Refrain (The Lost Song Trilogy, Book 2, and Book 5 in the Bowdancer series)
As Jan-nell, her son Bearin, the sensuous hunter Bekar, and trackfinder Chandro continue their quest for the lost song, they make alliances with the virile dark-skinned sword dancers, who serve as bodyguards to a king, and the exotic, handsome beast trainers of the desert. Jan-nell is beset with jealousies, new sexual stirrings, deepening spiritual practices, and a growing bond with one of her companions.
While she sat musing, tents had begun reaching to the sky. The purple tent of the Goiya rose first in the center of the camp. Smaller white silk tents like the one she had slept in the night before and plain tan-colored ones sprouted up like toadstools after rain. The smell of wood smoke from cookfires filled her nose, and the whinnying of the horses picketed on the edge of camp drifted to her ears. The jingle of harness behind her was part of the weaving of the music of the camp. Jan-nell sat content for the first time since she had become a part of the caravan.
A stream of rapid words in the Goiya’s language came from the front end of the wagon. She looked to see the driver approaching her side. He stood and yelled up at her, the register of his words getting higher and louder. He gestured wildly with one arm toward the camp. His movements were so forceful the hood of his tunic fell back. He was perhaps fifty summers, with a fat black mustache flecked with gray like his short-cropped hair. His nose was big and hooked like those of the Goiya’s men sent to Hill City to prepare the way for trading.
Jan-nell grew concerned that the man might overexert himself and fall into a swoon if he continued to excite himself in the heat. But she had been told to stay where she was—or was that what the sword dancer meant? He said he would come when the caravan made camp. But did that mean she was to stay in the wagon?
The old man worked his way around to the open end of the cart and continued to yell and gesture. She was sure his loud voice would draw attention to her, so she rose and made her way to the small fold-down step at the back.
Before she had her foot securely on the step, the old man grabbed her arm and propelled her to the ground. She fell hard on her right shoulder and her hip. A sharp pain coursed through her, making her stomach turn over.
Though she was outside, the man continued to yell, his anger growing instead of lessening. She feared he would kick her and raised an arm to ward off any blows. Her own hood fell away as she looked up at him.
The old man choked on his words and made an intricate warding gesture. In any culture, it was unmistakable. Jan-nell had seen it often enough done by villagers and townsfolk when they heard her quick-witted daughter speak in full thoughts when she could barely walk. She wondered what he saw to cause him to need protection against evil. Then she remembered everyone here had dark eyes and hers were green.
Jan-nell pushed herself up into a sitting position to relieve the pressure on her hip. Pulling her hood back over her head, she had no desire to provoke the man further. She rubbed her shoulder, feeling with skilled fingers to see if there was more injury than just bruising. Rotating her shoulder, she was satisfied she would only bear an ugly bruise. Her hip, however, had taken more of the fall. She put her feet under her and was attempting to stand when she heard someone rushing toward them, calling out to the man, who answered with a stream of explanation. Wanting only to slink away from watching eyes, Jan-nell concentrated on getting to her feet.
Hissing through her teeth, Jan-nell stood and began to feel her hip. She lifted the foot of the affected limb and bent her knee. She moved everything around. It pained her as she moved and was worse when she put her weight on it, but it was not broken. She started limping away, wanting to get as far as she could from wagons and people, even from the horses. The exchange of foreign words continued as she made her way around the wagon, gripping it for support, and headed for the edge of the camp.
Stopping at the front of the wagon, she wondered how she would be able to walk away on her own. She wished for her staff, but it was somewhere packed away with her belongings, and she was not permitted to use it here. She took a deep breath and resigned herself to do what she had to do to escape. She took a few painful steps, unable to suppress her grunts of pain as someone came up behind her. She half spun on her good leg, and dropped into an awkward and painful combat stance, fully realizing that, without her staff, she had no skills to protect herself.
A familiar voice said, “Peace.”
1. Job: Bekar told me what a job was. You mean what am I suited for. I am in training. I think I have been in training all my life. Bekar has been teaching me how to be a master hunter and trackfinder, even though I am not a woman like her. I am now training with her as a sword dancer.
2. Birthplace: I was born in the village of the Warrior Women, though they hate being called that. Because I am male, I had to be raised away from them. My sister is a healer and midwife in the village. She has apprentices I’m told. I wish to meet her one day.
3. Currently residing: I live with my father Khrin who is a bard. He built us a fine home outside of his village, at the foot of the Warrior Women’s mountain. Mother did not wish to live inside their village. She wanted her house to be at the edge of the fields. I think she misses the plains where the horsemen lived where she had been the Bowdancer.
4. Significant other: You mean a wife? I am too young yet to marry, according to Mother and Beker, especially. Father, though, sees nothing unusual in Granddame, his mother, finding a wife for me. I do not wish to marry yet, and definitely none of the village girls. Their heads are full of fluff. I wish to find a strong, quick-witted woman like Mother or Bekar. For now though, I must train. There are also many new places to see in this world and new people and customs to experience.
5. Most important goal: We must find where the Warrior Women came from and answer many new questions.
About Janie Franz
Janie Franz comes from a long line of Southern liars and storytellers. She told other people’s stories as a freelance journalist for many years. With Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox, she co-wrote The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book, and then self-published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid! She also published an online music publication, was an agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, and a yoga/relaxation instructor.
Currently, she is writing her tweveth novel and a self-help book, Starting Over: Becoming a Woman of Power.
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