As it is written: “At Winter Solstice within the Year of the Scarlet Witch wise men shall gather to stand between Darkness and Light.”
20 Nightal, 1491 DR, Winter Solstice
Last Episode: Kumite (Part One)
“Medusae!’ shouted Shensheng. “They’re all Medusae! Don’t look into their eyes!”
The One Who Walks watched the combat play out from inside the cave. None of them had seen him because he had not wanted them to see him. He crouched, watching their movements with the critical eye of an artist. He took note of every motion as he observed the ones who had been summoned to fulfill the prophecy.
He knew that the Evil would come to the Gathering as well as Good. It was part of the fragile cosmic ecosystem between the two ancient forces that constantly played a balancing act. Light was nothing without the presence of darkness, and darkness was meaningless without light. Good could only be defined by the existence of Evil. Neither could be extinguished, but these Chosen would stand between the two, returning a stability to Faerûn.
He had already sensed the intervention of Lurue in the form of a unicorn and then later as a large white stag. He was not sure what part she had to play in the prophecy, but the goddess may still make her role known as time unfolded. But in any case he did know that Good had shown its face, and had shown its influence.
By contrast, he did not expect that Zinzerena would become involved, sending an entire convey of medusae to challenge them here on holy ground. A medusa is indistinguishable from a normal human at great distances. The creature often wears garments that enhance its body while hiding its face behind a hood or veil. It made sense that the goddess would send such creatures to do her bidding.
The One Who Walks was impressed by the tactics used by his disciples. He studied each of them, trying to learn more about them and their abilities to serve the prophecy. Each was a multifaceted gem that would be tested, examined, and polished to perfection.
Lough summoned up his ki to duplicate the effect of a wizard’s Silence spell, preventing his enemies from communicating. This showed wisdom in that not only did it break the foe’s ability to exchange information but also prevented them from using their voice to entrance or sway his allies during combat. Medusae were known for their abilities to use their charisma to woo men to their deaths through intimidation, distraction, and temptation.
Jet-Lee seemed reckless, but proved to be courageous and lionhearted. A man without fear, he engaged the monstrous females without concern for their ability to turn him into stone with a simple glance. In fact, as a matter of breaking their morale, he did the impossible: turning one of the medusae to stone by reflecting her gaze with the reflection of his own eyes. He grasped the beast by the face, pulling her close enough to touch noses, forcing her to see her own magical gaze with her own eyes. Imagine the horror such an action would invoke!
And yet The One Who Walks sensed doubt within Jet-Lee. This worried him because doubt can defeat and divert. Perhaps there was more for this one to see and experience before he could really have trust and belief in his part to play in the prophecy to come. Hopefully the doubt would forge the Chosen stronger in time rather than demoralize them. Only time would tell.
Shensheng fought bravely but The One Who Walks noticed that he seemed to be holding back. The reason was not clear. Monks of the Way of the Sun Soul learn to channel their own life energy into searing bolts of light. They teach that meditation can unlock the ability to unleash the indomitable light shed by the soul of every living creature. Perhaps, the One Who Walks though, this one was complex and would need more study.
The One Who Walks was impressed by Shensheng’s tactics. Pure and fluid, the Sun Soul engaged his foes with courage and ferocity. Best of all, Shensheng seemed to be acting to protect his fellow monk who was being threatened. This showed that Shensheng might be an intricate gear in this machine.
Tayming was an interesting addition to the Chosen. The One Who Walks watched him with particular interest. The monk seemed to act on his own without regard to any of his allies. It was almost as if he paid no attention to what was happening around him. As a follower of the Way of the Long Death, Tayming worships the principle of death more so than any deity of death. These monks seek the secrets of life by studying death itself. It is the condition of being dead that concerns them most, and not what lies beyond; the afterlife holds little interest for them. And so it would be interesting to see where this one fit into the greater puzzle of the assembled whole.
Zhang moved through his allies and opponents as a force to be reckoned with. Universal energy pulsed around him, flowing in and out rapidly. As a follower of the Yellow Rose and the Open Hand, this was expected. The One Who Walks did not miss the fact that this one dipped deeply into his Ki to carry out great feats. But it remained if he could master use arts as truth, loyalty, and diplomacy as taught by his masters.
They each acted independently but flowed together like the gears of some well oiled machine. Each strike seemed to compliment the other, working to the same end of defeating these monsters that threatened another of their ilk. Instinct drove them on and destiny steered them onward to victory.
Within moments the six monsters were dead. The One Who Walks could see their energies slowly draining from their lifeless forms, rising to join with the multiverse once more. He watched at his disciples slowly withdrew from the combat, assessing their wounds and the status of their new allies. None of them spoke, and so the One Who Walks stepped forward.
“You have survived the first test, my children,” he said with the tone of master addressing his students. “But your greatest test is yet to come!”
The One Who Walks stepped forward, chopping his fist out in front of him. “Wushu,” he shouted. “Kumite!” He stepped back, clapping his hands together to make a loud sound that seemed to resemble a gong.
They didn’t fully understand why, but all of them felt the same compulsion within the presence of this stranger as they did in drawing them here to this place and time. They didn’t question his identity or his authority. They simply knew.
They somehow knew without knowing that he was The One Who Walks. He was the one who had summoned them here. He was their great master. He was their new teacher. His was their new leader.
They understood that they were now their own Order. They were forming their own Tradition. And each school must have a superior student, a captain.
In this case, it was clear that whomever proved to be the winner today would wield a device that The One Who Walked called “The Scepter.” It was a simply glowing stick that hovered in the air above them, glowing with a warm, white light.
And so, they fought.
In the end, Zhang remained standing. He has bested the others in combat, and proven himself, for now, to be the one who would wield the Scepter.
The One Who Walks clapped his hands a final time, and bowed to his disciples.
“Join me in the Cave of Tranquility,” Fo said as he turned and walked towards the cave. “We have much to discuss and little time to do it.”