“I could be the hunter,” Keisha said. Latasha gave her a funny look, so she explained. “Well, I don’t have any magic power, and I’m not psychic. I figure the wise woman and healer are too much work. If I said priestess, you would laugh. So that leaves the hunter.”
“You can’t even find your backpack in the lunch room,” Latasha pointed out.
“Yeah, and what would Janet be? They don’t have a fat one, do they?”
Keisha’s phone rang. Janet was on the other end and she was getting a ride home.
“She wants us to meet her at her house,” Keisha said.
Latasha said nothing, but nodded. Maybe Janet was beginning to thaw toward her since they talked about Bobby Thompson and the drug delivery in the garage basement level.
Heinrich dropped his sword point and stepped back. “You are still dropping your shoulder when you back-swing toward the legs. You know where your opponent is, you should not have to look first.”
Emily frowned and ran a hand through her hair. She nodded and took a moment to look around. Jessica was helping Melissa learn the staff. They had the ones with the cushions on each end so they did not hurt much, but poor Melissa who only began these workouts in the fall kept taking it in the gut while Jessica kept explaining how to block that shot. Maria was off to the side working through her hand to hand techniques. Mindy was helping Amina try to hit something with an arrow. Amina was great with the staff and hand to hand, but she couldn’t shoot straight. It was like she was willing to hit someone, maybe even knock them out, but the idea of an arrow or knife cutting and maybe killing someone made her balk.
“Ready?” Heinrich finished wiping the sweat from his brow and tossed down his towel.
Emily shook her head and pointed to the back door. “I think you have a new pupil.” Sara came in, and she brought her shepherd’s crook, the one Heinrich had given her as a gift.
“Ah, priestess, welcome.” Heinrich was friendly and the others stopped and welcomed Sara as well. Melissa was especially happy to see the priestess.
“Priestess. Now maybe someone else can get punched in the stomach for a while,” she said.
“Zoe called you priestess,” Amina said as if that should settle the matter.
“Yes, Sybil,” Sara responded in a kind tone of voice and nodded toward Emily for emphasis. “Your majesty. But that is another thing. I can’t hardly bring myself to talk to Zoe, much less pray to her.”
“I can answer that one,” Heinrich stepped up. “I guarantee, right or not, she does not want or feel worthy of prayer or praise. Just talking is what she prefers. Sorry, you will have to take my word on that for now. But here, let me help you learn what you can do with that staff.”
“Just so you know, I am a woman of peace, not war.” Sara looked around the gym and looked hesitant, though she came dressed in sweats.
“So was Father Martin,” Heinrich responded with a smile and an outstretched hand. “But he said there is nothing unchristian about learning to defend yourself and to defend the innocent.”
“A disciple of Francis of Assisi.”
“No,” Emily said. “I think he means a disciple of Saint Francis himself.”
Sara’s eyes widened a bit, but she took Heinrich’s hand and let him lead her into the middle of the room. “Paul is also having real problems with all of this,” she confessed.
“Your young man?” Heinrich pulled her in so she took his arm.
Sara nodded. “Paul is a lawyer, very logical. He took a job with the District Attorney’s office last year and was glad to hear I will be sticking around for the next three years.” She stopped and withdrew her hand and arm and stared at Emily. “Look, he has a hard enough time with me being a minister. Amazon priestess is freaking him out.”
“Don’t look at me,” Emily said with a deadpan face. “I killed my last boyfriend and the one before that turned vampire. I killed him, too.” Emily’s eyes watered a bit. “I am not the one to talk to about boyfriend troubles.”
“Invite him to meet us,” Amina said. “He will see we are just a bunch of normal women and nothing to worry about.”
“Ms Joel heard from?” Emily lost her tears and grinned as Amina darkened and looked at the floor; but she smiled at the mention of Joel’s name.
Sara looked around the room at all of the ones present before she made her pronouncement. “There is not a normal one here.” She bit her tongue. She knew she should say they were all special and gifted beyond reason, but at the moment she felt like saying they were all freaks.
Maria stepped up. “Actually, we are all facing the same problems with boyfriends. Okay, maybe Emily and I aren’t dating right now, but Amina and Joel are, Mindy just asked Bill out, Melissa is hanging out with Robert and Jessica has Brinkman wrapped around her finger.”
“Please!” Jessica interrupted. “I gave up boyfriends for lent.”
“Robert?” Emily asked with a look at Melissa.
“Later,” Maria said as Melissa turned red and looked away in her best Amina imitation. “Anyway, the point is you are not alone.”
“I did not choose to live four hundred and seventy years, which is not public knowledge by the way,” Heinrich said. “Emily did not choose to be one of the elect. The Spirits of Artemis and Eir chose their own vehicles in Jessica and Maria. Amina and Melissa had no say in whatever power they were granted, great or small. You are the only one who has graciously been given a choice, but you must choose. You have swum half-way, now will you turn and swim back or finish the journey?”
“I am here,” Sara said. “Priestess is still going to take some getting used to.” Everyone smiled happily, and several hugs were exchanged before Sara remembered. “Oh, Jessica and Emily, I brought your ROTC crew. They say they want to join the, um, tribe?”
“Yes, that’s right.” Mindy said it before Amina could.
Sara turned back to the door she came in and wondered. “I thought they were right behind me.”
Natasha came tumbling in after a second. She was winded, but said one word, loud. “Orcs.” She threw her hands to her knees as she breathed. “A bunch of them, heading this way.” Diane, Greta and Hilde followed Natasha in and Greta and Hilde started to bar the door.
“Wait!” Emily shouted and Greta and Hilde paused. “Mindy and Amina, get arrows, bring the bows. Diane, show me. The rest of you stay here. Jessica, prepare a defense.”
“After you,” Heinrich said. He still had his sword, but picked up a bow as well. Emily was not about to turn down the help and experience, but she looked again at Jessica and once at Sara. Jessica looked uncertain, but Sara assured her with her eyes and Emily felt the Priestess earned her place permanently with that look. There would be no going back.