WindReaper [WindLegends Saga Book 5]
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by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Dark Fantasy
Description: A Destiny Unfolds ... The Darkwind: An enemy of the Temple, a champion of the people. Only those closest to Conar McGregor know of his dark secret and his even darker sins. A plea for his help sets into motion the deepest hurt a man can endure. Will he rise above it or be swallowed whole? Amber-Lea: Vixen or Savior? Paramour or Queen? Will her love be enough to save Conar McGregor from himself? Rating: Contains graphic sexual content, adult language, and graphic violence. (Please note: this title was previously released elsewhere but has been revised for its NCP release.)
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: July 2008
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [625 KB]
Reading time: 402-562 min.
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His sons were playing tag along the garden wall, ducking in and out of shrubs and bushes, squealing with childish glee, pretending to shoot one another with invisible bows. They had dark hair like his and Liza's, but they had his bright, sky-blue eyes. "A deadly combination," Gezelle had said, when she told him how the little girls in the village were already beginning to follow the two boys about. They were handsome lads, Legion thought with pride, and getting taller every day, it seemed. Jarad would be five in April; Kells, the youngest, and by far the most precocious, would be four in two days' time.
King Legion A'Lex turned his proud gaze to the boy he had taken on as his own. The boy was sitting beside him on the fountain, staring wistfully at his half-brothers as they ran about. The seven-year-old had a heavy frown on his face.
"It won't be long now," Legion remarked, patting the boy's knee.
Codian McGregor turned melancholy eyes to the man he knew as uncle and father, and grimaced. "It just bores the heck out of me."
Legion threw back his head and laughed. "I know." He glanced at the lad's left leg, encased in a heavy cast. "When the cast comes off, you should try safer and more graceful pursuits than falling down stairs."
Codian, his shy gaze following Jarad as the child leapt with ease over a low shrub, shrugged. "I think so, too, Papa."
"You could try teaching your brothers and sister how not to break a leg," Legion teased.
Codian blushed and ducked his head. He thought back to his laughing commentary as he tried to show his younger siblings how to slide down the curving banister from their sleeping chambers to the main floor. He had failed dismally. And had broken his leg in the process.
"I don't tink I care to wearn dat," Kells had told him with a smug look on his almost four-year old face as Codian howled with pain. "Must huwt wike hell, huh?"
Tall and ungainly for his seven years, Codian--or Cody, as his mother called him--thrived on his role as teacher to the younger children. He had set himself up as their tutor, confidante, and all-around boss. He dreamed of one day becoming a great scholar and felt he had the brain for it. Although Cody knew, should anything happen to his older brother, Corbin, who was interned at the Great Abbey of the Domination high atop Mount Serenia, he, himself, would one day be King, his thoughts were not of ruling.
The boy was really painfully shy and nervous. Strangers made him uneasy and he preferred a good book to conversation. Unlike his father before him, Cody McGregor did not covet what, by rights, was not his. Instead, the only son of Galen McGregor was thankful for whatever he was given, accepted it with pleasure, and asked for no more.
"Cody?" a small voice called. He sighed, looked to the heavens, and then turned to Legion. There was rampaging misery on his face. "Papa?" he pleaded.
"Might as well answer her, Cody," Legion warned. "She won't give up."
Cody nodded sagely, sighed again, and shook his head. "Ain't that the truth?" he asked in a voice beyond his years. He looked about when his name was called in a more plaintive cry. "Over here, Jillian!"
Jillian's face was excited as she ran to A'Lex and her half-brother. She held out her hands. "Look what Uncle Marsh gave me!"
Legion, uncle and father to the girl, let out a long breath. He was going to kill Marsh Edan yet. "Who's going to care for it, Jillian?" He eyed the little puppy with a mock frown.
"Me, Papa!" Jillian exclaimed, cuddling the puppy close to her chest. She planted a loud kiss on the wiggling puppy's head. "His name is Deogie."
Cody actually winced. "De-o-gie?" he asked in an exasperated voice.
Jillian smirked. "You named your cat that silly name. Why can't I name my puppy just as silly a name?"
Legion's lips twitched and he gazed sideways at Cody. The boy was not only blushing, he looked positively embarrassed.
"'Ceatie' isn't a silly name," he defended. "It's an ancient Viragonian name meaning 'jungle hunter.'" He narrowed his gaze. "I told you that."
The little girl, only ten months younger than Cody, lifted her snub nose and turned her pretty little face to Legion. "It spells 'cat,' Papa. Doesn't it?"
"I believe so, dearling." Legion felt as though he was looking at Brelan Saur when her dark eyes lit in triumph. She turned them to Cody with condescension.
"See?" she snapped.
Cody sighed as though he had the troubles of the world on his thin shoulders. He looked away and saw Gezelle's oldest boy, Christos, being bombarded with make-believe arrows. The three-year-old melodramatically clutched his chest and fell down to the giggling glee of his playmates. Cody sighed again and wished he could be playing with them. He liked to assume the role that Jarad was now playing to the hilt.
"I am the Dark Overlord of the Wind!" Jarad called as he leapt to a stone bench and clutched his right fist over his heart. "I will set things to rights! I will turn the world with my bare hands!"
"You'll turn that bench over if you don't get down, Jarad A'Lex," his mother said quietly from her place under the spreading willow. "Get down."
Legion chuckled. Liza was sitting there, knitting in hand, not paying attention to her brood's rampaging of the garden, yet she was perfectly aware of everything going on around her.
"Mama!" Jillian shrieked, running to the willow. "Look what Uncle Marsh gave me now!"
"Maybe she'll bother Mama for a while," Cody said with a sigh of relief. Legion flinched as the stone bench on which Jarad had been standing toppled over. The boy fell backward into a hydrangeas bush. The look on his face was priceless: mouth open in surprise, eyes going to his mother, face turning a scarlet red.
"Are you hurt?" his mother asked, still not looking up.
The scarlet red turned darker. "No, Mama."
"Put the bench back up." She lifted her head and fixed her son with a stern look. "And don't climb on it again."
"Yes, Mama," the boy promised, his face averted.
"You're too hard on our children, Liza," Legion called to her.
Those lovely green eyes shifted to him. "Someone has to be, Milord," she said in a prim voice, then lowered her head over her knitting again.
Legion A'Lex loved all the children his wife had birthed, but was especially fond of their youngest, Kells--"the three-year old with a mouth," as Cayn had labeled him just the day before. The boy had the intellect of a child four times his age, and was nothing but a bundle of ready-made mischief. His backside stayed black and blue from Legion's palm.
"Tow de line, Jawad!" Kells smirked as his older brother tried to right the bench by himself, a task proving a tad too hard for the youngster's strength. "Tow de line, boy!"
"Kells," his mother warned. She looked at him, one black brow perfectly arched.
"Just setting tings to wights, Mama. Like de Dark Overword would."
Liza glanced toward her husband and smiled. How often of late had they heard preposterous tales of the man they called "Darkwind" and his renegade group of freedom fighters? The children had become enamored of the man, yet no one really knew anything of him except that he seemed to be able to be in five places at once.
"I believe the Dark Overlord would help a man in need," Liza told Kells. She glanced pointedly at Codian who had hobbled over and was struggling mightily with the stone bench. "Isn't that right, Legion?"
"So I've heard," Legion agreed.
Kells frowned. "I suppwose so." He nudged Jarad to one side, and the two of them helped Codian, whose face was red with his efforts to right the bench.
Kells dipped his knees and lifted his end of the bench, moving the stonework into place. When he was through, he dusted his small hands and jabbed a finger at his chest. "I will be de Dawkwind foe a while!"
None of the boys questioned his statement. They simply fell into play with Kells leading.
A'Lex shook his head. The brat was a handful. He glanced at his wife and saw a secret smile on her pretty face. No doubt she thought so, too.
"How are you feeling?" he asked her.
Her smile widened. "Quite well, Milord."
He nodded, his attention going to her protruding belly. It wouldn't be long before the brood of kids had a little sister, he had been informed. When you were married to a Daughter of the Multitude, you didn't need to ask how she knew what sex her babe would be.
When Legion heard Kells ordering his brothers about, he grinned, recalling what Kells had said about his mother's latest pregnancy...
The child had placed his fists on his hips and stared at her. "Annuder one? Wherevew shall we put dem all?"
"Isn't the keep big enough for all of us?" Codian asked in a condescending tone. After all, it was wise to keep younger siblings in their place. It was a dogma by which Codian McGregor lived.
Kells turned a frosty stare to his big brother, not at all intimidated with the pique in Codian's voice. "Gezelle has fwree boys and dat girl." His upper lip lifted at Leonore, Gezelle's dark-haired child of four summers, who looked at him with adoring eyes. "Modder alweady has five of us. Dat makes nine. Annuder one would be juss too damned much!"
"Kells!" his mother warned softly with her sternest voice.
"So?" Jarad asked in a bored tone.
"So..." Kells snapped. "We shall be overwun with childwen!"
"There's still plenty of room, Kells." Legion laughed. "Your mother and I could have a child a year for the next twenty years and still not fill up the keep."
Both Kells and Liza turned horrified eyes to Legion, but Kells' shocked voice spoke for them both. "You awen't planning on actuawy doing dat, are you, Papa?"
Legion shrugged. "I hadn't really thought on it."
Liza sniffed. "Well, do!"
Legion grinned and wagged his thick brows at her, but Liza was not appeased or amused. She frowned at him, her green eyes dark with reproach. She didn't say more about his outlandish statement until they were preparing for bed that night.
"I really thought to have four to six more," he teased.
"Then, you'd best think again, Milord!"
"Give me one good reason why we can't have at least a dozen brats?" He tried to put his arms around her, but she slipped away.
"I will soon be thirty-one years, Legion. That is not a reasonable age at which to birth children. Nine is quite enough, thank you!" Her face turned dark and Legion knew she was thinking of the three children she had lost long ago, two by her first husband--Conar--and the third, Codian's twin brother, who had died at birth.
"You're not old," Legion said, wanting to take the pain from his wife's heart. He darted around the bed and grabbed her, rubbing her belly, although she tried to push away his hands.
"Stop it!" she hissed.
His hands swept over her. "Stop?" he asked, cocking a brow.
"At your convenience, of course," she murmured, melting into his arms...
The next morning, Legion's grin widened as he remembered. It had been on nights such as that when this latest A'Lex offspring had been conceived.
He turned to find Marsh Edan striding toward him. The man was now Master-at-Arms at Boreas.
As Storm Jale's cousin, Marsh had taken in the man's family when Storm was sent to the Labyrinth Penal Colony almost six years earlier. Along with Storm's wife and three children, Sentian Heil's wife, Sherind, and his four children had lived next door. Two years earlier, Storm's and Sentian's families had simply disappeared, and Marsh had been hard to console.* * * *
"What could have happened to them?" the warrior had asked. "I come home and there's a note saying they were leaving and for me not to worry. They up and go, telling me nothing about even wanting to, and then tell me not to worry?" His fist slammed down on Legion's desk. "Where the hell could they have gone?"
Then, Thom Loure's sister-in-law and her family had disappeared on the same day Ward Summerall's wife and daughter did. Three days later, two more families disappeared from Boreas.
"Where are they going?" Marsh had asked.
Legion had a theory, but when he conveyed it to Edan, the man looked at him with astonishment.
"Storm? Why wouldn't he have contacted me?"
"If he and Heil and the other men have joined the resistance fighters," Teal du Mer remarked, "they wouldn't want people to know their whereabouts. They sent for their families. Doesn't that make sense?"
"You knew they were out, Marsh," Legion reminded the warrior. "Remember, Brelan Saur sent word when he returned from Chrystallus. He got them all out of the Labyrinth."
"But where are they, Legion?" Liza had asked when he told her of the missing families that evening. "Why haven't Grice and Chand written? Why haven't they sent word to me? It's been more than six years since I've seen them."
He shook his head. "I don't know, dearling. Brelan said they were fine. You know he wouldn't lie to you."
"They've been back two years, Legion! Two damned years and not once have I heard from them. Tell me why!"
But at the time, Legion hadn't been able to explain why his wife's brothers, or any of the others Saur had rescued, had not contacted them. Unless, he thought, they had joined the man called Darkwind and his resistance fighters, the Wind Force, as they were being called. Legion hoped not. The Wind Force were bound to be captured one day, just as the men who had led the original rebellion, and either killed or shipped to Tyber's Isle.
That had been a year ago, Legion thought, and still the Wynth brothers had not returned to Serenia or Oceania. Liza had not seen her brothers for almost seven years.