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1985 Somewhere in northern Russia

"Kneel, initiates," Wroth's dark voice said.

Nick felt the icy ground dig into her bare knees. Sharp shards of ice pricked and scraped at her skin, making it bleed. 'No pain. No exhaustion. No weakness.' She repeated the words over and over in her head, her mantra, her salvation, her strength. She wasn't going to give into any weakness now. Not when she was so close to her goal. So close to becoming a member of The Keepers.

Her naked body shivered in the cold, the wind like sandpaper, rubbing along her skin. Her freezing hands had already turned a curious shade of blue and she balled them into fists.

No pain. No exhaustion. No weakness.

"One day. One night. We will be back in twenty-four hours. If anyone of you wants out, you'll have to walk your naked asses down into town. I'll remind you though; once you move, you're out. Forever. This is your last test. Good luck." With that Wroth and three other members of The Keepers trotted off, down the mountain.

No pain. No exhaustion. No weakness.

It wasn't like she could die up here. Immortality had it's merits like that, but it would be hard staying here. The wind that blew over the edge they were facing was cutting, iciness. The night was going to be worse. And the thought of a warm bed only a few miles away was enticing.

"Think you'll make it demoness?" the guy next to her asked, his voice dripping with disdain. "You are, after all, only a demon. There is a reason why your kind never makes the cut."

"Piss off Carter," Nick growled. 

"He's right though," another one of the shitfaces piped. "You're not only a demon, you're also a woman. How have you actually made it this far?"

Nick ground her teeth, she tried hard to ignore them. The thought of tossing the idiots over the ledge was so tempting. She closed her eyes.

No pain. No exhaustion. No weakness.

"I mean, not that I'm into your kind, but if it gets too cold you could always come over and warm me," another one said. Jaxon. God, she hated that cocky piece of shit. "You're not too bad looking for a servant girl."

Giggles rose around them and Nick concentrated on the icy breath of air that burned her lungs. It was true. Her kind was meant to serve the others, being a demon normally gave you two options in life: Serve the higher castes, or become a hired sword. Sometimes both. Not her though, she was getting out of that life. She would be the first demon ever to make the cut. The first demon to become one of The Keepers.

No pain. No exhaustion. No weakness.

"It's not like anyone would care if we took you, right here, right now," Jaxon sneered. "We would only take what is ours by right. What do you say boys?"

Nick could almost feel their eyes on her. She knew that as demon and a woman she was a rare and enticing commodity among the initiates. 

She tilted her head to look at the cocky beast-shifter. He didn't like her, but he had been eyeing her like some type of poisonous candy over the last few months. "If you think you can lay a finger on me I'll feed you your own balls."

"Feisty. I like a woman with a little fight in them."

"Yeah, because you always have to force them. It's not like you could get laid any other way with that ugly mug of yours." Nick grinned at him, feeling her teeth grow out into fangs. "You should try paying them. That's more honest and more like you. Didn't you get into the program cause daddy paid for it? Or did you blow someone? I just can't believe it's because of skill."

The shifter snarled at her. "You fucking bitch! Watch that mouth of yours."

"Hit a nerve there, didn't I?"

He sprang up. "You cu-"

A horn sounded. "Jaxon is out," Wroth's booming voice said. "Come down to town to receive your affects."

"What the fuck?" Jaxon peered around, irritated.

Nick rolled her eyes. "Magic you tool. They are watching us, and remember, he said if you move, you're out."

The beast-shifter growled at her. "You will pay for this, I swear to you."

"Yeah, yeah. Run along now."

Jaxon stormed off leaving gaping idiots and a grinning Nick in his wake. 

"Good fucking riddance," Nick said. "Now, if the rest of you stay quiet and leave me the hell alone, some of us just might make it."

"Bloody demon." "Vermin." "Bitch."

Nick just chuckled, these sorry excuses for warriors couldn't do jack-shit to intimidate her. She had been through much worse. She breathed in and closed her eyes again. This time tomorrow she would have her final fight, her final test. And then she would be part of The Keepers.

No pain. No exhaustion. No weakness.

A/N So:) How do you like the first look at Nick and The Keepers? I know it's only a prologue, but I thought it would be nice to see a bit more of them:))

More will be on it's way shortly. Oh, and how do you like the cover? I know it's not perfect and I'm still dabbling around, but hey, I made it:)))

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