Authors: Ria Cantrell
Acclaim for Ria Cantrell:
Gripping Story. I couldn’t stop turning the pages.
Patrick Stephen, Xavier Stone Collection
I feel in love with the characters. I want the type of love Brielle and Rory have in my life
avid romantic reader
Ria, I want more. Please hurry up with your second novel. It’s beautifully written.
Tara Reynolds, mother of three and a helpless romantic
Other Books by Ria Cantrell
Celtic Traveler (Coming Soon)
Celtic Tempest (Coming February 2013)
Copyright © 2012 by
All rights reserved.
Ebook Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to your favorite ebookstor
e and purchase
your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
I dedicate this book to my dad, who watches over me from heaven. I hope this would have made you proud of me. I also would like to dedicate this story to the love that crosses barriers. To Paul, my husband, who helped me see that love is not confined to our own backyards, but extends across this vast world of ours.
When I began writing, I never thought my dream would be realized to put my story out to the world. For so long, I wrote strictly for my own enjoyment. It was not until recently, posting blogs on a public site that I realized people did read my words and in fact wanted to read them. This gave me the courage to push forward and put my story to virtual paper. I would like to thank my friends Lisa, Theresa, Wynn, and Debbie, who were my test audience for Celtic Fury. Their support and encouragement has been such a blessing to me. They made me believe that my story needed to be told and that others would like to read it , too. To the countless other friends and family members who have been with me every step of the way, encouraging me and being my cheerleaders, I thank you.
I would like to thank my family for encouraging me to pursue my dreams. My sister Andrea has always been my biggest advocate. My mom has supported me through the trying times that help mold a writer. I would like to thank Jill K. for putting me in touch with my literary advisors and promoters. Without her insistence and support, I think this book would have never come to pass.
This brings me to Lani and Patrick. Thank you for your persistence and encouragement to get my book published. Thank you for your endless suggestions. Thank you for the amazing artwork for the cover of Celtic Fury and for your dedication to have my story produced and available for public enjoyment. Thank you for the many hours you put into the reading, editing and advising of the final product of Celtic Fury. I hope we have many more projects and stories to tell together.
Lastly, but by no means
least, I want to thank my husband Paul, who has always stood beside me and has helped my dream of being a writer to be achieved. Paul read the first draft of Celtic Fury and was able to see the many aspects of me in the various characters I have created. He has been a positive influence in my life since the day we first met. He has encouraged love to grow in my heart, thus h
elping me create and believe in
the tender moments you will find in Celtic Fury. I am a lucky girl to have such a team of positive angels with me.
I hope you have liked reading Celtic Fury. I have enjoyed creating this story for you. When I wrote it, I did not research the clans, but just went on instinct. It was only after doing some cursory research that I learned the clans did war with e
ach other. It is wonderful to
have the fictional invention
s validated by history. While
there are many similarities with the actual clans, I wrote this asa purely fictional tale. Any names or circumstances are coincidental and do not reflect historical fact. I hope you will continue following the story of the MacCollum family in Celtic Tempest and then further in Celtic Traveler. I have enjoyed writing this story for you. Blessings all!
1365 – Scotland – the Highlands
Ruiri MacCollum sat astride his warhorse and looked over at Caitlyn McLeod. She had agreed to wed him after very little persuading. He smiled, daydreaming about the pretty lass riding at his side. She was hopelessly in love with him and when he was with her, he felt like his life was complete. Like his brothers, he had grown up big. He thought a little lass like Caitlyn would fear a man of his size, but she loved him and made him feel like he was the most delicious thing she had ever feasted on. He was riding with her to set their banns. They would be wed within the month.
He thought, “T’is good we will wed soon.” She told him only days ago that he was going to be a father. She thought he would be furious but he was elated. He was young but his ma and da were young when they started their family. He loved Caitlyn and that was all that mattered now.
Two of his brothers flanked the sides of him and his bonnie wee lassie. The bridal party was making their way to Caitlyn’s birth home. She had lived on MacCollum land since her parents passed from a bout of fever. She had lived with her maternal grand parents, but now she would visit her elderly grandfather and Rory and she would marry. Rory would forever regret those musings. His mind had wandered and he was not as alert to his surroundings as he should have been. He knew they were fast approaching Campbell lands. The blood feud between the two clans was something Rory grew up knowing. It was part of his daily life. The clans were bitter enemies for as long as Rory remembered, but his romantic reverie had dulled his warrior's instincts to complacent premarital bliss. Mostly what was left of the Campbell forces in this area were known as rogues and renegades.
The rest of the clan had moved on to the lowlands, but there was a faction of Campbells that were like rabid dogs. Rory should have been paying attention to his surroundings, when he was quickly reminded where he was as an arrow buzzed past his head.
He leapt from his horse and pulled Caitlyn to the ground. His brothers were on their feet instantly freeing their claymores from the scabbards on their backs.
Rory made Caitlyn crouch low next to a tree and he said, “Stay here, lass.” And without looking back, he charged into the fray. It turned out there were only six renegades bent more on robbery than an actual blood feud. While the MacCollum boys were outnumbered two to one, they made a quick end of those bent on their own destruction.
The fighting was over quickly and Rory returned to where he left Caitlyn. She was sitting very still and upon his approach, Rory was met with a grim reality. An arrow protruded luridly from his beloved Caitlyn’s chest.
He ran to her side and she said, “Ruiri…I am sorry…I stood up to see…if you were alright…”
Rory sank to his knees and gathered her into his arms. She was cold; unnaturally cold. Murmuring softly against her hair, Rory said, “Sshh, Sweeting. Be still. It’s going to be alright…” Rory choked on his own sob as he forced the lie from his lips.
“Forgive me Ruiri…”
“There is nothing to forgive.”
But as he began to say they would get help, he felt her life slip away. In that instant, his hopes and dreams died along with the life of his bride and their unborn child. His roar of anguish split through the now silent trees; vibrating like a mournful knoll as his heart burst in his chest.
* Prologue II*
Rory sat perched on his war-horse, looking down on the battlefield below him. The raiders would no longer threaten his clan. He had made certain of that. From where he sat, he could still see the fallen raiders; locked in the horror of death where they fell. Their blood still pooled like crimson puddles beneath them. Blood and grime streaked the Wolf of the Highland’s face and arms. Only now was his heartbeat returning to normal. He had been lost to the blood lust that powered him through battles and made him nearly invincible. He clucked his tongue, turning his horse away from the bluff and joining his brothers and father as they mustered from the fray.
Once again their luck had held and not one of them had been lost. The raiders had been steeling their livestock for weeks and then they had abducted a young woman from her home. She was a new bride in the Clan MacCollum and that was reason enough for their forces to meet out the justice due to these renegade criminals. It was one thing to fight raiders of livestock, but to have to return a beaten bride to her home after unspeakable things had been done to her only fueled the bloodlust that fanned Rory’s need to be the legendary avenger. Highland Wolf…he heard the rumors and hated them, but his prowess on the battlefield had gotten him that name.
After Caitlyn had been murdered, he fought with a relentless fury that few could tame. The scene below him fortified that very legend. It certainly would not quell the stories or aid him in any way. While he never fought a battle unprovoked, if he was called to the fight, he fought to the death. Some said that when the Wolf of the Highlands did battle, he was like a feral beast that was unaware of the death he could meter. It was not true, of course. Rory was always aware of every cut inflicted by his sword or dirks.
Wiping the blood from his sword, he secured it across his back and saw to the woman they had fought to rescue. She was frightened and dazed. Poor thing, he thought. She would never be the same. Rory wondered if she would have been better if she had not lived, for living with the memory of what had been done to her was as good as death. Caleb MacCollum, his father, was trying to comfort the girl, but Rory knew that look. She was broken beyond repair. She had suffered violation that damaged not only her body but her soul. No amount of vengeance could erase what had befallen her. Looking at this ravaged lass made Rory furious all over again. Neither his brothers nor father tried to stop him as he rode away in anger and despair.
-1375- England –
Bronwyn looked out into the bailey of the keep, scanning the men arriving back from their latest campaign. She lifted her little daughter in her arms and tried to still her small son who was excited to see his father and uncle return.
“Do ye see papa and Uncle Rory, mama
he asked, barely able to restrain his happy anticipation.
“Not yet, Ian. Uncle Erik is back though, surely yer’ da and Uncle Rory are not far behind.”
“I wanna’ see, mama. I wanna’ see
the adorable little three year old begged.
“Alright.” Bronwyn unfastened her plaid and she gently placed her baby on it. Hefting her wiry son up so he could see down into the bailey. Ian shouted down,
“Uncle Erik…Uncle Erik” and he waved furiously to get Erik Ragnorsen’s attention.
The blond giant heard the call above the din in the bailey and he waved up to the excited little boy. He smiled up and pointed to the men arriving in the outer flanks of the approaching soldiers. Bronwyn’s heart leapt with joy as she spotted her beloved husband and then her brother bringing up the rear of the formation. The men had only been gone two weeks, but it always felt like a lifetime. Bronwyn busied herself with her babies while her men were away, but she was overjoyed to see them safe and hale and back home where they belonged. Seeing her beloved Drew sent that familiar longing through her. They had been married nearly four years and still she felt like a new bride whenever she looked at him.
Little Ian was shouting, “Da, Da…Uncle Rory.”
“Be still, Ian. Yer’ Da will be up soon.”
Bronwyn looked down from her spot on the castle wall and saw the solemn look on Rory’s face. Her heart broke every time she looked at her precious bother these days. He had stayed on in England after she had married Andrew, seemingly content to change his path in life. She had been overjoyed to have him close to her while she adjusted to married life in England, far from her highland home. Rory and she had shared a close bond all their lives and she was happy to have him with her now. Besides her beautiful husband, Bronwyn thought Rory was the most handsome man of her clan. The women loved him. He was huge, with broad shoulders; muscled and toned, not like some of the men of her clan that had bulk, but in a rounded way. Rory had eyes the color of golden wheat, flecked with green, which always made a person stop and notice. Those eyes earned him the name of the Highland Wolf…that and his legendary temper. How he hated that name! But Bronwyn had the utmost respect and love for her brother. While her own hair was chestnut and wavy, Rory’s hung straight to his shoulders; darker than hers and that only made his eyes more brilliant and striking. When he smiled, he could charm anyone. The children adored him.