A Beautiful Day on the Road to Yatto

This piece of flash fiction was written for Writer’s Digest’s 2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge. Three hours were spent on this piece; this is the third draft of the story. The prompt: “Write a story with no dialogue.”

A Beautiful Day on the Road to Yatto

A figure stepped out from the shadows of lush lumo trees and into sunlight.

Komo halted, her sandaled feet scraping against the hard-packed dirt of the road on which she traveled. The small merchant caravan she guarded halted behind her, one of the klurggs baying in annoyance. 

Komo eyed the figure as it walked across a field of waist-high grass and stepped from the embankment onto the road. Behind the figure, a handful of kilometers down the roadway, rested the planet’s only port town, Yatto. A boxy ship with a blue-white flaming tail rose from the town and shot off into the sky, heading for the stars. To the west, opposite the lumo forest, the sun sank towards the horizon. 

The figure came to the center of the road and stood facing Komo. 

Long-limbed and broad of shoulder, the figure was an imposing man dressed in a travel-worn brown jerkin with a green undershirt covered in patches, a faded orange battle dress covering his legs, and a shallow bowl hat made of straw topping his head. A maroon leather scabbard hung at his waist, the hilt of a sword sticking from it. 

The man stared past Komo to the caravan, studying it. Then he looked at Komo, waiting for her to make the next move. 

Komo glanced over her shoulder. She caught the attention of the merchant, an aristocratic man with high cheekbones, a thin mustache, and an air of unearned self-importance. He sat upon the klurgg—a six-legged loaf of bread with an enormous nose and covered in shaggy brown and tan fur—pulling the hovercart; the other two klurggs in the caravan pulled traditional wheeled carts made of wood instead of metal and technology. 

The merchant shook his head, as Komo knew he would. She knew selfishness to be the man’s default state of being. It made him a good merchant and only a good merchant. He would never willingly give up his merchandise to anyone, let alone a highwayman.

Komo turned back to the armed man on the road. He hadn’t moved while Komo looked away. She nodded at him.

The man returned the gesture before removing his hat and tossing it to the side of the road. He pulled his blade from its home. Then he waited. 

Komo removed her old but still warm dark blue travel cloak, folding it neatly and placing it on the side of the road, leaving her in a lighter blue martial-top and battledress. From her gray cloth belt she removed a black scabbard made of hard plastic and pulled from it a long, curved blade. She rested the scabbard atop her cloak. 

Komo returned to the center of the road and began walking towards her waiting opponent.

Komo’s shoulder length, straight black hair blew in the gentle evening breeze, a breeze filled with the tangy scent of ripe tika fruit and carrying a hint of kyototi tree sap. The land around them glowed a deep orange. It was a beautiful day to be alive.

She stopped two meters from the man; just enough space for two swords to play in.

Her opponent’s sword was a falchion, a single-handed, single-edge blade curved at the tip. It appeared well maintained, its edge sharp and its side polished, easily reflecting the light of the sun. Falchions were a popular weapon amongst the provinces that supported isolationism. 

The man stood in a solid stance, but the sword hung at his side.

Komo’s blade was long, extending from guard to tip in a gentle curve, and had a hilt meant for two hands. The blade was well cared for, its edge splitting sunlight. Hers was a weapon used by the provinces that supported change. 

Komo gripped the sword delicately in both hands and held it in front of her in a basic ready stance.

They studied one another. The breeze blew around them, rustling the tall grasses and tree branches; the sunlight continued to fade; no one from the caravan spoke or moved, not even the klurggs. 

The man squinted. He shifted his stance, standing side face towards Komo, and held the blade parallel to the ground, pointing the tip at her. A defensive stance.

Komo breathed in. She shifted her stance, turning her torso forty-five degrees away from the man, and dropping the blade to her side, pointing it backwards towards the ground. An open stance, vulnerable yet powerful.

The man took a step towards her, then waited. 

Komo also took a step.

Tension pressed against Komo’s back while relief tried to pull her forward.

Komo kept her feet where they were, but she brought her sword above her head and to the side, the edge of the blade facing the sky and curving down to point at her opponent. Less vulnerable, but more difficult to transition.

The man mirrored her feet positioning and held the blade to the side. Wide open, vulnerable to the point of recklessness.

Komo narrowed her eyes

The man breathed in.

Komo returned to the ready stance.

The man turned and brought the sword across his chest, holding it above his shoulders.

The wind ceased.

The man pushed off with his back foot, lunging at Komo, his blade slicing downwards at an angle. 

Komo shifted to the right, dropping her blade to the left and pointing it backward, edge side pointed outwards. The falchion cut through the air past Komo’s head, shearing off strands of hair and nicking her shoulder. She slashed upwards with her sword, cutting across the man’s belly and across his chest and skidding across the collarbone before ending in open air. 

The man’s momentum drove him to stumble past her. 

Komo remained in the end position of her strike, small droplets of blood dripping from the blade and a trickle of blood trailing from her shoulder.

Behind her, metal clattered to dirt, followed by a heavy thud.

* * *

Sun nearly below the horizon, the merchant caravan continued down the road towards Yatto, led by Komo who wore a sword at her waist, a warm cloak on her back, and a shallow bowl hat on her head.