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First pages

Preface

Warfell, Fey and Tawnee risk their lives for justice and righteousness on an unforgiving world: Moon Aleutha. Despite their uncanny fighting skills and unusual propensity to attract evil, the girls truly wish for little less than a peaceful existence, and a family to love and grow. Unfortunately, the forces of darkness contrive over and again to destroy everything they painstakingly build.

Finally, within the interior of Salt Mountain, British, Danica, Tawnee and the Knights have found a defensible safehouse in which to live.

Over the years, they have grown apprehensive around the Spirit of Caelum Fey, the Aequitas Caelum Vindictis. The Specter has grown extremely powerful. He can traverse the infinite dimensions at will, affect matter with great force, speak with the dead and enter the minds of the living. Most disturbing, the Spirit has transported British, Danica and Tawnee to parallel dimensions to hunt and kill their other selves. The Aequitas Caelum then combines the consciousness of the two, enhancing the mental and physical strengths of the subject left alive. He has done this several times to save the life of Warfell and Shadoweye and though grateful each instance, the girls were forced to watch—the Spirit’s methods are brutal and horrific.

Oftentimes, British and her Knights do not know exactly where they stand. All of them are cold-blooded killers themselves, no shame there—they just aim for those who have it coming and try their best to do the right thing.

The Tiborean Prince, Aaron Blackheart, miscarried his attempt to kill the Seven Devils. In the end, it was Shadoweye who ended the life of the tyrant, preempting the designs of the Aequitas Caelum Vindictus to take that kill for himself. British and the Knights foolishly conspired to destroy the Spirit who in their eyes was becoming evil and growing more powerful by the day—they failed as well.

After defeating Prince Aaron’s Assassins on the mountain and confronted with a rogue Arenthian stalking Danica, the Aequitas Caelum singled out Tawnee in the aftermath, kidnapping her Soul and placing it in an alternate dimension with intent to kill her. He was overwhelmed by the ferocity of Shadoweye, gravely underestimating as well, the additional consciousness of a meditative savant he had shoved into her mind…

 

Streets of Moor, Parallel Dimension

 

Tawnee held her scimitar with a white-knuckle grip, blood coursing down the metal of the blade to the street. She stood three paces from Caelum Fey, now down on the brick and holding his side, barely fisting his weapon.

Stay down asshole, she recited to her mind knowing well he could hear her. She took a cautious step to the side.

Fey violently struck his Thronesword on the broken pavement as if to cut it, lifting his face aloft, gritting his teeth in rage and torment from the critical stab in his side.

“Shadoweye—why—do you—despise me so?” he asked between ragged breaths.

“This I do not Sir,” Tawnee backed away with sudden distrust. She knew how powerful the Aequitas Caelum was. The next wave of fighting was surely seconds away.

“But then—why?”

Why has is now wandering in the darkness Sir. Perhaps this question is yours to ponder,” Tawnee blinked her eyes and a girl appeared next to her—a teenage doppelganger of herself, a gifted master in the meditative arts. “Her name is Tara Shadowfall Sir. You murdered this innocent teenage girl in cold blood and pushed her terrified consciousness inside mine own.”

“Giving you the power to do this to me,” Caelum Fey mumbled, rising to a knee.

“No,” Tawnee scoffed, “hardly Sir. I know you can leave this dimension at any time you wish. Thus my question to you—why?”

She took yet another step back, tossing a bloody arm across Tara’s chest as Caelum Fey rose to a stand and spun the crossbars of his Thronesword in his grasp. The powerful Spirit stood tall on the street, his wounds now gone, his subterfuge dissolving with the cold winter wind through the blackened streets of Moor.

“You are very wise Shadow. Will you take care of British for me?”

Tawnee did not know what to say.

“Of course she will. We both will,” the girl Tara spoke, gently pushing Tawnee’s arm down.

“Are you going somewhere?” asked Tawnee.

“Far away from you Shadow…far away,” the Spirit replied, sheathing his sword and casting eyes to the city skyline. “I will always keep a small tether to my consciousness on your plane of existence, listening for your call should you or the others ever need me.”

”Why do your words seem so hollow?” Tawnee asked, though she knew her answer.

“Mark me Tawnee Shadoweye,” the form of a living man began to fade away. The voice changed into the morbid scrawl of the Aequitas Caelum:

She will betray the Knights, the Second Dynasty heir. Follow the blood Shadow—follow the trail of the blood.

The image disappeared and Tawnee faced Tara.

“What do you suppose that meant?” she asked.

“I do not know, yet, but I will find out Tawnee. He’s gone now. Open your eyes sister, your true eyes, your waking eyes.”

“Thank you Tara,” Shadoweye took a deep breath and hugged Tara tight.

“Will you kiss British for me?” Tara breathed her whispered question to Tawnee’s ear in the background of the dissolving dream. “For me, from me, please?”

“I will my friend, I promise.”

 

Three weeks later, far away from Salt Mountain

 

TOMMY REINED THE Roan in tight and left, squeezing his legs and leaning forward to the soft mane, urging the sprint to get clear of the road. They made the high brush just in time, the rider leaping from the saddle and twisting, taking a face full of nettles as thousands of leafy branches suspended him mid-air on his back.

He lie in frozen silence with hands to grip and pommel as the small caravan of unknowns rolled by—hoof beats belying six riders and two wagons, no armor or heavy weapons. Most likely, they were farmers done for the day, returning somewhere warm and safe.

Warm, that’s a good one—safe, even better.

Why am I doing this again? he asked himself, staring at a lone pinkish-white cloud beyond the thorny cone bushes he was pin-cushioned upon.

“For love and little else—and living—I like being alive,” he whispered back to the distant puff of airborne water molecules.

His mare snorted when it was safe to stand and mount, jerking her snout up and down for punctuation. The Black Racer of six seasons had no name—Tawnee never titled the noble beast despite her long history with the Knights, having been there from the beginning seeing things most human beings cannot fathom.

“Thanks girl,” Tommy stood, tromping free of the underbrush with one hand on the saddle, reminding himself to remove that saddle before he slept and hide it somewhere good. He was the last of the Salt Knights to strap all that leather to his horse’s chest—always insisting the need to bring extra stuff along—just in case, when in reality he simply wasn’t a very good rider. Master Po, (who never rode) took care to remind him constantly that the true warrior needs only his chosen weapon. ‘Not even a toothpick?’ became Tommy’s standard response, followed by ‘canteen!’ The Snowman was never very good with men in robes…

He had to stay out of sight, even second-hand sight. Locals remembered strangers traveling the countryside, and if Tom Snow knew anything it was how to disappear from the face of the moon.

Chicken-butt, his thoughts smacked him aside the head like an evil stepbrother.

Who in the universe would have known these things were aggressively territorial—possessive like nothing imaginable?

A scholar would have, sissy, more thoughts with no intention of shutting up.

Truths—Tom liked being alive—he was not superhuman—people who are really suck—especially when they find out that, you are in love with their new girl.

He leaped to the road, spinning about on a boot heel and bowing to his horse as though she were the Duchess of Equestria.

“Faire Dane tis I what?—what did you say you tall skinny prick?—Oooooh—Faire Dane my freakin’ freckled ass,” Tommy held the mare’s cheek, moving closer to kiss her until the intelligent equine jerked her nose away, sensing his overplayed theatrics and wishing no role in them.

“Oh, right, just kidding girl,” he looked about embarrassed before the trees, and then kept his eyes to the gravel until she nudged him, nose to shoulder.

“Forgive me?” he asked and the mare nudged again, turning broadside of him for an easy mount. He vaulted aboard, being careful not to jerk the saddle as his boot left the ground out of respect.

“Right, let’s find us a good enough place to get some sleep, c’mon girl,” he clicked tongue to teeth twice. “I know a Safehouse in the next town.”

 

Southern foot of Salt Mountain

 

Arenthians can sleep for a very, very long time, entering a stasis of metabolism unparalleled by any multicellular creature known to man—living or extant. They typically bury themselves for safety but can perform the cellular shutdowns in any environ; oxygen poor, searing heat, underwater, even allowing the body to freeze solid.

This is what Iris was doing, lodging her frame in the branches of a Sequoia at two hundred feet, closing her eyes yet opening her advanced senses of smell wide to the world from the southern side of the Mighty Salt. She settled down for the long cold winter in the Evergreen folds.

Why are weh doing this? She asked herself before drifting away.

Cause weh love her fool—cause weh love her, the answer came with an anxious calm and the sparkle of darkness…

 

Moor, Golden Goblet Pub, Private Gambling Room

 

“You asked to see me Mister?” Jesoa leaned in slightly—a powerful Crime Lord deserving a swift reply.

“Call me Nigel. I thank you for your time my good fellow,” Nigel leaned forward himself. “I’m looking for a handsome chap. He may have passed through here.”

“Name?”

“Thomas, Thomas Barrow Snow,” the inquisitor leaned back in the padded chair with the gleam of confidence and knowledge. Jesoa studied the tall, thin man with pitch-black hair—long hair, too long for a man in Jesoa’s mindset.

“One of the Seven Devils?”

“Come again good fellow?”

“This title is unfamiliar to you?” Jesoa furrowed his brows. “What about Warfell and Fey?”

“Nona…I am from a decidedly different locale. May I ask once more with clarity and richness in the voice? Have you seen or hast thou heard of a Dandy Gentleman, one Thomas Barrow of the Snow?”

“No,” Jesoa set his stein of black lager down on the thick plank table, smiled and moved a hand to his thigh. “Can’t say as I have—we’re done here, Sir Nigel.” Now Jesoa leaned back, his hand a microsecond from his shotgun, waiting for the twitch he knew was coming.

The fancy man with pale skin and a woman’s raven locks smiled back. He retorted with no heir of malevolence whatsoever.

“Ah brava! Tis I wot gootenaub…”

“Excuse me?”

“Wait, please wait. Forgive me my good fellow. It becomes me easily, slipping to the old tongue and the old ways. On such a fade as this, I might would make a meal of you, though I must confess a kinder taste for the softer flesh femalia. ”

Jesoa formed the thought to reach for the sawed-off beneath the table, but the room suddenly began spinning, ceiling and floor flashing through Jesoa’s already fading eyes until his rolling head struck the wall and came to a stop.

A pale expectant face suddenly filled Jesoa’s sideways view of the baseboards.

“Blink for me if you actually did see this chap.”

He blinked.

The wraith-like man quickly grabbed the severed head by the hair, holding it face to face.

“Once more for north? Was he heading north, ello-ello? Saloo? To the north—saloo?” said the strange man, shaking the skull like a broken toy, tapping the temple a few times and finally throwing it at the fireplace with a flash of sparks and a curse of regret.

Perhaps he should have asked nicer. North it would be anyway—Nigel was on to a faint scent.

 

Whiterock, Warfell’s Darkened Quarters

 

“Are you coming today partner?”

“No.”

“Rarity needs to be ridden sweetie—he misses you horrible.”

“No thank you,” answered to the marble floor.

“Tawnee is up and around—she’s coming.”

“I don’t wish it British, please leave me be one for now.”

“Sure honey, I’m sorry—can I get you anything from town?”

“Bring me a bird?” the platinum strands rose slightly.

“You bet Danica.”

 

 

 

The Winter Wasp

Faith, I find to be

A fool’s fiction fable, the

Sworn Oaths supplanted so easily.

With me

Set forth the cunning edge.

Stand at my side, and

Drink of that crimson knowledge

Faith, I find to be

The blinded wraith of an equifade,

Sweet-sanctioned uncertainty

With me

Follow the fantastic feel

Of the deep hollow, the glistening tide gallows,

The fist and the faithless steel.

 British Fey

 

Pine Valley, Northern Outpost

 

“What can Jimbo do for ya?”

“I want to charter an expedition into the Old City,” the road-worn traveler bellied up to the counter of Jimbo’s Gun Shack. The meaty woman across the glass nodded wisely to his request, pushing forth pen and paper.

“How many?” she asked.

“Just me Jim.”

“Jim is a boy’s name, my name is Jimbo, and one person is not an expedition. Do you need a guide for the passes?”

“No thanks, I’ll rephrase, I need gear for the mountain climes, a hearty bear cloak, and a wrap for my horse. I need jerky and grain, whiskey, and a large pack.” Tommy intended to carry the extra gear on his back for a change.

“Horseshoes?”

“Negative, I keep her hooves clean with every stop, but I’ll take some padded socks for her if you have them.”

“I do, Jimbo is impressed.”

“Also, my friends said you can hook me up with a safe place to sleep?”

“Really? And which friends would that be?”

“British and Danica, Danica War—”

“Come through here,” Jimbo interrupted, motioning her instant friend behind the counter. “I’ll bring your mount around back myself. Shhh, through here with me before someone sees you!”

“Tom Snow,” said the traveler with a quick outstretched palm. She recognized the name and clasp the hand tight, hustling her new charge to an interior hallway.

“You are one of the Seven—Jimbo has your back my friend—are you hungry?”

This was the first time that card was being played and Jimbo was proud to help any friend of the girls who made her very wealthy not five years past, bringing her family out of poverty with a single transaction.

“Starving,” Snowman finally relaxed after three weeks hiding on the road as Jimbo guided him down the quiet passage. He thought he smelled stew cooking.

 

In a back room, Tommy gulped down the warm food with gusto.

“You were not kidding,” Jimbo took a seat across the small table and lit a rolled vine.

“Yeah, I’ve been hiding from the public eye.”

“Jimbo would ask why?”

“Long story.”

“Jimbo has clearance.”

“I guess you would. Well, Danica is being courted by an Arenthian.”

“Miss Iris?” the weighty woman’s eyes glinted with Sapphic expectation.

“No, a male,” Jimbo’s shoulders slumped in disappointment to Tom’s answer.

“Wow, but why are you hiding?”

“Because he is actively hunting me.”

“Because you like her?”

“Love—yeah—that’s the long and short.”

“Well settle in and rest my friend who’s in love. You are safe here. I need to take care of your mount and assemble your supplies. I’ll check in on you in a little while,” Jimbo smiled warm and left him there. Tommy moved to a couch, set his head down and fell immediately asleep.

He dreamed of blood, death, and the Aequitas Caelum…

 

Why are you going to the Old City? Are you pushing destiny’s shoulders?

 

The question resounded through the slumber. Tom knew it was the Spirit.

“I want to see it once again—I need a safe place to hide,” his dream consciousness answered.

 

The old man with silver hair and blue eyes—his Deerhounds! It fears them! I have prepared one for you—watch for the single eye—give all of your gems and coin for him…

 

Tommy bolted upright, sweat raging over his face, heart pounding in his chest.

“Okay that was weird,” he whispered to himself and checked his timepiece. “Nine hours? Crap!” he leaped to a stand.

 

Outskirts, Throne of Steel Citadel Ruins

 

A lone tear froze on Tom’s cheek as he hiked the road carefully, examining the empty buildings and structures of the once vibrant Old City. Seven weeks he lived here—seemed like seven lifetimes.

“Hello Captain,” Tommy whispered to the blackened threshold of the Dormitory where he first bumped into his new Commanding Officer—Danica Warfell. She was beautiful, yet Captain Warfell was on the edge, beset with the rage of war and the streamlined seriousness of channeled anger towards her men and women. All good Captains carried this heir of urgency and Danica was no exception.

He remembered she looked him up and down like a side of Elk for the spit, and then barked her orders concisely. Tommy jumped at her voice, because he knew Captain Warfell was the best.

Her Company was known as the Winter Wasp, a singular precision strike force. Tommy was her new Lieutenant—the last one didn’t make the cut.

But Tom Snow knew a few things. His own Company fought fiercely on the same field with Warfell and the Wasp several times now, even taking moments to watch her fight, admiring her calculated paths of destruction, and the rage…her immutable rage.

Once, he deflected an arrow, and the tall white-haired beauty gave him a glance of gratitude…

Who would have known he would walk away from the bowels of White Mountain at her side—friends bonded for life—having just…

“Well, we killed them all girl,” Tom whispered to Tawnee’s six season Roan as they walked passed the abandoned Infirmary. “Slayed every single one; even the galley staff,” he wiped his eye with the back of a gloved hand. “Warfell did the women. I killed the old men myself—gods I am so sorry.”

Tommy fell to his knees—the snowfall strengthened to whispered flurries and tight spiral gusts. The wise Roan nudged him firmly, leaving the long nose pressing against his back, pushing Tommy to a stand in the snow.

“Sorry, we need to find a wind-break, c’mon girl,” back to business.

 

Jimbo’s Gun Shack

 

“There it is—sweet horror—I so adore this Jimbo. I know you can feel it because I can smell it, you are about to die and you are frightened, yes? Frightened more than ever before?”

Jimbo could brawl with the best and she just did. Bless her heart she put up a fight. Her shop was destroyed—blood and broken glass lay everywhere.

“Aaaaaaah, I wish it could last forever—this is a rush—tell me you feel it too?”

Jimbo couldn’t speak, couldn’t break the chokehold, her vision fading, the final snaps and cracks of her neck painless…the terror finally subsiding.

She didn’t tell him a thing and it didn’t matter anyway, the scent of his prey was crisp in the air—very close.


Back at the Citadel ruins, Tommy found an old ammo shed that was free of the harsh wind. He brought the six season Roan inside and immediately started grooming her, beginning with hooves. As he worked sitting on a crate, Tom narrated to the horse what his first days were like.

*

Captain Warfell stood before the Commanders of the Citadel with Tom behind her, to the right. Her First Lieutenant, a young warrior woman named Selene stood tall behind and to the left. Selene did not like Tom Snow, seemed Warfell didn’t either.

“My Lords, the Wasp needs time to train,” Danica placed her scarred hands on the wide conference desk. “Certain, liabilities,” she glanced back to Tom, “are hindering our solidarity as a team.”

Okay that hurt—liability?

“Captain, General Hamstead has called for an Emissary to gather at White Mountain in six weeks. Warfell, they are talking about a treaty. Our intelligence says the Moorian Nationals are poised for surrender; so harsh this winter has been.”

“My wise Elders, I would exercise ultimate caution with Hamstead’s Brigade.”

“This is why the Winter Wasp has been chosen as Security for the detachment. This is a diplomatic mission Captain.”

“Aye my Good Lords,” Danica Tom and Selene bowed respectfully. “May I ask Sir, will the Wasp retain its Charter?”

“Oh gods yes Captain. If you see or even feel something is amiss, your duty is to the protection of the Crown and its Officers. Act, don’t ask.”

“Thank you my Lords. We serve with honor,” Warfell stood tall and snapped fingers for her First and Second. The three turned to leave.

“And Captain?” One of the Elders called forth as they hit the threshold.

“Yes Sir?” Danica turned to give the room her full attention.

“Bring your squad up to speed quickly, we leave on the Eventide fade. Your new Lieutenant comes well recommended, please don’t kill him on the first day?”

“Aye my Lord, we will be ready.”


Training under Captain Warfell was a shock. Tommy was a five-year Veteran, broken down to clacking knives on the sparring deck and pumping out push-ups in the snow. Clearly, his new Captain was a fundamentalist.

“Hungry?” Warfell asked.

“I eat this shit for breakfast Sir!” replied Tommy as he pushed his body away from the ground over and again like a ticking clock.

“Good,” Warfell placed a boot on his back adding fifty pounds easy. “I am a woman—chow is in ten,” she removed her foot. “Get up LT, nobody misses a meal, come with me.”

Tommy bounced to a stand, snatched his Longsword and followed.

As they walked to the bay doors of the Citadel, Warfell asked a few questions.

“Didn’t I see you on the Greens of Moor?”

“I was there Sir.”

“I am a woman Snow.”

“Sorry.”

“I remember you—Bravo Company—Captain?”

“Stone.”

“Right, good chap Stone was. Snow, I need you to be sharp. Selene and I will not tolerate second best. The Winter Wasp is an elite Company; these are the best Swordsmen the Throne of Steel possesses, understand?”

“Aye Captain.”

“Good. Now what is your weapon of choice?”

“Masters Longfoil and Poniard,” Tom said it and the tall Captain stopped cold on the steps.

“Really?“ her disappointment was obvious. Many believed the Foil an inconsequential weapon for open-field combat, Warfell notwithstanding.

“I excel with the stinger, but carry the Mighty Thronesword to the field Sir—Ma’am—Captain,” Tommy touched the pommel of the Throne of Steel Longsword at his side.

“Stinger—that what you call it?”

“Aye Captain.”

“Okay, we will see on the equifade sparring deck. Bring your little needles—for now, get in there and eat,” Danica motioned with two fingers. “And drink the green shit, I insist.”

“Aye Captain,” Tom was starving. He ducked away before his new Commander changed her mind.


“Gods of Shit!” Tommy twisted his face in pain, setting the glass of green liquid down carefully. Chopped up leaves? His mind queried, noting the chunks of plant matter floating in the horrid suspension he was supposed to down.

Screw it, he picked the pine brew up and threw the tart fluid back, pretending it was whiskey or rot-gut alcohol.

“Bleeeeeaaaaaaah!” his entire body shook to the feel and the taste, the god-awful taste!

Others were watching, grinning, some laughing. Tommy took it in stride—part of barrack-life. Everyone got to see the newbie choke down the green stuff, yahoo. Tom glanced about to the men and women of the Winter Wasp, noting they all had tall glasses of the bitter juice. And they were drinking it like it was water or beer.

He also noted the muscles on each warrior—these soldiers were honed athletes—perhaps they were on to something.

Tommy was anxious to show his new Captain what he could do. No pressure, but he would need to be better than all of them, save the Captain and her First Lieutenant.

That evening fade, Snow took the massive wooden decking with feigned confidence. He’d been through worse; just have to take ‘em down with the basics. So they were in better shape, younger, eager—Tom knew he could do it.

The Winter Wasp was a team of hardened fighters, recruited from all over Aleutha, invited to join with rank, honors, and the responsibility to perform without question. Reconnaissance was for other squads—the Wasp possessed two duties—target elimination and protection of the Crown.

When needed, they were asked to surround the King for assemblies and addresses to the public. The security of the Throne’s Elders fell upon the Wasp as well. By the end of his first debrief, Tom could see that they were handling too much for a small Company with only twelve heads…maybe he could help with that.


“LT, this is our Chemist, Jacaranda,” Warfell announced Tom’s first opponent. “Use the pig stickers, I want to see them.”

“Aye Captain,” Snow moved to the gear table, set the Longsword down and raised his Foil and Poniard, turning to face Jacaranda, swinging a Scimitar side-to-side and low.

“Engage!” the Captain called out.

Tommy loved fighting Scimitars, especially ones with a deep curve in the blade. He approached the young Jacaranda with a hollow smile, knowing he would need to establish his superiority fast and without mercy.

The bent weapon came in spinning. Tom used the long Dirk in his left hand to direct the movements of the shining Scimitar, holding back on the Foil.

Five sharp contacts with the Poniard and the Snowman reversed his grip on the Foil and drove the balled pommel into Jacaranda’s solar-plexus, sending him to the wooden planking on his back, eyes wide to Ana in the night sky.

“Not bad,” Warfell snapped fingers. “This is Christy, my Demolition Expert,” the beautiful Captain held a palm to the pretty girl taking the steps as others dragged Jacaranda away. Christy had short-cut hair dyed a deep dark purple. She excised a Longsword and spun the weapon like a champ as she took position.

“Engage!” the Captain belted out with a grin.

This time, Tom charged in low and fast. But the woman with purple locks was good, using her Longsword crossbars to catch the whipping Foil and its dagger and toss them back.

Out of nowhere, Christy punched the Second Lieutenant in the face, jacking his head back to a flash of light. Tom leaped and rolled to gather a fast moment but Christy was there, bashing away with the heavy Longsword. Three blows deflected from a crouch and Tommy found his angle…

But he couldn’t kill her. He made the split-second decision and clipped the Longsword, twisting with both weapons and jerking the blade from Christy’s grip. Tom jumped back a pace and whipped the long steel wire across Christy’s eyes so fast it cracked the air with a sharp snap!

He pulled back on the facial strike and the Wasp’s Bomb-girl realized he could have blinded her easily. She stood there in shock and disbelief.

“Next!” said Danica. “LT, this is my Frontliner, Dontabole, just call him Bull.”

Snow could see why. Buggers, this man was massive! The Bull took the deck, pointing at the Second Lieutenant with a free hand and pulling a huge Greatsword with the other.

“Can I kill him boss?” the eight-foot giant of a man asked politely.

“By all means Bull, engage!”

What the Seven? Tommy thought as the gigantic man charged. No time for complaints, Snow leaped to the side and strafed Bull’s britches in the back, exposing his hairy butt to the winter wind on deck.

“Dammit! That’s not cool man!” Bull pulled his pants up with a quick glance of frustration to Warfell. When he looked back, the long thin tip of the Foil was on his thick neck.

“Looks like he got ya!” Warfell was smiling now. “Next! LT this is my other Frontliner—meet Jack.”

Tommy squared off with another brute, bigger than the Bull. This one had long black hair and the look of a barbarian.

“Jack is a Tribesman. He does not fight fair, which is why we love him,” Danica leaned back in her chair. “Engage!”

“Hey,” said Jack with the high-pitched voice of a child.

“How old are you?” Tom had to ask, noting the brute held nothing in his hands.

“Sixteen,” the warm reply, followed by, “RAAAAAAAAA!” the boy loped forward like an animal, pounding the deck with his impossibly huge fists and taking the air in an incredible bound.

“Oh my Gods of…” Tommy sprinted away like a chicken until a meat-hook paw found his arm and twisted him around, suddenly hoisting him in the air…

Fifteen feet off the ground, the boy named Jack smiled at Tom and then threw him across the sparring facility. A frozen moment of flight and Tom heard the screeching of the chairs on the tile as the group of observers scrambled the twenty feet to keep sight of the one-sided battle.

More like a beating! Tom thought from his elbows as Jack came crashing in with that child-like yell of his. He’s just a kid, more thoughts. Then treat him as one! the finalization in the Snowman’s mind.

He jumped, over the mass of muscles and bone, slapping the boy hard on the face as he passed beneath. Tommy rolled, crouched and then smacked the Foil’s edge over Jack’s buttocks, cutting through the suede and into the skin with sharp pain and a shout.

But it wasn’t enough just to spank the brute.

On the third charge, Tommy slashed his needle into the cheek, feigning the death-blow like lightning, pulling back on the thrust in time and rolling away to freedom as the giant clasped his face to stop the blood.

“STOP!” now Danica was standing. “Match!” she called the bout in favor of the LT. Danica saw it—damn right she did. “Jack, hit the infirmary now Son. Next! LT, this is my Scout, Theoneidon—call him The One, and don’t forget the ‘the’.

Tommy gathered his wind as Jack bounded from the stage with hands to face and a new opponent took the steps. He bore facial tats and drew a long thin, slightly curved Scimitar—looked like a Kotare—great.


Hours later, Tom sat across from Danica and Selene. He was exhausted, but did not let it show. On deck, he defeated them all with Warfell’s final proclamation that perhaps the Wasp could use a sharp stinger. This made the Snowman very proud indeed.

The Infirmary got a taste of Tom Snow’s presence that eve. He felt a little bad for cutting most of the team, but it had to be done. The men and women of the Wasp now knew he was nothing to be trifled with.

“Castamere and Wendee cover flush and frontliner logistics,” said Danica. They choreograph battles like stage directors, so learn their voices and always keep a third-ear peeled for those combat directions and sudden changes.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I live in Florida and take my family to the beach as much as I can. However, right now I am being held captive in my office at sword-point by two fictional characters: Danica Warfell and British Fey. Could someone send me a sandwich and maybe check on the wife and kid? Would you tell them I'm okay, we’re not ka-billionaires yet, I’m working on it and um, heh-heh, I uh may have lost control of my hobby?

Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
Amazon's JA Stone Author Page is an excellent source for my novels, poetry, promotions, freebies, artwork and coming events. You can also reach me at jastoneauthor2@gmail.com
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
I fell in love with Fantasy escapism through RA Salvatore, Fritz Lieber and Michael Moorcock. Xena fostered my love of female action heroes. I remember watching Dark Angel and thinking how utterly cool it was to see a small, dainty girl beat the living crap out of the bad guys...I was hooked!
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
A.
My small collective of fans insist that British Fey is a dead ringer for Ariana Grande, but with actual acting skills and martial arts mastery. I still favor Poppy Drayton from Shannara. For Danica Warfell it has always been Anna Torv from Fringe.

Next in:
Teen & Young Adult
All for Love
Contestants rebel on reality television show!
Feeders Shifters Faders
They have no idea who lurks, hunts and prowls
Faithless Steel
Steam-punk hybrid-fantasy