A cool gentle breeze whispered through the large almost empty swaying field of long grass. A few white and light yellow petals occasionally floated by on invisible waves. Though not a cloud tarried in the deep blue sky, it was not hot as the sun was nowhere to be seen. A single large knotted trunk and densely leafed tree stood almost in the centre of the field, its twisted gnarled roots like tortured hands grasping something, anything, desperate for escape.
This is a good day to die, mumbled Double M.
He wore a simple robe that used to be light brown. It was less tattered and frayed around the edges with patched here and there. Double M sat on one of the thicker twist of root leaning against the deeply wrinkled trunk. His eyes were closed. His right hand held a tiny sharp blade which he scraped along a side of a thin though long slightly crooked branch.
He was about to break into a whistle of a distant melody when he suddenly heard three men treading very lightly at the edge of the field. They moved with purpose. They all wore cloth though one wore some metal armour. None carried swords, though another had a long wooden staff and another a short knife. From the sound they made, it was obvious that they took pains to conceal their presence. They had some skill in doing so too. Just not enough.
Though Double M heard the three men deliberately make their way to the tree, he made no effort to stir himself or open his eyes.
'Hail resting traveller!' called out the chocolate skinned man who wore singlet, dark green sarong and a light blue short sleeved shirt which lay open.
The little elusive smile that crept on to Double M's face at the greeting disappeared when he blinked his eyes open, like shadows in sunlight. He waved his right hand and returned the greeting. 'Where are you headed?' he asked.
'Over there,' he said as he pointed past the large tree into the forests in the distance.
'Ah, you still have some way to go then! Why don't you rest a bit?' said Double M breaking into a smile.
'Thank you for your kind offer traveler. I'm afraid we are on an urgent errand. Our quarry moves fast and so must we. Perhaps you could help us with our errand.'
'I'm always happy to help those in need, good sir! But in our haste, we must not forget our manners. Courtesy demands that we introduce ourselves first. I am Double M, traveller.'
A look of momentary surprise flashed on all three men's faces. To his right, the light yellow skinned man dressed in a simple deep scarlet shirt and pants slowly planted his tall wooden staff to the ground. To his left, the bald ebony skinned man swathed in white cloth to his left grew more still. The expression of the brown skinned man who stood in the middle gradually grew more blank.
'Greetings Double M. I apologise for my earlier lack of couth. I am Mat Pawer. To my right is Fu Yoh. To my left is Terror Lingam.' Both Fu Yoh and Terror Lingam bowed slightly at their introduction.
'Ah, the fearsome Technique of Three Heavens! I am honoured by your presence. Tell me, how can I help you fine gentlemen?'
'By your death, Double M,' replied Mat Pawer. 'Prepare yourself.'
At that, Double M's smile turned into a broad grin as he began to stand up.