Shortcut to Paradise...

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Chapter 7:

The Mountains. Luca's Point of View.

“Luca you need to focus.” Old and tired looking Luca’s master stood across from him, wooden sword out in front. Luca moved forward, bringing his wooden sword back, poised he sends his swing towards his master, the attack his reflected.

His master sends a strike of his own, blocked Luca has to keep up his defense as the master keeps sending slash after slash in his direction. His master breaks his defensive stance and painfully sends the blade of the wooden sword onto his collar bone.

On his knees, Luca grips his shoulder. “Here you go.” Luca looks up at his master, in his hand he holds out a canteen. Luca grips the container with his right hand and lets the water slide down his throat, after a deep drink he hands it back to his master.

Getting to his feet Luca stretches his arm. He is 19 years old, he has a lanky frame, standing six feet tall, his half german ancestry makes him taller than his full blood Japanese counterparts, his most distinguishing facial feature is his large Adam’s Apple. It sticks out of his throat and is the size of a lacrosse ball.

His shoulders are narrow, he has the small frame of his father. “I can’t seem to focus today master.” It hadn’t just been today, he hadn’t been able to focus on anything of late.

“Try it once more, let go of your thoughts and focus.” A man came into the room and ran across the polished wooden floor. The man came to a stop, several feet from Luca and swept into a deep bow.

“Prince Luca, your uncle wishes to see you.” His master tucked his wooden sword into his robes.

“Answer you uncles summons Luca.” Following his masters advice Luca follows the servant out of the room.

He walked through the hallway, Luca had been forced from his home months ago, Luca had been injured in a fight right before the last battle. It should have been Luca who fought for his father’s & sisters honor, instead of his cousin. Entering into a office on the other side of the stronghold Luca sees his Uncle standing by the fire with a letter in his hand.

His uncle Neil looked the opposite of his Luca’s father, where the emperor was small in stature, Neil had massive hands and shoulders, barrel chested he could have been a renowned warrior if born into a simple daimyo family. His uncle was currently gathering revolutionary forces to their side. (Daimyo- japanese feudal lords)

The Shinsengumi had been hired by the imperialist to keep order in Kyoto. Shinsengumi agreed to police the city from the rogue Samurai, but they still lacked enough skilled swordsmen for to be a standing army. Worse the peasants who made up the bulk of their forces couldn’t hardly fire a rifle, he worried they would break at the first charge from an opposing force.

“Uncle Tao, you summoned me?” Prince Neil motioned Luca over and handed him the note. Luca looked at the note perplexed. His uncle spoke in his deep booming base.

“We have had over a dozen loyalists killed, these loyalists weren’t ordinary men, each was a skilled swordsman of repute.” Luca looked over the names and knew his uncle was right, each one of these fighters were famous and charismatic leaders their deaths were a blow to the cause.

“It appears the enemy is looking to cause panic, our intelligence reports that this is the work of two swordsmen. We don’t have any information other than all his kills took place over the course of five days, which means he is efficient as much as lethal.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Asked Luca. His uncle picked up a longsword leaning against the wall near the fireplace.

“Your father’s weakness backed this family into a corner, these swordsmen need to be dealt with, every day they live it weakens our position. I know your skills won’t be enough to deal with these men. Your master at arms is not enough to teach you. I have brought in a new teacher. Meet Kitan Kenbo, master of the Kenbo sword style, you have two months to train under him, if this pair of swordsmen is not dealt with by then, your rebellion will go up in smokes and the throne that is rightfully yours will pass you over.” Luca looked at her Uncle and said.

“I don’t care about my throne.” His uncle stared after him.

“What do you care about boy?”

“My Family’s honor and my sister’s freedom, I won’t rest until I stick my sword into her husband’s chest...”

Fairfield Castle Four weeks later.

Mel POV:

Mel is shaken awake by Agnus. “Princess, please wake up.” Mel opens her eyes it’s dark in her room. Sitting up she looks out at a messy rainy day. Thick rain pores from the heavens wind rips and pulls outside.

Slowly making her way to the lavatory Mel takes a seat in front of the mirror, Agnus brushes the knots out of her hair. There is a knock at the door, Agnus opens the door a crack. “Yes” Mel hears inaudible muttering from outside the lavatory.

“Princess you will be training inside today.” Said Agnus. Mel looked in the mirror at her face and didn’t recognize the skeleton looking back at her.

In truth her face just thinned out and her body became more toned but to Mel she looked like skin and bones. She did admit that she liked looking at her stomach, it wasn’t soft baby fat anymore but starting to become hard muscle.

Mel had been on her diet for a month. In her mind she had been starved, only allowed one portion of food per meal, Mel felt robbed. At least the staff had been kind enough to sneak her treats and snacks. Worst of all her art lessons became more and more bizarre.

Thinking about Yaz her art teacher brought her mind back to her lesson yesterday. Yaz had come in with a slimy, red bulbous glob of tissue inside of a bucket. Mel was instructed to puncture it and mixed the fluid with another agent to produce a new color. It took a few minutes to realize that the fluid inside the bag had blood inside of it.

Eventually after Mel painted what she was asked too she asked what the thing in the bucket was. She wished she didn’t as Yaz informed her that it was a woman’s Placenta. Mel struggled to choke down her vomit.

Yaz’s bizarre painting methods and her diet weren’t the worst part of her imprisonment, her husband took it personally upon himself to handle her weight loss training. He had her swimming & laps running everyday.

“Can’t I have one day off?” Pouts Mel to Agnus. She put on her loose fitting training pants and a pull over top, lastly she had Agnus tie up her boots, they were cute she had to admit. They came up to her knees, with laces up the length of the boot, they were lightweight, durable and most of all comfortable.

“Good Morning Princess.” Cheerfully says her bodyguard Nathan. Mel responds with a moan and grunt.

“Ahh... Why are you always so damn cheerful? Where does my darling husband want me to train today?” Nathan escorted her down the hall.

“This morning his lordship requests that you train inside the Dojo.” Mel had never been inside the Dojo before, her husband seemed to spend every waking hour inside that room, when he wasn’t fussing over something she had done.

It took them ten minutes to walk through the castle to the Dojo. Entering the room Mel sees a massive wooden floor, shiny and polished stretching hundreds of feet. At the center of the room she sees three men.

As she approached she heard her husband excuse himself. “Master Chi, please excuse me I need to get my wife situated.” Stan wore a navy blue robe, it looked to be light weight, a short sword and longsword are tucked into his robes.

“Good morning” Mel doesn’t return his greeting.

“You couldn’t just let me have the day off?” Stan shook his head no.

“And ruin all of your progress? I mean your body is again something a man would wish to covet. You should be thanking me! If I didn’t step in, it would have taken a trough full of lard to squeeze you out of the door.” Mel ignores his insults, the more she engaged Stan the meaner his insults became.

“You will go over to those two bars and try and push yourself up as many times as you can, after I want---” Tuning him out Mel becomes distracted by a memory from several weeks ago. After the first week of training and dieting Mel found herself crying and begging her husband to leave her be.

Flashback:

Stan walks into her room, Mel refuses to open the lavatory, barricaded inside for hours he has had enough. In his hand he holds a mallet. He turns to Agnus before he knocks the door down. “Did she have this issue with food when she lived in the capital?” Agnus nodded her head.

“Yes, and the emperor was aware of this, she was given small portions, but she was also occupied in her free time to suppress her need to feed out of boredom.” Stan was furious but he as he raised the mallet to the door a plan formulated in his head.

Knocking six times hard on the door, Stan hears no response other than sobs, using the mallet door flies off the hinges and the girl cowers in fear. Stan grabs her by the ankle and drags her from the room, she tries to grab on to anything to slow her down, letting out an ear splitting scream...

Stan backhands her across the face, getting the screeching to stop, he begins to address the situation. Stan picks up a cold bucket of iced water. Mel is sobbing harder after her smack in the face, Stan dumps the ice water onto her head. One squeal escapes her lips as Mel tries to keep her teeth from chattering.

Mel stops sobbing and begins shivering, Stan walks over and grabs a piece of bread from the table and begins mashing it into her face, choking on it Mel begins coughing. “Eat it you pig! Don’t want it anymore?” Stan sits down out of breath, he ordered Agnus out of the room, the lady’s maid had no choice but to listen to her masters demands.

“Why are you doing this to me?” Asks Mel in a defeated, frighten tone. Stan shakes his head.

“Because you are my wife and I want you to act normal, but I see that’s hard for you.” After a minute of silence, he spoke again. “I will lighten up on you, you can eat what you want and as much as you want... you can even stop exercising.” Mel perked up she would do anything to go back to normal.

“What do I have to do?” Stan stood up and walked to the door.

On his way out, he muttered two words before leaving. “Get pregnant.”

Flashback Ends:

Mel is brought back to her current dilemma, even as her husband keeps issuing her orders, Mel is tempted to give in but she holds off. “After the dips, I want you to head upstairs and run the catwalk of the dojo.” Mel looked down as she asked one more question.

“How many laps do I have to run?” Mel knew he always made if difficult when she asked.

“Until I tell you to stop.” Mel continued working out while Stan trained. When she got to the catwalk to begin her run, to distract her from her muscles pain she focused on Stan. She couldn’t hear the instructions from his lesson, but she could see what was taking place.

Stan and Master Chi’s assistant were sparing. Both using bladed weapons, she was hopeful as she saw Stan’s sparring partners sword connect on his arm, instead of seeing an armless husband, he merely rubbed to point of contact. Mel kept watching as Stan took more abuse, these swordsmen were much more skilled than he.

Stan charged his opponent and was unable to land a single strike as the assistant sent a slash to his ribs connecting, Mel hardly noticed that an hour and half slip by, her husband limped out of the Dojo as soon as he was out of the room Mel stopped running. The master’s Assistant walks over to Mel as she takes a drink of water from the large fountain on the Dojo’s main floor.

“Princess I saw you train today, you have quite the endurance.” The man was putting away several wooden posts used for sword cutting. Mel smiled at him.

“You aren’t so bad with a sword, better than my husband.” The man lost his smile.

“That is not so, he will soon outmatch me, I hardly could keep up, soon he will out pace Master Chi, I saw that you were fixated on our sparring match. Have you ever swung a sword?” Mel shook her head. “I would be happy to show you here.” Mel walked over to the training area, Most of the training equipment her husband used was still in place. He walked her over to a wooden rack of swords.

“The colored scabbards tell you what kind of blades it is. Green scabbard is a dull practice blade, the blue scabbard means the weapon has sharp steal.” The man picks up a short sword with a blued scabbard.

Mel is led to three wooden posts, standing across from them she is handed the sword. She gets a ten-minute lesson on the proper way to hold the sword. Mel takes swings at the post chipping pieces of wood from it. “Take a hard swing drawing it from the scabbard.” Mel is nervous there was no way she had the strength to draw the sword and cut the post in half.

Mel had seen men draw swords and slice with them before. Exhaling her breath, Mel relaxes, pushing her emotions and nerves away. Mel doesn’t see the sword moving she just feels the pressure, tearing and then nothing. She looks at the post it is still standing, she was sure she cut it, then half a piece slides off onto the wooden floor with a thump.

“Wow Princess that was impressive you are a natural.”

As Mel walks back to her room for a meager breakfast she found herself fixated on the sword. Mel’s thoughts continue. ‘That would be a great way to workout, it felt really good’

Mel never returned to the Dojo she laid down to take a nap until lunch. Mel dreamt she was in full battle attire fighting her husband. Just as Mel is about to kill him she is woken...

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