Here we go.
My previous opponent collapses, dead.
I stride over the body, resisting the urge to step casually on the unbreathing chest as I pass.
The corridor opens into a well with a spiral staircase heading down. In a ‘no duh’ moment, I note that the spiral is doubtless in honour of the whirlpool symbol of Nemesis.
At the base of the stairs I face my final opponent of this little burglary : the Grandmaster of Shadows. He is in front of a man-size idol of Nemesis, and wields an odd weapon – a blade joined to a metal ring by horsehair (see picture). This is apparently called a Kyoketsu-shoze.
Aside : Although my young self didn’t know it, this weapon is an actual thing, and I distracted myself for 10 minutes in writing this post to check out Youtube videos of devotees making and wielding examples of it. Love this series – bad ass ninja adventures and I feel like I’ve learned something!
Second aside : I’ve played through this encounter in my youth, and the strategy and tactics are fantastic, but also fantastically difficult. Let’s see how many of the right choices I remember.
Third aside : Does that picture make the dude look like he has four arms, or is it just me?
The other Grandmaster (remember, dear readers, that I am also a Gramdaster of the Five Winds) greets me with some boiler-plate villain monologuing about how he didn’t expect me to get this far, he’s my final opponent, blah, blah, threatcakes etc.
I accidentally typed ‘dead readers’ in the first sentence of that paragraph. I guess anything’s possible.
Let’s begin! Grandmaster v Grandmaster, in a battle you wouldn’t normally see outside a chess tournament!
My opponent (who is unnamed) sends the ring section of his weapon at my head. I can either catch or evade. Catching seems too obvious, so I choose to dodge. For all I know the ring could be coated in poison or even chocolate syrup.
As I dodge he whips the ring back into his hand, and now sends the blade towards me. Catching here would be a bit more unexpected, so I go for it (yeeouch in advance).
I have the right idea, but my execution is lacking. My Block roll fails and I miss the blade and it sinks into my shoulder, causing 4 damage (I’m down to 3 – trouble ahead).
I wait for him to make a move, and he stabs at me, I block him, and we have some cursory back-and-forth before he again spins, stabbing at my chest. I need an 8 or less to block and manage a 5.
I can choose between a Leaping Tiger kick or a Dragon’s Tail throw. Trying to stick with moves that might surprise him, I go for the sliding Dragon’s Tail throw.
Showing no mercy whatsoever, the book calmly informs me that the Grandmaster somersaults forward, landing behind me as a I slide on now-empty floor. He twists and stabs me in the neck, severing my spinal cord. Avenger dies instantly.
Not even a chance to spit a Poison Needle?!
This book is unforgiving.