This story is based on the cartoon 'Samurai Jack'. I do not own Samurai Jack or anything associated with the show. That honor goes to the folks at Cartoon Network and the shows creator, Genndy Tartakovsky. The only things I do own are all the original characters portrayed in my story. So to recap, Samurai Jack and all related characters and places © Genndy Tartakovsky and Cartoon Network, All original characters and storyline © Adriana Limon (Nanas, IceDancer).
Took a few days off of writing the chapter after accidentally deleting more than half of it. Got pretty sad and decided to take a moment to collect myself, so sorry for the longer wait for this chapter than I inteded. Hopefully the small break helped fuel my creative juices.
Also as always to the wonderful SpringBorn, you really are keeping my focus alive in this. Thank you for the feedback and for the confidence I was lacking for a while. This is for you.
Unclouded Truth: A Tale of Fate
Ikaya shot up in her bed to the sounds of something exploding in the air. All around her what looked like fireworks popped and exploded in multiple colors and brightness, then just as quickly stopped. She stared wide-eyed at the old man standing in the doorway chuckling to himself for his light show theatrics.
"Time to get up, Ikaya." he laughed, tossing her a small pile of clothes, "Put those on and meet me in the great room. You have ten minutes or I'm coming in with real fireworks."
With that the man shut the door leaving the still shaken Ikaya sitting wide-eyed in her bed. She continued to pant from the fear and collapsed back onto the bed, her hand placed over her eyes. If this singular moment was to be the first hint of how her training was going to be she knew it wasn't gonna much fun, at least not for her.
A few minutes later Ikaya emerged from her room and stepped into the great room where Gillion was sitting at the table. She was wearing the clothes he'd thrown at her, a form fitting brown suit made from a stretchy material she'd never seen before but had the faint odor of animal pelt which reminded her of home.
"Why do I need to wear this?" she asked walking over to where Gilllion was.
"Yup, need something that isn't too loose and will allow you to move freely. Also might be a good idea to tie your hair back." he said, handing her a small long piece of the same fabric her clothes were made of.
Ikaya began to braid her hair back away from her face, the look on it being that of confusion and slight worry. What did Gillion have planned that required nothing be too loose on her?
"Here." he said placing a bowl of oatmeal in front of her along with some tea. "Eat up, we've got a long day ahead of us...you're gonna need your strength."
Almay walked into the kitchen just before the sun rose like she'd done for as long as she could remember. That was her time to unwind and enjoy the stillness of the world before it too woke up and she would cook breakfast. She filled her kettle with water and placed it on the burner before she heard a noise coming from behind the house. She walked through the door leading to a small patch of grass and it was that she saw Jack dressed in his robe and standing perfectly still with his sword in his hand. His eyes were closed, the only movement from him was his robe blowing in the cold morning wind.
Before Almay could ask what he was doing he slowly brought his sword up so it was parallel with his body. He brought both his arms up in front of him and brought his hands to his chest. Almay watched as he continued to make slow broad movements, taking short steps to the right and moving his arms as if in a sort of dance. In one slow, swift, and controled movement he finally extended the sword to the left bringing both his arms up and out, turning toward the direction he aimed the sword. He stepped out and extended the sword outward before letting out a gutteral sound, dropping the sword and clenching at his side. Almay ran to his side and helped him make his way to the bench that wasn't too far from them.
"You shouldn't be over exerting yourself, Jack!" she said as they both sat down, "You've barely been able to walk without aid."
"I'm sorry..." was all he said, not wanting to show his face to her, "Thank you for helping me."
Almay's worried expression turned to a soft understanding smile.
"We're all worried about her." she said, "I just don't want you pushing yourself too hard before you're ready."
Jack said nothing, but nodded that he understood. Just then the sound of the kettle whistling could be heard through the open door interrupting them.
"How about a cup of tea before breakfast?" Almay asked.
"Yes, please." he whispered.
Almay nodded and went inside leaving Jack alone on the bench.
He waited a few moments and slowly got up, walking over to his sword and taking his time to pick it up. He was embarrassed that Almay had seen him in a moment of weakness although he was thankful that she had helped him. He shifted the sword so it caught the reflection of the sun rising off in the distance. Jack closed his eyes and let out a soft sigh before straightening up again, preparing to do his exercises again.
"Slowly this time, and do not push too hard." he whispered to himself as he slowly executed the first position of his exercises.
Ikaya shielded her eyes from the light of the rising sun in the distance. Even though it was barely peeking over the horizon the brightness was too much for Ikaya to take, considering she'd spent the last couple of hours in a home carved out of the side of a mountain.
"Ready for your first test?" Gillian said, tossing Ikaya something.
She caught it and looked down, not knowing what to expect but surprised at what it was.
"An egg?" she asked.
"No, not an egg, more than an egg..." he said, thinking over what he was going to say, "okay, it is an egg, but for the sake of this exercise this egg represents something more. Something you've always wanted, something very important."
Ikaya stared at the egg, her thoughts instantly going to her mother and finally settling on Jack.
"Judging by your face I'd say you already have an idea of what it is that egg represents. Okay now place it on the floor and take a few steps back." Gillian instructed, his arms folded.
Ikaya did as she was told and placed the egg down on the ground before taking a few steps away from it and waiting for her next instructions.
"Good, good, now levitate that egg." Gillian said.
Ikaya nodded and focused on the egg. She strained for a second, nothing happened. She adjusted her stance and furrowed her brow and strained for another second. Not even a shift from the egg.
"I don't think I can even do that." she finally said, feeling silly.
"Don't think you can do that? Well, let's think about your staff, have you ever made it lift off of the ground, or come to you?" Gillian said, walking over to Ikaya.
"Yes...I've made it come back to me before." she almost whispered, realizing what he was getting at.
"That didn't come from the staff, that ability came from you." he said, now standing behind Ikaya, "Now close your eyes, focus on the blackness in front of you."
Ikaya looked at him through the corner of her eye and did as he asked. She focused on the darkness closing her eyes brought, not knowing exactly what to do next.
"Good, now think of the egg on the ground in front of you. Don't think of the grass around it, or the trees behind it, just the egg. Focus on the egg."
Suddenly Ikaya's jewel began to faintly glow and a green light began to surround the egg a few feet away.
"Keep focusing on that egg. Nothing else, the only thing that matters is that egg." Gillian said, smiling.
The light coming from both the jewel and the light surrounding the egg slowly grew brighter and brighter in front of them.
"Now imagine an invisible hand coming out from your mind and taking the egg up off the ground."
The egg began to shift and shake on the ground as Ikaya imagined what Gillian was telling her to.
"Good, good, you've almost got it. Keep focusing!"
Ikaya's face began to strain, she was surprised that this simple act of imagining an egg being lifted could be as physically straining as it was mentally but she pushed on wanting to complete the task given to her.
Slowly the egg began to lift off of the ground, faltering in the air for a moment before lifting further and further up into the air. Gillian looked at Ikaya and back at the egg, the smile on his face getting wider. He had never had a student who could do that first task so quickly and the excitement he felt was so much that it showed on his face.
"Open your eyes, lil' pretty." he said, forgetting his manners in his excitement.
Ikaya slowly opened her eyes but as soon as she focused on the egg it shook and was flung toward the two of them. They both ducked, barely missing getting hit by the egg, which exploded on the tree behind them.
They both stood up and stared at it for a moment before looking at each other.
"Well, you got it off the ground. Now let's see if you can do that with your eyes open." Gillian laughed, tossing Ikaya another egg.
Ikaya spent all morning trying to get the egg off the ground, while Gillian tried to give constructive advice but usually fell back on making jokes about the amount of eggs he would have to get the next time he went to the market. Ikaya would let out frustrated sighs while Gillian tossed her another egg after she would either fling the eggs toward their surroundings, or exploding it on a few occasions. Once she was able to get the egg off the ground with her eyes open Gillian proceeded to lift a rock and throw it at the floating egg, which shocked and confused Ikaya, who was sad that her triumph was interrupted like that.
Gillian laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
"You gotta be able to keep that egg safe. Levitating it isn't enough, keep it safe." he said, tossing her yet another egg.
Before the egg reached Ikaya she levitated it mid-air. She took her focus off of the egg and moved her gaze onto Gillian, giving him a coy smile.
Gillian responded by clapping his hands.
"Good job, now lets see if you can keep it from cracking." he laughed again, lifting up a nearby branch and proceeding to 'attack' the floating egg.
Ikaya struggled to move the egg out of the way, the strain showing on her face. As Gillian swung the branch around displaying his skill with a weapon Ikaya mentally pushed and hurled the egg out of the way without losing her concentration. The more the old man fought to destroy the egg the easier the task became for Ikaya, who's jewel went from brightly shining to barely glowing which Gillian took full notice of.
After it became apparent that Ikaya could levitate and move the egg around with little effort Gillian stepped back and gave her an approving nod which Ikaya responded with a large smile.
"You truly are a fascinating young woman." he praised, "I don't believe I've ever had a student learn so quickly."
"Thank you." Ikaya responded.
"Oh don't thank me yet..." he said, lunging toward her with the branch above his head.
Ikaya let out a surprised gasp and barely had enough time to jump out of the way. As soon as she did her focus on the egg was lost for a second which Gillian turned and proceeded to swing at the falling egg. Ikaya managed to levitate the egg away from the branch just as Gillian again proceeded to attack her. The two of them began to spar, Gillian going from attacking Ikaya to continuing to try and destroy the egg. Ikaya held her ground dodging all of his advances as well as keeping the egg in one piece. The strain such a task played on her mind began to ware her out which again showed on her face. She needed to end this before he managed to destroy the egg when suddenly an idea popped into her head.
Suddenly Gillian seemingly came out of nowhere and managed to knock Ikaya to the ground. He quickly turned and raised the branch over his head, intending to destroy the egg when something small fell from above him, bouncing off his head before landing on the ground. Gillian looked down to see a small piece of bark resting on the ground. Suddenly another piece of bark fell and bounced off of his shoulder which brought his focus to the large log floating above his head.
He looked down at Ikaya, a surprised and elated expression on his face.
"You truly are amazing!" he yelled out in celebration, throwing down the branch and reaching out to help Ikaya up, "Look at what you're doing Ikaya! Levitating not only two objects but also two objects of vastly different size and weight! You've truly exceeded expectation!"
Ikaya smiled, she wasn't used to such praise, but she was still very appreciative of it.
"Good job, now drop that log over there and let's get inside." Gillian laughed, snatching the egg out of the air and walking toward his home.
Ikaya followed as he lead her back into the home and up through the long dark corridor back into the small storage room where he had held her.
"You did really good today, Ikaya. In fact you did so well that I think you're ready for the next lesson. You remember what the egg represented?" he asked, tossing the egg to her.
"Something very important to me." she answered.
"Good, so what's important to you?" he said, walking over to the wall with the large hole in it, running his hands over the edges and taking mental measurements and calculations while he looked outside of it, most likely to take mental inventory of what he needed to fix it.
Ikaya looked down at the egg in her hand, thinking hard about what the most important thing was to her and how she should answer his question.
"I've lost a lot," she started, "all I've ever wanted, was to bring back the people I cared about."
Gillian stopped focusing on the wall and turned his attention to the woman looking longingly at the egg in her hand even though it was no longer just an egg to her for that moment.
"So you've lost people. I see." he said, "So what is the one thing you find most important in all the world."
Ikaya said nothing at first then looked up at the old man, a smile on her face.
"Life." she said.
Gillian smiled back at her and nodded, crossing his arms across his chest.
"Now that is a great answer." he said, leaning back and free falling out of the storage room.
Ikaya dropped the egg and sprang to the opening just in time to see Gillian disappear through the clouds below her. She instantly focused in that last second, straining her mind in a way she'd never experienced before. Time slowed down as she began to lose hope when she began to see a faint light shining through the clouds below her. Ikaya stared wide eyed as Gillian came up through the clouds, floating toward her by his foot which had a small green glow around it. He raised up higher and higher until he was floating face to face with Ikaya just outside the opening in the wall.
His face was full of elation when he began to laugh back at the slightly angered woman.
"Why did you do that!?" Ikaya yelled, angered and confused as ever.
"Why are you so upset?" he said, walking over and placing his hands on her shoulders, "You did it!"
Ikaya's anger began to fade slightly when the gravity of the situation began to dawn on her fully.
"You had a split second to act, you focused, and you saved me from a messy end. Judging by the look on your face you're not even fully focusing on me anymore! I believe you've almost completely mastered this ability in one day!"
Ikaya stared at him wide eyed when she realized that she hadn't been fully focused on him for the past couple of minutes. She began to smile while the dim green light overtook Gillian and turned him so he was right side up again, the smile never disappearing from his face.
"Uh oh." he said, interrupting the moment.
"What?" Ikaya asked.
"Looks like you broke the egg again, I'd call this a fail." Gillian said, smiling at her.
Ikaya raised an eye brow and the the green light around Gillian disappeared and he fell a few feet back toward the clouds.
"Okay, Okay! You passed!" Gillian yelled as the green light surrounded him again, lifting him back up into the hole in the wall and onto the ground in front of Ikaya, "You've more than proven that you've mastered your ability. This calls for a celebratory meal! You've earned it!"
The two of them walked out of the room toward the kitchen. Teacher and student feeling accomplished after a long, straining, but accomplishing day. Ikaya feeling the best she'd felt in a long time.
Jack had spent the majority of the day outside in the back doing his Tai Chi exercises only stopping to eat and for his morning tea with Almay. He was still very sore and although his body ached and the want to stop constantly flashed through his mind he refused to give into it.
Now he was sitting on the bench Almay had helped him to in the morning.
"Not pushing yourself too hard, my boy?" Willem asked from the doorway.
Jack shook his head.
"I learned my lesson this morning."
"I heard." Willem said, walking over to Jack and giving him a hard pat on the shoulder.
Jack struggled to keep a grunt of pain in, but he managed to do it.
"You really are a prodigy my boy." Willem said, laughing.
"Thank you...what is a 'prodigy'?"
"It means you are an amazing person, super human... Ikaya was lucky to have found you."
Jack opened his eyes and looked down at the ground in front of him.
"Don't worry about her too much, my boy. If she is anything like her mother then I am sure is fine." Willem said, half to reassure Jack but also to reassure himself.
"I believe you are right." Jack said, never lifting his gaze from the ground.
"Well best we get back inside. Almay's made us a delicious smelling supper and we don't want it to get cold." Willem said, grunting as he slowly stood up.
Jack smiled and followed suit, also letting out a small grunt of pain as he slowly stood up as well.
The two of them made their way back into the home where Almay waited with their suppers, her usual soft smile on her face.
Jack thought about what Willem had said outside. He was right, Ikaya was resilient. She'd had to deal with so much in the short time since he'd first met her in the disappearing forest, not to mention what she'd had to live through in her whole life. He hoped that wherever she was she was safe, and that his recovery would be a quick one so he could venture out and find her. 'I hope she is safe', he thought to himself, 'I hope she is safe'.