Chapter 14 – Recovery Mystery
Haru woke up to the russling of his covers as Lily jumped on his bed eagerly wanting him to wake up “It’s time for school time for school! Wake up sleepy head!”
Instead of being angry he waited for Lily to get closer and pounced! He attacked her with the fury of a thousand tickle fairies! Making her giggle non-stop until Eve walked into the room to break things up.
“Lily! Stop fussing so much and let your brother rest! He’s not going to school today. He needs to recover.” She grabbed Lily and put her down, shooing her towards the kitchen.
“Whyyy! Big brother is already better see?” Lily pouted.
“How could your brother possibly be better? Hmph. Go eat breakfast you naughty child.” Eve shooed and Lily reluctantly left pouting, all giggles gone from her system.
Eve grabbed the ointment that Erith had left Dillan last night and prepared to apply it, “Take off your clothes, let mother apply your ointment for you.”
Haru looked a little embarrassed “I’m fine actually! I think I can go to class, I don’t want to miss too much.”
“Don’t be silly” passing it off as childish embarrassment Eve grabbed Haru’s arm to get him to sit still when her eyes went wide. “Eh?”
Feeling his muscles and the flow of his spirit, Eve was surprised. She found none of the damage that was there yesterday, in fact his body seemed completely fine.
Feeling his arms, shoulders, and hands Eve was careful to make sure she wasn’t mistaken. She couldn’t help but gaze at her son’s beautiful eyes quite deeply in surprise before turning to look at the ointment wondering what Erith had possibly put in it.
After a moment of hesitation, she put the medicine away and let Haru run off to clean himself up. He seemed dead set on going to class and she couldn’t think of a reason to stop him.
When Haru first returned to class at his academy, he’d been anxious. Although not all classes were necessary, the teachers all looked down on students who chose not to show up to classes taking it as a form of disrespect. Haru found Linlin although he had not missed any of his classes and discussed with him as his father had instructed him too, that he had taken up swordsmanship and that due to his training schedule may be forced to miss classes in the future due to his extracurriculars.
“Why would you waste your time on the sword when there are newer far more useful weapons available to bloodline warriors? Why not focus on increasing your bloodline and skills?” would have been his normal response to any other student he had enough of a vested interest in rearing, but he had only been surprised by Haru and moreover, he already understood that this pupil’s bloodline was only going to be so useful to him in the future. Learning warrior skills related to technique seemed like a logical choice.
“That’s fine, just be careful not to ignore your studies. You already entered a meditative state once. If you can manage to do it again in the next few weeks it will be of immense benefit to you. Although it is highly unlikely, that should be your first and main priority.” Linlin said aloud while thinking of something else.
“Oh right, and someone came by yesterday. A friend of your family? He was inquiring about your address and information about you and your sister. I found it a bit strange as he didn’t have much to say other than what any random stranger might know or see, therefore I said little. I wanted to let you know in case he truly was someone of importance to your family.”
Haru’s mind was a blank as he considered who it could have been. He scratched his head as he combed his memories, but aside from Erith he quickly realized his parents had few friends. In fact, as he thought about it, he realized his parents had no friends. Erith was a surprise, the first person his parents had introduced to him as a friend of theirs, anyone else he’d met had been an acquaintance from his father’s work called a “friend”. Haru made a mental note to ask his father but didn’t give it any more thought.
“Actually teacher, I managed to enter a meditative state again. More than once actually.”
Linlin’s head spun to face him, his eyes wide with unbridled surprise.
Suddenly, a click resounded in his mind as Linlin came to a conclusion and a decision.
From that moment forward, instead of occasionally glancing at him when speaking of the talentless bloodlines destined to be no better than grunts for others in the future, he took a complete 180 approach and included him with the upper tiers of the classes he taught. His hopes laid in the possibility of finding a gem in the sand, hidden away but ready to be plucked and polished.
Teachers of any academy were given awards, acclaim, higher pay and benefits for finding and nurturing talented individuals. Especially teachers at the lowest levels, where benefits and pay were already low and at a premium.
Linlin’s joy at meeting Haru only grew as he came to find out that day that this student he’d thought of as a waste of resources and his time was indeed a genius. After sharing with Linlin that he had entered a meditative state again, more than once and with relative ease; Linlin went from being a solemn teacher to one who for weeks seemed to have a smile plastered on his face; his joy obvious for the world to see. Haru may have begun far behind a lot of these talented individuals, perhaps even destined to never reach their inherently advantageous bloodlines, but an unexpected genius was still a worthy find to Linlin.
Haru also came to learn from his cultural classes a lot of information most other students found boring or trite as fascinating. He couldn’t believe that other students found no interest in learning about history for example. He became more self-aware that there were a variety of societal factors that kept certain cycles repeating themselves on a loop, and as somebody with high aspirations the more he learned the better his chances of preventing himself from falling prey to these landmines set in front of “commoners” like himself.
Perhaps his greatest disappointment came in the form of his trainings with Erith. He’d expected to learn eloquent sword play, to learn something deep and meaningful. Instead, after the first day at Erith’s he’d been told “1000 swings a day. Until you manage that, your unworthy of learning even the most basic strike from me.”
A training from hell, both labor intensive and boring began for Haru. He would swing and swing, and his excitement from replicating the same technique as Erith withered away by the day. That image in his mind growing blurrier every day. His technique seemingly not improving in the slightest every day. After the first week of training, he no longer paid any heed to trying to recreate his earlier achievement, instead Haru only focused on swinging his sword efficiently and striving to reach 1000 strikes.
Erith would only speak every so often to criticize him when his strikes lacked power, speed, or effort. Eventually to stop Haru when he deemed him to have reached a suitable point of exhaustion, thus ending their lesson for the day.
That first day his lesson had been so labor intensive that it felt to Haru as if his whole body was sore he’d never be able to move a limb again, his thoughts only focused on his body’s pain that he’d all but forgotten everything else from the day.
Haru’s life began a cycle of do-rinse-repeat. Wake up in the morning, go to the academy, learn a lesson, go to Erith’s space, practice swing a sword, go back home, clean up then meditate.
A life bland, but even then Haru could feel himself becoming stronger and more knowledgeable with each passing day causing a joy to well up in heart as he acknowledged that every day he grew closer to his goal. On some days he could barely see past the concern in his parents eyes to realize how proud they were of him. Talent may be one thing, but they very clearly recognized his effort. Their ten-year old child studied harder, trained longer, put in effort far beyond their years and it broke their hearts to see him try so hard.
A little glint grew and was embedded in their every glance whenever they looked at their son, something akin to guilt that he himself could never recognize. Despite his fair intelligence and persevering personality, he was still vastly inexperienced to recognize the guilt they bore that grew with each passing day.
The only reprieve in his schedule would be their occasional outings as a family, where Haru could enjoy his sister’s company and shower her with affection. She’d grown discontent after he’d begun his training with Erith as he’d no longer had any time to play with her or tell her stories. Even most of the time he did have free he spent in meditation. Over time, he found himself sleeping less and less in lieu of meditation instead, no longer even granting little Lily the joy of snuggling her brother in her sleep on the occasional night where she had bad dreams and required some comfort.
None the less, Haru’s mind and body were growing and his enthusiasm for knowledge grew by the day.
“Hurry up! Hurry up! I’m going to be late for class! Today is one of teacher Linlin’s classes! I can’t be late!” Haru urged his dad to hurry. Being on time, even early to classes one of his top priorities on a daily basis as he felt like the best way of getting stronger was being the first one to class and the last to leave. Although it earned him a few reproachful looks from his classmate’s thinking he was only gaining favor by sucking up to his teachers, Haru ignored it as he’d basically hadn’t noticed from the start as whenever he had the chance he would meditate in class as well.