Working title: Parallel to Macbeth (historical fiction told in alternating father/daughter viewpoints--worried about male perspective and italicized first person thoughts inside third person point of view)
From Chapter 2: Forres, Scotland (Spring 1053)
With preparations inundating the castle, Iain was thankful to be leaving. Battle tactics were his expertise, and in Scone, the war council would listen. He knew he could count on support from Glamis and Fife. In Forres, however, respect was superficial. Around the King, Catherine’s aura lingered, determined to see his ruin. Mercia looked more like her each day. This morning when he lifted her from the floor, Catherine stared back. He rolled his neck and shoulders as he neared the royal cabinet.
Ghosts of the past still hovered, fertile from accusations spewed in dying breaths. Iain’s chest tightened. Forced by father and king into such a marriage. His throat dry and hands damp. Months of screaming tirades. Iain stopped before the king and bowed.
“Trouble in the village?”
“Yes, my king.”
“Our hearts ache for dear Mercia. How does she fare? Give us an account.”
Iain felt the weight of the assembly. “My liege, I request to speak privately.”
“As you well know, Lord Lennox, the best way to stem gossip is to speak openly.”
Time had not been kind to Duncan. Wrinkles, moles, and weakness gave away the power he grasped with skeletal fingers on the arms of his judgment seat. Pray tell, good King, of your great wisdom—father of a son kidnapped by a self-serving thane you so foolishly loved.
Iain bowed and spoke. “After our preparation at the forge, we went to the home of my guard, where Sister Áine brought Mercia to help care for the dying widow. We spied two Norse warriors moving in and disrupted their plans."
“Then why was Mercia covered in blood?”
“Norse blood from my sword, Good King, not Scottish.” Her virginity’s intact, my liege—unblemished for your son.