The evening smells like jasmine and a thin reminder cinnamon was an ingredient in dinner. Warm air and lilac clouds, even at midnight, remind her the sun never wants to set on Nippon. These are the perfect conditions for what she intends, revenge and she sniffs again. Cinnamon makes her think of her father. It’s the perfect aphrodisiac for this evening. The smell forces her to remember his last words, “If you ever hear that tinkling noise, run, it be your death!” they add fuel to her fire.
Her father and master of their school ran into the burning building that had been his own grandfather’s home as a baby and disappeared into the smoke and stopped the tinkling.
She would have followed him then but he left her with the children. Twenty-two mewing babies ranging in ages from infant to teenager begging for answers, what’s happening Madam Gao, what’s happening with master. Her father knew she wouldn’t leave them. And she didnt, all of them are with her tonight.
And finally, it comes, the tinkling, it floats on the night air, slowly approaching.
The tinkling of the porcelain army raises the fine hairs on her body. They have ruled the nightmares on Nippon for generations. Are they ghosts? Robbers for a king somewhere else? No one knows anything except death waits if they stop and inquire.
And then she sees the first warrior. His dou glows white in the moonlight. The lines of the small porcelain squares joined together with strings of bronze dance with his every footfall. Behind him comes a second warrior and behind him a third. She counts each noting their armament and weapons do not differ from the reports her scout brought to her. She also learned they sleep and eat like men.
She thinks of those words now as she gives the signal to attack.
And her babies do, slicing through porcelain armor like it was paper.
The battle is a rout. 22 warriors have tested the fires of battle and succeeded for the first time. In the air, along with the cinnamon and jasmine, is now the stink of shit and blood.
Then over the hard breathing and back-patting, they hear it.
It surrounds and all she can do is scream for them to prepare for battle as she places her katana across her chest in upper guard and knows she never should have ignored her father’s words.