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Authors: Kerry Newcomb

Sword of Vengeance

BOOK: Sword of Vengeance
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Sword of Vengeance
The Medal, Book Two
Kerry Newcomb

For Patty, Amy Rose, and P. J.

Contents

Part One: The Sword

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Part Two: Home

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Part Three: Alabama Uprising

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Part Four: Horseshoe Bend

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

A Note from the Author

Preview:
Only the Gallant

About the Author

THE MEDAL: BOOK TWO
Sword of Vengeance

KIT MCQUEEN—Reckless, bold, quick-tempered, a man like his father, burning with love for his country. Having once faced death, he must prepare to do so again … for a nation’s survival.

IRON HAND O’KEEFE—Maimed by the British, taken in by the Choctaws to become a powerful chief, he saved McQueen’s life. But the Americans call him traitor, and Kit McQueen has sworn to capture him or see him die.

BILL TIBBS—He fought by Kit’s side in wilder, younger days, but the power of gold seduced him until honor and friendship were destroyed. Now they will meet again, to settle an old score.

RAVEN O’KEEFE—Like her father before her, she saved the life of Kit McQueen. Will the twice-owed debt of a life—and his love for the proud, beautiful Choctaw—keep Kit from discharging his patriotic duty?

WOLF JACKET—The fiercest Creek warrior chief, leader of the Red Sticks, who fight in league with the British. He burns with hatred for the Choctaw, the white men, and especially Kit McQueen.

PART ONE
The Sword
Chapter One

July 4, 1811

K
IT MCQUEEN LAUGHED AS
thirty-six inches of watered steel blade missed decapitating him by inches. He ducked, lowered his shoulder, and rolled against his attacker’s legs. The Turkish guard’s momentum carried him up and over the balcony railing. The guard cried out in astonishment and tossed his broad-bladed tulwar aside as he fought to catch a handhold on the railing. But luck had abandoned him, and the captain of Bashara al-Jezzar’s janissaries dropped out of sight and crashed into the spring-fed pool below. Kit heard a splash of water followed by a sickening crunch as the captain’s head slapped against the marble fountain built along one side of the spring.

Kit heard footsteps behind him. He swung around and leveled his pistol at Bill Tibbs, his fellow privateer.

“Please don’t kill me, Christopher.” Tibbs held out his hands in mock supplication.

Kit grinned and shook his head. “It’s tempting,” he said. “But I still might need your help before this night is through.”

There came a hammering on the harem’s bolted doors, and from the hall passageway sounded the savage outcries of the pasha’s guards, who at any moment might break into the room and tear the two infidels limb from limb. Elsewhere in the city port of Derna, the rumble of distant cannon and rifle fire signaled the revolution against the pasha’s rule was still in progress. Fortunately, the insurrection had drawn most of al-Jezzar’s janissaries into the streets.

“Where are the jewels?” Tibbs asked, realizing for the first time his companion was empty-handed.

“I thought you had them.” Alarm washed across Kit’s sun-darkened features.

Tibbs looked horrified. “I took the lead to ensure our escape route while you pilfered the treasure house. Good God, have you lost what we climbed the cliff for?” Tibbs blurted. Then he knew he’d been set up as Kit roared with laughter and pointed toward the wall behind his fellow thief.

A large leather pouch dangled from a wall bracket that supported a heavy silk tapestry depicting the pasha in all his finery sitting a white charger and trampling his foes beneath the animal’s flashing hooves. Kit did not feel the least bit guilty stealing from Bashara al-Jezzar, for the old brigand was one of the Corsican brotherhood who had been preying on American ships for several years. It was high time the thief got a taste of his own medicine.

Tibbs hurried over to retrieve the bag of stolen booty. With a sharp tug he worked the pouch loose and saw it drop to the floor. The pouch fell open and the ruby-encrusted hilt of a scimitar along with a necklace of gold clattered out onto the sandstone floor.

“The Eye of Alexander!” a man gasped from a nearby doorway. Kit looked around and noticed a bald, robe-clad eunuch staring at the scimitar from the entrance to the private quarters of the pasha’s many wives. Several young women, dark-haired and doe-eyed, in various stages of undress, tittered among themselves and gestured toward the intruders. Such women were kept in seclusion and allowed only the company of eunuchs until they were summoned to al-Jezzar’s bedchambers to await his pleasure—though there was seldom pleasure to be found in the nobleman’s often cruel embrace. The women crowded the entrance despite the eunuch’s efforts to force them back.

The aroma of incense, burning spices for which Kit had no name, wafted into the corridor and clouded the senses of the intruders, luring them to enter and lose themselves to desire. For here were two young men fit to fan the fires in any woman’s heart, be she Turkish princess or slave.

Bill Tibbs, at twenty-eight, was a tall, strapping fellow, whose stark white skin was in sharp contrast to his pitch-black, shoulder-length hair. His eyes were deep-hued, his gaze often guarded and yet ever scrutinizing, as if he were always trying to gain the upper hand.

Kit McQueen stood several inches shorter than his towering friend. And yet it was to him that many of the women offered their inviting glances, for they had seen him move with catlike grace and quickness and they sensed an aura of power about him. His mane of scarlet curls was partly hidden by a bandanna of yellow silk, and his eyes were as bronze as his well-muscled torso. A gold ring glimmered in his right ear. He was younger than Bill Tibbs by a couple of years, but that didn’t keep the larger man from deferring to his partner’s judgment. It was an influence Kit tended to exude in moments of crisis.

He caught Tibbs by the arm as the man started toward the women, drawn by lust and a hunger for the forbidden and exotic fruits of the pasha’s nubile garden.

“Bill, we don’t have much time.”

“I don’t intend to be very long,” Tibbs replied, a lascivious smile on his face.

“You must not take the Eye of Alexander,” the eunuch interjected in his high-pitched voice. He placed his flabby body between the privateer and the harem women. “I don’t know who you are or how you gained access to my honorable lord’s domain, may he live a thousand thousand years and be blessed with the strength of a thousand thousand stallions—”

“Oh, shut up,” Tibbs said, and shoved the pasha’s servant aside.

“But you must hear me. The sword is the Eye of Alexander the Great, given to that most illustrious one by the priests of Persia after he conquered all the world. Cursed be the infidel who disturbs its rest among my lord and master’s treasures. So it is written.”

“Cursed be the fool who doesn’t take it when he has the chance, old one,” Kit said. “I do not blame you for trying to protect the pasha’s belongings. But we are only stealing it from one who stole it himself. So the curse, if any, rests with Bashara al-Jezzar.” Kit managed to catch the leather pouch of necklaces and gold anklets and the jeweled sword as Tibbs casually tossed it back over his shoulder. Tibbs caught up the nearest woman, a mere girl of sixteen, and lifted her into his arms. The silks and bangles she wore rubbed against him, and she pressed her small, pointed breasts against his lips as he held her in the air and then lowered her, running his tongue along her neck and up to her ear.

Kit shouldered the leather pouch. He could hear the wooden bolt begin to splinter in the courtyard below.

“You don’t understand,” the eunuch entreated, but no one was paying him any mind.

Kit hurried over to the balcony just as the courtyard door caved in and the pasha’s guards who had been alerted to the intruders’ presence crowded through the doorway. A wheel-lock pistol roared and blasted a fist-sized hole in the balcony.

Kit returned the favor and fired his heavy-caliber flintlock into the center of the janissaries, who were packed together by the door and struggling to untangle themselves and head for the stairway. Kit aimed low. He didn’t want to kill anyone unless he had to. The heavy lead ball from his pistol took down three men with a variety of crippling wounds before its energy was spent. The fallen men only served to block the entrance. A pistol shot rang out from behind Kit, and the privateer spun around in time to see Tibbs standing over the eunuch. Blood streamed from Tibbs’s ear. The eunuch was propped against the barren sandstone wall. He had dragged the pasha’s tapestry down around him like a burial shroud as he slid to the ground, blood oozing from a nasty wound in his round belly.

“The bastard bit me,” Tibbs said.

“You didn’t have to kill him,” Kit snapped angrily.

He had shipped with Bill Tibbs for the better part of two years. They had been friends and trusted shipmates aboard the sleek little Baltimore clipper the two men had pooled their resources to purchase. In all that time Kit had found only one thing to complain about with his friend, and that was Bill Tibbs’s temper. The man had a short fuse, and he seemed forever primed and waiting for the right spark to set him off.

“C’mon,” Tibbs said sheepishly, and clapped Kit on the shoulder. He blew a kiss to the harem women, who had recoiled in horror at the sight of the dying eunuch. Tibbs broke into a run.

Kit took a step toward the pasha’s eunuch. The man’s eyes were already glazed over. But he was still breathing.

“I’m sorry,” Kit whispered. Then the clatter of swords and rifles below spurred him into motion. He charged the top of the stairway curving up from below.

The stairs were crowded with a dozen of the pasha’s heavily armed harem guards. Their naked swords were thirsty for the blood of infidels. To the lead janissary, Kit seemed to come out of nowhere, a blur of motion like a pouncing tiger. The soldiers in the courtyard struggled to bring their guns to bear on the daring young thief. Kit never gave them the chance. He stiff-armed the balcony rail, and pivoting on his strong right shoulder, he leaped up and drove both booted heels into the lead janissary, a swarthy Turk in a black burnoose and flowing robes. The guard was hurled backward and began a chain reaction that toppled the entire column of men on the stairway. Weapons discharged into the air as the soldiers tumbled over one another all the way to the courtyard below.

Kit hit the floor running. Something slapped the pouch on his back and clanked against the metal inside. He nearly lost his balance but managed to reach the door hidden behind another tapestry at the end of the corridor.

Tibbs was waiting at the top of the winding stairway. The quick-tempered thief held a crudely drawn map that he had purchased from an old beggar in Constantinople, a withered relic of a man who claimed to have been in the pasha’s service. The beggar had been a harem guard who had been discovered with one of al-Jezzar’s wives. The poor soldier had been summarily castrated and driven out into the desert to die. However, he had survived and, remembering the location of al-Jezzar’s own private escape passage, had furnished a map for the two Americans.

BOOK: Sword of Vengeance
12.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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