Ten Acts Of Kindness, A Techo Story: Part Eight
The Eighth Act Of Kindness
The young Gelert sauntered proudly into the Mystery Island Training School. He was wearing a hefty purse of Codestones, and every once in a while, he would test the purse’s weight on his palm and jiggle it a few times, to listen to the Codestones knock against each other. Satisfied with their importance, he replaced the purse on the gorgeous, ornate leather belt strapped around his waist.
Why was this brash-looking young Gelert here, in this most revered and hallowed of places? He didn’t look like an experienced fighter. His nails were too neat. His bright eyes were shining with impatience and naivete. His hands and feet were smooth and uncalloused, quite different from the thick, cracked, and hardy skin of Neopets who frequented the Battledome every day. He looked immature. He looked unskilled. In short, he looked lost.
Shaking his purse a little too dramatically, one of the Codestones fell out and rattled onto the floor. Before he could pick it up himself, the Codestone disappeared into the great palm of an enormous Robot Skeith.
“You’re better off keeping this hidden,” said the Skeith in a deep, warning voice. “There are pickpockets about.” He handed the Codestone back to the Gelert, and walked into one of the classrooms.
The Techo Master had begun his class an hour ago. He was very old now, quite older than the last time we had seen him. The hair at his temples was white, and his forehead was flecked with age spots. He had begun holding more meditation classes and fewer martial arts classes, wanting to give his old bones a rest. But he still held classes five times a week. You could not keep our dear old Techo from doing what he loved to do: teaching students the art of fighting, and nurturing their abilities to the greatest extent he could.
The Gelert stomped up and down the hallway. Was there no one around to register him for classes, ask him about his strength level, challenge him to a duel in the Battledome? Annoyed, he grabbed the most expensive-looking sword he could find from the stock of swords lining the walls, a glowing Amber Sword, and began swinging it carelessly around.
“You dare attack me, worthless scum!” yelled the Gelert, confronting an imaginary foe. “I am the greatest warrior in the history of Neopia! My strength ranks in the tens of thousands! Taste steel, fiend!” He jabbed at the wall.
“Tsk, tsk,” said the Koi Master, walking up to the Gelert. “You will needlessly damage such a fine blade by wielding it that way. You are inexperienced, my young Gelert. Leave the valuable weaponry to the more experienced students and learn to wield the plainer swords first with skill and panache.”
“My owner has millions and millions of Neopoints to spend on my training, and she won’t be pleased to find that your school is training me with second-rate weapons!” insisted the Gelert.
“All new students start out the same way,” said the Koi. “Whether you are fitting to receive the lessons imparted is up to you, of course. But all students who enter the Mystery Island Training School are expected to abide by the same hierarchies that everyone else abides by. Obedience is one of the highest laws of the Training School.
“Now, if you would like to start classes, the Techo Master has just about finished his first class. The next one will be starting in a minute or two. You might do well to enter the classroom and prepare yourself for the day’s lesson.”
“I just might do that,” sniffed the Gelert. He replaced the Amber Sword on the wall, noticing as he did so that he had nicked the blade by shoving it into the wall earlier. He shrugged, not caring enough to worry, and ran to take part in the Techo Master’s lesson.
The students were all sitting in a circle around the Techo Master. The Gelert sat down to join them.
As the hours passed, the students began to fidget and shift. Their postures began to wilt. A cough arose here and there, and the Gelert’s mind began to wander. He thought of all the battles he would win in the Battledome. He evaluated all the students sitting here, wondering whose owners had millions of Neopoints to spend on Battledome training. He thought of everything except the wise old Techo Master, sitting there meditating before him.
Finally, the Techo Master stirred, and the students raised their heads in interest. The Master looked around. “There will be no lesson today,” he said. The students got up slowly, stretched their aching muscles, and walked to their next class.
The next morning, after breakfast and physical training, meditation practice, lunch, and more physical training, the students walked into the Techo Master’s classroom. He was waiting for them, his eyes closed. The students sat quietly, watching the Techo Master. As the hours passed, they began to shift in their seats. The proud Gelert’s mind wandered over to the trophies he would win, and the plots he would participate in. He puffed out his chest thinking of all the acclaim he would win as the greatest warrior in Neopia.
Finally, the Techo Master looked up. “There will be no lesson today,” he said. The students got up, stretched, and walked to their next class.
As the days passed, the Gelert began to get more and more annoyed. When would the Techo Master start his lessons? It had been nearly a week now and the Gelert was feeling neglected for the first time in his pampered life. Desperate for answers, he sought out the Koi Master and told him of his dilemma. “I would like to receive the Techo Master’s wisdom,” said the frustrated Gelert. “When will the lessons begin?”
“When the student is ready, the teacher is there,” said the Koi Master, smiling. He walked away.
All day, the Gelert thought of the Koi Master’s words. I'm the student, he thought. He's the teacher. And I'm waiting for his lesson. When the student is ready... I'm the student...The teacher is there... I'm waiting for...
More days passed. The Gelert sat with the other students, learning to quiet his mind and to focus on the task at hand. He started to forget his dreams of glory and fame. He started to concentrate on meditating and on keeping his mind clear of thought. And always, he waited anxiously for the Techo Master’s lesson.
One day, in the middle of meditation time, his eyes snapped wide open. His confusion was gone. He stood up in the midst of the kneeling students, walked through them, and sat before the Techo Master.
“I know the secret,” he said, the rest of his haughty pride dissolved in the joy of having discovered the lesson. The Techo Master waited, his eyes smiling. “We aren't waiting for YOU,” the amazed Gelert said to the Techo Master. “You're waiting for US.”
The Techo Master's eyes shone. “When the student is ready...” he began.
“...the teacher is there,” the humbled Gelert answered. He had learned the first of the Techo Master’s lessons.
Later, when the Gelert had the opportunity to talk with the Techo Master alone, he prostrated himself and asked for forgiveness.
“I damaged the Amber Sword hanging from the wall in the hallway,” said the Gelert, sadly. “I was brash, Techo Master, and I was too proud to tell anyone of my misdeed. I’m sorry. I will replace the blade as soon as I can. My owner is rich and she won’t mind spending a few Neopoints to correct the mistakes that I’ve made.”
“There is no need to replace the Amber Sword, my son, nor is there need to apologize for your actions. Your sorrow is repentance enough. The weapons are all easily replaced by the instructors whenever they have the funds to do so, and the students are never chided or apprehended for damaging them. Practice takes a lot out of weaponry, and a little damage here and there is understandable.”
“Thank you for your mercy, and for your infinite kindness in teaching me your wisdom,” said the Gelert, reverently. “I will do my best to understand the lessons of the Mystery Island Training School from now on.”
The Techo smiled, and bowed. The Gelert made a deep bow in return.
What our Techo Master didn’t know was that the Amber Sword had been missing from its place on the wall for quite some time now. No one thought to check for its presence because there were just so many swords littering the walls, and swords were always missing from time to time when neglectful students forgot to bring them back from the Battledome after their physical training was over. So the loss, it seemed, was no great one.
But when one stood there, gazing mystified at the spot where it had once been, one could almost hear the secret tinkling laughter of a merry Faerie floating through the air...
To be continued...