In the beginning…when the world was new, Fae and humans lived peacefully together, but as the centuries passed, fear and distrust evolved. The Fae continued to love the humans, but they believed it was time to safeguard the realms. Therefore, they appointed the Fenian Warriors to protect the domain between human and faery. But most importantly, these warriors were to assist the humans. When evil threatened to destroy a clan, country, or civilization, the Fae council called upon these warriors. Their orders were to steer a new course and aid the mortals. This group of elite Fae had the power to travel through the Veil of Ages, supporting those in need. They were not to alter the timeline or what the Fae believed to be the life strings of a human. To do so would be catastrophic. Ancient and powerful, the Brotherhood of the Fenian Warriors was second only to the Fae King and Queen’s powers. They have lived amongst us for thousands of years—watching, aiding, guiding. They could live in the guise of a professor, lawyer, knight, tavern owner, or a simple farmer. Whatever was required, the warriors did so without complaint. Yet, even these great warriors had their weaknesses as with any race. Though they used their powers for good, there have been times when a select few deemed it wiser to interfere without the knowledge of the Fae council.
They twisted the laws to suit their own purpose and changed the course of time. When three Fenian warriors left the Brotherhood to aid a clan—the Dragon Knights of Urquhart, they brought the fury of the Fae down upon their heads. Their punishment should have been swift, but the Fae always believed in redemption—even for one of their own. A trial was ordered for all three Fae—the first was Conn MacRoich. His judgment had already been handed down. Now the second Fenian Warrior, Rory MacGregor, must face the Fae council and give his account. Tales of this warrior’s legendary acts swept through the Highlands with sagas of honor and nobility. Serving alongside Scottish chieftains, his guidance was deemed necessary before any battle. The human people rumored he was sent from the Gods and Goddesses to show them victory, and they were honored to have him sit at their feasting table. Many sought him out, offering him riches, land, and marriage pacts to their daughters.
However, he gave his assistance without accepting any accolades. For all his laurels, Rory MacGregor conceals a dark secret—one he has kept hidden even from the Brotherhood. He carries the scar on his body as a constant reminder of his one failure. A badge of how he wronged another. But with any dark secret, time will eventually peel back the veil of reality. When the truth is finally exposed, Rory will be forced to return and witness the event. If he so chooses, the warrior must face and conquer his demons, or surrender to the bleak abyss of torment and death. The Brotherhood will accept no other course. Yet, another path of illumination beckons, and it will test this hardened warrior beyond his endurance. Chapter One “In the twilight moments before one wakes, be wary of the fragmented dreams of truth.
” ~Chronicles of the Fae Beneath the Hill of Tara, Ireland, Mid Autumn—the season of harvest and feasting in the Fae Realm Smoke filled his lungs, strangling his pitiful cries for mercy. Dust coated his mouth, and his eyes burned, reminding him of the flames of dragon fire during raging battles. Repeatedly, they continued to pummel his face, while his hands and feet remained bound as he knelt on the ground. Some threw stones at his head and others spouted vile obscenities and spat on him. He choked back the copper taste of blood and attempted to reason with any one of his captors. Did they not understand who he was? Did they not know he could boil the blood within their bodies and peel the skin from their bones? He, a great Fenian Warrior could obliterate their entire city! But he would not. Death would come far more quickly if he harmed so much as a hair on their pathetic bodies. In truth, he was honored bound by an oath to these deplorable humans. “Bind…me to…the stake,” he pleaded in a choked voice. “Take me.
” Fighting the wave of panic and the pain slashing his body, mind, and soul, Rory blinked in an attempt to focus and faced his tormentor. His captor grabbed a fistful of hair, forcing Rory to view the scene in front of him. “Your time will come, ye spawn of the devil. But ye will first watch how your witch shall die.” “Nae a witch,” he hissed. “Liar!” the man shrieked, spittle flying. “Did she not tell wee Alan the charms came from the faeries?” “A lad’s tale to amuse his friends,” he argued, during fits of coughing spasms. “Nae!” A woman protested, pushing through the crowds of people. She charged forward and delivered a slap to Rory’s face. “Ye are bewitched by the lass and spout lies about my son.
” She wagged a finger. “Ye should burn with her. Ye have the painted markings of the devil on your body.” “Leave and go tend to your son,” ordered the man. Hastily making the sign of the cross, she quickly departed. “Please, have mercy,” begged Rory. “Mercy,” he echoed. “So that she may return and cast her evil ways upon us? Nae. She has been found guilty of her crimes.” Releasing his hold on Rory, the man nodded to another.
Rory uttered a curse and looked at the woman bound to the burning stake. Eyes wide with fear gazed back at him as the flames took hold of her dress, licking a path up her body. Not once did she let out a scream of terror. Choking on the scent of burning flesh, he swallowed the bile threatening to heave and attempted to stand. He would not let her die like this. She had done nothing wrong. Yet, the ef ort cost Rory when his captor shoved a blade into his side. Pain dulled his senses, and he fought to move forward. He broke free from his bindings and heard the crowd gasp in horror. No longer caring if any witnessed his power, he lifted his arms, only to have another bash him over the head.
Rory’s last glimpse of the woman he had forsaken were her screams of his name before he succumbed into the dark abyss, praying death would take them both swiftly. Awakening on a guttural cry, Rory turned and emptied what little he had in his stomach onto the ground. Gasping for breath, he waited for the spasms to settle within his body and rolled on his side. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he leaned against the cool crystal wall of his prison, and let his head drop back. Gazing upward, he watched as the stars glittered like diamonds against an inky velvet night sky. The dream had once again come unbidden to him during his time spent in the Room of Reflection. Never once had he dreamt of her until he entered his imprisonment. Nae. He had banished the memories—tucked them away to a remote part of his being. Hardened himself against any emotions.
Struck her name from any thought and vowed never to reveal to his fellow Fenian brothers his involvement in her capture, imprisonment, and death. Only one visible sign of evidence remained. And only Rory understood its meaning. It was hidden among the layers of his tattoos from the Brotherhood—twisted and puckered along his right rib cage. His hand shook as he brushed his trembling fingers over the ancient scar, recalling how he refused the pleas of the Fae healer to bind the skin. It would always be a reminder of how he failed her. Rory dug his hands into the soft earth. “Why?” he uttered into the silence of his cage. He snarled at the stillness mocking him. There would be no answers.
Despair and bitterness were his companions, but they refused to offer him any comfort. When he first entered his prison, days blended into weeks, and those turned into months. Then the first dream entered, sending him spiraling to the place within his mind he had locked away. It brought forth all the reasons why he often times despised the humans. Always narrow-minded and prejudiced in their thoughts and actions. They were quick to make judgments and feared any who were different. Once, Rory had sought out the elders of the Brotherhood, requesting to leave mortal Earth, so he could return and remain in the Fae realm. They denied his appeal, since he gave no cause as to why he deemed it necessary to relinquish his powers and rights as a Fenian Warrior. Now he could not fathom why the dreams had started, or why they continued in earnest to torture his soul. Lowering his head, Rory rubbed vigorously at his eyes.
“Enough,” he muttered. Bells chimed the morning hour, and he glanced upward. His starry attendants were fading as the dawn’s dance started anew. Folding his arms over his bent knees, Rory waited for the first meal of the day to appear magically within his prison, along with several books. He almost laughed out loud at the selection presented. Some were volumes of folk heroes and knights in shining armor. Occasionally, there would be one pertaining to his homeland of Taralyn, and his humor vanished. Home. Green meadows, lush with foliage. Their colors made one’s head spin, and teemed with wildlife that dwelt in harmony.
Instead of one, there were three moons. When they rose in a luminous arc during their fullness, the sight would steal the breath from a Fae’s body. And how could he forget the cool, scented waters of the lakes and streams that soothed the skin and calmed the mind. These images teased him within the pages of the tome, calling him forth. Was this to be his curse —his punishment for helping the Dragon Knights? Only reading on parchment about places he could no longer visit? He growled his resentment at those who could not comprehend what he, Liam, and Conn had done for their world and the human realm. A soft mist of colored lights flashed on the other side of the room, and a table appeared. Silver bowls held an array of fruit, vegetables, cheeses, and an assortment of breads. At the end set a goblet, as well as a wooden jug with water. There were a few other silver bowls, but Rory cared naught for food or drink. It would not matter if the most delectable food in the realm appeared, it could not tempt him.
His appetite had waned. In truth, he believed it was due to his imprisonment, since he no longer had the will to eat, drink, or even greet the new dawn. Life did not reach out to him, so he retreated within, preferring the cold hard floor of his cell. Even his Fae guards had backed away when they issued an order demanding he take in some nourishment, and he responded by bellowing a curse at them. Eventually, the guards gave up and never returned to his prison. As the first shaft of light entered the room, Rory pushed himself farther away from its radiance and retreated deeper into his anguish. **** Conn MacRoich paced within the outer gardens of the royal palace. His hands fisted as he waited with uncertainty. His meeting with the Fae council had ended with terse words on both sides. He had argued that Rory MacGregor not be forced to endure a trial.
His time spent in the Room of Reflection was enough punishment. Furthermore, he heard the account of how the Fenian Warrior had slipped deeper into a dark abyss, and Conn judged it was wise to step in and offer a solution. The Fae council was not pleased. They found it difficult to argue with their prince, especially when he used his royal status to influence the other members. He reminded the council that Rory was under his command, and it was their duty to adhere to his convictions. In the end, they relented. Nevertheless, there were conditions. Conn let out a frustrated sigh, and rested against a rowan tree. Folding his arms across his chest, he mulled over the multiple decisions and actions. For one, he could remove Rory and secure him in a place of his choosing.
Another, simply ignore the Fae council entirely. The air shimmered and Taran MacLean—friend and Fenian Warrior appeared. Conn pushed away from the tree. “Give me the account.” Taran shook his head. “Not good. The Fae guards no longer greet him daily. They bring his food inside the room magically.” Confused, Conn’s brow furrowed, and he folded his arms over his chest. “Why?” “Rory threatened them.
They now fear the warrior.” “I heard the account given of how his mood shifted, but cannot fathom as to why he would do violence against another here in his homeland. Have you seen him?” “Nae, he has blocked the vision mirrors in the room.” “By the hounds! There must be another way,” argued Conn. Taran shifted slightly. “You could seek him out.” Conn glanced sharply at his friend. “Asked and denied by the Fae council. Although, I might have a way to see inside the room.” Arching a brow, Taran inquired, “Care to share your knowledge?” Clamping a hand on the warrior’s shoulder, Conn responded, “I shall seek out the seer.
” Taran snorted. “Good luck with gaining entrance. The last time you attempted any information, she banned you from her land.” “Yes, but I was only a Fenian Warrior. Now, I am the Prince of the Fae seeking help for one of our own. In the meantime, you return to Rory’s room and stand guard. The Fae council has granted a stay of his trial, but I do not trust them. My instincts warn me it’s only a matter of days before they call him forth. If they should come for him, seal the doors and alert me. Use whatever means, including how the orders came from Prince Conn.
” His fellow warrior let out a soft curse. “Will the king support you?” “He will always defend his son’s actions.” Giving Conn a mock salute, Taran vanished in a flash of light. Waiting for a few moments, Conn reflected on his friend’s words about the seer. Shoving aside the doubt, he waved his hand in an arc and magically transported to the edge of the seer’s lands. Breathing in deeply of the crisp, autumn air, he strode with purpose across the wide path lined with oak and rowan trees. Her home was perched beyond the valley of the Fae, secluded within a thick grove of pines. She favored the forests and deep glens and never came to the palace. On the contrary, all went to seek her for wisdom and guidance. Her counsel was regarded with respect, though Conn knew firsthand that the seer’s wisdom was not always accurate.
Closing the door on his own past, he moved along quickly. An owl hooted from within the thick branches, and he nodded in greeting. Dark eyes regarded him for a few seconds before taking flight deeper into the trees. Most likely, the bird was alerting its mistress of his presence. If Conn were not welcome, he would feel her wrath soon. Shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun, he caught a glimpse of a lone figure at the end of the path. Her ebony cloak swayed in the light breeze, and she leaned upon her crystal staff. Stunned to find the seer waiting for him, he quickly masked his surprise and walked toward the woman. The seer inclined her head slightly. “Prince Conn.
” “Lady Emer,” he acknowledged, and clasped his hands behind his back. “Thank you for greeting me.” A smile twitched at the corners of her mouth. “Did I have a choice?” “There are always choices to be presented.” She waved him off. “I am in no mood to banter philosophy and words with you, Conn. I know what you seek.” Surprised for a second time, he asked, “Then you will grant what I need to see?” “State your reason to see within the Fenian Warrior’s prison.” “The warrior is refusing food, drink, and all communication. I fear he is retreating, and I must unravel the reason.
This is not the warrior I know.” “It is his choice.” Tempering his fury, Conn explained, “A Fenian Warrior does not give up. Our training—” “Our?” she interrupted. “You are no longer a Fenian Warrior.” “I will always be a part of the Brotherhood, Lady Emer. Furthermore, as the warriors are now under my command, I consider it my right to protect all, especially Rory as he awaits his trial. I have already spoken with the Fae council, and they will be calling him forth soon.” Lady Emer lifted her staff and stepped back from Conn. “Walk with me.
” He followed alongside as she made her way through the trees. As he pushed away heavy pine limbs, the path narrowed and she took the lead. Onward they went, and he pondered why she did not magically transport them. Her movements were slow, but steady, and he found himself losing patience. “Temper the anger,” she ordered. He rolled his eyes, but smiled. Taking a deep breath, he released his anxiety on the exhale. As they made their way through the dense trees, the landscape opened to reveal a cave within a moss-covered hill. Vines snaked around the top, and Conn spotted the owl perched off to the side. Making their way upward through the soft grasses, they soon came upon the entrance.
The seer turned toward him. “Once you are inside, do not utter a word. Seal your mind and tongue. Do you understand?” Conn nodded. Upon entering the cavern, warmth enveloped them. Lady Emer lifted her staff, and brilliant lights glittered in the darkness. She tapped it once to the ground, and the place exploded in an array of dazzling colors. Crystals of different shapes and sizes littered the area. The walls of the cave were smooth, and the radiance of the crystals surrounded them in its glow. In the center of the cave sat a huge rose quartz fountain.
Water bubbled softly upward, filling the cave with the scent of roses. Gesturing for Conn to sit on a polished boulder, Lady Emer moved silently to the fountain. Placing her staff on the ledge, she raised her hands outward and the water took on a crystal globe suspended over the well. Lights sparkled within the sphere, changing and illuminating. Conn leaned forward and braced his arms on his thighs. Images of the realm passed through the globe in a kaleidoscope of multicolored pictures until they settled and formed outside of the Room of Reflection. “Brush aside the darkness and set forth the light of truth,” the seer uttered softly and closed her eyes. Conn stood and watched as the doors vanished to reveal Rory’s prison. Memories of his own confinement opened old wounds, but he quickly banished them. As he searched within the room for his friend, worry took hold, and he took a step forward.
Food, drink, and books remained untouched on a table, and his bed showed no signs of being used. Finally, he glimpsed a black shadow in the far corner of the room, and his fists clenched by his sides. He barely registered the outline of his friend. Worry turned to fear, but Conn kept silent as he waited for the seer to finish. Lady Emer frowned, and her hands shook. “No.” Her voice shook with emotion. “This cannot be.” Opening her eyes, she dropped her hands, and the image vanished, sending the crystal sphere spiraling back into the water. Conn’s patience was unraveling.
Eyes that held sadness gazed at him. “He dreams.” Stunned, he could no longer keep silent. “Not possible. Once we enter the Brotherhood and take our vows as a Fenian Warrior, we are no longer able to dream. The ability is stripped from us. It helps to keep us sane with all that we must do, especially for those who travel the Veil of Ages.” She arched a brow and pointed a finger at the fountain. “Nevertheless, Rory MacGregor is having the same dream—nightmare each night within his prison. He is hiding something.
” “Can you tell me anything else?” he demanded. “The answer to your question lies with the Fenian Warrior. The warriors are the most powerful— the elite. In addition, I have witnessed a similar occurrence. It is only spoken of in hushed circles within the realm of certain warriors who have walked this path of despair and loneliness hundreds of years before my time.” The walls of the cave felt as if they were closing in around him. Conn uttered a curse and stepped quickly out of the cavern. Glancing up at the azure sky, he took in deep calming breaths. This could not be possible. Not to a Fenian Warrior.
Not to his friend. Lady Emer joined him outside. “Then you realize what is happening to him?” “Yes,” he snapped, unable to control his fury. “Rory is slipping into the Realm of Sorrows. His guilt is too much to bear.” She placed a gentle hand on Conn’s arm. “If he is not saved, he will cross over into the realm and walk the land as a shadow. Forever.” Chapter Two “When the darkness brings comfort, beware the loss of emotions.” ~Chronicles of the Fae Pacing the length of the room within the inner chambers of the Brotherhood, Conn waited for Fenian Warrior and friend, Ronan MacGuinness.
After leaving the seer, he’d considered it best to seek out more aid in protecting Rory. He was not about to surrender his friend to the Fae council. In Rory’s condition, he would surely destroy everyone and then flee. He had heard the accounts only once as a Fenian Warrior. The elders had spoken of the few Fenian Warriors who had passed over to another chasm between the human and Fae worlds in hushed tones, fearing they would somehow appear if they uttered their names out loud. These warriors became outcast or worst, died, battling the dark shadows that plagued them. Conn pounded his fist on the massive oak table. “I will not let you succumb to the void!” “What troubles ye?” Ronan appeared in a flash of light by his side. He took a hold of Conn’s arm. “’Tis Ivy? Is she unwell? As her former guardian, I would do anything for her.
Those days I spent escorting her around the kingdom during her healing shall remain fond memories.” Letting out a frustrated sigh, Conn shook his head. “My wife is well. It is another.” Pushing away from the table, he asked, “Have you concluded your mission in Scotland?” Ronan frowned. “Aye, eons ago. Why?” Folding his arms over his chest, Conn retorted, “You are continuing to speak in the old tongue of the humans.” The warrior shrugged. “I favor the language.” Giving his friend a slight smile, he motioned for him to sit.
Taking a seat across from him, Conn placed his hands on the table. “I am preparing to take over the trial of Rory MacGregor. I must have witnesses who will swear an oath of silence to what happens at his trial.” Ronan leaned forward in his chair. “Ye ken the Fae council will not permit this act of interference. Ye may now command us, but ye were warned—nae ye were forbidden to stay away from Rory and Liam.” He snorted in disgust. “I can no longer sit idle and watch another warrior—my friend slip deeper into an abyss.” His friend rubbed his chin. “Whispers are traveling the realm of how he threatened his guards with one look.
Did the council give ye permission to speak with him?” Leaning back in his chair, Conn shook his head. “Not directly.” Ronan raised a brow in question. “Should I ask how?” “No. Nevertheless, our friend is in grave danger if he stays within his confinement.” “Nae,” he uttered in a shocked tone. “I cannae believe he is in danger within—” Conn held up his hand to stay his friend’s words. “Furthermore, if and when he is to appear before the council, I believe it will be too late. In truth, I am doing the members a favor by relieving them of this dangerous situation. They have no idea how to control a Fenian Warrior when one begins to descend into the void.
I risk much, including any others I bring in to hear his account. Yet, I surmise this is the only solution. It will be dangerous. This is why I have asked you here. You are one of the strongest and most powerful warriors.” Silence descended in the room. Fisting his hands on the table, Ronan asked, “What do ye require of me?” Relief coursed through Conn, and he let out the breath he was holding in. “Taran is presently guarding him. I require another to stand with him as well.” The warrior waved his hand.
“Why not bring him here?” “I might be Prince of the Fae, but I have no wish to start bending the laws of our people without permission.” “And your plan?” “To seek approval from my king.” Ronan let out a groan. “Ye tempt fate asking your father to override the council’s orders.” Conn laughed bitterly. “Did he not do the same for me?” “True,” Ronan agreed. “Yet, I cannae fathom what could have sent Rory into the darkness.” Sighing, Conn pinched the bridge of his nose. “He is dreaming.” The warrior stood.
“’Tis madness! How?” “He is holding onto a secret within his mind, body, and heart. When he entered his prison, they somehow surfaced. It is festering within him.” Ronan placed his hand over his heart. “Regardless of your conversation with the king, I am here to serve you and the Brotherhood. I will do what it takes to protect the life of a fellow warrior.” Conn rose slowly. “Now you understand my urgency to bring him forth. Speak of this to no one. Once the king hears my plea, I am positive he will grant me full disclosure and aid.
I have no wish to see our friend’s name blackened throughout the realm. His trial shall be handled with secrecy within the walls of the Brotherhood.” “Ye have my allegiance and trust.” Drawing a sign in the air, the Fenian Warrior vanished. Straightening his tunic, Conn magically transported himself to the royal chambers of his parents. Walking along the marbled pathway, he nodded to the guard in passing. The gilded doors opened silently, and he stepped through. Entering the vast chamber, he proceeded down the corridor on the left, praying he would find his father in his private office. Knowing the time of day, he often found the man alone with his favorite scrolls in this place of solace. Pausing outside the rowan doors, he lifted his hand and knocked softly.
When all remained quiet, Conn frowned and wove a single thought outward to his father. “I wish to discuss an urgent matter with you. Are you nearby?” “Meet me in the Library of the Ancients,” commanded his father. In a flash of light, Conn did as his father ordered. The library was one revered by every one of the Fae, since it held all the tomes, knowledge, and wisdom of his people from their homeland of Taralyn. Conn had recently ventured inside the sacred place. He had wished to study the lore of his home, particularly the flora and fauna. He yearned to recreate a flower for his wife, Ivy. Sadly, he was unable to get any to bloom, so he described in vivid detail every petal, stem, and the scent. Conn smiled at the memory, especially at what followed afterward in their garden by the waterfall.
“I grant you permission,” acknowledged King Ansgar. Startled from his pleasurable thought, he turned around to face his father. “For what?” The king slipped a ribbon in place between the silver pages of the book opened on the desk. “You must see to the Fenian Warrior’s trial, and immediately.” Closing the massive tome, he folded his arms over his chest. Stunned by his father’s declaration, Conn ran a hand down the back of his neck. “Then you have heard?” “The moment his guards were threatened. They say his eyes are shifting to a darker color as well.”