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Taken by a Highlander- chapter 4

She knew that beast of a man would run her down.

Once horse and riders drew near the edge of the forest, they halted. Ella looked up at the wondrously tall trees. She had seen her fair share of forests in her travels, but nothing like this one. It seemed very ancient, and dark within. She shivered getting a sense of other worldliness. She frowned, wondering what kind of hazards could be in a Scottish forest? Maybe a few wolves? She shook her head to clear it before glancing at what they were doing. The man guided the horse along the edge of the forest searching at the base of the larger trees; she noticed he looked at only a certain kind. She wished she could look at her field guide now. He finally stopped and gave a sigh of relief. Ella looked up at him wondering at this odd behaviour. In her musings, she didn't notice the mark at the base of the trunk.

Instead, she thought maybe it was time to exchange names. She had heard that if you formed a relationship with your kidnapper, he might not harm you? It was a good theory; she didn't know if it was valid or not. Turning her head, she looked up into his blue eyes and said, “Ella....my name is Ella.” Nodding her head as she spoke. She waited a moment and repeated herself, “My name is Ella....what is yours?” indicating she wanted his name. She waited for him to answer.

He had been thinking, “I'm glad to away from that strange country, and I have this comely lass! It shouldn't take long to find the tree to home." He smiled to himself “Gods' willing; we could be home before dark.” The lass in his arm glanced up at him with her dark green eyes. She started to speak. He looked at her lips as she spoke her strange language. When she paused, he blinked and paid more attention to  her words. Thinking for a few seconds, he decided she must be telling him her name and in return wanted his. He repeated “Ella” letting the name roll off his tongue. Deciding it suited her, he smiled nodding his head. She nodded her head and waited for him to tell her his name.

“Rówann is ainm dom Rówann,” he replied before signaling Bryce to enter the forest on the left side of the marked tree. Once surrounded by the trees, he relaxed. He turned Bryce onto the path, noting the various landmarks as he and his prize rode on. Ella thought about the name he told her, “Rówann a good old Celtic name.” He didn't seem inclined to chat anymore, so she turned around and concentrated on her new surroundings.

It seemed like days instead of hours since Ella had been riding on the horse. Her behind was starting to throb with every bump. Glancing up at Rówann she tried to convey that she needed a rest and to relieve herself. Using only her head since her hands were tied behind her back she said, “Rówann...I need to go to the bathroom and could use a rest too.” She looked at him hopefully as she nodded her head toward some bushes. He finally got the idea and brought his horse to a halt. Untying her hands he lifted her down patiently instructing,

“Now lass don't take too long, I won't be far so I suggest you try not to run.” He knew she didn't understand a word he said. He watched her give him a resigned nod before turning away. She replied, "I know...I know...do not go far or run off." Marching to the bush she went around and did her business. As she straightened up Ella noticed a flash in the grass a few feet away. Taking the few steps over to it she brushed the grass away and found the tip of some kind of metal object. Carefully she pulled at it until it came lose from the soft soil. To her astonishment she held an ancient Celtic broach in her hand. It seemed to be in pretty rough shape which didn't surprise her. Sadly as she carefully brushed the dirt off, most of the broach fell to bits leaving only the pin intact.

As she examined the pin, she heard Rówann shout. Frowning she swiftly cleaned the pin as best she could. Next, she shook and rewound her tousled hair sliding the pin in. As she did this, a jolt, like electricity, shot through her body. She blinked whispering, “That was odd!” She heard him shout again, this time with mounting anger. Rolling her eyes, she shouted back, “If you think I am coming back to you...think again! I'm going back home if it's the last thing I do!” With that, she started running, trying to backtrack as best as she could tell. She never did have much of a sense of direction.

She knew that beast of a man would run her down. But that wouldn't stop her from trying. To her surprise she evaded him until she came to a small running stream. Splashing into it, Ella knew her tracks would now disappear. She'd seen enough cowboy movies to know that much. Running along the stream for a few minutes, she heard him shout again. He sounded furious now. Looking desperately around Ella spotted a small being no taller then ten or twelve inches. He wore a vest and shorts and a hat that was pretty much as tall as he was. His white hair reached his bony shoulders and his nose was huge. She of course didn't miss his long pointy shoes. Ella couldn't help but grin at the funny little figure. Glancing back once to make sure he hasn't seen her yet, Ella looked at the being again, soberly she pondered, “What is happening to me? Where am I? If I miss my guess this little guy looks like a Brownie from Scottish folklore. Every sane person knows they can't be real therefore I must be dreaming." He was frantically speaking in a miniscule voice and pointing to a pile of rocks with shrubs around it. To her astonishment she could understand his words. ”Lass gang hide yerself within those rocks behin' th' bush! coorie!” (Lass go hide yourself within those rocks behind the bush! Hurry!) He nimbly ran over and pushed the branches aside to show her a small hidden cavity. There was no time to think she knew Rówann would be coming upon her at any moment. She ran to the opening bending down low before crawling inside. Meanwhile the little man quickly covered her tracks from the stream to the rocks and promptly disappeared.

Ella had just turned around in the semi-dark and peeked between the branches when seconds later she saw the Highlander and his horse come into view. She wiped her forehead knowing just how lucky she was. As he drew nearer, she held her breath and slowly drew back until she could go no further. Her heart raced, as she saw the shadow of horse and rider stop just feet away from her hiding place. Finally, he moved on. Letting her breath out, she leaned forward enough to see that he had his horse in the stream. She watched, as he left the stream and slowly rode away. Ella took another deep breath and slumped against the rocks whispering, “Oh gods, but that was a close one!”

Once she didn't hear any more noise of the horse walking through the brush, she pushed the branches aside and came out from her small hiding place. Before her stood the little man again. He smiled up at her and said, ”Naw mah lass if ye dornt want th' big cheil tae catch ye, Ah suggest ye follaw me. Ah, ken a guid place tae hide. (Now Lass if you don't want the big man to catch you, I suggest you follow me. I know a good place to hide.) Ella nodded her head gratefully, glad to have someone to help her. He guided her through the forest turning every once in awhile to encourage her with a friendly smile or nod of his wee head.

Meanwhile, Ella tried to remember her Scottish folklore.... she knew there was plenty of small folks and spirits. She had never studied much mythology being more interested in real history. She knew there were benign spirits as well as baleful ones. Some could even be sinister. As far as she could remember, Brownies were supposed to be helpful generally household spirits that did things in exchange for gifts of food. So she felt she should be safe with this little fellow. She did wonder, "Why is this one was in the forest? No matter at least he is helpful." They soon exchanged names. His name was Finn. Ella asked about the forest to which he shrugged his shoulders and evasively replied, ”Indeed, tis huir uv a auld...oor forest is. (Indeed, tis very old...our forest.) He didn't seem inclined to give her anymore information so she let the subject drop. She was feeling the events of the day and looked forward to having a some rest.

They seemed to walk for hours, but it was hard to tell the time in the gloomy forest. The sun was setting, when they finally reached a place that reminded her of some kind of permanent camp. She saw fire pits lined with stone and pots with utensils sticking out of the tops. Food was being cooked for the evening meal. She sniffed feeling her stomach rumble as she continued to glance around. There were also some clothes flung over nearby bushes along with a few unfamiliar tools leaning against trees. Ella continued to gaze as Finn encouraged her to follow him to the far side of the camp.

As she progressed along, she saw some curious eyes peek out from around tree trunks and small hollows within the larger trees. She began to wonder if this was such a good idea when Finn stopped and pointed at the base of a large oak tree. ”Ye swatch wabbit lass, lay yerself doon oan th' scratcher ay girse 'at has bin gart up fur ye. I'll be reit back wi' somethin' warm fur ye tae bevvy. (You look tired Lass, lay yourself down on the bed of grass that has been made up for you. I'll be right back with something warm for you to drink.) He disappeared as she glanced at the bed. It did look inviting; she could see it was made up of lots of grass and moss-like plants. Suddenly her body felt heavy, and her eyelids could not stay open. She lay down feeling very relaxed. A few minutes later, Finn was back bending over her with a warm mug of what smelled like whiskey and herbs. Before putting the drink to her lips, she asked,

“What is this?”

Finn smiled his friendly smile, ”Atholl brose is a bevvy gart ay oatmeal brose, honey, watter o' life. Bevvy it aw doon fur it will keep ye warm aw nicht lass.” (Atholl brose, a drink made of oatmeal brose, honey and whiskey. Drink it all down for it will keep you warm all night Lass.) He had secretly put a few drops of a forgetful potion before giving it to her. He watched as she drank it all to the last drop and handing the mug back to him. Before making up the drink he had put a tired spell on her. Satisfied that the spell had begun to work he smiled knowing the potion would work it's magic overnight. He watched Ella smile contentedly. She yawned and relaxed back onto the bedding. Her eyes began to flutter soon shutting. Moments later she was fast asleep. Finn covered her body with an old ragged blanket. Walking away he grinned again as he thought about his plans for the young girl. Between the potion and his tired spell she should sleep so soundly that no amount of noise would wake her this night. Waving his arms for attention he called a meeting of his people.

As Ella slept, the little people came out of hiding. There must have been at least two dozen of them of which Finn was the chieftain. Most of them were men, and as they surrounded the sleeping woman a few of them asked what were they going to do with a big human? Still grinning Finn nodded his head and asked them, ”Noo whit ur ye lads aye greetin' abit?” (Now what are you lads always complaining about?) None could say more than they didn't have enough Atholl brose! He laughed, ”Hink again....yoor aye sayin' ye need mair kimmers tae mend yer worn an' tattered clase. especially yer beloved hoods an' caps! (Think again....your always saying you need more women to mend your worn and tattered clothes. Especially your beloved hoods and caps!) They all stared at him in wonder, someone shouted,

Och aye ...aye! That's it we aw hae clase 'at need mendin!” (Och ...Yes! That's it we all have clothes that need mending.)

One of the women in a small group to the side shouted, ”Och aye, it's abit time ye got us Puir kimmers some help!” (Yes, it's about time you got us poor women some help!)

The men clapped their hands in glee. Finn waited til all was quiet before continuing, "Naw Ah hae given th' lass a forgetful potion in 'er atholl brose. she wulnae min' anythin', includin' 'er ain nam, jist caa 'er lass, 'at is aw she needs tae ken. Ah suggest ye gang tae yer beds an' sort it th' clase 'at need mendin'. dornt want ye tae brin' aw th' clase at ance. we dornt want tae scaur th' puir lassie dae we?" (Now I have given the lass a forgetful potion in her Atholl brose. She will not remember anything, including her own name. Just call her Lass, that is all she needs to know. I suggest you go to your abodes and sort out the clothes that need mending. Mind you don't bring all the clothes at once. We don't want to scare the poor lassie do we?) In unison they all whispered,

"Noooo.....nooooo we dornt want tae scaur th' puir lassie!" (Noooo...noooo we don't want to scare the poor lassie!)

Finn added, "I'll brin' mah clase first 'en pick a body ur tois ay ye tae brin' theirs. in th' end ye aw will gie yer mendin' dain in noo time!" (I'll bring my clothes first then pick one or two of you to bring theirs. In the end you all will get your mending done!) They all happily agreed with his wonderful plan. A few even did a jig as they went to their various abodes.

 

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