In the middle of the battlefield, Aoife of the Shadows closed her eyes.
While it probably wasn't the best idea, considering she was surrounded by enemies, she had to get a handle on her self. She wasn't breathing heavily—in fact, she wasn't breathing at all—but she felt better all the same after resting for a few moments. The scents of hate and blood and death were overwhelming.
She opened her eyes just as a sword sang through the air towards her. Without flinching, she brought her own sword up to parry the blow, pushing the attacker's blade to the side. He attacked again, feinting to one side then slashing at her unprotected ribs. Their swords shrieked against each other.
Aoife looked at his face, and was surprised to see that the soldier was only a teenager. He paused in his attack, his sword still pointed at her. He cocked his head to one side. "Do I know you?"
"No," Aoife said, tripping over the unfamiliar feel of Japanese words in her mouth. Though she could understand the language, she wasn't used to speaking it. "Why? Do I look familiar?" She swung her sword at his head and he parried almost lazily. They continued to talk as they fought.
"I thought you were another girl that I fought before. Your sister? You look the same, though your style is much different."
"As it should be. I am not my sister." The boy was good. Almost better than me, Aoife found herself thinking, then drove the thought out of her mind. She smiled savagely. "How did it feel to be beat by a girl?"
He smiled back at her. "Beat? I defeated her." Aoife felt her jaw drop.
"You defeated Scathach? A humani? How old are you?"
"I'll be seventeen this year." Scathach was beaten by a skinny sixteen year old? That was impossible. In her shock, Aoife let her guard down, and the boy nicked her on the shoulder, drawing a thin stream of blood before pulling his sword back. He was teasing her! He grinned at the anger on her face.
"I guess I'll defeat you as well, seeing as your sister was a much better fighter than you." Aoife felt her face heat up with rage. She had never met this boy before, and yet even he compared her to Scathach. Just because they were twins, people thought that they couldn't be their own separate selves. And, as usual, everyone thought Scathach was better than her. Well it wasn't true, and she wasn't going to let this arrogant teenager tell her.
"I am not my sister!" Aoife attacked him with a renewed ferocity. He sensed the change in her demeanor, and matched her blow for blow. They fought in silence now, only the clashing of swords between them, and the screams and yells of the armies around them.
Eventually, Aoife saw that his left side was unguarded, and cut a gash in his wrist before his sword came up to parry the blow. Blood gushed out of the wound, running down his hand and causing him to lose his tight grip on the hilt of his sword. Taking advantage of his distraction, Aoife hooked her foot around his ankle and jerked it back. He unbalanced, and she rammed her elbow into his chest, pushing him backwards. He hit the ground with a loud thud, and she kicked his sword out of his hand, leveling her own blade at his chest.
"Well," she snarled. "Who's better now?" He laughed. He was covered in dirt and blood, lying unarmed on his back with a sword pointed at his chest and he actually had the audacity to laugh? Aoife pressed the tip of her sword into his collarbone, just deep enough to draw blood.
"Are you going to kill me?" he said, the smile fading from his face. "Already? When I have so much life to live?" Aoife hesitated. It was true, he was still so young. A warrior as good as him, who could beat Scathach the Shadow, would certainly attract the attention of the Elders in several years. He might even be granted immortality. If she let him go now, would they meet again in the future?
Against her better judgment, Aoife drove her sword into the earth by his head. The boy opened his eyes, having closed them as she had started to lower the sword towards his face. He stared up at her wonderingly. "You didn't kill me,"
"No," Aoife said. "I didn't. You owe me one." She hesitated again, then offered her hand. He took it warily.
"Why? You're sister would have."
She pulled him to his feet. "Maybe. But after all, I am not my sister." She let go of his hand. "Now get out of my sight. Don't forget that you're in my debt." She started to walk away.
"I'll won't." he called from behind her. "And you only beat me the once. Don't think you can get rid of me so easily,"
Aoife had to turn away to hide her smile.