"You're being summoned."
With arms crossed and legs braced apart, Gabriel Sutherland watched the movement in the forest from the high walls of the keep. "How does he look?"
Stepping closer to him, Harry answered, "Like he's been sliced open wi' an axe."
Slowly turning his head, Gabe raised a single, golden eyebrow.
"How the hell do ye think he looks?" Harry crossed his thick arms and glared back. "The man is going to die, very soon." Harry sighed. "He's agitated about something. You need to get down there. I'll take care of things here."
Gabe nodded and turned back to the forest. "Go and find out who is behind this. These Scots are too well organised--they're running basic assault drills."
"Really?" Harry focused on the forest.
"Mmm. They're running our basic drills," Gabe clarified.
"That's interesting. Then I suppose I'll pay those boys a quick visit, while you see to Thomas."
In the shadow of the heavy wooden door, Gabe stood motionless, watching.
Harry was right--Thomas was dying. And from what the professor had said, Thomas would be dead before midnight.
Thomas. The poor bastard had been hit from behind with an axe three days ago, and his wound had grown steadily worse since then. Gabe watched as Thomas closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. Even the simple act of breathing looked to be almost unbearable.
Squeezing his hands into fists, Gabe stared at him. This was no way for a man like Thomas to die. He was tall and strong, and a talented fighter.
The unfamiliar feeling of amazement shook him again.
Everything Professor McGill had told him was true--it had all taken place just as he'd said it would. He hadn't believed a goddamn word the little man had said until this very moment. He still was having a hard time believing...everything. He narrowed his eyes as he studied Thomas lying helpless on the large bed. He and Thomas were so similar in appearance it was scary. He should be used to it by now--two weeks had passed since he'd first arrived--yet it still amazed him.
When McGill had told him that Thomas was a distant relative, he'd thought the man was a mental case. Until the proof was standing in front of him.
They were roughly the same size and build and they both shared the same light brown hair, green eyes and strongly angled chin. And, from what Gabe could tell, Thomas was calm, self-assured and assessed situations before reacting, traits that made a good soldier great. And if he was anything, Thomas was a soldier.
The steady pounding against the north wall echoed inside the keep as Gabe continued to study Thomas.
Thomas smiled weakly and called out, "So the Scottish bastards are still at it?"
Gabe's deep chuckle echoed in the chamber. Shifting his weight casually, he stepped from the shadows. "Yes, they are."
Stopping a few feet away, Gabe kept his stance non-threatening as he looked Thomas over. The man was pale and clearly struggling to breathe, yet his eyes were bright and sharp as he stared back. Gabe clasped his hands tightly behind his back. This was wrong--a soldier shouldn't die like this. And even though he knew Thomas was a man of high-ranking stature--a lord, of all things--he was still a soldier.
Gabe paused and gave a slight bow as he reached the side of the man's bed.
"We are beyond that now, Gabriel." Thomas waved his hand. The slight movement seemed to take tremendous effort.
"Are we?" Gabe asked, watching the man who, to all appearances, was his uncle.
"Do you dare argue with me?" His arrogant tone made Gabe smile. "You are Edwin's son, my nephew, and soon to be Lord Sutherland."
Narrowing his eyes, Gabe studied Thomas closely. "I am the bastard son of your brother."