After my joint meditation / jam session with Daon, we continue down the proverbial (and actual) road and come across Gorobei.
Aside : What’re the odds? Does anyone walk along this road who isn’t an ally or sworn enemy? Aren’t there any vaccuum cleaner salesmen or wandering buskers?
In any event, Gorobei is our lucky talisman, because, due to what I call “Prequel Survival Guarantee”, Gorobei must live due to our future honorary combat at the start of Avenger!
Interestingly, it is noted that I recognise Gorobei from his ‘tall and muscular frame’.
As you do.
We head off together, but not until I turn my ninja costume inside out, in the hope that the white shade will camouflage me as we enter the mountainous snowy ground.
I renew my previous editorial comment that there is no word as to whether this shade of white serves as a particular protection against the, you know, freezing weather.
Daon ‘raises an eyebrow’ at the idea of wearing an all-white costume during the winter. I guess he was expecting these colours :
For non-Australians, just take my word for it that the above are the colours of the GREATEST SPORTING TEAM OF ALL TIME!!!!!
I am told we leave Aiko’s grave behind us. Since the alternative was, presumably, bringing it with us, I’m not entirely surprised.
The three of us move forward, exchanging theories about who could be behind these attacks against us. the name of Yaemon is thrown up, but the magical nature of these attacks renders that possibility unlikely. However, it is worth mentioning that Yaemon did, despite not being a ‘wizard’ use sorcery to impersonate a monk of Kwon when he stole the Scrolls of Kettsuin.
Thanks for reminding me of that.
In a minor Easter Egg for fans of the series, Gorobei laments his previous loss in the Grandmaster Trials to a Whirlpool Throw, and confirms that he will take ‘measures’ to ensure that doesn’t happen to him again.
We further discuss whether the contest now has any meaning, given that these forces are abroad trying to kill us. It should be noted that its Daon, who doesn’t have two flags, who is pushing for this approach.
We all hear an ‘eerie whimper’ and notice a foreboding figure, in silhouette, with a serpent staff and red eyes.
I assume they look like the above picture, and if they don’t, well they should.
This foreboding creature is clearly a bad guy. Does anyone in fantasy fiction with red eyes end up being a good guy? Asking for a friend.
Before we can get into serious discussions about the eye colour of potential villains in genre fiction, the minions of this figure crawl over the horizon, being winged dogs with yellow eyes.
Oh, and blue tongues. Did I mention that? They’ve got blue tongues.
In any event – bring it, mysterious robed dude!
Daon charges at the silhouette. I can go with him, or join Gorobei in a defensive position. Since the silhouette is almost definitely a projection of some kind, and since I know that Gorobei will survive, I adopt the defensive option.
The flying dogs, apparently known as ‘Hainu’ swoop down on Gorobei and I.
We’re facing 10 (!!) of them.
Luckily I have the Poison Needles skill and the spiderfish poison to use it!
My Needle spits true (!) and one mangy flying dog drops dead. In true Arnold-esque fashion, Gorobei smashes the heads of another two dogs together.
Endurance : Me 20, Dogs remaining – 7
My needle misses, due to a fault, no doubt, in my spitting technique. Gorobei continues to hold up his side of the bargain, taking another 2 Hainu out of the frame, although I am, due to my miss, bitten for 2 damage.
Endurance : Me 18, Dogs remaining 5
My needle finds its mark, and Gorobei once more takes some dog skulls out to the proverbial woodshed!
Endurance : Me 18, Dogs remaining 2
Another dog / Hainu collapses to die whimpering and alone, while Gorobei takes out the remaining mangy mutt.
Meanwhile, back in Texas, Daon charges towards our mysterious nemesis, and an arcane wind starts howling around the battle.
Cool cliffhanger, right?
Stats : All modifiers : 0 Endurance : 18, Inner Force 2, Shuriken 3