There weren’t many items in Robin’s room, but a scroll was added, secured to the wall like a picture frame. It was the work of a Pandaren, but it was meant to be her inspiration. An image of the White Tiger was drawn in the center of it. Around Xuen were words of wisdom and comfort for the new gnome monk. The Pandaren had even been nice enough to write the words in Gnomish for Robin.


She stepped back to ensure her new addition wasn’t crooked before pulling gloves over her bandaged hands. Oxplow had commanded that she spar and defeat one more opponent a day than the one before. The number was getting higher and she had failed the day before. Her knuckles were usually left bleeding and her body was bruised and sore.


Star leaned on the door frame. “Looks good.”


Robin turned to see her sister and nodded. “Thank you for agreeing to this.”


“I don’t see what I need to be thanked for. It’s your room. I gave it to you. I don’t care if you put pictures of naked dwarves up as long as the kids don’t see. Calithos might like to, though.” Ciera grinned.


Robin turned bright pink to rival Ciera’s hair. “The dwarf was…a…how do you even know about that?”


“I know everything. You forget. I’m awesome.”


“Right…but you know that isn’t what I was thanking you for.” Robin took a deep breath and headed towards the door. “Should be able to catch up this way.”


Star sighed and followed her older sister outside into the alley. “Are you sure about this, Robin?”


“Yes. You should be worth at least two opponents. Rogue and mage.”


“Only two? I’m insulted. I’m worth at LEAST three. Just remember.” Star patted her daggers as she looked at Robin. “These are pointy.”


“Then don’t kill me.”


“Of course not.  I don’t kill things I don’t mean to.”


The sisters faced each other and bowed according to the monk tradition. Robin tugged on her gloves to make sure they were secure. Fighting Star should satisfy the days she’d been behind on her sparring matches. She took a step forward towards her opponent to find Star had vanished. Had she blinked? She didn’t remember blinking. She gasped as her arm began to sting from a shallow cut left by one of Star’s daggers.


She hadn’t seen Star move, hadn’t heard her, nothing. In that moment, she realized who she was facing. And there was no way she could win. She’d seen Ciera’s handiwork first hand, as if, she had been doing it. If this had been a real fight…


I’d already be dead…


Robin whirled around to face Star, seeing a familiar light in her sister’s eyes. Fighting brought Star to life…or it was her life. No, there was absolutely no way to win and Star hadn’t even used any magic yet. She probably wouldn’t have to.


Maybe…Oxplow’s lesson isn’t even about winning as many fights as I can…Mayb—


Star was making a move towards her again. She didn’t have time to think.  


Robin gathered the chi within her and pushed some if it outwards, mending the small cut as if it hadn’t ever been; the remaining energy struck Star and pushed her backwards. The rogue maintained her footing, but that wasn’t unexpected. Robin spun around, hoping to land a jab, but her sister was too quick. Fighting Star was different than battling Oxplow. He was like an immovable stone wall. Star was like water or lightning, she was faster, but that didn’t lessen the sting of her strikes. The younger gnome knew where to aim and she rarely missed.


Before Robin could move Star had landed another strike. The cut wasn’t deep or dangerous. Star was definitely keeping her promise. As Star was finishing her attack, Robin reacted. She was fast, too. The tiger palm connected with a shield of arcane. So, Star had brought Violet to the spar. The shimmering shield faded from view, but Robin knew it still held.


Maybe there’s more than one way to defeat an opponent.


Star made a third, a fourth and a fifth successful hit. Robin’s clothing was becoming stained from the small, but steady trickle of blood. She was so…agile. It was difficult to keep the rogue within her sight for long periods of time. Fel, she didn’t even NEED her arcane bird to best her enemies…much less a newly trained monk.


The sixth cut was on Robin’s collarbone.


Kageseji praised me for helping her. She hid behind me when she was startled, but it wouldn’t have done any good.


The seventh strike didn’t land. Robin dropped and rolled out of the way. Star hadn’t bothered disappearing again. The battle was unequal enough. Mana flows. That was the answer to shattering Star’s defense. She didn’t have to beat Violet. She had to interrupt her flow at the weakest point.


Robin waited for Star to come at her again. The monk was faster this time. As Star came into her range she swung a kick at the point of the flow she could see that looked the weakest. The arcane shield became visible and shattered. The remaining chi broke through and rammed Star in her stomach.


Star was thrown a bit off balance, so Robin followed up with a rising sun kick. Her boot contacted Star and knocked the rogue to the ground. Unfortunately, Star had been hit much harder before.


Robin didn't react in time to stop Star from rolling back to her feet, though, her sister was obviously in pain. The emotion in Star’s gaze was intensified. Robin wasn’t an equal, but with those kicks she’d issued a challenge that couldn’t be ignored. In the next few moments it became clearer that Robin was facing a trained killer.


A fan of throwing knives caught Robin off-guard. They weren’t as sharp as Star’s usual collection, but they would bruise. Robin managed to dodge a few, but some met their mark. Star was gone again. Robin couldn’t turn in time to stop Star from catching her. Two more cuts, then a strong grip caught her and a dagger was resting against Robin’s throat.


She’d lost. They stood there for longer than Robin thought they should’ve. Her heart was pounding. What if…Star had given in again? What..if…


“Ci…Ciera?” Robin felt her body trembling, potentially from blood loss, but probably more from fear. “You…still with me?”


The dagger point left its place against Robin’s neck. “Yeah. Was just wondering if you were wanted to keep going. Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.”


“It’s okay. I’m just tired…those are pretty pointy.”


Star nodded. “Yep. Let’s get you cleaned up. For the record…that was one fel of a set of kicks. I’d say you get a free three wins for effort.” She winked. “You did beat Violet.”


Robin returned the nod. “I think there’s more than one kind of fight…and more than one type of victory. Maybe that’s what Oxplow wanted me to learn? Or maybe he just wanted me to win at beating people up. Either way…Miss Kageseji was helped, and I didn’t run from the fight just now. Maybe those are still victories.”


“I’d say so. Come on. Bandaging time, then pie. ALL THE PIE!”


Robin smiled a bit and followed Star back into their home.

Author Robin
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