"Orphans and Family"
Disclaimer: Legend of Legaia and all related characters and settings belong to Contrail. This story is not written for profit.
Description: After the human world is separated from the world of Seru, Gala reflects on life in the Biron monastery and his friendship with Songi.
It had been three weeks since Vahn had decided to end his travels across Legaia and begin a training regimen at the Biron Monastery. The blue-haired youth sat cross-legged in front of the master teacher of Biron, eyes closed in a meditation exercise.
The master teacher, Gala, faced the younger man in a mirrored cross-legged position, hands properly aligned in his lap as he had always been taught since he first came to the monastery as a orphan. His mind wavered from his silent concentration as he thought of his earliest memories of the monastery. Despite not remembering his parents, he had never felt alone, not really. The monastery was filled with kind, if somewhat strict, Biron monks who had always openly accepted Gala. And then there was Songi.
Gala felt his breathing grow erratic at the thought of the spiky-haired redhead. The master teacher tried to clear his mind and focus on the tenants of Biron, of oneness with the human world, of Rem the spirit who saw the threads of time, of the creator-god Tieg, of… it was really no use. He berated himself for not having the mental fortitude for even a simple meditation exercise when his ill-fated boyhood friend came to mind.
The blue-haired pupil seated in front of Gala shifted on the wooden floor of the dimly-lit utilitarian meditation room. Vahn had noticed the change in Gala's breathing. The master teacher felt a small tinge of embarrassment along with the annoyance that his student had not been concentrating on his own meditation exercise either. Some master teacher he was.
Vahn tried to maintain his proper meditating position but looked at Gala with one opened eye, as if trying to ask his friend what was wrong without showing too much disrespect for his teacher's lessons.
Gala shook his head slightly, dismissing the young man's concern, and sending the clear wordless message that they both should return to their meditation. Vahn sighed, but closed his eyes once more and Gala noted that his student's breathing quickly returned to the correct pace. He was impressed by Vahn's progression through the monastery's teachings. He remembered how Songi had been the same way. Talented, but always ready to move on to the next exciting lesson – too bored with breathing and focusing all the time.
Gala kept his breathing focused, but allowed his thoughts to wander this time. It was still hard to deal with the guilt of what happened to Songi, and he wondered if he would ever be able to meditate soundly again. Despite the fact that when the boys were found and brought to the monastery Songi was one year older than him, Gala had always felt somewhat responsible for his more reckless friend.
At the time, they were the only two kids their age at the monastery. The war had taken many parents from their children, but the Warrior Monk who found them had been a traveler to the warzone and was quick to take the boys to the remote mountain Biron monastery in the Drake Kingdom region.
Gala could barely remember misty images of his own parents, and Songi had been his only constant once the deadly Mist began to the blanket the world. Biron monastery was protected by the wind generators, but the ever-present danger meant that excursions to the outside were few and far-between. Gala took the opportunity to focus on his warrior monk studies, but Songi had been driven stir-crazy.
Not content to sit quietly and meditate (so like Vahn in that way), Songi wanted to get out of the tiny world of the monastery, often sneaking out to brave the Mist-created monsters and, of course, he dragged Gala with him. Songi always wanted to show Gala how much stronger he had become, how his newest created technique could break a monster in half… if only he could do it right this time.
Gala had always liked those little competitions that he and Songi had – even though the teachings of Biron were very clear that competitiveness was a distraction to the inner discipline required of a Warrior monk. Gala won more often than not, and enjoyed how it annoyed his best friend. The muscular redhead would usually boast or sulk the whole way back to the monastery, letting Gala know all about how he left only the easy monsters for the younger boy so he wouldn't get hurt.
Upon returning from those short adventures in the Mist, though, they always received a lecture from their caretaker Maya about how dangerous it was and tried to find a suitable punishment. No matter how much Gala tried to tell her that he enjoyed playing outside the monastery as much as Songi, she somehow always knew that it had been Songi's idea to drag Gala along and the red-haired teen got the worst chores. Gala remembered the nasty glares Songi shot him while scrubbing the dinner hall or copying the Biron scripts. Still, these never seemed to deter Songi from skipping ahead in his training and coming up with inventive new moves to try out on the other monks and the Mist-monsters whenever they could sneak out.
Gala admired Songi's energy and freedom, he even began to spike his brown hair like Songi's when they both graduated beyond apprentice monks. But Gala always felt unable to really stray from the path of Biron himself. Songi often accused him of being close-minded, unable to think outside tradition. "Because it's part of Biron's teachings" was never an argument that could sway the older boy. While Gala focused on maintaining the ancient forms and mastering them to perfection, Songi spent his time trying a variety of styles and self-invented techniques. Even though no one questioned that Songi was strong and clever, they also never questioned that Gala was the perfect candidate for the position of Master Teacher, second only to Master Zopu, when the new initiates joined the monastery.
A slight buzzing noise interrupted his reverie. Vahn had started snoring, still in a perfect Biron Lotus pose. While Gala admired the slumbering Vahn's balance and stability, he was afraid that today's lesson was a failure. Perhaps Gala was losing his touch as a teacher after saving the world from the all-encompassing Mist? The master teacher forced an angry cough loud enough to wake his 'dedicated' pupil.
Vahn shook himself awake, never losing the proper meditating posture, much to Gala's pride. The fellow world savior grinned sheepishly at his teacher before nodding seriously and returning to his attempt at deep concentration.
Gala could not really fault Vahn on losing his concentration when the teacher himself was lost in thought. Returning to his position in the Biron monastery was harder than he had expected. After travelling the world with that chatterbox Noa, the surprisingly talented young warrior Vahn, and the Ra-Seru they had each been bonded to, the quiet life of a warrior monk was a hard adjustment.
Songi had always said the same thing – that he wanted more out of life than what some backwoods warrior monk had forced him to be. He had grown bitter being second-best to the 'prodigy Master teacher' that all the monks talked about, that Maya always doted on. Gala could see it, but he didn't know how to regain that friendly competition between them. Songi was growing more and more desperate to beat Gala at something. During one of the festival exhibition matches they were scheduled to fight in, Songi had even tried to drug Gala. Gala had learned of the plan from the monastery's apothecary, but couldn't bring himself to believe that Songi – his best friend, practically his brother! – would really try to drug him, and willingly accepted Songi's offer of medicine. During the match, Gala had tried to put up a front that the drug wasn't affecting him, that maybe if he willed it hard enough, he could convince himself that the dizzying vertigo he was feeling was just a side-effect of too little sleep. Songi's taunts during the exhibition match were the usual cocksure snide remarks he had always teased Gala with before, but they had never seemed so cruel until that day.
Part of him knew that he just wanted Songi to have something to brag about again, so that they could feel like equals. But the whole event only seemed to make Songi angrier. The muscular teen stopped talking to Gala altogether at some points, spending his time out in the Mist with some of the other younger monks he had convinced to go along with his schemes. Only now, Gala was the master teacher and he was responsible for the students Songi was leading on his expeditions into the Mist. They clashed often, and Gala remembered how that's when he first began to feel really alone, truly an orphan among clusters of people whom he had known all his life.
At times, he had wished that he could just throw on a cavalier smirk and go out adventuring in the Mist like Songi. But he was master teacher – duty had been thrust upon him now and Gala didn't have the luxury of games or mistakes that might prove fatal to one of his students. Every once in a while, Songi would linger after a lesson and throw a teasing insult at Gala, smirking playfully, almost as if it was a habit leftover from when they were best friends. But then the redhead's features would harden, seemingly remembering the injustice of Gala's promotion to master teacher.
The day that Vahn and Noa had come to the monastery, Songi had seemed less tense around Gala than usual and he wanted to think that the new heroes were a symbol of hope that the Mist would soon be gone and Songi could leave the monastery for the greater things he had always talked about. But instead, the unthinkable happened. Songi truly betrayed the monastery, betrayed Gala, shutting down the wind generators that protected them from the Mist – allowing monstrous and mutated Seru to attack the inhabitants. He went on to antagonize Gala at every turn, to try to take over the Seru-Kai and the human world itself. Gala wondered how things could have changed so drastically between them. The master teacher shivered a little as the thought came to mind how easy it was that it could have been Gala whose recklessness could have led him down such a destructive path. Gala knew that his own temper was hard to control and that he grew frustrated easily – every time Songi had tried to prevent them from finishing their quest, Gala had tried to deny it, but he had been filled by an unforgiving rage.
But now the only thing Gala could see when he thought of his friend were his last moments after Songi had been forcefully separated from his protective Seru while in the other dimension. The Seru world had rejected the unbonded human, hardening Songi's skin to stone, making him writhe in pain as he was torn apart from the inside and out. Even with closed eyes, Gala saw the only person he had ever thought of as 'family' screaming in agony, face contorted with fear, and calling out for Gala's help.
And there was nothing he could do as the man crumbled into a dusty nothingness.
Vahn shook Gala hard on the shoulder, startled blue eyes meeting confused, worried brown eyes. Gala immediately realized that Vahn must have noticed his strained breathing and had probably tried to get his attention a few times already before shaking him from his troubling thoughts.
The Master teacher quickly caught himself and growled a warning at his pupil to not disrupt his valuable lessons on meditation.
Vahn shot him a skeptical look and Gala realized he had been caught slacking off during his own teachings. The Master teacher sighed, giving in. Vahn wanted to learn about more than just the usual ancient traditions of Biron.
Perhaps it was time to start training outside these walls.