Celtic Rain (The Battle Raven Series)

BOOK: Celtic Rain (The Battle Raven Series)
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CELTIC RAIN
Book 1 of the Battle Raven Series
By: Isabelle Stewart
Copyright © 20
11
by Michelle Graham
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means—whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or electronic—without written permission of both publisher and author, except in the case of brief excerpts used in critical articles and reviews. Unauthorized reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law
Dedication

This book is dedicated to my Great, Great Grandmother. She traveled from the Great Green Isle of Ireland to America and thus the Graham family was formed! Also a special thanks to my inspiration and life my son Kedryn, family and friends and to all of my editors who helped and supported me with this project (
My Mother,
Shannon S,
and
Sheila P).

Main Characters

(For More characters, name pronunciations & fun facts see back of book)

 

Descendants of Warrior Goddess Badb

Lara Eve O’Broin: (Lar-a)

Kedryn Ashton
O’Broin: (Ked-ryn)

Clan of the Danann:

Lord Blaine Henry
MacCionaoith
: (Blay-ne)

Aodhan Mahon MacCionaoith: (Ay-dahn)

General Ruark Callahan :(Roo-ark)

Eion McGrath:(I-en) Druid
of the Light

Clan of the Milesian:

Lord Liam Solo O’Cuinn:(Lee-am)

General Kayne Lynch: (Kay-ne

Clan of the Firbolg:

Lord Faolan O’Laighin: (Fow-lan)
Dark Druid

General Daigh Byme: (Day-gh)

Lady
Paili Deirdre Cillion: (Pahl-ee)

Kiara Layman: (Key-ara) The Seer

 

The Isle: Beannaithe (B-yan-ith-ih) = Blessed in Irish

Forward

There was a time when chaos besieged the
realm
. Firbolg
ships
landed on the shores
of
Beannaithe
and waged war
with the clans
for
many
years. The
Firbolg were
ultimately
defeated
when the Danann and Milesian clans joined together. It
was thought peace would
grow
however
th
e seed was stunted by jealousy and greed. A new war began with the two
clans while the Firbolg watched and waited.

Through a
large
engraved
looking glass
three goddesses watched as the battle progressed pondering if they should participate. They
hea
r
d the plea
’s
of
the
Danann and Milesian
clans
to
aid
them. The Morrigan
did not dabble in the mere squabbles of mortals
unless it suited them
.
However the
y
had not
participated in
a battle
for
a few hundred years
and decided
it was time
.

Each
goddess
bore a different gift.
Badb possessed the power
confusion and strength
of a thousand warriors, Macha the gift of healing and Neiman
undefeatable
strateg
y
.
After a long debate i
t was
decided the Danann were worthy.

It was during a small skirmish when Badb was discovered to have fallen in love with a Milesian soldier.
Macha and Nemain called her a traitor and
made certain he fell in battle.
Distraught over the loss of her lover
Badb quit the battle
.
For the first time the Morrigan
tasted
defeat and conjured a
portal
w
hich they fled through w
ith a small group
of Danann
into
what was rumored to be
the underworld.

Prologue

Aodhan scanned the soldiers and spotted his father who was almost to Liam. He realized what she was thinking.

“No. I am not going to do it.” Aodhan said.

“I am the one who has to reach Liam first. Your father is not strong enough. Look at him he will wear himself out before he even gets there.”

She spun and struck down a Milesian who swiped a long dagger at Aodhan’s back.
Lara
grabbed Aodhan and kissed him as she deflected another arching blow
looking
him in the eyes.

“I trust you. I will be where I’m supposed to be and you can get back t
o
help Devlyn.”

“No. I cannot …” Aodhan started to say as he blocked a sword blow and smashed a fist into the face of a soldier. Aodhan spun to her and thought about going ahead and get his father out
himself
. Then reason took over.

Chapter 1

Delicately sipping wine from an ornately jeweled goblet Lady Paili
Cillion
stood patiently watching over the rim as the man paced. His boots echoed heavy on the polished black marble floor. General Daigh’s movements were of military precision as he turned yet again in his never ending pacing. A log fell in the marble fireplace sending sparks near him unnoticed. Black and silver streaked limestone glowed as if the silver was alive bending and swirling in the mantle.

Her eyes swept over to the crackling fire as its shadows played with the carved wolves on the mantle making them look as if the statues were ready to pounce. She set the goblet down on a tiny golden table and glanced at the General.

“Will he be much longer my lady?” he asked adjusting his sword belt as he made another impatient turn by the fire.

Their heads swung around as a piercing scream sounded from the chamber beyond. The General turned to Paili who was studying him with her steel gray eyes.

“I never understood Lord Faolan’s intimate fascination with torture. Is that the monk or one of the slaves?”

“The monk. Why are you here General Daigh?” Paili asked as she gracefully swept her raven black hair over her shoulder.

As the General looked her over a thought came to him, beautiful and deadly. He again had to remind himself she belonged to Lord Faolan and forced himself to concentrate on the matter at hand.

“Lord Faolan requested a personal report on how his plans were progressing.” He looked at her stone faced and noticed something in her eyes as she nodded.

He had thought Lord Faolan choose Lady Paili for her dark looks and deadly sword hand now he saw something else in her eyes, intelligence. He had heard rumors that she was his advisor and now the general was beginning to believe it was true.

Giving him a dismissive gesture of her hand she glanced to the chamber door.

“Lord Faolan may be indisposed for some time. Although it may not take as long as expected I have convinced him to keep the monk alive. You may give me the report and take your leave. Please take a seat and I will deliver the message you relay.”

She gestured to a chair by the fireplace and General Daigh’s eyes followed her as Lady Paili swept up her crimson skirt and walked up the steps to a small black marble platform. Two golden chairs with the symbol of the wolf carved into them were strategically placed so that whoever sat in them would look down upon any guest.

In one motion she adjusted her gown, turned and gracefully sat. Paili looked down at him with narrowed eyes waiting for the general to take a seat.

Not wanting to give her the higher ground General Daigh decided it was time to leave. Another blood curdling scream sounded from beyond. He had fought in many bloody skirmishes and loved to inflict pain. It seemed odd to him that intimate torture was not one of his strong suits. He left the study of torture to the Firbolg who took pleasure finding different ways of thrashing out pain.

The General walked up the three steps to the where Lady Paili was seated and took hold of her hand. He leaned over and kissed the top of
it
and straightened looking into her eyes. She tried to hide her irritation that he was purposely leaving without giving her Lord Faolan’s report.

“I will take my leave and report back. No offense to you my lady. Lord Faolan asked me to report directly to him and there is much to be done. Please tell him that I stopped on my way to check on your brother’s progress and with our scouts.”

Lady Paili stood up and crossed her arms in front of her. “After you speak to my brother it is my request that he report back to me. There is much to discuss with him.”

“As you wish my lady.” He gave her a sharp bow before he turned to leave not giving her any other opportunities for requests.

Paili narrowed her eyes as she watched him walk out irritated he did not tell her anything. She busied herself and called out with a high shrill for a servant to prepare a wash basin and some linen. She screeched at the servant who was arranging the linen around the bowl.

“The rocks you fool! I want warming rocks placed underneath the water basin.”

The servant scuttled over to the fire place, grabbed out a square metal box and placed it underneath the basin. Water hissed as it sloshed out of the bowl. The servant braced itself waiting for its mistress harsh blow. To the creature’s relief none came as Lady Paili made sure everything was where it should be.

“He is not going to ruin another one of my dresses with his bloody hands again.” Paili glared at the servant standing quietly awaiting her order.

“That will be all. Leave now.” she said and watched with satisfaction as the servant quickly fled.

A few moments later a large engraved metal door silently swung open and a man strode through. She watched as the door to the side chamber smoothly shut and the near silent click of a lock sounded. Lord Faolan scanned the room and noticed, with a smirk on his face, that there was a wash basin prepared.

“You do not wish to soil another dress, my dear?” he asked not expecting an answer as he strode over to the basin.

Lady Paili decided to let that little comment slide by as she watched him wash his hands and face. Instead of speaking her mind she looked him over with nothing short of fascination. His handsome yet cold looks were not much different than
her
having the same love for power and the dark.

Lord Faolan is a perfect and powerful match and she was not going to give him up no matter how much he pricked at her temper. Paili watched as he
tossed a blood splattered robe on a chair with such force it nearly teetered over. He decided against putting on a shirt and she stood admiring his muscled arms and chest. For a man of his age of thirty five he was just as fit and could smite any man half his age. She sighed and decided to break the penetrating silence. Knowing by his movements and face she could tell that he still had not retrieved the information he desired.

“You need not concern yourself my lord. You will get what you desire.” she said and walked over retrieving the goblet of wine she had set down.

Faolan turned to look at her and stroked his beard as he threw a piece of bloody linen onto the robe. He pulled back his long black hair and re-knotted it at the nape of his neck. His eyes smoldered black and his mouth was in a tight line. He grabbed another piece of clean linen.

“The monk knows nothing else of the portal. If only the other was with the seer.”

She walked over and put a hand on his arm. “You are on the verge of deciphering of the portal. The descendant will die and you will have no need for the seer. I can take back my quarters instead of sharing with you.”

Giving her a sly grin Faolan threw down the cloth he used to dry his face and hands. He took pleasure taking in the worried frown on her face. He crossed his arms and leaned against the table where their food should have been prepared. A servant was going to pay for that one he thought and looked at her as he waited for the question he knew was coming.

Paili hide her look of concern that crossed her face. “You did leave him alive?”

“For you my dear. The foul creature lives. I ordered the guards to immediately take him to the healers. You will obtain the knowledge you desire.”

She set the goblet in her hands down making a show of grabbing her skirts and gave slight bow.

“Thank you my Lord. I have another request.” she asked glancing up at him.

“Rise. There is no need for formalities in our chamber. What is your request?”

“The Seer, at this moment, is of use to us. I would like to take her on as
my apprentice while she is still young and impressionable.” Paili let out an exaggerated sigh as she straightened back up.

“The last girl was a disappointment. It was a shame being such a lovely creature that she failed. I would like to break the seer myself only if it is permissible by you.”

“And your motive? Would it be that by taking her under your wing you will learn from the monk also?”

“Yes my Lord. That is my desire. When the monk is of no use to me you may do with him as you please.” she looked at him hoping not to give away how much she desired the knowledge the monk had.

“If that is what you wish and as long as you please me you will receive what you desire.” He pushed off of the table and slowly crossed the room to her
putting a hand on her cheek.

“My dear Cailleach.” he said and felt a sharp slap across his face.

Lord Faolan grinned at her as he felt the sting on his cheek. He loved seeing her smoky gray eyes turn into a dark smoldering steel gray.

“I am not an old hag. Do no insult me again or I will take my leave.” Paili glared at him.

He looked at her amused “My dear Paili, you will never take your leave of me.” he pulled her to him and put his arms around her waist.

She looked into his eyes their noses just inches apart and gained control of her composure by pushing his arms away from her waist. It annoyed her how Faolan seeped into the darkest crevices of her mind escalating her desire for him. He gave her a fake exasperated look and pulled her back. Lord Faolan was amused at the power struggle she put on before him. It was no matter. He always won.

Paili tried to use a diversion to gain advantage in their little game. “General Daigh was here with something to report.”

The door to the sitting room of the chamber slammed open and Faolan glared at the squire that entered the room. The man’s face turned ashen at the piercing look on Faolan and Paili’s face. It took the man a few seconds to find his voice.

“Lord Faolan, pardon the intrusion. You wished to be interrupted when Seer speaks.” he desperately tried not to stammer and to his surprise succeeded. The squire bowed deeply and waited for instructions.

“Pardon me, a stόr.” Faolan said as he ran his fingers down her cheek.

“You call me an old hag and now your darling. Make up your mind, my Lord.” She removed his arms from around her waist and stepped back. Paili waived her hand at him and at his squire with a dismissive gesture.

“You may take your leave, my Lord.” she said looking down her nose at the squire.

Lord Faolan shook his head amused by her and proceeded to leave the room.

“Rise Firnir.” Faolan said to the man bowed before him. The squire quickly moved as his master swept up and pushed by him knocking him into the doorframe. Faolan stopped and turned to him.

“Next time knock.”

Firnir gave him a fearful look and stood frozen. “Yes mm mm mmy ll lll Lord.” he stammered out.

“Do not just stand there whelp! To the Seer’s quarter’s immediately!” he smacked the squire on the back of the head as he walked into the torch lit corridor.

Recovering from the blow the squire scrambled to keep up after Faolan. When the he caught up Firnir tripped over the hem of his robes. Faolan reached out with inhuman speed catching him and pushing him back up without missing a step.
As soon as they were out of sight of prying eyes Faolan dropped the formalities of master and squire.

“You are fortunate that faithful and loyal companions are hard to find. The blow was not too hard was it? Appearances and all. Tell me what have the scribes written so far? Has the Seer spoken about the portal or the descendant again?” Faolan stopped before the turn into the next corridor.

“No my Lord. The blow looked harder than it was. Dramatics, you see.” Firnir said as he grinned at his master and unconsciously rubbed the back of his head. “As for the seer, she is speaking in a language that none of our scribes can understand. It is the ancient tongue and a guard has been sent to retrieve the monk.”

“Interesting. I thought the scribes were trained in all of the languages.” Faolan said as he stroked his beard.

“Not this language. The scribes believe it is the language of the War Goddesses.”

Faolan’s face grew hard as he turned and walked into the corridor leading to the seer’s chambers. Firnir followed immediately going back into his roll of a sniveling squire following at his master’s heels.

At the door the guards made a show of moving their spears to the side and turned as their Lord strode by them pushing through the door.

“It is unfortunate that she is using the language created by the Morrigan. Only one family of Druids has carried that language through the ages.” Faolan said with a look of disgust on his face as he thought of his adversary.

“You are correct, my lord. I selected the scribes in her chamber as you requested all are trained in every language. With the exception of the forbidden secret language of the War Goddesses.” Firnir wrung his hands nervously and looked at the floor as he spoke.

Faolan looked around his eyes resting on the child sitting cross legged on the bed with her golden streaked hair covering her down turned face. She was like a tiny china doll. A fair contrast to all of the shades of silk crimson and black bedding that surrounded her. He wondered again if it was wise setting the child up in these comfortable quarters.

When the child was captured years ago he set her up in Paili’s chambers. Lady Paili was none too happy about it especially since the palace carpenters had just finished with her rose carved mahogany wood bed frame and matching furniture. Faolan still could quite clearly hear in his head her screeching

I didn’t even have time to appreciate it

.

BOOK: Celtic Rain (The Battle Raven Series)
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