Poster: Gillean Callihan
Post # 8
A lifetime of hiding was difficult to release. Years of solitude and
survival didn't just evaporate with the warmth of the sun. But Gillean
would admit that the warmth of that sun felt good on his face, on his
arms, on his legs as he rode alongside his sister toward the estates
granted them to oversee. The horses stayed close, even when they raced
through the fields like they had before the black cloud of betrayal had
hidden that warmth. A lovely lady astride, laughing and calling out as
they galloped through the meadows. A nobleman pleased to see the lady
The news received the prior evening lifted her heart in a way it had not
been in a long time. Her beloved brother was back and now without a
price hanging over his head. She had to pinch herself as she glanced his
way in the steady pace set by their mounts. It was not a dream for
certainly it had been a dream but even her dreams were not as good as
this reality. "I see the crocuses are in bloom," as they were
passing patches of them and the ground sporting the hint of
green grass. Other clumps pressed up through a remaining patch of snow.
"As the spring brings forth new life, I feel as if we are beginning
a new one too. A better one." Even the days of old before their
father had become too corrupt, there was a way about him that had him
always pitting them against each other to control. It never stopped
the bond that had grown between them, perhaps in a way it helped to
strengthen it. "I have saved money, to help in refurbishing the
estate," she wished to do most of this on their own, without money
from the crown or their cousin if they could. The brightness and
warmth of the sun was actually adding some color along her cheeks. Made
her eyes brighter but it was more an inner shine. "I would like to
raise horses again if the estate has a stable." She had always
loved that particular animal even if she favored a few others too.
Laugher came easily again when they raced, she kept up well as she had
before even passing him out a time or two.
"You shall have anything...everything, Caoime." As long as he
lived, he would do all in his power to make it so. The horses were
slowed then stopped as they topped the knoll, looking out over the lands
that would be theirs together. The large lake, the manor house in the
distance, the stables and crofters houses and all that needed to be done
to bring all of those to life.
The sun had no comparison to her smile with his words. Her heart
overflowing with Joy. This was probably the happiest he'd seen her since
a child on Christmas morn. "Our future lies before us Gillean, I
will not let anything have it not so, beloved one." He was her
blood, her beloved, he would always be a part of her life as she would
be of his. Perhaps different in the future if either or both should
marry but the bond would not be denied. It was the very reason she took
past circumstances so hard. She took a moment to soak in the scene, the
manor was grand that stood regally nestled in lush rolling hills and
pastures. Sheep scattered the planes and even the rockier inclines.
Three decent size lakes formed a triangle from this view. Blue waters
could be seen with fading ice patches. "There is so much potential
here...." turning the brightness of eyes his way.
It was her final words that had him looking her way with a nod. This was
the sister he loved and cherished. Her features alight with hope and
excitement. The pale, fragile woman of only a couple nights past gone,
and gone forever. "The potential lies in you, Dear Sister and so,
there is hope for even this place." There was now hope for wherever
they might venture, with whatever they may venture to do. He was not
without his own funds to support them. Gillean had not survived these
many years without a plan for his future and those plans included
investments that had more than paid off. "Where would you like to
start? The manor house? The stables?"
"It will be wonderful," words spoken not only in encouragement
but in determination. "Let us see how the manor holds up
inside." Leaving Gillean to estimate the foundation and outer walls
as he would know better if the mortar needed reinforcing or even new
walls built where old ones were starting to crumble. "The manor
house, that is if we can, if there is a cook, have our meal there this
night in celebration and if there is not, I can see about procuring one
tomorrow." She was not sure of the setup of the place in what they
had. "The stables next," so one would get the quick over as
her passion would not be denied either. She started forward
and then into a gallop again for the grounds were solid enough of the fields
that rolled before the estate.
He laughed as she made up her mind and set off at a determined pace
across the fields. He lingered a moment where he was, enjoying the view
with his sister included in it. Soon, though, he tapped his heels to the
horse's middle and followed. The earth beneath seemed to welcome the
solid thud of horses' hooves echoing back. It was a confidant sound, one
of authority and control. The two large mounts arrived with both,
confidence and control, as did their riders. Gillean eased off of the
saddle, still holding the reins as he came around to aid Caoime from
Her hands found his strong shoulders as he helped her down, her smile
near brilliant that shone up to him with the tip of her head back a
moment. Dipping back as she stepped away and surveyed the front of the
Keep. It seemed to be in fair shape but she didn't really have an eye
for such things unless a prominent eyesore. "What do you
think?" It was a good size but not as big as Montrose, which was
good in her opinion... the less she had to take care of. Not that she
was lazy but more she didn't want to spend from morn to dusk taking care
of a household. "I'm sure I'll have to hire on a head maid."
More mussing to herself as she peeled the leather riding gloves
from her hands. All the while taking in the sight before them. At least
there was a stable boy, slightly stammering with his words as he offered
to take the horses and that they would be seen to all proper. She would
guess word got ahead that the new Masters of Swan Lakes were on their
"Dry them down good." He released his reins to the lad and
started walking toward the entrance of the large manor house.
"They've been ridden hard." He reached back a hand for his
sister to accept it. They'd walk in together. She the Lady of the house.
He the Lord. For all the years of disuse, the structure appeared sound
enough with his initial scan. Perhaps some support at the foundation
here or there ... but a more thorough inspection would be completed
She took in a deep breath, "now to see how the inside is,"
smile didn't waver with a glance to Gillean. "See if we can
stay." Which if they could then they could start having their
things sent as well see to what was left tomorrow and the next. Placing
her hand in his as they ventured forward. Inside they would find
that only a few rooms were in use which had the minimal amount of
furniture. Other rooms were closed off and furniture draped in sheets.
There was a cook and they would find she was very good. Only one
chambermaid to take care of the rooms being used.
Gillean could sleep or eat anywhere. He had before, he could again. But
he would see to Caiome's comfort before he'd agree to sleeping here. The
chambermaid curtsied off a hello to the two and he motioned for her to
come closer. "You'll fix the master suite for the lady, yes? You've
all day to see to it. And if you have any friends or family needing
work, have them come to speak with me. Go on now, see to it. Your Lady
will be wanting a bed free of dust and clean sheets." He left
Caoime's side then to walk to the parlor room to the left, pressing the
door open to enter. A dark brown stain made a small half circle in the
wallpaper near the floorboard. Signs of a leak, but that could be easily
enough corrected if it wasn't already.
She came up alongside him after the woman went to see to his bidding.
"Her name is April." an arm sliding around his back as her
words stayed soft, "I feel so free. A feeling I've not had since
our early teen years." Somewhat wistful but certainly happy to
feel this way once again. There had been many dark nights, days, weeks
and months adding into years since their father lost everything and
their lives were shoved in a basket to hell.
And his greatest regret was that she had to face them alone, those many
nights, days, weeks, months, years. "April?" He cast a look
back over his shoulder toward the door and where the maid had been, then
down to his sister. "How do you ever remember that?" Names of
servants would never seem important enough to Gill to remember, but
Caoime was different from her brother. She cared for everyone, not just
those who might be worth something to her in the future.
"Well, to remember it. I just found out. If she is going to be
working for me, for you, I want to know her name. Unless she is good at
her job she is going to regret it soon enough." Giving him a wink
as she slipped on by to view that brown stain then glanced up to the
high ceiling. "I wonder if they even realize there is a leak
here," more mussed for the room wasn't used. From there she went
around to peek under the white covers protecting the furniture, carved
cherry wood in an intricate design with brocade covered seats in muted
autumn colors. "Not bad," still mussing as she was over to
discover a covered grand piano near a large window.
"We know it." He said regarding that leak, and they were now
responsible. Gill actually tilted to the side to see beneath the cloth
that Caoime had lifted, just so he could see what she saw. "You
want to check the kitchen to see if we can eat here tonight or if we
should head to The Owl's Nest for dinner?"
James had talked with Captain Dewar on an opportunity to advance his
career by going under Gillean Callihan. A letter written would be
brought by him to Lord Callihan. It read: Greetings Gillean, I am
offering you the services of Captain Dewar in the capacity of Head Guard
of your Estate. He's a good man, well trained and with an expertise to
train others as you will be needed your own regiment in these not so
tamed lands. (not adding hostile in case Caiome should read it). He has
been serving your sister and keeping her safe for some time. I know this
would be a priority for you. There is no obligation to this request if
you should decide to decline, Captain Dewar will still hold his position
here. Respectfully, James Roy Callihan.
To be honest, Michael hadn't considered such a move until James spoke
with him. Of course, the likelihood that he would be accepted was slim
but he couldn't pass up the opportunity. He was sure, after their last
meeting, Caiome wouldn't care to have him anywhere near her, and Gillean,
well ... In any case, he made his way to the manor. After a knock
on the door, he waited to see if anyone answered. It wouldn't do to walk
Gill had gone over to the leak-stained space and had squatted to get a
better look at the damage of wall and floor. The knock had him looking
toward the door. "Yes!" He barked to the request for entry,
then looked back to the darkened splotch, running his fingertip over the
area to see if it was still damp.
Caiome was at the piano, dragging the sheet off as she tested out the
keys. It was fairly in tune, except one or two keys that would need just
a bit of adjusting. Hearing the knock at the door, she looked up and
near jumped when her brother barked out a YES. Hand flew to her chest as
a light laugh escaped. "I do believe the butler, Barry, I think his
name is, can see to the door.."
First he heard that barked out yes, then as he reached for the door it
opened, causing him to step back. The butler motioned him in, asking his
name, and had him follow him to the parlor, though he was made to wait
outside in the hall after the man gave his boots a look. Michael
couldn't help checking them for mud after the man stepped into the
parlor and announced "A Captain Michael Dewar is here to speak to
you, my lord, my lady. He brings a message from the Duke of
Gillean slowly straightened to stand, wiping his hand against the side
of his leg. "Then show him in, Benny. If he comes from Montrose,
don't keep him waiting." Yes, Caoime had said his name correctly,
but Gill just butchered the hell out of it. He wasn't one for
befriending the servants. He'd leave that up to his sweet,
compassionate, darling of a sister. Even the captain's name, though
vaguely familiar, didn't set off any bells of recognition.
She rose from her the bench to move away from the piano and just short
of the archway between foyer and parlor. Just a slight smile but one
that warmed her eyes, "good evening Captain Dewar," with a
glance between the two, "shall I leave you to your privacy?"
She would depart if they needed to discuss business they wished
Gillean would surely recognize him when the man entered. He was carrying
his helm under his arm, and the eye was merely black, blue, and yellow
rather than swollen. "Good evening, Lord Callihan, Lady
Caiome." He bowed slightly, before he stepped forward to offer the
sealed letter. Privacy would be decided upon by Gillean so he kept
Gil hesitated when he saw which 'captain' it actually was. His gaze
narrowed on the man but he started toward him, thanking him with a nod
of head as he accepted the letter and broke the wax seal.. "No,
Bunny, you are the lady here, it is as much your business as it is
...." And he was already reading as he spoke, his words fading as
the 'kind' offer from James was reviewed. When finished he handed the
correspondence over to his sister and looked to Dewar. "Well, this
is interesting to say the least." He crossed his arms against his
chest, a half grin tugging at his lips. "You are aware of what the
Duke has suggested, Captain?"
He kept his expression fairly stoic though he didn't drop his gaze from
Gillean's as he stepped forward to accept the letter. "I am, m'Lord.
" He resisted the urge to shrug or glance at Caiome to see what her
reaction was to the letter. She seemed to have forgiven him for the
attempt to capture her brother.
If she wanted to choke when she heard "Bunny" from her
brother, in front of Dewar, she had the grace not to show any sign of
such. He had not used Bunny since she was very young and had almost
forgotten it. She had a love for the rabbits and even had a bunch she
raised. All domesticated and lop eared. For a moment it brought her back
in time to a happier place before she was back to reading the letter
that Gil handed her. The smile remained that had been there. She gave a
slight dip of her head before taking the few steps to stand near her
Gillean glanced to his sister to see her reaction to the letter, but
since she continued to smile, he slid his attention to the guard.
"Water under the bridge is it?" He crossed over to one of the
sheet covered chairs, taking a lean against the back of it, his arms
still held against his chest. "Thing is, that water may have washed
away down the stream, but it always seems to leave some damage to the
wood of that bridge. It's the way of the water. Can't be helped."
What would Dewar say to that? Would he even respond? A dark brow
twitched up, a challenge in itself.
She had read the letter, much would be up to Gillean than her but she
figured she could have her say. "James was kind, the lands are
hostile and besides needing a staff, we will need good men to protect
our Keep so all who lives within can have that peace of mind. Although,
I don't know what my brother has planned in that area. I can vouch that
Captain Dewar has been very efficient in his duties as well complimented
on his expertise over the years serving under James." All the while
she looked right at Dewar before finally shifting focus to her brother
after the last was said as she held out the letter back to him.
"That is true, but damage can be repaired, in time, if one wishes
to preserve the bridge." He looked squarely at Gillean though
Caiome's words had him inclining his head in her direction in thanks.
"I will add that I would not allow anything to interfere with my
duties here anymore than I would at Montrose." No matter what his
feelings were for the new Master of this keep, or of the Master's
feelings toward him.
Ah, his sister. Such a unselfish, magnanimous, trusting woman. He didn't
look to Caiome, just accepted the letter, intently watching the Captain.
He tapped the letter to his open palm, then with a slow nod, pushed up
from his lean. He offered a hand out to Michael. "It seems you come
highly recommended by not only James, but the Lady of the Keep. It would
be an honor to the household to have you see to the protection of those
within it and those who reside upon her lands." There was only the
slightest tick at the base of his eye as he presented his hand.
"And while we see to the repairs of the manor and the homes in her
charge, perhaps any bridge repairs can be attended to as well. All in
She knew the undercurrent between the two and she held herself back from
giving that bit of a sly smile. Instead she fell into her role as Lady
of the House until her brother found a wife. She would cross that bridge
when she came to it. "How many good men do you think we shall need?
I think James had over a hundred and fifty at Montrose." The
Captain would know exactly having been one of them! "There are
probably local males of age and ability that might suit." She had
seen the small villages around the Keep, between the outer walls and
inner. She had made a mental note to check them out soon as they got
settled in. Probably take a guard or two with her just in case. That
quick look her brother's way with her thought the only indicating she
figured he would insist.
He may have noticed the tick but his expression didn't change as he took
Gillean's hand in a firm grip, then stepped back as he released. There
was no need for a testing of strength. Michael was well aware of Gillean
skill and strength. His attention shifted to Caiome and he
nodded. "It varies with some leaving, new ones joining but closer
to one hundred and seventy. There were some who served the former lord
here and were not of the same disposition as his most trusted men.
They'd be willing to serve a Callihan." Even if he was the son of
Ultan, so long as the Duke was the one who stood behind him. "I
believe there are several who might join me temporarily to help
train." He was already calculating what would be needed, archers,
footmen. "Of course, all would have to be approved by you, Lord
Gillean chuckled, but there was no humor in the sound. "Well, let's
hope they would serve a Callihan." No matter the blood line of that
particular name. "There is no need of my approval, Captain Dewar.
I'll leave the guarding of Swan Lakes in your capable hands. Is it not
why the Duke recommended you? There is plenty enough for the two of us
to tend to." He motioned between himself and his sister with a
flick of hand. "When you've amassed your troops, seen them trained,
then perhaps I'd like to know. But until then, this will be my initial
attempt at bridge mending." A cant of head the man's way, a
modified bow of respect. Or perhaps, considering the origins of the
source, a mocking one instead. "Unless, of course, my sister would
like to oversee the process." He glanced to Caiome and smiled. For
her, the expression was genuine, but when he looked back to Dewar, that
expression had faded to one of guarded hospitality.
"No, that will be fine as my brother wishes. I do hope to be
visiting, even inspecting the villages to see how the people are living.
I will be dressing down to try and fit in but I will be needing an
escort to ensure my safety in case I'm recognized and perhaps.."
but she waved it off instead of going there that there might be
resentment or the fact a woman of her status as it was now, should not
be wandering the unknown area without an escort. A guard. "The
guard would need to dress down as well or certainly they would be
alerted to the status of the woman he escorted?" She was reasoning
this out with focus first on Dewar then her brother.
"Thank you for your trust, m'Lord." As begrudgingly as it
seemed to be given, it was still appreciated and surprising though the
fact that he cared so much for his sister did raise Gillean up a notch
in Dewar's estimation. Again his attention shifted to Caiome and he
nodded. "Your reasoning is well thought out, m'Lady. There is
always a danger here, though perhaps someday there won't be. Since you
wouldn't be known yet, I don't think it would be difficult for you and
an escort to travel about." Again though, permission would have to
come from Gillean so he looked toward him.
"Hold on, here." Gillean's tone could be described as nothing
short of a growl. "Is it a lady, period, who is at danger, or just
the lady of this house?" His arms had dropped and he fisted them
where they rested at the sides of his thighs. Fisting and releasing.
"Or is it because she is the daughter of Ultan? Why would the Lady
of this Manor not be able to present herself to the people, as the kind,
caring, giving noble that she is? Would they not wish to see their Lady
mingling with them? To see her wishing to be a part of them? To see
their plight eased?" It was his turn to look between guard and
lady, a dark storm of anger brewing in darker eyes. "I agree with a
guard, that is always a necessity...but I will need clarification for
this fear that my sister...that you..." He looked straight at
Caiome, his right hand lifting to stroke along the line of her face.
"Should go to the people you mean to help as anyone ... but Caiome
Callihan, the Lady of Swan Lakes."
"I am not saying there would be any trouble, it only in case, not
necessarily a reality. I would like to meet them on their level so there
are no pretenses to their reactions or what is said." A hand coming
to rest on his arm to hopefully quell the storm she saw brewing in his
eyes. "These lands are not safe for a woman to be traveling about
on her own." Her words softening as she really didn't think anyone
had anything personally against her. Perhaps she worded it wrong but she
canted her head slightly to study him, he had grown more stormy than
before. It made her wonder on the years he was gone and the life he led.
"Lady Caiome is known for her kindness," even though she had
hidden herself away but that didn't need to be said, "and it is my
feeling you both will find no problems with the people here. However, as
she said, there is a danger for any lady traveling alone. The fact that
she is a Callihan could put her in danger, but more with those who have
a dislike or grudge against the Duke. We didn't kill or imprison all of
his enemies, and those could now be yours as well. Your father could
have enemies among those who also hated the Duke. They might blame him
for the failing of the assault on Montrose and Kildare." He didn't
say more nor did he need to. In time, she would be known to the people
and unable to disguise herself.
His had not been a gentle life any more than hers had been easy. But
they both found ways to survive what fate had delivered to them to
endure. "Very well then." He nodded, hearing Dewar's addition
to the reasoning behind his sister's wish to lower herself to that of
peasant and serf in order to get to know the people better. Just hearing
the word 'fail' was enough to cause Gillean to stiffen but he said
nothing to the accusation. Just to the suggestion of her guard. "I
know you will have a lot already on your to-do list, Captain, but until
a trained and trusted guard can be found for this Lady of the Lakes, it
seems the duty of escort falls to you." Gill may or may not agree
still with the idea of her 'dressing down' to go to the people, but his
thoughts on that were as much his own as any others. "Caiome, don't
keep him overlong. Find out what needs to be done to ease their burdens
and then allow the captain to be about gathering our troops to us."
He twitched off a wink to her knowing his beloved sister meant the best
for those who she would visit.
She realized she would need to get use to watching these two butt heads.
It might be amusing if she allowed that avenue instead of becoming upset
over it. "Do you happen to know these grounds, Captain Dewar?"
Her hand remaining on her brother's forearm as a gesture of support and
devotion to him. Which had her slant a glance his way, she would not
overly keep him but her venture out with a guard would not have her
brother fuming to find out she went alone. "Of course," slight
dip of her head before attention fell on Dewar, "when will you be
"I studied maps during the fighting, so I know the locations. I
don't know the people well, m'Lady or their feelings over all that's
happened." He did know that most accepted their fate whether their
Lord was good or bad. He gave her a slight smile as he continued.
"Like most soldiers, I have little that can't be moved quickly so
within a day at most after I let the Duke know of the decision."
They would all be impatient to begin, including himself. "I'll also
be able to contact those men I know of that will likely be glad to be
doing what they know best again." He was certain there would also
"Good enough then." Gill caught up Caiome's hand from where it
rested on his arm and pressed a kiss to her knuckles before gently
lowering it away. "I'll leave you to it. For now, though, you will
need excuse me. I've a leak that needs to be addressed before the next
rainfall." Amongst other things, many other things. He offered
another dip of head to the Captain of the Guard, a smile to Caiome and
he started toward the door of this particular parlor room.
"Anything needed, Captain, if you will just send word. The barracks
will need attending to I'm sure, just let us know." By the time he
finished speaking he had reached the doorway.
She gave a curtsy, one quick before she was following her brother to the
door. "I bid you good night as well Captain Dewar. I will most
likely see you soon, tomorrow perhaps. I shall help my brother and see
to my quarters." For it was getting late. Her farewell polite as
Barry seemed to appear out of the woodwork to escort the captain to the
door which gained him a smile from her. Attention then turned on her
brother, "would you like a brandy before we retire. I brought along
some of the vintage stock you like." They would also find the cook
had prepared them a light late meal that she would bring up.
Instead of bowing, he saluted Gillean, touching his fisted hand to his
chest over his heart. He did bow to Caiome. "I will, m'Lord. Good
night to you both." And with a turn on his heel, he was following
Barry out. The barracks would definitely be needing some work for he
knew they had been looted for their stone before that was stopped and he
nearly groaned at the thought. But that would wait until tomorrow.
Gillean waited until Dewar quit the room with Barry, then relaxed, in
his sister's sole company again. "I can think of nothing I would
enjoy more at present, then a brandy and your company, Caiome."
Tomorrow was another day, and it would come...it would definitely
come...and demand so much of them.