As a result, he'd thrown himself into his training. Afterall, broadsword was hardly a topic taught in school. There were other clansmen from throughout the highlands there...a rare handful of men who had bonded out of pure understanding for one another and the estrangement they felt among the nobles of the court and lowlanders. They'd kept up their training on their own the best they could, but nothing could compare to the kind of training received here at home, amongst his clan. And lord knew, if he were going to lead this clan someday, he'd need to know how to wield it. Even if that fact saddened him deeply.
But now, after being here only a couple of months, he'd grasped the politics of what was going on. The sensitivity of it. He was aware of the deep hatred that ran through his people for the MacGregor Clan. He'd be lying if he said he hadn't once felt it himself...if it hadn't been instilled in him at a young age. But his years away had done much to dampen it until he no longer understood it. He'd acquired friends, dear friends with other sons of clan lairds....clans his own never dealt with. They all had similar rivalries. Similar hatreds they had been taught. Some cases were warranted...earned through deed. But in the case of his own clan, he did not understand.
But what he understood even less was how his father could sit across the table from Angus MacBain and not see him for the liar that he was. He hadn't said anything, but sat stonily silent at his father's side as they spoke. Listening to all the promises, all the lures he was using to try to convince Neal that Gabriel MacAlister wasn't the man his father was. That he was weak and easily persuaded by his wife and the MacGregors he now led. That siding with MacBain was the only way to entrust the Campbell's survival. He didn't know how swayed his father was. Wouldn't know until Angus and his company of men had left the next morning. But for all he had heard of the MacBain's...what he'd seen in that meeting, from both Angus and his eldest son Galvin, they were not to be trusted. His gut screamed that from the second they'd first opened their mouths. But he'd been smart enough to keep his opinions to himself in that time.
That meeting was just a mere couple of weeks ago. And now his mother was overseeing preparing the keep for the arrival of Gabriel MacAlister. He'd met the man only once, as a child. When he was just the age Gabriel's own sons would be now. His memories were vague but he'd been impressed with the man. He wondered if he'd feel the same way now. From the messenger that had arrived only hours before, they could assume the party would be there either this evening or early the following day. But in any case, he had to be prepared to receive them. Afterall, Neal had been ill for a while and only the previous night worsened slightly. Though they all hoped he'd be well enough by the time of the MacAlisters' arrival, Noah had to be prepared to deal with it in his stead.
Briefed by advisors and having sat at his father's side for everything over the last couple of months, he felt prepared to handle this meeting. MacAlister was seeking allies. Either his informants must have picked up on MacBain's movements or his instincts must be excellent. And in all honesty, Noah admired the man his courage. The Campbells had never been enemies to MacAlisters until this last war only a few years ago. And to come to them now to seek peace was almost unprecedented. He was rather looking forward to meeting the man who seemed, from his own instinct, very different from the man MacBain had painted him to be.
He'd find out for himself, soon enough.