Chapter 9

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Gimli: "Anybody for bets? I bet on Boromir."

Sitting on the rocks, the fellowship has cleared a space for Boromir to duel Miyuki.

Gandalf: "I'll bet on the Lady Miyuki."

Aragorn: "Then I will as well. Legolas?"

The elf shakes his head, seeing no need to place a bet as he was certain as to who would win. Sam & Frodo too refrained while Merry & Pippin both bet on Boromir. Bets placed, Boromir looks on Miyuki.

Boromir: "Since you're a girl, I'll go easy."

Miyuki: "You're that confident? Then maybe I will too."

Boromir face tightens, feeling like he was being looked down upon. He draws his sword.

Boromir [anger]: "All right. You asked for it."

Miyuki gets ready, sliding her sword into her obi, her right hand hovering above the hilt of the sheathed katana. Having never seen a stance that didn't involve drawing the blade, Aragorn & Legolas' eyes go to girl, interest piqued.

Miyuki [calm]: "I wonder if you can make me draw my sword."

Boromir's eyes narrow. Rushing at Miyuki, he swings his sword. Side stepping lightly, Miyuki avoids the blade but makes no move to attack. The man strikes again but the girl once again avoids the blade still not attacking. This aggravates Boromir, who continues to attack, Miyuki avoiding them all with ease.

Pippin: "Why does Miyuki keep saying, 'shh, shh'?"

Listening carefully, everyone then picks up on the sound. Aragorn watches Miyuki's movements & Boromir's strikes before his eyes suddenly widen.

Aragorn [awe]: "Incredible...she's reading Boromir's rhythm & vocalising the timing. This way she can predict his next move & move accordingly. I've never seen anything like it..."

The Fellowship's eyes are fixed on Miyuki, mesmerised by her fluid movements. It is almost like she is dancing, always stepping out of the sword's path. Getting increasingly angry, Boromir speeds up the attacks but they still do not connect.

Miyuki [sigh]: "This is getting boring. Let's end this."

Leaping back to avoid Boromir next attack, Miyuki lands & springs forward, quick as lightning, off her back foot. The Fellowship hears the sound of a sword drawn & then a clash of metal. The next thing they know, Miyuki is behind Boromir, her sword drawn & held out behind her. Boromir is standing in shock, unarmed, his sword lying on the rocky ground some distance away. All look at Miyuki in stunned silence. Straightening up, Miyuki sheaths her sword & breathes out. She then turns to look at Boromir.

Miyuki: "Too slow. I didn't even need to attack. At that speed, you'll never land a blow on me."

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Aragorn: "I can see now why Legolas had such high praise for you."

Sitting on the ground again, Miyuki looks up to see Aragorn standing above her. He is tossing a bag of coins, his winnings from the bet. He sits himself down next to her.

Aragorn: "Your movements were so graceful, almost like a dance. What was that? At the end as well. I've never seen an attack that starts with the sword still in the sheath."

Miyuki: "Oh that? That's a technique called 'Dance of the Longsword'. Normally, I would be attacking as well as dodging but his movements were slow enough that there was no need to attack. That last attack, is a style I don't expect you to know. It is called iajutsu, a technique designed for quick-drawing & for killing an opponent instantly."

Aragorn nods in interest, knowing that she was capable of a lot more than she had just displayed. He now felt glad that he was not her enemy. Legolas continues to look to the South, where a strange cloud has appeared.

Sam [noticing]: "What is that?"

Gimli looks up, following Sam's gaze.

Gimli [dismissive]: "Nothing, it's just a whiff of cloud."

Boromir [looking]: "It's moving fast... against the wind."

Narrowing his eyes, Legolas peers at the cloud.

Legolas: "Crebain from Dunland!"

Aragorn: "Hide!"

Boromir: "Hurry!"

Rushing around, Aragorn hurries the Fellowship to get out of sight.

Aragorn: "Frodo! Hurry! Take cover!"

Scrambling to gather their things, Sam puts out the fire. Hiding behind rock outcroppings & under bushes they wait. In a burst of darkness against the light of day, a flock of black birds rushes overhead, cawing loudly. Circling the hill once, they then turn & fly back south. Waiting a bit, the Fellowship come out of hiding.

Gandalf: "Spies of Saruman! The passage South is being watched. We must take the Pass of Caradhras."

He turns, looking up at a great, snowy mountain.

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