Night Fades: Sorrow Stones Trilogy Volume 3
Released 10.01.06 - ISBN: 0-9825563-1-3
Two years after sending Weylin back to his own time and freeing Dominic of the magic of Bròn Seud, Rhiannon ban Delbaeth makes the difficult choice to leave behind everything she has ever known and the man she loves and dedicate her life to protecting the legendary Sorrow Stones. With help from the powerful St. Clair family, she retires to the remote Orkney Islands, to live out the immortal curse of the stones. For two hundred years, she protects the stones, becoming the most powerful Daughter of the Moon the world has ever known.
Until Alexander St. Clair brings her an enormous cache of Sorrow Stones he stole from the Church in Rome. With the powerful Church after him, and the French King ransacking Europe looking for the Templars, Rhiannon’s citadel of safety is threatened. Using knowledge gleaned from a traveler from her future and the magic of the stones, Rhiannon devises a safe haven in a place that will one day be known as Nova Scotia, determined to protect Bròn Seud forever and free herself of the curse.
The events she sets into motion that fateful April night touch the lives of her ancestor and her descendant in an epic tale that takes place in three different millennia, explores the mysteries of the Knights Templar, the fabled Money Pit, and forces Rhiannon to look at the magic of the powerful gems with new eyes. Will she finally be able to reassemble the original stone… and then be able to control its magic and still survive? Will she be able to work one last act of magic and at last have the one thing the magic of Bròn Seud wouldn't let her have: the love of her life?
The cry forced her to her feet. She grabbed the bag containing the rest of the stones she had saved from the cairn and grabbed Drustan as he passed.
“Take these,” she said, shoving the bag into his hands. “Take them and head to the village where my children are.”
“No, Delbaeth,” he said. “I will stay and fight with you.”
She shook her head. “No. Take these to my children, and, if I do not return, distribute them among the Glic Bana-charaid so that the story will live on… the fight will go on… and the stone will be restored.”
He opened his mouth as though to protest, but she wrapped her arms around him.
“Please,” she said. “This is my will.”
He finally set her back, nodded once, then bent and kissed her lips, softly, briefly. He ran a finger down the side of her face and then turned, swung upon her horse and rode out of the circle of firelight and into the arms of the forest.
She grabbed her sword and scabbard from the ground and ran down the hill toward the oncoming Roman soldiers.
Two, three men fell at the end of her blade. She swung for a fourth man who charged at her, the tip of her blade catching his chin. In the darkness, all was chaos.
“Lean mise!” she screamed, and soon, the few warriors she had with her, fell in behind her, forcing their way through the Romans, who could only make it up the narrow trail single file.
And then she trail cleared in front of her, and she saw what appeared to be a never-ending line of Romans in a single line winding down the hill to the valley floor. In that moment, she knew that this battle was lost. She knew that the army would never make it here in time to save them.
Lochlan clutched at his midsection beside her, blood spurting out his mouth, and she realized that only she and four other men remained. If she were to save the stones she carried with her, she had to leave, now.
For the space of a few heartbeats, she argued in her own head to stay and fight, but after two more chieftains fell, she made up her mind. She rammed her sword through the chest of a Roman in front of her, and then, dragging the blade back out, took off at a dead run into the forest.
She ran down the hill and into the valley, away from the line of Romans, but she heard a few of the Legion following her, crashing through the gorse and pines. She jumped from a rock outcropping and into a creek below.
As the water swallowed her, the dark lit up beneath the surface by the light of the glittering gems, she felt the pain of the voice enter her head and nearly blacked out with the pain.
She forced her way back to the surface and pulled herself on shore, shivering in the cold. “Not now,” she pleaded with the invisible force inside her brain. “Please, not now!”
An arrow thudded into the ground beside her, and she jumped to her feet despite the pain and ran again, farther down into the valley, headed east, toward the circle.
She ran past the cairns, the bodies of her fellow warriors and the Romans they had killed still splayed out on the ground, the stench of death heavy in the air.
She kept running, up a short hill and then down the other side, the pain in her head increasing, the burning in her muscles making every movement a battle in its own right.
The creek where she and Drustan had licked their wounds after the slaughter at the cairns was just ahead. She ran along its banks and up a short rise to a marshy plain, the scent of peat heavy in the air, wet with the recent rain. In the center of the marsh stood a tursa stretching high into the sky, the surface of it carved in ancient symbols of the Picts. And in the middle was a crescent moon.
She placed her hand on the moon, leaving a bloody handprint there. “Is this the tursa?” she asked the voice in her head. She knew the woman was there; she could feel her presence with the pain in her head.
Yes, the voice said. Hurry to the circle. It is not far.
The shout in Latin startled her, and she darted across the expanse of the marsh and toward the circle, a league or so away.
She ran down a short incline where three stones were arranged in a semi-circle – a fairy ring, or, rather, part of one – and jumped over them just as an arrow whizzed by her head and embedded into a nearby tree.
The second arrow hit its mark.
She felt the projectile tear into the flesh of her back, somehow sliding between her ribs, felt the hot burning of the metal tip tearing into her organs. She fell to her knees and reached for the stones around her neck, gripping the amethyst tight. “Don’t let them see me,” she whispered. “Don’t let them see me.”
Excerpt: Chapter 7
“There you are.”
I turned at the sound of the voice to see Jean and three of his sergeants coming down the path toward me. “When you were not at the encampment, I decided to wait here,” I said.
“Hmmph,” he said. “Let us walk on the beach and talk.”
And without another word, he waved his sergeants off and walked down the incline toward the shore. I ran my thumb over one of the flat planes of the amethyst in my pocket and followed him to the water’s edge.
He walked for some distance toward the cove, his crossbow slapping against his thigh as he walked, away from the village where we had a better view of the ships anchored in the deeper waters. Finally, once we were well away from the fishermen on the sands and our voices would be covered by the sounds of the waves and the barking of seals, he stopped and turned to me.
“I must apologize for my words and actions when we met,” he said.
Surprise must have shown on my features – for I was quite taken aback by his words, expecting to hear more vitriol spill from his lips – for he put a hand over his heart and his face took on an expression of hurt.
“Milady Rhiannon, surely you do not think me such a monster?” he asked. “I simply did not expect that we would find the Grail in the form of a woman or in this wretched place.”
I pursed my lips in moue of amusement. His ingratiating speech and actions seemed so out of character from what I knew of the man that I was certain he was attempting to wheedle something from me.
“No apology is necessary,” I finally managed to say. “Why did you want to meet with me?” As pleasant as he was acting now, his presence still rankled me and I wished to be away; there was much for me to do to prepare for my journey.
“I know that you refuse to give the stones to the Templars for protection, despite that they would be safer…” he began.
“You are quite correct,” I said, cutting him off. “I beseech you to stop asking.”
He crossed his arms in front of him. “I am not asking for the stones,” he said. “But you should know that I am bound by the vows I took as a young man when I entered the Order to report what I know to those above me… and to the Church.”
I forced myself not to laugh. I knew it! I knew that he would do something like this. “Is that so?” I asked. “And what, pray tell, do you hope to gain from doing such a thing? Do you believe that your Frère Maçon will look kindly on your betrayal?”
“My Brothers will understand,” he said, frowning and his face turning red. “Many of us who have heard your tale believe we should be protecting the stones, not you.”
“Jean,” I said. “I am not afraid of the Church. I am afraid for the Church, for what I will be forced to do to any man who comes looking for Bròn Seud. I am asking that you hold your tongue to protect your Brother Knights, any person that the Church might send, or any other person who comes looking for me and the stones.” He had taken a step back from me as I spoke, but his expression had not changed. “I do not wish to harm anyone, but I will if I must.”
He glanced beyond me, and I turned to see his sergeants some distance down the beach, headed our direction, crossbows in their hands.
“What is it you plan to do to me?” I asked.
“Very well,” he said. “I had hoped that I could make you see reason, but it appears as though you are determined to make this difficult.”
He lunged for me, but I easily stepped aside, letting him fall to his knees on the beach. The three men coming toward me lifted their weapons and all three fired their bolts at once.
Gripping the amethyst, I held up my hand and the crossbow bolts stopped in mid-air and dropped to the sand. With a wave of my finger, the crossbows the men held flew from their hands and out into the waters of the Bay. They glanced briefly at each other and made to run.
“Sleep,” I said.
The three retreating sergeants dropped like rag dolls onto the sand. I turned and saw Jean, his crossbow up and aimed at me, pull the trigger.
The bolt pierced the skin of my shoulder where it attached to my neck, but I felt no pain. I cocked an eyebrow at him, then gripped the bolt in my shoulder and pulled it free. “That was not very polite,” I said, tossing the bolt aside.
He fumbled with this quiver, trying to pull another bolt free. I stomped over to him and pulled his head back by his hair. “I have had enough of this,” I said. I pulled the amethyst from my pocket and dangled it in front of his face. It glimmered and glistened brightly, swinging softly back and forth.
“Mon Dieu,” he said.
“You will take your men and go to the ship and you will sail to Venice where you will spend the rest of your days in contemplation of every possible way in which you can serve others instead of yourself,” I hissed into his ear.
“I never want to see your face again,” I said as I pushed him away, and he fell over sideways on the sand. I walked away, back to the village.
“Oui, m’lady,” he said. “As you wish.”