The monk elder merely sat, cross-legged, as the bandit chief approached.

“Did you not hear me, old man?” the brigand thundered.

“I heard you,” said the elder. “If you feel you must strike me down, then that is what you must do. I am sorry that there was nothing I could give you that you found to be valuable.”

With a sidelong glance at his men, the bandit spat on the ground and advanced. But the moment he raised his weapon, he vanished—disintegrated from the inside out by a blinding light. The few shreds of bone and metal left were not enough to fill a clay pot.

“How…how did you do that?” demanded the bandit’s second, terrified but clearly realizing that if he broke and fled his chance for leadership would pass.

“I did nothing,” the elder monk said. “You must decide for yourselves if your actions will lead to a similar nothingness.”

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