This is a preview to the chapter Chapter 5 from the book The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe.
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In time Chiyo, Muhjah and Senka adjusted to each other. The two men circled each other in an endless orbit as they always had, and she became a satellite, inescapably bound to them.
Muhjah’s initial promise that she would always have ample opportunity to unleash her inner beast was kept. Chiyo became very familiar and comfortable with it. She envisioned it inside of her, considering different visages for it and comparing it to various animals. She tried to imagine it as a bear or a wolf but found the fur disturbing because it was too soft and there was nothing soft about this beast. She weighed the idea of snakes or kimono dragons and thought they fit much better. She could see it with thick scales, long talons, and pointed, bacteria-laden fangs that led to slow agonizing deaths.
She worked hard to live up to the ideal of it. She wanted the woman on the outside to be as fierce and frightening as the beast within. She wanted to someday be one, with both sides indistinguishable from the other. She made this desire her whole world. She allowed herself no thoughts of home or loved ones. Outside of Muhjah, Senka, and her internal rage, she allowed herself nothing that elicited an emotional response.
She read once that in the concentration camps of World War II, no one had fantasized about sex. Despite being separated from lovers, they harbored no amorous desires. Rather where starvation was an everyday occurrence, such sleep-induced erotic revelries were reserved for food. They dreamt of their favorite delicacies: roasted meats, sweet cakes, heavy cream, and delicate fruits. They panted at the thought of sticky juices running down emaciated, pointed chins and knew heaven would be found in a soft loaf of baking bread.
Chiyo felt the same way about combat. She avoided any thoughts of her lost family. Instead she fantasized about what she wanted most each day: the elation of physical domination and the slick sensual experience of thrusting her sword deep into the chest of a bested opponent. This had become as necessary to her as air. When she went without it, she felt as if she had been deprived of life by the drought.
Her mind unsuccessfully tried to reconcile a lifetime of peaceful living with this newfound bloodlust. It became confused, and lacking other acceptable means of comparison, her subconscious projected the joy of killing, so foreign in her previous life, onto the only other corporeal ebullience she had ever experienced—sex. There was nothing in her waking life that quickened her desire, but there were times when she awoke panting and wet with no memory of a man being present.
This disturbed her rational self, but it was another thing over which she had no control, especially because she saw no such inclination in her killing partners. Senka seemed to have no such passion at all, and Muhjah found a frequent outlet in the brothels of the small towns, which he preferred to the larger, fancier ones in the cities. He said the women were always more appreciative of the business.
Chiyo had never seen their penchant for violence cross paths with one for sex. It endeared them in her eyes and increased her own sense of deviance and guilt. In order to drive this and everything else away, she practiced kata every day, becoming strong and skilled. She challenged Muhjah regularly and Senka occasionally—whenever she saw the rare signs that he would be willing. Senka was strict and unforgiving as ever, but Chiyo never lacked a sense of profound accomplishment at the end.
To plague Emperor Kenichi’s men without attacking the empire itself, they limited their disruptions to outlaying posts and the establishments of high-ranking officials. Chiyo had come to understand that the group’s purpose was surprisingly noble. They knew that as a small group they were unlikely to ever effect permanent social change, but every supply train they delayed, official event they disrupted and representative of the empire they killed was a small protest against the despotic rule of the emperor. As long as they avoided attacking Kenichi’s personal interests he would consider it beneath his dignity to become involved in his subordinates’ affairs and this left the group considerable room to maneuver.
The three fought loosely. Once on the ground each fought alone, going where the battle took them and depending heavily on stealth, surprise, and speed. Occasionally in the course of events, they might meet and fight as a pair or trio, but usually they were able to spread the confusion more effectively by dispersing themselves. It made each raid risky. One could easily be outnumbered or, less easily, outskilled without assistance. This never bothered Senka or Muhjah, and Chiyo had come to depend on the adrenaline as firmly as a diabetic might their insulin. It was life sustaining.
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