The day passed quickly for Kokyu. The white-belts, awed
at the sight of another Master, and a Second-Degree one at that, had been rather
shy and hesitant of approaching at first, but eventually, after they had gotten
to know Kokyu-Master, they grew to like his charisma and gentleness, and were
soon on good terms.
Kokyu liked the look of the white-belts. All
of them so bright and full of vitality and vigour, and they obviously loved
Neo-Kido, as he could tell from their shining eyes and the joyful excitement
in their voices when they talked of all they had learnt to him, and how the
next day they would become colour-belts. This batch definitely showed some promise.
Marko, the sole senior student, also showed a great deal of talent.
Needless to say, Shiho got along with all of
them famously, particularly with Teken, a yellow Aisha kit about her own age.
Ki-ai, too, seemed to settle happily with the other Petpets and that Jubjub,
Mandrake, that Aihami had told him about. She had said that Mandrake had an
affinity for Petpets. It was curious.
They had conducted lifeforce training in the
afternoon by a nearby waterfall, and the endless crash of the water as it hurtled
from the rocky cliff above to the plunge pool below where it flowed away and
became the river, was almost like being back at the seashore with the waves
foaming and crashing on the beach as he, Toreb, and Shiho sat and let energy
from their lifeforces flow freely and joyously through their bodies…
Strangely enough, he noticed, he didn’t feel
a sharp pang of loss thinking of those times as he had before, but instead a
gentle ache, and the feeling that even though those good times were past, brighter
days lay ahead. Probably Toreb had found his Neo-Kidoka friends again, wherever
Startled, he realized what he was thinking.
Had the pain of losing his Master to the inevitable really passed so quickly?
He stole a glance at Aihami with his lifeforce-sharpened vision. The Aisha glowed
with an inner light of warm, pale red. She was strong. He had never met a Neo-Kidoka
with that force of healing wounds of the soul. And she was only a First-Degree.
He looked at his own lifeforce, a clear marine
blue. Could he do anything like that? He would have to discuss this with Aihami.
Later, when they could talk properly, Master to Master.
Later on, after a delicious dinner of fruits
and berries gathered from the jungle, and the white-belts had gone to bed in
their rooms, with Marko presiding over them like a watchful guardian, Aihami
sat in the training hall. Outside, the sky was an inky blue, spangled with large
bright stars like so many guiding lights. Not for the first time, she wondered
whether the lifeforce of her Master was somewhere up there among them, illumined
by their pale light.
Startled, she turned. Kokyu stood framed in
the doorway of the room that led to the white-belts’ dormitory.
She smiled. “I thought you would have gone to
“I was seeing to Shiho. She’s fallen asleep,
and I couldn’t, so I came out. She’s settled in fine here. I’m sure she’ll be
Aihami looked at him. “She’ll be...? Then you’ll
Kokyu smiled gently. “Of course I will. You
look as if you’re short of Masters here anyway, and we never really got a chance
to have a proper talk, did we?”
“Why don’t we, now.” She settled on the floor,
kneeling, in a Neo-Kidoka position. Its cushioning mats were now folded and
piled up neatly in a corner. She patted the floor in front of her. “Sit. You
start then. Where did you come from, and what did Shiho mean when she started
Kokyu plopped down in the designated spot and
told her everything. About how Toreb-Master had first found him as a kit, wandering
alone along the coast, hungry, tired, crusted with sand and salt, and with no
memory of where he had come from. How the kindly Acara had taken him in to where
he lived a hermit’s life in a sea cave under the cliffs, fed him and provided
for him, and trained him to become a Neo-Kidoka. How eventually, through his
Master’s guidance and leadership, he had become a Master. How one day while
strolling on the shore he had found Shiho, and taken him in to be trained. And
of course, how Toreb had told him of a Neo-Kido training hall in the jungle,
to the east, and told him to go there with Shiho, because he was fast nearing
the end of his life’s journey.
When he had finished Aihami looked at him, her
dark eyes compassionate. “As I said,” she whispered, “I know what it is to lose
the one who trained you... who moulded you... without whom you would not know
what you know or be who you are.”
She proceeded to tell him of her own Master,
Naro the Kougra, who had heard of how she wanted to be the best fighter in the
Battledome, and who had taken her to this training hall and trained her in Neo-Kido.
Through his teachings, and the art itself, she had lost her love of battling
and became a striver for peace, and harmony. Naro, who had departed several
days after her First-Degree Master’s test, and whose last wish had been for
her to discover the hidden powers of the lifeforce, and to spread their art
throughout Neopia. This wish had led her to strengthen her lifeforce more and
more, and finally, one day, without trying, she had been able to see lifeforce
Kokyu looked at her wonderingly. “Wow... I could
only see lifeforce energy just before my Second-degree test.”
“It just happened by chance. It was there that
I found out how to use lifeforce energy to calm things and to heal wounds, not
wounds of the body but wounds of the soul, which no healing potion can touch,
I’m sure you know of those. I just knew what to do. I also discovered, with
time, my students are starting to display their own power. I believe everyone
has a particular thing they use their lifeforces for that they are best at.
Aragon once pushed himself past his physical limits with lifeforce energy. Mandrake
can talk to Petpets...”
“Oh, so that explains the way he has with them...
Can one really use lifeforce energy for something like that? I never realized...”
“Neither did I, until I had students of my own.
You can observe them, and learn to teach their different personalities, and
watch them as they develop not just their lifeforces and reflexes, but how the
art soothes their souls, makes them understand why peace and harmony are so
precious. Neo-Kido, I think, has something to offer for all.”
She got up and padded across to the training
hall’s main door; looked up into the night.
“Sometimes I wonder whether Naro-Master is up
there-well, his lifeforce, anyway, his essence. Up in the sky, among the stars...”
Kokyu joined her. “Maybe my Toreb-Master is
with him. Maybe all their old friends are there, who trained with them in the
past. You never know.”
Aihami turned to smile at him. “It’s something
I’ve always dreamed was true. Come on, it’s late. We’d best get to sleep. Remember,
tomorrow’s a big day for the white-belts.”
Kokyu turned to enter the male pets’ dormitory,
but paused with his paw on the doorframe. He looked back at her.
“Aihami... one other thing worries me. Those
pets we met in the jungle, the ones in the red uniforms... where did they come
from? Who were they?
Aihami shrugged, her face suddenly serious.
“I don’t know... I’ve never seen them before. Did they say something at any
time to give you any sort of clue?”
“They said something about an Aisha... about
a Champion wanting them to bring back an Aisha...”
“A red Aisha,” Aihami murmured. “Shiho’s red...
they were going after Shiho, not you. Then they came at me...”
Kokyu scratched his head tiredly. “Well, I suppose
the other questions will have to be left unanswered, at least for now.” He grinned
at her. “As you said, we ought to get to sleep, or tomorrow we’ll be so sleepy
that we’ll be making all of them black-belts tomorrow.”
Aihami laughed at that. “You’re right, Master.
“You did what…”
The green Krawk trembled, his bright scarlet
uniform, loose as it was, soaked with sweat both from the battle earlier in
the day and the thought of facing their Champion. Now he stood before the very
Neopet himself in the dark hall, built of deep red stone and lit by only a few
candles. At the other end of the long hall, the figure of the Champion was swathed
in shadows. Only his orange eyes could be seen, glinting dangerously as they
reflected the dim candlelight.
His nine companions fidgeted nervously around
him. One of them, a large Kougra, was wincing slightly as his uniform chafed
his bruises, which had become more and more tender on their trek back to the
The Krawk gathered courage and spoke up again.
“We found the Aisha, Champion-Taruuk. But…she…she got away. They fought us off…defeated
“Fought you off?” The Champion’s eyes glinted
dangerously. “And how many were there?”
The Krawk swallowed hard. “T-two. Aishas, that
is, including the red one. And a young one too…that makes three...”
“Defeated by two Aishas and a young one. Our
The Champion eased his up strongly built frame
and paced over to his nine Champions-in-Training as they shrunk to the floor
in fear. Close up, the magnificent Eyrie towered over them, an apparition of
strength and muscle power, looking immensely impressive with his shadow coloured
coat and feathers contrasting sharply with his red uniform.
Glaring down at them now, his fierce eyes glittering
with malice, the ten pets seemed to sink even lower into the ground. The Eyrie
turned his gaze away from them suddenly as a new figure hobbled into view.
It was an elderly
Techo, his scales dulled and grey with age. His eyes gleamed with rage that
had, over the long years it had been hoarded within, turned to hatred and loathing.
He glanced balefully up at the Supreme Champion.
“Did they get the Aisha?”
“Found the Aisha,” stated the Champion impassively,
without changing expression. “Didn’t catch her.”
The Techo snarled as he turned on the Champions.
“Fools! Incapable imbeciles! You let her get away! If you do not bring me the
“I will see to it they do, Head Champion- Horak,”
the Champion said quietly.
Still growling and muttering to himself, the
Techo left the hall, vanishing into the shadows of one of the dark passageways
Champion-Taruuk once again cast his glinting
eyes on his Champions. “Catch the Aisha unawares. Make sure you bring her back
the next time, or our Head Champion will never be placated…”