The Parable of the Techo Master
We all have heard of the Techo Master. Over the years, many students have been in awe of his ability to levitate in addition to his seemingly infinite knowledge of the fighting arts. And in turn, many students have left the dojo out of frustration, even after having paid the codestones needed to train. But those who faithfully stay under the tutelage of the Techo Master are richly rewarded in mind, spirit, and body.
Yet, like all famous individuals, he wasn’t always like this. He even had a name once, but nobody knows it anymore. Not even he does, as relinquishing aspects of one’s identity is a necessary step on the road to enlightenment.
In his youth, well before King Coltzan’s death, he passionately desired greatness. He didn’t want to be identified by what species he was; rather, he wanted to be identified by who he was as an individual. One of these dreams of greatness was to become the best fighter in existence- to become unparalleled at combat in the Battledome. And like we all do sometimes, the Techo desperately wanted to be forever remembered for his accomplishments. In order for him to do this, however, he had to find the best teacher and eventually surpass him in skill.
He eventually did find the aforementioned teacher after a long trek up Mystery Island’s treacherous volcano, only to be denied the honor of training with the master. Instead, after hours of persistent petitions to learn how to become the best fighter there ever was, he was assigned the menial role of custodian of the master’s quarters. It was up to him to prepare meals, clean surfaces, and dust hard-to-reach corners.
All for the chance that one day, he would learn how to fight well.
And, like we sometimes do ourselves, the Techo cursed his lot in life.
“Such an arrogant master. How am I supposed to learn how to fight if I am restricted to mundane tasks only fit for a slave?” he muttered. He would complain like this many times throughout his first few years of training, but these complaints eventually subsided.
And then, the day finally came. The master instructed the Techo that he was to break routine.
“Great! What attacks will I learn today? Or will I learn how to properly block a well-thrown punch?” asked the Techo with great excitement.
“This isn’t the time for that, Techo,” the master replied. “Today I want you to fetch something for me.”
“Will you teach me after that, then?”
“What are you talking about? I’ve been teaching you this entire time.”
The Techo could only grimace in disappointment. To him, he hadn’t felt like he was a student; he had only been given a glorious promotion from custodian to custodian and gofer.
The master continued, “Have you heard of the Grand Necropolis in the Lost Desert?”
“No, I can’t say I have,” replied the Techo.
“I need you to go there and retrieve a scroll of great importance.”
“Can you tell me exactly what it looks like? Or what it says?”
“Oh, you’ll know what it looks like when you see it. Off you go.”
To the Techo, this was some silver lining. Yet, even the silver lining itself had a caveat. How was he supposed to find this Grand Necropolis? For all he knew, the place might be buried many feet below the shifting sands. And who knows how big the place itself is?
Regardless, the Techo was determined to do whatever it took to reach his goal. So he boarded a sloop headed for the Lost Desert. The voyage would last a couple of days. And for these next couple of days the young Techo had nothing but speculation about the journey ahead.
In the middle of the voyage, however, the Techo’s thinking was interrupted. In front of him was a red Lenny wearing spectacles.
“The desert is a marvel, isn’t it?”
The green Techo had no response to this question.
“So many secrets hidden under the sands. You know, the thing that has always astounded me about civilizations of the desert is the totality of their knowledge.”
The student could only nod in acknowledgement.
“And even though these secrets put our best mages to shame, some of them will never be found because they have been lost to the sands forever. We will never know of their existence, unfortunately.”
The two stood in silence for a while, looking at the vast expanse of water.
“What brings you to the Lost Desert, Techo?” he asked while adjusting his spectacles.
“I have come to complete a task for my master. And when I find what I’m looking for, I will become as great as he.” The Techo said this statement with a bit of pride in his voice.
“Ah! So you too are looking for the lost secrets of the desert. Ancient magics, perhaps?”
“Something like that, I think. My master tells me that it is an item of great importance.”
The Lenny’s quizzical gaze intensified.
“Did your master… tell you anything about the contents of this scroll?”
“All he told me was that I’d know it when I found it.”
“Such a vague and cryptic statement,” sighed the Lenny in disappointment. “But that just adds more to the fun, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah. Fun. Easy for him to say,” the student thought.
“Well, I must retire to my room to prepare for the upcoming journey. Treasures don’t find themselves you know!” And with that, the Lenny promptly left the Techo to himself.
It took several bouts of exploring uncharted desert and routine retreats to Sakhmet due to the harsh sandstorms, but eventually the Techo found an oasis in the middle of the Lost Desert. He was sure he had explored every corner of this forsaken desert at this point, and he still couldn’t find this Necropolis his master spoke of so highly.
He had to quench his thirst if he wanted to keep going. Cupping water for himself to drink, the Techo noticed that the water in the oasis was quite deep- very strange for water in the desert. But when the sun shined brightly after being blocked by the clouds, the Techo came to a realization.
The Grand Necropolis wasn’t buried under sand. It was submerged underwater!
The Techo had never been submerged underwater for the period of time it would take to reach the burial grounds, but he wouldn’t stop now that he was so close to his goal.
“Anything for greatness,” he muttered, and dived into the deep waters, not noticing the individual who was following him.
It was halfway through the dive, and already the Techo was struggling to swim the next stroke. The sheer pressure of the water made it hard for him to hold his breath. With every stroke his brain was screaming louder to breathe.
“Just a few more yards,” the Techo convinced himself. “Just a few more yards…” He passed the threshold of the temple entrance, and his vision was beginning to blur from the lack of air. But the surface of the water was so close! He couldn’t meet his end here. He had to continue! Frantically swimming towards the surface, the strokes became more frequent and jerky. And when he broke the surface, his gasps for air brought him soothing relief.
After getting on solid ground to catch his breath, the Techo lied down for a few minutes. Assessing his situation, he noticed that except for the lit brazier next to the water, the enclosed area was completely dark. He couldn’t see ten feet past the brazier. Will he have to feel for every corner and crevice just to find the scroll?
“Anything for greatness,” the Techo muttered. That phrase was becoming a mantra.
But, as he stepped into the darkness, he heard a click. Did he just activate a trap?
Suddenly, two lights on opposite sides of the subterranean cave lit, with more pairs lighting up in succession. The Techo had just triggered the ancient ones’ primitive version of a motion sensor. Relieved, he pressed on into the tombs.
It was impossible to read any of the names of the dead; their inscriptions have eroded through the ages. But the Techo could just make out some of the descriptions below said names. Such descriptions revealed the now preserved mummies to be once-famous princes, generals, and politicians.
“How ironic,” he mused, “that all these dead folk share the same fate.”
Passing by countless sarcophagi, he eventually found what he was looking for: a scroll on a pedestal! How long has he been on this journey- a week and a half? It felt like an eternity had passed given all the trials he had endured just to find this place. But the scroll his master needed was so close!
“It’s weird, really,” spoke a familiar voice from behind. “Just when you’re close to finishing your quest, you trip over from all the momentum you built.”
While turning around to address the voice speaking to him, the Techo became entangled in a net and fell to the ground, seeing a tall figure lower his net gun. It was the Lenny from the ship!
“When you spoke of this scroll your master regarded so highly, I was a bit skeptical at first,” the Lenny said as he approached the pedestal, walking past the bound Techo. “But I’ve seen writings that speak of a burial chamber that hides one of the greatest secrets ever hidden to antiquity.”
“Why- why are you doing this?”
“Are you kidding me? The ancient ones wrote magic spells that not even the most proficient wizards today could ever comprehend. With this scroll, I would become a god!” He strided up the steps to the pedestal, grabbing the scroll both parties were so desperately interested in obtaining.
The Techo slammed his eyes shut, bracing for whatever incantations the glyphs on the scroll would reveal. Moments passed. But still no spell was uttered. He slowly opened his eyes to see a dumbstruck Lenny still reading the scroll.
“I don’t understand. This is their greatest secret?”
“What does it say?”
“Bah! Take your accursed scroll. Perhaps your master will find solace in cooking the perfect omelet.” The Lenny tossed the parchment next to the still bound Techo.
“I still don’t know what you’re-”
“The ancient ones’ greatest secret is a food recipe, you nimrod! I don’t know what quest you’re on, but this was a complete waste of time.” The Lenny left the Techo alone, who was still struggling to undo the bindings of the net that kept him immobile.
The two would never meet again.
“So you have the scroll?” asked the master.
The Techo silently handed over the scroll.
“Ah, excellent!” You may resume your normal duties.” The master sat down, scroll in hand. But the Techo still stood there, in a sort of defiant manner. He had every right to do so, seeing how he risked his neck for practically nothing.
“Why are you still here?”
“I know what’s on that scroll.”
The master looked up at the Techo. He smiled, which put the Techo in a bout of righteous anger.
“Did you put me through all of this just for better tasting food? Is that what matters to you? I’ve never complained to you even once, and you haven’t taught me anything!”
The master remained calm in composure.
“I told you, I’ve been teaching you this entire time.”
“I came here to become a better fighter, not a butler!”
The master took a deep breath, and calmly asked, “What do you think will happen when you become a good fighter?”
The Techo was surprised by this sudden yet calm inquiry.
“I would become famous and have a great reputation in the Battledome.”
“Ah, so fame is what you’re after, right?”
The Techo sighed.
“Tell me, do you recall any names of the dead in the tombs you explored?”
“No, I couldn’t read any of them.”
The master leaned back in his chair, still calm in countenance.
“In ancient times, it was a privilege to be buried in a tomb,” he lectured. “The commoners couldn’t afford it. If you were a noble or a member of royalty, you would be placed in an ornate sarcophagus with your name inscribed for generations to look back and remember.”
The Techo listened intently, his gaze softening.
“Yet those very inscriptions I speak of you couldn’t even read. The mightiest of warlords and the most cunning of princes long ago all share the same fate: oblivion. Nobody remembers them.”
Silence passed between the two.
“So… it doesn’t matter how good I become, because I will eventually be forgotten?”
“That is correct. And this is true for all of us. Ah, fame… thou art a fickle mistress.”
The Techo had no response.
“This is the second lesson I have taught you now,” said the master.
“Second? What was the first?”
“Oh, it’s still ongoing, but I think you’re getting the hang of it. You can have the rest of the day off,” dismissed the master with a flick of his hand.
And so concluded a journey that helped make the Techo Master into the very knowledgeable sage he is today. Every now and then, his master would send him on more quests for obscure items of questionable rarity (although some of the items were valuable, just to keep the Techo on his toes.) In return, the Techo learned invaluable lessons and techniques, such as how to make the perfect quiche, the nature of suffering, and eventually how to block a well-thrown punch.
But that is a story for another day.