This excerpt is a dream/ memory of Devin McLoch, witch and Highland Laird, cursed to remain alive until his cousin spell plays out. At this point in the novel, we are in present time and Devin is a jewel thief.-
Devin longed for the sight of Castle McLoch and its high stone walls, instead in the endless battlefield that strecthed out before him. MacGavin, the dirty cur, -laird of the land lying north of his clan’s-- along with at least a hundred of his kinsmen launched an attack on McLoch land at daybreak. Caught by surprise, more than half Devin’s numbers fell, cut down to lay strewn about the ground they had sought to protect. The laird, his father, had been among those killed. Bloody, bruised, and heartbroken with so few left of his clansmen, defeat sought to claim him, but he fought like a lion. He sliced through each man who came close to his blade with the ferocity of the desperate and determined. He now stood alone, bloodied and broken, but not beaten, never. He was McLoch and he was forever.
His body declared mutiny as the opposing clansman's sword sliced through his bicep. Devin’s blade fell to ground, slicing a gash across his palm. He felt his fire lurch toward freedom and vengence. Knowing without seeing, his father passing in the makeshift tent in the trees. Laird but a day and he would die on his own land. Mac Gavin stood above him, his own sword held high and sure, ready to take his life.
“You die this day, Laird McLoch.” He said mockingly as he brought the blade ever closer, slow and torturing. “All you have will be mine. Those of my blood will claim your land and holdings, kill your kinsmen, and rape your women. Die Devin Brannon McLoch, knowing it was you who failed to stand in my way.”
At that moment the vision spun in his mind, two women, his cousin Daemon performing powerful magic. Three elements trapped and spinning together, Devin knew he would complete them and was the fourth, the Fire. He felt a force surge through him like nothing had before or again since. Devin couldn’t stop the fire raging in his veins not bothering to try, rode the primal wave of energy and exhilaration that had MacGavin dropping his sword and shouting,
“Demon, changeling! Stay back. The Devil take you!”
"My father was Laird, but my mother is faerie. It is you who dies tonight."
Devin glowed like a thousand candles lit all at once. Fire sprang from within his cupped hands and created a ring of flame around all he sought to save. Yet never burned him and was a cool as a mountain spring. This was his gift, his element. He was Fire. How could he have forgotten this?
“The Devil won’t have me. Ring of fire, strong and sure, I entrust you to endure. From that which seeks harm in deed, shield all charged to me. By my blood, bone and fire I seal this circle. As I will so mote it be.” Every last MacGavin ran from him and the horrifying wall of fire, but not before it licked out to burn them to ashes. None of his men had survived the battle to celebrate the victory.
His magic hadn’t failed him, but when the rush he’d felt withered and died so did the wall of fire. He’d have to remember to thank his cousin when next he saw him. Wearily he picked up his fallen sword, much heavier now with fatigue and grief than when he’d proudly charged into to battle behind his father, and trudged toward home. The fire, which he’d created, burned a blackened circle around his holdings. Try though he did, he couldn’t breach the shield of his own making. Nowhere in his spell had he blocked his own entry, nor the leaving of those who dwelled there, only those who would bring harm. Maybe the spell being cast had triggered an adverse effect with his?
He was as dead to the clan as their fallen Laird. ome Devin woke feeling hollowed out and empty. The emotions of the young man walked around in the much older skin of a man who had seen and done more in a thousand years than could bear remembrance. He remembered his long ago spoken words, blood sealed. He was McLoch and he was forever.