Everyone said she was one-of-a-kind, and in a lot of ways she was. Not many of the others had spikes on their forearms and most didn’t color their faces. Granted they had and did other things to themselves, but Aik was just a little different. Different enough to be left alone most of the time, which was fine with her, since all she ever did was workout with her sword. She had one sparring partner. No one else would work with her. Too often, she didn’t pull her slashes and few were willing to spend a week in the hospital, or end up dead, just so she could spar. Noj was her partner. Lean, strong, and hairless, he moved like a cat and he lived to fight.
They smiled at each other, bowed, as was their custom, without taking their eyes off of each other…then began. Their grunts, shouts and the noise of their swords clashing, could be heard throughout the castle. They were powerful and fast but they knew each other’s moves too well. After their practice, Noj kissed her and said he would find a new partner for her. They bowed, touched hands and parted.
Two weeks later a man walked into her practice room. He was at least six feet, four inches tall, had dark, scarred, skin, black hair that touched his shoulders and arms as big as her thighs. His sword, pointed toward the floor, was held tightly in his strapped and bandaged fist.
“Noj told me to come in here.”
“I know who you are. Are we going to talk, or fight?”
She stabbed him in the thigh and it was on. They fought for thirty minutes and stopped. They were both bleeding and bruised. He looked at her, nodded, said, “You’ll do,” and walked out.
Noj came through the door and said, “What do you think?”
“I despise him. I hate him with a passion,” she hissed. “I want to kill him.”
“Perfect,” he said, and left her to tend to her wounds.