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Tros of Samothrace 2: Dragons of the North

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Tros of Samothrace 2: Dragons of the North
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Talbot Mundy
Date Published: 06/2007
Page Count: 304
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-184-2
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-183-5

55 B.C. —Caesar plots, Britons war among themselves and the Vikings are coming

Tros of Samothrace burns for vengeance and has declared himself the implacable enemy of Rome. Caesar has vowed to hunt Tros down and crucify him after Tros humiliates him by sinking his fleet. With his new allies, under King Caswallan, Tros must face the new threat of raiding Nosemen in their longships. After a pitched battle, his vanquished foes—Olaf Sigurdsen and his beautiful sister Helma—form an alliance with Tros and together they command a crew of fierce Norsemen in a quest to save Lunden and embark on new adventures against Rome and rebel Britons. This is the second Tros of Samothrace adventure—with more in this enthralling series available from Leonaur! Look out for Wolves of the Tiber, Serpent of the Waves and City of Eagles, all available now—with more to come!

The Northmen cheered and all three women in the boat mocked Tros, the young girl thumping her breast, shouting in Gaulish so that Tros might understand. She claimed Tros as her own slave, to fetch and carry and to feed swine.
“Don’t slay him! Beat him to his knees!” she cried, and repeated that too.
“You may come,” said Tros. He drew well back along the poop, drawing his long sword, throwing off the Roman cloak and stepping close to the arrow-engine, so that Conops might unbuckle the breast-armour.<br>
The wounded Britons cheered him when the armour fell on deck, for they despised a man who did not bare his naked breast to an assailant. Then, pulling off his shirt, Tros flexed his huge muscles so that the hairy skin moved in waves and the Britons cheered him again, he keeping his eyes on Sigurdsen and speaking through the corner of his mouth to Conops:<br>
“Now, no dog’s work! Keep your knife to yourself! If you so much as lift a hand to help me I’ll turn from the fighting to skewer you to the deck! You understand? Hands off!”<br>
Sigurdsen came slowly up the ladder to the poop, ready to jump backward if Tros should spring at him before his feet were on the deck, but Trod gave him full law and a breathing spell, considering the iron links on the outside of the Northman’s leather jerkin, wondering whether the iron was soft or brittle.
The Northman wore no helmet; he had lost it in the fighting over-river. His reddish hair hung to his shoulders and his bloodshot eyes shone with a gleam of desperation under an untidy fringe; and he had brought no shield. He looked tired, but he was not wounded; the blood on his face was from a scratch caused by brambles as he fought his way out of the forest.<br>
For a full minute he and Tros stood studying each other, Conops whispering advice that Tros ignored:<br>
“The point, master! The point! Up, and under the chin! Remember, an axe is all blade. He can only swing with it, but he has a long reach. Keep close, where he can only use short chops, and use your point!”<br>
At last the Northman growled like an angry bear and came on, his weight on the balls of his feet, which made him tower above Tros, holding his great axe forward in both hands.<br>
Tros met him with the point, stock-motionless, not giving ground, until the Northman stepped back suddenly and with the speed of lightning swung at the sword to break it. Tros’s wrist hardly moved, but the axe-blade missed the sword-blade by an inch and the point went in between two links in the Northman’s mail.<br>
The prick of that maddened him; he came on like a whirlwind, swinging the axe upward at Tros’s jaw—missed, because Tros stepped back at last. Then, rising on both feet, he aimed two-handed at the crown of Tros’s head.<br>
Tros sprang aside, expecting the axe would crash into the deck and leave the Northman at his mercy, but the blow was turned in mid-descent and swept at him as if his body were a tree-trunk, slicing the skin at his waist—then the same blow back again, back-handed, quicker than a snake’s strike, and Tros had to jump clear.<br>
The Northman rushed him, crouched a little, with his knees bent, thrusting upward at the sword-blade, so that Tros’s lunge only skinned his crown, beginning at the forehead; but that brought blood down into the Northman’s eyes, half-blinding him, and he missed his next swing wildly.<br>
He tried to shake the blood off, spared his left hand for a second, but that cost him a thrust through the arm, and Conops yelled retorts in Greek to the women who screamed encouragement in Norse.<br>
Tros had his man now, knew it, carried the fight to him, sidestepping the prodigious swings and thrusting, forever thrusting with short jabs at the Northman’s right arm, circling cautiously around him with his knees bent and his legs spread well apart.<br>
The air screamed with the axe-blows. Twice the Northman knocked the sword-blade upward, rushed in under it and tried to brain Tros with the upthrust, using the axe-end like a club; and Tros had never fought an axe-man; he caught the first of those blows underneath his armpit and for a moment it deadened his whole left side.<br>
But every time the Northman pressed a savage charge home it cost him blood from some part of his body. Ten times Tros could have killed him and refrained. He kept on thrusting at the right arm until the blood streamed down and the axe-hilt slipped in the Northman’s fingers.<br>
Then for two or three titanic minutes Sigurdsen swung with his left alone, using his right to grab Tros’s sword-blade; but Tros opened the cut in his forehead again and the Northman jumped back to the poop-rail, trying to shake blood out of his eyes.<br>
“Now kill him, master!” Conops shouted. “Up under the chin and finish him!”