Sample Warrior

Warrior - Part One, by Bastard Black

A serial, grimdark epic fantasy, told in the second person point-of-view, where you are the star of this story.
Twin souls, one male, one female, crammed into one body, born thousands of years apart.
Caught between a war of the gods, it’s a kill or be killed reality. There are no limits in this epic serial novel that will expose the real purpose of an immortal soul, and the ultimate meaning behind our very existence.

Novel and Cover Illustration © 2017 Bastard Black. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. The publisher does not have control over, and does not assume any responsibility for author or third party Web sites or their content. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the author is illegal. Please purchase only authorized editions. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Chapter One

A Rude Awakening in a Seriously Fucked-up World

The stone your face rests on reeks of old. The distinct odor of death, with just a hint of other bodily fluids mixed into the dirt, adding the spice.
No light. The darkness surrounding you complete. Only the sounds of your beating heart and shallow breaths keep you company.
Yet, to your surprise, one more sound reaches your ears. The faint yet steady drip of water . . . somewhere . . . nearby. You’re underground. Deep underground. A reason to hope. Water had found its way in and pooled, and you will not die of thirst. Time is now on your side.
Pain isn’t your problem. You’re not hungry, either, but given enough time that will change. You draw yourself up onto your hands and knees and slowly reach out, trying to shape your surroundings.
Aside from the filth, you find a small pile of rags, and then you shape bone. Not a guess. You know by the feel and heft it’s bone. You shape with your hands a leg or arm bone, animal or human, most likely human given the circumstances, and seek more.
What you find is a half a hip or shoulder blade, the subtle curves of several rib bones, and from there the chunky spikey rounds of cervical vertebrae that lead up to a human skull.
You feel the nose and eye holes above what few teeth remain in the upper jaw, and also a large jagged hole in the back of the skull, denoting a terrible accident or horrific murder. Who was this poor soul?
One thing, in your mind, you tell yourself you’re not going to be the next set of nameless bones to litter the floor. A formless thought that slams shut a metaphorical door behind you. There will be no turning back. No clinging to your knees, waiting for a rescue that will never come. You will save yourself.
“You are my last hope,” a strange pitched and raspy voice says.
Knowing you’re not alone in this certain blackness evokes a fear that squeezes your chest, making the next breath almost impossible to take. When the words themselves slowly inch their way into your brain, you find you can breathe, albeit shallowly, yet the fear holds true.
“There is a way out,” the voice then says, “but not in this darkness. I placed within your mind three spells. One will heal you from your approaching wounds, when needed, and keep you alive long enough to achieve freedom. Another allows you to see in the dark. The last is a spell that permits you to spout real flame from your fingertips. The only weapon I could provide, weak as it is. You must find better in order to survive this world.”
“Who are . . .”
Your voice isn’t as you remember. You sound like a she, when you know you’re a he.
“What you are now is a twined soul by blood. Warriors both. That is what I need. Now you must keep her alive. Is that not the duty of every male?”
“A twined soul?” you ask.
“Two souls much the same in one body. Her body. She is of your blood, human, and you are charged with keeping her alive no matter the circumstance, or the cost.”
“And you are?”
“The bones of the rat in the far corner.”
“How do I get out of here?”
No answer.
“How do I get out of here!” At that point more a demand than a question, but it still remains unanswered.
Leaning back on your knees, freeing your hands from the floor, you tentatively explore yourself.
Yes, you have breasts. Not too large, not too small. Each a good handful. You slowly slide your hand down your belly and feel a hairless vagina between your legs, and for some reason that frightens you more than the place you found yourself in.
This can’t be real.
Yet it is. The long straight hair on your head, the limbs that feel thin but strong.
“Move,” you say aloud. “You have to move to survive.”
You stand, but having no real input within this total darkness—no real up or down, no real left or right—you have no choice but to kneel again, or lose your balance.
“Entios soleari.”
The strange new words flow from your lips without a prompt, and your vision takes on a redness; the color of fresh blood, molding your surroundings, without shadows any true light would cast to give the view depth.
The bones on the floor look two-dimensional without shadows, with what looks like the remains of a large chicken in a small pile among them. Perhaps a small skull smashed beyond recognition near those. All had been gnawed.
In the far corner, those bones look like they once belonged to a large dog. Only the shape of that skull says otherwise.
“If those are rat bones, I’d hate to come face-to-face with one.”
You almost expect a reply, whether from yourself or the bones you stare at, you’re not sure. The only thing you do know for sure, you still need to find a way out.
Carefully scanning the room reveals chains bolted to one wall, and manacles around skeletal wrists. The clothing on the floor so many rags. Not far from there is a door. A door that looks to be impenetrable. Like it’s made from a solid slab of tree, with large, stout iron hinges to hold it in place.
“Chained to a wall. Mortally injured. No real hope of escape. Why would the door be locked?”
At your touch the great door seems to disintegrate, and the hinges, as they fall, barely miss your feet. Dust fills the air, and you back away, waiting for it to settle.
Dry rot. You know it when you see it, and it had to have taken hundreds of years for the thick wood to have weathered in that fashion. One of the hinges, fused into one hunk of iron deeply pocked with rust, is of a size and weight you judge to be an awkward yet suitable weapon. It feels good to hold it. It’s time to go.
Stone litters the hallway, but nothing impassable. You begin slithering around and over the rubble, noting no other doorways line these walls.
The wide spiral staircase you now face chokes with rock, and at one point you think your path blocked, but that is the maleness of your thoughts, and not the reality of your small female self. It will be a tight fit.
“Get your narrow ass moving, girl, and don’t scrape or squish your titties.”
The passing of time has no meaning, but you eventually find the shallow pool of water where several steps had been ripped from their foundation, and drink. With that done you close your eyes for a moment, and wake several hours later.
“I can still see,” you softly say, grateful for small favors.
You again drink your fill, and continue upward.
Hours later you feel the need for a squat and some sleep, and surrender to both those needs. When you wake again your eyes only see more stone, winding upward toward possible freedom.
Another hour, maybe two, and your hunger deepens, but stone isn’t a meal.
Once again on instinct you speak the second of the three spells, the healing spell, and feel as if you have eaten a large yet tasteless meal, and the food has given you strength. A lie provided by the powerful magic, one you can live with. You continue your ascent.
Hours later a movement above catches your eye, and the rat you see is as large as a mongrel dog. It looks even hungrier than you feel. Has it seen you? Has it caught your scent?
The trapped and hungry rat is scuttling down from rock to stair faster than you like, its whiskers twitching excitedly. You ready your improvised weapon and wait, but in its descent the rat becomes veiled by a haze, where it seems to stop dead in its tracks, crouching low, and that is its fatal flaw.
The spider is slightly larger than the rat, and the haze the rat encountered, the spider’s webbing. Trapped, the rat now thrashes around, but the spider strikes with considerable speed, biting the squealing rat, and then spins more webbing around the tasty morsel.
“That was my rat,” you softly say.
It’s the spider’s turn to hesitate, crouch low as it nimbly turns to face you, and what you see doesn’t bode well. The spider . . . has a face. What looks like a human face, albeit demonically deformed, with too many human-like eyes to count.
“Shit!” you say, pulling back your arm, the hinge in hand, suddenly realizing this fat hunk of old rusty iron won’t be enough. Maybe if you get lucky . . .
Without hesitation you drop the hinge and thrust both hands toward it.
“Inceinde!” you shout, and a dynamic spout of fire bathes the stairwell in real light, engulfing both spider and rat.
The spider screams and chitters and hisses as it rolls up and away to douse the flames.
The rat, helpless, perhaps it’s grateful for the quick death.
The singed spider, smoking here and there, turns again to face you, wearing now a grimace of pain and hate, and attacks.
Again you retrieve the hinge, and from your chest outward deal the speedy creature a blow that does little more than slow it down enough for you to grab its front legs and drag the thing up and over your chest and head, barely avoiding the fangs that protrude out of its all-too-human mouth.
You turn as it tumbles downward, focus both hands and say, “Inceinde! Inceinde! Inceinde!”
You back away from the writhing inferno, watching, waiting for the spider to stop moving.
It seems to be a long wait.
“And I don’t even get to eat the poisoned rat.”

Chapter Two

Let There Be . . . Something Akin to Hope!

Without a sun to mark the passage of time, your venture seems an endless journey. You sleep less than you should, fight for your life several desperate times, and use the healing spell more times than really needed. It’s that immediate rush of well-being, and like a drug or a good stiff drink at the end of the day, a nice way to relax.
Rat, you discover, is delicious broiled. The gods are not without their unintended mercies.
“That is what this is,” the skull of the dead rat says, eyes now livid. “A clash between the gods of this world.”
“My old world had no need for gods.”
“All worlds suffer gods.”
“Is that what you are? A god?”
You wait, but the rat’s head chooses to remain silent.
“Why me? All I can remember about my life is that I was male, I was old, and more often than not I was tired.”
“You were male,” the rat finally says, “old, and your life might have been chiseled in stone, doomed to repeat each colorless day until death. Work, home. Eat, shit, sleep. Now you are young, and I have presented you with the ultimate challenge. A chance to live free.”
“The last thing I remember is a bright flash of light.” A flash of light, and then nothing.
“What you didn’t realize at the time is that you gave of yourself,” the rat says, “unselfishly, yet suffered not the fool. Deep down in your soul, that is who you really are. Another man needlessly shot you in the face, just as you saved all around you. Why I preferred you over others in your bloodline.”
“This is my Hell.”
“This is your second and only real chance to live free.”
“Why don’t I remember more?”
“Your life will come back to you in the dreams you have. Both of your lives. That I cannot stop, nor will you avoid. From this point in time you are blessed or cursed to remember all.”
You will be dreaming for two in this horrific new world, and then you suddenly realize that you are very much dead in the old world. All you have is the here and now, a rusty hinge, and maybe two pounds of tender broiled rat meat to either eat, or leave.
The eyes of the rat now seem lifeless. The conversation is over.
Slowly you eat, not knowing when your next meal will be. As an afterthought, you wish you had some salt and pepper, and a really big beer. You finally close your eyes, not wanting to dream.
A great shaking of the stone from far above wakes you, releasing dust and rock, but what comes crashing down is a chunk of the circular pillar, into the outer wall of the spiral stairwell you’re climbing. Rather than rain certain death, the wall gives way, exposing a cavern the likes of which you have never imagined before.
The dust immediately gets sucked into the cavern, which means the air is moving. If the air is now moving, there must be another way out, and this cavern holds that hope somewhere deep within.
The dust clears, and what you see are the ruins of a massive city, a modern city now a mockery of an age long past. This is a city from your time. A city that somehow feels familiar. Metal, brick, cement . . .
“Hello, Chicago. Welcome to what your tomb looks like.”
It takes the better part of an hour to pick your way down to street level.
The streets are still named, cars are still parked in front of meters no longer begging for coins. Bones of the dead are everywhere.
In front of you is the building you lived in, and the fifth floor window you slammed a man into. The man wanted to kill certain guests of a party you were hosting with your wife of twenty-four years. Now you remember it all.
As he was headed out the window, he inadvertently pulled you after him, and then shot you three times. The first grazed your abdomen, the second your chest, the third hit you square in the face. You remember what the business end of the barrel looked like just before he pulled his trigger, and that last flash of light.
You turn, and walk away.
As sad as it all seems, there are opportunities. The first being something to cover your bare ass, the second finding weapons familiar, the third, food and water. This is also a chance to sleep unconcerned with one eye or ear open, probably for the last time in your entire life, however long that might be.
“This is where it all began,” a nearby skull says. “My war had been silenced for millennia untold, but those in exile found their way home. The war was renewed, and the results are before you.”
“Tell me about this war,” you say.
“Many ages have the gods existed,” the skull says. “You are only familiar with the last two ages, so that is where I will begin.
“For millions of years creatures you called dinosaurs ruled all, yet they were not brainless beasts, but savage rulers of an age where they had reached into space, like you had in the second age. I managed to destroy them all, and then I forced the other gods off the planet to live unworshiped, their power reduced, and so your age began. This is my sixth age, you should know, for my power has diminished. Even gods grow old.”
“I’ll give that some thought,” you say. “Please continue.”
“Humans ruled all in their domain, but there still remained the gods, banished to the cold and silence of space as this world revolved around its bright core, and the black hole within that will eventually devour all. The End, as it was called, came from the depths of known space. They found the sepulcher I had fashioned so long ago, brought it back from its exile, and foolishly opened it.  Most of your world perished quickly, but the rest changed. The fevered dreams and nightmares of your race became even more death at the hands of the gods, with only one chance to survive a war that had been silenced for a regathering. They have learned from their mistakes, and so have I.”
“The dreams and nightmares of my race?”
“I believe you called them movies, television, and video games. They gave shape to this new reality.”
Humanity’s fantasies became the norm. Though you liked a good movie, a good show on television, you never were a gamer, so know that if this is the new reality, you are hobbled by your ignorance.
“She was, is, of my blood. My family survived this.”
“She was the last of your line,” the skull at your feet says, “dead a thousand years in that hole. I finally found her body, the remnants of her essence intact, and then I found your soul, lost for millennia within the aether. You would ignite my last and greatest spell.”
“And that is?”
“The building front and left holds what you now need.”
“No shit?”
“Your people once dared to touch the stars, and in return a blessing was found. The sepulcher they salvaged, the tomb of those gods, only your touch can produce what you need most. Beware, for once you achieve your goal, the forces of darkness will sense you, and they will fear you. They will want you dead.”

Chapter Three

Time to Face The Strange, and the Stranger Still

The voice said what it wanted, and no more.
The building itself, what is left of it, leads you to believe there is only one direction to go, and that’s down. You are compelled down, and find the only stairwell that can take you to where you need to be.
A utility basement reveals a door that had once been hidden, and behind that door more bones. For the most part the area you are in is clean, and it is here you sleep.
You dream yourself a warrior. A young girl, seeking peace for your people, your village, and the magic you weald is impressive. What doesn’t happen at your command. The spells raise nearby rocks, and they smash into the heads of bizarre humanoid creatures, splashing brains everywhere. That is why you are being hunted, why they want you dead. The enemy are creatures that shouldn’t, in any sane world, exist.
You fight, you kill, you laugh. In your hand is a powerful sword, made from the stuff of stars. This battle, however, is different. You’re not sure, but this could be your last stand.
The dance with your sword removes heads at an astounding rate, but there are a lot of them, and one of you. Friends that had been with you since the very beginning, most of them are now dead.
Your home has been reduced to ashes, and all your family is dead.
For the first time you seek a retreat. Only, there is none. You can only look for the ranks to thin, and hope you can punch a hole in their lines and run.
For the first time you realize you have been betrayed. None would have dared reveal this sheltered valley. None.
The guards around the parameter died fast, and the enemy forces swarmed like ants down the walls, killing everything that moved. Your anger now fuels every deformed head you take.
That wasn’t a dream, but a nightmare. You’re now wide awake, breathing heavily.
“Entios soleari.”
The world takes on the familiar red color you would rather do without.
A side door is nearby, and it’s locked from the other side, but still needs to be opened. Fortunately, what little debris there is, provides a stout and long iron bar, a better weapon than the hinge, and the door’s lock has weakened over time. The third blow produces a hole near the lock, and you pry the door open.
Another stairwell leading down, and though that still seems counterproductive, it’s all you got.
A room at the bottom reveals a desk, several sets of bones, and one weapon made useless by time, and another set of doors. Elevator doors. Another hour passes before one door shifts to the side, just enough.
“Like I know how to get down an elevator shaft.”
For some reason, the sound of your girlie-girl voice soothes your mind.
“What I need now is more than three inches of ledge . . . and that looks like a maintenance ladder. Now if I can get to it, and it can hold my weight, I’ll have this licked and dicked.”
Though there is little rust on the inside of the shaft, what’s there is slicing into your feet, yet you reach the ladder.
Magic, you discover, holds an unspoken truth. There is only so much inside of you at one time, and it will take time for your body to replenish its reserve. In the meantime, blood drips from your feet, and your hands feel raw. Pain is no longer an issue to ignore, but a reality that clouds all thought. Only instinct drives you deeper.
“What I wouldn’t give for a fucking pair of shoes. Maybe the next skull to speak can tell me where to find some that haven’t rotted through.”
You were fifty-three years old when you died.
You had three children.
Your oldest, a son, was gay, but that didn’t matter. You just wished he would have found himself a good man. A smile creases your face as you realize again that you had more queer eye for the straight guy than he did.
The girls, all two years apart, they were sensible, but wow the youngest liked to fuck. You found pictures of her online, once. Now you’re a girl, and if you have a sex drive, this ladder has canceled it for the near future.
Your wife, you did love her, but the sex had vanished. To have her with you was more comforting than inconvenient. Still, you had been a good husband. A good provider.
When you were young. you enjoyed each other as often as possible, and now this line of thought is depressing, not distracting.
“Keep moving.”
The elevator car at the bottom of the shaft, it was distorted by the fall, but the escape hatch is open, and you can see its interior doors open, and little of the space beyond.
Another room, another desk, another set of bones. This guy, a security guard by the look of his rags, shot himself. The small hole on the right side of his temple, leads to a large hole behind his left eye, where his ear would have been. The gun remains in his skeletal hand, though the hand is no longer attached to his wrist.
This weapon is also fused into a sold mass of useless metal.
“Another door, and me without my bar.”
You kick the door, leaving a dark smear of blood near the knob, but the door is now open enough to know something is behind it. Once you push it open enough to enter, you find a battle lost. These people fought to escape their deaths, and failed. Beyond them, a maze of doors and windows.
“What’s behind door number one.”
A cage sits to one side in a densely packed laboratory, and the bones of a grossly deformed creature rests behind the bars.
“What the . . .”
Behind more doors are more cages, and more bones of creatures. The horrors that marked The End. Humans that had been changed beyond what their once great fantasies could ever imagine, and the evils they wrought. A plague of misshapen beasts.
“Subject killed in a movie theater,” you read from a paper on a desk, detailing such things. “Possibly male. Name and age unknown. See photos.”
Several are stuck together, and it doesn’t help that everything has a red tint to it.
“Can’t see a shit from these.”
Too much time has passed. The images have faded.
As you explore each chamber, your magical strength is returning, but any pain felt, forgotten. Each new find, the bones in the cages, more bizarre than the last.
“One squirrel-shit strange lab complex in the heart of Chicago, funded by Uncle Sam without a doubt, hip deep in things straight out of The Cabin in the Woods. The poor man’s version. And one door left.”
This door opens easily, for a pleasant change, yet this chamber is larger than the lab complex you passed through. Empty of debris or bodies, center to this chamber is stone.
“Is this it?”
The block of stone isn’t much bigger than a small car. Carvings depicting, who cares now, blanket all visible sides, and still no seam.
“This is what held the gods of Earth. What holds what I now need. And what I need now . . . is a clipboard, hanging on the far wall. I deem that infinitely better than a talking skull. Lets see what the labs squints had to say.”
This paper doesn’t crumble with you touch, but it is fragile, and it has a story to tell.
“First noticed by the International Space Station in 2012, later retrieved by shuttle in 2017, and put into quarantine, here, aka this lab. In the heart of a city like Chicago, this is their deep-space quarantine facility. Typical government stupidity.”
You continue to examine page after page.
“They had zero-fucking clue whatsoever. The stone’s composition, unknown. It’s possible age, unknown. Even examined microscopically, and they didn’t find squat.”
Nothing. They discovered nothing. Even the markings it’s covered in couldn’t be deciphered. Nothing matched any living or dead language on the entire planet, throughout history.
The skull wants you to touch it, but in doing so, you will become marked, and whatever forces of evil exists in this world, they’ll know you’re alive.
“And . . . nothing. Maybe they broke it transporting it here.”
Walk around it.
The frustration builds, so you kick it. Leave your blood on it. Fresh wet blood.
As it soaks into the stone, the stone starts to change. It blasts apart, transforming into dense cloud of dust, and that dust envelopes you.
The cloud forces itself down your throat, up your nose, filling your ears, lungs, and stomach. It fills your twin-souled body with the pain of a thousand knives, twisting as they enter.

Chapter Four

More Fucking Stairs! More Fucking Nightmares!

It’s a dream. You know it is. Brothers and sisters you never had tell you run and hide. The monsters are coming.
Panic fills your young heart, and like a child too damn young to know better, you hide under your bed.
Your mother is killed before your eyes, along with two of your siblings, their blood and guts and limbs are splashed about haphazardly, and you’re too afraid to scream.
When you do scream, it’s because they found you. They drag you through the gore, outside to a cart with bars, and throw you in. Your head hits the cold metal . . .
The pain slowly fades.
The monsters are coming.
“Entios soleari.”
The hand brought to your face still feels, but it’s not your flesh doing the feeling. Your hand looks as solid as the stone it’s now made from. The stone crafted by a god to hold other gods. The decorative runes are still there.
Sitting up, you’re wearing boots. Your legs are covered by even more stone. Your chest is covered.
“The Armor of God.”
Those words came from the other room. Looking around, you pick up the shield, and next to that, a sword.
“I’ve been LARPed, with a stout leather thong to cover my little bald cookie. I have a sword, shield, and . . . no helmet. Somebody fucked up!”
Outside the door the feeling the monsters are coming intensifies.
“Your armor,” a skull says, “can protect you from magical and physical harm.”
“My ass is barely covered.”
“The sword is the only thing in this entire existence that can kill gods. All gods. The helmet will form as needed for battle. The changes made to you inside and out, the power you gained, all this a gift from what you thought of as your God. Your legend of the war He fought was true, in its own way, and now it continues with you as His only weapon.”
“Yeah, sure. Not a lot of pressure, huh?”
The skull remains silent.
“God or not, you’re really starting to piss me off.”
The bones in their cages remain motionless.
The climb up and out is effortless, for the Armor of God provides that strength.
The city, or what’s left of it, isn’t quiet. There is a wealth of skeletal bodies to reanimate. All it takes is one lucky set of bones.
They move slow, but fast enough given their numbers. In its own way, it’s like chopping wood. The only good thing, once scattered these bones remain down. No re-assembly required.
“There has to be a way out,” you say, and the answer is provided by the heads-up display in your . . . helmet.
Call yourself the native son of a grand city once name Chicago, with knowledge forgotten yet ensnared within your mind, the Armor of God dredges out every scrap of information concerning the situation itself, and presents complete files as each building is scanned.
Air movement is then tracked, and a solution presents itself.
233 South Wacker Drive.
Once called the Sears Tower, it met its doom like many large cities around the world, when the ground itself split open and molten rock spewed forth, engulfing everything for hundreds of miles in every direction.
“All I can do is hope for one, just one, one open stairwell.”
Even with the armor, you’re tiring.
Finally you make it into the building, and find a stairwell, but the way up is gone. The next stair up is a good twenty feet, and the trajectory is instantly calculated. Trust is the only thing you can contribute to the cause, so with everything you got, you jump.
It doesn’t take much to lift yourself up and over, but you have little time to rest. When the way becomes blocked, you enter a maze of cubicles, and a few more skeletons needing to rest in pieces.
“A maze of the dead, and another blocked stairwell.”
Another elevator shaft, another maintenance ladder as far up as you can go, more fighting, another stairwell, another maze of cubicles, but finally you see light. Real light. Through one empty window you see a nearby stone ledge, and a hole in the cavern wall.
Without thought you jump, and slam your entire body into that one spot. It gives way, and you tumble ass over ears into the sunlight.
The helmet seems to disassemble itself, and the air is cool, crisp, sweetly scented.
Rock sliding down has covered your escape.
The boots reshape themselves to become shoes, and the armor, for the most part, becomes supple brown leather. The shield has shrunk, but there is a sheath for your sword, so you use it.
“Good shoes, leggings of some sort, shirt-vest, ornamental shield on my wrist, sword. Most of my ass is still out in the open, but it is shapely.”
Without thought you start down, and on instinct or prior knowledge from your other soul, you know what to eat, and what not to eat. There is moisture enough in the fruit you find, but a shallow, fast-flowing stream presents itself, and the water is cold, clean, with a slight metallic taste.
The sun is setting. West is down, the only direction available. Clouds suffocate the eastern sky. Nearby, several boulders and slabs together offer a small yet sheltered spot to sleep. And, though you know how, something inside says the last thing you should do it start a fire for others to see. However . . .
“Inceinde. Inceinde. Inceinde.”
Too much flame coats the inside of your shelter, and it takes a while, but when the rock has finally cooled enough to be comfortable, you crawl inside and sleep, and you dream.
In the slave pens you work. Others steal your food until you learn to fight for it, and it’s there you find your salvation. You can fight. You go straight for spots that hurt the most, and if you have to break a bone or two, all the better.
Other slaves your age fear you. Older slaves respect your ability to fight. The monsters only want to be entertained.
As you grow older, the fights become harder, but you still win each and every one. You have grown strong, for a girl, with dense yet lean muscles, and by the age of nine, most are noticing you for other reasons.
“They would see me sexually, even though I wasn’t old enough to bleed.”
And they tried. In the slave pens they tried to rape her, until several dead later, they learned not to.
“Other girls slept near me for protection, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be . . . made. Made to do whatever they wanted me to do, or die. The fights between slaves continued, and the wagers they placed on me high. Then they began to train me with weapons, and I discovered I had a gift for those, too. Maybe it was my ability to see any opening, and strike. Either way, it was all I had until I could see my way free from them all.”
They loaded her and the other fighters into barred carts, and traveled from here to there and back again, where kill or be killed became the norm. Each battle was relived, like it or not.
“The better I performed, the more freedoms I was afforded. By the time I had started my monthly bleeding, my plan had been formed.”
They had gathered around her cage, drawn by her scent. The monsters were bidding on her virginity. The gold offered to be the first to fuck her, appalling. Finally the auction ended. She had to be dragged to a merchant’s home behind his shop.
“I managed a sharp rock along the way, and cut my straps. I killed the monster with his own sword, and climbed the rooftops out of the city. In the woods I found freedom. I had a full night and part of the morning to run.”
She ran, and never stopped. Finally she came to a wide river and jumped in. Mostly she swam underwater, coming up only long enough to take a breath, and on the other side she ran some more. She ran until she had to stop, and she ate, and climbed a tree to rest. That was her every day for weeks. Run, swim when needed, eat, climb a tree and nest.
The sun reaches into your little hidey-hole, waking you up, and then it’s gone. The morning is cold, and clouds now cover all the blue in the sky. It will rain soon. You can smell it in the air.
Not that you’ll melt like sugar if it does rain, you gather food, blast the rocks with fire, and when cool enough, you crawl back in and eat. The dream bothers you. It was like she was speaking to you, while you lived her every action.
“Lets hope I can fight like you.”
Each fight is still there. You can see what she did in your mind. How each opening presented itself. How she took advantage of it. She didn’t think about what she did, she just acted. Many surprised faces realized in their deaths, she was fearless.
“And she was, in her own way. Now I have to be fearless.”
Over an over the images you saw the first night replay themselves. This time the focus is not on the fights, but on the crowds. The monsters look like movie monsters, and they act like movie monsters.
“They fought amongst themselves as much as they watched the fight. So, they rely on numbers. Only humans are not members of the 40watt club. Far from it. She eventually found a sheltered valley, and was only defeated by the betrayal and their greater numbers.”
The thought strikes hard. Her sword is not the sword you carry now. That means that there are two powerful swords in this world.
The light begins to fade. You have food enough for tonight, and after you fill your nook with fire, nature calls. In some ways you feel weird, but when you got to go, you got to go. As you dig a shallow hole to squat over, you find a buried human skull.
Afterward, your ass properly wiped, and in the right direction, you can’t help but to look at yourself, what little you can see. Then you feel stupid, and kind of sleazy, and with your . . . garment in place, you take the skull back, climb into your hole, and clean it up.
“You can talk. And I’ll wait all night if I have to.”
The heat is comforting, and soon, you sleep.
The monster had spotted you first. Another harsh lesson learned, because it came out of what seemed like nowhere, and damn near wrenched your arm off as you escaped his grasp.
There was a sickening pop and a flash of white light inside your head, but you hit the ground and missed the rocks, and made it to your feet despite the daggers of pain in your shoulder.
“I had to grab my sword, but do it with my other hand, which wasn’t easy.”
Not easy at all. Your good hand and the sword were now on the same side of your body. The only way it was coming out of its sheath was to just grab the hilt and pull straight up. The bulk of the sword now rested against your forearm, which meant the sword was pointing in the wrong direction.
“I slashed him, driving my weight into the move, and managed to cut his throat. I tossed the sword up, and caught it, the blade facing outward. I hacked his head off, and dropped.”
She had passed out because of the pain, and it was later when she woke that she found her first friend. The monster had an old woman he used as a slave, and used as a toy. It was she that pushed her shoulder joint back into place, and tied it up to reduce the pressure on it as it healed.
“The woman had no tongue, so could not speak, but could communicate in other ways. She could draw, and did so beautifully. I learned the monster had bit her tongue out of her mouth, and relished its flavor. The threat to finish eating her was repeated too often, so when I killed him, she was grateful  She was wise, in her own way, and taught me many things.”
She taught her some basic magic. Things she had learned over the years, always watching from the sidelines as the good little slave.

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