Dragon Sword

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


7. dawn


Zu woke at dawn to wind stirring again in the broken pine and she sat up tasting the rapt coolness of morning and fixed her sightless gaze on where she knew the morning star would be low and glimmering redly in the Western sky ah she remembered that. She picked up her flute and shook it to clear any dust then blew a few sharp notes to the sky and put it back into her worn-thin blue cloth bag. Then she yanked down the dusty black trousers and crouched to eject a hard stream of urine that sank foaming into the dry earth and after a few moments of trying for a shift of the bowels within her she remembered that she hadn't eaten anything of substance in days so she laughed and she stood drawing them up again and knotting the thin rope that held them tight to her waist. She wore no loincloth under these trousers and nothing underneath the coarse handspun tunic either. She was naked as birth under her dark-hued dust-stained clothing. Wind was now starting to stir the sand and to rush in the thin wiry branches of the stunted pine tree that had given her a night's shelter and she felt the rising sun warm her shoulders as she set out walking swinging the cane before her on the beaten dirt path. She wouldn't take any drink of her precious water sloshing in the gourd until she had walked half a day and then she would find shelter from the heat, swallow a brackish mouthful, and sleep like a lizard roasting and dozing blankly on a rock for a few hours. This was how she lived on the road and she no longer suffered so much from the heat or the thirst it was only the nightmares that hurt her and these had lessened with the years of wandering China.


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