Ruiseart MacNeil. Chief of the clan, sat watching his beautiful wife as she sat talking with their five-year-old daughter. Brianna, Aine MacNeil. Her middle name after the current queen of Faery, Caointiorn Aine MacNeil. Although queen of Culloden in Faery, Caointiorn was from the clan MacNeil. A former (briefly) lover and still a close friend of Ruiseart and his wife Catriona. Caointiorn had chosen Ruiseart's older daughter, Brigid as Princess of Faery. The queen now had a seven -year- old son, Conal, Prince of Faery. Conal was also Ruiseart's son, conceived before Ruiseart and Catriona married or even became intimate.

Before their lives in Faery had begun, Ruiseart had been Richard Castle, celebrity author, Brigid, Alexis, and Catriona, Kate Beckett homicide detective. None of them missed their former lives, although Rick still wrote and released the occasional book, only reentering that life long enough to have a release party and disappear again.

As chief of the clan, friend and advisor to the queen and a reserve officer on the Royal Army staff he led a busy and productive life.

The Royal Army had been Ruiseart's brain child. created after the third, failed invasion from Albion. Originally only a brigade strong it had grown in the last eight years to two full brigades. Drawing many recruits from Eire and France who, after five years of service would gain Cullodian citizenship.

Rick had brokered deals with France and Prussia to produce the Sharpe rifles and the Parrot canons respectively drawing royalties on each unit produced with the proviso that neither one would sell to Albion.

The regulars now all had Sharpe's rifles as did about half the militia, the rest equipped with the cap lock conversion muzzle-loading rifles.

The regular artillery battalions were equipped with Parrots although the militia artillery still had smoothbores. The force might be small by most nation's standards but thoroughly professional. But it was as big as it was going to get. The economics wouldn't support a larger force. Outside of its' military force Culloden in Faery was the most scientifically (Mental and medical) advanced nation in Faery. The other nations in Faery had been informed that Culloden would not be coerced in any way, withdrawing their services from any who might try. They have a strong ally in France and others in Eire and Cymru. Culloden, Eire and Cymru were now formally allied in the Celtic League both a military and economic alliance. Each still independent nations with their own currency, government. and head of state. Caointiorn in Culloden, Arthwyr in Cymru and Orlaith in Eire

Ruiseart held a tankard of ale as he relaxed. He was just about to take a sip when Caointiorn walked in with her son Conal and Ruiseart's son Artair, Seumas MacNeil in tow. She did not look happy. Ruiseart rose.

"Oh, sit back down Ruiseart. I'm just Aine right now. Just an upset mother. Our two little hooligans have been at it again."


"Yes, but not with each other, with the McCreery brothers. Ian tried to steal Conal's dirk, Conal hit him. Jock jumped on Conal and Artair jumped on Jock. No one was seriously hurt; a couple of scrapes and Jock got a bloody nose. Nonetheless we can't have a prince and a chieftain brawling in the street."

"Four boys fighting is not exactly a brawl, Aine. Boys will be boys. Boy's fight. It's the natural order of things. Besides they will be leaders someday. Yes, leaders have to know diplomacy and when not to fight, but they also need to know when to fight and the ability to do so."

Artair Ruiseart MacNeil was seven years old, taller and broader than most boys his age, indicating that he would be a big man. He was already as tall as eight-year-old Conal Sean MacNeil his half- brother. Conal was slender, with the slightly slanted eyes and pointed ears of some Faery. The eyes a clear green, Artair was broad shouldered, His eyes a piercing blue. Both had their father's otter-brown hair, hawk nose and crooked smile there could be no doubt that they were brothers. They often fought with each other, as brothers are wont to do, but anyone outside that bond would be fighting both of them.

"Lads, come here. Tis true, you should not be fighting in the street and you should try to avoid trouble, if you can. However, in this case, Conal you have a right to defend your property. And Artair, you were right to defend your brother." He looked at Aine.

"This isn't the first time the McCreery's have been caught stealing or trying to. This time they will not be released to their hooligan of a father. They and he will be brought before the magistrate and severely punished because it's not just stealing it's assault."

Two days later, the McCreery family stood in front of the magistrate with Caointiorn, Catriona, and Ruiseart present to back up their sons.

"I'll start with the accusers. Conal MacNeil, do you swear to tell the truth?"

"I do." Artair and I had just been given brand new dirks. I was looking at mine, when Ian McCreery grabbed it and tried to run away with it. I hit him as hard as I could His brother Jock jumped on me from behind. Artair jumped on Jock and pulled him off me. We scuffled a bit. I got my dirk back and the McCreery's ran away.

"Artair MacNeil, do you swear to tell the truth?"

"Yes sir. It was just as Conal said. The McCreery's tried to steal Conal's dirk we stopped it. No one attacks my brother and gets away with it"

"Ian McCreery what do you have to say for yourself?"

Ian McCreery was nine, short, overweight and would grow to be a stocky adult. He had curly auburn hair, a ruddy complexion and muddy brown eyes.

"I didn't steal anything. That dirk is mine. Me Da told me that I'm entitled to anything I'm strong enough to take. The boy's arrogance enraged the magistrate.

"Sean McCreery did you indeed teach him that?"

"Aye, it's true enough the strong always take from the weak.

"That attitude is not acceptable in Culloden. The MacNeil boys are the injured party. No blame falls on them. They are free to go.

You McCreery's are another matter. You are immigrants. When you applied to live in Culloden you swore an oath to uphold Culloden's laws and traditions. Not only have you not done so, you have taught your sons that they can lie, cheat and steal, claiming that might is right. Therefore, this is my judgement. Since I doubt that the five swats will do your sons any good and you show no remorse for your arrogance, I believe that the best course for Culloden is to remove the source of the problem. Your residence permits are revoked. You must wind up your affairs and depart from Culloden within thirty days."

McCreery's face was first white with shock, then red with fury.

"You can't do this, it ain't fair." He snarled;

"I'll get you for this you bastard MacNeil's!"

"Bailiffs arrest that man." Two burly men grabbed McCreery."

"Sean McCreery, you have, in front of a magistrate, issued threats against the queen. You will stand trial in one week's time. You are remanded without bail. Any attempt to escape will be met with maximum force."

"Emily McCreery began to wail, but no one felt any sympathy for her."

The trial only lasted an hour and McCreery was convicted.

"Sean McCreery having been found guilty, as charged I could sentence you to ten years at hard labor. But then your family would be thrown on the mercy of Culloden or turn to more thievery or worse. Therefore, You and your family are sentenced to immediate banishment from Culloden. You came from Eire and there you shall return. If after you are deported, you are found anywhere on Culloden's soil, you will spend the next ten years in prison."

"Ruiseart Mac Neil."

"Aye, Your Honor."

"If at any time, now or in the future Sean McCreery approaches you or your kin, in a suspicious or hostile manner, the court authorizes you to use deadly force."

Three days later the McCreery family was escorted by armed guards to a ship bound for Eire. The four guardsmen went aboard the ship until it exited Culloden's territorial waters, to ensure McCreery didn't try to jump ship. A longboat took the guards back to Culloden.

The excitement of the McCreery's soon passed and things were quiet for a few weeks, until the engagement of Princess Brigid to Kenneth MacDonald was announced. The quiet, studious boy had grown into a fine young man, A chieftain, now, in his own right. He was still more on the quiet side, but now a skilled warrior, a reserve Lieutenant in the Royal Guard. But according to Culloden's laws, marrying the princess would not automatically make him a prince.

Ruiseart could hardly believe it, here had the time gone? Brigid at twenty-two was engaged. She'd graduated from the University of Inverness with a degree in economics and as princess sat on the privy council. While very involved in her duties. She loved to spend time with her little sister and princess Maeve Orlaith MacNeil.

Maeve was Caointiorn and Alastair's daughter, born just a month after Brianna and the two were as close as sisters, growing up together. Brianna often at the palace and Maeve often at the MacNeil home. Caointiorn, being the woman she was, none of Brigid's prerogatives had been lessened. It was made plain to Maeve that she could model herself after Brigid as well as her mother.

The engagement only lasted six months and it took all that time to plan the wedding, that Caointiorn insisted was a Royal one and would be held at the palace.

As the planning had involved Caointiorn as well as Catriona. Martha, Brigid herself and her chief ladies in waiting, Caointiorn, Catriona, and Martha's gowns matched. The ladies-in waiting served as bridesmaids Sweet, fierce, loyal Kenzie served as matron of honor.

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon in April. The Royal Guards turned out in full dress lining the street from MacNeil House to the Royal Palace. A platoon of cavalry preceding the carriage and one following.

You could hear the crowd's indrawn breath as Brigid was handed down from the carriage by her father. Her gown was of pure white silk with an Irish lace overlay. The bodice had a sweetheart neckline and flowing sleeves, the full skirts just barely touching the red carpet. The bodice was decorated with seed pearls and tiny diamonds. Her veil held in place by her princess' diamond and sapphire tiara.

Caointiorn, Catriona and Martha's gowns had bodices identical in style to Brigid's but without the seed pearls or lace overlay and the skirts were less full. All in the rich blue-green color. of the clan. Caointiorn wore her informal crown, Catriona wore a tiara befitting a chief's wife. there were plenty indrawn breaths as these three ladies were handed down from the royal carriage, Ruiseart turned out in the formal regalia of a clan chief. MacNeil dress kilt and tartan silver buttoned Balmoral jacket over a pleated white shirt, chief 's torque on his neck. Three eagle feathers on his bonnet. Bearing all three traditional weapons, Skean Dhu, dirk and broadsword

Brianna and Maeve served as her flower girls. The MacNeil boys, very reluctantly as ring bearers. They were mollified, somewhat, that they were, for the first time wearing their dirk

Kenneth wore the Royal guard dress uniform with the silver buttons and epaulettes silver brad at collar His cousin Donald, also an officer, was his best man.

Kenneth stared in awe as his bride to be came up the aisle of the palace chapel. She seemed to glow as approached him, on her father's arm. Ruiseart placed Brigid's hand in Kenneth's. The priest said;

"Who givith this woman to this man?"

Ruiseart replied;

"Her mother and I do."

The priest bound Brigid's and Kenneth's wrists together with a white cord.

"Kenneth MacDonald speak your vow to Brigid."

"I Kenneth MacDonald vow you the first cut of my meat, the first sip of my wine. From this day forward it shall only be your name that cry out in the night and into your eyes that I smile every morning. I shall be a shield for your back as you are for mine. Nor shall a grievous word be spoken about us, for our marriage is sacred between us and no stranger shall hear my grievance. Above and beyond this I shall cherish and honor you through this life and into the next."

"Brigid MacNeil, speak you vow to Kenneth."

"I Brigid MacNeil

vow you the first cut of my meat, the first sip of my wine. From this day forward it shall only be your name that cry out in the night and into your eyes that I smile every morning. I shall be a shield for your back as you are for mine. Nor shall a grievous word be spoken about us, for our marriage is sacred between us and no stranger shall hear my grievance. Above and beyond this I shall cherish and honor you through this life and into the next."

The priest beamed, unbound their wrists and asked for the rings.

Kenneth placed a ring on Brigid's finger. "With this ring, I thee wed.

Brigid placed a ring on Kenneth's finger. "With this ring, I thee wed.

The priest said; "I now pronounce husband and wife, Fear- Ceile and Bhean-Taic. You may kiss your bride."

The young couple followed instructions, enthusiastically.

The bridal party and the wedding guests went from the chapel to the grand ball room where the reception was being held. The reception line formed. It took over an hour for the guests to pass it, by which time, Ruiseart's patience was wearing thin. He wanted to eat, dance with his daughter and his wife and share some whisky with Malcolm MacDonald.

Fifteen minutes later, he got his wish. The queen's chamberlain said;

"Lairds, ladies and gentlemen, Her Majesty bids you all come to table."

The bridal party, as was customary, sat at a table reserved for them.

The priest who had performed the ceremony was the royal chaplain. He now gave a blessing over the food. It was a veritable feast, with roast beef, ham, chicken, mutton, potatoes, salads, green vegetables and, of course, a massive cake.

To drink, there were wines, beer, juices, coffee, tea and ice water.

After the main part of the meal was over, the queen rose. Everyone got quiet.

"We are greatly pleased that Laird Ruiseart and Lady Catriona, surrendered pride of place to us that we could host this wedding. It is and has been one of our greatest pleasures in knowing Princess Brigid and this fine young man she has chosen to share her life with. We wish them great happiness and much wealth."

The whole gathering laughed, knowing that wealth had nothing to do with money.

As the queen sat down, Donald MacDonald rose.

"I propose a toast to Brigid and Kenneth. May their lives be long, successful and happy and I echo Her Majesty in wishing them much wealth." After the toast was drunk, Donald continued.

"I have known Kenneth since we were wee bairns. He is a fine strong man who has shown impeccable taste in the woman he chose to marry"

Ruiseart rose.

"I could not be prouder of the fine young woman my daughter has grown to be. She has always been sweet, loving and intelligent but truly blossomed upon entering Faery and becoming Princess Brigid. Her Majesty knew who she would become, before anyone else and she has had much to do with the outcome. Two strong beautiful women have made a third. So I give my thanks to Brigid's mother, my wife, Lady Catriona and to Her Majesty, Queen Caointiorn.

The toasts, completed, the cake cut and served, he dancing began. First the newlywed's first dance, then, the father-daughter/ mother-son dances.

Ruiseart no sooner released Brigid than Catriona stepped in.

"I want two dances, before Aine claims one." She got them, then the queen got hers. While Caointiorn and Ruiseart were dancing, Flora MacDonald took Catriona aside.

"We had better keep an eye on our men when they get into the whisky. Malcom can become a little boisterous after three shots."

Catriona laughed.

"So, can Ruiseart."

After his second shot, Catriona took Ruiseart's hand.

"Brigid and Kenneth have already left and we should too. You see, my Darling we have to celebrate the fact that in a few months, we shall be adding to our wealth."


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