*this is taken from Chapter IV*


On an icy December evening, Jadyn was determined to practice. She set off to her usual practice place. However, she decided to go to the other side of town, thinking Rhiyah would not find her. Though she rather enjoyed playing this cat-and-mouse game over the past six months with him, her fighting skills had suffered greatly for it.

The chilly air seemed to strengthen her resolve. The northern winters were unforgiving and relentless. When she had first picked up fighting, she had learned that men would immerse their hands in freezing cold water for long periods, in order to strengthen them. She meditated on this as she practiced.

Within an hour, after it had grown considerably dark save for the moonlight piercing through the treetops, an uneasy feeling overcame her. She continued, but the feeling would not go away. It only grew stronger; it overwhelmed her. Her heart pounded loudly and perspiration trickled from her temples before crystallizing on her cheeks.

Standing still, she heard a rustling noise behind her – the sound of brittle frozen grass. She whirled around.

“You!” she yelled. “How long have you been here?”

From a few feet away, Rhiyah smiled. “Awhile.”

“Doing what?” she demanded.

He closed the small book he held and placed in in his coat. “Reading,” he replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Reading? Really? Reading outside in the winter? Reading in near darkness? You must think I’m stupid.” She walked towards him. “What do you want from me?” she whined. “You’ve been here ever since you met me.” She looked down at her sword and sighed.  “I am not nearly as good as I was in the summer.”

“You’re right…your hand is not as steady as it used to be,” he said as he walked around her, taking on the role of an instructor. “Are you nervous?” Rhiyah grinned. “I could help you with that.”

“Have you any idea how much I hate you, sir?” Jadyn spewed. “Do tell, what is it that you want from me?”

“I want to fight you,” he whispered.

“That’s it?” she yelled, disappointed. “That’s it, nothing else?”

Rhiyah’s lips curled into a half smile. “That’s it.”

“Then fight me!” she grasped her sword shakily and pointed it towards him. “Fight me! Why have you been pussyfooting around for so long if all you want to do is fight me?”

Rhiyah stepped back.

“Where is your sword, sir? I thought you always had it on you?”

“I – I don’t have it with me.”

“Oh, a first!” She stepped forward, still aiming her weapon at him. “Oh, this would be too easy!” She threw down her sword, made fists,  and swung at him.

Rhiyah backed away, but Jadyn kept lunging towards him.

“Fight me, dammit! That’s what you wanted, right?” Growing  impatient by his reluctance, she laughed haughtily. “Figured…” She turned around to pick up her sword when she felt a hand cover her mouth and an arm around her waist.

“What the …?” Before knowing  what was happening, her back hit the cold hard ground, knocking the air out of her. When her eyes opened , she saw Rhiyah hovering over her, his warm breath hitting her face.

“Is this your way of fighting, Rhiyah? You don’t fight fair!” She cried, punching him  several times.

“Careful. It’s cold out here.”

“Let go of me!” As she struggled, she grew weaker….



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