Sunday, March 21, 2010

Warrior, from Songs for the Dragon King, by Vivian Hadding

She was sitting by the river folding her cloths. The sun brilliant in the west casting violet and crimson shadows over the trees. She stopped and inhaled deeply, feeling a little less alone. It had been a long winter and she welcomed the promise of spring. She closed her eyes and thanked the spirit of the ancients. It would be a year come summer since she escaped the Emperor and his men. She knew there was still a long struggle ahead. She didn't dare relax. She knew Lord Osamu had his spies about....those that knew her not, but had been taken in by the Emperor's power and charm.

She shook her head forcing thoughts of him out of her mind. He had never loved her. She accepted this now and knowing the truth gave her the strength to keep him from crippling her heart. She could see it all so clearly now...he had only wanted to possess her...keep her half alive...a puppet to torment and control. Exiled that's what she had become...an exile from her own home....her family's home. She had given up everything, even her dreams...but she no longer cried. She was free. She had made it this far without him...without any man not even the help of the Dragon King.

The woods rang softly with the sound of birds, wings fluttering gently. Day creatures began to settle for the evening. She opened her eyes and stood, the rest of her clothes were still drying on a branch near the river's bed. She stretched her arms overhead, first to one side then the other. The wind joined her and she began to sway to its rhythm. She danced with him...Fujin, with him and for him and the Rei...spirit of the trees. She danced for all the ancients and her own soul.

He watched her across the river. She was graceful, independent, yet there was an air of loneliness about her, a sort of sadness she hid within her dance. She strayed closer to the river now...only a few yards away. He moved closer too, edging his way slowly, quietly towards her. Her eyes flew open and locked with his. She seemed frightened at first, uncertain. She shifted slightly ready to run or fight if need be. She was trying to decide, her eyes wide and honest, they hid nothing from his gaze.

"Who are you!" She demanded, her voice straining for balance.

"Easy" He answered. "I mean you no harm."

Wordlessly she swept her arm and a branch seemed to dip and drop to her hand. "You have not answered my question." She persisted.

"You may call me Ikomorushi." He stated simply.

She shifted slightly to his left. Though he was across the river she knew not what weapons he might possess. "What are you doing here?"

"I was passing through the forest to Yushinu". He answered.

"Yushinu is abandoned, even I know that." She countered.

"I have been away a long time." He sighed. He was tiered and not in the mood for this.

"Why were you spying on me?"

"I was not spying on you." He said flatly. "I told you the truth. Now will you let me continue or would you rather fight?"

"I will be gone before you cross the river." She stared at him coldly.

"And leave most of your laundry behind Mistress? I think not." He added.

"I've already lost what's most important. Is it your intent to test me?

He gazed at her again with more thought than before. He could take her and they both knew it, yet it would not be an easy win. She had the forest on her side... Amaterasu's priestess perhaps and he really had meant her no harm.

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