Authors: Lynn Ray Lewis
Tremble Island Series
by Lynn Ray Lewis
© Copyright February 2014 JK Publishing, Inc.
ISBN # 9781310147494
All cover art and logo © Copyright February 2014 by JK Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Edited by Caroline Kirby
Artwork by Jess Buffett
Published by JK Publishing, Inc.
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This book is dedicated to my best friend—work, Woman, work !
Table of Contents
Demons take me, these people are more wary of me than any virgin facing a horde of sex crazed Demons. No one has been abused; not a man, woman or child has gone without a full belly, and a roof over their heads with a warm fire to comfort them. Yet here we sit, with little cooperation and less regard than they might give a passing flutterby,” Hawk said to his friend and comrade in arms, Con.
The citizens of the newly renamed, Hawk’s Nest, Hall of Care, were not impressed with the improvements he had made to make their lives easier. Every request was met with blank looks until he was forced to make his requests into orders. It was past time these people showed some incentive. He was not their parent, but it appeared he might be forced to use harsher measures in his day-to-day dealings with them. He’d started with the uneducated children running like ants through the village. They needed to learn to read and cipher. If the parents would not teach them, by damned he would see to it.
Establishing a school was a task in itself. He found that few adults in the village had the ability to read at all. The former lord had not encouraged education other than the necessary trades that made his life comfortable. He ordered a larger building to be built and established his first decree as Lord Hawk. Every child would learn at least the basics. At first the villagers ignored this directive. He grew so frustrated by their ignorance that he set the soldiers that remained from Lord Tremble’s generosity, to routing the children from their huts. Children were forcibly removed and taken to the school building each morning where they began to learn lessons necessary for the continued growth and well being of the Hall. The children thrived, they began to participate in the learning process, and had a safe place to stay while their parents learned that no one was allowed to remain shiftless in their community.
“While I’ve little doubt in my mind that the Demons will take you upon your demise, my friend, maybe we should think about the business of finding a mate. Perhaps a stronger hold in the community is what will be needed to solidify your claim to this fertile place. Nature knows you have tried almost every other way of going about gaining trust and respect. Be comforted that the women of the place enjoy full bellies and hearty children, or your machinations would have been for nothing.” Con clapped his friend on the shoulder, “At least they are not still attempting to kill you, so it’s a good day, my friend, a very good day.”
Women were set to gardening and preserving the fruits of their labors. A crone was drafted to teach herbal use to any who wished to know the secrets of her medicinals. Twice Hawk had been the recipient of that new knowledge. Someone had poisoned his meal on those occasions. The first time, he had vomited the meal as soon as he had eaten it, there had been no time for him to move from the table before the poisons made their way out of his mouth. The second time, he lay in bed with chills and feeling as if death would be a welcome alternative to the way his body hurt. Three days he lay there with the bare minimum of care, and that had been administered by the soldiers, only two women had shown their faces during those days. One had spite in her eyes, as the head cook at the Hall, she’d come to see if he needed any food from the kitchens to further his recovery. The other displayed wary concern.
The next meal that he took in the Hall had been the last time someone tried to kill him by poisoning him. He ordered the spitefull looking woman’s children be present at the meal and brought her first born son to sit next to him to talk while they ate. When he offered the child his own meal, explaining that he was not hungry, but knew growing children were always hungry, most of the crowd laughed. The first bite the child tried to put into his mouth was slapped from his hand by a woman that worked in the kitchen. She tried to talk her actions away by saying that Lord Hawk was weak and needed to eat, but the damage had been done. The boy was given a new plate of food and the woman was residing in the dungeon awaiting her fate for attempting to kill her Overlord until this morning. She refused to say why the attempts were made or who her co-conspirators were, until she did, she would stay imprisoned. He was tired of the continued defiance and told her that she would be taken to Tremble Castle for judgement. She was found dead by the guard sent to give her food to break her fast. She hung herself on the chains that were embedded into the wall of her cell. Hawk believed she had help going into the eternal darkness, but could not prove his theory. The fact that one of the nighttime guards happened to be a villager turned soldier, bore consideration.
It had been six months since Hawk received the title of Lord Hawk, Overlord of Hawk’s Nest on Tremble Island. He was appointed by the Lord of Tremble Isle himself, and he understood the importance of being the caretaker of one of the twelve Halls of Care.
In that time he had settled the villagers and shifters into a daily routine of living without fear of their Overlord. He had first asked for volunteers to join the guards and soldiers for the Hall, its surrounding village, and countryside. The men were understandably wary and few stepped up to fill the need. Lord Tremble had thoughtfully left ten of the castle’s soldiers with him to get the Hall in order. Three of them, all shifters, decided to stay and make lives in this place. The others would be leaving for the castle within the month. Forcing men into service to the Hall was not something he wished to do.
Families that had escaped from the Hall before Lord Tremble attacked and won the battle for control, were being repatriated and should be returning within weeks. The lack of soldiers would bring the entire force of Hawk’s Nest to ten. The low number was unacceptable. Hawk’s Nest was a large holding with several hundred people within its scope. Ten soldiers would be a mere laugh should the Hall be attacked.
Now there were five women standing before him requesting his indulgence in their wish to become soldiers. Two of the five were human, the other three were wolf and owls. The three shifters were sisters and were not willing to bow to another despotic Overlord. The human women seemed harmless until he told them that he feared they might be weaker than the men they would fight against. Where the shifters could take flight on silent wings, the humans would be direct targets. He was surprised when one of the women held out her hand to him. When he took her hand, she curled her fingers over his wrist and somehow yanked him over her shoulder. He was left sitting on his ass in the dirt with her boot at his neck, as her counterpart grabbed his balls in her hand with enough pressure to assure him that she could damage his chances of fathering children.
He actually had no reason to exclude the women from service to the Hall. He had put each of them separately through their paces and found them to be extremely intelligent and eager to learn to fight and defend. He could imagine the teasing that he would get from his peers about this, but he was desperate, and they were competent.
“You have all displayed proficiency and a willingness to defend this Hall, and its entire people. Perhaps taking you on as soldiers will set a trend on the island. You will train with the Forces from Tremble Castle until further notice.” Somewhere in the back of his brain, a plot was hatching. A force of women would be one element of surprise that no enemy would be expecting, no matter the gossip. No male wanted to do battle in a harmful way with a woman. Believing their own strengths would make an enemy vulnerable to defeat. An Army of females, especially if they were trained secretly, under the cover of darkness and moonlight, could be just what Hawk’s Nest needed. The humans would need to hone their senses, but the result would be worth the pain they would feel from being attacked unaware. Any man who wanted to join the ranks out of ego, or spite, would have to best the female’s best fighter after they were trained.
His brain began formulating a plan. They would need a healer, and more women, many more women. Any man, other than the ones who had already stepped up for service, would be assigned to a female as her second. If the men of this Hall wanted to play the coward, then they would assume the role that had been given to women in the past. He found himself rubbing his hands in anticipation.
“I have made a decision. Each of you are to come back tomorrow morning before sunrise with two other women who might wish to join. I want no females with toddling children, nor any women under the age of sixteen years. We will require the services of a healer or witch woman too. Older, less limber women can assume a support position if they choose.”
The females nodded to his decree. Some had small smiles on their lips and others eyes were narrowed in thought. He knew they wondered what he was about. He wondered if he would be able to see this wicked plan through. There would be only one way to find out.
So began the Amazon forces of Hawks Nest. Wasting no time, he began training the women alongside the soldiers from Tremble. Since only five men from the village and surrounding area had volunteered to become part of Hawks Nest forces, they were given the same positions and trained at the same time as the females. No man liked to be bested by a female, but they frequently found themselves in the dirt with a sore ass, or worse. After training each night the men and women went their separate ways. There was no seducing going on to change the status from fierce competitor into a lovelorn kissy faced lover, or worse, a parent. Women who joined knew the consequences—if they indulged in carnal delights and got pregnant, they were sent back to the village to raise that child.
ix months later
Leaders began to emerge from the initial five women. Only one had failed to become the physically fit defender she wished to be, yet she was handy with other necessary jobs to keep the soldiers skills in top condition. She was one of the humans who had handily tossed their Lord Hawk onto his ass the day they met. No one knew why her heart began to feel as if it would burst in her chest each time she exerted herself beyond a leisurely stroll. The healers called it Heart Failure. Some foolish soldiers had whispered under their breath, that her inability to physically keep up with the others was cowardice. They learned to keep such thoughts behind their teeth. The woman refused to back down and often was seen setting an opponent on their ass with little or no loss of breath on her part. She used her knowledge of the nerves under the skin of a human’s body form to win her point. One such opponent learned to stay away from her clever fingers after she pressed them into the flesh at her neck, the woman dropped in her tracks at the feet of the weaker woman. Her physical appearance began to age rapidly after she was almost drowned during a training exercise. At the time, she had told of feeling arms embrace her in an attempt to hold her on the bottom of the lake. She said that while she struggled, she felt a hard push, as if something had invaded her flesh, yet no cuts or stab wounds could be found on her body once Lord Hawk pulled her from the deep lake. A thin blue line decorated the side of her temple resembling a bruise was the only mark on her. Since that time, the blue color had spread to encompass the entire side of her face.
Her name was Fern. Most referred to her as a walking spirit. She was not a beautiful woman by any means. Her hair was red in color, her face was strangely pushed up on one side with the left cheekbone a half inch higher than its counterpart. Her eyes were a strange orange in color and her body became bent as time passed. Her age was twenty-seven, yet her appearance was that of an eighty year old. With each episode that weakened her more physically, the older she looked. The near death had honed her psychic abilities to perfection, as she became one of Hawk’s closest allies. Her mind was sharp, and Hawk allowed her to pick two women to teach her secrets to, after Fern confided in him that her days were numbered, and she felt the need to pass her knowledge onto a new generation.
So far, only one candidate as apprentice to Fern had been chosen. The girl’s name was Flora, and she was a gifted female with Echo Witch abilities. She was a pretty little female with one very dark blue eye and one of the palest blue hue. Her hair was the color of autumn leaves, with a strange mixture of browns, reds, and golds woven throughout the stands of waist length hair. They became as Been and Went to the villagers. They were rarely to be seen separately. Hawk allowed the girl to attend his meetings with Fern when the woman wished to speak of things best said behind closed doors.