The Gladiator Prince [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Minnette Meador
eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: Prince Thane is the last surviving royalty of the Trinovantes Tribe in Roman Britannia, having surrendered to the Romans to save his two young daughters, whose identities he sacrifices his freedom to protect. He is condemned by Nero himself to become a gladiator, to fight until he dies in the arena. When his two daughters are taken in a slaver's raid, Thane escapes to find them. Phaedra holds a terrible secret that would mean the death of her younger brother. Her only hope is to force the gladiator to protect them as they flee to Rome. He reluctantly agrees. Little does he know that the beautiful Syrian woman holds not only the key to his passion, but a secret that triggers a disaster that ignites the world. Will this spoiled willful girl betray him in the end or sacrifice herself to save them all?
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, Published: September, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2012
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From the verbal tales of Chane the Bard as transcribed by the Monks of Essex Abbey, dies martis, a.d. X Kal., Feb. MCIII, a.u.c. (Tuesday, 24 January 350 AD)
...when the prince beheld the blood of his kinsmen gushing onto the field of battle, the warrior Queen's golden chariot toppled among a mound of Iceni dead and the advancing hordes of barbarian Romans, in his heart he wept. A surge of hate filled him, blackening his soul and deranging his senses. He would rather die upon the Roman gladius fighting with his last breath than surrender as a slave!
However, such is the hubris of the gods; for before Thane could throw his mortality against the victory of the usurpers, a child's voice, no more than a whisper, deafened his ears to all other sound, a child's hand quelled the madness in his head, a child's tears fell dry upon his mad heart and stilled it. He gazed upon the illusions standing small and pure at his feet, passion froze in the searing screams of war, and the fire in his mind burned into sodden ash.
Princess Anwen and her sister Mabyn called out to the warrior, "Father, do not leave us for the Romans to devour!"
It is said, even in the midst of the battle roar around him, Thane threw back his head and laughed with such great power that those who heard it, whether friend or foe, halted in their places, stunned by its glee.
In one swift plunge, the Prince buried his sword to the hilt in the blood soaked Britannia mud, hoisted his two small daughters upon his mighty shoulders and took them away, leaving the din behind him, swearing retribution for all his enemies' crimes against his people. The Romans had won the day.
...the wolf, they called him, for no hunter's skill could track him, nor mongrel catch scent of his passing, yet the Roman general did not weary of the chase. Days followed hours and weeks followed days. The relentless hunt traversed forest and bog, river and rocky hill and gorse filled trenches. The gods guided the prince and his brood turning them ever east toward their own land.
On the night of the moon's mid-cycle, at the apex of the dying season, word reached Prince Thane's enervated ears, decrying the horrors that awaited his return to the shores of his home. For its distant hill forts had been razed to the ground, its forests burnt, its earth drained and salted so that no living thing could grow there, so great was the Roman general's wrath against the Trinovantes. Thane's family had been slaughtered, every babe, every child, every man and woman. There were neither kith nor kin to greet the warrior should he return home.
Upon hearing these tidings, he became inconsolable and sank into a deep despair. It is said that so great was his sorrow he tore out his hair, crying, "Damnation to the seeds of Rome, destroyers of the innocent. May the gods spit thee into the mouth of Belatucadros where ye will burn in his immortal fire!" His lament rose upon a strange wind of magic, echoing through all the remaining lands of the Brettaniai Albion. The young daughters, fearing his madness, piled mounds of duff and rain-soaked moss from the forest floor upon their father's head to keep his cries from betraying them to the devils that passed in the night.
When he returned to his senses, he took his young children to the land of the Corieltauvi where the Guardian Queen ruled with her Roman King. It was said they harbored what few of the Iceni and Trinovantes remained and hid them with enchantment and old magic from the blood thirsty general and his soldier dogs.
When Thane crossed the border of that land, the Romans surrounded and descended upon them out of reach of their rescuers.
In that hour, the gods, even Belatucadros himself, visited themselves upon Thane, filling his arms with the strength of the sun and his mind with the madness of Taranis; lightning spewed forth in great strikes from his hands. In the turmoil of the fight, Queen Delia and her husband secreted the girls into Corieltauvi and there hid them for many long seasons.
Alas, when the maids were safe, the gods of the forests forsook Thane in his greatest hour as test of his conviction. Unarmed and surrounded, he fell to the might of the Romans though it took a full complement to bring him to his knees. They bound his arms with hammered iron, for no rope would hold him, and placed upon his head a band of bronze to cool his madness. By midnight, the silver red dogs had wrapped him in chains so that he could kill no more. Many of their number lay bleeding into the dirt at his feet.
By the next day he was thrown upon a boat... by the next month he was forced to bend a knee to the heathen Emperor Nero and there condemned to the arena to fight until he died.
Against his will, Prince Thane brawled for Rome to entertain her whores and arrogant thieves, killing many brave and true men in the name of Caesar, and training even more, biding his time for the day of his revenge.
...and when his time came he visited such wrath upon the Roman oppressors that it would change the history of that nation for all times, armed only with his guile, his wits... and the magic of his barbarian bride.
Loathed would forever be the name of Thane, the Gladiator Prince...