Nakano Asuga, Warrior

I breathe hard, stopping to catch my breath as quickly as I can before Nulin turns around and bellows at me again. My sword clashes against the bedraggled wooden pole, standing forlornly in the ground and missing hunks of wood. “STOP!” roars Nulin suddenly, and I drop my sword to the ground as others do the same around me. A year, and he still ponders over why I’m less compact than the others. He still has failed to realise that I’m a woman. “Tomorrow is the battle between Maleshi and Krii.” A cheer erupts around me at the mention of our village. “Apprentices are warned to obey when battle commands are given… and senior warriors may keep that in mind too,” this last remark directed at me. I glower defiantly. I won’t be cowed.
“In line!” Nulin thunders. I stand to attention, in battle stance, awaiting the opposition. This battle has been going on for years. Obviously, Maleshi turned out to be much more fearful opposition than we assumed. “Da dé hao, yonggan, Jianchí bùxiè.” The warrior aphorism: fight well, be brave, persevere. My mind flies back to the last battle… when I lost Amala. The only other female warrior, my best friend… dead. I squeeze my eyes shut to stop the tears.

Suddenly, a horn sounds to announce the arrival of the opposition. Once again, I must shove away the thought that this is pointless, that while men are fighting, losing lives, women are at home, and have no chance to save them. “Male chauvinists,” I mutter. I take slow, deep breaths, clenching my fists as Nulin and the head of the Maleshian army exchange greetings. The fight begins.

I hack my way through the hordes of warriors and through the mess of blood and dirt I see Nulin nod at me before he is again taken into battle, knowing I am the best all the warriors here… before a sword swipes at me and I spin around to find myself face to face with the Maleshian army leader. “You fought admirably.” He says, his voice disturbing me, a cat’s rasping growl. He lunges at me viciously, swiping at my helmet… knocking it off and revealing a mane of long hair. He gasps and scowls, before recovering with an effort. “Single combat,” he sneers. “No calling for backup. We fight honourably.” I nod and resume fighting.

Hours of battling later, I thrust the sword down hard onto his armour, pinning him to the ground. He struggles wildly but I don’t surrender until he is all out of energy. I know I have won. “It’s over,” I mock.
He manages a weak grin. “That’s what Amala told me before I –.” I am not mocking anymore. I slam my sword down and he goes unconscious.

As I arrive back to camp a huge cheer erupts but dies down as I drop the body down at my feet and walk away. I will not hide who I am.

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