AD877 – Pendyffryn has fallen to the Conqueror, Jehan-Emíl deFreveille. Though Cwmdu warriors defeated Han Chadzy’s first assault, Daran Pendyffryn sends Christophe Maides—known as the Demon to the warriors he terrifies on the battlefield and the women attracted to his bed, hired killer and unrepentant predator—to protect his chosen heir.
From his first sight of Cwmdu, the Demon has coveted the mountains. He had never loved, never been loved but, from his first sight of a flaxen nymph, he covets more than one night of pleasure.
While Han Chadzy takes his revenge on Daran Pendyffryn’s allies to the east, destroying the village and driving inhabitants to the forest, Maides recognizes the first stirrings of desire he has felt since landing on this cold island.
On the chance of finding the flaxen-haired woman again and the opportunity to grasp the mineral-rich mountains surrounding Cwmdu, Maides accepts Daran Pendyffryn’s commission to find and protect Heilyn ap Alun, a boy who will become the most powerful man in the region.
The custom of offering a guest his wife for a night’s companionship is a matter of honor for Alun Cwmdu but he refuses to offend the Demon by offering Heilyn’s mother, a harridan whose sarcasm provokes men to violence. Alun’s captured Saxon slave, Ingred, is another matter.
The customs of his homeland prevent Maides from accepting another’s wife and the mercenary has seen the woman he wants that night, a woman so beautiful she outshines the sun, offering her smile to a man who equals Maides in strength and power. Her scent is of the mountains and the forest, and lingers in Alun’s bed.