Series: Kindred: The Fated #3
Release Date: November 7, 2023
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant blends the magic of Scottish and Norse tradition in the final installment of her acclaimed Kindred: The Fated series.
Magic holds both beauty and danger…
As Lady of the Varroki, Malene was powerful and revered. But after a battle, she awakens in Norway as Dagny, a witch with no memories of her past. Her identity fragmented, Dagny finds herself entangled in a life far removed from the path she once trod and seduced by the lure of power. Until that need shifts to passion for the one who has imprisoned her, hoping to make her remember.
As a warrior and the Lady’s right hand, Armir will not stop searching for Malene. When he does, she’s not the woman he remembers. Driven by an undying love that transcends the boundaries of time and space, Armir risks everything for her. But enemies lurk in the shadows, waiting to strike. Will he and Malene overcome their pasts to find a future together?
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Armir took a deep breath and looked into the dark depths of the cave. He had used it countless times, but it wasn’t his home. It was a place to rest, to escape. It had also been the location he expected his life to end. Some of his darkest days had been spent within the cold stone walls. He had spent hours roaring his anger and bellowing his grief.
And then, just when he had lost all hope, he felt her magic.
Armir held out his hand as a ball of fire swirled in his palm. He shot it toward the ground. Sparks flared to life in what was left of the ash. He looked down at the flames jumping and dancing. He fought not to look over his shoulder where she lay unconscious. He had held her too tightly, stared too long as he carried her to the cave. But he had thought never to see her again.
He swallowed and checked the area once more. Then he walked through the cave to the entrance. He paused and looked out at the rain as it fell in sheets too thick to see more than a few feet. Armir unsheathed his dagger and cut his forearm. Blood welled and dripped onto the stone. The words of an ancient spell he’d never thought to utter fell from his lips as he walked across the entryway, trailing his blood with him.
When he reached the other side, he pulled out a strip of cloth and wrapped it around the wound. For better or worse, neither he nor Malene would be leaving the cave anytime soon. It was the right thing to do. He had a duty to their people—to everyone—to figure out what had happened to her. Why, then, did it feel as if the weight of the world now rested on his shoulders?
He was weary. Tired of losing hope, tired of the guilt. Just…beat. He’d lived his life for the Varroki, to safeguard Blackglade. It had been the greatest of honors to be chosen to stand beside the Lady of the Varroki—and he had stood beside a few. Yet none had been like Malene.
Armir dropped his chin to his chest. The Varroki were a strong people, their magic unmatched. They had descendants of the Celts and Norse, merging the two cultures into one. Because of that, they had chosen to live in a hidden city. At one time, their numbers had been great, but strict rules and the war with the Coven had decimated their ranks to the point of extinction.
He turned and made his way back to the cavern. Malene was on her side, her long, flaxen hair spread around her. He almost hadn’t recognized her in the breeches, leather, and chainmail covering her. He had taught her battle magic, but what he’d seen when he came upon her and Asa locked in combat was something else entirely. It had been merciless and brutal. She had been cold and ruthless. The opposite of the woman he knew.
Like all the Ladies chosen by destiny or fate, Malene had to be convinced to leave her family, life, and home for Blackglade. It was rare for a Lady to reign for more than five years. Many died within the first. But not Malene. There had been a few times he hadn’t thought she would survive. He had believed her too fragile, too vulnerable. However, her inner strength surfaced when her back was to the wall. She hadn’t just survived, she had thrived.
She had known nothing of magic when he found her. He had questioned why she had been chosen as Lady of the Varroki, but the longer he was around her, and the longer she ruled, the more he understood. She had fought the confines of her role, all the while worrying over the Varroki.
Finally, she stopped fighting her destiny and instead grasped it with both hands. He could still remember how her soft gray eyes had danced with excitement when he agreed to teach her to read. It had been her first order to him. Once she grasped it, she had been voracious, combing through every tome in Blackglade at least once.
That’s how she’d discovered the decrees of celibacy for many positions within the Varroki—including his—that had long stood in their culture. She had overturned all of them in an effort to help grow their ranks once more. Yet years of being forbidden to touch a Lady couldn’t be wiped away with a snap of the fingers. No matter how much he might want to reach for Malene, he hadn’t.
Armir didn’t know when he had begun to love her. The emotion was just there one day, and there was no way to put it back into a box. Or ignore it. So, he had silently dreamed and yearned. And hoped.
Just when he was ready to tell her how he felt, they had gone into battle against the Coven. He should’ve told Malene about his feelings before they walked onto that battlefield. Instead, he had chosen to keep quiet and let her focus on the upcoming clash. It had turned out to be his greatest mistake because he lost Malene that day.
Being at Blackglade without her had been unbearable. He hadn’t found a body, so he refused to believe she was dead and set out to find her, intending to comb the Earth. Every day that passed without uncovering a clue had eventually worn him down, hollowing him out and creating a hole in his heart.
Some days, he couldn’t do anything but sit with his memories. Other days, he covered dozens of miles, stopping anyone he came across to ask if they had seen someone matching Malene’s description. And all the while, a sense of dread had grown within him that she was gone. Lost to him forever.
Armir lowered himself to the ground and looked across the fire at the woman who had ensnared him utterly, completely. He stared at her heart-shaped face with her high cheekbones and plump lips. He had looked into her large eyes so many times, captivated by their color and the wisdom staring back at him.
No one was supposed to touch the Lady of the Varroki. But he had. He could recount each time down to the last detail. Somehow, that made his yearning grow until she was all he could think about. He hadn’t wanted her to go into battle because he had feared losing her. She reminded him she was the Lady, chosen to bear the magic of the blue radiance. He knew her power, her strength. It was why he hadn’t believed her dead.
And he’d been right.