Published in Darklaw
Copyright © Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
Epic fantasy | 2017
KAMI RETURNED TO the river’s edge the following day at evensun, when the sun was highest in the sky. As she knelt to splash water on her face, she heard a whistling wind. She walked around a cluster of trees until she heard the sound just ahead.
Under a tangle of trees with limbs that lurched over the water, Avestine was swinging a sword.
She swung with such firmness that the blade drew cries from the air itself, yet she wasn’t swinging at anything. Stepping forward, she thrust with the sword. Tossing the sword into her right hand, she stepped back and locked it into a block against
her phantom opponent. Stepping out and away, she sliced off his head.
As elegant as a dance, she turned and swung around the old trees and brush, striking with one hand and then the other, touching nothing with her blade but the air. Kami sat down to watch, ever more astonished by Avestine’s control and stamina.
When the dance ended, Avestine fell to her knees and placed the sword on the ground. She removed the tie from her long hair, spread it across her blade, and bent forward, resting her forehead on the blade. She remained that way while Kami’s thoughts drifted.
“What are you doing here?”
Kami awoke and scrambled to her feet at the harsh voice, wondering how long she had been sleeping.
“Who are you to spy me?” Avestine’s nostrils flared. The mass of her shoulders, like a wall of stones held together by mortar, broadened with menace. Kami raised her arms defensively when Avestine seized her. “What do you think you know?”
She tossed Kami backward and paced. She worked up her rage as she shouted at the sky and issued threats Kami couldn’t even visualize. The fit continued for some time, and then she stopped to catch her breath. “If you ever spy on me again,” she whispered with a malevolent rasp, “I will sever every limb from your body.”
The quiet voice terrified Kami more than all the previous heated threats. She couldn’t will herself to move as she watched Avestine strip off her shirt. Layers of muscle and pulsing veins shone beneath a sheen of sweat, but white scars spoiled the image of robust health. The longest cut through her chest across both breasts. As she slipped off her boots and tossed her trousers onto a bush, Avestine kept her eyes leveled at Kami.
Only after Avestine had walked down to the river could Kami breathe freely. She turned and ran.