Ten Acts Of Kindness, A Techo Story: Part One
Based on the Neopedia articles, “A Sad Scorchio Day” and “The Lesson of the Techo Master.”
The First Act Of Kindness
The Techo sighed and watched the parade go by. It was Techo Day, and all the painted Techos were out in full regalia in Neopia Central. Some were proudly wearing their Paint Brush accessories, like the Pirate Techo with her Captain Hat and Neck Scarf, or the Disco Techo with his Ring and Techo Beads. Others were wearing custom clothes such as Pretty Pink Hats and Purple Feather Boas. One out-of-season Christmas Techo was even wearing her Earmuffs and Scarf, and clapping along to the music of the festivities.
Depressed, the Techo looked at his plain green self in the reflective window of one of the main shops. No amount of staring would change what he was: an unwanted, unpainted Techo, utterly alone.
His existence was rare in Neopia; indeed few people had ever heard of a Techo without an owner before, but his story was unique. He had been abandoned to the Neopian Pound soon after being created, by a heartless and unfeeling owner who had wanted to show off a Royal Neopet, but was annoyed to discover that Techos didn’t come in any Royal colors. So the Techo had been dropped off, like unwanted baggage, at the Pound. The owner had then created a Peophin and painted it Royal, a proper status symbol of his wealth and prestige. The abandonment had hurt. Remembering it, the Techo sniffled and rubbed his nose.
“What’s wrong?” asked a kind voice. “Don’t you know it’s Techo Day? The celebration’s starting!” The Techo hastily wiped his eyes and straightened up. A female Mynci dressed in brown silk robes and sandals was addressing him, and with wide eyes he noticed the shiny sword strapped to her side. A warrior-monk, a Mynci Master! He had never seen one before.
“It’s nothing. Just thinking about the past,” he replied. The Mynci Master nodded, and swallowed. She was eating toast. A warrior-monk, a Mynci Master, eating toast. NOW he’d seen everything.
“Well, I just noticed that you have some Butterfish hanging from your belt,” said the Mynci. “I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing some? For my toast, you see.”
“Sure, why not,” said the Techo. “Have this Plastic Butter Knife, too. Enjoy.” The Mynci smiled and took the proffered gifts. The Techo didn’t have much to offer others, had never owned many things himself, but this much could be said for him: he was generous to a fault, and he never kept for himself what was better spent by giving away to others.
“My toast is much better now, thank you,” said the Mynci Master. She thoughtfully licked some butter off her fingers. “But why were you crying just now? You can tell me, I can keep a secret.”
“It’s nothing! Why don’t you leave me alone!” He brusquely shoved past her and into the sanctity of a nearby alleyway. It was rude of him to behave that way, but he had felt tears coming on for some time now, and the last thing he wanted to do was to break down crying in front of a warrior-monk, the highest-level instructor at the Mystery Island Training School. Of all the degrading things in the world, that would be the worst!
If there was one thing he’d learned about the world, it was that he had to put up a tough front. Never give in to the things that gave him pain. Never weep. Never cry. He’d show that old owner of his a thing or two.
He shoved his hands into his pockets and drifted along the dark gray alleyway. Nobody would bother him here, he was sure of it. He needed some time alone with his thoughts. Not that being alone is a rare privilege, he thought bitterly.
Suddenly he started to feel wary. Something’s not quite right here, he thought. He glanced up. He glanced down. He stopped walking and took a sweeping look around. He hugged his arms close to his body and shivered. Suddenly, out of the darkness, a Meerca leapt in front of him wielding a Rainbow Gun.
“Gimme all your Neopoints,” snarled the Meerca. The Techo backed nervously away from her and held out his empty hands.
“I don’t have any Neopoints!” cried the Techo. He started to shake. Would the Meerca really shoot him with the gun? What a way to celebrate Techo Day! Would he be spending the rest of the day recovering from his wounds in the Neopian Hospital?
A shadow along the wall seemed to materialize and straighten up. A sudden flash of steel glinted through the shadows and the Techo heard a warning, female voice resonate through the alleyway.
“Back off, Meerca, before I slice you in twain,” called the mysterious voice.
The Meerca, realizing that her Rainbow Gun was outclassed, grimaced and took a step back. “Maybe next time when you’re alone, little Techo!” hissed the Meerca as she turned tail and fled. The Techo, who had collapsed to the floor in fright, raised himself up on a trembling arm and looked gratefully at the Mynci Master.
“T-thank you!” stammered the Techo. “W-who are you, and why were you hiding in the shadows?”
“I followed you,” said the Mynci Master, gently, “because I wanted to know why you were feeling so awful on this day of all days, Techo Day. There’s no reason in Neopia why a healthy, normal Techo like yourself should be walking around Neopia Central in such low spirits. For Fyora’s sake, it’s a day of celebrations and well-wishing, not a day to be wandering alone and in pain. So why don’t you tell me your story?” She clapped a strong, sympathetic hand on his arm and hauled him up.
Warmed by her graciousness, the Techo told her his sad story, all the way down to his replacement by the Royal Peophin. The Mynci Master listened kindly to his tale. She offered compassion at all the right times and patted his shoulder whenever he seemed to have difficulty getting his words out. The Techo finally had someone with whom to talk to about his troubles and tragic history. For once, he wasn’t alone.
“You’re not the first,” said the Master Mynci when he had finished talking.
“What?” said the Techo.
“You heard me,” said the Master Mynci. “The Mystery Island Training School is full of Neopets who have been abandoned by their owners, who are looking for a fresh lease on life. They’re there to live together, to train together, and to be the very best of fighters. Strength is not enough, though. You need to have the heart and the intelligence to train with the instructors there -- otherwise they’ll refuse to train you.”
“Sounds nice,” said the Techo, “but I haven’t got any Dubloons or Codestones to pay for that sort of training. It gets pretty pricey near the higher levels, or so I’ve heard.”
“Wrong,” said the Master Mynci, smiling and carefully arranging her robes. “Training is free to those who show that they have the heart, discipline and willpower to follow through with rigorous practice. The training is available to those who deserve it. Nothing more, nothing less.” She held up the Plastic Butter Knife the Techo had given her earlier, and smiled. “And by heart, I mean a kind heart. The most important of all qualities.”
The Techo watched her place the Plastic Butter Knife carefully in her satchel. She handled it like a precious gift, not like the worthless item that it actually was. The Techo wondered at her fastidiousness.
“The first act of kindness is always the one you remember,” said the Master Mynci. “So I thank you for making this such a wonderful introduction between us. I am glad to know you, Techo, and I hope you feel the same about me. Remember that random acts of kindness are never really random, and that every kindness is testimony to the beautiful nature of the giver’s heart.”
“Aw, it’s just a Plastic Butter Knife,” said the Techo. He could feel himself blushing. He had never encountered such praise from anyone before, especially from someone as exemplary as a warrior-monk.
“The act, the principle of the thing, is what matters,” said the Mynci. “I noticed that you’re not painted, and that you’re not dressed in any custom clothes. That tells me that you probably don’t have very many Neopoints to your name. Perhaps even none. And yet you gave me enough of what you had to make my day just a little better, regardless of how little you would be left with. That’s the true spirit of kindness, my friend, and it’s all that matters in this world. Nothing else.”
The Mynci Master winked at the Techo, and touched the sword at her side. “I hope to meet you under better circumstances in the future, my dear Techo.”
The Techo watched the wise and benevolent Mynci walk off, his eyes shining with hero worship and silent awe. He knew what he wanted to do now. He knew what his life’s ambition would be. He had a purpose now.
He would become a Techo Master.
To be continued...