<< The City of Lights and Fights << >>
From the Multiverse, with Love >>
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Bowsette threw a very wild punch which Master Mantis deflected with two fingers of his left hand. "Again!" Bowsette tried a slash attack with her nails which Mantis dodged easily by spinning away from it. "Another please." This time she tried surprising him with a kick, but he simply took a step backwards. "Enough!" He turned his back on her and began to walk away.
"Wait! What was that? Did I pass some test or something?" Bowsette ran up beside him, blushing with some frustration. She didn't know what she had expected from this meeting, then again, she hadn't known what to expect from this side trip anyway. Following direction by a wizard was proving even more erratic than making it up as she went along.
"I'm afraid not. I have learned nothing of value from this encounter, but that which is to be avoided, of which I have plenteous knowledge, Though I thank you for the spirited exhibition." The master produced a box of noodles from somewhere in his robe and began to indulge himself as they walked to a table ion Podler's bar. "Your posing is mediocre and untrained."
"Hey! I've fought M-M-M-many times in the past, and almost won several times, training or not!" She had almost blurted out her arch rival's name, but name dropping such a high profile person would have been problematic to her narrative.
"That was fighting?" Master Mantis raised one eyebrow. "My apologies. I thought you were posing, which was quite bad by itself. There may not exist words to describe your fighting style's terribleness." he commented quite conversationally.
"Gee, tell me what you really think..."
"It's not your fault, young one. Fighting well comes from good Qi. Qi comes from mastery of the pose. Therefore, you must master your posing before you master your fighting."
"Hold up! Excuse me, official wizard business!" Merlon pushed his way through the sudden crowd of thirsty tourists, holding his journal up like a badge of authority as he ran to Bowsette's table. "I hereby require... as the privilege vested me... by our mutual agreement... a complete chronicle of..." Merlon being winded was both amusing and disconcerting at the same time.
"Is the wheezing wizard with you?"
"Yeah, he's with me." Bowsette scooted over on the bench so Merlon could sit down before he collapsed. "You didn't miss much. He challenged me to a fight-"
"Pose dual." Mantis corrected her, popping another dumpling into his mouth.
"That, and I lost because I'm terrible."
"You lost? Did you try blowing him up?"
"Explosion style does trump martial arts." Mantis confirmed.
"That was a one time thing! Not my signature move!" Bowsette blushed again, but in anger this time. "Where did you go, anyway?" She wasn't really interested. She just wanted a topic shift. It would have been interrupted anyway, as Podler brought their drink orders to the table.
"I was registering myself up as your wrestling manager." Merlon replied matter-of-factually.
"My what now?" Bowsette paused, her glass suspended between the table and her mouth.
"Your wrestling manager. Surely you didn't come here not to partake in the festivities?"
"I came here because a lonely wizard claimed he could see my future!"
"Wizards are a solitary lot by our very-"
"I accept your application as my new student." Mantis cut in before Merlon could gain momentum. "Training will begin shortly, young Katydid."
Bowsette weighed the pros and cons in her mind. Becoming a Glitz Pit fighter could be a relatively quick and easy way to grab some popularity, while avoiding any real danger, right?
"Keep your training montages, Mantis. If they're all as 'tough' as Bongo, I shouldn't have any trouble." She smirked. Merlon and Mantis shared a look, their expressions inscrutable.
"This Bowsette woman, she came from nowhere, started a fight with the local gang, blew up half the dock and disappeared all in the span of a day, do I have all of that correct, my boy?" Pennington asked Charlieton the merchant.
"That's all about her, yeah. But can I maybe interest you in some exotic items for affordable prices..."
"And, not to be obtuse here, but none of this seemed strange to the locals?"
Charlieton shrugged. "Mm... wandering hero image. Fighting the amoral mmm... type and such. It's a thing they do, yeah."
"I suppose." Pennington replied slowly. It was true that 'knight errant' types would arrive somewhere without warning, give right some wrongs or shake the establishment, and then disappear with minimal (if any) fanfare. If she was a person of interest she probably wouldn't be drawing such attention to herself as she had. But something about it didn't click in his mind. An important piece of the puzzle was amiss and the game was now afoot.
"I'm sorry, you want to sign up to fight?" A red toadstool squinted at Bowsette. "This ain't the Mushroom Wrestling Federation, lady. People get hurt here."
"Let's assume I'm well aware of the risks." Bowsette drummed her long black nails on the desk in impatience. "I've seen the competition, I think I'll be fine."
"Sure. Whatever." The bored toadstool replied, shoving roughly eight pounds of paperwork towards her. "See you in the ring." Later on, after Bowsette had signed, dated and initialized what seemed like hundreds of sheets of paper, she was nearly ready to admit defeat. She hadn't thrown the first punch and already her hand felt damaged beyond repair. As the orange toad girl showed her to the locker room, she saw posters of various prominent champions of the past. Then she caught sight of something that stopped her cold in her tracks. A poster of her arch-rival, Mario!
"The Great Gonzales." The orange toad girl commented with something like awe. "He's in the Hall of Fame along with such heroes as Prince Mush and Rawk Hawk."
"Gonzales? I didn't know Mario had a middle name." Bowsette mused. It was possible that Mario had operated under a false name in the past, for whatever reasons. She wondered what the story there was.
"So this is the locker room, you can prepare to fight here. Private rooms are that way. Remember, you can't sue us if you get hurt by your contract." With that she disappeared. Bowsette looked around and almost jumped out of her shell. "Merlon! Why are you sneaking around like a creeper?" Merlon was being uncharacteristically quiet for once.
"I sense an ill wind blowing our way. A vile breath of darkness that will-"
"Yeah yeah. Follow the vague spirits suggestion and blah blah blah. We got this, Merlon. You'll see." She replied confidently.
The next day...
"WELCOME BAAAAACK TO. THE. GLITZ PIT! IN TONIGHTS CONTEST WE HAVE IN THE GREEN CORNER, THE CROWD PLEASER, THE COMPETITION SQUEEZER, THE BLUBBER CAESAR... DON BONNNNNNGO!" Despite his recent defeat at a newcomer, Bongo still had a strong fan base and they still cheered wildly for their green Goliath. "ANNNNNNNND IN THE RED CORNER, MAKING HER EXPLOSIVE DEBUT IN THE 'PIT, THE WANDERING ADVENTURER PRINCESS BOWSETTE!" The applause was more polite than excited, the energy noticeably coming down a notch. Another noticeable thing was Bongo's new face gear, a leather and steel mesh mask that covered his mouth entirely.
"Try to dodge my bouncing blubber, don't worry about my lips of rubber!" Bongo almost sounded smug.
"Well, crap." Bowsette muttered to herself. Merlon would never let her hear the end of this one. Bowsette launched herself at the huge dinosaur, unleashing punches rapid fire style, which Bongo calmly endured until she had ceased her frantic attack, utterly unfazed, though possibly amused. "So, uh. Hey." Bowsette looked sheepishly up at the dinosaur. Wanna call this one a tie, go grab a hot dog or something." Bowsette had the strange feeling of deja vu, like she had met Bongo somewhere before this. Maybe Bongo sensed this, because he stood still, perhaps accepting her suggestion to grab some grub. Sure, Bowsette had been impetuous, and a bit bratty, but maybe she could learn to be patient, accepting and maybe even graceful in light of these most recent events.
Then Bongo fell on her, like a living, breathing avalanche.
"Welcome back." Mantis commented cheerfully, as he busily bused tables at the juice bar. To his credit, he did not remark on Bowsette's appearance. She had a black eye, random bruises and band aids on her body, and her right arm was wrapped in an ace bandage. "I see you met with some difficulty, Young Katydid."
"Things did not go according to my plan." Bowsette grumbled, collapsing into a seat at the same table from yesterday. Merlon began to say something, but she silenced him with a black-eyed glare. "I may, possibly be in need of some fight training after all." She conceded.
"Hm. Meet me in one hour outside. Then we will see what you have inside you, Young Katydid."
"Is this time for me to meditate on my failure, or to do some stretches or something?"
"No, that is when my shift ends." With that Mantis returned to his temp-job of waiting table at the Juice Bar.
X X X
"Before I teach you the skills of self-defense, I must first impart to you the sage words of days long go. A sacred pact that one must accept to learn the skill I would impart. Please read and sign at the bottom." Master Mantis produced an ancient looking piece of parchment scroll.
"The participant, hereby known as "the student" does herewith accept with full knowledge and consent that they (the student) have agreed to partake herein with taxing and potentially extraneous, if not damaging external stimuli pertaining to the physical and/or mental and/or emotional and/pr financial and/or spiritual, and the subject by agreement here is accepting full responsibility for any damages occurred and are barred from taking legal actions against Master Mantis. Results are not typical and the student's development will vary by degrees beyond Master Mantis's control. All rights reserved. © circa 2004
"Oh. I thought you would want the blood of my enemy or something." Bowsette mumbled to herself. Without thinking she signed her name as 'Bowser Koopa' before realizing what she had done. "Grambidammit." She hissed under her breath.
"Thank you." Master Mantis rolled up the scroll without looking at it and whisked it away to somewhere in his robe. "Prepare yourself, Young Katydid."
Bowsette awkwardly held her fists in front of her, unsure what was about to happen. Merlon stood by, pen poised and eager to fill a page of his journal.
"Attack me." Master Mantis stood calmly, hands clasped behind his back.
It was a repeat of the day before, though longer in duration. She was tripped, pinched, flipped and basically never even comes close to landing an actual hit.
"You fight all wrong." Mantis tsk'd. "Have you had this body for long?"
"I... what now?"
"Hehe. I apologize for the sarcasm. Its just you have terrible posture and balance. You have such a slender form, yet you attack as though you were four times your size. You have strength, but not the mass. There's potential for agility, yet you move like a tank. You have an extremely useful tail that you don't utilize, and dare I sense an aura of magic within you?"
"Huh." She hadn't noticed, but her elongated tail was controllable, and while not even close to prehensile, it did have some unexplored possibilities.
"Leap into the air and spin kick." Master Mantis commanded. Bowsette managed a half-circle kick, but crashed to the ground unceremoniously. "Again." Mantis barked.
And so it went, with Bowsette practicing kicks and punches for hours, a free spectacle for the steady stream of tourists coming and going around them. By the end of the day she had gotten very good at leaping and spinning, almost seeming to float in the air as she spun and twirled like a ballerina.
"That was fun." Bowsette panted sarcastically, as the sunset beautifully in the distance and really making Glitzville shine, "but I fail to see the usefulness."
"You have to build your stamina for your real training." Mantis replied. "Which will be much harder and tiring. Okay, your break is now over, Katydid."