Wilderlands: The Rise of Tharizdun
Kan Shu (完守)
The Beginning Adventures of Kan Shu (完守)
The sound of a loud groan of wood was proceeded by the thunderous unified shout of 6 voices combined together. The Master walked down the line and inspected the overall form of each novice. Although their ages ranged from as young as six to nineteen, they each had a similar appearance. They stood frozen as statues wrapped in dirtied yellow robes. A right fist was resting on the logs driven into the ground.
A shift of the hips and feet switched positions in a blur. The left fist impacted the wood at the same time. Again the logs creaked in protest. The strikes remained locked in a spot equal to each fighters head level.
They moved in unison. The older and quicker slowing their speeds to accommodate the younger and the younger speeding their attacks to match the others. The poles once a polished light wood now was stained from bloodied fists and feet. The pain did not deter the practice. It is the first lesson you learn at the Temple of the Heavenly Moon. Pain is a motivator and can be used to help drive the warrior. If you stopped to ponder the rippling effect it had on the body, the enemy would use that to their advantage and end the quarrel.
Kan more often than none let his mind wander. He was the oldest accolade in his cohort. He was also the next to be tested to finally achieve the first level of monk status in the Temple. The constant drills and techniques had been hammered into his mind and body over the years. His movements were so crisp, so precise and yet so automatic that in the past year he would fade away to another place. He would daydream about life away from the temple. A life of travel and expedition. He wanted to achieve a state that few from the order had ever accomplished.
The “終わり会試練” would take place tomorrow. The final test. He was ready physically but feared the mental aspects of the test. He was the top student in fighting but lacked strategy and deduction that was also necessary of a monk. It mattered not how much he meditated he could never seem to achieve the state needed for perfect concentration.
Kan hammered the wood on pure muscle memory.
The morning looked like it would be just another dull day for Kan. Morning exercises followed by daily chores. A quick lunch would then place him and his brothers in more exercises. The evening repast would be taken followed by mediation. The Temple would sleep and he would wake to do it again as he had for the past thirteen years. At least tomorrow would be slightly different he would be able to fail his test again and then get back to the mundane life until next month. Some monks never achieved the first level. They were the older students that taught gardening, cooked, and cared for the Temple. He had two more tests and then he would be locked into that life.
Two more chances. It seemed almost unfair a skilled fighter wasted, but a lesser skilled disciplined monk could take Kan in a fair fight.
Splinters began to shower around Kan and his concentration was broken. The others had stopped and was staring at him. His wood was cracked and indentations of his feet and hands marred the surface. In his detachment his anger had gotten the better of him again and he unleashed the furry on the thickened pole. He looked at the others spun on the balls of his feet delivering a devastating spinning back kick. The wood shattered. He quickly bowed and walked away to find a new pole to drive into the ground. On his spin he caught the eye of the instructor and saw him shake his head. “yeah, I know I am not ready,” he thought.
Kan worked his way to the woodland on the far side of the mountain to gather a new practice log. This was not the first time and like his exercises had become route memory. Lose himself in anger, in self-depreciation, destroy his practice post, and gather another. Rinse and Repeat.
He squatted down to pick up his next sparring partner when he had a sudden sense that he wasn’t alone. His head shot up and swiveled around searching for the disturbance only to see him sitting on top of the stacked wood.
The man standing there balanced on a pole as thick as Kan’s wrist was looking out over the valley. A slight wind ruffled his clothes. He was bald and powerfully built. The crest of the Temple of the Heavenly Moon was engraved on the back of his robes. Hi hands were clasped behind his back and Kan could easily see the legendary gloves he had read about.
Kan immediately dropped to his knees placing his head on the ground in the most respectful bow one could give. “Master Kento. I did not know you had returned. My sincerest apologizes for not receiving you earlier.” The very air around the monk vibrated with power and Kan could feel it now that he was concentrating. The prophet had returned. The most powerful of the order. He was elusive. He never stayed in one area too long. It was the curse of the god he followed with utmost devotion, wanderlust.
Kan looked up a minimal distance to see if the monk had heard him only to see the master squatting down to look at him. The masters eyes were distorted by the glasses he wore and Kan could see his own green eyes reflected in the lenses.
“Kan, I was passing through and was ready to speak to the high abbot when I saw you destroy your practice post.” His voice was light and easy. A calm voice that relaxed yet could also command respect.
“I am sorry Master Kento I lost my temper again.”
“Why? When we do our forms our minds focus and nothing else matters there should have been no more anger, fear, or any other emotion for that matter.”
Kan pressed his head back to the ground, “I am sorry.”
Kento sighed, “Get up Kan. Walk with me.” Kento spun on his heels and started down a mountain path toward one of the reflecting ponds.
“Kan when I was younger I was a gifted fighter much like yourself but I lacked focus. I would throw myself into practice, meditation, chores, really everything without any abandon. I was determined to become the best and cared for no one else. When I would be tested I would fail. My life would then begin the same again until the next test. Does this perhaps sound familar?”
Kento stopped and turned to see Kan a short distance back with his mouth hanging open. “You failed? that can’t be right! I have read the historical records I know what you have done and are capable of doing.”
“Yes, it appears some things have been removed from the records to make me look unflappable. The truth is I make mistakes and in many endeavors I fail. It took many years, many battles and many books to become what I am now.”
“Master if this is true then how did you finally pass the test?”
“I found my inner balance was jagged. I realized my passion to find the ones that murdered my family was pushing me to excel but at the same time spiritually was holding me back. I meditated and in a quiet place within my soul I made peace. Once that happened my harmony solidified my will and gave me great clarity. A great sense of resolve overcame me and my mind and even my overall physical form grew as solid as iron. When the test came I passed.”
“Master how did you learn about this?”
“Another master named Curo Yangtze helped me find the path. Just as I have guided you. In the future you will also come and guide another. it is the way of our order. Find the inner harmony Kan.” Kento motioned to a flat stone by the edge of the reflecting pond. He nodded to Kan once took three steps and the air rippled. Kento vanished from the plane leaving Kan to his thoughts.
The pressure of the conversation weighed on the young man’s mind. He did not have a horrid past. His parents were very much alive and as a family had made the decision for him to join the temple. He could not wrap his mind around what obstacle was holding him back.
He sat on the rock and settled into a lotus position. He closed his eyes and began the meditation. It was the same as always at first controlled breathing peaceful thoughts but Kan knew it was no good. He then went deeper, and when he felt he hit his core he went deeper. He suddenly found himself in a pure white room.
The room had two objects a chair covered in thick chains and an image of himself trapped. The trapped version had long hair pulled back and tied. The image kept shaking his head repeating the word “Sorry.” Kan looked at the image of himself and then the back wall parted and a young boy walked in.
Kan rocked back on his heels. Toru was exactly as he remembered him. A portly young kid with a mischievous smile. He looked over at the Kan in a chair and winked.
“You know I have been waiting years for this conversation, don’t you?”
“Oh, Toru I am so sorry.”
“Seriously Kan, I get enough of that sorry trash from this guy.” Toru waved his hand at the man in the chair. “I know you’re sorry. It is all you really think about. You locked me away and have not thought of me in so long. All it has done was distance yourself from who you really are. When was the last time you laughed? when was the last time you took joy in the sunlight or looked out upon the land and smiled because you were so very happy to simply be alive?”
“I am not..”
“Years. You locked away your happiness when I died. You were just a boy yourself. You did try your hardest, but you couldn’t save me. It’s Ok really. I forgive you, what I can’t forgive is that you allowed part of yourself to die with me. you have been living a half life too long. Today you become whole again.”
Toru reached down and ripped the chains from the boy in the chair. When the boy looked up the room grew brighter until Kan opened his eyes to find himself sitting by the pond.
The air had grown cold and the moon had risen high in the sky. A fat gibbous moon that seemed to shine down on the young monk. He looked around and smiled. “Hmm so that is what he meant.”
Kan began his trek to the Temple. Yet everything was now clearer. The test would not be a problem. In a week’s time he would leave and set out in the world ready to learn and to continue to grow.