This is a list of how often and where the term 'sword' appears in the book The Weeping Empress.
Search result for 'sword' in The Weeping Empress
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
"...In his right hand was a thin curved sword like Chiyo had seen in innumerable movies and museums. Unlike those shiny, clean swords, his was brown with the stains of congealing blood. It terrified her. She had never been so close to a killing implement before. She instinctively tried again to free herself but still wasn’t able to ..."
"...Although the chaos was generally spread out, these two figures created an epicenter for the fighting. A large contingent of uniforms was fully occupied in trying to suppress them, and they were failing miserably. The two rebels ducked and wove in and out of each other’s shadows, swords flashing red and blue. Each movement found a mark, and there was a swath of destruction around them. They were mesmerizing, and for a moment the sight even cut through Chiyo’s fear and revulsion, allowing her to release the breath she was holding. ..."
"...He sounded reasonable enough, but Chiyo remembered the old woman who had reached out for help and the cold efficient manner in which she had been killed. Chiyo remembered the field in which others were dying and noticed the firm grip he had on his sword and the number of uniformed dead on the ground. She didn’t imagine he was feeling very reasonable. ..."
"...situation appeared, she was going to protect herself, especially when no one was coming to her rescue. She feigned to the right and kicked him in his injured leg when he stepped forward to intercept her. He roared in pain, surprise, and indignation. She felt the swipe of the sword pass her as she escaped its reach. ..."
"...mercy of the uniformed men. Given her recent introduction to the men’s treatment of their charges, she wasn’t inclined to be in their care. The two rebels seemed to agree and were the most likely avenue for escape. She avoided another uniform and, out of desperation, grabbed a discarded sword. It was lighter than she expected, and its hilt was sticky. She quelled the urge to drop it in disgust because she needed it to make sure no one touched her. ..."
"...Even as she fought, there was a battle waging inside of her as she took in the bloody world of war. The smell of blood and damp soil was nauseating. She wanted to fall on her knees and vomit until her stomach was empty. The feel of her sword hacking through the flesh of another living being disgusted her as well. It reminded her of watching her grandmother dismember a chicken. The quick abortive chop that was necessary to sever joints always had disturbed her, and the loud thunk of the knife hitting the cutting board had frightened ..."
"...told herself it was just special effects—synthetic blood or even tomato catsup—until she stopped thinking of it and her actions became those of a third person, distant and distinct from herself. Her fear, her anger, her disgust, all became something she looked at without feeling until eventually she stood, sword raised awkwardly, with no opponent at hand. ..."
"...were retreating behind the gate of the strange squat buildings. She looked around and met the eyes of the leaner of the two fighters. He stood as if he might have been at Carnival, relaxed and unconcerned. He looked at her for another moment and turned away, sheathing his sword. ..."
"...eyes, caused your breath to catch, and reduced you to staring. His skin was fair and contained a slight pink flush that was probably from exhilaration rather than his natural hue. His hair was straight and dark brown and looked as if he had cut it with the very sword he had been swinging. It was shaggy, uneven, and hanging in his eyes, but those eyes were startling and frightening. Even from her distance Chiyo could tell that they were light in color. Unlike the joyous expression on his companion’s face, nothing reflected from behind them. He could have ..."
"...Chiyo looked him over. As similar and practiced as their swordplay had been, the two men were dissimilar in appearance. The second was a good three inches taller and beefier than his companion was. There was a thick, bearlike quality to him, and he was broad in the back and shoulders. Strength was bulging and apparent in his extremities. His ..."
"...side of the wall, but nothing moved between her and it. She remembered the scattered and disbelieving uniformed soldiers, the fleeing of what she assumed were civilians, the thin covering of a young forest behind them, and the utter lack of anything she might consider generically “modern.” She’d seen swords, knives, spears, and people throwing rocks and wielding large sticks but no guns. She saw people being loaded into a cart, but no buses or trucks. She saw people wearing tunics, robes, leather sandals, and even loincloths but no blue jeans, sneakers, or T-shirts. ..."71.
"... for conversation. She shivered and moved herself toward the middle of the group, trying to look inconspicuous. It wasn’t easy. She counted twenty people, plus the two swordsmen. She was a few inches taller than any woman in the group and inappropriately attired. For the first time she ..."124.
"... filled the space next to her. She gripped the short blade he had given her and raised it toward a surprised assailant. He didn’t know how to respond to a strangely clad woman, brandishing a sword. Chiyo used this momentary uncertainty and attacked. The battle was over before all of the ..."
"...Muhjah’s short sword was still slung over her shoulder, and more than one person had given her a wide berth after catching sight of it. She was anxious to give it back to him, but hadn’t been able to find him. She tried to convince herself that if she hadn’t found him ..."145.
"... foreigner,” Muhjah teased, laughing at her braggadocio. She blushed in spite of herself. Holding the sword gingerly in her hands, she extended it out to him. He didn’t look at it but looked at a nearby group of people instead. “It isn’t done, you know? They farm. We fight. One ..."
"...The whole scene embarrassed her, and she wanted to crawl under a rock somewhere. Instead she brusquely returned his sword to him and walked away. There was little left to be said because he couldn’t answer her burning questions. She could feel his eyes on the back of her head as she retreated and sat among the group of waiting farmers before turning himself. ..."
"...She wrenched her arm back, trying to break his viselike grip, but his fingers dug painfully into her upper arm. She could feel the deep purple bruises springing to life unseen beneath his hand. It was no use. She was caught. The sword in his other hand rose ominously, and Chiyo froze, panic and fear coursing uselessly through her body. Then he grunted, and the hand on her arm tensed and then relaxed. Blood welled heavily along his lower lashes, like crimson teardrops, and she discovered a hiltless knife protruding prodigiously from ..."
"...Chiyo had to stomp with her bare feet on the fingers of the dead man to release his sword, but eventually she was able to take it and the smaller knife from his belt and throw herself headlong into what was left of the fight. I’m not going to sit and do nothing, she thought. She awakened the hatchling savage within her and fed it its fill of ..."167.
"... There isn’t any time to think about that. Just focus. When his sword was given the opportunity to drench itself in the blood of the last fallen man, Senka wiped his blade on the frock of a corpse and turned his flat eyes onto Chiyo. “Why are you still alive?” he asked wearily. His voice ..."170.
"... “You have no skill. You hold the sword too tightly. Your stance is ineffectual. Your body is too tense, and you are unaware of what’s happening around you. These men, the nyim’s men, they’re poorly trained and uninterested in much beyond their pay, but even they are better than that.” ..."
"...“Well, there is that,” the bigger man said as he held a long sword out toward her. “Here, bandits, mercenaries, or whatever these guys were sometimes manage to steal an item or two of value. This one is better than that worthless slab of metal you have there. If you’re gonna insist on getting in the way, you might as well do it ..."181.
"... it in her. “It’s a family sword of some sort. There’s no maker’s mark that I can see and of midlevel craftsmanship at best, but it’s well cared for, which means this lot must not have had it very long. It’ll do until you get your head cut off,” Muhjah continued. “Really ..."
"...her new weapon. She tried wedging it into her waistband as Senka and Muhjah did, but this put it uncomfortably inside her pants and in time it slipped out anyway. In the end she simply tied the cord, sageo (Muhjah had corrected her), around her waist and let the sword hang. It still wasn’t comfortable, tapping her leg with each step in an irritating manner, but it worked. She moved to the front of the line to look at how Senka wore his—low on the hips and tucked tightly away—but it didn’t help much. He had a large sash ..."
"...She forced her attention back to Senka and his accoutrements. As she watched him, she realized the complicated attachment wasn’t the only reason that his sword didn’t slip. He walked with such an ethereal grace that nothing about him—not even his shaggy hair that hung in his eyes—swayed or jostled. He seemed to glide. Every muscle worked together to form a smooth synthesis of motion. She felt like an oaf, plodding along clumsily. So much ..."
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
"...“Aw, come on. Don’t you find her at least a little intriguing? In the way and underfoot I know, but how often do you see a girl chomping at the bit like that? Yeah, she’s a disaster with a sword, and I know that offends your sense of careful mastery, but she somehow manages to stay alive.” ..."58.
"... Senka made a show of resisting. Chiyo watched from the small group of mostly women. She could tell that Senka wasn’t fighting as skillfully as he could. Although his sword often found its mark, it didn’t inflict a single fatal blow. Many men stumbled and fell, but none died. She ..."60.
"... and keeping her tucked safely into the crowd prevented her from screwing it up. Having lowered and sheathed his sword, Senka was cautiously disarmed. The commander came forward and looked him over. “I’m Leoni Askil, and you’ve caused us a lot of freaking trouble. You know ..."
"...Chiyo slipped the small knife she had taken off of the dead mercenary into the back of her knickers. The sword was another matter. She tried to hide it between herself and the skirts of the other women, shuffling awkwardly and keeping in the middle of the group. It was difficult as those closest to her kept shifting uncomfortably away from her. It was only a matter of minutes before ..."
"...There were bags under his eyes, and she could tell he hadn’t shaved in days. The stubble was a shade lighter than his tumbled, oily hair, and he scratched at it uncomfortably. He smelled of dirt and sweat. Chiyo shifted her glance from him to the sword and passed it over with shaking hands. He took it from her as if it had been contaminated. ..."
"...She came to Senka first, cutting his hands free and proudly presenting him his sword and the dizzying array of knives she’d found with it. It had been an unexpected windfall that her paramour had chosen to partake in his vile activities in the same tent in which their weapons were stored. Her shirt was torn, revealing the swell of a breast and the ..."88.
"... lower lip. Senka accepted his sword without saying anything, and the two released the rest of the group. No one met Chiyo’s eyes as they passed. She accepted their scorn as expected but was confused to hear Andela say, “… And my flesh shall free the imprisoned masses.” Although it ..."
"...Chiyo looked over the two samurai, as she had decided to call them. It seemed to fit. Certainly their weaponry was that of the East, or what she knew of it. Their blades were closer to katana than broadswords. They wore loose-fitting, silk clothing instead of leather or armor. They seemed to share the tenet of bujutsu that valued silence as an estimable quality. They certainly weren’t knights in shining armor, and Camelot wouldn’t have invited them to the table. ..."
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
"...“Look,” he said. “Just so you know, the sword isn’t a baton. It isn’t an instrument used to bludgeon an opponent to death. The sword is primarily a slicing weapon. You must never forget the importance of the edge. Each move you make must be for the purpose of increasing the likelihood of successfully cutting your enemy. Wasted ..."
"...“Furthermore, if you’ve drawn your sword, your intent must be to kill your opponent. There should be no thoughts of mercy. They’ll only weaken your resolve and get you killed. You’ll already be at a disadvantage in strength. Even the most unskilled man will almost certainly be stronger than you are. You must develop speed ..."38.
"... well balanced as he did. Slowly drawing his own sword, Muhjah showed her a number of proper and improper grips. She, of course, had been using all of the wrong ones. She swayed slightly on her newly corrected stance and practiced feeling the weight of her sword. Her left pinky finger was ..."
"...Returning to her side Muhjah demonstrated a basic kata, sliding his front foot back into a catlike stance while bringing his sword high over his head and then stepping forward while slicing downward in a basic strike. He did it a number of times and then observed and corrected Chiyo until she had decently replicated it. ..."
"...war and war is nothing more than killing. Death is its only legacy, and few know it better than we do. Senka and I—we’re contradictory because we know how meaningless it really is but still wage this war of ours. No leader has bid us wear a shield and sword to march in defense of our land, but it’s a small personal war waged for that same love of our homeland. We don’t pretend it’s noble or that history will vindicate or even remember us. We simply seek to affect a small change with the only tools available to ..."
"...recognized the domesticity of the small outpost she shook a little. She could smell the manure of nearby animals. She could see ragged laundry hanging on a makeshift line. The men who died so that I could enter were nothing more than employees. Their job might have involved the sword and fighting in the name of the nyim, but they had families and unoffending lives. They had no power, and neither their lives, nor their deaths greatly affect the nyim, emperor, or nation. They’re victims in their own right. The thought was disturbing. One more thing not to think ..."
"...took her to catch up, they had thrown themselves headlong into the attack. On nimble feet they had snuck up on two men who had been chatting just outside the door of the barracks. They had been casually armed but had died without the opportunity to even draw their swords. Their shouts and death throes brought others out. There was no reason to hesitate or try to secretly pick off the remaining soldiers now. ..."
"...It would have been better to remain in the meadow; the forest wasn’t particularly conducive to pitched sword fights. Both Muhjah and Senka carried wakizashi for such situations. Being shorter—twenty inches compared to the katana’s twenty-four to twenty-nine inches—they allowed for greater movement. But Chiyo had no such weapon. Hers was too long for the confined space. Yet again she felt herself a hindrance to them. Senka ..."
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
"...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. ..."
"...Muhjah always wears his excitement on his face, she remembered. You never have to wonder about Muhjah’s mood. He’ll be grinning ear to ear, and without Senka’s calming influence, he’ll fight in big exuberant strikes. His sword will gleam in the moonlight, and the blood will fly from its tip as he whips it from foe to foe. Like a frenzy. ..."
"...In the time she had been with the two men she also had learned to read the small signs in Senka. As she ran along the top of the wall, she could imagine him in his relaxed elegance. His sword will dart out and back as he turns and circles, never presenting enough of a target to his opponent. His breath will be slow and measured, following the course of his sword: in on the upswing and out on the down. He is never so beautiful as in battle, ..."
"...She had snuck up the interior stairs to run along the wall, and she was able to look down on the bailey and see a group of men heading in her direction. Her sword was already red with her previous opponents’ blood. She relished the sound of her feet pounding along the well-worn stone. She felt fast and confident. She felt the adrenaline course and the excitement of the challenge. She was ruthless and beastlike. ..."58.
"... “What do I know of honor?” She forced herself to relax with both hands on her sword. She rose to a neutral position as if ready to parry in whichever direction the attack should come, brought her elbows in tight, and threw herself at her closest opponent. This was a close-contact fight. ..."63.
"... She sank her sword deep into the chest of a middle-aged guard—a mistake. He instinctively grabbed at the blade in an attempt to remove it. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth as he died. Chiyo pushed hard, forcing him over the wall and allowing gravity to remove him from her weapon. ..."
"...Chiyo hefted her lightweight sword as if it weighed one hundred pounds and continued toward the door. She readied herself for the soldiers. She hoped they had come in such a hurry that they hadn’t had time to summon more support and that they had thought her more injured than she miraculously was. Perhaps ..."
"...As a child it had been explained to him ad infinitum that in order to be the best warrior possible, he had to dedicate himself to the art wholly and completely. Commitment to anything else, even people, detracted from his commitment to the sword. This lack of human contact had left him emotionally stunted, hardly ever having to mask an emotion because he didn’t feel it. ..."118.
"... pieces lining up around them and he felt that he fit snugly in place there, too. “I am yours, and you are mine,” he whispered. “My sword is your sword; my life, your life; and my death, your death.” He smiled. It felt like he had been born anew—to her and whatever she was part of. ..."
"...He smiled. It felt like he had been born anew—to her and whatever she was part of. He had committed his life to the sword and the art of killing. Now he committed his sword and its deadly intent to her. He lived, fought and, one day, would die for her. She’d become the center of his world. That Chiyo didn’t know was irrelevant. Her willing participation wasn’t a necessary part of the equation. ..."
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
"...The srbosjek had been a gift from an old acquaintance he had visited outside of Brizion. It hadn’t been a social call, however. Guibniu was a kaji, a maker of superb swords. He was renowned for the beauty, durability, quality, and detailed nature of his blades. He was now an old man with a few select apprentices who rarely crafted blades for sale, but he had known Senka’s father, Nukpana, and had watched Senka grow from afar. ..."
"...Nukpana had come to him when his small son needed a sword, and every few years Senka had returned. Guibniu understood Senka’s quiet ways, and Senka was comfortable with him. He had a great respect for the craftsman as a master of his trade and, even though he was generally unaware of it, a vague disdain for all weapons not bearing ..."94.
"... cup precariously on his knee and looked at the older man. He had aged since last he visited—perhaps five years ago or more. “I need a sword,” he finally said. “Seems you have a very nice one there at the door,” Guibniu pointed out. Senka nodded. “This one needs to be shorter, ..."
"...swordwo spent the evening discussing the details. Guibniu had acquired his reputation by making high-quality, dependable weapons, tools for bringing death, but he had made his fortune making ceremonial daisho that probably never saw battle. swords that never left their katana kake were useless in Guibniu’s eyes. Their steel might ..."
"...“No son of Nukpana would use such an elaborate sword. It’s too showy, too short, and far too light,” he asked the question whose answer he assumed. Guibniu had heard the rumors of a fearsome woman who traveled with two equally ruthless men, and for some time he had suspected the identity of her companions. ..."
"...The slight pause in Senka’s stride might have been missed by anyone who hadn’t known him as long as the aged swordmaker had. It was answer enough. Senka noted that Guibniu’s hands shook as he picked the sketches from the mat because the old man sensed the overwhelming honor Senka was bestowing on him. Senka knew he would make a masterpiece of this one sword, and on it would be carried ..."
"...She had no doubt that the swordlike shape was just as it appeared. Her heart sped up a little bit. Could it really be that my newfound brothers have brought me here for a sword of my own? With few exceptions (Senka’s fanatical father being one of them), Chiyo knew a warrior received their own weapon ..."
"...She turned the sword so that it could be removed. She felt the slight tug of the habaki releasing and then the smooth, soundless escape of the blade itself. Looking down the length of deadly steel, the fine, undulating ayasugi grain, perfectly complementing the milky kikusui hamon, mesmerized Chiyo. It looked every bit ..."
"...There was a horimono sneaking out from under the fuchi. It was carved into the steel and filled with a red lacquer so that it stood out sharply from the subtle contours of the sword as a whole. It was a testament to Guibniu’s skill and confidence that it didn’t significantly weaken the blade. She couldn’t tell what it was supposed to mean. It was in a flowing unknown script that was still foreign to her. She would ask but not now when she ..."117.
"... She returned the sword to its saya and drew it again, just to feel the frictionless way it moved. It pleased her in an almost sensual way. Every fiber of her body was alive and responding. She was certain she had never held, or perhaps even beheld, something so beautiful. She told Guibniu so. ..."121.
"... silk sleeve but continued to trace the raised patterns evident beneath it. Guibniu called it “Salvation,” an odd name, but she liked it well enough. In a sense the life of the sword had been a salvation to her. **** Chiyo had been correct in both her estimates. If she had been a normal ..."
"...Chiyo had been correct in both her estimates. If she had been a normal student, she would not have been ready to receive a sword. But Chiyo wasn’t a normal student, and the package wasn’t just a sword. This was the finest sword the skilled and elderly swordsmith had ever produced. Muhjah, Senka, and Guibniu felt she needed a sword to match her growing reputation, a visual symbol of the strength she could lend ..."
"...Training took on new pleasure. Each time she drew the sword, it seemed to grip her. She longed for a battle in which to allow it full reign, but things had been disappointingly quiet—no imperial transports or no opening to attack a nyim’s compound. There had been nothing on which to unleash her pent-up energy. ..."
"...Chiyo could feel Senka and Muhjah’s eyes on her and knew they were waiting to see how she responded. She had certainly killed before; it was unavoidable and the reason why she traveled with them. But something was different now. It had to do with Guibniu’s sword. It represented something, and now, having wielded it in mortal combat, she had tacitly accepted it. ..."153.
"... She did chiburi, shaking the blood from her sword. She loved that such actions had a name in this strange new home of hers. Bending down, she carefully wiped the remaining blood from her blade on her felled opponent’s tunic. She turned and nodded. Her brothers in arms nodded back at her. ..."
"...That night in a small inn outside of a large town, Chiyo rubbed her right arm repeatedly. The large man’s blows still had been painful even when she had blocked them, and her new sword, though light for its size, was still heavier than the lower-quality swords she had been using. It made her ache. ..."170.
"... producing drinkable tea. Chiyo watched as Senka removed his cleaning kit from the mysterious folds of his trousers. He carefully detached the mekugi, tsuka, tsuba, and seppa and began the ritual that was the care of his sword, which was an extension of his being. “There are times you must ..."171.
"... of his being. “There are times you must let the sword do what the arm can’t,” he had once told her. “As an extension of you, it can carry the burdens you can’t. There need never be remorse at the death of an opponent. That is for your sword to carry.” She hadn’t truly ..."
"...She continued to watch him. He was slow, meticulously aware of each concise movement. Senka had a way of making such tasks beautiful. When he had finished, she took her own sword and his tools to the river. It might have only encountered one battle, she thought, but it couldn’t hurt to polish it just a little. Then I’ll bathe. ..."
"...As evening fell, she chose a shallow bank near the water’s edge and settled into the rhythmic ritual. Following the same process as Senka, she disassembled the sword. Setting the hardware safely aside, she began on the opposite end. She wiped the blade gently with a soft cloth. Turning the blade carefully over, she began again—and then froze. ..."
"...Her eyes had caught sight of something. There was no breath. The pain trapped and suppressed within her began to swell, and she didn’t know how she could contain it. She might have screamed as she dropped the sword in the water and backed quickly away from it as if it had burned her. For a long time she sat there, staring at it, digging her fingers into the soil and feeling pain as small pebbles embedded themselves under her nails and pushed deeper. ..."181.
"... from gripping hard, and the pain was unbearable. Running back to camp, she found Senka and Muhjah sitting quietly. They were waiting. Slowing her pace but not the force of her approach, she presented the sword to Muhjah and then to Senka. “What does it mean?” she demanded. There was a ..."185.
"... the latter responded. Raising her right hand, she slapped him hard across the face. Dropping the sword, she hit him again and again. He remained as he was, allowing her to vent her rage. He eventually took her wrists, stopping her only when she began to appear spent. Looking into her eyes, ..."
"...Muhjah once had told her sword-fighting was like dancing. It had seemed a strange comparison at the time because hacking at an opponent, as she tended to do, was jarring, brutal, and without grace. But she understood as she watched Senka walk silently through the undergrowth, disturb nothing, and leave no evidence of his presence. ..."
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
"...left camp to swim, if near the river; run; climb; or do anything. Feeling the steady pulse of her heart, the smooth, tight contraction of her muscles, the acrid burn of lactic acid, the thump of her foot on the hard packed road, and the rhythmic tap of the sword strapped across her back became essential at such times. She could go until exhaustion washed everything from her mind again. ..."
"...The men had considered their identities safely anonymous. In most crowds they were almost invisible, just one more pair of rogue swordsmen. Chiyo’s presence, however, rarely went unnoticed recently; there was often a low hum of recognition as they walked the street. They could no longer blend into a crowd, and it made entering populated areas problematic. ..."
"...Chiyo couldn’t understand. One particularly bold girl had grabbed Chiyo in her excitement. Already overly tense, Chiyo had responded with conditioned violence. It had been only Senka’s quick movements that saved the child’s life. He had deftly placed himself between the two, blocking Chiyo’s ability to further draw her sword and sharply bringing her back to her senses. ..."
"...He followed her, slinking from bush to bush, until Havard stepped into her path. Havard wore no insignia or uniform, but he carried the sword of the emperor’s elite guard, and it was obvious that Chiyo recognized it and the danger it represented. The elite guards weren’t just professional soldiers; they were well-trained professional killers. ..."
"...Chiyo’s knees softened and her body took on the taut aggressive poise indicative of an impending fight. But Filat didn’t give her the opportunity. Before she could move, he lunged forward and struck her at the base of the skull with the blunt end of his sword. She crumpled anticlimactically into his waiting arms. He slung her over his shoulder, handing her sword off to Havard, who pulled it effortlessly from its saya. ..."
"...Although she spoke their language, she had an odd accent. Neither could place from where she came. She was a foreigner, but where did she come from and why? The rumors said she wasn’t raised with a sword and wasn’t from a warrior family. She had only started learning a few years ago, which they considered unlikely because she appeared too skilled to have practiced for such a short time. Though they did agree that a person could progress rapidly if they trained full-time with two such ..."104.
"... to grasp the danger of her situation,” Havard told the emperor. “Maybe, but her eyes never left that sword, and you know it. I’d be reluctant to trust that complaisant act,” Filat, the smarter of the two, countered. Kenichi was also inclined to agree that it was unlikely a simpleton ..."
"...Senka was the only son of an old and well-respected warrior family. His father was known to produce dedicated and skilled swordsmen. He was also known for an extremism that could resemble cruelty. His mother had been the youngest daughter of an equally old, though less respectable, family. She had been pregnant twice before Senka was born but had miscarried. There had been rumors that she was cursed to bear no ..."
"...quiet, and people tended to avoid his company because it was uncomfortable. His youth was marked by little distinction, because as Nukpana’s son, he would never have been allowed to compete in the frequent skill competitions. It would have been considered beneath the family’s dignity. His skilled and deadly swordsmanship was expected, but there was no reason to shamefully display it for anyone’s entertainment. ..."
"...been born in the same village as Senka’s family. His father was a low-level guardsman, who had worked hard and honestly. The father was killed in the service of his nyim not long after Muhjah was born. His mother inherited a small monthly stipend, and Muhjah inherited his father’s sword. It wasn’t well made or of any particular value, but those who knew Muhjah said he practiced long and hard with it. He wished to become skilled, like the warriors in stories and the man he imagined his father had been. ..."115.
"... the right thing. But he couldn’t understand why this mysterious woman should do the same. She shouldn’t have ever held a sword. She shouldn’t have learned how to use it. She shouldn’t be killing people like a man. But these facts didn’t seem to bother anyone. More importantly the ..."
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
"...Senka and Muhjah reached Capital City in good time. They had little trouble entering the city itself. Commerce regularly occurred within its walls, and swordsmen were often brought along as extra muscle, protection, and persuasion. Once there, they were again at a loss about what to do next. They needed a way into the palace, but neither of them had spent much time in the capital, nor knew a secret way past the guards ..."
"...They found a guard station and rest quarters between the tunnel and the actual dungeon where there was no possibility of sneaking by without being seen. Following their well-versed mode of fighting, they entered with their short swords drawn and knives exposed, killing as many as possible before the majority grasped what was going on. It was bloody and merciless. It left many guards dead or dying and wounded. ..."
"...The two men looked at each other, each with something to say. Finally Senka sighed. He was protective of Chiyo. He didn’t wish any harm to befall her. However, he had dedicated himself, his skill, and his sword to her. It would be a waste for her to become someone’s wife or anything safe and unimportant. ..."156.
"... mind. They watched and waited. Suddenly, they sensed someone’s presence. They stood supple but still, with their hands on their swords but couldn’t see a torch or figure in the darkness of the tunnel. They heard the sound of a throat clearing and relaxed. A matronly older woman emerged ..."
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
"...Time passed, the keep filled to capacity, and then as if a drain had been released, the population density started to dwindle. The swordsmen realized that the women were beginning to depart in groups, a few each day. It quickened their hearts. A change was coming. They took it as a sign that Chiyo would soon return to them. ..."
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
"...She could kill them and become a monster. Monsters surely feel no devastating loss. She raised the sword high and with a soul-crushing screech did just so faute de mieux, but it was like striking herself down. Had I not been innocent? Had I not been the victim of events beyond my control? Now I’m a demon, unrecognizable to those who loved me. ..."
"...the head priestess turned to her and bowed deeply. There was a rustle, like an old sheet being dusted off, and Chiyo saw the women below do the same. She looked out on a sea of backs, broad and slim. She stood there at the edge of the world, sword in hand, and scanned the humbled female crowd for two male faces. They were the only ones who mattered to her, but she couldn’t find them. ..."
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
"...Chiyo donned a dress to blend in while in Capital City. It wasn’t the wispy gossamer of the Goddess, but a coarse, white, loose-weave wool outfit. She carried no sword. Senka wore both his and hers. It left him looking a little over-armed but not particularly worthy of attention. He remained always at her side. ..."
"...seemed so odd to Chiyo, but a hiding place for three had been difficult to find. It was madness, they all agreed, and they each secretly expected to die. The folly of spending so much time in the palace risked their being caught, but because they were only three swordsmen, they had to substitute patience, stealth, and cunning for the numbers they lacked. ..."
"...Her expertly-crafted sword resounded sharply as it struck his mass-produced weapon. She imagined she might slice right through it. He quickly raised it again and brought it down, trying with all his might to slice her in two. She spun off to the side, wielding her weapon as a dancer might a ..."132.
"... it’s her two loyal dogs, he thought with disdain. Is there truly no escape? He snatched a sword from one of his fallen men, ready to fight with them. He hoped the blasted neighbors enjoyed the show after all. **** Muhjah had been close enough to the great hall to hear the last of the ..."135.
"... had put his wealth on display in only the halls likely to be seen. He smiled, a terrifying sight to those he crossed swords with. He arrived in the bright room in time to see Chiyo’s relaxed stance prepare to lunge. Muhjah saw Senka come flying from his own hallway like a burst dam. He ..."
"...Chiyo broke through the thin ranks of the guard without looking back. She knew Senka and Muhjah would deal with them. The emperor shook, but his sword was raised and his stance correct. They circled each other, their swords tip to tip. No doubt he had years more training than she did, but she didn’t think of that. She saw only the edge of his pale neck above his starched collar, the tell-tale sign of his ..."
"...and again, driving her opponent further from his men and the assistance of any reinforcements. They parried back and forward. He knocked her blade away. She thrust and caught nothing but fabric. He swung and missed as she yielded like the proverbial reed in a river. He brought his sword high, and she spun, hitting him hard in the kidney with the kashira at the end of her hilt. He bellowed in anger and pain. Swinging around, he chose the wrong direction, and she was able to fit her blade snuggly into his throat. Putting the weight of her ..."143.
"... side. He was dead, and she didn’t turn to watch the forgone conclusion of his demise. She heard his head and then the heavier body fall and felt the spray of arterial blood on her calves. She let her arms lower and heard the light tink of her sword touching the floor. She sighed. ..."
Chapter 16: Chapter 1618.
"... are traitors to me now. Shortly she would officially take the throne by the tip of the swords held by her two most trusted, loyal friends and comrades. They hadn’t asked her permission or even her opinion. If they had done so, she would have firmly refused. She understood why they had ..."
Chapter 17: Epilogue
"...white kimono. Her arm had been removed from the right sleeve, letting it fall behind and exposing the crest of a small round breast. There was a snake coiled viciously around her waist and down her exposed arm, its tail cutting into the flesh itself. She was holding a sword in that same hand, as if she didn’t notice the slight beads of blood just starting to seep out from under the green scales. Two men knelt behind her, shadowed and waiting, and true to its title, one solitary tear slid down the subject’s colorless cheek. It seemed as ..."