So, now that I have two flags, I just have to gently jog over to the finish line and that’s the end of the adventure, right?
The next step is to pass the Mountains of Unlimited Devotion. It could have been the Mountains of Gentle Slopes and Palm Trees, but I guess I’ll take what I can get.
‘All’ I have to do is reach the Grandmaster at the city of Iga within three days. Hey, according to certain stories the entire WORLD was created in seven days, so this should be a snap.
Please no-one quote that last sentence to me later after the inevitable shenanigans ensue.
In one of those sequences that you just know happen every day on this road :
- I see a figure moving towards me, who I recognise as Aiko;
- She stops and turns, showing obvious fear.
- A swarm of giant hornets (!!) is pursuing her, but are repelled by the smoke billowing from her torch;
- The swarm hovers, collectively making the shape of a whirlpool (!!!) Imagine this music playing in the background, as a voice utters magical words from the depths of the whirlpool.
- Aiko suddenly, and seemingly involuntarily, places a substance in her mouth and collapses on the ground, convulsing.
I run to Aiko’s side, and see that she has swallowed spiderfish venom.
A demonic eye appears in the centre of the whirlpool, and starts threatening me, with the force of will attempting to have me poison myself.
OK, now its personal.
I don’t have either an Obsidian Bracelet or an Orb of Eo, but I do luckily still have a couple of points of Inner Force, one of which I have to use to avoid taking the same way out as Juliet.
I pick up the torch and stand defiantly before the swarm of hornets. I can throw the torch at the swarm, dive into the river or kick (!) the swarm.
I can’t see how a kick will work in any meaningful way against a swarm of locusts. Throwing the torch would simply leave me defenceless. I think discretion is the better part of valour, so I channel my Olympic-esque skills (remembering the intro which states that I can ‘swim like a fish’) and jump into the nearby river.
While I worry about exactly which fish I can swim like, I use my breathing tube to stay submerged for some time, while the locusts and the enchanted red eye observe my submerged body. I start to worry that if I don’t get out soon, a wet t-shirt contest is going to break out.
Luckily Daon (remember him!) emerges from stage left and clasps his hands over the red-eye, effectively dispelling both the spell and the locusts.
After I note that he simply ignores the locust stings, I emerge from the river as we jointly contemplate Aiko’s dead body. Daon and I share our grief, although I manage to suppress my emotions long enough to loot Aiko’s dead body while it is still warm.
Ouch – I guess doing what you have to do is ruthless, sometimes.
On a practical level, the recovered spiderfish venom means that I can now use the Poison Needle skill, and I restore one expended Shuriken.
We hold a short memorial service, which I’m sure is appreciated by….someone.
Daon and I compare notes, and he respectfully refrains from mentioning that pretty much every time I run into a fellow competitor, they die shortly thereafter. I’m more dangerous than this lady :
We agree that there are obviously forces conspiring against us, before we rest and meditate, with me regaining the point of Inner Force expended in the locust encounter.
Until next time…
Stats : All modifiers : 0 Endurance : 20, Inner Force 2, Shuriken 3