“He had two blades,” Keenan said

BOOK: “He had two blades,” Keenan said
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“He had two blades,” Keenan said.

 

“One was for you. You first so you couldn’t save your brother. The second was for Lachlan.”

“And ye kent his plan.” Keenan’s calm voice belied the tenseness she saw in his clenched jaw line. He wasn’t as calm as he tried to present. Maybe she was learning how to decipher some emotions from his face, like normal people had to do. She studied him as he continued. “So ye sought the poisoned blades and used yerself as a shield.”

“Not exactly.” Serena held up her fingers and waved them. “I sought the blades, but only to pick them from his pocket.”

“Ye were only able to pick one blade,” he said. “Ye knew that ye couldn’t grab them both.” She watched his jaw line begin to tick. Amazing what one could discern from another without using magic. He was angry, perhaps furious inside.

“I had to do something,” Serena said.

“I can protect my brother. I have since I could walk,” Keenan replied flatly.

Serena looked up at him, her eyes narrowed. “I didn’t grab the blade meant for Lachlan,” she said and looked back at the cup in her hands. Her hands shook slightly as she held it to her parted lips and sipped the broth.

Serena nearly jumped when she felt his thumb touch her cheek. “Ye protected me.” His words sounded calm, intrigued, so she looked back to him. But his eyes held fury, as if all of the emotion had drained from his words into them. “Doona do it again.”

Praise for Heather McCollum

 


PROPHECY
is engaging and very well written. I totally enjoyed reading it.”

~Nancy Knight, co-owner, Belle Books

 

“The title is good, the writing excellent, the story line works and you have a strong voice.”

~Rita Herron, author of the DEMONBORN series

 

 

 

PROPHECY

 

Book One of

THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES

 

 

by

 

Heather McCollum

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.

 

Prophecy: The Dragonfly Chronicles, Book One

 

COPYRIGHT
Ó
2009 by Heather McCollum

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

 

Cover Art by
Tamra Westberry

 

The Wild Rose Press

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0706

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

 

Publishing History

First Faery Rose Edition, 2010

Print ISBN 1-60154-723-4

 

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to my kids, who put up with my constant “tap, tap, tap” at the computer.

And to Braden,

who has always been my real life hero.

I love you!

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

On the Border of Alba and Strathclyde

On the Western Sea of Scotland

1005 A.D.

 

“My wards are weakening!” Serena’s mother cried above the howling outside their small cottage. “I will hide ye, send ye away!” Her tone wavered against the noise like the lost voice of a person desperate to stay above the crash of waves. Serena had never heard her mother’s voice so shaken, and it twisted in her little-girl stomach.

Serena’s mother was Gilla, Great Wiccan Priestess of the Western Mountains, Keeper of the Earth Mother’s magic. Her long braid swayed against her back like a pendulum as she paced across the gray floorboards to the barren hearth.

“How?” Serena asked. Her gaze darted to the rattling door. “With them out there. How?”

The demons flew along the perimeter just outside the standing stones that encircled the cottage, striking wildly at the protection wards her parents had erected with their combined magic. Serena was only nine years old but she knew that invasion meant death, probably the hideous death her father had endured. They’d found his broken body outside the stones, limp, swollen, bruised. Serena shivered and squeezed the hand of her younger sister.

“Please Earth Mother, my shields must last!” Gilla shouted at the ceiling. As if sneering against her prayer, something large dropped on the roof, and loose thatching floated down. Around the corners of the snug home, the wind laughed at their terror.

Gilla pulled a carved oak box from the mantel and turned toward Serena. “Starting with ye.” Gilla’s robes snapped around her as she whisked over to stand before the stone table in the center of the room. The legs of the center table anchored into the earth below the house, the floorboards cut and built around them.

“I’ll send ye with my magic,” Gilla continued, “all of ye,” she said to her four daughters. “The demons stalk me now. They will steal the threads that hold our lives together in this realm,” she said breathlessly. “The threads that I guard inside me.”

Serena listened, rapt, ready to follow her mother’s instructions. A tree beyond the window cracked against the eaves, and more thatching rained down upon them.

Her mother pulled something out of the box. “They’ve grown strong on your father’s life force. But they need my magic strands.”

With another series of thumps, small bits of dirt and straw sifted down upon the four girls. Serena covered her head and looked around the once tidy room.

Home. It had always felt warm, smelling of fresh baked bread. Now it was ice, a dusty prison of ice. Serena tried to swallow the dry grit she breathed into her mouth and coughed.

“I’ll send one of my powers with each of ye. The magic the demons need to destroy our world will be far away, and all split up.”

Nails scratching at the door mingled with the wild snapping of wolves. The girls screamed and grabbed onto one another.

“I need more time,” her mother flicked her long fingernails toward the door. Yelps rent the air and coursed off into the shriek of the wind. “They send the beasts through my wards,” she said, turning toward Serena. “They use Druce’s magic against his own kin,” her mother murmured. Wisps of her hair had come undone from her neat braid, sticking out haphazardly.

Gilla moved before Serena with unnatural speed, making her jump. “Ye must go now.” Wild desperation warred with calm strength behind her mother’s red-rimmed eyes. Bits of thatching spiked in her hair.

“Where, Mama?” Serena asked.

“To when,” her mother countered and pulled Serena’s hand into hers.

“When, then?” Serena whispered.

“Each of ye goes to a different place.” Gilla paused, her eyes scanning her four daughters. “And a different time.”

“How?” the second eldest, Merewin, asked.

“Drakkina, the Wiccan priestess and master, taught yer father and me how to uncoil our power threads and thread them through the planes of time.” Her mother’s words spilled over each other in haste. She took a deep breath and shook her head. “It’s complicated.”

“But,” Serena started, “we willna be together. We’ll be with strangers. Away from ye, away from our home.”

“At first, but eventually ye will find home, find each other.”

Large thumps pummeled the roof and then rolled down to the ground, squeaking and scurrying for shelter. “Rats.” Gilla glanced at the walls as if testing their strength.

“But how will we know each other, how will we find each other?” Serena asked and pulled Merewin close against her with her free hand, not ready yet to let go of her family. “How will I find them if they’re grown? They’ll look different,” she choked out.

Gilla placed a stone in Serena’s palm. “Don’t forget, ye all have my mark upon ye, the mark of the priestess, Drakkina.” Gilla dropped Serena’s hand and lifted the hem of her silver-green robe to show her leg where the brown pattern of a dragonfly lay against her pale skin. The dragonfly birthmark, they all had one somewhere.

“Serena,” her mother said and took up the hand with the stone again. “Ye were born first and ye will leave first. I will thread ye into the future six hundred years. They won’t find ye there.” Gilla ran her finger along her daughter’s firm lips and kissed her cheek.

Serena fell into her mother’s arms and held tightly. She breathed in her mother’s summery smell.

“I love ye, Mama,” Serena avowed bravely and then stood back.

“Tha gaol agam ort
, Serena.” Gilla looked deeply into Serena’s eyes. “Ye have your father’s eyes, so bright, so unique.” She breathed deeply. “I give ye my gift of sight, Child.”

Serena looked down at the shiny red rock nestled into her palm. The rock contained coils of spun fibers wound tightly from the center to the very edges of the stone.

Her mother leaned over it, lips hovering just above its fiery surface. “I freely gift ye with my sight. On currents of my blood, on currents of my love, on currents of my fire power given by the Great Earth Mother, send her now within my thread of sight.” She then opened her lips, took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and blew gently, so gently.

Serena watched the coils glow softly inside the orb. When her mother’s breath ran out, she looked up at Serena.

“Deep sight is an immense power. Grow strong so ye do not lose yourself in it. Cherish it but be careful. Sight can be biased by yer perceptions.” Her mother pulled a delicate blue feather from her pocket. She slipped it behind Serena’s ear. She whispered, “Ye willna be alone, child.”

Serena held the red rock carefully. It felt warm, almost hot, like the inside of what one’s body must feel. “It feels…like I hold a part of ye, Mama.”

“Ye do.”

The room warped before Serena’s eyes as her mother stepped back and her sisters grabbed hold for one last hug. Her mother produced another stone from a pocket and turned to Merewin, but the room wavered like the end of a dream, bending and fading.

The stone in her hand spread its heat up her arm and neck, up through the core of her skull and out along the skin of her face. Even her eyes felt hot. She blinked. Then the heat washed downwards through her stomach, sliding through
thigh muscles,
past knees to ankles and the very tips of her toes. Serena felt her body melt into liquid or light. Her weightless form watched the world quiver as through a pool of water.

Her body narrowed and lengthened and twisted into a single thread. She felt no pain, just different, fluid. Her altered self wasn’t thick like a normal body, but thin and light. Serena stretched up through the roof of the house, up through a minute crack in the weakened thatch and out above the howling chaos.

Serena focused on the cottage at the center of the ten soaring stones, watching it shrink as she soared high above the home that had held the love of her family. She would have wept but didn’t know if she had tears or even a face anymore.

She shot up through the clouds so that they lay roiling beneath her as the stars glittered above. She hovered there between heaven and hell.

Serena’s thread twirled and twisted as sun and moon arched over, racing across the sky until they melded into one light, burning, flickering. Serena tried to turn from the sight but had no body to turn. When would it stop, the flashing, the twisting? How long had she been suspended? She would scream, go insane, die certainly if the flashing didn’t end soon.

Heaviness grasped Serena’s essence, pulling the red thread downward, back through a blue sky, back through the clouds. The earth flew to meet her as her body expanded and tingled, reforming in the air. The stone solidified in her hand.

A scream pushed up as she breathed in and exhaled once again. “Ahhh!”

Tree limbs brushed her robes that whipped around, slowing her plunge. Serena splashed through green pond scum. The cold water soaked through, and her toes sank into the bottom muck. She thrust upwards, sputtering and gasping. She flailed about for anything to help stay afloat and spat out the bitter water. Her long skirts, coupled with fatigue, trapped her movements. Serena’s hands, one fisted around the stone, churned wildly at the musky water.

A boy’s voice called out not far away. “She’s an angel fallen from the sky,” he said, in a strange language she somehow understood. “Grab hold,” the boy said, and Serena’s hand slapped against a rough branch. She grabbed it with her empty hand, and he dragged her toward the edge of the pond. Her feet squished into mud, finding rocks and sticks below the silt. She willed her legs to walk against the weight of exhaustion. Reaching the edge, her knees buckled, and she collapsed on the dirt. The boy turned her over.

“Help me,” she whispered.

“I will help you,” said the boy, and Serena’s eyes focused on deep brown eyes that smiled down at her. “You are an
àngelas
, an angel fallen from the sky.” His lips formed words in another language, but she understood him. The rock warmed in her hand.

He had shiny dark hair, tanned skin, a firm smile and a kind heart. She had never seen him before. “Ye are William Faw,” she said.

His brown eyes widened. He’d understood her. “You know me?” he asked.

Serena tried to focus again as a loud chirping sound hovered somewhere nearby. “Ye are to be my brother,” she said, and then the pinpricks in her eyes turned everything black.

BOOK: “He had two blades,” Keenan said
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