Chronicles of a Hidden City Book 1: Carry On


The whole family together, new powers, and a huge responsibility, what could go wrong


Carry On – 


“Emmet Cumhaill, descendant of the great Fionn mac Cumhaill, our hearts are full with the warmth of your welcome.” Thrain Ironfist raises his tankard. “To live within the enchanted city is an honor as grand as the deepest mines and as precious as the rarest gem.”

I grip the handle of my stein and reach across the table to clank cups with the portly dwarf and his young gnome girlfriend. “Isilon opens its gates to those who need a safe place to live in peace. I’m sure you’ll find everything you need to thrive here.”

Thrain throws back his head, glugging his ale. When he’s drained it dry, he straightens and wipes the foam from his beard with the back of his sleeve. “All I’ll ever need is my sweet Oda girl.”

Oda sips her drink as her round cheeks flush pink. “Simply being able to live and love in peace is a blessing. Our thanks to you and your family.”

I swallow another mouthful of Guinness. “We believe in love—wherever you find it. Our da always says, ‘Deep down we’re all the same. The subtle differences are the spices that make the stew of life rich with flavor.’”

Thrain grins. “Your da is a wise man.”

“He definitely is.”

“Does he live on the island as well?”

“No, only my siblings, their families, and a few of our friends. Our father lives in the human realm so he and his second wife can watch over their aging parents.”

Thrain gestures across the pub at where my siblings and friends are getting wild around the mechanical bull. “Still, it seems you have quite a clan here.”

“I do.”

“All of you are druids?”

“Almost all. My brother Brendan, who helps me run the city, hasn’t found his druid roots yet, but the rest of us have all been trained.”

“But it’s your sister who Fionn named his successor to the Fianna, correct?” Oda asks.

“That’s right, Fiona.” I sit straighter and point to my younger sister. “She’s the pregnant redhead sitting at the tall table laughing.”

Oda looks over and grins. “I love that she’s the one he chose to lead the druid warriors. In my culture, the males think so highly of themselves a female can rarely rise to her potential.”

“You won’t find that here. Introduce yourself to Fi and tell her about your aspirations. She’ll make sure you get what you need to build toward your dreams.”

Oda’s blush deepens. “All I want is a binding ceremony and a little workshop to tinker in while my babies sleep.”

“I can make that happen.” Thrain grins.

“How many kids are you hoping for?” I ask.

Oda shrugs. “However many the All-Father blesses us with. How many are in your family?”

I take another drink and swallow. “I’m the fifth boy, and Fiona is the sixth born. Mam and Da gave up after that.”

Thrain grunts and leans back. “They likely couldn’t keep you straight. I’m terrible with names. I can’t imagine having six and remembering them all.”

Oda tugs on his beard. “You’ll remember.”

The teasing look he flashes her is too funny.

“To make it easier, you can always take a page out of my Mam’s book,” I offer. “She named us alphabetically. Aiden, Brendan, Calum, Dillan, Emmet, and Fiona.”

“That’s brilliant.” Oda giggles. “I’ll start lining up my names right away. Although gnomes and dwarves have different alphabets.”

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

The two talk more about names, then Thrain bangs the table with his fist and shuffles out of the booth. “We’ve taken enough of your time, friend. We’re off to pick ourselves a forever home.”

I stand as they get ready to leave. “Have you got the map from when you arrived?”

Oda pulls it from the front pocket of her overalls. “We’ve narrowed it down to three.”

“Well, happy house hunting, then. Let me know where you settle, and we’ll mark it off as claimed on the master list.”

“Blessings, Emmet.” Oda bows her head.

“To you as well.”

Thrain extends a beefy arm toward me, and I clasp his forearm as he clasps mine. “Fare thee well, friend.”

They shuffle out of the pub, and I reclaim my spot in the corner booth against the front window. Over the past eighteen months, this has become my unofficial office and the place where residents can usually find me when they have a problem.

I try to be available to the people of Isilon.

I’m the island’s guardian, and Mother Nature chose me to watch over the sentient city as it comes out of hibernation.

It’s a lot, but I knew this was where I needed to be from the moment I stepped foot on this island. The power that runs in my veins belongs here.

Whatever I became that day resonates in harmony with the magic here.

A flashback that blurs the lines between memory and fantasy ensnares my consciousness. It drags me into a familiar loop of horror—the most terrifying moment of my life.

Part of me knows it’s over, but it doesn’t make it any less awful or stop the panic from taking hold. I see and feel everything as if it’s happening for the first time.

A vengeful witch blasts me through a gaping hole in a broken wall. Pain explodes in my chest at the same time the hit throws me backward into the flowing channel of a fae ley line.

Raw power swallows me. Magic invades my cells, and I’m dragged into the current of the prana river.

I flail, desperate to grab hold of something to pull myself out, but there’s nothing.

It sucks me under.

Tumbling with no idea what direction is up or down, my lungs burn with the need for oxygen.

I’m about to die.

I’m not ready.

When I breach the surface, I reach for anything to pull myself out of the deadly water. I can’t see. I’m terrified to breathe, to open my mouth, or to call for help in case I ingest even a drop of the power encasing me.

There is a fine line between dead and immortal and I’m not willing to chance it.

The memory is so intense, so real, I feel the fae energy as if it’s still a tactile presence enveloping me like a second skin.

It seeps into my pores with an eager insistence.

Every nerve and every cell in my body tingles with an electric charge, a sensation akin to the crackle in the air that precedes a thunderstorm.

Being exposed to such a transformative power reshaped me from within, and even trapped in the dreamscape, I sense the profound changes taking hold.

It’s the same feeling I’m swamped with when I stand next to the prana currents of the fuchsia river of Emhain Abhlach. The fae power thrums within me, intertwining with the forces that sustain the mystical island.

In this place between memory and reality, I sense the metamorphosis unfolding, an alchemy of spirit and energy that promises to wake within me…

Laughter bellows, a rich chorus of mirth that yanks me from the fluid grasp of my nightmare. I jolt back to the present, my blood pounding with a wild rhythm.

For a heartbeat, the world skews at an impossible angle, the lingering embrace of the prana’s magic clashing with the raucous scene unfolding around me.

My brothers roar as Dionysus, the god of revelry, wrestles with the jerking bucks of the mechanical bull. Across the pub dining floor, his antics send waves of amusement through the crowd.

I blink hard, once, twice, and press my hands flat against the table I tucked myself away in. The world swims in a dizzying dance, images blurring, then snapping into sharp focus.

I draw a deep breath, the air heavy with the scent of dark ale, the smoky whisper of food sizzling on the grill, and the undeniable tang of magic.

It’s familiar and grounding.

Even before we moved to this island and opened this pub, Shenanigans was our family pub in Toronto.

I guess old habits die hard.

When we moved here, it seemed only natural to open Shenanigans II and create that same sense of fond belonging for the people moving to our city.

I draw another steadying breath and find my equilibrium. Around me, the pub’s walls pulse with life and laughter rebounding off the aged wood like a living thing. I swallow, hoping my momentary disorientation went unnoticed in the chaos of cheers and claps.

Dionysus dismounts with a flourish only he could pull off. Waving his hands, he bows, hamming it up for his admirers. He pulls Jonah into a dramatic kiss, spinning his boyfriend in a Hollywood-style dip before setting him back on his feet.

The crowd goes wild, and Dillan hands his beer to Fiona so he can take his turn.

There, amid the revelry, I find my anchor in the now. With Fi in my sights, I rein in my panic.

I’m safe.

I survived my dip in the ultimate magical energy bath, and I’m still around to talk about it.

I slip out of the booth, my grin wide enough to mask the remnants of a restless dream. The laughter of my family and friends blends with the Celtic rhythm, filling the air, and it’s a welcome soundtrack that drowns out the echoes of my subconscious.

It’s like old times…only on the other side of the world…and with magic.

That Aiden, Calum, Dillan, and Fi moved their families to join Brendan and me has meant the world to us.

It might sound stupid to those who aren’t close with their siblings, but when I became the island’s champion and Mother Nature brought Brendan back from the dead and said he could only live here, the thing we both missed most was the connection to our family.

While Toronto will always live in our hearts, home is where my family is—and right now, my family is having some mighty craic at Shenanigans II.

“Hey, what did I miss?” I sidle in beside my sister and her hubby, Sloan.

“The boys are trying to out-rodeo one another.”

I laugh. “What are the stakes?”

“The loser has to abstain from sex and alcohol for forty-eight hours.”

“Wow, this is serious.”

Fiona grins. “Go big or go home. What Dillan and Dionysus don’t know is that Kevin took Bizzy to his parents for a few days, so sex is already off the table for Calum.”

“Well played, Calum.”


I laugh as Dillan strokes a hand over the mechanical bull’s leather body and leans down to whisper something. “Bro, you’re supposed to ride the bull, not seduce it!”

The group bursts into another round of laughter. Dillan flashes me a middle-finger salute, his eyes sparkling with the same playful energy that fuels our banter. “I’ve got this, angel. Never fear.”

Dillan’s wife Eva laughs where she’s standing with Dionysus’ boyfriend and honestly, neither one looks worried. “Ride that beast, studly man.”

Before I can lob another jibe at Dillan’s expense, I feel Fiona’s attention on me. When I turn and meet her gaze, her eyes lock with mine, and I feel exposed.

“You okay, Em? You seem off.”

“No, I’m good. Just tired.”

“Still having the nightmare?”

Nightmare implies sleeping. I’m sucked into that moment whether I’m sleeping or not. The weight of her gaze slices through my jovial façade to the uncertainty beneath. She has always had a knack for seeing through me, no matter how thick the veneer I put up. “Now and then. But really, Fi. I’m fine.”

She doesn’t look convinced but nods. “Let me know when you’re not fine. Sloan’s good with healing, but he’s also good with cognitive stuff. Maybe he can help.”

Sloan is standing behind Fi with his arms around her waist and his hands resting on the round of her baby bump. He glances over at the mention of his name. “Aye, whatever I can do, Em.”

I shake off the feeling of being defective with a chuckle, turning back to the group. “I’m good. Really guys. Let’s have some fun tonight, yeah?”

A chorus of laughter greets my request, accompanied by a medley of good-natured scoffs and jibes from my siblings. Slinging shit and razzing one another is part of our love language.

This is us.

The pub’s ambiance is alive with kinship, the air thrumming with the clink of raised glasses and the comforting hum of conversation. Laughter bubbles up like a wellspring, mingling with the occasional curse and the soft thud of tankards on wooden tables.

It’s taken a lot to get here.

When I first gained stewardship of the city, it was only me and my familiar, Doc. Then, because Fiona pretty much saved the balance of the world, Mother Nature gave us Brenny back for a second chance at life.

The two of us spent a long and lonely period while we worked to reinhabit the island but look at what we created.

Isilon is growing into a genuine community, and now that the fam jam is all in one place, all is right in my world. Well, except for having no idea what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to become.

Meh, why sweat it? Take life as it comes, amirite?

With that in mind, I lean over to chat with Fi and Sloan over the din. “Hey, let’s say we take to the skies tomorrow. We can give the dragons a workout and run the city’s boundaries.”

Fiona flashes me a wide grin. “That’s an awesome idea. I’m babysitting Han for the morning, so after lunch?”

“Sounds good.”

Sloan nods. “Aye, it does.”

A chorus of hearty assents and whoops of joy greet Dillan as he dismounts the bull. “And the crowd goes wild!” He tosses a playful jibe toward Dionysus and shares a conspiratorial wink with Eva. I’m not sure what they’re up to, but honestly, who can keep up?

“Emmet! You’re up, little brother!” Calum calls, waving me in.

I hand Fi my beer and raise my hands to the jeers and the cheers. From the outside looking in, we might look a bit crazy, but the unconditional acceptance and light-hearted goofing around have always been the soothing balm on any wounds the world can wield.

Really…it doesn’t get any better than that.

This is the Cumhaill way.


It feels like a perfect moment for the Cumhails. Find out what the Island has in store for them on March 11 when Chronicles of a Hidden City Book 1: Carry On is released. Until then head over to Amazon and download today.