The Briton and the Dane: Legacy – Audiobook
By Mary Ann Bernal
Whispered by the wise and the learned. Talked of in hushed tones round luminous firesides. Engraved by awestruck scribes in the scriptoria of the Chronicles. Against all the odds, great King Alfred defeated a vastly superior Danish army outside Chippenham.
This victory, the sages prophesied, would guarantee peace throughout the land. Or so they thought.
Two years later, Rigr the Bastard, vengeful and seeking to claim his birthright, was defeated in the wilds of East Anglia. His blood smeared berserker warriors vanquished; no quarter asked for - no quarter given.
Now, a further two years later, the Vikings return. Noble Prince Sven instigates a seaborne invasion, fueled partly by blind rage when he discovers that his brother, Prince Erik, has sworn fealty to the Anglo-Saxon king.
His own brother: A traitor and a fool.
Erik’s love, Lady Gwyneth, attempts to stop the invasion before it starts by uniting the two estranged brothers, but her scheming only succeeds in making matters worse. Indeed, her interference guarantees the death of thousands of warriors in the freezing, tumultuous North Sea.
So, when the horns of Sven’s monumental fleet of warships are heard off the fogbound coast of Britannia, King Alfred – outnumbered, outshipped and weary of the fray - must rouse his jaded Saxon warriors and lead them to sea, to repel his most formidable enemy yet.
For a host motivated by the spilled blood of the fallen, the spirit of black vengeance, and the delights of a warrior’s reward in Valhalla, is the most fearsome opponent of all.
Alfred. Sven. Erik. Gwyneth. Amidst the ferrous reverberation of a battle royale - one or all must die, and the fate of a nation hangs in the balance, one final time.
For Sound Cloud Link
Narrated by traveling bard, Sebastian Lockwood, Author of the acclaimed The Trickster's Tongue.
Two Years Earlier
The Pilgrims spoke softly amongst themselves as they walked the forest path. Brother Martel had favored the well-traveled main road, but their leader chose to save time by following a more direct route through the woods since the tired band of travelers wished to reach the abbey before Compline.
Sunbeams illuminated the lush green foliage where soft breezes rustled the leaves in the towering trees while furry creatures scuttled between overgrown shrubs as a doe and her fawn jumped over a fallen tree.
“You seem unsettled,” Sidonius whispered. “What troubles you?”
“We are easy prey,” Brother Martel murmured while pointing to the sloping terrain and massive oaks overshadowing the rock-strewn trail.
Sidonius nodded, but he noticed that Brother Martel kept his hand instinctively upon the pommel of his sword as both men warily searched amongst the trees for any sign of mischief while walking deeper into the forest.
Sidonius kept Tarren protectively close and was grateful that the little ones slept. He whispered comforting words when he saw the fear in her eyes while offering to take Emidus.
“No, carrying two is tiring, but I will give you the boy should the need arise,” Sidonius murmured.
Tarren smiled anxiously, but she grasped Sidonius’ hand as she, too, scoured the threatening landscape. She tightened the wrap carrier when Concordia stirred, comforting the child silently when a flock of chirping birds flew frantically out of the swaying treetops just as mounted warriors rode over the crest of a nearby hill.
Bone chilling howls and war cries resonated throughout the woodland as brigands with drawn swords rapidly approached the startled travelers. Women screamed as they ran amongst the trees, but the men grasped the reins of the seasoned warhorses and tried to unseat their attackers, but they fell to the ground with wounds that would readily mend.
“Save your family!” Brother Martel shouted to Sidonius as he freed his weapon and prepared for battle. “Seek refuge at King Alfred’s court.”
“Leave with us,” Sidonius yelled while freeing his dagger. “You are but one sword.”
“My sword will give you time to flee. Await me in Winchester,” Brother Martel replied. “Go! Quickly!”
Tarren was terrified as a mounted fighter charged towards them, but Brother Martel easily deflected the blow, yet he was not able to defend himself against a crazed fighter who ferociously wielded his sword and savagely slashed the holy man’s eyes. Blood seeped down Brother Martel’s face as the blinded religious stumbled against a warhorse. He instinctively grabbed the reins, his hands grasping for his mounted enemy, but he fell to his knees when a spear penetrated his back.
Sidonius grabbed Tarren’s arm, leading her away from the carnage and headed towards the river. Emidus and Concordia screamed as they tried to wiggle free, but the little ones cried uncontrollably when they failed to loosen the wrap carrier.
Sidonius and Tarren were out of breath when they reached the edge of a cliff where the mighty roar of a waterfall deafened the screams echoing throughout the forest as the women were ravaged by their attackers.
The cool spray gently caressed their faces as Sidonius and Tarren looked upon the gushing water crashing upon the rocks, the turbulent river flowing towards the sea. Sidonius looked at the large boulders along the riverbed, scouring the steep and rocky terrain for overgrown trails and hidden caves.
“Do not be foolish,” a fearsome horseman said while pulling on the reins. “Your choice is simple. Take your chances with me or be enslaved.”
“We would be in your debt,” Sidonius replied while helping Tarren onto the animal’s back.
Tarren cradled Concordia, leaning against the stranger as Sidonius swung himself atop the charger, but Emidus screamed when he found himself wedged between his protectors.
“Fear not, little one,” Sidonius murmured. “We are safe.”
Lucian smiled as the well-disciplined animal picked its way carefully along the narrow path that followed the winding river as they disappeared amongst the trees.
“Brother Gervase!” A young monk cried as he ran through the abbey gate and headed towards the sickrooms. “There has been an attack in the woods! I do not know how many have been wounded or slain!”
“Fetch a wagon!” Brother Gervase yelled while grabbing a healer’s bag and running out the door.
It did not take long for the holy men to reach the clearing where the vicious attack had occurred. Brother Gervase saw the vultures circling above the motionless bodies when he reached the crest of the sloping terrain. He ran down the hill, stumbling as he hurriedly approached the first victim. He knelt beside the fallen Pilgrim and gently pressed his fingers against the man’s neck.
“He is with the Lord,” Brother Gervase whispered as he made the Sign of the Cross before approaching the Pilgrim who had been felled by the dreaded spear.
Brother Gervase knelt beside Brother Martel’s body and was surprised that he still lived. Blood trickled from the gaping wound as Brother Gervase deftly removed the formidable weapon. He looked compassionately upon the wounded man’s swollen, blood-caked face, and feared the holy man’s sight had been taken.
“Where is the wagon?” Brother Gervase shouted. “His wounds are grave!”
The frightened monk ran towards the crest of the hill, but he was relieved when he saw the wagon was almost upon them.
“Quickly!” The young monk shouted. “One lives!”
Brother Gervase watched as his skillful apprentices carefully lifted Brother Martel into the wagon. The younger monk nodded to Brother Gervase as he jumped onto the seat, grabbed the reins and hit the animal’s back. The wagon creaked and the wheels squealed as the horse trotted through the vast forest. Brother Gervase wanted to push the horse harder and was tempted to take the reins, but he managed to conceal his growing impatience and silently praised the Lord when they finally reached the abbey gate.
The religious community watched in horror, as Brother Martel was taken to the healer’s dwelling.
“Is he mortally wounded?” One of the women asked.
“His life is in the Lord’s hands,” Brother Gervase told her as he ushered the curious from his quarters and firmly shut the door.
Giveaway has now ended.
Giveaway has now ended.
Mary Ann Bernal is giving away one audio (via Audible) or one ebook copy of "The Briton and the Dane: Legacy."
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The Briton and the Dane: Legacy
Mary Ann Bernal
Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series. Her latest endeavor is a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars: Rise of an Empire. Originally hailing from New York, Mary Ann now resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska.