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Not on My Watch

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"I'm going to put you down, you fucking dog."

It wasn't a threat he made at her in broken Japanese, more a promise.

Seiko regarded the knight with a cautious curiosity, keeping the long pole of her bladed naginata between them. She hadn't met many outsiders who spoke Japanese, but knights in general were smarter and better educated than most. It didn't really surprise her that he'd decided to pick up a language or two. Probably off some Japanese prisoners.

The tall, steel-clad warrior stood in front of her with a battle-axe clutched tightly in both hands, looking for all the world like he wanted nothing more than to pile drive her broken corpse into the dirt. The axe itself was something of ferocious beauty. It's edges had been sharpened so finely that Seiko had trouble telling where the blade ended and the air began.

Her own weapon wasn't as intimidating by comparison. Her naginata was a long, tempered pole, topped off with a curved knife that was slightly chipped from years of wear.

The two opponents stood on the side of a cliff, on a little-know dirt path that bypassed the gates to the city of Koto. The beefy knight was most likely a scout, sent ahead to try and find a way to the city without having to deal with the Vikings on the main bridge. Blackstone, judging by his colours. Seiko didn't know what the Blackstone Legion was doing here, but she didn't particularly care either. All she knew was that it was her task to defend this path, and this man compromised that.

"Turn back, there is no victory for you here," she warned him, speaking as simply as she could. The knight cocked his head to the side as he tried to decipher her sentence. He seemed to recognise at least a few words, but overall the meaning must've been lost to him, or maybe he just didn't care, because then he was charging at Seiko and she was forced to dive onto her knees as his axe came for her neck. She felt a small jolt as the tip of his blade nicked the top of her woven hat.

The knight went to recover his stance, revealing a small gap in the waist of his armour as he did so. Seiko sprang back to her feet and got ready to stab at it, and that's when she realised she was now far too close to him to manoeuvre her naginata. The pole clashed awkwardly on his back as she tried to spin it into position. To the knight's credit, he didn't acknowledge her flailing at all. He swiftly but calmly took up another stance as Seiko started to back away, and swung for her a second time. This swing was on an angle, there was no way she could duck it. She raised her naginata at the last second and sparks flew as the weapons clashed. Seiko went spinning with the force but stabilised in time to leap away from his return swipe, and now she was far enough away to let her skills shine.

She jabbed high, ramming her blade into the faceplate of his helmet which bought her enough time to strike at her real target- his axe arm. Seiko spun her entire body into the attack. Her blade met his shoulder plate with enough force to dent it, and a small series of cracks bloomed along the impact site like fissures in an earthquake. No blood was spilt, but the damage was done. The knight went to raise his axe and audibly winced against the fierce bruise that was already starting to form on his shoulder. His swing was easily slow enough for Seiko to skip away from.

She danced circles around him, striking at her leisure. He didn't expose anymore soft-spots like he had with his waist but it didn't matter. His armour could hold against her abuse, but the flesh underneath could only take so much. She slashed at his knee before flicking her staff up and under his chin and then riding the recoil back into a follow-up strike. He tried to wrench the naginata from her grip but she twirled it into a completely new assault and landed blow after blow up and down his arms. His armour made satisfying 'clangs' as it was hit, and his axe was doing little to block her flurry. She struck his left hand for the fifth time, smacking it with the blunt end of her pole as he attempted another swing, and this time she heard the sharp crack of bone.

The axe cluttered from the Knight's grip and he let out a surprised grunt. His head dropped to look down at his plated glove. Seiko watched him try to move his fingers. She watched him fail.

"It's done. Surrender or be killed, there is no retreating from me." Seiko demanded this as she readied her weapon to hit him again.

He moved with surprising speed. The last thing Seiko had expected him to do was run right into her naginata, but that's exactly what he did. She felt her blade slip between his armour and pierce his shoulder and then he was on her, hoisting her into the air with his good hand. A brief moment of weightlessness made Seiko scream and then he dropped her painfully onto the ground.

His fist came down right after, a heavy thing that was plated in steel, and her vision exploded with red. He hit her over and over, striking her shoulder and her sternum and her throat and her face. Seiko was like soft velvet in the hands of a child, her delicate features being torn, ripped and pulverised as he socked her in the head now for the third time. Then she blacked out.

All she could hear was ringing.
All she could see was darkness.
Both were punctuated by brief bursts of agony as the knight wailed on her, the pain fading as quickly as it arrived. She could no longer feel her limbs.

Seiko gave up. This was okay. She had fought well and she would die in battle. This was okay.

A horrible vision slowly soaked into her mind; her battered corpse hung by the back of its collar off of the blade of her naginata, which had been rammed into the ground as a makeshift pike, situated adjacent to the dirt path. Her body was rocking in the breeze as it helplessly overlooked an invading Blackstone army that the scouting knight would bring back with him. They spat on her and cheered as they rode past on their stallions, mocking her death, laughing at her swollen, gaping, toothless face.

She refused to be dishonoured.

The kick came too quickly for the knight to register. Her foot met his fist and staggered him, buying Seiko enough time to feel for the pole of her naginata which was still lodged in his shoulder. She gripped it and twisted.

He screamed. She twisted harder.

She opened her eyes despite the swelling, caught a glimpse of the knight as he squirmed above her, and punted his helmet off with another solid kick. He looked rather unimpressive and there was an awful lot of spittle coming from his mouth.

Seiko kicked again, even harder, forcing him off of her. The naginata blade slid out of his shoulder on an awkward angle, grinding against his collar bone, and the pain sent him reeling. She got to her feet. The knight didn't pay her any attention as he was too engrossed by the blood pumping out of his ruined shoulder and the world of hurt it brought. The distraction gave Seiko enough time to ready her striking stance.

There was a loud 'clang-pop-shhhlt'. The knight dropped his gaze downwards. Seiko's blade had pierced right through his armour and slid into his stomach. His good hand went to reflexively grab at the pole as Seiko pulled it loose. He held onto the staff in panic, gurgling incoherently as he tried to scream something. Seiko just tugged harder and twisted roughly. He went with the spin and flipped onto his back.

He landed on the dirt with a thud, spread eagle, head towards her, blood leaking out of his mouth and running from the gaps in his armour. His eyes met hers. They were scared, pleading for mercy.
Seiko had none for the man.

Her blade met him one last time as it cut through his face, and the soil around his head exploded with a red so deep and vivid and gorgeous that it almost matched the sunset that had bloomed into view on the horizon.

Almost.

Despite the pain she felt from her bruises and the fact that she was fairly sure she was missing a tooth, Seiko smiled to herself.

Koto would burn- that was just a given- but it would not be because of her. The city would not fall on her guard.

She would not bring her people dishonour.