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Warrior Women

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Pregnant Jan-nell treks up a mountain to find a place for her precocious daughter among the famed warrior women.
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Author: Janie Franz
Description

Warrior Women

The Bowdancer Saga

by Janie Franz

Genre  Fantasy Romance

Tags  Fantasy ,romance, herbs, women, lesbian, pregnancy, tradition, songs, food, spiritual, dance, quest

Imprint  MuseItUP: Naughty with a tinge of sizzle: f/f

Release  August 31,  2014

Editor  Anne Duguid

Line Editor  Lisa Petrocelli

Cover Designer  Celairen

Words  47019

Pages  170

ISBN  978-1-77127-569-9

PRICE  $5.50


Back Cover

Jan-nell the bowdancer, now pregnant with her second child, and her daughter, Mira-nell, trek up a mountain where bards’ tales have said a village of warrior women exists. Jan-nell makes this trip in winter—and in her condition—in order to find a place for Mira-nell where the child’s precocious abilities will be accepted. The women on the mountain, though, are not fighters or even man-haters. They have chosen to live apart from the world in a village of only women, led by a sisterhood of hunters. Chandro, a beautiful trackfinder, rescues Jan-nell and her daughter, offering them a home and the promise of love.


Excerpt

Jan-nell finished tying the straps she fashioned around her sack so it would ride against her shoulder blades. Then she swung the sack across her back and hefted the water jugs on her shoulder. Leaning heavily on the staff, she raised herself to her feet. Her legs shook as she rose. Though the load was considerably less than when they started, today it seemed to weary her more. The discomfort she was experiencing spread throughout her lower belly and into her thighs, producing a tightness that she soon recognized. It could not be. It was too early.

With her free hand against the cliff face, she braced herself, practicing the deep breathing and exhaling she taught so many women before. Mira-nell stood at her side, resting a wee hand against her mother’s back, and clutching the warm potatoes against the front of her cloak.

When her breathing returned to normal, Jan-nell looked across her braced arm at Mira-nell, seeing fear in the child's eyes.

Her daughter's chin trembled, but she said with courage, "You may need to tell me what to do."

Jan-nell swung her arm to gather the child close and reassured her. "It will not happen at this moment. And if I could rest, it may not happen yet for another moon or two."

"Then let us make our way slowly, Mother."

"Indeed."

They turned toward the trail as the dawn sky lightened. Ahead was open sky as the trail once more turned a sharp corner. Jan-nell had not seen that the night before. But Mira-nell had, and that was why she insisted they stop and why she urged her mother to relieve herself down the trail. In her preoccupation, Jan-nell could have led them off the very edge of the mountain.

What worried her more as they set off again was how to stop her labor. On occasion, she advised young mothers whose babes started to come too soon. For them, she ordered strict bed rest, allowing them to get up only to take care of bodily needs. Their husbands were often upset at having to do their wives' chores, especially if there were other children in the household. Sometimes, women kin came to help, and that eased a lot of the burden and the worry for the husbands.

Jan-nell had no choice but to keep moving up the trail. They possessed limited food, and they needed more water. She had not the luxury to lie upon her back for a moon or two, and she did not wish her young child to help her bear another. Though Jan-nell knew she could birth the babe herself, as she had done with Mira-nell, she did not wish to do so here on this mountain with not even a tree for comfort or shelter.

Though Mira-nell offered her a warm potato, Jan-nell had no appetite. Perhaps later she would eat. For now, she kept her eyes on her footing on the trail as before and tried not to panic.

Nearing the bend in the trail, Mira-nell gave out a cry and pulled on her mother's cloak. Jan-nell looked back at her. The child's face was rapt as if she had seen the One before her. "Look," she said, pointing ahead.

On the trail, silhouetted by the morning sun, a tall woman stood with feet spread wide apart, a hand on an upright spear that towered far over her head. The woman's short red hair was set afire by the golden rays behind her. She wore a cape and woven pants with high boots made of goat hide. Her stance was powerful. No doubt she could bar their way further up the trail since Jan-nell possessed little strength to push past her, much less fight her for the right to pass, if that was her intention.

Before Jan-nell could ask what she wanted, another tightening spread across her belly. She was prepared for it this time, only turning slightly to hold her staff with two hands as she breathed with it.

When Jan-nell finally raised her head, the woman with the spear stood a few paces from them. Reaching into a pouch by her waist, she brought out two small leaves and offered them to Jan-nell. "Chew and swallow the juice but not the leaf."

Jan-nell examined the leaves, sniffed them, and then raised an eyebrow to question the stranger.

"It will pause your labor," the woman explained in quiet tones.

"Pause it?" she questioned with suspicion. "I have used plants to speed a birth and to ease it, but not one to make it stop. I know of no such plant. Where did you find it?"

"It grows in the waste places of the mountain near the edge of the snows." Then she added, "It will not harm the babe."

Jan-nell crunched on the bitter leaves and nearly retched as the vile fluid filled her mouth. With effort, she managed to swallow it.

The woman offered a rueful smile and put a strong hand on her shoulder in comfort. "'Tis awful it is true, but it does the work." Then her brow furrowed. "The pull of the earth hastens the birth. We must get you to shelter and off your feet—and soon. Let me lighten your burden. That will help some."

Taking the pack from Jan-nell's back, she slung it over her shoulder and did the same with the water jugs. It was then that she noticed Mira-nell. "And how fare you, little one?"

"I am well," she answered, still awestruck. "Are you one of the warrior women?"


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