The Seer - Hildie McQueen

Chapter 1

In contrast to the cold chill of the night and clean fresh air outdoors, the dim interior of the tavern the air was warm and pungent with a mixture of body odor, food and smoke.

Cloaked in a thick fur with a hood over his head that kept his face hidden, Alasdair Creag ducked through the doorway and entered. Snow fell from his wide shoulders onto the dirty floor forming small puddles that no one paid any heed to.

The tavern was unknown to him, other than it was the place he would meet a man who’d direct him to another location.

If it were up to him, after the long day of riding, Alasdair would have preferred to have found a warm stable for his horse and a bed at an inn for himself. At least his horse was comfortable in the local stable

Probably because of the cold and the fact it was the only establishment that served food until late hours, the tavern on the edge of the small village was surprisingly crowded with both young and old, men and women.

Deft serving wenches weaved between tables holding up trays laden with drinks and bowls of food while managing to avoid slaps and pinches aimed at their bottoms.

Lively fiddle music was barely audible over the din of laughter and conversations. Every once in a while, there was a whistle or shout louder than the rest.

It was the perfect place for Alasdair to hide, as the clientele seemed to consist mostly of travelers passing through. No one looked like anyone else and yet all wore the same mask of travel weariness and no particular place to go that night. Himself weary, he blended with the crowd no trepidation of standing out.

Alasdair threw off the hood of his cape and scanned the surroundings looking for a sign of someone who appeared to be expecting him. He had a vague idea of what the man would look like from the messenger, but upon searching it was clear who he was to meet was not there yet.

There was a man with vibrant red hair who was particularly drunk and shouting at another. That one was definitely not blending in. Soon the idiot would either end up thrown out or passed out.

Thanks to Alasdair’s gift of foresight passed on to him by his ancestors, it was easy enough to discern whether or not someone recognized him or to know if danger was imminent.

He was after all heir of the Triùir Mhòra, the gift of sight. And although proud of this legacy, Alasdair wasn’t always particularly thankful for it.

There were shouts on the far side of the tavern and several people scurried away with tankards in hand when an argument ensued between two men. One of them was the red-haired drunkard.

Thanks to the brawl, Alasdair was able to find a seat at a table left empty by the people who the fight had scared away. He lowered his bulk into a chair ensuring his back was to the wall and kept vigil.

The hair on the back of his neck shifted and Alasdair sat up straighter at the alert. A second set of men jumped to their feet and squared off. Without moving his head, Alasdair kept an eye on them.

One man shoved the other backward knocking over a chair. No one seemed particularly alarmed at this point. There was a shrill whistle that brought the room to silence. A muscular man jumped over a long counter and approached the fighters. “Both of ye, get out of ‘ere!”

“It was not I who began this,” one of the men replied, sounding more like a petulant child than a man. “Just want a bit of a drink.”

The other man snarled. “No need for anyone to leave as long as this bastard keeps ‘is eyes to ‘imself and not me Annie.”

Annie preened at the attention, twirling a finger around a greasy strand of dull brown hair. She tugged at the second man’s arm and they sat down.

The air shifted and instantly he knew that someone who would have a hand in changing his life had entered the tavern. Although he was not sure who it was exactly since several people came and went.

“Yer drink.” A young, weary woman didn’t bother to look at him as she placed a tankard of ale in front of him. Without thinking, he touched her wrist, the compulsion something he could rarely control.

Immediately visions of whippings, screams in the dark, and heart wrenching desperation hit Alasdair until Copyright 2016 - 2024