Once, the great king Aurochs was gifted a prize gladiator. This warrior was a three-sexed Ya-at slave monk. It was mute, and the impurities of its flesh had been seared away as part of its training. The Ya-at were incredible fighters, and this one was no exception. Over the next few turns it won nearly every bout and won the king an enormous amount of fame and glory. The king ordered a private garden built for his prize fighter, and attendants to oil its sore flesh, and it was given every luxury afforded to it, most of which it refused, for it craved only challenge.

Word got out that the king had an invincible fighter, and soon three infamous wandering mercenaries arrived at his door to test their mettle. The first was Five Mountains Gale, who wore a beautifully embroidered jera, a fine silk vela, and a legendary sword at her waist. Her face had been burned hideously by a duel with a sorcerer. It appeared puckered and shiny under the best light, though she was said to be quite beautiful before, and nobody dared comment on her disfigured visage. The second was Yerrid, who was a western dragon. His mouthblades were pitted with the scars of battle, and his hide was thicker than any armor forged by man. He was a member of the Red Dogs Legion, who were infamous rogues and despoilers. They mummified the hands of their enemies and took them as tokens.

The third and last was an unusual fellow, a minor nobleman from the countryside said to have taken up the sword after starving himself and meditating under a plum tree for a week and a day. His finery was disheveled, his sword was rather poorly made, and his long dark hair was held up in crooked and bent pins. He had no reputation, nobody thought very much of him, and it was obvious that he would quickly lose.

Gale squared off against the slave monk first. Her beautiful robe accentuated her lithe form and powerful step. Her sword was called Circle the Moon Thrice. When drawn, it gave off a sound like shivering glass. It had hacked five hundred bandits into pieces just the week before and was thirsty for blood. Gale’s technique was called Flying Snow. She could step on air as well as land, and cut a fly in twain with a flick of her wrist.

For all her arts, however, she could not break the defense of the slave monk. For every movement she made, the monk was faster to react. For every shivering blow she laid upon the monk, it could take it and deal more. She threw her blade aside and submitted before thirty blows had been struck.

Next, Yerrid strode into the arena. It was clear to observers that he would not submit as easily. His scarred, bestial form was corded with thick muscle, and his mandibles were shaved down in the manner of vagabonds and mercenaries of terrible repute. He tore into the monk with incredible violence. His technique was Red Dog Boxing. Every blow he took upon his stony hide, he turned into a counterattack, redoubling his attacker’s strength. He fought like a wild animal, throwing caution to the wind, and absorbing tremendous amounts of violence.

Where Gale had folded after thirty blows, he took a hundred. But it still was not enough. The defense of the Ya-at was too strong, and it tired too slowly. Eventually, Yerrid collapsed of exhaustion, and was dragged out of the fighting pit stone cold unconscious.

Finally, the last man strode into the arena. The crowd leaned in, eager to see him dismembered or worse by the Ya-at warrior, who scarcely had suffered a scratch and was oiled and offered refreshments by its house slaves.

The two warriors squared off, the young nobleman dwarfed by his opponent, and the bell was rung. The nobleman then did a very strange thing. He threw out a single sword stroke that was so artless, so completely lacking in skill, that a child might have made it. It was like a village idiot absentmindedly hurling a stick into a muddy pond. The Ya-at warrior was so shocked and offended by the young nobleman’s complete and utter lack of skill and technique that the hulking warrior was caught by surprise and decapitated in one blow.

The crowd was taken aback and instantly sprung up in confusion, disarray, and rage, for surely the young man must have cheated. The king descended from his gilded palanquin and quieted the crowd, addressing the young man directly.

“What trickery did you use to defeat my warrior?” demanded the king, at this point sputtering with disbelief himself. “No trickery,” said the young man, who was absentmindedly toeing the ya-at’s corpse.

“Then what technique? What sword art did you learn to make such a blow?” said the king.

“My technique is no technique,” said the young man. “My art is no art. It was an idiot’s blow.”

“Ten thousand warriors have failed to defeat my gladiator,” said the king, gaping. “Trained in ten thousand fighting arts from across the Wheel. How could an artless fool have defeated my prize slave?” The young man scratched his chin. “Well, not anyone can use my lack of technique. No ordinary fool could make that blow,” he replied “only one extremely dedicated to foolishness.”

It was immediately apparent to the king that this young man was extraordinarily powerful.

He mentioned as much.

“Powerful men, my lord, must by nature be exceptionally good fools,” said the young man.

“What do you want?” said the king, breaking out in a sweat.

“A drink will suffice,” said the young man.

“What is your name?” said the High King Aurochs, of the Southern Realms.

“My name is Intra,” said Intra, “I am the king of swords.”