Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
   
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Derry's Wedding

  

 

Chapter  13

The Power of Balance

 
Derry woke gasping for breath and in a cold sweat. That had been the worst nightmare of all, and he did not need to talk to anyone to know what its images signified. Those he owed loyalty dead from his own treachery, his hands stained red with their blood. He shuddered with horror. Betrayal and death, that's what it meant. His betrayal and their death.

It was barely light outside, and he was glad, for Geoff would hardly be up so early. Dressing quickly, he hurried down the stairs and out of the castle through the kitchens, where he grabbed some bread and cheese before hurrying to the postern gate. The guard nodded good morning to him but naturally did not question Lord Derry's departure. Nor, minutes later, did he question Geoffrey as he hastened after Derry. Derry himself was too preoccupied to notice the boy hurrying after him.

The postern trail led down a precipitous path to the lake shore just outside the town walls on the side away from the plain where they held the cavalry drills. Perhaps a quarter mile further on, there was a large stand of pine and other conifers right against the lake shore, and this was Derry's objective. He could be alone there, and there was a clearing that would allow him room for activity.

Stripping down to just his shirt and breeches, Derry tried to settle into the form, but his breath still came raggedly and his mind was in turmoil. This would never do! He needed to strike out, not to relax and let go. Even with the thought, he heard San Te's instructions on a day when he had been angry at injustice.

"Energy is just that, energy. What it is used for is up to the person wielding that energy. It gives the wielder power, but with that power comes responsibility. Just as fire can be used for warmth and for cooking, it can also be used to harm and destroy."

"There will be times when the need arises to release energy that is pent up in the body, energy caused by stress, hardship, and other forms of harm. It is in human nature that people usually turn such excess energy inward to the point where they make themselves sick. You must be one with your surroundings, one within yourself. Passing energy through your body will help to settle your mind from what is troubling you and allow your body to regulate that energy to a comfortable level. The first lotus form is designed for balance, not only physical balance, but mental and spiritual balance as well. You will notice that you are more sure of yourself, more able to act and react correctly, no?"

"The first form of the lotus you learned is called Shi Na Ro, or opening flower. It opens up the flows in your body and allows them to run clear. The second form that I will teach you, you are now ready for. It will take the physical balance and push it further. We will go one step further and allow you to manipulate the energy inside your body, to feel it run through the pathways. It is important to be centered and calm, for this form is more challenging, as well as a bit dangerous if you enter into it unbalanced."

"It is called Ge Ki Sai, or the movement of thunder."

Frustration, anger, and a sense of impotence welled up in Derry as he bowed to the east. The residue of his horrific dreams still coloring his emotions, he sprang into the first attack routine, Tiger's Paw Strikes Dragon. Twisting suddenly in midair to end in a crouching palm strike, he twisted his left foot out in order to spring into the Dragon Fading combination. Delivering a flurry of kicks and punches while retreating, Derry folded his legs to the ground, then sprang up to execute a spinning back kick to Strike the Crane. He suddenly realized that the Crane had become a young boy and that the boy was real. Striking downwards with his foot at the boy's chest rather than completing the sidekick extension towards the head that he had planned, he knocked Geoffrey sprawling and landed in the dirt beside him. Derry angrily extended a hand and pulled the boy roughly to his feet, his grip like iron on the lad's arm.

"M'lord, don't! Please, sir, stop! You're hurting me!" Geoffrey pleaded, real fear in his face and voice.

Derry shook him off, fury distorting his face. "What the hell are you doing here anyway? Leave me alone!"

"M'lordľ"

"No!" Derry shouted. "I'm not your lord. I'm no one's lord! Get away from me, Geoffrey, or so help me God, I'll kill you!"

Geoffrey went white. "M'lord, you don't mean that."

"Do you want me to prove it? Get out of here! Go! Or I swear I'll kill you."

The boy turned and fled. He did not see Derry fall to his knees and bury his face in his hands, hearing the echo of Morgan's voice in his own words to Geoff. Geoffrey couldn't know that history was repeating itself with different players. All he knew was that his own tears blinded him so that he ran right into the small man in brown homespun before he even saw him.

Startled, he began to apologize, but the man merely smiled. "You are distressed, young sir. Your Lord Derry also. It is so?"

Geoffrey nodded, sniffing back a sob. "He's so angry."

"He is distressed, but not from your actions. Go, return to the castle, young sir. I have come seeking Lord Derry. I will see that he is safe."

Geoffrey looked at the man more closely. He was hardly taller than the boy, but his leathery brown skin spoke of age. Then he caught Geoff's eyes, and like others before him, the boy became lost in their depths. Oddly almond-shaped, pulled out at the sides, they were ice blue, almost white, and full of the wisdom of ages. The boy gasped, realizing who the man had to be. "You're him! Lord Derry's teacher!"

The man bowed, his lips turning up in a slight smile. "I am called San Te, young sir. And I will see that your lord does not harm himself. Go now. Tell Lord Michael I have come and will bring the Lord Derry safely back to the castle in a while."

Geoffrey nodded and hurried off toward the town gate, open now. San Te watched him for a moment before he turned to enter the trees, moving quietly.

Derry still knelt in the clearing, his head bowed in defeat, shoulders slumped as if they bore the weight of the world. He did not hear San Te enter the clearing, for the small man could move like a cat when he wished. He stood silently to one side without speaking for a long time. Derry was trying to control himself, to concentrate on his breathing, but the echo of his own words rang like a gong in his ears, and his breathing was still ragged.

"Ever is it so with anger, my son," San Te spoke quietly. "It harms you more than the one you are angry with."

Derry's head jerked up as it registered that the words had been spoken aloud, not in his mind only. "Master!" He scrambled to his feet, then bowed deeply to his teacher. "How did you know?"

"I told you once that I would return when most needed. It seems that I have come in time then?" the man smiled, crossing his hands behind him.

Derry dropped once more to his knees, ashamed. "I entered into the second form unbalanced, Master, I almost harmed the boy." His shoulders dropped in defeat.

"Do you think I would let harm come to you or to him?" the man asked. "Do you think I would teach you the second form if you were not ready, or capable? No, Sean," he whispered slowly, with much affection, "you did not hurt the boy, and I think you may have learned a lesson about balance, both physical and mental." San Te stepped back and sat against the trunk of the nearest tree.

The small man closed his eyes, swinging his legs into the sitting lotus position, Derry scrambling to do the same. "There is the flower, Sean, nothing else. You see the delicate flower, the petals closed, gently guarding the secrets held within." The voice droned on as Derry's breathing quieted and his mind started to still. He concentrated on feeling the muscles in his body relax and listening to the voice of the wise old man seated in front of him.

"As the petals slowly open, feel the doors of your chi open the pathways to the vastness of the universe. Hear the rhythm of the spheres gently tugging at your soul, ordering your thoughts, bringing peace." The Master's words continued to soothe; Derry felt both lighter and more at peace. He opened his eyes to see his teacher standing in front of him.

"You still haven't told me why you came just now, nor how you found me," Derry said at last.

"Have I not?" San Te smiled. "Perhaps because you did not ask before. But I would speak also with Lord Michael, who was once my pupil as well. We should go back to the castle. You need food and to be clean."

"Yes, I do," Derry laughed ruefully. "All I managed to do here this morning was make myself dirty and yell at an innocent boy."

"This is so? I think not, Lord Derry. Your anger is released. Now you are ready to learn again."

"And will you teach me, then?"

"If you desire it, I will."

"More than anything."

San Te nodded. "Then let us go, my pupil."

 

 

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