I

“Jacey!”

Jacey Meiner-Jija winced at the jab in her side and snapped open her eyes. Juna DeRain scowled at her.

“What are you daydreaming about now?”

“I’m listening.”

“To what?”

Jacey glanced beyond the bars that surrounded them at the Targoian soldiers, more commonly known as the giants.

“You’re trying to hear what they’re saying? They’re all speaking Targo. What good is your listening going to do?” Juna snapped.

Jacey bit her tongue. “If we are meant to be slaves in a Targo house, we might as well begin to learn the language.”

“And what have you learned then, Jacey?”

Jacey hadn’t turned back to her, still watching them. She had learned quite a bit actually. She had learned that they would not be leaving this camp for a few days, which she considered a good thing after the day of hard walking they just underwent. Food rations would be given to them in about thirty minutes.  It had also been Commander Heddwyn Borut who attacked them, although that did not surprise Jacey in the least. Everyone in Ketekey feared Commander Borut for good reason.

“Well?”

“Nothing much.” Jacey shifted the baby she carried in the sling and leaned back. “You can’t learn a language in one day.”

“Well, someone here has to know Ketekey. How about finding out if they have any water?”

“We’ll get water soon enough I’m sure.”

“Well, I would like some water now, Jacey.”

Jacey looked at Juna. Her mistress’ daughter had undergone a sad change in appearance since they were first captured the night before. Her normally flouncy clothing drooped sadly and her hair seemed more plastered to her head than curling around it in the multitude of curls like it normally did. Dirt streaked her face and arms and marred her skirt.

“I think it would be better if we wait.”

“Jacey,” her voice took on the ring it did whenever she was about to command her, “I–”

“Am in no position to bargain. We are equals now; don’t forget that.”

“That’s nonsense.”

“Perhaps. After all, Aldroian isn’t at war with Targo. I might actually get free.”

Juna scowled. “Like they would believe that. You have no proof. Anyone can speak two languages.”

“It still may be a possibility, as I was simply a bond servant hired out before the war ever began.”

“With two years left I might add.”

“And hardly any way to fulfill them.” That was another thing she learned: after food was handed out, they would be divided among Commander Borut’s men as the prize for the raid. Targo had prospered extensively since the war began as a result of the legality of slaves in their country. With fifty or so men in the camp, chances were she and Juna would be separated.

Juna scowled. “YOu could have at least helped me with Trevon instead of carrying that child most the day.”

Jacey automatically tightened her hold on the babe. Ever since she relieved Adela from carrying her baby and made a sling out of her shawl, Juna had been glaring at her. At least now she took her vengeance while the mother slept so she did not feel more indebted. “She needed more help than you.”

“Trevon is heavier than  that baby.”

“But Adela just had her three days ago. She shouldn’t have even been walking.”

“That doesn’t change that you should have taken the baby.”

“Look at it this way, Miss Juna.” Jacey leaned against the bars. “At least they’ll treat you decent.”

“And how do you know that?”

“All Targoians treat women decently when they have young children. You’ll probably get some kind of job like working in the kitchen.”

“And how do you know that?”

Jacey just smiled faintly. “Everyone does.”

–Next

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