October 6, 2015
Eons ago, seven ancient deities trapped the goddess of chaos under a ring of stones. But now, in the darkest days of the 13th century, Chaela threatens to escape, leaving the fate of all humanity in the hands of two young lovers...
Ran believed herself to be a normal fisherman’s daughter, until a turbulent storm unleashed within her powers she never knew she had. Those powers have now drawn her into the battle between two warring factions: the Warriors of Destiny, whom she knows in her heart to be noble, and a menacing army holding her father captive. Her hope for survival is in the hands of Soren, the man she once loved, the man who betrayed her, and the only man she can trust in a raging battle against evil.
ISBN-13: 978-0451469106 ISBN-10: 0451469100 Signet
“Terri Brisbin keeps me turning the pages.”
— Victoria Alexander, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author
SPRING, AD 1286 ~ Kirkwall, Orkney
Soren walked through the marketplace, greeting the merchants and nodding to the vendors selling their wares. Kirkwall was a blending place, filled with people from all parts of the north and beyond. Norse, Scots, French, English all using Kirkwall and Orkney for replenishing supplies, stocking ship for travel and trading goods.
But something this day was different.
As he walked the streets that morning, Soren noticed a change in the air around him. In the colors of the fabrics offered in the weavers’ tents. In the faces of the villagers. The brightness and hues had been leached from the world in which he lived.
The realization stopped him between paces.
He glanced around to see if something had thickened above him and had blocked the sun. The clear, blue cloudless skies answered him. What was happening?
And then she walked out from one of the alleys.
The woman he’d loved. The woman he’d betrayed.
Soren stepped back into the shadows and watched her. Tall and svelte, she moved with the same easy grace on land that she did on her father’s ships. Her blond curls tamed into several smaller plaits framing her face and one larger unruly braid. ‘Twas a hopeless attempt to control the uncontrollable, but the longer woven tresses lay down her back and swung in time with every step she took. His body recognized hers. His mouth remembered the taste of hers and his hands itched to glide over those curves and touch every inch of her.
He shuddered and released the breath he did not know he’d been holding, continuing to watch her make her way through the crowded street. Without deciding the matter, he followed her, drinking in the sight of her, of her every smile and glance and movement. She bestowed her smile on many as she greeted the merchants and tradesmen along the street.
Ran was the one woman he’d loved and the one he could never have. It had been two years since he last saw her and yet—
His vision flickered then and he realized that she was surrounded by color and light. They were missing in everyone else around them and were vibrant and almost alive in her. Turquoise—the color of the seas—surrounded her body, glowing and glimmering. He blinked several times, trying to clear his vision, for what he saw was simply not possible.
When that made no difference, Soren even dragged the sleeve of his tunic across his eyes then, but it did not change. Her blond hair was bright and golden, her skin glowed and her eyes shimmered. Unsure of what was happening, he hissed in pain as his forearm began to burn.
Lifting his hand, he tugged his sleeve back and watched as the skin underneath grew red and an outline of a bolt of lightning became visible. It changed as he watched, growing brighter and clearer in shape. And it burned as it did. Covering it with his other hand, he glanced around to see if anyone else noticed.
Those seeking goods or food did not spare him a second glance. Those selling their wares did not either. Everyone else walked around him ignorant or uncaring about this significant change in their world. As he looked around the area, Soren realized that Ran had the same bewildered expression on her face that his must be wearing. She clutched at her arm, touching the same place on her forearm that yet burned on his.
He’d taken three steps out of the shadows and onto the street towards her when he finally pulled himself back and stopped. As much as he wanted to understand what was going on, he knew she would not welcome his approach. Or his questions.
Two years. Two years and much more than time separated them.
Since he knew her father would remain in Orkney while his ships and boats were prepared for the sailing months ahead, Soren knew she was not going anywhere. If this strangeness somehow involved her, he knew where he could find her.
He would always know where to find her. Now though, he turned and walked away.
Though he stood in the shadows between the merchants selling their wool and other fabrics, she would recognize him anywhere. Taller than her brother and her father, Soren towered over most men she knew. The years of working the fields and ships had built muscle and strength in his body and she could not help but notice that he looked even larger now. Her traitorous body responded to the memories now filling her mind of their times together. The feel of his skin on hers. His strong hands moving over her and bringing her to pleasure. Relentlessly. As he did everything.
Could it be the mere sight of him that was causing this eerie feeling within her? The strange buzzing that filled her ears? The way her vision dimmed and flared?
Before she could do anything foolish, something in the world around her tilted and changed. Ran grabbed for the table in front of her as she lost her balance. Then, in an instant, her vision flickered again and the colors of the world disappeared. Everyone looked like a pale, drab version of themselves.
He had changed now, not only looking stronger and healthier, but also a strange silver-gray glow outlined his body. As she watched this happening to him, her arm began to burn. Clapping her hand over it, she lifted her gaze and met his in that moment.
In that second, everything and everyone around them disappeared, leaving only the two of them. Time slowed and she gazed at the man to whom she’d given her heart, body and soul. Their life together had laid ahead of them, shining like jewels and holding the promise of happiness. Those hopes had crumbled in an instant when he betrayed her faith in him.
Now though, all that passed by in the blink of an eye and she found herself staring at Soren as her arm burned fiercely. And, realizing that his action mirrored her own, she waited for his acknowledgement Instead, he did again as he’d done before—he turned and walked away.
The bright, shimmering color of molten silver continued to swirl around him as he made his way along the street and away from her. Her heart, the one she’d sworn would never be hurt again, pounded in her chest, reminding her of the weakness of her will when it came to Soren Thorson.
Her arm felt as though it was on fire, so she tugged her sleeve up and to look. As on the boat when she’d been rescued from the water, her skin burned and reddened with heat, changing as she watched. A shape formed and smoothed, only to form again. Two wavy lines etched into her then, undulating and moving as the waves or current did through water. For a moment, she believed them real. Then the burning began anew and the markings grew deeper and longer across her forearm.
What was going on? First the strange change to her vision and hearing. Then the alterations to the world’s coloring—and Soren’s. And lastly, this marking on her skin and, from his reaction, on his, too.
With more questions than answers, she wished there was someone she could ask. Someone who could counsel her and help her discover the truth of this.
And, she wished with all her heart, that it was someone other than the man who had betrayed his every vow and his own words.
As Soren turned and walked off towards the edge of town, Ran knew one thing—she had lied to herself about her feelings for Soren. And the only way she would save her soul and her sanity was to keep away from him.
So, that was what she would do.
Stay away from Soren Thorson.
‘Twas only as she reached her father’s house in the city after finishing some of her errands that she realized there was another from whom she could seek advice. A man wiser than her father who had more patience with her willfulness and questions that Svein Ragnarson would never allow.
Einar Brandrson, Soren’s grandfather.
On the morrow, she would travel to his cottage near the northern edge of the island and seek his counsel over these strange occurrences. Surely he would know what was causing them.