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Divine by Blood

P. C. Cast

  Get swept back to Partholon in book 3 of this fan-favorite series by New York Times bestselling fantasy author P.C. Cast.

  Morrigan Parker’s birth was truly magical, but she was raised as a normal girl in Oklahoma. Now coming of age and discovering the truth of her heritage, her rage and grief take on a power of their own, carrying her back to the world of Partholon. Yet, instead of being respected as the daughter of the Goddess Incarnate, Morrigan feels like a shunned outsider. In her desperation to belong, surrounded by forces she can’t fully understand or control, Morrigan will have to choose her path carefully…

  Originally published in 2007

  THE GODDESS OF PARTHOLON series New York Times bestselling author





  And coming in 2010

  from MIRA Books:



  Find out more at

  Divine by Blood

  P.C. Cast

  For my stepmom and dad, Mama Cast and the Old Coach, aka Mama Parker and Richard Parker. With much love from Bugs.

  Dear Lovely Reader,

  Divine by Blood may very well be the most difficult book I’ve ever written. And that’s not because I had to complete Shannon’s story—explain about Rhiannon—and tell the daughters’ stories, too. All in one book!

  The reason this book was tough for me was that in finishing it I felt as if I was saying goodbye to my family. It’s no secret (sometimes much to my embarrassment) that I peopled the Divine books with characters based on friends and family. One character in particular is so close to the living man that it makes me smile just thinking about him. Unquestionably, Richard Parker was fashioned after my dad. And while he and/or his ghost show up in all the Partholon books, it is in Divine by Blood that his character’s words and actions hold particularly true to my dad, Dick Cast. So while I poured a lot of love, and maybe even a piece of my heart, into the Divine trilogy, this last book will always be special to me—so special that it was difficult to see it end. I hope the spirit of it touches you, as it did me.

  And who knows—Partholon is a big world. Perhaps there are more stories there just waiting for me to tell…

  Wishing you happy reading and the brightest of blessings.

  P.C. Cast


  Thank you to my publishing team, Mary-Theresa Hussey and Adam Wilson, for being so great to work with—as usual!

  As always, I am thankful for my agent and friend, Meredith Bernstein.

  Thanks, Dad, for the ecosystem information, finding a feline basis for my lovely fictional species of cave cats, and for making the research trip to Oklahoma’s fabulous Alabaster Caverns and Great Salt Plains so much fun (Mama Cast and Lainee Ann, too!).

  I’d like to acknowledge the Alabaster Caverns State Park and thank the people there for being so gracious and helping with my research. The Alabaster Caverns State Park is located in northwestern Oklahoma and is well worth the trip. The Oklahoma Great Salt Plains of north central Oklahoma is also an amazing place. Yes, there are selenite crystals on the plains, but you have to dig for them, versus how I fictionalised them. What I didn’t fictionalise is the magic I found in both places. For more information you can contact [email protected], and the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge at 580-626-4794. Explore Oklahoma and see for yourself!



  Part I

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Part II

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 10

  Part III

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Epilogue I

  Epilogue II



  She wasn’t dead.

  She wasn’t alive, either.

  In truth, she might have passed countless years simply dwelling in the outlands of existence. Not dying—not living. Just being. If it hadn’t been for the life that stirred within her womb, and the anger that stirred within her breast. Before she remembered who she was, she remembered that she had been betrayed.

  Yes, anger is good…

  The voice in her mind was not her own, but it felt familiar, and she grasped it as she sought to find herself again. Who was she? Where was she? How had this happened to her?

  She opened her eyes. Blackness surrounded her. Blackness and weight, as if she had been submerged in a warm pool. For a moment panic overwhelmed her. If she was underwater how could she breathe? Surley she must be dead. Dead and entombed an eternity for crimes she couldn’t remember committing.

  Then the child within her fluttered again.

  The dead did not bring forth life.

  She commanded her panic to recede, and it obeyed. Panic never helped. Cold, logical thought. Meticulous planning and precise execution of those plans. That was the way to triumph. That was the way she had always triumphed.

  Until now.

  But she had been betrayed. By whom? Her anger built and she fed it, channeling her frustration and fear.

  Yes…allow anger to purify you…

  Her self-awareness increased. Her mind was less sluggish. Her body tingled. Her anger continued to build until she could actually feel its warmth surrounding her. It energized her.

  She had been betrayed…she had been betrayed…she had been betrayed…

  The words circled through her mind, causing memories to leak from the dark barriers behind which they had been hidden.

  A castle at the edge of the sea.

  Dreams that were glimpses of reality.

  A marble-walled temple of exquisite beauty and strength.

  The call of a goddess.

  That was it! She was divine! She was the Chosen of a Great Goddess!


  The name burst through her mind, and with that knowledge the dams that blocked her memory broke, and the past shattered through her.

  She had been betrayed by her goddess!

  Rhiannon remembered everything. The willful choices she’d made during her life that constantly had her at odds with the Great Goddess Epona. The rape that had been her ascension ritual. The fact that Epona had never been content with her. The realization that no one in Partholon truly loved her—that they only worshipped her as an extension of the Goddess. The Magic Sleep vision wherein she had glimpsed the Fomorian demons infiltrating Guardian Castle and plotting the destruction of Partholon. The whisperings from the darkness that told her there was another way…another world…another choice. The vision of that other world she had been given through the power of that dark voice. And her decision to exchange herself for Shannon Parker, the mundane woman from that world whose physical appearance was so like hers that they could have been born from the same womb.

  Rhiannon’s body trembled as she remem
bered the rest of it. How Clint, the Shaman she had found in this world, the mirror image of Partholon’s High Shaman ClanFintan, had refused to help her harness the power in this odd world where technology was magic and magic was an almost entirely untapped resource. So she had been forced to use dark powers to call forth a servant to aid her.

  But something had gone terribly wrong. Clint had summoned Shannon from Partholon, and the two of them had joined to use their powers to defeat her.

  The trees had named Shannon, not Rhiannon, as Epona’s Chosen, Beloved of the Goddess.

  Epona no longer spoke Rhiannon’s name. The Goddess did not acknowledge her as Chosen. When Rhiannon had realized this, something within her had broken. Rhiannon felt sick remembering how lost and afraid she had felt. But the wound was not so fresh now.

  Epona had betrayed her and allowed her to be entombed, while the usurper, Shannon, returned triumphant to Partholon and the life that should have been hers. And her child’s. You haven’t been betrayed by everyone… She now knew to whom the voice in her head belonged. The Triple-Faced God, Pryderi.


  The name moved through her mind, not as the explosion her own naming had been. Instead it was an alluring whisper.

  I am still here with you. It is, after all, women who have always betrayed you. Your mother died and left you. Shannon stole what was yours by right. Epona turned from you simply because you would not be her puppet.

  The dark god was right. Women had always betrayed her.

  If you give yourself and your daughter to me I will never betray you. In return for your obedience, I will give you Partholon.

  Rhiannon wanted to close her mind to the small voice within her that warned against allying herself with darkness. She wanted to give in and accept Pryderi’s offer instantly, but she could not ignore the sense of desolation the thought of embracing another god gave her. Logically, she knew that Epona’s favor had left her—that the Goddess had turned from her forever. But even though Rhiannon had looked to other gods…other powers…she had never taken that final step. The irretraceable step of rejecting Epona and giving herself completely to another god.

  If she did that she would never be able to stand before Epona again. And what if the Goddess decided she’d made a mistake? If Rhiannon could free herself from this horrid imprisonment and return to Partholon, was there not a chance that Epona might, once again, recognize her as Chosen? Especially after she gave birth to her daughter, whose blood would be rich with the legacy of generation after generation of Partholon’s priestesses?

  What say you, Rhiannon? Will you pledge yourself to me?

  Rhiannon could feel the edge in the god’s voice. She had left him waiting for an answer too long. Hastily, she collected herself and sent her thoughts out to him.

  You are wise, Pryderi. I am well and truly tired of being betrayed. Rhiannon formed her response carefully. But how can I pledge myself to any god while I am still imprisoned?You know a priestess must be free to perform the ascension ritual that will bind her to a god as Chosen.

  Pryderi remained silent for so long that Rhiannon began to fear she had pushed too hard. She should have just pledged herself to him! What if he left her now? She might be trapped for eternity.

  It is true that a priestess must freely give herself to a god. Then we shall simply free you so that you can pledge yourself and your daughter to my service. The tree that was her living tomb shuddered, and Rhiannon’s heartbeat quickened. She’d gambled and won! Pryderi was going to free her! She strained against the weight that pressed all around her…trapping her…suffocating her.

  That is not the way to freedom. You must be patient, my Precious One.

  Rhiannon bit back an automatic retort. No. She must learn from the past. Confronting a god openly was not wise…

  What shall I do? She sent the thought out, tempering her frustration and making sure her question felt obedient and eager.

  Use your earth affinity. Not even Epona can take that gift away from you. It is a part of your soul—of the very blood that runs in your veins. Only this time you will not bother with the Goddess’s trees. Seek the dark places. Sense the shadows within shadow. Call their power to you, Precious One. The time of your child’s birth draws near. With her birth, you will be reborn to the earth. And to a new era in the service of a god.

  I understand. Rhiannon centered herself. She was no novice priestess. She knew how to wield great power and channel the magic of the earth. Looking to the darkness was no different from tapping into the hidden power of the trees. She refused to think about what Shannon had said—that the trees willingly aided her and called her Epona’s Chosen. Instead she concentrated on the darkness—on night and shadow and the cloak of blackness that monthly covers the new moon.

  She felt the power. It wasn’t the heady rush she’d known in Partholon when Epona’s blessing had touched her, but power was there and it was drawn to her.

  Like a vessel slowly being filled, Rhiannon waited and the child within her grew.




  “A storm comes.” John Peace Eagle squinted into the southwest sky.

  His grandson barely glanced up from his portable Playstation. “Grandpa, if you’d get cable out here you wouldn’t have to do all that sky watching. You could check out the Weather Channel instead, or watch it on the news like everyone else.”

  “This storm could not be predicted by mundane means.” The old Choctaw Wisdom Keeper spoke without turning from his study of the sky. “Go now. Take the truck and return to your mother’s house.”

  This did make the teenager look. “Really? I can take your truck?”

  Peace Eagle nodded. “I’ll get a ride into town sometime this week and pick it up.”

  “Cool!” The boy grabbed his backpack and gave his grandpa a quick hug. “See ya, Grandpa.”

  It was only after Peace Eagle heard the engine roar and then fade as the boy drove down the dirt road that led to the two-lane highway to town that he began to prepare.

  Rhythmically the Wisdom Keeper beat the drum. It did not take long. Soon shapes began stirring between the trees. They entered the clearing beside the cabin as if they had been carried there by the growing violence of the wind. In the fading daylight they looked like ancient ghosts. John Peace Eagle knew better. He knew the difference between spirit and flesh. When all six of them had joined him he spoke.

  “It is good you have answered my call. The storm that comes tonight is not only of this world.”

  “Has the Chosen of the Goddess returned?” one of the Elders asked.

  “No. This is a dark storm. An evil one stirs.”

  “What is it you would have us do?”

  “We must go to the sacred grove and contain what is struggling to be free,” Peace Eagle said.

  “But we defeated evil there not long ago,” said the youngest of the tribal Elders.

  Peace Eagle’s smile was grim. “Evil can never be truly defeated. As long as the gods give world dwellers freedom of choice, there will be those who choose evil.”

  “The Great Balance,” the youngest Elder said thoughtfully.

  Peace Eagle nodded. “The Great Balance. Without light there would not be dark. Without evil, good would have no balance.”

  The Elders grunted wordless agreement.

  “Now let us work on the side of good.”

  * * *

  Rhiannon welcomed the pain. It meant that it was time for her to live again. Time for her to return to Partholon and take back what was hers by right. She used the pain to focus. She thought of it as purification. Ascending to Epona’s service had not been a painless ritual. She expected no less from what Pryderi must have planned for her.

  The labor was long and difficult. For a body she’d been detached from for so long, it was a shock to suddenly be aware of muscles and nerves and the cascade of cramping pain that radiated like drowning waves from her core.

on tried not to dwell on thoughts of how this birth should have been. She should have been surrounded by her handmaidens and servants. She should have been bathed and cosseted and pampered—given ancient herbal infusions that would dull her pain and fear. Her women would never have left her alone to face the birth by herself. And her daughter’s entry into Partholon would have been met by joyous celebrations, as well as a sign from Epona that the Goddess was pleased by the birth of her Chosen’s daughter.

  No, she couldn’t dwell on those thoughts, even though she secretly hoped that when this child was finally born Epona would return to her and show her some sign—any sign, even though she wasn’t in Partholon and this child wasn’t her first. Somewhere in the blackness between the seemingly endless surges of pain Rhiannon had time to think about that other child. The infant she had aborted. Did she regret what she had done? What good did regret ever do? It had been a choice she had made in her youth. A choice she could not undo.

  She must focus on the daughter she was giving birth to now, not mistakes in her past.

  When the next spasm of contractions seized her she opened her mouth to scream, even though she knew that entombed as she was, her pain and aloneness would be given no voice.

  You are wrong, Precious One. You are not alone. Behold the power of your new god!

  With a deafening crack, her living tomb was suddenly split open, and in a rush of fluid, Rhiannon was expelled from the womb of the ancient tree. She lay gasping and shivering on the carpet of grass. Wrenching coughs shook her. She blinked her eyes wildly, trying to clear her blurry vision. Her first thought was of the man whose sacrifice had entombed her. With a shudder, she looked over her shoulder at the gaping hole in the tree, expecting to see Clint’s body. She braced herself for the horror of it, but all she saw was a faint sapphire glow that faded slowly, like it was being absorbed into the bowels of the wounded tree.