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Dreams Of A Dark Warrior

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He vowed he would come for her...... Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, a thousand year old valkyrie, warlord Aidan the fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past life. She acts like she is still twenty, however , her pranks mask up her pain of loosing her mate four times but comes back reincarnated. She awaits his return.... When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal celtic soldier and a member of the order whose mission is to capture study and kill immortals, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals unaware that she belongs to their world. For some reason chase remembers Regin but he doesn't know why since obviously he has never met her or so he thinks. Declan is especially a berserker as immortals murdered his family and tortured him To sate a desire more powerful than death.... Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan ids doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan's torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared even if it means once agin losing the only man she could ever love?

prologue A

The Northlands

In ages long past

“So this is debauchery,” Reginleit murmured as two guards led her into the mead hall of the notorious

warlord Aidan the Fierce.

At twelve years of age, and newly quit of the paradise of Valhalla, Regin was certainly getting an


As she and

the guards wound through the crowd of hundreds of berserkers, she gaped at drunken

warriors sparringin naught but loincloths while half-clad whores served ale, trenchers of meat, and

… other needs.

Luckily Regin’s disguise wouldconceal her expression—and her glow. She rechecked her cloak

with gloved hands. The hood was deep, falling far over her face.

By the light of the fire pits smoking up to the thatched roof, she glimpsed kissing, fondling, and

some acts her young mind couldn’t yet attach names to.

Yet none within this battlefront encampment laughed; no jaunty music could be heard.

Though they’d seized a bloody victory today—from thecliffs above the field, she’d observed their

clash against an army of vampires—all the many warriors here seemed to besimmering, snarling

even. Muchlike the bears these mortals revered.

Mounted bearheads with ominousfangs lined the walls. Viking glyphsof ravening bears

decorated the rafters and doors.

Everything she’d ever heard about the uncivilizedberserkers was apparently true. Herfavorite

halfsister, Lucia, hadonce told her, “Berserkers are grim, covetous, andpossessive, savage when

faced withthe loss ofsomething that belongs to them. They are obsessed withwar and intercourse—

they think of nothing else. Even our older sisters avoid them.”

Regin had known the risk in coming here, but she wasn’t fearful. As Lucia had also told her,

“Sometimes I don’t think you have the sense to be afraid when you should.” Regin had interpreted that

to mean, “You have no sense of fear, oh, great Reginleit.”

Besides, she had no choice. She needed the aid of these mortals. She was horseless and had barely

escaped a vampire ambush just days ago. Her belly was empty—the trenchers of stew and haunches

of venison atop laden tables made her mouth water.

And Lucia was in danger.

Reminded of her purpose, she straightened her shoulders. Sincethe berserkers were her father’s

guard, surely they’d be duty-bound to serve her as well. But if she met with trouble here, she

wouldn’t hesitate to use the long sword holstered across her back or even herclaws. They extended

through slits inthe fingers of her gloves,concealed by her drapingsleeves—

Two nearly naked warriors locked in combat lurched past her. Fights continued all around, brawls

over women, wine, and weapons. These men fell into their berserkrage, with their eyes glowing and

muscles burgeoning, at the smallest slight.

Fitting that this encampment had been built at the edge of a war zone. For decades, these

berserkers had defended this strategic pass against an immortal menace, protecting the villages in the

valley below; she began to see that anything keeping these men here on the battlefront—and out of

civilization—was a boon.

As she and the guards wended deeper within, Regin stopped abruptly. A short distance away,

seated atop a throne on the hall’s dais, was a male she’d seen infrenzied combat earlier. One she’d

watched raptly.

Considering his unmatched speed and power as he’d wielded his war ax, she’d suspected he was

their leader Aidan.

A buxombrunette sat on the arm of his throne, serving him a tankard of drink and murmuring in his


The wench’s eyes were excited, her breath shallow. She thinks the warlord handsome? Regin’s

gaze flicked over him. Then the wench and I are in accord.

He had broad shoulders and muscular arms, his build as massive as a bear’s. His blond hair was

thick, some hanks plaited in ravels to keep them from his field of vision. He possessed all his teeth,

and they were even and white. His sun-darkened skin made his wintry gray eyes stand out.

Today, when he’d been in his berserkrage, those eyes had glowed like storm clouds ablaze with


Now he pulled the woman onto his lap, no doubt to join in the debauchery. And lo, there he goes.

… He began to unlace her straining bodice.

“My liege, a moment,” one of the guards hastened to say. To catch the warlord before ’twas too


“What is it?” Aidan didn’t look up from his task of freeing the female’s ponderous breasts. Once

he’d loosened her bodice, his big hand dipped down to grasp one.

“This boy demanded to see you.”

Boy. Males always assumed she was of their s*x, simply because she wore trews and carried a


Aidan turned, his gaze falling on Regin. “Who are you?” he asked, his deep voice booming.

Throughout the hall, the enthusiastic skirmishes and fornicating slowed.

She answered honestly, “I am a weary traveler in need of assistance.”

At her words, his brows drew together. “You sound … familiar.” He removed his hand from the

woman’s bodice and sat up straighter, his demeanor now tense. As if her very voice had set him on

edge. “Though your accent is strange.”

“Yours isn't my first tongue.” She spoke the ancient language of the immortals first, his Norse

mortal language second.

“Come forward.”

Though it nettled to take orders from a human, Regin stepped forth.

His gaze grew alert, assessing. She knew he was scrutinizing everything about her—her walk, the

uncommonly fine material of her cloak, the gold brooch that clasped the hood in place.

The wench tried to reclaim his attention by cupping his face, but Aidan brushed her hand away.

When she wriggled suggestively in his lap, he scowled at her and said something in her ear that sent

her flouncing away with a huff.

But the woman couldn’t prevent a longing glance over her shoulder.

For some reason, his dismissal of the buxom brunette gladdened Regin. She supposed she was

merely relieved to have his full attention. “I saw you on the battlefield today, warlord. You fought

well.” As ever, her thoughts left her lips without any mediation. Lucia’s words repeated in her mind:

You have to learn to hold your tongue. You could try even a glacier’s patience.

He leaned forward. “Boy, we are berserkers—we all fight well.”

’Twas not true. She jerked her thumb at a young black-haired man to Aidan’s right. “Not him. His

guard’s too low.” Hold your tongue, Regin!

After a stunned silence, a few awkward chuckles sounded. Even Aidan grinned, then seemed

startled by his reaction.

The man she’d insulted shot to his feet and stalked closer, his green eyes narrowed. “I’ll show you

a low guard.”

At once, Regin dragged her long sword from its sheath, raising it between them.

He gave her a look of disgust. “That sword’s bigger than you are, cur.”

“The better to teach you to raise your guard, mongrel.”

As more chuckles sounded, the man’s fists clenched, his muscles tensing, growing. … Already on

the verge of berserkrage.

“Stay your hand, Brandr,” Aidan ordered.

Perhaps coming here was a mistake. These men were too violent and quick-tempered to aid her.

And that was something for a Valkyrie to suppose!

Even Aidan, who had appeared to possess more control of himself than the others, now seemed to

seethe with … something.

And though the berserkers were Wóden’s guards, perhaps they would hurt her if they found out she

was female. What would Lucia do? She’d leave this place anon without revealing herself as a


“Boy, you are either very brave or very stupid to goad one of my strongest warriors,” Aidan

remarked. “Now, tell me why you’ve come to my hall.” He tilted his head at her. “And why you’ve

covered your skin like an aged druid.”

Brandr grated, “The whelp probably had the pox.”

Pox? She’d just stifled a hiss at him when Aidan said, “Enough.” He rubbed the blond stubble on

his chin. “Were you ill, then? Mayhap you haven’t the strength needed to wield that long blade—or to

taunt men bigger than you.”

Regin’s eyes went wide. “Haven’t the strength?” She might only be twelve, and still vulnerable to

harm, and ’twas true her blasted sword wasfar too big for her, but she could massacre all these

mortals with tooth and claw if need be—

Brandr struck without warning, lunging for her. Before she could defend herself, he’d delivered

two punishing blows to her wrist, knocking the sword from her grip.

When he straightened with a smirk, she gladly dismissed the weapon as her instincts took over.

She leapt atop a table to her right, then bounded back to the left in front of him, raking her claws

across his chest.

Gods, the feel of rending flesh … what need have I for a sword?

Landing softly, she hunched low, ready to spring again as the towering warrior bellowed, “He

carries hidden daggers?” He gaped at the deep furrows in his skin, slashes that had severed even his

leather scabbard. “Aidan, his death is mine! Any taller, and he’d have sl*t my throat.”

Regin said, “I chosenot to sl*t your throat. Thank me with ale.”

Suddenly a huge palm closed over her nape. Another hand captured her wrists behind her. Hissing

with fury, she twisted around and sank her small fangs into a brawny forearm.

’Twas the warlord! Aidan had her. How had he moved so quickly?

Lightning struck outside, thunderclaps rattling the hall. If only the bolt would hit me!

“Cease this!” He roughly jostled her until she had to release her bite. Before she could blink, he

had her cloak clutched in his fist.

“Nay! Do not!”

He ripped it back. S*ck*d in a breath. Promptly dropped her.

All around her, wide-eyed men closed in. She hissed again, pivoting to keep the threats in sight,

baring her claws and her fangs.

One of them asked, “What is she?”

Aidan frowned down at her. “She is merely a little … girl.”

Brandr said, “By Wóden’s beard, she glows!”

Regin spat, “He does not wear a beard!”

At her words, recognition flashed in Aidan’s expression. His gaze lit on her pointed ears, then her

eyes. By the way he stared, she knew they were wavering from amber to silver. “You are a Valkyrie.

The one whose skin lights up the night. We’ve heard tales of you.”

“You know nothing of me!”

Raising his brows in challenge, he quoted a recent edda: “‘Eyes like amber cast in sun, skin and

hair of firelit gold. Formed to war, courage as none, beauty to behold.’ You are Reginleit the


Now several of the men murmured, “Reginleit,” in awed tones.

But not Aidan. He shook his head. “Brightling, you are a very long way from home.”

Of course that *ss Brandr said, “She is one of Wóden’s treasured daughters?”

Shoulders back, Regin said, “Most treasured. Above all my sisters.” Except for Lucia. And Nïx.

Likely Kaderin. No need for these mortals to know that perhaps she was not a favorite of his. At


“Then why are you in the middle of a war, instead of the safety of Valhalla?” Aidan seemed angry

about this. “You’re so small.” He’d begun to look at her with a peculiar intensity, different from the

other men’s, more … protective.

“What concern is it of yours where I might be?” She shoved her braids from her forehead, lifting

her chin. “And I’m not thatsmall.”

“You are”—he ran a hand over his face—“young.”

Beside him, Brandr asked, “What is it, friend? Your eyes grow fierce.”

Aidan opened his mouth, closed it. Then he gazed around the scene as if seeing it anew. “Gods.”

He reached for her with a hand raised, as if to shield her vision. “Come with me, little one. ’Tis no

place for you.”

She backed up a step.

He cast her a disapproving frown. “I have pledged my life to serve your father; you were born of

his lightning. I could no more harm you than I could myself.” When she relaxed not one whit, he said,

“Come. You must be hungry. You can dine in my quarters.” He gathered her sword, offering it to her

hilt first. “There will be plenty to eat.”

They would have plenty of food. His army had scavenged this countryside like locusts. All the

game that she could have hunted had been slain.

She peered up, regarding his face. The mortal did seem to have an honest visage. And mayhap he’d

do as she bade, or at least give her a horse and enough food for her journey.

Regin accepted her sword, sheathing it. But when he wrapped his arm around her shoulders

protectively, she stiffened. “I can walk on my own, berserker.”

Under his breath, he said, “’Tis a display of favor I offer you before all.”

“A display of favor,” she said in a dry tone. “From a mortal. Then how can I possibly continue

without it?” She allowed him to usher her through the crowds of staring warriors and wenches.

A few berserkers sought to touch her “fair locks” or “alight skin,” but Aidan’s hand tightened over

her shoulder, his eyes blazing even brighter. He cast the men a baleful look and they all retreated

without another word, their faces paling.

Once she and Aidan had navigated the hall’s gauntlet and exited into the summer night, he visibly

relaxed, though he still seemed preoccupied. She took the opportunity to study him up close.

His towering frame was even more imposing, his height at least six and a half feet. His white tunic

was of a fine weave, fitted over those wide shoulders. Black trews of soft leather outlined his

powerful legs. When a breeze blew up from the valley below, carrying the scent of summer wheat and

stirring the blond hair around his face, she had the urge to sigh.

The midnight sun had finally set, and as they walked, he gazed up at the stars, as if for some kind of

guidance. For the last week, as she’d searched for Lucia in this strange world of mortals, she’d often

done the same. “Whatever is your question, warlord, the stars will not answer you.”

He peered down at her with those intense gray eyes, rekindling her ridiculous urge to sigh.

“Mayhap they already have.”

Before she could question his words, he stopped before the largest longhouse in the camp, opening

the door for her. The interior was rich, with woven rugs on the packed dirt floor. A gleaming table

with two chairs sat at one end and a thick pallet of furs covered the opposite end. A fire burned in a

center pit.

He took a pair of candles from a generous supply of them and lit the wicks in the fire, then placed

them in holders flanking a polished bear skull.

“Are you wealthy?” she asked. “For a mortal?”

“I’ve won spoils enough. But what do you know of coin? You are the daughter of gods.”

“I know I have none, and I need it for food.”

He strode to the doorway, ordering some servant outside to bring their dinner, then sat at the table.

He waved her to the other chair.

When she removed her gloves and cloak, her boy’s clothes beneath—trews and a tunic—earned

another disapproving frown. She shrugged and joined him, feeling like an adult to be sharing a lord’s

table. Even if he was only a warlord.

“This world is a dangerous place for a girl, Reginleit. And you are not invulnerable to harm.”

She shook her head. No, she’d not reached her immortality yet. She could still be injured, grow

sickened, even die. Though she wouldn’t need food as an adult Valkyrie, now she required it to grow.

“Then what possessed you to leave the safety of your home, child?”

“I am no child! And I’ve been safe enough.” Except for the bloodthirsty foes I had to face to

reach thisside of the conflict. “I’ve slain vampires.” But it’d beenclose. I lost my sword early in

that skirmish, too.

He waved away her words as if they weremere fables. “Reginleit, answer me.”

Though she suspected she should besecretive and cautious with a stranger like this, she’d never

learned to be either. And sheneeded his help. Out spilled the truth: “I followed my favorite sister

when she followed a man. He promised to wedLucia, yet I am uneasy. She is everything to me, and I

believe she is in danger.” Regin couldn’t explain how she knew, but she felt as if timewas running

out for hersister.

“You left heaven for her? Though you can never go back?”

“’Tis forbidden for a Valkyrie to return.”

“Then I applaud your loyalty.”

“She would do the same for me.” As exasperated as Regin made her—indeed, all her sisters—she

knew Lucia loved her.

“You sought me this night,” he said. “What would you have me do?”

“I need assistance to find Lucia.”

“Done,” he said with a shrug. “I will do everything possible to reunite her with you.”

Regin blinked up at him. “Because you serve Wóden?”

“Nay.” He rose to pace, running his hand over his mouth. “I do this because we will serve each


“I don't take your meaning.”

“There's no easy way to say this. Reginleit, when you're grown, you will become my wife.”

“Are you mad, mortal?” she cried, her skin glowing brighter. “Like my sister Nïx?”

“Nïx the Ever-Knowing, the soothsayer?”

“She’s touched with visions. What's your explanation?”

He looked to stifle a grin. “You're direct, a good trait. But I’m not mad. I’m a berserker. Do you

understand what the men of my people are?”

“I’ve heard tales of your kind. You’re stronger than other mortals, faster. And you’re all possessed

by the spirit of a beast. The snarling, the fighting, the possessiveness—all the traits of a lean bear in


“’Tis true. And the beast in me sensed its mate, rousing inside me from your very first words. I

thought you would be older when we met, but I feel fortunate just to have found you.”

He said this as if it was an understatement. She was speechless. A rarity.

“In the morn, I'll take you to my family’s holdings in the north,” he continued. “My parents will

complete your upbringing and keep you safe until I return for you. I'll bring your sister there to join


An actual madman stood before her! This situation grew interesting. Regin found she might like to

play with mad mortals. Feigning an earnest tone, she asked, “And how long would it be until you

returned for me?”

“Mayhap in five or six years. When you are grown, and I have warred enough to earn my own

immortality. Then we would wed.”

Ah, she remembered now. Berserkers could earn ohalla, deathlessness, from Wóden once they’d

won two hundred battles in his name. They tattooed his mark—dual ravens in flight—upon their


She wondered if the battles had come before the rule, or if the rule had spurred the battles. “I’m to

sit there and wait for you? What if another mortal decides I’m to be his chattel instead?”

His hands clenched. “You're meant for me alone,” he said in a strange tone. “Do you understand

what I'm saying?”

“I’m not ignorant of such things.” She was almost completely ignorant of such things—of men, of

coupling. She couldn’t comprehend why her sister would ever voluntarily leave the paradise of

Valhalla to follow a man.

One I don't trust.

“Reginleit, you'll not know another male.” His gaze held hers. “I consider us wed from this

moment on.”

What a crazed mortal; how touched in the head. Her father would turn this berserker to ash if he

dared kidnap her and force her to wed him. Perhaps she oughtn’t toy with Aidan anymore?

“Reconsider. You’re far too old for me. One foot in the grave and the other doddering at the edge.”

He glowered. “I'm not that old! I’ve only thirty winters.”

She began to fear that he wouldn’t be dissuaded, so she said, “I might look upon your suit, but only

if you help me save Lucia first.”

He shook his head firmly. “You'll tell me where to find her. And I'll do so only once I’ve

conveyed you safely to mypeople.”

“You can never locate her without me.” As a sister Valkyrie, Regin could senseher if she got

close enough. “And we haven’t time to dally.”

“You came to me for guidance, and this is my decision—”

“Guidance! You aremad. And arrogant. I'm the daughter of gods. Icame to youfor a horse, food,

and mayhap a pair of outriders. So I could be on my way!”

“’Tis a done thing, brightling. In this realm, my word is final.”

They were interrupted by the brunette from the hall, now carrying in a tray of food and drink. As

she served two trenchers of some kind of savory stew, shemade sure her ample bosom was displayed

for Aidan.

Regin thought of her ownbarely budding chest. For thefirst time in her life, she felt lacking.

And mayhap jealous. Ah, but ’twas Regin who sat at the warlord’s table like a woman grown.

’Twas Regin the stubborn, mad mortalwanted to wed. She cast the wench a smirk.

“No ale for the girl, Birgit,” Aidan saidto the woman. “Do we nothave milk?”

Regin’s face heated. And all the worse, because she would dearly love some milk.

When Birgit returned with some, Aidan dismissed her so absently that the worst of Regin’s pique

was soothed.

The rich scent of game stew called to her hunger, and she eagerly dug in. The meat melted in her

mouth. Gods, mortals did know how to cook.

“Tell me of your home,” he said, breaking a piece of flatbread for her trencher.

“’Tis a beautiful land of mists,” she said around bites. “Slow and peaceful.” Usually. Unless Loki

descended upon them, or someone released Fenris, the giant wolf.

“What was your life like?”

Regin swallowed a mouthful of bread. “You truly wish me to … talk?” Most of the time, her

sisters bade her be quiet, serious.

“I'm curious about you.”

She shrugged, deciding that she might as well enjoy this short time with this stubborn, immovable

warlord—because unless he could be made to change his mind, she planned to slip away in the night

and continue her search.

At least now she’d have food in her belly and likely a stolen horse.

So she regaled him with stories of Valhalla and the silliness of the demigods. He laughed at all of

the tales, seeming genuinely amused.

At one point, his expression seemed even … proud, earning another frown from her. “You don't

mind my humor?”

“Not at all. I’ve not laughed like this …” His brows drew together. “I think I’ve never laughed like


“Usually I exasperate people. And I jest at inappropriate times. Such as during executions. Freya

says ’tis my gift and my bane to frustrate others.”

“I like your manner, Reginleit. Life is long without humor.”

She felt like preening in the face of this steely-eyed warrior’s praise—until he added, “We will

suit well, brightling.”

She sighed. “Still you believe we'll be together.” Though she sensed that Aidan was an

honorable male, he was misled in this. Wóden would never allow Regin to wed a mortal berserker.

And the ohalla Aidan sought? She’d only ever heard of one berserker in all of history who’d

earned it. The rest died in battles long before their two hundredth one.

A fact that the cunning Wóden well knew.

“I'm certain we will, little wife.” Finished with his meal, Aidan rose and crossed to his bed,

dividing the furs into two pallets on opposite walls. He waved her to one, then took the other. Easing

to his side, he propped his head in his hand. “When you're older you’ll come to see that every

woman needs a man, even a Valkyrie.”

“Why?” She plopped down across from him.

“You’ll understand when you go through the change.”

“You mean when I become immortal?” When she would change from a growing, vulnerable girl to

a nigh invincible woman. Her sisters spoke of this time in whispers, but Regin didn’t know why.

Mayhap this male would tell her.

“Those months will be sweet.” He lay on his back, his hands behind his head. In a knowing tone,

he said, “You’ll definitely want me around then.”

“Why? What happens?”

“You’ll become a woman. And you’ll need me as much as I will surely be needing you.”

“Would you try to kiss me?” she asked slyly.

“Depend on it.”


“And now you should go to sleep. We’ve a long journey ahead of us.”

“Warlord, tell me!” She crossed her arms over her chest andlightning struck outside.

He chuckled.

“Why should I choose youto kiss, then?”

He turned on his side again, his gaze holding hers. “Why not me?”

“All you do is war.”

“True, and I’m damned skilled at my trade. Which means I’ll alwaysprotect you. And

by the time you’re grown, I’ll have accumulated enough loot to spoil you.”

“You’re not noble or refined.”

He nodded easily. “I possess no refinement. But that also means I’ve no guile—you will always

knowwhat I’m thinking.”

“And you believe youare entitled to a Valkyrie for your bride?”

“I'm the most powerful berserker ever to live,” he said, not with conceit but as if he merely stated

an indisputable fact. “So if not me, then who?”

She shrugged. “I remain unconvinced of your charms, Aidan.” Also an indisputable fact.

“There's another reason. …”

“Tell me.”

His voice gone gruff, he added, “You should choose me because … I'll love you, Reginleit.”

Her heart seemed to skip a beat. “How can you say that? You cannot know the future!”

“I know because, at twelve years of age, you’ve won me with your wit and bravery. Your staunch

loyalty, too.” He leaned back once more, grinning up at the roof of the longhouse. “When you have

your wiles about you, I’ll be no match. I concede defeat well in advance.”

“When I’m grown, others will vie for my hand.”

“Undoubtedly. But you belong only to me.”

Lightning struck again from her frustration. He truly believed he had the right to take away her

freedom, to keep her as his untouched prize while he continued his debauched lifestyle. Perhaps that

was the way of things with mortals. But such isn't good enough for the likes of me.

“Berserker, hear my words,” she said. “I vow to you that I'll stay as true to you as you do to

me.” That would shut his mouth. He couldn’t go a week without a Birgit. “Every wench upon your lap

means I sit upon a warrior’s. Every woman’s mouth you kiss is a man’s lips upon my own.”

His fierce gaze met hers, his eyes ablaze once more—as if the mere thought of her with another

sent his ire spiraling. Seeming to struggle for control, he grated, “Then I give you my oath that I’ll not

touch another. Now are you satisfied, little wife? Any more demands?”

“I have to go with you to find Lucia.”

“In this I'll not bend, Reginleit. You're vulnerable. You can be harmed. And that I couldn't


Before he doused the candles, he leaned over to press a quick kiss against her hair, then chucked

her under the chin. “Brightling, the time till you’re grown will pass slowly for me. Every night, I'll

dream of the woman you’ll become.”

He returned to his pallet, and in the dark she saw his eyes closed and his lips curled, as if with


She inwardly sighed. You'll never see me grown, warlord. But from time to time, I might think

of the stubborn mortal who was kind to me.


Nine years later

“What are you doing, sister?” Lucia the Archer demanded as she barged into Regin’s room.

Though Regin had hoped to slip away this night from the manor house she shared with Lucia, her

sister’s huntress senses were too acute.

I should probably lie. Yet out spilled the truth: “I am deciding which garments will best please a


Lucia gasped, her hands falling to the bow she always wore strapped over her body. As her

fingers nervously plucked the string, she said, “You are seeking out that berserker?”

She nodded. Regin would become a full immortal soon and, as she’d finally been warned, her

desires were growing overwhelming.

When she imagined fulfilling them, only one man’s face arose in her mind. Just as Aidan had

predicted, she needed him now. “He’s near. His army is camped within the dark woods.”

Over the years, as she and Lucia had sought out other Valkyrie on this plane and others, Regin had

often heard tales of her berserker. He was little closer to his gift of immortality, having spent more

time searching for her than for battles to win. And already he had forty winters.

He was said to be changed—his beastlike nature even more dominant. He was quick to conflict,

letting his berserkrage free at the earliest provocation.

And yet she couldn’t stop thinking of him.

“Now, shall I wear the nigh-transparent skirt”—Regin tapped her chin—“or the trews that encase

me like a second skin?”

Lucia sputtered.

“Yes, well said, Lucia. Males do ogle me more when I wear the trews.” She pulled them on over

her generous backside—with effort—then lay on the bed to tie the tight laces. She donned a

sleeveless leather vest with a plunging neckl. It covered her breasts, the vest bared her


Lucia begun to pace. “We’ve talked of this.”

“You talked of this,” Regin said as she braided her hair into a dozen haphazard plaits around her

face. The rest she left flowing. “I averred nothing.”

Lucia wanted her to join the Skathians—the celibate archeress order she herself had entered—but

Regin was too curious about coupling, too eager to discover what the warlord’s secretive smile that

night had promised.

Prologue B

Yet that wasn’t the only reason she would seek him out. Though he’d been so stubborn and

arrogant, he’d also laughed with her and enjoyed her humor. Over these years, men had gazed at her

with lust, reverence, and even, on occasion, respect—but Aidan had looked at her as no man had


With appreciation. He’d appreciated her exactly as she was.

“To seek him out is madness, Regin. He believes that he alone will possess you. Like some …

some thing, some object. He will never let you go!”

“Then he will not have me to begin with. We will make a bargain for three months, or for nothing.”

She would explore her attraction to him, slake these drives, and loosen the hold he had over her.

Regin dug into her copious chest of jewels—containing no glittering stones, of course. She

decided on adornments of polished gold. Males grew fascinated with how she made it glow. She

donned serpentine bands of it around her upper arms and


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