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Chapter 4

Chapter 4:

Marthan’s datapad had instructed him to meet his new master, High Master Zhong-xin in one of the meditation chambers located inside the Bastion’s main spire. The main spire of the Bastion was the seat of power of the entire Paladin. At the top of the spire was the meeting chamber of the Paladin High Council. Besides meditation chambers, the main spire of the Bastion also contained sparring chambers that were only accessible to fully trained Paladins or exceptionally skilled initiates who show great potential.

Marthan was surprised that he was able to find the meditation chamber easily. The meditation chamber was around the same size of the circular hall Marthan was at not too long ago. The layout of the chamber was in fact almost identical, the only difference was that this chamber contained more potted plants, somehow making the room more peaceful and tranquil. At the centre of the room stood a tall humanoid figure with orange coloured skin which appeared to be leathery and whose head was slightly curved upward. The humanoid’s ears were much larger than that of a human’s and also much sharper on both ends. The figure was wearing the black and gold coloured robes of a fully trained Paladin. That must be him, Marthan mused to himself upon laying eyes on the figure in the chamber.

“Greeting my young apprentice,” said the humanoid figure in a deep voice. The figure turned around. To people who have not laid eyes on High Master Zhong-xin’s species before, the first time seeing them is usually a terrifying experience. This is because their face was obscured with a mask which varied in design and colour. All Dorkelons that leave their home planet of Dorkel must wear the mask, as it is forbidden by their customs for any outsider to see what a Dorkelon actually looks like. Master Zhong-xin’s mask was coloured white and red. It also had intricate carvings on it and was not as terrifying or frightening as some of the masks Marthan had seen before. Unlike many other people whose initial reaction is shock and terror when they first lay eyes on a Dorkelon, Marthan was neither shocked or terrified. It was a mystery to many, even to Marthan as to why a Dorkelon had to hide their appearance when they left their homeworld.Maybe one day I’ll ask Master Zhong-xin why he has to wear the mask, thought the young Initiate.

“Greetings High Master Zhong-xin,” greeted Marthan as he bowed to his new master.

“Master Zhong-xin is just fine.” Zhong-xin signalled Marthan to stop bowing and to sit down on the maroon coloured padded cushion that was in front of him. Marthan obliged and did so. Zhong-xin then proceeded to take a sit on his own padded cushion.“Before I begin your training, you must first undergo a simple test.”

Marthan felt a lump form in his throat. He was not prepared for any test, and he didn’t want to disappoint his master during their first ever meeting. He took a deep breath and tried to centre himself. You can do this, he assured himself. “What sort of test did you have in mind master?”

“Just a simple test on our Corps’ tenets,” stated Zhong-xin, his deep and calm voice echoing throughout the chamber. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, master.”

“Who does the Corps serve and pledge itself to?” queried Zhong-xin, “The Federation? Or peace and justice?”

Marthan took a moment to ponder over his master’s question. “Peace and justice, master,” he answered.

“And why is that?” probed Zhong-xin.

“Because the Federation is fallible, as they are run by politicians and bureaucrats. And although they say they champion peace and justice for all, there could be a day where they would turn their backs on those very ideals if it suited them.”

“Very good my young apprentice,” praised Zhong-xin. “It is our duty as Paladins to ensure peace and justice are maintained, and if the Federation breaks it, or refuses to uphold it, then we have the responsibility to right their wrong.”

Marthan nodded his head in understanding.

“Next question, what is the Corps’ stance on emotion?”

“Emotions are an integral part of us. Without emotions such as compassion, hope, will, and love, one can never become a strong Paladin.” answered Marthan, “but a Paladin must learn to control one’s negative emotions like anger, greed, and pride, as those emotions would only lead to the downfall of a Paladin.”

“Excellent, excellent. You have great knowledge of our tenets.” Marthan smiled upon hearing his master compliment him. “Now let us move on to the next step.” Zhong-xin reached into one of his pouches that were on his belt and pulled out a small diamond shaped colourless crystal.

Could it be? Could it be the time for that? thought Marthan to himself excitedly as he viewed the colourless crystal which Master Zhong-xin levitated in front of him.

“As you are now an initiate of the Corps, you can now craft your own weapon hilt,” announced Master Zhong-xin as he floated over the colourless crystal to Marthan with the use of his chi. The crystal landed gently in front of Marthan.

“What am I to do, master?” queried Marthan as he picked up the crystal to inspect it.

“Meditate, gather your chi. And when it is time, fuse your chi with the crystal. The crystal with your fused chi will be the power source of your sabre.”

“When will I know when it is time to fuse my chi with the crystal?” asked Marthan as he continued to inspect the flawless crystal.

“You will know when the time comes my young apprentice.”

Marthan placed the crystal back on the ground gently. He closed his eyes and began to centre himself. He could feel his chi slowly gather around him, but he felt that it was not enough. He continued gathering more. Marthan could sense that Master Zhong-xin had joined him in his meditation. After a few hours of deep meditation, Marthan had gathered enough of his chi that a green aura started to form around his body. He lifted his arms and instinctively hovered his right hand over his left. He gently pushed his hand forward, and a stream of energy flowed from the space between his hands. The green stream of energy fused together with the colourless crystal. After some time, the crystal turned green, the colour of Marthan’s chi. He opened his eyes slowly and was amazed by what he saw.

“Excellent, you have completed the first step in the creation of your weapon hilt,” commented Master Zhong-xin.

“What do I have to do next?” asked Marthan eagerly.

Master Zhong-xin placed a weapon hilt that was silver in colour in front of Marthan. The hilt had intricately carved patterns that went around it. “Meditate again, and install the crystal into the hilt. The crystal will serve as your weapon hilt’s source of energy.”

“Understood, master,” said Marthan as he closed his eyes and began to meditate yet again. Marthan levitated both the crystal and the weapon hilt in front of him. The weapon hilt was slowly disassembled by Marthan who used his chi to do so. As soon as it was disassembled, Marthan placed the pulsating green crystal at the centre of it. He then carefully reassembled it. After a few moments, Marthan had successfully reassembled the weapon hilt. He levitated the weapon hilt towards him and reached out to it with his right arm. The hilt felt solid, but not heavy as Marthan expected it to be. He studied the intricate carvings on it carefully before pressing the button which activated it. The hilt produced an emerald blade made out of pure chi energy.

“Excellent work, my young apprentice,” congratulated Master Zhong-xing upon seeing Marthan successfully activating his weapon hilts. “Now Marthan, that weapon hilt you now hold in your possession can do much more than produce a blade made out of your chi.”

Marthan was intrigued by what his master was telling him and was curious to know more. “Could you elaborate master?”

“Observe,” stated Zhong-xin as he drew his own weapon hilt. Master Zhong-xin’s weapon hilt was simple, yet elegant. It was coloured black and gold, the colours of a fully trained Paladin. Master Zhong-xin activated his weapon hilt, producing a dark blue coloured blade, but soon the straight blade morphed to became the blade of a sickle sword.

“How did you do that master?” Marthan asked, curious, and at the same time amazed upon seeing his master’s demonstration.

“Your chiblade or rather weapon hilt is an extension of your chi and your willpower. Therefore it is possible to change the form and shape of your weapon, but you must first have the willpower and mastery of your chi to change it,” explained Master Zhong-xin before changing the sickle sword into a mace.

Marthan looked at his emerald blade and tried to change the shape of it to that of a sickle sword like how his master had just demonstrated, but nothing happened. Perhaps I don’t have the willpower or the mastery needed, Marthan thought dejectedly to himself upon failing.

“Do not worry Marthan, in time you will learn,” said Master Zhong-xin, offering words of encouragement to his young apprentice before deactivating his weapon hilt. Marthan followed his master’s lead and deactivated his weapon hilt.

“What do we do next master?”

“That’s all for today,” replied Zhong-xin, “we shall continue your training tomorrow. Meet me at the main training hall at 1030 hours. For now, go back to your quarters and get some rest.”

“Yes master, and thank you.” With that, Marthan made his way to the exit of the meditation chamber.

“By the way, you did excellent work today,” praised Zhong-xin to Marthan just before the young apprentice exited the room. He smiled to himself as he left the chamber. He wondered whether Shayla and Kiaan had the same wonderful experience he did.

Marthan met with Shayla and Kiaan in the common room of their dormitory for tea. The skyline of Corethdel against the setting sun could be seen from the large window of the common room. Light from the setting sun crept into the room, turning the room orange.The room had the same polished marble that was used for the rest of the Bastion. A sofa set that initiates could sit on, as well as beautiful potted plants, were to be found in the room. The room also had a drink refectory where initiates could get drinks from.

Like Marthan, both Shayla and Kiaan had acquired their respective weapon hilts which hung on their belts. Marthan took a moment to savour the sweet aroma his tea gave out before taking a sip of it. “So how was it meeting your masters?” asked Marthan as he placed his cup of tea on the table in front of him.

“It was great!” exclaimed Shayla with a huge grin on her face. “She was everything I hoped she would be. I can’t wait for my next training session with her.”

Marthan smiled as he heard Shayla express her joy.

“How was your meeting with your master, Kiaan?” queried Marthan as he picked up his cup of tea to take another sip.

“It was good. My master and I share one thing in common,” answered Kiaan before taking a sip out of his cup of tea.

“What do you share in common?” asked Shayla curiously.

“We’re both amphibious,” Kiaan replied, grinning.

“So how was Master Zhong-xin?” asked Shayla before taking a sip out of her cup of tea.

“It was less intimidating than I thought it would be. In fact, Master Zhong-xin was very encouraging.”

“That’s good to hear,” remarked Shayla. “So I guess today was a good day for us then. Wouldn’t you two agree?”

Both Marthan and Kiaan nodded in agreement with Shayla’s statement.

“So, when are you two going to begin training?” Kiaan asked the group.

“I have to meet Master Zhong-xin at the main training hall at 1030 hours,”answered Marthan.

“That’s strange, I have to meet Master Sunrunner at the main training hall at that time as well,” said Shayla with the look of bewilderment on her face.

“You know what’s even stranger? I have to meet my master at the same place and time as well,” added Kiaan.

This is strange. Why do we all have to gather at the main training hall at the same exact time? thought Marthan to himself.

“Do you think our masters have something planned for us?” asked Shayla as she ran her hand through her hair.

“Perhaps,” remarked Kiaan as he stroked his chin with his webbed hands. “Marthan, do you have any thoughts on this?”

“I think it would be pointless to speculate anything since we don’t have any more information to go on but the mere coincidence ,” replied Marthan. Shayla and Kiaan nodded in agreement with his statement.

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