Categories > Original > Drama

The Last Lesson

by Togot 1 review

A grand master has taught his students everything he knows; now there's only one lesson left.

Category: Drama - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2005-09-18 - Updated: 2005-09-19 - 2439 words - Complete

-Waytah was the greatest warrior in the history of Morex. He had fought in five wars, over a hundred battles and had never been defeated in combat. He had been given the title of Grand Master at the age of twenty five, the youngest to ever receive such an honor.
-He retired as leader of the imperial army at the age of sixty six and decided to take on the responsibility of teaching the next generation of warriors everything he knew. He began with over fifty students made up of the very best that Morex had to offer.
-The first week Waytah sent home nearly half of his students and over the years he continued to filter out the weak and the flawed. Now it has been twelve years and Waytah's students number a mere twelve. They are the cream of the crop, the best of the best.
-Of these twelve, one student stood out from the rest. Kazu had managed to come out on top of his class over the last two years. When Kazu had been but a child his father had fought beside Waytah during several battles. When he died Waytah promised to look after the boy and had spent the last twelve years doing so.

-Waytah faced Kazu with his weapon ready. His eyes were as hard as steel and his body was calm and ready. His leather padded clothing made him look larger than he really was; its black color with red trim identified its wearers rank. His wooden sword was frozen in his steady hands as he planed his next move.
-Kazu was smaller and younger, though he new from experience that that didn't mean very much in a fight. His clothes were less protective and white in color identifying him as a student. His weapon was at the ready, able to attack or defend at a moments notice.
-The two stood as still as statues, each one waiting for the other to make the first move. Each one trying to predict what the other would do. The other students watching them did not exist; the world itself did not exist. The only thing that mattered was the strike.
-Then the stillness was gone and it was replaced with the decisive action of Kazu rushing at his master. He fainted to the left then spun around to strike the right side of his opponents head but Waytah was far to fast. He simply angled his sword to block the blow and moved in closer to Kazu, driving the pummel of his sword into the boy's gut.
-The padding helped cushion the blow but when Waytah hit you felt it no matter what you had on. Kazu spun away and took up a defensive stance. He blocked out the pain, it was nothing compared to all the beatings he had taken at the hands of his teacher.
-Waytah waited patiently for his student to catch his breath. He would have pushed his advantage with anyone else but Kazu was too tricky to attack blindly. It was better to let him make the first move and counterattack.
-Kazu caught his breath and centered himself. He watched his master's stance closely and played the next move out in his mind. He decided on an attack and put it into action. He rushed at his master and delivered several light blows, attempting to get his teacher in the right position.
-Waytah raised his sword up and across the top of his head to block an incoming strike but at the last second Kazu changed his angel and struck Waytah's fingers. Waytah was able to pull away but the damage was done.
-Waytah swung his blade wide at Kazu with his able hand and the boy leapt back. At first Kazu wasn't sure if he had landed the blow. Waytah stood perfectly calm, he hadn't cried out in pain and he was holding his weapon with both hands again. Had Waytah attacked with one hand because the other was injured or because he wanted him to think he was hurt? With Waytah one never could tell.
-There was one way for him to find out. Kazu rushed in and attacked again but this time Waytah's reactions were slower. The old man hid it well but Kazu could see it, his hand was hurt and that was a weakness. Kazu knew that if he could see even that hint of discomfort then Waytah must be in serious pain, the old man was a tough one.
-With Waytah's left hand injured he wouldn't be able to put as much power into his attacks. Kazu got in close and threw a flurry of blows at his teacher. He continued his assault until his master presented him with an opening and he took it. Kazu's sword moved to fast for an untrained eye to even see as it struck his masters hand once again.
-This time not even the mighty Waytah could hide the pain. His left hand let go of his sword and he turned away from Kazu, shielding his injured appendage with his body. Even now he did not cry out in pain but it was evident to everyone that he was hurt.
-As soon as the masters back was to him Kazu moved in, he knew better than to hesitate or show mercy. He had his weapon held high, a quick blow to the head and Kazu would be victorious. Kazu was about to bring his weapon down to meet the target when Waytah spun around and pointed the tip of his sword to Kazu's throat.
-The boy stood frozen in surprise. His master had moved to quickly for him to react, he had barely managed to stop himself from running into the weapon. Waytah's expression was cold and emotionless as always, but Kazu knew that it had been a close match.
-"Very good Kazu," Waytah said. "You honed in on my weakness and exploited it perfectly. The only mistake you made was thinking I was beaten while I was still standing. You were over confident and left yourself wide open!"
-Kazu lowered his eyes; he knew his teacher was right. He had made a stupid mistake and it had cost him the match, but he couldn't dwell on it, he could only learn from it.
-Waytah nodded for Kazu to sit down and the next two combatants to step up.
-"Kazu, lead the class until I come back," Waytah said before leaving the room. He doubted that Kazu realized it but the boy had broken Waytah's hand. The old man went into the back to get some ice and bandages for himself. He considered it embarrassing to do such things in front of his students; in their eyes he was invincible and it was important to set an example.
-In the back Waytah looked at his hand. Three of his fingers had been broken and they were starting to swell up. He took a deep breath and took hold of the middle finger; he would have to set it if it was going to heal properly. One quick pull and a shock of pain shot through his arm. He gritted his teeth but made no sound of discomfort.
-As he wrapped the cloth around his injured hand Waytah sighed to himself. He finally had to admit to himself that he couldn't keep up with his students anymore. In a way he was happy, his students had surpassed him and that was what he had wanted all along, but it still pained him to except his limitations. It's a hard thing for a man to acknowledge that he's obsolete.
-Waytah sat in his chair and looked at all the medals and keepsakes he had collected over his life time. To think that all those battles and wars had never even worried him, and now he had been humbled by his own student.
-Waytah loved all of his students and they loved him. He knew that anyone of them would die for him in an instant, and he would die for them as well. They were the next generation, they were the future and he was the past. And now he could no longer teach them anything they didn't already know. He couldn't even be a decent obstacle anymore.
-It had been a long time coming and Waytah had seen it. Everyday it got harder to beat his students; he had to resort to cheap tricks on a daily basis now. If he hadn't baited Kazu into attacking him openly there was no way he would have won that match. So what was an old man to do?
-He was too old to take on new students, it had taken over a decade to train these ones and his time was almost over. Everyday it hurt more to get out of bed. Every dual took more effort and now his body couldn't take the punishment anymore.
-Waytah didn't want to die in his bed like some feeble invalid. He was a proud warrior and had single handedly shaped the entire country into the empire it was today. He had spilled too much blood and sent too many men to their deaths to cheat himself out of the same honor.
-"Let the old men die so the young may live," he whispered to himself. Perhaps he did have one more thing to teach his students after all.
-Over the next several weeks Waytah pushed his students harder than ever. He had them practice against each other in groups instead of one on one. He made them fight blindfolded. Everyday he pushed them to the point of collapse.
-On Kazu he was especially hard, the boy was the top student and Waytah wanted him to prove it. Everyday Kazu had to fight three other students, and if he beat them he had to fight four, then five. Waytah kept stacking the odds against him until one of the students managed to land a blow by pure luck.
-Finally the day came when Waytah took off the bandages, his hand had healed. He practiced for a few hours to make sure it had healed properly and when he was satisfied he called his students to gather around him.
-"Class, today I teach you your final lesson. Today your training is complete," Waytah said. He could see the look of excitement and surprise in there eyes. For years they had been working towards this day and now it was here. Now it was time for the student to truly surpass the master.
-"Kazu, come forward," he commanded. The student promptly obeyed, eager to please his teacher and set an example for the others.
-Waytah looked into the boys eyes, he was so proud of him. Kazu always looked out for the other students and took time to help those that were falling behind. He was a natural born leader and he would be the one to pass or fail for them all.
-"Kazu, out of all the class I recognize you as the strongest, brightest and most importantly the bravest. I have taught you everything I know; technique, strategy, how to fight and why. Now I have one last thing to teach you."
-Waytah held out a real sword to his student. Kazu slowly accepted the weapon and drew the blade to inspect. The students had used swords for cutting and practice but this was a true weapon of battle, not some training tool.
-"Today I shall teach you how to kill," Waytah said. He drew his own sword and pointed it at Kazu. "Kill me and take my place. If you hold back I swear I will kill you. And if you have any thought of being noble and refusing to kill me, know that if you fail I shall end my own life."
-Waytah waited for his words to sink in, he knew he was asking a lot of the nineteen year old boy. Kazu loved him like a father, but this was simply something he had to do. If Kazu could kill his teacher than he could kill anyone he faced on the battlefield.
-Kazu's mind raced for a way out. Was this a test of character? No, Kazu could see it in Waytah's eyes. This test was for real and to the death. He took up his blade and faced his master. He knew he had to believe he could win; that if he had any doubt he would lose before he began. He had to win, he had to kill his teacher.
-Master and pupil faced each other in front of the entire class. They were all about to watch one of them die. Waytah could see by the look in Kazu's eyes that he had resigned himself to kill his master.
-The two of them stood with several feet between them. They were as still as statues, they were hardly even breathing as they let their energy swell up inside their bodies. The room was completely silent as all eyes watched.
-Then the stillness was gone, replaced an outburst of power as the two rushed towards each other. When they met there was a blur of motion too fast for any normal person to see. Even the students had trouble fallowing the action.
-Kazu met Waytah blow for blow, neither one gaining an advantage. The only sound was the clash of steel against steel as the blades struck each other again and again. The two separated from the engagement and sized each other up in a split second and they both made a final charge.
-They ran straight at each other and swung their swords at the same time, passing each other as they struck. They stood frozen in place for what seemed like an eternity. Even to the spectators it was unclear who the victor was.
-Then Waytah fell to one knee, his right hand clutching at his stomach trying to hold in his intestines. He propped himself up with his sword as blood dripped onto the floor.
-"Well done Kazu," Waytah said weakly. "You have surpassed me in every way, may you live, and die, as well as I have." Waytah's head lowered and his eyes closed but even in death his left hand refused to let go of his sword. His fingers still stubbornly clutched the handle.
-Kazu slowly stood at ease; his eyes were clenched shut trying to hold back his tears. He knew he shouldn't weep for his master. He had given him the greatest gift; he had given him an honorable death.
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