From the immortal kingdom of the Samurai, Imperial Leader Yokami Sukani and his wife Tomoe Gazen yearn for the child they know they will never birth. Tomoe’s Katana keens bereft, for the next Daughter of the Sword. Meanwhile, Bishamon, the God of War, and his Katana, wreak havoc in his endless pursuit of pain and suffering.
The battle of Culloden Moor is forty-eight hours away. Epona, Goddess of horses, dogs, healing springs and crops, prays for the coming of the girl child prophesized to be born with the Sight for the magnificent Friesian horses.
Yokami’s Katana recognises Marie MacDonald.
A bargain is struck.
In modern Australia, the awaited one, Connor MacDonald is birthed, awakening the ancient Scottish Horsemen from their three-century slumber.
Brutality finds her.
Bishamon, mad with rage, hunts for his blade.
Will he regain his instrument of destruction?
Born of the blood of the ancient Scots, named Daughter by the immortal Samurai, doubly blessed or doubly cursed, will Connor MacDonald be Bishamon’s instrument of revenge?
14 April, 1746
The morning was cold when Yokami materialized on the Highland soil of the Scots. Cutting, frigid wind buffeted his imperial robes as he walked toward a giant monolith split almost in two by the force of an ancient earthquake. The downpour of rain shrouded the early morning sunshine. Snow-capped mountains appeared grey and hostile in the fog and the cloudburst. His thoughts were of Bishamon and whatever chaos he was creating back at the Imperial palace.
In the distance, a tall woman dressed in a long drab homespun dress walked through the heather, seemingly oblivious to the rain and the cold. Over her arm, she carried a basket. Her long blonde hair was wound up in a bun from which tendrils had escaped to curl around her face. The bite of the chill wind made her cheeks the colour of roses. Praise to the Masters, she was beautiful.
Fading to invisibility, he tucked the Sword of War, wrapped in ceremonial silk wraps as befitting its importance, under his arm. The blade was warm against his side. The woman bent over to pick some plants and added them to her basket, when the purr of his Katana vibrated along his back, signalling its welcome. The woman’s head shot up abruptly, then she stared in his direction. Although she could not see him, she squinted like someone trying to peer through peasoup fog. Shaking her head, she shrugged and returned to gathering the plants.
Footfalls nearby summoned the Katana from the scabbard to his open palm. He flicked his wrist and extended the blade. The Sword of War tingled and vibrated through the silk wraps pressed against the side of his chest.
A tinkling voice laced with laughter came from behind him. Looking over his shoulder, he took a couple of seconds to recognise and take in the sight that was Epona, the Scottish Goddess of horses, dogs, healing springs, and crops. He smiled and relaxed as the Katana returned to the scabbard. Seated on a sidesaddle, positioned on the back of a black Friesian mare, she extended her hand. “Well met, Lord of the blade. To what do the Celtic Gods owe the pleasure of your visit?”
Lowering the sword, he bowed his head onto her outstretched fingers. “Well met, my Lady.”
The smile died on her face when her gaze tracked to the wrap of silk under his arm. The mare pranced as agitation overcame her mistress. Glaring at him, she hissed, “You would dare to bring the blade of treachery to our lands? Why? The Sword of War has no place here.”
Yokami nodded and acknowledged her concern. “You are correct. This sword is an instrument of death and destruction. It has taken many lives. Too many souls have already been lost, because of its love of bloodshed and power.”
Her eyes lingered on the wrapped sword, then she stared unblinking at him and nodded. “It is right that you would rid yourself of such a weapon, but why bring it here to the Scottish Highlands? Do we not have enough strife already with the wretched English and their greed for our land?”
Joining both hands palm against palm just under his chin, he bowed his head in reverence. “I mean you and your race no harm, Lady. My intention was to hide the sword here in the past, in a place hidden for all eternity. I intended to drop it down the crater and let the Earth take it back to base metals.”
The corded muscles in his back and neck relaxed slightly when a small smile lifted the corners of her lips. Confused, he cocked his head to the side and frowned. “Have I amused you, Goddess?”
“I was watching you before you realized I was near.” She inclined her head in the direction of the blonde woman. “I see you are a man who appreciates beauty.”
He nodded and followed her gaze. “She is indeed beautiful—a puzzle, but beautiful”
Epona’s brow wrinkled. “A puzzle? What do you mean?”
The sword in the scabbard sang as it flew to his palm. Lifting the blade, he raised it slowly to the outstretched position. “Watch.”
The audible purr from the Katana caused Epona to gasp as she flinched and startled her mare, who danced on the spot. Stroking the long black neck in soothing lines, Epona looked to Yokami and frowned. “The sword recognizes Marie MacDonald?”
Lowering the blade, he returned it to the scabbard, then placed a hand on the forehead of the beautiful black mare. “So it would seem. What do you know of her?”
Epona returned her gaze to the young woman, who was now making her way back down the hillside. The purple heather seemed to stroke her ankles as it swayed in her wake.
“Angus, her husband, is of the blood of our ancient Horsemen. His clan has bred and grown Friesians for eons. The breed was a gift to Scotland from our Gods. It is our greatest hope that his genes will pass to a girl child, a daughter of the Highland horsemen. You see, for the Scots, it is only female children who are born with the Sight. We hope for a daughter who not only hears and talks and is one with our Friesian bloodline, but who also has the skill and courage to promote them as the best this world has ever seen. As our Gods intended—the pride of Scotland.”
She tapped her index finger lightly on the side of her mouth, as if deep in thought. “Perhaps your sword recognizes Marie because she is of pure warrior blood. Her clan is fearsome and undefeated in battle. Each child born to this clan is practically birthed with a broadsword in their fist.”
Yokami flinched, as adrenaline surged at her words. His jackhammering heart seemed to be trying to erupt from his body. He swallowed the quaver he knew was in his voice, then spoke. “She is warrior born? Of the sword?”
I smell rain before clouds gather across the sky. I feel the dawn before the sun paints my world the colours of the earth. It is the flit of gossamer wings above my head as I walk through the garden that warms my soul and makes me glad that faeries exist. The universe is my mistress and my strength. Things that growl in the shadows or snap at my ankles in the night are my dark friends—the source of my creativity. I, am Kathrine Leannan