done for me.”

He waved away her words and straightened, his eyes downcast. “Enough. You’ll cry, and you know how I hate tears.”

“I don’t cry.” Though she found her eyes burned when she thought of leaving Malcolm. He was the only family, the only friend, she had in the world. She wanted away from Edinburgh and the crowds to the quiet of the Highlands, but she didn’t look forward to being alone. Again.

“Come,” he said, and offered her his arm. His smile was a little forced, but still true. “Let’s take a stroll through these magnificent gardens.”

Larena took his arm, grateful for the change in subject. She didn’t like to think of what the future held. There was too much uncertainty, too much death that awaited her. And she hated to see him worry, for there was nothing he could do.

“Remember when I spoke with Camdyn a few days ago?”

“I do,” Malcolm said with a nod. “What of it?”

“He spoke of the MacLeod brothers, that they had been found. After all this time. And now one is apparently here. Which one is it, do you suppose? Fallon? Lucan? Quinn?”

Malcolm smiled. “I couldna begin to guess.”

“I pray what Camdyn told me is the truth. My kind has too much to lose to put our faith in men who aren’t the real MacLeods.”

“I agree. Yet, didn’t you tell me that Camdyn spoke of Deirdre being in a violent rage a month ago?”

“Aye. You think there is a connection to MacLeod’s being here?”

Malcolm shrugged a shoulder and maneuvered her to the side to allow a couple to pass by them. “Could be, Larena. You yourself said that Camdyn was surprised that so many Warriors had been leaving their hiding places. Where are they going, by the way?”

“Camdyn didn’t know. The MacLeods are the oldest Warriors and would be our best advantage for defeating Deirdre once and for all. The MacLeods escaped Deirdre and evaded her for over three hundred years. None have managed to do as they have.”

“You have told me that Camdyn rarely comes out of hiding for anything. The fact that he came to find you to tell you of the MacLeods says a lot.”

She nodded, recalling the Warrior. Camdyn MacKenna loathed crowded places almost as much as he hated Deirdre. “Anything that prodded him out of hiding is important. Apparently, the markings he found were vital enough that he waited around the castle in hopes of seeing me.”

“What did the markings say?”

“That a Warrior Camdyn called friend left his forest.” Larena, like all Warriors, could read the ancient Celtic language they used to speak with each other by markings on trees. She wished she could have seen the markings herself.

“Do you recall the name of this Warrior?”

Her brow furrowed as she thought for a moment. “Shaw? Aye, that’s the name. Galen Shaw. I’ve heard Camdyn speak of Galen before. He’s well respected.”

“But where are they going? Did Camdyn say?”

She shook her head. “Nay. Just that they were traveling north. I’m sure there are other markings to help point the way, but that was the only one Camdyn had seen.”

“Did he go to find Galen?”

“He did.”

Malcolm stopped her near a tall hedge. “Would you know the markings if you saw them?”

“It’s been a while since I’ve read them, but I could decipher them.”

“Then we should go look.”

She smiled at his exuberance. Always Malcolm was eager to help, eager to place his life in danger if it would hurry Deirdre’s death. But Larena wouldn’t allow him to jeopardize his existence. Malcolm had already defied his father’s wishes to remain with the clan in northeast Scotland to be with her.

“I wouldn’t know where to begin to look,” she said. “Camdyn didn’t tell me what forest, so it is a moot point.”

“And you wouldna let me come with you anyway.”

“Nay. You’re too important to the family.”

“To hell with them,” he ground out, his jaw clenched.

Larena tightened her grip on his arm. “Cousin…”

“Don’t,” he warned. “Just don’t, Larena.”

But she had to remind him. He was endangering his future to make up for what his grandfather and great- grandfather had done to her. As soon as he’d learned she intended to go to Edinburgh Castle, Malcolm had decided to go with her. For protection, he’d said. She smiled every time she thought of that. If anything, she would be the one protecting him.

Larena glanced at the ground. “For whatever reason, I am what I am. Your great-grandfather and your grandfather made the decision to banish me from the Monroe clan. I don’t want the same for you. Already the clan distances themselves from you because of your involvement with me.”

“My father wouldn’t dare exile me, and I doona care what the rest of the clan does. As for my grandfather and great-grandfather, they were just resentful that the god chose you and not my grandfather.”

She winced, recalling the day the god had chosen her instead of Naill. Everything she had ever known and loved had changed in a blink, never to be the same.

“Maybe. As far as I know, there are no female Warriors.”

“Besides you,” Malcolm whispered.

She licked her lips and tried to find the words to help him understand. “It cost me my family and my clan, Malcolm. I don’t know how the other Warriors will treat me once they find out I am one of them.”

“You didn’t lose everything. You had Robena.”

Larena smiled at the mention of the old Druid who had unbound her god. “Robena was the only one not surprised to learn I was the Warrior and not your grandfather. She whisked me away from the clan and started my instruction immediately.”

“I used to watch you train.”

“I remember.” Larena smiled as she recalled the times she had let him think she didn’t know he watched. “You must have been only six or seven summers the first time I spotted you.”

Malcolm shrugged. “It was fascinating watching you transform. I envy you that. And your immortality.”

“Don’t,” she cautioned. She was eighty years his senior, but in the eyes of mortals, it was Malcolm who could tell her what to do. “It may look exciting, but my very life hangs in the balance.”

“Your secrets are safe with me. You should know that.”

And she did. Malcolm had been her only connection to her clan after she had left and Robena died. Though banished from the Monroe clan, Larena had always lived close enough to visit her father from time to time.

Through the years Malcolm had always stayed her friend, giving her news and anything else she needed. It had been his idea to come to Edinburgh and act asher brother. Malcolm had sacrificed much in order to help her, and she feared she would never be able to repay him.

“Does Camdyn know that which you guard?” Malcolm asked.

Larena shook her head. “Nay. It’s enough that he knows I’m a Warrior.”

“Be careful, Larena. You may be a Warrior, but Deirdre will find out about you sooner or later.”

“I know.” She glanced away as icy fingers of foreboding raked down her back.

Malcolm touched her hand to gain her attention. “What will you do when she comes after you? For you know she will stop at nothing to acquire what you protect.”

“This I know as well. I’ve been prepared for it.”

“She has black magic. There is nothing that can prepare you for that.”

It was true, but she wouldn’t let him know how much she feared Deirdre’s discovery. For a hundred years she had lived her life as her own. Once Deirdre began hunting her, things would change. And not for the better.

If Deirdre learned of what she was, Larena would forever be running. She didn’t fear being captured by Deirdre. She feared what would happen when Deirdre learned Larena guarded the Scroll.

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