Every muscle in her body hurt, but she had to keep going. Surely after the next one they'll let me rest. She'd said the same prayer after the last three and still more kept coming. She finally figured out that they realized the only way she was going down was if she was so exhausted, she could no longer lift her sword. She was quite close to that point already. She'd been fighting for an incredibly long time, and her arms and legs were shaking. Only the thoughts of what would happen to her, if she were bested, kept her on her feet and moving. She had to defeat them so they wouldn't beat her. That thought, and the memories of other tortures she'd faced in the past, were the only things that kept her moving.
Her thoughts shifted to the last punishment she'd received because one of the other opponents had finally bested her in the arena, after fighting so many other men she was in a staggering fog. Her Master had been furious that he'd lost money on her and his men hadn't had to work hard to hold her as the Master swung his whip. It had taken her a long time to recover from that beating. The Master had obviously realized his mistake when she couldn't fight for days after and he'd lost money again on her. From then on, her beatings were administered with the strap and her recovery was much quicker.
She let out a relieved sigh when she saw her next opponent. He was huge, but that was an advantage for her. She was fairly small, only five feet, six inches, but against the likes of the six feet, five inch giant facing her, this was a gift. She was very fast, even as exhausted as she was and she used it to her advantage. As long as she kept his sword away from hers, she could win. All thoughts were on her goal of victory, the weary and aching muscles shoved aside as she weaved and kicked and basically ran circles around the imbecile they'd sent in to fight her. It was a swift victory and as her opponent fell, not to rise again anytime soon, she took a moment to catch her breath and quickly survey her surroundings. Something she'd not had time to do before now.
She had known she was in an arena. She'd heard the cheering, but had no time to notice anything else because the first of her opponents had been upon her almost before she was forced out the door.
As usual, she'd woken up in her tiny, dark quarters to one of her Master's men banging on her door. They led her straight to the arena – after she hurriedly donned the clothes they tossed her way while leering at her nakedness - through gloomy tunnels, the sky not even visible. Now she realized by her surroundings that she wasn't on Terous any longer. She'd never seen a red sky or blue tinted trees before. She turned and marveled at the brilliant colors of nature she could see on this strange world.
“Your Majesty.” Talah bowed and then stood up, addressing her Queen. “You sent for me?” The tall, athletic woman watched her fair Queen as she turned at her voice.
“Yes, Talah. Please find out about that warrior we just witnessed and for heavens sake, find somewhere for her to rest. She has to be completely exhausted,” Queen Myla said concern for the warrior plain on her beautiful features.
“I'll see to it immediately, Your Majesty,” Talah replied with a slight bow.
“Stupid men. How can they treat people like that?” the Queen scoffed angrily.
Talah knew it was a rhetorical question.
“Shall I dismiss the rest of the warriors?” she asked.
“Of course not,” the Queen waved her hand. “Our warriors can use the practice.”
Talah bowed even further, hiding a smirk at her Queen's temper, something her subjects knew well. “As you wish, Your Majesty.” Talah turned and headed down the steps and toward the entrance of the arena. It didn't take her long to find the man in charge of this little event. The challenge was to convince him to let the warrior go.
Talah bowed to the scruffy looking man. “Queen Myla wishes you to care for your fine young warrior then she would like to speak to her.”
“I don't care what your Queen wants, she's my slave. I say when she stops, when she rests and if she speaks to anyone. She belongs to me and I'll do with her what I want and when I want. Tell your … queen to forget it. I say she fights,” he sneered.
Talah usually had a good reign on her temper, unlike her Queen, but certain bigoted people brought it out of her. Before she had time to think, she grabbed the man and hoisted him into the nearest wall, her angry face filling his view as she growled.
“Watch your tongue, little man, lest you lose it. I don't care for your disrespectful attitude toward OUR Queen. In addition, might I remind you that you are here, on HER planet, at HER invitation? She may and can demand anything she wishes and she wishes to meet that warrior. Are we clear on that?”
The man's bug eyes were watering and he was finding it hard to breath with the warrior's tight grip on his throat. He hurriedly nodded and gasped for breath when she let him loose and backed off a short ways, preparing herself if he attacked her or called his man down on her.
“Good. I'll get her,” Talah said. She didn't even wait for a response, but turned and headed into the arena, well aware of his angry glare. Her warriors were waiting at the entrance and saluted as she strode up to them. “Who's to fight now?” she asked.
A tall brunette stepped forward and saluted. “I am, Captain.”
“Great Sonya. Give me a minute to help the female warrior out and then you may have your chance at the next man they send in,” Talah gave her a wicked grin, which Sonya returned nodding slightly at the implied suggestion. No more being nice. None of them had liked the way the young warrior had been treated.
“Captain, will we be able to fight the off world warrior woman?” Her admiration for the excellent fighter obvious.
“Not today, Carmie. She's exhausted. The Queen wishes her presence.”
The warriors bowed as Talah wished them good hunting and turned. She strode out through the arena entrance and headed toward the warrior. She noticed the woman was leaning against the wall, breathing heavily and even from a distance Talah could tell that her limbs were shaking. She stopped a fair distance from the warrior so as not to startle her and spoke.
Kylker was almost in a daze. She was so exhausted that keeping her eyes open was a chore. At the female voice, she lifted her head and her eyes swept the very tall woman in front of her. She had to be close to six tall, with long, dark brown hair braided intricately hanging down her back. The penetrating brown eyes watching her showed intelligence. She wore armor and had a gleaming sword at her side. Kylker groaned. Surely this wasn't her next opponent. This one she wasn't sure she could beat. “I don't think I can,” she whispered sure she would be beaten but beyond caring.
“Can what, Warrior?”
“Fight you,” Kylker whispered.
“Warrior, I have no wish to fight you. I am merely here to offer a helping hand. I'm sure you are extremely tired and wish only to rest. However, my Queen asks for an audience before you rest. May I assist you?” Talah offered her hand.
Kylker stared at it. She'd never been spoken to so politely or offered help in any way. She wasn't sure what she should do. She only knew that if she were ever going to move from her current spot, it would only be with help. She gratefully placed her hand in the much larger one held out to her.
Talah smiled warmly at the diminutive warrior, but did not dismiss her abilities based on her size, even as she was forced into the arena. Her skill knowledge had been apparent even as she countered the first attack. She had expected a capable fighter but had been truly amazed to watch her in action and was eager to discuss her fighting strategies after the warrior had rested.
She led the warrior out of the arena and assisted her up the stairs toward her Queen.
Kylker was entranced after one glimpse of the Queen. She's gorgeous. And what a smile. Only years of concealing her emotions prevented her from responding to that smile with one of her own. Kylker hoped it wasn't rude to stare, but she couldn't help herself. The Queen was as tall as the warrior Talah was. She wore a lavender gown decorated with tiny golden beads woven into the silky fabric. Her long, golden red hair intricately braided with a golden strand of silk to match her gown. Her braid lay nestled over one shoulder. Bright green eyes were staring back at Kylker and she couldn't decide if she saw laughter in them. Her worn and dusty clothes were suddenly embarrassing to her, next to the Queen's finery and even Talah's polished armor and fine attire. She nervously ran a hand through her short, blonde hair, nonplussed at her unusual embarrassment. She also felt a bit envious of the women's long tresses, something she had learned the hard way, were a severe handicap in battle. She wondered why it wasn't a problem for Talah.
She realized that the warrior beside her had bowed as the Queen addressed her, but Kylker knew that she didn't have the strength to attempt it without landing on her face, although she made a feeble attempt to at least nod.
“Warrior, I am pleased to meet you”, Queen Myla smiled. “Have a seat. I'm sure you are tired.” Myla pointed to the seat beside her.
Kylker shook her head. “No thank you, Your Majesty. I must be getting back to the arena. My Master will be looking for me shortly.” Kylker only hoped she was strong enough to fight him if he decided she deserved to be punished for accepting the queen's invitation.
Myla waved her hand dismissively. “Him. He should be shot. How dare he treat a warrior in the manner he treats you? No, my dear warrior. You will not be returning to the arena anytime soon. I have said so!”
Kylker wasn't sure what to do at this statement. Did the Queen really think that her Master would listen to her? She didn't know him if she did. “Your Majesty, I don't mean to be rude or anything, but my Master does have the final say. I belong to him and until I have fulfilled my contract, I must do as he bids.”
“What contract is this?” Queen Myla demanded.
“I don't have it with me, Your Majesty,” Kylker began but was interrupted.
“I took the liberty, Your Majesty. A copy from the papers submitted to allow off worlders to depart their ship,” Talah finished, holding out a document to her Queen.
Myla took the form and quickly scanned it. “How many battles have you fought for him?” she demanded, eyes flashing at the injustice she surmised from what the document said and what she figured was missing
“I do not know, Your Majesty. I have lost count,” Kylker whispered, extremely exhausted at this point.
“Sit Warrior,” Myla demanded, her tone broking no argument.
Kylker knew a command when she heard it and sat.
“Talah, get her some food and drink.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Talah bowed before turning and striding off.
“How long have you been in this man's service?”
“Four years, Your Majesty.”
“Then I believe you have more than satisfied this contract, especially if what I've seen today is any indication of how you are treated and how you have had to fight,” Queen Myla huffed.
Kylker thought it wise to keep quiet. She couldn't argue with the Queen, but she knew her Master would not give her up. Talah returned shortly and placed a tray in front of Kylker, situating it on the stool that sat beside her chair. Kylker was famished and dug into the food and drink placed before her with a relish. As she ate, she realized that another battle had begun in the arena. She looked over and was surprised to see a warrior, dressed much like Talah, fighting one of the men that Kylker was supposed to have fought. Kylker watched the warrior battle and was very impressed with her abilities. She wondered if Talah was as talented with the sword she wore on her hip.
“Talah, please see that our guest is settled into a comfortable room and has a long, hot bath,” Myla ordered. “I will speak with this so called Master of hers.”
“Oh please, don't do that,” Kylker implored. She knew what kind of beating she'd get if he was angry at her and she knew having this woman tell him something he didn't want to hear would be enough to set him off.
“Warrior, this is my planet. I am ruler here. What I say goes and your Master has no more rights here than you do. And if he disagrees with me, he may leave, without you,” she stressed.
Kylker closed her eyes in mortification. They didn't understand. He had a whole slew of men to back him up and she couldn't fight them all. A hand full of female warriors would be no match for them. Kylker opened her eyes when she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. She looked up into those bright green eyes, that looked steadily back at her with firm conviction and what she thought was compassion.
“Trust me, Warrior. My Warriors far outnumber your Master's men and from what I've seen, his men are no match for even our relatively new warriors. There will be no trouble I assure you. Now go with Talah and rest.” Myla smiled gently. “We will speak again after you have rested.”
Kylker gave in. She was just too tired to fight anymore. She nodded again and then let Talah lead her where she would. She found herself in a bathing room, standing in front of a large tub full of hot, bubbling water. She looked longingly at it.
“Do you require assistance, Warrior?” Talah asked gently, knowing that pride in a warrior was a good thing and also a thorn when trying to help them.
“Please,” Kylker said, too exhausted to let pride take over. Her pride had been taken down a notch or two over the last four years, but had never been squashed. She allowed the fellow warrior to help her disrobe and enter the tub. Her legs shook violently and she had to sit to stay in the tub. Talah handed her a cloth and sand soap, touched with a strange but soothing fragrance. Kylker gratefully thanked her before scrubbing her entire body. After rinsing, she did it again, not knowing when or if the opportunity to be clean would come again any time soon. Once her hair had been given the same treatment, she shyly asked for Talah's help in getting out. She was wrapped in a soft robe and escorted to her sleeping chambers. Kylker was too tired to argue. She lay down and was asleep before Talah could cover her up.
Talah shook her head at the obvious mistreatment that the warrior in front of her had been forced to endure. She hadn't missed the whip marks on her back or the thin figure amid the muscles. The warrior had obviously been fed only enough to keep her alive and fighting, but no more. Talah decided to be safe and posted a couple of her own warriors outside the bedchambers, just in case the warrior's Master decided to try anything foolish. She grinned, but it held no humor. She wished her would.
Talah stood a short distance from her Queen as she spoke to the warrior's master. Talah had escorted him to the Queen after her request for an audience and then had been asked to take her current post. The Queen hadn't said why, but Talah didn't miss how nervous the warrior's master was in her presence. Good. I hope he remains intimidated by me. Talah couldn't relax in her current spot even though she knew the Queen was perfectly capable of defending herself, her fighting skills were almost equal to Talah's. It was still Talah's duty to protect her and she didn't like doing it from a distance.
Queen Myla was in quite a temper when Talah returned to her side after the man had left. Talah ducked as several objects were thrown her way. She was smart enough to let her queen rant.
“Insufferable male! How dare he speak to me like that? I ought to have him strung up!”
Talah ducked again as the tray from the warrior's food went flying past her. “We don't string people up, Your Majesty,” she said soothingly.
“Well, in his case, we should start. Talah, take your warriors and escort those men off our planet, immediately! If any of them fight, kill them. And inform that insufferable man that if he dares come into our star system again, his freighter will be vaporized, no questions asked!”
“Yes, Your Majesty!” Talah bowed, again hiding her smirk at her Queen's fiery temper and went to do her bidding gladly. She had no use for men in general and especially ones who mistreated others. She gathered up her warriors, gave them the Queen's orders and then joined them as they carried them out. They were soon watching the freighter fade into the fiery sky, several of their own warriors in combat aircraft following to make sure they exited as ordered.
When Talah returned to her Queen's side, she was in a much more pleasant mood, at least until Talah informed her of the Warrior's condition. She ducked again as several objects, replaced in their proper spot by one of her warriors, went flying by her head for the second time. Once the Queen had calmed down again, Talah was asked to bring the Warrior to her when she next awoke. Talah bowed and went to finish her duties for the day.
Kylker awoke much later and realized it was dark outside. She jumped out of bed and tried to find her clothes. Her Master was going to be furious and the longer she waited to face him, the worse her punishment would be. When she couldn't find her clothes, she donned the robe she'd worn the night before then threw open the door to her bedchambers, stopping in surprise at the two warriors standing guard at her door.
“May we assist you, Warrior?” the tall blonde warrior on her right asked her.
“Um, yes. I can't find my clothes and I must leave,” Kylker stated.
“There is no rush, Warrior.”
Kylker turned at the voice to see Talah striding toward them.
“You are dismissed.” Talah addressed her warriors before turning back to Kylker.
Kylker watched the warriors salute Talah before turning and heading down the hall. She then turned to look at Talah. “I need my clothes, please. He's going to be furious at me for being gone this long.”
“There is no need to worry. He is gone,” Talah informed the Warrior with a gleam in her eye. “He will not be returning.”
Kylker just stared at her, not sure she'd heard her right. “What? What do you mean he's gone? He left me here?”
“He wasn't given a chose. The Queen ordered it.” Talah grinned at her.
Kylker still just stared at her, not comprehending it all. “He'll just come back.”
“Only if he wishes to die.”
Kylker didn't have a response to that. She looked down and noticed that Talah was holding a bundle of clothes. “Are those mine?”
“Yes. The Queen wishes you to join her for dinner.” Talah held out the bundle of clothes to the Warrior. “May I ask a question, Warrior?”
Kylker blushed. “I'm sorry. Kylker. My name is Kylker Rayshley.”
Talah bowed her thanks. “Talah Sotome, at your service.” Talah stood up in time to see a small smile on the Warrior's face. It made her whole face light up. Talah smiled in return. “How about you get dressed and I'll escort you to dinner?”
“Okay. Thank you.” Kylker went into the bedchamber and laid the clothes on the bed. She took off the robe and reached for her trousers. They weren't hers. In fact, nothing in the bundle was hers. They looked almost exactly like Talah's outfit. Kylker must have stared longer than she thought because a knock sounded on the door.
“Are you ready Warrior Kylker?”
“Um, no. Warrior Talah there has been some mistake. These are not my clothes,” Kylker spoke to the door.
“Your clothes were almost beyond repair so we brought you new ones. Do they not fit?”
“I don't know.” Kylker dressed hurriedly and opened the door. “They fit fine. How do I repay you for them?”
“Queen's orders and we don't argue with the Queen,” Talah responded with a grin. “Shall we?” Talah held out her arm for Kylker and once Kylker had taken it, led her down the hall.
Kylker tried to memorize where they went, but there were too many hallways for her to keep track of. She found herself in front of a large set of double doors where another pair of guards stood. They saluted Talah as she approached and opened the doors for her and Kylker to enter. Kylker would have stopped dead in amazement at the elaborate room, but her arm was in Talah's and she had to keep moving because Talah did. Kylker took in what she could as she was led into the large room and up to the front where a large table stood. The queen sat in the middle seat and Talah led Kylker over to the Queen and held out the seat beside her. Kylker didn't know what to do besides sit, so that's what she did.
“I'm glad you could join me, Warrior,” Queen Myla said. “You look much more rested now.”
“Yes, I am. Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“Her name is Kylker Rayshley, Your Majesty,” Talah said as Kylker took the offered seat to the left of the Queen.
“Kylker, a pleasure. I'm Queen Myla Tormontle. You are my guest.”
“Your Majesty, I have to ask. Warrior Talah said that my Master is gone. Will he be back?”
Myla turned to address the warrior. “Kylker, he is no longer your master. He was informed that your contract had been fulfilled and that he was to leave, post haste. He will not bother you again.”
“But, he owns me,” Kylker returned, not understanding what the Queen was trying to say.
“Not any longer, he doesn't.”
“Then do you?”
“Of course not,” Myla retorted. She regretted her temper when the Warrior flinched as if slapped. “Forgive me. Kylker, I know that on other worlds things are much different so let me tell you how it is in our world. There are only women and girls on our planet. There are no men. Each woman has a responsibility to her community and her people. We take care of our own. No one person owns another. We each have roles to fill to benefit the whole community, not just ourselves. With that, we live in peace and harmony among ourselves.”
Kylker tried to understand such a world, but she'd only seen the worlds where slavery was the norm and beatings were given for any reason or no reason at all. She had survived by becoming the best at something and trying to win her freedom. If she wasn't fighting for freedom any longer, then what was the point of fighting at all? “Then who do I belong to?” she whispered.
“You belong to yourself,” Myla said gently. “You are free to do as you wish. Since you are obviously a talented warrior, then I'm sure Talah would be more than happy to have you join her in service. If you don't wish to fight any longer then there are plenty of other areas where you can serve.”
“We all serve the greater good, Kylker. We serve each other in our work. I serve my people as their Queen. Talah serves her people as their Warrior. Those are our tasks. We each have tasks to fulfill to keep our community strong and thriving.”
“Let us eat and then we will take a walk. Maybe if you see what I am trying to describe, then you will understand it better.” Myla waved to the kitchen staff and they brought in the meal. Once placed on the tables, the staff joined the rest of the ladies in eating. Kylker spent the time taking in the people around her. The warriors were at the Queen's table. The serving staff had taken up a table for themselves. Kylker saw a variety of women in different clothing, sitting all around the large room. Some wore dresses, like the Queen, but just as many wore trousers like Talah and her warriors. The younger girls wore a mixture. Kylker hadn't seen so many little children in one place ever. They were all shapes and sizes, from infants in mother's arms to teenaged girls. They all looked happy and healthy. Kylker had seen her share of starving children on some of the planets she'd been on and didn't have to worry about these children. Even from a distance she could tell that these children were loved and well cared for.
“What do you think, Warrior Kylker?” Myla asked with an amused smile on her face. She'd been watching the warrior and was entranced by her attention to the women in the room. She could easily read the expressions on her face and was happy that she was pleased with what she saw. It had been quite a while since someone had intrigued Myla the way this Warrior did. She wished to get to know her better.
“I think you are all very lucky to live here,” Kylker replied honestly.
“I think we are too and we are very grateful the Goddess has allowed us to be free and at peace with each other,” Myla commented.
“The Goddess?” Kylker inquired.
“Yes, we worship the Goddess who has provided this home for us. We call her Mother or Goddess, whichever we feel called to at that time. She has blessed us with a wonderful world and we are grateful to her and repay her by taking care of the place she has given us to live.”
“What does she demand in return?”
“She demands nothing, but if we take care of our land, she rewards us with great harvests and plenty of food to eat.”
Kylker wasn't much into worship, but she couldn't argue with that logic. She finished her dinner, quietly thinking about what the Queen had told her and watching the other women in the room.
Queen Myla let the Warrior Kylker eat in peace and spent the time talking with Talah, getting her input into what she thought the Warrior would like to do and where to settle her. Once dinner was finished, the Queen dismissed the ensemble of women and held her hand out to the Warrior. “Shall we, Warrior Kylker?”
Kylker just nodded, placed her hand in the Queen's and let her lead. She just took in her surroundings and listened as the Queen explained what she was seeing.
“The village is spread out around this mountain, which helps with protection, not that we need it very often. Our Warriors are highly trained. Each villager has her role in the community and together we make sure everyone is provided for and taken care of. Any questions so far Warrior?”
“Who pays them?”
“We work on a trade system. Farmer's trade crops for other items they need and they in turn trade for other items. No currency needed and no worries of anyone profiting from something they do,” the Queen explained.
“And the Warriors and yourself?” Kylker asked shyly.
“We are provided with food, shelter and clothing in exchange for our services too.”
Kylker nodded. She understood this primitive concept, but she'd never seen it in action before. “And you have craftswomen to make all the stuff you need?”
“Mostly. If not, then we trade for it off world.”
“What do you think so far? Still impressed?”
Kylker smiled. “Actually, very much so.”
“And can you see yourself living among us, Warrior?”
Kylker just stared at her. “Living here?”
“Yes, you can stay here with us.”
“And if I don't want to?” Kylker asked. “Am I your prisoner?” She tried to keep her tone non-accusatory, but she wasn't sure she'd succeeded by the look on the Queen's face.
“Warrior Kylker, as I have tried to explain to you, you are free. No one owns you except yourself. You are free to leave if that is your wish. I will have my pilots escort you to wherever you wish to go, but I would seriously like you to consider staying on Merda. Our community could greatly benefit from your expertise and I think you would be very happy in our village.”
Kylker was stunned. She'd never had the option of where to live in her life. She'd been owned since she was seven and before that, she couldn't recall much.
Myla didn't miss the shocked expression on the Warrior's face. “You think about it okay? There is no rush to make a decision. I would appreciate it if you would spend some time with Talah and maybe the other warriors. They are anxious to meet with you.”
That also surprised Kylker, but she was too overwhelmed to comment on it. She merely nodded. “Where am I to stay and how do I repay you for these?” she asked, pointing to her outfit.
“Spend time with Talah and we will be even. You can keep your same quarters until you've decided what you'd like to do. Okay?”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“Let's finish our tour and I'll take you to Talah.”
The Queen showed Kylker the rest of the village and explained various intricacies of how the community was run. Kylker liked what she saw. The villagers were self-sufficient and all seemed extremely happy. Kylker wondered if she was missing something, but it all appeared genuine at first sight.
Myla finished showing Kylker around and then took her to the barracks and training grounds. Talah saw them coming and headed over to her Queen, bowing as she did.
“Talah. I brought Warrior Kylker to spend some time with you and your warriors. She'll be staying in her same quarters tonight. When you two are done, could you escort her to them and then bring her to breakfast in the morning, please?” Myla smiled at her second in command.
“Of course, Your Majesty,” Talah bowed again, smiling at both women.
“Warrior Kylker, I'll leave you in Talah's capable hands. I will see you for breakfast.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Myla realized that the Warrior had never bowed to her as her subjects did. She knew warriors were extremely proud and she assumed that hers gave her that respect because she was their Queen. She wasn't Kylker's Queen, at least not yet. In this case, she'd have to earn that respect. She looked forward to the challenge. Myla nodded to the two women and headed to her office.
Talah waited until the Queen had left before turning to the Warrior Kylker. “Would you be interested in some sparring?”
Kylker smiled. “I'd love to. I'm a little stiff and maybe that would help.”
Talah nodded. “Follow me.” She led Kylker to the training grounds and held out a wooden blade as she took one for herself. They squared off, Talah bowing to her opponent.
Kylker didn't return the bow, thinking it was meant to throw her off. She charged her as soon as she was looking at her. She was quite impressed with how quickly Talah recovered and they had an exciting sparring session. Kylker was sweating and she noticed that Talah was too as they bent over and tried to catch their breath. Kylker stood and realized that the entire grounds were filled with warriors, grinning at the two of them.
“Captain, can I be next?” Talah looked up as Carmie called out from beside her.
Kylker looked up and smiled. “Me or her?” she asked, curious.
Carmie bowed to Kylker. “You, Warrior. It would be an honor.”
Kylker was momentarily stunned at that, recovered and stood up. “I'd be honored.”
“After some water and a short break,” Talah put in. “I know you are use to hours of battling, Warrior, but we are not as inhuman as those men,” she spat out, her distaste evident.
“Of course, Captain,” Carmie smiled. She grabbed a nearby ladle and brought the Warrior some water as Kylker and the captain took seats on a nearby bench to catch their breath.
After a drink and a short break, Kylker stood up. “I'm ready if you are,” she said to other warrior.
Carmie stood up and bowed to the Warrior. She held out her hand. “After you.”
This session was even shorter than the one with Talah. Kylker realized that the Captain was obviously the best among her warriors, answering the question of why she was captain. She'd given Kylker a run for her money. Carmie was much like Talah in style, but less use to fighting on her feet and having to adjust to things thrown at her. When they were done, Carmie again bowed to her. “Thank you Warrior. I would be honored to learn from you whenever you are willing to teach me.”
Kylker was stunned speechless by the flattery and obvious sincerity of the warriors' words. She was even more surprised when other warrior clamored for their chance to spar with her. Kylker spent the evening sparring with various warriors and learning more about this incredible community.
To Be Continued
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