(Here’s Round Four of Trollfiend’s head-to-head, no-holes-barred cage fight with Amorphis. In this match, there are charges and counter-charges of Betrayal, and eventually a killing blow. To catch up on what’s going on here, read this post. Also, be sure to check out Trollfiend’s own blog, ALSO, WOLVES.)
The crowd is oddly silent as I step into the arena for this, my fourth battle against the music of Amorphis. I look up from the blood-soaked sand to see that the crowd is not merely silent; the arena is empty. Why was I summoned to do battle with no audience to witness?
Foreboding sets in…something is not right.
And then I see her, stepping from the shadows: the serpent assassin herself, Tuonela. So this is how it is to be. My victory has frightened Amorphis, and so they send their silent killers in the darkness.
I have fought the ancient and deadly Order of the Clean-Sung before. I know their dirty tricks. I know how they can fool the mind with raspy hooks and beguile the soul with the lament of sirens. I am prepared…but still this sense of doom pervades. My victory over Elegy still boils in my blood, but it was a victory hard-won, and I am not sure I have the stamina or the wits for this battle.
I have to remind myself why I am here. The Betrayal. Yes, in capitals, because it was an event so profound that it deserved a name. Amorphis won my confidence with their folk-tinged melodic death metal. I pledged my fealty to them, unto death. And they turned on me. Even then I could not believe they would consort with the Order…I was blinded by my pain and rage. But Tuonela stands now before me, as damning a piece of evidence as you could want.
I’ve no wish to die in the shadows, so I charge in. She counters with ‘The Way’, a defensive opener that has a certain grace…but it is not a killing blow, and this battle will not be decided otherwise. From beneath her cloak she slips a light Morning Star. I shake my head. Compared to the pummeling I got from The Karelian Isthmus, that weapon will be like tickles from a feather. If that is how she hopes to kill me, we will be here until Nightfall.
“I know your name,” I call. “Tuonela. TUONELA!”
The assassin pauses. I have her! I move in for the kill.
“Why do you fight the inevitable?” she says.
I am taken aback. My arm, raised for the finishing blow, falls at my side.
“The Betrayal,” is all I can say. Anger flashes in her eyes.
“And what of yours?” she spits back. “What of your betrayal? You claimed fealty to Amorphis, but in the passing of a moment your loyalty evaporated like mist. The fealty of a coward means nothing. You abandoned Amorphis to journey in a dangerous land alone, your so-vaunted loyalty nothing more than an empty promise. It is YOU who are the Betrayer!”
And she attacks.
I recognize the move – it is ‘Greed’, though it might just as well be called ‘Hubris’. I had been expecting the cunning close-fighting tactics of the Order, and she is instead using my own weapons against me. A simple trick, and yet I fell for it. She cuts deep, and I feel my blood begin to flow.
Staggered by the pain, I do not see the second attack…it is an Order manoeuvre called ‘Divinity’…but she is using my own weapon to execute it (and possibly me). I drop to the sand, feeling my life draining away, and with it, my resolve.
But I am not dead yet. I cannot forget the promise that was made and then broken. Her words fill me with doubt, but that is the hallmark of the Order of the Clean-Sung. Tuonela has made a mistake – she has forgotten that I trained with the angry masters of the Brutal Harshes, and rage is my weapon. I rise again.
Panicked, she tries another trick…Shining the reflected light of a Rusty Moon in my eyes, but I am not Withered. Summer’s End has come for the assassin. I step in past her counter and quickly snap her neck. Regardless of my feelings toward her masters, she fought well and deserved a clean death. A hollow victory, but victory none the less. Wearied, I return to the pits, wondering what Amorphis will throw at me next, and with the assassin’s words ringing in my ears.
“It is you who are the Betrayer…”
Round 4: Amorphis 2, Trollfiend 2.