Read Men of Anderas II: Dak the Protector Online
Authors: Cheryl Johnson
Tags: #futuristic, #slave, #futuristic romance, #slave auction, #captive, #auction, #sci fi romance, #alpha male, #dak, #anderas
THE MEN OF ANDERAS
( c ) Copyright January, 2014, Cheryl
Cover art by Jenny Dixon
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters,
events, and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be
confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is
This book is dedicated to my own personal
nestrict. You are an amazing young man and
excel at whatever you attempt--you dance, you kick-ass in martial
arts, you even climb walls and jump from tall buildings. Your
writer’s imagination knows no bounds and I have no doubt we’ll see
your name in print in a few years. What makes you truly special is
your strength of character and steadfast loyalty to those lucky
enough to be held within your light. Aunt Cheryl loves you very
JarDan rolled from the bed and reached for
his sword before the fist pounding on his door struck the third
blow. Jerking the door wide, he was surprised to see his Chief of
"I apologize for disturbing you at this time
of the night, your Highness, but there's a man downstairs demanding
to see you and I believe you should hear his story."
JarDan trusted Kord without question. If he
thought it was important enough to wake him in the middle of the
night, JarDan had no doubt he was right.
"Give me two minutes to dress then bring him
to my study.” JarDan closed the door knowing Kord was already
"What's happened?” Melodie asked from their
bed. "Is it the baby?"
"No, love," JarDan soothed his wife,
"Elizabeth is fine. I have an unexpected visitor, that's all. Go
back to sleep. This shouldn't take long.” JarDan smiled at the
sight of her in his bed. She was the other half of his soul, this
farmer's daughter from Earth who was now his queen.
Dressed in a pair of knee-high boots over
soft, black leather pants and a loose white tunic, JarDan, King of
Falcon Tor, slipped quietly into the hall.
Kord and the unknown visitor were already
waiting for him beside the door to his study. JarDan ushered the
men into the room before pinning the stranger with his unrelenting
gaze. "Who are you and what do you want with me in the middle of
"I beg pardon, King JarDan. Name's Orlyn.
I've got me a little energy ore mine way back in the mountains. I
don't like people much so I don't get into town real regular. My
brother, now, he's different. He likes to spend time with the
females. Course, with the plague and all, he has to go elsewhere to
find his women."
JarDan raised an eyebrow at Kord, silently
asking him if
was the reason he wasn't upstairs in bed
with Melodie. Kord's grave expression didn't fit with the rambling
of the grizzled old miner. Tension tightened the muscles across
JarDan's shoulders causing the hair on his neck to bristle.
"When Syras--he's my brother--when he got
back, two days ago now, and I seen what he had with him, I
recognized it right off. I tried asking him where he got it but
that good-for-nothing don't remember a blasted thing about nothin'
but the females he mounted. Too drunk to know his own mind, most
like. Anyhow, I left at first light and only stopped to rest my
. I just couldn't get here any sooner. I'm real sorry I
got you outta bed, but I knew you'd want this."
JarDan's heart stumbled before setting up a
painful thunder in his chest. The miner held a slender circlet of
gold cradled in his dirt-encrusted hands. The crown belonged to the
heir to the House of Tor. The crown JarDan himself had placed on
"Where did he get this?" JarDan demanded,
snatching the golden ring from the old man.
Any hope he carried that this might belong
to someone else, died when he read the inscription along the inside
of the band. The language of the Ancients proclaimed the recipient
to be a member of the royal family of the House of Tor for as long
as he lived.
For as long as he lived
"I-I don't rightly know, K-king JarDan."
"I'm sorry, Orlyn," JarDan apologized
stiffly when he saw how his actions frightened the miner. "You will
be well rewarded for bringing this to me. Lord Dak disappeared more
than eight months ago without a trace and now…this. You did the
right thing and I thank you."
With a deep breath, JarDan shook off any
negative assumptions. Dak wasn't dead! He refused to believe it…not
until he had facts, not fears, to prove otherwise.
"Kord, see that Orlyn has a comfortable
place to rest and assign someone to see to his needs until he's
ready to return to his mine. I would like you, personally, to
teleport to this mine and bring Syras back here as soon as
possible. He is to talk to no one except me.
this from Dak's head and that someone knows where he is now. I
won't believe he's dead until I see his body with my own eyes--and
kill the man who took my brother from me."
Doesn't anyone see a naked man chained to
a rock in the middle of town
How many men in chains does it
take to turn an entire town deaf, dumb and blind to evil?
The powerful Lord Beldon Dak, adopted son of
King Zeth of Falcon Tor, second-in-line for the throne, stood with
nothing but his pride to shield his body. He fought against the
humiliation and despair that filled his nightmares and spilled over
into his daylight reality.
Focusing on thoughts of revenge, he let the
rage consume him until he could stand straight and tall in the face
of this latest attempt to break his spirit. Why staked out in the
What is that lousy bastard up to, now?
He hurt everywhere, but he welcomed the
excruciating pain in his body. For the past six months, every few
days at least two of Murdock's guards would drag him from his cell
and amuse themselves by beating on whichever part of his body
looked like it might be healing. Lips, split and swollen from the
latest round of punches, now cracked and oozed in the unrelenting
heat. The only areas of his body not marked with bruises in shades
of blue-black to greenish-yellow were his groin and his feet; and
the rats constantly nipped at his toes while he slept. With nothing
to protect his back, every breath he took scraped more flesh
against the razor-sharp texture of the stone pillar anchoring the
Yes, the pain was necessary. It was proof he
still lived and life meant another chance at escape. A chance to
find the rest of his crew before he came back here and blew this
miserable hellhole out of existence. He sought the anguish of six
months of abuse; wrapped his conscience in memories of brutal
guards and hungry rats. Even the sting of tender flesh burned by
the searing desert sun gave him strength.
Whatever it takes, I
Dak flexed his bare toes against the wooden
floor of the platform. A shiver of unexpected pleasure skittered up
his spine at the feel of the wood. Year after year of fierce desert
winds had polished the surface to glassy smoothness. He closed his
eyes, relishing the sensation against the soles of his sensitive
Get a grip! You're bare butt naked and
playing footsie with the floor! Has Murdock finally driven you over
Running his tongue over his cracked lips, he
dreamed of a cool goblet of rich, Anderan wine. He could almost
taste the heavy sweetness.
Stop thinking about home or Murdock
Taking as deep a breath as his cracked ribs
would allow, he carefully rotated his head until it rested against
the rough surface behind him. Forcing his mind away from thoughts
of Anderas, he surveyed the desolate area around him.
The sun, just beginning to appear above the
horizon, blazed across the barren wasteland, the heat already
oppressive. Within hours, only the desert dwellers would be above
ground. By midday, the small hamlet would be virtually abandoned as
the merciless winds blew through the streets of the market, driving
every living creature below ground. For now, the place was packed
with people. The stench of unwashed bodies, animal dung, and
disease hung in the air as thick as the powdery dust of the unpaved
streets. Peddlers with their stalls of exotic spices, fabrics and
precious gems, hawked their wares amid the chaos.
A small group of men gathered in front of
him. No one said anything about him being there. They just looked
him over before conferring among themselves in hushed whispers. As
the crowd grew larger, half-dressed whores worked their way among
the men while their pimps kept careful account of the coins
changing hands. Thieves, murderers, smugglers, the lowest dregs of
a hundred different species filled the market of Safe Haven.
. Dak sneered at the farce.
The twisted bastard who picked that name had a really sick sense of
humor. Nothing was safe here. He and his crew found that out the
hard way. Law didn't exist in the underground maze of rat warrens
unless you counted the primal law of kill-or-be-killed. Everything
had a price on Safe Haven and the right price bought you
The sound of harsh, too-loud laughter jerked
him back to his reality. He felt the platform shake under the
ponderous tread of the heavy jailer. The gathered crowd began to
push and shove each other, jockeying for a better view.
"Well, looks like you ain't so full of piss
'n vinegar, now." Murdock's fetid breath washed over Dak in a
nauseating cloud, causing his stomach to churn dangerously. "You
wuz mouthy enough earlier."
"Piss off,” Dak drawled in a bored
"Watch yur tone wit' me, boy, or I'll cut
that fancy tongue right out!"
"And break your mother's heart?” Dak purred.
The crowd roared their approval of the insulting comments.
"You friggin' bastard," Murdock growled
under his breath, "I'm gonna enjoy seein' you sold like a side of
A slave market? Is this what happened to
? Dak closed his eyes to shut out the other man. It was
too easy to antagonize his captor. The fat slob may have come
unarmed to a battle of wits, but he had unerringly hit the very
heart of Dak's aggravation.
A cold sweat added to the sheen already
coating Dak's body. All six feet six inches of exposed flesh
dripped sweat in the blistering sun of this cursed, dying planet.
It dripped from his matted hair into his eyes. It coated his lips
with salt. It oozed like corrosive acid into the hundreds of
lacerations on his back from contact with the abrasive rock. By the
Beard of the Prophet, he could feel the sweat dripping from his
His physical discomfort was minor compared
to the rioting emotions threatening to rip him apart. Never had he
felt such rage--and such impotence. He failed to protect his crew,
and in failing his men, he failed his King and he failed himself.
His humiliation at the hands of Murdock's slave market was
negligible when tallied against the loss of his ship and crew. Were
any of them still alive? Would he ever find them?
A sharp jab in his solar plexus brought a
swift end to Dak's soul searching. Breathing deep and slow, he
fought against the rush of pain from ribs cracked in a previous
encounter with Murdock.
"Pay attention, boy," Murdock grinned,
"things is fixin' to get real interesting."
He watched Murdock work the crowd like a
first-class carnival barker. Within minutes he had the rowdy crowd
in the palm of his hand. Drawing a deep breath, Murdock bent over
and belched in the face of a woman standing at the front of the
crowd. Having been the recipient of that noxious breath, he fully
expected the woman to faint or puke. She just stared at the slave
master. When Murdock jerked to an upright position, the woman's
lips curved in what could have been a smile, except it never
reached her eyes.