Avenger (the second coming) is faced with two paths, presumably in a yellow wood (pretentious Arts degree reference).
Even though the wooded, undercover path was pretty safe first time around, for the sake of an interesting narrative and the fascination of my listeners, I take the western path with less cover.
Or maybe I just thought it was the path less travelled.
I walk from ‘dawn to dusk’ for two days. What I do during the nights is open to speculation, but may well include a portable karaoke machine and a CD player with a bunch of hair metal anthems. In any event, on the third day I see a bald (yes, another one) man sitting on a rock with a ‘bundle of sacking’.
Given the choice of avoiding the encounter, my natural friendliness compels me to jog up and say hello (and also ask if he’s got any spare CDs, because if I hear “Pour Some Sugar On Me” one more time, it is going to get ugly).
He grins at me like an imbecile (the book’s word, not mine) and offers me a chance to look in the bag at his ‘white dragon’s egg’. I can smell a trap like this from a mile away, so I shape to attack. As I do, he drops his pretence and adopts an attacking posture, trying to chop at my neck, making it now obvious that he is also a martial artist.
Aside : Seriously ,there are more martial artists and ninjas roaming around these hills than there are, you know, farmers and blacksmiths. Its a wonder any of the non-killers get a chance to get anything done!
I try to take him off his feet with a Dragon’s Tail throw, and luckily succeed (very luckily, because the book mentions that if I’d failed, he would have stomped on my leg and I would have lost one to my Kick Modifier).
I lash out with the Forked Lightning kick, and he collapses, with his outfit showing the red trappings of a Scarlet Mantis monk, a protege of Yaemon. Anyone who can remember back to book 1 will be reminded that this crowd aren’t aware of this cunning manoeuvre. I am AGAIN given the opportunity to examine the sack but decline, choosing to count my blessings.
Aside : I have a very imperfect memory of this book, but I do remember this encounter, and the sack contains some kind of scorpion-esque creature that would kill Avenger outright unless he had the skill Immunity to Poisons. I will have to deny my avid readers the vicarious thrill of this suitably gruesome death scene.
I continue along, and again reach Harith, spotting once more the reward poster and being refused any funds, notwithstanding my defeat of Olvar in a previous book.
We all know the big fight that’s coming, so I’ll just quickly mention that I buy some more flash powder, before having the Scrolls of Kettsuin stolen and following Tyutchev into the dim dark cellar, where he, as before, traps me inside with his partners-in-crime.
I again hurl my Shuriken at Thaum, and receive my +1 Kick Modifier bonus for the ‘natural cunning’ displayed.
I use the Dragon’s Tail throw on Cassandra, and once more knock her unconscious. Tyutchev attacks, but I just (as in roll a 7, when I needed 7 or less) block his blow.
Come face me once more you Son of Nil!!
There’s a T-shirt waiting to happen.
This time, however, I go into battle with the Crystal with its magic water! I throw it upon the ground, and the Water Elemental which takes shape engages in a titanic struggle with Mardolh. Mardolh is triumphant, but the book gently informs me that he / it has been reduced to a level of 16 Endurance instead of 30. A fair fight now beckons!
I revert to using the ‘superkick’ of Kwon’s Flail, and employ one of my three remaining points of Inner Force.
Needing a 5 or more on two dice I roll….11!
Damage of 5 x 2 = 10!
Unfortunately, Mardolh does hit me in response, to the tune of 8 damage.
Endurance : Me – 12, Mardolh 6
Kwon’s Flail is used again, hitting with a damage of 6!!
Who da man!!!
Mardolh collapses into come kind of quasi-black hole, and I am calmly informed that I have now opened a gateway between Void and my homeworld, but that there is nothing I can do about it now. Well, as long as I can evade personal responsibility for any danger, I guess that’s okay (!!) I can’t remember if this plot thread gets followed up at a later time, or if it is just the basis of a subsequent straight-to-TV horror movie.
In an even more mind-boggling development, I apparently decide to abandon any thought of reward from the priestesses because I have ‘no use for gold’. Unless I haven’t been reading very well, I would have thought that I shouldn’t be able to collect any reward for the simple reason that I hadn’t actually killed any of the wanted criminals! Anyway…
I do manage to scrape some remains of Mardolh from the walls and floor, which comprise another dose of the Blood of Nil. Hopefully I have some waxed string handy, in case another Honoric-esque situation presents itself.
I finally pry the door open, and collect one of Cassandra’s daggers (which had been wedging the darn thing shut) before finally escaping this god-forsaken cellar.
I could say I emerge to a cheering crowd of spectators, but we ninjas shun that kind of limelight and adulation.
Having said that, killing a monstrous man-god-scorpion hybrid feels pretty darn good.
Stats : Endurance : 12, Punch Modifier : +1, Kick Modifier : +2, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier +1, Inner Force 2
Awesome names : Avenger!, who is awesome because I kicked some rear end today!