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By R. Garland Gray Medallion Press, Inc.
Copyright © 2005
R. Garland Gray
All right reserved.
Chapter One Drumanagh, Eire Kindred, ruins of a faery fortress
He felt sluggish and gray, locked in a cold oblivion not of his making. Drugged eyelids crusted open, struggling for focus. Shadows lingered beyond the candlelight in the crumbling tomb of the ancient faery fort.
Tynan shifted cramping muscles. Iron manacles dug into the raw flesh of his wrists and ankles. Painfully, he lifted his head and surveyed his surroundings. He lay on his back on a sacrificial altar of stone, naked and chained, an offering to the otherworld gods, he supposed, his mind still foggy. They had extended his arms above his head and spread his legs apart; leaving him vulnerable.
His head fell back with a heavy thud. He wished he could wake up from this dark dream.
"Doona fight so; let the drug release you."
He startled at the soft lilting voice, so out of place here. A small figure came into view and Tynan blinked to bring the hooded shape into focus.
"Where am I?" he asked. His voice sounded rusty to his own ears.
"They brought you to the lower tombs of Castle Kindred." The figure moved to stand near his hip, an obscure form carefully crafted to hide the identity of the woman within.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
He felt blurred and queer inside. His body ached in places it had never ached before. The last thing he remembered, dusk had fallen while he bathed in the woodland stream. Low ceiling and stone walls surrounded him now. The damp air attested to the nearness of Eire's wind-swept sea. Black candles burned low in stone crevices, oblivious to the moisture that would extinguish their flames forever.
A movement on the floor caught his attention. He lifted his head. "Aile Niurin," he muttered. Hell Fire. Red beady eyes blinked brazenly back at him before scurrying beneath soiled straw.
"They are only rats looking for food. They will not harm you, warrior. If you feel you can, drink this." She held a flask out to him. "There is little time before they return."
Tynan tried to see the face behind the enticing voice, but the hood's drape hid all features.
"Who comes?" he asked.
Small hands held a silver flask out to him.
"What is in it?" he asked, leery of any offering.
"Water and a crushed apple."
He frowned with indecision, not trusting but needing nonetheless.
"It is safe, warrior," she reassured. "I prepared it myself before coming here." She took a sip from the flask to prove it.
He nodded, too thirsty to argue and opened his mouth.
She supported the back of his head. Fingers buried in his hair, shifting the black length so it spilled down the stone at his shoulder.
The flask touched his cracked lips. Tiny beads of apple slid down his raw throat. The unexpected tartness of the fruit quickly revived him, his mind finally clearing. When finished drinking, he pulled away.
The hooded figure just stood there, watching him, a slight tilt to her head. The scent of lavender teased his nostrils. "Let me see you."
She shook her head and took a small step back. " 'Tis safer not to see my face. If my Roman master found out I ventured to the tombs, he'd order me flayed."
"You are a slave, then?" Tynan could not hide his surprise.
"Aye, to the Roman Centurion that holds this ancient place."
"Do Roman centurions allow their slaves free reign?"
"I am trustworthy and given freedom as long as I remain within my master's boundaries."
"Your master's boundaries do not include the tombs."
"Yet, you are here."
"Aye." She nodded slowly, no doubt wondering where these questions were leading.
He had but one focus lately. "Do you know where the Roman Centurion is holding the faeries?"
The hooded figure stiffened and shook her head. "I doona know anything about that."
Tynan wasn't sure if he believed her.
She turned to the back corridor where voices could be heard.
"They come, warrior. I must leave."
She walked around the altar, and Tynan grabbed a piece of coarse gray cloak. "Who comes?" he demanded.
"The Sorcerer and his minions. They search for the Dark Chieftain of Prophecy."
The woman tugged on her cloak. "Please release me, warrior. If you live, I will find a way to help you."
If I live? He had no intention of dying. Tynan released her. "Hide yourself."
Slipping the silver flask within the folds of her robe, she became part of the darkness, silent and gone as the moments from which she had come. He wondered briefly if he would ever see her again, ever gaze upon her features, but then pushed those thoughts quickly aside for the air became foul with the smell of garlic and sweat.
"The dark sovereign has awakened."
Tynan peered into the shadows trying to locate the owner of the male voice. One thing felt certain, his captors knew his name. Tynan meant dark sovereign among his people.
"Are you the Dark Chieftain of Prophecy?" an older man's voice inquired with a touch of excitement.
"Are you the Sorcerer?" Tynan countered instead. A cloaked man came to stand at his head, face hidden by the drape of the hood. Does everyone wear hooded robes and cloaks here?
"I have gone by many names in this life: Yn Drogh Spyrryd, Evil One, Dark Druid, but Sorcerer is the name I answer to now. Do you answer to the name of Dark Chieftain?"
Lord Tynan, the Dark Chieftain of the Tuatha Dé Dananns, calmed, for his captors did not know whom they held. In his mind, images of purple light and elfin faces flashed and swirled. The imprisoned faeries had become aware of his presence from within the sacred walls of the ancient faery for.
"Silence will only cause you pain, warrior. I have brought many men down to the tombs to be tested. All have died."
Calloused fingers grazed his temple and Tynan turned away, gripping the manacles.
"Your eyes are faery marked with the color of amethyst, warrior. It is a sure sign of the fey heritage in your blood. Mayhap, my search is finally over."
Tynan ignored his captor's ramblings and tried to see the man's face behind the hood. The rough stone of the altar scraped his bare back. He caught sight of a strong chin and long, black hair, streaked with winter's gray.
"Curious of my face, warrior?"
"Evil has many forms," Tynan answered.
"Think me evil, do you?"
Crooked fingers placed a seventeen-inch black sword on his chest, the blood groove encrusted with lime. Dried mistletoe draped the double-edges of the iron blade. Tynan shifted, only now becoming aware of the two servants who had stood in the back, out of his line of sight.
The air stirred above him. He looked down his chest. The ancient sword quickly took on a threatening quality. A burning sensation spread into his flesh. He yanked at his chains. "What sorcery is this?"
His captor came around and stood by his shoulder looking down at him, trying to see into his very soul.
"Your blood belongs to the faeries, of that I vow."
He was more mortal than faery thanks to his father's betrayal. "Many of my tribe show the faery claiming in their eyes."
"Not like yours. I think you are their chieftain."
Tynan did not reply.
"Tell me, who is the territorial goddess? I have searched widely for her. The fates are spiteful and keep her hidden."
"The great Evil One cannot find the territorial goddess?" he goaded, trying to turn his captor's interest away from the goddess. All knowledge of her had been lost years before, yet he alone must be the one to find her.
"Tell me her name." The Sorcerer made his demand with spittle and venom. "Tell me or I will spell-bind you in darkness and silence."
"Your threats are weak. I will tell you nothing, Evil One."
"So be it. You are no different than the others before you and so shall suffer for it." he Sorcerer raised his hands and began to chant, something murky and unholy and unrecognizable.
A blood-freezing cold washed over Tynan's face. He reared up in surprise, yanking at the manacles binding him.
The world writhed and slithered into dark and silence.
Slowly his sight winked out. Blind.
Sound wasted away and became only silence. Deaf.
"Nay!" He struggled to breathe in the eternal night and cold stillness engulfing him. His heart pounded erratically in his chest, fear and terror overwhelming him. He felt suspended, lost in a vast ocean of freezing quiet and living blackness.
"Tynan," the imprisoned faeries trilled in his mind. "Hurry and free us from this Dark place."
Tynan's jaw clenched.
"Dark Chieftain. The Evil One canna veil our fey gift to you. You be of our blood. See the shapes within the darkness. Look into it with fey sight and know that you be not alone."
He swallowed hard and focused as his fey brethren decreed.
Suddenly within his blindness, gray shapes moved. He could see form and movement, a living grayness etched with a male's red heat. His faery sight allowed him to see beyond the vileness of the spell, but he could not see details and he could not see color. He could not see the face of his tormentor.
* * *
The Sorcerer pulled back his hood and scowled down upon the sweaty warrior. "Willful. This one shows more strength than most."
Laying his hand beside the warrior's right temple, a sickly smile curved his lips. He opened his fist and released the black spider. "Let us see what he thinks of my creature."
The warrior jerked his head away and the Sorcerer grinned in delight. "Feel the spider at your temple? It feeds upon the senses. It is an ancient creature, spellbound in the old way of magic and obscurity."
The Sorcerer knew the warrior could no longer hear him. Still he spoke, relishing in the sound and echo of his words in these olden tombs. "Live in this world of undying night and silence. Let your senses feed the spider's incessant appetite. In time, your fear shall breed and betray you and then you will tell me all that I need to know."
Chains clanked loudly with the warrior's inner battle and a kind of glee gripped him. "So, the terror begins ..."
The Sorcerer motioned his servants to leave him. Leaning over, he cupped the warrior's chin harshly, holding him fast, his thin lips inches from the warrior's ear.
"Do you want the answer to your freedom?" He asked with cruel intent. "It is the true kiss of a faery."
He released the warrior and cackled in the way of those doomed. Gazing in satisfaction upon his prisoner, the Sorcerer pulled up his hood and walked away, back to the unending corridors below the ancient castle, back to the unending searches for salvation.
* * *
Tynan blew air out of his lungs. The spell stealing his senses both terrified and enraged him.
"Free us, now." The faeries drummed in his mind, endless demands laced with bad-temper and selfishness.
Jerking the chains, he flung back his head in bitter exasperation. First, he must free himself.
Excerpted from Predestined by R. Garland Gray Copyright © 2005 by R. Garland Gray. Excerpted by permission.
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