Destiny Fulfilled

By Kathryn Heaney

Action & adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young adult, Romance

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617
11 mins

Destiny Fulfilled - Prologue

“Mom! It’s time!”
Laura Evans cracked her eyelids, reluctant to leave the warmth of her bed. But she kicked her husband, startling him, and rolled out from beneath the covers. Her daughter, Diana, backlit by moonbeams streaming through the window, was hunched over clutching her distended belly and panting heavily. Vaaron automatically reached beneath the bed and came to his feet wielding an intimidating broadsword.
Diana sputtered out a guffaw at the sight of her naked father and growled between gritted teeth, “Dad, you won’t need that unless you intend to cut the cord...” She gasped and waddled farther into the room.
Vaaron’s sword clattered to the stone floor and he muttered, “Bloody hell!” as he pulled on pants. Now partially clothed, at a loss for words or action, he turned to his wife and stood gaping stupidly at her.
Laura rolled her eyes. “A little light and heat would be good, dear.”
“Right!” Vaaron scrambled into action, conjuring magic on his fingertips to light the stones set in brackets on the walls about their bedchamber, before heating the rocks piled in the impressive stone hearth.
“Where’s Manus?” Laura demanded as she approached Diana and draped an arm about her shoulders to lead her to the bed.
Vaaron tensed. “Aye, where is your husband?”
Diana groaned, toppled onto the bed, gasped again, and clutched at her rising belly. Finally she relaxed as the contraction released and she could talk again. “He’s gone to feed Apona’s baby. He had a nice piece of lamb he thought the little dragon would relish.”
“He left you?” Vaaron bellowed.
Diana blew out a deep breath. Her belly was rising again. Through clenched teeth she muttered, “The contractions started after he left, Dad!”
“Oh, well... all right,” Vaaron grumbled. “I will go fetch the lad.” It was a lame excuse to leave his own bedchamber, but he ripped the door open in his haste to leave, flinched when it crashed against the wall, and dashed through the opening. Thank God, Manus had not been with Diana, otherwise he would not have made good his escape.
Mother and daughter locked gazes and burst into gales of laughter – somewhat strangled in Diana’s case, since she was riding out her contraction. With a final gasp, Diana hissed, “I think it’s probably a good thing Dad wasn’t there for our births.”
Laura nodded. “As much as I’d wished him to be there when I gave birth to you and your brother, I think Jeff made a better labour coach.”
“Speaking of whom... You’d better pull the easel to the side of the bed so Jeff and Aunt Mandy... Oh, God... Here comes another contraction!”
“Junior’s eager to be born,” Laura observed as she dragged the easel with the frame propped on it closer to the bed.
Through the frame, one could see the dim outline of a bachelor apartment. On the sofa bed that dominated the room a man groaned and buried his head deeper into his pillow. “Damn it, Laura, go away. I’m trying to sleep!” His words were muffled by the pillow.
“If that’s what you want, Jeff... But Mandy will be pissed when she misses the birth of her great nephew, or niece.”
Jeff jerked upright.
“What?” He scrambled from beneath the covers, clad only in boxers. He had taken to wearing them after he’d begun sleeping on the main floor of Laura’s old apartment, situated in the house that Mandy owned, so they could catch news from Anandria. The problem was, he never knew when Laura would come near the painting of her old apartment and open the portal. There had been one or two occasions when Laura had inadvertently neared the picture, and her proximity to it had opened the portal leaving them both staring in stunned surprise at each other – hence his boxers.
It was also the reason why Laura kept the frame well across the room from her own bed since she didn’t relish the possibility of a peeping Tom – err, Jeff – when she shared intimate moments with Vaaron.
Diana huffed out a groan, and Jeff ’s eyes widened. “Don’t let anything happen until I get Mandy. She’ll kill me if she misses this.” He pounded down the stairs.
“As if... I can... control... this...” Diana panted.
“Laura!”
Diana and Laura shifted their eyes to Laura’s bedchamber door. Morrigan leaned against the doorframe. Sweat beaded on her brow, and her arms were clasped around her protruding belly. “Tis time!” she gasped.
“To quote my husband,” Laura muttered, “bloody hell, Morrigan!” She hustled across the room and wrapped her arm about her friend’s waist. “Two in one bed... Hard to imagine this scenario. If this was in a book, or played out in a movie, I’d scoff at the idiot who wrote the storyline.”
Diana’s contraction eased, and she sank gratefully into the mattress. Still breathing heavily, she grinned at her mom. “It makes perfect sense here in Anandria, Mom. David and Morrigan were married the same night Manus and I were.” She shrugged. “Same wedding night and look what’s happening nine months later!” She reached out to Morrigan as her sister-in-law collapsed onto the mattress next to her. A twinkle danced in Diana’s eye. “And considering how the magic of Anandria runs through both of us, perhaps there’s a little push from that direction, as well.”
Laura critically eyed the two women. Can I do this? Can I see to the welfare of these two powerful women – my best friend, the Goddess of War, and my child, the Moon Goddess? Both lay panting and grinning at each other, their hands clasped in mutual support. Laura
struggled for breath. It was incredible how her world had changed since that day long ago when she had tumbled through her painting into the magical dimension of Anandria, where names and their meanings stirred power.
Laura glanced down at herself. An over-sized T-shirt came to her knees. Thank heavens Vaaron had collapsed after a long day of training the troops or she may have been caught less covered... She shook her head. Focus! Quit stalling. She needed to assess the two mothers-to-be.
“Goddamn it!” Morrigan roared with augmented volume.
The walls of the castle shook.
Books tumbled off shelves, and Laura dove to steady the easel that supported the portal. Crap! Morrigan’s goddess voice means Morrigan’s in distress. Talk about a rare event. Morrigan’s augmented voice was meant to be used on the battlefield over the deafening clash of warriors hacking it out with their swords.
Laura let the frame go when Morrigan’s voice petered out leaving the War Goddess gasping for breath. Her eyes cut to her daughter. Di had to be feeling pretty good, since she hadn’t pulled magic from the moon – yet.
Morrigan groaned and set off another mini quake.
“Morrigan!” Laura snapped – the last thing they needed were major repairs to the castle... Laura hurried to Morrigan’s side of the bed, took her face between her hands, and demanded, “Where’s my son? Where’s your husband, David?”
The contraction eased and Morrigan panted, “Sent him... to get... Audrey...”
“The chatelaine of the castle? Why?” Laura asked, puzzled.
“Water broke... Babe coming fast... Audrey knows... midwifery...”
“She does?” Laura was surprised, yet she shouldn’t be, she thought with a rueful grin. Audrey had to be the most efficient, hardworking, reliable, bossy chatelaine in the history of Veresah! The woman was remarkable, handling any situation within the castle’s walls. So why not the birth of a baby?
“I do!” came Audrey’s familiar voice from the doorway.
Geez, Laura had been worried about taking on the two births for months. She’d even thought about suggesting the girls spend some time on Earth where modern hospitals handled pregnancies every day. However, the doctors and nurses didn’t have the capability to heal instantly if things went wrong – so Laura had sucked it up and steeled herself for this day figuring she’d handle it all on her own.
A tight ball of worry unfurled when her son, and Audrey, strode into the room. Audrey pushed up her sleeves, while David, looking pale and worried, rushed to Morrigan’s side. I’m not doing this on my own. Laura smiled fondly when David’s face went even whiter at the sight of his sister lying next to his wife.
David stuttered, “Di! You, too?”
“Yup!”
From the doorway, another male voice gasped a strangled, “Di!”
Diana’s eyes swung to the door. Manus, High Priest of the Lunar Temple of the City of Moyen, rushed across the room to her side and clasped her hand in his. Behind Manus, Vaaron edged slowly into the room. This was not the place for him, Laura noted with amusement. Give him blood, guts, a battlefield, but... Suddenly another amplified groan reverberated throughout the room as Morrigan’s belly rose again. Frantic, Morrigan clutched at her abdomen with two hands. Her eyes widened exposing the whites clearly. Immediately, Audrey dove between Morrigan’s legs as she said to Laura, “Have a look see how far along yer daughter be.”
Laura stooped to examine Diana.
Di’s belly began to tighten with a contraction stronger than anything she had experienced to this point. “Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!” With each expletive, Diana’s grip on her husband’s hand tightened.
“Di!” Manus yelled in panic. His knees buckled from the pain Diana’s moon-enhanced grip caused. “Di!”
Everyone, with the exception of the two labouring women, winced when bones snapped in his hand. It reminded Laura of cereal that went snap, crackle, pop! It looked like Di was oblivious to the damage she had caused Manus.
Manus roared under the excruciating pain. Instinctively, he drew upon the power of the moon. A yellow aura of calming moonglow seeped out of his hands surrounding both himself and
Diana. A tad of magic leaked over to Morrigan where Diana’s foot touched her, and instantly Morrigan’s amplified voice lowered into normal groans of misery, Diana’s grip eased, and Manus was able to retrieve his mangled hand.
Laura’s head popped up from between Diana’s thighs. “I can see...”
Manus peered at his hand when Laura stopped speaking to stare at him in horror. Christ! None of my fingers are pointing in the right direction. Spots began to float across his eyes and his knees felt rubbery...
“Crap!” Laura breathed as she hurried to her son-in-law. His face was positively green. Quickly, she cupped his mangled hand between hers and whispered, “Heal thyself!” Power flowed, encasing their hands in a white glow. Magically, his fingers straightened
into a functioning hand.
Manus tentatively flexed his digits. “My profound thanks,” he murmured and kissed Laura’s cheek.
Laura smiled at him. He still looked green!
“Morrigan’s babe be almost here,” Audrey said as she looked up at David, who was standing still looking somewhat shell-shocked. Audrey snorted when she noticed Vaaron propped against the wall just inside the door. His face was full of worry and horror. A
birthing chamber was no place for men. “Vaaron!” The old warrior jerked when he heard her call his name. “Take the lads to fetch the cradles ye’ve prepared. Stay outside until we call for them.” Vaaron nodded, grateful for the assignment. She snorted. ‘Twas not the task perking him up, but the escape without losing face. “Now, Vaaron!” Audrey stressed. The men were barely standing. Sweat dripped off Manus’s forehead, and David was swaying.
“Aye,” Vaaron replied. He motioned for the men to follow him. Almost reluctantly, both walked away from the bed, but Vaaron noticed the tension in their bodies lessen the further they got from the birthing bed.
David and Manus locked gazes when they stood outside in the hall. “Geez, the pain,” David murmured. “I never knew it would be this bad.”
“Aye!” Manus agreed. He glanced down at his newly mended hand. “Tis unsettling.”
Vaaron threw his arms across their shoulders and steered them down the hall. “Tis why we have been banished.”
“We’re not banished,” David muttered. “We’ve been sent to get the cradles.”
Vaaron shook his head. “’Twas an excuse to get us out of the way. We may be the fiercest warriors able to defend and protect our families, but when our women give birth, we cannot watch them endure the pain. It goes completely against our nature to let them suffer.”
A lone man hidden by shadows near the top of the stairs that led down to the main hall, pushed away from the wall. “Tis remarkable how long ye lasted,” he said in greeting.
Vaaron snorted at the sight of his nephew, Elfare, smugly smiling at them. “Tis true, we tarried too long for my ease,” Vaaron acknowledged. “But ‘twas the High Priest who caused our delay. His wee wife – my daughter – mashed his hand, and Laura had to heal him before we could make our exit.”
“Bloody hell!” Manus exclaimed. “My wee wife happens to be the bloody Moon Goddess! And guess what? The moon is high tonight. She is at full power. Anandria is lucky she is well inland, miles from the coast. Even so, the tides will fluctuate wildly causing many to evacuate coastal areas when her pain hits its peak and she unleashes her magic.” Manus stabbed a finger into Elfare’s chest. “In fact, before we came here, we made sure the lower levels of the City of Moyen were abandoned until after the birth.”
Elfare brushed Manus’s finger aside and clapped him on the shoulder. “’Twas smart to move her well away from the sea, priest. But now, let us move down to the main hall, join the festivities, and quaff down ale until you officially enter fatherhood.”
“Hey!” David protested. “I’m married to the Goddess of War. What about my impending fatherhood?”
Elfare slowly eyed him up and down. “Tis because of your wife that I and most of Veresah have awakened at this ungodly hour.” He held his hand up when he saw David was about to protest. “’Twas the bellowing of your blushing bride that alerted us to the blessed event.” Outright sarcasm was laced through his voice. “But I have to admit, ‘twas a pleasant surprise to run into Vaaron when he fetched Manus, and I learned that Diana was abed, too.”
Murmuring voices floated up the stairs as they descended to the main hall.
“God almighty!” David breathed when they navigated the curve in the stairs and he saw the hall below them. The massive space was full of people. Men and women chatted and drank tankards of ale while focusing on the stairs. A hush fell over the crowd, but Elfare
shook his head and conversations picked up again.
Elfare smirked. “See? Morrigan has awakened the whole town. Now, they await news. There are more outside in the streets – they could not all fit in here.” He grabbed a couple of tankards off a passing tray and shoved them at David and Manus.
“But we’re supposed to get the cribs...” David protested, eyeing the ale.
“Already done,” Elfare quipped as he snagged two more drinks. He kept one and passed the other to Vaaron. “I dispatched some men to see to the task before you three emerged from
the bedchamber.”
An angry wail from the top of the staircase interrupted the merriment in the great hall. ‘Twas the sound of new life thrust from its dark, warm home into the cold, cruel world. David and Manus looked at each other and thunked their tankards down on a table.
“Not yet!” Vaaron bellowed. He and Elfare grabbed their tunics and hauled them back from the bottom step of the staircase. “We wait for the other one...”
Almost as if on cue, a much quieter cry joined the furious wailing of the first babe. Vaaron nodded to Elfare, and they let the two new fathers go. Vaaron followed in their footsteps. He was a grandfather. Imagine that. Ahead, he heard their pounding footsteps come to an abrupt halt. He picked up his pace. Audrey, at the top of the stairs, cradled a babe in each arm. One still howled furiously.
“Ah, here comes Grandpa, now,” she crooned as she looked at Vaaron with a pleased grin.
The two fathers stood on either side of her gawking at the bundles she carried. “Tis one of each ye have.” She turned to David and slid a baby neatly into his uncertain hands. “Tis a boy for you.” Then she swung to Manus. “And for you, High Priest, a wee girl.”
Manus accepted the bundle. “And my wife?”
Audrey nodded. “Aye, both women be fine. After ye used moonglow to retrieve your hand, Diana got the notion to use it, too, on both herself and Morrigan. Which I might say, made the birthing process much more pleasant. Never before have I seen such serene women in the throes of labour.” She patted Manus on the shoulder. “Well done, lad.”
“Where’s Laura?” Vaaron demanded. He took a peek at the new little faces. The boy was flushed scarlet as he wailed his head off. The girl was snuggled in her blanket, quietly taking in the world with big brown eyes. Beautiful! Exceptional!
“She’s healing the girls. They’ll not have to worry about tenderness after the births. Tis a right handy gift your wife has.” Audrey walked down the hall and peeked into the bedchamber. “Bring the babes to their mothers. Laura is finished. All is well.”
The men, with their precious burdens, hurried to their wives who held out their arms to receive their new little ones.
“My, this does make a pretty picture,” Mandy cooed through the portal. They all looked her way. She and Jeff sat side by side on the end of his sofa bed. Both leaned forward. That was all they could do, because they were Earth bound – not of Anandria – but it was enough. Mandy beamed. “Guess I’m a great aunt, now!”
Jeff reached out and squeezed her hand. “You’re always great,” he proclaimed with a happy grin.
Mandy sighed. If only Jeff really thought so. She retrieved her hand and playfully slapped him on his bare shoulder. He was still in his boxers, and Mandy was okay with that! Thankfully, he hadn’t rushed to dress when he had come to get her. They had reached the portal seconds before Morrigan had given birth to her son, and then within seconds of that event, Diana had given birth to her daughter.
Mandy turned her attention back to Diana and David, whom she called niece and nephew; Laura was like a sister, and her children she considered a part of her adoptive family. “Seriously, though,” Mandy said narrowing her eyes at the two siblings. “Have you thought about names? They need strong names – names that will protect them.” Her brown eyes bore first into David, then Diana.
David nodded solemnly. “We borrowed your, Name the Baby, book and Morrigan and I have chosen a Gaelic name for our son.”
Morrigan smiled down at the whimpering bundle in her arms. Thank heavens the screaming had ceased! Christ, can I feel any more self-conscious in the midst of all these people? I am supposed to be tough... The War Goddess, right at this moment, knew she was radiating both warmth and softness as she peered down at her son. Her son’s eyes opened and connected with hers. Morrigan sighed with delight. His whimpering stopped completely. Yeah, I can do this... Just let any threat near my son, and the world will see the true measure of my fury. “Aye, we have chosen a very strong name. He will be known as Raonull, the Mighty One!”
“Good, good,” Mandy murmured as her gaze snapped to Diana. “And what are you going to name this precious little girl, Di?”
Diana dipped her head and brushed her lips across her daughter’s forehead. Softly, she ran a finger down the little upturned nose. Fierce determination shone in Diana’s teary eyes. “I never want her to experience the evil I was subjected to, so I’ve chosen
the name Kathryn in the hopes that it will prevent Lucifer from ever possessing her.”
Manus nodded. “At least, that is our hope. Kathryn means, Pure, but it is hard to know what the magic of Anandria will do with that name!”


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