Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)

BOOK: Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)
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With the dragon blood of her Viking ancestors coursing through her veins, Torra MacLomain has long tried to keep her Scottish clan safe. But a ruthless enemy has been watching…waiting. As Keir Hamilton launches his plan to possess her, many secrets come to light including her passion for a certain highlander.

 

When Colin MacLeod’s undying love for Torra is discovered, he’s given an ultimatum. Watch his lass die a brutal death or defect from his clan to lead the Hamilton armies. Four winters later and in charge of Keir’s warriors, Colin battles in an ongoing war against the MacLomains. Yet now the worst has come to pass. His ill-found chieftain has finally trapped Torra.

 

In a castle siege unlike any other, the modern day Brouns and medieval MacLomains join together in a final stand-off against their ruthless enemy. Battles rage. Mysteries are revealed. Freedom is found. But most importantly, a love long repressed at last rises up determined to conquer all in Plight of the Highlander.

 

 

Plight of the Highlander

The MacLomain Series-Next Generation

Book Five

 

By

 

Sky Purington

 

COPYRIGHT © 2014

Plight of the Highlander

Sky Purington

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. No part of these books may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

 

Edited by
Cathy McElhaney

Cover Art by
Tamra Westberry

 

Published in the United States of America

 

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to two readers who made a world of difference.

 

The first dedication goes out to Deborah Nason. I had the pleasure of first meeting you in person in 2011. A fan of my MacLomain series, I asked you a year later, “What would you like to see from future MacLomains?” You said with a twinkle in your eye, “I wouldn’t mind a dragon or two.” Hence the MacLomain Series: Next Generation was born. Better yet, Torra MacLomain. Thank you for that. Much love always.

 

The second dedication goes out to Kathie Thompson Juliano. An avid follower of the MacLomains and now a truly valued beta reader, it’s been such a pleasure getting to know you. Though we only exchanged a few ‘chats’ via Facebook it soon blossomed into a friendship. Your feedback has been invaluable and I hope you’ve enjoyed the evolution of the MacLomain’s next generation as much as I have. After all, Grant and Sheila might not have found one another without you.

Prologue

 

The Hamilton Castle

Northern Scotland

1254

 

Colin MacLeod stared down from the castle battlements, eager for revenge and death.

It had been three days since winter solstice and so much had happened. Or little as far as his chieftain, Keir Hamilton was concerned. Thus far the dark overlord knew nothing of his plans. Or so he hoped. Eyes narrowed, he scanned the encampment. Somewhere amongst those holding the castle under siege was his friend, Grant MacLomain. If not for Grant so much of this would have been impossible.

But that wasn’t entirely true.

Credit must be given to Torra and the Viking sword.

“They make little headway despite their efforts,” Keir said.

Jaw clenched, Colin growled, “And they willnae, my Laird.” He pointed his sword at one area. “They put too many men there.” He swung his sword in the opposite direction. “And not enough there.”

Keir Hamilton stood beside him, hands clasped behind his back as he looked over everything with a practiced eye. “Or they but follow Grant’s advice. He would try to mislead them.”

Colin kept emotion absent. “Aye, ‘tis verra possible.”

Keir’s black eyes shot to him, expression sour. “Grant tried to do right by me then was taken once more.”

Colin nodded. Though his features remained bland, he wanted to grin. He and Grant despised Keir equally. Yet the Hamilton Laird chose not to see such. So when Torra had used magic to whisk Grant, Sheila, and Iosbail out of there days ago, Keir assumed it was against Grant’s will.

“We’ve plenty of provisions to last the winter.” Keir grinned and nodded down at the warriors camped at his door. “But we will strike long before that.”

Colin walked away from him and slowly wrapped black leather around the hilt of his blade. “Aye, and ‘twill be mighty, m’laird.”

A heavy rumble of laughter echoed behind him. “Aye lad, ‘twill.”

“‘Tis planned and ready at your command.” Colin continued to wrap the supple leather until secured. Gaze to the raging ocean, he whispered a prayer to the gods. “Give the order and see it done.”

He could all but feel Keir’s pleased nod behind him.

“Ye have done well by me,” the Hamilton said.

Colin gripped his blade, ready. “And always will.”

The sun sunk below the horizon. Heavy fog curled in drifts over the sea.

It was time.

This had to be done a very specific way.

With a quick murmur, he closed his eyes and said memorized words over and over.

Not hesitating long, Colin at last made his move. With a sharp turn, he flung his sword hard…

Straight at Keir Hamilton.

Chapter One

 

Three days earlier

 

Keir’s evil eyes roamed Torra’s face with appreciation. “At long last, my sweet. Such beauty. And all mine.” He licked his lips. “The lass
and
the dragon.”

Torra’s soul shrunk beneath both his gaze and his touch.

The half of her soul she still possessed anyway.

She didn’t dare look at anyone in the room. Not Grant and his lass Sheila or Colin MacLeod…
especially
not him. Right now she needed to call on and use a very old magic, one that might free Iosbail MacLomain from the darkness Keir hoped to thrust her into. Apparently, if he sacrificed Iosbail to the serpents, they would in exchange give him complete power over Torra.

A long road of despair had led them all to this moment and she’d see none harmed.

Ten winters ago she’d learned she was something different. Though like her brethren she was a wizard, there was much more to her than that.

She was part dragon.

How she found such out and what had happened between then and now was a story she hadn’t been able to share with her clan. The truth was she’d long been adrift in a reality that didn’t quite belong to her. While she knew greatness resided within, Torra remained trapped, unable to speak with her kin about what she’d become. For long hours her eldest brother, Colin MacLomain would sit by her side waiting, searching for her to come back and be the little sister he once remembered…but she could not.

Torra had changed. And if she shared what dwelled within, her clan might come to ruin.

Would
come to ruin.

So over the long years though she meant only to protect her clan, she felt her very being disintegrating. To have a beast longing to break free took a tremendous amount of effort to suppress. Effort that kept her up long nights, weeping into the morn. With such power came silence. A silence that nearly broke her.

Well, not entire silence.

She managed four prophetic words at a time but only on the solstices and equinoxes.

That became the entire extent of communication she had with her clan. Now, after a set of events partly orchestrated by Iosbail MacLomain, she was finally in a position to set in motion everything needed to hopefully destroy Keir Hamilton.

Thanks to ancient Viking magic.

Better yet, Grant’s Viking sword.

So when Keir grabbed her arm, she murmured a prayer to the gods and grabbed Grant’s sword. She spun away from the Hamilton’s grasp then thrust the blade into the serpents swarming in the otherworld that currently held Iosbail prisoner.

The dark overlord roared and flung up his hands.

As he had at the MacLomain castle, Keir locked all within his supernatural ability to slow down time. Unlike before, even Torra was ensnared. Because he possessed half her soul, the Hamilton’s powers had grown considerably in little time. But he was no match for the dragon. Or at least she hoped not.

Though caught in the sluggish time warp, she held tight to the Viking sword. Ignoring the squealing pain of the evil creatures beneath her blade, she centered herself.

She only had one shot at this and if she failed all
would
be lost.

Torra murmured internal words into the blade…into the space between Heaven and Hell. “
Liberavit, tum me solum. Obvius reges eorum voluntatem annulos.
Set her free, then take just me. Meet my kings, their will of rings.”

Power unlike anything she’d ever felt plummeted through her body. Air suctioned then whipped by her face as Iosbail was released from the serpents and spun away from Keir’s desperate grasp.

“Bloody bastard of a warlock,” Iosbail muttered along with a healthy stream of curses. When she flung up her hands, Hamilton stumbled back a few feet.

All were shocked, even Iosbail it seemed, when Torra ripped herself free of Keir’s magic and murmured two soft words. “Forgive me.”

With a quick lash of her tongue, she continued. “
Cognati mei secundum carnem, non ad pugnam, iam extra muros procul casu
." My kin not here to fight, now outside these walls beyond this plight.”

Harnessing the magic born of Sheila’s ring and Grant’s tattoo, Torra lashed out with magic. White fog instantly wrapped around Sheila, Grant, and a very surprised Iosbail. It swooped once, twice…then they vanished.

Enraged, Keir lunged at her.

But it was too late.

Torra was already being sucked into the altar he’d created. The very same that had trapped Iosbail. A gateway to a plane that existed between Heaven and Hell. If she could turn back and meet Colin MacLeod’s eyes, she would. But she had to look at something else.

That was the only way this might work.

As she was pulled into the altar, her eyes turned to the leather encased pentacle hanging around Keir’s neck and what it contained.

The other half of her soul.

Nearly gone into the otherworld, she barely had enough time to chant, “
Tota anima mea ad tempus, ut sinus. Tene, etiam cum ad hoc Char.
My entire soul to hold as time folds. Keep secret all, even once back to this moment I shall fall.”

Her words were sucked from her lungs as reality shifted.

Then she stood in a whole new place.

The trees and sky could be seen far above and the fiery serpents below.

“You have called. We are here.”

Torra spun and finally looked upon two men who had been in her mind for far too long.

Two kings long gone.

King Erc of Ireland’s Dalriada clan…

And Naðr Véurr, infamous King of the Vikings.

****

Colin MacLeod went from panic to irritation as he watched Torra being sucked into Keir’s evil altar. Though scared for her life he soon felt the jarring sensation of time travel whisk him away. The scent of Torra’s sugary sweet burn filled his nostrils. Of fire, of dragon blood, he knew all who traveled through time in connection with the MacLomain’s bloodline smelled such. While relieved that she was safe and clearly no longer in Keir’s evil altar, he soon had to contend with something else altogether. Not
where
they’d arrived but
who
they’d arrived with.

Her kin.

Bloody hell
.

Four long winters ago, Colin had no choice but to defect to the Hamilton clan to keep Torra safe from Keir. Only in the past day had he been reunited with her but even that had been under duress. Exhausted and down half a soul, she’d been far too weakened.

Now he had no choice but to focus not on her but the others.

“Were so many needed?” he muttered.

Torra’s desperate but firm gaze left him and swung to her kin. “Aye.”

Colin ground his jaw and narrowed his eyes.

Three of the younger MacLomain wizards were here as well as their lasses. But at least Grant was amongst them. Over the past three winters, they’d grown as close as brothers. Through Grant and Torra, he knew of the others. Bradon was her brother and Malcolm her cousin. Hand on the hilt of both his sword and dagger, Colin waited while all adjusted to their surroundings.

All save Grant.

Time travel didn’t faze him in the least.

His friend helped up his lass, Sheila. After he quickly took in his surroundings, Grant positioned himself beside Colin, a quirk to his eyebrow as he said, “Well, I didnae see this coming.”

Grant had been kidnapped and imprisoned by Keir Hamilton long before Colin. Yet both had three things in common and for those reasons appealed to Keir. They were powerful in magic, excellent warriors and loved who he desired most to possess in this world…Torra.


Hell
no,” Leslie muttered, holding her head as she looked around and spoke more to herself than anyone else. “The Hamilton castle is under siege so why have we time traveled yet again?”

Both from the far future, Leslie was Bradon’s new wife and the other lass, Cadence, was with Malcolm. Colin knew about the unending connection betwixt the MacLomains and Brouns yet at the moment he had no desire to know any of them better. If there was to be time alone via some unexpected time travel, he wanted every moment of it to be with Torra.

His
lass.

Though determined to keep a wary eye on the MacLomain men, his gaze unavoidably sought out Torra again. She appeared much stronger than she had before and just as beautiful. Slender, fragile, her long dark hair was streaked with lighter shades of white, gold, copper and even silver. The colors of her scales when in dragon form. She had wide-set luminescent eyes that tilted up ever-so-slightly at the corners and shifted from sage green to a clear indigo blue depending on her mood. With a perfectly sculptured face, he thought her as unparalleled in her beauty today as he did nearly five winters ago.

Torra took his hand but kept her eyes on the others. Now it seemed both she and Grant were set to protect him though he didn’t need it in the least. He wasn’t afraid of Bradon and Malcolm and certainly not their lasses.

The men eyed him, hands dangerously close to their weapons. After all, for far too long he’d been as much their enemy as Keir Hamilton. Only very recently did they learn otherwise and they clearly continued to doubt such.

“With the help of our ancestors, I have been able to create a fold in time,” Torra explained. “Though I’m by no means free of Keir, I have managed to escape, entire soul intact, without him being the wiser.”

“‘Tis no easy thing that,” Grant murmured. “What ancestors do you speak of?”

“It doesnae matter,” she said softly.

Colin clenched his fist in frustration. Did they not deserve this time alone?

Malcolm and Bradon never took their eyes off of him.

Cadence and Leslie were clearly uncomfortable. Sheila, however, wasn’t bothered in the least by his presence but then she was the one Broun lass he’d actually met
off
the battlefield. Not all that long ago Keir had forced her to marry Grant to spite the enemy. But from what he could tell the arrangement was one favored by the two.

Colin looked at Grant. “Torra had just managed to free you, Iosbail and your lass but I take it you didnae come here straight away.”

“Nay, we’ve been outside the castle walls now for an eve,” Grant said.

For the first time since they’d arrived wherever they were, Bradon tore his eyes from Colin and looked at Torra. “Where exactly are we, lass?”

“Better yet,
when
,” Malcolm said, his hard eyes not budging from Colin.

This was the first time he’d not battled but stood face to face with the man who ended up marrying his sister Nessa when Colin MacLomain left her at the altar three winters ago. Rare emotion tore through him at the thought of his now deceased sibling. Like him and Grant, she’d been another pawn in Keir Hamilton’s master plan to possess Torra.

“You will soon see where we’ve arrived. ‘Tis several fortnights back in time,” Torra murmured and pulled her hand from Colin’s as she peered through the forest. “Soon we’ll have to duck out of sight. Then once all is clear we must prepare to use the magic of the rings and tattoos.” She looked at the MacLomain men and their lasses. “‘Tis why you were brought here.”

Colin recently learned that once ignited through intimacy each couple’s tattoo and ring had the ability to tap into the immense power of the dragon.

“Who are we to resurrect?” Grant asked, brows lowering sharply.

“Damn, really?” Leslie looked at Sheila and shook her head. “Sorry, totally glad that we were able to bring you back to life when we did. Still, it was jarring magic.”

“You will soon see,” Torra said in response to Grant’s question and urged them to crouch behind several bushes. Her gaze met every man’s eyes as she said, “You must let this play out no matter how much you wish to intercede. If you dinnae listen to me.” She again looked at her brethren and made a gesture encompassing their lasses. “None of you will meet the other.” Her eyes locked with Colin’s. “And I
will
end up with Keir Hamilton.”

Colin had no chance to respond before Grant tensed beside him. When he looked in the same direction as his friend his blood started to boil. Two men walked through the forest. One he knew to be Laird Colin MacLomain. The other? None other than the MacLomain’s former mentor and fellow assassin.

Valan Hamilton.

Keir Hamilton’s only living son.

Or at least he had been. But now they’d traveled back in time and Valan once more lived. Colin MacLeod eyed them as they walked into a small cave. Now he knew who they’d be resurrecting. Valan. After Colin MacLomain killed him to save his futuristic lass, McKayla.

Hell and bloody damnation.

It was impossible not to war between elation and jealousy. Elation because he had once counted Valan as close a friend as Grant. Jealousy because they’d fiercely loved the same lass.

Torra.

BOOK: Plight of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series: Next Generation Book 5)
7.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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