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Battle broke out around her. All the men were drunk and fighting, calling each other names, punching each other, and cowering from the strongest of them. She pulled the best man voice out of her throat and said, “Save it for the actual battle!”
Kea had been disguised as a man for about 3 months now. She had wanted to get away, to get away from that smug orphanage and that I'm-the-boss-and-don't-question-me caregiver. Kea had snuck away on a dull night with nothing but the clothes on her back and signed up for the army. Kea had cut her hair to look like young males and had bought men clothes with the few copper her parents had left her.
Kea's father had been a general in the army for as long as he lived he had left her when he died a beautiful etched claymore with inscribing along the side. She had been practicing swinging her claymore for about one month. Kea walked out to the training grounds, picked up the sword, and swung it as hard as fast as she could. She swung with all her might, swung with all the power and courage she had, swung as though her father was watching her every move. Suddenly she felt her whole body vibrate with the impact. She opened her eyes and to her disappointment saw the damage she had done...she didn't even cut through its arm.
“Ugh!” she screamed in frustration, throwing the claymore to the ground.
“Need some help kid?” a distant voice called.
“No!” she screamed back. She picked the claymore backup and saw someone walking towards her. She recognized him as he got closer, his name was Adam, and he was a year and a half older than she was. He had dark brown hair with vibrant blue eyes.
“So, Red looks like you need some help,” he said. Everyone at the base called her red because she had flame red hair with green eyes that made her look inhuman and also because she never told any of them her name.
Adam picked up the claymore swiftly and with little effort sliced the dummy in half. Kea just stood there with her eyes wide open and mouth gaping. He looked back at her giving her the beat-that-look. He handed her the sword and said “Let the sword control you,” She held the claymore thought about what she wanted to happen and let the swing control her. She lifted the sword high above her head a then plunged it down. She could feel the air splitting apart as the sword glided down. All of a sudden the sweat from her hands acted against her and the sword was freed from her grip. Kea slowly opened her eyes to see the claymore gliding through the air into the cornfield 40 feet away.
“Ugh!” she yelled in fury.
“Looks like your going to have a little challenge finding that,” he said.
“Yeah!” she said looking into the distance.
“Well see you, Kea,” He said.
“What?” she said not believing what she had just heard.
“What did you just call me?” she said stuttering.
“Don’t play dumb with me, my father knew yours. Infact, we used to play together,” He said.
“What? I don’t remember you,” She said blankly.
“Well I would think not you were only like four the last time we saw each other,” He said looking into her eyes. He started to walk away Kea wanted to stop him but she was too awestruck to chase after him. She unhappily started to walk over to the cornfield thinking about what just happened. She walked through the training grounds until she came to the small wooden fence that surrounded the base. The fence was just small enough to be able with some struggle to get over but large enough to keep the surrounding wildlife out. She put her hand in one of the notches, pulled herself over, and jumped down carefully so she would not hurt herself. Kea regained her balance and started to walk towards where she thought the hefty sword had fallen. As she walked through the cornfield she pushed the stalks out of her way trying not to let them touch her skin.
Now where is my sword? She thought in her mind. She treaded through the field keeping an eye out for anything that was glistening in the hot sun. She walked for a little while longer and saw a medium sized footprint on the ground she bent down to get a closer look and she heard a sword wiz above her head. She whipped around to see a young man holding a flimsy broadsword. She didn’t have any time to think.
She had been required to take and unarmed class a month ago and now she was really appreciating that now. As quick as a viper she punched the man in the nose, kicked his shin, and grabbed his wrist where he was holding the sword.
“Who are you,” She said demandingly.
“Please don’t hurt I just thought you were one of those blasted Anari soldiers,” he said cowering. She relaxed and released her grip realizing he was just a farmhand.
“Have you seen my sword,” Kea asked.
“Yes, its a few yards away in that direction,” he said pointing east.
“Thanks”, Kea said while flashing a friendly smile and waving. She could tell the boy was still a little shaken up by what just happened. She jogged off in the direction the boy had told her to look and sure enough there was her sword propped up against a large cornstalk. She grabbed the claymore and without looking back ran through the cornfield to the base.
About a half hour later she arrived after getting lost for a little while. She once again came to the fence and did the same maneuver she had when she went into the cornfield only this time she had to throw the claymore over. Once she got over the fence she dropped her sword by the dummy she had been practicing on. She never bothered to put away the sword for she knew no one would dare take it for it had belonged to the exalted general.
Kea looked at the sky and saw the sun was starting to set. She guessed it was about dinner time so she slowly walked to the well built log facility just then Kea realized how tired she really was. She pushed the heavy wooden door aside and walked in. She breathed in the sweet aroma of cooking food. She realized she was the last person in the dining hall. She quickly walked up to the left over food, grabbed a plate and piled food onto it. Kea never sat at one of the tables for she didn’t have nay friends at the base and she was usually late so all the tables were already full. She walked over to the corner she always sat in and sat down slowly feeling the cold wood under her. Just then she felt all the strength she had left leak out of her like a broken pipe.
She had been struggling ever since she got to the base with fitting in and being able to keep up with the rest of the men since she was weaker, smaller, and younger than most of them. She slowly scooped up her dinner and ate quietly as usual.
Kea had started to get stronger since she first arrived she could beat almost anyone that challenged her in arm wrestling but that didn’t come without a lot of training. Kea had often missed meals just to train. She would wake up early and go to bed late never having any time to socialize. She didn’t care about any of that she knew that every soldier was required to fight in the war unless they had impairing injuries or illness. She didn’t care if she had any friends all she wanted was to stay alive.
She ate the last bite of food that was on her plate then sat there, just listening, listening to the men laughing with their friends, listening to the sounds all around her, listening to what was meant and not to be heard. She slowly got up and walked to the sink, throwing her plate in.
She never had drinks at the base because about a year ago she had one glass and told all the secrets she had never wanted anyone to know. She wasn’t going to risk anything like that with a huge secret like this burning a hole in her mind.
Kea started to walk out of the dining hall when she felt a glob of something hit the back of her neck. She reached back and scraped it off and threw it at a random person. She laughed as it hit his forehead. She turned back and started walking for the door hearing the man she had hit having a little “fit”.
She walked outside and headed for the lake. She always went to the lake when she desired to be alone. She pulled her heavy boots off and threw her clothes on the ground. She slowly walked into the lake shivering at the sudden temperature change. She drifted farther into the lake relaxing at the soft light feeling of the water. She felt all the stress of her day melt off as if it was never there. She knew her hair was getting long and soon her beauty would betray her. She finished her bath rubbing the mud off her face and glob off the back of her neck.
After the men had eaten dinner and drank they usually came out here and took their baths so she knew she had to hurry. She quickly dried herself off and slipped her cloths on. She walked back the facility and walked to her room which she shared with two other man including Adam. She slowly opened the door of her room, looked inside to see if anyone was asleep, and slid in.
Kea quickly slid off her muddy clothes and pulled a clean shirt and baggy pants on. She picked up her boots and put them next to her bunk. Exhausted she climbed up to the top bunk, pulled her woolen blankets on her, and drifted into a dreamless sleep.
Kea awoke at what she guessed 5am. She carefully sat up trying not to hit her head on the roof. She slowly rubbed her eyes and yawned. Carefully so that she wouldn’t wake any of her roommates having learned her lesson, she climbed down onto the ground. She walked over to her suitcase and looked through her things picking out a pair of linen britches and a silk shirt. She slowly started to unbutton her top but then heard one of them move. Kea stopped in her tracks and looked behind her she saw Adam rubbing his eyes and yawning.
“What are you doing up so early,” he whispered sounding irritated.
“I’m not big on sleeping,” She whispered.
“Well I’ve noticed that you’re up at 3am every single day and you wake me up to,” he whispered trying to sound at though he was tired.
“Well you don’t sound that tired,” She whispered.
“I didn’t sleep very good last night,” He said so low she was struggling to here him.
“Well that’s not my fault is it,” she whispered. Kea turned around pulling her shirt over her head. She carefully sat down, grabbed her boots and slipped them on. She saw Adam get out of bed and get dressed.
“Thought you were tired,” She said mockingly
“Well can’t let you have all the fun,” He whispered back. Kea got up and carefully walked over to the door opened with so much caution not to let it squeak and walked out. She heard Adam trailing behind her. She walked through the facility and into the dining hall. She saw the cooks frying things and saw that there was already some toast on a plate.
“That’s for you Red. Had a feeling you’d be up early today,” the head cook said. “Thanks,” Kea said grabbing the toast and handing one to Adam. Kea walked through the dining hall and came to the wooden doors. Kea carefully pushed the heavy doors open and walked out. The piece of toast in her hand fell to the ground as she saw flames scaling the horizon. She looked over at Adam and saw fear on his face but she could feel fear on hers.
The battle had begun, there would be no more drunk men fighting in the dining hall. It would be working and fighting from now on. Now, this is where the story begins.