A Witch’s Destiny

by

Leigh Ann Edwards

Beautiful, strong-willed Alainn O’Brien believes her elusive father is the only person who can rescue her from a dangerous predicament. Alainn and her husband Killian follow her clairvoyant intuition and embark on a journey to Scotland. They meet numerous magical beings, spirits, gods, and people on the side of both benevolence and darkness as they search for the one person who holds the key to their futures.

Set in mystical sixteenth century Ireland, A Witch’s Destiny, the final enthralling installment in this original portion of The Irish Witch Series, promises to captivate readers with unexpected twists and turns and reveals several emotional truths and secrets they have long been waiting to learn.

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As she stared down at the churning water beneath the ship, Alainn O’Brien’s stomach began to grow steadily queasier and her head became overwhelmingly dizzy. She slowly lowered herself to a sitting position and searched for the herbal potion within the pocket of her frock. Placing it to her lips, she drank a hearty quantity and prayed it would prove even minimally beneficial. She was ever thankful her husband, Killian, was occupied with speaking to the ship’s captain at the moment. He would be filled with concern if he suspected she was in such a dire squeamish state.

She glanced over to where he stood and her heart soared with her complete love and adoration for him. She distracted her weak stomach by reveling in watching him, his grand size and height as well as his great appeal. She noted his high cheek bones, his strong chin and straight nose, and his shoulder length chestnut-brown hair that fell about his face in such an appealing manner. But, when he turned to look at her from across the expanse of the ship, it was his enticing and intense deep-green eyes that warmed her heart and touched her soul. Killian grinned back at her and he realized her thoughts had been of him. Stifling her ever-protesting stomach, she managed to smile at him—she hoped convincingly—and then she inhaled a deep breath and hesitantly rose to a standing position again.

Surprisingly, today she’d not been wary as she’d boarded the ship despite her clear recollections of the last time they’d been at sea. They had nearly met their end when they had encountered a powerful sea squall during that voyage. If not for magical intervention by the gods and the mer-people, Danhoul, Killian, herself, and many others would have drowned in the turbulent waters. She supposed she had little time to be fretful of suffering another storm for, lamentably, she had other more pressing matters upon her mind this day.

In truth, in all the time she and Killian had been together they’d scarcely ever been free of turmoil and peril. She dwelled on all they’d been through, all the hardships and trepidation she and Killian had endured.

They had fallen in love when it was completely forbidden for it was believed they were of different stations. She had lived her life as a commoner, a farrier’s daughter and healer to a chieftain and his clan at Castle O’Brien. Killian was of noble blood, the chieftain’s nephew and promised to another. But she and Killian had fought endlessly for their deep love, and they’d been married when they’d once believed it was nothing but a fanciful dream.

The sailors around Alainn busily went about their duties. The wind noisily whipped at the sails and powerfully pushed the ship through the waves. The movements worsened her queasiness and, closing her eyes, she soon returned to her musings of Killian and their past.

He had stood by her when he’d learned it was Alainn’s own mother, Mara the glade witch, who had placed the horrid curse on the O’Brien line that had devastated Killian’s family for nearly two decades. Together they had finally managed to break the powerful curse. He hadn’t left her bedside when she’d been struck by a poisoned dart and it was unlikely she would survive. Killian had waited for her without question when on their very wedding day she’d been whisked away to the realm of the gods by the Celtic goddess, her great-grandmother Aine.

When they’d first journeyed to Killian’s castle to begin their married life together, they’d known a brief time of happiness, but soon after been devastated for although because of her reoccurring premonitory visions, she’d managed to save Killian from certain death, in doing so they’d lost their newborn son. The months following wee Cian’s death had been agonizingly dark and lonely. For a time, she truly believed they would never overcome the grievous blow and that their marriage would not survive the heart-wrenching loss. But eventually they’d come to realize they would never be whole or find any measure of happiness without the other. They’d finally met their grief together along with all the emotions that come with losing a child. Although they would surely mourn the tragic loss forever, now they shared the pain and it had become bearable.

Alainn’s hand went to her heart without intent, for even now the memories still brought a distinct pain to her chest and sorrowful tears to her eyes. Regrettably, even that great tragedy had certainly not been end of their suffering, for they’d encountered further mishaps and misfortune.

Alainn placed her hands beside her as she sat with her back against the ship’s bulkhead. She ran her fingers along the planks, and purposely became aware of the grain of the rough wood, the smell of the salty sea air and the wind in her face. It righted her dizziness to a degree and she sent healing waves to her unsettled stomach and weary mind. Her thoughts returned to the further calamity she and her stalwart husband had encountered.

They’d persevered through the long trying times in England. They’d both been held prisoner by the damnable King Henry VIII and lived many a day believing Killian might meet his end on the block and she tied to a stake and lit a fire. But they had eventually fled the king and his wrathful madness. Killian had been outraged and heartsick when she’d nearly died after she’d been stabbed by a cursed blade at the hands of a man controlled by a demon. Although it had been sorely difficult for him, Killian had trusted her when she insisted she must be removed from the ship and placed in a smaller boat in order to ensure the evil from the blade did not cause her to do harm to anyone. They had both survived the deadly storm at sea on the return journey to Ireland. They had also avoided contracting the recent sickness that had ravaged nearly every corner of Ireland and taken so many lives of friends and loved ones.

Killian had aided and protected her through every vexation they had encountered and often she’d pondered and once voiced the notion, his life would be simpler and undeniably less perilous if their paths had not crossed so many years ago. She had even contemplated going back in time to ensure they truly had never met. But her loyal, valiant husband would not hear her words when she dared to speak on those thoughts. He vowed to love her always and claimed this life with her, no matter the dangers and uncertainties was better by far than him living without her love.

And so, they’d managed to remain together, united in confronting all the perplexing unpredictability that came with her magic. Killian had always accepted her unusual supernatural abilities, the fact she could see and converse with spirits, fairies, Celtic gods and any number of mystical and supernatural beings. He had seemingly grown accustomed to her often unmanageable, inconsistent and ever-changing powers including her ability to control the weather, move objects with her mind, summon visions, hear other’s thoughts, sense evil and sometimes still or move through time. Although he’d been in disbelief and unsettled to recently learn on occasion she was able to take flight, he had evidently accepted it as all her other abilities.

They had battled forces filled with pure malevolence, evil darkness that most people wouldn’t dare to believe actually existed. Even now, Alainn was being pursued by a relentless demon, the many lost souls he always managed to lure and manipulate, as well as a coven of witches under his wicked control.

She and her dauntless husband had come through it together against all odds, though not unscathed, their bond had remarkably strengthened when it was more likely they might have been torn apart. Their love had not faltered, but grown in the many times they’d nearly lost one another.

Alainn believed she loved Killian more than anyone could possibly love another, perhaps more than one should dare to love another, and his devotion had been unwavering. Yet despite their history and all the adversity they’d braved together, she couldn’t permit him to be a part of the horror she was facing now.

Alainn swallowed hard, opened her eyes and, in glancing toward Killian, felt the tears welling up and brimming over down her face.

Although she had once avowed she would never again conceal secrets from him simply to protect him, she wasn’t confident he would be willing or able to accept what she was being made to confront this time. She truly regretted keeping this from him, but she prayed it would be soon rectified and he would never need to know any sordid part of it.

She brushed the wisps of long golden blonde hair that had pulled free of her plait and purposely stared at the ship’s wooden floor avoiding looking out at the choppy waves of the sea. She sighed and the bitter, regretful tears burned her eyes.

She caught sight of a seagull flying freely above them, and listening to its familiar cry, she impulsively wished she could be that bird, temporarily free of the chaotic turmoil weighing so heavily upon her. Her mind instantly merged with the bird, and at once, she was high above the earth looking down upon the vast sea and the ship far below. The breeze blew briskly against her and she glided effortlessly without the hindrance of her human woes.

She momentarily considered what might transpire should she remain in this form. Would the demon still search for her? Would her powers remain within her human body or were they born from within her mind therefore would stay wherever her consciousness should be? Would her body be merely a shell? Would the consternation she was now facing be eliminated if her powers remained within the bird? But, alas, surely her troubles would follow her and multiply if she remained. She flayed herself at being unable to simply take solace in these few unburdened moments.

Since she could not detect the bird’s thoughts, she came to the disturbing conclusion she might have actually switched minds with the bird and not simply allowed her mind to share the bird’s body. She was repulsed at the absurdity of the bird’s tiny mind within her human body. If by some cruelty she was unable to return her mind to her body how would Killian withstand the encumbrance of an entirely feeble-minded wife, especially with the hellish affliction her body was already experiencing?

She must make haste and allow her mind to return to her ailing body straightaway for with her magic, ever-changing and unpredictable, it might not be such a far stretch to think one day she might be capable of actually changing her shape to that of a bird, or, with the demon’s own dark powers, perhaps he might ensure she was unable to return to her body. When the detachment finally happened it was sudden. Relieved at being reconnected to her body, she vowed she would not attempt anything so foolish any time soon, despite the insufferable nausea returning. The precise moment she was present within her own body she heard a loud thud. The seagull had dropped to the deck beside her.

Alainn immediately gathered the bird in her hands to find it limp, its neck clearly broken. This was her doing, surely the seagull had been overcome with her own debilitating dizziness and been rendered unable to fly. Her reckless magic had caused this bird’s death. She stared down at the obviously lifeless creature for some time, deeply regretful of her impulsiveness. Without conscious thought or purposely calling upon her magic, she gently stroked it and profoundly wept in knowing her powers were responsible. Her hands began to burn and glow with increasingly potent magic and the limp body suddenly came alive again. It squawked loudly and flapped its wings demanding to be released. It pecked wildly at her arms and in disbelief she raised her hands, freed it, and saw it fly away with no sign of impairment.

Surely, she’d been mistaken; the bird had only been injured, stunned but not dead. She observed the feathers and light splatter of blood present on the deck beside her, remembered the clearly broken neck. She waved her hand and the blood and the feathers immediately vanished. Her heart beat wildly in her chest and her mind grappled to understand. She could not possess the ability to return life to a creature that had been dead. It was unlikely even the gods would be capable of such a feat without going back in time to prevent the death. Her magic had clearly healed the seagull… but no one possessed the ability to heal death.

She hurriedly glanced around to see who might have witnessed the occurrence, but was relieved to see Killian was speaking with Danhoul and Conner, and she was grateful no one appeared to be aware of it. She began to tremble in earnest for she knew within her mind and her heart, the bird had been dead. The gods and the demon would be undoubtedly interested if they should discover she possessed the ability to bring something… or someone back to life. She shivered at this revelation as she heard the plaintive cry of the seagull as it called down to her as if to validate her unnatural achievement. She would need to forget this, to never think upon it again, lest the gods or the demon learn of it. She must force her mind to wander elsewhere.

Her unsettled scattered thoughts displeasingly fell upon a most unpleasant memory of her time in England on one of the rare times she had dared to allow her own mind to enter another’s to control their thoughts. She shook her head again not wanting to linger on the memories, but feeling there was precious little she could dwell upon that did not cause further fretfulness or regret.

She remained perfectly still, closed her eyes, and simply savored the misty spray of the saltwater on her face. She gently rubbed it against her cheek to quiet her burdensome notions and directed her magic only toward calming her unsettled stomach.

They were setting out for Scotland, the land to the north of their beloved Ireland, and even now crossing the often rough waters of the Irish Sea. It was considered unwise by many to make the crossing with winter soon approaching, but she had pushed for them to go now and not wait until the following spring. She believed somewhere in the untamed land of Scotland she would find her father, Teige O’Rorke. She had seen it in her visions, was confident in that one certainty, and she held tight to it.

Killian had started to walk toward her and Alainn placed her hand to her head as she stood, in hope of dispersing the constant dizziness. She kept her eyes on only him and once more tried to ignore the swirling water all around her.

“Alainn, are you quite well? You’re lookin’ as pale as a spirit!” There was some suspicion in his eyes as he observed her appearance. “Is it the memories of the horrific storm you’re recalling? Do you sense the sea growing unsettled? Are you fearful of another squall?”

“I’ve had no visions to indicate the waves will strengthen and no, I am not unduly fretful of such events transpiring.” She shook her head.

“Is it simply the rough water then that causes your stomach to be ailin’ so, or is it something else altogether?”

“Aye, sure that must be the cause of it, Killian!” She smiled reassuringly as she looked up at him. She stood on her tiptoes to give him a gentle kiss. He tenderly gathered her in his arms and held her tight as they spoke.

“I don’t recall you havin’ such a weak stomach when we made the passage to England. And though it isn’t entirely smooth, thankfully the water is reasonably calm here at the moment.”

Alainn remembered that journey, the first time she’d ever left Ireland’s shores and how she’d been made to still the waves back then. As she dared to glance out at the water even now, she closed her eyes and calmed the water with her magic.

“My potion has remedied your own wretched stomach, Killian?” she queried seemingly ignoring his questions and his concerned tone.

“Aye, as always, my love, your potion has proved infallible. Did you charm it with your magic as well then, Lainna?”

“Aye!” She smiled up at him as he referred to her by the fond name he had given her when she was just a wee girl.

“Well, I am most grateful to you for that, as are half the men who have embarked upon this sailing with us for more than a few were wary in making the crossing. I am well pleased you have the gift of healin’ and of magic, for you have cured many an unsettled stomach this day. But why has it not had a healing effect on your queasiness, Alainn?”

“Perhaps I may be experiencing a touch of the putrid stomach. Before we journeyed to the port there were others at Castle O’Donnel who seemed to be assailed with the same grueling malady,” she said in a matter of fact tone, longing to dispel his concern. “Tis hoped the new healer, Roisin and her reputable ability to create healing remedies will soon relieve their present discomfort.”

Though she had attempted to swiftly changed the subject, she was grateful for the distraction when Conner MacLain approached. He was to accompany and guide them on this proposed venture for he hailed from Scotland and knew the land and the people well.

As he walked toward them, he threw her a knowing glance at her ashen color, but he did not mention the previous night when he’d found her out on the cliffs and believed she was about to put a drastic end to her own life. Although she had needed to confide to him the truth about her condition, now he only nodded politely to her. She did not move from Killian’s arms, nor did he seem inclined to release her even though they were in the company of others. Clearly anyone who knew them was aware of their deep love for one another and their often affectionate mannerisms.

Alainn had aptly healed Conner’s swollen, blackened eye inflicted by Killian’s fist in the midst of the previous night’s grave misunderstanding, and Killian’s wounds, also. Killian had mistaken Conner’s act of bravery as something untoward, and, to be fair, when he happened upon them, she agreed it would have appeared the man was dishonorable in his actions. He had pulled her away from the gale force winds near the cliffs and consequently fallen atop her which was how Killian had found them.

It was fortunate the night hadn’t ended with someone dead and not simply a blackened eye for a lengthy physical confrontation had ensued, but apparently neither man maintained animosity toward the other regarding the unfortunate incident. As Conner engaged Killian in conversation regarding the details of their journey, Killian gently kissed her forehead, smiled warmly, and then left her to walk companionably with the other man.

Alainn truly well-liked Conner McLain, although he was feared by many. He had suffered hardships that contributed to the man eventually taking a perilous path. After serving a sentence of years in prison, he had entered into a dangerous life as a hired killer. Most did not entertain the notion of even speaking to the fearsome man much less befriending him. But he had a kind heart and despite his reputation, his sometimes gruff demeanor, and physically threatening appearance, he was a good man, and would be loyal without question.

He was apparently still a wanted man in some areas of Scotland and Alainn was not certain it was the wisest of choices for him to return. Yet he had agreed to it without pause. Alainn was filled with empathy for Conner’s present plight. He shared an ill-fated mutual love with Mary O’Brien. She was Alainn’s valued friend and married to Riley O’Brien. Riley was both Killian and Alainn’s cousin. Riley and Killian’s shared a paternal connection and Alainn’s father, Teige was brother to Riley’s mother Siobhan.

Although Riley and Mary’s marriage had been arranged and was a marriage without peace or any degree of happiness, she carried Riley’s child. Conner had done what he felt was safest and the most honorable for her. He’d left her behind even though it surely broke his and Mary’s hearts.

As much as Alainn would have greatly desired to see Mary and Conner together, Riley was not a man to be crossed for he was unconscionable and often given to violence. Both Alainn and Killian had been made to deal with his temper and his unreasonableness on numerous occasions. Riley continued even now with his lecherous behavior, having any number of adulterous affairs with many women including Ciara McCree, a woman who had caused much misery between Alainn and Killian. Few were aware Ciara was a witch with mystical dark powers and was in allegiance with the despicable demon. Riley made absolutely no attempt to conceal his indiscretions from his wife, and he foolishly chose to disbelieve Alainn and Killian when they alerted him to Ciara’s sinister magic and vexatious connections.

Alainn had even dared to consider conspiring with Mary in an attempt in fleeing from Riley, but Mary was mere weeks away from her term and, considering the precariousness of Alainn’s own life just now, she felt she couldn’t be of certain assistance to her friend. She deemed she may cause further calamity for Mary no matter her good intentions.

Riley was a noble, a harsh man of power not unlike his father, and he was possessive of Mary and the fact she would soon bear him a child. The law of the land in Ireland and perhaps everywhere in this the sixteenth century, would unwaveringly favor him. Should Mary think to leave him, she would possibly meet a cruel fate, perhaps the least drastic or most favorable in having her child ripped from her arms at birth, never to see him again. Having lost her own son, the heartbreaking thought of Mary suffering the same sadness had sealed Alainn’s decision in refraining from interfering and in leaving Mary, though in a discontented life, a life she would live with her child.

It saddened her to know Mary and Conner were parted and could not pursue their love, but Alainn felt some relief in knowing a sea and soon a good portion of two countries separated Riley and Conner. Although she’d not witnessed any actual visions to indicate there would be unrest between them, she was filled with great unease whenever she dwelled upon the two, large strong-willed men, both well-skilled with swords. She shivered and was soon covered in goose flesh and was overcome with a sense of impending doom. Yet, she had experienced no sudden throbbing of her head or violent nausea beyond what she was already experiencing, so sure there was no immediate danger to dwell upon.

Alainn glanced at Killian once more and uttered a sigh of relief in seeing he had walked to the other end of the ship, still engrossed in conversation with Conner and not looking in her direction at the moment. She was well aware her already pale complexion had steadily waned with the worrisome thoughts that filled her mind, her own dilemma notwithstanding. She ever so slowly sat down once more. Even the slight movement made her stomach lurch, yet again, and she stifled a noxious fit of gagging. As the distance between her and her husband widened, her eyes filled with further tears she attempted to quell. She might have been successful if she’d not noticed her friend Danhoul staring at her. As he drew nearer, he looked down at her with anxiousness upon his face. He leaned against the ship’s rail with a solemn expression, and then squatted beside her.

“You’ll not be capable of concealin’ it from him for very much longer,” he said in a hushed tone.

They might have simply spoken through telepathy, but Alainn believed that would surely appear odd if he was beside her without addressing her or speaking.

Alainn’s eyes finally brimmed over with tears again now steadily sliding down her cheeks. She hurriedly swiped at them and glanced at Killian again, hoping he had not noticed.

“I had thought to tell him. I even attempted it on more than a few occasions, but always he prevented me from speaking or I couldn’t go through with admitting the truth. Now I feel certain he cannot know!” she whispered with determination.

“Well, sure he’s bound to learn about your condition soon enough. ’Tis entirely odd he hasn’t suspected already with your constant uneasy stomach and your ever-blossoming bosom.”

“Sure he has already voiced his suspicions in both those regards, and I’ll thank you to keep your own eyes from my bosom, Danhoul Calhoun!”

It was clear he had hoped to lighten her mood with a hint of humor, but his eyes held a distinct somber quality impossible to conceal by his good-natured taunting. She attempted to stifle a sob, quickly stood, and turned away when she saw Killian looking her way. The sudden movement made her head spin and her stomach reel. She was forced to hang her head over the ship’s rail and spew in earnest.

Danhoul’s smoky gray-blue eyes filled with empathy and Alainn sensed his own heart was woeful. She heard his thoughts and they, too, saddened her for Danhoul had undeniably fallen in love with her. She was also well aware that at one time, in one or perhaps more of the many lives they had apparently lived together, she had loved him as well. The distant memories of those other lives sometimes came to her and Danhoul maintained considerably more memories than she did. It must be most difficult for him. When she had finally ended her fit of spewing, she wiped her mouth on a cloth, ingested more of her remedy, and gingerly sat down again.

She spoke once more of the displeasing topic they had been discussing. “I know now without the slightest doubt there is nothing to be done but to rid myself of the child.”

“Aye, I concur, there is no other choice.” His voice held a distinct sadness in her obvious displeasure, but he spoke on the objectionable topic nonetheless. “It must be done very soon, Alainn. Perhaps it should have been attended to before we set out for Scotland.”

“I had hoped the herbs would have succeeded in ending my time with child, but thus far, the herbal remedies often used for such deeds have proven entirely ineffective. I have been taking them several times a day for days on end now. I have resorted to creating and drinking unusually potent remedies and combinations not without the possibility of causing harm. All I’ve gotten for my trouble is an ever-worsening putrid stomach from ingesting unwise quantities.”

“Perhaps it is the demon somehow sending his dark vengeance in form of purulence in retaliation of you foiling his plans to see you either summoned to his side or killed by the cursed blade. Have you considered the possibility he might have directed the violent queasiness toward you in knowing you attempt to rid yourself of the dangerously pernicious child that grows within your womb?”

She shook her head at that dismal possibility, but did not reply as she kept turned away from Killian’s gaze and more tears fell. She finally uttered words she had never expected to cross her lips.

“More drastic measures must surely be taken! I suspect there is many an aged crone to be found somewhere in Scotland with suitable knowledge of how to root out an undesired child. With my wretched stomach, it will not be difficult to feign illness while Killian and Conner make inquiries to the nearest local prison. My continued visions of my father would suggest he is or once was recently held prisoner somewhere in Scotland. When Killian is otherwise engaged, you must take me to where it can be done in secrecy. Conner has agreed to assist us in speaking with the locals and finding a woman capable of aiding me.”

“I’m not certain it was wise to include Conner in this. Sure the less people who know of your condition the better.”

“I had little choice in the matter. When he attempted to save me at the risk of his own life, I felt the need to explain why he’d seen me standing so near the edge of the cliffs.”

“Yet you continue to keep the truth from your husband? Perhaps you underestimate him, Alainn. He loves you well. Sure he’d understand.”

“He cannot know!” Alainn insisted. “Sure I’ve told you his deep conviction in disagreeing with preventing conception. How might he react if he knew I endeavor to discover a means to expel the child within me? He can never suspect the truth of it!”

“How can he not suspect? Does he truly not know you shared the king’s bed, that you were driven to allow the bloody Tudor monarch to defile you?” The words were issued in a tone barely more civil than if Killian himself had spoken the deplorable, disgraceful truth.

“He must never know!” Alainn hissed as she determinedly repeated the words. “No good can ever come from him learning of this.”

“Sure he would recognize the truth of it and understand it was done in hopes of saving Lily from such torment and in saving his life, and freeing him from the tower… in assuring both of us were freed from the tower!”

“He would not understand, Danhoul. With no uncertainty, he forbade me to do anything that would allow the king to become besotted with me. He specifically warned me that should I share the king’s bed to ensure his freedom, he would never forgive me… and Killian is a man of his word!”

“Perhaps! But you cannot know for certain if you continue to keep him in the dark and if he knew your intentions were to see Lily removed from further torment at the hands of men.”

“There is no doubt in my mind, Danhoul. He would never find it in his heart to forgive me if he learns I was bedded by King Henry; no matter the reason! And to know the undesired, yet nonetheless adulterous joining created a child now entirely consumed in evil by the cursed blade… Why would I care for him to carry such guilt? I see how it wears on you. To cloud the damnable truth of it you are driven to constantly drown it in whiskey or ale.”

Danhoul simply turned away from her adept reckoning.

“Perhaps an even more worrisome consideration would be if the king knew you carried his child, sure he would want to secure him as a possible heir to the throne of all of England.”

“The queen, Jane Seymour, has given birth to her son barely a week ago, and by all recent accounts from England, the king is overwhelmed with joy and relief. He has no need for another heir, and he would not think to claim a bastard child by an Irish woman.”

“Aye, but I know through my knowledge of the future and you through your precise premonitions, the new heir, Edward VI, will always be of ill-health. He will maintain a sickly and weak constitution, and never live to become a man.”

“Aye, I have seen it in my visions, he will be but six and ten when he succumbs to his many maladies.”

“Should the king learn of your son, he would gladly take him and keep him as the next in line perhaps even find a way to proclaim him legitimate when he discovers his son is unsound of body. If the demon can find a way, sure he will see it happen.”

“That can never happen. I sense this child is already filled with such evil. If he inherited even a portion of my magical abilities and became King of England one day, sure the entire world would be at his mercy. But I assure you, Danhoul, there is no fear of King Henry learning of this sordid secret. With my magic I ensured he would have no memory of me, not of my face or my name, nor anything of our time together.”

“It is hopeful your magical spell holds and the demon does not find a way for the king to remember you. The dark demon would benefit much from having the king remember so that he might take the darkly-affected child and secure his positon as heir to the English throne,” Danhoul dared to suggest.

This time, Alainn gasped at that unthinkable possibility and her face drained of color entirely.

The spirit of Shylie O’Rorke appeared beside them. The girl, not yet a woman, had met her death at the age of three and ten, killed at the hands of the very demon now intent on following Alainn. Shylie was sister to Alainn’s father, Teige. Shylie had possessed magic in life, which she carried with her in death. She had adamantly insisted on accompanying them on the journey to Scotland.

Although Alainn hadn’t been aware spirits could actually fall in love, it was clear Shylie was deeply and unequivocally smitten with Danhoul. She was seldom found far distanced from the young druid, but Shylie was also aptly capable of sensing evil and because of that, she had avoided being near Alainn. It was apparent; the evil being that now grew within Alainn, left Shylie more and more unsettled. She stared down at Alainn with her spectral eyes now filled with empathy, but she did not draw nearer, nor did she speak.

“When we land on the shores of Scotland, I will see the deed done for even as I sense the boy-child growing within me, I loathe the distinct evil he possesses, and sure you’re correct… the demon is much aware as well.”

End of Excerpt