The female warrior stood in the centre of the courtyard. It wasn't far from the military base of the capital but since three months no one had challenged her. Ismae's reputation had gotten around. Still she stood unwavering, the constant source of unease of each person, child or animal in sight. Though she could not expect to be asked for a training quarrel it seemed she had not yet abandoned any hope of it. Those who knew her name, not because she had told them, saw her eyes glitter when the unknown swordsman approached.

"Care for a training fight?" he asked with a voice surprisingly young for the battered mismatched armour he wore. Ismae spat on the ground.

"I don't train with the kind you belong to. I usually kill you."

"Why then, just now you seem to be talking to me instead."

She leapt at him with her right fist not busying herself even to draw her sword. Her speed surprised the battered soldier. He desperately stumbled back hoping to hold her off with his forearm which unbalanced him even more as it met empty air. The fight was over quickly when the man finally fell on the ground, stumbling over his own feet.

"I demand a rematch."

"Sure," the sword lady said drawing her sword and extending it for the final blow. "complain to the gods of death all you like. In life, there is one chance only."

"Fine, but anyone in earshot please tell the captain of the royal guard I'm sorry I didn't make it to our appointment."

" By your words I assume you are personally known to Commander Meris Drake, is that correct, noble?"

"If I were a noble I wouldn't wear this garbage of an armour, would I? Yes, I know him."

"Would you also know the crown prince Iartis, then? He is said to be a fair swordsman."

"You would be embarrassed. But by your words, am I correct in assuming you will spare my life if I give you this information?"


"Then may I ask you one last question, Ismae? What do you live for?"

"Do you intend to insult me? If you know my name, you know what I usually do. And what I do should make it obvious I want to be the finest sword fighter in the world. In centuries even."

"But it seems to me no one of importance has dared to challenge you in the last three months of your stay here. How will your fame ever equal that of knight Belarus, if there is nobody willing to fight against you any more?"

The female warrior sheathed her sword again, impassivity plain in her face. After a moment of thought she answered:

"I wait. There's always someone stupid enough to ignore their better's warnings, isn't there? Though it's true, there's little fame involved with those jackasses."

The man she had bested slowly rose to his feet as if afraid she might hit him again. He looked at her grim expression, doubled over and laughed. Some of the bystanders even smiled at his laughing. Ismae frowned irritated and started to walk away. "Neither is there fame in fighting lunatics," she murmured to herself.

"Wait! I do not mind being called stupid and mad. In fact I suspect, its some of the nicer names the majority of my people have ever called me, the prince of Cealdor, by."

Ismae turned around her detest plain in her face. Her voice replying was as cutting as a sharp knife.

"I do not mind who you are or what your titles are like-"

"I think that's a lie."

"I might reconsider about the rematch."

"I definitely hope so. How else can one who has already mastery over a thing improve his skill except for teaching?" He grinned. "I for one would be a willing pupil."

"I do not teach."

"How sad indeed, I do. And hasn't my fame yet far outrun yours?"

"You do not understand. I do not teach."

"Well, should you change your mind you find me in the park, where I'll wait for you from every day by today when the sun is highest."

"You will wait in vain, then."

"But won't you also?"