Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Blood Queen Tour and Giveaway

 


The Blood Queen: A 'Bhanrigh Fuil

A Conall Series Spinoff

by David H. Millar

Genre: Historical Fantasy Fiction 

It is a king’s decision,” said Brion.

It will not be you who deceives and delivers the lamb to the butcher’s block,” retorted Eimhir.

True evil is a persistent and tenacious beast. Its desire for existence is eternal and insatiable. It needs to infect only one mind for its insidious philosophy to take root and spread.

It is 394 B.C. At a remote loch in the highlands of Northern Albu, a priest sacrifices nine innocents. Below the water’s surface, a shape feeds on their blood and begins to take form. Soon it becomes sentient and begins to hunt. Sidheag has risen.

Humans cannot defeat the abomination. Neither can Mongfhionn, the powerful leader of the demi-goddesses of the Aes Sidhe. The only remedy is the Blood Queen and Gràinne is the sole heir to that throne. Will the Blood Queen stand alongside Mongfhionn to confront Sidheag?

Yet the cost for Gràinne may be too much—unless her daughter, Brianag, is in jeopardy.

Passions, always near the surface of the Celts, burst into flames in The Blood Queen where father is pitted against son; mother against daughter; sister against sister; brother against sister; and father against daughter.


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Chapter 1

394 B.C.—Autumn

Spluttering, pitch-soaked torches spoilt the blackness of the autumn night. Splashes of red and yellow flames combined with the fragrance of pine to create a pleasant, if false, festive ambience. Across the loch’s rippling waters, the sinister chanting of the Tuireadh—the Death Song of the Na Daoine Tùrsach—rang out. Such invocations had not been heard abroad in a score of summers.

The young girl looked into the eyes of the gaunt-faced man who stood before her. Her expression spoke of unconditional trust—much as a daughter looks into her father’s face. He was a striking man, tall with a shock of snow-white hair and eyes that appeared violet and red in the torchlight. Yet her faith was born, not of parental love, but the blend of plants and fungi fed to her. Like her companions, she was naked, her feet were bound, and her hands were tied behind her back. She shivered uncontrollably in the chill of the autumn night.

He cupped her chin and tilted her head backwards. The act was deceptively gentle, as if he wished to let the silver moonlight bathe her face. Yet his desires were vile. Having abused her virginal body earlier, he needed to savour her terror. Her eyes widened at the sting of the blade’s cold edge, drawn from one side of her neck to the other. Soft flesh parted. Helpless, she felt the throb of her lifeblood spurt from slashed arteries and warmth as the blood flowed over her adolescent breasts.

The priest turned the child slightly, allowing the surging blood to splash his nakedness. He sighed in orgasmic delight before pushing her backwards to tumble off the jetty and into the loch’s icy waters. In total, the lives of nine young girls ended that night. Their eyes condemned the priests before, amid swirls of blood, their bodies slipped below the surface. Yet the thoughts of the ecclesiastics were not of guilt or regret but of anticipation of their next victims.

The High Priest smiled. The blood sacrifices began many moon cycles ago with the random slayings of young females. This night saw the beginning of a new, more deliberate phase and heralded the arrival of the promised one.

In one sense, he was right. Yet, in another, he was terribly mistaken.

*** 

On the deck of the trireme, Gràinne Ni Fearghal awoke screaming and fighting those who tried to calm and hold her down. It was an old vision, which had become more vivid with each passing night and the closer she got to her homeland in the highlands of Northern Albu.

She rubbed a hand across her neck and exhaled, relieved that only sweat wet her palm and soaked her clothes. Yet Gràinne could feel the sharp edge of the sacrificial knife wielded by her grandmother, Diadhaidh, and the satisfied look on her face as she drew it across her granddaughter’s throat.

Recently, the old nightmare had changed. A new abomination stood behind Diadhaidh. Its mouth opened, revealing rows of needle-pointed teeth as it spoke: “Come, child, it is time to fulfil Diadhaidh’s promise to me and take your place as my ‘Bhanrigh Fuilmy Blood Queen.”

Brianag Ni Brion, wise beyond her years, smoothed her mother’s long auburn tresses and mopped up rivulets of perspiration with a cold, damp cloth. “Hold me, Ma. You’ll be all right. We’ll be all right. You’re safe.”

Only after her mother slipped into a mercifully untroubled sleep did Brianag let the tears flow down her young cheeks.

***

A score of summers past, lust for unlimited power drove Diadhaidh, the Blood Queen and High Priestess of the Na Daoine Tùrsach tribe, insane. Two black-shafted arrows and flames stopped Diadhaidh from sacrificing her granddaughter to the evil that lurked in the loch’s depths. The missiles had been loosed by Mórrígan Ni Cathasaigh, An Fiagaí Dorcha—the Dark Huntress. The fire was provided by Mórrígan’s hand-fast partner Conall Mac Gabhann, —king—of the newly founded Clann Ui Flaithimh.

Ironically, Mórrígan’s arrows pinned Diadhaidh to the same sacrificial post to which she had bound Gràinne. Fire devoured the Blood Queen and the royal crannag, burning the wooden edifice down to its pilings. The wind had scattered the building’s ashes across the loch’s surface by the next sunrise.

Among the people of the north-eastern highlands, the fiery glow in the night skies prompted heartfelt sighs of relief and an outpouring of thanks to the Goddess. Those of the Na Daoine Tùrsach’s priests and acolytes who survived the final battle fled into the high mountains. They were hunted down and executed with a grim resolution by Drostan Ruadh, the one-eyed rìgh—king—of the Forest People, and Blàr Mac Artair, Rìgh of the Ravens.

Yet true evil is a persistent and tenacious beast, and its desire for existence is eternal and insatiable. It needs to infect but one mind for its insidious philosophy to take root and spread. By all accounts, Blàr and Drostan did an excellent job. Yet a handful of priests survived, which proved enough to restart the cycle.

In the eddies of the sacrificed’s blood, an amorphous shape began to take corporeal form. At the mercy of the loch’s currents, it drifted without direction. With blood came sentience, rage, and an all-consuming desire for the crimson liquid that sustained life. Its mind gradually re-formed; the evil ceased its dependence on being fed and began to rely on native cunning and an instinct for survival. It began to hunt.

A plan formed that did not distinguish between animal and human or age and sex. The latter was a human obsession. It would feed on all living creatures until strong enough to enjoy a more discriminating palate. As for the waste of young females, that would change.


**Don't miss The Conall Series! **

The Place of Blood – Rinn-Iru

Conall Book I

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The Raven's Flight – Eitilt an Fhiagh Dhuibh

Conall Book II

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The Sisters – Na Deirfiúracha

Conall Book III

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A Brace of Eagles - Snaidhm Iolar

Conall Book IV

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Retribution - Díoltas

Conall Book V

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The Dog Roses: Na Feirdhriseacha

spinoff from the Conall Series

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Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, internationally published and award-winning author, David H. Millar is the founder, owner, and author-in-residence of A Wee Publishing Company—a business that seeks to promote Celtic literature, authors, and art.

Millar moved from wet Northern Ireland to Nova Scotia, Canada, in the late 1990s. After ten years of shovelling snow, he decided to relocate to warmer climates and settled in Houston, Texas. Quite a contrast!

An avid reader, armchair sportsman, and Liverpool Football Club fan, Millar lives with his family and Bailey, a Manx cat of questionable disposition known to his friends as “the small angry one”!

Award-winning author, David H. Millar, writes historical fantasy with a Celtic twist. He is the author of the five volume, ancient Celtic-based, Conall series and the spin-off The Dog Roses. The Blood Queen is a second spin-off from the Conall series.


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