I ride across the meadow as the sun crests the horizon, rising into the morning sky, tinting the early morning mist with a soft rosy glow. It is a beautiful morning, only the birdsong, the pounding beats of Abraxas’ hooves and the huffs of his breath break the silence as we canter towards the gentle slope of sakura woodland to the south.
That peace will soon be broken though. I’m riding this way with purpose; to take down the Mongol deserter. Just drawing first blood will be enough with this one. He’s already proven his inefficiency and that he is unworthy of his place in the Mongol army. But then, they stand little chance against the Samurai, it’s hardly surprising that he’s chosen to run. Why is it always the beautiful places that are tainted by battle? Already I can imagine the blood staining those petals that float like snowflakes in the gentle breeze.
The sky has already lost the rose-pink tinge. The clouds and mist burn away in the warming sunshine as it rises. I can imagine living here, a peaceful retreat amongst the cherry trees, to be showered every spring in a delicate snowfall of pink blossom.
My concentration snaps into place. There he is, hiding amongst the dense shrubbery. I’d known I’d find him there; coward. I slither down from the saddle, draw my katana, and head towards him with confident strides.
My katana clashes with his great sword, both of us on the offence. Sweat beads my brow as I dance lightly around him, trying to slip under his guard. His muscles ripple with each stroke, the strength in his sword arm should be lethal. I slip aside, easily.
Sparks fly as our blades caress. We disengage and he pounces, more quickly than his bulk suggests, sword in an overhead strike.
“Not today!” I scream. Dodging sideways, I hook my foot around his ankle. Off-balance, he stumbles. My blade nicks his throat.
“Boo-yah!” I shout into my headset, “Girls rule!”
Mike groans. “Jess, you’re intolerable when you win.”
“Another round?” I ask, gripping the controller.