“Tarak!” Dasodaha called again.
Tarak stamped into the circle, keeping in time with the drums. In his hands he carried his great spear, the staff taller than a man and with an old Mexican saber lashed to the end.
This Tarak spun over his head, then brought down in great sweeps that made the blade whoosh through the air and brought sparks bursting up from the fire. Again and again he swept that spear down and across, and once or twice jabbed it forward with all his might, his one eye livid in the firelight. All the rest of the war party stayed on their side of the circle, stamping their feet and watching how he would fight.
At last, with a final vicious cut made with white knuckles and gritted teeth, Tarak swept out of the circle. The drums continued their beat.
“Nantan!” his mother’s voice cried out. Nantan stayed where he danced, waiting.
“Nantan!” his mother’s voice called again.
Nantan danced out into the open area, grasping his bow. He danced in a circle, facing outward as he held the bow aloft for all to see. It was made of the finest mulberry wood from a perfectly formed tree he had found on the northern slopes after five days of searching.
As the drums continued, he crouched low, pulling back the bowstring to his ear even though there was no arrow. His eyes focused on the darkness beyond the tribe, focusing on an enemy only his mind could see, a Mexican vaquero or one of the dirty Papago. He released the string and imagined the enemy falling.