On The Revolution of Heavenly Spears: Part Two
When Ryshu entered the school the next day, he had absolutely no idea what to expect.
He had a few theories, though none of them were concrete: first, that the Master wouldn’t be there to welcome him, and second, that he was expected to be in the same room as the one he was in the day before.
His first theory was correct. The school seemed to be empty; the Master was nowhere to be seen.
He smiled to himself. Now he finally knew what it was like to be a student again, anxious at what trick the teacher would play or (rarely) treat the teacher would reward. He was still grinning from ear to ear when he entered the room, completely unaware of the fact that…
Ryshu’s instincts kicked into gear before he himself knew what exactly was going on or even got hold of his bearings – a skill he had worked on painstakingly as he practised in the Battledome, along, of course, with his natural agility. Looking back at where he had been just a few seconds back, he was shocked to find an arrow still quivering from the force with which it had been fired.
It is a good thing indeed that sound travels faster than arrows.
Ryshu’s body inevitably trembled like a freshly-made jelly as he turned to face his new opponent.
It was a witty-looking blue Draik. Thank goodness, his mind processed, once again without his full consciousness. An ally.
“I’m sorry to have frightened you, Ryshu, but that was part of my teaching. If you didn’t catch that, lesson number three is to breeze through new dangers as you would float through air.”
Ryshu took deep breaths to calm himself down, studying the Draik in front of him warily, yet wearily. Who was he, and what was he doing here?
The Draik smiled. “You don’t seem to have recognised me, despite having assisted me before.”
But then, quite by chance, Ryshu did, in fact, know who the being in front of him was. He returned the smile warmly.
“How have you been, Valrigard?”
It turned out that after his escape from Meridell Castle a few years back, Valrigard had remained in disguise as a dedicated battler, a hobby he had purposefully selected in defensive preparation for a possible attack should a Meridellian guard see through his fake outfits. Plus, his exceptional agility which had been instrumental in his escape could be attributed to none other than the training offered by the Techo Master and Ryshu, so it was one of his main goals to return the favour by becoming a better student there and perhaps one day contributing to their services.
“When the Techo Master asked me to help train you, I was rather surprised, but of course I readily accepted, knowing this was a brilliant way to express my gratitude for how you both helped, however indirectly, all those years back.” Valrigard explained, taking a sip out of the cup that Ryshu had hastened to pour.
“I’m definitely not as proficient a battler as you are, seeing how you reacted so quickly just now, but I have been studying the ways of air, and those may help. In some situations, at least,” he continued, removing the arrow from the wall and revealing, much to Ryshu’s relief, that it was just a child’s plaything, albeit being a very well-crafted, realistic-looking one.
Ryshu interrupted him. “No, I have much to learn, just as everyone does. Thank you for coming back to the school. Your training will be most appreciated, and go a long way towards helping me improve.”
The Draik smiled.
“Well, I guess we should begin. We have much to cover before sunset, especially since I heard there will be a heavy thunderstorm tonight.” He finished his sentence as he finished his drink, returning the cup with a quick mutter of thanks.
Ryshu’s ears perked up. “Oh? Does the weather play a role in our training?”
Valrigard glanced up coolly, though with evident excitement in his eyes. “You’ll see.”
“So,” Valrigard muttered as they walked into the open air. “What was lesson number three, exactly?”
Ryshu stumbled for a while, trying to find the right words. He laughed. “Is that lesson number four? To recall your master’s words as they are? To pay attention to your master’s lips when they move?”
His teacher rolled his eyes. “Very funny. I will repeat myself once more. Lesson number three is to breeze through new dangers…”
Five minutes later Ryshu was on top of the world. Literally.
“…’as you would float through air’? This was your intention all along?! You have got to be kidding me!”
The powers of wind Valrigard possessed were clearly exceptional. Not only was he able to lift an entire being up into the air, he was also able to do so in mid-flight, with seemingly little effort. It was obvious that he had had much practice, something Ryshu admired greatly. Sure, Ryshu could levitate when he meditated as the Techo Master had trained him, but flying was a different level altogether. He felt like a feather – not a completely pleasant experience, as many would assume. It literally had its ups and downs.
“You should be appreciating this, you know. Experiencing this is something most Neopians dream about, but never have the opportunity to try. Besides, it’s relevant to your training, as you have just realised. I mean, what’s a mere description of floating compared to the joyous feeling of flight? Seeing is believing, right?”
“I suppose,” Ryshu muttered, still thrashing about recklessly. “I’m going to have to practice a lot more though, if I’m going to be as good as you.”
As the Nimmo fumbled again and again with trying to control his position, Valrigard glanced past him into the surroundings, with a curiously odd expression. “Drats, turns out the weatherman was right, after all…”
Ryshu froze, understanding immediately. He didn’t waste a second. “Well, put me down, quick! We have to get out before the thunderstorm hits us!”
But Valrigard did nothing, keeping his expression neutral. Considering that it was an urgent matter involving someone other than himself, his intentionally slow manner was impolite, to say the least.
Sure enough, Ryshu’s panic quickly changed to impatience. “Valrigard, please. We don’t have much time to spare.” As he tried to maintain his composure he inevitably caught sight of the clouds behind him.
They were white as snow, with not a single hint of a storm or even one in the process of brewing.
Puzzled, Ryshu turned back to face a now surprisingly serious-looking Draik. He was unsure whether or not to feel furious at having been tricked, or be impressed by Valrigard’s convincing act.
Valrigard made the decision for him, speaking noticeably slower this time to make sure Ryshu caught every word. “Lesson number four. Take things lightly, especially when it comes from your opponent.” He slowly settled the both of them to the ground.
Ryshu settled on awe.
Just as the previous day had ended rather abruptly, time had passed quickly this time too. Ryshu was anything but regretful at the day’s ending, however. It had been very productive, he knew, and he was glad. He, of course, enjoyed the feeling of putting in effort and seeing it pay off.
“I hope you’ve learnt a thing or two from me today,” said Valrigard, smiling. “It was very nice seeing you again, and definitely my pleasure to pass on my teachings to you. I will be getting back to my dwelling to prepare for the next day of training.”
Ryshu grinned. “I won’t forget your lessons, don’t worry. You’ve been the best teacher so far.”
The Draik lifted his chin in mock arrogance, putting on a hilariously exaggerated expression of smugness.
“Though, I mean, that’s hardly anything to brag about.” Ryshu laughed, playfully sticking his tongue out. “There’s only been two teachers until now.”
The two reached the exit to the school just as it began to get dark.
“Oh dear, I should get back as soon as I can. Hopefully it doesn’t really rain until I reach Meridell! Weathermen these days are truly so awful at prediction, haha. And I did mean what I said just now as a joke.”
He paused at the door, as if relishing the moment. Then he turned back, eyes lighting up like a lantern. “Oh! I almost forgot. I wanted to give you something –” He handed Ryshu a well-polished castle-shaped bottle of red and blue liquids, magically mixed together in perfect synchronisation. As it was a symbolic icon, Ryshu recognised it at once.
The Potion of Meridell Castle.
“It might or might not serve you well in battle, but I guess if it doesn’t work you can always keep it, in remembrance of me and my record-breaking escape.” Valrigard smiled. “Remember: win with wind.” He made a final brief but sincere comment on the excellent flavour of the tea served that afternoon before taking to the skies, bidding a final farewell.
Ryshu stood at the doorway for a while, smiling to himself once more. Then he went back into the school to shut its windows and close it for the day. For that moment he allowed himself to daydream, thinking about the adventures (and misadventures) he might face the next day. They might be tedious. They might be exciting. But he knew for sure that with the brilliant mind of the Techo Master, he would be as terrible as the weathermen in predicting the future events. He would cross that bridge with he came to it, he told himself.
Far off in the distance, the first drop of rain fell, boldly announcing the blatant arrival of a heavy downpour. Obligingly, the thunder rumbled in a dramatic crescendo…