Read Medieval Highlands 01 - Highland Vengeance Online

Authors: K. E. Saxon

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Medieval Highlands 01 - Highland Vengeance

BOOK: Medieval Highlands 01 - Highland Vengeance
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HIGHLAND VENGEANCE

 

 

 

by

K.E. Saxon

 

 

 

HIGHLAND VENGEANCE

Set in the turn of the thirteenth century Scottish Highlands, this is the story of Daniel MacLaurin, a handsome, rugged warrior-laird haunted by his past, and Maryn Donald, the beautiful, high-spirited lass destined to help him find his heart’s ease.
After his mother and grandfather, the only family he has ever known, are viciously murdered in a surprise invasion when he is a lad of 13, Daniel spends years focusing on training as a warrior and rebuilding his fortress, determined to control the world around him so that nothing like it will ever happen again.
Maryn Donald is a wild child; a lass who, as the only offspring of her widowed father, has been indulged in her high-spiritedness. So much so, that she takes matters into her own hands when she sees that the neighboring clan is mistreating their horses. She impetuously steals them and then, as recompense for her crime, must wed the powerful, wealthy young laird about whom she’s heard such disturbing rumors: Daniel MacLaurin.
HIGHLAND VENGEANCE is a steamy adventure romance, but it is also a family saga. It’s the story of how a man overcomes the horror of his past to find love, connection, and contentment once more.

Kindle Edition

Highland Vengeance

Copyright © 2008 by K.E. Saxon
http://www.kesaxon.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author K.E. Saxon, the copyright owner and publisher of this book, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the publisher. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in its 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.

Kindle 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 recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
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and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Cover Photos obtained from
Romance Novel Covers

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

The twelfth and thirteenth century Scottish Highlands is a fascinating time in history. Although much is known, there is still much that remains in shadow and supposition. The old laws of succession, and the old Celtic systems were mixing with the new feudal systems brought in by the Norman-influenced kings of Scots (the first key figure in this being David I, who became king of Scots in 1124).

Although, by the time of William the Lion (William I), who ruled Scotland from 1165 to 1214, the feudal systems were more firmly established in the southern region of Scotland, the king had managed to exert his influence and sway in the wilder northern and western regions as well. Mostly through alliances with foreigners to whom he chartered land, or to natives who sought a royal charter for their land in order to secure it for their own offspring.

My vision, therefore, was of a kind of “melting pot.” The old ways, not completely abandoned, yet the new coming to be embraced.

Although I did many, many (many) months of research into this time in the Scottish Highlands history, I still found it necessary to take some creative license on certain aspects in order to fulfill my vision for the romance, and allow for less confusion to the romance reader. I won’t list the licenses I took, but hope that the history purists will close an eye to these instances and simply enjoy the tale.

K.E. Saxon

*

GLOSSARY

Boabhan Sith
or
Baoban Sith
\baa’-van shee\ Scottish Highland fairies that look like beautiful women but are really vampires thirsty for the blood of young men. They appear first as ravens, then as girls in white or green dresses with hoofed feet. Iron is said to repel them.

cu sith
\coo shee\: a fairy dog that can cast the evil eye. About the size of a cow, it has dark green fur. As the tale goes, anyone who encounters the hound faces almost certain death, but it will bark three times, with long pauses between, to give its potential victim time to flee.

targe
‘tärj\: a light shield used esp. by the Scots.

uisge beatha
\ishka beyha\: Lit: ‘Water of Life’, a.k.a. whiskey
Uphalieday
\Up-helly-a\ January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, a.k.a. ‘Twelfth Night’.

Sext
\sekst\: The fourth of the seven canonical hours, or the service for it, originally fixed for the sixth hour of the day taken as noon.

 

PART ONE

 

 

The Darkest Day

 

 

 

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”

 

The Tempest (Act I, Scene ii)

 

 

 

“O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!”

 

Hamlet (Act I, Scene v)

 

PROLOGUE

The Highlands, Scotland 1190

 

The morn dawned crisp and bright as Daniel MacLaurin, a lad of thirteen summers, gathered his fishing rod and tackle and trotted downstairs toward the kitchen.

“Beatha!” he called to the cook from the passage leading into her realm. Skidding to a halt just inside the doorway, he asked excitedly, “Have you a crust of bread or, mayhap, a bannock cake to ease my hunger?”

The jolly, round-faced cook grinned at the laird’s young grandson and tipped her fuzzy-haired gray head in the direction of the freshly made bannock cakes piled in a wooden bowl on the long, scarred table just behind her. “Take more than one, lad. You’re to begin your squire’s trainin’ on the morrow,” she reminded him unnecessarily, “and you need to be buildin’ your strength.” She turned back to her task at the hearth then, her aged bulk causing the stool to creak as she resettled herself upon its hard surface.

Daniel scooped up several of the flat cakes and tossed them inside his kit. He whistled merrily as he passed his mother’s maid in the corridor and dipped his head in greeting to her. Her cheeks pinkened as she nodded shyly in return, dropping her eyes to the rush-covered stone floor as she scurried past him. She was a sweet—and Daniel thought—very lovely brown-haired lass of fourteen summers, only a few moons older than he was himself. He turned his head to watch her departure as he continued walking in the opposite direction and collided into a wall sconce in the process. Thankfully, the lass was now too far away to notice his clumsy encounter with the light source.

As he ambled across the bailey toward the fortress gate, he saw his grandfather, a tall and white-haired, but still clearly robust man of nigh on sixty summers, standing with his lieutenant near the entrance to the training field. “Good morn, Grandfather!” he called out to him. When the older man turned in his direction, Daniel continued, “I’m off to the loch to catch a few trout for our dinner!”

“‘Tis a fine day for it, lad. And a good way it is to spend your last day of freedom before the next part of your training begins!” the old man rejoined before turning back to the other man to continue their discussion.

As all the villagers and most of the castle’s household had gone to a cattle fair in the next shire, Daniel decided to skirt the deserted village and jog across the glen instead.

He was winded, but exhilarated, by the time he reached his favorite fishing spot a half-hour later. As he’d expected, the area was deserted, a serene bower, with only the sounds of nature to keep company with him. A goshawk circled overhead, presumably looking for a meal, and the lush green heath that covered the hillside seemed to Daniel to be basking in the sun’s warm, yellow glow now that the last snows of spring had finally melted. Birds twittered in the pine forest that bordered either side of the loch, and woodland creatures foraged for treats in the dew-coated grass just beyond the water’s banks. Inhaling deeply, he became intoxicated on the fresh pine-scented air as it expanded his lungs. He held it inside himself a moment before slowly releasing it back into the cool, moist atmosphere around him. When he at last squatted down at the loch’s edge and cast out the fishing line, he grinned at the circles of small waves his fly created as it broke the serenity of the water’s surface. As he continued casting out the line in quick succession, patiently awaiting his first catch of the day, he nibbled on one of the bannock cakes.

After two hours, he’d eaten them all and had caught seven medium-sized trout, which was plenty to feed the few members of the household that had remained behind. Deciding to pack up his kit and go back home, he gathered his belongings together and had only just turned to leave when a sound of thunder broke his reverie.

Thinking he was about to be caught in a cloudburst, he looked up just as he felt a terrible rumbling beneath him, accompanied by the roar of men’s voices coming from just beyond the rise. A shiver of foreboding ran through him as he whipped his head around. His eyes shot wide. There, directly where his family’s fortress and the village lay, ominous gray and white smoke billowed. Dread, like a vise, pushed the air from his lungs. His heart pounding painfully in his chest, he dropped his fishing pole.
Mother! Grandfather!

BOOK: Medieval Highlands 01 - Highland Vengeance
12.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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