Iron Foot stands outside the castle of Tiger Claw.
He raps on the gate.
Iron Foot shouts, “Your seven furies fist cannot stand against my ten terrors kick!”
There is a pause.
Delicate Flower opens the door. She looks at Iron Foot.
“Tiger Claw is unwell, and cannot answer your challenge at this time.”
She winks. “Unwell.”
“Is it the flu? There is a flu going around.”
“It is a nonspecific but terrible illness,” Delicate Flower says. “Listen. You can hear him coughing.”
Standing at a window above, Tiger Claw coughs twice.
“I see,” says Iron Foot.
Iron Foot turns to his chronicler, Fighting Book, who stands beside him.
“Why doesn’t he want to fight?” Iron Foot asks.
Delicate Flower clears her throat delicately.
“I mean,” Iron Foot says, “why is it that Heaven has chosen this particular time to afflict the esteemed Tiger Claw with so tragic an illness?”
Fighting Book looks judicious. “Perhaps Heaven doubts the efficacy of the seven furies fist.”
“But it killed Unbending Rigor,” Iron Foot protests. “And One-Hop Industrialist! And the Ambiguous-Style Bandit!”
“How do we know?” Fighting Book asks.
Iron Foot gestures towards Delicate Flower. “She is Tiger Claw’s chronicler! She wrote about each of these fights in detail! I was able to find a copy of the secret manuscripts in the local library.”
“Ah so,” says Fighting Book.
“It is, of course, the duty of a chronicler to provide an impartial and accurate rendition of events,” says Fighting Book.
Iron Foot blushes.
“As I have done, of course, for you,” says Fighting Book.
“Ah so,” says Iron Foot.
Delicate Flower blushes delicately. “It was necessary that he develop an impressive technique to avenge his master,” she says.
“That must be why he trained so hard to develop the seven furies fist,” says Fighting Book.
“Yes,” agrees Delicate Flower.
“But it’s no good!” protests Iron Foot. “If I can’t defeat the seven furies fist, how will anyone ever know how good my foot is?”
“Is it very good?” asks Delicate Flower.
“It’s so good they call me Iron Foot!”
Delicate Flower does not know how to respond, so she is demurely silent.
“This is outrageous,” says Iron Foot.
“I could fetch his master,” says Delicate Flower. “You could take on Bear Claw’s deadly five furies fist.”
“That’s only five furies!”
“How many furies does your fist have?”
“One,” says Iron Foot, unhappily.
“I’d think you could manage two,” says Fighting Book loyally. “If you really put your pinky into it.”
Iron Foot thinks about this. “What if I killed his master? Then Tiger Claw would have to fight me! And if his seven furies fist is no good, I’d still tell everyone it was magnificent.”
“You can’t kill Bear Claw! He’s never offended you.”
“He’s taught an offensive student!” Iron Foot declares.
Delicate Flower sighs. “I’ll send him out.”
She closes the door. Time passes. She opens the door again. Bear Claw swaggers out. He’s a barrel of a man.
“I hear you’re going to kill me to punish my offensive student,” says Bear Claw. “I hope your foot’s bigger than your mouth!”
Fighting Book clears his throat. “I think you want to say, ‘Ha! I’ll gut you like a salmon.’ or ‘Your kung fu’s too weak! I’ll teach you to trouble your betters!'”
Bear Claw ponders. Then he laughs, and slaps Fighting Book on the back. “How about both?”
“Duly noted,” says Fighting Book.
Iron Foot kicks Bear Claw in the shin.
“That’s not so bad,” says Bear Claw. “But I haven’t even assumed my stance!”
“It’s too late,” says Iron Foot. “That’s the seven perfections kick. It infects your Chi. The better a martial artist you are, the sooner it’ll kill you!”
Bear Claw frowns. “So, for example, if I’m the deadliest fighter in these parts, I might keel over in mere minutes?”
“Seconds, honorable master.”
Bear Claw glares at Delicate Flower. “You didn’t tell me he had the seven perfections kick.”
Delicate Flower shrugs.
“I’ll trouble you from Hell!” says Bear Claw. Then he sits down. He closes his eyes. He sighs out a long last breath.
“Is he dead?” Iron Foot asks.
Bear Claw nods, marginally.
“He must have been terribly powerful,” says Fighting Book.
“He’ll defeat the Yama Kings with his kung fu,” says Delicate Flower. “Then he’ll come back to Earth to wreak his vengeance.”
“That’s not much of a victory for me,” says Iron Foot.
Delicate Flower shrugs delicately.
“Hey!” yells Bear Claw. “Tiger Claw! This punk killed your master! Me!”
Tiger Claw coughs, from his upstairs window.
Bear Claw adds, “I’ll be terribly ashamed if your nonspecific illness is a sign of weak Chi!”
“Fudge,” swears Tiger Claw. He walks away from the window. He goes down the stairs. He emerges to face Iron Foot. “That’s playing dirty.”
“At last,” says Iron Foot. “We’ll see if your seven furies fist stands against my ten terrors kick!”
“You’re not worthy of such a powerful technique,” dismisses Tiger Claw. “I’ll be using a basic tiger punch.”
“I demand a seven furies fist! Or I’ll spit on your dead master!”
“Hey!” says Bear Claw.
“You need to be quiet, master,” Delicate Flower admits to Bear Claw. “People will think you’re a hungry ghost.”
“Hm,” says Bear Claw. He hits his stomach. Then he gets to his feet and walks into the castle foyer. “That sounds about right! Does anyone else want a sandwich?”
“Ten terrors kick!” cries Iron Foot. He leaps on Tiger Claw.
“Agh!” cries Tiger Claw, cowering. Iron Foot’s foot tears through his stomach and out through his back. Tiger Claw’s eyes widen in shock.
“His seven furies fist didn’t compare!” Iron Foot says. He yanks his leg free. He looks triumphant.
“He didn’t use his seven furies fist,” says Delicate Flower.
“Not even to avenge his master?”
Tiger Claw dies.
“Hm,” says Delicate Flower. “You have a point.”
“They’ve got sardines! And mustard!” Bear Claw shouts, from inside.
“Fine,” says Delicate Flower. “Your ten terrors kick proved triumphant.”
“You’ll write it up, right, Fighting Book?” Iron Foot asks nervously. “We fought for hours? Everyone will know how great my foot is?”
“Why, honorable master,” says Fighting Book. “Everyone knows a chronicler’s writings are strictly confidential.”
“Phew,” says Iron Foot, and slumps to the ground to rest.