Decrescendo, Part II
The roar of the blades were dulled out by the 'copter's thick glass. Adeline Kane sat in the second row with her son Joseph William Wilson beside her. She turned and looked at him. Her ten year-old son was sitting on the "couch", looking forward and out the front window. He moved his head over, to look around the pilot's helmet. His mouth opened at the sight of the clouds in the sky. His mother imagined the shapes and images he could probably make out of them. She smiled at the thought, before turning away.
'This is the best thing to do. I... I can't risk him getting hurt because of me or Slade.'
"Miss Kane, vehicle is touching down in T-minus 30 seconds. Prepare for landing." The pilot spoke back to Adeline, interrupting her thoughts. The woman looked over to him and nodded. She fastened her seatbelt tighter, and did the same for her son. Joseph turned his head towards her.
"It's alright Joseph, we're just landing." she answered him with a small smile. Joseph returned it and turned back to the window. She sighed.
'But he's still so young... how can I do this to him? What's he going to turn out like, without anyone around or-'
No, she couldn't think about that. Joseph was kind and loving, and even if he changed from it, this was the best way to protect him. She'd still have Searchers Inc. members watching him night and day, to make sure he didn't get seriously hurt, or starved. But she couldn't keep him in contact with her anymore, it was too dangerous for him. She had to protect him... from people targeting herself... and his father.
"T-minus 10 seconds." The helicopter rocked a bit, the rotor blades were slowing down. Adeline quickly glanced out the window. The grass outside the vehicle was being forced to the ground by its landing. Adeline sat back in her seat. Only a few more minutes with her son, maybe ten if she was slow. She waited a bit as the helicopter's blades slowed. The pilot looked back at her.
"Miss Kane, we've landed. It's safe enough now to disembark." he said, his voice calm and routine. Adeline nodded several times quickly. She placed her hand over Joseph's right, gripping it tightly. The pilot unbuckled his seatbelt and slid over in his seat. He placed his gloved hand on the handle, and pulled the side door open. "Take your time Miss Kane."
Adeline kept her stare towards the door. She got out of her seat, Joseph following her. She slid out, ducking her head. Her feet touched the ground outside, the blades of grass creasing under loose open-shoes. Joseph hopped from the vehicle after his mom. She kept her gaze forward however, tightening the grip on his hand.
"Miss Kane, your bag." The pilot called out to her. Adeline looked back to him and took the outstretched bag from him. She rested the strap on her right shoulder before thanking him. The pilot nodded his head at her before going back to his seat. Adeline took it as the signal.
"Come on Joseph." she said to him. Joseph smiled and started to walk with her, looking around himself at the same time. They moved across the small mountaintop in a few minutes; it wasn't very large. The grass was littered by dozens of flowers though; Adeline recognized a lot of them as daises. A tree sat near the edge of the field, fruit hanging down from it's limbs. She smiled looking at their small surroundings.
'Well, at least I can leave Joseph somewhere beautiful.'
Adeline moved over a large rock in the middle of the field, and set the bag down. Joseph had stopped looking around, and was instead staring at his mother. Her pink skirt and business top rustled in the mountain winds. She shook, but not from being cold.
'This is it then.' she told herself. This is the last chance I'll get.'
Adeline moved over and sat down on the rock. She pulled Joseph over to her, keeping only a few inches between them. Joseph stared at her, his mouth shut and his eyes normal.
"Joseph..." Adeline began. The thoughts of what she was about to say swirled in her head. She tried to put them in order, with the least impact. It needed to be said; it was for the best. But still... Adeline lowered her head and closed her eyes, taking her gaze from her son.
A feeling of warmth suddenly rubbed onto her cheek. Adeline looked back up, her eyes springing open. Joseph had reached over and had his hand on her. His mouth had dropped open a bit, and his eyes were a bit wider themselves. He was... worried. Adeline scrunched her eyes back up. She couldn't cry now, she had to get through this without getting him upset. Then once this was all over, she could go back home and cry her eyes out. She took his hand in hers, and moved it away.
"Joseph, I... you have to stay here for a while." Joseph's eyes opened even farther. Adeline kept on before he could respond. "I just... need you to be here Joseph. Please understand."
Joseph took his hands and quickly made several motions with them. Adeline translated them in her head, coming up with the answer as soon as he was finished.
"I don't know Joseph, but just for a while, alright? Please Joseph... I... I need you to be here, to be safe." Joseph kept his hands up for several seconds, staring back. Then, he slowly let them down, and nodded. Adeline smiled and brought his head over to her. She kissed him on the forehead, feeling his curly blonde hair through her fingers. He then took a step back from her, smiling a bit himself. Adeline brought a hand back over to the bag's strap, and dragged it closer to them.
"I brought your things with you though, so you can have them while you're here. Just... think of it like that one time we camped in the park." The words pained her even as they came out of her mouth. She couldn't stand saying it, but anything that could make Joseph feel better... anything...
She smiled again though as Joseph's own grin grew larger. He moved over to the bag and fell on his knees before beginning to open it. Adeline stood up even as he looked. She had packed him enough food and water to keep him going for probably a couple months, and once he ran out of that there was always wild berries and fruits growing to keep him fed even without her watchers. Not to mention there was a small stream going down on it's more level sides that he could get fresh water from. She had had this mountain scouted specifically for that, after all. She watched him for a few more minutes search in the bag and pull out things, before she finally decided it was time.
Coming up behind him, Adeline put her arms around her son's waist. Joseph stopped searching and just stood there.
"I love you Joey." Adeline whispered to him. Joseph felt her arms tighten around him. After a few seconds though they released, and he turned around to face his mother. She was smiling, but... there was something about it that made Joseph know it wasn't a happy one. He took his hands and put them in front of them. He moved them about in rhythmic fashion.
'I love you too, mom.'
Joseph watched as his mother's smiled changed a bit. It was... less sad.
"Just... be good Joseph, I'll come back for you when you don't need to be here anymore." Joseph smiled and nodded at his mother. She then turned away, and began to walk back. The pilot leaned towards her as she got in, closing the door behind her.
"Your men will take good care of Joey, Miss Kane." he said. Adeline sat back in her chair, crossing her legs. She pulled on the fabric of her skirt. She knew that they'd take care of Joseph; make sure he was fed and protected. But still, she was worried about him. The pilot went on. "But I think the real thing you should be worrying about is what's going to happen to you now."
Adeline nodded grimly to herself. Her child gone missing under her care. There were going to be questions raised by suspicious neighbors, which would lead to an investigation when she couldn't explain where he was. When nothing would turn up, she knew what would come next.
Court hearings; a public trial; accusations of child kidnapping or... worse. Convictions; and whatever the judge and jury deemed alright after that.
'But I don't care. I'll go to prison for life or worse, as long as Joseph's safe.'
The copter's rotary blades were beginning to speed back up, their whining noise piercing through the canopy. After a few seconds the vehicle picked up from the ground, turning in midair. Adeline clicked her seat-belt into place, before catching a glimpse out of the window.
Joseph was on the ground, still going through his things. He had pulled out his... guitar. Adeline smiled as he sat back down, holding what she guessed was his playing book in one of his hands. She craned her neck to keep staring even as the helicopter turned away from him.
Nothing that happened to her mattered... as long as he was safe and happy.
Joseph turned back to his bag as his mother walked away from him. He looked through the items in it, pushing past the bottles of water and packaged food. There sure were a lot of those things packed in the bag. He wasn't gonig to be here that long though, was he? Probably not, his mom said after all she'd come back for him. So maybe she was just thinking ahead, in case it took longer than what she thought it would. He took a few of them out though, to look deeper.
The sounds of helicopter blades soon came to Joseph's ears, but he ignored them. His mom had say she needed him here, and there was no reason to really turn back and look at it, other than to say good-bye again... which he didn't want to do. He kept looking in the bag.
Then, he saw it. Joseph pulled a few more things out quickly before being able to reach the item. He could barely believe his mom had remembered to bring it! After carefully putting his hands under the case, he lifted it up. He grabbed the zipper on it and pulled it down, opening it.
His guitar. Joseph laid the instrument on his legs as he sat down. He stared at the wooden instrument, touching it's surface. The strings were pulled just to the right tightness for the perfect tune. He moved his fingers along them a few times, getting good pitches from each. He smiled at it, knowing his mom must of spent a while doing this for him. He looked back into the bag after a few seconds again, and this time returned with his song book.
The noise of the helicopter was moving away from him now. His thoughts traveled back to the vehicle. Maybe he should turn back just once...
No, his mom had told him to stay here, and they'd said good-bye. And besides, she'd said she'd be back eventually. Joseph went back to his bag, putting the guitar and book down before looking in it. He shifted through a few more things, pulling out some pillows and covers. Well, of course he'd need those to sleep at night with, he didn't think his mom would come back today to get him. He placed the bed items on his other side, knocking some bottles over. He then spotted something... weird... in the bag. Joseph reached for it and pulled it out.
It was a slim plastic bag, holding guitar strings in it. Joseph looked at them, his mouth hanging open. There were... so many of them. He had never needed more than a couple for as long as he had played the guitar. Maybe about three or four. But this was... a lot of them. More than he'd probably ever need, and that was a lot longer than just a couple months.
Joseph dropped the bag onto the ground, and stared at it. His mom really wasn't going to come back soon... or ever. He was going to stay here by himself... forever.
Joseph put his hands to his eyes, keeping his silent sobs to himself.
It was dusk; the sun turning a dim orange glow in the sky. Ir's rays cast an errie shade of the same orange on the ground surrounding the three-story dojo. There was almost complete silence in the surrounding area, not even the native animals making noises this late in the day.
And neither where the few humans around.
He finished quietly the last step up the long staircase etched in the mountain-side. His clothing seemed out of place here, as did his stature. Thick arms and legs, obviously built in training, moved effortlessly. He was tall, much more than the average person around here. His choice of clothing though was peculiar, blacks and greys, with silver plates connected by bands around his limbs. His face was likewise protected, a mask split down the middle over it; one half black, the other orange. A single blue-eye looked out from a slit on the orange side, staring forward. He moved across the ground, walking up to the building. It was designed in the style common to most older buildings in the area. The slanted and hanging roofs off the tops of each level pointed upward in a curve at each corner. There was a small ornamental guard rail on the upper levels around the edges. The occasional windows were placed in walls, each level with different styles.
It really hadn't changed since he had last been here.
The person walked up to the front door, and knocked on it twice. He placed his hand back behind him. After a few seconds, the paper door slid to the side. An old woman stood in the doorway, dressed in a blue coat over a dark pink dress. A bowler hat sat on her white hair, which was braided into two long tails. Old lines were etched into her face, but something sat behind her eyes that told the man not to judge simply on age. She looked up at the man, and smiled.
"Ah, Slade! I had a feeling you would come! Come in, come in!"
Slade took the woman's offer and stepped inside as she moved over, ducking his head under the doorway. He turned to her, seeing her joyful expression.
"Nice to see you again too, True Master." The True Master bowed respectfully. Slade inclined his own head slightly. She then pointed gestured with her arm to a room off the entrance.
"You must be hungry after the trip, would you wish to eat?" Slade shook his head to her request.
"I won't be here long, I have other... things to attend to." The True Master nodded, her smile only dropping a bit.
"Ah, so you have been putting what I have taught you to good use then?" she said, already walking away and into the other room. Slade followed her, hands again behind his back.
The True Master moved over and onto a slight rise in the room. She went and sat down behind a cloth, which had on it several plates and pots. She looked back at Slade, who had stopped at the entrance of the room.
"Well, come in. If you wish to tell me something, you shall do it over a cup of tea." Slade stood a second or two more before complying with her again. He then moved over in a few strides, and sat down across from the woman. The True Master had already filled up a cup, and put it in front of him. "So, I suppose the reason you have come is to do with the child sitting on the mountain next to mine?"
Slade almost paused before grabbing his cup. He hadn't expected her to know so quickly, but then... it was her mountain. He probably would have put it on the monkey as to finding out about Joseph being near them. He answered though, holding his cup up in one hand.
"Yes," Slade responded to her, carefully. "That is part of the reason I came here."
"I had a feeling he bore a resemblance to you. Same color of hair, although his eyes are of a different shade. Tell me Slade, was the woman with him--"
"Yes." Slade interrupted her, keeping his cup still. The True Master bowed her head to him. "But that was a long time ago; it doesn't matter anymore." The True Master took a sip from her cup, watching Slade's reaction. Nothing.
"So I take it then that he would be your son." The True Master inquired. Slade nodded. "And therefore I suppose you would wish to take him back? I sent the Monkey Guardian up to keep watch over him. The child seemed very upset the last day. He did not eat a single thing the entire time."
"If he refuses to eat, I want you to make sure that he does." Slade responded, keeping the cup of tea still. The True Master's eyes widened a touch at the remark.
"So you are not taking him back then?" she inquired.
"No, and that's why I came here. I want someone to watch him, and make sure he stays here on the mountain." Slade said. The True Master tilted her head a bit.
"Oh? You have come all this way to ask for me to watch your son, and nothing else?" Slade nodded his head again. He then stood up, and placed the full cup of tea back down on the mat in-between them.
"Any particular reason why?" Slade turned from her and walked to the entranceway to the room. He stopped at her question, and turned his head back.
"Let's just say I have a an agreement to keep." The True Master took another sip from her cup, before putting it down. She looked after him, even as he walked back out of the room. She heard the door slide open and close, before picking her cup back up, and taking another drink after the abrupt departure.
"I would think so."
The day was nice outside at the moment. The sun was shining down; the wind was blowing a little here and there; everything was alright.
It always was.
Joseph thrust his fist through the air in front of him, breathing out. He pulled it back after a few seconds, and repeated with the other arm. Beads of sweat trickled down his face. He'd been at it for over an hour now, just going back and forth. There wasn't much out here to really train his muscles; he had found a few rocks that with a lot of practice he lifted though. It helped him, but just enough to keep toned.
His diet helped too. Mostly it was just fruits and water. He never ate meat, even if he found the animal already dead. He'd just dig up some ground and bury it. That probably hurt him in the long run with his training, but Joseph didn't care. He couldn't ever think of eating the animals that he lived with.
The first couple days had been the hardest though. He had almost died when he started living here. Had refused to eat after finding out his mom wouldn't come back soon. But eventually, by about the third day he just stumbled over to the tree, and started eating as many apples as he could find. He had to go to the berry bushes after that though, until more fell from the tree. But the stream always ran, so he didn't have to worry about waiting for more water.
Joseph pulled back his left hand for what was probably the hundreth time, and breathed slowly. That was enough for today. He let his arms loosen before sitting down on the large rock he had been practicing on. It was the only thing that really stood out from the rest of the surrounding mountaintop, and seemed to match his own actions in being out-of-place.
There, that was probably all he needed to do today. Joseph breathed a bit more freely. His arms felt numb, but they always did after a hard training. He'd just sit here a few moments though, before going over to the tree. He moved his head slowly up to the sky, and stared.
Six years. Joseph had been here six years since his mom left him. His supplies had worn thin over the first couple years, but he had kept them going by balancing it with the natural food he could find. Eventually though, he had run out, and depended entirely on the native produce. Strangely enough though, sometimes he did find food that didn't belong where he was. Loaves of bread usually. He didn't think too hard on the subject however, finding them was random. Sometimes he'd turn around and they'd be on tree's roots, or next to the stream while he was getting a drink.
Maybe it was just a mystery best left not discovered.
Joseph stretched his arms, feeling more rested. He stood up and jumped off his rock, grabbing his white shirt from next to him. He held it in one hand as he walked over to the tree, his back still thick with sweat. He stopped for a second though, and moved his head forward, narrowing his eyes.
Something was... under the tree.
Joseph moved quickly to the spot. He reached it and sat down, throwing his shirt to the side. How'd this get here? Well, it wasn't like it was any more mysterious than the bread and newspapers, but at least those were more obvious. This though, could be anything...
Maybe even, something from his mom.
The teen grabbed the top of the box and pulled it off as fast as he could. He ignored the sound of the two carboard sides scraping together, and tossed the lid away. It landed on it's side before tipping over and landing on its top. He looked inside, expecting something from his mom.
There was a note on top! Joseph reached for the letter and took it out, ignoring the purple object beneath it. He moved the paper up to his eyes, poring over it. He couldn't believe his mom was sending him something, but he always knew she'd come back, he always--
Joseph felt his heart nearly jump. The style, the words being used... even the paper... it was all different. This wasn't from his mom. It couldn't be.
The teen almost dropped the letter. Just some... stranger sending him things. Maybe the person who kept sending him the bread and paper, maybe not. But then, Joseph wasn't really interested anymore. He almost got up from the box, before he looked back into it.
Well, if the person was nice enough to send him something, he might as well look at whatever it was.
Joseph reached a hand over and lied the letter next to him. He moved his hands back, and picked up the purple object in the box. It was lightweight and... soft. Joseph unfolded it, and stared at the clothing.
It was a purple... vest. Joseph set it aside next to the letter for a moment, before going back to the box. There was more in it. A new white shirt almost identical to his old one; black pants; and purple boots. But strangest enough were the gold-colored arm and leg bands at the bottom of the box. Joseph set each of the articles apart, and stared at them. Who would have sent these to him? He already had clothes, although he was sort of growing out of them...
His hand moved back over to the letter. Even if it wasn't from his mother... he'd like to know who sent the clothing, maybe one day he could thank them...
"Young warrior," The letter started off curiously. Joseph smiled, he'd never been called that before, or even considered himself one. He kept reading though, it had been a long time since he had heard someone speak to him, although no one was actually talking to him right now. But still, it was pretty close to that.
"For the past six years I have watched you grow and become much more than many have become in times spanning twice that. You have made many sacrifices in order to keep your word. For someone with as gentle and young a heart as yours, it was truly unbearable.
And yet you were able to survive the ordeal, and continue to make the sacrifices that all true warriors have made throughout their existance. Many men have done so because they wanted to be great, but you did so because you wanted to help another.
This clothing once belonged to one of the most venerable true masters that has ever lived in these mountains. I was fortunate enough to had been chosen to succeed him, and thus, have held on to his possessions since his passing.
Though you have never been trained by me, you have shown all the qualities that were best exemplified in my master. The dedication to preservere, the strength to hold one's own, and the kindness and tenderness of the heart, which you have no bounds to. In my fifty years of training, I have never come across anyone who could truly show all three of those virtues, until now.
Therefore, I offer you these garbs. Wear them with pride, young warrior, but never forget to always hold your heart and mind forward, before the fist."
There was no signature. Joseph moved his hand down, letting the words sink into him. He then placed the letter carefully on the ground, and stood up.
He pulled off his pants first, before grabbing onto the new black pair, pulling them on tightly. He thought a few seconds before figuring out how to put on the leg bands, eventually connecting them to the tops of his boots. He turned back and reached for the new white shirt, his head popping out of the tall neck as he adjusted it a bit. Joseph followed that up by grabbing the other two bands, fitting each one around one of his forearms.
Then, he bent down to get the vest. He looked at it for a few seconds, his pace of changing slowing. Someone else wore this before him. The previous wearer had sounded like a very good person... and for the past few years, Joseph really hadn't done much to qualify for that.
But to the person who wrote that letter, he had been that, was that. Joseph smiled again, moving the vest over his head, and pulling it down.
Something immediately didn't feel right. Joseph moved a hand under the vest. Something was... poking him. He pulled his hand back out, holding onto a traingular-folded piece of paper. It was thick like the letter. He pulled the corners apart, and saw writing on it's folded face.
"One last thing young warrior. In case you wished to know, the master's name who owned these clothing before you was Jericho."
Joseph tugged on the vest, flattening it out against him. He smiled.
He liked the name.
End of Decrescendo.
Thanks for reading this!