Torn has been transferred to D.I.T. to help run down an interdimensional anomaly in Dublin. He’s spent his whole life running from his own inner demons until a beautiful hunter brings him to a full stop.
From New York Times bestselling author, Victoria Danann, called “Queen of Alpha Males” by Slashed Reads.
When Sir Torrent Finngarick arrives in Dublin, he’s partnered with Sheridan, one of a pair of elf twins who put the hot in hawt and the war in warrior.
He needs to get his mind off the wild, redheaded beauty because there’s an interdimensional stream portal somewhere in the vicinity of Trinity College and Temple Bar. So far as they can tell, it’s been causing havoc for centuries. Simon wants it found and monitored. If anything comes through, he wants to know about it. If anything goes through, he wants his Dublin D.I.T. team to run it down.
When it came to my attention that D.I.T. was going to Dublin, I thought of Torn Finngarick. After all he knew the culture and could, perhaps, be useful. I confess to the ulterior motive of wanting to see all the floaters brought in from the cold. He was one of the remaining few. And everybody deserves another chance. Right?
As I mentioned earlier, my wife was working for Black Swan setting up a unit called Department of Interdimensional Trespass. It seemed that creatures coming and going at will were causing havoc that had, until recently, been unexplained, believed to be fiction of the myth or folklore variety, or dismissed as interplanetary visitations. Rosie was busy hiring and training people who were going to function as police.
Anyway, I had served with Sir Finngarick when I was first knighted as the fourth member of the infamous Z Team and came to know him quite well. Most believed he was irredeemable. I did not.
-Glendennon Catch, SOVEREIGN, Jefferson Unit, Order of the Black Swan
In the long chronicle of Black Swan knights, Torn was one of only a handful who were not second sons. His particular life circumstances, otherwise known as fate, created the perfect storm necessary to build a potential Black Swan knight.
His mother had died when he was a toddler too young to retain any conscious memory of her. His father was a drunk, on the dole, and the town joke. By the time he was seven he’d learned to fight and was ready to take on all comers, even much older kids, anyone who had something untoward to say about his old man. Even though he’d be the first to acknowledge that there likely had never been a sorrier excuse for an elf.
Other elflings had an arsenal of hurtful things to say.
“He’s a shtate gobshite.”
“He’s a pox” or “eejit” or “maggot”.
Torn knew his father had given up, crawled to the bottom of a whiskey bottle and stayed there because he’d lost his mate. He wanted to shout at his da; that he was still there, that his father still had work to do. But he didn’t. He learned to make modest meals and put a besotted Mick Finngarick to bed.
If tears were shed, they fell with no one to see.
As word spread that a person should think twice before insulting Torn Finngarick or his father, opportunities to find release by pounding someone bloody became fewer and farther between.
He’d grown to just under six feet by the time his thirteenth birthday came around. By that time he’d taken to traveling to nearby towns and hanging around outside pubs in hopes that somebody who hadn’t heard of him could be goaded into a fight. When he scored a taker, they were always put off by the grin that communicated pure pleasure. Sometimes it was accompanied by outright laughter.
That would have given a wise man pause. But a wise man wouldn’t be taunted into a street fight with a kid like Finngarick. So Torn was free to show exactly how much he relished the lesson he was about give on the stupidity of engaging in rough play with strangers.
On one such occasion he stole a car and drove to Derry, the seat of the Irish Elf kingdom. He knew there would be a sea of possible victims there, particularly on a Saturday night.
As it happened, a knight named Draglanore was in Derry having a pint with a friend while standing at the bar at the Crow’s Cock on Queen’s Quay. He overheard the patrons behind him talking.
“The boyo’s fuckin’ put down four hale and hearty men and still ready for more. Ne’er saw nothin’ like it.”
Sir Draglanore turned his body toward the elf who’d been speaking and said, “Pardon me for overhearing. Are you talking about an altercation in progress?”
The man looked Draglanore up and down, undoubtedly thinking the man’s speech was a bit highfalutin.
“That’s right,” he said, eyeing Draglanore with a modicum of suspicion. “Outside in front. Boyo too young for drink, but not too young to fight.”
Draglanore nodded. “Thank you.” As he turned back to his friend he acknowledged the quiet voice, but insistent voice. All knights are trained to pay attention to the inner prompting that pulls in one direction or another. Some said it was a function of the mystic. Some said it was a brain mechanism yet to be fully understood. Black Swan was far more concerned with practical application and function than definition. Turning back to his friend, he said, “You’ll have to forgive me, John. I need to check on something.”
John was agreeable. “Go ahead. I’ll keep the beer warm and the women cool.”
Draglanore laughed. “Indeed. Exactly what I fear when I wake each day.”
It wasn’t difficult to find the subject of bar talk. Finngarick and the small crowd he’d drawn had retired to an alley a few doors down from the pub so as not to draw the attention of law enforcement.
Draglanore arrived just as Finngarick delivered a knockout punch to a man who was in his late twenties and muscled to a point that suggested the use of enhancement drugs.
Finngarick was smiling like he was having the time of his life. Draglanore stepped in front of him and turned to the crowd.
“That’s all for tonight folks. The kid has had enough.”
The idea of being shut down by a prissy-talking stranger infuriated Torn. He pushed Draglanore’s shoulder from behind and was surprised when that had no visible effect on the man.
“Ain’t your fuckin’ business, eegit. You wantin’ some? I got enough for you and them, too.”
Draglanore turned slowly and deliberately. When Torn got a look at his face he could see that Draglanore wasn’t like the other men who showed up to fight him. He was self-possessed in a way that was foreign to Finngarick.
“What’s your name?”
“Gray Draglanore. And you are?”
Torn huffed and looked up and down the alley, but said, “Torrent Finngarick.”
Draglanore nodded. “A fine name.” Torn snorted, which made Draglanore cock his head to the side. “You from around here?”
Torn wasn’t sure why he hadn’t already turned and walked away. It crossed his mind, but there was something compelling about the man. So he decided to let things play out a bit and find out what his angle was. “No.”
“Just passing through?”
Torn eyes skittered away in the direction of the stolen car. “Maybe.”
“I see. What year are you in?”
“And why would that be your fuckin’ business?”
“I might have an offer for you. I might not. I won’t know unless you answer my questions.”
Again, Torn thought about walking away, but the event is progress had the potential to be the most unusual and interesting thing that had ever happened in his short life.
“I’m in seven.”
“Seven.” Draglanore nodded. “Do you by chance have an older brother?” Torn shook his head. Draglanore showed mild surprise, but quickly recovered his passive expresssion.
“Just me and my da. Why are ye askin’?”
Draglanore ignored the question. “Are you smart, Torrent Finngarick?”
Torn’s lips twitched in a way that told Draglanore what he wanted to know. The kid was angry, handy, smart, and on the way to being on the tall side for an elf. He was already six feet and probably looking at another two growth spurts. At least.
“Do you like what you’re doing now? Your friends? Where you live? Where you go to school?” Draglanore already knew the answers to those questions. Black Swan knights are good at reading people.
Torn barked out a laugh, spat on the ground and wiped a rolled up sleeve across his bloody mouth. “No’ even a little.”
“Well, in that case, I may have an alternative to suggest. I work for an organization that recruits people like yourself. You would get the best education anywhere, see the world, meet people you can respect, and, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, make a lot of money. I can send someone to talk to you and your father if you’re interested.”
Torn narrowed his eyes. “Gangsters? Lookin’ for somebody who can fight.”
It was Finngarick’s turn to be surprised when Draglanore laughed out loud. “No.” The knight shook his head, clearly amused by the idea. “Not gangsters. Although we do know something about fighting.”
“You work for the king?”
“Not the mob. Not the king. It’s a secret. If you sign on, it’s a secret you’ll take to the grave, but it’s also a decision you’ll never regret.”
Torn was intrigued. “My da…”
“He’s a dosser. Likes the whiskey.”
“Aye. Most of the time he’s locked and manky.” Torn looked down at his shoes suddenly feeling ashamed in front of the elegant well-spoken stranger.
“I see. And you’re concerned that he may not be at his best when our recruiter comes to call?” Torn looked up into Draglanore’s eyes with a vulnerability that wasn’t there before and nodded. “Leave that to us. Give me your address and expect someone in the next two days. We don’t operate on the same time as the rest of the world. We get things done. You need to be prepared to leave if you like what you hear. Day after tomorrow.”
Draglanore smiled. “I have a feeling about you.”
Torn glanced away, but hurried to ask, “Will I see you again?”
“Maybe someday,” Draglanore smiled. “In our organization paths tend to cross from time to time. I expect I’ll be hearing things about you within a few years.”
Sir Draglanore did indeed hear things about Torrent Finngarick within a few years. They just weren’t good things.