The Defiant Ones, страница 1часть #1 серии Love Conquers All
Love Conquers All 1
The Defiant Ones
Historical heroes meet a failed witch from the future…
Queen Larina of the Amazons has been captured by the Romans. The man that was to kill her in the arena is now on the run with her. Their journey is made successful by fleeing toward a lone ship in the sea. However, this vessel is unlike anything either has seen, as is the captain, a witch from the future.
Brennus and Larina must now return to the shores of Rome to save his nephew. Time is limited, as soon their strange ship will jump from this time to another. Can they all survive, or will they face death in the arena once more?
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Time Travel
THE DEFIANT ONES
Love Conquers All 1
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
THE DEFIANT ONES
Copyright © 2014 by Anna Keraleigh
E-book ISBN: 978-1-62741-129-5
First E-book Publication: January 2014
Cover design by Christine Kirchoff
All art and logo copyright © 2014 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
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To the defiant ones in real life, stand tall and never back down.
Table of Contents
About the Author
THE DEFIANT ONES
Love Conquers All 1
Copyright © 2014
She would not fade from memory but stand out in history.
Sorcha felt her energy build up. The power washed over her body like a warm waterfall. She focused on that feeling. Sounds of the floating city faded away. She no longer smelt the musty museum around her or the deep musky scent of wood. She was in her favorite place, her safe place, the old ship hidden in storage. Here she practiced her magic as she did now. Her power was great but she was always afraid to tap into that ability. Today she would. She could take her family’s sneers and hurtful words. Sorcha held her palms out and inhaled sharply.
A surge of adrenaline built up faster than she expected. The light that filled the room brightened, then the chandelier above shattered. She couldn’t move, couldn’t even scream as shards fell all around her. The power was too great. Control slipped from her grasp as she tried to contain the magic within. Light washed over the room and blinded her. She closed her eyes, pain shooting throughout her body. She cried out but the sound was swept away by a harsh wind.
Then everything stopped. Sorcha’s legs gave way and she landed on her knees. The hard wood was unforgiving beneath her. That was the most power she’d ever tried to control. Once again, she’d failed. Tears welled up behind her closed lids as a soft, gentle breeze lifted the ends of her hair off her shoulders. A breeze down here? Sorcha opened her eyes and saw the bright sky above and heard the waves crashing against the ship. A ship that was supposed be in the storage room at the old museum. Her lips parted. She pulled herself to a stand and stared out at a sea dotted with land. Where the hell was she?
She glanced around, finding no flying ship in the air, no cities floating above protected forests.
A white animal flew in the sky and she squeaked at the sight. A bird, it was a bird, a creature that had gone extinct years before she was even born. Sorcha’s lips quivered. She’d jumped back in time. That wasn’t possible. Not from a simple, failure-prone witch like her. There was no way…and yet the world in which she now found herself was alien to her.
What era had she jumped back to? “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Leave it to her to jump back in time, something even the most powerful witches could not do. She was so screwed!
167 A.D., the Roman Empire, Rome.
“Welcome, good citizens of Rome!”
The words were loud considering the range of this great arena. Queen Larina of the Amazons stood tall, chin high. Dried blood matted her auburn hair. The cheers of the crowd sent shivers down her spine but she held her pose. Determination beat fear. She would not give these fucking Romans the satisfaction of being scared, at least on the outside.
“Today is a true gift from the Gods. The fierce and mighty Amazon queen is in our presence, bowing to our great city!”
She scoffed and spit as far as she could. It would never reach the intended target, as the distance was great.
“This will be a feast of blood for this great city and the Gods that look over us.” The Roman, in his feminine robes, pulled down his arms sharply.
She steeled her nerves and faced her opponent. The man was huge, not just in height but muscle. He was a pillar of stone and she was supposed to lock into combat with this brute. The only way out was death
Larina hissed at him and swung her sword. The blades’ clash was a loud grating noise and the crowd around them applauded. The coliseum was massive so the sound was equally as substantial. She spun, blocking his weak attempt to strike her, and kicked at his leg. He moved quickly, too quickly for his bulky size, and his sword slammed against hers.
“I knew an Amazon once.” His words filtered through the crowd’s screams and the helmet to reach her ears. They pushed at each other, fighting for the title of victor. He pulled back, swung low, and she easily hopped over his blade. Their blades hit again. “Your mother was a good woman.”
His words caught her off guard. He smashed the hilt low on her hip and Larina landed on her ass. She rolled to her side, the blade landing where her torso had been, but the man wielding it seemed to be growing slower. Was he just prolonging the fight for the crowd’s entertainment?
“My mother is gone from this world,” Larina said after flipping to her feet. They circled each other, their words quiet.
“I know. I was but a boy when the day of her death was upon her. She tried to save my sister and me from the Romans.”
“The fuckers you currently fight for.” Larina swung, but she only gave half her energy into it. This fierce gladiator seemed to be toying with her.
“But for the moment.”
Larina could see his small grin in the darkness of his helmet before he swung. She easily blocked the strike and used her hilt to hit him in the shoulder. He fell back slightly. “Now we are even.”
“We must prolong the battle.” He swung low but inched his shield down.
Was it on purpose? Larina blocked the weapon and used her fist, as her shield had been destroyed by the previous fight, to smack the man in the face. It was openhanded, and he looked more annoyed than hurt when he fell back.
“Give reason for your delay?” She kicked at the shield then sent him back another step before swinging her sword wide and slashing outward.
“Do you long for death then?”
Larina snorted and began a dance she’d created long ago. Two slashes upward, a strike to the gut, a spin and then a slash at the enemy’s head. She gave the man credit as he spun out of the way and avoided her blade by inches. It wouldn’t have killed him but sure as hell would have left a scar. She was growing tired though. The roar of the crowd was deafening as they screamed for her death. “I do not care for games. Speak of your plans or I shall end this.”
The man gave two hard swings and she blocked them both. “Your false death to appease the crowd.” He swung and she spun from aim. “My victory and when they take you to the pit you fight your way free and swim down the trough to freedom.” He ended with a series of swings. Each blow landed heavy against her sword and made her arms tense from his sheer strength.
“And how do I know you do not speak with false tongue?” Larina landed a few blows of her own, the crowd booing at her attempt to gain the upper hand.
“You do not.” He growled and swung.
Larina blocked the first strike, counting and controlling her breath as the second clash of blades rattled her arm. As he moved for the third she took the biggest risk of her life and loosened her grip. The power of his blade knocked the sword easily from her hand. The brute then slammed his shoulder into her and she landed ungracefully on her butt. The crowd cheered, getting to its feet in a chorus of “kill.” It made Larina despise the Romans that much more. He brought his sword high and she fought the urge to roll away. Either this was a new ally or her executioner. Neither sat well with her. The blade came down swift and true to aim. It sliced some of her skin to spray blood but most of the sharp point impacted the dirt.
Larina gave her best death throes and fell back. She tried her best not to move as her side ached from the cut, and she slowed her breathing gradually to appear deceased.
Cheers rang out of the crowd. They called their champion’s name with vigor. “Brennus! Brennus!”
The man who saved her life lifted his hand into the air, revving up the crowd so that they all stood at once and began stomping their feet. The sound was incredible as two slaves grabbed her wrists and began tugging her from the arena. She kept her eyes closed, her breath held as she was dragged slowly toward freedom. If this worked, if she really got away, she made a promise right there to return and break him out. Why did he save her? Surely, her mother’s failed attempt at his freedom was not worth possible execution.
The crowd began to quiet as the sand scratched at her back. Larina was almost free! The word was like honey on her tongue.
“Hold.” The magistrate’s voice echoed and the slaves stopped.
Larina ground her teeth and peered through barely opened eyes.
“For the blood this…legendary queen spilt…we will take her head and use it to further our gift to the Gods. May her blood bring an end to the rains that flood our crops and streets!” A wave of cheers rang out.
Fucking cocksucker. The plan was blown. She tensed but the slaves didn’t move her.
“Champion of Rome Brennus, remove her head.”
Larina fisted her hands slowly. She should have held onto her sword. The sprinkle of rain blended with the blood and sweat on her skin. She counted the steps that Rome’s champion took and when his shadow descended, she opened her eyes enough to see him. He had removed his helmet. Long black hair was pulled from his face and black scruff decorated the bottom half of his face. His blue eyes were stunning, like a stormy sky.
“We are fucked,” he whispered and lifted his sword.
Larina tensed, prepared to roll. However, the blow did not come to her neck. Instead, he swung at the nearest slave. The crowd gasped and she heard yelling as the slave fell. Larina grabbed the sword on the slave’s belt and swung at the other guard. They were close enough to the gates to run.
“What else shall we greet the afterlife for but freedom?” He spoke quickly and his long legs ate up the path to the gates.
More guards were piling into the arena. Slaves were trying to close their only way out. Brennus lifted his leg and his massive foot slammed into the gate. It shot open, the iron bars smashing against the arena wall. Larina was close behind him, stunned and confused by the recent events. It didn’t matter. She’d sort all this out later. Right now, it was fight for freedom or die at the hands of the Romans. She followed him down a narrow path. Two guards approached but it took him mere moments and three swings to cut them down. She hopped over the remains and kept her hitched breathing in control. The smell was nauseating as they came up to a door. What lay beyond was more shocking than she could have imagined, and she’d seen a lot of scary shit. Bodies, most dismembered, lay on slabs of concrete. The remains of defeated warriors. They were chopped up and sent down the water shoot which led to the Lungotevere Aventino. According to legend that was the river Romulus and Remus were collected from after being abandoned.
Brennus spun toward her, covering her back as she hopped into the filthy liquid. A hand floated up to greet her and she closed her mouth to keep from retching. This was no time to act like a useless female. She took a breath and went under. The current quickly took her feet and she heard a splash behind her.
The water slashed at the dried blood and sand that caked on various parts of her body. Larina tried to swim but the current was too strong, so she simply let it take her. When the ceiling lifted, she pushed against the stone floor to pop her head up and g
Larina held a scream as the water shot her from the tunnel along with various body parts into the river. Her body landed harshly against the water and she sank several feet before kicking her legs and bobbing to the surface. The big guy landed beside her, doing the same. He was still cursing the Gods as they quickly swam toward the opposite side of the river. They had mere moments to get free and make a run for it. However, when she crawled onto land upon the sandy banks Larina fell to her back and stared at the blue sky. A sight she never thought to enjoy again.
“We must use advantage while we have it,” Brennus said.
Larina stood. She was sore but willing to fight an army for the chance of freedom. They began to jog quickly up the dune and toward the forest of trees. “You are a fool for attempted rescue.”
“As my sister often said,” he grunted before picking up his speed.
“Does she yet draw breath?” Larina hiked up her pace, too.
He nodded but said no more.
“Do we run toward purpose?” Larina was tiring and she had a cramp in her side that was screaming. She was an Amazon queen though. Larina lifted her chin and kept at his pace. She would not fall behind and disgrace her tribe.
Sweat began to bead down her back as they ran between trees. There was a loud horn sounding behind them. It was far enough to let them know they had a slight lead against the Roman shits.