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To Be A Master: Dreams - Part Two


by shelleylow

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She was flying again, soaring up above the clouds to where the moon reflected the brightness of the day. Once more she hung in the dark void of space among the curveting stars. But this time she wasn't alone...

      'Aihami.'

      It was not Naro-Master's voice, not a voice that resounded through her head and through the limitless expanse all about her...but it was a voice she knew...

      'Kokyu?'

      She looked to her left. There he was, floating beside her, looking bemused.

      'Where have we come?'

      'The stars...'

      It was both an answer and an observation. They were moving again, those bright spots of heat and light, into two groups this time, and before long two starry Neopets stood before them in the black sky: a Kougra and an Acara.

      'Toreb-Master...'

      Aihami heard Kokyu breathe the name in wonder. She looked to her own Master. For he was, unmistakably, Naro-Master, for all his glittering splendour, for all that he seemed to have regained the physique and proud flowing gait of a young Kougra. Was this really a dream? Somehow, it was hard to tell…

      She felt Naro's chuckle rather than heard it.

      Yes. Perhaps after a fashion it is a dream. And yet... it is not. Such a thing is hard to explain.

      Paradoxical, Toreb added, cheekily. That is the word, Naro. You always need me to tell you these things. Must you insist on making everything sound so mystical-like?

      Quiet, you fool Acara, Naro replied, but there was still a laugh in his tone. He swiped at the star-studded Acara with a glistening paw.

      Toreb, laughing, spun out of his way with boundless grace as the two Aishas watched unbelievingly. Here were their two ever composed and dignified Masters behaving like kits. Aihami wondered how exactly long they had really known each other.

      But enough play, Naro said, as he abandoned his pursuit of Toreb. The two amber-coloured stars in his face were grave. We must talk, Aihami, and you, Kokyu, as well.

      'What about?'

      The Neo-Rakarr.

      Kokyu was instantly on the alert. 'Yes... the Neo-Rakarr... those red-clothed pets? What is it about them?'

      We have been at odds for a long time, Toreb said, grimly. They do not believe in our creed, and we do not believe in theirs, either. There had to be some sort of clash.

      One took place, a very long time ago. We were involved in it. Naro shook his sleek glittering head as if to blot out the memory. They were gone for such a long time; I at least, thought they were eradicated. But it seems they have returned now...

      To spread their message of their fighting style, Neo-Rak, stated Toreb simply, but there was an underlying hint of great disapproval in his voice. The message of violence. Innocent young pets are being taken away to learn how to fight, and hurt, and hate and kill, and if they refuse then they themselves are left in the Mountains to fend for themselves. It happens again and again. We have seen it and grieved.

     'We...can't possibly...let them,' Aihami whispered sadly. 'No more.'

      I did not think you would want this to continue, my student, Naro added quietly. As anti-conflict as the Neo-Kidoka are, we all agreed something had to be done.

      Kokyu looked at Toreb-Master in horror. The gleaming Acara gazed back at him with calm, but sad eyes. It is true, Kokyu. That is what happens, up there in those lonely barren mountains where nobody goes.

      And something must be done, now, in this day and time, he continued. Which is why we have alerted you both. No one else knows about them, and how they travel from place to place at a time, picking up student after eager student with the promises of strength and prowess, without pay, and going through all the levels at a super rate. And so they take the offer, and either end up lost and afraid in the mountains, or perhaps worse, a hard, cruel creature without any feeling or compassion for anyone, whose only thought is to gain more strength, more power, so that they can be strong. It's a wonder that they are still recruiting new students. I suppose that is why there are so few Champions.

      If someone is to do something, it is you, Naro put in. You, the Neo-Kidoka. We could send our plea to any other pet in Neopia, but it is you we choose because you alone are Neo-Kidoka, students we have trained up with our own paws and lifeforces, last ones left in Neopia. You have the skill, knowledge and power to defend yourselves against your opposition, but at the same time you know how to be soft, gentle and compassionate. If we were to seek aid from the best warriors in the Battledome - and here the amber eyes twinkled briefly at Aihami - only more violence and pain and killing would result, on both sides. You have to have balance power with empathy. And that is why the Neo-Kidoka must now face the Neo-Rakarr, now, for the last time.

     Aihami felt something on her paw, a single warm spot in the cold of space. Looking down with surprise, she saw Kokyu's paw clasping her own. Looking up at him, she saw him nod resolutely at the two Masters.

     'We will, Toreb-Master, Naro-Master.'

     She looked up at the Masters again and echoed Kokyu's words. 'Yes, we will rise against the creed of Neo-Rak. I promise that I will do all that is within my power to stop them. But oh, Naro-Master,' she added, softly, 'there must have been hundreds of Neo-Rakarr in that castle. And of the Neo-Kidoka there are only Kokyu and myself who are Masters... I can't possibly expect the Juniors and Marko to spar with them. How can we...'

     I shall leave you to find the answer to that question, the star Kougra replied. His voice was sounding fainter, and he was getting smaller. Looking at Toreb-Master, she saw him shrinking too.

     Once, long ago, you hit upon it.

     Naro-Master, don't go, don't leave me... not now...

     I will always be with you, she heard his fading voice call back to her. There was a hint of a teasing note in his voice as he called to her again.

     And remember what I told you - size doesn't matter. The bigger they are...

     '...The harder they fall.'

      She finished the oft-repeated phrase in an inaudible whisper, tears starting to form in her eyes again, just as she felt herself slipping away…

     ***

     She didn't fall out of her bunk this time. Sure enough, she did feel as if she had fallen from a great height; her heartbeats were rapid and she could have sworn the bunk was swaying slightly. She could feel the warm, furry presence of Nage close by her left ear. Her sojourn among the stars was as inexplicable as the previous time.

     But this time, there had been Kokyu...

     Getting to her feet, the red Aisha tiptoed on silent paws so as not to wake her Meekins or her female students, still fast asleep and dreaming serenely in the darkness of the room: Koura and Keota, the Eyrie twins, Emlyn the Shoyru, Faille the tiny Zafaress, Shiho the Aisha, and Aria the Chomby. Quietly she slid open the screen door and emerged into the dim glow of the candles in the hallway.

     Sure enough, there he was, standing there some distance down, in front of the boys' dorm. His eyes held some confusion, but mostly wonder.

     "Aihami...did that really happen?"

     She felt a smile growing on her face. "Of course it did."

     He returned the smile, awkwardly. "So then. We are the ones chosen to go and deal with these Neo-Rakarr. Question is, how will we go about it?"

     Aihami beckoned with a paw. "Come, come, let's go and sit outside. I think better when the air is fresh."

      The two Aishas paced leisurely to the front door of the training hall and sat down on the short flight of steps leading to it from the jungle ground. It was still dark, but through the canopy above, the sky was beginning to pale slightly. Aihami felt somehow glad for the tree cover high above. It made her feel secure, in the knowledge that no one could see the training hall from above, if someone were in fact to come searching for it, from the air...

      As they sat in the cool, damp air of early morning, Aihami turned to Kokyu.

     "I think I know what he meant," she said slowly.

      "What?"

      "The morning that you came, after class. I was worrying about whether I'd be able to cope with all the new students arriving in by myself. I felt a bit silly, but I found myself... well, asking Naro-Master for help. And then I wondered... suppose Naro-Master's other contemporaries and fellow students who trained with him in Neo-Kido... suppose they had students too, and trained them up to become Masters? Wouldn't those students be out there somewhere?"

      Kokyu grinned. "Judging by the way those two seemed to know each other, I'd say you've found one."

      "Exactly. I wonder just how many of them there are, out there in the jungle... But as I said, I think that's the answer."

      Kokyu picked up on her thoughts. "If we can all get together, hold some sort of conference..."

      "...we can figure out how to deal with the Neo-Rakarr," Aihami finished, a slow smile spreading over her face. "The only problem is finding them, wherever they are... But I think they're all on Mystery Island, somehow. It's a gut feeling, but..."

      "More than likely. The other thing is what to do about Marko, Otau and the other Juniors..."

      Aihami thought for a spell. "Well... we could take them with us, I suppose..."

      "What, all of them?"

      "I don't trust the Neo-Rakarr. I mean, I don't believe they consider us much of a threat. After all, we are so few, and they are so many, like I said. And how could they know that you saved me? A school without teachers is a body with no head. It cannot survive."

      She lowered her head, and when she spoke again there was an edge to her voice. "I think they may return to finish us off once and for all, and I'm not leaving the Juniors and Marko by themselves when it happens. Besides," and here the hard note vanished and a new one, almost like a laugh, took its place, "do you think they'd want to be left out of something like this?"

      "Left out of what?"

      The two Aishas turned their heads to see little Faille, the Zafara, looking at them with large, bemused eyes.

      "Sorry, Aihami-Master, Kokyu-Master," she apologized, dropping to her knees in a bow, "but I couldn't help listening, and it's nearly time for class. We're all waiting for you."

      All the other students were clustered impatiently at the screen door leading to the training hall. The dawn sky had been steadily lightening as they talked, and now it was shades of delicate, pale colours, trembling in anticipation of the sun that would turn them all to a bright and beautiful white-blue-gold.

      Aihami did laugh this time. "Of course, Faille. We should be starting now." She acknowledged the little Zafaress's bow, and then she and Kokyu got up to walk into the training hall.

      "But after class, there is something Kokyu-Master and I would like to discuss with all of you."

      There was a crashing through the bushes, and four Neopets suddenly tumbled out of them in a spray of leaves: a Starry Zafara, sporting a faded orange bandanna tied around his head, a Golden Gelert, a Fire Grarrl and a Christmas Peophin, followed by a human girl. All of them performed kneeling bows.

      "'Pologies, Aihami-Masta'," said the Zafara hurriedly. "Are we late for class?"

      "No, as a matter of fact, you four are just in time, Flo," Aihami said seriously. "Come in and we'll get started. But after that there is something we must all discuss. Together, as Neo-Kidoka."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» To Be A Master: Dreams - Part One
» To Be A Master: Dreams - Part Three



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