Gladiator Women

They walk out ahead of the battle, shields at their side, swords drawn. The fog creeps in from the nearby lake in spiky limbs, caressing their feet, curling over their bodies, encasing them. They stand erect, tall heads facing their enemy.

She steps into the center, her hand tightly wound around the hilt of her sword and turns her head to the left, and then the right, ensuring that the line formation is solid. Nodding to herself she tucks her chin in and holds her breath. The first hit to the shield sounds hollow and empty, but with each one the tension grows, vibrating out into the hushed dawn. Lower on the valley birds scatter and fly up into the sky, the fog clinging to their wings and trailing back down to the earth in small tendrils.

Letting the air out through the gap in her teeth she narrows her gaze and stares across the field. Her muscles tight and ready, coiled in balls against her bones. She sniffs the air as the drumming continues, waiting for any sign of their enemy. In the moment before she spots the metal of their armor she swore that she felt the universe pressing in against her, holding all the pieces of her skin together, keeping her from exploding at the seams.

And then it was gone and she was launching across the hill: the grass slipping against her calves, the sun rolling over her flesh, the air passing through her lungs, the blood pounding across every inch of her being.

“For our daughters!” the cry was so intense and so stark that she could feel it vibrate against her bones and carry her the rest of the way into battle. The blood at the end of the blade her sacrifice.

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