Book Excerpt Sweet Sacrifice

Former Navy SEAL Sebastian “Bash” Lockard died in Afghanistan after leaping on a grenade to save his comrades. Little did he know his act of heroism would grant him a ticket into Heaven’s elite army as one of the few and powerful Archangels. Struggling with his new existence, Bash still retains his human memories, leaving behind a wife he loves with all of his heart. Although he’s forbidden to see her, he can’t resist her lure, or the mortal desires he harbors for her.

As a young widow and nurse, Irene Lockard still mourns her husband two years after his untimely death. His absence is everywhere, and when her best friend weds, she hits an emotional rock bottom. As if summoned from the skies above, Sebastian appears before her, and they share an unforgettable night. But when he once again vanishes, she wonders if she’s truly gone mad with grief.

The only way Sebastian can remain with Irene is if he makes the ultimate sacrifice. But will she overcome her fear of losing him again to another war?

Author Bio

L.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a PAN member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive boxer, and her two devious cats.

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Book Excerpt

Bash’s gaze caught on a couple on the dance floor, the sight of her sinking into him like hooks and bringing him to a standstill.

With her dark curls springing over her shoulders, she spun across the hardwood, her pale gray dress flowing around her. Much like in his recent vision of her, she tipped her head back and laughed, beautiful, stunning, her smile as bright as the yellow calla lilies tucked in her hair. She swayed with a man in dress whites, a Marine, another fucking soldier she didn’t belong with. And as the rain of realization became a downpour of comprehension, he remembered the engagement, where Claude proposed to Lucille—at their wedding—right before Bash left for another tour of Afghanistan.

“Bash?” Gabriel stepped in front of him, blocking his view, pale eyes narrowed.

Bash’s hand slammed into Gabriel’s chest, pushing him away as he lurched forward. Gabriel reacted faster, though, snatching his arm and wrenching him back at least four feet. Bash lunged again and the Arc’s hand fisted in his white button-down shirt.

“Don’t,” Gabriel growled, all humor draining from his angular face and setting his expression in stone. “Do not.”

Bash’s heart punched at the angel’s fist, every fiber of his being burning with the urge to run to her, to wrap his arms around her and feel her body against his one more time. Envy, rage, longing, and sadness blasted through him in a toxic tornado of emotion ready to whip this place into oblivion.

He nearly ground his molars into pulp. “Let. Me. Go.”

“You are dead, Sebastian. You’re no longer part of this world. All you’ll do is bring her pain, bring yourself pain. Don’t do this.” Twin streams of air whistled from the Arc’s nostrils as he shook his head. “I should’ve never brought you here.”

Bring him pain? More pain than he’d already endured? No.




Blog Tour: Book Excerpt Still Black Remains

Book Excerpt

Valentine is in the room, his hands tied behind his back, with duct tape across his mouth and the hood probably still covering his face.  He has been that way for hours and nobody cares about him.  What only matters is that he is alive; they have to do something with him to send the right kind of message to the Italians, and it has to be soon.
“Room up there gets hot,” Twist said earlier.  “I was one of the ones who bricked them windows last summer. I remember that.”
Cuba shot him a look.  “So?”
“So maybe we need to find him a fan,” Twist said.  “Or at least walk him into one of the other rooms every hour.  Get him some air.  Can’t hurt.”
“Fuck that,” Cuba said.
“No danger doing that.”
“What if he sees something?” somebody else put in.
“Like what?” Twist said.  “The house down the street? Asphalt? A vacant lot?  Ain’t nothing to see that’s gonna matter.”
“Fuck him,” Cuba said.  “He don’t matter.  Who gives a fuck if the man is comfortable?”
“It ain’t right,” Twist said but nobody listened.  “Leaving him like that.”
“What’s right don’t matter no more,” Bone put in.  “Wasn’t right what happened to Ice.  And Spider.  Wasn’t right they got Malik.
“You forgetting that this is personal,” Cuba said to Twist.
Twist shook his head.
“I didn’t forget nothing.”
“Then why the fuck you care about what’s right?” Cuba said.
“Ain’t for you to worry about,” Bone told him.  “Don’t matter none if he’s comfortable.”
“You worry about organization and execution,” Cuba added tersely.  “Let me worry about taking care of the prisoner.  That’s my job, not yours.”
It was right about then that Twist decided he had heard enough bullshit from them to last the rest of his night.  He took his pack of Camels and climbed the stairs to the second floor, leaving them to argue about what might happen next.  Sometimes he hears Cuba and Bone throw “organization and execution” at him like it’s something old and dirty that doesn’t matter as much as what they’ve got.  And sometimes Twist asks himself how much more of Cuba and Bone he can put up with.  But it isn’t worth getting into it with them.
Besides, he knows Valentine is probably dead.
It is only a matter of time before they kill him.  They didn’t grab him off the street in the heart of his own neighborhood just to rough him up then let him go as some kind of warning.  They are too far past things like warnings.
There are no answers that way.
Valentine is a soldier, just like Ice and Spider and most of the guys in the Skulls, and soldiers turn into casualties in the blink of an eye.  You expect to lose people every time you make a stand, the same way the Italians expect it.
Even though the losses hurt.
Now Twist walks around the building, lost in the silence of the rooms, thinking about what it will mean to each of them when that happens.
The old garage is cold and lonely, even when filled with voices, laughter, and music.  It’s a three story brick building that had once been an auto repair shop owned by somebody’s older brother but Twist has a hard time remembering who or whatever happened to the guy.  The phone is still connected but nobody talks business on it; it’s just a front, like the stack of tires in front of the garage bay doors and the sign over the door advertising $19.99 OIL CHANGE.  It’s the kind of place where there is always activity; guys coming and going at all hours, stopping by to shoot pool on the downstairs table or playing Xbox, pouring drinks, or crashing in one of the bedrooms on the second floor.  It is in the heart of their turf, in downtown Newark, right off the intersection of Broad and Murray Streets, not more than fifty yards from the train tracks.  Close enough to Penn Station that the AMTRAK Acela and New Jersey Transit diesels shake the building whenever the trains rumble into the station.
There are guns on tables and hidden inside false walls, with bullets and ammo clips stacked in crates, boxes, and barrels in the basement.  Guys sit in circles at tables with twenty-twos and nines stuffed in their pants, using rolled up dollar bills to snort lines of coke or crystal meth stretched across table tops.  Other guys sit slumped in chairs, absorbed in the games on their iPhones or the Xbox.  There is a Jeep in one of the bays, with a tank of gas, keys in the ignition, and a loaded nine under the seat in case they need a fast escape.  There are guards and sentries posted inside as well as somebody on the street watching for anything out of the ordinary.
Until this afternoon they watched for other gangs or worried about cops from the Major Crimes Unit busting down their doors.
Now they are waiting for the Italians and worried about what happens next.
There are a few neighbors but nobody gives them grief anymore or stops them from doing business.  Sometimes the fathers of those twelve year old birds who wound up in that third floor bedroom bang at the door, but staring down the barrel of a forty-five and facing a line of guys can take away a man’s courage.  Those fathers were dangerous until they realized their little girls didn’t belong to daddy no more.  Then everything changed about the way they looked at the building.
38 Murray is everything to the Skulls.  It is a place to meet and plan and organize their business.  A place to plan for their future.
A place to decide how a man gets to live his life.
Or how his life is to end.
It’s funny, Twist thinks, how things can fall apart in the blink of an eye.

About the Book

“Still Black Remains” is an original work of fiction.  It tells the story of Twist, one of the leaders of an inner city gang named the Skulls, and the architect of his gang’s decision to kidnap a mafia soldier in a last-ditch attempt to end a violent turf war.  The war started when the Skulls tried taking a bigger piece of the drug business in their Newark, New Jersey neighborhood from the organized crime family who had once been their partners.  Like most great ideas, the plan doesn’t turn out as expected. Negotiations between the gangs deteriorate, words fail, the violence escalates, and the only recourse left is the inevitable execution of the hostage.  Chosen to be the one to execute the prisoner, the story covers Twist’s ability to pull the trigger, the consequences of that action, and his internal struggle.  As the volatile situation grows more explosive by the hour, the lines between right and wrong blur; resolution comes with a price and Twist has to decide if pulling the trigger will get him what he wants, and if he can live with that cost.

Author Bio

Kevin Michaels is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel LOST EXIT, as well as two entries in the FIGHT CARD BOOKS series: HARD ROAD and CAN’T MISS CONTENDER. He also released a collection of short stories entitled NINE IN THE MORNING. His short stories and flash fiction have also appeared in a number of magazines and indie zines, and in 2011 he was nominated for two separate Pushcart Prize awards for his short stories. Other shorts have been included in the anthologies for SIX SENTENCES (volumes II and III) and ACTION: PULSE POUNDING TALES (2).
In April 2017 his latest novel STILL BLACK REMAINS will be published by Literary Wanderlust LLC.

He has also published a number non-fiction articles and stories in print publications ranging from the and the Life/Style section of The Boston Globe to The Bergen News and Press Journal and raged in print at places like the triCity News, NY Daily News, and The Press.

He is the Founder and Creative Director of Story Tellers which is a community-based organization that develops and promotes literacy through writing. Story Tellers provides under-served teenagers, young adults, and women from distressed situations the opportunity to discover the strength and power of their own voices (self-empowerment through self-expression).

Originally from New Jersey, he carries the attitude, edginess, and love of all things Bruce Springsteen common in his home state, although he left the Garden State to live and work in the foothills of the Appalachians (Georgia) with his wife, Helen and an assortment of children and pets.


Book Excerpt Jorie & The Magic Stones

Jorie and the Magic Stones is the first book in a new chapter book series, by A. H. Richardson, that follows one heroic nine-year-old girl on an unforgettable adventure. Children everywhere are loving this adventurous tale of Jorie and Rufus, two orphans from very different walks of life, who meet by chance and discover a mystic book about dragons, that soon leads them on a quest through a magical world unlike anything either of them have ever experienced…

Excerpt from Jorie and the Magic Stones

Once in the quiet of her room, Jorie closed the door and retrieved the book carefully hidden under the floorboard. She didn’t know why she felt it so important to hide the book, but her instincts told her that this was a very special book that needed to be carefully guarded. Before settling down to study it, she went to open the window in order to hear the sound of the horses when her aunt returned from her errands. In that way, she would have time to put the book back in its hiding place.

Perhaps because of the rain and damp, the window was stuck and refused to open. Although Jorie pushed, it appeared that it was well and truly stuck shut. Jorie returned to her book and opened the pages oh-so-gently. She didn’t understand the words in front of her, even though she was an excellent reader. They were faded and seemed to be written in another language. Jorie spoke quite good French, but this was certainly not French. She thought it might have been Celtic, because there were c’s, and w’s and y’s, and they all seemed to run together.

She found one phrase that caught her attention, and carefully pronounced it under her breath. “Cwythr ogan mosdrath kiranog. I wonder if that is how it is pronounced.” Then in her most dramatic voice she called out, “Cwythr ogan mosdrath kiranog,” and felt a shiver run through her. No sooner had she said this than the window flew open. Jorie’s hand flew to her mouth. She inhaled, staring hard at the window. “That window was stuck and wouldn’t budge an inch, even under my tugging.”

As she regained her composure, Jorie decided she needed to memorize these words. She had always been good at history and could easily remember dates of battles, when kings were crowned, and where, and all the things they make you remember at school. She turned the four words over in her mind, a bit afraid to say them aloud again. What if something else happened? Could it be a spell? Could it be a curse? Was it someone’s name? Although it would be a really long name. Of course, it could just as easily be a recipe for a jar of marmalade! Jorie giggled. They probably didn’t have marmalade back in those days, and why would they put it under a picture of a flying dragon? No — that didn’t make sense.

Jorie studied her new wonderful find for most of the afternoon. After that, she lay back on her bed, her hands clasped under her head, and turned things over in her mind. She thought about the window; now that had been very, very strange! She was sure that Aunt Letty had no idea that the book existed, for had she known, she might have given it to a museum or a library for old stuff. If she had known about it, she wouldn’t have put it under old floorboards, covered with dust and cobwebs.

Jorie didn’t care much for spiders, but she had plucked up her courage and plunged her hands into that space, perhaps sensing that there was a treasure there.

She wondered what her new friend Rufus might think of it. Should she tell him? Could she trust him? Might he not tell grownups, who she believed would take it away immediately, never to be returned? She couldn’t take that chance.

She needed to give her new friend a chance; perhaps Rufus would keep it their secret, and maybe the two of them could put their heads together and find out a little more about this book. Jorie felt that this discovery of hers had more to do with the history of Dunham and its mysterious past than it had as a mere fairy story.

About the Book

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius.
Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.
Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.


“An easy to read chapter book that can be enjoyed of children of all ages, Jorie and the Magic Stones succeeds at creating an extraordinary world full of memorable characters and dangerous villains. In Jorie and Rufus, the narrative follows the blossoming of a friendship, while exploring the strengths of each of these two main protagonists. Weaving in morales about important ideals like loyalty, bravery, and what it means to be a good friend, the story shows younger readers how important it is to do the right thing, no matter the costs. With rich descriptions, realistic dialogue, and settings you feel as if you are truly immersed within, this is the start to a promising new fantasy series…”Red City Review

“Jorie is inquisitive, brave, and wise beyond her years, and yet still a child at heart… she is everything a heroine should be… All this, coupled with a one of a kind plot and an exceptional setting, brought to life an amazing fantasy tale.” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

“If ever there was a children’s book that was meant for children of all ages, this would be that book. From page 1, you instantly fall in love with the Jorie, the heroine. The storyline flows wonderfully. It makes you feel as if you’re there with the characters feeling the excitement, fears, and joy that they feel as they go on an incredible adventure.” – 5 Stars, Matthew and Alicia Lucy

“I absolutely love this story! It just carried me away and I couldn’t put the book down!! I loved all the different characters… The author did a wonderful job describing all of them and my imagination kept on going!” – 5 Stars, Amazon Review

About the Author

A.H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

She is also the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. She has more ‘who-dun-its’ planned for this clever and interesting duo… watch for them!

A.H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

Readers can connect with Angela on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to

Promo Post Destroy Me

Destroy Me (1)(1)DESTROY ME by Shana Vanterpool, Book 1 in the Crystal Gulf Series

PUBLISHER: Swoon Romance

Publication: March 8, 2016

Ages: New Adult/18+

Category: Contemporary Military Romance

Bach lives his life with honesty and without restraints, happy to be known as a  sexy as all hell, unapologetic asshole.

When he drinks, he drinks hard.

When he wants a woman, he makes sure she knows it.

When he opens his mouth, it’s either to piss someone off or to turn someone on.

You can normally find him with one hand on a bottle and one hand on a woman, trying to forget his past.

Harley Evans is ta twenty-one-year-old year old college student. She’s a good girl who fell hard for Dylan, who’d promised her forever. But Dylan, Bach’s best buddy, lied.

He enlisted in the Army, crushing Harley with equal parts anger and sadness. She’d already lost her father to that choice. Heartbroken, she falls back into depression.

Stuck in Crystal Gulf all summer with little to do, Harley needs a distraction. Enter Bach, sexy as f*#ck distraction, ready and willing.

Dylan’s not all bad though. Before he left, he asked Bach to watch out for Harley, knowing she’d never go for a guy like Bach. She’s too good for him. Too good for anyone.

But Dylan was wrong. He never should have left them together. Bach is there to pick up the pieces Dylan left behind. Soon pieces aren’t enough. He wants more, needs more Harley.
DESTROY ME is dark, sexy, heartbreaking, and intoxicating.

What readers have said about Shana Vanterpool’s books:

“I give it “5 SEXY ROOMMATE STARS” !!!! Recommended to all the readers who loves crazy, steamy drama. It had me hooked, till the very last page.” –

“God, this book was a mess. A wonderful, delicious mess of angst and drama and sexual tension! The build-up of sexual tension between these two was absolute torture and when their resistance faltered it led from one explosive moment to the next.” –

“A hot sexy steamy tale from room mates to lovers in this toxic up and down spiral of two broken people coming together and slowly fixing up the broken parts of the other, this captured me from the get go and kept me entertained throughout.” – Kitty Kats Crazy About Books

“What a great debut novel! Shana Vanterpool has created a thrilling tale of love and forgiveness. They were a sizzling couple! If you want something sexy, dramatic and fun, then do not miss this new author.” – Lina’s Reviews A Book Blog

Buy the book





Author Bio

When I walk into a book store I feel at home. When I smell the pages of a brand new book things make sense. When I read I am who I always wanted to be. I read to escape and I write so others can as well. My family, my actress dog Bella, coffee, and a steamy love story are a few of my most precious things. My Sweet Demise is my debut new-adult contemporary romance novel. Keep up to date with future releases by following on Twitter: @shanavauthor

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Book Excerpt


“I do.” Her smile is sad and hopeful. “Ever since I watched one of the social workers at school help this kid that was getting bullied. The look on his face knowing there was someone out there fighting for him always stuck with me. I want to help people. Imagine being that one person, that one ray of hope that gives someone the strength to keep going. Think of all of those kids who don’t have the support I was lucky to have growing up? I can’t give it to them, but I can show them how to give it to themselves. I know it sounds altruistic. I just always felt like it was important. Is that silly?”

I once woke up in the middle of a hurricane. My arm was in a sling that Dylan’s grandma made out of old shoestrings and my face hurt like hell. Dad kicked my ass for dislocating my shoulder jumping out of Mr. Greer’s almond tree. The weather outside was making me shake. It was scary. No one cared that I was scared but Dylan, but Dylan couldn’t come out to play because he was in trouble for jumping with me. The old creaky house shook and the windows rattled. I just wanted it to stop. I crawled under the table in the kitchen, kneeling on top of old cigarette butts and beer stains and I prayed for it to stop. Over and over again, whispering it until my lips chapped. And just like that it did. I opened my eyes and looked out of the kitchen window. The sun was peeking through the clouds. The clouds were still gray, but I could see it. The most beautiful colors shone down. Orange, pink, yellow, and gold; it was shining right on my house. I got up and pressed my little face to the dirty window in awe. I knew right then and there that I would probably never see anything that beautiful ever again.

Until Harley.

I don’t deserve to sit across from her. To share a bottle of wine with her. To see her smile nervously after saying something like that to me.

“It isn’t silly,” I promise her, my voice gruff. “It’s, you’re, it’s … Do it. I really hope you do it. I wish I had someone like you around when I was kid.”

She has no idea how much I want her good right now. She smiles as if we’re talking about grocery shopping. Not like she just took my favorite memory and shattered it.

“What did you want to be?” she wonders just as the waiter sets down two brightly colored salads.

“Did you want to order?” he asks.

“I want the spaghetti with marinara and chicken parmesan,” Harley says, licking her lips excitedly.

I want to eat off her plate. When it’s my turn I fumble with my menu. Since when do I fumble? “The clams. I’ll take the clams.”

“Excellent choice,” he congratulates before he leaves. I get the feeling he isn’t talking about the food, in which case I agree.

I watch her slice the tomato with her fork, pair it with a bite of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf, and then dunk it into her balsamic dressing. “Mmm,” she moans, closing her eyes in bliss. “This is so good.”

Why did Dylan leave her with me? Me!

“Did you hear me? What did you want to be when you were a kid?”

Safe. “Thor.”

She cracks up. “That’s either really cute, or really indicative.”

“Indicative of what?” I take a bite. I want to taste what she tastes.

She points her fork at me and waves it around. “All of this.”

“Oh. You mean all of this sexy panty ripping fantastic-ness?” I smile crookedly. We both know we both think that.


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Book Tours: Book Excerpt from The Ganthoran Gambit


I’m hosting an excerpt from space opera “The Ganthoran Gambit”. I hope you enjoy the excerpt!

Book Excerpt

Discipline averts disasters, Billy Caudwell, or, rather, the part of his mind that was the long-dead Garmaurian First Admiral; Teg Skarral Portan, knew.

The south wall was on the point of collapse, and Billy knew that if it fell, the Zulus could roll up the entire British position. What had been a stalwart defensive position would become a rat trap, with the British and Native soldiers being hunted down and butchered like fugitives.

“Major Pulleine!” Billy called for his second-in-command.

“Sir!” Pulleine fired his pistol into the body of a Zulu, who had just broken through the barricade.

“Hold on here! When you hear the bugle play a long note, withdraw everyone twenty yards, then get the riflemen into two ranks!” Billy ordered.

“Sir!” Pulleine leapt back into the battle at the south wall.

“Bugler, with me!” Billy ordered the tall, skinny, dark-haired boy who was no older than he was.

Running back to the lines where the Natal Infantry stood in reserve, Billy could see that the soldiers, on all four walls, were heavily engaged in the hand-to-hand. The tactic of setting rifles next to spear men was paying off. The Natal Infantry were fighting like demons. Their long spears and shields were holding the Zulus at bay for the riflemen to load and fire, or to add weight with their bayonets. But, already, the area behind the fighting line was littered with dead and injured. The north wall was holding as were the upper parts of the eastern and western walls. With the south wall in dire threat, the lower parts of the eastern and western walls were also coming under increasing pressure.

“Bring your men forward, into a horse-shoe line,” Billy indicated to the officers of the two waiting Spear Companies.

This was the last throw. The three hundred men he had not yet committed to the battle. All around him: rifles banged, metal clanged against metal, and men screamed in pain or shouted in defiance as they struggled hand-to-hand in the life or death battle. The reserve of Natal Infantry was brought forward and shaken into a rough semblance of a line. Stepping forward, Billy took the dark brown shield from one Infantryman and buried the butt into the ground.

This was it.

There would be no retreat from this point. If it came to the worst, then they could form a final, last stand, rally square around this shield.

“Thirty men, reinforce and hold those corners, and the wall!” Billy ordered the Spear Company commanders, “Hold those corners at all costs!”

“Yes, sir,” an officer said.

“Major Pulleine!” Billy called, trying to make his voice heard above the clang of metal the crash of shots and the screams of the wounded.

“Sir!” emerging from the press of struggling and fighting bodies, Major Pulleine trotted over to Billy’s position.

“We need to get this lot sorted out quickly!” Billy said.

“Yes sir!”

“Get thirty good bayonet men together, when we go in, you and me are going to cut a path through to that breach in the wall!”

“Yes sir!”

Watching the battle at the south wall, Billy could see that the redcoats and the Natal Infantry were holding doggedly on to their ground. It was a bitter, brutal fight, with no love lost between the Natal Infantry and the Zulu warriors. The Natal Infantrymen were pushing their spear points forward, into the press of Zulus just beyond the barricade wall. Again and again, they thrust their spears forward and found targets amongst the bodies of the attackers. But, many of them had already fallen to the spears and clubs of the Zulus. As he watched, a Natal Infantryman, with a red bandana around his forehead, reeled backwards from the barricade with a spear pushed all the way through his body. He staggered back a couple of steps, and then fell over onto his side.

A few feet to the right of the fallen Natal Infantryman, a British corporal was pulling a dead rifleman back from the barricade. The corporal, dragging the body backwards by the webbing, grabbed the Martini-Henry rifle from the fallen man’s lifeless hand and, with the speed and skill of a professional pickpocket, cleared out the dead man’s ammunition pouches. Casting the body aside, the corporal handed out the bullets to three other riflemen, before handing the rifle, and more bullets, to a Natal cavalryman.

With the thirty Natal Infantrymen now sent to each corner of the new line, and engaging with the Zulus at the barricade wall, it was almost time for Billy to play his gamble.

“Sir!” Major Pulleine called out, “I’ve got thirty bayonet men!”

“Well done, Major!” Billy praised his second-in-command, as the group of thirty redcoats formed a rough semi-circle in front of Billy.

The bayonet party was the worst looking bunch of miscreants and rogues Billy had ever seen. Most of them were wounded, but as he looked into the eyes of many of them, Billy could see that they would relish a fight. Many of them were men that enjoyed killing simply for the sake of it, and, for a moment, Billy shuddered. But, then again, this was what he needed. This was going to be a nasty close-quarter fight; a fight that these men would revel in.

“Right lads! We’re going to blast a path open to that breach, and then we’re going to seal it!” Billy began, “When we charge, you ignore everything else and you follow me and Major Pulleine! We go for that breach!” Billy’s voice was filled with anticipation, “Any way you can, you get to that breach in the south wall! There’s no room for Marquis of Queensberry rules here!”

From where he was standing, Billy could see the wicked smiles crossing the smeared and dirty faces of the chosen redcoats. This was what they wanted to hear. For many, the Army had been rules and regulations, drills and marching, even the fighting had been done in ranks and files, volleys and routines. Now they were about to be let loose in a no-holds-barred brawl.

“Any way you can,” Billy repeated, “do you understand me!?”

“Sir,” came a few muttered responses.

“I said, do you understand me!?” Billy shouted.

“YES, SIR!!” The bayonet men chorused happily.

“Very good, now make sure the rifles are loaded!”

“Right then, wait for the command, and, good luck everyone!” Billy said.

With the Natal Infantry and the Bayonet Group in place, Billy was now ready.

“Bugler, one long note, now!” Billy ordered.

The bugler, with regimentally correct flourish, set the instrument to his lips and began to blow.

“COME ON, LADS, FALL BACK!!” An officer’s voice yelled, as the soldiers started to dash back to Billy’s new position.

“MOVE YOURSELVES!!” the NCO bellowed as the redcoats and Native troops scampered back.

It took no more than four seconds for the first of the soldiers to reach Billy’s new line.

“Right!” yelled Billy, “Two ranks of rifles, front rank kneel!…Two ranks of rifles, front rank kneel!….Make sure you’re loaded!…Two ranks of rifles, front rank kneel!..,” Billy began the orders which were quickly taken up by the other officers and NCOs, who quickly began to shake a new position from the confusion.

Men with rifles were sorted and barged into two new firing lines, whilst the spear carrying Natal Infantrymen were pushed and shoved into the spear line behind the rifles. The Zulus, stunned by the disappearance of the defenders in front of them, took a few seconds to realise that part of the barricade was now un-manned. With a choice of clambering over the barricade to get at the defenders, or trying to tear it down; which would allow others access to the interior, the Zulus attempted both at the same time. Some started to climb over the collection of wagons, boxes, furniture, sacks, and equipment, whilst some tried to drag the materials down. In the press of bodies close to the barricade, and encumbered with shields, spears and clubs, the Zulus took no more than a few seconds to get the first man onto the barricade.

When the first man clambered up onto the east wall, a young redcoat lieutenant, who was moving back; the last man to leave the barricade, shot the invader down with his pistol. The Zulu, dropping his shield and weapons, clutched his chest and fell backwards into the press of bodies behind him. And, as the lieutenant sprinted for the new line, Billy saw several wounded men trying to crawl back to the new position. But, it was already too late for them.

That is the price of command, Billy thought to himself as one injured Natal Infantryman stretched out his hand to his comrades.

The scampering soldiers had no time to lift the wounded. That was just the way it was. The lines had to be formed quickly, or the Zulus would overwhelm the whole position. The two lines of riflemen stretched in an outward curve from the east to the west wall of the barricade. The horse-shoe shape that Billy had ordered for the Natal Infantrymen was being mirrored by the line of riflemen. Billy knew that he could not use a straight line, because he needed to scour Zulus from the lower parts of the abandoned east and west walls. A straight line would have had the tendency to fire straight ahead; ignoring the flanks. Glancing at the riflemen in the firing lines, Billy could see quite a mixed bag of units.

There were redcoats and various mounted volunteer units, some of Durnford’s Natal cavalry, with tan uniforms, who had acquired Martini-Henry rifles. Some of the cavalrymen still had their rifled carbines in their hands, with a few precious cartridges still left in their ammunition pouches. As Billy glanced, a redcoat with a blond moustache was passing a handful of cartridges to a Natal Infantryman with a Martini-Henry.

Every bullet is going to count here, Billy thought as he turned back to the barricade.

All of the riflemen were filthy. The smoke and powder residue had laid down a carpet of soot and grime onto their face and hands. The sweat from the constant exertions of fighting had carved channels through the dirt, and more than one forehead was smeared from the rubbing of stinging eyes. Some of them were injured. More than one uniform was torn or ripped. Bandages adorned faces, heads, arms hands, and, in some cases, legs. One man in the front rank was unable to stand or kneel, owing to a wound to his leg, yet he was still able to fire his rifle from the seated position.

The Native troops had fared no better, with an equally impressive collection of injuries and battle scars.

One of the Natal Infantryman was leaning heavily against his spear, whilst a comrade wound a dressing around his chest that was already starting to soak through with blood. The Infantryman winced with the pain, but refused to leave his post. If he was going to die, then he would die standing up with his comrades.

Looking at the barricade, the Zulus were starting to scramble onto the south and east walls, whilst some of their comrades were already starting to pull or push material down to allow passage.

“Front rank!…Aim!” Billy ordered and watched as the rifles were raised to their shoulders, “FIRE!” Billy bellowed.

In a great plume of rifle smoke, the front rank disappeared.

On the barricade, many of the Zulus that had managed to climb onto the wall were scythed down. The handful that had survived the first volley were jumping down onto the British side, when Billy let loose the volley from the second rank. The Zulus on the British side of the barricade were cut down mercilessly, as were many of their comrades who had just climbed onto the walls. But regardless of their losses, the Zulu warriors were clambering up onto the barricade.

“Rear rank!…Aim!…FIRE!!” Billy shouted as the volley roared again, “Pulleine, take over!”


“Front rank!…Aim!…FIRE!!” Major Pulleine bellowed as another volley hurtled downrange to smash into the Zulu ranks.

“Rear rank!…Aim!…FIRE!!” Pulleine continued the litany of death; the relentless volleys that were chopping the Zulu intruders to ruins.

Billy waited, watching the situation closely, the inside part of the wall was now littered with dead and injured Zulus.  Feverishly, he strapped a Zulu shield with a broken shaft to his left arm. Zulu bodies were strewn over the top of the barricade. On one wagon, a dead Zulu lay, his head and left arm hanging down beside the wheel. A wounded Zulu was trying to clamber back over the barricade to safety, away from the relentless hail of lead and destruction. Crawling slowly over the top of the barricade, he was hit by another bullet, which flung him back onto the British side of the wall. With a great roar, a section of the south wall, about two metres wide, collapsed outwards.

This is it, Billy thought to himself, and lifted up a short-stabbing assegai from a dead Zulu just behind him.

“Both ranks!” Billy took over from Pulleine’s litany, “Aim!” Billy called as the Zulus started to swarm into the position, “FIRE !” he bellowed one last time.

The final volley shattered through the sound of fighting that was going on at the walls still held by the British. The “zulu-zulu-zulu-zulu” chant was drowned out by the massive volley, which chopped down almost every Zulu within the position.

“CHARGE!!” Billy screamed, raised the stabbing assegai above his head and started running towards the south wall.

Behind him, he heard the screams and war cries of the Natal Infantry; who, fleeter of foot than the red-coats and other Europeans, surged forward behind their red-haired colonel.

The Zulus who had survived the volley, and were already shocked and stunned from the ferocity of the rifle fire, suddenly found themselves faced with almost four hundred screaming and charging Natal Infantrymen, followed by the riflemen and their viciously sharp bayonets. For some of the Zulu survivors, it was too much to ask of them to stand and fight this onslaught, and they began to turn and run. For some, the great swarm that had just broken into the position, their fighting spirit was still intact.

For Billy Caudwell, the battle was now focussed on the metre of Zulu front line that was taking shape before him. Nothing else mattered except for the two warriors who were standing in his way. Both were carrying black shields and wearing black loin cloths, although one was considerably taller than the other. They both carried the short-stabbing assegai, and had a strange crown-like circular hair style, that Billy had first thought was a forage cap of some kind. Seeing the European officer hurtling towards them, the taller of the Zulus was starting to go into a half crouch, projecting his shield in front of him to receive the shock of the expected attack. With his face set in grim determination, the taller Zulu was ready to make a fight of it. The shorter of the two warriors appeared less confident and more anxious. He too set himself in the half crouch, but shuffled nervously from one foot to the other.

He could see from his peripheral vision that more Zulus were flooding in through the gap in the collapsed wall. However, the Zulus were in no kind of formation to receive the British charge. The Zulus were still clustered around the entrance. Also in his line of sight was a ragged formation of screaming and shouting Natal Infantrymen; shields before them, and spears ready to plunge into Zulu flesh. Major Pulleine was about three metres to Billy’s left, and half a pace behind. With a pistol in his left hand, and a straight-bladed sabre in his right, Pulleine was racing towards the Zulu line as it began to spread out from the entrance to the position.

With his blood, and heartbeat, banging in his ears, and his breath coming in gasps, Billy Caudwell hurtled towards the enemy. Looking back at the moment after it had occurred he would scarcely be able to believe that he had led a charge straight into the teeth of a force of armed Zulus. But, the part of his mind that was Teg Skarral Portan, knew that this was the time for him to be seen leading the charge. If Billy Caudwell went forward screaming like a demented banshee, then the rest of his soldiers would follow him.

And, Billy Caudwell had timed it just right.

With a contingent of Zulus crammed into the single entrance way, and smaller groups having just clambered over other parts of the barricade, Billy Caudwell would have the numerical advantage. Billy Caudwell also had the advantage of momentum. When the two bodies of warriors met, it would be the British who would be moving forward, and the Zulus who would be standing still.

With five more powerful strides, and one last great roar of defiance, Billy Caudwell crashed into the two Zulus he had set as his targets.

He was heavier than the Zulus; more muscular, more compact, and slightly more mobile. Billy barged into the taller of the two Zulus with a huge clatter. The shock of the impact registered in his shoulder from the shield strapped to his arm. Swinging the assegai back-handed, Billy felt the satisfying jolt in his arm as the blade of the stabbing spear smashed into the skull of the smaller, more timid warrior; opening the side of his head and shattering the bones beneath. Silently, the smaller warrior’s legs seemed to fold up beneath him as he fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. The larger warrior, however, was still very much alive and fighting. Having been barged over, the Zulu had tumbled onto his backside under the momentum of Billy’s charge. And, just about to rise to his feet, the taller Zulu had been pinioned by a spear from one of the Natal Infantrymen behind Billy.

A look of astonishment on his face, the Zulu looked down at the spear shaft protruding from below his ribcage, and then up at Billy Caudwell who swiftly used the assegai blade to smash down onto the crown of his head.

With an incoherent scream, the Natal Infantryman twisted the spear shaft in his hand and drew the blade free from the Zulu’s intestines. With a wide-eyed gasp, the Zulu arched his back and fell backwards.

The Natal Infantryman was in the process of spitting upon and cursing his dead enemy, when a red-coated rifleman barged past them and plunged into the fray. The sheer momentum and violence of the attack had caught the Zulus by surprise, but many were still offering frantic and desperate resistance. From the feeling of invincibility and victory at having breached the British barricade, the Zulus now found themselves fighting for their lives. However, many of the Zulu warriors had been bypassed by the charge, and found themselves isolated from their comrades.

To his left, Billy saw the red-coated rifleman; with a blond moustache, as he used his bayonet to pierce a Zulu who was trying to strike him with a longer throwing spear. Having been stabbed in the chest, the Zulu screamed as his legs gave way beneath him, and the blond soldier pushed him down with the bayonet. The blond soldier, however, failed to see the Zulu behind him with the war club, and was struck on the back of the head by the new assailant. Wearing his helmet had saved the blond soldier’s life, but he fell to the ground, on his knees, dazed by the blow. With the British soldier’s helmet having been knocked off in the attack, the Zulu assailant was about to finish the blond soldier with the weighted club, when a bayonet plunged into his ribs from the right. With a scream the Zulu dropped his shield and curled over to the right where the bayonet had pierced him. With a grim face, the Natal Infantryman who had bayoneted him twisted the rifle and withdrew the blade.

The blond soldier, still dazed, grabbed his own fallen rifle as another two Zulus appeared from the press of bodies. Standing over the fallen red coat, the Natal Infantryman; who Billy recognised as the one the blond soldier had given ammunition to previously, jabbed at one Zulu with the bayonet and threatened the other, who was standing behind him, with his rifle butt. For a few tense moments, the two Zulus feigned attacks trying to distract the Natal Infantryman; who, standing side on to both of the Zulus, tried to protect the blond red coat. The Zulu to his left was equipped with a zebra hide shield and a short-stabbing assegai, whilst the one to his right carried a white shield and a war club,

It was the blond soldier who broke the stand-off. Rather than the Zulus trying to confuse and distract the Infantryman, the Infantryman had drawn the attention of the two Zulus away from the blond soldier. Having retrieved his rifle, and still on his knees, he still had sufficient mental faculties to recognise an enemy. With a half-hearted and confused lunge; holding his bayonet-tipped rifle in his right hand, he managed to pierce the upper thigh of one of the Zulus.

The Zulu, taken completely by surprise, toppled over clutching his leg. The Zulu with the war club, seeing his comrade injured, took his eyes from the Infantryman for the fraction of a second that the man with the red bandana needed. With the Zulu distracted, the Infantryman moved quicker than a striking rattle-snake and plunged the bayonet straight into the Zulu’s heart. The Zulu, who was killed instantly, collapsed onto the bayonet and almost dragged it from the Infantryman’s hands. However, with a deft twist of the blade, the Natal Infantryman drew the bayonet free.

Meanwhile, the Zulu with the bayonet wound to his thigh was struggling to rise to his feet to finish off the blond soldier. Withdrawing the bayonet from the first Zulu, the Infantryman continued the backward stroke and smashed the rifle butt into the injured Zulu’s face. The Zulu, having just risen, was catapulted backwards onto his back, his ruined nose and mouth spurting blood, teeth and gore.

And, before he could react, the Infantryman had reversed his rifle and thrust the bayonet deep into the Zulu’s throat. With the three enemies dispatched, the Infantryman calmly and gently started to help the blond soldier, unsteadily, to his feet.

Making a mental note of the Infantryman’s courage, Billy returned to the battle which had sent the Zulus reeling back towards the barricade. Dropping the short-stabbing assegai, Billy drew the heavy Pryce pistol from his holster. The riflemen and the Natal Infantry were working well together. The Infantrymen with the longer spears could hold the enemy at bay whilst the riflemen could load and reload their weapons. However, this was a hand-to-hand fight, and the discipline and training of the rifleman with a bayonet was putting the redcoats roughly on a par with the Zulu warrior and his short-stabbing assegai.

The Natal Infantrymen, still hyped-up by their success in defending the wall and pushing the Zulus back, were fighting like demons. Their lifelong fear of the Zulu warrior had been shattered by the repetitive volleys of the British riflemen. They had watched the Zulus retreat; many of them for the first time in their lives, and they wanted to kill the men who had spread terror and destruction through their tribes for generations. The seemingly almighty and invincible Zulu Impis could be humbled, and the Natal Infantrymen wanted their share of the blood and glory.

With their shields and spears, they pushed and stabbed at the Zulus, forcing them into a smaller and smaller space within the confines of the British position. On the north wall and upper east and west walls the “zulu-zulu-zulu-zulu” chant was still trying to drown out the sound of battle.

The walls were holding, and on the lower parts of the east and west walls, the redcoats and Natal Infantry were rapidly pushing the Zulus back over to their own side of the barricade. The crucial point was now the gap in the south wall. In one fluid movement, Billy shoved his pistol between two struggling Natal Infantrymen, and began firing.

Draw back the hammer, squeeze the trigger and feel the recoil, draw back hammer, squeeze trigger, recoil, draw back hammer, squeeze trigger, recoil.

Billy began to empty the pistol at point blank range into the horde of Zulus.

Beside him, Major Pulleine was doing the same thing. On the third shot, Billy barged the two exhausted Infantrymen out from in front of him, and fired the fourth bullet directly into the face of a Zulu with a white ostrich feather head-dress. The Zulu warrior’s head exploded like a ripe watermelon; spraying blood, brains and gore onto everyone within a few feet of him. The fifth and final shot went into the throat of another Zulu, who had a leopard-skin headband. Having killed the leopard-skin warrior, the bullet then passed through to the warrior behind him, lodging in his chest. Both warriors fell backwards, creating a gap in the Zulu line for Billy to exploit.

“GET THEM!!” Billy turned to the bayonet men who were following him.

The men following Billy needed no second invitation. With bayonet points to the fore, they plunged into the gap that the pistol fire had created. A gap of about two metres wide by one metre deep had been carved in the Zulu lines by the two pistols.  This gap gave the bayonet men room to manoeuvre with blade and rifle butt. The hard, tough, experienced bayonet fighters went in hard and started driving the Zulus back further. Billy now plunged into the fray and found a large Zulu with a black shield in front of him. Reacting instinctively, Billy lifted his right leg and kicked the Zulu, who had raised his war club, squarely in the groin.

The Zulu doubled over instantly, allowing Billy to smash the pistol barrel onto the back of the Zulu’s head. With the warrior falling forward, Billy shoved the Zulu backwards with his right hand into the path of another warrior.

“Nice one, sir!” The corporal behind him exclaimed in admiration, as Billy pushed his bayonet into the stomach of another warrior.

The warrior collapsed over the bayonet blade, forcing the corporal to kick the body free with a loud curse. With the blade free, he swung the rifle butt at another Zulu, catching him on the lower jaw. Meanwhile, Billy had stepped over the fallen Zulu and was challenging the next warrior. The warrior moving forward, with a brown shield, raised the assegai to deliver a downwards strike to Billy’s head and shoulders. Thankfully, the move was clumsy and easily read by the part of his mind that was Teg Portan. Raising his left arm; with the shield strapped to it, Billy easily blocked the downward blow and swung backhand with the pistol he was carrying in his right hand. The cold metal of the gun barrel connected with the Zulu’s jaw, shattering it and sending him sprawling backwards into the path of more warriors.

Beside him, Billy saw Major Pulleine swinging his sabre towards a Zulu. A warrior with a long spear had tried to skewer the Major with an upward thrust from behind the shield. The Major had parried the blow with his blade, and had then smashed the sabre’s hand guard into the Zulu’s face. With the Zulu reeling, Pulleine had raised the sabre and brought the blade down through the top of the warrior’s head. The blow had finished up with the blade roughly between the Zulu’s eyes. Pulleine had then kicked the Zulu over to retrieve his blade, before moving onwards.

Dropping the pistol; which was held round his neck by a lanyard, Billy grabbed a fallen assegai. And, armed with a bladed-weapon once more, he stomped onwards through the carnage. Another warrior stood up to him; a big man with a top knot hair style, lots of strange necklaces, and a black shield. His shield came forward first; trying to knock Billy over. But, Billy was the one moving forward, and the Zulu was stationery.

With the momentum behind him, Billy shoved back at the Zulu who tried to stab him in the midriff with his stabbing assegai. Once again, Teg Portan had read the blow, and Billy parried it with the assegai in his right hand. And, before the warrior could use his vastly superior upper body strength to push Billy’s assegai aside, the red-haired teenager drew back his head and head-butted the Zulu squarely on the bridge of the nose. With a spray of blood and mucus, the Zulu lurched backwards; his eyes beginning to tear over and obstruct his vision. The Zulu then felt Billy’s assegai plunge painfully into his abdomen. With a grunt, the Zulu double over, dropping his shield. And, at that moment, Billy twisted the blade and drew the weapon upwards; ripping open the Zulu’s body cavity.

“I’ll bet your mother didn’t teach you that one!” Billy cursed the dying Zulu and moved on.

For the first time, Billy felt warm blood on his hands as the Zulu died with his intestines flowing out from his body. This was the kind of fighting where you saw the enemy’s eyes up close, felt the blood as it was spilled, and smelt your enemy’s last breath as he perished. The part of his mind that was Teg Portan had now become dominant as Billy stepped over another Zulu corpse, looking for more blood to spill.

Around him, the clang of metal on metal, the shouting and screaming associated with the fierce battle, was suddenly heightened as the Bayonet Group tore a path through the Zulus and headed for the breach in the south wall. Billy was oblivious to his surroundings; the sounds of battle, the smell of blood, sweat, and fear. Everything was focussed on the few feet of fierce battle in front of him.

Next to him, on his right, a bayonet slammed forward, over his shoulder, catching a Zulu with a white headband just below the collarbone. The Zulu screamed and fell sideways onto a redcoat from Billy’s Bayonet Group. Caught off balance, the redcoat received a blow to his shoulder from a war club from the Zulu in front of him.

By sheer instinct, the redcoat rammed the rifle and bayonet forward; catching the Zulu in the midriff, before losing the rifle in the press of bodies and reeling back, clutching his shattered upper arm. To his left, a rifle banged. The Zulu was hit in the chest at close range, throwing him backwards against two of his comrades.

Seeing the opportunity, Billy barged in, the shield forward, and the assegai held back at his waist. A war club was suddenly swung at him. Instinctively, the left arm was raised, with the impact from the club being absorbed by the toughened animal skin hide. With the Zulu committed to the blow, his midriff was defenceless.  And, once again, Billy thrust his right arm forward, using his legs and shoulders to drive home the thrust and felt the heavy assegai blade slide smoothly through skin and muscle. The Zulu grunted, and fell away from Billy and onto a Natal Infantryman with an assegai buried in his chest.

Again, Billy stamped forward over the fallen bodies. Another Zulu in the press of bodies appeared in front of Billy. He was an older man with one good eye. The injured eye looked glassy and milky beneath the brown head dress. With yellowing teeth, he smiled an evil grin at Billy Caudwell. And, as he smiled, the old Zulu rammed his shield forward, whilst, at the same time swinging the stabbing assegai downwards at Billy’s head. Through sheer animal reflex, Billy barged forward, meeting the blow from the shield with his own shielded left arm. Raising his right arm, Billy met the downward slash of the assegai with his own blade. The two blades clanged heavily, and sparked as they clashed.

The shock from the blow ran up Billy’s arm, but he held firm, pushing the attacking blade away from him. With his arm forced away, the old warrior’s eyes widened with terror as Billy’s assegai blade returned and slashed into the side of his neck. Opening the arteries on the Zulu’s neck, blood splashed in three surging pumps before the old warrior’s eyes flickered, closed, and he fell to the ground.

His right arm sheeted with blood, Billy stamped forward again and was challenged by a massive warrior with a war club. The huge, rotund warrior was in a white loin cloth with a matching shield and headband. Beside him lay two dead Natal Infantryman, and a third was about to join them after sustaining a fatal blow to his skull. Yelling, the massive Zulu swung the war club and clambered over a fallen redcoat to reach Billy. On the attack, Billy stormed forward to meet this giant of a man. The Zulu’s legs were as thick as tree trunks and his chest like a great barrel. Billy raised his shield arm, and caught the blow. To Billy, it felt like his arm had been hit by a moving bus as he was sent sprawling to the ground.

The Zulu having launched the blow was now over-balanced and received a rifle butt to the side of the head from a bare-footed Native cavalryman. The giant Zulu lurched forward, shook his head, and smashed his shield into the cavalryman who was swept off his feet. Billy, well aware that sitting on his backside in a melee was not a safe thing to do, promptly clambered to his feet as the Zulu strode towards him.

Once again, the part of his mind that was Teg Portan came to his rescue. The Zulu steadily approached Billy, his massive body rippling with every step. Billy darted forward to meet the giant, his shield raised. The giant, seeing the young teenager darting towards him raised his war club and struck downwards. Anticipating the blow, Billy had ducked at the last moment and twisted to his left, brushing against the huge white shield carried by the Zulu.

Having gotten past the shield, Billy slashed at the giant’s huge legs with the blade of the assegai. The blade connected with the rear of the giant’s knee; slashing tendons and blood vessels alike.

With a searing pain in his right knee, the giant bellowed like a wounded ox and collapsed to the ground, where an instant later two redcoats plunged their bayonets into his broad, muscular back. For a moment, the huge Zulu lurched and shuddered on the ground, and then fell still and silent.

Turning again, Billy encountered a small wiry Zulu with an assegai. The small, wiry man stabbed at Billy. But, Billy easily caught the blow on his shield and fended it away, whilst jabbing his own assegai upward. The upwards blow caught the wiry Zulu just behind the chin. The viciously sharp blade passed through the skin of the neck, through his tongue, the roof of his mouth and into the base of his brain, killing him instantly.

However, as Billy tried to retrieve the blade form the falling Zulu, he felt a sharp, searing pain in his left arm. For a split-second, he saw the blade of a long throwing spear being withdrawn from the tear in his uniform sleeve. Billy yelped and let go of the assegai buried in the wiry Zulu’s head. Beside him, another rifle banged and the spear blade fell away as the holder was flung backward. Grabbing his left arm with his right hand, Billy stumbled clear of the melee; losing his helmet in the process, and lurched forward onto the ground, next to the huge Zulu he had disabled only a few seconds before.

“Go on, lads, into them!” a British voice called and three pairs of booted feet in blue trousers ran past him.

“You all right, sir?” the man with the same voice said, crouching down next to Billy.

Unable to speak, Billy nodded his head and waved away the red-coated figure, who was a Sergeant in the 24th.

“You! Over there! Come ‘ere and give this Officer a hand!” the sergeant yelled.

Rolling over onto his back, Billy could see the bright African sun against the blue sky, and for a moment, it dazzled him. Taking a deep breath, Billy winced as the burning pain shot from his arm across to his shoulder.

“It’s the colonel!” another voice called and helped Billy sit up.

“We’d best tell Major Pulleine,” the sergeant said.

“NO!” Billy shouted, “No sergeant, it’s just a scratch, just let me rest a minute and help me get up,”

“Looks like a bit more than a scratch, can you still move your arm and wiggle your fingers, sir?” the second voice asked.

Focussing on the figure, Billy saw that it was a young private in a red uniform.

“Come on then, sir, upsy-daisy!” the sergeant said as strong arms helped Billy onto his feet.

“Looks like we’ve get them beat, sir,” the NCO said.

For a moment, Billy felt light-headed, and wanted to vomit.

“Take a couple of deep breaths and you’ll be fine, sir, and let me have a quick look at that arm?” the Bandsman asked.

“No! Thank you private,” Billy said gulping down some fresh air, “It’s just a scratch…there are injured men that need your attention more than I do,”

“Very good, sir,” the Bandsman replied and dashed off to find injured men in the battle line.

“You gonna be all right, sir?” the sergeant asked.

“Yes, I’m fine, sergeant. Now carry on with your duties,” Billy replied, still catching his breath and wishing that the sergeant would go away.

“Sir,” the sergeant responded, saluted and dashed off to find his men.

Looking around him for the first time, Billy could see that the sergeant was indeed correct in his evaluation of the military situation.

The north wall was still holding, as were the upper parts of the east and west walls. A few fugitives were being hunted down behind the wall as the redcoats and Natal Infantrymen resumed the battle over the one-metre barricade. The scrimmage for the south wall was still in full swing. Bayonets and spears were tearing into the dwindling Zulu numbers, whilst at the same time, redcoats and Natal Infantrymen were stumbling free from the press of bodies with their injuries. The riflemen not engaged at the front of the battle had resumed shooting down any Zulus who were trying to clamber onto the barricade.

At the breach in the south wall, Billy could see a huge “V” of cleared ground, strewn with dead and injured, that drove through the heart of the Zulu “blister” around the gap. Major Pulleine and the Bayonet Group were hacking, slashing, stabbing, and clubbing their way through anyone that got in their way. Already, he could see Zulus shrinking and cowering away from the savage ferocity of the attack. Rifle butts, bullets, and blades were dividing the Zulu formation next to the breach, whilst riflemen and Natal Infantry supported the Bayonet Group spearhead. Some Zulus were trying to re-cross the wall to escape the savage onslaught, but sharp-eyed riflemen quickly spotted them and shot them down.

On either side of the “V”, the front line of riflemen and Natal Infantry was gradually pushing the Zulus back. The front line was actually three deep in Natal Infantrymen and redcoats who were hacking, slashing, stabbing, and shooting at the mass of Zulus they had pinned against the south wall. However, the Zulu toe-hold on the British side of the barricade was dwindling with every passing second. And, as the Zulu position shrunk, the trampling feet of the riflemen and Natal Infantry passed over the carnage and horror of the hand-to-hand fighting.

The bodies of the dead and injured lay like a carpet on the ground behind the front line as the riflemen and Natal Infantrymen drove forward. Some writhed and shrieked from the wounds to their riven bellies, whilst others moaned in their pain, and many more simply lay still. A few figures were trying to crawl away from the hideous carpet of bodies. The redcoats and Natal Infantry found help from the British bandsmen, whilst the Zulus found that a bayonet or a bullet would end their suffering.

The air rang with the clash of metal, the bang of shots, and the screams and shouts of battle. Still, the fight raged on. Turning to the west wall, Billy could see that it was almost entirely reclaimed by the British forces. At one point, Billy saw a huge dark-haired redcoat corporal lift a dead Zulu from the ground and throw the corpse bodily at three warriors who were attempting to climb back onto the barricade. The three intruders were swept away by the dead flesh and the corporal’s strength. Meanwhile, the corporal’s comrades and the Natal Infantrymen were jabbing, stabbing, and shooting at the Zulus who clung on to the other side of the barricade.

Suddenly, from the south wall, there erupted a great cheer. Turning swiftly, Billy could see that Pulleine and the survivors of the Bayonet Group had reached the breach. They had divided the Zulu contingent and had cut them off from reinforcement. Redcoats were piling forward and forming up at the breach with spear-carrying Natal Infantrymen. And, within seconds, the first ragged volley was reaching out to the Zulus beyond the south wall.

The Natal Infantrymen at the breach were jabbing and stabbing at the Zulus, who were struggling to clamber onto the barricade on either side of the breach.

And, it was these ragged volleys and jabbing spears that finally convinced the Zulus on the south wall that the battle was over.

Finding themselves attacked from their flanks, the Zulus around the breach started to turn and run. And, when one group began to run, it was like the entire Zulu attack peeled away from the front of the barricade.

Seeing the warriors on their flanks running convinced others that this was not the time or place to die needlessly whilst others saved themselves. Within seconds, the entire Zulu contingent facing the south wall was disintegrating as the warriors began to run. Within fifteen seconds, the entire south wall, outside the British position, was clear of Zulus. The eastern and western walls were also starting to see the Zulus disengage and flee back to the river, or back to the dongas. With jeers and rifle shots following them, the Zulus who had come so close to breaking into the position and overwhelming it were now retreating in disarray. To Billy’s amazement and relief, the Zulus on the eastern and western walls were peeling off. A few die-hard Zulus tried to carry on the fight, but were soon silenced by blades and bullets.  With the eastern and western attacks folding up, the Zulus at the north wall soon found themselves without the traditional support on their flanks. Then, they too began to run.

It’s over, Billy thought as he held on to his injured left arm.

The riflemen and Natal Infantrymen on the north wall began to cheer and celebrate, but there was still the problem of several hundred Zulus trapped down by the south wall. It was a problem that solved itself very quickly. Having seen their comrades on the other side of the wall flee, the warriors trapped within the British position either tried to climb back over the barricade, or they began to throw their weapons down.

In the brutal hand-to-hand, it took the British several minutes to realise that the enemy were capitulating, and dozens of surrendering warriors were cut down in the confusion. The officers, realising what was happening, called their men back and allowed the Zulus to throw down their shields, spears and clubs.

Once again, the British position rang to the sounds of cheers and celebrations, as the defeated and captured Zulus sat down, dejectedly, and covered their heads with their hands and arms.

In the deepest shame.

The Ganthoran Gambit

Book IV The Ganthoran GambitBilly Caudwell, the teenage First Admiral of the Universal Alliance Fleet, has successfully completed the Time Warrior Ritual and stands as Emperor-elect of the Ganthoran Empire.

However, he has little time to savour his triumph. Even as Billy emerges from the Time Warrior Arena, the four remaining Frontier Fleets have mutinied against him under the influence of a mysterious and anonymous shadow Emperor. A sociopathic Frontier Fleet General has occupied the Empire’s capital city, wreaking a terrible vengeance upon his enemies and the civilian population.

With the shattered remains of a Frontier Fleet and a weakened Alliance contingent, Billy Caudwell has to take the biggest gamble of his life. With the fate of an empire at stake, Billy has to risk everything to prevent decades of war and bloodshed.

Author Bio

The author, William J.Benning was born in Dumfries (south west Scotland) in 1963. With his 50th birthday fast approaching, Benning has decided to grow old disgracefully. An intensely private individual, Benning recently returned to his home town seeking inspiration for his passion of creative writing. At age 18, Benning left home to take an Honours Degree in Psychology at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. He has some very fond memories, and many nights of vague recollection – which are, on the whole, probably best forgotten (!) – from his student days. After graduating, Benning had a career “false start” moving into the world of Pest Control Management. However, after several unhappy years, he switched tack and took further qualifications in Personnel Management, carving out a successful and enjoyable career in Human Resources as well as Learning & Development. Throughout his career, Benning has worked to support the activities of the British Red Cross.

From his early days as a First Aid Volunteer, he enjoyed working for the organisation which gave him further skills and built his self-confidence. Progressing within British Red Cross, Benning became a First Aid Instructor (Trainer), Assessor and Lecturer plus becoming invoved in training other Trainers and Assessors. Having returned to Dumfries to further his writing career, Benning now lives alone, but has been adopted by four members of the Canine Community. With four dogs in his life – and a newly arrived litter of Tibetan Terrier pups – plus a newly published novel, life is never going to be dull for Benning. William likes his sci-fi, but is also keen on military history and speculative fiction. Among his fiction favourites are Harry Turtledove, the late George MacDonald Fraser, Bernard Cornwell and Clive Cussler. William collects Edinburgh Crystal and has a terrible weakness for malt whisky. He has published his novel First Admiral with Malachite Quills in 2012.


Buy your own copy of the First Admiral series here:

Book Tours: Book Excerpt from “Feel The Burn”


Today I’m hosting an excerpt from the final installment in the BirthRight Trilogy: “Feel The Burn”. I previously hosted an excerpt from book two, and reviewed the first book. I hope you enjoy this snippet!

And by the way, you can get “The Arrival” for FREE, so why not check it out?

Book Excerpt

I slowed, stopping when I sighted Loi. She stood in the middle of a large cave, larger than the previous one we’d stayed in, and tiny lighted things fluttered around her.

‘Loi, what are those?’ I called in a quiet voice, not wanting to disturb them. Leynorah squealed and she and her mother leaped off my shoulders, flying straight for Loi and the lights. My jaw dropped when the two fae tackled one of the glowing things to the cave floor, gobbling it down and then lifted their heads to utter sharp whistles. Poor Loi looked horrified when answering whistles echoed from further down the corridor and more Halenine fae came whooping through, flashing past my head into the cave.

In a short matter of time the Halenine fae devoured the glowing things, buzzing excitedly around Loi, congratulating her on the find, oblivious to her appalled expression while she stared at the glowing remnants scattered about the floor. Those behind me pushed past into the cave, looking around, and the Cavalry and General guard soldiers started to set the camp up. It felt strange to realize that the whole day had gone, the lack of light messing with my body clock. Loi stared at the glowing remains of the fluttery things and I made my way to her.

‘Errmmm…sorry about that.’

Leynorah sat perched on a rock, fiendishly waving some bits of glowing wings in either front hand, singing a little ditty of ‘Yummy! Yummy, yummy, YUMMY!’

Loi sighed. ‘S’okay. Guess they have to eat.’

About The BirthRight Trilogy

the arrival version 4 (3)Title: The BirthRight Trilogy

Author: Nicole MacDonald

Genre: Fantasy

The Arrival

Cat, Kassie, Sian and Loi are anything but damsels in distress. Fed up with a lack of decent male specimens they cast a love spell in the hopes of finding their soul-mates. And inadvertently land themselves on another planet.

The Arrival, follows the girls’ adventures as they stumble through a foreign and often hostile world where humans are NOT at the top of the food chain. Friendships are forged and love teeters on the horizon while the threat of civil war looms thanks to the girls’ very unexpected ‘gifts’. Will the girls master these gifts in time to survive a war in which, not only are they the ultimate weapons, but also the ultimate prize…


awakeningBe careful what you wish for…
A seemingly innocuous love spell caused Catherine, Sian, Laura, and Kassandra to cross worlds in search of their soul mates. But more than love drew them to Gar’nyse. Truths are revealed and lives forever altered after an attack at the castle. An age old feud between two archaic families threatens to tear the world they’ve arrived in apart. As the ultimate weapons in such a war the four girls are the only hope for peace.
But one of them lies unconscious from the attack, and the destiny that awaits her when she wakes will change everything.

Feel the Burn

Cover attempt 4The battle to save Gar’nyse is upon them and already the costs are insurmountable.
With no other option but to knowingly sail into a trap, the girls, the Griffon Guard, and the gathered forces set forth to reach the castle and destroy Jenviet. However the loss of Alek means the task sits fully on the four girls’ shoulders and with only one of them at their full Elemental abilities, the risk of death, or worse—failure—is high. Now with nothing to lose, Catherine refuses to link with the other girls, hoping that she alone will be able to take Jenviet. But the malevolent Sorceress of Vo’Arum has other plans…

Author Bio

Nicole MacDonald is a thirty something year old Kiwi who loves to read and moonlights as a novelist. From a young age she fantasized about being the heroine in the books and/or movies she watched and credits the series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ for really inspiring her. Writing only occurred to her a few years ago after reading an abysmal tale with silly useless females where upon she decided to write a tale solely for herself where the girls got to kick butt without the usual sob story—betrayed/abused/abandoned etc. That little tale eventuated into the BirthRight Trilogy.

Nicole’s current daydream is that Joss Whedon (aka the genius of film) will discover the BirthRight Trilogy and demand the film rights to it. Until then, she’s working on several other writing projects and aiming to explore the world with her partner.


The first book, The Arrival, is FREE everywhere.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords (available in any format)



iTunes US

iTunes UK

Wattpad – where The Arrival is now available