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The Daughters of Men: The Nephilim Universe, #1

The Daughters of Men: The Nephilim Universe, #1

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The Daughters of Men: The Nephilim Universe, #1

Longueur:
311 pages
4 heures
Sortie:
Oct 13, 2017
ISBN:
9781386765899
Format:
Livre

Description

In the year 2255 Ellie Ovis finds herself in the unenviable position of being loved by Woden, the Nephilim Prince of the New York Region, staring lovingly into her eyes. A member of the Creed, Ellie wants nothing to do with this being whom she considers demon-spawn. She is already fighting her attraction to his best friend, the Nephilim rebel, Siddhart. But the upcoming annual Balance ritual and an incomprehensible prophecy declares that a stubborn Scarred Woman will bring Disruption to the Nephilim community. Ellie prides herself on her integrity, but, marriage to a Nephilim prince would excuse her from the ritual and probable death. There is no one more stubborn or scarred than Ellie. But could she really be the one who is fated to save the various humanoid populations of Earth? And would she really give up her faith and religion in order to bring salvation to the descendants of demons? 
The Daughters of Men is a fantasy novel about: 
1. Four types of humans -the clones, the bio-genetically engineered chimeras, the semi-demonic Nephilim, and "normal" humans. 
2. Three lovers - Woden, a Nephilim Prince; Siddhart, Woden's captain and rebellious best friend; and Ellie, the human Black woman they both love who may be fated to bring disaster or salvation to the Nephilim. 
3. Two prophecies - the prophecy of the stubborn Scarred Woman fated to bring Disruption, and the prophecy of the Beautiful One who will bring peace and salvation to the Nephililm. 
4. And one decision - Should Ellie marry Woden? Why does she resist? Why is she being so stubborn? Could it be that she is indeed the prophesied one? You bet she is.

Sortie:
Oct 13, 2017
ISBN:
9781386765899
Format:
Livre

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The Daughters of Men - Carole McDonnell

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Prologue

"THE DAUGHTERS OF MEN are beautiful. 

Lovely they are to look upon

Soft they are to hold. 

But from among the daughters of men,

A Scarred One will rise up.

Not gracious to look upon

Not beautiful to behold. 

Yet, of a well-beloved breaker of laws,

This Stubborn One will be well-beloved.

She it is who will bring disruption,

Cleaving Desolation and the Holy One."

– Canto 712 (The Ezran Edict) of the Nephilim Prophecies

Overseers or humans who wish to interpret the Ezran Edict should keep this one thing in mind: Interpretations of this prophecy hinge on the word cleaving which has two possible meanings: joining and separating. Ezra uttered this prophecy as he lay dying on the battlefield during the war of Resistance. It is agreed among the Forsaken that Ezra understood the complexity of the prophecy even as he spoke it.  But, that is all that is agreed upon.

– Gray Wolf’s commentary on The Ezran Edict.

The Warning on Otaura

PRINCE WODEN WAS NOT surprised that no official committee greeted him when he landed on Otaura. True, his arrival on the terraformed asteroid had been announced to all, but the Chimeras were like that. Indifferent to protocol at best; and hateful to Overseer Princes at their worst. Woden reminded himself that they could not be entirely blamed for their fate or nasty characteristics.

An angry mutated lot, the Chimera tended to turn their anger on everyone. The power and might, or weakness or impotence of their target didn’t matter. This and their genetic anomalies made it hard for all the other humanoid races to commiserate with them. Hell, the Chimeras were a self-loathing bunch, and they themselves knew how monstrous they were.

The standard humans hated and persecuted the Chimera, and the Chimeras could hardly despise the typical humans for despising them. As for the scientists who had created them, those idiots were all dead; the last one dying some hundred or so years ago. Why rage against the dead? And the Overseers like Woden, Phedon, and the others? Those symbols of perfection and beauty whom even the regular humans envied? If the Chimeras wished to be honest, they would have to admit that the Overseers had saved their hide – literally and figuratively– for over two hundred years now. And although the Chimeras hadn’t liked the idea of being carted off from earth, they had begun to like Otaura. It was their home, a nice little place, and the Overseers were generally more than pleased to leave them alone to rule themselves. Or destroy themselves, as the case may be.

Except, of course... Well, there was the whole business of the Ruling House, the three princesses, and Medusa.

Well, they’ll just have to accept Princess Medusa willingly, Woden thought. If they know what’s good for them and their world.

He dreaded a future where each mutated group warred against the other. The Race Wars that had occurred centuries ago still haunted him. All those dead humans, dead Chimera, dead clones, dead prototypes, decapitated Overseers. Death, death, death. But here. . .new life.

He stood on the landing platform beside Mercury, his pegasi, and waited for about forty-five minutes...earth time. When no one showed up, he re-mounted his pegasi and flew toward Phedon’s compound in the tropical region.

Traveling in the Otauran atmosphere around its equator, he pondered anew all the restoring work he and his fellow Overseers had accomplished on earth and in the solar system in their two hundred years. And of course, he pondered Otaura – Otaura whose terrain and climate were so differentiated, distinct and diverse.  As he flew through the blue sky, creatures below, on, and above the earth, the glories of the solar system, the wonders in the far-off galaxies and man-made and natural satellites—all seemed cloyed with wonder and beauty.

Perfect for the Chimeric humans. Whatever form or mutation the Chimeric tribe, each can find a home in Otaura’s cozy bosom.  The thought of bosoms flung his mind back to Ellie, the human woman he loved. She would be getting his invitation soon. She won’t like it, he thought. But there is no other way. I have tried to make her see clearly. And for a year she has refused me. But ...what if she refuses me? To the very end? Will she die rather than love me? No, no, she’s not so stubborn as to give up her life. She has common sense, after all. A living dog is better than a dead lion. And yet...if only she could love me of her own volition. Why must she force my hand?

No, he didn’t want to think of what would happen if she continued to refuse his love. He pushed his worry for her from his mind and studied the Chimera cities below his mechanical flying horse, Mercury.

Mercury was a thing of wonder, as all the pegasi were. These mechanical vehicles could transform themselves in size and shape. They could be life-size one minute, and in the next they could become a spaceship or submarine the length of a football field. Such was the wisdom the Forsaken had inherited from their human creators and their spirit fathers. Otaura had been created and linked to the Earth’s orbit. Far enough from the earth to prevent the Chimera from thinking they could return. Near enough to enforce their commonality to earthly humans. Moreover, Overseers did not have to force the Chimera into any particular region. The minotaurs, centaurs, equines, primates, reptilians all had found regions appropriate for their physical needs, strengths, and genetic traits.

Woden arrived at Phedon’s compound to see Phedon walking out to greet him. For a moment, Woden was startled. He had not seen Phedon in decades and had forgotten how physically and emotionally similar Janar and Phedon were. Indeed, olive-skinned with straight dark shoulder-length hair and violet eyes, Phedon had a striking resemblance to Janar. So much so that it was often whispered among the Forsaken – the Overseers’ word for their own human caste—that Phedon and Janar might be brothers, sons of the same father. In addition, Phedon and Janar had always been good friends.

I like your very unenforceable idea, Phedon shouted as if they had only seen each other yesterday. The Chimeras are so obstinate and warlike.  They need the princesses here to bind them together, to help create a true society, a true culture. And it must happen soon. Even if . . .

I see you’ve become like the rest of these Otaurans, Woden said, dismounting Mercury. You don’t greet your guests, either.

I had intended to meet you, Phedon said, smiling and walking toward him. With some of the pomp and glory due to a great prince. But the time came and went. That’s what happens when one has one’s mind on pressing matters.

And when one is surrounded by malcontents who have no intention of obeying you anyway, Woden joked. He followed Phedon toward the compound.  Don’t worry. I understand. We Overseers do get caught up with human issues, don’t we?

So, you consider the Chimera ‘humans’ now?

All things considered, they are human. As we are. I often wonder who has more troubles. My Nephilim brothers on Otaura or those of us on earth. The Chimera and the standard humans are both problematic.

The Creed as usual? Phedon asked, referring to the Resistance, a rag-tag conglomeration of religious nuts who insisted on covert battles against the Overseers. I see they still call you demons. 

Them, yes. The Creed are quite devoted to their Scriptures. I would much prefer them to call us Overseers.

Indeed! For that is what we are, Phedon said. Overseers of their devastated world.

They much prefer the old name, Casting the word ‘Nephilim’ at us with such self-righteousness, it’s a wonder their words don’t make us feel any more Forsaken by the Creator. Woden shook his head. But the Chimera on earth also are troublesome. You’re lucky, Phedon. You live among Chimera whose physical mutations are obvious. But on earth, there are many Chimera who. . .well, many Chimera don’t appear to be Chimera. They carry minor traits and recessive genes and wanting to appear as standard humans, they scheme to hide their heritage.

Phedon nodded. Considering how the normal humans treat them, they’d be wise to.

Woden sighed. The avian Chimeras pare their nails to hide the claw trait. I even found a secret school of some sort where they train themselves to lose the avian vocal traits. One would think, Brother, that we would have the skill to persuade them to leave earth and accept their separation from normal humans?

Phedon lifted his hand. I often wonder if we aren’t violating our Fathers’ Primary Law that we do not separate the humans. Creating Otaura was exactly the opposite of our Fathers’ desires.

That old argument again? Woden said. We’re protecting one human species from the other. When you’re a thousand years old, will you still be such a stickler for the Fathers’ laws?

When you say ‘fathers,’ do you mean the scientists who created us and the Chimera? Or our own demonic fathers? Both sets of ‘fathers’ had their laws, didn’t they?

Come now! Not now, Phedon. You know I mean our spirit fathers. Besides, this is a careful preservation of them until their population increases. Certainly, you understand that! Or don’t you remember what happened when we allowed the prototypes to stay among the normal population?

Those old experiments? The failed and ancient versions of us?

Looking at them I cannot help but think that we are nothing more than tinkering. Still, you have not forgotten what the humans tried to do us when we were few and weak?

Phedon rubbed his eyebrows then his eyes. I’m tired of wars, he said. Then, half-smiling, he looked wide-eyed at Woden. Can it be? Is it true? Is our Woden Silver-haired in love? And with a Creed woman?

Jolted at first, Woden grew annoyed. Don’t do this, he said, and yet, he had to admit he was blushing.

You’re trying a dangerous ploy, my brother! Phedon said.

I have not given you permission to walk my mind, Woden answered. But now you tread further into your trespass by giving me advice?

Phedon burst out laughing. He pointed to the massive mansion in the center of the compound, then gestured to Woden to follow him. Trespass is it? he said at last when his fit of laughing was over. "You’re putting the life of the woman you love in danger? And you accuse me of trespassing?"

Woden followed him, annoyed but not truly angry. It is trespassing! In my region, I have commanded our brothers, princes and half-princes, to not read each other’s minds. And here you are—?

And they obey you? Phedon approached an intricately-carved double door which opened at his voice. Or do they only pretend to?

Before Woden could answer, another Overseer named Phoenix walked through the open door.

The alabaster-skinned white-haired Phoenix soon stood beside them. Hair white as an arctic snow-drift, eyes sparkling like the polar ice. Phoenix shouldn’t have been on Otaura but now, here he was.  Although Phoenix was supposed to be exiled, Woden couldn’t help but feel ashamed before the staunch rebel. He had not considered himself easygoing but apparently over the past centuries Siddhart’s tendencies had affected him. Siddhart, my friend age-long, Woden thought. He and Phoenix have caused so much trouble over the decades. And yet...

Woden had not expected any other Overseer to be inside the Great House of Phedon’s compound. Phoenix, you’re here as well?  he asked.

You really didn’t know? Phedon asked, but now he sounded worried. Not as light-hearted as before.

Woden shrugged. You didn’t say.

Didn’t you see him in my mind? Phedon asked, glancing from Phoenix to Woden.

I’ve told you! Woden answered. "I try not to search my brothers’ minds. I rarely like what I find there, and it always feel as if I’m intruding.

Phedon shook his head. But now. . .he was telling you that he was here? You didn’t hear him? He was looking very displeased.

Now, Woden, Phoenix said, please don’t tell me I’ll have to talk with you as if you’re human...explaining every small matter. His voice was light and not fear-filled like Phedon’s. However, there was just the smallest hint of judgment.

Our human brothers have insight enough. They don’t require many explanations, generally. Woden smiled, apologized. Nevertheless, we’re Overseers. Let us communicate as Overseers.

So, it’s true, Woden? Phoenix asked, You don’t walk the mind of your brothers? Very trusting of you. Or some would say stupid. But perhaps I only speak from my own experience. He turned to Phedon. Do you see what our friend here is thinking?

Phedon nodded. I see it.

Phoenix shook his head. "Woden, you’re thinking that when our brothers appointed Phedon as Overseer to the Chimeric Problem — and exiled me— they thought they had gotten rid of a troublemaker...exiling me to Io 714 with the exiled Creed, but it seems they were wrong."

Woden gave a long, exasperated sigh. "Yes, Phoenix, that was what I was thinking. But why walk my mind to sense the obvious? And why must you repeat the word ‘exile’ so often? You obviously know that I fully understand your plight. He glanced at Phedon. Do we really have to over-explain matters? We’re not like the humans who cannot understand each other’s hearts and pains. Once again, for the third time that month, he found himself wishing his brother Overseers were as unified as the humans thought they were.

What you’re doing is dangerous, Woden. Why put yourself at such a disadvantage? Phoenix pushed his hair behind him. It wafted like floating white clouds behind him.  And your ploy concerning the girl you love? Eleonora is her name, right? She’s quite beautiful, isn’t she? But, all human women are beautiful, are they not? Rescind the invitation. Your plan. . .it is also a dangerous idea. These Creed are prone to martyrdom. I should know. I live among them. You should not play games you are not entirely sure of winning.

An Invitation

A SMALL RED CARD, BUFFETED by the summer wind, fluttered between the Overseer’s fingertips. Gold engraved lettering shone in the June late afternoon sunlight. Standing at the opened door of her house, Ellie Ovis saw her name clearly, recognized the Invitation. She held her breath and stared into the sky-blue eyes of the seeming teenager. For a moment, she racked her brain. What evil had she done since the last sacrificial ritual? What horror so sinful as to cause her death at the Feast?  Her mind was a blank. The Overseers generally drew a line between great and large sins. Lying, for instance, was pretty typical for humans. So, they couldn’t very well punish all liars. Whatever the sin was, the beautiful young man standing before her would probably help her to remember it. She waited to hear his thoughts inside her mind.

The Overseer was wearing an official uniform. Tan and gray. Not something the Overseers under Woden’s rule generally did. Woden was known for trying to make the humans in his region feel comfortable. Dammit, it’s all official. Like last time. Ellie considered what her crime might be. Because I helped Josh?

The revolutionary you helped, yes. He smiled. That odd, caring, yet detached smile.

They think they feel, Ellie thought. But said, Josh is as much a revolutionary as I am. And I couldn’t let him die, could I?

He was involved with a group that killed others. The Overseer was either two hundred years old, like the first group, the group to which Woden belonged. Or one hundred and fifty, the age of the second group. Or younger.

But to invite me to the Feast because of that? Ellie asked, dismayed. It was an act of kindness.

Towards a murderer responsible for the death of many, he said, as if the invitation to her possible death was nothing more than a request to go out for an ice cream sundae.

She glanced behind him, glimpsed the broken, beaten, world of scurrying men outside, then up toward Pandemonium, the sky-city of the Nephilim. Even in the gloom of smoke, its glitter shone through. Somewhere up there, her sister lived, happy, healthy, carefree, love-struck.

Joshua has asked you for ice cream? the Overseer asked. Is he in love with you? Even with that scar on your face?

So not his business! Why’s he even asking? She didn’t even have the strength to spit in the demon spawn’s face as she had done the year before. Not that he would have cared. They’re beyond ‘caring,’ she thought scornfully. You guys caused this scar. Or didn’t you scan my mind to see?

Indeed? Spoken like a patronizing father to a wayward kid. He wasn’t going to let her get away with a half-truth.

You Overseers made it worse, she mumbled, correcting herself. And yes, Josh loves me, even with my scar! Human males are not as empty as you Overseers seem to think.

The weak attempt at blame was casually ignored by its recipient.

Ellie turned away from him, looked across the highway. Talking to Overseers was a waste of time. What use was pleading? The Overseers only saw things in black and white. It didn’t seem right, though. Didn’t seem fair. And that’s what they were known for: their fairness and spiritual incorruptibility. The rule of law.

The thought of incorruptibility led naturally to Woden. Woden who was known everywhere as incorruptible. Woden who was almost universally loved even by Creed humans. Where’s Woden now? she asked, her hand on the door. She was almost, almost, wanting to slam it in his face.

Even if you slammed it in my face, I doubt it would satisfy your anger, the Overseer said.

I’ll slam it anyway, she shouted, and slammed it. Then, continued shouting through the door, And tell Prince Woden to call me.

No need to shout, the Overseer answered her in her mind. And why should I call Prince Woden when you can?

Idiot! She walked to her bedroom and lay in bed, crying. The stress, the grief, the bloodshed, the horrors of last year’s feast had almost driven her to a mental hospital. If Woden hadn’t protected her mind, she might very well have ended up there. But I held to my faith, she reminded herself. Guiltily, she reminded herself that she had survived and others hadn’t. Will I be able to do survive the feast again? And. . .if Woden doesn’t save me as he did then... will I survive it?

The shaky truce between the Nephilim and the Creeds allowed the Creed to stay on Earth, only if they kept out of trouble. Or else they’d have to face death or exile. Exile on Io 714. The Nephilim hadn’t terraformed that frozen asteroid the way they had terraformed Otaura where the Chimeric People were being relocated. Ellie shivered, thinking of all the Creed exiles on Io 714. Why do they call it Io 714? She wondered.

She didn’t want to think of what awaited her. Somehow the meeting with the Gehali chieftain about the devastating deluge that had destroyed their islands didn’t seem so important now. Still...it was her job. And she certainly didn’t want to think about being murdered at the Feast either. One thing she knew. Although the world had—quite literally—gone to the devil, she didn’t want to die.  But the annual seven-day ritual of sacrifice, The Feast of Libra or the Balance, was once again in progress. And for reasons she could not consider fair she had received an Invitation. And only Prince Woden could help her.  

Siddhart could help as well. But no, no, Siddhart is far away still. Away from me. For our own good.

If Woden did not help her, she would have to set her life in order. Like I did last time. For the next four months, she would have to do what all invited guests did: make arrangements for her death, her belongings, her pets.

She had put her things in order the year before and – for better or worse– she hadn’t been killed. Now she almost wished she had been killed rather than scarred. Dammit! If only it would all be over, once and for all.

She reached for her Vid-phone. A stupidly useless invention, she thought, considering she could just call him telepathically. He was always keening his ear to hear from her. But she hated that emotional and telepathic attachment. Best to call him the human way, she said audibly and repeated, Best to call him the human way. That way, he won’t get ideas.

She called him but he did not answer. Either because he did not have the vid-phone on him or because he was not walking her mind at that moment. Or maybe he was simply ignoring her. To be mean. To rub it in. So, she sat in her bedroom looking at her scarred face in the mirror and on the verge of tears. I want to be healed!

She did not mean physical healing. The scar on her face hardly mattered. It was the inner wounds. The trauma of seeing her friends dying before her eyes. The vague memory of the unyielding terror that overwhelmed her when the Overseers appeared with their hail of bullets. If it had not been for Woden, she would have died. If he had not loved me, had not protected me...

She sat there a long while, paralyzed at what lay ahead when October came. Is that four months away? Or five? Halloween night. Whatever; it’ll be the day I die. And then the phone rang.

She raced to pick it up. Woden?

It’s me, Dear. Her mother’s voice.

Mama? Ellie took a deep breath, attempted to quell her fear so her mother would not sense her terror. What is it, Ma? Need something? I can come over.

I got an Invitation, Dear.

For a brief second, Ellie could feel her heart almost crashing to the floor. What’d you say, Ma?

Joelle’s seventy-five-year-old voice seemed even

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