Coast of Scotland,
Gavin took a deep breath and released it.
Again and again, he repeated it, fighting the vice-like
pain that pierced his head. Relentless and worsening, he
fought the urge to drink the foul brew brought to him by
the latest healer to visit. And all the while, he tried
to block out the growing noise around him.
The dark of the moon was not even here and already he recognized
that the pain would soon be unbearable. And the damned noises
in his head assaulted him in ever-increasing waves with
each passing day!
Another breath. In and out. And again.
No relief. Only growing pain and thunderous noise filling
his head until he wanted to bash it against the cliff side
and end it all. Reaching for the bitter concoction, Gavin
decided to give in to the weakness and seek the solace offered
in its swirling depths. He tugged the stopper from the bottle
and swallowed it mouthful by mouthful until the bottle emptied.
The wizened old man squinted as Gavin finished the brew,
saying nothing, only watching as though something terrible
was about to happen. The herbal drink rolled roughly in
his belly and, for a moment or two, Gavin thought he would
vomit it up, but soon it settled.
“And now?” the old man asked, stepping
closer and sniffing the air as though there was some sign
of change evident by his body’s odor.
Even the softly-spoken words jarred him, adding to the
din and to his pain. The never-ceasing pain of these last
“Argh,” he cried out, throwing the
bottle against the cave wall. “It is not working
at all!” Gavin held his head in his hands, pressing
against his skull, trying to ease the pain somehow.
“Get out!” he yelled, chasing the old
man to the opening of the cave where the sea now lapped
against the walls. “Get out!”
Gavin sank to his knees, grimacing and clenching his teeth
against the torment as the healer scrambled past him. He
could not salvage an ounce of sympathy for the man’s
stilted gait or difficulty in avoiding the incoming waves
of frigid ocean water. The pain tore away all vestiges of
compassion or caring. As his servant tugged the man into
the small boat and began to sail him along the narrow passage
of water that led to his cave, he collapsed on the cold
rock floor and prayed that the drug would work.
Then he felt it. Not a cessation of the pain, but a momentary
lapse in the constant skull-shattering noise that vibrated
through his head all the time.
Just a moment, but the relief was sheer bliss.
He heard. . . nothing.
Nothing in his thoughts. Only the sounds of the crashing
waves and the river that poured through the opening overhead
as it rushed to join with the sea.
But just as quickly as it happened, it was over and the
throbbing clamor pulsed back to its original level. Gavin
struggled to his feet, pushed the hair out of his eyes and
searched for the cause of the interruption.
His servant was gone, taking the healer back to his village
further west along the coast. No one else ever remained
here with him, not even the women sent by the earl to keep
him satisfied as the time for his revelations of truth approached.
His only companion was the clatter, relentless, ever-growing,
maddening noise and the pain that accompanied it.
Gavin stumbled then, landing on the stone floor. His limbs
felt heavy and his eyes weighted closed. Ah, the healer’s
concoction did have some effects after all. Rolling to his
knees, he crawled towards the drier part of the cave, seeking
some place to lie while the drug did its work.
As the drug drew him into some stupor, he felt the silence
once more. This time, he could feel it coming from a direction.
He laughed harshly at such nonsense. How did silence come
from a place? Gavin forced his eyes apart and stared up
where the silence seemed strongest.
It was gone as quickly as it had happened.
Closing his eyes, he realized that the sensations rushing
through him from this brew were not unpleasant after all.
It did not remove the clamor or the pain, but it eased his
body in a pleasurable way. He might have to have Haakon
bring the healer back after all. Gavin sank deeper into
the lethargy until his body began to react as it did as
the revelations approached.
Lust filled him, swirling in his veins and in his skin
and in his cock until it stood ready. He tried to fall more
deeply into the control of the brew, tried to relax and
ignore the growing need that heated his blood, but like
the relentless noise in his thoughts, it could not be ignored.
Since Haakon would be hours until returning and since Haakon
was the only person permitted to bring women here to his
sanctuary, there would be no way to quench this latest fire
in his blood. Well, there was a way but it was never as
satisfying as finding release deep inside the tightness
of a woman.
Gavin threw his arm over his eyes and breathed in and out,
trying to block the lust and need in his blood and the sounds
in his head. Just as he reached down to ease himself, he
heard it. Not another moment of silence, but the soft sounds
of footsteps near him.
the strength of his need, it should not surprise him that
the scent his body gave off had called a local woman to
him. It had happened before. From the way things had occurred
over this last year, it would happen again. It had happened
again. Whatever controlled the power within him to hear
the truth and to reveal the truth hidden in the thoughts
and hearts of others made certain that the growing need
for sex was filled by drawing women to him.
It seemed not to matter if he wanted a woman or if he did
not, his body threw out the call and women answered.
Now, in spite of the herbal brew dulling his senses, it
had done so again.
Gavin moved his arm away and forced his eyes open to see
what his visitor looked like. . . and he lost his breath.
An angel or a Valkyrie, he could not decide, stood hovering
above him. Curling locks of long blond hair flowed over
her shoulders reaching her hips and eyes of such a dark
blue color that they seemed to glow were the first things
he noticed about her.
With both the drugs and the lust flowing through his veins
enhancing his desire, he watched as the midday sun’s
light pouring into the cave outlined her womanly figure.
Full breasts pressed against the costly cloth of her tunic
and he could not miss the hips and legs that promised him
a soft ride. But he found himself lost in the appealing
fullness of her lips.
She stood close enough that he could touch her and he struggled
to reach out to her. Gavin managed to clasp her ankle and
then slid his hand along the well-worn leather of her boot
until he touched her skin. The gasp that filled the cave
made him smile.
“Valkyrie, am I to die?” he whispered,
knowing the true mission of those fabled servants to the
old god Odin. Death would be the ultimate release—from
the pain and the curse of his powers. “Am I for
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