Monday, 31 August 2009

The Bitter Old Man

Tea making is serious business. For those who truly appreciate the subtle art a good tea maker can either perfect the taste of the tea or completely ruin it, and it is said it can take a lifetime to become a true tea maker.

Wu-Long sighs in regret as yet again he fails to pour the tea perfectly. An old man now Wu-Long wished he’d spent more time learning how to make tea properly, because no matter what he did it always tasted bitter to him. Taking the tea with him outside he goes to throw its contents over the dirt when he notices a strange sight. A young boy was kneeling outside his door. Blinking for a few moments Wu-Long just turns to his side, throws the tea away and goes to walk back into his home.

“Please teach me!” The boy shouted as he bowed his head to the floor. Wu-Long stopped but did not turn back to face the boy.
“Go home child, I can teach you nothing but regret” The boy raised his face from the ground to look upon the back of the old man.
“I saw you! A year ago I was carrying water back to my home when I saw three bandits attacking you... you.. you were amazi-“ Wu-Long turned around sharply and stared the boy down with his deep brown eyes.
“What I did to those young fools is not praise worthy child... And while I commend you for reaching my home among these mountain tops I’m afraid there is nothing I can do for you” looking the boy up and down Wu-Long could see he had struggled greatly to reach his home, but he would not show his sympathy for him.
“All I ask is that you train me to fight like you! I know you can do-“
“And what of it boy! What will you do once I show you the ancient art of Tou Casra? Will you challenge the other great masters of the world? Will you prey upon the weak? Will you follow you’re self deluded ideals of valour and honour? What will you do boy!” Taken back by the old man’s sudden sharp tone the boys resolve began to shake, but he had come to far not to try.
“I will protect my village! Every year our lord sends his goons to take our earnings, our food... sometimes our women! I want to be stronger! I want to protect them!”
“Hahaha! Boy... You ask the impossible! Oh it’s true I could make you stronger than any other man in this valley... but the power to protect? Such a power does not exist, and the sooner you learn that the better you’ll be.... Go home child, return to your peaceful yet troubled life... it is the best life you can hope for in this world” At that the boy snapped in rage and stood up, his fists clenched tightly.
“You crooked old man! I will not spend my days living in fear! You will teach me and I will protect my home!” for a moment there is naught but silence and the boy does not yet know if he has made a terrible mistake... but finally the old man smirks.
“Heh... You wish to live without fear? Then child I will teach you the greatest lesson you’ll ever learn... I doubt anyone else would teach this... perhaps because they have not learnt it either” The boy relaxes for a moment but tries to keep up a strong face “Very well child... I will teach you all the arts of Tou Casra... All of them, even the secret ones if you can pass one test...”
“Anything... Master!”
“Very well... Hmmm...” The old man circled the boy for a moment, gazing off into the distance, until finally he pointed towards a simple bush “Let us say that bush is your village... then let us say I have already taught you everything I know... So now you have the greatest strength in this entire land... I shall be a common raider, and as such cannot fight you... all you must do now is simply stop me from destroying your village” The boy quickly steps between the old man and the bush, raising his fists up, but then he is overcome by questions towards the test.
“But you are a master, I cannot physically stop you...” The old man only shook his head.
“As I said child... I am but a common raider, thus I can’t fight you at all” Watching the old man intensely the boy waited for any signs of his attack, scenarios of what the old man might try to do played back and forth through his head, but then suddenly the old man simply turned around and began to walk back to his house.
“Hey.... Hey! Where are you going?”
“Hmm? Oh, I was going to go make myself some tea”
“What? Aren’t you gonna try and attack the bush?” The old man simply turned his head and called back to the boy in a cold voice.
“I am”

With that the boy was left all alone in the cold, trying to protect a small bush from an attack that might never come. Luckily for the boy it did not take long for him to learn the answer to this lesson...

Even with all the power in the world... he still lived in fear.

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