Click to Enlarge

The Dark Druid
Tales Of The Fianna: Book Three
Click one of the above links to purchase an eBook.

ISBN-10: 1-55404-912-1
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Medieval
eBook Length: 325 Pages
Published: December 2011



From inside the flap

Ireland’s greatest hero, legendary warrior and lover, heir to a world of strife and sorcery, this is Finn MacCumhal. With steel and courage, he sets off on a perilous quest to save a desperate land and to free his beloved from the shadowy magic and thunderous evil of the one known as the Dark Druid.

Flint’s talent for imaginative retelling brings new life to old myths in this third novel in a series that includes Challenge of the Clans and Storm Shield. Recommended for fantasy collections.

Reviews and Awards

“Flint spins a powerful tale of magic, war, and passion—full of the spirit of Celtic myth. One if his most vivid stories to date.” XIGNALS MAGAZINE

5.0 out of 5 stars THE DARK DRUID Is A Spellbinding Tale!

The third and final book in this trilogy is a fast paced, mesmerizing read! In this story Finn MacCumhal is finally set to settle down as Ireland is at peace. However, he is about to find the love of his life, the woman he will marry in a different form of a fawn cast upon her by the evil Dark Druid who reasons if he cannot have her she will remain a fawn. Everything changes when the spell is reversed and the Dark Druid, a powerful banished de Danaan meets his match in Finn.

In spite of this, the Dark Druid also known as Fear Doirche manages to smuggle Finn’s new bride, Sabd, away from Almhuin, Finn’s home fortress and keep her captive.

Finn strikes out on a quest to find her and encounters a major diversion along the way which results in him defending others who are in desperate need of his help. After doing this, though, he continues on his quest to rescue Sabd from Fear Doirche with the help of the Fianna, a new friend, Donn, and his regular retinue of Cnu Deireoil, Sceolan, Bran & Caoilte.

They brave the many obstacles the Dark Druid has set for them and when Finn inadvertently befriends Bobd Derg, the High King of the de Danaans, he receives help from him in a most unusual, magical way.

Read this novel, it will absolutely NOT disappoint! The story moves along at such a rapid pace it ends all too soon! Read the other two books in this trilogy, CHALLENGE OF THE CLANS & STORM SHIELD and prepare yourself for a wild ride!

The Dark Druid (Excerpt)


Chapter One

THE FAWN

The forest clearing slumbered peacefully in the quiet of a warm, bright afternoon.

Shafts of the purest sunlight from a cloudless sky slanted down through the high branches of the surrounding oaks. They cast brilliant spots, like glowing emeralds, upon the open ground. Fine motes of dust, not rushed by any breeze, drifted lazily in the shining columns.

There was little other movement in the clearing. A gray squirrel boldly browsed far from the safety of his trees. A few birds flitted in the treetops. Their occasional calls sounded hushed beneath the vast cloak of silence that enwrapped the wood.

A magnificent stag pushed out from the underbrush into the clearing. For a moment it stood, head proudly erect, great spread of antlers lifted high in a display of exalted rank. It strode slowly, grandly, fearlessly across the empty ground to the center of the open space. Here it stopped, looking austerely around. Finally it deigned to lower its head and nibble on the lush grass that could not grow within the shadows of the wood.

Then came the sound of the horn.

It was a low, sustained note, carrying clearly through the quiet forest. The stag’s head jerked up, turning toward the sound. The squirrel froze, listening, bushy tail jerking nervously. The birds in the treetops about the clearing fell abruptly silent.

The sound came again, from much closer this time. And with it came new sounds, continuous sounds that grew louder rapidly-the baying of many hounds and the shrill, wailing cries of men.

The stag bolted away, vanishing into the trees. The squirrel scuttled for the safety of the nearest trunk. The birds, as if a single being, flashed upward just as a heavy body crashed through the last screen of underbrush into the open.

It was an enormous boar that had now charged into the clearing. Its size was closer to that of a small bull than of a pig. The massive, muscled shoulders reached as high as a man’s chest. The body was sinewy and hard, moving lithely and with tremendous power. The head was immense. Its bristled snout sported long, curved tusks. Above the snout, tiny eyes glowed redly, like hot coals.

It didn’t pause as it burst into the open area. The sounds of dogs and men gave evidence that they were close behind it. It started across the clearing at a run.

It was less than halfway across when a pack of hounds began to pour from the woods in close pursuit. At least fifty animals formed the energetic group, all in full cry. Most of them were sleek, slender, long-limbed animals with small heads and pointed muzzles. But leading them were two wolfhounds-great, shaggy-coated beasts nearly as large as ponies.

Close on the flying heels of the pack, a band of men leaped into the open. There were some two-score of them. Their tall, lean, wiry bodies were clad in short tunics. Their bared, fair-skinned arms and legs flashed as they ran. Their hair was long and mostly of light hues, either clasped at the nape of the neck or loosely plaited to keep it out of the way. They wore no adornment and carried no weapons save for short thrusting spears with broad points of gleaming black iron.

At their head ran a young man of striking looks, clean and boldly featured. His thick plait of hair was so blond as to shine nearly silver in the sun. His smoothly muscled body moved effortlessly, tirelessly as he flew across the ground.

Close beside him ran another man of a like age, quite handsome too, but swarthier of complexion and dark of hair.

By the time these men were all into the clearing, the boar was nearing its far side. But before the beast could reach the cover of the trees again, the two wolfhounds were upon it. One nipped at a heel. The other made a tremendous leap, fastening its jaws upon a bristled ear.

The boar squealed with pain and swung with amazing agility. Its ear ripped and the hound was thrown aside, rolling to the ground. Further enraged by this wounding, the boar wheeled, brought to bay by the full pack that now encircled it. Barking and snarling, the hounds kept a wary distance as they awaited the approaching men.

But the boar did not wait. As if knowing itself to be caught in a fatal trap, its desperate gaze fell upon the men. Focusing upon them as the source of its torments, it gave out a frenzied squeal and charged, clearly bent upon revenge.

It clove through the pack of dogs like a scythe through ripe wheat, sweeping them aside. Head down, deadly tusks thrust forward, it was as a blasting gale, a raging torrent, that it now descended upon the hunters.

Most of them were nimble enough to leap from the path of its first rush. Only one hapless fellow, seeing the move just too late, was unable to get himself clear. A tusk point caught him at the back of one thigh as he turned away, tearing a ragged line deep into the flesh. He jerked and staggered, toppling to the earth. Bright blood gushed from the gaping wound.

The boar was carried past him by its momentum. It pivoted with a speed equal to that of the long-limbed hounds and started back toward him, bent on finishing its work. But, as it did so, the dark-haired man bounded in. He came up close beside the charging animal, thrusting out with his spear, striking for the heart.

The point struck home, but just too high, penetrating the thick hide only to imbed itself in the knotted muscles of the shoulder. The boar gave a loud grunt, but more of anger than of pain. It pivoted again to face him. He had saved the downed man only to find himself looking into the flaring eyes of the maddened beast-less than a spear’s length away-and without a weapon in his hands.

He ducked to one side. The boar moved as swiftly, swinging its head up to catch him with those rending tusks. The tusks, however, never reached their mark. For the fair-haired young hunter using the other’s diversion as a chance to move up behind the animal. Now he leaped boldly onto it.

He mounted it as easily as if he were vaulting onto a tamed pony’s back. The boar squealed in both astonishment and rage. First it twisted its head about to get at him. Quickly realizing the futility of this, it began to buck and writhe with a most incredible vigor, as if seized by some fit. The convulsions of its powerful body seemed to take it in all directions at once.

But the man upon it stayed firmly seated there. His muscled legs were locked against its sides, strained taut with the pressure. This left both his hands free to raise the short thrusting spear high above the boar’s head and take careful aim. In a blow backed by all the weight and strength of his arms, he drove the weapon down. The spear head slammed into the corded neck at the base of the massive skull. The sharp point went deep, its keen edge severing the spine.

The boar died instantly. Its frenzied movements ceased. Its heavy body crashed to the earth, rolling sideways. The fair-haired man, in a simple, almost casual move, hopped clear. The boar rolled down, its legs kicking up, splayed and jerking in a last death spasm. Then it settled limply and was still.

The other hunters moved in to stand around the beast, examining it with looks of keen interest mixed with awe. The pack joined them as well, the two great hounds venturing forward to sniff at the carcass.

"By the Dagda, Finn, that was a near thing," the dark-haired man remarked to the fair one. "He was more savage than any boar we’ve ever hunted."

"He was that," agreed the one called Finn.

He turned from the beast and strode to where the wounded man lay. Two of his fellows were already attending him, binding the gash with strips torn from their own tunic hems. The man looked a bit pale from his shock and loss of blood, but seemed in good spirits.

"How is it with you, Lughaid?" Finn asked.

"Well enough. I thank you for the saving of me. That animal would have made tatters of me, surely."

"It’s Caoilte you should be thanking," Finn said modestly. "It was his risk that turned the boar from you."

"Think no more of it," the dark-haired man told the wounded one. "It was the same risk that you would have taken for me."

"None of you took as much risk as my brave hounds!" complained a broadly built, ruddy-faced man with flame-red hair. "That beast might have done them some real damage, tearing through them that way!"

"Ah, you think more of your hounds than you do of us, Comhrag," a lanky young man reproved good-naturedly. "That boar gave them good sport, the same as it did us."

"Bran. Sceolan. Come here," Finn called out.

The two wolfhounds left the carcass at once and came to him. He squatted between them, examining each one carefully.

"You seem all right," he said at last, giving each broad head a loving pat. "Brave work, lads."

He stood, turning his gaze about him at the company.

"Well, that ends our hunting for this day," he announced. "Still, we’ve a fine prize to take back. Let’s make ready to start toward Almhuin."

Preparations were swiftly carried out. The boar was dressed out and fastened to a stout pole to be carried by several of the men. A crude but efficient litter was constructed of saplings laced with pliant twigs to carry the wounded man. Soon the hunting party was starting on again, taking a new direction, moving at a slower but still rapid pace.

Instead of racing ahead, the pack of small-headed dogs now followed close on the heels of the ruddy man called Comhrag. The two great wolfhounds flanked the one named Finn, who strode at the head of the group with his dark-haired comrade.

As they made their way through the sun-streaked wood, Finn noted that his friend was eyeing him in a way that could only be called quizzical.

"And what is it that’s troubling you, Caoilte?" he finally inquired.

"Since you’re asking," Caoilte responded frankly, "that was a large risk you were taking back there, don’t you think?"

Finn shrugged.

"I had to stop the boar," he said in an offhand manner. "Otherwise, it would have had you as well."

"Maybe," the other replied, sounding unconvinced. "Still, you might have distracted it, instead of flinging yourself upon it like some madman."

Finn laughed at that.

"And what would be the sport in our hunting a beast like that if there weren’t a bit of danger in it?"

"A bit of danger is one thing," Caoilte said tersely. "Being reckless is something else."

His voice had the tone of a scolding parent in it, and Finn looked at him with some astonishment.

"Reckless was I? Can this be Caoilte MacRonan speaking? The very same warrior who can never have enough of fighting or adventuring?"

"I’ll not deny I like a hard fight or a good hunt as much as any man in Ireland," he admitted, "and even more than most. But I’ve been watching you lately, my good lad. And it’s not the same Finn MacCumhal I’ve been seeing. The Finn I used to know loved the peace of a summer’s morning as much as the thrill of a hunt. And he loved the feel of a fine harp’s strings as much as the weight of a good spear."

"I was a boy then," Finn countered, lightly putting aside his friend’s concern. "I’ve grown older. I’ve learned that it’s the fighting and the hunt that truly make a Fian warrior feel alive."

"And that’s the truth, is it?" Caoilte said, still sounding dubious.

Finn gave him an even more searching, puzzled look.

"And why are you so gloomy at that, I’d like to know," he demanded. "I expected you’d be happy to finally have me thinking as yourself."

"Well, and I suppose I am," Caoilte agreed. "Still," he added in a musing way, "I’m growing older myself, and maybe a bit more cautious with my age. You are the leader of all the Fianna now. And you’ve become the most important man to Ireland. You can’t be taking such needless risks always. Even you, with the blood of the Others in you, are not indestructible!"

"Don’t think of that!" Finn told him heartily. He grinned and clapped him on the shoulder in a gesture of cheerful camaraderie. "I’ve a feeling we were meant to live forever, my old friend. We’ll be fighting back-to-back and hunting these golden woods until the last sun sets behind the ridge of the world!"

His carefree manner seemed to sweep away the foreboding mood of his comrade like a warm spring breeze banishing a last winter’s chill. Caoilte laughed too, returning Finn’s gesture with a like one.

"That’s the very wish I’d ask of Danu myself," he said earnestly. "I...

But he broke off abruptly. With no warning at all, something shot from the trees close beside them.

All the hunting party pulled up short in surprise as it streaked by them. Then it paused close ahead of them, turning its head to look back at the group.

They could see then that it was a fawn of soft, golden hue. A beautiful and willowy creature, it stood poised there for a long moment on its slender, frail-seeming legs, regarding them with large, lustrous brown eyes. Then, with a flick of the tail, it was off again, bounding away ahead of them with an astonishing speed.

All of the hounds went uncontrollably wild. Bran and Sceolan were off like arrows fired after it. The pack was quick to follow, in full cry, looking like a single gray blur with scores of flickering legs.

"Look at it run," Finn said in awe. "Let’s be after it!"

"Call back the hounds," Caoilte urged. "It’s only a fawn. Not worth hunting."