Glory and Darlene barely had time to get themselves situated before Neirin and his burly friends reached the car. Thankfully the windows were tinted, so Neirin couldn’t see anything amiss. He still looked at her oddly as he and his bully boys piled into the car, his nostril’s twitching. Without a word, he shoved his packages under a seat and pressed close to her to make room for his guests.
The four men who climbed into the limo were of a type usually seen working for organized crime in the movies – big and well-muscled with cold eyes and little to say. They wore cheap suits and smelled of beer, tobacco, and cigars. She could see a gun poking from one of their jackets until the man adjusted it, meeting her eyes with an indifferent challenge, as if to say, yeah, it’s a gun, lady. You got a problem with that? One of the men peered at Glory curiously as she shrank back into her seat. The rest ignored her completely. She wanted to peg these men as the ones who had chased her and her friends through the alleys, but none of them looked familiar, and the one who stared at her turned away as soon as Neirin glared at him, not so interested in her figure if it offended the man with the cash.
Darlene drove until they reached Tara, Neirin barking at the woman when she hesitated over their route. They drove right up to the hill, Darlene driving onto the green despite its status as a holy landmark. Glory cringed as the tires dug into the grass and soft soil, but no one came to stop them. It was already quite dark and aside from another limo and some lights that were set up near a single dolmen, the place was deserted.
Two women and a child in a wheelchair were waiting, along with the burly masked man who had helped Darlene kidnap Glory. Darlene opened the door for her passengers, and Neirin immediately told her to open the trunk. Tapping two of the men, Neirin ordered one to get the boxes while the other went to the trunk and removed a pair of shovels and some rope. The other men stayed inside, hidden by the darkness of the night.
“You smell of fear,” Neirin whispered into her ear as they left the car. “It is delectable.”
“Wh-who are they?” a woman in a shimmering satin dress and jewels asked, startled by Neirin‘s escort.
“Just some muscle,” he said dismissively as the man carrying the boxes carefully set them on the ground. “The dolmen was moved, was it not? It may have some bearing on the ritual; it should be moved back to its original placement.”
“Move it… but…” The woman hesitated. “This is an historic site. They won’t like if we move it. I paid them to leave us alone, but if we vandalize…”
Neirin exhaled loudly through his nose. “Then they should not have moved it in the first place.” He snapped his fingers, and the men approached the dolmen, examining its base. “Help them,” Neirin said to the masked man standing as still as the stone itself beside the car.
One of the men thrust a shovel into his hand and pointed to the other side of the dolmen as he approached. He took up the remaining shovel, while his companion rigged the ropes around the stone. As soon as the two with shovels began levering the stone from its setting, the third man put his shoulder to the stone and shoved.
The man in the mask had no time to get out of the way as the dolmen toppled towards him. There was a sickening crunch as the stone knocked him to the ground and landed on his outstretched arm. His mask knocked away by the fall, he writhed silently in pain. His mouth was open, but no sound emerged. He could not have been more than sixteen. Glory could not help but see the small smile that twitched at the corners of Neirin’s mouth.
“Help him!” the woman in the nurse’s uniform screamed, stumbling towards the young man. They were obviously siblings with the same dark eyes and hair.
Glory stepped forward but Neirin caught her by the arm, digging his fingers into her flesh. “You may NOT heal him,” he said, glaring at her. She felt the compulsion take root even as the woman stared up at them, at Glory, pleading.
The woman in the jewels gasped as Neirin motioned at the limo behind him, and his remaining bully boys emerged. She put her hands on the wheelchair bound boy and glanced around her for any help, too late realizing that Neirin had no intention of delivering on whatever he‘d promised. The men levered the long stone off the nurse’s brother before two of them put their backs into dragging it away.
“I’m sorry,” Glory said as Neirin dragged her past the nurse, and he dug his fingers into her arm even more viciously. She wondered what he’d do if she went all tentacled on him. Would it at least derail their pending nuptials? She was honestly beginning to think she hated Neirin more than her sister.
The nurse launched herself at Neirin with a cry of grief, snatching up her brother‘s fallen shovel. Neirin released Glory to backhand the woman, grabbing the shovel as she hit the ground. He would have speared her with it if Glory hadn’t grabbed the handle to twist it out of his grasp.
“No more,” he hissed, hitting Glory so that she fell beside the nurse. “You will not speak unless you are spoken to. You will not defy me. You will go where you are directed, and you will submit to my will. Now get up.”
She had time only to give the woman an apologetic look and tap the gold stud where it stood out from her chest before Neirin threw the shovel across the green and turned on his heel. Glory was forced to stand and follow after him whether she wanted to or not. She had no way of knowing if the woman understood or had even saw her gesture as she dragged herself after Neirin. And even if by some miracle the woman understood, Glory had no way of knowing if the dagger would kill her outright once it was removed or if she would have time to heal herself.