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Murray Castle, Loch Meall a’ Mhadaigh, Highland Council Area, Country of Alba, 6 February, 08:47 hrs GMT
The cold wind whipped me about face the moment I stepped out of the Land Rover. A small castle, of dark weathered stone, rose from the shores of the loch. The solid gray sky hung low over our heads, gray and poisonous.
“We took the train to Scotland so we could visit an enchanted castle by a lake. I should have brought my wand,” said Owen.
“Oh sweety, did you forget it or did it fall of on account of the cold?” I said.
“Is that why you tug so hard on it?” he asked with a deep dimpled smile.
“You never complained before.”
“And I will never do.”
The happy sweet banter hid his concerns about what we were about to do. I told him to stay, but I knew he cared to much to just let me go by myself. So here he was, at my side. Martin waited by the massive front doors.
“My Lady, the Conclave awaits,” he said with a tip of his wide brim hat.
“I am no Lady, Martin, just Gwen,” I said.
He pushed the door open, “Of course. You better hurry, they already started.”
A babel of voices echoed through the halls of the ancient fort, a mixture of accents from across the isles. I barged in. No one noticed. A dozen men and women sat around an oval table, each trying to out shout the other.
“This is not our fight! We stayed out of it before, we can do it again!”
“Like you did with the Prince, eh Ferguson?”
“Not our affair McNaughton! And I don’t hear Peters complaining.”
“No, I am not complaining, of course not. We were a bit preoccupied with the dragons flying over our heads to worry about our northern neighbors lack of enthusiasm for our plight.”
“Serves you right, Peters! It was those hooligans that started all of this. Your English Defense cunts!”
“Don’t lump me in with those idiots!”
I unsheathed Excalibur and threw it on the table top. The clang of steel on wood silenced the Conclave. I walked around the table, counterclockwise.
“So this is it? At the hour of greatest need we of the Ancient Blood quibble about nationality while the world burns?” Peters, from Northampton, averted his eyes. Ferguson, from Edinburgh, scratched his short beard. Talia, from Kent, glared a those across the table from her. “We do not have the luxury of time. The Veil is torn, that much is true and those who swore to watch for the incoming storm are now those who summon it. We once hid for own protection, but there is no place to hide anymore. You can wait until the armies of Armageddon march across the land, until Ragnarok brings the eternal ice or the giants tear down the mountains low. You can wait, or you can fight. I made my choice. Now where do you stand?”
“And why should we follow you, Mac Lir? You who sided with mortals against your own kin and country?” said a blond haired woman with a thick Ulster accent.
“Mortals? And what are you, some kind of goddess? I killed a Prince that claimed to be a god, you know? As to why, my dear Lynch, because if I fail, how will you turn to? When the Formori come to your land, what then? And I sided against a power hungry mad man who summoned the Queen of Winter, the Bitch of War, to our land. I faced her and she did not care for Wales or her people, she wanted revenge against the children of Morgan for what the Last Druid did to her,” I said.
“Leila is right, Mac Lir. You took arms to defend the English,” said Ferguson.
“I took arms to stop the madness, or did you miss the news of the burning of London? Should I side had with those who violate the graves of the honored dead and gun down innocents by the hundreds?” I pointed a finger at Ferguson, “Would you?”
“Of course not!” he roared. “But…but that does not mean that I would throw my life away in a useless war. I know our history all too well. Hunted by Romans and then by their Church and then now the men of science wait to experiment on us. Why should I enable that?”
“This is about survival. I’m not asking you all to fight. We are too few in number for that. But help me and maybe we will come out of this alive. For the Auld Alliance, for the blood shared in the Trenches, for our Gaulish brethren, and for the survival of us all,” I said. Silence enveloped the hall.
Peters pushed his glasses up, “If nothing else, we owe her our lives. None of us did anything to stop the Prince. We all know the history, what we done to each other,” Ferguson glared at him, “some more than others. As much as we fight it, we are of this world and for it to survive we must do our part.” Others nodded around the table.
“I for one will not wait for what is to come. And by right, as holder of Excalibur, she can call on the ancient blood. So as a sister, I will join her,” said Korneys.
“Well, I can’t say I don’t like a good fight, better over there and over here, as the Americans love to say,” said Ferguson.
Martin sat at the empty chair closes to the door, “So, it is agreed then. We will do all our part to help Gwen Mac Lir.”
“The by the Blood, we shall stand together against the storm,” said Martin.
All joined in the chorus, “By the Blood.”
The easy part was done.