He was girded for war, with sword and shield. But moreso than that, he had girded his mind with facts, with riddles, with trivia. The first challenge was sure to fall easily, and he had to be confident about this because he knew the penalty for failure was death.

There was no challenge, physical or mental, he did not feel prepared for.

When the doors opened, he was confronted with a woman in a fool’s makeup, glowering as she slouched on the pedestal of a ruined statue to Alab.

“Make me laugh,” she said.

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