Dragon Sword

A blind swordswoman in China seeks revenge on the cunning and deadly Manchu general who killed her parents.

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21. fuse

 

 

As the boy begins to move toward her Zu stretches out her arm, gestures him to stay with the shifting, dusty, bear-pelt laden horses and the snorting mule.

 

 

 

She demands, shrilly, to know which of the bandits cut out the boy's tongue.

 

 

 

No reply. She says:

 

 

 

Well, then. Want to try to take mine too?

 

 

 

They shuffle closer, tensed and sweating. The bandit leader approaches closest of all to Zu. He is holding a sword in each hand. He is confident, obviously quick on his feet. He stinks of wine and garlic. It would have been this man who cut out the boy's tongue. He is the eldest, and the strongest. He has not bathed in weeks, his skin is oily, his clothing is soaked in road dust.

 

 

 

He is wearing a bamboo and leather breastplate and wrist guards, also a leather strip on his forehead.

 

 

 

A swordsman. He has a firm yet light grip on his weapons and is not sweating much. No fear-stench.

 

 

 

Most of the bandits are half-naked, they are skinny and lack fighting skill; Zu senses that four or five, at most, are truly dangerous. This bandit leader is the really deadly one.

 

 

 

Two members of this ragged group are armed with bows. Zu's ears pick the archers out as they notch arrows onto their bowstrings. They are trying to do it silently.

 

 

 

One of the bandits has gone off to the side, behind a horse. Zu hears a flint and steel strike. She sniffs the air, her nostrils flaring.

 

 

 

A gun fuse.

 

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