Wind’s Bride, Part Three: The Bride’s Tale
For the first time since the tale of Merit two years ago, we’re presenting a multi-part vignette. Click here for Part One of the story of Wind’s Bride, written by FAR WEST afficianado Marco Mueller, and click here for Part Two:
The Bride’s Tale
Being tied up by a lady was not something Adebar Jade disagreed with on principle. However, he preferred silk ribbons and a pleasant environment. Rough ropes that tied his wrists to one of the wheels of his own caravan in the blistering heat of the desert was something else entirely. To make things worse, his head felt like it was twice the normal size and filled with angry hornets.
The only shadow that was afforded to him was cast by Wind’s Bride, who looked down on him, her silhouette against the sun seeming awfully tall for a young girl — and far more menacing.
At least she had watered his horses.
“Why are you following me?” Her voice was flat and quiet. No telling what she felt or thought.
Adebar swallowed a lewd remark about a secret admirer. She didn’t strike him as the funny type. More like the type to leave him here for the vultures.
“I don’t understand what you are doing. Why you are doing it. That’s why I follow you.” The truth seemed his best option.
“Stupid reason to die.”
That was a phrase Adebar did not want to hear. “You want to kill me just like that? With my hands tied? All the other buffoons had a fair chance.”
The business end of a sixshooter touched his still moving lips. It was an old weapon, nothing spectacular or fancy like a Waoping, just a black old gun that smelled of hot metal, gunpowder and oil. From Adebar’s perspective it looked as big as an army cannon.
“Nervous, Jade man?” There was tiny hint of amusement in her voice now — The humor of the cat batting at a mouse. “You’ve seen some of my work and you think you know me? Remember what I said to you on the bridge? I have more faith in the dead than in the living.”
“Have faith that I mean you no harm,” he said. “I made no attempt to hide myself, no?” Actually, he had made an effort to hide himself, for all the good it had done him.
“That only proves you are not very clever, Jade man. I thought I’d see what the Dog Beating Stick of your clan is all about, but you are not up to it.”
“You are sure? Untie my hands and try.”
Her mouth twisted into a young girl’s frown. “I already did try. Now you are here tied to a wheel, chewing on my gun and feeling like you’ve been kicked by a horse. You didn’t even know what hit you. Your Dog Beating Stick isn’t much.”
“You are insulting my clan,” Adebar sputtered.
“No, I’m just saying you were a lousy student.”
Adebar sneered but it was not like he could disagree. She had caught him with his pants down, and honestly, he’d never really excelled at the Jade Family’s kung fu. For now he’d keep talking. That was what he did best — and her insults sounded much better than a gun going off in his face.
“How is it possible? You possess kung fu that only a master of the Dust Road four times your age should have,” he asked.
“I had a very stringent teacher. And I’m dedicated.”
The gun disappeared. Wind’s Bride found a smooth rock in the shadows of the canyon wall and settled on it. With a slight breeze touching her hair she looked comfortable; like she could sit there for days and watch someone else roast in the sun.
“You’re really dying to know, aren’t you?”
“Bad choice of words,” Adebar mumbled.
“You know, I really like you, Jade man. You try to preach and teach because you genuinely like people –even if they are scum. Stupid, but admirable. Since you went to such great lengths to get to know me, you shall have my story.”
So she really liked him. Adebar decided not to ask how she treated people she disliked. He’d seen that already.
“My father was a Master. Favorite of his teacher,” Wind’s Bride began her tale. “But they had a disagreement. They fought and my father left the school. He married a woman who was the daughter of the Master of another school. My education began the moment I could walk. My father said I would fulfill our family’s destiny –that I had been born with the spirit for it. He was right. I never wanted anything else.”
Family, at least, was something Adebar Jade could understand.
She continued: “From father I learned the Ascending Eagle Claw and the Ten-Armed Blade while my mother taught me Eight Directions. Every day I did nothing but practice, eat, sleep and practice again. By the age of ten I had surpassed all of my father’s other students, even those that were much older. Finally father gave me the chance to fight for real. First he brought home criminals: muggers, bruisers, loudmouths who fancied themselves good with a gun. He said they had to fight and kill me or die at his hands. They thought it a joke. Some were still laughing when I killed them.”
Adebar nearly choked on what he heard. Killing at such a young age…
“Soon my opponents became more dangerous. They were real fighters now, some of them beginning to make a name for themselves on the Dust Road,” she said. “Then, on my thirteenth birthday, my parents took me to a cave outside the town where we lived. They had a saddled horse waiting there for me, provisions and a little money. They said I was ready now to travel the Dust Road alone and make them proud. First however, they wanted me to do two things: make a promise and pass a final test. The promise was to prove myself superior to my father’a former Master and all his students by seeking them out and killing them in a fair fight.”
“That’s why you’ve killed all these people? To keep your promise?” Adebar asked.
Wind’s Bride looked at him quizzically, “Of course not. These were not Dust Roaders, just hooligans and parasites. They were for practice. The hinge that constantly moves never rusts.”
Despite the blistering heat, Adebar felt like he was encased in a block of ice.
The girl that found killing so perfectly normal slid off her rock and walked back to him. “Now you have my tale, Jade man. Does it make you feel any better?”
A small thought in the back of Adebar’s mind whispered that the tale was unfinished — she had told him of her promise, but had not told him of the test. All he could see now, though, was his own death staring him in the face, and he felt no hope in asking for more information.
Bright metal flashed in the sun, and Adebar heard the whistle of sharp steel. He cried out.
His arms slumped to the ground, momentarily without feeling, but still attached to the shoulders — she had cut his bonds.
“I don’t want to kill you just like that, Jade man,” she said her long sword disappearing back under her poncho.
Adebar exhaled deeply. The needles and pins in his arms told him that the blood was flowing again properly. Slowly, he got to his feet and rubbed more feeling back into his wrists and hands.
“Thank you — and as I said, dear lady, I mean you no harm. I promise not to bother you again.” No, he’d stay the hell away from this crazy witch, and spread the word to steer clear of her to every cousin of the Jade Family.
Wind’s Bride nodded. “I know you will not.”
Later that day, the girl they called Wind’s Bride rode away with five spare horses in tow. Three taken from bandits… and two taken from a fool who had trusted too much in the living.
She did not look back to burning caravan in the canyon that served as his pyre.
He should not have followed a girl who, as a final test of skill and dedication, had dueled her own parents to the death.
This vignette was crafted by a FAR WEST fan, and serves as a preview of the fan participation in the FAR WEST setting that is available to members of the Far West Society.
About The Author
A resident of Germany, Marco Mueller has been playing tabletop RPGs since the mid-eighties and writing in several PBEMs–most notably Star Trek and Vampire.The Masquerade–since the late nineties. This is his first official contribution to a published setting.