They left me behind. Good enough to forge their swords, not good enough to wield one. So they say.
But tonight a stranger will ride onto the field to aid them, her shield bearing the device of a gourd on a vine. Let them think their lives saved by a mysterious ally from a distant kingdom. They will never know it was I.
My fairy godmother’s warning whispers in memory: “But you must be home by midnight, Iron Elle. Heavens help you if you’re caught in battle with the smithy cat for a horse and a pumpkin for a shield.”
Author’s Note: Cinderella plus swords equals Mulan. It’s basic fairy tale arithmetic.