Daughters of Adam: Free First Chapter

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Daughters of Adam: Free First Chapter.

The Free Sample of Daughters of Adam: book three of the Snow Wars Series is here now.  N.S. GRIMM hopes you are enjoying the world of Snow Wars!
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Daughters of Adam

(Book three in the Snow Wars Series)

Chapter 1: Gabriel’s Story

The sound of steel ripping against metal struck his ears. A painful burning shot up his arm, which then went numb from the shock. He kicked out with his left foot, connecting with the gut of the man in front of him. Both fighters falling backwards away from each other into the snowy ground. Red snow. The snow slick with blood and dirt. He rolled to his feet as quickly as he could.

Exhaustion slowing him, the muscles in his legs screaming at him in protest. You’re getting too old for this, he thought to himself as he pushed off the ground. Looking over the battlefield, he struggled to make order out of the chaos.

“Ramblers to me!” His voice carried well over the snow, but the noise of the battle seemed to absorb his timbre and cast it to the winds. He ran for the rocky basin. The trap was fully sprung now and they had fallen right into the deadly center of it. He pared a long blade, knocking it aside, and sprinted past his opponent. Arrows flew through the air by the handfuls. He ducked, covering his head with his hands because he had nothing else to use as a shield. Goddess, arrows used like this in battle!

A body fell over his back. A Rambler with three arrows sticking in her chest and a forth protruding out her cheek. She was dead already. He noted her name in the back of his mind for later. Letting her body remain on his back, he grabbed her legs and arms. Standing, he used her body as a shield. Light as she was, the exhaustion in his body still pulled at him. He screamed at the Ramblers around him, “To the center! We can’t hold against these arrows, but they aren’t striking into the center.”

“That’s because their own damn men are in the center hacking us to pieces,” a cheerful voice to his left tossed back. He smiled but could not spare a glance to the side. “That must be you, David. Only you are crazy enough to actually sound cheerful right now.”

“If we wanted to live forever, we wouldn’t have become Ramblers.”

“To the center. Form-up on me!” he yelled to his group with passion.

“Better to die in the snows then hidden in a rock by the Goddess!” David muttered his prayer into the cold winds, but no one heard him over the noise of battle. Then David was gone, swallowed up by the surge of combat. Gabriel yelled around the dead Rambler’s body to David—but no response came back.

Another round of arrows whistled through the sky. He couldn’t pause this time to wait for them to hit. He continued to push forward. Several arrows struck into the Rambler on his back. Bodies dropped next to him. He could not stop to see if they were friends or foes. As he reached the center, he tossed the dead Rambler’s body off and onto an approaching attacker. The man tumbled to the ground under the dead girl’s weight and Gabriel bent to thrust his Rambler blade through his enemy.

The blade in his hand was dirty and caked with blood. It no longer shined silver in the light, its beautiful runes hidden under dirt and grime. He cut, punched, and thrust his way into the center. Around him, Ramblers joined up, trying to hold as group for attack and defense. They were badly outnumbered. They were hopelessly outmatched. A heave moved against their group toward the left. He felt the side sway as their enemies punched through their line and dispersed his Ramblers.

He was back to one-on-one battle. Except it was more like three-on-one battle and not in his favor. A rush of renewed adrenaline hit his body and he took a deep breath, determined to make it through somehow.

He cut to the right and saw the face of a man bloom a bright red ribbon across his eyes. He deflected a blade in front and kicked the man to the ground, then battered his helm in with the pommel of his Rambler blade. A man came at him from the left and he caught his sword arm by the wrist as he flipped the man over his shoulder. The ground kicked out from under him as he was struck from behind. Their two bodies went tumbling down onto the ground. His arm smashed against a rock.

The stars of pain blinded his eyes for a split second. Reflexes kicked out blindly, as he realized his arm was broken and blade lost. He rolled off the stone and pushed up from the ground. A shadow moved in front of him. His enemies were faster. At least three men were facing him now. A blade the shape of the half-moon sliced across his one good arm, sending blood splattering across the snow. Gabriel screamed in pain and frustration. Goddess, to have just one weapon.

He staggered back, trying to get distance from the men. Words were exchanged in a language he did not understand, but the meaning was clear. His gaze darted desperately around, but he saw no other Ramblers nearby who could help. That was when he knew he was lost. His arms were grasped and painfully pulled behind.

An agonized howl left his throat as the shattered bone shifted and broke through the skin. All sound ended in his ears as a saber was thrust into his stomach and up toward his chest. All sound of battle or breath, of screams and words were lost to him. He felt the weight of the metal as it pumped and twisted through the bones of his torso. There was no pain any more. His head flew back and he saw a light dusting of fresh white snow just beginning to fall from the sky. In seconds he felt his own heart beat slowing—then stop.


Chapter 2

Peter felt sweat breakout on his hands. Mentor Daniel had just left the assembly chamber without so much as a word to anyone. He left, just as he was supposed to start his introduction of Aster to the Assembly. Aster grabbed Peter’s hand for support, the murmurs around the hall corroborating that everyone was confused by the Mentor’s abrupt departure.

“Now what are we supposed to do, wait?” Aster asked Peter.

For what? Mentor Daniel was always the one in Newhom to speak before the Table and make introductions. Peter scanned the crowded room looking for Mentor Heliconia, but she was nowhere to be found. The center of the room remained empty, a circle of light positioned just in front of the massive wooded desk that Newhom’s Table members sat behind. The group was quietly talking with each other. They were visually upset by the unorthodox exit. Peter sighed, looking at Aster. Getting everyone upset was not going to help her chances with her petition to the Table. Aster’s hand constricted painfully in Peter’s. Testifying in front of Newhom’s Table was hard enough for her without any additional complications.

Peter looked into her eyes; their light brown color always made him feel warm and slightly light-headed. He smiled, pulled himself a little taller and squeezed her hand in return. Stepping forward, Peter took a deep breath. He could feel her grip tighten as they moved forward to stand in the center of the room and address the Table. As they approached, the elders broke off their private conversations and stared directly at Peter and Aster, patiently waiting in surprise.

“Uhhm, Mentor Daniel needed to ahhhh, go take care of something. Obviously…uhhmm,” Peter floundered a little, unused to speaking publically. He felt heat rise to his face. Aster turned her head and gave him a sympathetic look for his embarrassing attempt.

That does it! He took another deep breath, straightened his shoulders to try again. With a stronger, clearer tone to his voice, he spoke. This time his voice rang off the walls in the crowded assembly room. Aster smiled.

Peter smiled back at her. “Table members, may I present to you Aster, who has come to give testimony concerning the Upper Hive’s Burning. She is sister to Iana of the East Hive, whom you met a few weeks ago.” Peter’s chest swelled and warmed with confidence and pride. It felt good to help Aster. It felt good to stand in front of the Assembly and speak. Maybe he was even good at this speaking thing?

A strong clear booming voice rolled over the room, “Correction!” Everyone’s head spun around to the door. There he was. Mentor Daniel striding back into the room like a God, like a Hero, like a big pimply pain in Peter’s ass. A breathless Iana in tow with him, her eyes all glossy and warm as she stared up at the man. The Mentor all but pulling the small Rambler along behind him.

Peter gave Daniel an annoying look as he approached. Why did he always have to show up everyone else in the room? Aster gave Peter a proud squeeze with her hand, letting him know she thought he’d done well with his second introduction. He smiled back at her, feeling awkward. His cheeks a little red with all the attention. Reluctantly releasing Aster’s hand, he stepped back into the anonymity of the crowd. Iana, now free of Daniel’s hand, crossed over to her sister immediately.

Peter could see Aster’s eyes flash at Iana with questions and irritation, but there was no opportunity for the sisters to talk privately. Peter knew that Aster had specifically asked her younger sister to stay behind and not attend this assembly. He had no idea what Daniel was thinking, dragging Iana into this mess.

Peter felt his stomach smolder at the Mentor. Why couldn’t he leave Iana alone for five minutes? She wasn’t a Rambler under his authority anymore, no one was. All the East Hive Ramblers were dead now, except Iana. Peter eyed Daniel with sharp daggers. He didn’t think Daniel’s interest in Iana had anything to do with Ramblers, or missions out in the snows. He could tell when a man was interested in a woman. The slow burning in this stomach increased into real anger.

Iana and Aster were all but family to him. Iana had been his best friend growing up, for most of his life really. Of course the Mentor thought he could just show up and claim her for himself. The audacity of the Hive’s superior class had always pissed Peter off. But they weren’t in the Hive anymore. They lived in Newhom now, and in Newhom people were equal with equivalent rights and privileges, or at least they were supposed to be. I’ll show him that he isn’t living in the Hive anymore. I’m not going to let him just take Iana without a fight.”


Chapter 3

Daniel gripped Iana’s hand tightly in his own as they ran down the crammed hallway together. His serious disposition only broken by the smile that lit his eyes. Iana was pulled behind him, her smaller stature trying to keep up with the powerful man in front of her. Her cheeks still warm with emotion from the passionate kisses they had just shared moments ago.

Daniel rounded the corner, fighting his way through the crowd. He reached around her shoulders to pull her closer as they pushed through the large group of observers at the doorway. The feel of his strong arm around her caused heat to rise from her stomach to her face. She was dizzy and out of breath by the time he paused just at the entrance. He looked down at her, his hand moving to rest on her cheek. His thumb softly stroking her skin as he smiled silently into her eyes. A moment later, he reached for her hand again and pulled her out of the crowd and into the stark light of the chamber.

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