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SIGNED -- Courage to Sacrifice (The Silent Champions #4)


A suicidal mission. An impossible hunt for the enemy. A company of elite soldiers willing to risk it all.

Captain Aravon has accepted one final challenge: cross an entire continent to kill Tyr Farbjodr, the commander of the Eirdkilrs.

His mission leads through enemy territory, across the towering Sawtooth Mountains, and into the harsh tundra of the icy Wasteland in search of his target.

Hunted by savage foes, with only his small band of soldiers for support, it’s a race against time to put an end to the Eirdkilrs’ leader before he unleashes a devastating new attack that would destroy everything he’s fought and bled to protect.

With everything on the line, can Aravon and his Silent Champions withstand the full might of their cunning enemy to save their kingdom one last time..even if they have to sacrifice their lives to succeed?

Buy Courage to Sacrifice for a desperate gamble to save a world or die trying!


(Each paperback is hand-signed and personalized by me. Swag included!)

elite warriors
special forces unit
band of brothers
secret identity
Roman Legion

SIGNED -- Courage to Sacrifice (The Silent Champions #4)

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The Lady’s Bell tolled for the dead of Icespire.

Long, mournful peals rang throughout the burned and ruined city. Thirteen chimes, one for each of the gods. The deep, booming sound rang out across Sanctuary Court, seeming to echo off the thick plumes of smoke that hung hazy and dark in the crystal-blue sky. A thundering throbbing that reverberated to the core of Aravon’s being.

The bell tolled a final farewell to the countless slain in the Battle of Icespire.

No, not countless, Aravon amended silently. Prince Toran had taken a reckoning of the dead. Forty-six thousand, eight hundred and twelve.
Forty-six thousand, eight hundred and twelve. Men, women, and children—far too many of the latter. Old and young, strong and infirm. Wealthy and impoverished, though the poor dead far outnumbered the fallen wealthier citizens of Icespire.

Of those forty-six thousand, eight hundred and twelve, only nine hundred and thirty-six were afforded a final send-off in the Sanctuary Court.

Legionnaires, clad in dented, battered, and crushed mail—much of it long ago gone rusty or covered with dust gathered over years hanging over a mantelpiece—lay atop shattered shields. Lifeless hands gripped swords atop chests that would never again rise and fall. Many, far too many, mangled beyond recognition, skulls crushed, necks snapped, and limbs smashed by heavy Eirdkilr weapons. The worst of them, Aravon knew, had gone to burial in the Legion encampment outside the Soldier’s Gate. Only those with recognizable features—fewer than two hundred—had been laid out on the white paving stones of Sanctuary Court.

A lump rose to Aravon’s throat at the sight of so many fellow Legionnaires. Soldiers who had served the Legion of Heroes with courage, fought to their last breaths to protect their city. Men and women of war, like him, beside whom he had marched, served, and battled.

Legends in their own right.

General Rodalus lay at the northern edge of the broad plaza, somehow appearing even more commanding and dignified in death. Around him, seventy-five grey-haired soldiers had been arranged into an honor guard to march at their former General’s back, to escort the Legionnaires into the Long Keeper’s arms. Champions one and all, men who had given their lives in service to the Legion of Heroes, who had earned the Sword of the Princelands, the highest award bestowed upon the realm’s most stalwart defenders. Who had chosen to take up arms to defend their city one final time, rust and debility of age be damned.

Five hundred and seventy-eight men and women in fine cloaks, costly boots, and bright-hued silks and linens lay silent and still beside the soldiers. Azure Islanders, the wealthy and noble, those who had answered Prince Toran’s call to battle. They had followed behind Aravon and the Prince in their desperate charge across the bridges and into the Mains. They had given their lives to rid the city of Eirdkilrs.

The bodies of the nobility had been dressed in their finest raiment, bathed in perfumes, and embalmed by the Bright Lady’s Ministrants. Behind them, arrayed along the southeastern corner of the Sanctuary Court, lay one hundred and sixty-eight ragged, dust-stained, and emaciated corpses of the citizenry of Icespire.

People of the Glimmer, Littlemarket, Portside, Eastway, Princetown, and the People’s Markets—those considered common in life, but honored in their valiant deaths. They, too, had died defending against the invaders, and Prince Toran had insisted they deserved to be honored beside the rest.

Acid twisted in Aravon’s gut. These were just a fraction of the corpses that even now were being committed to the Long Keeper’s arms. Thousands of Outwarders—not even the Icewatchers could get an accurate number—had died in the fire, gone to their eternal rest in Seggrholl in the arms of their god. Nuius, god of the Eyrr. Faegir, god of the Smida. Sattr, goddess of the Vidr. Those born to Fehlan ancestors needed no burial; the touch of flame and the words of their priests, the Seiomenn of their clans, would guide their fallen to the afterlife.

But for the Princelanders, one final ceremony was needed. A proper funeral, witnessed by all in Icespire, presided over by Prince Toran himself, with the rites of passing sung out by the priests of the thirteen gods of Einan.

A crowd had gathered in Sanctuary Court—not so numerous as mere days earlier when General Traighan and Duke Sammael Dyrund had been honored. The throng couldn’t number more than five or six thousand; enough to fill Honor’s Lane and the Eastmarch, yet not so densely packed the nobility of Azure Island were forced to jostle with citizens of the Mains for a place in the solemn wall of mourners surrounding the plaza.

Far too many men and women of Icespire were busy elsewhere, paying final respects to the fallen being interred in unmarked graves. Icespire Memorial Gardens could never hold such a vast number of dead. Icespire had never prepared for casualties in such terrible quantity.

Forty-six thousand, eight hundred and twelve. The number rang out again in Aravon’s mind. He struggled to believe it. He’d fought for fifteen years, in more than a hundred engagements ranging from minor skirmishes to pitched battles. In that time, had the Legion ever lost so many? Even adding in Eirdkilr and Fehlan dead, he couldn’t imagine the continent of Fehl had seen such death in centuries. Perhaps ever.

That thought, compounded by the sight of so many corpses laid out in Sanctuary Court, sent a shiver down his spine. Had the Grim Reavers not arrived, how many more bodies would lie there? Would Prince Toran have numbered among the slain? Would Mylena, Rolyn, and Adilon gone to join their father-in-law and grandfather in the Sleepless Lands? How many more children would be orphans, or men and women widowed in the ensuing slaughter?

Aravon’s fingers tightened around the hilt of the sword hanging from his belt—an Ebonguard sword, a match to the black Shalandran steel armor, helmet, and face mask he wore—until his knuckles whitened. Fury burned bright and hot in his stomach.

Everything we did—in Bjornstadt, in Rivergate, with Eirik Throrsson and the Fjall—it was almost for nothing. All because of that traitorous bastard Lord Eidan!

The muscles in Aravon’s spine grew so stiff his borrowed Ebonguard armor clanked. Lord Eidan, the Prince’s spymaster, had betrayed the Princelands. Had betrayed Duke Dyrund and hired the mercenary that murdered him. Lord Eidan had arranged for the slaughter of those forty-six thousand, eight hundred and twelve Princelanders by helping Tyr Farbjodr, commander of the Eirdkilrs, to arrange the sea assault.

Lord Eidan had paid for his treachery with his life, but Aravon wouldn’t rest—couldn’t rest—until he knew for certain the threat to the Princelands had passed. And that would only happen when Tyr Farbjodr lay dead.
As dead as the Eirdkilr corpses piled on the docks of the Port of Icespire. No burning biers or fiery farewell for the monstrous barbarians who had invaded Icespire; the blackfin sharks of Icespire Bay would grow glutted on Eirdkilr flesh.

But those few—barely more than six thousand at last count—made up a mere fraction of the Eirdkilrs’ full force. With Tyr Farbjodr’s cunning to guide them, they had wreaked terrible havoc in the last few months alone. Their attacks on the Legion-held garrisons and strongholds, the massacre of Fehlan towns and cities, and their raids on the mines around Fehl had done far more than rack up a terrible body count.

Two days earlier, the Eirdkilrs had nearly won the war.

Their attack on Icespire would have eliminated not only Prince Toran, but all of the most powerful nobles and Dukes of the Princelands. Until Tyr Farbjodr, the Eirdkilrs would never have conceived of so innovative a plan: distracting the Westhaven navy with an attack on a major stronghold, Eirdkilrs crewing Jokull-made ships, and using sieges on the Princelanders’ allies and garrisons to draw out the Legions stationed at Icespire, leaving the city virtually undefended. That made Farbjodr, not the tens of thousands of Eirdkilrs roaming southern Fehl, the greatest threat to the Princelands’ future.

A threat Aravon and his Grim Reavers would soon deal with.

Aravon had stifled his impatience when Prince Toran requested a day to consider their plan. One day, the Prince had insisted. One day, and a final farewell to the heroes who had fallen in defense of Icespire.

At that moment, Aravon felt no impatience; only sorrow over the deaths. So many dead, so many fallen in defense of their city. So many more unarmed, defenseless men, women, and children cut down in the streets or murdered in their homes. The sight of those nine hundred and thirty-six bodies laid out on the white paved stones of Sanctuary Court hardened Aravon’s resolve.

Tyr Farbjodr dies, no matter the cost!

The thirteenth and final toll of the Lady’s Bell rang out, echoing across the open plaza for long seconds, until the clangor died in the noonday air. A solemn silence descended over Sanctuary Court. For long seconds, no one moved. Even the wind that eternally rolled off Icespire Bay seemed to still, and the world around Azure Island held its breath. Clouds turned the brilliant blue sky to grey, as if the sun hid its face to weep for the fallen heroes.

Prince Toran’s voice broke the stillness. “My people, today we mourn.” His words rang out clear and strong across Sanctuary Court. He stood at the front of the Ebonguards lined along the square’s northern edge, but unlike his guards, he wore no mask or shining helm. Instead, he had removed his crown, baring his face and head in honor of the slain. “We mourn brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. We mourn friends, comrades, and beloved fallen to the wrath of the enemy. We mourn the good people of Icespire—our people—who have gone to the Long Keeper’s arms, and to the peace of the Sleepless Lands.”

He stepped forward, breaking away from his Ebonguards, and coming to stand just beyond the body of General Rodalus. His eyes darkened as he stared down at the old General’s face—now washed clean of the blood that had stained it hours earlier. Slowly, he knelt and placed a reverent kiss on the man’s forehead.

For long seconds, he remained kneeling, head bowed, silent and solemn. When he lifted his face, tears streamed down from his eyes, yet his voice had lost none of its power.

“But we also honor them!” Steel edged his words. “We honor their bravery, their strength in the face of adversity, and their sacrifice. A sacrifice they made freely and without hesitation, each and every one of them.” Still on his knees, he swept a hand toward the bodies arrayed across Sanctuary Court. “These, my people, gave their lives for our sakes. Bled and died so we may live. And so we give them the honor that they are due. The honor of our gratitude!”

At his words, the Ebonguards dropped to one knee. Aravon and Colborn—also wearing borrowed Ebonguard armor—followed suit, and before the clattering of armor had fallen silent, the crowd of men, women, and children surrounding the plaza had joined in. A wave of movement rippled through the crowd as thousands of citizens of Icespire knelt and bowed their heads to the fallen.

“Go into peace now, brave soldiers!” Prince Toran’s voice rang out across Sanctuary Court. “Into the arms of the Long Keeper, to join the Swordsman and stand watch for eternity.”

Those words—from the “Brave Soldier’s March”, the Legionnaires’ funeral song—honored the fallen. Though only a few had served in the Legion of Heroes, all had marched on to the end. They had died a soldier’s death.

Reverent silence hung over Sanctuary Court for long seconds. Then Prince Toran rose to his feet and addressed the crowd once more. “We have suffered a devastating loss, one from which our beloved city will take long months to recover. But recover we will!” He raised a clenched fist. “Together, our hearts and minds united in common purpose, we will rebuild what was burned, will raise up what was torn down. And as we do, we will carry with us the memory of those brave souls who gave their lives so we might endure. Our every word and deed will be in their honor. Our city will once again be the greatest on Fehl as a tribute to these men and women who paid the ultimate price so you and I did not have to.”

His head turned, as if his eyes locked on every person in the crowd. “We are Princelanders. We are citizens of Icespire. And nothing can shatter us!”

A cheer rose from the crowd, and cries of “For the Prince!” and “The Princelands!” echoed around Sanctuary Court. By the time Prince Toran turned away from the throng and the bodies laid out across the plaza, the shouts had swelled to a thunderous tumult.

The sound swelled Aravon’s heart. These people had been terrified for their lives not two days earlier, but now they stood firm and strong. Despite the blackened ruins that had once been their homes, they still lived. And where they lived, they could rebuild. No matter how bleak the situation, there would come a time when this would be a distant memory. Thus was the way of war: life always endured, no matter the suffering and torment. The roaring of the crowd was all the proof needed to know that Icespire would, indeed, recover.

Aravon climbed to his feet with the other Ebonguards, and he straightened as Prince Toran marched toward him.

“Come, Captain Snarl,” the Prince spoke in a low voice, barely audible beneath the crowd’s chanting. “We must discuss your plan to kill Tyr Farbjodr.”

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