Heir To Power

Heir To Power

by Michele Poague

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450278805
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/27/2010
Pages: 564
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.26(d)

First Chapter

Heir to Power

Book One
By MICHELE POAGUE

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Michele Poague
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-7880-5


Chapter One

It was seventeen days past the spring equinox and the late morning sun felt warm on Kairma's back as she was loading baskets of food onto a battered pine cart. She was looking forward to making the long trip to the Godstones. Of her many responsibilities, taking the religious offerings to the altar was the one duty she felt most competent executing, while the Crystal, lying heavy between her breasts, reminded her of the many she did not.

She straightened up to her full six feet five inches and stretched her back. At sixteen, she wasn't particularly tall for a Survinees, whose women were on average six feet six inches and whose men were often over seven feet. Like a newborn fawn, she had long legs that never seemed to go in the right direction, and like a fawn, she was just a little clumsy.

Looking toward the east, she saw the sun rising above the deep green pines, cresting the gray granite wall of the canyon she called home. Winter snow still covered the hills around the valley and the nights were cold, but the sun rose in a cloudless sky, hinting at the warm day to come. Around her, the mountain was coming to life so different from the long, snowbound winter.

Kairma greeted two dark-haired boys of eight and ten. The boys shyly put their right hands to their right eyebrows in a formal greeting as they offered her their family tribute basket. In a low melodic voice Kairma said, "North, east, south, and west. May Nor bring them home safely." The children repeated the prayer and then ran off to help their mothers and fathers prepare for the first hunt of the spring.

Villagers scattered about in preparation for an extended hunting trip on this, the first full moon of the spring. Kairma arranged the woven hemp baskets in the cart while she watched brawny men of varying ages pack their hunting gear. Bows, slings, bedrolls, and cookware littered the ground. Women aired musty blankets and swept out storerooms. Dark-haired children darted about with excitement while the scent of baking bread drifted on the morning breeze.

Three muscular young men passed by talking excitedly. As usual, they didn't look at Kairma. She recognized Efram, a mean-spirited boy who often made rude remarks about Kairma and her family. He was one of the boys who'd most recently passed his Seridar, so this would be Efram's first hunt. Her older brother, Zedic, had also passed his Seridar on the last Harvest Moon—the beginning of the new annum. She smiled, remembering how proud Zedic had been when he took first place in the sling competition.

Thinking about her brother, she searched the small groups of men to see if she could find him. As a member of the Healing family, Zedic wouldn't be required to hunt until he took a mate, but Kairma thought it was unusual for him not to be among the animated young men preparing for their first real adult adventure.

As she watched the men stringing bows and packing gear, she noticed Collin wasn't among them either. That's odd, she thought. Collin loves adventure. I wonder where they are.

A formal greeting was offered as Kairma accepted another basket from a small girl with dark auburn hair. The color was unusual for the people of Survin, whose hair was generally deep brown to black. Taking the small basket, Kairma placed it with the rest; the cart now precariously close to overflowing. The little girl smiled widely, her blue eyes sparkling. Kairma smiled back at the pretty child, who quickly ran away.

Realizing she would have to leave soon, Kairma looked again for her brother, hoping he would join her today. Zedic was nowhere to be seen, but she saw three young boys, all identical, come running from the Chancery. They squealed loudly as they each fought to carry the bedroll to her father, Tamron. She laughed as they ran by. Well, I guess Zedic isn't helping Mother with the boys. And if he's somewhere with Collin, that somewhere could be anywhere. I wish he had told me where they were going. It's not like Zedic to keep secrets from me.

The morning had been hectic and her braids were beginning to unravel, so Kairma sat down on a three-legged wooden stool and began to re-braid her ivory hair. As she combed her slender fingers through her waist-length hair, she thought about the many times Zedic and Collin had walked with her to the Godstones in the past. The three of them were rarely separated with the exception of when she attended her lessons.

Zedic was already looking more like a man than a boy. At six feet eleven inches, he was already an inch taller than his best friend, Collin. She knew Zedic would mate soon, and their childhood adventures together would come to an end.

She watched her father pack his gear and talk enthusiastically with the other men. Most of the men of Survin liked to hunt, and her father was no different. She found herself thinking how much easier life would have been if she had been born male.

Like Zedic, Comad Tamron of the Survinees wasn't required to hunt. As members of the Healing family, the village provided for the needs of the Comad and the Miral. Kairma suspected her father always went on the hunts because he had never truly been comfortable with the position into which he'd married. Tamron didn't like receiving gifts he hadn't earned.

Kairma was proud of her father. He went out of his way to help others and contributed greatly to the success of the colony. As a baby, Tamron had come to Survin with a group of strangers, and although the group was allowed to join the community, he was still an outsider, and several people were openly bitter about his marriage to the Vice Miral.

Kairma finished twisting her hair into its customary braids and called to her little sister. Kinter could try her patience sometimes and today would be no exception, she was sure. However, she couldn't go to the Godstones alone and she had few choices for assistance. Some little time passed and Kairma still hadn't seen Kinter. Curling her tongue against her teeth, Kairma let out a long, low whistle followed by two short notes. Tying her braids up in a muted umber scarf that completely covered her hair, she watched Kinter slowly ambling down the center of the canyon, clearly upset to have her playtime interrupted.

"Have you seen Zedic?" Kairma's voice even more husky than usual. She laid a blanket over the baskets of food. "I can't find him, and Mother will be angry if I go to the altar alone."

"He's already at the Godstones ..." Kinter sneered, flipping a long dark braid over her shoulder. "With Collin. I saw them sneak off just after breakfast."

"Why did they leave so early?" Kairma asked, ignoring her sister's taunt. "Zedic should have waited for me."

Kinter busied herself by pulling new green buds off the limb of a briar bush. "Zedic told Mother he was going to help Collin get blooding rods for tomorrow night."

"So what makes you think they went to the Godstones?"

Kinter screwed up her pretty face. "I followed them down to the lake and saw them head toward the mountain. Where else would they be going?"

"You know, they might actually be going to find blooding rods." Kairma wouldn't admit it, but she thought Kinter was probably right. She took her little sister by the hand, knowing Kinter dreaded the four-mile walk to the altar. "Well, I guess that means you'll have to go with me then."

Kinter frowned. "Why can't you go alone? Zedic and Collin can walk you home, Mother will never know."

"Well, just in case I can't find them, you had better come with me." Kairma headed purposely toward the road with Kinter in tow. "And I don't want to be all day at it, so come on." Grabbing the cart by the handle, Kairma began to walk down the path. "You have your sling with you? Gramme heard a wolf a few days ago."

Nodding assent, Kinter kicked a rock and fell grudgingly in behind Kairma.

The two girls walked along the winding path down the northern slope of the mountain, toward a small lake. Kinter was in no hurry and Kairma had to prod her along at every turn. "Kinter, do you have to walk so slow? I really would like to get back home sometime before dark."

Kinter made a face but began walking a little faster, and the old cart creaked and rattled in steady rhythm as they made their way through a thick forest of ponderosa pine and scrub oak. The natural path twisted and turned following a small creek, winding its way down to the northwest. The narrow creek spilled into a pretty lake surrounded by large conifers, mountain mahoganies, and aspens. At the edge of the lake, the trail widened and made a sharp turn to the left. Here large granite boulders lined the roadway, and sunlight glistened off the mica like newly fallen snow. Fox squirrels and yellow-bellied marmots darted for cover as the girls approached.

Kairma pointed to a large golden eagle making lazy, graceful circles in a deep azure sky. "Of all the birds I have ever seen, that one is my favorite. It must be wonderful to have that kind of freedom."

Kinter looked up, shielding her eyes from the bright sunshine. "I like the hawk myself. The other day I saw one pick up a snake that was at least a meter long. It was amazing." In an imitation of the great bird, she circled around Kairma, swooping up a stick and pretending to fight with it. "The hawk has it all: beauty, grace, power, speed—what more could you want?"

The two young women chattered as they walked uphill the last mile and a half to the Godstones. Here the road wasn't as steep and didn't wind as severely as the narrow path that led from the canyon. Kairma's long bronze skirt tangled around her legs as she walked. Picking it up, she cursed to herself. I hate skirts. I wish Mother would let me wear leggers. Who cares if people can tell if I'm in my moontime? It's not like they look at me anyway. She looked at Kinter, who was dancing gracefully up the road in a skirt that swirled gently about her knees. Ugh. The girl just annoys me. Like Mother, she's always worrying about what someone is thinking. I would bet my life that if I weren't heir to the Crystal, the rest of the Survinees wouldn't even know I existed. Annoyed, she blew out a soft sigh and bit down on her lower lip.

The responsibility of the Crystal frustrated Kairma. She couldn't imagine herself capable of being the Vice Miral in ten harvests, let alone in one. It seemed to Kairma that the older she became, the more unanswered questions she had.

The girls approached the temples from the southeast. A wide grassy area measuring three hundred by sixty feet across lay in front of the great monument. The young girls crossed this grassy field and walked up a ruined stairway to another field as large and flat as the first one. A wide path led to two majestic temple buildings of pale gray granite and soft pink quartzite. Between the two once-elegant buildings ran an aisle twelve feet wide. The aisle led to the crest of a huge amphitheater, which could easily seat several thousand people. The great temple ruins were hundreds of annums old. Turning back to the southeast, the mountains rolled out below them for as far as the eye could see and faded into a malachite haze in the distance.

* * *

Zedic and Collin were making slow progress on their recent discovery. The morning waxed as they removed layer after layer of dirt from a large golden rectangle that was embedded in the side of the mountain. Zedic brushed his hands on his brown leggers to wipe off the dirt. It didn't help much, and Collin was as dirty as he was. Collin's once curly black hair now took on the appearance of dun-colored weeds, and the emerald charm that hung from a leather thong at his neck was now the color of the oak-eagle claw that held it. Zedic laughed, and said, "We come home covered in dirt or mud more often than not, but you never seemed to notice."

Zedic ran a hand through his dark, shoulder-length hair and stood back. "What do you think it is?"

"I'd about bet," said Collin while absentmindedly twirling a lock of dark hair around his finger, "it's meant to block some kind of passage."

"Like a door of some kind. I thought the same thing. Whoever built this cave could sure do some fancy work with alloy."

Collin looked sideways at Zedic in feigned horror. "You don't believe it was the Whitish, do you?"

"Oh, sure it was," Zedic said with a laugh, "and they made that alloy cart we found last summer, then buried it in dirt till you couldn't even tell what it was."

Collin thought about the massive cart that sat in front of one of the White Ones' caves. It was a monument to their diligence. He and Zedic spent days digging away the dirt that encased the cart only to find it too heavy to move once freed. The caves around the mountain often held surprising treasures from a long-dead world where gods had once ruled—a world of magic the Survinees couldn't begin to understand. When Collin was nine, he found a large cache of brightly colored stones. The charm he wore was fashioned from one of these stones. Although the Healers began to use the gold stones because they were malleable, the rest of the village found his collection interesting but useless. They had no need for pretty rocks. Sometimes Collin liked to sit on the cart and contemplate who had once acquired all those stones and why.

Zedic playfully hit his friend's arm, breaking him out of his reverie. "Hey, Mr. Rogue, we still have work here." Zedic's mother referred to Collin as that rogue boy, and Zedic teased him about it regularly. It wasn't just Zedic's mother who felt this way; many of the Survinees believed Collin was a troublemaker and a renegade. They never hesitated to tell him he should apply himself to the Words of the Ogs. However, the young man had wild fantasies, and far too many questions—questions that could not be answered by the simple teachings of the Healers. Collin vowed that one day he would know the truth. With the appearance of the strange traveler who had recently come to their mountain and this latest discovery, Collin was sure he would find his answers.

"Stones! I need a drink. You look like you could use one too." Collin reached for one of the waterskins by their meager tools.

"You look like you need a dip in the lake," Zedic said as he shook gray dust from his own straight black hair.

After their short break, they returned to moving dirt away from the huge rectangular object they recently discovered. It was covered with carvings made by a method totally unfamiliar to the boys. The large brass-colored rectangle was held in place by a darker gold frame and set in the solid silver-gray granite of the mountain. They could make out faint lines around the outer edges and a line dividing the form in half, from top to bottom. Clearing the dirt from the base, they could see that it sat on a large gray rock.

Collin stood up and stretched his back. "With a little leverage, we might be able to pry the block out of its stone frame." He wedged his knife in between the inner alloy rectangle and the stone of the mountain. "Stones! My knife is stuck. Zedic, give me a hand here."

Zedic tried to chip the rock around the knife with his alloy hammer. The frame didn't budge and neither did the knife.

* * *

When Kairma and Kinter reached the Godstones, the sun was at its zenith and the morning's chill was a memory. Now the sky was a clear and brilliant blue that almost hurt their eyes. After carrying the cart up the wide stairway to the great temples, the girls pushed it through the long passage that led to their place of worship. On the mountain crest, four carved granite faces stood majestically against the broad sweep of sapphire sky, looking to the east. Observing the Godstones, she shuddered. They were magnificent, and each head was more than sixty feet tall. Kairma couldn't fathom how they came to be.

The girls emptied the cart and set the baskets of food on the altar. The tribute food was divided into four sections: meat to the north; bread to the east; cheese to the south; and fruit to the west.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Heir to Power by MICHELE POAGUE Copyright © 2010 by Michele Poague. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Heir To Power 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
dancin-debbie More than 1 year ago
I liked that in Heir to Power, Kairma starts off feeling maybe she really isn't able to live up to everything everyone always expects of her, that becoming the hier to power is more of a burden than anything else. She resents it in many ways. But I loved the character Arc as she grows throughout the story and discovers inside of her strenghts and abilities she never new she possessed in addition to finding some mysterious things that cause her to question what is going when the White Ones begin to show up around her. She also begins to embrace her differences rather than hide from them. Also the growth Collin , her and her brother's best friend goes through is very fun to be a part of as he realizes the importance of bringing new information into the colony and wants to explore beyond it even though it is forbidden. With the arrival of the stranger, Trep, Collin becomes fascinated with what is beyond their little valley and is determined to leave, and bring back innovations that will help their community to grow and protect themselves more efficiently. He is also the most willing to accept Trep for who he is and sees that it is a good thing that he came, and tries to convice those in the colony not to be threatened by him Trep's presense. He also realizes how much he is willing to fight for what is important to him, and on top of that list is Kairma. He knows that Naturi is expected to be her mate, but he will not let it be easy for Naturi to take her. Naturi, has always known he would be the one to stand by Kairma when it came time to take a mate. He has trained all his life to take his place in the healing family and lead the community. It is something he has looked forward to all his life, but when Collin leaves the colony with the stranger, he along with Kairma's brother go with him. While gone he discovers there is more to life than what he expected and he begins to see things differently. I found the changes and discoveries the characters made fascinating, and was drawn in by each new thing they found about themselves and the world around them. I looked forward to what would happen between Naturi and Collin. I loved how Kairma found that she was ok with who she was and that she could be confident too. I really liked how all the little things play in together to create intrigue and mystery, that make me excited about the next book in the trilogy. Heir to Power was a fast paced page turner. It drew me into a world that was familiar in many ways, but had so many differences that I wanted to see how they overcame them. I liked the interaction between the many different characters. I found the prejudice over simple things the members of the colony display toward things that are different or unfamiliar. There is suspicion and intrigue brought out. It was nice to see how each character handled the different challenges that came and how growth resulted. I am really excited to see what is in store next in the next book, to see who wins Kairma, Collin or Naturi. Personally, I hope Collin wins Kairma's hand. He is one of my favorite characters. His independent thinking and strength really called to me. I am keeping my fingers crossed and look forward to the next book to see what happens. Heir to Power is appropriate for all ages. I didn't want the story to end, and look forward to finding out what happens next.
RARyan More than 1 year ago
Heir to Power is an easy to read, yet intriguing, story. Seemingly taking place in ancient times at the beginning, it has unsuspected surprises that add to one's not wanting to stop until learning all there is to the story in this first part of the series. The story has it all - present, past and future events that meld together, romance versus tradition, greed and power seeking, enemies from without and within and the beginning mystery of where it takes place. While a story in itself, this first book in a series makes you yearn for the next book to come out so you can see what else will happen - who gets the crystal, who gains leadership of the village of Survin and how will the crystal ultimately be used - and by whom? I'll be among the first to get the second, and - no doubt - the third of the series' books.
MsAnnaC on LibraryThing 4 months ago
I loved the book and can't wait for the next two in the series. (see MichelePoague.com)This story follows a group of young people over one summer of their lives. Kairma holds the Crystal and believes she will be mated to Naturi. Her sister Kinter wants both the Crystal and Naturi. The people of the village don't want Kairma to be their leader and the holder of the Crystal but there are rules.As the story opens, there is a stranger in the village; something the law does not allow as all strangers are to be put to death. Yet, the delay in the execution of this law is both a blessing and a curse when other strangers appear outside the village.The story follows five of the young people of this village: Kairma and her sister Kinter; Zedic, Kairma's brother and his friend Colin; and Naturi, the expected male leader of the village.Though there is quite a cast of characters in this book, each is drawn so clearly that the reader might recognize them if he met them in person. The motivations of the characters are clear without the writer putting them into words.The story has adventure, discovery, action, and romance in great balance. It is full of enough detail that the reader can see the setting and action as if watching it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RoseyOGrady More than 1 year ago
Little did Kairma know as she wished away her responsibilities the old religious stories were true, the fate of the world actually hung around her neck. And so begins the tale of the Healing Crystal. The first tale in this trilogy follows a group of young people over the course of about six months as they prepare for the coming of age/mating ceremony of Kairma, the sixteen year old who is next in line to rule the colony of Survin. Kairma is unsure of herself and her ability to lead and since an illness has her looking more like a White One, a race of beings both feared and hated by her people, few others have faith in her either. Kinter, Kairma's sister has no faith in Kairma's ability either and believes herself to be the rightful heir to power. Kinter is also in love with Naturi, the man everyone expects to mate with Kairma. Sister jealousy runs deep in this first book. Naturi has spent his whole life training to be the male leader of Survin and believes he must mate with Kaima. Kairma's brother Zedic and her friend Colin discover an ancient temple that leads them to question their religious. Colin, consider a rogue by many, breaks religious law by befriending a stranger, Trep, which leads to much of the trouble the colony faces. And the table is set for one of the most exciting and frightening summers Survin has had in centuries. This book does not jump right into the action but allows you to get to know the characters and their colony. Never fear, there is enough action when three strangers show up in the hidden canyon home of the Survinees. More than one battle ensues as the colonists work to keep their Healing Crystal safe from those who would steal it or destroy it. While battling to save the colony, these young people discover a developing love quadrangle similar to a Midsummer Night's dream, one that many believe will be solved as the Elders chose Kairma's mate at the autumn festival. The dialog is outstanding, the characters memorable and the story fresh. I could not put this book down until I had read the whole of it. While I believe this book will attract young adults, anyone who remembers their years between childhood and becoming an adult will love it. Beyond this, the action in this book, the fighting, running, pursuing, are all full of the tension that makes a good read. The characters' motivations are clear, understandable, and reasonable. The plays between the sisters and between the rivals for Kairma as well as for the Crystal are not only believable but anyone who has had siblings will recognize themselves while reading this book. If you remember your teenage years, the doubts and fears, the love/hate that goes on between siblings, the wanting to be who you are and not who others wish you to be, then this is a good read for you. If you liked The Clan of the Cave Bear for its detail, its ability to get you into the world of the story, you will most definitely like this book. The detail is rich and clear, the society painted with a fine brush, and the characters full and complete. I would recommend this as a high school reader because it has so many lines for discussion - the doubts of the main character, the rivals motativations, the contrast between the two societies, as well as how religion and law come into being.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RoseyOGrady More than 1 year ago
My girlfriend got this book, let me read it and I must say it was a wonderful read. The dialog is outstanding, the characters memorable and the story fresh. I could not put this book down until I had read the whole of it. I am not only ordering it for myself but for my close friends. While I believe this book will attract young adults, anyone who remembers their years between childhood and becoming an adult will love it. Beyond this, the action in this book, the fighting, running, pursuing, are all full of the tension that makes a good read. The characters' motivations are clear, understandable, and reasonable. The plays between the sisters and between the rivals for Kinter as well as for the Crystal are not only believable but anyone who has had siblings will recognize themselves while reading this book. If you remember your teenage years, the doubts and fears, the love/hate that goes on between siblings, the wanting to be who you are and not who others wish you to be, then this is a good read for you. If you liked The Clan of the Cave Bear for its detail, its ability to get you into the world of the story, you will most definitely like this book. The detail is rich and clear, the society painted with a fine brush, and the characters full and complete. I would recommend this as a high school reader because it has so many lines for discussion - the doubts of the main character, the rivals motativations, the contrast between the two societies, as well as how religion and law come into being. The only drawback to all of this is that Barnes and Noble has yet to fill my order for this book after two tries and sitting on their customer service line on hold for over 30 minutes!!! I may be forced to go to iUniverse to get my own copy. which I want dearly and where my girlfriend Julie got her book within a week of ordering it.