Tag Archives: Victorious Maiden

11 – Spend Eternity With Me

Cover-RM

[1000 words]They skirted the shadows and headed to the gate. Both knew their destination: a section of wall obscured from the sentries by an abandoned hut. Hidden against the wall of the hut was a bundle of wooden stakes. Had anyone surveyed the wall more than cursory, they would’ve noticed the grooves and scratches from climbing. Despite Asis’s tired arms, she leapt and stabbed the stake into a groove. She pulled herself up, adrenaline surging, and stabbed hand over hand until she reached the top of the stone wall. She crouched down and looked over to see Nemr only a few grooves behind her. She smiled, waved, and pretended to smack his fingers as he gripped the crown of the wall.

He brushed away her hands and reached into a recess hidden amongst the gaps of large stones, and retrieved a coil of rope. Looping one end around his stakes, he placed them into the recess and tugged on the rope. Satisfied it would hold his weight, he jumped away from the wall and landed below before jumping again. He repeated this five more times and stood at the base of the wall beckoning to Asis.

Asis smiled, grabbed the rope, and sprinted the length of the wall, running against the side. She made large turns, and by looping back and forth, ran down the wall to meet Nemr. Exhilaration stole her breath and she had to suppress laughter lest she alert the sentries. They had done it: they left the city unbeknownst to the guards.

They walked along the Dawn River. It meandered through the Dawn Consortium and started to sink into the ground from a millennia of erosion. She could see the Dawn Road level from the edge of what was beginning to be a sheer cliff down to the banks of the River of Dawn. A city ahead of them was split atop the cliffs and below another waterfall. It wasn’t as glorious as the Falls of Dawn, but a series of small cascades a little taller than an adult man. That city rose in the distance, painted white by the light of the moon. Asis was tired, but being with Nemr she felt alive – able to achieve great things. No parents, no spear lessons. Just her, her friend, the cliffs and the moon overhead. Everything was perfect, the stars seemed to glow as bright as the moon and there wasn’t a cloud in sight to block the celestial field of twinkling gems.

Asis looked at Nemr, wondering if he revered the celestial light show above. She stifled a yawn into her hand and asked her friend, “What brings us out here, Nemr? Everything okay in the city?”

Nemr fidgeted and kicked rocks toward the cliff edge. He didn’t meet her gaze.

“Nemr? Talk to me.”

“Well…” he muttered, focused on an imaginary blemish on his tunic. “I don’t know how to say this, Asis.”

Asis stared at her friend. “Nemr, you’re not making sense,” she huffed. “Speak your thoughts.”
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10 – Before Oblivion

Cover-RM

[1000 words]More warriors ran to catch up with Harris, many of the seasoned archers nodded toward Kamaria as they ran by … they all knew of her own amateur prowess. Many of them had offered her tips and revealed the secrets of the way of the bow. Kamaria stopped mid step as she realized that it wasn’t just warriors meeting the bandit force, but shopkeepers and merchants.

Merchants like Talib, she thought. She knew everyone in the village needed to band together to defeat this new menace. Kamaria started to follow the defending force, but a large hand gripped her shoulder and prevented her egress.

“Kamaria, you are not ready for battle!” Another patrolman spun her around. And shoved her in the direction of the Dawn Road. “Gather the young ones and take them along the Dawn Road to the next village.”

When Kamaria tried to argue, the large man crossed his arms over his barrel chest. “Worry not about the defense of this village,” he said solemnly, “but the scared children it is now your duty to protect!”

“But, I…”

The man adjusted his scabbard, and knelt in front of Kamaria. She could see he was holding back not only tears, but doing his best to keep the uncertainty of the impending battle from her. “If we fall to this bandit horde, it will be our children that suffer the greatest loss.” He placed his hands gently on Kamaria’s shoulders. “It is easy to find someone to die for a cause, but it is infinitely more difficult to find someone to live for one.”

Kamaria nodded, and the patrolman whose name she couldn’t recall ran to meet his comrades in arms. Kamaria looked toward the impending battle once again and did what she was told. She found a pair of village warriors loading children into a cart with the village elder and her personal guard. Kamaria slapped away and scowled at the hand of the warrior attempting to assist her into the cart.

“Don’t worry, child, the warriors of our village are more than capable of repeling a rabble of bandits.”

Kamaria looked to the aged elder and her guard. “Mistress Akua, if you are so certain, why do we flee from the battle?”

Elder Akua looked to the upturned faces of the children sharing the cart. It was a sea of concern, quivering lips and eyes wet with fear. Elder Akua motioned with her eyes toward the scared children. “Our warriors will prevail.” The words were spoken with authority, as if the outcome were predetermined.

Kamaria wasn’t satisfied. The words of the elder seemed hollow as the cart lumbered away from the village she’d been born in. The village, Talib and archery were the only things she knew. She felt betrayed again that day, not by a rival, but this time by her own people discounting her worth to defend the place that had given her so much. She was angry she’s been corralled with the children and forced from her village against her will. She looked around and determined to prove she was capable of fighting.

“I’ll not sit here and be coddled like these babies,” Kamaria hissed and leveled her most defiant glare at the village elder.
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09 – Fidelity Demands

Cover-RM

The Writing Reader does daily prompts, and I wanted to write today. I didn’t follow the prompt precisely, but click through and you’ll understand. Here are another 1000 words for this story:* * *

The morning following Ejaz’s return had been rowdy. Jahan woke to the sound of laughter and cheers, which meant her brother had invited his comrades to breakfast. Jahan would come downstairs as the last morsels of food vanished from the table. She rolled over and looked out her window to see that the sun had not yet risen. She sighed; it was just like Ejaz to not care who he woke this early in the morning. He expected the fidelity he received from his men to carry over to his home, even the passage of time.

Another cheer erupted from below. It was now clear to Jahan she would get no more sleep. She kicked off her covers, swung her legs over the side of her bed and almost shrieked at the cold touch of the floor. Normally, her small window allowed in the morning light, heating her floor to a comfortable temperature. She hopped to her chest of drawers, knelt in front of it, and grabbed a pair of trousers and a clean tunic. She glanced to her closet at the single gown hanging from a golden hook in the wall. She detested wearing gowns, and their assorted accompaniments, but when her brother was promoted to Marquis, her parents forced her into one for his ceremony. The single gown hung in testament to her thoughts on what was considered the ‘proper’ role and dress for a lady. She smiled at what she suspected Ejaz’s friends said about her when they were certain she wasn’t listening.

Dressed, Jahan ran her hands through her short-cropped hair. It’s getting too long, she thought, and she decided to have it cut that day – if she could avoid her brother and his entourage. She stood at the top of the stairs and sniffed the still air, before wrinkling her nose at the smell permeating from below. Regular bathing wasn’t high on the list of priorities of the Denizens of Dawn. Long hours of training and exercising followed by longer hours of partying into the night left an acrid odor amongst the army. Quaint bistros and taverns suddenly had no seating indoors, for if the warriors were allowed in the shops, everything would stink. When the Denizens of Dawn were in the city, some merchants hired doormen to sample any patrons attempting to enter. Most just moved their wares to the sidewalk and the open air.

Jahan crept as quietly as she could down the stairs, ensuring no loose boards betrayed her movements. She wondered how much of her attempted stealth was required, as it was likely her brother and her friends were already drunk.

“So what’s going on with Jahan?” a gruff voice asked from the kitchen. “She doesn’t have your fondness for war.”

“I noticed,” Ejaz muttered from the same room. “She’s grown used to a comfortable life in the city.”

“So?” the gruff voice asked after a loud burp. “Are you going to take her to the next battle?”
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08 – Superfluous Spear

Cover-RM

I stumbled across The Writing Reader while doing the internet thing. Liz hails from Arizona like I do, so I went with the fiction prompt, and here are 1000 words of flash fiction for you:

* * *

Although the moon rose bright on the horizon, Asis had difficulty navigating the shadow-filled sand. The Cliffs of Dawn and the great falls stood in the distance. The moon had just cleared the most known landmark for as far as she had ever dared to venture. Asis stopped and looked toward the City of Dawn, then back to the second largest city in the Dawn Consortium; her home.

Master Gahiji made his laziest student train into the night. Asis’s arms ached like she had spent the entire training session practicing with a spear of stone rather than the smooth wood. Her arms were stiff as if they had been cast in gold at the Forges of Dawn. Not that Master Gahiji had stayed awake to oversee his student. He joined the revelers celebrating another day stolen from the fates. Master Gahiji staggered to the training hut and dismissed Asis; her punitive training incomplete. As she made her way home, she moved slower than she would’ve had she not put in the extra time training.

The citizens of city were shouting in raucous laughter. With most of them in attendance of the nightly celebration, Asis was left alone to her thoughts – thoughts as dark as the silhouette of the City of Dawn in the distance. She passed by one of the temples to the Gods, her dark thoughts made their way home. She thought of excuses to stay away from what used to be a welcoming home. Her parents, unable to hide their dissatisfaction in her training, would likely instruct her to do her chores and go to bed. She disliked her parents’ constant reminder of the sacrifices they made to win her a chance to train with Master Gahiji. She couldn’t conclude if she hated the constant reminder or the spear training more.

She knew her parents cared for her. Despite the constant nagging, only parents that truly cared would have even attempted to get their daughter to train with Master Gahiji. Perhaps they care too much, she thought. How many times had they forbade her from gallivanting with Nemr and Fatma? Gallivanting was her parents’ word, not hers. Too many times, she thought with a heavy sigh. Asis cursed the Gods and the ancient traditions that prevented her from moving away. Her time was near, and she clung to the arbitrary date and counted the nights. She knew her dagger skills were sufficient to train young warriors in the towns and villages along the Dawn Road. She could even use what she learned from Master Gahiji to supplement the dagger arts with hunting. She reluctantly admitted, that even the worst student of Master Gahiji was a class above others.

Despite taking her time, Asis had successfully traversed the patchwork avenues of her city, and although she couldn’t see her home, she knew it was not far ahead. The dark thoughts and the musings of her life ceased as if someone had dammed their flow. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She thought she detected movement in the shadows. A primal fear consumed her and she had to remind herself that the monsters of lore simply didn’t exist. Her intuition screamed that she should run, but which way?
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07 – Here Comes the Sun

Cover-RM

I’d hoped that Chuck’s flash fiction prompt would be up already, but he’s at Gencon, so I’m not sure when it will post. I’ll try to get another flash up today if/when Chuck’s prompt posts. Here are a 1000 words written to SM Cadman’s Beatles prompt:

* * *

Kamaria moped silently as she crushed more indigo root. The tapping and grinding noises the pestle and mortar made were almost hypnotic. Although she controlled the it, she felt as if like the root, her concentration was ground asunder. Whereas the ground indigo root would eventually be made into a salve, she wondered what would be the ultimate fate of her concentration. The event she witnessed that morning stuck with her like a burr clinging to her dress as she gathered the ingredients to her salve. She should’ve been pleased that the aged apothecary had entrusted her to start her training on a salve requiring the rare indigo root, but visions of Jezebel with Talib paraded around her mind as if they were conquering heroes displaying their mettle upon a defeated city. She found her mind wandering so much that she had to check and recheck her duties.

In the dim light of the apothecary hut, Kamaria found it difficult to avoid thinking of them. Talib was a constant presence in her life since that fateful day. Jezebel had been one of Kamaria’s closest friends. Contrary to the present situation, they had been playmates, both under the watchful eye of Talib. They’d shared more than one adventure and had stretched truths to keep each other out of trouble.

But, as the moon traversed the night sky again and again, Jezebel had changed. Her interest in boys had grown, and the tales of her exploits had pushed Kamaria away. When false whispers of Kamaria’s own exploits had started getting back to her, Kamaria ended their friendship, convinced Jezebel was spreading the falsehoods. The girls had pursued different paths since then. Kamaria walked the archer’s path, and Jezebel clung to her boy toys.

Kamaria’s mortar of crushed indigo root slipped from her hand, clattering on the soft floor of the hut. In the morning silence, Kamaria feared some calamity had befallen her. The only calamity was her own inattention. She stooped to retrieve the mortar, examining it and its contents. She chastised herself; she had to maintain a tight schedule to meet the demands of the apothecary master. With her distracted, even the simplest tasks took much longer than they should have. If she didn’t pull herself together, she would be at it well into the night. Nighttime was her time, and she wouldn’t let the traitorous Jezebel take that from her as well.

As if distraction were a force she could touch, the village gong began droning, causing her teeth to hurt. The frantic clashing roused all against the silent morning. The gong itself was forged at the City of Dawn – it was believed it would last well past her own lifetime. Kamaria paused just long enough to look out an open window to see bandits moving silently among the huts of her tiny village. There could be no mistake as to their intentions, their weapons drawn.
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06 – Sleepless Nights

Cover-RM

[1000 words]”Little sister!” Jahan heard her brother calling over the cacophony of the Denizens of Dawn. Jahan tried to blend into the surging throng, but Ejaz effortlessly followed her, the crowd parting to facilitate his egress.

She sighed. Was there no escape from his notoriety? She thought as she tried to skirt the edges of the gathered faithful. Life before he joined the Denizens was full of laughing and playing tag with wooden swords. Even before he was elevated to his position, he still had time to visit his parents and sibling. But his meteoric rise in the ranks and his pairing with the orphaned Zoraya left him striving to adhear to the high standards and the legend of the Marquis of Dawn.

“There you are!” Jahan blinked in surprise not only from her interrupted reverie, but the shock as Ejaz slammed his gauntleted hand down her shoulder, making the younger sibling stagger under the weight and the strength of her elder brother. Jahan was expected to be of sturdier stock than the average maiden. And she was, but her strength was overshadowed by her free-spirited brother.

“Brother.” Jahan forced a smile as hands reaching out to touch Ejaz found purchase on Jahan’s person. If it weren’t so commonplace, she might have recoiled from their touch. More than one hand mad contact inappropriate if they weren’t anonymous faces in a tight crown of onlookers.

“It has been a while,” she replied, keeping her voice even and uninterested. Jahan treaded her brother’s fame wearily. She knew that if she showed the slightest inkling of interest, her brother would regale the gathered crowd with one of his infamous war stories, and cajole his younger sister to act out scenes – often as the villain.

“Indeed it has, little sister!” The crowd parted and flowed back on itself to allow the siblings to make their way toward the palace. No work would be completed today until the Denizens of Dawn had their fun and returned to the palace. It was carved into the sheer rock face, and was the demarcation between the Denizens of Dawn and the Artisans of Dawn. “How has the city fared the last few weeks?”

“The same way you left it, brother.” A roar of approval erupted at Jahan’s comment. It seemed as if they wanted to hoist their hero and his sister on their shoulders, but a look from Ejaz dispelled any plans to follow through with said actions.

Ejaz declared something about being sore from riding his horse, but the shouts and slaps drowned out what Ejaz was saying. If the Marquis of Dawn wished to walk to the palace, then who among them would assert their own will over his?

As Ejaz blathered on about his conquests over the last few weeks, Jahan only nodded and made placating noises. The stories were always the same. They always ended the same was too: Ejaz would wonder out loud when his younger sister would join the ranks of the comrades he warred with. Promises of easy duty were bandied about. No one would dare mess with the younger sister of the Marquis of Dawn. Jahan wondered if the crowd’s adulation to her older brother were as universally held as it seemed. It wouldn’t surprise her if some fame-addled soldier decided to take out his scorn of Ejaz on a newly-enlisted Jahan.
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05 – Disclosures and Decisions

Cover-RM

[1000 words]When Master Hunter Gahiji deemed that her humiliation for the day was complete, Asis strode confidently toward the center of the city. It was a broken confidence, marked by bruises and torn clothing, but Asis held her confidence tight and ignored the looks she intercepted from the corner of her eye. Waiting at her destination was one of Asis’s dearest friends. His name is Nemr, and he was one of a handful of feral children allowed to remain in the city. While most feral children were filthy curs, Nemr had the soulful eyes of an elephant and the unwavering stare of a cheetah. He was fastidious in his cleanliness, and his light complexion turned more than one gaze. He claimed his almost straight-brown hair was the result of being struck by lightning. Asis had heard other tales to account for his unique straight hair, but whether the story of lightning was true or not, a jagged scan ran from his shoulder to his navel. No hair grew within a few fingers from the scar. He and his feral pack sister Fatma, Asis’s best friend, were well liked by the citizens of the city. They allowed the eager Namr and his small sister to perform chores, or fetch things, and any other task they deemed worth sparing a few coins for them to perform.

“So,” Asis said as she sat next Nemr, a perpetual grin on his hardened features, “any gossip from the nobles?”

Nemr’s grin widened and he nodded, his hair flopping up and down. “Someone from the forests bordering our domain to the south came through here while you were training.” Nemr made a face when he said the word and emphasized Asis’s training as a gentle reminder that as a feral, he didn’t need to do such things. “They had said that there was urgent business with the Elder, and that it involved bandit tribes to the north.”

Asis regarded her friend, and forgot to hide the astonishment from her face. The feral children traded favors and chores, but their primary use was the gathering of information. The more they thought they knew than you, the more power they held.

Nemr crossed his arms, satisfied with himself. “It sounds as if warriors are preparing to leave to investigate the claims.”

Fatma crossed her arms, mimicking her feral brother.

Asis grinned broadly, twisting a handful of her black hair, attempting to straighten it between her callused fingers. Despite repeated attempts, her hair sprang back into the tight curls she had been born with. There were stories of women in the city who laid their hair between two flat stones and sat motionless in the oppressive sun for hours while the hot stones pressed their hair flat.

“Sounds like an adventure,” Asis replied, “I just hope the Elder will require the services of our most renowned hunter, Master Hunter Gahiji. If she can press him into service, I’ll be free from his tyranny for the duration of the operation. Perhaps if some tragedy were to befall him…”

Nemr nodded solemnly, as if accepting such a curse could in some way make it happen. Asis’s tribulations were not the first he had ever heard of, but not of someone he knew so well.
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04 – Betrayals and Beginnings

Cover-RM

[1000 words]With the grace of the woman she knew she was, calendars be damned, she thought, and an eagerness beckoning from childhood, Kamaria launched herself and dodged swells of sand and grit. Her bare feet barely disturbed the sand, but her exposed legs felt the wind steadily increase. The biting intensified, and she started to feel a desperation she hadn’t felt since a bandit tribe claimed her parents. She would’ve been next if it hadn’t been for the actions of a travelling merchant. A merchant that afterward stayed in Kamaria’s tiny village. She believed it a self-imposed penance for not saving her parents. Her village was so small; it didn’t warrant a name. She hadn’t thought about that merchant in years. She encountered him regularly in the course of village business, but he seemed to watch from afar, always smiling. The memories of the merchant welled from within and her desperation was suddenly replaced with worry.

Is Talib in trouble? The thought raced through her mind as a sudden downdraft halted her run. She didn’t fall, but she was forced to slow down.

She breached the perimeter of her village and the sand storm seemed to mellow. It was as if the sand itself was trying to prevent her from her goal, and once she had achieved it, it’s protestations were no longer necessary.

Kamaria frowned, her instincts had been right, but it was her interpretation that had been wrong. Standing in front of the village fire pit was Talib, the merchant she had worried about. He had been her friend for the longest time after her parents died. After a while, though, they’d drifted apart. It wasn’t as if a child and a merchant traveled within the same spheres of influence, there just wasn’t any commonalities between them. Kamaria suspected her desire to stay close to the man was based on a feeling of debt to him for saving her life.

Kamaria sidestepped when she saw Talib wasn’t alone. Peering around a hut, her anger started to rise. She knew she had no right to be angry, but try telling that to her gut. Talib stood close to Jezebel, Kamaria’s long-time rival. Ever since Jezebel had moved into the village aged only twelve summers, she’d broken the heart of every young man’s heart. Kamaria had felt an instant hatred toward her, but maintained a cool demeanor.

Why was she with Talib? For reasons unknown to her, it inflamed Kamaria. Bile rose and bit the back of her throat. Her insides felt as if it were a discarded rope – gnarled and twisted. She knew it wasn’t proper to eavesdrop, but she had to know why they were meeting. And not just any meeting, but a secret meeting in the twilight of night’s last throws.

As silent as the wind itself, Kamaria scaled the wall of the hut and scampered across the thatching. She pressed herself into the thatching, making herself as small as possible. Guile only got her so far; she needed to get closer, undetected. She lay on her back, watching the scene below play out, up-side down.

“I’ll end it; I swear to you!” Talib spoke in a hushed voice, to Kamaria, his desperation evident. “Trust me!”
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03 – The Falls of Dawn

Cover-RM

[1000 words]The City of Dawn was abuzz with the shouts of its citizens as their most celebrated warriors returned from a weeks-long mission into the Sands of Time. Bandits quaked at the sounds of the Denizens of Dawn as they moved across the endless sands of their kingdom, dispatching any who dared fly the bandit banner. The mere mention of their movement spurred bandit tribes to vacate their territory. None dared attempt to challenge the Denizens of Dawn, or lay siege to their glorious city. Nestled against a giant cliff, a protected waterfall thundered almost as loud as the well-wishers welcoming their gallant heroes. The waterfall provided not only drinking water, but also a method of communication from the lookout posts atop the massive granite wall. Message vessels quickly thundered over the falls to rest in a receiving pool policed every hour of every day.

Many had attempted to find the source of the water, but none who started the journey had ever returned. Some speculated that once they had reached the source, they stayed to reap the vast riches of gold that washed down stream. Gods and goddesses of wealth and privilege lived there, and the trivial riches that flowed were of no concern to beings that held life and death in their hands. For centuries, the denizens of Dawn needed only to gather the metal from the water. The river that meandered through the City of Dawn boasted many forges and water wheels. Freed from manual labor, the City of Dawn spent most of their time in leisure. Other towns and villages had to fight for survival, but the Denizens of Dawn fought for sport.

Their metal weapons, armor, and other wares were highly sought after, for not only did the Denizens of Dawn dedicate heir time to the art of warfare, they boasted the finest armor and weapons the world over. It was rumored that the city surrounding the waterfall and river was merely home to the craftsmen and artisans who worked from sun up until sundown creating merely for the sake of improving each other’s designs. The best design was an achievement short lived, as competition was fierce. The Denizens of Dawn, when not campaigning, lived in the rock under the falls. No one had ever seen the alleged city under the rock, but no one had denied it either. When the sun fell behind the granite wall, it cast long shadows across the city, hence the name. In addition to this, precipitation frequently passed over the city, leading to fires and forges that had burned for generations.

The Denizens of Dawn rode through the streets on their mounts of exotic horses, captured during campaigns across the sea. They looked more like prevailing gods than warriors. The golden armor they wore gleamed, for as much as they prided themselves in the sturdiness of their armor, they were fastidious in maintaining it. The brilliant capes, dyed from the leaf of the indigo plant rivaled the clear sky in its shade of blue. But, as the sky featured puffy white blemishes, the Denizens of Dawn allowed no such blemishes on their weapons and armor, allotting time each cycle to clean and polish their ensconcements of gold. It was no wonder they seemed god-like in their presence. The Denizens of Dawn believed their land divine and the royal family demigods. The walls of Dawn had withstood sieges lasting many cycles of the moon, and stood centuries.
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02 – Stave the Wrath

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[1000 words – Sunday Scribblings 2]”Again, Asis, again!”

Asis wiped sweat from her brow and glared at her targets. They were eight wooden posts with wooden rings affixed to the top. Each ring was covered with cloth and crude faces were drawn on each one as if children made them. This wasn’t far from the truth, as Asis herself remembered painstakingly drawing on the cloth with charcoal when she was quite young. From the time they were very young, the youth purchased their food and protection with chores – and preparing young warriors for battle was a chore Asis now appreciated, even though she no longer participated in their construction. The targets made poor approximations of bandits. This was her fifth attempt that morning to hit all eight targets in order. No matter the fancy footwork she employed, she couldn’t seem to hit the last target. The first seven targets’ canvas faces were in various stages of disrepair, but number eight remained unscathed.

This spear is too unwieldy, she thought as she hefted the wooden shaft in her hands. She had just graduated from daggers. To her, the stone daggers wrapped in animal hide were a more effective way to fight. She imagined each step with the daggers to be a dance, an almost sensuous dance. The dance would last only a few songs. When she sparred with other students, she always kept eye contact until she landed the killing blow. It was as if she focused on dancing with a partner who was dancing to different music, and her arms and fists danced to yet a third melody. There were whispers that she had taken to the daggers with such skill, that the divine must’ve touched her.

The spear, on the other hand… Not a dance, she thought.

Whereas the daggers were extensions of her arms and fists, the spear was just a tool. No better than digging in the sand. She no longer moved with grace, but seemed to lumber around, flat-footed, flailing with the big stick. As was tradition immortal, she was to create and maintain her own spear just as she had with her daggers, but as many times as she had broken her spear, she devolved into only doing the bare minimum. The whispers of her prowess with the dagger turned to snickers and outright laughter when they thought she couldn’t hear. But hear she did, and each jilt or slight weighed on her heart.

“One more time, if you will.”

The sarcasm of Master Hunter Gahiji was evident. He told Asis of the many wonderful students he taught, and how Asis lacked their most elementary skills. Gahiji was known as one of the strictest instructors in the consortium, and everyone seemed to know it except Gahiji himself. He went on numerous sabbaticals in the desert. Moon or not, he’d always come back unscathed. Although students sought him out, he still felt it necessary to display his strength and cunning. Upon each return, he would declare that only masters of the spear had any business being warriors, and that all other disciplines only served to prepare potential warriors for the inevitable training with the spear. If his arrogance wasn’t so well deserved, Asis might’ve hated him more. As it was, Gahiji’s students were treated as indentured servants. Asis couldn’t believe that her parents swallowed the stories and forced their daughter to train with this man, no matter his reputation.
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