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Sunday, May 27, 2007 To Trap a Hunter (Part Two)

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As he continues walking the next day, Robert finds himself just about ten miles away from Vochaux, the harbor city in Southern Arcadia. He watches the city from the cliffs afar, and also the numerous ships harbored there. From fishing boats, Balsas, Caravels, Frigates, Carracks, up to the huge battleships: Galleons and a Man o’ War. They’re so numerous, like a swarm of ants surrounding a big cake.
As a fugitive, Robert should choose to avoid the city, continue his journey along the Grad Mountains and keep in the wilderness. But that if you want to spend six months just to reach Lore – and Robert doesn’t have that much time.
So, Robert resorts to what people say, ‘Sneaking into the lion’s den’. He rests in a thicket seven miles from Vochaux and prepares his disguise.
My face? Ah, now my hair is much longer and I haven’t shaved for a month or so, so it’ll help a bit. I’m wearing this shirt I bought from a peasant on top of my armor. This cloak is also a great help. But... how about my saber? No matter how well I hide it, the guards will search my backpack and find it there. But... aha! I have an idea! How about I summon Algaban in a remote place and entrust Grimlock under her care? That’ll...
‘Well, well, well, Robert Chandler’s caught daydreaming. Not red-handed as I expected, but this is pathetic. So much for you and your Eagle Eye.’
Robert is startled and quickly draws Grimlock, but a scimitar lands in front of Robert’s neck. One slight move and the scimitar will slit Robert’s throat. Robert recognizes the owner of that Dancing Scimitar.
‘Sheena Mekh’ta.’
‘The one and only,’ says the woman corsair. ‘It’s disappointing, really to find you off your guard.’
‘I was focusing my mind entirely on something else,’ says Robert. ‘We fought together in Enia’s Sanctum, and you don’t have the mythril greaves – that made us even steven. Is it about the bounty on my head?’
‘Well, they want you there alive, but I can settle for half with you dead.’
‘In that case...’
Suddenly Robert swings his saber with great speed and lands it right on Sheena’s throat.
‘...I can settle for fulfilling half of my promise to my friend Andreas with you dead.’
Right on that moment, Robert feels something sharp on his back. Apparently, two men come from his front and back. The one coming from the front aims at Robert with his bow and arrow, saying,
‘Hey, don’t forget about us, Robbie. We can settle for fulfilling half of our grudge with you dead.’
‘Baxter and Ellephar,’ says Robert coolly. ‘I’m surprised you two are still dogging Sheena around. Oh yes, she always ends up saving your asses, that’s why.’
Sheena replies, calming her two companions Robert provoked, ‘Nay, Robbie. That’s because we think and act alike, and we share the same vision.
‘Yeah. A bandit and two bandits, that’s obvious.’
‘Actually, we need some more cash to buy a ship and go pirating, and the bounty on you will suffice.’
‘Well, as this is a stalemate,’ says Robert, “we can settle this thing. Like man... and woman. I’ll have a duel with Sheena. If I win, I’ll walk away. But if Sheena wins, my life is at her disposal. How about that?’
‘Fair enough,’ says Sheena. ‘But it’ll be better if you just surrender and come with us quietly.’
‘That’s not my plan. You see, I must go someplace to prove my innocence. I didn’t kill the Pope, but you won’t believe me anyway.’
Baxter cuts in, ‘But still, you already got Algaban on your side. Sheena’ll be no match for you.’
‘You’re welcome to try, Baxter. It’s three versus one then, no summons, although I’m not sure whether I can defeat Sheena alone.’
‘Rubbish! Don’t even think of cheating, boy. If you want to play fair, let’s do it, but with OUR rules! And don’t even think of escapin’!’ Baxter shouts angrily.
‘Well, what are we waiting for? On guard!’ says Sheena impatiently. She steps back and draws her second scimitar. Baxter and Ellephar also keep a distance from Robert. The three-versus-one fight is about to erupt.
Robert is also ready with his stance, holding his saber firmly with both hands.
‘Time to die, Robert Chandler,’ says Baxter.
‘D’uh,’ says Ellephar.
Then, with a sudden jerk, Robert attacks! He launches the Twin Dragons Scour the Seas attack – the two-way or double-strike fiery slashes – towards Sheena, whom he thinks is the strongest of the three. Strike her down first, and her two sidekicks will be much easier to subdue.
Sheena parries it with Quicksand Blade Lock, absorbing Robert’s attacks and redirects them so they only slash the air. And then a high kick comes from Sheena, utilizing the extra energy from Robert’s attacks – the Red Scorpion Kick, and Robert leans back to avoid it. The kick misses Robert. Had it found its target, Robert would be stunned, immobile and became a sitting duck for the three rogues.
At the same time, Ellephar thrusts his spear several times very quickly – the Barracuda Spear Thrusts skill. Robert quickly withdraws his attack and retaliates with the Blue Dragon’s Roar of Pain, shouting on Ellephar with the fire aura-reinforced deafening sound wave, another new move he learned from Algaban. Ellephar stops his attack at once. He feels very dizzy and deafened, carelessly raising his two hands to cover his ears.
Robert takes full advantage of this chance by serving Ellephar a hearty Red Dragon’s Hellraiser – the improved variant of Rising Dragon Uppercut Slash and combines it with Green Dragon Dive Strike – the improved variant of Dragon Hammering Down. Robert leaves Ellephar lying there. Thanks to Ellephar’s iron half-plate armor, thick skin and fat on his body, he doesn’t die, but is severely injured. Robert has subdued one out of three, and two more to go.
Sheena hides her horror and distraught of being outnumbered by taunting Robert.
‘Hey, hey, Robert. What’s wrong with you? You fight like an old man. Where’s the Champion of Light I once fought with?’
‘Got some bugbear problems yesterday, and bandit problems today. But if you keep fighting like an old lady, Sheena, I’m going to enjoy this walk in the park.’
‘We’ll see,’ says Sheena, attacking Robert fiercely with her skill, Sandstorm Skirmish, a combination of multiple high-speed thrusts and slashes, aiming to almost every weak spot possibility on Robert’s body.
This time Robert blocks several slashes and thrusts and avoids the rest, moving gracefully like a dancing dragon. Nevertheless, five strikes land on Robert’s body and blood oozes out from his wounds, adding to yesterday’s, weakening him.
Robert now realizes that it’s time to finish this fight and shake them away while he has enough energy to do so. He charges his energy in seconds and Baxter’s arrow is deflected by the fire aura field around Robert’s body. And then Rob launches his finishing move just like in his fight against Zal’fira, Regrets of the Dragon.
He attacks Sheena first, moving hyper-quickly as though vanishing. Suddenly sounds of clanging metals are heard and new wounds sprout blood all over Sheena’s body. The corsair is now bleeding here and there, losing her balance.
Robert’s frenzy attack doesn’t stop there. His next target is Baxter. With terror in his face, Baxter aims with his bow, but actually he doesn’t know where to aim to. A gust of wind hits his face and Baxter feels as though his soul is blown away. No way can he block that kind of attack with his wooden longbow. His life is like an egg on the edge of a bull’s horn.
Suddenly, he can see Robert! Does Baxter also have Robert’s natural talent, Eagle Eye? Or he develops new abilities and strengths in this crisis? No. Actually, Robert stops midway, vomiting blood. Baxter, the born opportunist shoots!
The arrow darts towards Robert like a crow diving on its prey – Soulsnatcher Crow, straight to Robert’s throat. Sensing danger, Robert moves aside by his reflexes. The arrow goes past him, leaving a slight graze on the skin of his neck.
That was close, Robert thinks. But that move was over my limit. Moving that quick really drained all my energy! And now I’m doomed, I can’t fight anymore!
Sheena staggers forward, trying hard to walk straight and tall in triumph, saying,
‘Robert, the merciful. You didn’t kill us. You only wanted to weaken us so you can escape, didn’t you? So you only use half of your power to hurt two birds with one stone. Had you only attacked me, I’d be dead with torn limbs! But no, your move got the better of you. Thanks to my muscle-enfeebling powder, you were hurting yourself without knowing it.’
Robert grunts. I’ve been had! Years of hunting bandits and I didn’t see that coming! She must’ve used that powder when she countered my attack with her kick. Plus, I must split my attention to three opponents at once! I can’t blame anyone on this. I’m just having a bad day and heck of a trouble!
With that thought, Robert falls on his knees, too weak to go on. He surrenders so his life might be spared. His only regret is he didn’t make it to Lore to ask Rael’charon to help him. Now he must face the trials in Valanis all by himself, and face the judges who listen to no one but their own voices.
Baxter and Ellephar use this opportunity to have their revenge on Robert. Baxter takex the first turn by delivering a good, hard punch on Robert’s jaw, saying,
‘That’s for making us lose our hunting licenses.’
Ellephar kicks Robert’s stomach, saying,
‘D’uh, and that’s for reporting us to the guild.’
‘You two deserved that,’ says Robert. ‘If I didn’t do that, somebody else would.’
Baxter replies, ‘So for that, you must pay!’ He lands a kick on Robert’s face, stomps on the back of the silver-haired hunter’s head and pushes it with his feet to the ground. That’s just the worst humiliation Robert has ever got in his lifetime.
If Rob still has some strength in him, he would’ve gone berserk and Baxter would be in a worse state than dead.
Instead, Robert doesn’t resist at all. He doesn’t say a word as words will be useless. Under insults and physical abuse, Rob doesn’t even move. Then Baxter and Ellephar bind him with a tough rope and drag Robert all the way to Vochaux.
Sheena, on the other hand, suffers lots of wounds all over her body as the result of the Regrets of the Dragon. She is in the same state as Ellephar, weakened and hurt, but she walks steadily and briskly to keep her integrity intact in front of her two sidekicks. Thoughts of satisfaction keep ringing inside her head.
Got you now, Rob. I hope the bounty is worth the wounds I took. I don’t care whether you are guilty or innocent, but I’ll name my ship after you: Robert the Sea Robber.

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