Ten Acts Of Kindness, A Techo Story: Part Seven
The Seventh Act Of Kindness
“You made it into the Neopedia!” screamed the young Scorchio, running into the Training School and waving a piece of paper. “It says so right here in the Neopian Times!”
The Techo Master slowly looked up. He was older now, and his reflexes weren’t as quick and smooth as they used to be. He was still a formidable fighter, though. The years had added to his wisdom and intelligence, and his stamina was amongst the greatest of all the instructors. He had gained quite a reputation for advancing bonus skill levels instead of the usual level at a time, so great was his power.
“What do you mean, my young Scorchio? Slow down and tell me what has happened.”
The Scorchio bent over to catch his breath. Then, straightening up again, he waved the piece of paper. “You made it into the Neopedia, Master, and everyone is talking about the greatest Battledome instructor in all of Neopia! It’s you! Everyone is talking about the old Techo Master on Mystery Island!”
The Techo took the piece of paper from his hand and began to read:
“Hidden in the mists of Mystery Isle, high up on the Mountain With No Name, is a wide, flat building with two fires burning outside. Those seeking wisdom climb the mountain, hoping to gain insight from the one who lives inside. There is no path up the mountain, you have to make your own path, climbing through the briars and razor-sharp stones. All the way up to the top, this is the Mystery Island Training School where the Techo Master gives out his wisdom to those who are worthy to hear it.
“Outside the wide, flat building, a circle of students waits. The Techo Master sits there quietly, making no sound, never looking up. The students wait for him to look up and give his lesson.”
The Techo chuckled. “It sounds like our school, all right. It sounds like our 2 pm meditation time.”
All the students, distracted by the news, clustered round the old Techo and chattered wildly amongst themselves. To be in the presence of greatness! Nothing this exciting had ever happened to them before!
“Return to your seats, everyone, and prepare yourself for the lesson of the day,” the Techo suddenly said sternly. The class was already half an hour late for their lesson, and starting the day this late would not do at all. The Training School had strict rules about the discipline expected of each and every student, and each student was expected to abide by these rules. Including starting the lesson on time.
Obediently, the students returned to their mats and folded their legs. They adjusted their postures and placed their hands in their laps. They closed their eyes, took deep breaths, and waited for the lesson to begin.
The Techo raised his head, puffed out his chest, and spoke: “To me, kung-fu is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.”
The class dissolved into helpless giggles. The Techo smiled and laughed. He loved being silly with his students! Compared to the other instructors at the Mystery Island Training School, he was the only one willing to entertain them in the midst of countless lessons, stern and harsh instructors, and the occasional punishment for showing up late. The students loved him, respected him, and ranked him the highest amongst all the other instructors. This was the power of goodness, kindness and understanding, which our Techo had in great supply.
There was a knock at the door. The students gasped. Interrupting in the midst of a lesson was unheard of! But the Techo merely stood up and answered the door. He was never one to stand on ceremony.
A small Shoyru stood there, grasping a knapsack and peering hesitantly at the assembled group. He wore no shoes, no hat, no shirt, indeed nothing at all. His knapsack was dirty and worn, and seemed mostly empty. He looked scared, alone, and lost. But there was something special there, a twinkle in his eye, a small glimmer of hope.
“I’ve come to train with the Techo Master,” said the Shoyru, quietly. His wings were folded in respect. “I read about him in the Neopedia, and I want to make something of myself. I don’t have any Dubloons or Codestones. I only have my willpower and my determination to succeed.”
The Techo Master cast a kind eye on the Shoyru. “For those who are worthy, no Dubloons or Codestones are necessary. I only ask that you devote yourself wholeheartedly to your studies, and do what is asked of you without complaint. After a month, I will see for myself whether you are worthy to continue training. The examination process is the same for everybody who comes here penniless and alone. I came here myself as a poverty-stricken youth, and now I am an instructor here. I am the Techo Master.
“So, I wish you much luck. Now, if you’ll take a seat on one of the meditation mats, our classroom session is just about to begin.”
The Shoyru thanked him gratefully and took a seat. The Techo straightened his robes, sat down, and began the day’s lesson while the students listened eagerly on.
Later that week, the Techo had the opportunity to speak with the Shoyru alone.
“How do you come to be so poor, my young friend? For it is rare to find an ownerless Shoyru outside of Neopia Central. And what do you have in that knapsack of yours? There’s no need to be private or ashamed of what you own, for everything is shared equally amongst the Neopets here, and everyone gives to the Training School and to others whatever they can afford to give.”
The Shoyru blushed, and rubbed his toe into the ground. “It is a Battle Quill, Master. That is all I own.”
The Techo opened his eyes wide. A Battle Quill! Why, the rarity of such an item was 100, at least! He recovered himself quickly and asked, “How did you come by such a rare item, my son? It seems that you are without any means, yet you carry on your person a rare Battledome item. Where is it from?”
The Shoyru’s face seemed to fall. “I... I stole it, Techo Master.”
The old Techo’s heart dropped. He scanned the Shoyru’s face. Why, he was nothing more than a common thief! A thief, in his Training School! A thief, asking to be trained for free by one of the highest-ranked instructors at the school! Struggling to keep himself from recoiling in disgust, he spoke once more to the Shoyru.
“And why did you steal the Battle Quill, my son?” he asked gently. “Stealing is done by desperate people of lesser caliber than yourself. I have seen you study diligently, advancing in classes much more rapidly than the other students, and never taking for granted any lessons given by the teachers here. Stealing is beneath you, for I’ve seen into your heart, and what I find there is a courageous young Shoyru willing to devote his life to the art of hand-to-hand combat, not a common thief.”
The Shoyru, greatly affected by these kind words, broke into tears. “I was just so poor, Master, and the Battle Quill was lying in a Gallery window for anyone to see. I... I couldn’t help myself. I just grabbed the thing and ran. And now I’ve been hiding it in my knapsack these six long days, trying to figure out how to get rid of it. I’m not a thief! It was the first thing I’ve ever stolen, and it’s definitely going to be my last.
“This school is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, ever since I was abandoned by my owner. I’ve been wandering around Neopia for two years trying to figure out what to make of myself, and what I should do. I’ve been living on nothing but omelettes and jellies and fishes for years, and when I saw your article in the Neopedia, I just knew that I could come here to start fresh and train with the best. So thank you, Techo Master, for having faith in me and for seeing inside my heart. You’re the first person to ever have faith in me. Thank you for this act of kindness.”
The Techo Master placed a caring arm around the Shoyru’s shoulders. “You are not the first Neopet to be abandoned by his owners, and you will not be the last. Many of the students here have the same background as yours, many of them come from even harder circumstances, and everyone is equal here. You should never feel alone anymore, and your former act of theft has no merit here. Start fresh, my son, and let us forget the past.”
Gently the Techo opened the knapsack and took the Battle Quill from the Shoyru. “I will see that this gets properly disposed of, and we will never speak of this again. Your secret is safe with me.”
The Shoyru hugged the Techo. “Thank you, Master.” He ran out of the classroom.
The old Techo Master twirled the Battle Quill around his fingers. How to get rid of the thing? Unable to decide, he hid it behind a plant on the windowsill and sat down to meditate. He closed his eyes.
Unbeknownst to him, a friendly faerie hovered over the plant for a split second and plucked the Battle Quill from the windowsill...
To be continued...