Jaick wiz a big laddie, taller than a standing spear or, weel ower sax fit aye an weel built w't. The only problem wi Jaick wiz that he wiz the only bairn o an aal widda woman an in consequence fair spiled by his mither. Jaick worked hard though, he vrocht fae mornin till nicht day in an day oot come weety weather or snaw. But as year followed year he ayee got mair discontented jist makkin eyns meet an livin fae haan tae moo. Onywye ae year aifter the crops were plantit he decided tae braiden his horizons for eence in his life. There cam the mornin he caad tae his mither an says.
“Mither! Bake me a bannock an fry me a collop, I'm awa tae sik ma fortune!”
Noo Jaick's mither wiz neen ower pleased that her loon wiz gyan awa but she ayee kent this day wid come so she blawed up the coals an set tae work makkin his mait. She made him a doze o fine saaty bannocks so that his bleed wid be keepit clean fae fevers an the collops were made fae chappit beef tae gie him strength an power. Tae it she added a skin o the berry wine she was famed for the length an braidth o the wide green Buchan that wid keep his een clear so that he could see ony dangers that micht threaten.
She said haandin him his bundle, “Tak care o yersel an mind noo I want my laddie hame tae ma afore the first freest is come!”
Jaick gave his mither a bosie promising tae be back afore the first freest wi his fortune or athoot it for that maitter. So takkin leave o his mither Jaick set his fit tae the sooth.
* * *
There wisnae muckle o a road jist the tracks left by coontless generations o reivers herdin their black cattle tae the mairkets seekin the best price possible. He followed the trails as best he could but mony's the time they jist peetered oot aathegither so he wint on till he cam across it again. In this wye Jaick covered a lot o leagues for he wiz in gweed fettle an set upon as he wiz on sic lang legs. He waakit fae mornin till late forenicht an spent his first nicht in a corrie happit wi his plydie haein yin o his mither's bannocks an a swig o berry wine fae the skin in his belly. His belly fulled he wiz soon asleep in the sweet mountain air.
He waakened tae the sang o the laverock an aifter a drouth o clean crystal clear water fae a burn he set his fit tee eence mair. In this wye he cairrit on his journey ower hill an doon dale seein little sign o habitation bar maybe the reek fae a lum on some wee hoose on the side o a distant hill. For this wiz wild bare country he wiz waakin throwe.
Aboot fower days intae his adventure Jaick sees the ruins o an aal castle on tap o the hill he wiz climmin an it bein a gey raw caal day he decided tae mak for it an gain a bit shelter an hae a bite an a sup an a wee bit comfort. As he neared it he could see it hid been a grand castle in its day but noo the waasteens were crummlin awa as winter freests an wins wore at the aal weathered steens.
In the lee o the ruins Jaick set himsel doon in the fine lush girss that carpeted noo fit hid eence been the great hall. Ye could still see faar the big fireplace wiz that must've struggled tae heat sic a big gairishin o a place. Heather wiz growin oot fae the hairth steens an o aa things in sic a bare bit o the country honeysuckle grew roon the fireplace like a garland. Glaid tae be oot o the barefaced win Jaick teen oot his last collop an wiz aboot tae start aitin fin a voice fae high up on the castle waa shouted his name.
“JAICK!” The voice said an fin he lookit up he saw a wee fat mannie ontae the crummlin waaheed.
“Oh michty me!” Jaick exclaimed. “Ye'll faa doon fae there wee mannie. Can ye nae see the steens are lowse!”
But the wee man peyed nae heed tae Jaick's words but jumpit fae waaheed tae waaheed like a body comin doon a wide an braid staircase until wi ae big loup he landed at Jaick's side. He'd a wee smilin face that wiz aal yet young: in heicht he came up tae Jaick's middle an a wee pot belly in front o him like a woman wi bairn. Upon his heed sat a blue bonnet wi a tassle hingin fae it an a suit o claithes the same colour as heather in the summer sun, a wee neat pair o beets upon his feet reachin tae his knees an them that shiny it wiz like lookin intae a dark lochin fin the meen is heich.
“Weel Jaick foo's yer journey gyan?”
His een fell upon the collop Jaick hid been aboot tae ait.
“Michty but that looks fine! says he “Wid ye spare a bit for a wee fat mannie like masel?”
Jaick pickit it up an broke it in twa an haandit the wee mannie haaf.
“Get that doon ye sma man but I'm afeart it's nae as fresh as it micht be for it's mony a day syne ma aal mither cookit wi love an care for her big spiled loon!”
The wee mannie ate it up an lickit his fingers aifterhin sayin.
“Oh me Jaick but that wiz affa fine!”
His een lichtit upon the skin o wine layin at Jaick's feet.
“Wid ye manage tae spare a drap o fit's in yon skin tae a wee fat mannie that's in need o a drouth aifter aitin yon fine saaty collop?”
Jaick haandit him the skin sayin, “There wee man taste the berry wine ma aal mither is famed for ower the braid an wide Buchan!”
He droochit weel fae the skin weetin his wheeple an smackit his lips aifterhin an says, “Weel Jaick that's the finest berry wine that ivver has crossed ma lips.”
Giein Jaick a sly looks he speired o him if he kent the recipe but Jaick didnae ken sayin his mither ayee put him fae the hoose finivver she wiz tae mak wine.
Onywye recipe or no Jaick an the wee mannie weeted o their wheeples weel on the wine an afore lang baith o them were in a gey drunken state. Jaick nae used tae takkin sae muckle o the wine must've fell asleep for fin he waakened it wiz nearly pick-mirk. But there wiz an affa sound o fowk spikkin then slowly it started getting lichter an he could see the ootline o fowk begin tae appear an tak on substance. The wee fat mannie sat lookin at Jaick.
“Jaick!” says he, “You're seein things as they eence were here aboots in the times fin this great hall feasted kings, lairds an ladies!”
Jaick's face wiz a picter o wonder as he watched the ongyans o the fowk, The weemin were dressed in the finest cloth nivver afore seen by Jaick, the colours were like the leaves o trees at the faa o the year. Apairt fae hamespun hodden grey an mebbe a wee bit tartan he'd nivver seen sic colours ontill a person like that afore.
The men were riggit in chyne-mail an wore armour; even they hid bricht colours on them, smocks wi drawins o lions an strange beasts like a horse but wi a big horn comin fae the tap o their heeds. Maist o the men hid een or the ither emblazoned tae their breests. They were aa sittin doon tae dine aff a table that must've hid three trees worth o timmer laid upon tressles an it wiz creakin aneth the wecht o aa the fine mait laid ontae it.
The wee man says “Jaick, tak yer een fae the table for neen o'ts for the likes o thee!”
He tore his een fae the table as he wiz bid.
“Noo Jaick!” says the wee fat mannie, “Ye'd be a gey strong laddie I'm for thinkin?”
“Och aye I am that, for years at the ploo an ruggin at coorse grun his fairly made me strong richt eneuch.”
“Weel Jaick” says he, “I'll be needin ye tae prove that”
So sayin he pyntit tae a block o steen lyin on the fleer.
“D'ye think ye'd manage tae lift that fae the grun an cairry it ower here?”
Jaick shruggit an replied.
“There's only ae wye tae fin oot!”
He pit his airms aboot the block, got a gweed haanhud an haived at the block that wiz partially beeriet far it hid sunk intae the grun fin it hid fell fae high up on the castle waa. So Jaick pit aathing he hid intae the next lift, the veins fae his neck stood oot like straa raips as he strained tae free it, saat swyte near blinned his e'e as it ran like watter fae his broo.
Slowly but surely it began tae come oot fae it's restin place o centuries till, wi a groan it wiz free intae Jaick's airms. It wiz some wecht. Jaick thocht maybe a four five hunnerwecht if it wiz a pun. He staggered ower tae the wee mannie an drappit it at his feet. Pechin fae the effort Jaick says, “Is that gweed eneuch for ye wee man?”
At Jaick's words he jumpit up an danced a reel aroon the big block his wee feeties gan ninety tae the dizzen. Rubbin his haans as weel he said
“Weel deen laddie, weel deen! Jist the lad we've been wytin for! Och aye!”
He danced aroon the block again an jumpit atap o't an diddled a tune aa the while tappin wi his feet. Aifter a couple o jigs an anither reel or twa he settled himsel doon upon the block an crossed his legs. Jaick, amused an mair nor a bit teen aback at this display, hid ae burnin question tae ask o him. Jaick wintit tae ken fit he meant by 'jist the lad we've been wytin for.' Jaick wintit tae ken faa 'we' wiz.
The wee mannie jist raised a haan an tellt him nae tae fash himsel for it wiz only a figure o speech. Afore Jaick could say onymair he speired o him if he'd ivver heard o William Wallace? At this Jaicks chest stuck oot for that name dis that tae ony true Scotchmin.
“Aye I hiv that, did my ain granfaither nae wield a pike at the battle o Stirlin brig an spill his life's bleed upon it!”
The wee man nodded. “ Aye Jaick hard times that. The country wiz afire fae eyn tae eyn and the bleed ran free like watter in a burn!”
As he spoke his een hid a far awa look in them an were affa sad. He glanced at Jaick, but the sadness hid been replaced wi burnin anger fin he said.
“Then came the betrayal o The Wallace. The stain o sic a thing will marr the memory o Scottish nobles tae history for nine hunnder years and a day!”
Jaick weel understood the wee man's anger for he felt the same himsel aboot it for it wiz still spoken aboot at mony a true hairthsteen.
The wee mannie broke intae Jaick's thochts.
“Jaick.” says he, “I've something tae tell ye an fit I'm aboot tae speak o micht gar ye rin fae this place wi the hump o fear ontae yer back!”
He settled himsel mair comfortably on the block an askit for a wee drouth fae the skin afore he continued. Jaick tossed the skin tae him an wytit till he teen a sup or twa. Finishin wi a smack o his lips he lookit at Jaick an says,“I'm a warlock!”
Jaick felt the very hairs on his neck staan up for the stories he'd heard o warlocks an the black airts hid pitten the fear o death intae him. He wanted tae rin for his life but he thocht tae himsel he'd listen tae fit the wee mannie hid tae say an then decide on fit coorse o action he'd then tak. He stole a glance at the fowk fae lang ago millin aroon for he'd lang suspected he wiz in the grips o the powers o darkness tae be seein fit he wiz seein. Oh there wiz fear in his hairt aaricht but he wiz also curious aboot the hale thing. The wee mannie smiled as if he kent weel fit wiz gyan throwe Jaick's mind.
“Weel ye've nae ran awa so that's anither test ye've passed!”
The warlock wiz weel trickit wi this for fowk here-a-boots were affa superstitious. In fact Jaick hid passed three tests: the first hid been the appearance o aa the fowk, the ither hid been his strength an noo bein tellt he wiz in the presence o a warlock. He held high hopes for this big curly heeded lad in front o him, for nae ither he hid tested bade beyond this point.
“Noo Jaick I ken weel eneuch the stories tellt aroon the hairth steen aboot warlocks but maist o them are wrang an the rest complete lees. The stories are pitten oot by the monks tae stop fowk believin in us!”
He teen a wee look o aa the fowk gyan aboot their business totally oblivious tae himsel an Jaick, then he said tae Jaick,
“The next test is this!”
He waved his haan an flames began tae lick the waas.
At this Jaick jumpit tae his feet an wi his foreairm shieldin his een he made tae help the noo screamin an panickin fowk but each time he grabbit for yin his hand passed clear throwe them. Realising they didna exist in this mortal world Jaick gaed back throwe the flames tae retrieve his bundle. Pickin it up he saw a scabbered sword aneth it. He grabbit it thinkin it must be like the fowk but wiz surprised tae find it wiz real. The heat fae the flames though were rale eneuch as they scammed ony exposed bit o him.
He shouted for the wee mannie but the skirls o the fowk an the roar o the flames made it impossible for tae hear him so he staggered his wye oot fae the castle an stood watchin as the flames devoured athing that wid burn.
A strange thing began tae happen tae the flames. Slowly they got less an less but nae in the wye a fire usually gyangs oot wi odd sparks an a bit o a lowe. No they wint oot like it simply gaed tae sleep and an eerie darkness fell upon the place.
Aifter a wee while Jaick made his wye back intae the castle his hairt thumpin in his breest wi the fear o't. As he gaed throwe the doorway back inside it wiz jist as it wiz afore wi the girss growin ontae the fleer, nae a flame hid lickit this place in mony a year. Puzzled he sat himsel doon an shouted for the warlock. His ain voice came back at him as it echoed aff the crumblin ruins but nae a sicht nor a sound did he get o the warlock. Jaick's instinct wiz tae leave this place as faist as his lang legs wid cairry him but his curiosity hid been waakened. Hid he jist been haein a bad dream? Surely he'd be waakened by noo! But he knew he wisnae dreamin for in his haan he'd the sword an it wiz real.
He teen a closer look at it, a massive claymore made o the finest steel wi an edge ontae it that wid cut its wye throwe flesh, bone an even armour wi ae michty swing. It wiz heavy, nearly as heavy as the block the warlock hid askit him tae lift.
“Weel Jaick ye’re still here are ye?”
The voice come oot o the shaddas makkin Jaick loup. The wee mannie cam an sat doon at his side sayin.
“Ye got the sword I see!”
He put his haan ontae Jaick's shooder.
“Ye'll be wantin tae ken aa aboot it I'm for thinkin? For ye’re a curious kind o lad Jaick.”
Jaick said nithing an jist wytit for him tae cairry on. He made himsel mair comfortable the same as he did afore an Jaick nae wytin for the request handit him the skin o berry wine o which he teen a gweed drouth afore handin it back tae him wi a smack o his lips.
“Gran stuff that min I'll hae tae ask yer mither for mair o that!”
Clearin his thrapple he says.
“Well noo; the sword ye hae in yer haan is the very same battle blade the Wallace himsel used tae sic gran effect in the cause o Scotland!”
He leaned ower an teen it fae Jaick's haan. Heftin it as if it wiz the wecht o a feather he cairriet on his story.
“This sword here has the very essence o that gran man intill its very core, it lives Jaick. Aa that's nott is a man tae wield it, a man wi huge power in his airms an a hairt as true as the north win that will blaw forivver mair upon this crummlin waasteens!”
He stared intae the middle distance an micht be far beyond for it seemed an age afore he spoke again.
“In you I hae found baith, you are the man I've wytit for aa this years geen by!” said he handin the sword back tae Jaick.
He wiz quate for a wee but his een were on Jaick an they nivver wavered fae his face.
“As I tellt ye I'm a warlock but fit I didnae tell ye is that I'm comin tae the end o my time Jaick. I wiz entrusted wi my powers for nine hunder years and one day an time is close for me Jaick but there's ae mair thing I maun dee afore I gyang on tae the Glens o' Syne!”
He wiz quate again but his een nivver wavered fae his by a flicker.
“I'm needin ye tae clear this land o a scourge that his plagued it for mair than a generation. They are a band o cut throats wi direct bleed line tae them that betrayed The Wallace; I need ye Jaick.”
He nodded tae himsel.
“Aye I need ye Jaick tae tak Wallace's battle blade an wipe the shame fae history by sendin them tae their white livered ancestors by this blade shod wi the metal free!”
Jaick wiz fair put oot by the warlock's words.
“I've nivver in aa ma life wielded a brand, I ken nithing o battle, I'd be slaachtered an laid low afore ye could blink!”
He put the sword fae him.
“Na na wee mannie I'm nae the yin tae dee this thing ye ask!”
Jaick stood up tae tak his leave fin the warlock askit o him tae tak the brand wi him an that his ain destiny an that o Scotland baith braid an lang lie within that sword. Jaick's ain words tae his mither cam tae mind an mocked him. “Bake me a bannock an fry me a collop mither for I'm aff tae sik ma fortune!”
Resigned tae his fate or destiny he pickit up the sword an tied it tae his back takkin his leave o the wee man, set his fit tae the sooth eence mair. The warlock shouted fae heich in the castle waa.
“Mind Jaick the road ye waak leads tae yer destiny!”
As the days gaed by Jaick came upon mair populated areas. Throwe clachans an wee toons he passed but the folk here aboots werenae ower freenly an wid jist glower at him until he moved on. Noo by this time Jaick wiz in dire straichts the sheen upon his feet were fair worn throwe, the pyoke at his side wiz teem nae a crummle left within. An him wi his belly that teem he thocht it wiz beginin tae ait itsel.
Sittin himsel doon in the lee o an aal felldyke he pickit a haanfae o sooriks an chawed ontae the wee soor leaves hopin tae stave aff the hunger that wiz clawin at his intimmers. He wiz but a meenit sat doon fin a bonnie wee rabbit came fae a hole by his side. It wiz as fite as the driven snaw an hid the bonniest pink een that he ivver did see. He pit oot his haan an pickit it up takkin it intae his bosie an he said tae it, “Michty but yer a bonnie wee craitur!”
He scrattit its luggies an it seemed quite content tae let him dee that. Eence fin he wiz a loon he'd seen yin at a fair, the man faa owned it tellt him they were affa rare. Jaick though wiz gey hungry an here intae his bosie wiz the makkins o a meal that wid be fit for a king. It wid've teen but a second tae kill it but hungry though Jaick wiz he couldnae bring himsel tae dee it so he pit it back aside its wee hole sayin,
“There ye are bonnie wee craitur. Gyang ye back tae yer hoosie!”
Pickin up his sword he slung it tae his back an set sail ontae the next bit o his journey. The barefaced country that he'd so far traivelled began slowly tae change tae greener lands till eventually he came upon a massive forest. There wiz a better defined trail here so he could fare knipe on.
Aifter a couple o leagues through the forest he come on a burn. Stoppin he weeted his wheeple wi the crystal clear watter that wiz baith cweel an sweet. He lookit tae see if there wiz ony trooties under the bank that he could guddle but could see nithing bar a puckle wee eels but they were ower faist for him tae catch. But he spottit something else ontae the opposite bank growin on a grassy knoll; mushrooms , great big mushrooms ilka yin the size o his nieve.
In a second he jumpit the burn an pickit a hale pile o them. He peeled een fae the bottom tae the tap tae mak sure they were mushrooms an nae toadstools. Jaick kent that if the skin comes aff fae bottom till tap then ye can ait them athoot fear, a toadstool disnae dee that. In nae time ava he'd skewered them throwe wi a bit o broom an set fire tae a pile o dry sticks wi his flint an fleerish.
The fire wiz seen gyan weel an he toasted the mushrooms ower the yella lickin flames. Michty but they tasted gran an he feasted weel upon them, for the first time in mony a day his belly wiz foo. Aifter his feast Jaick decided tae hae a wee nap he felt that content wi himsel. Lyin doon ontae the saany bank o the burn faar the warm sun wiz shining throwe the trees. Jaick, much like the proverbial gentleman that wiz nivver nott, laid himsel tae repose.
Fin he waakened a fair fylie later he gied himsel a gweed streech an got tae his feet. The very first thing that his een lichtit upon ontae the ither side o the bank wiz the bonnie fite rabbit lookin at him. Fin he crossed the burn it nivver ran awa but allood itsel tae be pickit up intae Jaick's bosie.
“Well my wee freen.” says Jaick scrattin its wee luggies, “Yer a lang wye fae hame!”
Aifter pettin it for a wee while he laid it back ontae the grun sayin.
“Ye'd best gyang back tae yer hole wee craitur for ye've come a lang wye an it could be dangerous for ye here!”
Jaick made tae cross the burn eence mair fin the rabbit started thumpin the grun wi its hin legs. It wiz angry that Jaick hid left it on the opposite bank for he could see its body hunched an its luggies set at the side o its heed an a noise nae handy wi its feet drummin the grun. Jaick laached,
“Weel weel yer wantin across the burn are ye?”
So he picked it up an set it ontae the ither bank. Jaick fulled his breidpyoke till it wiz stappit foo o the mushrooms, mair than eneuch tae dee for a puckle days. He set his fit tee again an afore lang he wiz deep intae the forest eence mair but this time he'd company. The fite rabbit wiz follyin him an ilka time he lookit back sure enough there it wiz loupin alang.
He tried a puckle times tae chase it awa but na na it wiz ayee there fin he lookit roon. So at length wi the gloamin comin doon he decided tae stop an roast a puckle mair o them affa fine mushroom for his belly wiz makkin an affa rummlin sound o its ain accord. Soon he'd a gweed lowe o a fire gyan an in nae time the mushrooms were roastit. As he ate, his new companion come loupin inaboot so he gave the wee rabbit a twa'r three mushrooms an it ate them wi obvious enjoyment. Jaick teen oot the skin o his mither's wine for he'd ayee keepit a wee drap o the precious liquid an ilka nicht he'd tak but a wee sup. The rabbit seemed affa interested in fit Jaick wiz deein so he put a wee drappy intae the palm o his haan an let the rabbit sup o it, he could feel its wee tongue lappin up the wine till there wisnae a drap left. That nicht the rabbit slept intae Jaick's bosie wuppit in his plydie for he wiz feart that a fox or a beast o that kind micht tak it in the nicht.
Next day wiz caal an driech so he set tee athoot a bite pittin the wee rabbit intae his breidpyoke faar it wiz fine an dry. Wuppin his plydie aboot him tae keep himsel dry he set sail eence mair. That day Jaick come upon a sicht that made his very bleed rin caal.
He entered a wee clachan o aboot a dizzen hoosies far ivvery man woman an bairn hid been pitten tae the sword. Jaick kent weel that it must hae happened a gweed few days afore for aa the bodies were rotten an the sweet seekly smell o death hung ower the place near makkin his stamach turn ower. Jaick wiz angry! Oh michty but he wiz angry that sic a thing should happen in the days o peace. Aifter checkin oot the hooses tae see if by chance somebody wiz still alive he left that place as fast as feet could cairry him. The forest hereaboots wiz much thicker noo an somehow Jaick sensed he wiz headin for the hairt o't.
As he distanced himsel fae the horrific scenes he'd witnessed, Jaick's anger subsided, he slowed doon tae a slower pace. But it wisnae tae laist lang for twice mair on that day's journey he wiz tae meet in wi the sicht o mair slaachtered fowk. The difference this time wiz that they'd been hung heich an their bairnies hid been dashed tae death against a steen waa, their wee broken bodies scaittered aneth the very trees their mithers an faithers hung fae. This time Jaick's anger wiz roused tae sic a pitch that he teen Wallace's sword intae his twa haans an swore an oath tae avenge sic slaachter.
It wiz in the foreneen o the neist day that he heard loud voices comin throwe the trees. Slowly he made his wye towards the sound, his nostrils pickin up the fine smell o roastin meat. Eventually he cam ontae a clearin in the forest. Standin in the lee o a massive oak Jaick saw fit he teen tae be a band o brigands seated aboot a puckle big fires drinkin wine an aitin o the reid deer an wild boar bein brannered ower the loupin flames. Jaick hid nae doot that this wiz the men that hid deen the cruel deeds he'd jist seen.
Angry though he wiz Jaick wiz nae fool aathegither for if there wiz ae man there wiz a hunnder, an each hid armour an swords within easy reach. There wiz nae wye on God's earth that him on his leen could fecht against sic odds that an army wid be nott for. He wiz aboot tae slip quaitly awa fin the sword strappit tae his back began tae tug up an doon. He drew it tae see fit wiz wrang an he near let it faa fin he saw the warlock's face upon the boss o the sword.
“Dinna be fleggit Jaick!” It said. “I tellt ye I'm a warlock an I also tellt ye that ye'd come tae yer destiny, so there it is tae yer fore!”
Jaick lookit at the brigands an felt his intimmers tichtenin wi the fear. The face on the sword says tae him.
“Tak me in yer twa haans, let the essence o the great 'Wallace' flow throwe yer bein Jaick an let me lead ye tae battle for my destiny lies here ana!”
At the warlock's words Jaick felt the sword get waarm as if slowly bein heated at the smiddy fire. He felt intae his breidpyoke tae tak oot his wee rabbit but it wisnae there. He thocht it micht hae teen flegg at aa the voices an wiz doon a hole somewye.
The sword gid oot wi a merciful skirl an aa the brigands lookit up towards Jaick for it wiz the loudest sound ony hid ivver heard afore including Jaick. He kent he wiz a deed man did Jaick but he thocht tae himsel that if he ran awa they'd track him doon an slaachter him like a pig an the coordly knave he wiz. If he wint forrit the same fate awytit him but at least he'd be takkin a puckle wi him tae the grave!
Jaick teen a gweed grip o the haanle an charged for the group that hid got ower the shock o the skirl an hid wint tae arms. The sword felt as licht as a feather as he started tae swing tae the left an the richt. Een o the men tried tae parry a blow but Jaick's sword cut his een in twa. Jaick pulled back wi shock but the sword almost on its leen draggit him forrit tae finish aff the foe. Aifter that Jaick let the sword lead for it seemed tae him aa that wiz needit wiz his strength tae keep it heich, the sword deein the rest. He cut a swathe throwe the men as if cuttin ripe corn. They fell in raas neen tae ivver staan again.
Aifter aboot acht oors o battle Jaick began tae feel his mighty strength begin tae sap awa. The haanle o the sword wiz slippy wi bleed and gore, it wiz even drippin fae his elbow. But Jaick keepit it up feelin the sword cut throwe armour, been an sinew. The screams o the deein fulled his lugs an the smell o hot bleed fair seeckent him aathegither. But still he keepit swingin till nae one man bar himsel wiz left livin. Fochen deen he sat himsel doon ontae a girssy knoll his chest heavin as he sookit in braith, his airms shakkin like a leaf an his hairt thmpin like a war drum. Pullin a haanfae o girss he dichtit himsel clean o bleed an gore or as muckle as he could get aff athoot watter. Pittin his heed atween his knees he sat that wye for a gey lang fyle afore he felt restit eneuch.
“Well Jaick ye've deen weel! Ye were even stronger than I thocht!”
The warlock hid appeared an wiz sittin ontae the stump o a tree.
“Ye've cleared this land o a scourge wi bravery an strength I've yet tae set my een upon in nearly nine hunnder years if it's a day!”
Jaick shook his heed sayin.
“It teen neither strength nor bravery on my pairt wee mannie for the sword wiz magic as ye weel ken!”
The warlock laached lang an loud at Jaick's words then said.
“Jaick.” said he. “That sword is nae mair magic than flee intae the very air ye breathe, for I'm afeart Jaick my lad that I tellt ye a lee.It wiz the only wye I could could've gotten ye tae dee it!”
Jaick wiz mighty angry at the wee mannie but calmed doon fin the warlock explained that his kind werenae allooed tae interfere wi the workins o mortals. If they ivver did find themsels embroiled they were forbidden fae usin magic. So the only wye he could get the slaachterin stoppit an tae avenge some o the shame left for the death o the great Wallace wiz for him tae find the strongest an bravest man in aa Scotland an get him tae dee it. Jaick wiz nae for that an said he wiz nae the strongest nor yet the bravest man in the land.
“Surley there is better men than the likes o me born tae haud the ploo an swing the heuck!”
The wee mannie nodded.
“Aye Jaick there are higher born men, aye men faa hae athing, power, money, titles an even some wi great strength an bravery, but neen hiv fit you've gotten Jaick my laddie- honesty an compassion!”
The wee mannie put his haan ontae Jaick's shooder.
“Tell me something big lad. Fit wye did ye nae rin awa fin I showed ye fit hid happened so lang ago in the aal castle? Fit wye did ye nae tak tae yer heels like ivvery ither man tested?”
In reply Jaick jist shruggit his shooders.
“I dinna really ken for I wiz surely terrifeet o yon vision o aa yon peer fowk bein teen wi the flames, I wintit tae rin awa and I affa nearly did but somehow I wiz curious.”
Jaick scraattit his heed an wypit some o the coolin swyte fae aff his broo an cairriet on.
“I wiz curious aboot you ana for nivver hiv I met sic an interestin mannie in aa ma born days!”
Jaick looked closely at the wee mannie.
“Could I speir at ye aboot something?”
The warlock smiled an says
“Of course ye can Jaick. Ask awa!”
Jaick seemed a wee bit reluctant but he teen a deep braith.
“Weel it's like this, you say yer a warlock an of coorse aifter fit aa I've seen wi my ain een an deen wi my ain haans I fairly believe ye, but ye says tae me nae meenits ago that yer comin tae the eyn o yer nine hunder years and a day!”
The wee mannie nodded but said nithin. “Weel,” says Jaick wi a sad look intae his een. “Dis that mean yer gyan tae dee?”
The wee mannie smiled fair touched by Jaick's question but he laached tae hide his ain emotion.
“Feggs min I thocht for a meenit ye were gyan tae ask ma aboot wishes an crocks o gowd wi the licht o greed in yer een. Ye ken the kind o thing? But in answer tae yer question, no I'm nae gyan tae dee, weel nae in the wye you understaan bein a mortal, no I pass on tae a different realm I become something else but I dinna dee the wye you think. The wee mannie smiled.
“Dis that answer yer question?”
Jaick lookit thochtful.
“Weel… if that's yer answer then that's it an that's aa. But there's ae ither thing I'd like tae speir at ye, something that his ayewis garred me claa ma heid.!”
“Caa awa !” says the wee mannie.
“Weel it's like this- there wiz an aal woman fae oor village accused o bein a witchie wife by some o the fowk an she wiz teen awa tae Aiberdeen by the Kirk an there tried by law tae her bein haan in glove wi the black airts. The peer aal craitur wiz burnt at the stake for supposedly bein a witchie wife. Noo I dinna think she wiz sic a thing but only an aal wifie faa wiz a wee bit dottled. But if she wiz yin why did she nae use the black airts tae save hersel fae sic an affa death?”
The warlock nodded.
“Gweed question big lad but yin wi a simple answer, she wiz nae witch!”
The wee mannie shook his heed sadly.
“O aa the peer fowk pitten tae the ordeal o the flame nae one witch or warlock his yet deet for they nivver get caught!”
Jaick noddit his understandin. Gettin tae his feet tae tak his leave Jaick handed the wee mannie the last o the berry wine and said “ If ye're in the district come roon by wee mannie and we'll hae a gweed drouth o the wine an ait o the finest saaty bannocks an tasty collops in aa the bonny lands o the Buchan!”
Aifter leavin the place o death Jaick found his wee rabbit wytin for him on the trail so he pickit it up an pit it intae his breidpyowk an happit it wi his plydie. He made the lang traipse back tae the castle faar his adventure hid begun. The wee mannie hid tellt him tae return the sword tae the very place he hid found it. So three days did he traivel wi hardly a rest day or nicht.
The meen wiz full at this time o the month so he could see as far as a body could wint tae so day an nicht he waakit. Neither a bite nor a sup passed his lips in aa that time for he wiz still seeck aboot the slaachter he hid deen. He bade awa fae the wee clachins faar the brigands hid put aa the peer fowk tae the sword for nae one mair sicht o a deed body could Jaick manage tae face.
At length he cam across the hill faar the castle stood grey an driech comin oot o the early mornin mist. Sowpin o weet fae the thick hingin mist Jaick made his wye up the hill towards the sombre waa steens. As he approached the gatewye he shuddered an felt the very hairs on the back o his neck birrse up like the back o a cat that's been fleggit. The aal waasteens were rinnin o watter fae the mist probably jist as they'd deen for a thoosan years passed an probably will dee for anither thoosan years.
He passed throwe the door intae the great hall an athoot lookin aboot him, gaed ower tae the place faar he'd found the sword an laid it doon on the grun. The warlock hid tellt him that Wallace's sword hid a destiny o its ain tae meet.
The wee fite rabbit jumpit oot fae his breidpyoke an jumpit aroon the place afore gan intae a hole aneth the massive hairth steen o the gran fireplace.Jaick wiz disappintit at this for he socht tae tak the wee white rabbit hame wi him. Sadly he made tae leave fin he heard the rabbit thumpin the grun ablow the hairthsteen. He thocht maybe that it wiz stuck an pit his haan doon the hole but nae maitter foo he tried he jist couldnae reach it.
Eventually Jaick teen the edge o the massive slab o sclate an usin aa his strength liftit the hale hairthsteen. Under it stood his wee fite rabbit sittin on tap o the biggest kist he ivver did see. The kist wiz made o a timmer that he'd nivver seen afore an roon it wiz bands o bronze wi huge hasps an locks. It teen Jaick oors tae open but fin he at last pulled up the lid his een lichtit ontae thoosans o gold coins.
Jaick made a lot o journeys back an fore tae hame each time loaded doon wi bags o gold till nae one coin wiz left. He bocht the estate fae the laird an biggit his aal mither the bonniest lodge that money could buy. But money meant little tae Jaick he wiz mair pleased tae see his aal mither nae haein tae want in her aal age.
Jaick wiz a gweed laird tae his cottars biggin them aa new hooses wi sclated reefs instead o the sprots an sod that wiz normally used in the Buchan. His constant companion though wiz his wee fite rabbit an aa the gowd in Scotland widnae hae been eneuch tae buy him fae Jaick.
A fyowe years hid wint by or this time an ae nicht as Jaick lay asleepin he heard a rummle in his bedchamber an here wiz his rabbit glowin in the dark an it spoke in the voice o the wee mannie.
“Weel Jaick!” says he “My time is up I've deen my nine hunnder years an noo this is the day, it's your turn now Jaick for I've chosen you tae dee the next nine hunder years and one day!”
Wi that his wee fite rabbit jumpit oot o the windae an ran awa intae the wids. Aifter that nicht Jaick tellt aa the cottars on his estate nivver tae kill ony fite rabbits. It wiz the only rule he ivver imposed on them: in fact for the times it wiz a law because Jaick wiz aifter aa the laird. Noo as the years an centuries gid by the only rabbits aboot the estate are fite for nae till this day will ony o Jaick's cottars kill a fite rabbit.
Jaick's place is caad the White Rabbit Lodge but ye'll nae find it ontae ony map in existence for that's nae the name that it's kent as tae mortal fowk. The only pointer that I can gie ye is that the place is at the far west o the braid lans o the Buchan an that fae Jaicks place ye can smell the saat sea o the Moray Firth but yer ee winna behold the watter. If ye are lucky eneuch tae find the place well ye'd see Jaick for he's near twa hunder years tae go afore its his day!
A series of longer stories from Sanners Gow's collected works to entertain you through lockdoon an' beyont.