"I'll think about it."
She was silent for a few moments, her hands in her lap. "Are you and Tamar summer friends?"
"Summer friends." She looked at me with wide-eyed frankness, and the baffled look on my face must have told her that I had not the faintest idea what she was talking about. "Well, you know. During the summers, when we're with the sisterhood, some of the women have summer friends. Maydan and Jolay, for instance."
"You mean they're lovers."
"Right. Summer friends." She took a swig of water herself. "Of course, some women just aren't interested in that sort of thing. Erdene is one of those-poor Saken! And then there are women who have all-year friends. But most of them end up like Janiya."
"What do you mean?"
"Commanders of sisterhoods. And then they see their all-year friends only in winter."
"Wouldn't those be winter friends, then?"
"You'd think that would be the way it worked, wouldn't you?" Zhanna winked at me. She brushed a strand of hair from my forehead, and laid her hand gently across my face. "I'll talk to Tamar about shaman training, too. We can discuss it later."
"Tamar and I aren't lovers, but we're blood sisters," I said.
"Ohhh," Zhanna said. "I'd wondered why the eldress sent you to us together! Usually new people are split up."
Janiya strode over, a slightly grim look on her face. I braced myself, thinking that she would surely be here to confront me about my ability with the sword. But she squatted down beside me, looking a little ashamed.
"I shouldn't have let you come along tonight," she said. "Ruan was right to question it, and even after Tamar protested, I should have ordered you to stay here. You could both have been killed-especially you, in the thick of the fight with a sword you barely knew how to use." I felt a wave of relief at her words, followed by a rush of shame. Was I that unskilled with my weapon? "But I did, and luckily you both came through with no permanent damage."
Janiya tucked a blue bead into my hand. "You proved your courage in that first fight, little sister," she said. "I'm not sure what you proved by coming with us into the second fight-courage or foolishness, or perhaps that you felt yourselves to be sisters. But I think you earned a second bead then." She placed a second bead beside the first on my palm. "Both you and Tamar." She patted my shoulder. "Rest and let your body mend itself. You're to take it easy as much as possible until May dan says you're recovered."
As I lay around camp with Jolay, I worked on embroidering my black felt vest. The picture of the winegla.s.s was quickly completed: shaky, but I supposed that was almost appropriate. I needed an image for my life at Kyros's-other than a horse, because I still wasn't ready to try to make a picture of a horse. I could embroider a shovel, I supposed, for the manure.
I had supposedly shovele
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