Eochaidh - Legend of the Horsemen (Book One)

BOOK: Eochaidh - Legend of the Horsemen (Book One)
6.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


of the Horsemen





Terri Reid


– Legend of the
Book One)

Terri Reid

© 2013 by Terri Reid

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under
copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by
any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise)
without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above
publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and
trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which
have been used without permission. The publication/ use of these trademarks is
not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This
may not be resold 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 purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the
author’s work.

The author would like to thank all
those who have contributed to the creation of this book: Richard Reid, Sarah
Reid, Richard Onines, Virginia Onines, Jenny Shuck Bates, Maureen McDermott
, Hillary Morgan
Denise Dailey Carpenter and

And especially to the wonderful
readers who are starting this whole new adventure with me. Thank you all!


Cover art provided by
Thank you
for such amazing work!!!!


meaning horseman

Chapter One

(Ireland – 1800s)


The carved sign above the Brigid’s Well Inn rocked back and
forth on its iron hanger as wind-driven rain pelted against it.
The heavy wooden door beneath the sign was
bolted, and the placard hanging on it clearly read “CLOSED.”
The mullioned windows, with water pouring
down their surface and onto the sills below, were nearly all dark, except for a
small guttered candle sitting on the inside sill of the window closest to the
The speck of light wavering in
the rain could not be seen from the main road. It was only a signal to those
who had ventured closer looking for fellowship unlike the kind the inn generally

The inn yard was a mire of mud and horse manure. Each
carriage that had stopped that day had left their own horses’ contribution to
the growing collection.
Even the
cobblestone walkway was pooled with brown liquid that smelled of the inside of
a stable.
At the far end of the yard was
an open-air stable, providing shelter from the spring storm for the horses
whose owners were now hurrying through the deepening puddles toward the inn.
These were not the usual customers of the inn, and they were not routine
travelers looking for a place of refuge in a storm. Their nondescript cloaks
were dark and flowing, and each wore the hood pulled forward to cover their

Pausing in front of the barred door, they gave three sharp
knocks with the iron knocker, and, after they heard the click of a lock being
turned from the inside, the door was opened wide enough for them to slip
inside, then immediately closed and secured behind them. Noiselessly, they
moved forward, the rain dripping from their robes to create rivulets on the
wooden planked floor.

The fire in the great fireplace had been banked to further
ensure anonymity. In order to chase the chill of the night away, the members of
the group huddled close for the small amount of warmth the coals might produce,
their faces turned away from each other.

Pewter tankards of mulled wine sat on the bar to aid in
further warming and were discreetly procured and sipped quietly in corners of
the room.
Although the spices used to
mull the drink were pungent, they were not strong enough to cover the other
smells in the room

wool, smoked wood and unwashed bodies.
But, perhaps the strongest scent in the room was that of fear. And there
was one among the group who relished the smell of that perfume.

He moved casually to the front of the room, standing next to
the fireplace. Most of his face was hidden except for his eyes. They picked up
the reflected light from the coals and glittered in the dark room. He looked
like a demon positioned before the fiery brimstone of hell.
“We need to begin,” he said, barely
disguising his voice. “We don’t have much time.”

The rest moved as a group to create a small circle in front
of their leader. All in all, thirteen hooded cloaks stood in the room.

The leader pulled a thin taper from his cloak and bent over,
lighting the wick on the coals.
Extending his arm forward, he held the burning flame out toward the
center of the circle. “Light your candles,” he instructed.

Turning to the left and walking clockwise, all of the members
took turn lighting smaller candles on a large one near the fire.
Finally, when they were all back in their
original positions, they held the candles in front of their faces, blinding the
others to their identities.
“Now, repeat
the oath,” he demanded.

In one voice, they all whispered the Latin words,



sanguinem nostrum


“Now in English, so you remember the covenant.”

Once again, their voices chanted the words,

“We vow with our

We vow with our

We vow with our

We are guardians of
the enchantment.”

“Now is the time for action,” he cried. “The runes have
prophesied that once again we will have the opportunity to fulfill the blood
oath of our fathers.”

“The blood oath,” the other members whispered solemnly.

“For more than sixty generations the guardians have been
waiting for this day. For more than sixty generations our families have
covenanted with the dark mistress, and for that our flocks have been healthy,
our crops have been plentiful and our coffers have been full,” he continued.
“It’s time, once again, to satisfy the pact signed by our forefathers during
the time of Merlin.”

He looked around the room slowly, pausing at each candle.
“If one of us fails, we all fail,” he whispered menacingly. “If one does not
live up to their covenant, the oath is broken, and we will all be punished. Do
you understand?”

He saw a few hoods move in an inverted nod. “Do you all
understand?” he shouted, and all of the hoods bobbed in understanding. “Good.
And now that you recall your promise, let me remind you of your goal. We must
protect the curse; we must see to it that no one is able to break the
In other words, Lord John
and his family have to die.”

Chapter Two

The forest was old, and the magic hidden underneath ancient
boughs and wisping over the rushing rivers and thick meadows was even older. It
thrummed beneath the earth’s surface like a beating drum, and it glistened like
early morning dew on the plants and rocks within its domain. It was alive and
powerful, and sixteen-year-old Meaghan could feel the magic beckon her as she
stood just outside the forest’s borders in the predawn morning.

Dressed in a loose linen tunic, a plaited leather belt and
boy’s tweed breeches with her auburn tresses braided and tucked up tight in a
woolen cap, she could have passed for a wood nymph

slender, petite and nearly blending into the forest
around her. But, upon a closer examination, you could see she was not tranquil
enough to be a creature of the forest.
few copper strands of hair escaped her cap, and her green eyes sparkled like
the mist-covered moss. Her skin was fair, and she had a smattering of freckles
across the bridge of her nose. She held a long, sturdy walking stick in her
hand, and her feet were bound in fine leather boots that helped her move
soundlessly in her surroundings.

Shivering in the cool morning air, she inhaled the sweet
nectar of the old magic, but waited carefully outside its borders.
She looked up impatiently, watching as the
sky above her transformed from night to day, turning from dark grey to soft lavender,
as thin shrouds of clouds replaced the last few stars.
Turning, she looked back across the path she
had just taken.
The spires of the stone
manor house were beginning to glow with the pinkish-gold hue of sunrise.
Slowly the shadows of night withdrew as the
tide of light made its way over the slate tiles, like a wave slipping onto the
shore. It swept over the house and onto the manicured grounds.
Spilling forward, it followed her path across
the lawn, over the fence and across the meadow. It revealed her walking path
through the thick wild flowers and clover, a thin line of darker green where
the grass had been crushed. Finally, it reached the edge of the forest. Meaghan
lifted her face, closed her eyes and let the warmth of the sun seep into her skin.
She inhaled deeply. She loved the unique scent of the forest, the moist, rich
smell of earth, the spicy scent of pine and the musty combination of old and
new plant growth.
Slowly opening her
eyes, like a sleepy cat, she sighed with the pleasure of the moment.

But a rustle in the woods behind her reminded her of her
task, and, with a little regret, she turned from the warmth and faced the
woods. Waiting until the glow of the early morning sunlight glimmered on the
path and gilded the leaves of the trees in front of her, she finally took her
first step inside.
She knew enough of
the stories and legends of the forest to not enter its lands until the sun had
lit the sky.
Those fae creatures that
dwelled here, although harmless enough during the day, were focused on mischief
and mayhem when the lesser stars and the moon ruled the sky.

She smiled to herself. With her leather satchel of supplies
hitched over her shoulder, she had set out early that morning to construct a
little mischief and mayhem of her own.

Moving farther into the forest, she felt the same welcoming
sensation she always felt within the borders of the dark woods.
Although most from the village avoided the
mystic area, Meaghan had always felt a protective spirit within its confines,
as if she was coming home.

Birds swept through the sky above her, darting from tree to
tree, welcoming the new day.
From the
high-pitched trill of a waxwing to the soft purring of the turtledove to the
hoarse call of a crow, their songs filled the air in a discordant symphony that
reminded Meaghan of the ware-hawkers at the village market.
Cherries for sale, cherries for sale.
Buy a
posy for your
buy a posy for your lady.
Cold ale, cold ale.
Grinning as she pictured the villagers’
reactions to the birds wearing aprons and hopping around the square selling
their goods, she decided it would probably be wiser for them to remain in their
forest home.

As she moved farther
in, timid but curious forest dwellers, like deer and rabbit, paused for just a
moment to observe the intruder and then darted away into the thick old growth
leaving no trace of having been there a moment ago.

Although the main path through the forest was well used, a
wide, worn strip of brown pounded earth, the path Meaghan choose was covered
with a green carpet of moss that rolled over stones, logs and ground and with
very little evidence of being used at all.
She walked carefully but quickly on the grassy moss, moving from stone
to log to stone again with a dancer’s dexterity, grabbing onto tree trunks and
thick vines to help her keep her balance.

The path angled downward, heading toward the bank of the
That was her goal, the clearing
just before the river.
There was a score
to settle that morning, and, she decided with a determined nod, she would be
the one to do it.

Pausing in her walk, she felt the hairs on the back of her
neck rise and realized that everything around her was now silent.
All of the birds that had just moments before
filled the air with a cacophony all their own, had hushed their calls.
Even the wind had slowed. The forest seemed
to be holding its breath. Meaghan paused in her descent and waited for a
moment. Then she heard it and understood. The faint tinkling sound was carried
on the barest of breezes, like bells disturbed by the wind.

Her heart pounded in excitement. No wonder the earthly
creatures had hushed. The fae were speaking. Green fairies were about.
She had been told about the green fairies,
how they tended to the flowers and plants in the forest.
They sang as they worked, their voices like
tiny pure chimes, and their morning song was a rare treat. Watching them work
was even more rare. She looked back over her shoulder to the rising sun.
Surely she had time enough to find them
before she put forth her plan.

Placing her satchel and walking stick at the base of a
giant, old oak, she walked to the edge of the path.
The green fell away to a small
its sides covered with browning vines and exposed
Because of the thick vegetation
below, she really couldn’t judge the distance down but guessed it was about
twelve feet, too far to jump.
down on the edge, her feet dangling, she grabbed hold of a root and tugged. It
seemed solid enough.

Turning so her belly was against the edge, she dug her feet
into the dirt wall and, using the root like a rope, began to lower herself
Her first
of steps down were
easy, and Meaghan felt her confidence grow.
“Not so
she thought, sliding her hands slowly down the moss-slick root.
“I can handle this.”

Just then, one of her feet slipped, and she found herself
slapped against the wall of the ravine. Her face crushed against dirt and rock,
and she lost her grip on the root. Tumbling down, she desperately grabbed onto
anything to slow her descent.
pebbles, dirt and brush scraped against her hands and face as she fell.
Finally, she wrapped her hand around a thick
vine and slowed her fall.
desperately reached for the vine with her other hand and then dangled in
mid-air for a moment while she caught her breath and spit dirt and twigs from
her mouth.
“Well, that was not quite
what I had in mind,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I wonder how far down I
still have to go.”

Testing her grasp on the vine before she moved, she finally
glanced down and sighed. She released the vine and jumped the six inches down
to the bottom of the ravine.
“That was
brilliant,” she whispered, mocking herself. “I’m sure the fairy folk enjoyed
that display immensely.”

But, not all the fairy folk had been paying attention to her
escapade because, once paused, Meaghan could still hear the green fairy song.
They were still busy at work. Creeping slowly forward, Meaghan slipped inside a
patch of tall ferns. Sliding between the feathery leaves and dodging the large
rocks on the ground, she moved closer to the sound. She had never seen a green
fairy before. She had only heard their songs in the distance.

She had seen other members of the fae before; the wood elves
were a fairly common sighting with their copper skin and mahogany hair as were
the water sprites, although they were a little harder to find with their
translucent blue skin and dark green hair that looked like seaweed. She thought
she saw a goblin once, but she turned and ran before she could be sure.
And she knew she had heard a banshee just
before her old nanny had died.

Even though she was excited about possibly catching a
glimpse of the green fairies, there was one creature she longed to see more
than any of the others.
The enchanted wild horses who
legend tells had once been men. But no one, not even the woodsmen in the
village, talked about seeing them in their travels.
Perhaps they were just a legend and not as
real as the other fae in the woods.

Unlike most of Britain, the people in this Irish village
spoke of the fae on a regular basis, simply because there were all kinds of fae
that actually lived in the woods and the surrounding countryside. Meaghan
learned as a child it was because these woods used to be a favorite of Merlin
the wizard, when he was not near Camelot.
The older villagers said he left some of his magic in it when he
disappeared thousands of years ago. She liked that she could feel the magic; it
was like Merlin was still there.

The plants had thinned out in front of her; she was closer
to the clearing. Carefully, spreading the final bunch of leaves apart, she
peered into it. Something making a buzzing sound like a bumblebee flew at her,
and she nearly jumped back. But, at the last moment, she froze as the creature
hung in the air, pausing not more than four inches in front of her face, its
wings flitting so quickly she could only see a blur.
Human and fairy gazed at each other, both
staring in awe at this wonderful discovery.

Meaghan’s eyes widened in delight and her smile broadened in
The tiny creature looked
like a miniature woman, dressed in a leaf-green sheath and tiny shoes the color
of tree bark.
Her skin was light green,
her large eyes were the color of oak leaves in the fall, and her hair was
maple-leaf red.

The fairy flitted closer, one tiny hand extended, and
lightly touched Meaghan’s nose and then darted quickly back.
Meaghan stood still and waited, her breathing
measured and slow. She didn’t want to frighten it off.
The tiny fairy buzzed around her, uncertain
of this unfamiliar forest creature, and then finally approached the girl again.
Slowly, with both hands extended, the fairy flew forward and touched Meaghan’s
cheek, pushing off immediately and flying back several feet. The touch was like
a butterfly’s kiss.

A smile lit on the tiny face and she did it again, flying
forward and pushing back. She giggled, the sound like a tiny bell, and smiled
at Meaghan.
Delighted, Meaghan smiled
back wondering if the fairy would stand on her palm.

Slowly lifting her hand and raising her palm to the sky,
Meaghan waited, holding her breath. The fairy came forward and hovered over her
open hand as if she was deciding.
Finally she dove forward, pushed off from Meaghan’s cheek and soared
into the sky, her faint laughter echoing in the trees.

Meaghan watched her until she disappeared into the leaves of
the trees.
With a satisfied sigh, she
turned and quickly headed back to the path.
She had a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time.

BOOK: Eochaidh - Legend of the Horsemen (Book One)
6.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Finding Grace by Alyssa Brugman
Howl: A World at War Novel by Mitchell T Jacobs
Roberson, Jennifer - Cheysuli 05 by A Pride of Princes (v1.0)
All for This by Lexi Ryan
Educating Jane Porter by Dominique Adair
Mismatch by Tami Hoag
A Promise of Forever by M. E. Brady
Secret Santa by Cynthia Reese
Pilgrimage by Zenna Henderson