Chapter three of my story, Krachack.
Master and student walked slowly out the door, and turned down a gently shadowed path under a line of drooping willows. The sun was setting, and the sky was a pale orange. A few thin pink streaks of clouds hung in the sky, as isolated and apart from each other as Gimel was from his companions. The two walked in silence for a moment, then Kaph suddenly stopped and looked Gimel in the eyes.
“My son, I must say I was quite proud when you stood up for yourself this evening.” He began, and his eyes glowed briefly before clouding over again, “But why? Why have you let so many of them treat you so for four years?”
Gimel hung his head, ashamed to look Kaph full in the face, “I – I’m not altogether sure.” he stammered. “It’s just that…well…I guess I’m afraid.” He glanced into Kaph’s eyes briefly before returning his gaze to the ground.
“O my son,” Kaph said quietly, “Never be afraid to stand up for yourself. You cannot live life being taken advantage of and persecuted by whosoever wishes to.”
“No, I know.” Gimel admitted, “But it’s so hard…I miss my family. What has happened to my mother? I’ve been gone for four years now – does she think I’m dead? She didn’t know I left to try out for your school…She needed me to help her with the house. You see, master Kaph, my father is dead, and my grandfather is frail, and no help about the house. I was her support. I kept the house while she worked. What if – what if -“ He couldn’t bring himself to voice his thoughts. No, they couldn’t be dead! Surely they hadn’t starved without his help!
A sob came from his throat.
“Ah, my son, I know your fears.” Kaph answered, so quietly that Gimel wondered if he had actually spoken. He gazed up into his teacher’s face. It was now lined with old worries, old pains.
“You do?” he breathed.
“I was taken from my family when I was about your age.” Kaph continued, staring into space, seemingly not aware that he spoke aloud, “O how hard that was! Both my parents were not well. I had to support them and my brothers and sisters. Then they came. They took me away to sell to pay my family’s debts. I have not seen them since.” The old man looked deep into Gimel’s eyes, “My anxiety ate me for many years, but I learned that you cannot survive so. It eats your abilities and prevents you from moving forward in life. Look not into the past for worries, my son! The future holds so many of its own, do not burden yourself with unnecessary fears!”
The sun had disappeared behind the horizon completely now, and they continued to walk as the dusk grew deeper. Gimel pondered what Kaph had said, and strode beside him in silence for some time. At last they came to the door to his Kaph’s residence.
“Master, what of the contests?” Gimel asked suddenly. His teacher started slightly, as if aroused from deep thoughts.
“Yes, my son?”
“Oh, master Kaph, I long to do something worthwhile! I don’t want to disappoint you, or fail – but – but what about Dragon Fire? I’m not ready to compete for it. And oh! How I long to tame a dragon!” tears came to Gimel’s eyes, and he couldn’t go on for a moment. “Ever since I was able to comprehend things, I longed for the permission to have a dragon, like the Krachack men. Master Kaph, please give me a chance to compete for Dragon Fire!”
Kaph answered quietly, “I would not force you to choose either way, my son, but if you are not ready for Dragon Fire, would you not be glad to be released, to go home to your mother? Or, you can go ahead and compete for Dragon Fire, but I warn you that your comrades are not easy opponents. You may not earn your way to Dragon Fire. Are you willing to risk this? I will put the contests off for another week if you choose, and I will train you intensively during that week.” Gimel’s eyes widened, and his heart expanded in gratitude to Kaph’s kindness. Oh, how glad he was to have Kaph for his teacher! But how hard it would be to decide!
“I – I don’t know which I want.” He stammered, “I want them both. I dearly want to see my family again, but – but I don’t want to leave in defeat!”
“I understand, my son.” Kaph smiled gently, “Think about it tonight, and tomorrow evening you may tell me your decision before we eat.” He patted Gimel kindly on the shoulder, and then entered his room. Gimel turned, and walked thoughtfully back up the path to the dormitory.
What would he choose? Oh, it was so difficult a decision! He turned the options over in his mind, but of course the answer wasn’t written on the bottom. How he longed for a dragon! Surely no one would torment him again, if only he had a dragon! But oh! It would be so easy just to go home and take care of his family again. Surely it couldn’t be wrong to give up if it was for one’s family’s sake?