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  • Prologue

    She stands there hidden by the shadows, the rain as if protecting her falls heavily around her.
    They are running around in sequence, a few of them jump rolling over, under and between weapons.
    She remembers when she first learnt to do that, “so graceful like a geisha” master had said. On hearing that, she was proud and sought out to perfect that move even more.
    She turns her eyes elsewhere.

    They are fighting, the attacker aims and lunges a punch to the face, the calm defender moving to the side and into the attackers space catching the first throw smoothly. In a blink of an eye the attacker is lying on his side holding back with great intent from crying in pain as the defender now has him in a unique lock, manipulating the man’s joints as if to say that they are now his.
    Standing up as if it was nothing, they pause and correct the chi work from pressure point blows and continue until it is impossible to get each other onto the ground. At times they willingly go to the ground opening gateways to more attacks.

    As if she was hit herself she remembers her training, she cried at first taking every hit personally, arms burning, black welts all over her body – unable to move. She was broken down to her last will nearly ready to give up. She’d faced the toughest test of all; a decision every one of us had to make - push through or give in honor stripped away.

    It took months to find the will to go on. When she did finally push through, she was noted to have great potential - as if it were a destiny of many destinies shining on her. Only then was she was truly training.

    The moonlight shining now – she quickly disappears to another shaded spot - crouching down low, changing the shape of her body to the form of the shadow.

    She sees the human bridge being formed over a ravine from either side. The timing has to be perfect; run jump and catch; the previous person needs to hook your leg exactly right else the bridge falls. The shadows are now running smoothly across and back again until there‘s no hesitation and no falling – until the unit moves as one.

    A little further down the ravine, shadows are jumping across the water with long bo staffs. Some are on their own - jumping across and back again. Others in teams jump across there after throwing the bo staff over for the next to jump. Recalling how difficult this seemingly easy task was at one point, she shivers.

    She would run ready to jump and then hesitate just before she could jab the staff onto the ground to volt over the obstacle, by doing so not only delaying the mission but causing shame onto herself as her master cast down his eyes on her and handed the staff to the other eager ones who effortlessly flew across and disappeared without her - the runt of the team.

    She swore to herself never again to lose that respect and while everyone was resting she would continue to practice – her master silently watching – a stern look on his face.

    A snap of a twig sounds off close by – with a start she adjusts her position and jumps into a tree. She peers down quickly, only to see that it was nothing but a homeless dog. Luckily the rain is so heavy my sent isn’t that strong - Damnit! She thinks as the dog starts walking toward the tree sniffing – before the dog can give away her position she starts looking for something to throw – I’m in a tree there is no rock, a branch – no too much noise, a shiriken no – the damn dog won’t follow that…

    Wait for the thunder! She realizes readying her hands to break a twig – the thunder rumbles - she throws the twig and in that small moment of triumph – I’m not alone.

    She turns around suddenly and there he is – piercing eyes staring into her – nearly falling out of the tree she grabs a branch and regains balance.

    Pure silence – the world around her seems to have died – the rain not even whispering in her ears.
    His steady voice flows without of him creating the words, “I thought you’d have learned by now not to stay in one position for too long”.

    Speechless she jumps out of the tree and starts making off into the shadows – stopping to glance back at him – their eyes meet one last time a lock difficult to break, she turns away finally - disappearing swiftly in the darkness, leaving behind the sound of silent rain drops – his only company on this cold night.
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