Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Maat’s Final Challenge
“It’s you again.” He chuckled as he looked up at me with his winkled leathery face.
“Yes and I’m ready to pass your little test this time.” I said confidently. “I have a new ring now that I’m sure will give me the edge I need. I was almost kidding when I said one little ring would make all the difference but I really hoped it would. It wasn’t a big improvement over the other times but I was always so close to beating the old fart.
Old and withered he was, but the small framed hume was the best trainer in the world without contest. Everyone who was anyone has gone through him. He was tough and ruthless and broke many a man’s spirit and it made the successful all the better.
A few more times now than I care to admit he had pounded me to a pulp and left me laying on the ground dazed and defeated. This was his final challenge for me before he would help me reach my full potential. I had to prove I was ready for it by beating the stuffing out of the old man until he couldn’t take it anymore. Twisted if you ask me but I wanted it so I was willing and so far I had not come close to straining him one bit.
“Do you have the testimony I asked for?” he asked as he stretched his boney old legs.
With a nod I gave him the parchment I had stolen off of a goblin that very morning. He pinned them on the poor stupid beastmen and asked his students to go fetch them before he would take them into the fighting arena.
He put the paper into his pouch and smiled. “Ok then. Let’s see what that little ring does for you.”
A quick teleport and we were there. He waited for me in the middle of the arena as he bounced around on his toes like a boxer warming up. I had a plan and I felt good about this time being the one. Using a magic reraise scroll I gave myself two shots at this fight.
“Are you ready little girl?” he taunted.
Grinning to myself I pulled out my best sneak attack combination and stealthy stabbed him in the back driving my blade in deep before taking it back. Spinning around he looked a little angry then a little pleased I had caught him off guard. “Very good little girl but that alone will not prove yourself.”
With blinding speed he slashed at me with his short daggers ripping open the belly of the scorpion harness I had on loan as I leapt out of the way just in time to save my body from harm. “Darn you old man! This is new!” I spat angrily.
“Go ahead and let your anger take over your mind. I’ll have you beat all the faster.” He laughed.
Every time anyone squares off against Maat they come away saying the same thing, "Damn, he is old, how does he move that fast?!" My profession has taught me to move like lightning so the two of us were a blur of motion. I thought my younger body would give me an advantage but it was all I could do to keep up with him. For a few short minutes I kept my focus perfectly and dodged everything he tried to come at me with. It felt darn good.
After stabbing him in the back there was no way he was going to let me out of his sight again so my favorite attack was out. Crouching down to avoid a fast swing I sprung up and off to the left slicing a nice hole across his ribs to avenge my own. Before I could even crack a smile of satisfaction he kicked out at my front foot and followed my immediate stumble with a dagger handle upside my head and another small slash through my scorpion harness. Blood trickled down my back but with the rush of battle I hardly felt the wound.
Grinning he closed in again. I tried to lunge and stab him in the chest but he caught my wrist, parried it away and locked my arm at the elbow bringing my eyebrow down into his knee with a horrible thunk. I was dizzy and my vision was blurry from the cut over my eye dripping crimson down my face. My dagger had gone flying and the metal screamed across the stone floor as it glided out of my reach. Locking my arm and he kicked me in my ribs hard enough to lift me into the air and let my body fall limp on the floor. "Had enough little girl?" he taunted.
Rage boiled in me and I rose with newfound speed to elbow upwards into his chin with a satisfying CRACK. I was in a frenzy, adrenaline flowed like I had never felt before and I used it to land a chopping strike to his exposed throat. He dropped both of his daggers to grab his injured neck and I took the opportunity to sink my last dagger into his thigh to the hilt. He let out a half scream-gurgle and then it happened... Just as I thought I had won a strange power emanated from Maat, his whole body almost glowed with energy. A psychotic look overtook him and he came at me with his fists striking so fast they were a blur even to me. Getting out of the way was impossible this time. I tried to get my elbows up to block like I have seen some of my front line fighting friends do but he was too fast. The few I managed to block meant nothing overall and I hit the ground once again.
Maat stood over me for a moment before he turned to walk away, eyes gleaming in triumph. The world was going black as I realized I had landed on my lost dagger. Luckily it wasn't lying point up I thought to myself. The scroll of reraise kicked in and I mustered all my strength to stand quickly and quietly.
With the grace of a stalking Jugner tiger I crept up on him and struck him between the fourth and fifth rib. A spot I playfully poke on Gurok often when he tanks for me but deadly when it's a dagger. He tried to cry out as he fell but there was no air left in his pierced lung. He looked up at me and held his hands up weakly to yield. I reached into his bag and stole the warp scroll prize. Strange as it seems, his look of terror quickly dissolved as he warped out of the arena and I swear I saw him smile and mouth the words “good job” and my heart swelled with pride.
Using the magic scroll I sent myself back to Jeuno to meet him. I had finally done it. Whether by luck or the skill that comes with not giving up I had finished my final trial and was on my way to be one of the great ones. It felt dang good.