Running at War, Shu-fang let the other woman throw her down the embankment. There was no time to pause. Shu-fang got up and started to run.
The shriek rang in her ears. She remembered once that would have made her pause, deny, but Shu-fang knew better. She had known better for some time.
It didn’t matter what War said. War would never understand. Shu-fang didn’t really need her to.
She only had to get away.
War flipped her up, then without getting off her back swept Shu-fang’s feet from underneath her. There was no way she could stop that, but she could turn it into a back-flip. Shu-fang had long since realized how unreal her fights looked to other people.
What was her advantage? War wouldn’t understand. That was it. Shu-fang would be able to run because War didn’t expect her to retreat. Or if she did, she would expect it to be to regroup. Shu-fang had to run and lose her in the wilds.
She lost track of what War did, but Shu-fang managed to step aside before War clocked her in the head, evading another grapple. Shu-fang already felt sore. War never pulled any punches. A lesser person would need hospitalization by now.
Lesser? Mortal. This was why Shu-fang wanted it to end. She didn’t want to think like this.
“My next battle will not be my choice.”
“Let me remind you why it should!”
With a roar, War came at her. Shu-fang dodged to the side – perhaps one of the few people, mortal or otherwise, who could do such a thing. War still struck out to the side as she came and Shu-fang ducked down, kicking up dirt at War’s face.
There was no winning this confrontation. One never won against War. One did not win a contest of strength, one did not win a battle in cunning. She had disengage.
War would never run away, so Shu-fang would have to.
With both hands, War grabbed her. Shu-fang let her, partially because she knew she couldn’t avoid it and partially because it gave her a chance to think about what she needed to do next. War flung her down, landing on top of her. Through the pain (which she had long since become desensitized to), Shu-fang simply rolled the both of them further down a slope. If she stopped or agreed, War would drag her away as prisoner. Shu-fang supposed she could handle the years of torture that might come from that. Not torture by War, just by being around the Gods.
Yet she didn’t want to give in yet. Not yet. She had just started. There was so much time to solve this.
“Why haven’t you ever tried to kiss me?”
Perhaps she should have been embarrassed to ask such a thing. She could imagine her father’s reaction to such a thing. So forward! Not that Toiréasa had ever given much thought to propriety, not in a long time. Yet Saoirse had been so forward in everything else. She had been the one to approach Toiréasa first. The woman had tried nothing. Not a kiss, not any other sweet romantic gesture.
Toiréasa didn’t want the other sweet, romantic gestures. That wasn’t important to her. Not that she’d turn them away. However, considering what her other suitors had wanted, it was important to her to know Saoirse’s thoughts on the matter.
There were those teeth, showing in that smile. “Is that a request?”
Toiréasa looked her companion over, before absently reaching for the Gévaudan hound at her feet. Her boot rubbed against the fur of the beast’s side. The bitch continued to sleep. “It’s a question.”
Saoirse shrugged. “I’m in no rush. I’m going to be the only one and I’m going to have all of them. When that starts is of no consequence.”
“Still very certain, aren’t you.”
“Tell me I’m wrong.”
She couldn’t, because she couldn’t imagine it being anyone else but Saoirse now. “Your patience might not be rewarded.”
Saoirse grabbed her by the shoulders, holding her where she stood. Those lips were on hers, that tongue meeting hers, those teeth somehow not ripping her to shreds.
When they parted, Saoirse looked as smug as she ever did. “I think it was.”
It was. Toiréasa couldn’t complain about that. She returned that smile with one of her own. “Who won what now?”