The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 3
by Kim Iverson Headlee
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Outcast, clanless, and but a junior officer in Arthur the Pendragon’s army, Angusel struggles to rebuild the life stolen from him through betrayal by the person he had held most dear. His legion allegiance thrusts him onto the campaign trail as one of Arthur’s forward scouts, stalking Angli troops and being among the first to clash with these vicious enemies at every turn. But the odds loom high against him and his sword-brothers, and they will need a miracle just to survive.
Pressured to make the best choice to ensure her clan’s future leadership, Eileann struggles with her feelings for Angusel, whose outcast status makes him forbidden to her as a mate. When Angli treachery threatens everyone she loves, she vows to thwart their violent plan to conquer her clan. But she is no warrior, she has no soldiers to command, and she will need a miracle just to survive.
How can one soldier make a difference? How can one woman save her kin and clan? In the crucible of combat, Angusel must surrender to the will of the gods, and Eileann must invoke divine power to forge the most dangerous warrior the world has ever known.
“Where is the brush?” Eileann asked, as much to forestall the inevitable as to seek an answer.
A heartbeat later, she chided her fear. Outcast or not, Clan Tarsuinn needed him.
“No brush. The anointing is as much about the connection between the anointer and the anointed as it is about the connection between the anointed and the gods. Use your finger, like this.”
Neoinean dipped Eileann’s index finger into the dye, tapped the excess on the rim, and guided it to sketch the shape of a salmon on Angusel’s forehead, near the hairline. Eileann felt a wee tingle as she completed the fish. His surprised expression told her he had felt it too.
“Now state to the anointed the god-mark you have drawn and its purpose.” Neoinean stepped away and regarded Eileann, cocking an eyebrow as the silence stretched.
Eileann cleared her throat and gazed at Angusel. “The salmon of Clota. For wisdom.” She wasn’t sure how a warrior fighting in the throes of battle frenzy could exercise wisdom, but she was not going to cast doubt upon her teacher’s example or the purpose the goddess had revealed.
Angusel bobbed his head, his curly black hair obscuring the fish.
Palms angled upward, Fioruisge changed the chant to echo Eileann’s words and embellish them, begging for the goddess’s gift to be bestowed upon the anointed.
“Use what you know of the gods and their abilities, my lady,” said Neoinean, “to draw their marks upon the anointed where you believe those divine gifts will benefit him the most.”
“Please draw the god-marks so that my armor hides them.” Angusel glanced at Neoinean, uncertainty creasing the salmon. “Does the anointing permit this?”
“It does,” stated the apothecary.
“They are meant to be seen!” Eileann itched to shake sense into him, but touching the anointed was forbidden save to craft the god-marks. “How will the gods find you if you hide the marks?”
“The anointed does not wish to offend those who have rejected him, and that is a worthy consideration.” Her teacher, apparently exempt from the touching stricture, patted Eileann’s shoulder. To her surprise, Fioruisge wove Neoinean’s words into the chant. “Fear not, child. The gods will see the marks as you draw them, and they shall not forget. Priests and warriors may choose to make their god-marks permanent, but the rite does not require it.”
Eileann inclined her head at Angusel. “As you will, then.”
Behind shuttered eyelids, she cast about for an image to draw and received a double blessing. Upon opening her eyes, she asked Angusel to lift his arms so she could anoint his biceps. The sketches looked crude, childish, and incomplete. She prayed for them to work; she hoped that the longer and stronger tingling was a sign that they would. “The bull of Lugh on your sword arm for strength, and the stag of Cernunnos on your shield arm for cunning.”
Fioruisge added Eileann’s pronouncements, raising her arms higher with each new verse.
Whatever concoction Neoinean had given Eileann must have taken full effect. In swift succession she drew the spear and rod of Nemetona on Angusel’s right thigh for fierceness, the mare of Epona on his left thigh for speed, and the sun of Lord Annaomh over his heart.
“For hope,” she told him about the sun, and wondered at the word choice the god had inspired. The sun of Annaomh represented justice, leadership, and truth. Lord Annaomh was revered for those traits, as were the warriors who honored him. And yet hope was appropriate, since the strengthening sun delivered salvation from winter’s grip, and the Lord of Light embodied salvation from the eternal ravages of his twin brother, Annàm, and the evil Samhraidhean.
Angusel beamed without touching her, as was proper for this phase of an tùs. The time for their touching would come, but not soon enough for Eileann’s liking.
The final image burned into her brain and killed her swelling excitement.
She gasped, fist to mouth.
“What is it, child?” asked Neoinean.
“A mark I dare not draw upon the anointed,” Eileann whispered. That the image was unlike any she had seen for this god represented the least of her worries. “I fear what it may do to him—to us both.”
The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 2
“Magnificent.” ~ Kathleen Foley, author of the Faith in Uniform series
In a violent age when enemies besiege Brydein and alliances shift as swiftly as the wind, stand two remarkable leaders: the Caledonian warrior-queen Gyanhumara and her consort, Arthur the Pendragon. Their fiery love is tempered only by their conviction to forge unity between their disparate peoples. Arthur and Gyan must create an impenetrable front to protect Brydein and Caledonia from land-lusting Saxons and the marauding Angli raiders who may be massing forces in the east, near Arthur’s sister and those he has sworn to protect.
But their biggest threat is an enemy within: Urien, Arthur’s rival and the man Gyan was treaty-bound to marry until she broke that promise for Arthur’s love. When Urien becomes chieftain of his clan, his increase in wealth and power is matched only by the magnitude of his hatred of Arthur and Gyan—and his threat to their infant son.
Morning’s Journey, sequel to the critically acclaimed Dawnflight, propels the reader from the heights of triumph to the depths of despair, through the struggles of some of the most fascinating characters in all of Arthurian literature. Those struggles are exacerbated by the characters’ own flawed choices. Gyan and Arthur must learn that while extending forgiveness to others may be difficult, forgiveness of self is the most excruciating—yet ultimately the most healing—step of the entire journey.
“Some things never change.” Ygraine flicked a hand at Merlin’s legion badge. “Including you. Still playing soldier, I see.”
“Your son refuses to let me retire.” Merlin glanced, smiling, at Arthur before returning his gaze to Ygraine. “He has his father’s single-mindedness of purpose.” The smile widened. “And his mother’s powers of persuasion.”
As Ygraine returned the smile, Gyan got the distinct impression that she and Merlin shared a private jest.
Arthur exchanged a look with Bedwyr that bordered on consternation. “If this is true,” Arthur said, “then I must persuade you both to continue your reunion elsewhere so I can start the cavalry games.” He motioned at the restive crowd. “Before we have a riot on our hands.”
Ygraine laughed lightly. “A pleasure to see you too, Arthur.”
“Forgive me, my lady mother. Of course I’m glad—and honored—to see you. It’s only, well… forgive me.”
Gyan arched an eyebrow. Though she found it highly amusing that the conqueror of thousands could be bested in a single verbal stroke by his mother, she decided she’d be a poor wife indeed if she failed to come to his defense. She clasped his hand.
“Chieftainess Ygraine, your son is a man of single purpose. He does whatever is best for his people. And now, my people as well.” Gazing at Arthur, Gyan infused her expression with love. Her pulse quickened as he rewarded her in kind. “It is but one of the reasons I love him so.” She reached behind his head and drew his face to hers. Closing her eyes, she blotted out all other sensations as her tongue probed and twined with his.
The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 1
What if King Arthur’s queen was every bit as heroic as he was? Find out by immersing yourself in this epic story of the power couple whose courage and conviction would shape the destiny of a nation.
Gyan is a Caledonian chieftainess by birth, a warrior and leader of warriors by training, and she is betrothed to Urien, a son of her clan’s deadliest enemy, by right of Arthur the Pendragon’s conquest of her people. For the sake of peace, Gyan is willing to sacrifice everything...perhaps even her very life, if her foreboding about Urien proves true.
Roman by his father, Brytoni by his mother, and denied hereditary rulership of his mother's clan because of his mixed blood, Arthur has followed his father's path to become Dux Britanniarum, the Pendragon: supreme commander of the northern Brytoni army. The Caledonians, Scots, Saxons, and Angles keep him too busy to dwell upon his loneliness...most of the time.
When Gyan and Arthur meet, each recognize within the other their soul’s mate. The treaty has preserved Gyan’s ancient right to marry any man, providing he is a Brytoni nobleman—but Arthur does not qualify. And the ambitious Urien, Arthur’s greatest political rival, shall not be so easily denied. If Gyan and Arthur cannot prevent Urien from plunging the Caledonians and Brytons back into war, their love will be doomed to remain unfulfilled forever.
But there is an even greater threat looming. The Laird of the Scots wants their land and will kill all who stand in his way. Gyan, Arthur, and Urien must unite to defeat this merciless enemy who threatens everyone they hold dear.
“I believe you’ve met my cousin.” With a graceful sweep of the arm, Merlin gestured toward the room’s only other occupant.
When the Pendragon had been wearing a plain leather tunic stained with sweat and grime from his ride, Gyan had not been able to appreciate completely how handsome he was. As he stood before her, bathed and dressed in the Ròmanach military regalia of his rank, she was struck by the full impact of his appearance.
Sandaled feet gave rise to bronzed, well-muscled calves. The rippling thighs disappeared into the gold-and-white-fringed linen kilt. Hands and forearms were obscured by the proud back. Over the feather-shaped gold scales of his torso armor dipped a fold of the gold-trimmed knee-length scarlet cloak. A ruby-eyed gold dragon, ringed by a braided band of red, blue, and green, rode the right shoulder. The firm, square jaw; the full, sensuous mouth; the fine, straight nose; the prominent cheekbones, intense blue eyes, high forehead, red-gold hair—his every aspect made her pulse race.
Her hatred of the Ròmanaich evaporated. Urien map Dumarec might never have existed at all.
Gazing only at Arthur, she answered, “Yes. I have.”
He raised his right fist to his chest. “Chieftainess Gyanhumara.” As his hand lowered, the smile that dawned upon his face made her knees feel like liquid wax.
Control! She had to exercise control. She was no tavern wench to drool over the first handsome face to notice her, but chieftainess of the most powerful clan of the Caledonach Confederacy.
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins--the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century--seem to be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim has been a published novelist since 1999 with the first edition of Dawnflight (Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been studying the Arthurian legends for nigh on half a century.