while the stag dashed away, crunching leaves under its hooves as it leapt out of sight. Jonathan angrily stowed the bow away on his saddle and jumped down to collect the arrow that was still hanging in the tree. “Bloody Hell, what was that?” He looked at his men Finn and Angus. “Had we nae come to hunt in a quiet part of the woods?” Finn nodded quietly, but he squinted into the trees, looking at the glen.

“Och, or so we thought. Look there! That is the place where the sound came from.” Jonathan and Angus turned their eyes to the edge of the glen, a little bit further down, and they could see a small wooden cabin. A man was stretched out on a table outside of it, and a young, dark-haired woman was leaning over him. Jonathan grinned. “What do ye think the lass is doin’ to him? Why should he groan like that?” Angus laughed, “Perhaps we have stumbled upon some sort of isolated house of fallen women?” Jonathan smiled, watching her. He couldn’t yet see her face, but the way she was leaning did feel somewhat provocative, and it stirred something in his youthful loins. “Well, let us go ask her? And we can demand compensation for the loss of our stag. Should we nae, men?” Finn scrunched up his nose. “What if she is doin’ some sort of witchcraft to him?” He looked around in the woods, his eyes almost a little fearful.

“Me Gran has told me many times about what the faeries and the witches do here amongst the trees. Maybe she is puttin’ him under a spell.” Jonathan swung himself into his saddle on his horse, Foighiddin, and the sound of stretching leather filled the air. His kilt of green and blue spread out around him. “Well, then we must go and investigate! Save the poor man from her clutches.” He led the way, laughing, caring not for Finn’s hesitance, for it was he who led his men, and they had been kept from their due. I will nae have a mere lass keep me from my prize. It did not take long for them to ride around the glen, and they wound their way down the trodden dirt path to the cabin. The man’s groans became ever louder, and once they were close to the pair, Jonathan jumped off his horse first, curious about what he might find. Whether a brothel or a witch at work, he wanted to see.

Angus and Finn bumped against his back as he approached. He squinted his eyes, and then he saw it. The young woman’s back was to him but could tell her figure. Even though she was clad in a dark bodice and skirt, he could see her outline and the way her dress fell over her comely backside. As he stepped closer, he could see that she was sewing into the man’s skin, pulling the two sides of a wound together. He suddenly felt alarmed and pushed his strong shoulders back, his angry voice brewing in his throat. “What goes on here, lass?” She did not turn around, but she said simply, “A man has come to me to heal his wound, and so I do. The light is better outside today.” Her voice was light and kind but a little abrupt. Jonathan could see the older man scrunching up his face in pain, a light sheen of sweat over his skin.

He did not say anything but merely gripped the sides of the table on which he laid. Jonathan glanced at dark-haired Finn and red-haired Angus on either side of him. He winked and then crossed his arms, deciding that he needed to receive compensation for the stag’s loss. “But surely ye hurt the man instead of healing him. The stag we were searching for ran off when it was in me sights since this man screamed out in pain, and it rocked the glen! Just look at his face!” As if to support his argument, the man heaved out a breath of pain. At Jonathan’s words, she turned around, her hands on her hips. The man on her table laid back, breathing out slowly. Jonathan was still watching him, and he pointed. “Look at his obvious relief, lass!” He turned his head up to meet hers, and the rest of the words he had wanted to say froze in his throat. Before him stood the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, even if his life had not yet been very long—her long dark curls were tied to the side, and a long braid came down her shoulder.

The hair matched her thin dark brows, which rested inquisitively above shocking blue eyes that looked at him with what he assumed was reprehension. Her nose was pert and thin, and just below them was the most enticing pair of pink lips. As she watched him, Jonathan felt like everything had gone fuzzy for a moment—he couldn’t think clearly. And then, the faerie spoke. “What do ye ken about medicine, sir? And why do ye come? Is there somethin’ I can do for ye, or are ye here simply to badger me while I work on this poor man?” The woman’s gaze flicked back and forth between him and his other friends, who had mysteriously gone silent. Jonathan finally regained his footing, and he crossed his arms again, smirking. Here was a beautiful lass, full of fire. He wanted to tease her just a bit, just to see how far the fire would rise. “I am certain I ken a damn sight more than ye, lass since ye are just a lass.” He snickered, and Angus and Finn joined him.

The woman’s face reddened with anger, and her eyes flashed. She took a breath, and Jonathan could feel the storm clouds raging. “How dare ye! Get out! I will nae service ye or yer friends if ye were dyin’ here in front of me house, I wouldnae help ye! Ye men are all the same! Ye ken nothin’!” Jonathan felt the force of her fire. He had plenty of pretty women back closer to where he lived that fell for his teasing charms. He didn’t need the ire of a supposed healer. “Service us? We thought that was what yer occupation was at first. A house of a fallen woman set out in the glen ready to serve whatever gentleman came her way with coin!” “Get out! Go find yerself a new precious stag to stick yer bow intae!” the woman said again; her blue eyes flashed with fury. She pointed towards the mountain behind them, and Jonathan began to back away. “Gladly. I do hope we might never see each other again, lass.

” He winked, and she scoffed. “Ha! I hope that, as well. Just ye keep out of me part of the woods, and I shall never have need to see ye or for God’s name speak to ye!” Jonathan nodded tensely and then began to walk away with Angus at his heels. Finn lingered behind just a bit but caught up as they reached their horses. Jonathan watched as the woman returned to her work. “The lass is named Amanda. Amanda Roberts,” Finn said when he returned to his friends. “She did nae ken who ye were, though, and so I thought I ought to tell her. Embarrass her even further for her words.” Finn pulled on his reins.

“Aye, what a lass she was! Never seen so much fire before in me life! And for just a simple joke,” Angus added, shaking his head. “It was she that ruined the stag for us!” Finn nodded. “I suppose me Gran was right. It looks like we have found a witch in these woods after all.” Jonathan smirked, but he didn’t laugh. His eyes were still on the dark-haired girl as she leaned over the man once more. Amanda. “I daenae think that we found a witch, lads. I think we found a faerie. For all her fire, I found her as bewitchin’ as can be.

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