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Authors: Kathryn le Veque

Lords of Darkness and Shadow

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Lord of War: Black Angel, Black Sword, Lord of the Shadows, and While Angels Slept Copyright 2014 by Kathryn Le Veque
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Printed by Kathryn Le Veque Novels/Dragonblade Publishing Imprint in the United States of America
 

Text copyright 2014 by Kathryn Le Veque
Cover copyright 2014 by Kathryn Le Veque

Illustration copyright 2014 by Ellen Tribble

 

Author’s Note:

 

What links these four novels? Dark men in dark times, mostly. The family groups are not related, but these men are of the same breed – hard, powerful, and they do what is necessary to preserve their way of life.

 

Never before have these novels been together in a collection but it’s time that they were.  Some of the things in these novels are hard to take, hard to read, but you have to remember the times – difficult, barbaric.  These were times when things like rape or forced sex was not seen as abuse. It was seen as conquest and/or the spoils of war. All of these men to a certain extent were murderers in the literal sense of the word, but that was simply part of the knighthood. It was kill or be killed.  And these men have a very strong sense of survival.

 

And then we have the women who loved them... these are not pampered women for the most part. They are practical, functional Medieval women who have suffered hard times or great loss.  Coming together with these knights, there was, in a sense, a kindred spirit there. They are all just trying to survive.  In these novels, love blooms in the most unexpected places.  It happens when it’s not supposed to. Isn’t that what love is? An unexpected gift or a necessary hope?

 

I hope you enjoy these novels as much as I enjoyed writing them. All of these couples are very special to me.  I hope you think so, too.  But be forewarned that there are some ugly things that happen within these pages.  But there are also four very beautiful endings.

 

Love,

Kathryn

 

 

Other Novels by Kathryn Le Veque

Medieval Romance:

The White Lord of Wellesbourne*The Dark One: Dark Knight

*

While Angels Slept*Rise of the Defender*Spectre of the Sword*Unending Love*Archangel*Lord of the Shadows

*

Great Protector*To the Lady Born

*

The Falls of Erith*Lord of War: Black Angel

*

The Darkland*Black Sword

*

The Dark Lord * Devil’s Dominion

*

The Wolfe * Serpent

*

The Whispering Night * Netherworld

 

Unrelated characters or family groups:

The Gorgon*The Warrior Poet*Guardian of Darkness (related to The Fallen One)*Tender is the Knight*The Legend*Lespada*The Wolfe*Lord of Light* Lord of the Shadows

 

The Dragonblade Trilogy
:

Dragonblade*Island of Glass*The Savage Curtain

-also-

The Fallen One (related)*Fragments of Grace (related prequel)

*

Novella, Time Travel Romance:

Echoes of Ancient Dreams

*

Time Travel Romance:

The Crusader*Kingdom Come

 

Contemporary Romance:

 

Kathlyn Trent/Marcus Burton Series:

Valley of the Shadow*The Eden Factor*Canyon of the Sphinx

 

The American Heroes Series:

Resurrection*Fires of Autumn*Evenshade*Sea of Dreams*Purgatory

 

 

Note:
  All Kathryn’s novels are designed to be read as stand-alones, although many have cross-over characters or cross-over family groups.  Novels that are grouped together have related characters or family groups. Series are clearly marked. All series contain the same characters or family groups except the American Heroes Series, which is an anthology with unrelated characters. There is NO particular chronological order for any of the novels because they can all be read as stand-alones, even the series.

LORD OF WAR: BLACK ANGEL

A Medieval Romance Novel

 

By Kathryn Le Veque

De Russe Family Tree (Generations between 1313 A.D. and 1457 A.D.)

 

Succession of the male de Russe line:

 

  • Brandt b. 1313
    (Known as the Black Angel, born in Exeter, only son of Aramis de Russe)

 

  • Aramis b. 1357
    (Mother was a de Nerra, bringing the bloodlines of the great mercenary Braxton de Nerra into the de Russe bloodlines)

 

  • Trenton b. 1390

 

  • Brandt b. 1428
    (Second son of Trenton, younger brother is Martin de Russe, father of Patrick and Nicolas – eldest brother, not mentioned in
    The Dark One: Dark Knight
    , is the heir to the dukedom of Exeter) 

 

  • Gaston* b. 1457 (Son of Brandt, known as The Dark One)

 

  • Trenton b. 1487

 

 

Maternal great-great-great grandfather was Braxton de Nerra, mercenary commander

 

 

Author’s Note:

 

The storyline involves the Battle of Poitier and for the most part, the locations and events leading up to the battle are historically accurate. If you are interested in Medieval warfare, it makes interesting reading. There is a future(real) Duke of Exeter during this time, but he was only four years old and not yet the Duke of Exeter at the time of Poitiers.  I have given the Dukedom to the House of de Russe during this period in time and for the purposes of the fictional story.

 

In dreams we grasp at finite bits of reality, premonitions of what may come to pass. In dreams we are all witches, straining to see what the future holds.

~ Anonymous Poet, circa. 13
th
century

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

She’d had the dream before.  She was standing on the edge of a meadow, looking at a massive castle in the distance, partially obscured by sheets of driving rain. In spite of the weather, smoke rose in ribbons over the damaged battlements.

Overhead, the sky was the color of pewter with fat, angry clouds, but upon earth, the field was flooded from the unforgiving rain that had been falling for days, perhaps weeks, mayhap even months. It was difficult to know. It seemed as if it had been raining forever.

A great battle had concluded upon the field and there was a sea of bodies strewn about, like pieces of driftwood upon an endless muddy sea.  Her heart was in her throat as she observed the scene, her breathing coming in panicked little gasps.  Something was here for her, something she loved so desperately that she couldn’t think of anything else. The feelings were so strong that they overwhelmed her, blinding her to her own safety as she plunged into the sea of death, searching, looking for something she wasn’t quite sure of yet could feel it more strong in her heart than anything.

… her heart….

She awoke in a cold sweat.

 

 

***

 

London, 1356 A.D.

Reign of Edward III

 

It smelled like death.

Chargers bearing great and bloody knights clip-clopped wearily along the street leading from the great wharf along the Thames followed by equally weary men-at-arms who had seen perhaps one too many battles.  They were exhausted, beaten, bloodied and doomed by the depression that often infects those who have witnessed much strife. 

They collectively expelled a stench that smelled like death. The Lady Ellowyn de Nerra ignored the stench for the most part as she watched the great army of the Duke of Exeter disembark their sea-scarred
cogs.
They filtered up from the wharfs along the Thames, a great rolling tide of humanity that brought about the reality and carnage the Black Prince’s war in France had delivered to England. 

Ellowyn wasn’t observing the downtrodden army because she was curious. She was looking for someone, the great duke who had taken command of eight hundred of her father’s retainers.  Although she’d never actually seen the man whose warrior skills were legendary, she’d heard much about him from her father as well as others.  He was a warrior whose name struck fear into the hearts of both English and French alike, a name so awesome that to even whisper it was as if to mention the Devil himself.  Men did not take the name of Brandt de Russe lightly.  The French even had a name for him;
L’Ange noir
, they whispered fearfully. 
The
Black Angel
.  The most powerful knight in the arsenal of the Black Prince, the Black Angel brought the Apocalypse with him wherever he went.

The Duke’s army was kicking up clouds of dust in the already dirty city of London.  They were heading for the training grounds about a mile west of the Tower of London, the mammoth structure that loomed over to the east from where Ellowyn was standing.  She could just see the black spires of the White Tower reaching to the sky.  However, her attention was on the army as it rumbled past, turning to the escort of soldiers she had brought with her from her father’s seat of Erith Castle.  These men had remained behind while others went on to fight with the Black Prince, but they knew de Russe on sight.

“Do you see him yet?” Ellowyn asked the soldier standing to her right.

The man, seasoned and blind in one eye, shook his head as his one good eye skimmed the returning troops. “Not yet, my lady,” he replied, “but make no mistake. You will know de Russe when you see him.”

Ellowyn looked at him queerly. “How is that possible when I have never met the man?”

The soldier wriggled his bushy eyebrows. “Because he is the biggest man alive and he wears armor with great spikes blooming from the shoulders. Some say he drinks the blood of his victims and hangs their innards over his shoulders. That is why they call him the God of War; in battle, the man has no equal.”

Ellowyn thought on that a moment before returning her attention to the men shuffling past her. There were so many of them and she was beginning to get impatient.

“Well,” she sighed. “I wish the man would hurry along.  We must return home soon or father will drag himself from his sick bed like Lazarus rising from the dead and hunt us down.”

The old blind sergeant fought off a smile. “Your father is a determined man, my lady,” he said, thinking that Deston de Nerra’s head-strong daughter was far more determined than her father ever was. “But I doubt he... by Jesus and Mary,
there
he is. Do you see him, my lady?”

The sergeant’s excited tone had Ellowyn’s head bobbing to catch a glimpse, although she was not entirely sure what, exactly, she was straining to catch a glimpse
of.

“Who?” she demanded. “Is it de Russe?”

The sergeant grasped her shoulder, gently turning her towards the wharf where the gentle waters flowed and the boats bobbed about like corks.  He was pointing down to the water’s edge in the distance.

“There,” he said, some satisfaction in his voice. “He is standing at the edge of the ship with the big black charger behind him. See him now?”

Ellowyn did. Even at a distance, she could see an enormous man in heavy layers of protection, plate armor intermingled with mail.   The man was standing at the mouth of the gangway as the last of the soldiers disembarked the cog, and she began to walk in his direction.

The contingent of escort soldiers moved to follow but it was made difficult by the fact that Ellowyn was a small woman and able to dodge around people much more easily than a gang of well-armed men. The sergeant struggled to keep sight of the petite young woman with the deliciously curvy figure, a marvel of womanhood that brought suitors from all corners of the kingdom seeking a glimpse of her glory. With her buttock-length golden red hair and almond-shaped green eyes, she was an unearthly beauty. But she was also stubborn, opinionated, intelligent and determined, a combination that tended to shake even the most staunch of admirers.  

“My lady?” the sergeant called to her as she began to lose herself in the crowed. “You must wait for us, my lady!”

Ellowyn heard his words but she ignored them.  She was nearing the ships and resolved to speak with de Russe, as instructed by her father. She had a message to deliver and was determined to be done with it so they could return to the cool green fields of Cumbria.   She’d been on the road for weeks and was longing for home.

She wound her way through the crowds standing along the smelly wharf, dodging soldiers and wagons as they off loaded, until she finally came to the edge of the water.  Being rather short, she had to stand on one of the many tarred logs that were sunk deep into the shore, logs that the big ships would anchor on to so they wouldn’t drift back out into the river.

Over the heads of others, she could see an enormous warrior standing with his equally enormous charger, watching the last of the men trickle off the boat.  She jumped off the anchor log as her escort struggled to catch up to her.  She made haste for the knight with the well-worn armor.

“My lord?” she called, gathering up her heavy skirts so she wouldn’t drag them through a huge puddle of horse urine. “My lord, are you de Russe?”

The warrior was speaking with another man in used and dented armor.  He heard Ellowyn approach because he turned to look at her. He was without his helm, his cropped hair as black as night and square-jawed, chiseled features holding a handsome edge. However, his eyes were the most noticeable, smoke-colored and intense beneath intelligently arched brows. His gaze lingered on Ellowyn a moment before, without answering, turning back to the conversation at hand. 

The man had completely ignored her. Struggling not to become incensed, Ellowyn came up beside him and tried again.

“My lord?” she said politely. “Are you the Duke?”

The man acted as if he hadn’t heard her. He continued talking to the knight next to him.  Coming to understand now that he was deliberately ignoring her, Ellowyn’s patience began to fracture.

“My lord de Russe?” she didn’t sound so polite.  “If you would kindly address me, I would be grateful.”

The knight did nothing more than turn a calculated back to her.  Ellowyn found herself staring at the backside of the most enormous man she had ever seen.   She was perhaps a little over five feet in height, but the knight with his back to her was easily three times her size and well over a foot taller.  Standing next to him, her head came to his sternum at the most, and the circumferences of the fists resting upon his hips were nearly as large as her head. She took a moment to inspect the man, but his tremendous size did nothing to deter her rising irritation.

“My lord,” she said shortly, reaching out to thump him on his mailed arm. “I require your attention.”

He didn’t respond. He continued to focus on the man beside him.  Infuriated, Ellowyn walked around him and thrust herself in between the two men.  Her angry face scowled into his dark eyes.

“You will not ignore me,” she commanded. “I have come on behalf of….”

The colossal knight cut her off. “Be gone, wench,” he rumbled. “Although you are pleasing to the eye, I have no use for you.”

Ellowyn’s mouth popped open in outrage. “You will not speak to me as if I am a common trollop,” she fired back. “I have business with you.”

The knight did nothing more than reach out and push her away.  He’d really only meant to brush her aside but with his strength and her diminutive size, he ended up knocking her onto her arse. 

Ellowyn ended up in the puddle of urine she had tried so hard to avoid and she bolted up, muddied and dirty, and pushed her way between the men with more determination than before.   When the knight wouldn’t look at her, she hammered a fist against his dented breastplate.

“Touch me again and you shall suffer the consequences,” she hissed. “My name is Ellowyn de Nerra and you have eight hundred of my father’s men under your command.  My father has sent me with a message for you.”

That got his attention. The warrior looked at her, perhaps more closely this time, although his stone-like expression didn’t register as much. 

“You are de Nerra’s daughter?” he asked.

Ellowyn was so angry that she was shaking. “I am,” she seethed, “and when I tell my father how you have shown me such disrespect, he will cease all ties with you, I am sure.”

The warrior could see how furious she was.  “Lady Ellowyn, had you told me who you were at the first, I would not have had cause to cast you aside,” he said in a deep, rumbling voice. “You did not identify yourself.”

“And this is how you treat every woman who does not identify herself? Are you so grand and glorious that you feel yourself head and heart above the rest of the world?”

He didn’t rise to her anger, although he had to admit, it had been a long time since he had faced such fury. No one dared show him any emotion other than blind obedience, but this small and quite beautiful woman was different. She had much courage. Her anger threatened to bring a smile to his impassive lips, but he fought it.

“I thought you were a whore,” he said bluntly. “What message does your father have for me?”

If she had been outraged before, his forthright reply set her to fuming.  Her delicately arched eyebrows flew up.

“Do I
look
like a whore?” she nearly shouted.

He felt that odd urge to smile again.  “Nay, my lady, you do not,” he thought perhaps he’d better make some attempt to ease her before she exploded in all directions. “As I said, you did not identify yourself and….”

She waved a sharp hand at him. “Bite your tongue,” she barked. “Listen to me and listen well. My father wants all of his men rested and ready to return to Erith Castle immediately.  He expects a full accounting of how many men he has lost and expectations as to when he can expect monetary or manpower compensation for those losses.  I am staying at Grey’s Inn on Holborn Road and you will have all of my father’s men delivered to me tomorrow at dawn.  If you delay, I shall return home and tell him of your utter lack of respect for him and his directives.  Is this in any way unclear?”

It had been years since he had been intimidated or fearful, but looking down into that beautiful red face, he realized that not only was he intimidated, he was contrite.  He really was.  Shocked, and somewhat amused at himself, he simply nodded his head.

“It is, my lady.”

“Do you have anything more slanderous or offensive to say to me?”

“Nay, my lady.”

“Then I bid you good day.”

With that, she turned around and hustled off, dodging errant soldiers and beasts of burden.  The warrior just stood there and watched her storm off, eventually surrounded by her escort who had, throughout the exchange, simply stood by in shock as their lady raged at a man three times her size. 

BOOK: Lords of Darkness and Shadow
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