Death and Honor (Paperback)
Death and Honor (Paperback)
When a bandit raid destroys his home, Gabriel Kane believes his whole family is killed in the fire. Burdened by guilt, he dedicates his life to bringing those responsible to justice.
Xander Kane has a secret place, a crawlspace under the kitchen perfect for stealing snacks. When the bandits attack Xander is trapped by the flames. Xander emerges hours later scarred and near death, his whole world reduced to ashes. Blind with rage, Xander dedicates his life to killing those responsible.
Four years pass before Xander, now an elite assassin, learns Gabriel survived the attack and is now an officer of the city watch. Xander returns home for a reunion, but what reaction will he get from his by the law brother?
Will the two brothers be able to set aside their differences to bring down the evil responsible for their pain?
Burt hated the forest. Whenever he came this way something bad happened. Last month his mule threw a shoe halfway to Lord’s Way. Six months ago a rotten branch broke loose and came down on Joey, breaking his arm. Now here he was walking along a well-worn path through dappled shade just like nothing bad would happen when he knew damn well it would. If the roof on his little cottage didn’t need replacing he wouldn’t have taken this job.
The lead in his hand jerked when his mule lowered its head, again, to crop the lush clover growing along the side of the path. He gave the lead a yank and the mule’s head came up. “Come on, damn you. You’ll get your feed when we make camp, same as me.”
Burt snatched his hand out of the way when the mule tried to bite him. He cracked it across the nose with the leather lead and it shied away. “Miserable beast.”
Behind him the guards riding drag chuckled. Bloody mercenaries with their fancy horses and fancy armor, they got to ride the whole trip to Lord’s Way while Burt and the other drovers had to walk and drag the mules along with them. The bosses hired six of the bastards this trip; the other four rode up front to protect the caravan master.
“Hey, Burt, old Susie giving you a hard time?”
Burt grinned at his buddy, Mik the stick, walking beside the next mule in line. Mik just flicked his hickory switch and his mule looked away from the clover. He got similar results waving it at his kids. “Damn thing just wants to eat. What time you reckon it is?”
Before Mik could reply an arrow loosed from the right side of the road pierced his throat. He fell, blood spraying from his neck. Shouts of pain came from the front of the caravan, and a second later more shouts came from behind him. Burt spun and found the mercenaries lying on the ground, both sporting arrows in their chests, their fancy mail not phasing the arrows in the least.
Burt swung back an instant before an arrow slammed into his shoulder, spinning him around and dropping him to the ground. He lay still despite the screaming, both from the rest of the caravan and his shoulder. The little belt knife he carried wouldn’t be much use in a fight like this, and if he moved they might put another arrow in him for good measure. Live to fight another day, that was Burt’s philosophy.
Minutes passed before the forest fell silent. Burt kept his eyes shut until he heard voices.
“We have what we came for.”
Burt opened an eye in time to see a group of bowmen—he counted a score plus three—dressed in ragged armor made of leather and bits of chain. The bandits were looking at another man dressed in gleaming mail and wearing a helm with the visor open. The man had a bent nose over a bushy mustache, but the helm hid the rest of his face. Another fancy mercenary, only this one worked for the other side. In his hands the leader—Burt harbored no doubts about who led the bandits—held a small wooden chest. The chest was a late addition to the caravan; a desperate woman in Three Streams paid the master double the usual fee to bring it to Lord’s Way, though who the recipient was Burt couldn’t say.
“You’ve got five minutes to loot the mules, then we leave,” the leader said.
The bandits howled like animals and tore through the panniers looking for anything worthwhile. One pulled out a small box of ingots intended for a silversmith. A second man tackled him and they rolled around kicking and punching to see who’d end up with the silver. Burt closed his eyes, trying to ignore the pain in his shoulder, praying no one would notice his shallow breathing.
“All right, you dogs, time’s up. We’re leaving.”
Burt risked a glance. The bandits were trudging northeast behind Fancy-Pants. He waited another ten minutes, shoulder be damned, to make certain they weren’t coming back. Burt climbed to his feet. A short distance away Susie lay on her side, an arrow through her ribs. Stubborn mule or not she hadn’t deserved to die.
Burt shuffled up the road a ways then knelt beside Mik; he hadn’t deserved to die either. The arrow in Burt’s shoulder complained with each step, but he continued to ignore it. “Rest easy, mate.” Burt closed his friend’s eyes.
Now, unless he’d gotten turned around, they’d passed the road to some nobleman’s estate about two miles back. They had to have a healer on the grounds, soldiers too. Burt gathered his gumption and started back down the road, his shoulder yelping with each step. By the gods, it was going to be a long walk.