What if the standing stones and stone circles across the old Celtic world had a secret origin and use? What if some opened into another world? What if the goddess of fire was trapped beneath one?
Lovely and innocent Brienne of Yester has always been able to manipulate fire, but when her powers suddenly surge, the simple life she once knew explodes.
Handsome, fearless, and commanding William de Brus has been summoned by the king to investigate a nobleman rumored to have powers linked to the fabled fire goddess. When he chances upon Brienne, his desire for her is immediate. But as his mystical quest unfolds, William realizes that she is at the center of it-for Brienne possesses the very power he has been sent to vanquish....
As their attraction deepens, William attempts to free Brienne from the dark force beginning to control her-even when his duty demands that he treat her as an enemy. With emotions flaring, fire rising, and evil threatening at every turn, can the two lovers survive the coming battle and save all of humanity?
Terri Brisbin is married to one, mother of three, and dental hygienist of hundreds in the southern NJ area. A three-time RWA RITA(R) finalist, Terri has been writing romance fiction since 1995 and has had more than 22 historical and paranormal romance novels, novellas and short stories published since then 1998. You can visit Terri at her website: for more info about her current, past and upcoming works and events.
Praise for Rising Fire "A richly imagined, spellbinding romantic fantasy."--New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian
"Excitement, adventure, royal intrigue, and a what-if scenario that could change the world."--New York Times bestselling author Maggie Shayne
"An amazing premise for a paranormal series...you gotta read it."--Debbie's Book Bag
"Brisbin begins her romantic fantasy series in style."--RT Book Reviews
Praise for the Novels of Terri Brisbin "Richly detailed [and] fascinating."- Chicago Tribune "An absolute delight."- Booklist "Riveting."- The Romance Readers Connection
The first Novel of the Stone Circles from the USA Today bestselling author of Raging Sea and Blazing Earth .
PRAISE FOR RISING FIRE SIGNET ECLIPSE Acknowledgments The Legend Centuries ago The earth buckled beneath her feet, its roar fearsome and deafening, and the sky tore itself open to hurl torrents of rain and lightning at her. Chaela soared through the air and laughed as the others used their powers against hers. The goddess of fire and chaos, she inhaled the acrid smoke of the destruction she wrought as her enemies and their minions scattered before her might. Chaela savored the taste of ashes in her mouth that foretold of the victory that would soon be hers. Raising her voice, she formed the words and sounds that would bring forth the fire from within her. That fire would bring an end to this battle and to her enemies gathered there. A moment away from sending brimstone and flames at the last of them, a freezing burst and a terrifying silence flooded through her mind. Like a woolen blanket swaddling a newborn, the silence strengthened, surrounding her until she could hear nothing, feel nothing, and think no words of incantation or spell-making. She gazed across the desolate plain and discovered the other six gathered among the only stones left standing. Her weakling son stood with them-- against her! --but she would make sure he''d pay for his betrayal. Soon . . . Another sound began, invading her thoughts, pushing her down to the ground and forcing even the breath from her body. Their voices rose, chanting words she did not know, until the eerie melody was everywhere. "No!" she screamed against the overwhelming power of it. They could not defeat her! She could not let them. She sought the words of a protective spell, but they scattered, as those who had chosen to follow the six traitors had. Chaela drew upon the fire inside her, searching for the power that was hers to burn and destroy, but it, too, was gone. Cernunnos forced the ground beneath Chaela to thrust up, tossing her into the air. The winds, guided by Taranis''s powers, carried Chaela to the stone circle and held her motionless above it as the enchantment grew louder around her. And still she could not release herself from the bonds the six created. "Chaela," Belenus, the god of life and order, called out to her. "Cease this and you will be allowed to live." "Fools!" she roared back when her voice would serve her mind. "I cannot be destroyed!" Struggling against the bonds that held her, she could not do more than scream out in frustration. Elemental powers such as hers were created by the universe and could not be extinguished. "You can be defeated, Chaela. You will be imprisoned in the endless pit and never return. Your name will be forbidden and forgotten," Sucellus, the god of war and change, told her. She would never be forgotten--she had seen to that. Her name and her legend--and her blood--would go on no matter what these betrayers were able to do here today. Her very being held an elemental power of the universe and could never be extinguished. Chaela laughed then, the sound echoing across the decimated landscape. The people who had served and gained powers from their gods should be afraid, very afraid, of her wrath and the extent of her powers. Gathering every bit of the power that lived in her blood, she pushed out one final time, trying to force herself loose from the binding spell. Spiking tendrils of pain and terror seeped through her as she watched a huge black hole open beneath her in the center of the standing stones. The seven continued chanting, and each word pierced her like a sword, her powers leaching out of her as they forced her closer and closer to the yawning pit. Her body levitated over the chasm, and then she fell. Though free of the binding spell, she could not break through the barrier they placed over the opening. "Free me!" she screamed, beating at the invisible wall between them. Lashing out with her remaining powers, Chaela pounded against the wall that kept her from the world she would rule. She could feel a weakness in it, and she thrust all she had against it. She watched as the seven standing above her startled, and she threw her head back, laughing at their stupidity. To bind a power such as hers to this place, there must be a sacrifice to strengthen the spell. A sacrifice of blood, of her blood. "You do not deserve the powers we have!" she yelled through the barrier. "You do not--" She could not speak the rest because her words were cut off by the sight before her. Her son, the only one of her human-kind children who''d inherited some of her power, threw himself over the pit. Sucellus sent a spear of iron through his heart, and his blood spilled across the barrier. Instead of freeing her, his sacrifice sealed the portal over her. Chaela pounded fruitlessly against the now-impenetrable divide and then fell back into the blackness, unable to see or to feel an end to it. The opening of light disappeared above her as she fell farther and deeper into the void, but Chaela stopped fighting it and allowed herself to drift downward. Let those traitors above believe her conquered. Let them believe themselves and the other puny humans safe. They may have won this battle and thrown her from the human world into this void, but they would not win in the end. They would eventually die off in the human world while she lived on forever in this prison, searching for a way back. And she would find a way back--to take her rightful place as ruler, to avenge this wrong, to destroy those who could band together against her. She would find a way to return, and every one of them and their descendants would curse this day when they turned against her. Prologue Late winter, AD 1286 An island off the Scottish coast Marcus woke from a deep sleep with a scream tightening his throat. He caught himself before the sound escaped and sat up on his pallet. Sweat poured from him, and he pushed his hair back from his face as he climbed to his feet. Staggering in the dark of his hut, he found the jug of ale and downed a good portion, trying to ease the terror inside him. His heart raced in his chest, and his thoughts filled with danger and turmoil . . . and fire. He pushed open the door and walked out into the cooler, misty air of night, hoping to regain his calm and clarity. Taking deep breaths did not help, and he found himself shaking as sheer and absolute terror filled his mind, heart, and soul. This could mean only one thing, and he dreaded even thinking of such a possibility. Marcus shook his head, denying the thought before it could form completely. The crunching of leaves underfoot startled him, and he turned toward the sound. And her. Aislinn stood before him, her eyes glazed over and her body not her own. She was a seer of immense power, sent by her mother to him when still a child to train in the old ways. Her skills and power grew as she matured, and now she began to speak in the language from ages ago. The language of the time when priests like the two of them had served the old gods. The words floated into his mind, and he memorized them as she spoke them in the singsong voice of prophecy. "When the threat is revealed, the sleepers awaken. A Warrior seeks the truth while Fire burns away the deception. Begin in the East, then North, then South, then West. . . . Find the true gate among the rest." Marcus''s rising blood told him that this was the moment they''d trained and prayed for throughout their lives and the lives of the generations of priests before them. Now he waited for the rest of the words that would give them guidance in their task to save humanity from the darkest evil they would face, but none followed. Instead Aislinn opened her eyes as if she were waking and stared at him in fear. She rarely remembered the prophecies or knowledge she gained, but she understood the import of what had come to her this night. "Marcus? Is it begun?" she asked, walking to his side. He wrapped his arms around her and drew her close, both giving and receiving comfort in the physical gesture. "Aye, I fear it is." "And she is . . ." Marcus put his fingers to her mouth to prevent her from speaking about her prophecy anymore. They could not afford to discuss it openly. "Aye," he repeated. In the silence, he felt the heat of his powers rising in his blood. It replaced the fear and gave him the clarity to know what they must do, or at least whom they must seek. He knew that Aislinn would lead them throughout their quest, and as he watched the emotions flash across her face, he realized she must be feeling the same thing. They had valuable weapons for their battle against the ancient evil one. For thousands of years, they''d prayed and worshipped the gods who had been forgotten or transmuted by other, newer religions. They''d studied the old legends. Marcus doubted that anyone in the outside world was as prepared for the bloody battles and tremendous displays of power that were about to unfold. Suddenly, the skin of his forearm burned, and he raised his arm to look upon it. Aislinn did the same. A mark appeared in the same place on both of them. They watched by the light of the moon as the ancient image of a small man burned a patch into his skin. Hissing against the searing pain, he nodded as others left their dwellings to join them in the center of their village. Each held out their arm as they were marked with the symbol of their power. Only Aislinn''s was different--the silver crescent moon marked her skin. Would she be for some higher purpose than the rest? "It has begun," he said, meeting their gazes and then closing his eyes in silent prayer. "Ready