Authors: Lucy Varna
Daughters of the
People, Book 1
Bone Diggers Press, Clayton, GA
First edition ©
2014. Second edition © 2015 C.D. Watson. All Rights Reserved.
Cover design ©
L.J. Anderson, Mayhem Cover Creations.
Bellegarde has spent her entire life searching for a way to break the curse
hanging over her and her People. As part of her quest, she volunteers to
investigate an anomalous burial at a Swedish archaeological dig where a rare
cache of documents has been discovered side by side with an ancient symbol
linked to the Seven Sisters, the progenitors of the People.
While in Sweden, Maya meets James Terhune, an
attractive archaic language expert, and invites him to take on a position at
the Institute for Early Cultural Studies, the People's main historical research
branch. James is thrilled by the opportunity Maya extends and intrigued by the
attraction he feels for her. He soon begins to suspect, however, that the
secrets of the grave are minor compared to the secrets Maya holds, secrets that
hamper their burgeoning relationship and cripple the work they've undertaken
for the IECS.
The People aren't the only ones interested in
the newly-discovered documents. An ancient enemy of the People resurfaces,
threatening the lives of Maya and James' loved ones, and setting in motion a
chain of events that could save the People, or destroy them.
Daughters of the People: Immortal
Amazons unjustly cursed, struggling to save their People, and their hearts.
The Daughters of the People Series:
(A Sons of the People Novel)
coming April 2015 from
Also available from Lucy Varna, The
Witches of Cullowhee Series
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This story is a
work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is
purely a coincidence.
localities and entities are mentioned solely for the purpose of adding realism
to the story.
Table of Contents
Notes from the
Notes on the People compiled by Tom
Fairfax, Phil Walters, George Howe, and James Terhune, known at the IECS
unofficially as the Fab Four.
. A tattoo inked
into the left-hand shoulder blade of a Son who becomes the husband of a
Daughter. Once approval has been granted by the mothers of both parties and the
tattoo is in place, a formal marriage ceremony is unnecessary; the two are
considered married in the eyes of the People, though many couples choose to
undergo a civil or, less frequently, traditional ceremony.
. The tattoo
Sons receive on their sixteenth birthday (the day they become men under the
traditions and laws of the People) to indicate their maternal lineage. Usually
inked onto the upper left arm, the
is a symbol of the mother’s
eternal protection and devotion, and a warning to any who would harm the Son.
. Woman. Also refers to the Woman
with No Face.
Council of Seven.
ruling body, consisting of seven women, one representing the line of each of
the Seven Sisters.
. A direct
descendant of one of the Seven Sisters, Daughters may be either immortal (if
they have not yet broken their own curse) or mortal (if they have broken their
own curse or are the daughter of a mortal Daughter).
. A supposedly
mythical group devoted to undermining the ultimate goal of the People, to break
the curse of immortality for every Daughter through the fulfillment of the
Prophecy of Light.
Daughters devoted to eradicating the Eternal Order. A highly secret and deadly
Institute of Early Cultural Studies
Located in Tellowee, Georgia, USA, the IECS is the main historical research
branch of the People and serves as a repository for much of its history.
usually used in a formal situation, though not always.
usually used as a term of respect for an elder Daughter and not necessarily as
a reference to one’s own mother. Teachers, for example, are referred to as
. The name used
by the descendants of the Seven Sisters to describe themselves. The People
include all immortal and mortal Daughters, Sons, and the mortal descendants of
all submitted Daughters to the second degree (i.e. through the grandchildren of
Daughters who have submitted their wills and become mortal). Other descendants
are not counted among the numbers of the People.
Prophecy of Light
. Issued by an
unknown person at some distant point in the past, the Prophecy of Light
portends a way for the curse of immortality to be lifted from all of the
People, and not solely the Daughters who submit their wills and become mortal.
Daughters of the People
progenitors of the modern People. The seven women, all sisters, avenged the
deaths of their parents by killing the men of the People (the original band)
and were cursed by the god An to live immortal lives without the ability to
bear sons. The curse was tempered by the goddess Ki, who decreed that the curse
could be broken by each one if she would submit her will, in whatever way
(except sexually), to the man she loved. (See the Legend of Beginnings on the
Daughters of the People
traditional enemy of the People.
. Usually refers to the child of
a Daughter who has broken the curse and become mortal, but may also reference
the child of a Son or another male descendant of a Daughter.
Tellowee, Georgia, USA
. One of the
centers of the People, located in rural northeast Georgia.
Circa 7,500 B.C.E.
A hard moon
shone down upon four hands worth of seasonal shelters. Kiya, eldest daughter of
the First Seer in her union with the Warrior Chief, leaned her spear against a
boulder and settled into her shift of the watch on top of a flat stretch of
dirt. She squinted at the moon, so round and full above her. Its light was as
pure as anything she’d ever seen. Maybe this would be the night the Lady Ki
would grant her a vision, the way Mother always said She would. Kiya’s bleeding
time had come upon her two moons past. She was a woman now and ready to fulfill
her duty to the gods, but without that first vision, she was relegated to the
watch, a position anybody with two eyes and working ears could fill. Would she
ever be able to begin her training as the People’s next Seer or would the Lady
find another of her sisters more worthy?
A pebble bounded
across the rocks behind her and Kiya sighed. “Come out, Abragni. I know you’re
sister crawled out of the shadows and sat down an arm’s span away. “How come
you always know it’s me?”
the noisiest of the Seven.” Kiya held her arm out, beckoning Abragni closer.
“You should be sleeping. We break camp tomorrow. Who knows how long it’ll take
us to reach the next one.”
her head against Kiya’s scrawny chest and snuggled into her sister’s embrace.
“Marnan keeps poking me and Bagda won’t make her stop.”
“I’ll speak to
listen to you either.”
“Then I’ll speak
“Speak to the
make them stop.”
Kiya pressed her
lips together. How could she tell her sweet sister that the Lady refused to
share the future, guarding it as closely as Father did the People’s safety?
“I’ll pray to An. How’s that?”
dropped to a whisper. “But He’s grumpy.”
“And He hears
all,” Kiya teased. “Here, little one. Rest your head on my leg. I’ll protect
“I know you
will.” Abragni yawned and curled up on the ground beside Kiya, one hand on
Kiya’s leg under her head. “Forever and ever.”
ever,” Kiya echoed.
The moon moved
steadily across the sky, sliding through the stars along its nightly path. Kiya
smoothed her hand over Abragni’s dark hair, soothing her sister into sleep. The
camp was still and quiet, the fires banked, the People resting with their
families. Weariness crept over her. She shook it away, sharpening her gaze, tuning
her ears to the slightest noise.
wouldn’t have been necessary if they weren’t camped so close to another
settlement, a walled city half a day’s journey away. Father had refused to
share his reasoning, but there had been rumors, ugly whispers among the women
that their men grew tired of the People’s nomadic life and wished to join their
fortunes to those dwelling behind the high walls.
course. The People were happy and hale, their children hearty, and though they
had no wall to protect them from predators and war, they did well enough.
A shadow flitted
across the encampment. Kiya sucked in a quick breath and scanned the valley
floor around the People’s shelters. The shadow moved again, shifting from one
side of the camp to the other, zigzagging toward the tent on the far side where
Mother and Father rested with Kiya’s five other sisters.
joined the first and a third, and Kiya’s heart thudded hard in her chest. She
pressed one hand over her sister’s mouth and shook her awake with the other.
Abragni’s wide, dark eyes blinked open. Kiya leaned down and whispered,
“Something’s wrong. We need to wake everybody. Can you help me?”
Kiya removed her
hand and grabbed her spear. “If we get separated, make your way to the edge of
the waters next to the cave Ganenda likes to hide in and wait for me there.”
“I will,” Abragni
whispered. “You won’t leave me there, will you?”
“I’d never do
They made their
way around the perimeter of the camp, searching for the other men and women who
were supposed to be on watch, and found no one. With each step, Kiya’s chest
grew a little tighter, her skin a little more prickly. She grasped Abragni’s
hand and urged her forward. They were halfway between the last watch position
and the encampment when a scream rent the air, shattering the night’s quiet.
froze in her throat. “Mother.”
crumpled. A tear slid down her round cheek. “I’m scared, Kiya.”
. Kiya swallowed
her fear and knelt in front of her sister. “Go to the cave now, little one.
I’ll wake our sisters and meet you there. Stick to the shadows.”
and swiped the back of her hand across her face, smearing dirt through the
tears. “I hate the shadows.”
nothing to fear among them. Now go.”
away and Kiya stood, spear in hand. An unnatural hush settled over the People’s
shelters. Nothing moved. She sniffed, testing the air, and found no scent that
shouldn’t be there.
Mother and Father’s shelter cautiously. Her footsteps were silent as she moved
over the hard earth and her eyes never still. Three spear lengths away, a soft
sob drifted to her and a female voice spoke, the words too faint for Kiya to
make out. She eased up to the back of the shelter and dropped to her haunches
in the sparse shadows lingering there. The voice came again, scarcely louder than
it had been, and Kiya strained her ears, hoping to discern meaning in the
quietly spoken words.
No, the voice
was still too soft.
She crept around
the edge of the shelter toward the opening and halted. In the clearing between the
shelters, a handful of men stood over two limp forms laying prone on the
then,” a man said, and Kiya’s eyes widened. That had sounded like Dunan,
“A shame they
had to be killed.” That voice belonged to Tem’n, a young warrior just into his
manhood, barely two seasons older than Kiya. “Especially the Seer. Her visions
An odd pressure
filled her chest.
. Her mother, the revered conduit between the
People and the gods. Could she truly be dead?
“Are the women
She couldn’t place that voice. It had to be a male of the People. Who else
would be in their camp at night?
done,” Dunan said. “We’re missing two, the eldest and youngest of the Seven.”
“The Seven?” the
unfamiliar man said.
daughters,” Tem’n said. “Five are inside. They’re strong girls, brave. They’ll
make good slaves.”
skipped a beat. Kind Tem’n had never had a cross word to say to any woman, and
now he wished to enslave her and her sisters? Such a life would be intolerable
for any among the People. They were free, roaming where they willed, their only
limits their need for food, shelter, and protection from the wild beasts and
other people. How could anybody wish to deprive her and her sisters of that freedom,
The men moved
away, their conversation dwindling into murmurs too low for Kiya to understand.
She waited and watched, biding her time. The men disappeared into a shelter on
the far side of the camp. The moon’s light dimmed, throwing the area around her
into shadow. She glanced up. A cloud, a large, dark one, fully covered the
bright moon. It would give her just enough time.
forward as quietly as she could along the hard-packed earth, her eyes scanning
the darkness, and stopped beside the two still forms. Mother’s eyes stared
blindly into the sky. Something dark covered one side of her head, her life
force, surely. Beside her, Father rested on his stomach. Kiya edged her fingers
along the back of his head and encountered a dent the size of her fist among
the sticky strands of his dark hair.
alerted her to another person’s presence. Kiya crouched low, scanning the
encampment. It came again, and this time she pinpointed it precisely. The
whimpers were coming from her, from her own mouth. She bit into the side of her
hand and closed her eyes, and a storm of sorrow whirled through her. Mother and
Father, dead. The women of the People bound by their men. Five of her sisters
enslaved, and one alone in the dark.
And she, barely
fourteen seasons, had no guidance, no voice in her heart, no vision sent by the
Lady illuminating the path Kiya must take.
down her face over her hand. She sat there for long moments, rocking slowly to
and fro, her heart pounding and her breaths uneven. She couldn’t do anything
about Mother and Father. Their spirits were long gone now, lost to the Seven as
surely as if they’d been taken by An. There were too many men to free all the
women, too many for one lone woman to counter, but she could at least try to
free her sisters.
She released her
hand and ignored the throb of teeth marks imprinted into the skin. Her spear.
She’d need that if the men had left a guard. She grasped it firmly and inched
across the ground toward Mother and Father’s shelter.
A sliver of
light peeked out from under the edge of the opening flap, barely enough to see
by. Kiya shifted onto her haunches beside the flap and lifted it aside a scant
hand’s breadth. A fire crackled in the center, its edges delineated by stacked
stones. Her sisters huddled together on the far side, their eyes wide. Kiya
squinted and eased upright slightly. Their hands were in front of them, maybe
bound, maybe not.
A solitary man
passed between them and the fire. Thin, white scars marred his sun-darkened
skin, formed under the claws of the animals the People hunted, and under the
hands of their enemies. Kiya dropped the flap and put her back to the shelter. Young
Mol’k, one the fiercest warriors among the People. He was brutal and hard, and
so skilled, none could take him, not even the great beasts. She pressed
trembling fingers over her mouth and breathed a prayer to the Lady. She’d never
been to battle before, never faced man or beast except in practice, but her
sisters were in there, relegated to a fate as harsh as death. How could she
through her nose and exhaled through her mouth, again and again in slow draws,
willing her heart to calm and her mind to clear. Mol’k had her sisters. They
needed to be freed. Kiya was the only one left to help them. Whatever she must
do, so it must be.
She stood slowly
and gripped her spear, then slid into the shelter. In a single glance, she took
in her sisters’ frightened faces, their hands and feet bound in front of them,
and the man standing between her and them.
facing her. His lower body was clad in leather breeches, his feet were bare
under the hem, and the muscles of his upper body rippled as he moved. “We’ve
been looking for you, Kiya.”
“I was on
watch.” She rolled her shoulders. “Why are my sisters bound?”
glittered in the firelight. A small smile twisted his lips. “I think you know
“You should join
Kiya bared her
teeth. “I think not.”
He laughed and
edged around the fire toward her, hands held out to his sides. “I always liked
your spirit. Come quietly, little one, and I’ll make sure your sisters go to
“Will you?” she
murmured. “And what of me?”
widened. “I’ve already claimed you.”
“No one will
challenge me. Who would dare?” He inched his way forward, drawing ever closer,
and Kiya’s hand tightened around the shaft of the spear. He wiggled his
fingers. “Give me the spear, little one. Think of your sisters. Think of the
life you could have with me. I’ll protect you and the children we make, this I
Lilleni shook her head slowly, barely moving it from side to side.
Kiya focused on Mol’k,
on his size and strength, on his unwavering smile. She lowered the spear and
loosened her grip. “You’re a good man, Mol’k.”
“Kiya, no!” Eleni
cried, and Bagda rammed her shoulder into her sister’s arm.
respected you,” Kiya continued, and gathered her courage for what must be done.
“If I give myself to you, can you guarantee my sisters’ safety?”
her head, hiding the tears streaming down her face, her shoulders heaving in
silent sobs. Kiya’s sisters leaned their heads together, Bagda with her dark,
steady eyes on Kiya. She lifted her hand, flashing a stone-bladed knife, and
Kiya jerked her attention to Mol’k.
everything I can.” He stepped forward, closing the distance between them, and
held a hand out. “Give me the spear, Kiya. Let me help you.”
“I’ll give you
the spear in exchange for a kiss. I’ve never…” She cleared her throat and shoved
down the nerves biting her insides. “I’ve never lain with a man.”