1963-10-15 - Put To The Test
Summary: Karnak challenges Lady Sif to a duel.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
sif karnak 

The courier was just your usual scruffy undergrad, riding a bike, making ends meet.

What he delivered was different, but simple. A letter, addressed to Sif, Goddess of War. Not the alias she was given, that false identity manufactured for others. Most people couldn't have seen through it, of course, but that was part of Karnak's gift. He always saw the flaws.

"Goddess, I hope this missive finds you well. In three days time, I will attend you at your chosen haven. There, I would wish to engage you in battle. I have no desire to end your life. I do not believe you will wish to end mine. I am simply a warrior, looking to be tested. You are a worthy test. If you would refuse to fight, simply tell me so when I arrive.

I do not think you will refuse. I am a worthy opponent.

Karnak Mander-Azur, Keeper of the Black Abbey, Magister of the Tower of Wisdom, Royal Blood of Attilan."


The courier arrives in ample time. Sif herself was bored to the pits. After the meeting with Loki and Thor, a woman needed to cut loose and sow her wild oats. So once the letter arrived? She was pressed to answer. Pressed as in, questioning the courier of where the letter originated from, and slapping a stack of two fives into his hands to send right back to the fabled person with a missive to come -now-.

Yes now.

Perhaps that was her own flaw in the making; she wanted things when she wanted them and she'll not wait for a battle. It was not ordered that way.

The eyes of Heimdall were upon her then; a quiet reminder with a little jolt to her pendant that he was watching. Spars like these, whilst friendly, often turn to promises and threats of wars, wars that could span across the nine realms. But rest assured, Sif would keep that anger in tact. In tact until she feels she's losing. Or is just in general upset.

But, she summons the man to Westchester. The backyard of House of Bellator something profound. The corral that was recently built housed the yard and the shed that connects in the middle. That shed, housed various weaponry; staves, staffs, blades, daggers, whips, chains (for the horses) and other impliments of death. Some were even duplicated in wood, just for this moment. And all were removed (the wooden ones), and laid upon the table near the fence for the mans choosing. But for now? She waited.. wondering.. just who /is/ this man?


The man arrives on foot. He does not rush, not for anyone, but, when asked to come, he came. It is nearly dawn of the next day when he arrived, but he did not sleep and he did not hesitate. She wanted him to come. Now he is here.

He's clad in a strange mingling of Oriental and medieval garb. A hood is drawn up, obscuring his features for a moment, until he draws it back, revealing a stern, placid face streaked with green-tinged ochre, runic sigils marked along his cheeks and down the center of his bald skull.

"Sif, daughter of Asgard. You asked me to come. I am here," he says. "We can battle at your leisure. If you would prefer to break bread or perform your ablutions, I can wait as long as you need," he says.

His legs fold beneath him and he settles into the lotus position at the center of the courtyard, like a statue resuming its proper place.


The preparation was hasty. And she was left waiting. Which was well and good. There were a few things that were amiss that she needed to take care of, and whilst she waited for this strange visitor, she had gotten to work. The fence, built recently, was sanded just a touch. The horses were brought their share of apples that were soon to be out of season and near rotted, they were brushed and hosed down, given barrels of water to wet their whistles. It was calming work. Work that Sif could have asked another to do, and she will soon enough, but she wanted the animals to know that they were hers, as much as she was theirs.

Momma, all around.

Cleaned up and waiting, the man approaches, noble was he with his proclamation and announcement. Her hand lifts, curling into a fist to cross over her chest as she respectfully bows.

"There is no need, honorable foe." She teases. Though there was no smile upon her face. "I prefer to eat and drink after a battle is shared. Over the finest stores of mead and beasts, and fruit. Come."

She gestures towards the table of wooden accessories, "I do not wish to end your life. As you simply stated that you do not wish to end mine. Tis a spar. And be fitting of a spar, the finest wooden tools carved from the trees of Asgard. Your choice."


Karnak shakes his head as he removes his cloak. He wears no boots or shoes, his feet wrapped in cloth around the ankles and the width. Without his jacket, his arms are bare, revealing more of that emerald woad on his skin, along with the rippled musculature of his fitness. His elbows and forearms look rough, ablative, like a whetstone's surface carved in fleshtone.

"I am the only weapon I need," he says. "You may use whatever you wish, be it wood or stone or steel. Simply be certain you do not value it," he says. "There are those who call me The Shatterer. It is a name well-earned."


Lady Sif was impressed. At least at his confidence. There were many a time those who wished to court her were met with a challenge of besting her in battle. So far, in all of Vanaheim and Asgard itself, they have failed. With a slight quirk of her lip and a pick of two sticks, Sif twirls them around her hands, her vambraces worn, typical battle gear but metals left behind. Shield as well. Hair down. T'was a spar, not a fight to the death.

"Terms." She calls out.

Then drops into a parted stance with both arms crooked, faux-blades raised in preparation to advance.


Karnak doesn't go through kata or elaborate poses. The Art calls for none of that. Once, when battling a Wing-Shen practitioner in China, the Master asked Karnak the name of his Art. He had replied, "It needs no name. It is not a pet."

The Art which he practices lays at the center of all martial practice, a proto-discipline from which a thousand shoots have grown, a seed that fell on the fertile ground of the human species, spinning out into a thousand thousand fields of poppy and daisy and sunflower.

But the seed remains. Constant. Steady. Containing multitudes in its simplicity.

"The battle ceases upon surrender, unconsciousness, exhaustion or mutual agreement. Neither will try to kill the other. But we both understand the risk exists. My spirit will hold you no ill will if I fall by mistake. If I fall by treachery…you shall wish I hadn't."


"Agreed. And as a requirement, feast there after." She tilts her chin, a little merriment filling her features, and with a twist of her foot to draw it forward, she presses off.

The wooden sticks remain within the air as they were, the Goddess of War's arms were extended like the great Kali-Ma ready for battle sans tongue. Once within striking distance, she covers with a fade of a swinging stick, yet her foot aims low to sweep.

She does not dare to insult him by pulling a punch, the kick was powerful enough to draw up a bit of dust that was left upon the ground. Even if the turn of a kick landed or not, she knows well to not pause and offer banter with a follow through of a left and right swing, one high and one low.


Karnak moves with alacrity and grace, reading her body as she approaches. Her technique is flawless, a rare thing to see, but her weapon, of course, was not.

He catches the kick with both hands, knowing her strength exceeds his and instead deflecting, the double-palm strike to her heel twisting the kick harmlessly to the side, dispelling its force as he twists. His own leg lashes out and aims not for flesh but for wood, aiming for the unbending shatterpoint of the wooden weapon and intending to split in twain with a lash of his foot.

He appreciates that she does not speak. The Western habit of 'banter' irritated him to no end.


The deflecting blow to her foot was felt, yet she keeps moving. Foot planted to the ground with a touch of a wobble draws her forward with another glancing strike. The wood cracks upon her left where he kicks, but with a drop down to her knee and another sweeping ark towards his own kneecap hopes to provide a stumble in such a flawless, and graceful technique.

But they do not stop there, the broken wood tossed aside with a chuck, her hand swipes out, fingers clasped together with a pointed edge like a dagger in attempts to jab in between the ribs. There was hope there as well, that if it connects, a sharp pain would be delivered to his side enough to throw off his center.


What he does next isn't so much braggadocio as demonstration. He would not have her wasting time on techniques that would be useful on an ordinary man but useless against the Magister. Hence, the blow to his kneecap is blocked only by the knee itself, by the relentless discipline that makes bone and sinew and muscle simply tense and -resist-, making it feel, even to her superhuman limb, as if she were striking set concrete, as if the man himself had been planted here a millennium long and would not move.

The blow to the ribs is more successful, drawing a slight inhalation of breath, as close as one might come to getting an exclamation from Karnak. He feels the lightning spread of that pain as he brings his hands back and grasps at her wrist with both, offering a savage and particularly angled twist that gives her the choice of being flipped through the air and away or having the bones of her wrist shattered like parmesan through a grater.


The sweeping arch to his kneecap proved successful in ways that she did not see. While she hit him, the wood itself bounces back with a snap down the middle, a soft 'tsk' hard then, the split of the wood within the middle opening up as the contact leaves it's place. That too, was soon dropped in time for her wrist to be grabbed. The pressure was felt in her wrist, and without a tug back she follows through. The through itself sends her sailing, not too far nor high, but high enough for her to tuck hands and right themselves to catch the ground in a somersaulted tumble.

The roll allows her to gain traction upon her feet, transitioning into a cool walk towards the table. A mock blade was picked up then, as well as shield, which was soon hurled in his direction with a double spin, a leaping turn to induce force.

If he wasn't paying much attention to her then, he would be now. For the thrown shield itself was followed up by Sif, who leaps with a raised hand to try to chop the man down where he stood with an aim to the shoulder. Definitely NOT head.


Karnak catches the shield as it's flung towards him and maneuvers it to block, but with such precision the result is unexpected. To Sif, at least. He turns the shield and takes the edge of the blade along the edge of the shield, sparks flying as he blocks the blow precisely, releasing the shield with a flick of his wrist to drive the sword up and away.

And he spins, pivoting on his heel, doing a full rotation as he draws in his knee. He might look, to an onlooker, like a figure skater, about to perform a trick, a Lutz or an Axel, some sort of spinning dervish move meant to dazzle.

But when he uncoils, all that centrifugal force explodes outward through the arch of his foot as he attempt to plant a firm, hard kick right into her sternum. Were she a mortal woman, he could likely kill her with this but he's been assured she's no mortal. And he doesn't expect to land it anyway.

Well, not cleanly.


Sif wanted to bark a laugh, to say that he is indeed using a weapon! But such would be brought up during the feast, not during the heat of the battle. It was like something of a dream in which they both move, the false sword bearing down hard upon the shield to the point they both crack within their shared grasp. The sparks of wood from the edges and surfaces cutting through the air as her facial expression changes to that of solid ruthlessness.. But it was just a spar. She would not let that inner berserker out; but it was there, clawing at the surface.

The rejection of shield and blade has her landing upon her feet again, her arms thrown out of sync, his graceful twirl and the thrust of his foot has her body twisting to avoid the blow. But it was glancing, so much so, that skin was shorn from the surface of her forearm and the chest of where she would have been kicked.

And it was a gnarly wound.

It hurt, but she was bred for battle, her hand strikes out to try to grasp his shoulder to give him a good toss in reply. And if she has him or not? She'd still advance, at least to manuver him closer to the table for another weapon. The sword she carries now looks as if it were sent through the woodchipper!


She does, indeed, grab hold of him, her ferocity enabling her to move more quickly and get a grip on his shoulder, finding the meat of him and using her leverage to fling him through the air.

Catlike though he is, he can't control the rotation of his movements and, while his tuck and roll mitigates some of the damage, he gets scraped this time, his back skidding along the ground for a moment like a car trying to brake, leaving him to spin out into a kip-up and come up to his feet again. Blood soaks into the back of his tunic for a moment before he undoes the sash holding it in place, flinging it off and leaving him only in his breeches.

That sculpted Fu Manchu mustache frames his mouth as he gives a small smile. "Worthy, indeed." he says simply, curling his fingers in the 'come get some' gesture as he allows her to select another weapon.


The sword was tossed to the side. Sif was not one to gloat. But his righted-ness seemed to take enough time for her knuckles to crack and stalk forward. And once he smoke, a little grin befalls her lips, approaching the table as such, her hand immediate grasping what was near to her. The staff. Bo. Held right within the middle and to her side as she lifts a hand to wave a finger.

"You spoke. Automatic forefit.." Her little joke, had her sniggering for a time as she strafes away from the table, the staff itself twirling within that one hand like a windmill, stopping as she bears her approach with both hands upon the body to swipe, jab, release around the back of her neck to catch and turn again. Swift motions, Karnak could -surely- keep up.


Karnak could keep up, indeed, and that smile only widens as she taunts him about his words. He was impressed by her nonetheless. She had a reputation, of course, but reputations in this world of soft and fleshy humans could be purchased with little more than might and a stern glare. She proved, however, that she had the mettle of her merits.

He steps into her and soon he's deflecting the staff with his forearms, wood and flesh meeting, neither yielding. It's a subtle dance, him backing her up and then her driving, backing him, both of them with arms blurring. Her strength is greater, but his technique ablates it, coming at angles to deflect and disarm. But then Sif redoubles and he must concentrate, his brow furrowing as he makes the most of it.

Twenty minutes pass, in this fashion, neither slowing or relenting, bruises rising up on the surface of even his arms until finally he lashes out, headbutting the center of the staff and breaking it in twain before he snatches the remaining staves and hurls them backward over his head.


Twenty minutes is a very long time in battle. By then, Sif was covered with sweat. The blood from her chest and arm soaking through the leathers, but she pressed on. She and Karnak were a flurry of limbs, one would never guess that she was good with a bo, one would also never guess that she could unleash an unruly butterfly kick that makes it seem as if gravity itself does not exist on Midgard. There were even defense stances, one that draws the bow into a straight line to beat him back, drawn back again to evade and withdraw, forward.. back.. turn..

A tango of a dance that was as dangerous as potentially deadly.

But the headbutt is what finally culls that particular fight, the woods snapped in both hands and snatched away as if she were but a child. She was not mad. There was a slight yip of a laugh as he hurls them back behind him, seeing no need for another weapon, only a rush forward and a leap within the air, her knee extended to attempt to deliver a same blow to his sternum, one that would allow her hands to grasp upon that dome of his to keep him close so she could continue her close quarters attack.


Karnak is surprised by her suddenly throwing caution to the wind and leaping upon him, the blow to his chest knocking wind from him and actually taking him from his feet. He'll likely have some significant bruising there, a butterfly of pain sketched across his chest in purple and puffy skin.

When she goes for his head, though, he twists, tucking chin against chest and grasping at her legs, spearing up into her for a double leg takedown. It's still another thirty years before anything resembling 'mixed martial arts' will break into mainstream culture. But here are Karnak and Sif, now straight wrestling on the ground, battling for leverage. He headbutts her once, twice, then snarls as she almost wrenches his shoulder out of socket, that damned Asgardian strength making her hard to subdue.


That wasn't the best laid plan, but this was all in the matter of fun. She hits the ground upon her back, attempting to wretch her arm around the back of his neck, and a reach of his pants to fling him upright. It doesn't succeed of course, the two headbutts dazing her as she tries to roll with the captured arm. Her legs strike up, clasping around his waist, tightening with a push up of her hips to try to buck him into a right position so that the reverse of a head lock could be given.

And she was giving her all, okay.. she wasn't. The force at which she'd throw him might kill him, so with a roll to her side, she tries to push him onto his back, hands planted hard upon his shoulders if she succeeds. "DO YOU GIVE?" She nearly shouts, but it was a joyous one.


Karnak scrambles, scuttling almost like a crab as he tries to get a little distances, feeling her pressing down on him suddenly and trying to get him down. "So soon?" he teases, maneuvering down to throw a few hard elbows up into her armpit, rather shock to the system blows, although it's clear even he's grown a bit weary.

"I will not yield but if we, together, decide we would rather feast than fight…I could consider it an honorable ending," he says, warily, clearly tensed to keep fighting.


Not so soon. Sif was on a second wind now that she had him scrambling. While she felt the fight in him, she snaps her arm closed to avoid the shot to her armpit, but he does catch a soft point in her bicep that has her arm going limp and stinging with pain. OW.

"Then a feast!" Second wind or not, they've fought for what seemed to be an hour and she was getting hungry. Energy begets energy, and if they were to continue? They needed fuel.

One hand lifted as she slowly rises from him, that hand soon thrown down to assist him to his feet if he should take it. "You fight almost as well as a mute that I've battled aside long ago. And it would be an honor to spar with you once more!"


Karnak takes the hand and rises up to his feet. "Asgardian compliments are strange," he says, in reaction to the mute comment.

In truth, Karnak wasn't much prone to feasting. He lived a somewhat ascetic lifestyle - a difference between him and the Asgardians - but would take a certain amount of food in deference to his hostess. He could always fast for a few days afterwards to rebalance his humours.


The hand that was held was soon released, an arm slung around his shoulders as she begins to lead him towards the kitchen door. "And you will hear many more this day!" She was happy, joyous. Smelly and a bit out of breath. A glance back towards the shredded shirt, has her cupping her free hand around her mouth.

"Hilda! Prepare the looms! Gather the food and mead! This day, we celebrate…"

There was a pause and a stop.

"..who are you again?"

She never really knew.


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