The Blood Reaver (Pirates of Britannia Book 6), страница 1
The Blood Reaver
A Pirates of Britannia World Novel
About the Book
After her father and her older brother die of an infectious fever, and an unscrupulous sea captain abandons Rose Armistead in Port Royal, Jamaica, she must find safe passage home. When she meets a handsome mariner with his own ship, in an establishment of ill repute, she pays him to carry her, her mother, and her younger brother to Charles Town. But the man she considers her savior hides a dark secret, and it may destroy her. Can Rose accept her man’s true identity and find love?
When a beautiful woman walks into the most notorious brothel in Port Royal, Turner Reyson, a cunning pirate known as the Blood Reaver, offers his assistance, because he wants her in his bunk, but he conceals the nature of his business, as he casts off. At sea, Rose displays a peculiar ability to spot prize and booty, and his suspicious crew declares her the Lady of Fortune, which places her in a perilous position, when they insist on keeping her aboard ship. Playing two sides of the same coin, Turner must win his woman or risk mutiny, which would endanger her and her family. Can the Blood Reaver save Rose?
Text copyright by the Author. The Pirates of the Coast badge is a registered trademark ® of Barbara Devlin.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Pirates of Britannia Connected World publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by DragonMedia Publishing, Inc. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Pirates of Britannia connected series by Kathryn Le Veque and Eliza Knight remain exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Kathryn Le Veque and/or Eliza Knight, or their affiliates or licensors.
All characters created by the author of this novel remain the copyrighted property of the author.
THE BLOOD REAVER © 2018 Barbara Devlin. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part or the whole of this book may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted or utilized (other than for reading by the intended reader) in ANY form (now known or hereafter invented) without prior written permission by the author. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal, and punishable by law.
THE BLOOD REAVER is a work of fiction. The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional and or are used fictitiously and solely the product of the author’s imagination. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, places, businesses, events or locales is purely coincidental.
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Published by DragonMedia, Inc.
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Legend of the Pirates of Britannia
About the Author
Also by Barbara Devlin
Excerpt from THE SEA DEVIL
Excerpt from SEA WOLFE
Legend of the Pirates of Britannia
In the year of our Lord 854, a wee lad by the name of Arthur MacAlpin set out on an adventure that would turn the tides of his fortune, for what could be more exciting than being feared and showered with gold?
Arthur wanted to be king. A sovereign as great as King Arthur, who came hundreds of years before him. The legendary knight who was able to pull a magical sword from stone, met ladies in lakes and vanquished evil with a vast following who worshipped him. But while that King Arthur brought to mind dreamlike images of a roundtable surrounded by chivalrous knights and the ladies they romanced, MacAlpin wanted to summon night terrors from every babe, woman and man.
Aye, MacAlpin, king of the pirates of Britannia would be a name most feared. A name that crossed children’s lips when the candles were blown out at night. When a shadow passed over a wall, was it the pirate king? When a ship sailed into port in the dark hours of night, was it him?
As the fourth son of the conquering Pictish King Cináed, Arthur wanted to prove himself to his father. He wanted to make his father proud, and show him that he, too, could be a conqueror. King Cináed was praised widely for having run off the Vikings, for saving his people, for amassing a vast and strong army. No one would dare encroach on his conquered lands when they would have to face the end of his blade.
Arthur wanted that, too. He wanted to be feared. Awed. To hold his sword up and have devils come flying from the tip.
So, it was on a fateful summer night in 854 that, at the age of ten and nine, Arthur amassed a crew of young and roguish Picts and stealthily commandeered one of his father’s ships. They blackened the sails to hide them from those on watch and began an adventure that would last a lifetime and beyond.
The lads trolled the seas, boarding ships and sacking small coastal villages. In fact, they even sailed so far north as to raid a Viking village in the name of his father. By the time they returned to Oban, and the seat of King Cináed, all of Scotland was raging about Arthur’s atrocities. Confused, he tried to explain, but his father would not listen and would not allow him back into the castle.
King Cináed banished his youngest son from the land, condemned his acts as evil and told him he never wanted to see him again.
Enraged and experiencing an underlying layer of mortification, Arthur took to the seas, gathering men as he went, and building a family he could trust that would not shun him. They ravaged the sea as well as the land—using his clan’s name as a lasting insult to his father for turning him out.
The legendary Pirate King was rumored to be merciless, the type of vengeful pirate who would drown a babe in his mother’s own milk if she didn’t give him the pearls at her neck. But with most rumors, they were mostly steeped in falsehoods meant to intimidate. In fact, there may have been a wee boy or two he saved from an untimely fate. Whenever they came across a lad or lass in need, as Arthur himself had once been, they took them into the fold.
One ship became two. And then three, four, five, until a score of ships with blackened sails roamed the seas.
These were his warriors. A legion of men who adored him, respected him, followed him, and, together, they wreaked havoc on the blood ties that had sent him away. And generations upon generations, country upon country, they would spread far and wide until people feared them from horizon to horizon. Every pirate king to follow would be named MacAlpin, so his father’s banishment would never be forgotten.
Forever lords of the sea. A daring brotherhood, where honor among thieves reigns supreme, and crushing their enemies is a thrilling pastime.
These are the pirates of Britannia, and here are their stories….
It was not the most ideal introduction, to meet a beautiful young woman at the wrong end of a three-barrel flintlock pistol, which she stole from an unoccupied table, while the owner got his nutmegs sucked. Garbed in a fancy blue dress, with a matching ruffled contraption on her head, she did not belong in one of the most violent brothels in Port Royal. Biting her bottom lip, she adjusted the gun in her grip, belying the fact that she possessed little if any experience with weapons, and crept further into the whorehouse.
“Hello.” Her hand shook, as she took aim at the crowd, in general. “I do not wish to be rude or cause trouble, but someone stole my trunk, which was sitting in front of this fine establishment, while I asked for directions, and I would like the return of my belongings, please.”
A fiddler screeched a bawdy tune, as
The shot echoed, and she started and shrieked, as quiet fell on the bordello.
Halting in his tracks, he snickered and waited to see what she did for an encore, but if she were half as spirited between the sheets, he would be a happy man.
“I beg your pardon.” She cleared her throat, as he moved behind her, for close inspection. From beneath her bonnet, he spied sweet little brown curls at the nape of her neck, and his fingertips itched to toy with a thick lock. “I am so sorry to disturb you, but I must have my things.” She stepped forward, and Turner splayed his arms to part his fellow buccaneers. “Now, my mother and my brother wait for me, outside, and I cannot leave without recovering my property.”
“Watch out, men.” Turner chuckled, given the chit’s moxie. “I would rather set sail on a Friday, with a Jonah, than tangle with an armed, angry woman.” To hoots and hollers, he raised his hands. “Come on, swabs, humor the little lady.”
In unison, the motely crew of raiders and whores parodied his stance and howled with laughter.
“But, I am serious.” She peered over her shoulder, and he glimpsed glorious blue eyes and lush red lips he could not wait to sample. “I must recover my trunk.” She waved the pistol in the air. “Whoever took it should be ashamed, because it is wrong to steal.”
“Can you describe the item in question?” a grey-haired salt asked, in a mocking timbre.
“Yes.” The pistol fired, and she screamed, when a lantern shattered above the bar, and Red Doyle, the bartender, ducked for cover, along with everyone else. In that moment, she glanced at Turner. “Did I do that?”
“Aye.” He nodded and bit his tongue against a guffaw, as she struggled with the weight of the weapon, and he did not want her angry with him. “Be careful, before you hurt yourself or someone else.”
“Oh, dear.” With a lethal pout, which he wagered could bring the most ornery pirate to his knees, she addressed Doyle. “I hope you are all right, but I seek my trunk, which is made of camphor wood, with red painted leather, featuring floral motifs, and the initials RA on the top.”
“Lady, Skip Peterson has it, and he’s over there.” Doyle pointed to the offending party, and she marched forth, with Turner in her wake. “He’s the one in the floppy black hat.”
“Aw, come on, Doyle.” Perched atop the trunk in question, Skip pounded his fist on the table. “Finders, keepers.”
“How dare you take my things.” The fascinating creature stomped a foot. “You could at least display a modicum of contrition, because you stole my trunk, and I insist you give it back, this instant.”
“Oh?” Skip stood and rotated to face her. “Who is going to make me?” He surveyed her from top to toe, and Turner could almost read the thief’s thoughts. “You?”
“Peterson, carry the trunk outside, and put it where you found it.” Turner folded his arms. “Now.”
“I didn’t know she was with you, Reyson.” Peterson scratched his temple and shuffled his feet. Then he smacked another tar. “Here, now. Give me a hand with the lady’s trunk.”
“You swiped it.” The burley swab chuckled. “So, you may ask my arse, because it is not worth the fight.”
“Oh, all right.” With a grimace, Peterson hefted the fancy coffer. “Where do you want it?”
“Where I left it.” Despite her frippery, the wench showed courage, as she tapped her foot. “And have care with my property, as the trunk was a gift from my father.”
“My lady, I am your most humble servant.” Of course, Peterson taunted her, but she appeared oblivious. “What else do you require? Shall I wipe your—”
“Please, do not be crude, as I would conclude this most irksome business, posthaste.” At the entrance, Peterson continued outside, but she paused, set the weapon on the table, from where she claimed it, faced the crowd, and smiled. “Thank you, so much, for your cooperation. You have been very kind.”
To Turner’s disgust, a couple of buccaneers actually stood and saluted her. As she stepped into the sunlight, a cheer erupted from the brothel, and he cursed under his breath.
At the roadside, a portly woman withered beneath a frilly parasol and fanned herself, while a young lad lingered at her side, and both eyed Turner with a healthy dose of scrutiny absent in their fetching relation, to her detriment, because he presented a very real threat to her.
Without acknowledgement, Peterson dumped the chest and brushed past Turner, and he gave his attention to the skirt.
“I see you found your things.” The scamp scowled at Turner. “Who is this gentleman?”
“I am no gentleman.” Turner actually took offense to the mere suggestion, as it left a foul taste in his mouth. “And you should not insult me, when I extended my support to the lady.”
“Oh, I almost forgot about you.” She blinked. Now that hurt, because he had no trouble filling his bunk. “Clinton, mind your manners, because this gentle—nice man supported my cause, and I owe him a debt of gratitude, which we are honor-bound to discharge.”
“I have no interest in your gratitude or your honor.” At the end of his tether, Turner folded his arms, planted his feet, and wondered how long it would take him to get between her thighs. “Well, are you going to tell me your name, or am I to guess?”
“Forgive my impudence, sir, but it has been a rather taxing day, and I am a tad out of sorts.” She squared her shoulders. “I am Rose Armistead, this is my mother, Bettine Armistead, and this is my brother, Clinton Armistead. We are pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“I am not.” Clinton narrowed his stare. “And I shall be hanged before I claim otherwise.”
“Clinton.” As her cheeks shaded red, Rose compressed her lips and then met Turner’s gaze. “My apologies, as my brother has been unwell and is still recovering. To whom do I owe my thanks, good sir?”
“I am neither good nor a sir, and you would do well to remember that.” Just as he prepared to inform her of his true occupation, he reconsidered his tack, given his pirate name would inspire more fear than confidence. “I am Captain Turner Reyson.”
“A captain?” Rose clasped her hands beneath her chin and bounced on her toes. “Can it be possible that fortune smiles upon us, after our difficulties, of late? Are you by chance master of a ship, Captain Reyson?”
“Aye.” He nodded once, more than a little confused by her expression, as he revisited the niceties and the proper address she would expect from a regular seaman. “I command the Malevolent, Miss Armistead.”
“Mama, our prayers are answered.” To his surprise, Rose briefly clasped his forearm and then withdrew. “Captain Reyson, might I hire you to take us home, to Charles Town, in His Majesty’s Province of Carolina? I can pay you well.”
“I am not a transport service, Miss Armistead, though I might be persuaded.” In truth, the idea appealed to him, because a lot could happen in the close confines of his brigantine, and he needed the money, but there was another reason that swayed his position. If he sailed north, he could launch a surprise attack, given most pirates embarked from the south, on a galleon loaded with gold, bearing east from the Spanish Main. “First, I would know how you arrived in Port Royal, because you do not belong here. And if I were to deliver you home, what would you pay me?”
“Ours is a sad tale, Captain Reyson.” With her hand, she shielded her face, and he admired her flawless skin of pure ivory. “My family journeyed to Alicante, so my father could open new trade relationships for Charles Town. During our stay, he became ill with an infectious fever, which later
“I am sorry to hear that.” Given the vast markets exchanged in the Spanish port city, he concluded her family must possess great wealth, which further stimulated his interest. “So, what brought you here?”
“Although my father arranged return passage, we missed the departure, due to his failing condition, and I was left to secure alternative travel for myself, my mother, and my younger brother, after burying our loved ones, in Spain. On the recommendation of an acquaintance, we hired Captain Donat.” With a trembling chin, and a furrowed brow, she frowned. “After paying full fare, for three passengers, we set sail aboard the Sea Serpent. A sennight into the voyage, we discovered the captain carried human cargo, which we do not support, so he put us off in Port Royal, while he conducted business, and refused to refund any portion of our money. Thus, we are at your mercy, and I beg you to consider my request.”
“What did Donat charge to deliver you from Alicante to Charles Town?” Turner mulled the possibilities and associated cost. Since he missed his last mark, due to foul weather, he had to find something to satisfy his crew’s thirst for booty. “And what sort of accommodations do you require, because options are limited aboard the Malevolent.”
“We will take whatever you provide and be glad of it, Captain Reyson.” Rose reached for her mother’s hand. “And we paid five pounds sterling, each, for myself and for my mother, and two pounds and ten shillings for Clinton, as is the usual rate, or so I am told. However, I am unwilling to pay more than half, up front, given Captain Donat took advantage of us, so I shall remit the remainder of our fare upon our arrival in Charles Town.”