A Chapter by EdwinBozie

Author: EdwinBozie
Created: December 28, 2017 at 09:21 am
Upload Type: Chapter, T (13+)  
Category: Fantasy | Action | Adventure
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L.O.T.J.L Ep 14: The Trial Of Teamwork


The five comrades including Master Fencer walked through the cavern. They had been walking for quite a while. Inside the cavern, there seemed to be no concept of time since the sun and the moon did not penetrate the walls. The cavern seemed to generate a light of its own which was amplified by the precious stones on the walls. In the outside world, five days had passed.

“You never told us what our second master is like” Buern reminded Fencer.

“You’ve gotten awfully close to me lately little missy. Don’t tell me you have a thing for me” Fencer joked.

“Yeah right! You couldn’t be farther from the truth. To say I detest you would be a confession of love” Buern growled angrily.

“You have quite a temper” Fencer said. “Just like Innovain was” he smiled silently.

“Once again, you’re avoiding my question Fencer” Buern demanded an answer.

“Remember how the four serpents called me weak? The next master is in fact in a simple phrase… ‘the weakest person I’ve ever come across’” Fencer said.

“PFFT! That will make our trial way easier. It will make him easier to beat!” Buern boasted.

“Oh he is weak alright but I never said he was easy to beat. Of all the Jo-lan masters, his weakness is extremely astounding but you should be wondering how he became a Jo-lan master in the first place” Fencer said.

The others sensed an ominous tone in Fencer’s words.

“Contrary to popular belief, we are not called Jo-lan masters because we teach the art of Jo-lan. We are Jo-lan Masters because each of us has fought one of Souryu’s generals and survived. Your friend Bane is in fact a Jo-lan Master. His tale has not been told nearly enough to earn him that name yet” Fencer said.

“Which general did you fight Harry?” Buern asked.

“Anubis. Wasn’t easy but I crushed him” Harry said with an air of pride.

“WHAAAT?!” Anubis is supposedly Souryu’s third general! Defeating him is no simple task!” Buern was shocked.

“Go ahead Buern, ask him how he did it” Fencer egged her on.

“How did you do it?” Buern asked.

“Easy, I sent his curse of death spiraling right back at him. You could call it a special counter only the Bane family possesses” Harry laughed.

“Don’t kid around at a time like this Harry?!” Buern roared.

“He isn’t kidding around Buern. Harry triumphed as simplistic as it sounds because he is a Bane. In the first place, Banes are well renowned for their ability to repel curses. Coupled with that is the phoenix’s gift of mind. It didn’t matter how strong Anubis was. Just like mythril cannot be broken with a blow irrespective of how strong the blow is, Banes cannot be crushed with curses regardless of how strong the curse is. You might have deduced from what I just said that there are things…forces in this world surpassing a simple scale of power. Some can’t be beaten regardless of how strong you are, others cannot be conquered regardless of how swift you are. Their strengths are almost unfairly entrenched in one regard. In terms of a balance of affinity, Bane here was stronger than Anubis regardless of the fact that Anubis was Souryu’s third general” Fencer said.

“So what does this all have to do with our second master?” Josec asked.

“Think of it this way, babies learn to crawl before they walk. It is uncommon to hear of a baby who walked without crawling or ran without walking. In like manner, you had to learn my lesson if you were to stand a chance against your second Master. The fact that he is extraordinarily weak also implies that he is the Master amongst us seven…with the greatest potential” Fencer said.

The teens recalled Marina’s words.

“In many ways, Edgar Fencer is similar to Harry Bane but if there is one thing I have learnt from watching that boy it’s that in the world of Jo-lan…those without the obvious proofs of strength or talent for it are often the ones with unlimited potential for it. Simply put, in the world of Jo-lan, the most fearful of all are the ones often referred to as weaklings” Marina had said when they first encountered Fencer.

“To put it simply, the Second Master is the most adaptable person you’ll ever meet” Fencer said.

A distance away from where the comrades were, a short man, almost bald had awakened from his slumber.

“I sense one of the Masters forging a path into my canon” he said.

“Master, shall we go and bring them to you?” one of his students asked.

“I will go myself. It would be rude to do otherwise. Besides, it’s quite a while since I last met that troublesome man. The Archer of the 20 year arrow. So the time has come at last to liberate Jo-lan” he said and disappeared into the shadows.

“He has sensed us” Fencer suddenly said. “I sense his joki approaching. He sure is taking his sweet time” Fencer chuckled in a sinister yet excited way.

Eventually, they reached a dead end at the edge of a steep crevice. A bridge slowly extended and latched itself to the path Fencer and the other kids were walking on. The path they had walked was a path across a bottomless pit and so narrow they had to follow one another in single file. Obviously, no one had rested throughout the journey.

The Second Master came out and welcomed them.

“Our paths are now connected” the Second Master greeted.

“Two canons become one” Fencer replied.

“You can call me Kyem E. Lion” the Second Master introduced himself.

The teens wasted no time in introducing themselves. Soon, they were in Kyem E. Lion’s mountain of Jo-lan.

The first thing Josec did was to seek out his history of Jo-lan. He found strange dashes on a wall quite a distance away.

“Could that perhaps be your ‘history of Jo-lan?’” he asked.

The Second Master led them to the dashes. Some were elevated, others were low, some longer than others but they seemed to follow in a stream. The Second Jo-lan Master began to hum a tune while staring at the dashes.

“My ‘history of Jo-lan’ is written in song. I originally intended to write the lyrics on these walls but Fencer’s art pretty much tells the tale. Everything only I know will be between me and the song. A sort of secret only I know. Something to treasure” the Second Master said and then he hummed his tune.

“I never could understand that old kook. Why complicate matters by writing history in a form that cannot be understood?” Fencer complained.

“I heard that Fencer but if you think about it well, why write it in a form that it has already been expressed in? That’s redundancy and you know I’m right. Reminds me of dear…” the Second Master was saying when the two Masters suddenly sung the same tune.

“Emma Emma Colette” they sang.

“Who is this Emma Colette person you speak of?” Buern asked curiously.

“Fencer’s childhood sweetheart though it often turned out to be one sided on Fencer’s part” the Second Master teased.

“Coincidentally, she is one of our Masters though disasters tend to strike when she and Fencer are together” the Second Master said.

“Hmmph Hmmph!” Fencer chuckled with a slight air of accomplishment.

“I was not praising you!” the Second Master scolded him.

“I sense some beautiful chemistry going on here” Harry teased.

“For a kid, you sure are smartmouthed” everyone declared.

“He is the eighth Jo-lan Master though lacking in experience” Fencer informed the Second Master.

“The mythical Eighth Master who triumphed over Anubis? That was quite a feat you accomplished but a lot of it was dependent on your identity. Now you must gain true experience” the Second Master said.

“What do we do from here Fencer?” Buern asked.

“Patience Buern, you may not have realized it but we’ve been trekking for five straight days. There is such a training regimen as resting from fatigue. Give your muscles the chance to ache a bit. With that ache and recovery will come the strengthening of the muscles” Fencer said as though he enjoyed thinking about the backlash they were about to experience.

“He is right. Five days of fatigue, five days of rest. You will be shocked how perspective can broaden after five days of doing nothing. After your rest, we will commence your second training. Think of this as stamina training” the Second Master said.

“What sort of stamina training?” Buern was annoyed.

“You will need to rest from the desire to act whenever a problem pops up. You need to be able to choose which problem you intend to solve and which ones you will set aside during these five days. In hindsight, it will teach you quite a bit about priority. This is my concept of rest. Problems don’t choose you, you choose problems. It is slightly a bit of overkill” Fencer laughed.

“You always have to put a dramatic spin to everything don’t you?” the Second Master teased.

“My history of Jo-lan is artistic after all” Fencer said with a laugh.

The four teens agreed to this but after two days, the feeling of impatience began to build in. In the first place, they were in a cave with nothing much to do and little variety or so they thought. In the second place, it appeared the masters were provoking them by purposely setting up a number of appealing things to do in terms of training. In the third place, they were sore from all that walking and training in Fencer’s cave and all of these were beginning to accumulate in a massive form of boredom. They couldn’t understand what Fencer and Kyem were up to. Why couldn’t they train? Nothing better to relieve the pain of martial arts than martial arts itself or so the saying went. The two masters noticed their growing unease and chuckled to themselves. The thing about fatigue. It never really leaves till the moment you resign yourself to resting. You honestly need to learn when to take a break. How funny it is that this is a basic lesson most people tend to overlook” Fencer chuckled in pure amusement.

“But more than that the emphasis is placed on ‘when’. There is such a thing as taking a break at the wrong time. You still have a long way to go” the Second Master said.

“Like I said…it’s a matter of priorities” Fencer laughed.

Then the two masters clashed for another training regimen but just to enforce the growing uneasiness in the teens.

Four days passed and muscle ache was gradually reducing, almost gone. The feeling of tiredness was fading too but the uneasiness was not leaving the four teens.

“This is stupid!” Buern finally snapped.

“We’re wasting so much time doing ‘nothing!’” she complained.

“I seem to have adjusted to it quite naturally. There really are things in here worth seeing. Things you don’t usually see outside” Josec said.

“Besides, between Anubis and my journey here and Fencer’s training, I think I have earned my rest” Harry said.

“Wait a minute…don’t tell me…” Buern seemed surprised. “That sly Fencer. This might actually be a continuation of his trial. There was one thing I actually overlooked” Buern said.

“I wonder what they are talking about now” Fencer said to the Second Master from quite a distance away.

“Probably theorizing about whether all of this was your idea or not” the Second Master said to him.

“If only they would listen. I already told them I had one lesson to teach. Whatever they learn though is up to them. Lose focus on that and the next thing you know they’ll be thinking I schemed up a grand plan since time immemorial” Fencer said.

“Your nickname doesn’t help much too, Archer of the 20 year arrow” the Second Master said.

“That nickname confounds me. To think I could foil so many of Innovain’s plans just by being me. To some extent it is almost laughable” Fencer said.

“But Jo-lan history teaches that ‘so is the path of fate’. Nothing foils evil as much as being true to oneself” the Second Master said.

“You do know the concept of ‘weirdness’ revolves around that particular saying don’t you?” Fencer looked at the Second Master from the corner of his eye.

They both sipped some tea together and then the Second Master spoke.

“There is another facet to that saying. It is ‘be true to your true self for the true self can never lie’” he said.

Meanwhile the four kids were discussing Buern’s theory. Fencer smiled to himself.

“I wonder what they are learning now” he said.

“It might be simplistic but when Fencer spoke about how rest can improve perspective, he might have meant that we should pay more attention to one another. I had never even considered that Harry and Estelle might have undergone his training already fatigued and we pretty much began a day after our arrival” Buern said.

Fencer smiled for he overheard them.

“That’s right, perspective. Sometimes it involves seeing through the eyes of someone that isn’t you” he said.

“That would be called ‘empathy’ Fencer” the Second Master corrected.


Then the fourth day passed and the fifth day arrived. The four teens had finally resigned themselves to rest and the two masters had stopped provoking them.

They came to realize the great sense of relief that came from rest. It felt like all their fatigue had been expelled at once. It almost felt like being immersed in warm water after walking through a snowstorm. By then, they could feel their aches only slightly.

“It’s kinda cruel really” Estelle said.

“What?” Harry asked.

“That we have to train right after our aches finally disappeared” Estelle replied.

“And somehow I get the sense that our First Master is enjoying this a little more than usual” Buern said.

“Buern’s way of enforcing the fact that Fencer might be sadistic” Josec thought to himself with a gentle laugh.

“Somehow I think my biological clock is going to be severely knocked out of whack after all this” Harry said and everyone agreed with a laugh.


Then the sixth day arrived. Rest was over and training was about to commence. The teens felt unusually alert. They also felt very light as though they had let go of some tremendous burden.

Four people about their age stood behind the second Master. Two of them were boys, the other two were girls.

“My Trial is the Trial Of Teamwork. I refer to the concept Fencer taught you as the ‘Spiral Force’. A technique where numerous people work together to overcome a single insurmountable obstacle. Don’t worry, like Fencer, I won’t give you a deadline because I know how difficult the principle I am about to teach you is. I call it the principle of the ‘Double Helix’. The power of many to counter the power of many. Many oppose many. That is the principle behind my lesson. In the end victory is decided by adaptability, quick reaction and an affinity amongst team members. This is the reason you had to master Fencer’s lesson to overcome mine” the Second Master said. “I have another name for this principle though. I also refer to it as the ‘Bipolar Kinesis’. It’s like trying to push while being pulled and vice versa” the Second Master said.

“He seems more master like” Buern said with a smirk.

“TCH! Someone once said, ‘focus on the lesson and not on the master’. Like I thought, you’re still too immature” Fencer said with a slight show of annoyance.

“To pass my test. You four will have to face my four students and myself. You will be deemed worthy only if you demonstrate an almost natural flair for teamwork. I will warn you though. This training regimen can carry on for days” the Second Master said.

Fencer walked away from them.

“Where are you going Master?” Josec asked.

“To stop some idiot from extending his influence into my territory” Fencer said.

“A clash of wills?! This guy is crazy!” Josec exclaimed in shock.

“Fine then. Begin!” Master Kyem roared.

“If we are allowed to use our natural psychorages…then forgive me for going all out from the beginning Master” Buern roared as she charged in.

“That’s reckless Buern! We don’t know what his ability is!” Josec called in concern

“It’s just better to crush the weak with brute force!” Buern roared as she approached Master Kyem.

He was smiling confidently and then they clashed.

Buern bound him with ropes of water, pulled him towards herself and attempted to punch him.

“Young miss, do you know what the most disadvantageous battlefront is? It is fighting an enemy that can mirror your characteristics. He may not necessarily be stronger than you but as long as he is equal to you in strength…you will never win. PSYCHORAGE IMPROV. ALTERED CHAMELEON STATE VER. WATER!” Master Kyem roared as his aging reversed and he grew taller and muscular.

The element that once bound him had become his weapon. He stood his ground, bound Buern instead, pulled her towards himself and smashed her into the ground.

“UNNGH!!!” Buern screamed in pain.

“He countered Buern…” Harry stared in shock.

“…with her own element!” Estelle exclaimed, even more surprised than he was.

Master Kyem charged towards Harry. His fighting style flowed smoothly. Using gentle pushes, pulls and throws, he subdued Harry easily. Then he turned his attention to Josec. Josec instinctively put up a wall of lightning to defend himself. Master Kyem charged right into the wall.

“PSYCHORAGE IMPROV. ALTERED CHAMELEON STATE VER. THUNDER!” Master Kyem roared as his speed suddenly skyrocketed.

In an instant, he had crushed all four students and dominated the battlefield.

“Try again when you stop thinking you are the center of the battle formation!” he scolded them and walked away.

“He isn’t weak! Fencer, you lied to us!” Buern roared.

“Once more, they fail to pay attention to a teacher’s words” Fencer said with a sorrowful look a distance away. “There is nothing sadder than thinking you understand something you don’t” he added with a smirk.

The four teens lay defeated on the ground.

“I can’t believe Master Fencer actually lied to us” Buern couldn’t express her shock.

“Note to self, you finally called him ‘Master’” Harry teased.

“I don’t think Master Fencer lied. Think of it, Master Kyem never used a single original offensive move. He relied only on counters. It is possible that he has no original skill of his own” Josec reasoned.

“If what you say is true, then we just have to attack him without our elements” Buern said.

The four teens challenged Master Kyem again. This time, they resolved not to use their elemental abilities. Master Kyem smirked.

“You’ve done some thinking I see, however I am curious. ‘When’ did you delude yourselves into believing that you were fighting only me?” Master Kyem declared.

“WHAT?!” the four students exclaimed.

“You failed to consider what I said at the beginning. You will be fighting my four students and myself” Master Kyem declared as his students began to power him with their elements. Each one allowed him to use their element to Psychorage Improv. when he needed it. With this ability, he easily overpowered Josec and company.

“He is still too strong!” Buern punched the ground in exasperation.

“No, he isn’t” Josec said.

“What are you saying? We’ve been beaten twice!” Buern yelled.

“Did you actually expect to defeat a Master in a single try? Remember what Fencer said. They are not Masters because they teach the art of Jo-lan but because each of them has battled one of Souryu’s seven generals and survived” Josec reminded her.

“No one should have expected to win in one go. That would be the height of naivety” Estelle said.

“Like I’m saying. That is definitely true but Master Kyem didn’t beat us because he was necessarily stronger than we were. He was simply more adaptable. When he fought us the first time, he used our own elements to power himself. When he fought us when we were resolved not to use our elements, he used the elements of his team instead so while he couldn’t counter us with our elements, he also strategically sealed our abilities through our knowledge of his own ability” Josec said.

“The most adaptable Jo-lan Master. That title is definitely not a joke” Buern said.

“But there is another thing we’ve also overlooked. Remember what Master Fencer said? He said a baby does not learn to walk without crawling or run without walking. That it was a requirement to pass his test if we were to stand a chance against Master Kyem” Harry said.

“Are you trying to say…?” Buern began to catch drift of where the conversation was headed.

“Yes, Master Kyem’s Trial is actually an extension of Master Fencer’s Trial and in Master Fencer’s Trial, it took the Psychorage Improv. to clear it” Harry said.

“That is true. It would be stupid to use the art of Psychorage in battle against a Master who can beat us in combat” Buern agreed.

“But Psychorage Improv. is the bridge between both” Harry said.

The kids decided on challenging Master Kyem and his four students a third time but this time they couldn’t keep up with his reaction time because they had only recently learnt the Psychorage Improv. and it still took quite a while to assimilate their elements and equip them. The kids were overcome relatively easily, but Master Kyem was happy because he saw that they were on the right track.

“I suggest you practice a bit more before challenging me again” he said with a smile.

The kids took his words to heart and practiced hard. They even sought advice from Master Fencer.

“I see you’ve thought hard enough to use the Psychorage Improv. You even realized that Master Kyem’s Trial is actually an extension of mine” Master Fencer said.

“Yes, we did” Buern said and the kids nodded.

“You’ve crossed many hurdles. For one thing you realized that brute strength cannot win every battle. You also realized that it would be stupid to use a psychorage ability against a master whose skill you haven’t grasped yet. The moment you used the Psychorage Improv. you had learnt that there is a middle ground between being powerless and relying completely on power. I applaud you for figuring this all out when Master Kyem only intended to teach you ‘Teamwork’ so I’ll give you a clue. Which idiot tries to push a heavy cart up a mountain?” Master Fencer said.

“Are you saying…?” Estelle wondered.

“I see, if you pushed it downhill, nature itself would help you. But pushing it uphill will turn both the cart and nature into your worst enemy” Josec said.

“In other words you are talking of affinities” Harry said.

“If this were a game, you could liken this to play styles and classes. Some classes are naturally advantageous against others and some play styles will always trump others. The reason my cave is made of mythril is to enforce that lesson. You used the psychorage improv. to break through those walls which symbolizes the willingness to make up for the natural weakness of a class through creativity that makes up for the class’ inherent weaknesses” Fencer said.

Buern was amazed.

“Just what exactly did you teach us Master?” she exclaimed in shock.

“I see you call him ‘Master’ now” Harry teased.

“Oh shut up Harry” Buern said.

“My style is to teach lessons in as generalized a way as possible so that whatever you choose to learn will shape your own art” Fencer informed them.

“Thank you Master” the four students bowed respectfully.

They prepared to fight Master Kyem a fourth time and for every attack Master Kyem threw at them, they utilized the abilities they currently possessed to make up for their individual weaknesses and countered. They defended against water attacks for instance with Josec’s lightning, and flame attacks with Buern’s water ability and though it might have been difficult, they even managed to combine Harry and Josec’s powers to create a new improv. ‘The Thunderstorm Improvisation’ in order to repel Master Kyem’s earth abilities.

It was almost like a relay race where victory would be decided by who had the superior element at the right time. They were unable to completely defeat Master Kyem but he was impressed enough with them that he decided they had passed. After all, they had exhibited an almost natural flair for teamwork.

After being trained by two Masters the kids began to realize that their lessons were not exactly what they seemed. To overcome each Master’s Trial, there were a set of basics they needed to establish. Once those basics were established, they needed to be combined into a single forte to overcome the lesson.

Finally, the students had learnt two lessons from two Masters. They were ready to journey towards the Third Master. Like they did with Master Fencer, they took a straight narrow path from within Master Kyem’s cave and began their journey. They journeyed once more for five days. The Third Master sensed them as Master Kyem did and came to greet them. He greeted the other two Masters by clasping hands with both of them and said to each.

“Once more, on this day our paths shall become one canon” he said and then he greeted the four students.

The Third Master introduced himself.

“You can call me Pheisl. I will be your Third Master” he said as he led them into his cave. 

“Once more, you shall rest for five days” Master Fencer said.

This time it was easier for the students to rest since they began to appreciate the weight of their Teachers’ words. Once five days were past, Pheisl turned to Josec. He said,

“You once used your Eye Of The Heart didn’t you?” Pheisl said but Josec shook his head.

“I’m not sure what I did back then. In the Port Town Of Wusihen, there was a siege by Psychorages. I ‘heard’ the agony of the forest and ‘saw’ the rage and pain of the earth as Tokorewu, the Psychorage of the Earth sought to break Wusihen’s foundations” Josec said.

“My test is to you Josec Fenix, the one who wields the Heart Of The Phoenix. You have something the Mind and Spirit of the Phoenix do not possess. Your ‘Eye’ sees beyond the natural. The Heart of the Phoenix is guided by its ‘Eye’” Pheisl said.

Josec nodded.

“Remember Josec, the story of the man who became stronger every time he ‘died’. His story is strangely reminiscent of the Phoenix’s life. One strong trait that man possessed was the ability to ‘see through’. The reason the phoenix’s eye is necessary is because it has the power to guide the entire ‘body’ of the phoenix away from danger. Aside from that it can teach the phoenix’s body where to be and when” Fencer said.

“I wasn’t told much about him. Master Fencer only mentioned another man who was cursed and used a previous curse as a counterbalance to wipe out the new curse” Josec said.

“I see” Fencer laughed.

“Don’t be afraid Josec” Pheisl said to Josec.

Josec thought for a while and then a determined look spread over his face.

“Fundamentally, the heart and the eye are connected” Pheisl said.

“To put it simply, ‘you see because you feel’ and vice versa” Fencer said.

“Unlike your previous Masters, I will guide you through this trial with a number of clues since this isn’t an easy thing to learn. ‘You should be able to see everything around you because you care for those around you’” Pheisl said.

“And if as I told you, people influence affairs and not affairs themselves, depending on how you react to what you see, you will be able to change things around you and wherever you go for the better” Fencer said.

“Then why are you guys hiding out in caves?” Harry said a little skeptically.

“We are not hiding out in caves…we are hiding out in ‘history’” Fencer joked and high-fived Pheisl. The two chuckled for a while.

© EdwinBozie - all rights reserved

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