Walking down a backstage hallway, absently checking messages on her phone, is the figure of Ria Lockhart. Gradually, as she walks, the staccato clip of her shoes is joined by something else. The sound is distinctive–the footpads of someone running. Someone barefoot. Ria turns, curious–just in time to catch a hard shot across the forehead with a wooden escrima stick! Sage Pontiff stands tall, his face not full of murderous rage or overconfident bravado. He just looks calm. Buddha calm. Ria drops her phone with a clatter and tries to get to a fighting stance, but her rapidly blinking eyes make it plain as anything: that hard strike rang her bell decent, and Sage takes the opportunity to get a running start, jumping at the wall…and bounding off of it backwards with a picture perfect flying crescent kick–But Ria catches his foot! Operating on instinct, she pushes him off, throwing him off his balance, before rushing him and looking for a leaping kick of her own, but Pontiff spins out of the way and levels her with a crack of the stick to the side of the knee!! She crumples, gasping, and The Bodhisattva begins raining blows on her head and shoulders from behind with a calm, merciless nature. The dry staccato of wood to bone is echoing off the walls as she finally drops to the floor, covering up and trying to regain her wits.
Sage circles her, thinking, before executing a mount and grabbing her by her hair. She claws at his arms and shoulders, teeth gritted, drawing scratches and blood across his mishmash tattoos. He leans his head back, far enough to cause his entire spine to bow, before flying forward as he drags Lockhart’s head upward and burying his forehead into her nose in an explosion of blood and flying dreadlocks! He settles backwards, arms out, trying to regain his own composure, a little rattled from using his own skull in such a rough fashion. Head still back, he begins to speak, his voice a slow creak of vocal fry and enlightened peace.
Sage Pontiff: Do you…know what it means? To be a Bodhisattva?
His head finally rolls forwards and he surveys his handiwork. She bears multiple lumps on her face, but none as distinctive as the red welt he raised above her left eye. Her nose is askew, likely broken, and blood has coated her from cheek to chin already. Her eyes look glassy–she might be concussed. And he allows himself a small smile.
Sage Pontiff: I found the secret to Nirvana, to enlightenment. But I have held off on reaching it. To help people. To absolve them of suffering. Being what I am…is an act of compassion. This…is an act of compassion.
Pontiff runs his fingers along her cheek and draws a sloppy eye on her forehead in her own blood. He does the same with his own, before grabbing her by the face holding her eyes open with his thumbs. We can hear commotion down the hall, screaming for security, a gang of bodies clambering down the hallway. Sage pays them no mind. He is here to be heard.
Sage Pontiff: I offered you the keys to Golconda, the doorway to the oblivion of the self. Real enlightenment, Ria. Not what they sell you in the New Age sections, I’m talking real things. Concrete things. And rather than listen, you spat on it. But that’s not your fault. Cause the divine furies have placed you in my path, right? As a test. I’ve helped the willing to ascend so much…now I’m gonna have to show you the path. Even if I have to tear open your third eye to do it.
At that moment, the building security roughly grab Pontiff by his arms, pinning them behind his body. They jostle him hard, pulling him to standing, and he makes no motion to resist as he’s cuffed. He just continues to look down at Ria’s face. No rage. No overconfident bravado.