... now they must watch their abundance of luxuries fall away, making room for the tools of survival, and witness this time of relative peace wither into the same fears that harper's ballads had warned them about for generations.
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 Sincere Beginnings -Toshiro

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Join date : 2012-09-20
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Sincere Beginnings -Toshiro Empty
PostSubject: Sincere Beginnings -Toshiro   Sincere Beginnings -Toshiro I_icon32Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:27 am

Turn 480-481 AL

Seven turns in age, Toshiro’s hands were blistered and red from the drudgery he’d been put to, serving as a live-in student at the Guard training hall. For the most part, he went relatively unnoticed, and no one asked questions about him; and whenever time allowed, Instructor Kondo would try to spend time with him, trying to allow the child to get to know him as a father. But, such time was limited between them. And so, it was that Toshiro’s days were filled with managing the chores cut out for him, in order to keep the training hall and its grounds clean, and equipment for practice under good repair. It was also his task to fill the duties of a Page in service to Instructor Kondo, who oversaw the lessons of each of the classes taught at the institution.

Just a child, Toshiro was a few turns younger than the starting apprentices there. Of course, when the fresh apprentice class figured out that he was not one of them, and that his purpose there was no more than a drudge, they looked down on him, seeing themselves as his betters. Prideful attitudes just made it easier to single him out and make Toshiro their target. And Toshiro, as they would quickly find out, was unable to defend himself against their teasing and verbal abuse, which rapidly thereafter escalated into physical threats.

Passing nearby to Toshiro’s room, Kondo overheard the sound of something fall. The scuffle of several feet and boys snickering could be overheard, and then after a little laughter broke out, disappearing with trainees around the next corner, there was silence. Stopping at the door to peek inside, Kondo found Toshiro knelt on the floor, picking up the rice and vegetables that had been on his plate for lunch. The boy’s face torn with worry, as if he might get into trouble for spilling his meal, the Instructor stepped into the room to help him clean it up.

Eyes quick to recognize who next entered the room, Toshiro spoke up, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

“It’s alright. We’ll get it all cleaned up and get you another plate.” Kondo was a gentle sort, so smiled. He was quick enough though,  to understand that perhaps the other kids may have been the cause of the spill. Yet, since it was only a spill, he made no mention of it. Cleaning the mess up would be no big hassle.

At his words though, Toshiro glanced up at his father-figure with confusion, something akin to pain also recognizable there. “I could get another?” Toshiro hadn’t known that he could ask for another plate of food. He had gone countless times without food before, because the kids in the trainee class would throw his food on the floor. The boy hadn’t complained though. Toshiro wasn’t a complainer. And he found himself unable to relate his troubles to Kondo. He was unable to ask for help. The one time he had, the boys only bullied him more for it, and they told him that a real man stands up for himself and doesn’t need to lean on anyone else.

In a way, what they’d said had been true. There were certain things that a man had to do for himself. It became a matter of pride and honour. But of course, as children, it was something they taunted him with, because Toshiro was defenseless.

Looking down to the food on the floor, Toshiro went back to scooping it all onto his plate so that it could be properly discarded. “But I don’t want to waste food. It’s no one else’s fault but my own.”

Reaching for Toshiro’s little hand, Kondo took it in his own, uncurling the boy’s fingers so that he could take the rice from it. “Here. Let me do it. The rice is probably still very hot. You shouldn’t burn yourself.”  But as he reached to do so, Kondo noticed a dark blotch on the boy’s forearm, just beneath the sleeve. “What is this?”

Toshiro pulled his arm away defiantly, determined to go back to picking up his mess. “I just fell. I’m clumsy, can’t you see?”

Kondo however, was not convinced. Reaching one more time for Toshiro’s arm, he took the boy’s wrist within his grasp, moving to roll up the boy’s sleeve to get a better look at the injury.  Eyes showing the shock he felt, he suspected far more injury had come to the boy than a mere fall. “Toshiro! What has happened? Is this the doing of boys from one of the classes? Did they also knock over your food?”

“I told you! It’s my fault. I’m clumsy, and can’t help it.” Trying to withdraw his arm again, Toshiro managed to relinquish it from Kondo’s hold so that he could cover the deep purple bruises again. His entire arm was practically black and blue, so it was no wonder at his father-figure’s expression or concern, but Toshiro had no intention of letting him intervene.

Toshiro’s small voice must have seemed pitiful then, though all he did was show what sheer determination he possessed to want to overcome the situation by his own power. “I’ll finish cleaning up and then I’ll go back to my chores. Thank you for your kindness, but I can do the rest.”

Without arguing, though he didn’t move from that place for several breaths, simply watching Toshiro as he went back to cleaning, Kondo decided that he’d have a talk with the boys in his trainee class later. Hopefully a stern lecture and a few extra physical training drills would be enough to make them repent of such behaviour.

There came a sharp crack as a wooden practice sword struck its target. With the wind completely knocked out of him, the boy, Toshiro, fell to the dirt. He lay there, struggling to take oxygen into his lungs, gasping for breath; and even as he tried his hardest not to cry, his eyes still watered involuntarily, and his small body tensed in anguish.

Toshiro had been struck across the back, making his ribs ache. His entire body felt jarred, and now that he was on the ground,  the rest of the boys who commonly bullied him, were only inspired by their cowardly victory to continue torturing him.

“You brat! Kondo punished us because you ratted us out! This is what you get!“ The leader of them, Gregan, taunted. They continued to kick him and jab at him with the ends of their wooden swords.

Of course, Toshiro couldn’t bring himself to try to try to explain how Kondo had found out what they’d been up to. No matter what he said, it wouldn’t change their minds about how they treated him.

Gregan shooed the rest of the boys away long enough for Toshiro to manage to get back to his feet, though he still hunkered over, unable stretch his back out properly after the beating. Every muscle in his back ached with a severity he’d never known. And now, what if they only continued? He didn’t know how long he could take it.

At least 5 or 6 turns older than he, Gregan was much taller and more solidly built -and the boy was one of the toughest kids in the beginning class; his parents had been Soldierborn, so Gregan liked to think being tough was something he was just born with. He didn’t have to acknowledge the strengths of others, because most of the other kids just weren’t as strong as him. He just had to know how best to pick apart their weaknesses and break others down. That’s what he did best.

So, standing before Gregan, Toshiro breathed deeply, trying to somehow control the pain he was in, so that he could face the other boy properly and try to anticipate any further swings of his practice sword in hopes that he could move out of the way in time. It was a routine that was beginning to take place more frequently; and Toshiro had no other way of defending himself but to move fast enough to get out of the way.

Toshiro’s eyes narrowed, expression stern as he set his focus on evading whatever Gregan threw at him next. And he didn’t have to wait long. Gregan stepped forward with a jab, that Toshiro easily stepped away from, but one of the other boys took a swing at him unexpectedly, striking his right arm with force enough to throw him off balance.

Stumbling back to the dirt, Toshiro gritted his teeth, trying to bear it; but again, the sting and the depth of the ache in that pain was enough to make his eyes water involuntarily. He hated that. He hated when they saw him cry like that. Even if he didn’t want to. So, Toshiro reached up to dry his eyes, hoping the other boys wouldn’t notice.

“Are you crying now?  Going to prove that you’re just as worthless as you always have been, by crying to Kondo about it? We’ll just beat you up harder next time, if you do. Now, why don’t you do some of our chores for us, since you’re already doing all the rest of the cleaning.” Gregan could see the anger in Toshiro’s eyes, which gave him great satisfaction to know that he was getting under the younger boy’s skin. “Well, there’s nothing more that a holdless mut like you can do, anyway.”

Gregan glared back at Toshiro while Toshiro got back to his feet again; he enjoyed continuously knocking Toshiro down instead of keeping him on the ground -there was much more satisfaction to be had in that small accomplishment, where it concerned his youthful ego. “Because you don’t have any parents, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t have been left here.” And indeed, the older boy was more observant than he appeared to be. He’d noticed that Toshiro never left the hall, and was always just cleaning. It was rare that anyone but their Instructor Kondo ever came for him or checked in on him. No one ever thought of Toshiro like Kondo did.

Trying to further provoke Toshiro, the older boy went on, “Even Kondo thinks you’re worthless. He’ll never train you. And your family... will never come back for you.”

Those words were enough to break him. Toshiro’s eyes watered again, but this time, there was no physical pain to go along with the injury. None of them knew how long Toshiro had been waiting for the return of his family -the one lone figure in his mind that he’d seen turn her back and walk away from him. Why was it that he could barely even remember her face now? Maybe he was worthless. But that thought just made him more angry, and the tears would not be stemmed from their flow.

It was then that there came a change in Toshiro’s expression, and his eyes filled with a fierce, raging determination. He’d been their victim for long enough.

Gregan had little time to take notice that Toshiro’s anger had changed. Toshiro lunged for the older boy, and so surprised were they all, that he was able to shove Gregan to the ground. Toshiro put all of his little weight on the boy, punching him in the face before he reached to strangle him. Though his hands were small, Toshiro would manage at least that. It was the first time he had ever been so irate. And he didn’t know how to handle it. Toshiro was losing himself to that rage.

Trying to fight back, Gregan was the first to bring his sword arm up and try to beat Toshiro off of him; the other kids seemed too uncertain to make a move. But as soon as Gregan’s sword arm came up, Toshiro caught the other boy’s wrist, intercepting the intended blow. With one hand though, Toshiro still held Gregan’s neck, growling his defiance.. Suddenly fearful of Toshiro, seeing the craze in those eyes, Greagan shouted for the others to help him; he’d find a way to redeem his injured pride later.  

Any victory that day, was stolen from Toshiro’s grasp when the other kids rushed in, grabbing at Toshiro’s shirt to pull him away. They beat him again with their wooden swords once he was on the ground.  All Toshiro could do was curl into a ball, trying to block his head with his arms, accepting their harsh words and whatever punishment they laid into him.

The sky had been overcast for several days, or at least partly cloudy. But it had to be this day in particular that it poured rain. Toshiro had run an errand to the weekend gather to pick up a couple of packages and some taffy candy for Kondo barely returning home to the Guard training hall in time to beat the worst of it.

Meeting his apprentice-son a few paces outside the door with an umbrella, Kondo smiled, taking the things from the boy appreciatively. “Thank you for getting these. Would you like some taffy?”

Toshiro would have loved to have taken some. He would have kept it tucked away somewhere in his room so that he could enjoy it later, but it was more likely that Gregan and the other boys would find it and take it. And of course, he didn’t want to give Gregan any more chance at finding that satisfaction, so Toshiro shook his head in decline. “No. Thank you.”

The boy seemed unhappy to Kondo, even as the man held the umbrella overhead so that he wouldn’t have to get wet. “Is there something the matter? Gregan and the others haven’t been bullying you again, have they? I told them to -”

“Could you please stop.” Such a stern voice -one filled with determination- sounded much too mature for a boy of just eight turns in age. And hearing such words from him stopped Kondo in his tracks.


“Yes. Stop trying to intervene. I told you before. But you didn’t listen. And now they only beat me harder. If you don’t stop, things will just get worse for me. So, please. Let me…”  That was right. Toshiro couldn’t do anything about them.  Let me, what? Let me handle them? Maybe that’s what he’d been about to say, and yet there was no way for him to follow through with the promise intended in those words. Things would only continue as they were. And to Toshiro, that was unacceptable.

Kondo found himself hard pressed to know just what to say in response. He got the feeling that Toshiro wanted to grow up and be able to defend himself in such situations, but at the same time, he realized that he was unable to. The Instructor sighed and spoke softly, curious, “What is it you plan to do then?”

The boy’s mouth set in a thin, tight line with brows furrowed, and his hands clenched into little fists. “Train me! Instructor Kondo, please train me, just like you train them. Then I could fight them back!” Toshiro’s eyes came up to meet the eyes of his father-figure, hopeful.

“You want to fight them?”  Well, such a thing would be natural, he supposed, after seeing how things had turned out.

It was pitiful to hear Toshiro’s continued plea, “I don’t want to be worthless, anymore! I can’t be worthless. I have to fight them to show them that I’m not!”

Kondo felt saddened by the boy’s pain and wanted to be able to do something to help him. Kondo however, did not want to see Toshiro learn to fight out of anger, making that his only reason for making such a decision. Nor did he want Toshiro to think that fighting was the only way out of a situation like the one he found himself in with the other boys. “Toshiro, I’m afraid you’re too young for me to train, right now. All of the other boys in the class are 11, 12 turns old. Why don’t we all sit down and try to work things out without you having to fight.”

But that answer wasn’t good enough for the boy, “I’m not too young! Please! Let me join your class. I promise I will do everything that they do; I’ll catch up to them really fast.”

Such a plaintive voice was hard to deny, yet Kondo still wasn’t convinced. With a sigh, he turned with his armload of packages to head back into the guard hall. “I’ll consider it in the near future. But you’re too small right now. I’m afraid you’d get hurt. Try to understand. I don’t want you to -” Interrupted by Toshiro’s hand, which had grabbed ahold of his jacket to stop him, Kondo looked back at the boy.

Toshiro was looking down but still bore that same stubborn expression. “I know they’re bigger than me. But I can do it.” He wouldn’t be afraid of them. He couldn’t be. Toshiro had been beaten enough times that he wasn’t. He wasn’t afraid of their swords anymore. Swords just caused pain, but pain was only pain and nothing more. It was something he had begun to learn to overcome.

Before Kondo could continue inside, Toshiro fell to his hands and knees at the Instructor’s feet, not caring if he were to get his clothes soaking wet. “Until you train me. I’ll wait here.”

The boy sat back on his heels, hands clenched into fists, resting upon his thighs, as if in continued show of determination. He was going to wait there, in the rain, begging on his knees, until Kondo accepted him as his student. And that was still something that Kondo was unwilling to do.

“I already gave you my answer.” Kondo turned from him, a little disappointed, but said nothing else as he walked back to the hall, leaving Toshiro by himself.

Watching Kondo walk away had been difficult for the boy. It pained him to be reminded about the last person who walked out of his life, and he felt as though Kondo was abandoning him now. Toshiro was not ready to think that Kondo would abandon him though, and he wasn’t about to give up on a chance to start learning the art of swordsmanship so that he could fend for himself. He would prove to everyone that he wasn’t worthless after all. He wasn’t the poor, pitiful boy everyone thought him to be. He knew that people talked behind his back. He had heard what they would say.

Toshiro remained as he was through the rest of the day, skipping meals and chores to sit in the rain. And whenever Instructor Kondo would come from the hall, he would bow onto hands and knees.

Somehow, he would show Kondo his sincerity. And if he was sincere enough, then Kondo would surely accept him.

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