As a mountain man, cowboy, and cavalry scout, Jedediah Braddock handled every challenge on America’s western frontier.
Then he’s transported to Tardoon, a magical world full of deadly predators, gorgeous monster girls, and brutal centaurs.
Most men would have died on arrival, but Braddock has enough love and courage to forge a new destiny in this mighty land. Filled with tough optimism and pioneering spirit, he vows to build the desperate monster girls a sanctuary in the wilderness.
There is much to do.
Timber to cut. Cabins to build. Game to hunt. Land to plow and plant.
Sprites to seed. Children to raise. And a whole bunch of enemies to kill.
Warning: This series contains graphic violence, undefined relationships/harem, and a strong male protagonist with the rough and ready attitude of an American frontiersman. Read at your own risk.
Release date: June 25, 2020
Publisher: Independently published
Print pages: 408
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Jedediah Braddock rode alone, scanning the baked and breathless landscape from atop his battle-scarred buckskin.
Always ahead, always alone.
Far behind him the oxen plodded doggedly onward, hooves sinking into the chalky wasteland. Thick dust roiled up, obscuring the wagon train in the pale cloud that had followed them interminably across the endless plain.
He was a lean, long-bodied man with narrow hips, broad shoulders, and big hands fit for wrangling any beast, man, or work this hard land might throw his way.
He wore dusty clothes darkened with sweat, a black hat pulled low, and a pair of ivory-handled six-shooters tied down.
Braddock’s alert gray eyes, sharp as a hawk’s and red-rimmed from long days in the bright sun, stared out from a darkly handsome, square-jawed face whitened by dust and split by the hard, grim line of his mouth.
High above, buzzards circled.
“They must recognize us,” Braddock told the mustang.
Some men, like some places, are death haunted. Braddock was one of those men. Wherever he rode, death followed. Sometimes by his hands, sometimes by the hands of others.
By chance, Braddock had crossed paths with the wagon train two weeks earlier. One of the men riding escort, Jim Hardin, knew Braddock from the cavalry, and they had cowboyed together a time or two on the long trails between Texas and Wyoming.
“We need you, Braddock,” Hardin said. He briefly explained the ill-preparedness of the pioneers and offered Braddock a generous wage to ride with them to Wyoming.
Braddock’s grub was dwindling fast, which wasn’t much of a problem so long as he had his wits and his .44 Henry Big Boy. But he was three days out of coffee, and by Braddock’s lights, food without coffee was sacrilege.
So Hardin’s offer tempted him.
But if you spend enough time in the wilderness, greenhorns kindly turn your stomach. Riding along would mean listening to complaints and hopes and opinions and having to watch these people cry as they buried each other along the trail, dead by snakebite, disease, or disputes with the many hostile tribes along the way.
Braddock was ready to decline when the lead wagons pulled up.
Then he saw her.
The red-haired woman’s beauty shocked him like ice-cold water striking a parched throat.
Hardin introduced Braddock by his trail name, Wrangler, to the men, including the bespectacled fatherly type beside the redhead, but their words were mud in Braddock’s ears.
The redhead lifted her chin and regarded him boldly, her bright blue eyes gleaming with confidence… and interest.
Braddock tipped his hat, and the young woman’s full, red lips parted in a dazzling smile.
Her father scowled and shooed her into the covered wagon.
Braddock watched with pleasure as she obeyed, every movement of her slim yet curvy figure a study in feminine perfection.
“What do you say, Wrangler?” Hardin asked.
Against his better judgment, Braddock agreed.
Men gathered around smiling as Hardin called Braddock a cowboy, a mountain man, and the best Indian fighter to ever wear the crossed sabers.
“Whatever comes our way,” Hardin promised, “Braddock will wrangle it.”
The pioneers shook Braddock’s hand and thanked him, happy to have an experienced frontiersman onboard.
Unfortunately, that night around the campfire Hardin must have shared more stories about Braddock, because in the morning, the wagon people kept their distance.
From that point, they regarded Braddock with grim fascination, like he was a big mongrel they trusted to guard stock but feared to pet.
Once again, he was an outsider.
Which would have been fine.
Except one thing.
Braddock hadn’t signed on for money, grub, or even coffee.
Elizabeth’s smile, that’s what hooked him.
Since their initial meeting, however, the gorgeous redhead regarded him with loathing and contempt.
Yes, Braddock had done terrible things in his life, but he was nonetheless a man of his word, so he stayed on and admired Elizabeth from afar.
Even after weeks on the trail, her thick, red locks shined like crushed cherries. Her expressive eyes darted back and forth like bluebirds, studying everyone and everything.
She carried herself with pride and confidence, back straight, chin aloft, shoulders squared against the world, clearly a girl who expected great things of her life and herself.
Her lilting voice was musical and full of life, as different from the voices of other women as birdsong is from the groaning of oxen.
Braddock was a simple man, durable and fiercely independent, his person and perception unadorned by fancy.
All he had in this world was his stallion, firearms, and the cobbled-together kit that traveled with him. With these items, he had survived many miles.
But mere survival isn’t life. And after joining the wagon train, Braddock packed unfamiliar cargo, a secret pain in his heart.
Elizabeth had awakened something in him. Thoughts of her raged across his mind like a prairie fire.
He couldn’t strike a match without thinking of her red hair, couldn’t regard a bright blue sky without noting how it dulled in comparison to her sapphire eyes.
Over the years, Braddock had known many women. After loving them, he mounted up and moved on.
With Elizabeth, there would be no moving on. She was a woman who made a man dream of staking a claim, fencing a pasture, and planting crops.
Which was foolishness, of course. At least for a man like Braddock.
He was an outsider, a hard man with a bloody past, a creature of the lonely and unforgiving wilderness beyond civilization.
Now, he twisted in his saddle and spotted her at the front of the wagon train.
As always, an invisible fist of longing slugged him in the gut.
Even at this distance, Elizabeth’s red hair glowed as bright as a forge within the swirling white dust. She rode beside her father, the bespectacled Dr. O’Boyle, who was crossing this dangerous land to establish a frontier medical practice.
According to Jim Hardin, Elizabeth was educated. A trained schoolteacher, no less. She would assist her father and establish a school for the settlement’s children.
At least that was the plan.
But in the wilderness, plans die young.
And the plan of the O’Boyle family died a moment later, when the afternoon erupted in gunfire and screaming and a strange, wild whooping cry the likes of which Braddock had never heard in his years upon the plains.
He wheeled the buckskin, drew an ivory-handled revolver, and charged back toward the train.
Two dozen gigantic raiders astride huge horses streamed out of the badlands shaking long spears overhead.
Their size made no sense. They were giants upon draft horses.
Whooping loudly, the raiders slammed into the wagon train.
Dust swirled around the chaotic melee. The raiders’ massive horses bucked and kicked, reared and stomped.
A wagon flipped over, struck by gigantic hooves.
Braddock saw a defender fire his rifle then sail away, kicked by a horse. The broken man slammed into a wagon, fell to the dusty ground, and was trampled beneath churning hooves.
Jim Hardin, apparently knocked from his horse, broke from the cloud and fired his Spencer. He swung the barrel, fired again, and brought the barrel back around.
Then a spearpoint burst from his chest.
Hardin went rigid and dropped his rifle. Behind him, a raider emerged from the cloud and hoisted Hardin into the air, where the impaled man wriggled like a fresh baited worm on the raider’s spear.
Braddock streaked toward the bloodshed. He couldn’t fire at this range, not from atop a galloping horse into a seething mass of close combatants.
The raider swung his spear, dislodging Hardin’s corpse. Half a dozen bullet wounds drained blood down the giant’s muscular body, but he seemed unperturbed.
How could the raider withstand such horrible damage? Was it his immense size?
The raider’s head jerked sharply, and the back of his skull blew apart in a red cloud. He and his horse dropped piece and parcel, as if the headshot had killed them simultaneously.
That’s when Braddock realized the truth.
These raiders weren’t giants upon gargantuan horses. What he had taken as riders and mounts were single creatures, half man and half horse, the upper bodies of oversized humans atop the muscular shoulders of equally oversized stallions.
Which made no sense. But bent on killing, Braddock accepted the facts and charged on.
Muzzle blasts spangled the cloud of swirling dust. Within, vague figures danced jerkily to the discordant music of screaming, gunfire, and the strange, animalistic whooping of the raiders.
Drawing close, Braddock took the reins in his teeth, hauled the second pistol from its holster, and went to work.
He fired with both hands, popping skulls with every shot.
A raider with fierce eyes turned in his direction. His jet-black hair was pulled back in a topknot, and a long black goatee framed his sneering mouth. He charged straight at Braddock, whooping as he drew back his bloody spear.
Braddock pulled the trigger, and the raider’s face collapsed on itself like a pumpkin full of dry rot.
The buckskin, always good in a fight, leapt over the dead creature and streaked between two enemies whom Braddock killed with simultaneous revolver blasts.
The mustang punched through the cloud, and they emerged on the other side. Only a single load remained in each pistol.
Braddock fired with his left, killing another horse-man, then holstered the empty weapon, meaning to reload the other.
Before he could fetch a loaded cylinder, however, a wagon broke from the train and raced off across the prairie.
And not just any wagon.
Freed from its oxen, the O’Boyle wagon was bouncing over the scrub, drawn by four raiders with tow ropes toward something Braddock hadn’t previously noticed: a weird rectangular panel of wavering blue light that stood shimmering upon the open plain like a mystical doorway.
The raiders plunged through the otherworldly door and disappeared.
But not before Braddock spotted the red-haired woman kicking and squirming under the arm of the lead raider.
Braddock charged after them.
Behind him, whooping horse-men gave chase.
Braddock leaned across the buckskin and raced through the surreal portal, a lone man with enemies ahead and behind and but a single cartridge remaining in his pistol.
Beyond the portal, the dusty plain and its sweltering heat disappeared.
Braddock reined in the buckskin and found himself standing on a cool, green clearing between forested hillsides.
Something crashed loudly to his left, where the meadow cut away sharply. An embankment dropped to the stony bank of the broad, shallow river hugging the steep hillside.
Hooves clattered on stones. The four horse-men, formerly blocked from his vision by the embankment, trotted into view and moved toward the stream.
They had lost the wagon, but the lead rider still clutched Elizabeth beneath his arm.
Her terrified screams echoed off the steep hillside. The horse-men answered with harsh laughter.
Something hissed to Braddock’s right.
He whipped around, pistol at the ready.
Another horse-man stood beside the blue portal, through the wavering light of which Braddock glimpsed the vague shapes of several raiders rapidly approaching.
A tall headdress of red and orange feathers rose like an erupting volcano from the hissing horse-man. Scowling at Braddock, he waggled his arms in strange patterns and shouted in an ugly, unfamiliar tongue, his entire body covered in crackling spiderwebs of blue light.
“Gasht,” he spat, and veins of energy raced up his body and coalesced in his hand, forming a javelin of blue lightning.
Braddock shot him between the eyes.
The man’s head snapped back, jerking the colorful headdress, and he dropped to the ground, dead as a stone.
The lightning bolt vanished.
So did the portal.
There was no time to consider the implications.
Braddock wheeled and went after Elizabeth, holstering the now empty pistol and pulling the Henry .44 from its scabbard.
Two of the horse-men, including Elizabeth’s captor, started across the shallow river.
The other two turned and galloped back, whooping loudly and shaking their spears overhead.
Whatever these things were, they clearly didn’t understand rifles.
Braddock reined in at the edge of the embankment, shouldered the Henry, and gave them a crash course in the effectiveness of modern firearms.
Two headshots. Two dead horse-men.
Across the river, Elizabeth screamed as her captors slipped into the trees and started up the hillside.
Braddock went after them.
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