Monday, March 5, 2012

The Legend of the Vanishing Wedding Feast

By Dawn Marie Hamilton

Photo by Jason Hemmings

Old Castle Lachlan might look like a ruin today, but if you step with me through a mist of fantasy you will see a bustling castle where...once upon a time, resided an angry brùnaidh.

"Ouch." Had someone pinched her?

The somber friar raised his gaze from his prayer book. "Is anything wrong, my lady?"

Heat flashed across Mairi's chest and neck. She glanced at the man standing at her side, the one she met a mere few hours ago.

Iain glared at the shingle at her feet. He probably believed the stones poked through her thin bridal slippers and caused the outburst. Though the shingle made the proceedings uncomfortable, that wasn't what made her screech. Something sharp jabbed her hip, but no one stood near enough to inflict such abuse.

"All is well." She smiled at Father Ambrose. "Please, continue."

Mairi's gaze drifted over the faces of those who'd gathered to witness the uniting of two clans in peace. Bah. Her marriage to the Chief of Clan MacLachlan would change nothing. Her grandfather's quest for more land proved insatiable.

Where was Caitrina? Mairi couldn't find her amidst the crowd. Had the fairy forsaken her? Never. Caitrina must have hidden within a glamour of invisibility.

The friar's voice droned on. Mairi fixed her stare on the water, the ceremony taking place on the shore of Loch Fyne. The MacLachlan chapel within the castle tower was unable to accommodate the throngs of Campbells who'd come to witness the spectacle of her ruin.

She risked a sideways glance at Iain. His features remained inscrutable.

He'd dressed for the occasion in a crisp saffron leine and colorful plaide of red and blue. Two warrior braids hung to one side of his strong jaw and his chestnut hair glistened in the sunlight. When he leveled his stare on her, his sapphire eyes sparkled.

A shiver shimmied along her spine, and she couldn't suppress the prick of fear tangled with excitement for the bedding to come. How would she survive? A large man, he'd rip her asunder.

She moistened her lips. His eyes flared before he looked away.

"Join hands." Father Ambrose grasped her right hand and presented it to Iain who clasped her fingers with his left.

She gasped. A tingle spread gooseflesh up her arm. Iain's lips quirked into the first smile she'd seen from him since she'd arrived at Castle Lachlan.

The friar cleared his throat. "Is there any among the gathered with reason this couple should not wed?"

Mairi flinched when something pricked her arse. She looked over her shoulder, but no one was there. She raised her gaze to Iain.

His eyes sobered with concern and he fingered the ornamental dagger handle protruding from a sheath at his waist with his free hand.

"I pronounce thee man and wife."

Grumbling rose from the crowd, and Iain's expression turned fierce. No one dared step forward to denounce the union on fear of retribution.

With his palm cradling her back, Iain guided his new wife through the gathering of clansmen loitering within his council chamber toward the dais and head table. Silky strands of strawberry blond hair caressed his fingers. Lavender teased his senses. She seemed a wee, fragile lass, but after gazing into her silver eyes, he sensed her backbone. She'd need it to endure the challenging times ahead.

"He is a fool to wed a Campbell." The whisper came from amidst the crowd.

He felt Mairi flinch through the fabric of her silver gown, and he clamped his jaw tight. They could say what they wanted. He'd set his course. Marriage was the only way to ensure peace and prosperity.

Iain seated his wife to his right. He supposed he should say something to soothe her, but he wasn't adept with sweet words.

"Ignore the barbs. I am pleased with you, wife."

"And I with you, husband." Her eyes spoke volumes to the contrary, though her notion of duty would change when he convinced her to…

He couldn't hope for love, but would settle for trust.

"Quiet," he bellowed at the noisy crowd and inclined his head to the friar.

As Father Ambrose rose to say grace, the feast vanished from the tables in a fine, gray mist. Surprised and angry voices echoed through the chamber.

Iain slammed a fist on the table. Munn. The damn brùnaidh caused this havoc.

"Ach, my apologies. I shall ensure the situation remedied," Iain stammered as he clasped Mairi's hand and stood. "Please, come with me, my dear. We will see to the feast for our guests."

Wide eyes searched his face, but she rose without question and followed him to the vaults along with several servants. All was quiet. They found no trace of Munn or the stolen victuals.

Dropping Mairi's hand, Iain raised his arm in the air. "Where are you wee man? Where is my wedding feast? Show yourself or I will banish you to the darkest, coldest, cruelest corner of the Highlands."

Silence. Then a faint jingle of silver spoons tingled in the damp air.

Iain sighed. His ranting got them nowhere.

"Munn, return the feast. Dinnae disgrace the MacLachlan name or your own by forcing me to serve our Campbell guests naught but scraps."

"Ach, aye. The Campbells will enjoy the fine catch from our braw rivers and the bounty of our woods. 'Twill naught be long until the Campbells steal our fair lands as well," Munn muttered though he remained invisible.

"Please." Mairi stepped forward and sweetly implored.

Part of the feast was thrust into the hands of servants, the rest landed upon tables that appeared along with the food.

With a nod from Iain, the servants rushed to serve the dishes to the guests.

When he caught Mari's gaze, he expected to glimpse horror. Instead, she laughed. "I see we both have wielders of magic. And I think your Munn may have pinched me during the ceremony."


"I have forgiven him. And I will explain about Caitrina after the feast."

Iain didn't care who Caitrina was. He wanted to kiss his persuasive wife. And that was what he did. When she melted into him, his heart leapt with joy.

 Copyright 2011-2012 Dawn Marie Hamilton

Although this legend ends happily for Mairi and Iain, Munn held hatred for the Campbells deep within his soul for generations.

To learn more about the brùnaidh—the Scottish brownie visit my post from last month.


Renee Vincent said...

Thanks for sharing this excerpt! I loved the pic you posted along with it. How lovely!

Pat McDermott said...

Munn is quite the rascal! Very enjoyable excerpt, Dawn. I love stories built around old legends. Well done!

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Renee. Old Castle Lachlan might be a ruin, but when I venture into the 'mist' I sense the stories waiting to be told. Thanks for stopping by.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Munn is certainly mischievious, Pat. :) I had fun writing the short. Thanks for dropping in for a visit.

Nancy said...

Love the excerpt. Thanks for a light look at forced weddings in days of old.
Nancy Lee Badger, author of SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Dawn Marie this is a great excerpt. I love the myths and how they explain away everything. This sounds like a great story. Thanks for sharing.

derekd said...

Loved the excerpt. Glad you made it back safely from the wilds of Florida. Looking forward to more of your work on the loop.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

I can only imagine what it must have been like not to have a say in who one married. *shivers* Thanks for visiting, Nancy.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Paisley. I'm glad you liked my wee tale. And so glad you stopped by for a visit.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hey, Derek. I'll be rearing to go at the crit loop as soon as I get over the cold I caught in FL and dig out from under the mountain of laundry. :(

Thanks for stopping by for a peek at my story. :)