"I know now I was wrong," Keota sobbed. "I wish I hadn't
been so narrow-minded about Neo-Kido... I wish I hadn't done that to Manny...
I'm unworthy of being a Neo-Kidoka."
Aihami stroked her back, letting some of her
lifeforce energy flow into the young Eyrie in a soothing wave. "It's alright,
Keota. All that is in the past. Now you can see that Neo-Kido has so many facets
both in art and in philosophy, all precious to learn. My old Master always told
me that Neo-Kido was not for correcting others but for correcting yourself.
So don't worry. You have. Now keep your mind open, and I'm sure that in future
you will be a Master. Someday."
The Eyrie looked up at her Master and gave her
a watery smile. "Thanks, Aihami-Master."
The Aisha turned to the others who were seated
around her. The other white-belts and Marko had all gone to bed. Aihami had
wanted to talk to the three who had run off alone, and from them she had gotten
the full story of what had happened. Didicus and the Bearog were there too,
though they didn't intrude on the little group but sat at a distance with Nage,
wondering what Aihami was saying to them.
Aragon was sitting patiently, his green tail
wagging, but the tail stopped moving as he saw the grave expression on Aihami's
face. "Aragon," she said gently, "I want you to understand that I never want
you to do that again. Taking on that Monocerous was a dangerous thing to do.
You could have gotten seriously hurt, or worse."
"But if I hadn't, he'd have attacked us! I had
to keep his attention away from Keota..."
"You should have climbed onto a strong tree
branch and stayed out of harm's way until help arrived. Next time if you sense
something dangerous you must head for the trees."
"Well, I did hold him off attacking Manny and
"It was a heroic thing to do, Aragon. But you
must remember you are still a white-belt, and do not have the proper experience
yet to tackle a creature of that magnitude! Also, simply dodging his attack
wouldn't have worked in the long run. It would just result in him chasing after
you, and you'd be using up precious energy. You have to finish the fight as
soon as you can, at the first move you make; better yet, don't let it start."
"I was really tired, I guess. After the fight."
"Yes, but that's one thing that I found impressive."
There was an admiring glint in the Aisha's eyes. "You pushed yourself far past
the limits of your strength. By rights you should have collapsed long before
Manny set that Bearog on it. In fact, I think that..."
"Was I using lifeforce strength?"
"My guess would be that you were. Your strength
of spirit went on despite the fact that your muscles were worn out."
"Lifeforce training does pay off." She finally
turned to the Jubjub. "Manny."
Mandrake lowered his eyes. "Yes, Aihami-Master?"
"You know what you should have done when Didicus
told you Keota was missing."
"Right. I should have told you or Marko-Senior."
"Yes. We could have avoided the Monocerous if
you had informed us about Keota before you went running off."
"Yes, Master. I won't do it again."
"That's good. Although, that was an impressive
thing, calling the Bearog. I do believe your lifeforce is strengthening too.
We have three potential Masters here."
The three white-belts looked at each other with
"Yes, I think you will all become Masters eventually,"
Aihami said with a smile. "If you remember the things that Marko-Senior and
I teach you, I think you'll be fine. Oh, and something else."
Three pairs of ears strained forward eagerly.
"The test for your new belts is in about a month."
Now this was news. All three white-belts gave
whoops of excitement before Aihami shushed them.
"Yes, that is planned for all. We will be having
a revision from tomorrow until the test. Then we will see what colour belts
you all get; some of you are too young for a blue belt. Now, it is late. Off
to bed with you all, we can talk about this in the morning." She glanced at
the Bearog, still panting happily in the corner. "Manny, does your friend want
to live with us?"
Mandrake grinned. "She told me at dinner time
she wants to stay here, if you'd let her. Oh, and she says she would like to
be the pet of the green Dogl- er, I mean you, Aragon."
"Really? Great! Hey girl!"
The Bearog's three heads snuffled around her
new master happily.
Aihami smiled as Nage scampered up onto his usual
place on her shoulder. "Right. Now then, it's late. Off to bed with you all!
Giggling, the three white-belts sped into the
sleeping quarters with Didicus and the Bearog to rest for the night. Next morning
would bring new surprises and new discoveries, and of course there was the upcoming
test to think about. They could hardly wait.