Moving through the forest with ease, Master Fung looked upon the wondrous sights around him peacefully. The birds were softly chirping, animals grazed grass undisturbed by his presence, a caressing breeze graced by nature's masterpieces. This forest had been left alone from the ever changing world and therefore kept its beauty. However, every garden like this needs an exceptional caretaker.
He was alone. The young monks he was training had gone off, along with the guardian dragon, Dojo, in search of another Shen Gong Wu, mysterious and powerful objects that had amazing capabilities, but could prove dangerous if they fell into the wrong hands. The objects could be activated by simply stating its name, however some required a steadier mind and enhanced skills before they could be completely mastered.
The trees began to thin out, and in their place were wildflowers of various colors. He was beginning to reach his destination at last. When the trees finally vanished, a glorious meadow came into his sight. In the middle of that meadow stood a single, very old willow tree.
Master Fung approached it and rested a hand against its bark. His instincts told him there was much life in his tree, more than there should be. The life radiating from it was what kept this forest so lovely and peaceful.
"Serpent's Tail," he said as he pulled out a Shen Gong Wu from his side. It was of a dark golden color and looked like a miniature dragon's tail. The Serpent's Tail allowed the user to teleport through solid objects and protect him or her from physical attacks. He used it to pass through the tree, and come out the other side, holding a comatose young girl by her waist. He checked her breathing, which was soft and steady.
The girl had hair black as coal that flowed straight down her back, beginning at a widow's peak and ending midway at her thighs. Her skin was slightly tanned and she seemed to be a teenager. She wore a light blue tunic with large, white cuffs, pants of a barely darker blue that ended by her ankles, simple black shoes, and an aquamarine sash. There was also a telescope like cylinder curled in one of her graceful hands.
Laying her down on the grass, Master Fung began to meekly shake her shoulder and whispered to her, "Akira, it's time to wake up. Your sleep in finally over, awaken from your hibernation. Akira. Akira."
After his repeated calls, she moaned quietly and slowly cracked open her golden-brown eyes. The first thing she saw made her smile; a shining sun she had missed for so many years. She felt its warmth and embraced it passionately. When she saw Master Fung, smiling down at her, her face grew serious. Immediately recognizing him as a Xiaolin Master, she held the cylinder out to him, bowing her head in respect as best as she could on the ground. He accepted it and it in a pouch by his side next to the Serpent's Tail before helping her up to her feet.
At first, Akira fumbled around, having not used those muscles in ages. However, she quickly got the hang of things once more, and was able to run and flip without trouble. She felt she could go on like this forever, glad to be free from her hibernation and able to return to the world. Though her duty would refuse otherwise, Master Fung allowed the girl this short time to soak in the joys of life she had missed for so long. Together, the walk back to the temple should seem short, after all.
Eventually, he had her follow him, explaining all of how the world had changed since she had last been awake. She listened with the commitment of a most remarkable student, not wanting to miss a word. Akira was glad she could feel her own breath again, see colors and feel different textures again, but her return came with the price of being blind to how things were nowadays.
A few hours later…
Raimundo, Clay, Kimiko, and Omi hopped off Dojo's back as they arrived at the temple and he transformed from forty feet long to his original size of about one yard. Master Fung stood waiting for them in the courtyard. "Greetings, young monks. Did your quest for the Shen Gong Wu go well?"
The four monks all stared at Dojo in response, who shrunk down bashfully, "Umm…about that. It turns out it wasn't a Shen Gong Wu I was sensing, just gas. Yeah, sorry, my bad."
Master Fung looked at him exasperatingly, as did the others. "Well, now that we have Dojo's...indigestion problems out of the way, there's someone here that I'd like you to meet."
Omi spoke up, smiling excitedly, "Is it Master Monk Guan, Master Fung? Or perhaps Jermaine has returned? Oh, I know-"
He stopped the young Wudai Warrior there. "Trust me; it's no one any of you could have ever met before." He looked back to the temple's open porch. "Please, come out and greet your fellow warriors."
Shyly, Akira poked her head out and looked at the newcomers, still holding her cup of tea that Master Fung has poured her. Setting it down on the steps, she approached them and stood by Master Fung's side.
"Everyone, I would like you to meet Akira Young, a Xiaolin Master. She will be training alongside you from this day forth and help you on your journey to collect the Shen Gong Wu. Akira, this is Dojo, Raimundo, Clay, Kimiko, and Omi."
Akira bowed to them, "It is truly an honor to meet you. Master Fung has told me much of late of your tales and endeavors."
Clay smiled and tipped his hat to her, "Pleased to meet you too, miss."
Kimiko stepped up and took Akira's hand, shaking it, "No need to act all regal in front of us. Consider yourself part of the gang. I'm just glad I'm not the only girl anymore."
Raimundo just stared at her for a moment, jaw dropped slightly, quietly he said, "Whoa, she's a babe…" before regaining his composure. "Uh, I mean, your cool. Nice to see you too, I guess." Clay punched him in the shoulder, jokingly.
Omi walked forward and shook Akira's hard rapidly, grinning from ear to ear, "It is most wonderful to have another Xiaolin warrior training here. What is down?"
Raimundo added helpfully, "I think he means 'what's up'."
Akira stared at them all quizzically. This was not at all what she had been expecting; not what she had been taught as protocol when meeting a fellow monk. Neither was she used to these strange customs and sayings. She looked up at Master Fung as if to plead, 'Help me.'
Noting her distress, he looked back to the monks, "Akira isn't from around here, young ones. She hasn't quite grasped your ways, and is more like Omi was when you first met him. Since she's still a little shy, perhaps you four could take a break from training today to show her around."
Glad for the time off, they all nodded and reached out, pulling Akira away. She looked back at Master Fung and Dojo and waved goodbye as the four dragged her from the courtyard to another part of the temple.
Dojo looked at Master Fung and placed his fists on his hips…well, if he had any. "Why is she here again? Why did you all of a sudden decide to wake her up now? And how'd you even manage to find her in the first place?"
"There are dark days ahead, Dojo. I am not quite certain in the young monks are ready to face them without assistance. She is smart, skilled, and kind. She will help them well."
"And it's not because of-"
"I never said that."
"So you haven't told her yet?"
"She will find out in time, and I am not the one she needs to hear the news from."
The day had gone by fast. Akira had already remembered the entire temple by heart. Due to her arrival, chores were not given that day either, which earned her a pat on the back from the Wudai Warriors. They had a nice dinner to welcome her; chicken and dumplings with Tong Sui and orange slices for dessert.
Later that evening, the four tried to get Akira to tell them more about herself and get her to stay up late to prank Dojo. Feeling a little vulnerable at the questions, she had hastened to her room, stating she was very tired from her trip here.
As soon as she was alone at last, she examined her room with a gentle smile. Her room. It was a sweet pair of words to think, after having no room and merely a tree to occupy her unconscious days. Besides a mat, a pillow, and an extra set of robes, she had no belongings in here. All that she had owned before and known were gone, probably forever.
Trying to bare herself, Akira turned off the lights, sat down cross-legged on the wooden floor, and began meditating.
Omi looked up at her, having used the Changing Chopsticks to shrink him down to the size of a grain of rice. He felt hurt that indeed she was not sleeping, but just sitting in boring meditation. Even he didn't find that fun or useful. He snuck back out through a crack in the bottom of the door, heading to his friends.
"Well, isn't she the life of the party. Who does she think she is? We were only trying to be friendly," Raimundo said, his arms folded in front of his chest.
"Did we upset her somehow?" Kimiko asked.
"Now hold on partners. Remember what Master Fung said; she's different and comes from someplace that's different than ours," Clay reminded them.
"Who would pick meditation over doing something actually fun though? I say she's probably stuck up. Being a Master, she probably thinks she's better than us. It's one rank ahead. Big deal," Raimundo said irritatingly.
Nothing more was said about Akira, but they all agreed to back off some and that maybe she didn't need to be welcomed as much as they thought before.