The Legend of a Rogue by Darcy Burke

“I liked that story,” a younger girl said. “Thank you, Miss Elspeth.”

“You’re welcome.” Elspeth smiled at her, then let her gaze go to the tall man once more. He hadn’t been there at the start of the story, but he seemed to know the entire tale.

Before she could find a reason to make her way toward him, he came forward, skirting the children as they stood and returned to their parents.

“You’re an excellent storyteller,” he said.

“Thank you. And you are familiar with the tale of Ranulf and Hilaria.”

“I am indeed.”

One of the boys, whom Elspeth knew quite well, came forward without even looking at the gentleman. “Miss Elspeth, are you going to tell us about the rest of the thirteen treasures?”

Elspeth laughed softly. “David, you have heard about the thirteen treasures maybe thirteen times. And I just told you about one of them—the Heart of Llanllwch.”

“I’d rather hear about the sword—Dyrnwyn,” he said stubbornly, his small mouth turning down.

“Would you like to hear about Dyrnwyn’s twin?” the man asked, prompting both David and Elspeth to swing their heads in his direction.

“There’s another sword?” David asked, his voice rising and his eyes widening eagerly.

“I am not aware of a twin sword,” Elspeth said, her breath catching with excitement. There was nothing she loved more than discovering a new story.

“You are familiar with Rhydderch Hael, of course, since Dyrnwyn, or White-Hilt, belonged to him?”

“He was Rhydderch the Generous,” David responded quickly. “Because he loaned Dyrnwyn to anyone who wanted it.”

“Most people didn’t want it, however,” the man said with a chuckle. “At least not then. Now, there are plenty of those who would like to own the sword that flames blue.”

David nodded. “I would!”

“Well, eventually, someone did take Dyrnwyn. That was the knight, Gareth, to whom Rhydderch gifted the sword on his wedding day. However, there was a second sword called Lann Dhearg, or red blade. It also fired from tip to hilt, but the flames were an orange-red instead of blue. This blade belonged to Rhydderch’s brother, and he was…not so generous.” The man winked at David.

“What happened to Lann Dhearg?”

“It was lost, unfortunately,” the man said with a touch of sadness. “Just as Dyrnwyn has been lost.”

“How come Dyrnwyn is one of the thirteen treasures and Lann Dhearg is not?” David asked.

“Because Dyrnwyn was given to one of Arthur’s knights, but you know that, I expect.” He looked at Elspeth. “Something tells me you know every detail of those treasures.” His blue eyes sparked with an inner heat.

“David!” the boy’s mother called from several feet away.

Elspeth turned her head to see the woman smiling at her son and gesturing for him to come. David threw his arms around Elspeth for a quick hug. “Thank you, Miss Elspeth.” He looked up at the gentleman and said, “And thank you for telling me about Lann Dhearg.” He turned and dashed to his mother.

“Are you visiting for the Lammas Fair?” Elspeth asked the man.

“Passing through town on my way to Inverness, but yes, I am spending the night.” He spoke in a deep, lowland brogue.

“I ask because David will probably draw a picture of Lann Dhearg and if he sees you again, he’ll offer to give it to you.”

“He’s drawn pictures for you, I take it?”

Elspeth thought of the stack in her library. “Many. My favorite is Dyrnwyn.” She paused and contemplated him a moment. “I still can’t quite believe you knew of Ranulf and Hilaria and that you had a new story to share. Is there more you can tell me of Lann Dhearg?”

“Not much…Miss Elspeth?”

“Miss Marshall, but the children call me Miss Elspeth.”

“I am Roy Williams.” He bowed. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.” He grinned, and Elspeth’s knees felt watery. He was exceptionally handsome. The strong, angular planes of his face were utterly masculine in their shape, from the square set of his jaw to the sharp line of his cheekbones. But it was his interest in her storytelling and his contribution of his own that captivated her.

“How do you know about this twin sword?” she asked. “I’ve never heard of it, and I go out of my way to hear every story and legend I possibly can.”