The Country Saga (A Dwellers sister series)



  
Series Information
 
Book 1- Fire Country
 
Book 2- Ice Country
 
Book 3- Water & Storm Country
 
Book 4- The Earth Dwellers (combined book 4 in the Dwellers Saga)
 
 
Fire Country Synopsis

In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer's even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely.

Due to toxic air, life expectancies are so low the only way the tribe can survive is by forcing women to procreate when they turn sixteen and every three years thereafter. It is their duty as Bearers.

Fifteen-year-old Siena is a Youngling, soon to be a Bearer, when she starts hearing rumors of another tribe of all women, called the Wild Ones. They are known to kidnap Youngling girls before the Call, the ceremony in which Bearers are given a husband with whom to bear children with.

As the desert sands run out on her life's hourglass, Siena must uncover the truth about the Wild Ones while untangling the web of lies and deceit her father has masterfully spun.


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Fire  Country: First Chapter Sneak Peek
 

When I’m sixteen and reach the midpoint of my life, I’ll have my first child. Not ’cause I want to, or ’cause I made a silly decision with a strapping young boy after sneaking a few sips of my father’s fire juice, but ’cause I must. It’s the Law of my people, the Heaters; a Law that’s kept us alive and thriving for many years. A Law I fear.


I learned all about the ways of the world when I turned seven: the bleeding time, what I would hafta do with a man when I turned sixteen, and how the baby—my baby—would grow inside me for nine full moons. Even though it all seemed like a hundred years distant at the time, I cried for two days. Now that it’s less’n a year away, I’m too scared to cry.

Veeva told me all ’bout the pain. She’s seventeen, and her baby’s five full moons old and “uglier’n one of the hairy ol’ warts on the Medicine Man’s feet.” Or at least that’s how she describes Polk. Me, I think he’s sorta cute, in a scrunched up, fat-cheeked kind of way. Well, anyway, she said to me, “Siena, you never felt pain so burnin’ fierce. I screamed and screamed…and then screamed some more. And then this ugly tug of a baby comes out all red-faced and oozy. And now I’m stuck with it.” I didn’t remind her Polk’s a him not an it.

I already knew about her screaming. Everyone in the village knew about Veeva’s screaming. She sounded like a three ton tug stuck in a bog hole. Veeva’s always cursing, too, throwing around words like burnin’ and searin’ and blaze—words that’d draw my father’s hand across my face like lightning if I ever let them slip out of my mouth like they’re nothing more’n common language.

In any case, everything she tells me about turning sixteen just makes me wish I didn’t hafta get older, could stay fifteen for the next seventeen or so years, until the Fire takes me.

It’s not fair, really, that boys get to wait until they’re eighteen ’fore their names get put in the Call. I’d kill for an extra two years of no baby.

Veeva told me something else, too, something they didn’t teach us when I was seven. She told me the only good part of it all was when she got to lie with her Call, a guy named Grunt, who everyone thinks is a bit of a shanker. I’ve personally never seen him do a lick of work, and he’s always coming up with some excuse or another to avoid the tug hunts. Well, Veeva told me that he makes up for all of that in the tent. Most of what she told me made my stomach curl, but she swore on the sun goddess that it was the best day of her life. To her, shanky ol’ Grunt is a real stallion.

But even if there was something good about turning sixteen, there’s still no guy in the village that I’d want to be my Call. I mean, most of them are so old and crusty, well on their ways to thirty, and even the youngest eligible men—the eighteen-year-olds—include guys like Grunt, who’ll also be eligible for my Call ’cause Veeva hasta wait another two years ’fore she can get child-big again. No matter how much of a stallion Veeva claims Grunt is, I don’t wanna get close enough to him to even smell his fire-juice-reekin’ breath, much less lie with him in a tent.

“Siena!” a voice whispers in my ear.

I flinch, startled to hear my name, snapping away from my thoughts like a dung beetle scurrying from a scorpion. Laughter crowds around me and I cringe. Not again. My daydreaming’s likely cost me another day on Shovel Duty, which we like to call Blaze Craze when our parents ain’t listening.

“Youngling Siena,” Teacher Mas says, “I asked you a question. Will you please grace us with an answer?” One of the only good things about turning sixteen’ll be not getting called “Youngling” anymore.

I feel twenty sets of eyes on me, and suddenly a speck of durt on my tugskin moccasins catches my attention. “Can you please repeat the question, Teacher?” I mumble to my feet, trying to sound as respectful as possible.

“Repeating the question will result in Shovel Duty, Siena, which will bring your total to four days, I believe.”

I stare at my feet, lips closed. I wonder if Teacher not repeating the question is an option, but I’m smart enough not to ask.

“The question I asked you was: What is the average life expectancy for a male in fire country?”

Stupid, stupid, stupid. It’s a question that any four-year-old Totter with half a brain could answer. It’s blaze that’s been shoveled into all our heads for the last eleven years. “Thirty years old,” I say, finally looking up. I keep my eyes trained forward, on Teacher Mas, ignoring the stares and the whispers from the other Younglings.

Teacher’s black hair is twisted into two braids, one on either side, hanging in front of his ears. His eyes are dark and slitted and although I can’t tell whether he’s looking at me, I know he is. “And females?” he asks.

“Thirty two,” I answer without hesitation. I take a deep breath and hold it, still feeling the stares and smirks on me, hoping Teacher’ll move on to someone else. The fierceness of the fiery noonday sun presses down on my forehead so hard it squeezes sweat out of my pores and into my eyes. It’s days like this I wish the Learning house had a roof, and not just three wobbly walls made from the logs of some tree the Greynotes, the elders of our village, bartered from the Icers, who are our closest neighbors. I blink rapidly, flinching when the perspiration burns my eyes like acid. Someone laughs, but I don’t know who.

Teacher speaks. “I ask you this not to test your knowledge, for clearly every Youngling in fire country knows this, but to ensure your understanding as to our ways, our traditions, our Laws.” Thankfully, the heads turn back to Teacher and I can let out the breath I been holding.

“Nice one, Sie,” Circ hisses from beside me.

I glance toward him, eyes narrowed. “You coulda helped me out,” I whisper back.

His deeply tanned face, darker’n-dark brown eyes, and bronzed lips are full of amusement. I hear what the other Younglings say about him: he’s the smokiest guy in the whole village. “I tried to, dreamer. It took me four tries to get your attention.”

Teacher Mas drones on. “Living in a world where each breath we take slowly kills us, where the Glass people kill us with their chariots of fire, where the Killers crave our blood, our flesh, where our neighbors, the people of ice country, are bound tenuously by a flimsy trade agreement, requires discipline, order, commitment. Each of you took a pledge when you turned twelve to uphold this order, to obey the Laws of our people. The Laws of fire country.”

Ugh—I’ve heard this all ’fore, so many times that if I hear one more mention of the Laws of fire country, I think I might scream. Nothing against them or anything, considering they were created to help us all survive, but ’tween my father and the Teachers, I’ve had enough of it.

Watching Teacher, I risk another whisper to Circ. “You coulda told me what question he asked.”

“Teacher would’ve heard—and then we’d both be on Blaze Craze.”

He’s right, not that I’ll admit it. Teacher doesn’t miss much. At least not with me. In the last full moon alone, I been caught daydreaming four times. Wait till my father finds out.

“The Wild Ones steal more and more of our precious daughters with each new season.” Teacher’s words catch my attention. The Wild Ones. I’ve never heard Teacher talk about them ’fore. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone talk about them, ’cept for us Younglings, with our rumors and gossip—not openly anyway. My head spins as I grapple with his words and my thoughts. The Wild Ones. My sister. The Wild Ones. Skye. Wild. Sis.

“It is obvious I have captured the attention of many of you Younglings,” Teacher continues. “It’s good to know I can still do that after all these years.” He laughs softly to himself. “Surely you have all heard rumors of the Wild Ones, descending on our village during the Call, snatching our new Bearers from our huts, our tents, and our campfires.” He pauses, looks around, his eyes lingering on mine. “Well, I’m here today to confirm that some of the rumors are true.”

I knew it, I think. My sister didn’t run away like everyone said. She was taken, against her will, to join the group of feral women who are wreaking havoc across fire country. The Wild Ones do exist.

“We hafta do something,” I accidentally say out loud, my thoughts spilling from my lips like intestines from a gutted tug’s stomach.

Once more, the room turns toward me, and I find myself investigating an odd-shaped rock on the dusty ground. Hawk, a thick-headed guy with more muscles’n brains, says, “What are you gonna do, Scrawny? You can’t even carry a full wash bucket.” My cheeks burn as I continue to study the rock, which sorta looks like a fist. In my peripheral vision, I see Circ give him a death stare.

“Watch it, Hawk,” Teacher says, “or you’ll earn your own shovel. In fact, Siena’s right.” I’m so shocked by his words that I forget about the rock and Hawk, and look up.

“I am?” I say, sinking further into the pit of stupidity I been digging all morning.

“Don’t sound so surprised, Siena. We all have a part to play in turning this around. We must be vigilant, must not allow ourselves even a speck of doubt that maintaining the traditions of our fathers is not the best thing for us.”

“I think the Wilds sound pretty smoky,” Hawk says from the back. There are a few giggles from some of the more shilty girls, and two of Hawk’s mates slap him on the back like he’s just made the joke of the year.

“What do we do, Teacher?” Farla, a soft-spoken girl, asks earnestly.

Teacher nods. “Now you’re asking the right questions. Two things: First, if you hear anything—anything at all—about the Wild Ones, tell your fathers; and second—”

“What about our mothers?” someone asks, interrupting.

“Excuse me?” Teacher Mas says, peering over the tops of the cross-legged Younglings to find the asker of the question.

“The mothers? You said to tell our fathers if we hear anything about the Wilds. Shouldn’t we tell our mothers, too?”

I look around to find who spoke. Lara. I shoulda known. She’s always stirring the kettle, both during Learning and Social time, with her radical ideas. She’s always saying crazy things about what girls should be allowed to do, like hunt and play feetball. My father’s always said she’s one to watch, whatever that means. I, for one, kinda like her. At least she’s never made fun of me, like most of t’others.

Her black hair is short, like a boy’s, buzzed almost to the scalp. Appalling. How she obtained her father’s permission for such a haircut is beyond me. But at least she’s not a shilt, like so many of the other girls who sneak behind the border tents and swap spit with whichever Youngling they think is the smokiest—although at least they’re not following the Law blindly either. I’ve always admired Lara’s blaze-on-me-and-I’ll-blaze-on-you attitude, although I’d never admit it for fear of my father finding out. He’d break out his favorite leather snapper for sure, the one that left the scars on my back when I was thirteen and thought skipping Learning to watch the Hunters sounded like a good idea.

“Tell your fathers first, and they can tell your mothers,” Teacher says quickly. “Where was I? Oh yes, the second thing you can do. If the Wilds, I mean the Wild Ones, approach you, try to convince you to leave, whisper their lies in your ear, resist them. Close your ears to them and run away, screaming your head off. That’s the best thing you can do.”

Pondering Teacher’s words, I look up at the sky, so big and red and monster-like, full of yellow-gray clouds as its claws, creeping down the horizon in streaks, practically scraping against the desert floor. And a single eye, blazing with fire—the eye of the sun goddess. It’s no wonder they call this place fire country.

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6 comments:

  1. I am looking forward to reading and becoming familiar with your work.

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    1. Aww thank you!!! I hope you like my books and I really appreciate your support :)

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  2. I read Fire Country a couple of weeks ago. It was an amazing book! Now one of my favorites!

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    1. Wow !! Thank you thank you thank you!!! *happy dance* If you haven't already, would you mind leaving a review on Amazon? Thank you SO MUCH!!!

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  3. Finished the 3 Dwellers book, just started fire, can't wait to see what's going to happen to Tristan and Adele in Earth dwellers!

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    Replies
    1. Amazing!!! Thank you so much for all your support, it means the world to me :)

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