Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Scotland Trip--Day Two (Part 2)

Happy Friday! As promised, I'm back with the second part of our second day in Scotland :) The trip truly was an adventure. Having rented the flat for the week and a car, each day was really up to us, and we had to pack up a snack bag and head out--having an idea of where we wanted to go, and hoping that we'd get there. Since half of our second day was spent in bed, we decided to make it a day about traveling around the area, seeing what was nearby. Of course, in Inverness there is TONS. After Brodie castle, we drove through Elgin, Moray, and we kept seeing this monument above the city buildings. But we couldn't for the life of us find it! We drove in circles up and down the roads, GPS kept taking us to a general store. We even considered pulling over and hiking up over an overgrown hill/ridge. We finally pulled into this GORGEOUS country club that looked like a castle and asked some people walking inside how to get to the monument. They gave us pretty good directions. And man were we pleased that we stuck to our guns after 45 min of circling this place. It was Elgin Castle -- a motte and bailey castle built in the 12th century. According to history, it was held by the Cheyne family who supported Longshanks (want to see him in action? Check out my book, THE HIGHLANDER'S TRIUMPH!) The Scots burned it down in 1297, but the Longshanks supporters rebuilt the tower and curtain wall in stone.

The monument we'd seen was the Lady Hill Monument, erected beside the Elgin Castle ruins in the 1800's.

View of the monument from the street.

Elgin Castle sign beside the stairs.

Lady Hill monument sign beside the stairs.

Part of the stairs... Andrea and I looked at each other with brows raised in trepidation. It'd been a long day and the stairs were aplenty, lol
View of the ruins when we finished the climb. Amazing!

Crazy how the earth is consuming the stones.

Lady Hill monument.

A view of the town from atop the motte and bailey.

That castle like building in the background is the country club we stopped at for directions.

I found this view to be so... mesmerizing... A blend of medieval with modern culture. That's a Tesco in the background. I imagined that if my characters stood in this same spot, a place where battles raged, and looked over to see people shopping for food and goods, they would be thoroughly confused.

A view of the wall of the castle.

More Tesco :-) Which, by the way, we spent many days at! Topping up minutes on our cell, grabbing water, etc...

This stone lay flat on top of one of the walls. I took it standing on it. It has words etched into it, but I couldn't see what they were.

A better view of the country club.

This is a viaduct we saw on our way to Culloden Battlefield after leaving Elgin...

After leaving Elgin, we made out way back to the flat, in hopes of finding a pub to eat dinner. On our way we stopped to take a pic of the above viaduct, and then encountered Culloden Battlefield. The sun was setting, and we thought perhaps we'd go back in the morning. There were no cars parked in the lot. Walking a famous battlefield at night, alone, would be crazy.
But, heck, when in Scotland... So, yes, we parked. And the crazy pics I have for you of that adventure will be posted next week!!!
Want a taste of Longshanks from my book, THE HIGHLANDER'S TRIUMPH?

An exclusive view...

A swift jolt awakened Mariana. A muffled cry escaped her and she flailed, eyes popping open. Her vision blurred, she made out the white of the sky and a bunch of blobs of black and brown.

A split-second later she landed hard in the dirt on her hip and elbow. The impact was shocking, and jarred her from head to toe. A metallic taste in her mouth and the sting of her cheek told her she’d bit herself. Thank God, she’d managed to twist in time so that her already injured arm wasn’t further damaged. In addition to the gash from a wayward sword, she was almost certain it was broken. Her hip and elbow were most assuredly bruised, but at least they were still whole.

A cloud of dust surrounded where she’d landed, filling her lungs. She coughed, sneezed, and willed herself to hold back her sobs. Pain throbbed in her injured arm. She feared moving, not knowing where she was. Nothing about this place looked familiar to her.

“Lady Mariana,” a cool, uninterested male voice cooed. “I see you decided to rejoin us. Tell me, how was your visit with the Scots?”

A shiver of fear curled around her spine. Shifting to kneel, she waved away the cloud of dirt, and slowly raised her eyes to see King Edward standing a few feet in front of her. The sun glinted blindingly off of his chainmail. He looked like a glowing king. A purple velvet doublet, trimmed and embroidered with gold thread gave her eyes reprieve from the striking metal. His shoulder-length silver hair was streaked with sweat. His long, chiseled features also glistened. In his arms he held a shiny helmet. She lowered her gaze to stare at the dust upon his boots.

The king looked as though he’d been out fighting. He was not afraid to venture out of his camp. Not afraid to take his sword to another man’s throat—though he preferred that his men held that man down while he completed the deed. She prayed whoever he’d been railing against had not suffered overmuch.

“Your Highness,” she managed, though her voice came out sounding strangled. “’Twas horrendous.”

Her heart lurched when she lied, though she knew it was to protect Brandon as much as herself.

“Horrendous?” King Edward drawled. He stepped closer to her. Knelt before her, and placed a cold, gloved finger on her chin, lifting her face so that she had to look him in the eye. “How so?”

His grey eyes were cruel, indifferent. The man didn’t care so much about her answer, as he did that she was here before him. He didn’t take kindly to others thieving what belonged to him, and Mariana was well aware that she was as much a pawn to him as any other man. But that didn’t matter. He considered her his property.

“Come now, don’t be shy. Tell me.” His voice, though soft, was etched with malice.

Mariana was more afraid of the king now than she’d ever been. Her stomach tightened and gooseflesh rose on her arms. If he didn’t like her answer… Thought her to be lying, there was no telling what his response would be. What cruel punishment he’d have doled out on her.

“They are barbarians,” she said through chattering teeth. She clutched at her injured arm, the limb hanging limp by her side, and thankfully the bleeding gash had staunched its flow. Moments of numbness made the pain bearable, but right then a searing agony took hold. Mariana squeezed her eyes shut, ground her teeth.

“Are you injured, my lady?” The king’s voice was solicitous, but Mariana knew better than to think he would be kind.

Slowly, she nodded, then opened her eyes, trying to see him through the mist of her tears.

The king scowled over her head, then stood. “I told you to take care of her, not bring her back to me broken.”

Mariana’s throat grew tight, and she found it hard to breathe. That tone he used… Chills of dread shook her.

“She was already injured when I found her, Your Highness.” Ross’ voice was confident. Too confident. The man wouldn’t last long with King Edward.

“And you didn’t think it necessary to tend to her wound? I don’t like my property to be damaged.”

Mariana put her weight on her uninjured arm and tried to stand. The king, most likely sensing her struggle from the corner of his eye, actually held out a hand to her. She gripped it, the leather of his gloves soft and cold. As he brought her to her feet, she tried to keep in mind that though he was a cruel man, he’d once been kind to her. Took her in, clothed her, fed her. The price had been steep—her dignity, her body—but still, she was alive.

That was the hardest part. Hate him she did, but regretfully, for he’d never beaten her or punished her. He never had to.

Once on her feet, she swayed, feeling light-headed. She held her injured arm close to her, afraid if she let go, whatever bone had been broken would shatter further.

King Edward snapped his fingers. “Will someone take Lady Mariana to a private chamber and see her properly tended?”
READ MORE! Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Have you read the first book in the Stolen Bride series? In celebration of its 1 yr anniversary, THE HIGHLANDER'S REWARD ebook is on sale for $2.99! Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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