Sholto Douglas balanced on the old stone, seawall overlooking the ruins. The chilly October wind whipped around him, chilling his skin. The scent of salt and seaweed, stirred up by last night’s storm, filled his nostrils. His older brother should be here, not him. But James had been killed in a car accident nine months ago. So the task at hand fell to him. Even if he believed it was all bullshit.

Except he didn’t know what to do. Sure, he had directions scribbled on an abused piece of parchment, handed down for generations. He’d tried to do some research before flying here, searched out a few pagans and witches. Some of them looked at him like he had two heads and said the whole idea was crazy. What the parchment said was simply not possible. Which was pretty much his own conclusion.

But others, the ones who seemed more well balanced said, yes, he needed to do this ritual. It was possible the annual rite was one of the elements holding the world together, and of great importance. Even if it didn’t make sense logically. Any action taken to enhance the earth’s energy at this fragile time might be important in saving the planet.

They’d given him a few leads on how to go about it, things to try, but he was really out of his league here. He’d never even known about all this. Anger surged in him; why hadn’t Dad or James ever mentioned it when they’d been alive?

So here he stood. On the Mainland, which is what the natives called Orkney, even though it was an island. He’d left as an infant in his mother’s arms. Now, they were all gone. His entire family, one by one, had passed from this world. And he was a thirty-five year old man trying to keep alive a tradition, which no one knew about and he didn’t even believe in.

James hadn’t had the same problem. Maybe because as the eldest, he was groomed to perform the ritual by Dad and trusted it implicitly. Every year James had returned here at the end of the Celtic Year and performed it. After business school, he’d settled here, fallen in love and married. But there had been no children to pass the ritual to. His wife emigrated to the U.S. right after James died.

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