Highlander Unchained (Highlander Trilogy 1)By: Donna Fletcher
Scotland... the Highlands 1200c
Dawn was carried along with the throng of excited villagers, pushing at those around her so as not to get crushed. News had spread fast about the capture and soon now the warriors would return with the prisoner in tow and she, like all the others, was eager to have a look.
The village folk continued to compete for positions along the route into the Village Dowell, elbowing and shoving, each wanting a good view until a woman yelled out, “I see them.”
The scrambling stopped and all heads turned.
Dawn stretched her neck to see past the swarm in front of her. Luckily, she was taller than many of the women and even some of the men, so it took only a bit of a stretch and a turn and she had a clear view of the road.
The troop had crested and was descending the last of the rolling hills that lead to the village. The warriors wore smiles; their chests puffed with pride. Several hands shot high waving weapons and victorious shouts filled the air. This was a joyous day for the village and for Colum in particular. He was liegeman for the feudal lord, Roland Gerwan, Earl of Carrick who no doubt would be pleased with the capture of the infamous warrior Cree.
His name ran shivers through Dawn, as it did to anyone who heard it. Cree was feared like no other warrior and woe to those who believed otherwise. Where he tread, rivers of blood flowed, those he touched suffered greatly, and those who survived his attacks prayed not for mercy, but for death.
Dawn crossed her arms over her chest and rubbed, a chill prickling her flesh, though the early autumn air was warm. She cast a quick glance to the sky and saw that a dark cloud had blotted out the sun and more clouds rushed threateningly to blight the sky.
A boney grip on her arm startled her and she shot a quick glance down to see Old Mary beside her. She had been old as long as Dawn could remember. A good, caring soul Mary was, though many thought her a bit touched in the head and avoided her.
“A bad portent, bad indeed.” Mary frowned and released Dawn’s arm, then shuffled her stooped body through the crowd and disappeared.
Her ominous prediction only served to chill Dawn more and once again she rubbed at her arms, the flesh beneath her gray linen shift cold with fear. She could not say why she did not take to heart Old Mary’s warning and leave as the old woman had done. Perhaps it was curiosity that kept hold, since Dawn wondered if it was the devil the warriors had captured and with him locked away, peace could possibly prevail.
The shouts grew louder, the crowd cheering, applauding their victory. Dawn smiled along with the others proud of the warriors as they marched by, stains of battle; dirt, sweat and blood heavy upon them.
Moments later dead silence struck the crowd, not a gasp or startled cry, not even a breath was heard, though many were held.
And Dawn? She stood unable to move, as if a winter wind had swept down and frozen her solid. Never had she seen a man the size of Cree. She stared unable to take her eyes off him. He walked behind Colum’s horse; his wrists bound and tethered by shackle and chains, though he looked fit enough to break free from his solid constraints. He was massive in size, both height and width and his bare chest was a mass of thick muscles and spotted with dried blood. More muscles bunched along his arms and dark leather leggings could not hide more of the same. Dark boots were the only other thing he wore.
Dawn hesitated to glance at his face fearing what she would see, but she could not stop her curiosity and slowly she turned her attention there.
Her heart slammed in her chest and then lurched in her throat. He was so handsome that she could not take her eyes off him. Even grime and blood could not hide his fine features. God had surely favored him for the more her eyes drank in, the more beauty she saw and only God could have made someone so splendid. His long brown hair was not only threaded with strands the color of gold, but also mixed with the bright white yellow color of the sun.
Her eyes caught his then and her breath left her in a heavy whoosh. They were dark, like the blackest night. She wanted to look away but she couldn’t. There was something about his eyes that completely absorbed her, held her, bound her to him as the chain that tethered him did and then like a startling slap in the face, she realized he was staring back at her.
His eyes had caught hers and held them captive even as he continued walking. She wondered then if it had been the devil, rather than God who had given him his handsome features. She tried to tear her glance away, but it was impossible. Something kept her mesmerized and where before she felt chilled, now a heat began to take hold and spread quickly through her body. Where it began she could not say, her toes perhaps, or had her breasts felt it first, her nipples turning hard. It spread rapidly and it was not long before it entirely consumed her.