A Chapter by EdwinBozie


Author: EdwinBozie
Created: December 29, 2017 at 09:14 am
Upload Type: Chapter, T (13+)  
Category: Fantasy | Adventure | Friendship
Upload Stats: 78 views

L.O.T.J.L Ep 16: Trial For The Phoenix's Spirit

EPISODE 16: TRIAL FOR THE PHOENIX’S SPIRIT; UNCOORDINATED COORDINATION


Pheisl joined the ranks of the previous Masters and commenced the journey towards the Fourth Master. Once more, they took the narrow but straight path and journeyed for five days. As always, the Fourth Master sensed their presence and came to meet them. She was a lady who seemed to be in her mid- twenties. She looked like a citizen of the East and had short dark hair with bangs that covered her forehead. She clasped the hands of each of the three Masters and greeted them each saying, “Once more our paths have become one”.


Josec began to notice a pattern in their journey but it wasn’t until she also said they needed five days of rest before commencing their journey that Josec was certain. They always walked at the same pace, used five days to reach their destination; were greeted by a Master at the entrance to their next destination with exactly the same words which in hindsight implied that the theoretical distance from cave to cave was exactly the same. Josec wanted to understand all this but he resolved to observe more. He recalled Fencer’s words;


‘The mountains are separate but only geographically. They are tied together by the same history’. Josec could not understand the architecture of the caves and they looked completely natural on the outside but within it contained mysteries that were almost impossible to ponder.


Josec theorized that regardless of where they began their journey to the next destination, it would always take five days. He questioned Fencer about it but Fencer told him ‘not to get hung up on the Maths after all the value of the journey was in the journey itself and the destination would be the fulfilment’. They were now in the fourth Master’s cave.


“Hello Ayu, it’s been a while. How is that ‘dreaming’ idiot” Fencer asked.


“First of all, if you’re talking of Zan, he is travelling as usual and secondly…how many times…do I have to tell you not to call me Ayu!” she said as she punched the wall of her cave. A hole was blasted into it leading outside. Josec and the two kids were startled. The Masters seemed to be used to her temper already.


“You need to watch your temper Ayu. I wonder how Zan takes it” they joked.


“You trying to pick a fight Fencer?! I know you’re trying to drag the topic!” she roared angrily.


They laughed.


The children noticed that Ayu’s cave was brighter than the previous masters. There were many holes shaped like pores on the roof and light streamed into her cave. Josec noticed why. There were trees in her cave as well as a garden. Josec noticed that the garden was crafted very intentionally. At the centre of the garden was a large tree. Surrounding the tree were hedges. Josec wanted to see more concerning the tree so he wandered past the hedges. Beyond the hedge, the tree had a single pink rose blossoming to the right of it. Surrounding the tree were golden flowers that appeared to almost cling to it. Surrounding the golden flowers were small thorned purple plants. Between the purple plants and the hedge was a field littered with purple and white flowers resembling grasses and at the inner side of the hedge were taller thorned plants which like the first but taller than them grew in solitude from each and created an encirclement.


“Is this your ‘history’ of Jo-lan?” Josec asked.


“Yes it is. A miniature Garden Of Eden” the fourth Master said.


Then she finally introduced herself to the others.


“My name is Ayumi Kirisawa” she said.


“Are you a botanist?” Buern asked her.


“A biologist. I study both plants and animals including human beings but I have a special interest in locusts” Ayumi said.


Buern opened her mouth wide in shock.


“You breed the potential destruction of your crops…with your crops?!” Buern exclaimed in horror. Josec and Noella were shocked.


Harry laughed.


“It must be because of their ability to fly in formation without any leader” Harry joked.


“Exactly! I mean…how do they do that?! Without a king. How do they manage to fly in formation without breaking rank?!” Ayumi exclaimed in fascination. “I mean think about it. It’s almost like…they are a single body…a single organism thriving on a multitude of cells. Who gives the orders? Who relays them? It’s all a mystery!” Ayumi exclaimed in shock.


“Next thing you know, she’ll be talking of how they coordinate without coordination” Fencer whispered to Kyem.


“Fencer fails to appreciate the science of this but I believe in the spirit behind Ayu’s lesson. It’s a spirit of unity not dependent on a system of classes or hierarchy. Something the phoenix may require in order to form its body. The phoenix after all is formed from the righteous will of a multitude” Pheisl said.


The students rested for four days. During the four days, Josec explored Ayu’s cave. It felt livelier than the previous Masters’ because of the plants and animals within it. It was also because of the Masters’ lively conversations. Josec stared at Ayu’s miniature Garden Of Eden whenever he got the chance. Buern walked to him one day as he was doing this.


“What’s up Josec? I see you staring at this Garden whenever you have the chance. What do you see?” Buern asked him.


“I don’t know but this garden wasn’t just made to look beautiful. It was cultivated with very specific intention. Look at the tree at the centre for instance. Doesn’t it sort of resemble Yggdrasil?” Josec asked.


“The tree of life? Now that you mention it…it does kind of resemble Yggdrasil” Buern said.


“And at the same time, I can’t help but feel it is the King Of The Garden. The rose at its side might be a queen or prince. The golden flowers sort of look like the elders of the king. The thorned plants sort of resemble knights. The white and pink multitude of plants look like the king’s subjects, the citizens of his kingdom. The thorned plants surrounding the inner side of the hedge look like the knights guarding the outer borders of the kingdom. It feels divine” Josec said.


“I see you understand the meaning behind this miniature Garden Of Eden. I have always believed that the Garden Of Eden was a miniature Heaven. In its very structure, it tells the tale of God” Ayumi said from behind them.


“I knew it!” Josec exclaimed excitedly.


 


Meanwhile, Estelle and Harry were talking together.


“I don’t know what will happen once our journey with the Masters end. Things might start to get a little dangerous from now on” Harry said.


“If you are asking me to turn back now don’t. I’ve already come this far and we both know that I’m not a weakling. Heck, I even earned the nickname Stallion” Estelle said.


“Your memories…they are coming back?” Harry exclaimed joyfully.


“I don’t remember everything yet but I remember the anger and dread of being enslaved to Anubis and I recall seeing you once as an enemy but what I remember most is the feeling of gratitude I felt when you saved me and just like then, you still don’t listen. The way I see it, the continent of Avalon seems to be in danger of Souryu’s malice and I can either sit here as a princess and hope the danger goes away or I can act to protect my people” Estelle said.


Harry smiled.


“I won’t bring this up again if you have already made up your mind” Harry said.


Estelle smiled at him happily.


 


Then the sixth day arrived. The four students stood before Ayu.


“Let’s get this on!” Buern exclaimed excitedly.


“Haah, she doesn’t listen” Josec sighed in defeat.


Master Kirisawa frowned.


“To begin, I will spar with the spirit of the phoenix” Ayu said.


“You mean Buern?” Harry asked.


Master Kirisawa nodded with a smirk.


“You remind me of my past self. Reckless, always jumping into situations without thinking of a way out first” Master Kirisawa said.


“Don’t tell me you’re going to lecture me to submission” Buern said.


“No, that is not a suitable approach for you” Ayu said as she took in a deep breath and shut her eyes.


Buern charged in to attack.


“She did exactly the same thing with Master Kyem. Doesn’t she learn?” Harry asked.


“Sometimes…you just need to know your place. I have neither the time nor the energy to expend on a brat” Master Kirisawa said as her menacing aura permeated the entire cave.


Buern could slightly behold a menacing fiery dragon behind Master Kirisawa. Fear crept into her and she dropped to the ground in defeat. The other students were shivering as well.


“One thing I forgot to mention about the fourth Master. She is very impatient” Fencer said.


“You didn’t take note of how large my aura was did you? Neither did you consider why I am called a Master. You are still a hundred years too early to consider fighting me on equal footing. You could have instantly lost your life. Exactly why I called you a reckless brat. The foundation of any test for the spirit of the phoenix is fortitude so I can understand why you are so bold but though the Heart of the Phoenix is the one that warns the phoenix of danger, it is the job of the phoenix’s spirit to determine whether or not that danger can be overcome without casualty. If you cannot comprehend the concept of ‘fear’, you will one day lead everyone you love into a terrible snare” Master Kirisawa said.


Buern took in a deep breath and tried to calm down but Master Kirisawa wasn’t letting up on her aura.


“The concept of the phoenix’s body relies on everything you’ve learnt so far. Continuous adaptability, many fighting as one to counter a single insurmountable obstacle. Many fighting as one to counter multiple powerful forces through a continuous instantaneous relay of judgements regarding any situation. All these people avoiding danger by listening to the ‘Heart’ of the phoenix and finally deciding how to overcome any danger by relying on the phoenix’s ‘Spirit’. The final bit is mostly your job Buern Vane. If you cannot choose between battles worth fighting and those that are not worth the effort, all you’ll do is break the body of the phoenix apart” Master Kirisawa said.


Finally, Master Kirisawa let her fighting spirit calm down. Only then did Buern and the other three students finally calm down.


“So what form will our training take?” Estelle finally gathered the courage to ask.


“You will be attempting to escape a variety of traps” Master Kirisawa said with a smile.


The four students gulped.


“That doesn’t sound too reassuring” Harry said fearfully.


“Hahaha! What better way to increase a person’s reaction time than to aim multiple traps at them?” Master Kirisawa said.


“Reaction time?” Estelle asked.


“You passed Kyem’s test but he tells me your reaction time is still slow. You need to build up speed” Master Ayu said.


“And fortitude” Master Fencer added.


“For this task Buern, I will appoint you as leader but remember, there are more ways to guide people than to order them around. It might not necessarily even have to do with leadership styles. Sometimes the greater part of leadership is dependent on the state of the leader and that is why the Verns are the Spirit of the Phoenix. It’s because of their unparalleled empathy for others. It’s their kindness that keeps the phoenix alive” Master Kirisawa said.


“So how will this go down?” Buern asked.


“Like Pheisl usually does, I will observe you. You will be presented with various situations in your daily life. How you will respond to these situations will greatly determine how ready you are to assume your role as the phoenix’s spirit” Master Kirisawa said.


 


From that time on, the four teens just lived in the cave chatting, exploring and waiting to see what happened next. On the first two days, nothing seemed to happen and Buern began to get impatient. She wanted to tell the Masters to present them with their challenges quicker. She seemed to believe that all the challenges would involve combat. The others advised her against this. Josec informed her that passing Pheisl’s test had to do with speaking with and understanding those around him.


“That’s a test for the phoenix’s heart, not its spirit. Spirit is a show of strength!” Buern declared.


“Buern, try to recall what Master Ayumi said” Josec advised.


“You seem to keep forgetting why she is a master even after she reminded you so clearly. How could you so easily forget her terrifying aura” Harry asked.


“She might be stronger than us but I’m beginning to feel that this is all a show. There’s no way of telling whether or not the masters intend to train us or not. It is dependent on them. This is a little one-sided” Buern said.


“It may be but I know what my mother said. She asked me to seek out Fencer. Everything is in Fencer’s hands now” Josec said.


“When will you ever learn Buern? You tried this thing with Master Kyem, then you did it with Master Kirisawa and now you’re going to challenge her a second time?” Harry reminded Buern.


“There’s nothing bad about trying to get some answers” Buern said and walked away.


She met the Masters a distance off gathered around a fire and talking. As she approached them, she began to catch pieces of their conversation like;


“That girl Buern…doesn’t listen”.


It made her angry and she began to feel stupid because they echoed Harry’s words. Next came the words;


“…doesn’t pay attention to those around her”.


She scowled angrily, stood a distance off and tried to hear what they were saying.


“…very impatient” came next.


At this point, Buern was so infuriated she stormed off and returned to the others.


“I wonder what they think of me” she thought but as she neared them, she heard laughter.


It made her cringe in anger. At that point she felt it was out of place for anyone to be laughing. Then the words echoed again,


“…she sure doesn’t listen” but the words came from Josec’s own mouth.


Buern was fearful. Was this a conspiracy focused around her? Had the Masters told the others something about Buern that only she didn’t know? She returned to them fuming but remained silent and tried to endure it. Her harsh reactions to their comments though made them realize that something was off but they honestly thought it was Buern just being her usual impatient self. At that point she was beginning to wonder whether her bond with everyone else had been built on a lie. Did they secretly despise her and she knew nothing about it?


Buern couldn’t find her place among them anymore. She stood up and walked out of the cave the others were in. She headed towards Master Kirisawa’s garden and found Master Kirisawa standing there.


“So you’ve come” Master Kirisawa said.


“Yeah” Buern said silently.


“It must be a little tough on you” Master Kirisawa said.


“And whose fault is that?” Buern muttered angrily.


“You know Buern, technically, there is a way to break the phoenix without attacking it. It is to attack it within its spirit. This also means that things are especially unfair for the phoenix’s spirit which tends to be far more sensitive than its mind and heart. That is precisely why you need fortitude above all else because you especially have to pull the weight of everyone and pull them along. Oops…I said too much” Master Kirisawa said with a wink.


“You did that deliberately” Buern chuckled. “You’re not half bad” she said.


Buern decided to return to the others. As she walked towards them, she saw the Masters in the distance. They had their backs turned to her. She debated on whether to walk past them or find another route. She eventually decided to walk past them. As she walked past them she heard the words,


“The girl Buern…doesn’t listen…” from Master Fencer’s mouth but she sensed no malice behind the words.


She realized she could bear them.


“…however she is quite resourceful. She already knew how to Psychorage Improv. without my intervention and she is the most adaptable member on the kid’s team” Buern heard Fencer.


Was she hearing right? She wondered.


“Though unlike I am she is truly strong. She doesn’t pay attention to those around her but she doesn’t ignore them either. I guess it’s a character trait unique to her” Master Kyem added.


“She is very impatient but I admire her ability to act” Pheisl said.


By this time, Buern was on the verge of breaking into tears.


“Buern, you’re listening aren’t you? There are a variety of traps in this world and not all of them are physical. Some are designed to crush the spirit. It is good to listen but it is just as important to choose what to listen to. There is nothing worse than hearing what you don’t want to hear, seeing what you don’t want to see and feeling what you don’t want to feel. It is foolish to ignore what is obvious but it is just as foolish to go seeking what you don’t want to find, because the discovery can’t be unfound. These are the things that burden the spirit. The first part of your trial is complete but your trial isn’t over yet” Fencer said.


Buern bowed respectfully.


“Thank you Masters” she said and walked away.


Buern returned to Josec, Harry and Estelle. They were still talking about her but she could finally truly hear how they were talking. It was in a loving way, not a scornful one. They spoke of some of the funny things she had said and done in the past. Her fears made everything sound bad initially. Buern sighed in relief.


“Are you okay?” Estelle asked her.


“It really is nothing. It was all in my head but for a moment, I thought I heard you guys badmouth me” Buern confessed.


“You know we wouldn’t do that” Josec laughed.


“…most of the time” Harry quickly added.


Buern laughed. Josec and Harry began to realize that Estelle was beginning to talk a bit more frequently as well. As they talked, Buern turned around and saw Master Kirisawa. She walked over to her.


“Thank you” Buern said gratefully.


“You have completed my trial. There is a way to lead without imposing or ordering people around. You’ve finally realized what it is haven’t you?” Master Kirisawa asked her.


“Like you said…it’s not really a leadership style. I still don’t completely understand what it is but it is like…directing a conversation” Buern said.


“That would be called ‘fellowship’. Even friends can be directed to take initiatives they usually wouldn’t dream of taking on their own. It is a leadership born out of mutual respect and it doesn’t impose itself as leadership hence…uncoordinated coordination” Master Kirisawa said.



© EdwinBozie - all rights reserved

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