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A Lesson in Respect

by fallingdaybreak


     Kisatoraneko swung her blade at the training dummy, and it's straw head went flying off in an instant. The baby kougra ran up to another dummy, throwing her sword in the air before leaping upwards, grabbing her sword, and slashing downwards. Within seconds, the dummy split in half, with Kisatoraneko rising up, panting. Her recent training with the Ogrin Master had certainly paid off. Pulling off the leaping move with her blade, though once difficult, was now an easy feat for her.

     “Kisatoraneko,” a wise voice spoke behind Kisatoraneko.

     Kisatoraneko turned around, and the Ogrin Master stood, having watched the young Kougra's training. Upon spotting the wise Ogrin, Kisatoraneko immediately turned and bowed in respect.

     “Master! I apologize, I didn't realize you were watching.”

     The Ogrin Master said nothing as he walked closer and noticed the slashed training dummies. “I see your training has been paying off,” he simply stated.

     Kisatoraneko nodded happily as she glanced back at the fruits of her labor. “Yes! I don't mean to brag Master, but I think I'm ready to take my training a step further!” Kisatoraneko's chest almost puffed out in pride. But the Ogrin Master only stared silently, but his eyebrows furrowed in a strict stare.

     It wasn't that he doubted the young Kougra's strength, just the opposite, actually. Kisatoraneko was quite talented with a blade and she'd defeated opponents much larger in size than her in the past. In reality, it was just her pride that needed work. Kisatoraneko was prone to boasting about her strength to other students, which often led her to unruly fights outside of training. But the Ogrin Master knew that keeping that pride under control wasn't going to be easy, as first and foremost, Kisatoraneko was a Tora-Kougra. Her light yellow-orange fur was lined with tan stripes, a trait all members of the Tora clan shared. Though the Tora clan once resided high in the Shenkuu mountaintops, they have since vanished for reasons unknown.

     The Tora clan were a proud clan, a trait that shined prominently in Kisatoraneko, the only current living member of the clan as far as the Ogrin Master knew. They prided themselves in their excellent fighting styles, their agility, and their talents in scaling the foggy mountains of Shenkuu. One rule that all members the Tora clan followed was that in a fight, no matter how strong the enemy was or how outnumbered they were, they were never to turn their backs and run away - they were to fight, even if it meant to their last breaths.

     This Tora pride had made the Ogrin Master angry with Kisatoraneko on numerous occasions. But underneath that anger, something else festered - fear. Fear that when Kisatoraneko was older, her pride would get the better of her, and her life would be cut down too soon. She had already lost one eye in one fight against an ambush against wraiths, against the Ogrin Master's orders to withdraw.

     “Not yet,” he answered with a strict voice. “While I have no doubts about your abilities, you are not ready to face another opponent, not after last time.”

     Kisatorneko's eyes (or rather, eye) widened. “What do you mean, 'not ready'? I've already perfected my leap and slash attack! What else needs training?”

     The Ogrin Master's stare furrowed into a stern glare. “You need to train your prideful nature, young Tora. I understand that you take the teachings of your clan to heart, you must understand that under my instruction, they are not to apply. And most importantly, you must learn respect.”

     “Respect?” Kisatoraneko raised an eyebrow.

     The Ogrin Master nodded. “Not only does your nature get the better of you, when you defeat an opponent, you brag. You insult their honor, their pride as a warrior, and such behavior will not be tolerated.”

     Kisatoraneko's eye went to the ground. The Ogrin Master did have a point. She did have a habit of bad-mouthing her opponents after each victory, but in no way did Kisatoraneko mean it. She was just joking, but clearly, the Ogrin Master did not see it that way, nor did she think it mattered to him. Noticing the young Kougra's wayward gaze, he continued.

     “I want to imagine that you were just defeated in a fight. How would you feel if your opponent talked poorly about you, mock your talents and pride as a fighter?”

     Almost immediately, Kisatoraneko's eye flared in anger. “I'd shove their words right down their fat throat and give them a taste of their own medicine once I'm done with them!”

     "Quiet!!" The Ogrin Master shouted in an annoyed yell, slamming his cane on the ground, shocking Kisatoraneko into silence. He did not like raising his voice, but this was a situation where he needed to. Once his anger had subsided, he spoke again, his anger restrained, but his annoyance not.

     “That is the issue there, Kisatoraneko. You cannot 'give them a taste of their own medicine', otherwise you'd just sink to their lowly level. I understand that is not what you want, correct?”

     Kisatoraneko's gaze went to the ground once again, cinching her fangs. Having had enough to say to the Kougra, the Ogrin Master turned around, but not before sparing her one final glance.

     “Once you have thoroughly thought about this conversation, come find me. Only then will I consider another sparring lesson for you.”

     - - - - - - -

     Several days passed. The Ogrin Master silently observed Kisatoraneko's training like he always did. But he noticed that the Kougra's strikes were more aggressive, more violent compared to before his lecture. Her fangs were bared in snarls, something he'd never seen out of Kisatoraneko before. Even when he asked her, she was tight-lipped. For a moment, he pondered about his lecture before. Was it really pointless to teach this girl about respect, when all it produced was heightened aggression out of her?

     Then against his better judgment, he accepted when Kisatoraneko asked for a sparring match. Compared to her sudden aggression, her request came with an unexpected calmness. He had no idea where this sharp change suddenly came from, but his earlier doubts vanished, just for a second, enough for him to approve of this match.

     Now he stood in the middle of the training grounds, in silent regret. Kisatoraneko took her stance to the left, a wooden shinai in hand. Slowly, her opponent came out, a young blue Aisha. She gripped her wooden shinai almost nervously as she looked at the scarred Kisatoraneko, who looked back with a glare.

     “This is Kaede. Now... are the two of you ready?” A sinking feeling sunk in the Ogrin Master's stomach. Kaede was strong, it was just comparison to Kisatoraneko, it was not enough. Kaede was also quite the gentle one outside of combat, and the Ogrin Master feared that such a nature would hinder her, especially against such an aggressive opponent.

     “Yes!” Kisatoraneko answered briskly.

     “Y-Yes, Master!” Kaede answered.

     “Good. Now...begin!”

     Almost instantly, Kisatoraneko darted forward, drawing her arm back only to swing her shinai at Kaede's face. The Aisha quickly drew her shinai up to block, but still getting knocked back slightly. But Kisatoraneko sprinted forward once again, only one arm gripping her shinai now. She swung again and again, with Kaede barely blocking each one.

     “Come on! Hit me back already!” Kisatoraneko barked amidst her strikes, and in that instant, the Ogrin Master's worst fears were confirmed. He felt foolish, letting his doubts fade so quickly earlier on.

     “I-I..!” Kaede managed to say timidly before one of Kisatoraneko's strikes whacked her in the cheek, sending her nearly off her feet. But Kisatoraneko wasn't done, as she charged at Kaede once again, fangs bared. For a moment, Kaede was frozen at the sight of the young Kougra charging at her, her face warped in horror. The Ogrin Master opened his mouth, about to call the match off before Kisatoraneko could do any further harm.

     But before he could find his voice, Kaede's face hardened in a glare, as she suddenly ran towards the Kougra, shinai drawn. She quickly ducked under Kisatoraneko's strikes before kicking the Kougra in her stomach, now sending Kisatoraneko skidding back. But instead of her anger rising, the Kougra stared back with an almost impressed look.

     “Not bad! But I'm afraid that's not enough to defeat me!” Letting out a battle cry, she charged again, but now Kaede charged as well, both shinais clashing with equal strength. It was one hit after another. Kisatoraneko whacked Kaede in the hip, but Kaede got back at her with a strike to the shoulder. The Ogrin Master watched both girls intently, impressed with the amount of tenacity they both showed.

     But after one hit from Kaede, Kisatoraneko saw her opportunity - Kaede's side was wide open. Yelling again, she raised her leg in a vicious kick to the hip, knocking Kaede off her feet and on her side, now lying on her side, wincing. Kisatoraneko walked up to the Aisha, pointing her shinai at the fallen girl's neck.

     The Ogrin Master stared closer. Thank Fyora that Kaede found the strength to fight back, but in the end, it was still not enough to defeat Kisatoraneko.

     Kisatoraneko opened her mouth, a smirk stretching across her lips at first. The sinking feeling once again returned in the Ogrin Master's stomach.

     But slowly, her smirk faded as she drew back her shinai. Kisatoraneko stretched out her hand to Kaede, who looked at her in confusion. Kisatoraneko only chuckled jokingly.

     “Come on. Lying down there doesn't seem too comfortable.”

     Kaede's initial confusion was quickly replaced with relief as she took Kisatoraneko's hand, the Kougra helping her to her feet.

     “That was a good fight, don't you think? You definitely have talent with a shinai. “ She laughed, which Kaede soon joining in, both girls looking quite happy despite being slightly bruised here and there.

     Any doubts and worries the Ogrin Master had completely disappeared at this sight. A swelling sense of his own pride took its place, at seeing Kisatoraneko not mock her opponent, but instead commending her. How she had reached such a conclusion, the Ogrin Master wasn't sure. But he figured that in time, Kisatoraneko would provide him with an answer.

     Kaede soon left for some rest, but as Kisatoraneko picked up both shinais, the Ogrin Master stopped her briefly, saying only four words. But they were words that came with a genuine sense of pride towards his student.

     “Nicely done, young Tora.”

     Kisatoraneko smiled back, just as proud with herself as the Master was with her.

     “Thank you, Master.”

     The End.

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