How had it come to this? He wasn't sure, but he was fairly certain it was all Siegward's fault. Yup. That sounded about right. When in doubt, blame the Onion Knight.
So, here Dahl was, staring sensual death in the face. He had never felt so much fear as he did right now, nor so many confliction emotions.
The Dancer of the Boreal Valley was beautiful in an unearthly, inhuman way. Her movements were perfect, and her blue bodysuit hugged her curves tightly. The crackling embers that sustained her filled the room with suffocating heat.
In the distance, some Hollows had gathered up ancient musical instruments and begun laying down a 'phat beat,' as the particular style of music was called in the lingo of dancers.
The Dancer moved, swaying and undulating with the beat, her every action reflecting the tune in some intimate manner.
Then, the music stopped, and she stared down at the Unkindled One through her helm, waiting for him to make his own move.
Off to the side, he heard a crunching sound, and Dahl shot an annoyed glare at the man who had gotten him into this mess. The nerve of him, eating popcorn while he performed a dance-off to survive!
"You can do it!" Siegward called, somehow stuffing another handful of popcorn into his mouth through his bulbous helmet.
"If I survive this I am punting your round ass off the highest peak I can find," Dahl vowed.
The Catarinian knight shrugged. "Fair enough."
The Last Chosen One sighed but straightened his back, returning the Dancer's stare.
The music started, and he took a breath. Then, he began to pop and lock.
His body moved in intricate displays of dexterity and finesse. Faster and faster he followed the beat. Hand stands followed Moonwalks, and he pulled off a quadruple head spin just as the music ended.
Panting, he stood upright and glanced over at a trio of figures seated behind a ruin pew turned into a table. Time to receive the scores.
"I feel like the Dancer's skills were truly the stuff of legends," Leonhard praised, smiling warmly at the much larger being. She bowed at his words, and a smug sense of satisfaction came as he held up a score card with a blue '9' on it.
"As for the Unkindled One, well, I cannot deny he made a good effort, but sadly he lacked the flexibility of the Dancer. Still, he showed significant variety in his move set," the knight said, holding up a card with a red '8' on it.
"I agree with Leonhard, the Dancer was definitely amazing. And, as a woman, I have to say I am envious of her figure," Anri claimed, causing the Dancer to make an 'Oh, you!' gesture while acting bashful. "She definitely earned this score."
A blue '10' was revealed.
"As for Dahl, sadly, I have to say I found his dance moves stale and cramped. He was trippin' on the beat, yo. But he pulled off that Moonwalk flawlessly, so I guess it wasn't too ill." The knightess from Astoria gave him a red '6.'
"Did you guys forget that if I lose this match I'll die?!" the Unkindled One shouted at the panel of judges.
"And what, you expect us to cheat and lie on your behalf?" Leonhard asked incredulously.
Anri shook her head in mock disgust. "Disgraceful, isn't he, Horace? Trying to rig a match in the hallowed duel of the dance off!"
The silent knight companion nodded in agreement before holding up a blue '10' for the Dancer and a red '8' for the Last Chosen One.
"Oh, come on, you guys!" Dahl shouted in annoyance as he saw the scores.
"Look, you were the one who wanted this to happen," Anri scolded the Unkindled One. "First, you were too cowardly to face her on your own so you brought the four of us with you. Then, when you saw who she actually was and learned her tragic backstory you didn't want to mercilessly slaughter her like you were supposed to."
The knightess folded her arms in annoyance. "Make up your damn mind already! Do you want to step up your game, or do you want us to rush her and try to overwhelm her in a sneak attack so we can continue with the journey?"
"Well it won't be much of a sneak attack now, will it?" Dahl shot back, glancing at the Dancer with a worried expression.
She didn't seem to be angry though. If anything, the cursed woman seemed amused by the antics and the bickering the group of friends had.
While the Unkindled One argued with Anri and the rest, she wandered over to a spot in the room and removed some paper and a quill. Carefully, she scribbled out some words and passed them to Siegward.
The Onion Knight took one look at them before bursting into laughter.
"Oi! Dahl, come here! The Dancer is giving you a second chance to defeat her!"
"Judging from the way you're laughing, I assume it's going to be humiliating for me?" the ember stained individual asked with a weary groan. When he nodded Dahl whimpered but approached none-the-less.
"So, what does she want me to do?"
"Oh, nothing much. All she wants from you is a private dance," Siegward said, passing him her instructions. He paled as he read them.
"Oh my. I mean, we really don't have to go this way," Dahl said slowly, inching away from the gargantuan lady. "We can find another entrance. Or climb. Yes, we can climb over the Fog Gate…"
Siegward clamped his arms onto the Unkindled's shoulders, pinning him in place.
"My boy, it's time you do this. For the good of the world, you must give the Dancer of the Boreal Valley a strip-and-lap dance," he said solemnly, though his mirth was clearly evident in his tone.
"Holy shit! Are you serious?" Anri demanded, jumping up from her spot at the judges table.
"See?! Anri gets it! She'd never let me do something so demeaning!" Dahl said, while at the same time the Sun worshipping knightess shouted,
"I have to go tell everyone about this! They need to see it too!"
She ran for the fog gate, and Dahl's heart and soul sank when he saw the Dancer permit the young woman to leave and fetch an audience for his shame.
Meanwhile, Siegward wandered off to set the stage for the performance.
"Leonhard, Horace, help me set up this pillar in the center of the room. We can use it as a stripper's pole!"
Dahl whimpered, then shivered as he felt a leering gaze travel up and down his body, sizing him up and undressing him with smoldering eyes.
"Hey, all you Gods, be you past and present, if you can hear me, let me just say 'F^(% you!' Making me turn into a manwhore in order to save the world! I won't forget this humiliation!" he shouted to the heavens.
Dahl could swear he heard two voices laughing at him from across a vast distance. Oddly enough, they both sounded a lot like him…