The King of Sleep

The King of Sleep by Caiseal Mor Read Free Book Online

Book: The King of Sleep by Caiseal Mor Read Free Book Online
Authors: Caiseal Mor
    â€œA fine gift too,” Mahon cut in. “But if you’ll accept a better one from me then I’ll know you’re not offended”
    â€œYou’re a hospitable man,” Iobhar conceded. “And you’re calm in a crisis. You deserve a woman with an even temper and a quiet disposition.”
    â€œI’m level-headed!” Aoife snapped.
    All three men passed knowing glances between them.
    The young woman noticed their reaction and shrugged her shoulders. “I was caught up in theexcitement of the chase,” she admitted. “The way he taunted me was infuriating.”
    â€œMaybe you’ll calm down when you’re wed to Mahon,” Iobhar suggested.
    Before he had a chance to regret his words the young woman dropped her sword, took two steps forward and punched the Gaedhal square in the jaw. He fell to the ground senseless.
    â€œAoife!” Mahon protested.
    â€œIt’s time he learned to be polite. I won’t have a Gaedhal insulting me.”
    Mahon tenderly placed a hand on her shoulder to calm her. “Go easy on the lad. He didn’t mean to insult you. Try to remember he’s a guest at your father’s court. You can’t go around beating visitors into submission just because they suffer a momentary lapse of good sense. I told you this wager was a stupid idea.”
    Aoife grudgingly apologized. “I hope you’re not too badly hurt,” she offered. “Don’t forget you promised to teach me how to use a bow in the style of your people.”
    But Iobhar didn’t respond. He was utterly senseless, or at least smart enough to appear that way.
    â€œI don’t like the idea of you being given lessons in the arrows of the Gaedhal,” Mahon protested.
    â€œI don’t much care whether you like it or not. Besides, Iobhar gave me his word,” the woman insisted.
    As she spoke a figure cloaked from head to foot in a dark green mantle climbed over the wall and dropped onto the grass nearby. Lom drew his swordinstinctively and Mahon spun around to challenge this unexpected intruder.
    Of all of them only Aoife remained calm. She had glimpsed him earlier and had guessed who this hooded stranger might be. “Put your swords away, boys,” she gently rebuked her brother and her lover. “Don’t you recognize this fellow? He was following you all the way up the hill.”
    Mahon looked at Lorn with a frown, then turned back to the intruder.
    â€œWho are you?” Lorn demanded.
    The stranger slowly pulled back the hooded breacan cloak from his eyes and as he did so Lom’s expression transformed from concern into recognition. There before him was a man whose face was exactly the same in every detail as his own. The long black hair tied at the back of the neck was his. The smooth clear skin and the dark eyes were also his. Even the way this fellow curled his lip on one side as he grinned was the very way Lom himself smiled.
    â€œSárán!” Lorn cried out as he ran forward to take his twin brother in a warm embrace. “I haven’t looked on your features for two winters.”
    â€œExcept in the cold reflection of a still pool,” Sárán noted dryly.
    â€œWhat are you doing here?” Aoife begged as she ran to her brother’s side. “We thought you were away in the east with your teacher, Fineen.”
    â€œWe returned this morning,” Sárán replied as he bowed politely to Mahon.
    It was then he noticed the unconscious form of Iobhar sprawled out upon the grass. He raised his eye-brows at the scene before he went on. “Father ordered I be sent out to search for you. He had a notion you might come up here to the ruins of Dun Burren to waste time play-fighting.”
    â€œBrocan was informed that we intend to spend the night here,” Mahon cut in. “We’ll return tomorrow.”
    â€œYou are to come back to the caves with me before sunset,”

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