Chapter 8 – Cautious & Daring Choices
Instead of meditating the entire night, Haru spent the night trying to understand what he’d experienced a little better. Although he was still young and desired power, he wasn’t a rash boy. He had been taught from a very young age the importance of patience and of taking everything one step at a time.
One of his father’s most favorite expressions was “One must learn to crawl before he can run” and after hearing it time after time, the meaning had stuck with Haru.
After giving his body and meditation much thought Haru had come to the realization that he could not figure out anything new, at least not by himself. He considered whether he should share his experiences with his parents, the people he trusted most. After giving it some thought, he decided against it. Haru recalled how his mother had looked so disheveled and filled with concern after he’d slept for three days and the idea of making his parents worry like that again made his heart feel heavy.
Haru went over his previous few experiences a few times and decided that regardless of how apprehensive he felt or how scary his meditation might have seemed… He hadn’t been hurt in any way. He hadn’t noticed any changes, negative or otherwise.
Therefore, he decided to proceed with another round of meditation. He entered that same state again with relative ease, surprising himself. He stayed floating in that pool of blood for what felt like days.
At first he was alert, trying his hardest to memorize everything and feel everything. He wanted to be alert at the slightest feeling of danger. It was only after quite some time that he started to slowly ease up his guard. When he did, he noticed that his entire being seemed to be slightly enveloped, but instead of being scared, it felt pleasant. He decided to trust that he would be fine, thinking to himself ‘This is a world of my own making. This is all in my head. I can’t get hurt here. This is mine.’
He wasn’t sure if he completely believed himself or whether he was just trying to comfort himself but he made himself believe it.
The less apprehensive he became the more connected he felt until he felt more and more at peace despite the eerie scene that would have terrified a normal child.
At some point he finally felt a slight push. As if the blood filled sea itself was telling him to go. Acknowledging it as it was time to come back to the real world he opened his eyes and for the first time since entering a meditative state, he woke up without any negative feelings. He opened his eyes slowly and looked at his hands and legs. He was entirely covered in sweat again, but he felt fine. ‘I feel fine… No… I feel amazing!’
He slowly flexed his arms and then got of his cross legged position and hopped to the floor, doing a few jumps. ‘So much energy!’ he thought to himself surprised by his own body.
“Son, go take a bath and then come sit down with me in the living room. There’s something we need to discuss.”
It was only then that his father’s voice awoke him from his own thoughts as he gave his dad an embarrassed grin. He quickly ran past him to get cleaned up.
Dillan watched him go with a strange expression.
The entire night had passed and it was already morning. Haru had meditated the entire night without realizing it. He only noticed as he passed a few windows and saw the sunlight surprising him even further. He decided to ask his teacher about it afterwards, and got cleaned up and changed as he came back to the living room as quickly as he could.
Dillan said “Dillan, you’ve chosen a prestigious path. Those who can attain high achievements as Blood Warriors or through their spirit. They can all create paths for themselves in this world. Through political connections or personal power, their options are open far and wide. It is an enviable life… But it is also a thorny path to begin walking. If it were so easy, you’d hear about a lot more people achieving success wouldn’t you?”
Haru partly understood and partly didn’t. He nodded in response but his confused gaze gave him away.
Dillan smiled at Haru, saying “What I mean is, those with the potential to succeed may be few and far in-between, but those that actually succeed are in the vast minority. There exists inequality in our world son… Talent, potential… They’re simply not enough. People begin at different places, those born into houses of great lords or kings begin with a great advantage that isn’t easy to overcome. You’re walking uphill, but if that is your choice, we will support you.”
Haru felt the weight of the words more than the meaning behind them. Even so, he was curious why his father was bringing it up again. This wasn’t the first time he’d said something similar in the past few days.
“The training, meditation, fees, guidance, resources – all of which you’ll need to achieve your goal are not small. Today afterschool, your father will bring you to meet with Erith and undergo your first day of training with the sword. Prove to me that you have the will power to succeed even when things are tough, prove to me you can overcome the obstacles in your way and your dad will work himself to death if it’ll mean helping you if only a little more.
In the end, we carve our own path in this world.”
Haru’s eyes misted a little as he thought about his dad working longer hours. These past few days he’d come home early or taken time off but that was all due to the special occasions. His father was a teacher at Introductory school. He taught 9-10 year old children in basics. Afterwards, to make more money he would normally hold private classes and tutor some of the children. Thinking about his father working even more made Haru sad and guilty.
“I’ll do my best!” Haru responded, meaning it while thinking ‘I’ll do whatever it takes!’
Dillan said nothing more as he gave Haru a look of love for his son that always tried his hardest no matter what.
“Get ready for school.”
Haru nodded and did as he was told and quickly ran off to change into his school clothes.
Eve walked over from the kitchen, as Lily was still eating her breakfast and having seconds.
‘Where the food went inside that small little body of hers will forever be a mystery to me’ she thought but then turning pensive as she reached her husband.
“Dillan are you sure about this? Haru is so young… And Erith…” Eve looked at him with concern recalling memories from her past.
Dillan released a long sigh. He looked older for a moment “Erith has turned down every request he’s ever received to train students. Whenever he’s given a child a chance, the child was either injured or quit of their own volition. Erith is stringent to the extreme, but his swordsmanship cannot be questioned. He is the only one I can ask, and the only one who can give proper guidance to Haru without asking something recompense.”
Eve didn’t say anything because she couldn’t. She was worried for Haru but she trusted Erith. ‘I just hope that when he fails he won’t be too heartbroken…’ she secretly thought to herself.
She had plenty of faith in her son, she just understood that Erith was strict. He was stricter on those he evaluated than his own teacher had been with him, and the odds of Haru gaining his approval were not even slim.
Part of her was hoping he’d fail and that he’d have such a set back he would give up on his dream to become a bloodline warrior. The guilt for thinking and wishing for such an outcome made her feel like a poor mother but all she really wanted was for her son to be safe, healthy and happy. ‘Why does he have to wish for so much. Why did he have to be born with so much ambition?’ she wondered.
That morning Dillan took his son to the academy and Haru went with high spirits. He was looking forward to a day at school and to the training afterwards. The prospects of learning a new skill was only fueling his excitement.
That day he had ‘normal’ classes and was instructed on basic read/writing and historical subjects. Unlike some of the other children, there was a not a shred of boredom in his eyes. He paid attention diligently and took notes on everything. Haru was like a sponge in water, soaking up everything he could.
His teacher even praised him in class for his demeanor and made him as an example as to how some of the other students should behave.
At the end of the day Haru was surprised that it was his mother and Lily who came to pick him up instead of his father. “Why have you come to pick me up instead of dad?”
“He has to work late tonight. So I’ll be dropping you off with Lily and then picking you up afterwards.” Eve smiled at her son as she tried to fix his hair, only serving to embarrass Haru.
“I’m fine mom! My hair is fine…” He said as he looked around, a little red in the face but happy no one had seemed to notice his mother’s doting.
“No matter how big you get, you’re my one and only son. You better remember that when you become some big deal warrior.” Eve chastised him with a smile.
Haru rolled his eyes but smiled back at his mother’s encouragement as they walked and made their way to his class.
“There she is again. It’s not just me right?” A young man in a hood who was across the street talking to a thickly built man asked as he pointed in the direction of Haru and his family.
“What are you talking rubbish for? You’ve just been drinking too much. Don’t bring this crap up again got it?” he said with some dissatisfaction as he walked away. The hooded man didn’t pay the slightest attention to what the thick man had said, his gaze resolute.
‘I’m sure that’s her.’ He thought to himself as he wondered who else he could ask while maintain his inconspicuous air. ‘If I let on too much, I’ll only bring myself trouble… I can’t just talk to anyone about this. I need to play this smart. I’ll bide my time and confirm my suspicious before talking to the lord.’