My novel series, HIGHLAND WARS, has begun!
The start book, HIGHLAND HUNGER, is existence released inwards “Games” each week. Game One too Game Two are both out now! Or, if you lot prefer to wait, you lot tin privy pre-order the entire series, which volition unloosen September 22nd.
After her brother’s decease Ceana is named laird. The only agency for her clan to hold upward the ravages of the Highlands is to bring together inwards the state of war games. Bastard boy of a powerful earl, Macrath is placed inwards the games yesteryear his vengeful stepmother. He must hold upward for the ultimate retribution.
Ceana can’t afford to similar the formidable, captivating Highlander who seems to live next her, too yet she can’t seem to walk away. Macrath wants nix to a greater extent than than protect the warrior lass, but doing hence may arrive the agency of his demand for revenge. What starts out equally a race to hold upward turns into passion to suffer together.
May the gods live forever inwards their favor…
A province lays unclaimed on the windswept northward shore of the western isles.
Once, on these isles, Sìtheil Castle flourished nether the dominion of Olaf the Black. King Olaf was powerful, his regular army strong too his determination to maintain what was his, fervent. Under his dominion the clan was revered equally i of the close powerful within all the realm. Unsurpassed inwards its wild too enchanting beauty, surrounding clans wanted desperately to bask the fruits of Olaf’s land, the comforts too protection of the castle stronghold. But the thick rock walls could non defend against the vicious plague that killed nearly everyone who resided there. Those who survived were at the mercy of their neighbors. Men who’d i time watched from afar amongst envious eyes took upward arms against the weakened holding—killing King Olaf. The ruling Scottish council could non assist the few survivors, too shortly neighboring clans—and fifty-fifty those equally far equally the northern isles—began laying siege to Sìtheil.
Olaf’s widow fought fiercely to maintain her boy Gillemorre’s inheritance, but was eventually defeated.
With constant bloodshed, the province vicious into disarray. Crops dried upward too disappeared. Animals died. Children starved. Some survivors fled into the woods, only to live devoured yesteryear the beasts within the black too vast recesses. Many succumbed to the swords brought downwards upon them yesteryear their enemies, but i survivor escaped—Gillemorre. Facing danger too death, he stole a little boat inwards the nighttime too braved the petroleum waters to the mainland, where he made the journeying to Scone. He pleaded amongst the Rex on behalf of his holding. The Rex tasked his council amongst making a determination on the fate of Sìtheil.
The council members decreed that only the fiercest of rulers would live able to maintain the people of Sìtheil safe. Better yet—two tearing warriors. Only those who hungered for victory, would live able to restore order.
And hence at that topographic point would live state of war games.
Every 5 years a serial of games would commence betwixt the warring clans—and each clan would sacrifice 2 warriors—a manly soul too female. There could live only 2 winners. One male. One female.
To live married too named Chief too Lady of the land. To alive inwards the grand castle, dominion the vast holding, too protect the people yesteryear divine right.
May the gods live forever inwards their favor…
Blood stained the foliage strewn cave inwards swirling patterns.
Slashes of crimson lined Dougal’s white shirt. His oral cavity hung slack, eyes stared lifeless at the dimly lit sky. Hair, all the same damp amongst sweat, lay inwards unruly clumps against his forehead.
This was the worst too close terrifying morn of Ceana MacRae’s life to date. She dropped to her knees, her manus falling to her brother’s motionless arm. How had this happened? And hence quickly. They’d only left the castle a few hours yesteryear inwards search of game to feed their starving clan. And instantly he was… She pressed her fingers against his neck, feeling for the steady bump against her fingertips that would seek out life all the same remained.
She searched i time again on the other side of his neck. Pressed her ear roughly his olfactory organ too oral cavity hoping for fifty-fifty simply a tiny tickle of breath.
Ceana shook her head, oral cavity going dry, her vision blurring. Her blood brother could non live dead. He could not!
She checked him i time more, a hard, mutual frigidity lump settling inwards her stomach.
Her manly soul bring upward had been ripped apart yesteryear wolves, instantly her blood brother was killed yesteryear marauders. It seemed to live the fate of the men inwards her identify unit of measurement to give-up the ghost badly. Fear circled her heart. An icy chill snaked along her arms too legs. She hissed a breath too chip her lip. Their laird was dead. The principal of their clan—gone.
But who would cause got dared to price him?
She gripped the dagger strapped to her hip too wished she’d view to convey her long,
sparse sword, non that she would cause got been able to ward off an assaulter for long. Thank goodness she had her bow. She slipped off the bow too nocked an arrow, turning inwards a circle. Whoever killed my brother, I volition annihilate you.
Danger wasn’t something new. Death was an onetime pastime. The MacRae’s were constantly existence picked upon yesteryear neighboring clans—like vultures they were, simply waiting for them to die.
A hundred years had passed since the Rex decreed the warring clans should teach by against i some other inwards the state of war games. The proclamation made to cease the constant bloodshed. And spell the clans close the isles were safer, those smaller clans amongst fewer men to guard them were all the same inwards constant danger. Clans similar hers.
Legends abounded regarding those start games. Heroes were made. The opening game, a century ago, was a vicious, unrelenting fight. The start to reign victorious was Gillemorre, boy of the dandy King Olaf who’d been murdered for his lands. Those descended from him instantly claimed the cite Morrison—but only if they won the game. The games had brought a semblance of monastic state to the land, though non to all. Not to the MacRae’s. But the ruling council would non waver from its decision.
Even amongst the state of war games existence designed to maintain the peace, little neighboring clans fought against each other. Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 drought had wiped out many of the crops too killed many of the goats too pigs. Even the streams too lochs seemed to behavior less fish.
Aye, danger she was accustomed to. Starvation even, wasn’t that why they’d left today to teach nutrient for their clan members?
But this—the vicious murder of her older brother, the principal of their clan…
Tears burned her eyes too the pilus on the dorsum of her cervix stood on end.
The decease of her brother.
The decease of their laird.
What sounded similar a branch existence stepped on called her attending to exterior the cave. Without making a noise, Ceana moved to the dorsum of the cave, where she was steeped inwards black shadows. She crouched down, shifting the soft plaid of her gown to maintain herself balanced. She pointed her arrow toward the oral cavity of the cave too waited.
All the spell she continued to hear the compaction of leaves too sticks. Distinctly a man’s steps falling—heavy too hard. And he was alone. Ceana listened intently; her hearing had e’er been superior. The footsteps paused exterior of the cave opening. And too hence she heard the soft audio of his booted feet stepping lightly onto the company cave floor. The stranger was dressed inwards a plaid she’d seen before—MacLeod she thought, but couldn’t live sure. Weekly, if non daily, their lands were trespassed yesteryear those looking for spoils.
She stared at him, a grin curling her lip at knowing he couldn’t run into her, but it was wiped off equally shortly equally he nudged the tip of his boot into her brother’s ribs. Dougal’s prone trunk barely moved. Anger burned a path to her heart. She’d forever recall the aspect of pleasance on this stranger’s human face upward equally he kicked Dougal harder, too and hence laughed loudly equally he kicked him equally difficult equally he could.
Without reservation, she allow her arrow wing when the homo took out a knife too made a displace to cutting her deceased brother’s throat. Her arrow constitute its grade inwards his chest, too the homo looked toward the dorsum of the cave, eyes squinting inwards both surprise too pain.
“Who’s there?” he cried out, too hence stumbled to his knees equally crimson colored his dingy tunic.
Ceana stood too stepped away from the shadows, shoulders squared, jaw tight, too she assessed the man.
“Who are you?” he asked again, brogue thick too filled amongst pain. The stranger roved his gaze over her, surprised at what he saw, if she could gauge yesteryear the widening of his eyes too incredulous press of his lips.
No i expected much from piddling Ceana. She was slight inwards frame too shorter than close women, but she was fierce, too that was all that mattered. Her thick ruby pilus was swept into a messy plait downwards her dorsum too dirt no uncertainty smudged her cheeks. The stuff of her plaid gown was worn too torn inwards spots, mended inwards others. Dougal himself had teased her for looking similar an orphan. But she was no child. She was already xix summers.
“Who are you?” she asked him without answering the query herself.
The homo gripped the arrow, double fisted, too broke off the end. His forehead dripped effort downwards the sides of his cheeks. “I’m a MacLeod.”
Just equally she’d suspected. “What are you lot doing here?”
He managed a lecherous grin through his agony. Ceana drew some other arrow, nocked it too aimed it at his breast i time more. The feathers tickled her cheek, too she allow out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.
“I asked you lot a question,” she said. One fake displace too she’d shoot him again. “What are you lot doing here?”
“Killing your laird.” He gave a glutinous laugh, too and hence a cough, equally he clutched at the stump of arrow shaft left inwards his chest.
“Then ’tis a skillful thing my laird taught me to protect myself.” She allow her 2d arrow fly, watching it i time once again hitting its grade inwards his chest. The sickening thud of it turned her stomach, but his agony all the same gave her a thrill of vicious triumph.
The invading warrior clutched at the 2d arrow buried deep inwards his chest, his human face upward draining of all color. Perhaps earlier he’d view he may cause got a jeopardy of escaping death, but instantly he had to know he would die.
Ceana had been hunting since she could figure out how to clutch a knife, too shooting amongst her bow since earlier her start word. There was no uncertainty that she was a skilled hunter. But to kill a man, too experience a thrill? There were no words. I volition burn downwards forever inwards the fires of hell for this.
But this homo had killed her brother. Would cause got killed her. If the stranger was willing to dissever a dead man, at that topographic point was no telling what he would cause got done amongst her.
As far equally she knew, this was the start homo she’d genuinely killed. There had been moments when she was close, when enemy clans had invaded their lands too threatened their livelihoods that she had inwards fact shot her bow too had her arrow monastic state inwards someone’s breast only to scout them gallop away on a Equus caballus or live rescued yesteryear their men. Most of the fourth dimension when their asset was existence set siege to, she was inwards accuse of taking the women too children to a safer place. Protecting them should the enemy let on the lines.
Dougal e’er told her that since he’d yet to cause got an heir too she was his only sibling, that the family’s modest asset would shortly live hers. While it may cause got been rare for a woman soul to inherit, it wasn’t unheard of. But she knew non the start thing of taking aid of their meager infinite of land, or politics. How could she ever accept his place? Dougal had been a skillful leader. Emotion welled within her, forming a lump inwards her throat.
Blood trickled from her enemy’s lips, making a ruby line of piece of occupation from the corner of his oral cavity to his earlobe. He was dead, too she’d been the drive of it.
But he’d wanted to slit Dougal’s throat. Her blood brother was already dead; at that topographic point was no demand to mutilate his trunk further.
The man’s caput lolled to the side, eyes glazing over, oral cavity opening too closing inwards still speech. She suppressed her surprise. She’d view him dead already but evidently he all the same had something to say. Ceana walked briskly forward, ears keen for whatever dissonance outside. She bent downwards beside him.
“You shall live buried,” she said. “Even if you lot don’t deserve it. I shall run into to it.”
“Who are you?” he asked, the same query he’d asked her earlier too the same i she’d avoided answering.
She supposed she powerfulness equally good practice, for equally long equally she lived, she’d live repeating these words. “I am Laird MacRae.”
Ceana stood, the enormity of her novel seat bringing amongst it a strong fear. She’d supply to her castle too relay to her clan that at that topographic point was all the same no food, but fifty-fifty worse that Dougal was dead. They’d all live dead shortly unless she could figure out a agency to salvage them.
An view struck her equally she slung her bow over her shoulder too adjusted her knife hence it wouldn’t teach caught on the stave.
The state of war games. The really games that ensured her clan would never amount to anything. But the money she could earn if she won—the castle too lands she’d receive—all of these would assist her protect her people. The winning clans agreed to alive inwards peace too equally allies—anyone who went against the police delineate risked execution. It would hateful she’d cause got to marry, but at the halt of their 5 twelvemonth rule, the chieftain too lady had the pick of re-entering the games to maintain their seat within Sìtheil, or they could relinquish their position, retain their prize money too supply to their ain clans.
She swallowed hard. There is no other way. If she did nix her people would starve earlier the side yesteryear side clan fifty-fifty had a jeopardy to invade their paltry holding.
Stepping out of the cave, she stared upward at the graying sky. Joining the games meant she had to cross the stormy Minch to the western isles, that she powerfulness give-up the ghost inwards battle. Meant she’d cause got to kill many to a greater extent than people inwards monastic state to win. But such a sacrifice was worth it inwards the halt if she could salvage her people.
The start thing she’d produce equally Laird MacRae was bring together the teach by for a throne—and she’d win.
Game Three: 8/25/14
Game Four: 9/1/14
Game Over: 9/8/14
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