The Journey of Mary/ Ma Li is about a woman named Mary who is inhabited by the spirit of an ancient warrior priestess named Ma Li. Mary’s unusual upbringing has led to a life of danger, which climaxes when Ma Li’s spirit comes forth. Together they need to find artifacts of power that are crucial to their existence. In their quest to find these objects they encounter demons that want the magical items for their own purposes.
An excerpt from the book.
Entering the table section she saw Jack speaking to a thin girl with long black hair. Her back was towards her so she couldn’t see her face. Jack smiled and laughed at her comments and when he saw Mary enter the room his face turned hard as he glared at her. The girl in the white pants suit saw Jack’s attention turn elsewhere and turned to see what he was looking at. Recognition hit them both at the same time. Asegi Kyoto gave a thin smile to Mary as her eyes appraised her competitor.
Ma Li came forward as Mary tried to reason with her, Let this go, do not start a fight with her. You must control yourself.
I can feel that the other sword is here and this is the accursed bitch who dares threaten to take my head and you want me to be nice?
Please Ma Li, Raoul wants a practice dual, in front of his guests, as the forums entertainment. You will have your chance at that time, so be patient!
I’ll try to accommodate your wishes.
Mary had to pass them and as she approached Asegi stepped in front of her, “So we finally meet in person. Jack-san, please perform the introductions.”
As Jack continued to glare at Mary he stepped to the side of Asegi and muttered, “Asegi Kyoto this is Mary Petrovich, also known as Sharon Smith. Mary Petrovich this is Asegi Kyoto…”
“I know who this skinny bitch is, why so formal you murdering coward?” Mary asked.
Well, that was rude and you told me to be nice. Tradition is very important prior to a duel. Mary you demonstrate bad manners. Now you must control yourself and you should apologize to her, as Ma Li laughed
“In Japan, before we have a samurai sword duel, it is our custom to be formally introduced to the one who will forfeit their life in battle. I must admit, I thought you would have been younger and at least beautiful…hmm, too bad.” Asegi stated.
“You should enjoy a good meal, for it will be your last. A strong wind would blow you over.” Mary retorted.
“I understand you gave up this fine specimen here for a prostitute slut? It goes to show there is no common sense anymore. Do I inherit her, as well as Jack, after you’re gone?” Asegi asked.
“All you could handle are my leftovers. Be very careful with this one Jack, she wears poison lipstick and has been known to remove a man’s favorite part as her trophy.” Mary snarled.
“Weren’t you the one who took her uncle’s cock as a trophy?” Asegi asked with a smile, “After all, that is the rumor I heard from my step father and Raoul.”
“Why wait? Let’s do this now. I need no sword to remove your head.” Mary lunged for her as Raoul’s voice cut through, “Stop! Save your quarrel for later.” He walked up to the three of them and with a stern look stated, “I want an exhibition on swordsmanship. You are both experts and I want to see that come through in front of my guests. There will be betting and drinking going on while you have this bout. I want to make myself perfectly clear, to both of you, so that there are no language barrier issues of miscommunication. I want no blood spilled, if possible, definitely no maiming and especially no killing each other. Have a decent, honorable and fair contest as to who is the best swordsman.” Pointing his finger at both Mary and Asegi, “If either of you disobey my commands you will pay dearly for it.” Turning to Jack, “If the situation gets out of hand I want you to step in and correct it. You will be the referee. Is that clear?”
Jack looked at Raoul questionably, “Let me see if I got this straight, ok? You want me to step in between these two martial arts and sword experts if they start getting a bit nasty towards each other? Then you want me, with no weapons of my own thank you, to jump into the mix and say ‘Stop it, you’re not playing nice, put those bloody swords away.’ Swords, mind you that can cut through thick metal as if it were paper. Have you lost your bloody mind? Fuck no, I’m not going anywhere near these two when they’re out there. No bloody way!”
Raoul became disgusted with Jack and turned back to the two women who stared at each other with murderous intentions. “I understand that you two have a professional rivalry. I read that much in your files. I am also aware that you are both excellent with a sword. I have a lot of very important people coming here tonight that I want to make a good impression on. Do not make this personal, keep it professional. Do I make myself clear to you both?” In unison both women hissed through their teeth, “Yes, Raoul.”
“All right, now let us show everyone here in the cafeteria who have stopped eating and are staring at us, let us show them that you are good sports and professional competitors. Shake hands and let us sit down and eat together, ok?”
Mary continued to stare at Asegi. “I’m not touching this murderess whore.”
Asegi glared back at Mary. “Expert swordsman? Ha, she is nothing but an unranked amateur and a lying, lesbian slut as well.”
Raoul at the end of his patience yelled, “Stop it! I will have no more of this! Do I have to have you chained to have one lousy meal together? I have many financial sponsors here. I want this to be a professional bout. These are people that would want to hire you both, but you must demonstrate professionalism. Now stop this bickering and insults. Let us get our food and sit down and talk pleasantly about other matters, all right?”
Both women turned and went down the food line taking various items and putting them on their plates. Raoul was in between them both and when they went back into the cafeteria they saw Pedro sitting there with Jack. Raoul took a seat opposite Pedro and the women sat opposite each other. Pedro asked Mary, “How do you like the stew?”
“It’s a little too thick,” she answered.
Asegi stood up and looked concerned as she gazed at Mary’s stew, “Aw, too thick huh? Maybe this would help?” as she spit a huge gob of phlegm into Mary’s stew.
Mary looked up at her and calmly answered, “That would change it all right, but how is the consistency of it?” Mary flung the stew bowl at Asegi hitting her in her face and laughed as it flew into her hair, face and dripped over her white outfit. With a scream, Asegi leaped at Mary. Mary jumped up and met her on the table. The hair pulling and head butting went with the elbow and knee shots until they both rolled off the table and onto the floor.
Jack and several others had to pull them apart. Raoul looked very old at that moment as he said to the security guards, “Escort them back to their rooms. No dinner for either of you tonight!”
Pedro, who had sat calmly while the battle raged in front of him, said to Raoul as he sat and cradled his head in his hands, “Perhaps you should postpone this so called exhibition match?”
Break for duel
“In a few minutes you will witness an exhibition of dueling swordsmanship from the two greatest samurai sword experts in the world. These women, yes women, will amaze you with their skills and expertise. This is very dangerous so do not get too close to the competitors because these are sharp, authentic swords that can cut through the thickest metal.”
At his signal the lights were lowered so the room became dark as Raoul said, “At the far end of the room we have Mary Petrovich,” as a spotlight bathed her in its light, “originally from Russia and later the United States, this world traveler is a highly successful mercenary and expert martial artist as well as swordsmen. Mary, please come down to the arena.”
Mary wore a light gray leather jacket zipped up the front to the middle of her breasts, her matching skin tight gray leather pants and grey suede flat shoes completed her ensemble. With her wig hair in a tight ponytail she descended the stairs and onto the arena floor.
Your presence is strong today Ma Li.
Mary, do you think I would miss this duel? There is nothing, in any realm that would keep me from beheading Lord Isego’s stepdaughter and main enforcer. I will enjoy this immensely.
Before Raoul could continue Jack had returned and whispered in his ear. Mary didn’t need lights to see that Raoul had gotten very upset. Forgetting the microphone was on, “…she was with that whore Rosita? Find that slut and find out what happened.” Realizing he was broadcasting over the speaker system he tried to control himself, “Excuse me, but business must be attended to, I apologize for the interruption. In the near corner we have Asegi Kyoto, ranked as one of the greatest living swordsmen in all Japan. Asegi is a contract assassin and stepdaughter to samurai Lord Isego. Many of you know Lord Isego, in Osaka, Japan as the port of call for our shipments to the Far East.” The spotlight shined on Asegi. “Asegi, please come to the arena.”
Asegi wore a black and white leather outfit. Her jacket zipper was undone revealing a white leather vest for a blouse. Her trousers were white leather with black leather leggings. Her black ankle high boots completed her outfit. Her black hair was shoulder length and hung loose.
When the women were at opposite ends of the arena Raoul went down to the arena floor and walked to the center where he asked both women to meet him. He deliberately didn’t take the microphone as he spoke in hushed tones to Mary and Asegi. “This is a demonstration only, do you understand? You are both too valuable to be killed or maimed in a duel to the death. If either one of you seriously injures the other I will make you pay dearly for not obeying me, do I make myself clear to you both?”
In unison they answered, “Yes Raoul.”
“Mary, when this is over I want to speak to you about your whore Rosita. Maria is dead and Rosita was the last person seen with her. Maria’s bodyguard is also dead.”
“Raoul, she is not my woman. We went our separate ways. I don’t know where she is.”
“That may be so, but if I can’t find her we will have a more in-depth discussion about this. Now bow to each other and the audience and be the professionals you claim to be. I want a good, fair fight and let it drag on for awhile, no quick submissions, all right?”
Mary smiled and said, “Ok, Raoul, whatever you say.”
Asegi also smiled, “I guarantee you this will last a long while.”
As he left them in the center of the arena, he signaled again and a large spotlight centered on the two duelists. Asegi stood at ramrod attention and bowed low to Mary with her hands clasped right hand over left fist as the symbolic sign of respect for her opponent. Mary/Ma Li returned the salute in kind. Each warrior slowly removed her samurai kantu blade from its sheath and with both hands on the handle and in extreme slow motion each raised their deadly blade skyward as they started to move in a circular motion studying their opponent for a weakness or an area of the body to issue a swift and deadly strike.
Mary and Ma Li were of one mind with this duel. Each needed this exact moment for the culmination of 500 years of revenge and for the justification of their shared existence. Ma Li fought the Isego’s of the past while Mary fights the Isego’s of the present and for the same reason – to right a wrong that led to a war that has taken many lives and bathed different generations in blood. Ma Li and Mary fought for respect, justice, dignity, truth and for each other, as loyal sisters of flesh and spirit.
Mary muttered, “Is your sword tingling also?”
Asegi responded, “Yes, has this ever happened before?”
“Then it was true, what the legends say, these swords are magical.” Asegi stated as she smiled and flexed her fingers around the handle of the Masamune sword.
“Are there embellished etchings in your blade as well?” Mary asked.
Asegi stared at Mary in astonishment, “Yes, there is. There is a sun and a dark moon with a traveling comet and …a dragon.”
“Before you return your sword to its scabbard must you give it blood?”
“No, but I must give it a tear drop or a few drops of water in its blood canal,” Asegi replied.
“Interesting and astonishing that these swords made centuries apart could be so similar in design and purpose. You have the blade that brings peace and calm to its owner, while mine brings chaos and bloodshed.” Mary reflected.
Boos and catcalls came from the audience as they became impatient for the entertainment.
“Let’s finish this once and for all. The guests are restless for blood,” Asegi said.
“Yes, let us finish what had started over 600 years ago with the creation of your blade around 1300 and mine around 1500. It’s too bad that these imbeciles won’t appreciate what they are about to witness. This will be the greatest sword battle ever fought.” Mary stated.
Asegi attacked first with a high slash to Mary’s head and when Mary’s blade struck Asegi’s sword in defense Mary’s blade gave off red lightning while Asegi’s gave off blue lightning. Both warriors jumped back from the unexpected result. The startled response from the audience ensured that it wasn’t only the warriors who saw and felt the unnatural occurrence. Mary went into the attack next with an overhand blow to Asegi’s head, which she easily blocked by twisting her body holding her blade horizontally across her body and bending her knees to absorb the impact. More sparks flew as Raoul screamed to shut off all the lights. The only light that remained was the eerie glow of the two swords, one in red and the other in blue. The audience was deathly quiet as it watched the spectacle unfold before them. They all sat at the edge of their seats, mesmerized by the physical and spiritual battle being fought before their eyes. Raoul yelled again, “Lights back on.”
The women warriors flew at each other with abandon striking quickly, hitting high and low, each time the blade sought a weak spot on each other, but none were found. It was apparent that these women and their blades were evenly matched. The personal war raged on for 20, 30 and then 40 minutes with neither side giving ground. Asegi would seem to tire and then a moment later become refreshed hammering away at Mary. Mary and Ma Li took turns to attack and defend against Asegi. It was evident that Asegi had great skills as a samurai duelist but lacked experience in battle when offense and defense were often combined. Mary and Ma Li used different fighting techniques in the hope that Asegi would drop her guard or be unable to counter from Mary’s unconventional moves. On the negative side Asegi was more experienced with sword dueling and faster than Mary. Asegi was the better swordsman with the samurai blade.
Why doesn’t she tire, Ma Li? She seems to fade and then comes back stronger than ever.
I see it now and you will not believe what I am witnessing.
What, what is it?
You must look through my eyes to see what only I see. Go, I will defend.
Mary blinked her eyes and thought of Ma Li and when her eyes opened she saw through Ma Li’s eyes and what she observed scared her to her soul. In watching Asegi attack and defend herself she also wasn’t alone. There was an army of samurai warriors behind her, guiding her, helping her, giving her their combined strengths and skills.
Do you see what we are up against?
How can we beat her with a legion of samurai as part of her?
Now you witness the power of these blades. The samurai want these swords back and will stop at nothing until they are back in their possession and returned to Japan.
Tell them they can have the swords back, but only when I am finished with them.
They are tired of waiting. They want them now.
I knew you would say that.
Both women simultaneously thrust at their opponent’s upper body. Asegi, who was shorter than Mary at 5 foot 5 inches and weighed 102 pounds, took a sword stab across her right cheek, while Mary took the tip of the blade into her left shoulder, just below the collar bone. This caused them both to step back and assess the damage to each other.
Asegi wiped the blood from her cheek, “No one has ever cut me before.”
Wincing from the pain in her shoulder, Mary countered, “You better start getting used to it.”
Raoul stood up assuming the public display was at an end and signaled for the audience’s attention, “Wasn’t that a great display of swordsmanship? Let’s have a big round of applause for our combatants.”
Asegi answered with an overhead downward cut as Mary deflected and followed through with a horizontal slash which drove Asegi back, but only for an instant as she came forward with a head slash. Mary was a micro second too slow in pulling back and received a slight cut to her forehead. The cut did little physical damage but the wound bled into her eyes. Mary closed in with her as they shoved their swords against their bodies in a test of strength; they stood pushing against each other with all their might. Mary never saw the tanto dagger come into Asegi’s hand as she went to stab Mary in the stomach. Ma Li saw a samurai spirit grin and realized something was wrong and pushed off Asegi. As Mary fell back Asegi lunged forward with a slash that cut through Mary’s thick leather jacket with ease. Asegi was rewarded with a thin line of blood from Mary’s stomach.
Mary never felt the cut, the blade was that sharp, but she felt hot liquid oozing out. Looking down she saw the thin line of blood start to flow faster. Seeing Asegi’s sardonic smile infuriated both Mary and Ma Li as Mary drew her own dagger and went on the offense driving the smaller woman back with her onslaught. Dueling with sword and dagger, the electric colors dazzled the audience, even with the lights on. Mary paused to wipe the blood from her eyes as it became difficult for her to see. Asegi responded with a direct frontal attack driving Mary back towards the southern end of the arena near the wooden gates used for food storage.
Mary tripped and fell backwards, realizing Asegi would come in for the killing blow Mary slashed out across her body and by chance caught Asegi’s dagger, knocking it from her hand and into the audience’s wood retaining wall. As Mary stumbled to get up Asegi bent low and gave a powerful two handed upwards slash hoping to cleave Mary’s face in two. Mary was barely able to deflect the killing blow with her tanto dagger, but the power behind Asegi’s cut ripped Mary’s dagger from her hand and flung it behind her, embedding itself into the wooden gate. As Asegi came into the attack she saw movement to her right from the audience. She backed up to be away from Mary’s reach and saw that a petty drug lord had reached over to try and take Asegi’s dagger which was stuck in the wood.
The man was laughing and obviously drunk as he tried to remove the dagger from the wood as a souvenir of the battle. An enraged Asegi screamed, “How dare you! You don’t have the right to even gaze at that blade and you dare to possess it?” She slashed down with her sword and severed the man’s hand, taking four fingers and a knuckle off his thumb. The man issued a blood curdling shriek and grabbed his stub of a hand as the remaining part fell to the dirt floor. The tanto dagger remained in the wood.
While Asegi was occupied, Mary tore her gray cotton blouse off and used it to try to stem the flow of blood from her head and stomach. Ma Li admitted to Mary, she is using standard samurai tactics of sword fighting; issuing slight wounds meant to weaken the opponent until they are so weak they cannot defend themselves and then she will issue the death blow to the head or neck. Mary, with the samurai strengthening her, we cannot defeat her. She is too strong, too fast and too skilled in the ways of samurai sword fighting.
We must find a way to win. We cannot give up.
I am not giving up, but even with both our skills and strength we are losing this battle and I for one cannot see how we can regain control. I fear for us my sister.
We must find a way.
While the audience gasped and yelled, Raoul screamed to stop the fight, but did not step in to intervene. Asegi ignored everything except Mary. When Asegi turned to look at her, Mary could see the glow in her eyes as if she were possessed. She took slow, deliberate steps towards Mary and she swung her sword with increasing speed in a circular motion. Mary could see by Asegi’s tight smile and the glint in her eyes that she knew victory was at hand.
Mary stepped back and away from Asegi to remove the contact lenses from her eyes. The blood and sweat irritated the contacts until they became unbearable. Mary continued to back away as Asegi crept towards her. Finally able to rid herself from the contact lenses, Mary blinked rapidly praying her eyes would clear and focus. Asegi waited until Mary’s vision cleared, deliberately slowing the fight down so she could savor every moment. Asegi knew she had this contest won and wanted to deliberately torture Mary. Asegi wanted to teach Mary who the real sword expert was and she would make this final lesson as painful as possible. This was her moment and she wanted to savor it for as long as possible.
Mary had wandered in a complete circle and was again back at the horse food gate. Mary was breathing hard as she faced Asegi for possibly the last time and she knew that Asegi saw the worry in Mary’s emerald eyes. Mary and Ma Li were both exhausted and they tried everything in their knowledge and skill arsenal but they could not find a way to beat Asegi.
“At last I get to see who you really are; not a green eyed she demon as my father thought but a woman who fought a good fight but was not good enough to beat Asegi Kyoto. Surrender now and I will be merciful with a quick, clean kill. Continue to fight me and I will torture you into a slow, agonizing and very painful death.”
“Fuck you, you want me? Come on, but you’ll have to pry this sword from my dead hands!”
“I hoped you would say that,” as Asegi lunged in with an overhead slash.
Mary met her sword slash with a side-step and a slash of her own that missed its mark. The women warriors clashed again and pressed hard into each other hoping to push the other down. As they stood face to face with their eyes and swords mere inches from each other pushing, shoving, straining muscles Mary saw Asegi’s eyes widen and jumped back as Asegi used the top of her blade to slice down into Mary’s sword arm. It was just a nick but enough to make her drop her sword. Mary saw Asegi’s smile widen as her eyebrows furrowed downward as she lunged forward. If Mary hadn’t ducked the sword’s blade would have been embedded in her throat.
Mary ducked and rolled under Asegi’s blade and ran for the wood gate, just a few feet away with Asegi in hot pursuit. There is only one thing left to do, one remaining hope to salvage a victory and Ma Li I am going to try it, wish us luck! Mary jumped onto the gate, gaining a foothold within the wood slots and leaped into the air preparing to deliver a powerful foot kick to Asegi’s face. While in mid leap Mary felt an agonizing pain in her right leg, which was skewered onto Asegi’s sword. Her left foot was on the audience railing but her right leg was embedded into the wood gate by Asegi’s sword when it passed through Mary’s thigh.
Asegi laughed aloud, “I’ve got you now, she bitch.”
“And I have you right where I want you.” Mary grabbed Asegi’s arm that held the sword and held it tight so she could not pull away. She reached behind her and removed her mother’s tomahawk from its sheath. She saw the fear and horror in Asegi’s eyes just as Asegi saw the grim determination in Mary’s. Mary raised the golden glowing tomahawk over her head as her other hand held tight to Asegi’s arm. Asegi pleaded, “No, no, please don’t…”
Mary slammed the glowing tomahawk down once onto Asegi’s arm just below her elbow. Asegi’s body became free from Mary’s grip, but her arm and sword remained with Mary. Asegi was in denial and shock when Mary grabbed her by the hair and pulled her close. With Asegi’s arm spurting blood to mingle with her own blood and sweat, Mary yanked her head to hers and whispered, “Now I have both swords and your family has none. Don’t worry I will soon send your step father to join you in hell.” Mary twisted Asegi’s body around so the back of her neck leaned on the audience railing. Pulling her hair back she bent her over and raised the tomahawk again and chopped it down once, twice, thrice and Asegi’s headless neck sprayed the audience with her blood, as her body slumped to the dirt.
Picking up Asegi’s head with her blood still dripping from it, Mary looked into the lifeless eyes, still open in shock, as was her pretty mouth. Mary cocked her head and asked, “What no stupid comments from you now? I guess you have nothing to say when you lose.”