That closest avenue of access was obvious only at first glance, however. His keen eyes and ears revealed that traps were everywhere. He could easily detect three and detected two more after only an extra minute of observation. He assumed if five were that apparent, at least another five were well concealed.
The watchers on the hill saw him hesitate, then turn to his right and jog along the jumbled perimeter of The Old City. Although at one time the perimeter was clearly defined, over the last many decades tumbled buildings, broken and useless artifacts, and even the occasional Riotori skeleton cluttered the outside markings of the city limits.
About half a mile on he came to another point of access. But this was a small street and the space between buildings was cluttered and almost blocked.
Gypsum could detect no traps, but he expected one or more anyway. He maintained peak vigilance as he clambered over the huge blocks of stone and around the shattered pieces of rusted artifacts, some as large as he was.
Despite his care and watchfulness, he stepped on a trip wire as he gained the ground after climbing down from the biggest block of ragged stone that impeded his progress.
A simple arrow bolted from his right. For previous adventurers it would have meant death or, at least, a severe wound in the upper arm or chest. But those that set the trap had not expected an invader to be armored. The bolt glanced harmlessly off the metal protecting his upper arm.
But as it did the metal point gouged a small vertical scar upon his armor. Gypsum realized that if he had not been protected he would have been seriously hurt. He acquired a new respect for his adversaries. Despite the apparent incompetence of their ambushers at the campsite, these people should not be taken lightly.
With even more caution than before he made his way slowly toward the center of the city. He hugged the walls of buildings whenever possible and kept his senses on a constant search for more hazards. Not only did his eyes and ears stay alert, but he tested the air for scent with every breath. No sight or sound betrayed any danger. The city was not silent, as the working of the machines and fires offered a constant rhythm of hums and thumps in the background. But they were in another part of the city and did not overwhelm any sounds close by. There were none to overwhelm. The Old City was as quiet as one would expect a dead city to be.
He kept both hands free to help with the constant ascending and descending of huge blocks of stone, toppled towers of splintered ancient wood and rusted metal.
At the same time he almost always had at least one of his hands near his waist, ready to grab sword or dagger.
That was a good thing. Suddenly three residents of The Old City appeared from around a corner in front of him. Two held knives, one brandished a long wooden club. They charged him together in a group.
Gypsum had just enough time to reduce his estimation of their abilities. They made no move to attack from three sides, but approached him from the front, nearly inhibiting the movements of each other. And they howled with the attack.
Gypsum filled his right hand with his sword and his left with his dagger and crouched, ready for their assault.
As they approached he took one step forward and swept his sword horizontally, knocking the knives from the hands of two of his attackers. Without any hesitation he stepped closer still and skewered the club-wielding aggressor in his unprotected belly while that one was still raising his club prior to crashing it down on Gypsum's skull.
He whirled quickly and dealt death to the other two simultaneously, one with the sword and the other with his dagger.
He looked around, expecting more attackers, but there were none. The city was as quiet as it had been before the encounter. He straightened up and looked at the men he had just killed. His training had served him well.
But this was the first time he had ever killed another Riotori.