Captives ("Homeward" Collection) by Barb Hendee, J. C. Hendee
Jan, son of Nadia and Cadell, is conscripted along with every able male in Chemestúk by one faction in a rising civil war. Soon after, another faction burns the village to the ground, leaving Jan's parents and other survivors to seek refuge in an aging keep.
Inside the worn and crumbling stronghold, young and long-ago orphaned Julianna hides away with the survivors and Jan's parents. Left to wonder if he or any others of their men will survive to return home, all she can do is help those around her.
When armed deserters come to raid the keep, Julianna is lost in how to best help Nadia and Cadell, the village elders, keep everyone alive. Soon, she faces choices and actions she never would have even considered in better days.
Meanwhile, Jan has only his wit and trickery, his charming appeal to women and his violin, all of which he has leaned upon too often in a lazy life. To his shock, he realizes these limited skills are not enough to save him as he is pressed into a forced march toward the front line of a battle.
Neither Jan nor Julianna had ever given serious thought to their feelings for each other. Now separated, they both realize they've lost someone important. How far are they willing to go and what can they live with, to stay alive and find each other again?
About "Tales from the world of the Noble Dead Saga"...
No knowledge of the Noble Dead Saga or related works is necessary to read and enjoy these stories. They are written for fantasy enthusiasts in general and not just our established readership. Readers new to this world can step into it through any of these short works.
Tales are organized into "collections" where all stories therein share a theme and/or premise. When one or more link together, subsequent stories will mention "sequel to..." on their covers to guide you. Even so, each is self-contained enough to be your first adventure into this world.
--Barb & J.C. Hendee