Chapter 6: Baring The Swords
The prison was a large dungeon with an incredibly confusing structure, located several dozen feet underground. Its heavily guarded cells and narrow corridors made out of black stone gave a grim impression, especially now, when the magic lanterns stopped working and the only light came from the flames of the torches and glowing braziers. The shadow master, or Mr. Schwarzwald, was spitting out his curses from one of the cells, his mad voice echoing throughout the whole level of the dungeon.
Katrina stayed on guard with her sword beside her, even though it seemed like the archwizard posed no danger now. Local runesmiths sealed his cell with their defensive sigils, their old magic would make a short work of any attempt at wizardry. Sir Gunther, accompanied by Thomas and Beld, tried his best to communicate with the chained mage, but to no avail. Schwarzwald only spoke the language of hatred and bloodlust, he couldn’t be reasoned with in the current state. Still, the counselor pressed on, reacting to the archwizard’s outbursts with complete calmness. It was almost comedic.
Thomas conversed with one of the prison guards, discussing the best ways to combat enemies in tight spaces. He occasionally threw glances at the archwizard to make sure Sir Gunther was safe, while also trying his best to not ogle Katrina’s naked body, even though he obviously wished to do so. On the contrary, Beld wasn’t shy about his desires at all: the short elf stood near the knight with his arm wrapped around her waist, slowly caressing her taut butt, feminine hips, and toned belly. Katrina didn’t mind his company, with all the serious things she had to face it was nice to see someone so casual.
“Do you always communicate with women like this?” She joked to digress from Gunther’s struggling conversation.
“Well, depends on how they like it, cutie” Beld gave the redhead’s butt a loud slap, “I used to do something similar with men, too… But only to pick their pockets!”
“Oh? The city watch is a glorified gang of pickpockets?” Katrina chuckled, attracting Thomas’ attention with her statement.
“Absolutely not!” Lieutenant exclaimed, “you see, miss Katrina, we suffered heavy casualties due to the mage craze, and some of our people deserted seeing their brethren being killed by the archwizards so easily. So, we had to make do… Some of our privates and militiamen are convicts who have to serve in the military under the command of trusted officers to earn their parole. I’m commanding Beld and Harred, both thieves in the past, to instill some bravery and loyalty in them.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Beld laughed sarcastically, “also, sir Thomas, please don’t forget that I wasn’t just a thief. I was a known smuggler and mercenary on good terms with The Blackhearts… Before they declared war on Zardiw for your fake coins.”
“I just can’t understand why you’re so proud of your crimes,” Thomas rolled his eyes.
“I just want our warrior here to get the right impression,” Beld daringly grabbed Katrina’s boob with a smirk, “by the way, about impressions… I really liked your new friend. Sophia, is it? Why didn’t you bring her here?”
“Of course you liked her, dirty little man, Sophia’s gorgeous,” Katrina replied with a smug look on her face, “but she’s also tender and shy, folks like you need to deserve her company first! Besides, she wasn’t very keen on going into this dungeon, went a full panic mode… Not sure what’s up with that, but I decided to give her some rest after yesterday’s adventure.”
“Well,” Sir Gunther concluded after an hour of failed communication attempts, “I suppose the anticraze potion is our only hope now. Still, I thank all of you for bringing the shadow master here alive. If we manage to cure the disease plaguing his wits, he will be very useful for our cause.”
“I sure hope so,” Katrina nodded, ashamed about the moment of weakness she had during that fight.
“Private!” Thomas shouted at Beld, who toughened his grip on Katrina’s breast in the heat of the moment, “fix your chest plate and prepare to move out. We ought to escort sir Gunther and miss Katrina out of here, then patrol the city per our orders.”
“Yes, sir,” Beld saluted in a leisurely way and started adjusting his armor, “walking in the summer heat all day again? Just what I wanted! Well, still better than staying on that tower day and night, I’m glad we got rotation.”
“No talking in the ranks!” Thomas commanded and led everyone to the surface.
“Actually, I might wanna join you two,” Katrina said, adjusting her bride, “I want to walk around the city a bit more, figure out where everything is. I looked at the maps, but seeing for yourself is better by a ton. You guys won’t mind me joining your patrol, right?”
“Well… If you wish to volunteer, miss Katrina, then sure,” Thomas said with severe doubt in his voice.
“Finally you’re making some rational leader decision, commander,” Beld smiled and put his hand on the knight’s naked backside.
But Thomas was having none of that and forced the elf to grab his weapon and shield, prohibiting him from groping naked female bodies on duty, which was an odd command to give, but very fitting for the situation. Beld became grumpy in a second, and the lieutenant was fully satisfied. Katrina chuckled from this interaction, patroling Zardiw with these two must bring a nice contrast to the grim situation the town is in. The three of them walked out of the dungeon, the guardians’ eyes closely following Katrina’s backside as she left, and took to the streets.
Their first stop was the marketplace, a very lively and vibrant place in the past, but far less so since the supply issues started. There were merchants, goods, and meals, but there were far more people than the products, so the latter had to be rationed. It caused a lot of complaints and anger among the citizens, the duty of guarding the trade district wasn’t a walk on the part. Some shady folks even tried to capitalize on these heated situations: one such smartass was caught by Thomas and Belt right in front of Katrina when they realized he wasn’t a merchant at all and was just selling spoiled food under the guise of new supplies.
Katrina’s nudity helped to distract some of the people, mostly men who tended to enjoy the knight’s company. That said, many townsfolk were still surprised by the girl’s nakedness and didn’t trust her. The crazed wizards must’ve taught them that the unusual meant deadly here, and they had to suspect something was wrong even if Katrina was marching along the city watchmen. Several folks were spinning fingers to their temples or laughing at her. The redhead didn’t mind this one bit, especially the laughter. It was still a positive emotion, even if it meant they disrespected her, so she didn’t take any offense. Besides, with all the approval her nude figure was getting, the redhead could just ignore the criticism and focus on the good part.
They went all around the marketplace, then walked through the craftsmens’ district with its rows of blocky stone workshops, and finally turned into the narrow streets of the residential area. The sneers and catcalls of surprised locals followed Katrina whenever she went. This amount of attention was suitable for a queen herself, even though the queen would probably not tolerate any of the sexual compliments and dirty jokes the redhead was subjected to daily. Thomas was surprised how she could take it so casually, maintaining a friendly attitude all the way, sometimes even responding with smiles and witty comebacks of her own. If Amy was in her place, she’d probably hit each of the passersby in the eyes so they wouldn’t dare to look at her.
“It’s hard for me to imagine how hard it must feel,” Thomas said unsurely, “how are you dealing with all this constant attention?”
“Well, I’m not constantly walking through the crowds of people,” Katrina smiled, “but when I do, I like seeing them express their genuine emotions. Almost as much as I love to express myself!” the girl theatrically pointed at her naked body, “well, unless someone gets too creepy and annoying, then I let them know my way!” she flexed the muscles on her arm with a soft laugh.
“I guess you are right… Not going to lie, it’s all quite strange, but I respect your drive to follow your philosophy,” Thomas agreed, as arguing with this spectacular woman seemed impossible.
“And I respect your willpower when you try not to ogle me,” Katrina teased the lieutenant, he let out an awkward laugh.
The trio kept walking forward, making sure no thief or marauder felt safe on the streets of Zardiw. There were also some rabid dogs that had to be put out of their misery, Thomas said these weren’t the only animals that went insane. It seemed like one of the crazed wizards was responsible for driving the local wildlife insane.
Soon, the imposing structure with black walls and a purple roof appeared in front of the patrol. The massive barracks loomed over the streets, casting their mighty shadow over the nearby buildings as if to remind their residents that the city watch would always protect them. The training camp beside the barracks was filled with shouts, thuds, and metal clinging. The newfound militiamen (and militiawomen) tried their best to sharpen their senses and fighting skills, faced with an inevitable magic danger.
Thomas led the trio here to report that they finished their tasks and will now take part in the training. Katrina decided to stay and help out, she knew a thing or two about swordsmastery, and her knowledge could be useful. Thankfully, Gerda wasn’t around at this time. The city watchmen were very excited to see the fire knight in all of her nude glory as she stepped into the camp with a sword in her hand and a bold smile on her face. They knew who Katrina was, but many saw her for the first time and didn’t believe she was actually naked before. Obviously, many immediately took interest in the girl, some even abandoning their training dummies and archery targets.
“Come on, sir Katrina, show us some moves,” Beld jested, “I’m sure our new recruits will learn a lot from you!”
Katrina looked over the training camp and about twenty pairs of eyes stared back at her, eager to see the nude beauty in action. The elf might’ve been joking, but helping the guards learn something would actually be quite useful. The redhead strolled to the center of the camp, her bare feet caressed by the warmth of the solid ground beneath, and assumed a defensive combat position. The militia bared their swords right away to follow her lead, albeit slowly and clumsily.
“My fighting style,” Katrina looked over her audience with a challenge in her voice, “is a swift and daring one. It’s based on the moves used by ancient warrior women of the elven union who, as you might’ve read in the history books, were keen on fighting stark naked. Mostly so that their bodies would get more solar energy and empower their magic in the process… But I’m sure it’s also because they just liked being seen this way. My theory.”
A wave of whispers has spread over the allured crowd.
“Either way, you’ll have time to discuss naked elves in a bit. Now it’s time for practice. The moves I’m using are designed for quick dodging and counterattacks, which will make sure the enemy’s weapon won’t find its target before yours does. This is especially important when you know the armor won’t protect you,” she changed the stance rapidly, causing her beautiful breasts to jiggle, “however, it may also be useful for those wearing light, cheaper armor like you lot. So pay attention!”
She swung her sword, checking whether the crowd followed her moves.
“Also, make sure to focus on my blade, not on my boobs,” Katrina said with a smirk, causing some militiawomen to blush, “this will serve as good training for dealing with destractions during a fight, of which there might be plenty. Prepare yourselves!”
She lunged with grace and sureness, but slowly enough for the newbies to understand her moves. Then swung her sword once more, rapidly turning around as if to corner an invisible enemy. Katrina was nimble and agile, a beauty to behold. The militia separated and followed her lead, trying their best to mimic the naked girl’s moves. They all had issues, but some seemed to grasp the style quite well.
“You!” Katrina pointed at one of the older men, “straighten your posture! The enemy will surely catch you with their blade if you’ll be all hunched over like that! And you over there, don’t throw your sword forward like that. Feel its weight, and realize that the weapon is a natural extension of your own body during a fight. Otherwise, your attacks will remain clumsy.”
“She’s getting the hang of it,” Beld chuckled, wiping his brow.
“Yeah, she does. The Supreme Judge surely sent one of his best,” Thomas said, carefully fixating each lunge and swing Katrina was doing, as he realized that even his technique could be improved.
Katrina went for about half an hour, jumping around with her sword and flaunting her striking moves for everyone to enjoy. Her mixture of military skill and naked beauty surely captivated the troops and motivated them to get better. Especially after Katrina added that nude female warriors only lie with equally good male fighters, whom they consider very attractive. By the end of the training, the redhead was sweaty and short of breath, her glistening skin shining under the warm rays of the summer sun.
The militia also needed a break, as following such a skillful warrior wasn’t easy. They had some cold water and a chat, both of which were very appreciated by the redhead. Some militiamen also asked whether they could touch the girl’s muscles, to which she replied positively. Their touches along with their admiration were a nice reward after such a rigorous exercise, but Katrina jokingly scolded those who went out of line.
“You know, you can’t really get these with training. Only mother nature can gift you with this pair, so no dice!” The said to a man who decided to quickly grab her boobs and sent folks into a fit of laughter.
“Ya know, I think we’re missing something,” Katrina said after their drinking session was over, “the training went fine, but I can’t help but feel that it wasn’t a full experience.”
She placed her hand on her chin, elegantly swinging her curvy hips, and stood like this for a moment, ignoring all the groping that some militiamen still tried. After a minute, the knight glanced at Thomas and snapped her fingers in realization, as if the whole understanding of the universe just descended onto her red head.
“Sure, we didn’t do proper sparring! How can we consider this a good training if I didn’t show you how the moves look during actual combat?” Katrina exclaimed, “your enemies won’t be imaginary, after all, they’ll be very real. Thomas, what do you think, can we demonstrate how real swordsmen fight?”
“Me?” The lieutenant pointed at his chest in confusion while other soldiers mumbled how lucky he was.
“Look, he doesn’t want to,” Beld was jumping up and down, “choose me, choose me!”
“Nah. You’ll try to grab my boobies, I’ll cut off your hands and it’ll all be over,” Katrina reasoned, “so you’re not quite fitted. Lieutenant, on the other hand, has to be good at sword fighting. Correct?”
She gazed at Thomas, combining both suggestion and a hint of challenge in her large golden eyes. The soldier instinctively nodded as he didn’t want to disappoint his naked friend. It wasn’t a lie, of course, as Thomas was considered very good by Zardiw standards, but the redhead’s amazing moves seriously got him doubting whether he can combat her as an equal.
“Sure, I will be glad to help, miss Katrina.”
“I promise not to use my magic. I don’t want to kill you, after all,” Katrina added, “only weapons.”
“Let’s use training wooden swords as well.”
“Why not the real ones? Are you scared or something?” The girl asked daringly to excite her opponent before the fight.
“No,” Thomas replied and suddenly a smirk appeared on his face, “I wouldn’t want you to get injured before you deal with the wizards.”
“Wow,” the crowd approved of the comeback.
“Alright-alright, go easy on me, then,” Katrina dropped her sword and got a wooden one instead, her eyes were full of anticipation.
A moment later, the two assumed their stances and began to spar. The first clash of their wooden blades was Katrina’s initiative, she lunged and pressured Thomas to recede with her bold strikes. The lieutenant took to the right and slashed downward, nearly hitting her head.
“Nice moves you got, lieutenant,” Katrina said as she removed the sword and hit her opponent from the right, causing him to change position.
Their clashes came with loud thuds, the swords could barely handle such intensity. Thomas fought defensively, focusing on blocks and only sometimes attacking himself. Katrina was on the offensive as she danced around the soldier, fast and nimble, stinging him like a wasp with her piercing strikes. Katrina managed to land several hits, while Thomas only hit her once, suddenly striking her naked boobs while they were bouncing. The girl grinned and said that he’d found her weak spot. But even then, the sword barely touched her bare flesh. Katrina evaded incredibly well, it almost felt like she was using her nudity as bait.
“Come on, advance a bit!” She cried out to him, “take the initiative!”
“Slow and steady,” Thomas smiled and parried another series of the redhead’s furious attacks.
Then, came a counterattack, during which the lieutenant almost got to the girl’s toned belly, yet she evaded again. He immediately struck again, trying to catch her, but the girl simply bent over backward and let the sword fly over her head. Then, Katrina got some distance with a graceful jump and lunged once more, this time it felt like victory was at hand. Another swift slash. The swords clashed against each other, and the wood got crushed to pieces by the impact. It took Katrina a moment to understand what just happened, then she jumped back. She was holding only a wooden handle with nothing on it. It was her sword that got crushed, while Thomas’ withstood thanks to his caution.
“That’s exactly why I prefer to use real swords!” Katrina exclaimed as she got away with a swift cartwheel.
As she gained distance, she saw Thomas fixing up his metal glove which seemed to have fallen off due to all the intensity. The redhead saw a glimpse of a bandage that covered the guard’s hand beneath his armor.
“Are you okay?” Her voice suddenly became concerned.
“It’s alright,” Thomas waved his hand, “got bit by a dog recently, nothing too serious. It won’t stop me from defeating you, at least!”
“Hey, catch!” Beld threw another practice sword at Katrina from his comfortable seat on a bunch of barrels.
“Ha-ha, now let’s see who is tougher! Round two!” Katrina pointed the wooden blade at Thomas, “you’ve shown me that you know how to use long pointy things very well. However, I also won’t be left behind!”
Thomas assumed his defensive stance and two went at it again. Yet, this time it took only a single strike for the fight to be over, as they were interrupted by a young, yet not very pleasant female voice.
“Ahem! Thomas, what are you doing here?”
Thomas suddenly lost his footing. Katrina caught the lieutenant, but his face landed right betwen her large, alluring breasts.
“Thomas!” The voice shouted once again, this time followed by rapid footsteps.
Katrina looked to the side and saw a human woman with pink hair marching towards them. She was about a couple years younger than Katrina and had a quite nice figure, although her chest was clearly not as spectacular. Her dark, long dress was of high quality, and the jewelery she had all over her showed wealth. Thomas quickly got back to his feet and removed his helmet, revealing his dark hair and the face marked by several scars. Katrina heard Beld chuckling in the distance as the pink-haired girl closed in and gave the redhead a scornful look.
“I’m sorry, what is going on here?” She asked with her chin up high, “Thomas, I thought we’d go to the theater to see the show when your shift is over.”
“Who needs theaters when we have such a show of our own?” Katrina laughed, raising her head.
“Amy, this isn’t what you think it is…” Thomas was at a loss for words.
“Who is this wench?” She finally asked.
Her voice was calm, yet hit harder than metal, and her gaze relentlessly pierced Thomas akin to a sharp spear. A very dominant type, Katrina thought to herself. Maybe a tad too much.
“This wench is fire knight named Katrina,” the knight gave the pink-haired girl a clumsy, mocking bow, “was sent here by The Supreme Judge to rid this town of the mage craze. And you are…”
“Amelia, daughter of a very well-known, high-status merchant,” she replied with pride, “and I won’t let my fiance take part in any acts of depravity, especially in public!”
“Depravity? Apologies, m’lady, but we were just sparring. I understand that it’s odd for someone who didn’t have to hold a weapon in her entire life, but try to understand,” Katrina ridiculed the merchant’s daughter with a confident smirk.
“In my entire life, I saw plenty of knights and warriors. None of them degraded themselves by fighting butt-naked, I can tell that for sure,” Amelia continued, her voice posh and arrogant, “you look like a parody of a knight at best, and I won’t tolerate my Thomas having such low-life company.”
“Amelia, you don’t understand! Stop this, you just walked in on the wrong moment!” Thomas cried out.
“I’ll hear your explanations at home,” the pink-haired girl glared at her fiancee with scorn, “I’ll wait for you there.”
Amelia turned around and slowly strode away from the militiamen, but not before taking a close look at Katrina.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, you might be a nice girl,” the pink-haired said to her, “and I understand that all this… Common soldiery needs someone to boost their primitive instincts. But I don’t want my fiancee to linger with harlots, I think you’d understand if you were just a tad smarter.”
“No, you got it all wrong! Amy, why are you doing this again?!” Thomas glanced at the knight with an apologetic tone and ran to Amelia, continuing to shout his explanations at her. The girl didn’t seem interested at all, brushing his points as shameful excuses.
“Oh, a harlot? Well, could a harlot do this?” A playful glowing appeared in Katrina’s eyes, she took a step closer and reached Amy with her wooden sword.
She hooked the dress with the weapon and rapidly pushed it downward, pulling Amelia’s clothing with it. The dress made a ripping sound and fell down to the owner’s ankles, baring her nice lingerie and even nicer young figure. The merchant’s daughter screamed in anguish as she realized this, trying to both cover herself up and lift her dress. The militia surrounding them erupted into laughter. Thomas slapped his forehead with his palm and did his best to help his fiancee, pulling her dress back up.
“That bitch! I’ll show her, let me at her!” Amelia screamed, but Thomas just picked her up and dragged her away from the camp, putting all his strength into it.
“Nice butt!” Katrina whistled at Amelia and let out a burst of laughter, it felt very weird to be on the other end of that exchange.
Soon, the couple left the camp, leaving all of the militiamen to laugh at the scene. Many thoroughly enjoyed the redhead’s comeback, patting her on the shoulder as a sign of approval. Some opted to instead pat her butt, though, but the girl knew it was still sincere.
“What a loving pair they are!” Katrina leaned against one of the barrels near Beld.
“Yeah, a dream come true,” the elf replied with a chuckle, “say, I think I’m also going off duty, you wanna keep me company? We can continue your Zardiw tour. I’ll show you some places.”
“What kind of places?” The redhead looked at the guy with a curious smile.
“The ones patrols usually avoid,” Beld skillfully juggled a knife in his hand.