On The Revolution of Heavenly Spears: Part Three
On the third day, Ryshu found a Maraquan Acara in the room. This time, he definitely didn’t recognise her. He knew that with certainty.
…or did he?
“Hi, I’m Ryshu. May I ask who you are?”
The Acara kept her expression neutral. “My name is Noire, but I’m not your teacher. I’m just a messenger for my King.”
“The King?” Ryshu started, before realising where Noire came from. “You don’t mean… King Kelpbeard?”
She glanced at her watch impatiently. “We have to hurry. He said this is very urgent, and I do have other tasks to attend to.”
With that, she walked out of the room with the Nimmo following behind in mute disbelief.***
Equipped with the famous necklace worn by all outsiders for the ability to breathe underwater, Ryshu plunged into Maraqua’s azure blue ocean and followed Noire into a hidden chamber. Or at least that was what it appeared to be like, to him. The water surrounding the chamber, at that depth, seemed harder to see through than usual.
Then, Ryshu had to memorise a set of directions given to him in a rush by the Acara as to which way he should turn to get to the King’s training room. He handled this coolly, confident that he could rely on his memory. But the speed of her words and the murky environment, combined with his peculiar swimming position, made it much too difficult to concentrate. He almost felt like he was losing touch with reality, as he drifted into a daydream-state.
“Wait!” Ryshu quickly yelled out, seeing Noire already swimming away. “Can you repeat that?”
But she didn’t stop, or, for that matter, even look back.
Ryshu wanted to kick himself for not paying attention. He was angry with the Acara for her ignorance, but at the same time he knew it was partially his own fault, especially since Noire did, after all, have other things to do. Things probably more urgent that entertaining an incompetent student, even if he was one of the King.
He closed his eyes, silently panicking. What should he do now? At that point he was seriously considering the possibility of going into each of the rooms one by one and checking them for any sign of a training room, which would take hours if not days. That is, if not for a sudden sensing of a movement in a distant, very distant corner of the chamber.
Ryshu snapped his eyes open. Was that his imagination?
It couldn’t have been. He knew that someone had just entered the chamber. If he followed now, he might have time…
Ryshu quickly brushed away all other thoughts and set out to pursuit the swimmer, intent on catching up with and talking to him/her. He knew this was his only chance.
At some points when Ryshu couldn’t locate his lead due to either the dimness of the room or his comparatively slower speed, he paused and searched for clues, which happened to be rather easy to find. Footsteps in the sand, mainly, but sometimes even the distant but unmistakable sound of fins brushing against the water or perhaps a sleepy guard working on shift, who could point him in the right direction. These took some effort but were never impossible to discover.
He couldn’t help wondering if they were left deliberately.
At that exact moment, he stumbled onto a crossroad of sorts where he knew he had to make the final decision. It was one path or the other. Somehow he knew that if he chose correctly, he would end up in the right place, but if he chose wrongly…
Again, Ryshu brushed away that line of thought and focused on solving the problem at hand.
Yet, however much he tried this time, there was nothing which pointed to an obvious answer. At one point he thought that since his lead had turned left more than right, the answer would be the path on the left. But thinking more closely, he realised it was just a coincidence. His lead had only turned left twice more than he turned right.
Time was running out; he didn’t want to keep the King waiting. He had to make a choice.
Relying on his pure instincts and nothing else (which was difficult enough), Ryshu chose the left path, and opened the door at the end.
He knew at once that left was right.
“Lesson number five. Be resourceful. Good job, Ryshu.”***
Just as Ryshu had served his Draik guest the day before, King Kelpbeard immediately ordered some delicacies for the Nimmo, who, though somewhat embarrassed at receiving such generous service, politely accepted. When it arrived, Ryshu’s jaw positively dropped. The food was exquisite in every sense of the word.
Trying not to gulp down his drink too ferociously (since it tasted so deliciously rich), Ryshu commented his thoughts as they were, taking care to thank the King every once in a while. “Did your chef cook all this? It’s amazing.”
King Kelpbeard shook his head, smiling. “No, I ordered it from Kelp. I’m glad you enjoy it so much. Please help yourself to more.”
He continued the story he was telling as Ryshu continued to wolf down the food. “As I was saying, your Master is a very fine Neopian. He cares a lot about not just the safety of himself but also his students and even the environment around him – his island, and the neighbouring seas of Maraqua. As soon as he received the subtlest word that threat was arising, he pushed himself to investigate much, much more than a Neopian his age should, with his sole goal being to shut down any evil operations at once.”
Here he paused to look at Ryshu in the eye. “He trusted you, and for that matter, he trusted me, too, by putting you in my hands for the training today. His exact instructions were simply to familiarise you with the element of water, but I admire him too much for that.” The King smiled a brief smile that quickly vanished when he carried on seriously.
“However, I’ll have to be honest with you: I do not believe that you are able to stop Captain Scarblade. Please don’t take that the wrong way. I do not for a second mean that he is more powerful than you are, and definitely not that you are incompetent, in the least. No. I simply believe that the Captain is inhumane both mentally and physically, and hence, that he is invincible.”
Ryshu glanced up, feeling slightly defeated. “But why? You had almost stopped him once, I remember. It was only because he got lucky that he managed to escape. I’m sure that with your now greater army, you will be able to defeat him once and for all when he strikes a second time…”
The King held up a fin to interrupt Ryshu. There was a new expression on his face: one of solemnness and sincerity. Immediately, though he didn’t understand precisely why, Ryshu didn’t like where this was going.
But it wouldn’t matter. The next few words would still arrive.
“Your Master was defeated by him.”
The glass of Foozette Juice Ryshu was holding plummeted to the floor and shattered upon immediate impact. Neither party stirred from the noise, however.
“But… how? Wh… why? When did this happen?” For once in his life, the Nimmo was at a total loss for words. The room suddenly felt like it was set on a never-ending roller coaster ride in Roo Island; Ryshu rocked back and forth, as if about to faint.
The King was quick to rise, and offer him consolation. “There, there. I knew the news would hit you quite badly,” he assured. “I’m very sorry for upsetting you. I take back what I said about your inability to defeat the Captain.”
Ryshu was barely listening. Tears were already starting to accumulate at the mere thought of his dear teacher – the same one who had transformed his life, the same one who had gave him such remarkable talent in battling and the same one who had stood by him all along – being tied up to a chair or some dirty floorboard no one cared to scrub, helpless to whatever the evil Captain was doing.
Knowing it was selfish of him to disregard the King, however much pain he was going through, Ryshu used all his remaining willpower to force himself to look up, and saw only two eyes filled with welling tears of the deepest concern and understanding. It was so heartfelt, so full of empathy that he knew, at that exact moment, that he could trust the King. It was a special trust he saved only for the Master and no one else – not for his first instructor, not for the clever Shadow Usul, not even for his close pal Valrigard – and now he was sharing it with King Kelpbeard, whom he knew was not just an instructor but a teacher, just as he was not just an acquaintance but a friend.
Ryshu allowed the King to guide him out of the room into a separate dwelling that he could straightaway tell had been specially prepared for him. It was clean, comfortable and cozy beyond measure.
“I can’t… I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all that you’ve done for me, your Majesty,” Ryshu exerted himself uttering these words, but he meant them with all his heart. He realised it must have been – it was – as difficult for King Kelpbeard as it was for him, and truly admired the King for his care despite his own suffering.
The King didn’t say anything at first. He just withdrew something long, metallic and iridescent from his back, and handed it to Ryshu. The Nimmo didn’t even have to look at it to know what it was. Despite his broken, torn-up self, he jumped out, protesting, “No, please, your Majesty. I can’t accept this!”
King Kelpbeard kept silent, putting his fin on Ryshu’s shoulder. It was a moment between the teacher and the student, perhaps one of the most sincere and valuable ones in the history of training.
But then Ryshu knew it was time for him to go.
As with many, many other times, he was right. The King paused at the doorway, never once looking back. He spoke with much difficulty. “Lesson… lesson number six.”
“Never give up.”
Ryshu cried into his pillow. The trident fell from his hands onto the ground, unleashing a clang unlike any other…
To be continued…