It started with a breath, the most fundamental part of living and the most crucial to controlling a battle. Naomi breathed. In and out, eying the ten heavily armored lupine warriors in front of her. Within the sauna of her mask that breath betrayed her, forming sweat that stung her eyes and tendrils of hot condensation which trickled down either side of her muzzle. The rusty tang of blood she knew was hers assaulted her nose as the captain of the Tikasha soldiers broke free from the orderly line.
Battles were won and lost by bargains, her father had said. You bargained your prayers to the gods for protection, you bargained your memories to the ancestral spirits for courage and you bargained your body by toiling in the fields for long hours so that when times like this came, you had made all the deals possible to tip the scales in your favor.
But bargains like those were meant for males; women could not pray to the gods of war, women could not train to fight and, being keepers of the family legacy, they were not allowed to forsake their memories. Naomi had nothing to bargain with, there was only her and her sword. She clenched it tighter, slid her foot back as she had seen her father do a thousand times and watched as the captain strolled towards her.