He was stifled. Flustered. And afraid of the red, hot blush. Shocked by a wave of self-conscious almost adolescent anxiety, the paranoia of enshadowed eyes digging into the reaches of his soul, he shuffled toward the exit. Raising his collar. Donning his hat. Trying to act natural. Like nothing was wrong.
Everything was wrong!
A hand tapped his elbow.
"A great swordsman, don't you think, master""
It was only Zhao.
Not a word but a smile, quick yet labored, answered the student.
By the gods that was close! The fool - Zhao - did not notice. Could it be that fear existed only within the mind" Yet he could not risk it. Another moment, another breath within that arena, and he would have swooned. All of his life he could not imagine anything like what he saw at the ring then and there that night. It overwhelmed his defenses and it routed whatever he thought he understood about himself. Yes, of course, it was repressed inside of the mind!
Jeong-Jeong was a world-weary traveler and familiar with almost every style of fighting. That swordsmanship displayed in front of his face - and the skill and the mastery - it was simply erotic. It was like a ritual mating dance of death. It was a beauty that touched the very masculine part of his essence and aroused a yearning he thought to be impossible!
"Oh, god," he thought, rubbing his eyes, "to waste such a talent on a woman - I have been blind since birth not to see that - only a man can appreciate what it is to be a man!"
And the worst part of it - beyond the sensuality of the movement - was the beauty of the warrior.
"Piandao!" he gasped under the sky, alone within the alley, "to fight by you, beneath you...."