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SIGNED -- The Last March (The Silent Champions #6)


Sergeant Koltun and his Screaming Howlers should never have been caught up in the desperate battle to defend Highcliff Motte from a horde of Eirdkilrs. But with so few Legionnaires against so many barbarians, they couldn’t simply ride away and leave their fellow soldiers to die.

Outnumbered, cut off from reinforcements, with no chance of victory, their only hope is to embark on one last march...every step a fight to survive.

The Last March is the sixth book in thrilling The Silent Champions military fantasy series, one final gritty novel to bring the battle full circle.

Fans of Malazan’s Bridgeburners, 300, and The Black Company will love this dark, ominous tale of brave soldiers willing to give their all.

Buy now to stand witness to these Legionnaires' last march!


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

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

SIGNED -- The Last March (The Silent Champions #6)

Look Inside

“Leave the lad alone, Private, or I’ll rip off your balls and stuff ‘em up your arse!”

Private Ardem glanced over his shoulder, a retort rising to his thin, moustached lips. “Get the f—” The snarl froze half-formed as he caught sight of Koltun storming toward him, fists balled.

Koltun’s eyes, however, were locked on the scrawny youth gripped in the Private’s meaty fingers. At sixteen, Lingram had no hope of holding his own against the older, burlier, experienced soldier, much less the three ugly shadows that seemed permanently stuck to Ardem’s hip. They hadn’t yet struck the lad, but the bruises ringing his eyes remained visible from the last beating these Legionnaires had inflicted.

“Let him go, now!” Koltun growled. He stopped just within Ardem’s shadow and glared up at the man. It didn’t matter that Ardem towered over him—everyone did, and he’d grown accustomed to it over the course of his long life. Some battles were worth fighting, no matter how rubbish the odds.

For a moment, Koltun hoped Private Ardem would allow common sense to take root in the shriveled husk of what passed for his brain. The Private, however, seemed determined to cling to the role of fool.

“Or what?” Without releasing his grip on young Lingram, Ardem half-turned, bent, and sneered into Koltun’s face. “What in the bloody hell d’you think a little dwarf lik—”

Koltun’s fist cut off whatever vile dreck Ardem had been about to spew. His blow, backed by the force of muscles hardened over years of military service, crashed into Private Ardem’s face. Cartilage crunched, blood sprayed, and the Private stumbled back. The fingers gripping Lingram’s collar loosened and Ardem clapped both hands to his gushing nose.

Koltun had only a moment to finish the Private before Ardem’s comrades recovered their wits. His fist came around in an uppercut that struck Ardem in the fork of his legs. The man gave a pitiful mewling cry and slumped forward.

Even as Ardem collapsed, the three Legionnaires beside him finally moved. The first, a hulking brute whose name Koltun hadn’t bothered to learn, raised his ham-sized fist high and drove a punch down toward Koltun’s face. But this soldier, like most, had never learned to fight someone so much smaller, while Koltun had spent his lifetime battling opponents far larger, taller, and heavier. He slipped beneath the punch and brought his fist whipping around and down, right into the brute’s knee. The joint buckled and the Legionnaire fell. Just in time for his chin to collide with Koltun’s uppercut. The blow rocked his head backward with jarring force. He fell, splashing into the muck, his body tangling with the Legionnaire that had been standing behind him.

That left just one. Koltun pivoted, just in time to see the Legionnaire’s boot lashing out in a vicious driving kick. The blow slammed into Koltun’s chest, the hobnailed boot clanging on his breastplate. Koltun staggered back and tumbled into the mud, but as he fell, he threw himself into a backward roll. The momentum brought him to his feet, and he leapt forward in a bull rush.

With a growl, he drove his shoulder straight into the soldier’s torso. The Legionnaire folded with a loud oomph of air exploding from his lungs as Koltun lifted him from his feet and hurled him to the muddy ground. Koltun was astride the Legionnaire’s chest in a flash, his fists flying as he drove three quick jabs and a powerful overarm punch into the man’s jaw.

As Koltun brought back his fist for another blow, a hand closed around his arm. Private Ardem, fury blazing in his dark eyes and blood still gushing from his now-crooked nose, hauled Koltun away from his companion and spun him about, preparing to drive a vicious kick into his face. Koltun threw a quick jab that caught Ardem in the already tender spot. The Private fell to his knees.

Which placed his face right on level with Koltun’s own.

“Next time,” Koltun snarled, “maybe think of choosing your words a tad better, aye?” He drew back his fist for the blow that would finish what he began with Ardem’s nose. The Private’s eyes went wide, his gaze locked on the mailed, bloodied hand flashing toward his face.

“Sergeant!” A commanding voice echoed from behind him with the force of a cracking whip.

Koltun froze, his fist half an inch from Private Ardem’s nose.

Captain Hadrick stormed into view. “What in the fiery hell is the meaning of this?” Though shorter than the Legion officers who served as his staff, the Captain’s girth gave him a breadth of personality matched by his florid cheeks, expansive appetite for wine, and laissez-faire attitude toward the duties of Highcliff Motte. He tried to loom over Koltun, but any attempt at being imposing was ruined by the creaking of his breastplate as it struggled to contain his gut. “Unless you’ve got a damned good explanation as to why I find you beating on my Legionnaires, you can look forward to a cold night or two locked in the stockade.”

Koltun’s jaw set in a stubborn cast. He’d disliked Captain Hadrick from the moment he first laid eyes on the man. Three weeks in Highcliff Motte hadn’t changed his stance toward the man.

“All due respect, Captain,” he said in a voice that held only a fraction of the deference due to an officer of Hadrick’s rank, “but when I find your lads taking out their boredom on a youth, I figure that’s reason enough to step in. Teach your lot a few simple manners.”

Captain Hadrick glanced at Lingram, who still lay in the muck, curled into a ball to shield himself from the inevitable blows. “Right.” His scowl deepened. For a moment, his momentum seemed to stall at the first resistance. Then he rallied. “All the same, it’s not your place to, as you say, teach them manners.”

“About time someone does,” Koltun muttered, though in a voice he intended the Captain to overhear.

Captain Hadrick glowered down at him. “You may be a Sergeant, but not a Sergeant of Ninth Company.” He gave a half-sneer, half-sniff. “To my knowledge, you and your Screaming Howlers are not part of any Battalion in the Legion of Heroes.” He loomed over Koltun and jabbed a finger down at him. “That means you lot deal with your business however you see fit, but while you’re in Highcliff Motte, you will conduct yourselves with decorum and keep your bloody hands off my Legionnaires. Is that perfectly clear?”

Koltun stared up into the Captain’s pudgy face. The sag of Captain Hadrick’s cheeks ruined his attempt at menace, and the overbearing, uppity edge to his voice only added to Koltun’s disdain for the man.

Yet, with effort, he controlled his irritation. No sense antagonizing the Captain. By the Swordsman’s grace, we’ll be out of this Keeper-damned frozen hell just as soon as Dayn’s got what he came for.

Slowly, he forced his fists to unclench and nodded. “Aye, it’s clear.”

“Good.” Captain Hadrick straightened, a self-satisfied grin on his smug face. “And see the rest of you get the message. I won’t have you laying hands on my soldiers.”

Koltun’s jaw clenched until his muscles creaked, but he bit back the retort. “Aye,” he rumbled.

Captain Hadrick nodded, lifted his chin, and turned to one of his aides. “Lieutenant Vorris, see to the Privates, yes?”

“Yes, Captain.” Vorris, a man with the heavy build and sandy-colored hair of a Westhavener, gave a Legion salute—right fist to left shoulder—setting his breastplate clanking. He stepped aside for Captain Hadrick and the other Lieutenants to depart, his eyes never leaving the Legionnaires lying in the mud around Koltun.

“Get them up and to the Menders,” Lieutenant Vorris called to a group of soldiers sitting around a nearby brazier. “Make sure nothing’s broken too badly.”

Koltun pursed his lips as he made way for the Legionnaires to haul their beaten comrades away. If not, it means I didn’t do my job right. He hadn’t pulled his blows; Legionnaires like Ardem tended to forget any lessons not pounded into them. Then again, men like Ardem flocked to the Legion. Few other places offered them such a productive—and lucrative—outlet for their innate brutality.

“Really, Kolt?” Lieutenant Vorris’ voice was quiet. “Right here, in front of the Captain’s office?”

Koltun glanced up at the four-story stone building that stood in the heart of Highcliff Motte. The construction was large enough to house most of Ninth Company, though a few of the less-fortunate soldiers joined the civilians in occupying the wood and wattle-and-daub structures that occupied the northern edge of the keep.

With a shrug, Koltun turned to the Lieutenant. “Not my choice of where they decided to pick on the lad, only what I’d do to help him.”

There was no recrimination in Vorris’ eyes. Though the Lieutenant had to obey his Captain’s orders, it was clear he understood—likely even lauded—Koltun’s decision. It had taken Koltun all of one night spent in Highcliff Motte to learn that Private Ardem and his cronies tended to make trouble. Always out of sight of their officers, of course. Unless they got a bit drunk and sloppy, as they were now.

Over the last three weeks, Koltun hadn’t bothered to intervene any time the Private tormented his fellow Legionnaires. Like Captain Hadrick had said, Ninth Company had Sergeants to deal with unruly soldiers. Besides, Legionnaires as bored as those holding Highcliff Motte needed an outlet. Fist fights and brawls were par for the course in garrisons that saw action as infrequently—not a single assault, nor even a sighting of the Eirdkilrs in more than two years—as this.

But when it came to young Lingram, Koltun would gladly make an exception and step in. He’d shield the lad from everything he’d been forced to endure his entire life.

Dwarves—much as he hated the word, it was the best term to describe those like him, below average stature with shortened limbs and torso—weren’t so uncommon in Voramis that they were hated or feared, though he’d heard stories of the faraway mainland Twelve Kingdoms where the locals saw them as descendants of demons. And yet, no matter where he’d gone, no matter how far from home his travels took him, boys and men like Private Ardem were always drawn to him. Always to mock, revile and assault. That had made Koltun strong—in body and mind—strong enough to stand his ground and defend lads like Lingram.

He splashed through the mud toward the boy. Lingram still lay curled in a ball, though he peered up at Koltun through the hands covering his face.

“Easy, lad.” Koltun reached a hand down. “They won’t be bothering you any time soon.” A smile tugged at his lips. Ardem, at least, will spend a few days in the Mender’s tent, the way I left his nose.

Hesitantly, Lingram took Koltun’s hand and pulled himself upright. His tunic had torn and mud stained his back, but at least he’d escaped without adding to the bruises already darkening his face.

“Th-Thank you, S-Sergeant,” the youth stammered.

“Nothing to it, lad.” Koltun gave a dismissive wave. Though only sixteen, Lingram stood nearly a head taller than Koltun, and the first hint of muscles broadened his gangly arms and shoulders. “Soon enough, you’ll be strong enough to fight your own battles.” He winked up at the youth. “‘Till then, I’ve got your back.”

“Best you stay on the north side of Highcliff Motte for a few days.” Lieutenant Vorris had come up behind Koltun. Though his voice was stern, his face was kind, almost pitying as he regarded the muddy, bruised youth. “Keep out of Private Ardem’s path until I’ve had a word with him.”

Lingram’s face fell. “D-Does that mean I can’t c-continue my training?”

Lieutenant Vorris pursed his lips. “For now,” he finally said. “But give me a day, and I’ll deal with this and have you back in the training yard.”

Though disappointment darkened the youth’s eyes, he nodded. “Yes, Lieutenant.”

“Good.” Vorris gave the boy a gentle shove. “Now off with you. Your father’ll be wondering where you’ve gotten to. And you know what Jarren will do if you make him handle all your chores.”

Lingram’s eyes widened a fraction, and he quickly turned to scoop up the wheelbarrow that lay overturned in the muck a few paces away. The youth hurried to replace the metal ingots that had fallen out, seized the handles, and hauled the barrow away in the direction of his father’s forge.

“Careful, Kolt.” Lieutenant Vorris spoke in a quiet voice. When Koltun looked up, concern shone in the officer’s eyes. “Beating Ardem won’t stop him from going after Lingram. Might just make things worse for the lad.”

“Aye, I know.” Koltun’s gut twisted; he knew all too well how cruel men like the Private could be. “But someone had to do something.” He shook his head. “You Legionnaires have all your rules and regulations, which meant it was up to me.”

A long moment of silence passed before Lieutenant Vorris gave a little shrug. “True.” He inclined his head to Koltun. “Just remember that Captain Hadrick’s already irritated enough having you Screaming Howlers here. He’ll be glad for any excuse to toss you out in the cold. Don’t give him one.”

Koltun smiled. “You’ll miss me too much, eh?”

“You?” Lieutenant Vorris snorted. “Caela, on the other hand…” A hint of a smile played on his face as he trailed off and turned to leave.

“Good luck with that!” Koltun called after the Lieutenant’s retreating back. “There are many faster ways to get yourself killed.”

“He talking about our Caela?”

Koltun spun at the rumbling voice behind him, and found himself staring at very possibly the broadest man alive on Fehl.

“Still got a thing for her, eh?” A huge grin split Thog’s rocky face. The smile made his massive head appear oddly rounded, like a boulder cut free of the dark grey mountain peaks around them. “And you haven’t warned him off?”

“Aye, I’ve tried,” Koltun said, “but it’s not had much effect. About as effective as everything I’ve tried to stop you snoring.”

Koltun had to crane his neck to look at Thog. Though the man was below the average height for Praamians, he was built so wide in the shoulders, chest, and arms he liked to joke he needed three blankets just to cover his girth. “And a fourth for my upper body, too,” he’d say with a wink and a twinkle in his too-brown eyes.

Thog laughed, taking the remark in his usual good humor. “When you’re built like a mountain, you can expect some rumbling, eh?” He lifted a huge hand to scratch his chin, which appeared like a boulder sprouting white-and-grey whiskers. “Which makes me question some of the noises coming out of you after one of Dayn’s bean and—”

“What do you want, Thog?” Koltun snapped, though his irritation was more a remnant of his feelings toward Captain Hadrick and Private Ardem than at Thog’s comment. “You didn’t haul yourself all this way for nothing.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Dayn send you?”

“Aye.” Thog nodded his massive head. “He said he needs to see you now.” He glanced around, then lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “He thinks he’s uncovered the secret we came here to find!”

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