A Swordswoman's Tale

Four: Suitable Advice

Level Ten Vagrant

By Aaerdan

THE SWORDSWOMAN makes a mental note to thank Valin again as she slams her elbow into the assailant’s face, feeling the bone crack an instant before the head snaps back from the force.

The groan follows quickly after, but Lena Aaerdan does not hear it as what had transpired earlier in the day flashes through in her mind.

"Think you good enough to be a Merc?" Valin had asked her for the fifth time in under ten minutes, to which she nodded again. He laughed – a hearty one, nothing corrosive veiled within – and shook his head.

"Sir?"

"Sorry, lady!" he managed after wiping the tears from his eyes with his sleeves. "You’re not ready yet." Before she could respond to the contrary, he added: "I can tell. Simply from the way you wear your armour."

"My … armour?"

"Yup." He gestured at her Cream Suit. "Nice to look at, shows off your fine legs and all, especially that slit up the thigh, but anyone with a bit of experience would don some leggings at least."

What fine legs? the Voice demanded. Lena ignored it.

"I chose to wear this even though I can-"

Valin shook his head. "I know, lady, I know. You carry steel and shield only a veteran would, but apart from your choice of garments, I can sense that you’re not ready. You need more experience."

"So you won’t teach me," she stated.

"Not yet." He scratched his head. "Have you spoken to Juria yet? She should have told you the same, instead of you having to come all the way out to see me."

"Juria?"

I think that’s the Public Office lady, the Voice offered.

He nodded. "She knows, that woman. Maybe has some magic in her … she can tell if someone is ready for something or not."

A few men just turned the corner. From their loud conversation, Lena could tell that they were going to see Valin, too.

"I shall take my leave then, Sir Valin," she said as she got up.

"No, Valin will do. I’m no knight … even if I was, I wouldn’t stand for titles," he replied.

I like him already!

"Thank you for your time … Valin." She turned to go.

"Here’s some advice," he called out. "You’re gonna stick to that get-up?"

"The suit? Yes."

"Okay. Get one of the smith brothers to help with it. Might save your life one day."

Lena smiled. "I will. Thank you, Valin."

"Tell them I sent you," he said just as the men stepped into the compound.

It cost her plenty, but she followed Valin’s advice and got her Cream Suit improved. An extra leather piece here, some bronze plating there, a layer of fine mail.

That layer foiled the knife thrust just now.

Demian’s back! The Voice pronounced it like "the man".

The warning brings Lena to her senses in time for her to duck the Demian’s attempt to decapitate her. The creature’s next few moves are clumsy, achieving little more than spraying her clothes with blood from its broken nose.

I dread to see your laundry bill.

"Thanks for the support," the Vagrant retorts before slashing the Demian in the forearm, forcing it to drop one of its knives.

Any plans to finish up soon? I’m getting hungry.

"So am I." She drops into a crouch, and as expected, the Demian deems it a chance and takes it. Lena dives towards it, slashes the Demian from the side, and with just enough momentum she pulls off an-

Do it! Use the new whatsitsname-

The Demian does not even have time to shriek before it hits the ground. Lena offers it a short prayer as the earth claims it.

"OverCutter," she whispers. "It is called OverCutter. And now…" Lena produces a sandwich and takes a big bite, looking around her as she did. She spots another Demian harassing village folk.

She finishes her meal. "Back to business..."

Wait! I'm not done yet! the Voice protests.

Lena grins. The swordswoman roars as she charges her quarry.


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