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To Be A Master: One Step Nearer - Part Three


by shelleylow

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The sun was slanting towards the west as the Neo-Kidoka sat together beneath a tree, conferring.

     The Wocky's name was Kamae. At least, that was the name her Master had given her, the name she went by. Before that, her name had been something else, something longer, with numbers in it, and she had lived in a big city with her owner.

     "Your Master gave you a new name?" Aragon inquired. "Aihami-Master never gave us new names..."

     "I asked her to give me a new name. I didn't want to remember my old one, or my old life. I wanted to be someone new. You see, my owner.. she wasn't the kindest person in the world..." Her soft, hesitant voice trailed off sadly. Aihami reached out a consoling paw, but Kamae shook her head and smiled a wan smile.

     "It's alright, Aihami." She lifted her eyes once more. "All that has happened on this island has made me almost forget her..." She smiled again, more brightly this time. "After all, it was only when I came here that I first encountered other Neopets. My owner never let me out of the Neohome or have any friends. I don't think she had any herself. The curtains were always closed in that house; it was always dark, especially in my owner's room. She spent most of her time sitting in her dark room brooding and muttering about something or other. I took my meals with her, but she never spoke to me, just sat there watching me like an Albat. It... frightened me. And if I put one paw wrong when she was around she'd scream and hit me or throw things at me. I soon learnt to stay away from her."

     Kamae broke off again with a wistful sigh. "I really do wonder why she chose to create me in the first place. At any rate, she is only a memory now. I can't even remember her face anymore."

     Emlyn came closer to the Wocky's crouched form. "We all used to belong to humans, you know. All us Juniors. Aihami-Master took us in when our humans didn't want us anymore. Did your Master take you in too?"

     "Oh yes," Kamae's eyes seemed to gaze into infinity. "One day I escaped from that horrible house and into the streets of Neopia, and my Master found me there. She took me in, took care of me and taught me to walk in the way of Neo-Kido. Karei-Master was good to me. I do miss her."

     Kokyu felt a jolt of sudden alertness from Aihami beside him. He turned his head to her, questioningly, and saw her leaning slightly forward, all four ears pricked. "Your Master's name was... Karei?"

     Kamae nodded, still smiling. "Yes. yes, it was. Do you know, it's funny, but the first thing I thought when I saw you was that you reminded me of her, Aihami. She was a red Aisha too.. and you resemble her somehow."

     "Interesting," Aihami murmured. "So you lived with your... Karei-Master... in Neopia Central? How then did you make your way all the way here, to Mystery Island?"

     Abruptly the Wocky's blue eyes were clear, snapping and purposeful, gazing pointedly at the two Aisha Masters. "Karei-Master told me to search for any other Neo-Kidoka I might find here. She said the time is at hand when we shall have to rise up against the perpetrators of hatred and violence who have long plagued us..."

     "The Neo-Rakarr." There was a cold edge to Aihami's whisper.

     Kamae nodded assent, with some surprise. "You know of the Neo-Rakarr?"

      "Somewhat." Kokyu intervened, his voice low. "We have had... brushes with them."

      "I will tell you everything that Karei-Master told me," Kamae spoke with resolution. "We must act together to bring this evil in Neopia to what it deserves..."

     ***

      "The Neo-Rakarr were founded long ago by an Eyrie called Yarrek. It was his ambition to be the strongest in all Neopia, for he believed that strength was true power, and when he was the strongest in Neopia he could bend others to do his bidding. And so he trained under many different Masters, learning many different fighting styles, and as he did, he began to select bits out of each, in order to create his own fighting style, the 'ultimate fighting style', the style that would remain unbeaten until Neopia itself crumbled. That style became Neo-Rak.

      "The weapon and its wielder were indeed powerful. Yarrek dominated the Battledome and many feared him, and for a time he was content. But he realised that his style would die with him when he grew old, and having taken so much time and effort to create it, he wasn't about to let that happen. So the proud Eyrie sought young pets, eager to learn from the frightening yet impressive Battledome champion, and he taught them Neo-Rak, and to walk the path of the Neo-Rakarr. And the more they learned, the smaller and darker their hearts became, until they could feel no more compassion or love for anyone.

      "And so after Yarrek's passing Neo-Rak lived on. His disciples found a base of operations and set to work recruiting more Neo-Rakarr, whoever they could find that wanted to be a successful battler or just those who were curious.. And that was how it spread. They thrive on violence, and their code of conduct is to eliminate all those they deem weak and unfit to live. That's why they call their higher ranks Champions instead of Masters. It was a twist of Yarrek's too."

     Kamae paused to flick a curious Flightning Bug from her uniform sleeve.

     "But how do the Neo-Kidoka come into this?" Aria questioned, her eyes wide with interest. She, Marko and the other Juniors had been listening with rapt attention to the tale of Neo-Rak.

     "I was getting to that," returned the Wocky. "That's an old and apparently still-festering wound. While Yarrek himself was still alive, he had several run-ins with Mizu and Ka."

     "Mizu and kA?"

     "Yes... the Great Masters. The very first Neo-Kidoka. You don't know of them?"

     "I've never heard those names before," Aihami admitted. "Naro-Master never talked about Neo-Kido's roots or told me how it was founded. And when I asked questions he always gave me a vague sort of answer, so I gave it up after a while."

     "Your Master's name was Naro?"

     Aihami looked at her. "You've... heard of him?"

     "Karei-Master was the last student of Mizu-Great Master," Kamae explained. "She gave me the names of all her Seniors who trained under the Great Masters themselves. There were eight of them in total. The names of the other seven were Naro, Kaiten, Toreb, Jiyu, Jokata, Eiya, and Koshi. I'll never forget them now; I've been repeating them to myself since the day she told me..."

           "It was Toreb-Master who showed me the Way," Kokyu put in quietly. There was a new light in his eyes despite his sombre tone.

     Kamae stared at both of them. "Then I've found two of them," she breathed. "Naro-Master and Toreb-Master... Or their legacies, anyway. I hardly dared to hope when I felt your energy this morning. I was just doing my breathing and extension exercises and when I felt... you... I thought it might be, but I was so afraid it was something else..."

     "Well," Aihami mused, her reflective smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, "it's an extremely fortunate thing that we have found each other, Kamae-Master. For Kokyu-Master and I... well, we seek exactly what you do."

      As briefly as possible, she related the tale of Kokyu and Shiho's coming, her own capture by the Neo-Rakarr, the eventual rescue mission, and finally the dream-that-was-not, where she and Kokyu had seen their Masters in the shapes of the stars, had spoken to them. Kamae's face was a picture of amazement when she finished.

      "If only I could... see Karei-Master again," she murmured sadly. "Like that."

      "You may yet," Kokyu said slowly. "But we have to think of the task at hand. May I ask what Degree you are, Kamae?"

      Kamae lowered her eyes bashfully. "I'm afraid I'm as hardly as experienced as either of you," she mumbled. "I only became a First-Degree almost two weeks ago, before Karei-Master passed on a few days after. She was the last and youngest student of the Great Masters, as I said, and she felt her time had come. I laid her to rest in the Mystery Island jungle, as I promised, and I've been wandering around the jungle since then, not sure where to look." Her face brightened again. "But now I've found you, both of you... only I'm afraid I may not be of much help."

      "Kamae-Master is being silly," Shiho remarked abruptly. The Wocky turned to stare at her in astonishment. Boldly, the little Aisha continued, undaunted.

      "All of us Juniors and Marko-Senior know even less Neo-Kido than you. But we want to do what we can to get rid of Neo-Rak. That's why we're here. And we'll follow Kokyu-Master and Aihami-Master wherever they lead us. Because we may be small, and we may not know so much about Neo-Kido yet, but we are Neo-Kidoka. And we'll have to stick together."

      "You've trained her well," Aihami whispered approvingly to Kokyu. The blue Aisha grinned.

      "Well said, kit." He clapped a blue paw on Shiho's shoulder, then turned to Kamae. "That's what the Neo-Kidoka are all about, aren't we? Supporting each other. Helping each other. Loving each other. Unifying our forces as one..."

      "We're a team, Kamae," Aihami added, taking the Wocky's yellow paw in her own. "Remember that even Masters learn new things from their students. Besides, you've provided us with information that makes our task more clear to us... and that already brings us one step nearer to completing it. It's a small step, and the end is a long way off yet, but it is progress. I'm sure that we could succeed... if we don't lose faith in ourselves and each other."

      The yellow Wocky's expression was radiant. "Thank you! You are right, all of you. I shouldn't be being silly about my rank now." She paused to gaze up at the growing dusk. "I found a sheltered clearing yesterday. Perhaps you all would like to spend the night there?"

      "It sounds good," Mandrake put in. "I just hope there aren't any prickly bushes... and that there's lots of space."

      The others laughed, and they set off together through the dim trees.

     As they walked, Aihami dropped back from the front where she usually led the little procession with Kokyu, and fell into step beside Kamae. "I forgot to ask you, though I was curious, Kamae. What kind of Neopets were the Great Masters exactly?"

      Kamae turned to her, and in the darkness Aihami saw the Wocky's teeth flash in a grin.

      "That was the other thing that struck me about you, Aihami. When I saw you and Kokyu together. kA and Mizu were both Aishas. Red and blue."

To be continued...

 
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» To Be A Master: One Step Nearer - Part One
» To Be A Master: One Step Nearer - Part Two



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