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RESISTANCE > SNEAK PEEK of RESISTANCE

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message 1: by Stephanie (last edited Sep 23, 2012 02:42PM) (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) | 205 comments Mod
PROLOGUE:


MOORS OF WESSEX, 1353 A.D.

Freya’s halo of red hair flamed out around her shoulders, whipped by the wind combing over the down. She stood facing east. Waiting. The sun had all but set behind her, leaving only a sliver of gold on the horizon. A thin plume of gray smoke wafted into the air from the fire at her back. She stood at the edge of a ring of pillars where her Tracer paced back and forth before two monoliths bridged by a long, flat stone. He mumbled quiet prayers under his breath. Freya watched the distant line of horses snaking its way toward them. Blyn stepped up beside her.

“They are coming,” whispered Freya.

“We do not have much time,” he said, glancing up at the darkening sky.

“We have enough,” she replied.

Blyn glanced back at the circle of stones, his eyes lingering on the larger ones in the ring.

“I hope the monk is right.”

“He is,” she said firmly. “He always is.”

The rest of their Setti clan flanked Freya and Blyn on either side to welcome the newcomers. The line of warriors finally dismounted at the foot of the hill. Their horses snuffed the air. A band of two dozen Setti climbed swiftly to the top, spreading wide around the stone pillars. Their fur-skinned raiment denoted men and women of far-off lands across cold waters, though they bore similarities to the people of Freya’s Iceland. Their sharp, angular features and sinewy-muscled limbs were exaggerated by the dancing firelight. The one binding element between these inland dwellers and Freya’s clan were the identical tattoos on each warrior’s right forearm, twisting and wrapping up the inner bicep. One of the taller men with long, blond hair and piercing eyes the color of a thunderous storm stepped forward.

“I am Amund,” he said with the thick, cutting accent of his inland tribe.

“Welcome, Amund. It is good to finally meet the one our Tracer speaks of so often. You are all welcome.”

Freya clasped his forearm in greeting, and he hers. He nodded to Blyn and the others flanking Freya on either side. Friar Faustino stepped forward to greet the Tracer among the newcomers he had been communicating with for many months in his mind’s eye. The old druid nodded then fell into step with the monk. The druid’s hooded cloak slipped forward as the two men walked and whispered in hushed tones toward the fire.

The others stood in stoic silence, glancing upward expectantly. The winds blew in gusting heaves. A slate of gray cloud pressed down from the heavens.

“We have little time,” Blyn assured them, scouring the blustery sky for any sign of the myrkr jotnar, the dark giants. “We must plan quickly.”

A woman warrior with a mane of black hair and eyes like the ocean stood motionless beside Amund. She watched Blyn then followed his gaze to the sky.

“He is right,” she said, “they are upon us. We must ready our shields.”

“My Guardian, Kolfinna. She senses when they come like your man.”

A knowing look passed between Blyn and Kolfinna, a thread of recognition, of harmony. He broke from Kolfinna’s gaze, looking upward. His emotions wavered darkly, radiating out in a sickening ripple of gloom. His intuition for the presence of the myrkr jotnar never failed. They would be here soon. Freya spoke quickly.

“Amund, my plan is for each Setti to fight as one, the Guardians gathered at the center with the Healers giving them strength. The Tracers must watch and warn us of the enemies’ sudden movements and their cunning tricks. The Sounders and Vanquishers will work on the outer rim of our shield to destroy and banish them back to the hell from whence they came.”

Amund gave a sharp nod, his flaxen hair lifting in the wind. Piercing eyes darted toward the sky.

“Let us assemble now. We must let the power work by instinct. We have no more time.”

“No need,” said Freya with confidence. “This will be our greatest victory.”

Amund shouted orders to the line of warriors on the down. They dispersed at once, moving to their allotted positions. There were only five clans of Setti, yet their magnificence outshone their small numbers. An electric energy filled the small hilltop, linking the warriors with an invisible force. The five Healers, three women and two men, stood dead center as their Guardians gathered in front of them, their tattered robes and tunics billowing in the wind. Blyn strode to Freya, taking her forearm in the warrior’s grasp. His look was not that of a warrior, but of a lover. Freya felt the intensity of his words before he spoke them.

“Do not take risks, Freya. Fall back to me if the shadow men break through the shield.”

“Aye, Blyn. I will be cautious. Do not fear. We will be victorious,” she said, assuring him with one of her rare smiles.

He tugged her closer, brushing the burn scar across her bare shoulder gently with his free hand. The memory of that shadow man’s stealthy attack in the Celtic village where Freya was nearly lost still stung him deeply.

“I am not asking, Freya,” he said with some urgency. “Do as I say this time.”

She knew this command came from his deep
protectiveness of her. The gusting wind whipped Blyn’s black hair in front of his face, hanging loosely with long war braids at the temples. His dark eyes captured her gaze, his strong form immovable as the pillars behind them. He did not move, still waiting for her reassurance. Finally, she nodded, unsmiling.

“I will, love. Now, to your place. They are waiting for you.”

Blyn pried his gaze from her then strode to the center of the standing stones where the other Guardians waited for him. The moment he stepped in the circle formation and linked arms with Kolfinna and the Guardian to his right, their power of light radiated outward, beaming far beyond the bounds any of them could have done alone. The energy multiplied, linking the Setti clans as one powerful element. Each warrior felt the prickling sensation vibrate through skin and bone. Blyn marveled at the halo of Guardian lights weaving together into one solid shield. The monk was right. Amund let out a deep, echoing laugh from the perimeter of the shield.

“By Odin! It is as it should be!” he shouted into the wind. “Our power is greater as one!”

As if the dark creatures answered the challenge, shadow men and their masters descended from the sky at the base of the hill, appearing like angels of death come to collect their souls. In the distance, the piercing shriek of ash-eaters resonated across the plain and up the down. Their shrill banshee cries forewarned why they had come—to consume the repast of ash once their dark masters completed their work.

The myrkr jotnar strode up the hill in a swift, fluid motion, surrounding the Guardians’ multi-colored shield of light as if they’d expected this barrier blocking them from their home world. Freya stood at the edge between her clan’s Sounder, Mùirne, with her flowing blonde hair on one side, and Amund on the other. Freya unsheathed her sword, Angel-fire. Her clan’s Setti power vibrated through the steel, up the hilt and into her body, giving her newfound strength against the enemy.

Massive beastly bodies towered above the human warriors, standing a full six to eight feet above them. Roughened dark-green, almost black, skin rippled with the energy rolling beneath it. They had been feeding well, sucking the life energy from countless humans to build such immense reserves of power. Their brawny exterior belied the cunning behind their yellow, serpentine eyes. None of them moved, as if waiting for something.

Freya heard distant murmuring and shuffling then soft cries and moans. In between the flapping cloaks of the dark destroyers, she saw movement down the hill. Stepping aside for a better view, she froze in horror. A long line of chained humans shuffled between an army of shadow men trailing upward to the hill of stones.

“Friar!” she called. “What is this? What are they doing with them?”

Nothing but silence and the wind for a long moment then the monk answered.

“They are being taken to the beasts’ homeland.”

“For what purpose? Why—”

Freya stammered, realizing what the beasts intended to do. She watched the chained line of humans shuffling toward the hill being prodded by the shadow men. A vision of a shepherd with his staff came to mind, herding his sheep to slaughter. Freya shivered then shook it off, feeling a familiar sensation deep within her body. Power pulsed and edged to the surface as the monstrous enemy stood in eerie silence around them.

Another large, black shape descended from the heavens, fixing itself on the perimeter of the Guardians’ light shield directly in front of Freya and Amund. She felt a primal shiver crawl up her spine, for all of her survival instincts stood on end in the presence of such a beast. Freya was forced to crane her neck upward to see into the glowing, slanted eyes of the creature.

The beast’s crown of mangled horns curving along the width of his massive skull branded it a king of its kind. Though she wanted to avoid his penetrating gaze, she could not. His mammoth body quivered with the energy rolling under the skin. Such immense, tangible power snapped around him. How many humans had he consumed to become such a beast? How many lives were lost to feed such a creature, standing tall like a god or demon from another world? The thought heightened Freya’s fury. Her powers pooled.

An unfathomable bond tied her to Amund and the other Vanquishers within the circle of light. She raised her sword, preparing to strike, when the creature opened its ghastly mouth and spoke in her native Norse tongue.

“Why do you resist, little Vanquisher?” it asked mockingly, boring its snakelike eyes into hers. “You could be a powerful servant—one to whom I would grant extreme privilege.”

Freya stood silent for several seconds, realizing the beast addressed her directly.

“Are you offering me ransom?” she asked in disbelief.

She knew ransom was granted to kings and royalty before battle should they decide to save their own lives before an inevitable defeat. The creature seemed to ponder her question then contorted its mouth into a sickening smile. The black slime that slicked the inside of its mouth glistened as it spoke again.

“A ransom,” it hissed agreeably, “to avoid painful death.”

The moans of the captured rose on the wind, mounting Freya’s rage. She would never consider the possibility of surrender at the cost of her own life, or even at the cost of her clan of Setti. Her power pulsed through her veins, pumping her blood at a furious pace. She raised Angel-fire higher, feeling the strength of her brethren singing through the sword. She breathed out one word, low and clear.

“Never.”

The beast narrowed its eyes further, now only slits of glowing green, fixing them on the sword then back onto her.

“So be it.”

The creature closed its baleful eyes and inhaled a lungful of air. He seemed to be summoning something, but she knew not what until she heard a resounding clap of thunder behind her. A sputtering crackle then all at once a gaping black hole appeared between the two largest monoliths bridged by the flat stone. A visible thread of electricity splintered and webbed itself between them.

Beside her, Mùirne bellowed her war cry, layered with the echoing sound of her power. Her fair hair flowed around her lithe body. Her voice rose into the air, sending a shiver over the down. Other Sounders joined her, and the beasts’ shields sparked visibly, shutting down one by one.

The beast before Freya lowered its menacing gaze, daring her to battle. She glanced back once more at the door that had opened—the yawning black hole that would take these beasts back to their home world along with their human captives after they had maimed and killed her clansmen. Power surged upward from deep within, and one word came forth again in a determined whisper.

“Never.”


Karen’s Library Sooooo good!!!


message 3: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebekahc) | 56 comments Mod
Woooooooooow! It's like a freaking movie!


message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) | 205 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "Sooooo good!!!"

Thank you, Karen! Can't wait to share the rest. So close now! :D


message 5: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) | 205 comments Mod
Rebekah wrote: "Woooooooooow! It's like a freaking movie!"

Thanks, BB! A movie would be awesome! No complaints here. ;)


message 6: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebekahc) | 56 comments Mod
Stephanie wrote: "Rebekah wrote: "Woooooooooow! It's like a freaking movie!"

Thanks, BB! A movie would be awesome! No complaints here. ;)"


We should add movie-making to the award then! :P


message 7: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) | 205 comments Mod
Rebekah wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "Rebekah wrote: "Woooooooooow! It's like a freaking movie!"

Thanks, BB! A movie would be awesome! No complaints here. ;)"

We should add movie-making to the award then! :P"


Ha, ha! Definitely!


message 8: by Tina (new)

Tina (frogluv3r) | 72 comments Brilliant Stephanie! Your description is so vivid I could picture the scene almost as if I were there. This is going to be great.


message 9: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) | 205 comments Mod
Tina wrote: "Brilliant Stephanie! Your description is so vivid I could picture the scene almost as if I were there. This is going to be great."

Yayyyyy! Thank you, Tina! I'm getting really excited now for the release. Can't wait!


message 10: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (rebekahc) | 56 comments Mod
Have you set a release date?


message 11: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) | 205 comments Mod
Rebekah wrote: "Have you set a release date?"

October 15th. There's a possibility we may release the Kindle version a little earlier, but the 15th is our set date. :)


message 12: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Cowley (mandymoo8) | 3 comments Awesome writing!! Can't wait to read more :)


message 13: by Jessen Elizabeth (new)

Jessen Elizabeth (jessenliz) | 62 comments Mod
So excited! I forgot about the prologue. I haven't read it in so long :) It makes me even more psyched because I get to reread it and find all the changes from your first draft! This is awesome


message 14: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Robichaux | 12 comments Mod
Oh this is sooooooooo good! I cannot wait for the release!


message 15: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) | 205 comments Mod
Yayyyy! Thanks, guys! So glad you like it. We're almost there! :)


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