By his side, a new addition to the clan; Bjorn Thal Velson, a replanted Skaldi from the north lands. Bjorn was much taller than Caelach, standing at least two heads greater. His fair hair and beard danced in the breeze coming off of Loch Lismore. His chest was broad and his arms thick.
The pair found their way to the central market, where clansmen peddled their wears and traded goods. Young children dashed in and out of the bustle of their elders, laughing, screaming and shouting. Caelach’s face darkened and he searched for the closest ale cask and filled his horn. He could feel Bjorn’s steel eyes watching him as he drained the horn and replenished it. The Skaldi moved in, brushing Caelach aside as he filled his own horn.
“You drink very much,” grunted the northman. Caelach wiped a dribble of ale from his chin with his sleeve. He gave the northman a sideways grin. Bjorn had yet to fully grasp the Caerbic language, and it still made Caelach smile.
“That is a deep praise coming from you.”
“As I say in the north, you is éngi tvagallmák,” laughed Bjorn.
“What does that mean?” chuckled Caelach. Bjorn’s face screwed up trying to come up with the Caerbic words.
“Not weak gut,” he hammered out. Caelach raised his horn.
“Kalg!” exclaimed the northman. They both pointed their horns to the sky and drained them of ale. Bjorn clapped Caelach on the shoulder.
“Methinks you have found eyes,” whispered the northman.
“Huh?” blinked Caelach. Bjorn jerked his blonde head towards a nearby stall. Caelach peered through the throng towards the direction indicated. His eyes fell upon a woman with hair like the feathers of a raven, and eyes of a summer oak. Their eyes met for a moment before her face turned red and she looked back down at the bolts of cloth she was inspecting. He recognized her instantly. She was Flora MacAmbraise-Evinyn. Bjorn looked down at Caelach.
“She know you?” he questioned.
“Hmm?” murmered Caelach turning his head, but his eyes were transfixed on Flora.
“She know you?” repeated the northman.
“Oh, yes. I’ll be right back,” said Caelach taking a swig before making his way towards the raven maiden.
Caelach casually slid up next to Flora. Her emerald eyes shot towards him and blush filled her cheeks and she kept inspecting the folds of plaid.
“Hello Flora,” he smiled. Her face burned.
“Hello Caelach…” she muttered. Caelach could feel the grin of the weaver. He looked at the greying woman. She beamed, winked, and stepped out from behind the stall, leaving the pair to themselves. Flora wore a simple blouse and bodice with a blue and purple tartan skirt.
“You look very beautiful this day,” said Caelach. Flora twirled a loose jet strand around her finger and bit her lip.
“Thank you,” she grinned meekly.
“Are you going to compete in the games?” she asked.
“Of course!” boasted Caelach. He leaned close. “I plan to fight for your hand in the melee.” She gave him a weak smile and rubbed her neck.
“Just be careful…” she murmured.
“I always am!” he proclaimed. She allowed him a small chuckle and turned back to the fabrics.
“They are so beautiful! Elfyn is so talented,” praised Flora.
“Thank you lassie.” The greying weaver had returned.
“What would you like for this one?” asked Flora, holding up a red and purple tartan.
“Hmmm, that one would be four boars.” Flora’s face fell.
“Oh, I don’t think I could afford that…” she lamented.
“Here.” Caelach reached into the folds of his kilt and withdrew five golden coins with a relief of a boar etched into once side and handed them to the weaver. Elfyn counted the coins and made to give one back, but Caelach refused.
“Keep it,” he grinned. The weaver’s face lit up.
“Much appreciated!” she cried before lifting the bolt of cloth and handing it to Flora.
“Here you go lass, you better make something beautiful with that!” she winked.
“Caelach! How could I ever thank you!” she cooed. Caelach grinned, leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers.
“Like so,” he said, giving her a wry smile.