Chay Catena laughed at me and pushed the long strands of his sweaty blond hair back from his forehead with the back of his hands.
“Is that all you’ve got?” he teased me and danced around me with the tip of his sword unwaveringly pointing at a place between my breasts.
I lunged for him and he sidestepped me easily, gripped the wrist of my sword hand and pulled me forward and off balance, giving me the pretend death blow from his own sword across the side of my neck.
I shook my head and grimaced.
“Dead again,” he said delightedly and let me go, ready for the next round but I shook my head, lowered the heavy wooden practice sword that made my shoulders hurt to lift and had my arms trembling, and to make my point, I flung it with both hands forward and away from me.
“No more dying for today,” I said and rolled my neck from side to side.
Disappointed, he turned and fought an invisible enemy instead, stabbing and parrying, lightly dancing back and forth, swinging the large pitted sword in one hand, the other, then using both for a heavy downward strike that caused sparks to fly off the mosaic in the courtyard.
I leaned back into the shadow and support of the stable wall and watched him, deeply amused and loving the excruciating desire to best him, to show what art can really be created with a sword, furiously roaring around my mind and body, helpless and unexpressed, sexual in its ferocity and beautifully under control.
Chay had absolutely no idea why I would want to practice fighting with him, and he had absolutely no idea how I used him so shamefully for my own ends and gains, and as a high challenge to all of me that was Lucian Tremain.
Oh but I knew and remembered in every tiniest pattern of my body how to become one with a sword to the degree that it is like a magic wand, simply channelling all your own strength and intentions along its smooth blue blade, using it to paint your will in red on your opponent’s body.
I half closed my eyes and let the beauty of the dance ripple through me, filling my body with desire and hunger and near ecstatic energy.
To not give in to that was the challenge. To not let it in and stay within my own patterns, my own memories, my own body entirely; to fight this badly and let him beat me, time and time again - that was the challenge and the victory.
Lucian would have so deeply understood this. He could slow down time within his mind, reducing his opponents to slow moving easy targets and you would have all the time in the world to either step aside or run them through, but he never used that, giving over this unfair advantage and choosing to fight in real time instead, or even let the opponents speed up, for he was so fast himself that it didn’t matter and it made the whole thing just a little bit more worthy of pursuit.
Chay was still fighting his invisible opponent, bare to the waist, glistening with sweat and his muscles moving beautifully beneath his skin like those of an animal.
He was absolutely useless.
He wasted enormous amounts of effort, hefting and pushing the sword when he should let it lead the way. He only knew about three moves which he repeated over and over again, and he was lamentably, no, painfully slow. He would have lasted all of ten seconds in a match with a well trained fighter. But he could cope with a 15 year old who did not really have the strength yet to even hold the heavy wooden sword, and whose intent was consumed by keeping Lucian Tremain’s knowledge at bay which didn’t really leave much.
Excuses, excuses. I laughed to myself. That line of reasoning would have never washed with Master Sephael, and it didn’t wash with me, either.
I was just too lazy to spend a lot of time building up my strength, carrying heavy weights, or just practicing the basic three positions that Chay had shown me repeatedly and that were so delightfully, totally and utterly wrong for my own weight, height and balance.
Chay had about exhausted himself in his pretty display and I looked at him lovingly, tracing the entirety of what he was with my eyes and with my mind. He was absolutely uniquely himself, and although there were others who were like him in some ways, there was no-one in the world who could ever be Chay exactly.
That was something Lucian was never told or simply had forgotten.
I had thought about this question much during the waning winter months and into the beginnings of spring. The resolution I had reached at this point was that Lucian simply lacked the tools to distinguish one person from another. They were all the same to him because he couldn’t perceive their totality and it was there that both their individuality, their merits, their worth and the possibility of connection with them lay.
In fact, it was very hard not to look at anyone at all in that way and not to appreciate them, love them.
Chay came over to me, breathing heavily and smiling his wonderful little boy smile, didn’t I do well?
I felt the heat radiating from him, saw him, smelled him and wanted him badly. This was another one of these delightful things that made me be so very happy that he was still here. He truly delighted me. Our eyes met and he quickly looked away. I posed a big problem for him in that way although he was of course extremely pleased on many levels that I found him attractive. I knew that he teased me for it, if only below his own awareness. After all, there was no good reason not to wear a shirt for sword practice with a lady, nor to stand that close to her, all gorgeous and golden and physically exciting as he well knew he was.
I let the desire for him openly build and fill my body once more, a different energy to that of holding back the sword dance inside me, yet similar in their own way.
He had turned his head away but still stood exactly where he had been, and I could feel his desire for me like a hot wave that went right through my skin.
I would have loved to have just stepped up to him and release myself to him, upon him, and I knew that it would have been good between us and probably even good for both of us, Dory being very pregnant now and moody.
He kept his head low and his eyes somewhere on a point near where my shoulder swept up into my neck but I could feel him breathe heavily and he moistened his lips. Then he reached up and let his fingertips rest on my neck.
A shudder went right through me and I leaned lightly into his touch and he dropped the sword, put both hands around my neck, pulled me into him and kissed me with hungry desperation. I kissed him back and he tasted salty and delicious, my hips pressing into his automatically in response.
I drew back gently, reached up and took his hands in mine, undid them from around my neck and brought them forward to my lips. I kissed his hands and looked up into his hungry eyes.
“Chay, “ I said softly, “There can be no-one else for me. Not even you.”
He turned his hands so they were holding mine in return now. He bent over them and kissed them, each one, the kiss turning into a delightful hot, open mouthed sucking with his tongue stroking my skin.
Then he dropped my hands, turned, picked up his sword and ran from the courtyard.
I leant against the cool stable wall and breathed in the wispy blue end of winter air until the fire in my body receded slowly into a dull and aching pain, and then that went as well.
I smiled, collected my practice sword and went inside to freshen up before lunch.