Morgan lifted his eyes to the webbed and dark recesses of the courtroom’s beamed ceiling, stubbornly clenching his teeth in an effort to deny the tears that threatened to fall. His lips quivered as a tremor passed again through his young body. He wished, nay, prayed that he were anywhere but here. Dark eyes made glassy with pain, turned to search vainly for his father. The Laird had not been brought in with his son and the other prisoners who sat now in chains on the rough hewn benches to the side of the room. Morgan was the youngest of them all at just fifteen summers. He struggled to defiantly hold his head up with pride despite the shackles that cut into his wrists and bare ankles. The noisy arena was filling with Sasunnach, the enemies of any true Highlander. He felt suffocated by their hatred. Crushing fear overwhelmed him, washing him in shame. It was far more frightening here than it had been on the blood soaked battlefields of Culloden where he had so recently fought side by side with his father. He inhaled deeply with flaring nostrils in an effort to calm himself, only to retch as he gagged on the stench of the air. He swallowed hard and regretted the need to breath. None of his fellow prisoners had been allowed to wash since their capture. Neither had their many wounds of battle and subsequent abuse by their captors, been tended to by other than their fellow prisoners. They were a ragged and desperate lot, awaiting the decision that would allow them an unknown and certainly uncompromising life, or the blessed release of death. Closing his eyes, he lowered his head, trying to pray to a God he no longer believed in.