Xyla's Way, Story excerpts

Here are a couple of short passages from the first two chapters of the book:

Chapter 1

Merrdyn poured Fryek some Mead and joined him next to the hearth.  The beakers were particularly fine, befitting someone of Merrdyn's status as High Druid, carved from horn with silver mounts which glinted in the firelight. 
       Fryek used an iron rod to revive the flagging fire sending up sparks which flitted like fireflies into the roofspace and plumes of smoke that permeated the straw thatch.
The two old friends stared at the flames transfixed by their hypnotic dance.  A loud 'crack' from a candescent log stirred Merrdyn from his trance and prompted him to speak.
        "I fear the dark days foretold in my visions are nearly upon us," Said Merrdyn.  Consumed by trepidation his gaze drifted away from Fryek's face and became lost in the middle distance. 
Fryek tried to bring him back with words of reassurance.  "We have heeded many bad omens and survived countless threats in the past. We will again."
        "This time is different," said Merrdyn, with a sense of defeat in his voice.  "Last night the Goddess Morrigan appeared to me and assumed the guise of a raven.  It circled the sky multiplying into a flock which blocked out the sun.  A sparrow fell from the sky and lay dead before me"
        "Then we must act to supplant our fate," ventured Fryek.
"Our fate appears sealed," replied Merrdyn.   "The message is clear.  Morrigan is the Goddess of battle.  The ravens symbolize the passage of those slain on the battlefield up to the Otherworld.  The sparrow represents centuries of ancestral knowledge. 
        "We are facing a challenge not only to our tribes but to the very existence of our religion" 
       "What do you propose we do."?
"I have taken steps.  But if anything should happen to me, please see that Xyla is safe.  She is the last of my line.  If anything was to happen to her....." Merrdyn paused, ".....all would be lost."

Chapter 2

Above the isle of Mona, dark clouds scurried across a leaden sky as if retreating from the impending battle.  Carrion wheeled overhead their presence a portent to what was to come.  Legions of Roman soldiers under the command of the ruthless Gaius Paulinus amassed on the mainland.  Men and horses jostled for position as the brutal ballista's and catapults were heaved into position and made ready.
       Between them and their enemy lay a dangerous stretch of tidal water and shifting quicksands.  On the opposite bank stood the baying Celts.
       The sound of metal against leather reverberated against a howling wind as tribesman beat their swords against their shields.  Woman cloaked in black weaved between the warriors shrieking and goading the invaders.  Druids raised their hands to the sky and chanted incantations.
       The Roman frontline sharpened their short swords in an attempt to quell the anxiety gripping their stomachs.  Paulinus chastised them for showing fear which brought shame on Rome.  He challenged them to please the Gods by showing no mercy.  He taunted and cajoled until all traces of humanity within them was displaced by a ruthless intent to dispatch the enemy.