Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
Rich with history and betrayal, RL Syme's book The Outcast Highlander is featured on Medieval Monday today.
From The Outcast Highlander, by R.L. Syme
“Bring them forward.” The fat man reached across his table and picked up a charred leg of some animal. Broc had never seen a sheriff eat in court before and hoped this was a sign of his gluttony. Men with deep desires always had a price.
The front guards stepped aside and Elizabeth walked between them, leaving Broc in their midst. With his broad sword strapped to his back, it wouldn’t have taken him long to cut through them if he’d had to. Most of them were boys, even compared to his own years, but more importantly, they were not well-fed nor well-trained. The soldiers were in use elsewhere and those who remained filled what boots they could.
They would be quick fodder if someone threatened Elizabeth.
“My lord and sheriff.” Elizabeth’s voice wavered, but she executed a perfect curtsey, staying near the floor until he bade her rise.
Until he got a good eyeful of her spilling décolletage, more like. Broc shuffled uneasily. She played a dangerous game.
“Rise, lady.” The sheriff burped and set down the leg of fowl. A wild turkey, by the look of it. Large, browned skin, dripping with fatty juices. He licked his lips like the lecherous fool he was and leaned over the table. With a smile, he followed her rise.
“I’m here to beg you for the release of my husband, Lord Andrew de Moray, Twelfth Viscount of Avoch and Strathaven, servant to the king.”
Broc held his laugh in. Servant to which king? The sheriff would assume Edward, who had taken the rule of Scotland along with England. But when Andrew said it, he meant Robert Bruce, whom he considered to be the true King of Scotland.
The sheriff only leered at Elizabeth and grinned. “I’ve heard of your coming, lady. I trust you were safe, even with your company.”
“I am safe.” Elizabeth turned to the dungeon door and cringed visibly. “I’ve heard of my husband’s capture and impending doom. I wish to bargain for his life.”
“And what did you bring to bargain?”
Elizabeth straightened and lifted her chin. This was at least not the posture of a woman who planned to prostitute herself for her husband. For that much, Broc relaxed.
“I have a suit of armor made by Spanish monks in the 11th century for my lord’s father.”
The sheriff pulled a knife from his side pocket and began to pick his teeth. “Yes?”
“And enough gold and silver to fill three chests, but I’m sure I could get more.”
He kept picking his teeth, flicking pieces off the blade to toss at various courtiers. Each one looked disgusted at the act, but smiled in return. He had these men well-trained
“You’ll have to do better than that.”
“My lord is wise, as always.” Elizabeth turned to Broccin and a hint of regret passed across her face.
She was about to offer herself.
Broc’s hand went immediately to the hilt of his sword, but before he could draw, ten long spears had come down around him. Each tip was so close to his neck, if he moved in any one direction, he would be a dead man.
“I have as my captive, the leader of the renegade group of Highland warriors that have been falsely raiding and plundering in my husband’s good name.” Elizabeth sank into another curtsey. “As a token of my good fellowship, rather than having him killed upon capture, I offer him to you in exchange for my husband’s release and the clearing of his good name.”
Broc couldn’t breathe. If there hadn’t been ten sharp edges within striking distance of his throat, he would have pushed forward and demanded she speak sense.
Beneath the spears, a boy snuck forward and twisted rope around Broc’s hands. Suddenly, the knot was so tight, he couldn’t move at all. The spears raised and one of the guards pulled his sword from its sheath, and tossed it forward.
The long weapon slid all the way through the circle of guards, almost to Elizabeth’s side, and she glanced back in her curtsey. Broc met her eyes and seethed, but her countenance did not change.
“They call themselves the Mac Ri Albannach.” Elizabeth over-pronounced the Gaelic like a true English, then returned to the refined, long tones of the court. “Sons of the Rightful King.”
Broc snorted. They did no such thing—they didn’t need to call themselves anything. But to the English, there was nothing more fearsome than an organized group of rebel warriors from the unknown mountains. He struggled against his bonds and one of the spears sliced into his shoulder.
The cut was deep and the hot, thick blood flowed down his back in double time.
“I hear tell there’s a real man behind this legendary Highlander who raids English strongholds and beheads shire magistrates.” The fat sheriff stood and walked around the table.
“I had friends at Carlisle.” The fat man spat from outside the circle of armed guards. “Friends who were killed by some band of rebels, intent on savagery and filth.”
He pulled Elizabeth to her feet. “And yet you captured this man? How do you intend to prove it was him and not your husband who led these raids?”
The sheriff called out. “Bring the raider out.”
From the corner of the room, a man in chains was pushed forward. Broc’s heart sank. The man they’d assumed dead, Tearny MacDonnogh, was almost no better off than if they had indeed killed him. His once muscular frame was now emaciated, with skin hanging from his arms. He was bare to the waist and the scars of beatings reminded Broc of just how long it had been since they had been to Berwick.
“Is this the man who led you at Carlisle?” the sheriff asked. “And is he leading the Mac Ri Albannach?”
Tearney’s greasy, matted hair swung around his face as he nodded. His eyes were half-closed and his mouth hung open, but he managed to make his affirmation known.
The sheriff cackled and threw Elizabeth to the ground. “I’ll be knighted for this for certain.”
With broad gestures, he pointed to Tearny and then the dungeon door. “Release both of them to her care, as we agreed. And take this one down to the bowels. I want the smithy to make him special chains with double-thick cast and no slack.”
He took his captain of the guard by the throat. “And by God, he had better be who she says he is, or it’s going to be your head on a silver plate instead of mine.”
“He’s the man, my lord.” The captain scratched at his throat where the fat hands had gripped him. “He bears the marks from Lord Hobble’s double-bladed Arabian weapon. I saw the scars on his arm.”
Broc swallowed. He did bear such a scar, and he had been the one to kill the perverted English lord in the battle of Carlisle, but only because the man had nearly killed Andrew and was about to disembowel him when Broc discovered and beheaded the man.
He was outnumbered, his weapon lost to him, bound, and soon to be imprisoned. Fighting back now would only mean Andrew’s certain continued imprisonment and possible death. At least if he kept quiet like a captive, he could know Andrew was free. Even if it meant he would rot in the dungeon himself.
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The Outcast Highlander begins the Highland Renegades series of medieval romance novels by USA Today bestselling author R.L. Syme (also writing as Becca Boyd). Please visit http://rlsyme.com today to get The Outcast Highlander for FREE! Happy reading!
I'm visiting with Mary Morgan today, chatting about writing and The Highlander's French Bride.
Come visit with me!
The Highlander's French Bride, book 5 in The Highlander's Bride series by Cathy MacRae, is now available on Amazon!
Medieval Scottish/French romance
Heir to a lairdship, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove his worth by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by the realities of war—the atrocities visited by fellow soldiers on the very people he is sworn to protect. Three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.
Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman wrongly accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.
Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.
Look who grabbed the Thursday Threads spotlight this week! Me!
Meet Ranald and Riona in The Highlader's Reluctant Bride, the prequel to the 5th book in The Highlander's Bride series, The Highlander's French Bride, scheduled to release in December.
Determined to keep the Macrory clan’s holdings out of the clutches of marauding pirates, King Robert II sends his man, Lord Ranald Scott, to hold Scaurness Castle. There, Laird Macrory lays dying, awaiting word from his son who is missing on the battlefields of France. If the son is not found before the old laird dies, Ranald will take over as laird—and marry Laird Macrory’s headstrong daughter.
Lady Caitriona sees no reason she cannot rule the clan in her brother’s stead, and is bitterly disappointed with the king’s decision to send a man to oversee the castle and people. Not only is Ranald Scott only distantly related to the Macrory clan, but he was her childhood nemesis. She has little trust or like for him.
Her disappointment turns to panic when the king’s plan is completely revealed and she realizes she must wed Ranald. Pirates, treachery, and a four-year-old girl stand between her and Ranald’s chance at happiness. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other and find the love they both deserve?
Absently Riona brushed a wayward strand of dark auburn hair from her face as she took two quick paces to catch up with him. The movement reminded Ranald of her as a child.
“I don’t suppose ye were too anxious to come here,” she said.
He formed a rueful expression. “Nae. ‘Twas no’ my first choice.”
“I know ye dinnae like it here. Ye always seemed relieved to depart.”
Ranald laughed. “‘Twas ye I dinnae like.”
Rather than take offence, Riona nodded again. “Nor I ye.”
“Ye were a difficult lass.”
She drew up short, staring at him. “Me? Difficult? All I ever wanted was to be included. Ye were forever running off, trying to leave me behind.”
Ranald did not check his pace. “Ach, we did let ye play sometimes.”
With a huff, Riona scrambled to his side. “Oh, aye. Ye let me play ‘princess.’ The princess ye kidnapped and held for ransom by tying me to a tree all afternoon.” She grabbed at her skirt again as she stumbled and caught herself.
Ranald paused and his horse tossed his head at his master’s sudden halt, but Riona didn’t slow her stride. With one long pace he was even with her again.
“And what about the time ye let me go fishing?” she tossed at him. “Except I had to sit in the bottom of the boat and use my skirt to hold yer catch. I smelled of fish for a week.”
Ranald chuckled and shook his head. “That wasnae me, lass.”
She bit her lip, and Ranald wondered why her straight, white teeth fascinated him so. He stared at the reddened mark her bite left behind.
“True,” she allowed. “Ye dinnae like the water, do ye?”
Ranald swallowed back his wayward thoughts. This was Riona, his childhood nemesis, not the sweet widow he’d left behind at Scott Castle.
He caught her sideways glance at him and realized he’d not answered her. “Nae. ‘Tis all that up and down and sideways motion. Makes my stomach churn.”
“How do ye intend to be laird of a people who live by the sea?”
“I cannae say if I’ll ever be much of a sailor, but I will be laird.”
BUY LINK: http://www.amzn.com/B00J1PNPPC/
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This week's Thursday Threads features The Highlander's Accidental Bride by - me!
This also qualifies as a throwback Thursday as it was my first book published by Soul Mate Publishing.
And to make things even better, it is on sale through June 7 on Amazon for only 99 cents!
"Shocked to find herself married to the laird, Mary sees little to recommend her new life as Lady Scott. Until Laird Scott sets out to prove their accidental marriage was no mistake."
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Heat level: sensual
Chaos reigns between the Scott and Barde clans in 14th century Scotland. To end the generation’s long feud, King Robert II of Scotland decrees Eaden, Laird Scott, and Lady Miriam Barde wed with all haste. When marriage negotiations break down, King Robert threatens Eaden with the loss of his lands and title. Forced to take matters into his own hands, the laird kidnaps his bride, only to find the young woman he mistakenly drags to his marriage bed is not Laird Barde’s daughter, but her lady companion.
Mary Marsh fights for her freedom from the laird and the unwanted marriage, refusing to accept her new life as Lady Scott. Realizing his error, Laird Scott develops an attachment to the feisty young woman he has accidentally married. Can he win her heart and convince her she is more than just a ‘duty’ to him? Or will the bond forged between the lady’s companion and the laird be destroyed by secrets and a feud that will not be laid to rest?
King Robert frowned fiercely. “What have ye done?” he asked, his voice hard.
“I’d tried speaking to Barde and doing things the traditional way. He was less than enthusiastic and mentioned hell freezing over as the only possible wedding date. His daughter was equally certain she’d no’ marry into the Scott clan.” Eaden shrugged. The feud between their families was generations old. He hadn’t wanted a Barde bride, either. “So I kidnapped her, carried her back to Scott Castle, and we married the same day.”
King Robert sat bolt upright in his chair, shocked surprise clear on his slack-jawed face. “Ye kidnapped her?” He wheezed, unable to inhale a proper breath, and pointed an accusatory finger at Eaden. “Ye actually forced her to marry ye?”
“Nay, Sire. I simply saw ‘twas done in a timely manner and without bloodshed.”
“How certain are ye her father is not, this instant, standing before the walls of Scott Castle, demanding his daughter be returned to him? Are ye trying to promote peace or war?”
Eaden gave an exasperated snort. “He cannae cry foul. I have the papers ye signed. And I have men keeping an eye on Barde.” He shifted in his chair uncomfortably. “The marriage is irrevocable. She is now well and truly my wife.”
King Robert collapsed back into his chair. “Do ye no’ ken the ruinous upheaval yer actions could provoke? ‘Tis true I commanded the marriage. I know how ye dinnae favor the alliance. But kidnapping the lass is a far cry from having the marriage properly planned and executed!”
The king stewed for a moment, as if consumed in vigorous contemplation. At last he shrugged. “Scott.” His voice invoked not Eaden’s friend, but Robert II, King of Scotland. “Inasmuch as ye have followed my orders to the letter, if not their actual intent, I hereby commit yer title and land to ye and to yer descendants.”
He leaned forward and clasped Eaden’s shoulder. “I hope ye dinnae have cause to regret yer hastiness.”
Eaden winced. He already did.
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Buy link: http://www.amzn.com/B00BMFPT12
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