Highlander’s Poisonous Past – Olivia Kerr

Would you like to play with this stick or that one?” Logan asked his younger brother, Cailean. He wanted to be exceptionally kind to his younger brother since Cailean had fallen, skinned his knee earlier, and was still quite upset. Logan felt responsible because his mother had told him to watch his brother when they went out to play on the grounds of Shaw Castle. Although there were servants lurking nearby, Logan was certain that it was his fault, and he was going to do everything he could to make it up to his brother. “I would like that one,” Caliean said, as he sniffed and wiped away the tears that still fell from time to time. There hadn’t been very much blood, but Logan understood that it could be frightening to fall. He had fallen last week while he was playing, and it was only because his father told him to stop crying that he did. Logan handed over his brother’s chosen stick and then picked up the one that was left. “Now, let’s keep walking. The river is just here.” “But there are no fish in the river, Logan. We’ve been there half a hundred times this week and—” “I know,” Logan replied, with a smile, “but don’t worry. The fish are not what we are after today.” “Then what are we after?” Cailean asked, confused. “The frogs?” “Just wait.

When I was playing with Bartholomew last week, he showed me this new game, and I want to show you.” “Really?” Cailean asked, and perked up at that thought. “Thank you for showing me a new game, Logan!” Logan smiled at his younger brother. They played together often, but he knew sometimes he went off to play with the other children in the village, and he ignored his younger brother. They had only recently been allowed to play with the other children in the area. For the first few years of their life, they had been raised exclusively in the castle, as children of the laird, and only had each other to play with. Lately, though, it seemed that both their parents were distracted, and the rules were a bit more lax. Logan didn’t know why that was the case, but he certainly wasn’t going to ask. When they reached the wooden bridge, he beckoned his brother over to one side. “Now, on the count of three, we are both going to drop our sticks, and then they are going to race.

” “With the river current?” Logan nodded. “As soon as we drop them, we must go over to the other side of the bridge to see which stick has won.” “What happens if my stick wins?” Cailean asked. “If your stick wins, then when we see Father tonight, I shall tell him what a champion you are,” Logan replied. That made Cailean’s smile widen, and both the boys leaned over the side of the bridge to drop their sticks down. Logan made sure to drop his stick off to the other side, where he knew it would get caught in the weeds. When they raced to the other side of the bridge and Cailean’s stick came through, he took pleasure in his brother’s large smile. “I win!” Cailean cried. “I win, I win! Let’s play again!” They played several times, until Logan worried he would accidentally create a dam if he continued. The sun was setting, and Logan took his brother’s hand as they headed back to the castle.

The servants smiled at them as they went inside. Logan decided that he was having one of the best days of his life. “Logan!” his mother said, as soon as she laid eyes on them. “Where have you been?” “I’ve been playing with Cailean. Let us tell you what we—” “No. There is no time. I think you should both retire to your rooms. The servants will bring you supper there.” “Huh?” Logan did not understand why his mother would say something like that. “Am I in trouble?” “No, you are not in trouble, but your father and I agreed this is the best course of action right now.

” “I don’t understand,” Logan said. “I did not do anything wrong. I…you said that Cailean and I could play, as long as the servants were nearby.” “I know I said that,” she replied. “We will discuss it in the morning, Logan. Go, now. Both of you.” Logan looked to Cailean, who looked like he was going to cry. “But…” Logan started. His mother shook her head.

“Go, Logan,” she said, and pointed up the stairs. The sun was setting, and Logan noticed there was an odd energy in the castle. Everyone was whispering, and they were closing the doors tightly. Normally, the warm evening air was allowed to follow through the castle until well after supper. “What did we do wrong?” Cailean asked. Logan shrugged. “Nothing. Come, let us play in the nursery.” True to his mother’s word, the servants brought supper to the nursery, and they helped the boys get dressed for bed. They were reasonably quiet, and Logan felt frightened.

Normally, the servants were quite kind, and they laughed and smiled with them. The fact that they weren’t saying anything at all made him quite concerned. “Go to bed,” one of the servants said. “And do not come out of the room, for any reason.” “What is happening?” Logan asked. “Nothing,” the butler said, and left. Logan did not think he would be able to sleep, given the circumstances, but sleep actually came relatively easily to him—until he was awoken by his mother. He did not know what time it was, but he could tell it was very late. His mother was shaking his shoulder, and she had a candle in her hand. “Logan,” she said, “get under the bed.

Cailean, you too. Not a word.” “Under the bed?” Logan asked. “But why?” “Logan, do not question me,” she said. She grabbed his arm, a little bit roughly, and practically dragged him under the bed. Logan felt pain, but he somehow knew enough not to cry out. There was something very wrong. He had never seen his mother behave this way before. She was normally very kind and gentle with him. This was a side of her that had been hidden up until this moment.

“Don’t say a word,” she said, as she moved away from the bed. Despite the fact that they had just been given explicit instructions, it seemed that it was too much for Cailean. “Logan,” Cailean hissed, “what is the matter? What’s happening? I’m scared.” “Shh,” Logan said, as he reached out to squeeze his brother’s hand. “It’s fine.” “But what is happening?” “I don’t know,” Logan said, and searched his mind. “Maybe Mother is playing a game.” “A game? What game would she be playing?” “Maybe she’s, uh…maybe she wants us to hide until Father finds us.” “You think Father is playing this game too?” “Oh, yes,” Logan said, thinking quickly. “I think they are both playing.

I think soon, Father will come in looking for us, and we will pop out and everything will be fine.” “Alright,” Cailean said. “Well, we should stay quiet then.” “Yes, we should remain quiet.” It was very hot under the bed; Logan didn’t know how long they could stay under there. He could feel his stomach start to growl and wondered if he would ever eat again. He wanted to believe what he told Cailean, but he knew this wasn’t a game. Within a few minutes, they heard a noise within the castle that sent chills down both their spines. There was a crash, a yell, and then a thump. “What was that?” Cailean asked.

Logan shook his head. “Nothing, Brother. Stay quiet, remember? We want to be the champions of this game, don’t we?” “Yes…” Cailean said, although he seemed very unsure about it. Logan saw another candle enter the room and thought that perhaps it was his mother returning. He was about to call out to her when he realized it was his father instead, and he was panting. Logan tried to look over to Cailean. His younger brother seemed content with playing with a few stones that had been in his pocket, and hadn’t noticed his father yet. Logan breathed a sigh of relief and tried to shift forward so the sight of his father was out of view. Something was very wrong. In front of Logan’s eyes, he saw what looked like a shadowy figure enter the room.

He watched, paralyzed with fear, as the figure stabbed his father, who fell. The only sound that was made was the clunk of the candlestick as it hit the stone floor. The candle went out instantly, leaving them in mostly darkness once again. Only the moonlight, shining in and under the bed, gave them a light source. Logan was glad the bed was mostly behind a door. He didn’t know what had happened, but he did know he would figure out what happened and avenge his father. He would find his killer within the shadow figure and hunt him for the rest of his life, until he found him. Logan’s only question, in his childhood mind, was: How will I find a man made of shadow? M 1 ore than a decade later… Maisie stuck her tongue out a tiny bit, and leaned over the hem of her dress. She knew she could hem it if she just concentrated. Maisie had never been particularly skilled at sewing, especially compared to the rest of her sisters.

She could sew well enough, but if Glenna came by, for example, she knew her sister would raise an eyebrow at her skills. She was the youngest of her sisters, and while she loved them all, she sometimes wondered if they inherited all the skills, and she was left to figure out whatever was left. She felt as if certain things came easier to them, such as finding love or picking the right color of dress. All the rest of her sisters were married; she was left at home alone with her parents even though she was a very good looking lass with long brown hair and beautiful green and brown mixed eyes. Maisie bit her lip as that thought raced through her head. She certainly didn’t mean to sound ungrateful. She loved her parents and knew that as the youngest, it seems she had gotten away with quite a bit. She could always be a little cheekier, a little more adventurous, and her parents hadn’t scolded her as much. Of course, she was also the only one of her sisters who wasn’t married and didn’t even have any suitors, so perhaps that was also something to consider. She made a final few stitches and then pulled the dress back to look at it with a triumphant smile.

The hem looked almost as nice as before, and it was certainly wearable. She looked up in surprise as Glenna walked into the room. “Maisie, your skill has improved!” “Glenna, what are you doing here?” Maisie asked in surprise. Her older sister lived a ways away, with her husband and children, and while she did visit often, it was usually planned. “Is everything alright?” “Yes, everything is pleasant,” Glenna said, as she took a seat beside her sister. “I cannot come and see my youngest sister without a reason?” “Of course you can,” Maisie said, as the two of them embraced. “How are you? How are the children?” “They are wonderful!” Glenna said. “Little Shaun has lost his first tooth!” “Oh, my goodness! He must be quite excited.” “Oh, yes! He keeps following his father around, insisting that he is grown now that he has lost one. I have not the heart to tell him that he needs to lose quite a few more.

” Maisie laughed as she handed over her dress to Glenna. “Do you really think my skills have improved?” she asked. Glenna looked over the hem in great detail. “You sure have! I was not just saying that. I really do think that you have used your time at home to improve your skills.” “Well, I’m not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult,” Maisie teased her. “But don’t worry; I know your heart is kind.” “And I’m quite sure your future husband will tell you as much when you marry him.” “If I marry him,” Maisie said with a sigh. “If he even exists.

” Glenna raised an eyebrow at her. “Why would you say such a thing? There is a perfect husband out there for you. In fact—” “Glenna, I know that you are only saying those things to be kind. You do not have to be, though. I am very aware that there may not be someone for me. I mean, all of my sisters have married well. Perhaps you have used up all the luck for the family, and I am satisfied with that.” “Maisie…” “I have tried to accept my circumstances and be happy anywhere I am, with whatever God has given me.” “Well, I am sure that is a very good attitude to have. However, it is not the attitude that you will have to carry with you for the rest of your life.

” Maisie caught the sparkle in her sister’s eye. “What do you know?” she asked. Glenna smiled. “Oh…I may just have a secret that Father happened to mention to me first.” “Tell me,” Maisie said, with a grin, just as when they were children. “I can’t tell you,” Glenna said. “It is Father’s surprise to you.” “Tell me!” Maisie howled, and it appeared Glenna could not resist the charms of her younger sister. “Alright, but only because you are my favorite sister, who I hold so dear. It seems that Father has found you a suitor.

” “What?” Maisie’s jaw dropped. “Who is it? Tell me, dear sister! Please tell me.” “I don’t know who it is,” Glenna replied. “However, Father said to meet him here just after luncheon, and he would tell both of us.” “In that case, I am very glad to have you with me, especially as Father is going to make the most exciting announcement of my life, apparently.” “I’m sure it will be someone grand,” Glenna said. “Perhaps Laird Tavinish?” “No, I believe he is already betrothed.” “Are you sure?” Glenna asked. “I thought he had rejected that proposal.” “Rejected it? Whatever for?” “Because he refused to marry a woman below his station,” Glenna said, quietly.

“I am sure that he will not want to marry me then.” “But you are kind and wonderful and—” “And I am the youngest sister,” Maisie said. “Of a very large family.” “At least you are the last to get married,” Glenna said; Maisie paused at that. Glenna clenched her sister’s hand. “You know what I mean. I do not mean to insult you in any way. I simply mean that at least it isn’t one of us who is to get married last. No one thinks there is anything wrong with the youngest sister getting married last.” “It certainly does not make the youngest sister feel any more adequate.

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