“You four,” James singled out four men in the front, “make sure the square is set before we get back.” Turning back to Sarah he beckoned her. “Come Goodwoman, there is spare gear in the barracks of the Elite.”
Sarah followed James into the left Barrack door. He led her up the stairs to a smaller room, sporting three bunks and a couple trunks.
“Major Chantey, has been lax in his training,” James spoke to her as he began to remove gear from a trunk. “You should find him easy pray.”
Sarah snorted as she took the proffered clothing and weapons. “I’d rather not kill him.”
“If you value your safety, you should do so.” Turning from her James moved down the stairs to wait.
“I’ll get this clothing back won’t I?” Sarah asked as she discarded the vest and pant-skirt.
“We will see,” was all James replied.
Groaning at the annoyance of this all Sarah pulled on the pants and vest. They were tight, especially in the bust and waist. God, what would my brothers think of this mess I’ve got myself into, she sighed to herself as she sheathed the dagger. She went to buckle on the sword and it nearly dropped.
“Damn, don’t you have anything lighter?”
James turned to her. “No, this is not Vervell. Our time is up.”
Sarah donned the coat and followed him back down the stairs. Back outside, light was beginning to fade. Tall torches outlined a sparring square as the wind tried to blow them out like birthday candles.
Despite her unease, Sarah walked into that ring, with all the confidence she could muster. I am woman. Hear me roar, she thought.
“Hey Major,” someone called from the crowd, “your coat looks much better on her.”
“And I’ll enjoy wearing it again after I’ve beaten her,” Major Chantey stated as he stepped into the ring.
Sarah shucked the coat and tossed it outside the ropes. The wind bit at her and she forced herself to focus on the task at hand to keep from shivering.
“I have beaten Phoenix and I have beaten James,” she whispered as she walked towards the middle of the ring to meet Chantey. Her eyes locked upon his, reading the lust that shone through.
Her sword seemed to draw itself, as images of the men in that back alley came unbidden to mind. Anger and hatred of that night gave her the strength to wield it. The Major didn’t seem as badly out of shape as James had indicated. At least it didn’t feel that way to Sarah as her face grew numb from the cold, while her torso sweated with exertion.
There were hoots and hollers from the crowd. Some cheered her. Some cheered him. James and Wholawski watched in silence. Yet, Sarah barely noticed as she tried to best this man.
Come on, she silently encouraged herself, you beat Chester, and he was beating this guy. Don’t give up. Don’t let him... “Shit!”
The heavy sword flew from her hands and thudded upon the frozen ground.
“Looks like you’ll be keeping me warm, whore.” Major Chantey’s sword tip pressed between her breasts as he licked his lips.
Sarah’s eye narrowed. She didn’t need a sword. It had only been a hindrance. In one fluid motion, she stepped away from the blade, her left palm pushing the flat of it from her, as her right hand drew the dagger that had remained sheathed until now.
“I am not a whore.”