“Thrust and block. Thrust and block.” Maria repeated quietly to herself. She finally thrust the tip of her sword into her pillow. She then sighed and sheathed her sword. Five years had passed since her father had been killed. She had taught herself to use a sword by practicing with her father’s. Maria absentmindedly started to play with the sapphire around her neck. Just then, she heard footsteps below. She quickly went to stash her sword underneath her mattress but instead only succeeded in banging her head off the rafter. The trapped door then opened. Maria spun around and holding her sword behind her back. Elizabeth popped her head through the door and saw Maria. “Oh, It’s you!” Maria said. She then plopped down on her cot. Elizabeth sat on her cot on the other side of the room. Maria smiled at her and said “I thought you were Cook. Please don’t do that again!” Elizabeth laughed and said “Well, it teaches you to be more careful. By the way, Cook wants you. She needs help with serving the table in the dining room and told me to tell you that she also needs those bread loafs now.” Maria then realized she had forgotten the loafs of bread in the oven. She said “Elizabeth, I will talk to you later.” She then dashed down the ladder into to the kitchen.
Maria was in the dining room serving 2 men their glasses of mead, when a fight broke out between two other travelers. They started to hit each other in the face. Maria dashed over and yelled “You two! Stop with the fighting!” they completely ignored her so she grabbed the one man and managed to pull him off the other. The man pushed Maria to the floor. As he charged at the man again, Maria tripped him and grabbed a pitcher of water and dumped it on the mans head. The man turned to punch her, but she easily side stepped him. He crashed into a table. “If you’re wise you will quit fighting. Unless you want to kicked out.” She said coldly. The man glared at her then got up and stomped down the hallway to his room. Cook came out and saw Maria standing there helping one of the men off the floor. “Maria! Did you try to stop another fight again?! One of these days your goanna get hurt!” Maria shrugged and said “If you want our guests almost killing each other, then fine.” Cook sighed. Maria then walked back to the kitchen to get more mead.
Maria was lying in her cot, staring at the ceiling. She listened to Elizabeth’s shallow breathing form across the room. She then turned and looked out the tiny window that was the only source of light in the room. She saw a full moon rising into the sky. Just then, she heard what sounded like boot steps on the wooden floor of the hallway. She paused. There it was again. She slowly slipped her sword out from underneath her mattress. She started to creep down the ladder. She checked every room for uninvited visitors. Finally as she rounded the corner to the kitchen, she saw a figure. It was two dark to see any details. Maria quickly hid around the corner. Not even daring to breath, she slowly walked toward him. The floorboards made no sound against her bare feet.
When she was about a yard away, she placed the tip of her sword against his back and said “don’t move.” The figure froze, but then spun around revealing a sword of his own “Where did you get the sword, little girl? Is it a toy?” He sneered. ‘‘It is as real as your but better by far!” she snapped. With that, she lunged at him. He side stepped and sent a blow to her side. Maria blocked it with the but of her sword. Slowly the two combatants worked their way into the dining room.
The sound of ringing metal must have awoken both Cook and Elizabeth. The ran into the dining room to see Maria and the figure dueling. When Maria was almost whacked in the head with the sword, Elizabeth gasped aloud. Maria turned to look at her. Distracted for this one moment, the figure lunged at her. Maria managed to sidestep, but she tripped and fell to the ground. Her sword flew out of her hand and slid underneath a table. The figure laughed and then slashed downward. She rolled out of the way of the blow. She quickly crawled underneath the long table. There about 6 feet away, sat Maria’s sword, glinting slightly in the dull lighting. Just then, the figure slashed downward at the table top. the table bent in the center. One more blow and the table would snap in half. Maria quickly started to scramble to her sword. The figure hit the table top again with his sword. The table broke right down the center. Maria crawled out just in time. She lifted her sword to meet another blow. The figure was stabbed downward at Maria, but she dodged it. The figure had lunged so hard that his sword was wedged in the wood. As he tugged it out, he fell backward and landed on an old chair. It broke underneath his weight. He scrambled upward before Maria could strike. He was infuriated by now and instead of dodging the broken tables and chairs like Maria, he chose to plow his way through them. They matched each other almost perfectly, but in agility Maria succeeded much more. Maria finally managed to twist his sword out of his hand. She backed him up against the wall of the dining room, her sword still held in front of her. She placed the tip on his throat and demanded “get out. Get out now and never ever come back. If I find you her again, I swear I will do more then injure you.” She then pulled her sword away from his throat. The man stood against the wall, petrified, but the ran out the front door. Maria then turned to Cook and Elizabeth.
“Maria, you're bleeding!’’ Elizabeth cried out. Maria looked down and saw a deep cut in her side. She put her hand to it and pulled it back. It was covered in scarlet blood. She turned to Elizabeth and said “Either you or Cook wouldn’t happen to know any healing techniques, do you?” Elizabeth grabbed her hand and pulled her into the kitchen. She then made her take off her loose nightgown so she only had a petticoat on. She then took a large rag out of the cupboard and held it to the wound. “Hold that there. I need to make a disinfectant mixture.” In a bowl, Elizabeth mashed up some garlic cloves and some white vinegar. She added water so to mellow it up a bit. “Alrighty then, this will sting.” Elizabeth said. She took another rag an dipped it into the mixture. She then gently rubbed the slash. Maria tried to stifle a cry, for it was true; it stung like fury. Elizabeth gently put yet another rag underneath the wound, and then dumped the rest of the mixture on the wound. The vinegar made it bubble, and the garlic cloves stuck to it. Elizabeth then rubbed off the cloves with the now soaked vinegar rag. She then went over to a pile of old sheets and shredded one. She slowly rapped it around her torso until the whole thing was covered in off-white cloth. “Maria, that side will be sore, horribly sore. I suggest you go up to the bed room now.” With Elizabeth’s help, she then carefully climbed the ladder up to their room and gently, she stretched out in her bed. Maria thought one thing to herself before she passed out. My first duel went well, very well.
© Copyright 2016 Caterina. All rights reserved.
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