Series: Ancients of Light , Book 1.0
By: Heather Fleener | Other books by Heather Fleener
Published By: Heather Fleener
Published: Aug 28, 2012
ISBN # 9781476229980
By: Heather Fleener | Other books by Heather Fleener
Published By: Heather Fleener
Published: Aug 28, 2012
ISBN # 9781476229980
Word Count: 118,147
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Mobipocket (.mobi), Epub
Chosen (Ancients of Light) by Heather Fleener - Romance>VampiresIn the beginning...there were Vampire
Man’s fall from grace sparked the birth of the Dark creatures from the underworld. To counter the explicit threat to mankind, divinely-created immortals were brought forth. The Witch encompassed seven Castes of power; their magic was most effective against the nefarious agenda pursued by the evil ones.
She is Chosen
Kaitriana’s gift of magic is unrivaled. A descendant of the most powerful Ancient in existence, her birth was foretold ages before her time. Destined to lead the Witch faction, she is betrayed by her own kind, destroying her birthright and all hope of delivering the Realm from the sinister shadow of the Ancient Dark.
He is the Key
Lorcan is a mighty warlord in the Vampire species. His animosity towards the magical immortals is personal - his mother was their Queen. Having long since severed all ties with his former kin, his existence remains plagued by the repercussions of her treachery and a secret that threatens to be his downfall.
They are the Prophecy
An arcane prophecy from the time of the Ancients proclaims that only two in all of creation can bring peace to the Realm. When Kaitriana miraculously appears seeking his protection, Lorcan must forsake his duty and disregard the dictates of his breed to shelter the female. Together they must combat the Ancient Dark and surmount the forces within their own factions that would oppose the Prophecy. Their fates have always been entwined and only when joined can they triumph over a blood feud that has shadowed the Light for millennia.
About the Ancients of Light series
Chosen is the first in the thirteen books of the Ancients of Light series and is only the beginning of a young Witch’s journey toward developing both the strength of character and magic that will be required to fulfill her prophesied role as leader of the Light faction.
Revelations of nuances in the Prophecy - facets that were never fully comprehended by the Ancients - will continue in successive stories. The culmination of its true meaning in the destiny of the supernatural world of the Realm will only be revealed when Kaitriana is adequately prepared to lead the Warriors now being called together to champion the Light’s purpose.
Familiar characters return for each storyline as the focus turns to a new key couple in every book - a pair that significantly factors into the purpose of Light – however, the story of the Chosen does not end with Book #1. Kaitriana and Lorcan, their growth together as partners in leadership and in love as a couple, will thread through the series as Kaitriana assumes the role that was destined as hers since the beginning.
Reader Rating: 4.8 (11 Ratings)
Smoke rolled off the charred land before Lorcan, the devastation spread every direction. A once lush valley was now painted with soot and gore, a testimony to vicious war. The battle through the long night had taken its toll, the Light and the Dark both hit with heavy losses, but he and his warriors had emerged victorious. He amended… his warriors and the witches. Even those of his species that held the Witch Faction in great disdain would be hard pressed to deny that their forces had fought heroically.
The sun beginning to crest over the horizon caused him no concern, unlike most of his kind. He continued to survey the death. The Witch that littered the ground would be taken care of by their own through magical means and no evidence of them would remain shortly. The Vampire fallen would be gone within the next hour, burned to ash by the heated rays.
Colm, his friend and second in command, called then gaining his attention. Lorcan’s contingent was the fiercest in the Realm and the five that comprised his inner circle, the Elite Guard, were a force alone. All of his men would require shelter from the light shortly, and with the fatigue of the night weighing heavy they were eager to depart to Breslein. Lorcan acknowledged Colm with a quick nod and lingered a moment longer to bask in the rising warmth.
Towering over six and a half feet in height, his massive form was framed by faintest reaches of the golden light. He presented the very image of a fearsome warlord. His torso was sculpted with muscle formed from wielding the massive broadsword that rode his hip, and as he started down the hillside toward the narrow stretch where his men waited, his loping stride accenting the strain of muscle against the material that encased his legs. Lorcan was a warrior of legend throughout the Realm, the Warrior of Light.
He brushed the dark locks of hair that fell forward back from his brow in a careless gesture, making haste to join the others before the rays breached the crest of the hill. Catching Colm’s impatient wave, he shadowed the remaining distance, appearing immediately next to his friend. Lorcan’s gaze encompassed those gathered. They had lost very few and he was proud to be the leader of this group. Most he had trained either since youth in their immortality or in the years since their transition.
Unlike certain Covens within the Vampire world, his made no distinction between those Vampire of birth and those created through transition. The creation of new Vampire by transition had been severely restricted in the last few centuries by order from the Council of Ancients, the governing forum of the Vampire nation. Several of the transitioned kind filled the ranks of his army and many of them had few equals amongst the warrior class. All would honor the fallen this night at Breslein, death made no distinction between the classes either.
As the group made final preparations to leave, a movement within the woods about four hundred yards east of the gathering caught Lorcan’s attention and his steely gaze narrowed, hand reactively clenching at the hilt of his weapon. Two Darks lingered, taking care to stay within the shadows created by the woods. The pair seemed to have no focus on the threat posed to them by the Light warriors, but were fixated on something further within the darkness of the surrounding trees.
Lorcan nodded his head towards them upon catching Colm’s eye, “Lead the men home, I will follow.” He shadowed immediately to the edge of the trees. Colm’s gaze followed and after registering a minimal threat called the men back to Breslein. In the space of seconds the field was empty.
Lorcan kept the Darks within his sight, but trailed far enough behind to avoid gaining their attention. His keen hearing was still able to pick up bits of their conversation. With the magnified senses of his species he did not have to venture close; coupled with the ability to shadow silently from spot to spot, he remained undetected. The two he followed were of the Ancient Dark, the evil Faction of Vampire within the Realm. A couple of stray Dark warriors were not enough to cause him concern but the mission they carried out this early morn did. Whatever the pair was about, it had to do with the Witch. It was the only theme that flowed through the snippets of hushed conversation that reached him… “The Dark Lord’s pleasure…finding the witch…the Chosen.”
Lorcan’s ears perked at the last. Two females had been born to the Witch four years earlier, during the year prophesied as giving rise to the Chosen and none in the Vampire kingdom had seen either child. The children were kept well hidden from both Light and Dark factions of Vampire. Per the ancient Prophecy foretold by the Sorcerer Myrrdyn, the existence of the Chosen threatened to bring end to the Dark explicitly. However, the Prophecy was also contrary to the highest law sanctioned by the Council of Ancients that forbids Vampire relations with any of the Witch species. Knowing this, the Witch trusted no Vampire with knowledge of the girls.
The origin of the Vampire was credited to the darkest evil, birthed from the underworld in the beginning of the age of man. The sole purpose of the species was to destroy the beloved creation of humans. To counter this explicit threat to mankind, the divinely-created supernatural breed of the Witch was brought forth. The Witch were imbued with seven Castes of powers; their magic was most effective against the dark agenda pursued by the Vampire.
Within the first century of their creation, the Vampire had split into Dark and Light factions. Over the first few hundred years of existence, the lines continued to blur and alliances formed. Certain of the Vampire breed were drawn to the Light, even while some of the Witch denied their innate calling and joined the forces of the Darks. With members of each breed swayed to the calling of the other, neither faction was able to ultimately champion its purpose.
For nearly a thousand years, the Witch and Vampire that held true to the Light had been a united force in both purpose and as kin; mating between the two species had become common. The alliance was obliterated by an act of treachery. The Ancient Queen of the Warrior Caste of Witch, Brisen, had taken an elder Vampire, Alaric, as mate. Much to the delight of the Dark, the witch was believed to have betrayed her mate’s coven and Alaric took her life.
The resulting rift in force of the Light was not to be mended. The Vampire deemed all witches to be untrustworthy, while the Witch were adamant in proclaiming the innocence of their Warrior Queen and enraged over her murder. Today the Witch and Vampire of the Light faction maintained a tenuous truce only on the battlefield and only out of necessity against their common foe.
A thousand years after the great betrayal, the birth of a female that would reunite the factions was foretold by the powerful Ancient Witch, Myrrdyn. She was deemed the Chosen. The girl would wield the ultimate combination of power from all seven magical Castes and end the Dark. To fulfill her destiny the witch would need to take a Vampire mate. The vampires refused to entertain the notion of a prophecy, no matter how welcomed the end result, that would forge a close alliance once more with the other species. Either Light or Dark vampires might now seek end of the girl to guarantee no Chosen witch would arise.
Lorcan shook off his musings as he continued track the duo deep into the woods. He expected the Witch to keep the girls hidden until the extent of their powers was fully ascertained, but if these two Darks were on the trail of one of the girls he would be following steadfast. Given that Alaric and Brisen were Lorcan’s own parents, he found it ironic that he may well be on a mission to protect the Chosen. The path of the Vampire had been forced on him at this mother’s death. He had inherited Brisen’s magic, not the Vampiric lineage from his father. Alaric, as leader of the Council, had fostered a venomous hatred for all things Witch in much of the Vampire population. Lorcan did not agree with his father or the laws of the Council, but as one of the elder leaders within the Vampire covens, he tempered his objections and abided by Vampire law as well.
Lorcan finally spotted the Darks’ prey stumbling through the woods a few hundred yards ahead – a witch. Based upon his halting gait and slow progress, Lorcan assessed the male’s injury to be serious. His hand was grasping his right flank and his steps were sluggish. He kept leaning into the trees in a failing attempt to keep himself upright. Intermittently he would pass a glance over his shoulder, to make certain his progress through the woods was unchecked and each time the Darks would easily shadow to an alternate location.
Lorcan recognized the witch as an elder, recalling memories of the man from his youth. Elfred was a strong witch; an immortal to be reckoned with, his skills were a credit to the Warrior Caste. He also held a very high status within the Realm since he was mated to Vevila, the daughter of the great Myrrdyn. His recollection of the pair was solid, they had oft times visited his childhood home at Laverock. Vevila had been his mother’s friend. If the Dark were hunting this one, it would be no surprise if they actually were on the trail of one of the girls; all anticipated that a child in the line of Myrrdyn would have the best chance to fulfill the prophecy. The power of that Ancient’s magic was unequaled - most referred to him as the Sorcerer of Light - in deference to the magnitude of his powers which were derived from five separate Castes. Myrrdyn was a true Ancient, one of the very first Witch in creation.
Their intended target never realized the evil trailing in his wake until he broke through to a small clearing; a lone campsite was situated at the opposite edge. Lorcan recognized Vevila as she exited the entrance of the makeshift tent, the worry etched in her face evident to Lorcan even at the great distance from which he held back. “You are injured,” her eyes grew frantic as she took in the extent of her mate’s injury. The blood from the blade wound in his side soaked through his tunic as well as down and through the material of his pants. Vevila made haste to his side to provide assistance and with the opportunity so handed to them, the two Darks materialized in the shadowed entrance of the camp home.
Elfred’s hand made a weak motion in the same direction, interrupting Vevila’s inspection of his side, and her gasp of horror tore through the quiet of the clearing. Vevila immediately recognized the nature of the trespassers and the threat the two vampires presented. Her husband attempted to straighten himself, seeking to defend despite his weakness while Vevila tried to peer past the pair now blocking the entrance and into the interior of the darkened tent. Taking note, the larger of the two followed her gaze with his own and grinned evilly, his fangs fully elongated, “Oh what treasure do you hide here, Witch?”
To her dismay, she heard the shuffling of small steps nearing the flap that shielded the opening and the singsong voice of her daughter, “Papa…papa…are you home?”
Lorcan heard the tiny voice as well, and moved to action without hesitation. Shadowing to the narrow space between the enemy and the entrance, he effectively cut the path to the child. His sword was swinging even before he materialized fully to deliver a killing blow; he owned the head of the first. The other realized the danger as his companion’s head rolled across the ground and snarled at Lorcan before shadowing away in haste.
During the brief seconds that the exchange played out Vevila had managed to pull her husband’s sword, though to her Healer’s hands the weapon was foreign. Elfred slipped to the ground without her support, his ability to fight the ravages of his wound gone. Vevila leveled the blade in Lorcan’s direction as the voice came again from the shadows, “Papa…papa…I have a new friend.”
A brown haired lass exited the doorway at that moment, stopped short by the massive warrior in her path. She eyed him with open curiosity; she had never seen one so large, larger than even her own papa. His presence raised no alarm in her, as she knew all the mighty Warriors in the Caste were sworn to protect her.
The girl wrinkled her nose at Lorcan in greeting and smiled. Extending a tiny hand upwards, her palm cradled a large black spider. The girl looked at him expectantly, waiting for praise regarding the beauty and size of her new friend. When none was forthcoming, she just smiled brighter and thrust the spider closer. Perhaps the giant could not see him from so high in the air. “Myrrrrrrrr…dyn,” she giggled brightly, “hairy…like Grandpapa.” The child grabbed the leg of Lorcan’s pants to steady herself and raised high on her toes to bring her friend closer for his inspection.
Lorcan was awestruck as she peered up at him, a tiny toddler that barely reached his knee. He had never seen eyes such as hers, so blue and so pale that they could have been formed from chips of ice. She was a disheveled tot, brown curls haphazard about her shoulders and her dress was smudged with dust as though she had crawled under every piece of furniture in the tent to capture her new ‘friend.’ There were few young born to the Vampire these days and Lorcan had little contact with those that were, so he was uncertain how to proceed and it made him uneasy.
He decided on the most expeditious course. Pulling himself loose of her hold and taking a step to the side, Lorcan merely ignored her and ‘Myrrdyn.’ He hated spiders and knew that one named after that cantankerous old Sorcerer had to be worse than most. That earned him a frown and she followed him, insistent and loud, “You say…hello!”
He shook his head at the authority in her voice while hiding his grin. Apparently she was being well groomed to assume a role at the head of the Light, if her powers were in fact those of the Chosen. Lorcan dismissed her completely as he walked away in the direction of her mother, sheathing his sword at the same time. The peril in their current situation necessitated that he relocate the witches without delay.
Vevila raised her sword higher as he approached, though recognition was dawning as she took in the sable locks just brushing the collar of his tunic, strong features and the stormy gray eyes. The vampire looked so much like his mother that Vevilla only questioned for lack of having any better greeting to offer him at the moment, “Lorcan?” The vampire nodded affirmation as he strode past her to the prone form of Elfred.
Lorcan could hear the toddler making way behind him as he bent to retrieve the male, “Lower your weapon Vevila, the child is in no danger from me.” He waited until his senses ascertained a weak pulse before he lifted the lifeless form from the ground. Continuing, he ordered, “Gather what you must have to tend to your mate, it will be but moments before we have an army of Dark here to claim your child…”
His statement trailed off as he was settling Elfred over his shoulder; the aforementioned child had begun shrieking in earnest. Lorcan turned quickly, could he have been caught that unaware by the Dark?
The child had stopped at the severed head of the enemy, pointing with a stubby finger as she jumped to and fro, “Vam...pire….Vam...pire…Mama!! Vam…pire…evil…….evil.” The hairy little Myrrdyn was long forgotten as the child screeched frantically. Vevila hurried to her side just as the child began kicking at the head, “Vamp...ire, Mama…vamp…”
Her last shout was interrupted by Vevila’s hand over her lips, admonishing, “Kaitriana he is dead…be still! We must get Papa to safety.”
The child nodded her understanding but she remained wide-eyed in her study of the remains of the fallen. Vevila removed her hand which Kaitriana took as permission to give the head one final solid kick with her tiny foot. Scrunching up her face, she was now more matter of fact, “Bad, bad, bad…he dead.” She nodded convincingly and dusted her hands on her skirts as if she had accomplished the slaying herself.
Lorcan could not contain his grin this time, fully amused over the illusions of grandeur the mini-witch had already. He shifted Elfred’s limp form and moved to the doorway while attempting to direct them both back inside, “Vevila be quick, if there is anything of import here gather it. All else must be left.”
Vevila acknowledged his instruction and disappeared into the tent, leaving him with the child once more. This time the girl stepped up onto his booted foot. Grabbing around his knee with both arms to keep from falling, her tenacious hold demanded his attention. Once she had it, her expression preciously serious for one of such limited years, she pierced him with those extraordinary eyes, “Papa…hurt?” Her lip began trembling and her eyes grew thoughtful as they swept over her father where he lay across Lorcan’s shoulder.
Lorcan was uncertain whether to confirm the girl’s observation or ignore it. If she started squawking as she had moments before he might begin to seriously regret his decision to save her from the Dark ones, but the upset in her eyes pulled at him. He nodded gravely, “Aye, little Kat, Papa is injured.” She frowned at that, poking at her father’s limp leg once and then worried her bottom lip with little white teeth. Gazing up at him, her voice was hopeful, “Sleeping?”
He nodded down at her, happy to see she would not be prone to wailing at every opportunity. Placing his hand atop her head, he confirmed, “Aye, princess, sleeping.”
The shift in her demeanor was instantaneous. Kaitriana beamed at him, she liked this Warrior. There were many Warriors in her Caste, but he was the biggest and he was helping her papa. Having decided that he would be her newest friend, she pointed her little finger back at the bloodied head and reported in a conspiratorial whisper, “He bad…. vamp…ire…he dead dead dead.”
Her mother reappeared in the doorway before he was required to answer, arms laden with their belongings. Vevila looked to Lorcan with apology, “She is too young to understand the difference between those of Light and of Dark, it is best that she stay away from all of your kind until her powers are fully evolved.”
Lorcan had taken no offense at the girl, he had assumed the child would be unfamiliar with the Vampire breed. That Vevila had casually grouped him in with all other Vampire, dismissing readily the circumstances of his birth, stung more than he expected. He waved off her explanation impatiently and squatted to scoop the girl with his free arm. Kaitriana liked that and affectionately patted his cheek with her dirt-smudged hand to let him know as much. His attention was still centered on Vevila, “We must go and you must remain still; it will require much strength to transport the three of you with me.” As she was nodding, he issued an exasperated sigh; Kaitriana had been repeatedly yanking at his hair. His patience gone, he fixed a hard stare on the child, his voice stern “Cease!”
He caught the terror in her eyes as they locked with his and her lower lip was trembling again. Apparently she was going to be prone to screech at every little offense. He waited for her to start howling, but instead she put her little hand back to the side of his cheek and whispered with a nod in the direction that she faced over his shoulder, “Bad Bad Bad…vamp…ire….he no dead.”
Lorcan spun quickly, encircling the girl tighter in his hold and already preparing to shadow. His cold gaze landed on Rhydach at the far edge of the woods. At least fifty Dark warriors fanned out behind him. The little authoritarian found her voice again as she shifted in Lorcan’s arms to face the Ancient Dark leader as well, “No no no…bad bad bad.” Though her left hand had knotted the material of Lorcan’s shirt in her fright, her right was directed towards their enemy. Blue light sparkled at her fingertips.
Giving no heed to the little witchling, the Dark that had earlier tracked her father now recklessly raised his sword and pointed it in Lorcan’s direction in a show of might. His bravery was bolstered by the many behind him. The act of aggression made him the focus of the child’s attention and the sparks of blue took the shape of an orb in her palm. It shot across the clearing, striking the vampire full in the chest.
The unfortunate vampire burst into flames as though scorched by the rays of the sun and confusion and panic ensued in the ranks of the Dark warriors. The chaos provided the avenue for their escape. Little would keep Lorcan from engaging Rhydach in battle when given the opportunity, but what he held in his arms today may well be the future of the Realm and he would protect her. Still reeling over the display of power from the little witch, he retreated from the fight, shadowing away with Rhydach’s bellow of rage echoing after them.
The strain of pulling the three with him as he shadowed temporarily taxed Lorcan’s strength so much that he nearly dropped the girl as they materialized. He had brought them to Laverock, the dilapidated castle that had once been seat to the Warrior Caste of Witch. It had been his mother’s estate through her position as leader of the Caste.
The dank air inside the walls of crumbling rock told of the centuries that the building had remained unoccupied and untended. Lorcan had spent his youth racing the halls with his brothers, carefree and happy under his mother’s love and guidance and he had not returned to the location since his mother’s death. Why he chose to return here now was still not clear to him, but his mood immediately darkened and his discomfort was apparent.
The stone walls would protect them as long as required, no one dared venture here. The last of the occupants had left in the weeks following Brisen’s death as the escalating tensions between the Vampire and Witch had erupted into battles. Alaric had no desire to remain within the confines of a place founded on witchery and in his rage he wanted no Witch to find home there either. The Ancient had banned all immortals from the ancestral estate and none had defied his dictate…until today.
Lorcan was snapped from his reverie by the little witchling at his hip clapping her hands happily and bouncing up and down in her excitement. She offered him a grin; she really liked this warrior. Kaitriana combined her giggling laughter with her demand, “Again…again again again.”
He gave her a stern frown and set her down abruptly, scanning the hall. It had not withstood well the many years of abandonment. The errant thought of how disappointed his mother would be with the condition of her once splendid home caused a flash of guilt which served only to darken his mood further. Turning to Vevila, his tone was cool, “Tend your male.”
Banishing them along with the memories of his mother from his thoughts, Lorcan set about finding something that he could put into the hearth to be burned for warmth. Vevila was continually interrupted in her attempts to survey the extent of Elfred’s wounds as she had to call the little one back from trailing after the vampire. Finally, her frustration mounting, she waited for Lorcan’s next appearance and beckoned him with an imploring look.
A curt nod conveyed his understanding while his jaw clenched in vexation over being saddled with the errant child. Lorcan looked down to acknowledge his shadow, not bothering to hide his exasperation, “Come, wee one, allow your mother to focus on her healing.” Oblivious to the reluctance of her companion, delight lit Kaitriana’s features. She raced ahead in the direction he had been heading, anticipating adventure with the big warrior.
Exploring the numerous rooms on the first floor, he managed to locate a good amount of dry material which would be suitable for fire. That was a feat in itself considering the number of times he had to remove the child from whatever she had climbed up to perch on or had crawled under to investigate. During their exploration Lorcan had also discovered that one of the smaller rooms off of the main hall had weathered decently well; it appeared dry and would provide decent shelter to them for the remainder of the day. Between the fatigue that was eating at him from the battle the night before and the strain of the vigil he was having to maintain over the little minx that seemed set on getting herself injured or lost, Lorcan was exhausted and feeling every bit of his two thousand and thirty-seven years. Sometime on the final trek back to the main hall the girl had managed to locate another furry friend, but he lacked the strength to argue with her much less make her leave the eight-legged beastie behind.
When they reached the main hall, Vevila had completed her initial tending of Elfred. The worst injuries were bound in strips of cloth that she had removed from one of her satchels. Lorcan wondered at that, he would have expected the witch’s magic to be strong enough to heal without the aid of medicine and bandages. Keeping silent on his thoughts, he caught Vevila’s gaze and indicated the direction of the room where he had made their temporary lodging before turning that way himself.
Lorcan deposited the last of the materials in the small hearth as Kaitriana followed along, babbling to her new friend. All the while she kept a keen eye on the warrior’s activity. Finally she stopped beside Lorcan to study the results of his work. Her finger jabbed towards the hearth, “Fire?”
He absently nodded in answer to her question, arms folded across his chest as he surveyed the stack of debris while wondering if Vevila would have the necessary materials for him to set the blaze. Another thought immediately followed and Lorcan glanced down speculatively at the girl, “Kaitriana, can you make fire?”
She beamed up at Lorcan; she knew the warrior liked her. Setting her friend to the floor, Kaitriana watched him scurry away before nodding eagerly. Mimicking Lorcan’s pose, the little witch crossed her arms over her chest and studied the stacked tender in the hearth.
Seeing no action, Lorcan rephrased, “Kaitriana, will you make the fire?”
With the crook of a chubby finger she motioned him down to her level. When he leaned in close she whispered, “Mama say no no no. Bad bad bad to do magic without Mama or Papa.”
Smiling at her suddenly serious demeanor, he tucked a finger under her chin and whispered back his promise, “Mama will not say ‘bad’ this time and Lorcan will not let you be in trouble.”
Kaitriana actually looked as if she were weighing the value of his vow for a minute before she waved her hand at the hearth. The flames were immediate and she danced in a circle, excitedly chanting, “Fire fire fire….me good good witch.” She stopped her crazy twirling suddenly and her hands settled on her hips. She stared him down imperiously, waiting on his agreement.
Lorcan could not decide if the little one before him was an adorable treasure or a spoiled brat, but at the moment she pleased him. He offered her a grin, “Yes, a good witch.”
She was having none of it. Stabbing him with the magical intensity of that blue gaze, she corrected, “Good good witch.”
He chuckled and swept her up in his arms. Before giving his agreement, Lorcan settled in an overly large chair in decent condition that remained near the hearth, “Yes Kaitriana, good good.” He knew he would be in no condition to shadow the family to their home until he found some much needed rest and the place before the fire had become too inviting to resist.
The little thing in his arms proceeded to give him a thorough study – she tousled his hair, tugged at each ear while peering inside, traced the calluses over his palms after comparing the size of her tiny hands to his, pulled at the various trappings of his war attire, and felt of his entire face – before finally settling from her squirming exploration. Completing her examination, she announced with all the regality that a four year old could muster, “You a good good Warrior.” Her hand patted the top of his head approvingly with her proclamation.
Lorcan was certainly glad the girl had not prodded at his mouth overmuch as he was feeling the hunger rising with his fatigue; his vampire’s fangs were a bit more prominent that he would like and he certainly had no desire to be set to flame by his little companion. He could hear Vevila moving around in the adjacent room. While duty nudged him to check on her, the warmth of the fire lulled him. He began to doze until the girl started squirming again; this time she stood on his legs so that her face was level with his. He waited, remaining still in hopes that she would lose interest and leave him to join her mother or take a nap herself. Minutes stretched by, but he still felt her gaze and then her hands moving at his neck. Finally he slid his lids up with a long suffering sigh, “Can you not be still child?”
She had his medallion in her grubby paw, having tugged it from the confines of his shirt. It bore the symbols of his bloodline and his Coven. She pulled on the length of leather cord that kept it around his neck, looking from him and back again. In a hushed voice she said, “Vamp…ire,” while poking at the symbols on the metal piece. Apparently Vevila had been thorough in the child’s education regarding the Vampire class.
Pulling the disc impatiently from her grasp, he ignored her statement and tucked it back into his tunic before admonishing gruffly, “Be still child and let me rest.”
Kaitriana was not to be dissuaded from her discovery and poked at his chest where he had tucked the medallion, repeating, “Vamp…ire.” Her expression was puzzled before she raised that same finger to jab at his upper lip. She continued to prod, a frown on her brow. Her voice was a combination of worry and sadness when she repeated the word once more in question, but she made no move to distance herself from him.
Lorcan ran his hand wearily through his hair but still the little one did not break her inquisitive gaze from his. In his exhaustion he was not sure that he really cared all together too much if the Warrior of the Light was about to meet his end at the hands of a precocious toddler. Still he kept her hands within range of his gaze and slowly nodded, “Aye Kaitriana, Vampire.”
Tilting her head to study his face more closely, her eyes evidenced that she was not certain if he was playing some game with her. Kaitriana pressed her finger to the seam of his lips, explaining, “Vam…pire bad bad bad…you good good Warrior.”
He nearly groaned aloud; this child was plaguing him more than his enemy had last night. He should not be left to handle the inquiries from the witchling, but he heard no sounds of activity within the keep and assumed Vevila and Elfred had found their rest. At least someone had, he thought sourly.
It was important that the child not fear him, though it was equally important that she not trust his kind until she grew wise enough to understand the difference between the Light and the Dark and the peril either faction might present. She poked at his lip again and he obliging let her raise the edge of his upper to check. Her eyes grew wide. Lorcan witnessed a sparkle of brilliant blue in their depths as her magic surged when she spied the tip of fang. The edges of her irises became ringed with the glittering color. To his surprise, Kaitriana did not run off in terror. Instead she moved her face closer to his to examine the tooth and whispered cutely, “Vam…pire…chomp chomp chomp…eat witches.” She pulled back slowly but there was still no light firing at her fingertips, just that eerie gaze delving into his.
He kept still as he answered her, lest she decide to raise her magic against him, “Lorcan does not chomp chomp chomp…witches.” He almost chuckled. The child did not look convinced so he added solemnly, “Lorcan’s mama was a witch. I will not chomp chomp you, Kaitriana.”
She chewed on her lower lip considering this latest bit and then understanding dawned. Her mama was a witch too. Grinning at him, she patted his cheek. All was good.
Lorcan added firmly to be certain she understood, “Other vampire bad bad, they chomp chomp witches.”
Her expression changed to mirror the grave seriousness of his as she nodded, “Lorcan…good good.” He was pleased with her agreement and smiled. Because the little witch’s eyes appeared to be drooping, he also thought he might just get some rest. She slid both hands up to his face once more, her tiny little fingers grasping his cheeks. Kaitriana smiled brightly. She now had a special Warrior friend and announced in a possessive tone, “Mine.” She gave him a peck on his brow and then repeated so that he would not mistake her, “Lorcan…mine.” She turned abruptly, the matter settled in her mind, and dropped into his lap. Snuggling down in the crook of his arm, she was asleep quickly.
He shook his head and could not help the grin that tugged at his lips. The little witch certainly was possessive…and bossy. He relaxed and too dozed within minutes.
Vevila waited a while longer before exiting silently from her spot in the doorway; a warm smile graced her lips as she went to tend her husband.
Lorcan awoke abruptly, as was his nature as a Vampire, a couple hours later. He remained unmoving for a short time, conscious of the child snuggled up to him. Slowly he extracted himself from her grasp and eased her to the seat of the chair. He waited to see her curl up in a ball, her sleep undisturbed, before he went in search of her mother. He found Vevila in the great hall seated on the floor before the hearth, gazing blankly into its darkness. She jumped, having been caught unaware when Lorcan interrupted her thoughts quietly, “How is Elfred?”
Shifting her position to give him her attention without rising, she replied wearily, “He shall be well enough for travel by this night. I offer you my gratitude Lorcan. You could have easily left us to the Dark ones or taken Kaitriana to your Council. I thank you for protecting the child.”
Lorcan waved off her thanks, he did not need the witch indebted to him nor did he need thanks for doing that which was right. His character would no sooner allow him to seek a child’s harm than kill his own kin and either of the actions she described would have done the same. He also did not need her to misconstrue his actions; the deeds of this day would not align him with the Witch breed. He was, not by birth but nonetheless, a Vampire, “Vevila, I fight for the Light and the good of the Realm. Protecting the prophesied Chosen is part of that, nothing more.”
She shook her head at him, needing him to acknowledge that his honor and his character were in part derived from his mother. Vevila had to know that part of Brisen remained within him, she missed her friend desperately. Returning to the home of her long-dead friend brought the feelings flooding to the surface, “Your mother would say that the honor of the Warrior Caste and the Witch within you drives you to protect that which is your legacy.”
Lorcan bristled at the mention of Brisen and his lineage. The mention of the honor of his mother, the same one that had brought death and destruction to this very home before her own demise, raised his ire. He responded with heated conviction, “There is no Witch left in me. It died with the transition and I am thankful to be rid of it.” He strode away from her, his anger escalating quickly over the challenge he viewed in her gaze.
“Lorcan, your eyes remain edged in blue even when fully in your Vampire rage. You may deny your mother and the goodness that was in her, but you cannot deny that her magic remains with you. She was the most powerful Ancient witch in creation and through your birth she passed that power to you. In fear of you, none will speak openly about the evidence of such, but the Realm is full of those that believe your magic remains intact.”
Though he knew the truth of her words, he would not entertain the conversation. The Witch Castes need not think he would ever be returning to their ranks. The pain of his mother’s betrayal of the Vampire, his father, and her own children remained with him. Lorcan refused to consider the witches’ claims of his mother’s innocence because the repercussions would be devastating.
He had loved his mother. His relationship had been closer with her than with his cold foreboding father, but all evidence pointed to her being the betrayer who brought the Dark into their home to slaughter his kin. She had left him and his brothers to suffer the same fate. This fact had been cemented in his consciousness as a lad and it had remained unchanged in over the two millennia that had passed. Lorcan was estranged from the Witch breed and would remain so out of duty to his Coven and honor to his father.
He deigned not to give her the satisfaction of arguing and answered her brusquely, “I need to feed.” Lorcan turned and let his anger goad him into flashing his extended fangs. In his now foul mood he took a bit of pleasure in the fear that flashed across her features. He raised a brow at her mockingly and added, “I will be returning to Breslein. If Myrrdyn has not found you by this eve when I return, I will take you back to your own holding.” With nothing more, he shadowed away.
A short time later, an enraged Myrrdyn did arrive to claim his family and launched a tirade at Vevila and Elfred over their foolishness at putting his grandchild in jeopardy. Before he could gain the full story of their rescue, his anger was stemmed as Kaitriana stumbled into the great hall. Yet another spider in tow, she beamed at him, “Grandpapa…I have a new friend.”
He made way to her, still piqued enough to offer her wayward parents a glare over his shoulder as he scooped the lass into his arms. Looking pointedly at the brown spider cradled calmly in her palm, he softened his demeanor immediately and questioned fondly, “And what is this fine friend’s name, my princess?”
Her eyes met with his as she proudly announced, “Lorcan…and he is good good Warrior. She whispered her secret to Grandpapa, her most favorite person in the whole Realm, “Lorcan is a good good Vampire…he not bad bad bad.” Myrrdyn, rarely shocked in his ancient existence, nearly dropped the girl as realization dawned that the spider pet was not her ‘new friend.’
He whirled on Vevila, fixing her with a killing glare, “As soon as I return you to your home, you will be answering for this.”
Sensing the tenseness of the situation and the upset of her Grandpapa, she patted his face with her free hand, soothingly, “Grandpapa, tis okay…Lorcan no chomp chomp chomp witches.” She smiled as she imparted the news, “And, he is Mine.” Kaitriana was certain she was a good good witch to been given such an important warrior and she affirmed, “Lorcan is mine, he say so…‘Yes’ he say.” She nodded as she proudly divulged that fact.
Myrrdyn let her wiggle free. As he watched her scamper off in search of more ‘friends’ he mulled over this latest revelation, wondering with glee how Lorcan felt about having been claimed by a Witch. The Warrior of Light had no idea he had today held his own destiny, literally.
Chuckling outloud, his disposition was greatly improved. Myrrdyn rubbed his hands together with delight before turning to face his daughter and her husband. His voice was stern, though a tiny sparkle remained in his eyes, “I will be having full account of this. We must return my grandchild to the protection of her Caste.”
Reader Reviews (9)
Submitted By: Darkshadow on Mar 15, 2013Highly recommend this book. Very well developed plot with absolutely delightfully sinful characters. Great back stories with other well developed characters. As the author brings in each new character, you wonder where their story will go. Didn't want the book to end. Couldn't put this book down.
Submitted By: BonDarKen on Jan 28, 2013Very good, with just the right amount of termole and happy endings.
Submitted By: worchid76 on Jan 25, 2013I really enjoyed reading this book and wait to read the next in the series. The characters are complex and likable. Ohh and this is a very sexy read :-)
Submitted By: anintd on Jan 24, 2013I love this book. The story was good with funny bits in it. The characters was entertaining and lovable. This is the first story that I've read from this author. I will definitely look for others by her. A recomended read
Submitted By: roula on Jan 10, 2013very enjoyable, full novel and free.
Submitted By: sami1979 on Jan 9, 2013Very imaginative story line with an old subject. Nice new twists and keep a good pace in the story and plots. Good characters and good descriptions. The last battle was good but was lacking in some areas of the descriptions. Look forward to the next book to see where it’s going to go with the plot.
Submitted By: nessa1820 on Jan 8, 2013This is mu first book that I have read from this author and I tell youbU cant wait to read more in this series! Awesome book. Lorcan and Kat really completed each other even though at times I wanted to tell Kat to ne quite and do what Lorcan told you to do but I loved it. It was a page turner for me from start to finish.
Submitted By: kurbyjoon on Jan 7, 2013I loved this book. Heather Fleener did a great job of vividly painting a world that is magical while still telling a classic good vs. evil story. It was a steamy read full of action that had me anxious to turn the (virtual) page to see how things would unfold. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in the series.
Submitted By: dhe@ on Jan 5, 2013i love it...love it.....love it........ it's so romantic, full of love.......& happily ever after