If I did not understand the ‘moods’ of Malefactus I would have been horrified at his whole attitude, indecency, crassness and hate. This is nothing to get twisted about. A man may be kind and considerate to you one day and treat you as filth the next. I take three ‘reverent’ steps backward, as does Tiki. Then we turn and walk to the end of the training line.
End blog post #85
Begin blog post #86
“Antierra, you be good?” She pitches her voice craftily to be heard only by me.
“Yes Tiki” I say in a low voice also. “I be better now, ready to train you as promised.”
“I train already. I good with staff.”
“I hear you good. Pleased I be with you and for you. Now we see if true, huh? Can you attack me as if I man? If you do not I hurt you. Is what must be, Tiki. Here must hate me. I enemy for you. I killer of you. You be killer of me. Never forget basic rule.”
“I not stupid Anti. I know. You be careful, I be true fighter!”
Let’s just say I was warned and should have listened to the changed pitch of voice: that was a moment of revelation a fighter or challenger should always be attuned to.
I choose two worn but serviceable staves whose extender ends have been disabled for basic training. We move away from the others and I make her hold herself ready, staff raised. When I nod my head it means the same as the trumpet in the arena. She attacks and I parry easily. Too easily. Again and again she comes at me and each time I parry even faster. My skills are ingrained now and I want her to realize what it feels like to attack a professional fighter. She finds no opening and soon her white body is slick with sweat while mine is still cool. Fifteen minutes by my count and I call a break to explain.
“You see the problem, Tiki?”
“I too slow for you. No good.”
“No, you good but I too fast for you. Experience, Tiki. I cannot teach experience, so you must copy all I do until you better than me. Try remember every move if can. Every move. Measure moves by sweep, distance. Use foot stones, walls, archways, posts, to measure reach of staff. Know where it be before it go there. Know where it not be – attack there. I say, you be best fighter ever, Tiki, if want to. Just want it. Only that. Now drink and we begin again.”
While she goes to the drinking trough I watch the women training next to me on the right. I know one but the other is new. Slightly older, not a trainee. Three lines of branding on her. Been sold twice already. Unusual. I must watch this development. Something about her I find disquieting. She doesn’t look at me but I know she is fully aware of my presence and the exact distance between us. She could be an attacker sent to kill me. But by whom now? I know I have many enemies since I killed the Prince and the Warmo. I must be on my guard. Tiki returns and flashes her dark eyes at me and smiles thinly. She’s into her fighting spirit now so I change my approach.
“Now I attack you and you block.” I strike at her block making the staff vibrate in her hands. She is surprised at the power of the blow and almost drops it. I stop again to explain.
“This special trick. Not straight blow, see?” I demonstrate by hitting her staff while rolling mine to create the vibration. She drops it this time and winces even though I did not hit her hands, just the staff. “See? Roll staff while hitting target. If arm or leg this blow hits, stuns, paralyzes, not just hurt. Can bring man down on knees or make drop weapon, helpless. Then can kill challenger. Finish quick. Is how woman win fight. Trick. We be not strong of muscle like man but we be knowing things Tiki. We be mind talkers. Talk to weapons, gain friendship, they fight with you and for you. Some masters Tiki, they can call weapon to hand after dropping, yes. Pull things to you, you can. I teach basics, you practice.”
The general break is called but the two women next to us continue to fight as Tiki and I must since we began late. Now I know. I feel the cold shivers up my spine, as if I were fighting two challengers at once.
“Now Tiki, guard.” She stances and parries with relative skill. I refrain from breaking through that time and jump back, forcing her to come forward. I go down on the stones, flip and trip her. Just then the woman next to me, thinking I just gave her a chance to smash my head comes at me with her staff which I easily parry and send flying. She stands there, shocked, waiting for me to jump up and kill her. Her partner stands still also wondering what is going on.
“You pess!” I say to her. “You think you kill Desert Beast in training compound? Stupid woman, stupid. Now I kill you, huh, yes? You think good time to die?”
Tiki is still sitting on the ground wide-eyed at this turn of events. I want to teach them all a new lesson.
“I no kill you woman.” I say to my attacker. “Here, you take my hand, help me up.” She reaches and pulls me up. I tower a full head and a half over her and keep a grip on her hand. I begin to squeeze, the bionics working well. Her face contorts in pain as she keeps her eyes in mine. I bring her body against mine and I smell her fear. She moves her other hand against me to push away but I grab it too, squeezing that one also. Terror fills her face now.
“Who want me dead, pess? Who make you kill me? You tell, you live.”
“Court man, red robe judge, friend of Warmo. He promise make me concubine if I kill you. If not, he kill me. I dead now. You kill me, better. You do quick, please. He tell me how I die if no kill you. Ahhhh, please!” She drops to her knees and I know she had no choice in the matter, none at all. It wasn’t something personal, just a means of surviving a bit longer. Now I have to figure a way to save her life from the “court man.” I know of one way.
“I Desert Beast Woman, understand? Very old. Very strong. Very wise. Know many things no one know. Now I say to you, talk to all women you can, tell them remember Teaching. Tell them that and I protect you from court man. I maybe save your life, or get order to kill you myself – quick, no pain to you. I do what can be done. You talk to women, yes?”
“Oh, please, I talk to women, yes.” And she bows down and puts her face on my foot. I take her arm and stand her up. “Now I give you power. New name, woman name, for you to know who you be. Name you ‘Victa’ – mean many things, but for you mean from victim to victory. This name you get from Desert Beast Woman. Never forget.”
“I don’t forget. Great gift I have. Now I be person, I be someone. Even when I killed, I remain someone real.” When she turns I note her Hyrete brand for reference, 1341-29-03
When people don’t believe they have any worth and are shown kindness or given any bit of empowerment they can switch their subservience to the giver and this is dangerous to both. But in this case she is old enough to realize I gave her power for her own use; that I would not make any claim against that power for it was a free gift. She has deep intelligence if it could be developed through ideas. Maybe the women will help her when she reminds them of the Teaching, for after all she knows nothing of it and should be eager to find out what that is all about. Thus we are trained on Altaria and find our natural place of leadership when it is needed.
Trainers come on the scene to find out what is the hold-up and as usual I give my made-up-on-the-spot spiel about new methods of fighting.
“I be trying to make sound without voice to focus blows against challenger. But it not working. They not understand.”
I have to maintain that pidgin so the men don’t get suspicious of our ability to learn. I have been hinting for many months now that I want to introduce ‘toning’ to our arsenal of defensive methods. I have demonstrated its effects to them but the men are wary of my methods now – having witnessed how well they work and how much the women’s fighting skills and daring has improved. They are hesitant to grant me new freedoms that make a mockery of their rules by demonstrating their utter stupidity. But to allow female fighters, women, to make any kind of sound, however low, is against the law. Screams brought on by inflicted pain, of course, are quite another matter. That is considered a fun thing here.
“There be no new method. Train or be punished. You – you,” they point at me and Tiki, “continue. You-you,” they point to the two other women, “wash, drink, change partners. Stop again, we flog.” And to make their point they pull out their fibre-steel whips, making the “tails” vibrate and sing like tight wires in cold weather. We bow to them in full submission mode – enough to convince them, not enough to forget it is all a pretense.
End blog post #86