The floor creaked noisily as Alys Brangwin walked into the bar in the Hunterís Guild
"Garn, you really need to fix that floor. It sounds like Iím gaining weight."
The bartender polished a glass while checking Alysís expression carefully. One did not
jest with Motaviaís most capable hunter about her weight without being very sure of her
"Youíre sounding chipper today, Alys."
"Well, I got back in town after a successful job, and found that the Guild has a new
handfighting tutor, Miyama-style, no less. I really need a good brush-up; my footwork is
getting sloppy." She grinned and added, "You should have seen the apprentices asking her to
break boards and bricks. Little kids love that kind of show-off display."
The voice boomed through the bar like the echo of doom.
"Wait until you see what Iíve learned!"
It was Joss Howland, her very own personal Nemesis. Tall as a tree, broad as a mountain,
strong as a bull, and dumb as slug spittle, he was unable to comprehend that hooking up with
him was not Alysís idea of bliss.
"Youíve learned something? Are pigs flying in Aiedo these days?"
"Blind-fighting!" he exclaimed, impervious to sarcasm. "Just test me! I can block anything
you throw at me!"
"I doubt that."
"Oh, yeah? Well, I bet you canít hit me"and if you can, I wonít ask you out even once for a
"This is an offer I canít pass up," Alys decided, and hopped down from her bar stool.
"But if I can parry your attack, youíve got to go out for dinner with me!"
She hesitated, then shrugged.
"Worth the risk."
Joss pulled out a strip of thick fabric and offered it to Alys. She checked that it wasnít
see-through, then tied it around Jossís eyes. He dropped into a handfighting stance, legs
apart, balanced on the balls of his feet.
"I assume I canít use an edged weapon?" she teased, not meaning it... much.
"How does this work?" Garn asked.
"You listen for sounds, feel the movement of air," Alys explained. "Some people say
thereís a kind of sixth sense that operates to detect the presence of other people around you,
but..." she shrugged... "Iím not an expert at the mystic stuff. Itís pretty impressive for
someone who knows the skill."
Alys slammed the heel of her boot down on the loose board. The other end snapped up,
catching Joss squarely between the legs.
"Not so impressive for those who donít. A month, did you say?"