Food was placed before me, but I had little hunger for it, focusing instead on recording the details of the monk’s life. He told me of his belief in the existence of a thousand and one gods, gods he believed could be found in all things: the fire in the hearth, the water in the river and the air that we breathed. Pretty enough for a story, perhaps. But any reasoned individual must surely, as I did, scoff at such a view of the world as little more than superstition. He went on to describe his intense mental and physical training, his unending quest to hone his mind and body into an instrument of divine justice. Though I do wonder for what need his thousand gods would require a mortal man to implement their will. When I asked him why he did not carry a sword or, indeed, any weapon at all, he simply replied, “My body is my weapon.” Then raising his hand and tapping his forehead, he added, “As is my mind.”
The monk was a fluid mass of restrained energy, meeting every attack with hardly a moment’s distress. He fought with hands and feet in a way I had never seen before. In my days, I have witnessed my share of drunken bar brawls, but this was something else altogether. The sound of bones crunching with each of his strikes mixed with something I could not quite believe: the monk was laughing as he fought. One by one, he dispatched his foes until only one remained.
That one picked up a chair and hurled it toward the monk. The monk swung his arm forward and struck the incoming projectile, meeting the solid oak of the chair with his closed fist. The wood broke apart, splinters filling the air as the shattered pieces of the stool fell harmlessly to the ground around him.
“You don’t fool me, demon,” the monk spat. He pulled his arms back to his sides, then extended his hands before him and began to chant. A nimbus of white light appeared around his head, growing larger and more intense until it completely encompassed the monkâ€™s body. He roared, and the light blew outward. As it washed over the other man, his skin peeled away, revealing a red-skinned demon beneath and threw the creature through the front doors of the tavern.