Russ Wallace is long-time student of history and religion. He employs a vivid imagination to fill in the life of Zenobia, a real historical figure and one of the most fascinating women who ever lived.
He is working on future books in the Zenobia Book Series. Zenobia - Birth of a Legend won a 2012 IPPY award in Historical Fiction.
The continuing saga of the deadly young warrior who will one day challenge Rome for the supremacy of her world. As the dynamic girl continues her education in Egypt, for a time she is diverted from her warrior path. Complicating Zenobia's life is a budding romance with her brilliant and charismatic instructor. The challenge - he is the scholar, she the warrior. Can they blend their worlds to become the most exciting couple in Alexandria?
Learning of a slave trade in kidnapped young women, Zenobia determines to free the oppressed. Warrior skills will not be enough. Her new challenge - to become a pirate, then a temptress in her fight for justice.
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Almost as an afterthought Zenobia asked, “How many men do you know that you can really trust?”
“How many men can I really trust?” Jasmine repeated Zenobia’s question. After careful thinking, she replied, “None! Whatever you are thinking of doing, if it requires trustworthy men, forget it!”
The look of controlled, determined intensity on the girl told her that was not likely to happen. This girl is dangerous, extremely dangerous!
Zenobia waited a minute before questioning, “Aren’t you going to ask me?”
“No! You don’t know me and I don’t know you. Possession of certain types of knowledge brings danger. I don’t need that!”
Zenobia contemplated her next step. She needed a man with particular skills, and she did not know how to go about finding him. She made a decision. “I do know you. You are like the leopardess in the forest that I spared. You are alert, skilled, and intelligent, trying to survive in a perilous wilderness of a sort, the alleys of this city. Therefore, I both respect you and value your opinion. I need your help!”
“Helping you could be dangerous,” Jasmine answered quietly. “Convince me it will be worth the risk.” She liked the girl before her and decided she was willing to be recruited for the right price.
“First, I already promised your ‘business partner’ 100 gold darics. Second, I guarantee you that, provided I survive, I will personally see to it that you are reunited with him. Third, if you wish to settle in Syria, I will be glad to employ the talents of both of you there. You will find that very profitable.”
Jasmine was amazed. “I have heard a legend that you were born to rule. I can see that. I can believe that. What exactly do you want?”
Zenobia thought back to the words of Saladir nine months earlier, A legend has power. He had proved to be a valuable and wise ally.
“Hasshel has a ship carrying kidnapped young girls who are to be sold as slaves.” She paused to read Jasmine’s expression and was gratified to see the older woman’s eyes flash with anger. She continued simply, “I want to take it!”
“Of course you do,” Jasmine responded. “I saw that in your eyes.” She took a deep breath and said, “I will help.”
“How do I do it?” It was clear to her that she had another ally, at least for this mission.
“When does it sail? And which ship is it?”
“In three days. Your partner told me I was to be one of the captives. We know the vessel.”
Jasmine considered the options. “You could capture it here in the harbor, but I think that would be too high a risk for several reasons. First, the place is crawling with Roman sailors. Second, there are too many chances that someone would see or hear your attack and report it.
It would be far safer to take the ship in the open sea. What kind of vessel is it, and how large?”
Zenobia was not pleased about sharing the information, but she did not see another choice. “It is a coaster, about forty cubits long.”
“That is helpful. Coasters usually anchor for the night, so you might be able to do a sneak attack. You would want to make your assault early in the morning when the watch tends to be less alert. In any case, you will need a ship, a fast one, to overtake it. Thus, you are going to have to hire the ship, and you need a captain/owner who’s willing to engage in an act of piracy.”
“I don’t consider capturing a slave ship to be piracy.”
Jasmine smiled. “Call it what you wish, maiden, but the authorities would consider it piracy, and they execute pirates for it. I recommend you do not get caught.”
“Good advice. Do you know a pirate with a fast ship?”
“I don’t suppose this pirate is a woman?”
“No,” she said with a smirk.
“Will he deal with me?”
“What color is your gold?”
“Then yes, he will deal with you.”
“When can I meet him?”
“I can try to set something up for tonight.”