As the Beatles might say :
Or to put in less 1960s fashion, I’m starting again.
Sigh. As enjoyable as this book is, going back to the start has a certain level of frustration that cannot be denied.
The obvious choice (with apologies to Robert Frost) is to take the path less travelled (or not previously travelled) and go neither the way of Chigeru nor attempting the helpful rescue of Singing Wind,and rather forging a new path on the road to Suma.
After jogging past some flavour dialogue, I catch up to a theater troupe. I manage to loiter near them, hearing the local gossip. Apparently some monks following the Order of the Scarlet Mantis are camped by the upcoming bridge which spans the River Ketsuiki, hoping to ambush some unsuspecting followers of Kwon.
Well that definitely won’t be me! When I get ambushed, I’ll be totally suspecting, dude!
I decide travel off-road, and approach the bridge from another direction, noting the red jackets of the five enemies.
Aside : Some camouflage, guys. Red? Seriously? Did you fail the first grade of ninja school?
Making the morality of the decision somewhat more layered, I note that Daon and Aiko are approaching the bridge, presumably whistling in utter abandon.
Just as I’m expecting to have to seriously consider my options, the book simply assumes that I prioritise the safety of my competitors over the contest.
I give Daon and Aiko a friendly (!) wave and we jointly plan an attack, whereby Aiko and I float underwater down the river (using our breathing tubes) while Daon approaches the bridge, feigning indifference to the monk lying in wait.
Oh, its on now.
As Daon reaches the bridge, Aiko and I vault from the river, and use the element of surprise to take out two of the five opponents. Conveniently that leaves three enemies, to match up nicely with myself and my two allies.
Itching for battle, I break out the Teeth of the Tiger throw, my personal favourite.
In a refreshing reversal from the final stages of Attempt 2, I actually roll an 8 and hit!
My follow up (Leaping Tiger) kick also connects with the enemy ninja, and the blow TO HIS FACE does 6 damage.
My enemy rolls an unnecessarily high 12 (!) to hit, but thankfully only does 1 damage.
Endurance : Me 19, Scarlet Mantis Ninja 8
I go for the Teeth of the Tiger and succeed again (!), and then my follow up kick succeeds again (!) and does 8 damage (!!)
I’m starting to worry, thinking that the other shoe is going to drop real soon.
In any event, the 8 damage is enough to fatally drop my opponent.
I note my allies have finished off their respective opponents, before one of the ‘corpses’, who was apparently feigning death, jumps up and runs off.
Shuriken ahoy! Did someone say ‘back of the head’?
All opponents dead, we throw the bodies into the river.
As you do.
Daon hands me an Obsidian Bracelet which he found on one of the bodies, making the perfectly reasonable concession that, as I warned them of the ambush, I am morally entitled to same. No word on whether he returns the shuriken (signed by Al Pacino) that he totally hopes I forgot he borrowed.
In any event, while walking, I also snaffle some berries which restore me to 20 Endurance.
The three of us decide to continue on to Suma, and I’m sure that our rivalry is effectively over.
Stats : All modifiers : 0, Endurance : 20, Inner Force : 3, Shuriken 5
PS : As mentioned in the previous post, I now have a Tip Jar on the right of the main page. Feel free to show your appreciation in a material way, if you are so inclined.
Web Page recommendation : At the great Rinkworks page, you should check out Book-a-Minute and Movie-a-minute. If you want hilarious and cynical summaries of books and movies, look no farther. (The Matrix entry had me chuckling for days.)