Read Jabone's Sword Online

Authors: Selina Rosen

Tags: #Science Fiction

Jabone's Sword

Selina Rosen


This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed
in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents
is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2008 by Selin Rosen
First Dragon Moon Press printing January 2008
Dragon Moon Press
P.O. Box 1714
Calgary, Alberta T2P 2L7, Canada
ISBN10: 1-897492-05-7
ISBN13: 978-1-897492-05-5
First Baen Ebook, February 2009
A Baen Ebook
Distributed by
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471


The Kartik was no longer tortured by Amalite raiders. Their shores were mostly quiet, and occasional problems were easily and swiftly dealt with. In this time those who had sacrificed and fought reaped what they had sown and enjoyed their lives and their loves. They built homes, had children, and told stories of the time of the Great War.

But children grow too quickly and peace never lasts.

* * *

Jabone watched his mothers play, scuffling in the dirt. They moved a little slower than they had when he was a boy, but not much else about them had changed. His birth father tapped him on the shoulder and he jumped.

Arvon laughed at his son and sat down on the rock beside him. "So . . . just what were you thinking that I was able to sneak up on you? Your madra would be so very disappointed."

Jabone smiled at his fadra. "Then we won't tell her."

Arvon ruffed Jabone's long, dark hair making a mess of it. "All right if you'll tell me what you were thinking that put a crease in your brow."

"It was nothing really."

"Then you shouldn't mind telling me."

Jabone sighed. "Jena was supposed to be the mother of my birth, and when she was trying to conceive my father Dustan tried to impregnate her." He stopped there.

"Because they thought I might be the problem," Arvon said, then prompted, "Go on."

"So if things had gone differently Dustan would have been my fadra and Jena would have been my madra. I was thinking how different I would have been if they had been my birth parents instead of you and Tarius. I would be blond like you and light skinned. I wouldn't be the Katabull . . ."

"Are you unhappy with yourself, son?" Arvon was confused. "Or are you just not happy with Tarius and me as birth parents?"

"No, no." Jabone patted his fadre's back. "I am happy with all my parents, all of them. In fact I was just thinking that as different as I would have been in features and in cast that my personality would have been no different at all. I've had four parents to care for me, love me, nurture me, to train me and mold me into the person I am . . . "

He faded out then and Arvon knew what was troubling his son. He shook his head and smiled because as much as it upset his son it really was funny. With all the trouble Arvon had, in his youth and in his life in his homeland, it was hard not to be amused. "Jabone . . . You really must stop worrying about it. It isn't a deficiency nor is it the horrible burden you think it is"

"Fadra, you don't understand. How could you? How can I not worry about it?" he asked in a troubled tone. "My children will grow up like my poor friends Tarius and Ufalla, with only one father and only one mother. I have seen how the different-sexed couples react to one another. There isn't the same companionship between Tarius's parents as there is with you and my father and certainly none of the different couplings I have ever seen share what my mothers do. I mean look at them . . ." He pointed to the two women still wrestling and laughing as they rolled around in the dirt. "They have been together for over twenty years yet they are as much in love as they were on the day they met . . ."

"As are Harris and Elise," Arvon reminded.

"It's not the same, fadre. You know it's not the same. There is a certain equality that is just missing in different couplings," he said, obviously very worried so Arvon squashed his own amusement.

"And you were just thinking that perhaps if you had been Jena and Dustan's birth son instead of mine and Tarius's you might have been queer because they are so much less masculine than us," Arvon said, peeling away the layers. Jabone had in that moment the same look he'd had on his face the morning that they had caught him playing with his madra's sword.

"I'm sorry, Fadra." He looked at his feet ashamed.

Arvon laughed and hugged his son. "My son . . . You are no disappointment to anyone, and you shouldn't be to yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. You are a very normal, healthy man. You will find a young woman who you share equality with, you will fall in love, and your children won't grow up wanting. You worry too much." He smiled then. "You are so like your madra I sometimes wonder if she didn't have you on her own with no one's help. You worry so much. And if you hold onto the idea that love must be like what Tarius and Jena have, then you will never find it. What they have is something no one I have known has and it isn't because they are queer."

"Fadra . . . What was wrong with my mother, why couldn't she have me?"

Arvon wasn't surprised by the boy's question in fact he'd been expecting it for some time now. The question stirred up bad memories in his mind that darkened his features. His change in demeanor wasn't lost on his very intuitive son.

"What's wrong? What happened?"

"You have heard the story of how your madra fooled the whole of the Jethrik, won a war for them, how their king repaid her by shooting her through with an arrow, how Harris saved her, and how Jena came here to be with her?"

"Of course, Fadra, I have heard nothing but stories of the battles and the wars all my life."

"But there are other things, private family things, that are not told in those stories. Deep hurts and things too personal to be shared in stories told around a camp fire. Things that only a few of us even know, and don't wish to repeat. We haven't told you because quite frankly it hurts too much to recall, but I think maybe it's time you heard the whole story. You shouldn't hear it from me though, because it's not my story to tell." Arvon looked at the two scuffling women and frowned. "And you shouldn't ask your madra because Tarius will not tell you. She couldn't. The thought of it hurts her more than any physical wound she has ever been inflicted with. You must ask Jena. Ask your mother; she will tell you."

"I don't want to dredge up unhappy memories for anyone, least of all my gentle mother," he said.

"Then you'll never know because it isn't my place to tell you and I know that Tarius will not. You don't give your mother enough credit. I sometimes think Jena is the strongest person I know. I think you have a right to know. I think maybe you need to know why Tarius is your birth mother and not Jena. Maybe that will explain for you just why they are so close. They have been through hell to be together. That and not the fact that they are queer is what makes them different from other couples, any other couples that you will ever know."

* * *

Jabone watched as his mother walked up from the lake wearing a colorful wrap-around dress and running a comb through her long, blond wet hair. It had been days since he had spoken to his fadra. He really didn't want to approach his mother and ask her to talk of something that had caused her much pain, but his curiosity was getting the better of him, and just as his fadra had told him when Jabone had asked his madra her features had grown dark and she had said it wasn't important and then changed the subject.

He walked up to Jena and she stopped combing her hair and smiled at him then gave him a big hug kissing him on the cheek. "I sometimes forget how big and beautiful you are. You look so much like your madra when we first met. Just bigger." She kissed him again and gave him yet another hug. Of all his parents it was Jena to which he felt the closest, Jena who had cared for him through his infancy, even nursed him with help from a potion, and it was Jena who lavished the most attention on him. He had always felt he could ask anything of her and yet he couldn't bring himself to ask her about this family secret.

She looked at him and smiled. "So . . . Are you going to tell me what has got my baby so worried that he's eating half of what he normally eats?"

"Mother!" Jabone laughed and slapped playfully at her shoulder. "I'm hardly a baby."

"You'll always be my baby," she said. "So . . . what's bothering you?"

"I . . . nothing . . ."
"Don't lie to your mother boy," Jena said in a scolding tone, but she was still smiling. In fact he couldn't remember her ever being the least bit cross with at him. "Tarius told me what you asked, Jabone. I will tell you if you still want to know."

He took her hand and started leading her back towards the lake. She followed, no doubt knowing where he was taking her. There was a spot down by the water where he went to think.

He sat down on the log that overlooked the lake and pulled her down beside him, but he was still silent.

"So?" she asked.

"I asked my fadra . . . he said I should ask you, that Madra wouldn't tell me and he was right. Mother, why is it that you were not my madra?"

"Honey, you know why. I couldn't get pregnant. At first the witch Jazel suggested that it was because of Arvon and so Dustan tried, but . . ." She shrugged. "You know all of that, so I'm guessing that's not what you really want to know."

"Why would Jazel so quickly come to the conclusion that there was something wrong with my fadra?"

* * *

Jena had been sure she knew what was on Jabone's mind, but part of her had been hoping that he really wanted to know something simple. Like when he'd asked where he came from and they explained sex and cross pairing to him and then he'd looked confused and said that he had just wanted to know if he'd been born in the Kartik or the Jethrik.

Jena frowned realizing she wasn't going to get out of this that easily. She steeled herself and answered his question. "Because I had been pregnant before, Jabone."

"By Dustan?"

It was a good question. If a woman lost a child in a cross-breeding partnership, she changed fathers in case the father's blood line was what was wrong.

"No . . . and not by Arvon," Jena said. She took a deep breath and let it out. "I had lost a baby long before we even thought to make you. When I was unable to become pregnant Jazel explained that the loss of that first baby was most probably what had made me barren."

"I don't understand," Jabone said. "How did you get pregnant? Who was the father?"

"It's a very long story, and I'm afraid that there are times in the story when neither myself nor your madra look very good, but you must understand we were both victims of a world you have never known." There was a catch in her voice and her son patted her back.

"You don't have to tell me Mother," he said. "I'm sorry to have opened an old wound."

"Not all the memories are bad ones, Jabone." Jena smiled. "From the moment I saw Tarius I was in love with her."

"Everyone knows that, Mother."

"But there is something only we know, something that doesn't go into the stories we tell. You know that everyone in the Jethrik thought that your madra was a man, how she tricked them all to fight in their army?"

"I have heard the story a million times," he said with a sigh.

"What you don't know, what we've never told you and has gotten lost in the stories is that I also thought she was a man." She laughed at the sudden change in the expression on his face. "Oh, so now I've got your attention. I was completely and totally in love with her and I had no idea, none at all, that she was a woman or the Katabull or that I was queer for that matter. At the time I was young and very naive. She tried to put me off, to spurn my affections; the problem was that she was also hopelessly in love with me. So much so that she risked everything to be with me." She smiled then. "She got injured saving Persius that first time and Robert gave her some powders which knocked her completely out. My father, who very much wanted her for his son in law, also had no idea she was a woman and he had her taken back to our house. Well, I never did behave in the way a proper lady of the Jethrikian court is supposed to behave and I crawled into bed with her. My father caught us in bed together, and was berating me so Tarius offered to marry me right on the spot. Now you have to remember this was the Jethrik where same-sex relationships are barely accepted. I still thought she was a man.
thought she was a man except her sword partner, a man named Tragon." Her voice changed to match her emotions. "Now Tragon wanted me for himself, and not only did he know Tarius was a woman, he also knew that she was the Katabull and he was scared to death of incurring her wrath."

Jabone had grown up hearing Tarius and Dustan weave wonderful tales and he was a good listener. Jena would have laughed at the look of concentration on his face if what she was telling him didn't carry such painful memories in its folds.

"Tarius started teaching me to sword fight, which was at the time forbidden for woman in my country of birth. On the same day she put a sword in my hand she also made love to me for the first time. That was really when all the trouble started because you see I wanted to please Tarius as she had pleased me, but I thought she was a man and she was sure that if she told me the truth that I would reject her. And . . . as much as it pains me to tell you this my son, in all honesty being a stupid and ignorant young woman I probably would have . . ."

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