Aria, Zoraan, and Scathe continued up the worn path, until they finally reached the villa of the warrior monks of Mount Kaija. Aria looked back and saw Mikiko hiding behind a rotting tree. It seems that she had been following them since she saved her from the pit trap, probably waiting for the moment to swoop in and pay her back. Aria just shook her head and smiled.
The three of them (or four, depending on how many you could see) entered the villa, and were stopped by a guard. "What business do you three have here?"
Scathe stepped forward and bowed. "My name is Scathe Harmastier, and I have come to propose an alliance."
"If it is truly an alliance you seek, then you must leave your weapons here and follow me. I assure you you will get them back." The monk answered. Scathe set aside his war scythe, Zoraan dropped his spear and shield, and Aria reluctantly handed over Rapture. The monk nodded and opened the door behind him.
The group walked down the hall and entered the chamber of an armored monk who sat cross legged in front of them. "Greetings, travelers. I am known as Musashi, monk grandmaster and ruler of Mount Kaija. I am to understand that you propose an alliance. The question I pose to you is this: why should we align ourselves with a group of strangers?"
"We are trying to free ourselves from the oppression of Prince Shadis Koles of Ixion. We have come to ask for your assistance." Zoraan answered.
"That doesn't really answer my question," Musashi responded. "And we are a peaceful people. We train so we may transcend violence, not use it on the behalf of others."
Aria then stepped forward. "Your people live by a code of honor, correct? How can you stand idly by while an entire civilization suffers?"
"This is not our war."
Aria shook her head in disgust. "Fine. How can we convince you to join us?"
"By combat. Defeat me and I will consider your request. Our code is to follow the strongest warrior. And if you defeat me, you will be the strongest warrior." Musashi stated, standing up and drawing two unique swords from his belt. The monk that took Aria's sword earlier gave it back to her. She drew the blade, got into a ready stance, and smiled.
"Alright, have it your way."