Nala sighed and leaned against a table cluttered with scrolls. Some lay there with strips of animal hide tied around them. Some were unfurled, smooth stones holding down corners. Some still yet there were thin sheets made of brass, figures etched into it with a dagger such as the one Nala hid behind her back.
She sighed. It had been the seventh day since she had seized the role of educating the Han champion in the ways of Nubia, Egyptus and the Nile civilization. She made no attempt to hide her exacerbation at fulfilling the task.
In seven days, she had yet to land a successful attack. He dropped his guard over and over, his confidence and arrogance revealing themselves each time she was thwarted.
He was faster, stronger and infinitely more skilled than she, but she possessed the antithesis to his skill: the stubborn desire to end the history lesson of the mongrel noble, she fully disregarded the aftershocks of her behavior.
The man cleared his throat, as Nala’s thoughts left her mute, fingering one of the smooth stones on the table.
“Mi’Lord,” she replied, the saccharin smile dripping with derision, “if you would allow me to continue, I will finish my story.”
“Well?” He retorted, his brows furrowed. “What are you waiting for?”
Nala felt her genial mask crack. The constant barbs and slights she heaped on him failed to effect the his smug look of indifference.
Nala wielded her best weapon: her smile. Aiming it at him, and without breaking eye contact, she cleared the table with a sweep of her hand.
“Oh my goodness,” Nala declared in a shrill falsetto. “A thousand pardons, Mi’Lord, I must be weak from all this talking!”
He strode to the table and stooped to retrieve the delicate parchment. Nala threw her hip into the table and the edge caught him in the forehead. He grunted and took a step back. Nala lashed out with her foot and struck him in the stomach. He doubled over, clutching his midsection and collapsed to his rear. No retort came from his abhorrent mouth.
If not the dagger, thought Nala, then a death of a thousand injuries will suffice.
She brought the dagger to bear and lunged at him.
His foot landed squarely on her toes, and she staggered, her opportunity lost. Her arms flailed to the sides to maintain her balance, but the momentum from her lunge deposited her in his arms. He lifted with his arms, and with the other leg, pushed her over his shoulder.
Nala cartwheeled and landed on her back, the dagger clattering away. He recovered first, rose to his feet and walked to the fallen dagger with purpose. He picked it up and returned it to her, handle first as he had the three days prior.
“Nice try, slave,” he whispered.
Nala slapped away the proffered dagger and climbed to her feet. She snatched it and stomped on his foot as hard as she could.
“You witch!” he bellowed, jumping back and holding his foot with both hands.
The smile dropped from her face as he hopped on one foot and pointed to the door.
Nala walked to the door, back arched and shoulders squared.
A thousand injuries, she thought again, as the guard escorted her back to her sister.