Thanks to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Westchester, we decided to play online tonight and played a short session of At this Precise Moment by an unidentified author (at least I couldn’t find it), a Descended from the Queen adaptation of A Single Moment at For the Drama.
We start by naming our dueling warriors: Shen of the Mountain Clan and Yao of Clan Crane. They meet at the dawn of Spring as the snows begin to melt, flooding the river ford where their paths at last cross after two years of studiously missing each other. Yao moves to attack but Shen skips free leaping from boulder to boulder across the river.
Then we flashback to see the two of them training together in a large monastery, rival prize pupils of an ancient master. Yao always admired how Shen’s determination would drive both of them to excel, pushing them beyond where they would have been otherwise. In the present, we see a tear fall down Shen’s cheek, having hoped to reconcile when at last they met again. On the night before their final test, Yao had confessed to love Shen, who didn’t know how to react and left the next morning never to return.
In the present, Shen throws a knife at Yao, who spins around causing the knife to pierce their sleeves without finding its target. Not long before Yao had confessed their feelings, Shen had saved them from dismissal from the school after Yao had drank all the Master’s rice wine and caused much mayhem in a drunken tirade. Shen had broken the empty bottle among the detritus and blamed it all on a training incident to protect Yao.
They had lived separate lives peacefully until two years ago when Yao’s actions had angered the elders of the Mountain Clan, who sent Shen to track Yao down. Yao had always been righteous about clans and status, while Shen was never afraid to go their own way. Shen had avoided meeting Yao all this time, just as they had avoided fighting alongside the Mountain Clan against the River tribes during their great battle so long ago. Shen was always convinced they were so much better than others that they could ignore what the elders thought. That’s why Shen had insisted on taking on all their Master’s challenges alone, even when Shen and Yao were teamed up and supposed to work together.
Back at this precise moment, Yao lays their sword across Shen’s chest, hoping to force them to stop and think before acting. That’s when Shen notices the scar cutting down Yao’s ear to their neck and remembered how dangerous they were. In that moment, Shen sees an opening in Yao’s defense and moves to strike the killing blow. Yao recognizes the vulnerability too late to stop the strike, but Shen slips on the wet rocks and the sword fails to land solidly and Shen falls into the icy waters. Yao regains their footing and goes bounding from rock to rock downriver to try to retrieve Shen from the swift-moving rapids.