Bride of Mist (The Warrior Daughters of Rivenloch #3) - Glynnis Campbell
Castle Giric, Scotland
The harsh curse cut through the crisp air like winter’s icy breath.
To Fergus and Morris mac Giric, not yet seventeen years old, abandoned to the rugged shores and wild woods of western Scotland, the punishment may as well be execution.
Discarded by their laird in dishonor, they were exiled forever, never to return.
Forgotten by the clan.
Left to rot.
And they didn’t deserve it.
They weren’t the villains. It was Colban, that high-and-mighty foundling runt, who should have been cast out. Not Fergus and Morris. For shite’s sake, they were blood kin to the laird himself.
But cunning Colban had found an ally in the laird’s young son. Morgan mac Giric had welcomed the filthy bastard into the clan as if he were a long-lost brother.
The ten-year-old lads did everything together. Morgan trained with Colban. Rode with him. God’s blood! Colban even supped at Morgan’s right hand, the place that had once belonged to Fergus and Morris. Like a conniving cuckoo, Colban had usurped their nest. And he’d begun to believe he was as good as they were.
Young Morgan was too naive to see how the devious orphan had insinuated his way into the household. Too stupid to realize the kind of disgrace the whelp of a harlot would bring to the clan.
Fergus and Morris, older and wiser, had simply taken it upon themselves to compensate for Morgan’s lack of good judgment.
They meant to show Colban his place. Teach him that the nameless son of a whore could not assume their rank in the proper order of things. That he would never be their equal. Prove to the bastard, once and for all, that blood was thicker than water. And leave him with scars that would remind him of that for the rest of his life.
But then Morgan had spoiled it all. He’d squealed to his father. Once he’d brought the laird their bloody whip and shown him the bastard lad’s bloody back, there was to be no forgiveness.
They never imagined Laird Giric would react so harshly. After all, they’d only given the lofty Colban what they deemed a much-needed lesson.
Now they were banished for their pains. Banished.
The laird had treated a nameless cur that had shown up at his door with more respect than two youths born of his line. And now they were nothing. Less than nothing.
But if the incident had taught them one thing, it was that good fortune was seized, not won. If the son of a harlot could rise to greatness from nothing, so could they.
So, seething with hurt and anger, cursing the name of mac Giric, Fergus and Morris christened themselves anew—the Fortanach brothers. Against his skin, close to his heart, Fergus wore the mac Giric clan badge to serve as a cold reminder of unhealed wounds.
One day, they swore, no matter how long it took, they would seek retribution.
Find a way to ruin the clan that had ruined them.
Bury Morgan mac Giric.
And destroy the mac Giric legacy forever.
Castle Darragh near Ayr, Scotland
Spring 1156, 10 years later
Dougal mac Darragh had heard the rumors.
There was a price on his head.
His brother had put it there.
For weeks now, Laird Gaufrid had offered a reward to any warrior in the clan who could bring Dougal down on the sparring field.
He was sure his brother didn’t mean to have him killed. Gaufrid only meant to humiliate him. To punish Dougal for his own lack of self-worth.
But the warrior facing Dougal now didn’t know that. He circled Dougal with murder and desperation in his eyes.
Dougal couldn’t blame him. The man needed that reward money. Maybe for his family. For his bairns. For food.
The trouble had started two years ago, when Dougal and Gaufrid’s father had died unexpectedly. By tradition, the clan had chosen the oldest son as the new laird.
But Gaufrid knew nothing of leadership. He was no more qualified to be a leader of men than a harlot was to be a nun. He couldn’t read. He couldn’t do sums. Too frequently, he found solace at the bottom of a bottle. And he was a poor judge of character, a fact made clear by the company he kept.
Gaufrid’s closest companions were the Fortanach brothers, a pair of miserable vagabonds who’d ingratiated themselves to him shortly after the laird’s death.
Dougal didn’t trust them from the beginning. Fergus and Morris Fortanach claimed no home. No history. No background. And they reeked of vice, intrigue, and mischief.
But Gaufrid had been grieving for their father. Dougal didn’t have the heart to tear away his brother’s