Nala’s Story, Part Twenty-Two

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[505 words – Word-A-Week]”How could you purchase us from the market and bring us here?” she hissed, anger rising. “Why did you save me? Why did you bring me here?”

To satisfy himself with the flesh of slaves.

“How dare you ignore my outburst and dismiss me as nothing?” Her voice rose an octave. “Why did you force me into this story-telling deal with you? Why must you anger me util assassination is the only end?”

He mocked you each night, dodging your attacks.

“You made me the fool, pretending to be unaware, but you knew of my intention to attack you.” She stared at the ceiling before continuing. “Why? Why did you do something so infuriating and foolish?”

He intruded in the flower garden.

“Why did you go there? Why couldn’t you have left me alone?”

A peripatetic existence. How dare he?

Nala’s rage built with each screech, each question unanswered, each humiliation suffered at the hands of wealthy men like Shui. She grabbed his collar and shook him, the dagger lying forgotten on the bed.

“Why are you like this?” She shook Shui again.

….you need to rest…

“Why are you a villain?” Tears clouded her vision.

My name, you have never asked. Not that anyone ever does.

“Why do you make me feel this way?” There was an ache in her heart that she couldn’t explain.

If this is damnation, then I do not wish for salvation.

Her eyes stung and she could no longer see his face. She felt pathetic. The knowledge of what she had felt and vehemently denied could no longer be contained by a façade of anger and bitterness.

“Why do I believe you to be innocent, Shui?”

In response, the doors burst open, the sound absent from her egress resonating in the chamber. Nala dropped Shui, seized her dagger and spun to confront the intrusion. The commander led a dozen guards to Nala.

“You,” he snarled, eyes narrowed. “I knew a harem slave could not be trusted.”

“You are mistaken,” Nala replied, choosing to ignore the insult. “This man has not murdered anyone, there has to be another explanation.”

His thin lips curved, and he bared his teeth. “I know that.”

The dagger almost slipped from Nala’s grasp. “What?”

“I know he is innocent,” he continued, his eyes showing contempt for her. “Shui and his ilk would weaken the Han Dynasty with their progressive thinking.” His eyes ignored the dagger as if it was inconsequential – and it was, the commander was flanked by his guards.

A wave of fear washed over Nala. She was inexplicably afraid of the commander. “What do you mean?”

He clicked his tongue, his grin widening. “This man wanted to abolish the slave trade!” he bellowed. “He fears conquest! A man has no destiny but by the sword, and this foolish man mocks a tradition set by the most ancient of rulers!”

Nala was overcome with relief as a single thought filled her with hope: He is a good man.

Nala’s Story, Part Twenty-Three

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications and is currently attending Northern Arizona University. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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