When Hildr’s older cousin had earned his Rank 3 badge, he’d patted her on the head and told her that either one day she would discover her true calling in battle, or she’d give up and go back to the farm.
In retrospect, she supposed that he was being condescending. But Hildr was not prone to resentment. And now that she was sitting next to Umi Kiritaeke, who used four-syllable words that Hildr had never heard before, who scooped up a pond merely by shifting the weight of her dainty body, and who drank cold tea with her eyes half-shut as she rested in the shade, her cousin’s motivations couldn’t have mattered less.
Moulded like a doll, yet calm and confident. Denied the constitution of a warrior, yet awe-inspiring.
Firstly, she had to find a way to speak to Umi Kiritaeke.
And secondly, Hildr had to become strong enough to stand at her back, always.