Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Taste of Chapter 3...

Chapter Three: Teachings

“Rocks will not be there for you every time. There will always be blows that you cannot dodge, and weapons that will break you like the surf against the shore.” The man preached openly as Learner followed. The young boy looked on, listened and paid careful attention. Always during the lessons he listened. Any other time he was free to ponder his own thoughts and wander with a blank expression, but when the old man taught a lesson he kept the boy’s attention with slow blows that a ready mind could easily dodge.
Lessons were tiring, physically and mentally. But the boy kept up with them, though every so often he caught a blow to the arm or to the ribs or in the back from a slow dodge. The old man never hit hard enough to hurt much, but the failures stung, in more ways than one. Learner wanted to succeed. He had taken after several days to calling the old man Teacher, and to hunting food for the both of them.
“You will need a proper weapon. Something with which you will be the shore against which the weapons of others will shatter against. For now though, you should find a stick. You will find your lessons less painful with one at hand.”
     Learner searched each night as he hunted. But found no weapon. For now his lessons would remain painful. But his skin toughened, and his pace quickened, and Teacher had to strike harder to make his mistakes felt, and faster to land them on Learner’s skin.
     Some days later, the pair were walking along when Teacher lashed out a fierce blow that Learner ducked, and rounded the stick, twisting his wrist giving it a second chance to land with half the strength, which Learner caught full on his forearm, flinching and falling to the ground, a great pain running through it. Teacher offered his hand to help his apprentice up.
     “I thought I told you to acquire a stick.”
     “I couldn’t find one. Suppose the wind wills me to learn without one.”
     Teacher turned and walked on, saying, “Then the wind wills you pain.”
     “Pain is the forge against which the mightiest warriors are fo-“
     A blow interrupted the retort as fast as lightning to the temple, though fast it was less powerful than the previous strike. Learner fell to the ground again and this time the old man did not offer his hand.
     “Mighty warriors die young, and do little with their short lives. It is the skilled, the quick, and the smart ones who change the world. A mighty warrior may be a rock, but I promise if you smash it against enough things it will crack and crumble and wear down to dust. Even the mountains are not immortal, only long lived because of their girth.”

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