“Once upon a time, there was a small village in the middle of the four great mountains...GAH! I can’t start a story like this!!” cried an old man, swinging his wooden staff over his head. His grandson, Rekai, looked up from his book of plants.
“Well, duh. That’s practically the worst beginning I’ve ever heard,” Rekai deadpanned. His grandfather turned to him with an irritated glint in his eye.
“Oh?” The old man asked with one eyebrow raised exaggeratedly. “It’s better than, ‘The scientific theory of plants is--’ whatever the first sentence of your book is!”
Rekai sighed and shook his head, “I could help you if you want, Grandpa.”
“Help me?” He huffed, turning around and focusing back on his blank paper. “All you do is read textbooks! You don’t even have an imagination!”
Rekai rolled his eyes and snapped his book closed. “In a land full of science, there is a young child who has a disapproving, senile old man—”
“Okay, okay, okay! I get it!” rasped the old man. He slapped his hands down on his desk and turned to his grandson. “You can help me...”
“Yes!” Rekai fist pumped the air in victory, “Nee, tell me about the story you wanted to write about.”
His grandfather faced his grandson and straightened his back. “Well, it’s an interesting story about a boy who jumped off a cliff and learned how to fly.”
“A boy who learned how to fly? That’s illogical,” said Rekai, crossing his arms.
“Use your imagination if you have one, kid,” said the old man passively. He cleared his throat and began his explanation, “The boy was born into a family of military generals, and you probably figured where this may be going, but that is not it!”
“Huh? Figured out what?” asked Rekai, tilting his head to one side with a look of confusion. His grandfather smiled.
“Ah, nothing! Anyway, since the boy was born in a family of generals, of course, many had expected him to become the next RIDER General.” He paused to explain when he saw Rekai furrow his eyebrows. “—A RIDER is a person who has the ability to ride these magical creatures. But, to us, they look kind of tiger-like cat with wings of a bird. These people only became RIDERs because they passed a physical test of some sort.”
Rekai closed his eyes and imagined what the creature actually looked like. It was hard since he couldn’t put a tiger with wings together. He opened his eyes and nodded to his grandfather, gesturing for him to continue.
“So, as you can see, the boy has a lot of expectations upon his shoulders. But one day, he became terribly ill with a disease. Suddenly, from that day on, everyone tossed him to the side, deeming him as unimportant.”
“Whoa, wait, what?” interrupted Rekai raising a hand. “They just did that? Didn’t they try to find a cure?”
“His parents tried,” his grandfather said, “But they couldn’t find anything but painkillers to ease the pain.”
“Hey, that kinda sounds like me,” Rekai said, narrowing his eyes.
“Well, in a way, he’s like you with your heart condition. You have better medication than him,” his grandfather said, placing a hand at his chin, “But the fact that you ended up getting stuck in the treatment thing for three years makes all the difference between your personalities.”
Rekai crossed his arms and straightened his back. “Well, sorry! You can blame my father for giving me nothing but textbooks to keep up with my studies. When I asked for a story book one time, he brought my favorite book the next day and ripped all the pages out of the it! How do you expect me to do when textbooks were all I was allowed to read for three years?!”
His grandfather sighed, “There are those out in the world that view story books as a waste of time, Rekai.”
Rekai frowned and dropped the subject, gesturing his grandfather to continue.
With a concerned look on his face, his grandfather continued. “One day, his parents decided to take him to work. They took him into a military base inside a cliff and made him stay in their line of sight. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the best idea. That day, the military base was attacked. He got separated from his parents and ended up in the stables where they kept the creatures.”
Rekai listened carefully now, for the first time he could actually imagine the scenes really happening. He could hear the intruders running around; he could see a boy searching for his parents, and he could literally feel the emotion of fear coursing through his veins.
“Just as sudden as the attack came, an explosion blasted apart one side of the wall, tearing open a cage next to it. The creatures were frightened and they panicked, scratching the walls and tearing at their cage bars. The boy hid away from the attackers in a corner, also trying to keep away from the raging creatures. In five minutes flat, the attacker found him. Of course, he was scared - so scared that he couldn’t even whimper. Then, as the attacker aimed a gun at the boy, a giant, white-furred creature knocked the attacker to the other side of the room. It quickly picked up the boy with its fluffy tail, placed him on its back, and took off, jumping out of the large hole in the wall and taking flight.”
Rekai relaxed his shoulders, relieved that the boy got away. He shifted from his “crisscross-applesauce” position to lying down on his stomach. “What happened after that?”
His grandfather smiled at his grandson’s curiosity. For the first time in three years, he was finally able to get Rekai into his childish old self.
“What happened? Well, he fell,” his grandfather stated proudly.
“What?!” exclaimed Rekai.
“After riding that creature for hours, he fell asleep and slid off. He tumbled down a tree and landed in a patch of dead leaves. From there, he was taken in by a—” Rekai suddenly cut him off and took over, a light of excitement and understanding shone in his eyes.
“He was taken in by a tribe and they took care of him! And that tribe was the original RIDERs. They were the ones who trained the founders of the military, right?” He asked his grandfather. The old man stared at the boy with shock before nodding hesitantly.
“Yes, yes, that’s right. Go on.” his grandfather urged. Rekai smiled with eagerness and continued the story.
“A week later, the boy attempted to become a RIDER. A natural RIDER that learned the traditional way. So, he trained with only one goal in mind: to become the best RIDER in the world! But, in order for him to become a RIDER, he had to be able to jump off the top of a cliff with bravery.”
Rekai got up and crossed his arms. “But, with the boy’s condition, they all thought that it was impossible for an ill child to make the jump. That made the boy want to try harder to prove, not only to his parents, but to the tribe as well. Weeks later, he climbed up the hill and jumped.”
He jumped up and spread his arms away from him. His grandfather blinked in surprise,“Whoa, easy there, Rekai...”
“Then—BANG! The white critara—”
“Critara?” asked his grandfather. Rekai gave him an apathetic look.
“Yeah, it’s the name I came up for the tigers. Is there something wrong with it?” he asked. His grandfather just shook his head.
“Nothing, go on,” He said. Rekai smiled again and threw his hands up.
“The white critara flew up and caught him because even though she felt fear in him, she felt something greater; something so much more greater and powerful. She felt his determination.”
Rekai placed one hand on his waist and held up one finger to his grandfather. “And that’s how he became the boy who jumped off a cliff and learned to fly.”
He ended with a smirk on his face. His grandfather couldn’t help but smile at his grandson.
“See? You did have an open mind after all,” he said, crossing his arms and nodding with a look of satisfaction. Rekai felt his hand falter.
“A-anyway, I figured out how to start your story,” he said, sitting back down. His grandfather raised his eyebrows.
“Oh? Do tell me.”
Rekai cleared his throat and began, forgetting about the book of plants next to his knee, “You can start like this.....”