Authors: Jenika Snow
Evernight Publishing ®
Copyright© 2014 Jenika Snow
Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs
Editor: Karyn White
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Thank you everyone that has stood by my side. Without the readers and Evernight Publishing my stories wouldn’t see the light of day.
THE WARLORD CLAIMS HIS BRIDE
Copyright © 2014
There were many things I used as inspiration when I wrote this story: Scottish influence, the Middle Ages, and even modern day terms and practices. Although there might be obvious references to the past, I have also used different terms and settings that do not match the time period, language, etc. This is fiction, so please go into it with an open mind, and please don’t expect historical facts. There are no set rules in the practices of the characters, their culture, the time frame, or the key items presented in this story. Thank you!
Year 1425, battle between Clan Lyon and Clan McCarrick
Liam Lyon stared at the field before him, at the bodies that littered the ground like death coming up from the earth. The scent of vileness filled the air, and blood covered his chest and kilt. This was what it was to fight for what was theirs, to
fight for something that was loved and cherished. He had said goodbye to his wee wife and son, who was only a young five years of age, before he left, and even though he would have liked to stay with them, cherish that he was alive, a man was not worth anything if he didn’t protect what was his.
The sound of footsteps behind him had Liam turning, sword raised, and he focused on his adversary. Dawson McCarrick stopped on his steed before he reached Liam. The sky was dark and ominous, and there were fires that burned brightly in the Briar McKnightly Mountains, but then again fearsome dragons lived atop those sharp and monstrous outcroppings. The flames were a brilliant orange and red that glowed with renewed life because of the anger of those beasts. Liam and his men were far too close to their lair, but what others might misunderstand was that a dragon, despite being able to kill a man by breathing alone, protected what was his. Liam was not any different from those monsters, and he was going to end this right now.
“This night is the last night when ye will look upon the sky, Lyon,” Dawson said in a harsh growl, and dismounted from his horse. Dawson already had his sword in hand, and Liam didn’t wait another moment to end this and protect the land that was rightfully his.
They charged forward at the same time, their swords clashing together when they reached the other. Sweat fell from Liam’s brow and mixed with the blood and dirt on his face. With the light in the sky, a great and powerful shadow crossed overhead, and the massive roar of the dragon just feet above their head shook the very ground they stood on. Liam grunted when Dawson charged forward once more, and roared out when Dawson brought his sword down on his chest. Liam’s flesh opened up, and the warmth and wetness of his blood slid down his already battered flesh. But Liam was not a weak man, and felt the strength of his people fill him. The grunts and shouts from the men fighting all around him filled Liam’s ears, and he lifted his sword higher. But before he could deliver the swing that would have Dawson’s head leaving his body, the searing pain of the blade in his back had him falling to his knees.
The blade was pulled from his body, and the sight of Dawson grinning filled his vision. The man that stepped out from behind him stood beside Dawson. His son, young and impressionable, Braigh, stood beside his father, his sword in his hand, and Liam’s blood dripping from the tip.
“I told ye this would be the last night ye looked upon the sky,” Dawson said, his voice pleased, victorious.
“Ye fought dirty, no’ like an honorable warrior, but like a coward,” Liam said, and immediately coughed. Blood filled his mouth and spilled down his chin to drip onto his chest. The fighting all around them seemed to cease, and the only thing Liam heard was the massive roar of the dragon becoming further away. The battle was over, their leader fallen and on the precipice of death. Liam had many things he wished he could do: be there for his men, kiss his wee wife once more and tell her she was his life, and tell his son, Bronson, that he was a proud da. As those thoughts passed through his mind Dawson moved forward, grinned down at Liam, and speared his blade through Liam’s gut.
“What ye own is now mine,” Dawson said low, but with a grin still on his face.
And then the darkness surrounded Liam, and he no longer heard anything else.
Thirty-five years later
Blood and sweat ran down Bronson’s face with each swing of his sword. Clan Lyon—his people, his men—fought beside him just as fiercely. He was a warlord, a man that had an army of Scottish strength behind him, ready to die to take what was rightfully theirs. This had been his father’s land ages ago, but now that Bronson was the ruler of his people, and not timid as the leaders before him had been, he was taking it back. He was no longer a child, but a man that had hatred inside of him, rage that burned brightly.
He swung his long sword with a mighty roar and sliced the man coming at him right through the middle. His enemy fell to his knees, looked right at Bronson, and started gurgling blood and saliva. The fluids spewed from his mouth and covered his chin and chest before he fell to the ground face first. The rain came down harder, covering the ground and causing the dirt to become mud. Bronson stared at the body before his feet. He felt no remorse over taking yet another life, because if he didn’t take their lives he would be the one face first in the mud, lifeless. He slowly lifted his gaze away from the corpse, and stared at the scene before him. It was a blood, violent, and gruesome picture of what it was like to fight for something that was rightfully his. Bronson looked at himself. His legs were blood stained, as was his kilt, which at one time had been a vibrant blue and green color. It was now stained rusty red and brown from the blood and dirt, but he was proud for his appearance, because it mean he had fought with his heart. He lifted his gaze once more and scanned the land. Bodies littered the field of Harrowsworth, the last village that had stood up against him and his men. It had taken him decades, and a lot of blood spilled both from his enemies and also from men of the Clan Lyon. There was no weakness in Clan Lyon, and although the years had been many since he stood in this very spot, and lives had grown in the surrounding villages, this was still Lyon territory. A warlord never backed down, didn’t surrender, and never forgot. His father had fought with his life for this land. It had taken a very long time for Bronson to get to this spot in his life where he was within a grasp of owning what was his by birthright once more. He felt the strength inside of him renew tenfold.
“My Lord, our enemies have all fallen. Ye’re victorious.” Cal, one of his strongest fighters for Clan Lyon, stepped up beside him.
“Nay. This is no’ about being victorious, Cal, but about reclaiming what was always ours.” Bronson lifted his gaze and stared at the body and blood covered field. “They dinna fight like they wanted tae keep this land.” He looked at Cal. “They dinna deserve to own it.”
Cal grunted and nodded in agreement. “Aye.” “If they loved this land they would be the ones left standing.”
Cal nodded. “Yer da would be verra proud of this moment, Bronson.”
“Aye,” Bronson said, keeping his emotions in check, because right now they needed their leader to be the strongest he had ever been. Showing emotions was a weakness, and Bronson was not weak. The rest of his men came closer, their bare chests and kilts, faces and swords, covered in their enemies’ blood. Some had some nasty wounds, but they were all standing. This was his clan, his men, and his bloodline. They fought hard and killed their enemies not because they wanted senseless deaths on their hands, but because they were fighting for the right to keep what was theirs. These men that were broken, battered, and in pieces around them, had not been worthy of living on this land—of being on
family’s land. They had been rapists, thieves, and had pillaged the villages around the country, and took what wasn’t theirs. That was the difference between what Bronson was doing, and what these bastards had done. Clan Lyon was honorable and didn’t kill without reason. They never took from a woman what wasn’t freely given. But this was the last piece of territory that belonged to his family, and Bronson had finally reclaimed it. Now it was time for him to find a good woman, and a piece of land on his territory that he wanted to settle down on. He needed a wife, was ready for one after all these years of violence, one who would bear him strong, powerful sons to help protect the land they had final taken back.
Bronson lifted his sword high above him, and his men did the same. In one mighty roar he yelled out, “Tae Clan Lyon.”
Genevieve wiped the sweat from her brow and grabbed the bundle of eggs that the chickens had laid that morning. The sun was high, and she was already tired, but the farm wouldn’t tend to itself. She glanced over at her father, who was busy feeding the mare, and couldn’t help but smile. He tried to act so strong, but he was getting older, and his body was starting to show the wear and tear of a life of hard labor.
The feeling of the ground rumbling, or the very earth quaking beneath her feet, was so pronounced that she held onto the small coop and glanced in the distance. The straw hat she weaved covered her face from the Scottish sun, but even though she was hot, tired, and still had a whole day of work ahead of her, the sight that was coming forward chilled her to the very bone. She swore her heart stopped, but then it started beating hard and fast inside of her. She had come to realize Bronson could control her body without even having to look her way. Men, no, warriors, rode forward on great stallions, their blue and green colored tartans raised high. A part of her wanted to run in the other direction, but there was another part that wanted to move closer, to be closer to Bronson. Maybe it was because she knew she’d never have a man like that, one who was ruthless and fought for what he wanted, even if that meant he’d die because of it. The closer Bronson came, the clearer she saw him. His chest was bare, riddled with scars, but glistening from his sweat. He wore his kilt with pride, that much was clear in the way he held himself on his massive steed. He led the group of men, with a sword strapped to his back, strips of plaid tartan wrapped around his bulging biceps, and this hard, determined look on his face. Over the years, and while growing up, Genevieve had seen the fearsome warlord pass through. He stayed at the manor many a fortnight, but he did not call this village his home. She was young, but even so she had heard the stories of Clan Lyon fighting through the villages and patches of territory that had once been his family’s. It had been a hard battle, with a lot of land to cover, but it had ended now, or so she had heard. It was better to back away from the politics of the land, especially when it concerned a clan that was as lethal as the Lyons. But what she couldn’t deny was that, as powerful and frightening as Bronson Lyon and his clan were, the men that had taken over his territory had been brutal and vile. Surely Clan Lyon was better than they had been, above the rape and murder that she knew had gone on all around her.