Ela Montahue is a talented sorceress with the ability to heal, but distressed over a complicated ancestral legacy. Long ago, a mystical woman known as Boadicea, the famed queen of the Iceni tribe, issued a difficult decree. As her descendant, Ela must wed for love, not practicality, or she will forfeit her supernatural power. In medieval England this is not a socially acceptable order to follow. For her family’s sake, she should marry Lord Thomas de Havel, a vile landholder with a cruel streak and a desire to see slavery reinstateda man with good connections to King John’s court. This arrangement would put the Montehues in a safe position in the new regime. The stakes are highher dignity, her pride, and possibly her life in childbirth. When Ela refuses this repulsive marital transaction, Thomas de Havel abducts her and wages battle against her father in retaliation. Only Osbert Edyvean, a knight with the highest creedhonor, faith, and logiccan save her and preserve her gift. A businessman for the Earl of Norfolk, Osbert has been paid to find Boadicea’s spear. Rather than bring back this obscure artifact, he rescues Ela, intending to take her to the earl and obtain his parcel of land. Wary of the supernatural aura surrounding this woman, the admirable knight fights his overwhelming passion for a beautiful lady he wants to protect . . . and love. This is Boadicea’s true legacy. - See more at: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/boadiceas-legacy/#sthash.wNqL4FUL.dpuf
About the Author
Traci E. Hall is the president of Florida Romance Writers, a member of Spacecoast Authors of Romance, and the author of "Beauty's Curse;""Her Wiccan, Wiccan Ways;""Love's Magic;" and "Something Wiccan This Way Comes."
Read an Excerpt
By Traci E. Hall
Medallion Press, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Traci E. Hall
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEla raised her face to the moon, accepting benediction from the Crone in the night sky before the light disappeared behind a cloud.
She slashed her arms down, fingers pointed to the ground. Lightning skipped from grass to tree to her very fingertips, setting her long auburn hair spinning like ribbons around a maypole. Her scalp tingled as she bowed her head to nature's show of might. I'm ready.
The eve was dark as a witch's cauldron. She inhaled the heavy earth scent of coming rain. The air crackled with suppressed energy and it took all of her courage to stay when her instincts bade her bolt.
I'm no coward.
Ela lifted her chin and glared at the cloud-covered moon.
What she attempted now was for the good of her kin, her sisters' children, and someday, mayhap, her own. Meg said that Beltane eve was one of great natural power. Blessings and curses abounded as the veil between the worlds thinned. And who but a wise woman trained to read the secrets of the earth could be so sure of that?
Lightning zigzagged across the ebony sky and Ela's blood quickened.
She was no sorceress to be playing with magic, yet Boadicea's burden was a drowning force. Dark dreams came with more frequency. It chafed her entire soul to be ruled by a specter of a long-dead past.
By God and all the saints, Ela thought with a determined exhale, she was a woman at the beginning of a new century. She should be shackled or nay to whomever she pleased without fear of losing her gifts. Stretching her arms to her sides, Ela tossed back her head, her unbound hair whipping at her ankles. The Moon Crone's aura pulsed blue with despair.
There was much angst since England had a new king. Like a bully, John Plantagenet took what he wanted without thought to what lay broken in his wake.
But that is not my battle.
Not this night.
Thunder boomed with enough force to rattle her teeth, yet she wasn't afraid. She laughed into the oncoming storm, drawing nature's energy.
Ela needed all of the earth magic she could absorb for this spell. Only Andraste would be strong enough to rescind the curse Boadicea had laid on her daughters, and theirs, and theirs. To wed without love meant forfeiting personal power-whether it was healing, seeing auras, or divining the future.
Thunder raged-a drumbeat reverberating throughout her body. She shouted over the blasting wind. "Andraste! Hear me, Goddess of War."
A crack whiplashed across the sky, followed by a torrent of skin-pelting rain. Ela refused to cower beneath the stinging drops.
"Mighty warrior-goddess! Release my family from Boadicea's curse. Grant us free will."
She dropped to the ground in supplication, her knees splashing mud in the sodden grass. The chilled water brought goosebumps to her naked flesh, but this was Beltane, and Meg swore that no other night would do if she were to reach the ears of the ancient Celtic goddess.
The wisewoman said that only Ela, as a direct recipient of the curse, could plead for respite and hope to reach the battle-hardened goddess's heart.
No spirit answered her call.
Ela wondered, as she blinked away the rain, if her bare-arsed prayers to a dead Iceni queen and a Celtic goddess in the middle of a spring thunderstorm would send her to hell. Father Harold might think so-not that she had any intention of confessing her folly. Her teeth chattered. Mayhap the old goddess was too far back in time to care about the descendents of Boadicea.
Imagining her nieces trapped solidified her purpose. Unless she risked everything this night, they would always be tied to the damned curse.
Ela struggled to her feet in the mud and threw her arms parallel to her body. Her hair lashed at her raw skin as she shouted against the wind. "Andraste! Boadicea! Our family honors the gifts you've given us. If there was a debt owed, surely it has been paid." Ela bowed her head, offering the one thing that made her whole as a worthy sacrifice. "If not, then let me return my gifts to you, if you will but grant freedom to the rest of my kin."
The notion of not being able to read auras made her physically nauseous. Putting her hand over her bare belly, she thought of her family. They'd be well placed under King John if she swallowed her pride, along with a good deal of bile, and wed Thomas de Havel. For certes, the Montehues would be much safer in this new regime once she wed a member of it.
Ela spluttered as a fat, foul-tasting raindrop landed on her lip.
Her father was a strong warrior. In these turbulent days, that wasn't enough. It couldn't matter that the price of her family's safety was her magic. Ela raised her voice so that it could be heard over the thunder and beyond time. "Andraste-you can't ignore me all night!"
Osbert Edyvean leaned over the neck of his steed, his eyes intent on the swishing tail of the horse in front of him.
"Come back, fool." Os clenched his jaw, determined to stay in sight of the disappearing horse's ass. He was at a disadvantage, since the man on the horse in front of him obviously knew the dark, winding roads, whilst he was a stranger to these lands.
A year into the quest for his liege, Os was not fond of wet, dark roads or inhospitable peasants who were loyal to their lords. He much preferred the toads who spit information after an ale or two. An accomplished knight and a man of business for the Earl of Norfolk, Os hated to be outwitted by a peasant with one tooth.
Rain slashed from the sky while thunder boomed and lightning lit the area around him in a single flash before turning the night black again. His horse stumbled, and he had to slow or endanger Bartholomew. "Pox take you," Os muttered to the man's back.
The sound of the horse's hooves grew fainter. Usually clear of head, Osbert's spurt of temper back in the village had now gotten him lost in the middle of nowhere during a ferocious storm. Sir Percy had taught him that emotion led to mistakes, and again his mentor had been right.
He could either stop or end up in a ditch. He might deserve a spill for being an impatient sod, but his horse had earned better. He patted Bartholomew's mane. "Sorry, boy."
It was too late to bother the lord and lady of the manor. Mayhap the innkeeper would rent him a room even though he'd chased one of her patrons from the inn. Or he could sit in the rain and get drenched. He was not without options.
A flash of lightning briefly showed a worn trail off to the left. Os yanked at the reins, wanting to find his prey-and answers. Bartholomew somehow managed to keep his footing as they dove forward into the dark night. Os ducked beneath oak tree limbs and slashing foliage.
Had he thought this a trail?
It wasn't even a footpath.
Suddenly a shaft of moonlight illuminated a hill ahead. A peal of thunder covered what might have been hooves in front of him and Os patted the neck of his steed. "Hurry. Over the hill, and we'll have him, by God."
With the confidence of one who has rarely lost a fight, Os charged the hill and drew his sword to confront the peasant once and for all. He needed to find Robert Montehue, and his lady wife Deirdre. A year was a long damned time to be searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Os reached the crest and immediately yanked back on Bartholomew's reins. The horse protested softly as he regained his footing. Osbert's jaw dropped, and he rubbed his eyes in disbelief. He blamed the ale he'd drunk at the inn as he fell from his saddle to the slippery grass. Cautiously righting himself, he leaned against the heaving flanks of his mount.
He blinked in the sodding rain.
He wiped his eyes.
She was still there, a vision in alabaster and crimson. Curling hair flowed down the nymph's naked back, her bare arms lifted to the moon in supplication. Sparks lit from one finger to the next as she shouted something that sounded ... primitive.
Andraste. Familiar, though he would swear he'd never heard the name before this night.
Os was struck with a deep yearning that caused his armored heart to ache with sadness, regret, and desire.
His groin pounded and it hurt to breathe. Os wanted her in a primal way-savage. His loins tightened and he imagined her beneath him in the throes of passion. Her eyes would be green, her laughter warm. Impossible.
It felt like a memory.
He wanted her now. Yet he'd sworn an oath to remain chaste until marriage. And he wouldn't marry until he had his own land.
Dedicated to God, church, and kingdom, Osbert Edyvean quickly crossed himself in the downpour of rain.
I've been damned by a flame-haired witch.
Excerpted from Boadicea's Legacy by Traci E. Hall Copyright © 2010 by Traci E. Hall. Excerpted by permission.
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