Frida and Ioras

Frida laid down on the wet grass, panting heavily. It had started raining, since they began their daily sparring.

“One more.”

“You really don’t know when to lose, Frida!”

Ioras, her fellow soldier-in-training, was standing at her feet, grinning proudly after defeating her thrice in a row. Frida slowly propped herself seating.

“Oh? This might just be the right time for me, you know?”

“Sure! Clearly I’m afraid of stopping my fifty-six wins streak!”

“It’s not fifty-six!”


Frida got up quickly and threw her sword at Ioras, who dodged by an inch.

“Whoa, that’s unfair!”

“Anything’s fair in battle!”

Frida regained her battle stance, and Ioras gladly welcomed her next attempt.

“Bring it!”

Two hours later, aching from pain and fatigue, they came arms around their shoulders to have a drink at Libeccio Theatre, as they used to do when training got too long.

“Get us another one, barman!” Shouted Ioras.

“Didn’t you two get enough for tonight?”

“We’re barely tipsy!”

“And you’ve got training tomorrow.”

“You ain’t my daaaad!”

Frida laughed at her girlfriend’s antics, a welcome routine in her day.

“Tell her something, Frida...”

“Of course Fri’s on my side! Right? Your beautiful girlfriend is even treating you to alcohol all the time!”

“Yeah, ‘The winner’s paying!’, you say...”

“Not my fault, I’m just too good!” Ioras replied, then shook her glass and started laughing.

“I swear, since you two started dating Frida’s gotten too soft, but YOU have become even more insufferable, Ior.”

“That’s mean! I’m making the place more lively. There’s not even a play tonight, what are you complaining for?”

“Oh right,” Frida asked “how’s the ‘Westerly Winds’? I’ve heard they’re training a couple of new actors.”

The barman nodded, taking Ioras’s glass from her reddened hands.

“The new kids are fine, though wet behind the ears. The troupe is on a break until they’re decent enough to stand on stage... I wonder if any of them is going to be as good as you were? Such a shame you left.”

“What can I say, playing the role of a swordswoman so well kind of made me yearn for the real thing, you know?”

Ioras put her arm around Frida’s waist, pulling her closer, talking with the barman.

“I’m much better than her as a swordswoman! Do you think I’d be a better actress, too?”

“How do you even tolerate this woman, Frida?”

Frida sipped the remaining wine from her glass, grinning mischievously.

“She’s cute and can’t do a thing without me, besides fighting.”

“Losers shouldn’t say that! It’s illegal! The Royal Guards will get you!”

“Yeah, yeah...”

“Want to stay at my place? You look awful.”

Ioras was clinging to Frida’s arm as they walked up the stairs of Altenwolk, legs crossing every two steps and dangerously close to falling ever since they got out of the theatre.

“Nooooo... don’t take advantage of a poor drunk woman... you sly devil...”

“I swear I’ll leave you right here in the cold if you don’t stop that.”

“Kiddiiiing! Kiddiiiiing!”

They both laughed, huddling closer.

“Come on, it’s closer and you won’t have to argue half-drunk with your parents.”

“I’d blame your bad influence.”

“YOU are the bad influence, Iora.”

“Hehe... trueeee... but I pulled youuuu...”

“You’re as annoying as cute when you’re like this.”

“And you like–“

Ioras stumbled again, prompting Frida to stop and get her on her back. Ioras pouted in answer.

“But I look dumb piggybacking you...”

“Shush, you look even dumber as a stumbling drunkard.”

Ioras gave up and threw her arms around her girlfriend’s neck.

“Bring me to your place, hot lady knight!”


When they reached Frida’s doorstep, Ioras had already fallen asleep.

Frida sighed. Then started wondering: they had just one year of training left, and then she would join the Royal Guards. Ioras, though... she was a battle-crazy idiot who didn’t seem to have much in mind besides fighting, drinking, and spending time with her loved ones. She really liked how spontaneous she was, but she probably wouldn’t be a good fit for the Royal Guards.

She sometimes had mentioned how she’d like to see Minor Astraea or even Vallendeur, despite foreign relationships not being the best lately.

Major Astraea had been silent for a while, both Himmelheit and Vallendeur had started building Psichelite mines in Minor Astraea... the Queen was pushing for more soldiers around those areas, supervising what she thought were a critical economic resource. If they were still together in a year – and Frida hoped they did, she felt Ioras was truly special to her – they’d have to talk it through.

“I’ll have to ask her,” she thought “one of these days.”

She was there when the lance pierced her guts, red blood splattering unceremoniously on the white snow. Frida immediately lunged her sword at the enemy, as Ioras fell to her knees, cradling her abdomen. The Vallendeuse soldier had no way to fight back, as they had lost the grip on their weapon when Frida’s blade met their neck; a moment later, their head was rolling on the ground. But it didn’t matter to Frida.

“Relax, I’m fine!” Ioras’s smile betrayed her worry, a clumsy attempt to hide her pain and the absolute certainty she was doomed. But years of sparring and playful banter trained Frida to look beyond her girlfriend’s façade, much to the latter’s chagrin.

She panicked, trying to carry Ioras on her back, muttering over and over: “Fuck, shit, if I were better at healing skills, fuck fuck fuck I’ll get a healer! I’ll take you to one! Hang on, please!”, until a whimper stopped her in her tracks. That, and the warm, wet feeling of blood dripping down her neck.

“Leave me here,” said Ioras “it’s fine! I’m fine.” She kept on lying. “Do you really think I’d get killed on the battlefield in such a silly way? Me? You think so lowly of your g-”

A loud coughing fit put a stop to her excuses, forcing her to hide the blood coming out of her mouth by cupping it with her hands.

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up!” Frida cried. “I’ll heal you myself, damn it! You don’t need a healer! You just stop talking!”

Ioras’s breath grew laboured as she laid down on her back, while Frida kept feverishly gripping one of the cure-based Psichelites all Himmelian soldiers were equipped with, powerless against the cruel hand of death slowly closing its grip on Ioras.

“We... really need to book a day or two in Schleierwolk, I’ve... heard the nights there are...”

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!”

“Hey... that tone doesn’t suit you... if my brother could hear you, even he would... laugh at...”

“Shut up... dammit... Iora...” Frida had almost stopped trying. For as much as she kept telling Ioras to stop, her mindless babbling in an increasingly weaker voice meant she was still with her. “Iora...”

How they met. All the times they fought, and all the times they made up. The days spent training, and the days spent at the Libeccio Theatre with the “Westerly Winds” troupe and the other regulars. Their hands grazing, their lips touching, each and every embrace they shared until that moment. Everything was slipping away into nothingness, invoking a fear in Ioras she didn’t know she could feel. Dying had never been so frightening, but it was now that she realized she couldn’t take anything with her. Not even her memories of Frida. In what she felt was their last moment together, she used all the strength she had left to grip Frida’s hand tight, eyes overflowing with fear, and she let out one last, soft cry.

“I don’t want to die...”

Then her eyes glazed over.