by Regan Walker
Medieval Warriors Book Three
When your destiny lies far from where you began…
The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.
The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.
Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.
When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?
Genre: Historical RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon
Content/Theme(s): Medieval, Scotland, Warriors
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Excerpt & More
Thoughts of her future filled her mind and her excitement rose in anticipation of the arrival of her intended, Domnall mac Murchada. This very day he would come by ship from his family’s lands in Leinster to meet with her father and seal their betrothal. Domnall’s home in Ireland was a place she had heard much about, but had never seen.
In her mind Domnall appeared a most handsome man, except for his nose, which was thin with a high ridge. His wavy light brown hair was always neatly combed and his darker beard invariably neatly trimmed. His eyes were pale blue. But it was not his appearance that had made her father choose Domnall. It was his noble Irish lineage and the trade between Leinster and the Vale of Leven.
During Domnall’s visits, she had been keenly aware of his pale blue gaze following her. In his eyes, she had glimpsed desire, flattered he wanted her and not just the trade with her father. Her cheeks flushed to think that one day she would bear his children.
In the distance, Kessog streaked toward a duck, but missed his strike.
Catrìona watched the falcon for a while until a sharp gust of wind made her shiver. She had a sudden urge to return to her father’s hillfort.
Whistling Kessog back to her uplifted hand, she fed him a bit of meat from the small leather pouch secured at her waist.
Not far away, Angus, her faithful guard, waited patiently next to the horses. His craggy face broke into a smile. “’Tis best we go back, milady. Yer mother will be wantin’ to see ye about the final packin’ fer yer journey.”
“Mother did not want me to fly Kessog today,” she said with a smile, “but I had to, just one more time.” She set the falcon on his perch affixed to the pommel of her saddle. Fastening the velvet hood over his head, she stroked his breast feathers and secured his jesses.
Angus helped her to mount and as she turned her pony toward home, her heart warmed as she thought of her trip east to visit her cousin in Atholl. This time she would have Domnall’s escort for the journey.
The garrons she and Angus rode over the mountain pass were sure-footed ponies and easily found their way over the rock-strewn path.
As they approached the last ridge where they would begin their descent to the River Clyde, instead of the quiet she expected, men’s shouts, cries of terror and women’s screams rent the air.
Urging her pony forward, she reached the crest and slid her feet to the ground. Wide-eyed, she stared into chaos fifty feet below where two longships with dragonheads carved into their stems were belching forth silver-helmed warriors wielding axes, swords and spears.
The longhaired raiders shouted what sounded like battle cries as they ran across the sand toward her father’s hillfort, ruthlessly cutting down her father’s men as if butchering cattle.
Men moaned as they fell, pierced through with spears and swords, grunting their last as blood spurted from their bellies.
Unarmed servants shrieked as axes sank into their backs.
Panicked women ran in all directions, shouting for their children.
Catrìona’s heart raced and her mouth gaped as she watched the unfolding terror. She gripped the seax at her waist. “A Dhia m'anam!” God preserve us! “I must go to them!”
Angus pulled her back from the crest. “Keep away from the edge lest they see ye. The bushes provide scant cover.” Grabbing up the reins of the horses, he led them away from the ridge.
“But—” She looked toward the crest, unable to see but desperate to know if her father’s men prevailed. “I want to help…”
“Ye can do nothing fer them, milady,” Angus said in a low voice as he returned to her. “Stay down. We can only await the end of it.”
Fear of the brutal Northmen warred with the desire to help those she loved. Rising panic nearly overtook her as she remembered what she had heard of Norse raids. But what help could she offer? In the face of so many bloodthirsty warriors, she would only become another victim. Angus, sworn to protect her, might die trying to prevent her death.
With the sounds of the mayhem ringing loud in her ears, Catrìona dropped to the ground and crawled on her belly to the edge of the rise, pulling her hood over her flame-colored hair to blend with the shrubs.
Angus came to join her, lying on his stomach in the grass. “Are ye certain ye want to see this?”
She peered down at the scene below, not wanting to witness the bloody fighting, yet unable to turn away. “Somewhere down there is my family.” Tears streamed down her face as the women’s screams pierced her like knives through her heart. “I cannot look away.”
Huge Northmen grabbed screaming women and dragged them over the sand and pebble-strewn beach to one of the longships.
Men fought and continued to fall. Some of the fallen were Norse but most were her father’s men. Bowing her head, she prayed God would give the men of the vale the strength to defeat this horde from Hell.
Raising her head, she winced as a Norse raider swung his axe, severing a man’s head. It flew through the air to land on the ground while the man’s body dropped where he had stood. Sickened by the sight, her gorge rose in her throat, choking her. She closed her eyes tightly against the sight of it. The man was father to one of her friends. Only that morning he had wished her and Angus good hunting.
Purchase link(s): Amazon
Other titles by Regan Walker:
& the Thistle
& the Rose
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Be on the lookout for Regan Walker's future release(s): King's Knight coming Fall 2016
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