Aside : David Walters, the, you know, author of this book, has advised that I should have mentioned the warning from Fortuna that she “can provide [Avenger] no solace from the obscenity that even now seeks to befoul [Avenger’s] path along the spirit plane”.
Well, I’m sure that’s just a red herring. Nothing to worry about.
Back to Avenger’s spiritual journey. I emerge from the bamboo grove to see a Sisyphean spectacle where a number of martial arts monks appear to be eternally battling each other, without winning or losing. Think of it as a cosmic and eternal tic-tac-toe tournament.
I give these spectres a wide berth and make out a pagoda with a ‘twisted’ roof. In a moment worthy of an early 80s horror flick I hear movement in the shadows. I can :
- Climb a tree to attempt to see what’s coming;
- Freeze where I am and wait;
- Rush to the pagoda.
Well, as the saying says, I should look before I leap. Of course, the other saying tells me that he who hesitates is lost.
My brain hurts.
I’m wary of being trapped in a tree. Rushing into the unknown can be dangerous. Staying still might have the best probability of success.
The movement reveals itself to be that of a tiger, which approaches me, doubtless smiling a toothy grin. I can attack or make a suitable gesture of peace.
Hey! I follow the Way of the Tiger! There’s no way I’m just going to attack one!
Sure enough, the tiger recognises a kindred ‘spirit’ (see what I did there!?) and adds 5 points to my ‘Spirit’ score through a motivated and friendly nuzzle or some such means.
I resume my epic journey to the pagoda and enter, hopefully removing my shoes to avoid tracking mud through the place. There is a large hall with the symbol of Vile, Kwon’s twisted half-brother. A figure is standing there, who I recognise as the Grandmaster of Shadows (!!), a friendly chap whose close acquaintance I made in book 4, as part of a legendary back and forth that my loyal readers doubtless remember.
He wants to take my remaining eye as vengeance for my previous victory.
Sorry, dude – the name and title of Avenger is taken!
As I have a serious deja vu moment, the lights (such as they are) go out, leaving me to find my footing in the darkness. I hear his quarterstaff, which is presumably aimed AT MY FACE.
I can slide across the floor in a Dragon’s Tail, or seek to block and then use the Leaping Tiger kick.
I remember in book 4, in a very similiar situation, the Dragon’s Tail throw was effective. However, this enemy clearly remembers that struggle, and will presumably be prepared for such a strategy. I therefore go for the block / Leaping Tiger kick combination.
I manage to block the quarterstaff, and my responding kick succeeds in turn ingthe Grandmaster into a wisp of smoke.
Just as Avenger takes a breath of relief, another old foe emerges. This time it is Jikkyu, the demon disguised as a samurai warlord that I defeated in Book 2.
His sword does its share of spiritual damage (to the tune of 6 points) before a suitably aimed Cobra Strike jab finds its way through its defences.
The room changes once again, before transforming into surroundings highly reminiscent of the top of Quench-Heart Keep where, sure enough, Yaemon emerges for a second attempt at ruining my day.
Aside : If the book is determined on bringing back all these old acquaintances, where are my two shieldmaiden bodyguards or the poor slave-girl that I rescued in the Valley of the Lich Kings?
I need to hit this shade of Yaemon three times to win the battle.
Round 1 :
I hit Yaemon, and the total of my roll is even, meaning it lands. Yaemon’s response fails.
Blows needed for me to win : 2, Spirit : 20
Round 2 :
Both of our respective attacks fail.
Round 3 :
My roll is high enough, but, because the total is odd, it doesn’t hit ‘solid’ flesh. Yaemon manages a suitably vicious blow against me.
Blows needed for me to win : 2, Spirit : 16
I use a spirit point to ensure that my blow is successful (if high enough) and it pays off! I luckily manage to then block Yaemon’s riposte.
Blows needed for me to win : 1, Spirit : 15
I use another Spirit point (down to 14) and my blow again penetrates the Monk of Vile’s defences, meaning that my dream of avenging myself twice against the murderer of my father has been achieved!
This is apparently the last of the trips down memory lane, as no more foes appear, but I am rather confronted by a door and an ascending spiral staircase.
Is there a princess at the top of the tower, I wonder?
I doubt it.
Stats : Spirit : 15, Endurance : 20, Punch Modifier : +2, Kick Modifier: +3, Throw Modifier : 0, Fate Modifier : +1, Inner Force : 3