Dragon Sword

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


16. the hermit's cave


The old hermit lived alone in his cave with only some earthenware bowls and cups and an iron pot for cooking his nettles and a little clay and bamboo altar where sometimes a lump of incense burned in old stained copper dish full of cold ashes. He used bearskins as blankets and cut his own clothes out of reeking deer hides. He owned a few simple wood-handled knives for cutting his own clothes, for skinning the animals, tanning the hides. His cave smelled of smoke, charcoal, drifting incense, mountain herbs, roots, and cooking, especially of the little black wood mushrooms he threw into almost every soup. He sold ginseng in the villages for the occasional handful of salt. So that's his story, the last Dragon Cult swordsman, that sad old hermit who taught little Zu everything she was to know about killing people.


He kept his priceless sword it in a simple leather scabbard wrapped in a bolt of cloth that he told her was white silk and the first time he unrolled the silk and placed the sword in Zu's hands she felt the tensile weight of it and he let her touch the steel with her lips and even the tip of her probing tongue -- laughing, he asked if it tasted sharp and she blushed and nodded Yes -- and trace with her moist forefinger the emblem of a flying dragon etched into the moonlight-cold blade.

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