Running Wolf, July 2015
Have you ever dreamed for the impossible?
My heroine, Snow Raven, is a Western historical character of the Crow nation who feels trapped by her role as a woman. She does not like preparing hides, preparing meals and preparing lodges. All she wants is to hunt and raid like her brother and the father who raised her. In short, she wants to be a warrior. Now this would be impossible in many cultures. But many Native American tribes were more tolerant of differences. A man could take on the care-giving role of a woman or stay home and paint medicine symbols on shields and lodges. And, rarely, a woman did decided to follow the way of the warrior. The question is how will she become a warrior and earn her place among the brave protectors of her tribe especially after she is captured by an enemy warrior.
Snow Raven is one of my strongest female characters (#Strongheroines). I am always striving to make my heroes rugged and my heroines resilient. Both my primary characters are tough and powerful, yet with hidden vulnerabilities.
I’d like to share a short excerpt from the opening of RUNNING WOLF, July 2015, where you can see my heroine in action.
Raven lowered herself flat to her horse’s neck and gave Song her head. They fairly flew over the ground.
As she tore over the animal trail, she noticed a tanned-colored lump lying in the path. A fawn, she thought as Song snorted and jumped the tiny obstacle. Raven gaped when she saw that the carcass was a village dog with one arrow sticking from its ribs. At a glance she recognized that the fletching on the shaft was not like the ones of her people.
The hairs on her neck rose.
Raven opened her mouth to scream a warning to her brother, but another scream filled the air, farther away, one coming from their fishing camp. Her brother straightened in his saddle and then did something she had never seen him do. He slapped his open hand on his horse’s broad muscular shoulder. The horse lunged forward as Raven slowed.
“The camp!” she yelled.
“Run,” shouted her brother as he surged past her with Little Badger and Turns Too Slowly on his horse’s flank. Raven wheeled her horse to flee but then thought of the women, caught between the lake and attack. Song seemed to know her mind before Snow Raven did, for her mare raced after the other horses. They broke from the trees into chaos. The men in the village were fighting from the ground as mounted warriors ran at a gallop through the camp upsetting cooking kettles and trampling lodges. She saw that they were Sioux by the cut of the enemy’s war shirts and because they wore their hair in twin braids, like a Crow woman.
Her brother gave a whoop and charged, drawing the fight to them while giving the women and children time to flee in the opposite direction. The Sioux were outnumbered but they were mounted and had the advantage of surprise.
Snow Raven drew up at the woods, calling to the women, telling them to flee in this direction where there was good cover. Raven watched in horror as she saw two of the Sioux break away from the fight to follow the retreating women.
She saw her old grandmother hobbling along at an ungainly trot. Truthful Woman had raised Snow Raven since the time of her mother’s death, but could no longer run because she was bent and her joints were puffy and stiff. With each moment her grandmother fell farther behind, the Sioux in pursuit.
Was that their aim, then, to take captives? Or was this a fight over territory, as her brother had said? Either way they could easily kill her grandmother on their way to the younger, more useful captives.
Raven pressed her heels into her horse’s flanks and gave her first war cry. She swung her bow over her head and reached back for an arrow. The lead warrior dressed in a red war shirt trimmed with long strands of trophy hair grabbed Truthful Woman by the multistrand shell and bead necklaces that circled her throat. Raven vowed the red-shirt would not harm her grandmother, though he was upon her already. Truthful Woman was dragged backward against her enemy’s horse. Her hands went to her windpipe and her face turned scarlet. The warrior shook his hand, further strangling Raven’s grandmother.
Snow Raven screamed again and notched her arrow but was too close to shoot.
She dropped her bow and rammed his horse with hers. Song’s muscular chest collided with the other horse’s flank, causing the beast to skitter sideways. The necklaces broke away in the Sioux’s hand and Truthful Woman dropped to her knees choking and gagging.
Snow Raven launched herself from her saddle onto the warrior’s chest. The thud jarred her teeth as they toppled together from his horse.
Raven landed on top of the warrior. The jolt robbed the wind from the man’s body and gave Raven the moment she needed to draw her skinning knife and lift it above her head. Today she would send this snake to his ancestors and take her first war trophy. The warrior’s wide eyes stared up at her as she thrust, preparing to lodge the knife into the center of her enemy’s throat.
RUNNING WOLF by Jenna Kernan ©2015, Harlequin Historicals
I hope you enjoyed that short snippet from RUNNING WOLF and that you love #StrongHeroines and rugged men as much as I do!
**This post first appeared on Pink Heart Society blog in July 2015**