The colossal stones were littered with broken chunks of wood, scraps of dirty cloth, a few pairs of shredded underwear and what appeared to be the remains of a handmade dresser. One woman stood fully armored, wearing all the trappings of a medieval knight save for a helm. The sun shone off the brilliant silver armor, while spray from the river refracted the light at odd angles, giving off an angelic aura of strength. Her face was rounded, with a long, hooked nose and full lips that were dribbling blood. The woman had a nasty cut on her forehead, a dribble of red visible through her short-cropped, ruddy red hair, a stark contrast to her milky pale skin. In one hand she held a long, European sword, and in the other the crushed remains of a helm. The woman’s gauntlets seemed to have suffered several severe blows as well, as the metal around the wrists was dented and scratched, clearly struck with the intent of limiting her movement. Curiously, a large portion of her breastplate was dripping with a sticky, black substance, and flecks of the same goo seemed matted into her hair and tabard.
The knight’s opponent seemed to be quite the mismatch for a heavily armed and fortified warrior. A slender woman possessed of a light Oriental complexion, wearing only a thin, torn silk robe hardly seemed capable of standing up to the armored, angelic fighter, but somehow she was. The smaller combatant had a few scratches, and her left arm was dripping blood, staining the blue fabric of her clothing crimson but it didn’t seem to even faze her. Her hair was a mess of wildly waving black, the wind causing it to dance manically, though this too didn’t seem to be troubling her. Saori’s jaw was set, her fine cheekbones protruding as her teeth clenched, her tiny nose wrinkled in concentration, and her lips pursed with barely restraint outrage. In her petite hands she clutched what appeared to have been a heavy, oaken table leg, her knuckles white. The wood appeared to have been used as a makeshift cudgel, its surface pitted and cracked.
“That was foul play, heathen. No true warrior uses furniture and such cheap tricks to fight with! Honestly, who wields a table leg and pudding!” the knightly woman shouted above the noise of the river, outrage plain in her voice.
“I thought knights were supposed to fight with honor, Edith, and yet you attack me when I have no sword or armor to defend myself? And yet you complain of foul play?” Saori quipped right back, her silken tone belying the storm spirit’s irritation.
“I gave you a chance to die with honor, she-devil. The Church has decreed that your life is forfeit, and that I must condemn you to Hell myself. Yet you chose to fight, rather than pray for salvation? You brought this on yourself, Saori. You never should have left your blasphemous homeland.”
With the words still hanging in the air, Edith rushed forward, charging her weapon with a jolt of holy power. Roaring in triumph as a torrent of energy raced along the sword, the knight swung her sanctified blade in a wide, cleaving arc that sent Saori backwards, her waist bending like a reed in the wind. The killing stroke whistled mere inches over the agile martial artist’s body, merely sheering off a small swatch of clothing. The knight blinked, unsure of what had just happened, which was all the opportunity the spiritual warrior required. Spinning as she ducked, she used her hands to hold herself up and lashed out with a bare foot, squarely striking Edith’s knee joint.
“Strike the Root,” Saori mumbled, ignoring the jolt of pain that accompanied kicking metal and continuing her attack. Her other foot crashed into the knight’s girdle, the flat ball of her foot crushing the heavy piece of metal into Edith’s stomach. The larger woman doubled over, the wind knocked out of her. “Strike the Base,” Saori added, in a louder tone. Still in motion, she allowed her momentum to pull her into a cartwheel, nimbly readjusting the position of her legs and pivoting on a single palm. Bringing her feet together, she whirled and pushed off with all of her divine might. Echoing an avenging angel, she screamed out with finality.
The final stroke fell as Saori’s legs slammed into Edith’s face, the sheer force of the momentum-driven kick sending the knight flying backwards, her balance lost on the wet stone. Dirt flew in all directions as the holy crusader crashed onto the flat, stone pillar, her nose shattered and her face a bloody mess. Groaning in pain, the paladin lost consciousness shortly thereafter.
“Next time, don’t bother someone who’s on vacation. I flew all the way to Europe to see the