Like The Prose Day#13

Today’s offering is a five sentence story – however, there were a few other components to this challenge (just in case you’re wondering why these sentences are very long). I’ve chosen the fantasy genre, but don’t feel I’ve really done the story justice by limiting it to five sentences, so I’ve also written a longer version of this (using the same basic storyline, but with more detail and – you’ll be happy to hear – fewer semi-colons) which comes in at just under 4,000 words compared to the 630 words story here. If anyone would like to read the longer version, please let me know.

If Men Were Warriors

If men were warriors, Selene thinks crossly, hacking her way through the bodies in front of her, then they might think twice about starting wars; but she knows that the world is not made that way and that men cannot dance with death and destruction the way she does now, letting her sword whirl and spin, painting patterns in the air as she deftly slices through flesh and bone, spilling the blood of her enemies in scarlet pools around her feet; and although in other cultures, men and women belong to each other, she knows that this is foolish for it would be like the stars belonging to the ocean or the earth belonging to the sky.

She glances about her again, to check that they have left no man alive, and her heart sinks as she realises that reinforcements have arrived whilst she has been daydreaming, but this is a minor inconvenience, nothing more, as she hacks her way through swathes of soldiers to reach the man she can tell is in charge; and her blade dances as she thrusts and parries but it seems she has met her match at last; and perhaps she is fatigued from fighting so long, or maybe it’s the surprise of finding a man who knows how to use a sword properly – whatever it is, she is totally unprepared for the slash across her side, so that startled by pain, she stumbles backwards, hits her head against a rock and sinks into oblivion.

When she wakes, she finds herself in a tent, feeling fire in her side, unable to move, and there, in the corner, is the man who ripped her apart with a sword; and against her better judgement, she swallows several mouthfuls of the warm, unfamiliar liquid that he lifts to her lips and her mind swirls and she sinks into unconsciousness once more; and as time drags by, she finds herself wondering why he hasn’t killed her yet, remembering the dagger tucked in the folds of her clothing; but although her hand reaches out, fumbling for the blade, she’s too tired and too weak, and instead his fingers close around the hilt, putting it safely out of reach, and he stares at her reproachfully, but she refuses to feel guilty.

As the pain gradually subsides, he tries to make conversation with her, but she resolutely refuses to answer his questions until gradually, she curses herself for noticing the softness of his fingers as he attends to her wound and pretends she is immune to the way his hands caress her skin, telling herself that the stars cannot live in the ocean; but this man is turning her world inside out so that she no longer knows whether she is earth or sky; and then she realises that they have been dancing with desire from the moment he brought her here, and that longing is now a spider, weaving its web around each minute that they lie together, cocooning them in a world that is at once more real than anything she has ever known, more terrible than anything she could have imagined.

But the stars cannot live in the ocean and she knows that when she is strong enough, she will have to kill him; and so for several days, she is an attentive lover, committing every inch of him to memory, storing him up for a later time when he will no longer exist; and when she finally decides to leave, she cuts his throat quickly and quietly, holding a pillow over his face to prevent any noise, before stealing away unseen, trying not to think of the life she has tasted in a land where a man was a warrior and the stars briefly lived in the ocean.

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