"You met him in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their greatest legend!"
As leader of the Fenian Warriors, Aidan Kerrigan's accolades are many and his loyalty to the Fae unwavering. When an unexpected mission sends him to the human world and a chance encounter with Rose MacLaren, he's tempted for the first time in his existence to discard duty and claim what is forbidden.
Rose MacLaren, a Society of the Thistle member, yearns to expand her botanical knowledge with her love of history. After her rescue by a handsome stranger, she is compelled to look beyond what her rational mind comprehends and unravel the secret of the standing stones, as well as the man who captivates her.
In a mystical world ruled by ancient laws and edicts, can a fierce warrior choose a path destined for love? And will a woman honoring the ways of the land believe in a myth only spoken of in legends? If they do, will their love be enough to defy death's punishment?
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Beneath the Hill of Tara, Ireland, Early spring — the season of growth and renewal in the Fae realm.
His fingers moved deftly over the hilt of his sword, aching to unsheathe the blade and sever the hand from the warrior's body. Watching the scene unfold in the training camp below, Aidan Kerrigan drew in a sharp hiss. The wind slapped at his face, mocking him to make his move against the defiant Fae. Branches smacked his back in an effort to sway him from his concealment within the trees. He barely registered the wolf's low growl behind him.
Nevertheless, Aidan was a seasoned warrior, not some young lad showing off his prowess in front of his peers and those others whom Aidan had fashioned into hardened Fenian Warriors. No, he would not rush in, though his instinct begged him to do so. He would choose the right moment to reveal himself.
"Why is there always one who defies my orders?" he uttered with contempt.
And the question Aidan posed was immediately answered.
"Because this is how you pluck those who are unworthy to continue with their training in the Brotherhood."
Aidan gripped the hilt more firmly, refusing to acknowledge his friend and kept his sight riveted on the scene below. "Then explain why those not worthy are the ones who possess the most power?"
"Power is intoxicating. Even the strongest cannot deflect the energy all the time."
Arching a brow, Aidan glanced sharply at the Fae. "Do you speak from experience, Flynn? Or was this part of your elusive training when you left the Brotherhood to study under the king's guards?"
A shadow of annoyance passed briefly over his friend's features. "Intoxication in any form is a hindrance to the Fae. Power can fill our bodies, flood our veins, and heighten our senses."
"As with any drug, woman, or libation," countered Aidan, releasing his grip on the sword. "This is why I order all initiates to undergo a year without all three. If I deem they cannot control their basic urges, then they are not creditable to continue with their training."
"So with the first brush of Fenian power, you believe they should harness the intensity of the feeling?"
Shifting his stance, Aidan clasped his hands behind his back. "Instantly. With one thought, a warrior could obliterate a man into ashes within seconds in the human world. The power should not control the warrior. Are you wavering from your own training, Flynn?"
His friend rubbed a hand over his jaw. "Until my last breath, I shall always recall the rush of power when it first entered my body after the seclusion."
"You did not answer my question."
"No. But for a fraction of a second, I almost let loose the power," Flynn acknowledged.
Aidan eyed his friend warily. What possessed him to make such a confession? And why now? "Is there a reason you're admitting to this declaration?"
Flynn sighed heavily. "It is a pity. Loman is a strong warrior. In addition, he is blood kin to my own royal house. I only sought to share my story in hopes you would find mercy and allow him to remain."
"Yours was a split-second indecisiveness." Aidan cast his hand outward. "The warrior making a mock display of authority over the others is vastly different. There is no comparison. Furthermore, Loman continues to build the energy without thought to the repercussions. As you know me so well, Flynn, I give no mercy to any warrior in training."
His friend shifted his stance, but remained silent.
The wolf padded around in front of Aidan.
"Your companion's interest has grown," commented Flynn.
Aidan shrugged. "Even the animal can sense the misuse of power."
"Or his next feast."
The wolf as well as Aidan snapped their gazes toward Flynn.
"This wolf is a higher species than those in the human world," declared Aidan.
"You should not have brought him into the Fae realm," argued Flynn.
The wolf snickered and returned its attention to the group of Fae below.
Aidan fought the smile forming on his mouth. "The man or beast? Which one should not have been permitted into the kingdom?"
Flynn arched a brow. "Are they not one and the same?"
"His clan is interested in observing the training we do with the young warriors. It was the same with the Dragon Knights. We brought them here for a short time to witness and learn." Aidan waved a hand dismissively. "Dragons, wolves, does it matter?"
"I'd rather deal with dragons," admitted Flynn, folding his arms across his chest.
Aidan chuckled softly. When he requested to bring a member from Clan Sutherland to the Fae realm to survey the training within the Brotherhood, all argued against the preposterous idea. The council judged it unsafe to have a Highlander from the Wolves of Sutherland wander among the Fae and animals, striking at any for his meal. Regardless of Aidan's assurance they would not act upon their predatory instinct to kill for their meal, the council denied his appeal.
Therefore, Aidan took his petition to the king and won. The council was not pleased.
Apparently, Flynn regarded the wolf as a hunter and not an elite warrior — trained in the art of all forms of combat. He had yet to share with his friend that Magnar was also the war chieftain for his clan.
"He has made a vow not to devour any Fae while in our homeland," Aidan remarked.
"I do not find your statement amusing," stated Flynn dryly. "Can he not observe in human form?"
In a soft blur of gray shadows, the wolf shimmered into a man. All seven feet of him, and totally naked, he fisted his hands on his hips and glared at Flynn. "Will ye be more comfortable now that I am in my human skin?"
"I was comfortable before," argued Flynn.
Magnar sniffed the air. "Liar."
Flynn's eyes flashed silver, and he took a step toward the man.
Aidan put a fist to his mouth to stifle the laughter, eager to watch the display of power between his friends. "Be warned, Magnar moves as fast as you or I."
"Ahh ... it has been eons since I've challenged anyone in the training lists," proclaimed Flynn.
Magnar relaxed his stance. "And I only confront those I consider worthy."
"Aye, but do ye not have any Fae curse words?"
Flynn shrugged. "You would not comprehend their meaning."
"It will be a pleasure beating ye in the lists." Magnar's smile turned predatory as he shifted back into his wolf form.
Aidan smacked his friend on the shoulder. "Save the event for when I can gather the other warriors."
Flynn pinched the bridge of his nose. "A spectator sport was not what I intended to —"
A blast of power had both men stumbling back. Aidan was the first to recover, and he scanned the area below. Loman had increased the sphere of energy into a massive swirling globe, effectively showing off his power. However, he was unable to control the building orb — the sparks of energy bolted outward in all directions.
Withdrawing his sword, Aidan emerged forth from the trees. "Release the power!"
Slowly turning, Loman's features went from triumphant to wariness, but he refused to relent.
Aidan held his sword upward. "Do as I command!"
Lightning seared the azure sky, and the other warriors took a step back from Loman.
"Is this not what we trained for?" asked Loman, attempting to harness the energy and failing miserably. Several trees were obliterated into ashes, and one of the warriors put a protective magical shield around the others.
Aidan's fury grew. The warrior refused to do as he ordered. Storming down the hill, he raised his sword outward, aiming not at Loman, but the orb. As he steadily approached, he kept his focus on the warrior. "You defy me?"
Loman refused to acknowledge him. Sweat beaded his brow, and his jaw clenched.
Directing his blade at the energy, Aidan bellowed, "Finalen absolute!"
The sphere exploded in an array of golden shards of light. Many of the warriors shielded their eyes from the intensity, but Aidan remained fixed in his position. His sword arm radiated with the residual effect. Lowering his blade to the ground, he forced what was left of the energy into the land.
Loman balled his fists. "I was not ready —"
Swiftly leveling his blade against the warrior's throat, Aidan hissed out, "You did not heed my words. A grave error of misjudgment."
"Call it a learning one," retorted Loman.
It took all of Aidan's control not to shove the blade into the defiant Fae's skin. "A lesson which will haunt you in your later years."
He lifted his left hand, and the ceremonially dagger used in initiations appeared magically. A sliver of blue light emanated from the tip of the blade.
Loman's eyes widened in fear. "No," he whispered, understanding the consequences.
Aidan tapped the dagger on each of the warrior's shoulders. "You are hereby discharged from all power and rights within the Brotherhood. The markings which were bestowed on you at your commencement are now stripped." The air blistered with the energy, and he took a step back. "Flynn, please escort Loman out of the training lists and beyond the gates of the Brotherhood. We shall send your personal belongings to your home."
"You cannot do this to me!"
The ground rumbled as Aidan tried to control his temper. "Furthermore, I judge it wise you spend some reflective time in the Hall of Remembrance. There, you can witness the events that led to your downfall in the Brotherhood and reflect."
As Flynn placed a hand on Loman's shoulder, the warrior shrugged out of his grasp. "I shall present my complaints to the council. They will give their final order."
"Remove him now," ordered Aidan with deadly calm.
Loman had no chance to utter another retort as Flynn removed them both in a flash of light.
Slowly, Aidan swept his gaze to the group of gathered warriors. "Did not one of you attempt to thwart this Fae's abuse of power?"
"To do so would have encouraged his strength and skill," responded Conn, stepping forward. "In truth, we warned him of the consequences last evening when he bragged of the magic he had harnessed."
Aidan ignored his nephew. He expected Conn to be the one to give the account, but he had hoped two others would venture forward. All the warriors looked to Conn, considering he was once Prince of the Fae. In spite of his lineage, his nephew renounced his heritage the instant he became a Fenian Warrior. Ironically, Conn became the spokesperson for each situation or query Aidan posed to the group.
"We?" echoed Aidan.
Taren nodded. "I was in agreement with Conn."
The others acknowledged their agreement with a nod or voice.
Scanning the area of warriors, Aidan searched for the two he deemed should have halted Loman's misuse of power, along with Conn. Those three had been successful in harnessing the Fenian power quickly and assured Aidan they would assist the others in maintaining the strength to not bend to the energy's will.
"Where are Liam and Rory?" demanded Aidan. As he waited for a response, he magically rid himself of the ceremonial dagger and sheathed his sword.
"Uncertain," replied Conn.
Aidan leveled a hard stare at his nephew. The lie was evident in the shift within his eyes, and yet, he could not find fault for Conn protecting the two warriors. As they must be allies in the human realm, the warriors' trust in each other was tantamount for their survival.
Conn clasped his hands behind his back. "Give the order and I shall search for them."
"No," he stated with aggravation. "Return to your quarters. Each of you will spend one day in solitary to reflect on this situation." Aidan's gaze settled slowly on each warrior. "Next time another warrior dares to defy an order, I will not be so lenient. Furthermore, I blame each of you for not preventing this destructive display of power. You all stood and observed, instead of preventing your brother. Enthralled by his exhibition is a ploy used by the Dark One at the last battle. Therefore, by your demonstration of not interfering, you showed how unskilled you are to face any battle."
"If I may interject," offered Conn.
Aidan shook his head. "This is not a discussion open to debate. It is a lesson to ponder and learn. The Brotherhood has lost a warrior. You all stood and witnessed the event transpire. It does not matter if you tried to oppose Loman yesterday, last week, or last month." He pointed to the scorched marks where trees once stood. "What concerns me is that you all stood as silent witnesses. Not one of you tried to stop the warrior. Or persuade him to relent."
Conn fisted his hands by his side, but nodded.
"You are dismissed," ordered Aidan.
In a silent whisper, each warrior vanished from the training lists. Aidan gave a curt nod to Magnar, and the wolf vanished through the pine trees.
Only then did Aidan let out a frustrated sigh before wandering to the blackened area. Bending on one knee, he placed his palm upon the ground. "Forgive me, Mother Danu." A breeze of roses kissed his cheek. When Aidan lifted his hand, tiny green shoots burst forth from the ashes of destruction.
Slowly standing, he waved his hand outward and magically transported to the Angora Waterfalls.
Mists sprayed him while he stood on the rocky ledge. Stripping free from his vest and leather pants, the echo of the falls roared around him. He rubbed a hand vigorously over his face, attempting to rid himself of the disquiet that had lodged recently within him. Frustration seethed inside him over the path and training of the Fenian Warriors, but there was something else. It was elusive — one moment he believed he had grasped this unrest, and the other times, he blamed it on his direction with the Brotherhood.
Never before had the tides of his life been at war. Usually, there was an ebb and flow. He understood his direction and purpose. Yet lately, he was prone to discontentment. Perchance, he should visit the seer and ask her advice. Would she tell him what he was seeking?
He shook his head slowly. "How can I seek answers when I do not know the question?"
Glancing upward, Aidan watched the graceful flight of a white songbird. Delicate in its beauty and melody, it continued on its path through the air. He thought it odd the unique bird would attempt to fly near the cascading waterfalls.
He stared at the bird. "Are you a portent of a new direction? A new path I must follow?"
The songbird gave a shrill cry and flew off in a different direction.
As he lowered his sight to the water below, Aidan rid himself of all his frustration and dove into the waterfall.CHAPTER 2
"Even without the sight from a Fenian Warrior's eyes, he must be able to follow the path within his heart."
~Edicts of the Fenian Warriors
The luring tune and heady floral aroma had an intoxicating effect on Aidan as he slipped under the archway leading into the Pleasure Gardens. His body trembled with need, aching to strip his clothing free from his body and seek out the tempting carnal pleasures. He forced his gaze away from the beauty gliding her fingers over the strings of the harp as his cock swelled even more. The lyrical welcome lured him to come near, but he willed his body to refrain from reaching out to her. Her sheer gauzy robe did nothing to conceal her rosy pert nipples enticing him to feast upon them. She winked at him as she continued singing the song.
As he directed his sight elsewhere, Aidan noticed the lovers under a tree heavy with peaches. The woman straddled the man in a provocative pose, feeding him portions of the fruit. She trailed a piece over her lush breast, enticing the man to taste both — fruit and flesh. Aidan fought the urge to join them and suckle the sticky juices from her skin.
Averting his gaze, he followed the dewy grass across the bridge to a more intimate part of the gardens. He stepped around the fountain of ambrosia, bubbling with the cool, sweet scent of honey and spices. More lovers were crowded around, enjoying the delights of the enthralling liquor. Wildflowers dotted the scenery, encouraging some to gather the flowers and arrange them into garlands for their lover's head.
When the magical whisper of a soft kiss touched the back of his neck, his skin tingled. A groan escaped his lips, and he turned around.
Her smile was seductive as she approached. "It has been eons since you've visited, Aidan Kerrigan. What brings the mighty leader of the Fenian Warriors into the Pleasure Gardens?"
"Mina," he acknowledged, trying not to take in her luscious form — minus any clothing. "Perhaps you can assist me?"
She laughed, and Aidan realized his mistake in the question he posed.
Trailing her fingers over his silver torc and down his chest, she whispered, "I have long waited for this day. You shall be my greatest conquest. To give you pleasure like no other."
The sensual atmosphere clouded his mind. Aidan was not making himself clear. He clasped his hands behind his back, not trusting himself. "I'm in search of the elusive MacGregor brothers."
Mina pouted, brushing her hand over his agonizing erection. "Can they give you better pleasure than I?"
He choked on the laughter and held his palms up in surrender. "I am not a Fae prone to the likes of other males. I'm merely here to escort them back to the Brotherhood."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Destiny of a Warrior"
Copyright © 2019 Mary Morgan.
Excerpted by permission of The Wild Rose Press, Inc..
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