Ramos stood in a dimly lit room with his friends. The room was perfectly square, like being on the inside of a metal box. There were two doors, each with a different number embossed on them. The numbers were pieces of a giant puzzle box…a puzzle that they were currently trapped in. Ramos didn’t know how the puzzle worked, but trusted that Thiramos and John were leading them to the Mad King Ahaza. They had led them this far with little issue.
The other rooms had traps or mechanical monsters as guardians, and Ramos expected this room to be no different. At the center of the room, sitting on a bench, was a man, or at least what appeared to be a man. He was dressed in high fashion and had a wide brimmed hat obscuring his face. As the party walked into the room, he looked at them. Ramos saw a porcelain face, carved into a smirk, and knew at that moment that this was another clockwork monster. Weapon 27 tensed near Ramos, and the man bowed in response.
“I seek no issue with you, my large friend,” a voice from behind the mask said. The voice sounded different than a Golem’s magical voice, like sounded not unlike the sound a violin’s string made when a bow dragged across it.
“Then let us pass,” Nerubi said. The man chuckled.
“I am the greatest duelist in the world. If one of you can beat me, you shall pass,” it said. The group turned and looked at Ramos. Ramos sighed.
“I will duel you,” he said. The man sprang from the bench. There were several clicking sounds and two thin blades sprang from his hands. Ramos drew his rapier and main-gauche. The duelist stepped forward and crouched down into a low stance. Ramos’s mechanical opponent extended his blade forward, with it’s twin pointed away. Ramos stepped forward and entered a loose stance, meeting the duelist’s rapier with his own and holding the parrying dagger out from him.
“Your name, sir?” the duelist asked.
“Lamont Sinclair,” Ramos said. He was paused for a moment. That’s not my name he thought.
“Well, Sinclair. Best of luck to you. En garde!” the duelist said. He swatted away at Ramos’s blade and thrust forward with his other sword. Ramos stepped backwards and cut the angle to avoid the strike. Just like the Marquis taught me Ramos thought. But who had taught the Marquis? The duelist twisted quickly and followed up on his attack, lashing out with twin strikes. Ramos batted one of the duelist’s blades away with his own, and parried the other with the main-gouche. The two continued to fight, retreating one moment and attacking another. They appeared evenly matched to Ramos’s friends, but the duelist had two blades to Ramos’s single rapier. As he deflected the duelist’s next attack with a quick beat parry from his rapier, Ramos thought about his plan of action. He could not continue this assault, he would fall to one of the blades sooner or later, so he needed to disable one of the duelist’s swords. The plan came together in Ramos’s head. He disengaged quickly and stepped back. The duelist paused and looked at Ramos. No doubt he could sense the bait, but he pressed his attack confidently. Using a skilled compound attack, the duelist rushed Ramos with a series of well placed blows. Ramos met him with a compound riposte, deflecting the attacks while feinting and retreating. The duelist finished his assault with a dual strike at his opponent. Ramos parried the first rapier with his own, pinning the blade to the ground, and caught caught the other with his main-gouche, locking it in place. Ramos twisted his dagger quickly, expecting to hear the snap of a broken blade, but there was none. Ramos looked down and saw that the duelist’s blade protruded from his hand like a spike, making it stronger than a normal blade. The duelist chuckled.
“A skillful plan, Sinclair. It would have worked on another swordsman, but alas, it was doomed from the start. You have committed to this, now you will die,” the duelist mocked.
Ramos ground his teeth. He needed more force. As the duelist began to exert even more force to free himself, Ramos looked at the gauntlet on his arm. The duelist was forcing the parrying dagger higher into the air, hoping to slip his sword from the catch. As Ramos’s arm was turned towards the ceiling, he flexed his forearm and the metal spike launched from its housing trailing a steel chain behind it. The spike buried itself into the ceiling and Ramos pulled his hand toward him. The motion activated the re-coil system and pulled Ramos from the ground with incredible force. He cranked his wrist hard and, with the combined force of his ascent, the force snapped both Ramos’s wrist and the duelist’s sword. Ramos rushed towards the ceiling, getting his feet in front of him. He looked down at his stunned opponent, and sprang from the ceiling towards the ground. The duelist saw the attack coming and raised his remaining rapier. As Ramos fell towards the mechanical fighter, he stabbed with his parrying dagger and his rapier. The dagger caught the duelist’s sword and pinned it to his own chest. As Ramos smashed into his opponent, he drove his rapier into the duelist’s chest cavity through a small opening at his neck. Ramos bounced off the metal swordsman and collapsed on the ground. He stood up quickly and faced the machine. The duelist was shaking violently, metal plates falling from his body.
“Impressive,” he croaked as he fell into pieces.
Ramos stepped forward, blood leaking from his swelling face and his wrist throbbing horribly. He took his parrying dagger from the duelist’s metal form, but, seeing that is was now as mangled as his opponent, he discarded it. Ramos walked over to the snapped blade and examined it. With a little skill, this could be made into a sword of its own.
“Guess now you’re the greatest swordsman in the world,” John said mockingly. Ramos smiled.
“Onward,” he said.
Ramos woke up.