Cadell’s head snapped up at the word ‘Sian’. He blinked and saw her before him, frozen with fright. He pulled from the old woman’s shoulder and stood a little straighter. He still felt half dead, but the thought of hauling Sian to her father gave him renewed strength.
Sian couldn’t believe that the fates had dropped Cadell in their midst. “No. Go away! Megan, run from him! This is Cadell!” She turned herself to run, and realized that she must go away from the farm and not towards it. She moved as quickly as she could. She’d gone no more than half a dozen strides before she tripped and fell. Sian got up as quickly as she could, but Cadel had closed most of the distance. She made it to the gate, but struggled with the latch. It was her undoing, and Cadell grabbed her.
“Sian, is this the way to act when your betrothed finds you after such a long absence?” he hissed in her ear.
“Let me go!” She tried to fight him off, but she was exhausted. Then he gripped her tightly, pressing against the mostly healed scars. She cried out and nearly collapsed.
“We, are going home. I hope you have a horse here I can borrow.” He pulled her through the gate and into the barn yard. Sian tried to struggle, but was becoming weaker and weaker.
Megan when she realized who the man was, ran to try and stop him rather than listen to Sian’s warning. She caught up to them in the barn. He’d tied Sian up with her apron and was saddling one of the horses. “Oh no ye don’t! Leave off!” she had grabbed a broom and was hitting at Cadell, and the horse.
Cadell turned, grabbed the broom and wrenched it out of Megan’s grasp. “You old woman have been enough help.” He smashed at her with the broom and knocked Megan into the straw. She was out cold. Cadell tied her hands with the apron strings just as he had Megan. Then he stuffed her in the corner of the stall and threw straw over the top of her. Then he finished saddling the horse. Once he was done, he picked up Sian and tossed her over the horse’s back. He mounted, and headed out of the barn. Not knowing exactly where he was, he headed down the road to the right.
Mael and the others walked into a farmhouse that was dark. All of the men were on alert, as there should have been the smells of cooking and the chatter of women as well as light coming from at least the kitchen. When they’d searched the house and found nothing, they met in the yard.
“It’s not right,” said Artur. “Not right at all.”
“Sam, you head for the barn. Finn, go with him.” Mael watched the two of them head off. “Coel, check the chicken coop and Lew, check the field.” The men ran off, and had just disappeared out of sight when they all heard Sam yell. They all ran for the barn.
“I found her in the straw.” Sam was holding Megan and helping her to stand up. He’d untied her hands and she was torn between rubbing them and her head.
“Sian. He’s got her!”
“Megan, who has Sian?” asked Mael.
“Cadell! I found a man knocked out in the forest, an was bringin’ him back to the farm when I see Sian. Afore I can say much, she turns white as a ghost and cries out that it’s Cadell I been helpin’.”
The men stood as still as they could as they listened to Megan describe Sian trying to escape Cadell, and then her attempt to stop him from stealing the horse and Sian.
“Artur, you and Finn head for Marw. Lew, you head for the Aunty’s house. Coel, Sam and Jon, you come with me.” Mael headed out of the barn at a run.
“An where’s he off to?” asked Megan.
“Clewth Hall ifin I a choice,” said Jon. He ran to follow Mael.
Cadell stopped in Marw. At the inn, he pulled Sian off of the saddle and bending her arm back painfully explained that she’d best be quiet. She nodded, still half in shock. He paid for a room. Once there, he tied her up once more and then went downstairs to eat. He’d just finished his second ale when a pair of red headed men walked into the public house side of the inn. He didn’t think anything of it until one of them walked over to the barman. The barman pointed towards him and the two men headed over.
“You be Cadell?” asked the first man.
“No, fraid you have the wrong man.”
“I dinna think so.”
“Innkeeper said you came in with a sickly woman. Where is she?” asked the other man.
“No woman with me. Go on about yer business.” Cadell turned back to his beer, hoping that the men would go away. He figured that someone had found the old woman and that’s why they’d shown up.
“I dinna think so,” the first man said. “I think ye be Cadell. I think you have our lass.”
Cadell stood up, threw the last of his ale in one man’s face and punched the other with the side of the mug. The first man tried to punch him, and Cadell drew his knife across the man’s chest. It cut through the clothes and into the flesh, but not fatally. The man gasped and fell. The other man seeing the first injured, lunged at Cadell. Cadell staggered as the man collided with him. Fists flew and Cadell grabbed the man by his tunic and thrust him hard into the dirt. The man collapsed. Cadell stood, and headed for the room upstairs as everyone else ran to the aide of the two men.
Sian had almost fallen asleep when Cadell burst into the room. He grasped her arm and pulled her to her feet. They headed out of the room and down the back stairs. When Sian started to ask where they were going, he slapped her across the face to shut her up.
Cadell grabbed the nearest horse, and took it. They were out of the barn and headed down the street before anyone could come out of the inn.
Artur held Finn while the innkeeper bandaged his chest. The cut wasn’t bad, due to Finn’s heavy tunic. It still bleed like crazy.
“Sor! Sor! Them as took yer ‘orse!” said the young stable lad.
Artur cursed. Finn gasped. He tried to sit up, but the effort nearly took his breath away. “Artur, take my horse. Go. I’ll head back. Save Sian.”
Artur looked down at his brother, clasped his shoulder and took the pouch of marks Finn shoved at him. He ran out the door of the inn, with the stable lad right behind him.
“Sor! Them went down Market Lane.” The boy pointed. Artur took Finn’s horse, mounted and rode off.
Finn an hour later rode home to Hoel Farm on the horse Cadell had stolen from them that afternoon. When he arrived, his bandage was soaked and Megan stitched him up as he told his story. After a bit of broth, Finn headed for bed. Megan cleaned up the mess and sipped willow bark tea to ease her own aches and pains.