Moon Water by xiaopangnv


									You’ve found the second one. There isn’t anything here to tell you though. Keep looking.

Moon Water
Book One of the Watching the Moon series
               February 2010

               Moon Water

2|Moon Water
  Silar Tenra would love to return back to normal times, when being a young teshdar in her village
consisted only of protecting humans from other rival villages. But due to an attack from one she thought
she could trust, her world is turned around when she turns into a man-slaying monster when moonlight
shines entirely upon her. She and six like her must now keep in the shadows as the entire world hunts
them, seeking to destroy the evil in them, no matter what the cost.

3|Moon Water
                          PART 1
                        Reflection of the Moon

Chapter 1                                                                                       Silar Tenra

 Drip, drip.
 Small drops of water fell upon my hair, sliding down my back. I was cold, wet, tired, and my body was
stiff from all the waiting. My legs had long since fallen asleep. But still I waited. I wouldn’t breath above
a whisper until I was sure no one was near.
 After another minute of waiting, I decided it was safe. I jumped down from the niche in the wall and
continued into the next pipe. As you can guess, I was on the run.
 I was in the underground pipes and tunnels of my village. They went around under the village, twisting
and turning for miles. It was my secret hiding place sort of, and I knew my way around pretty well.
 The end of the pipe came up in a flash, and out of it I leaped. I executed a perfect front flip and landed
with a splash in ankle high sewage water. Most of the other girls would have shrieked in horror of the

4|Moon Water
sewage, but I was on the move and had no time for this. Even if I was down here on an evening stroll,
standing in sewage water didn’t bother me at all.
 I started running and pulled my gloves tighter on my hands. Half a minute more or so and I would be
into another pipe. That one would lead me straight under the Tenra district. Home.
 But before I could reach that pipe, there was a small waterfall in between us. That would be-.
 Something shot by my head and into the wall ahead. I froze in fear. What was that? I thought instantly.
There was a snapping sound to my right. Glancing over, I saw that my shirt was cut on the shoulder, and
that ment the thing that flew by me was a shuriken. It had cut my shirt but hadn’t touched a hair on my
skin. A warning shot. The next one wouldn’t miss.
 I took off running. The waterfall was just ahead. The water rushed over the edge of the dirty ground,
and I wasted no time going over it myself. The drop was about ten feet, really nothing, easy going. This
time I landed on dirt. A bare wall was ahead, and there was nothing there besides a small pipe at the
base of the wall. The pipe was small so that my pursuers wouldn’t be able to enter it, but it would be
easy for me and my small size to crawl through. Easy going. As soon as i crawled through it, there wud
be a worn ladder on the other side, leading up into my district.
 I heard a splash behind me. They were close! I dove for the pipe, and not too soon either. Something
or someone landed on the ground just as i shot in.
 Close calls came as often as another day with me. I started crawling franticly through the pipe, eager
to get away.
 There was then a small wiring sound, and a thin metal wire started wrapping itself around my
continued up my body and around my arms as well. On the tip of the wire was a shuriken, and it buried
itself into the pipe, locking me in place. Struggling, i was dragged out of the pipe and into the dirt.
 “Hmm, not bad for a kid. But this gets tiring after a while...”
 Two Soor gaurds stood over me. The Soor were one of the Matahoshi’s, or the leader of the villages,
battle squads. Dressed in long black, hooded cloaks, they were one secrative and elite force out of the
two the village had.
 “Let me go, you jerks!” I yelled at them. But i knew no matter how much you yelled, screamed, or
cursed, they wouldnt respond in any way.
 I was sat up againts the wall, and something pierced my neck. My eyes widened and all of a sudden I
got drowsy.
 “It’s harmless, although you will sleep for a while...” One of them said. Sle-...sleep? i thought. A
sleeping poison!! I was starting to feel calm and relaxed, although i wanted to fight it. But in a case like

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this one, there was nothing i could do. If i did end up escaping them, wich was next to impossible, they
would no doubt kill me. My thoughts were quelled by a sense of relief. The sleeping poison was taking
effect on me. I was finished...

“Thanks, and don’t worry. I have her.”
 Slowly I started to open my eyes and wake. It took a few seconds for my ears and eyes to adjust to the
sound and light. I took a small look around. I was on someone’s back and we were in the school. “Silar,”
The voice hit me like a hammer. It was one of my teachers, Onary sensei. I tried to pretend I was sleep
for a minute more as we walked down a hallway in the school.
 “Silar, I know you’re awake. I’m not mad at you though. But you have to stop running. And you have to
stop going underground as well. It’s too dangerous down there, and all alone. You could get lost easily,
and if you got hurt no one would be able to find you.”
 “But sensei…”
 “No buts Silar. Your father wouldn’t approve of this, and this is the third time this year. I’m not going
to report it to him, but if it happens again I guess I’ll have no choice.”
 I stayed silent. There was no reason to argue if you aren’t going to prove anything. As we walked
outside, I thought of the two other times I had ran underground and gotten caught. I was afraid of what
my father would say and do, but he never did anything. I realized now it was because they were never
 “There’s your brother. And one more thing before I hand you over, your tekaro control test managed
an A.” I nodded and looked away from my brother.
 Ril, five years my senior, was very strict with me. He was always telling me what the better choice was
whenever I did anything. I hated the way he acted sometimes with me, but mostly he was quiet. He was
a teshdar as well as I was, but he was off duty today.
 Ok, a bit of history first. In my village, certain people were born with tekaro. Tekaro is a type of energy
that runs through the blood stream and gives the holder magnificent powers. Those that hold tekaro in
them are called teshdar. Teshdar use the tekaro to fight and to protect the normal humans of the
village. The tekaro turned teshdar into weapons to fight wars between lands and other villages, and we
were trained since birth. The leader of the village, in our language called the Matahoshi, was the most

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powerful of the teshdar, and was picked by the high council. I was a level 2 tykun. There were four levels
in a teshdar: Tykun, levels 1-3, Sykun, levels 4-9, Rykun, levels 10-15, and then the Matahoshi. As soon
as I leveled up to a level 3 tykun, I would be able to receive a weapon to train with. Right now I could
only train with my tekaro and acrobatics, which I did in school.
 Each of the teshdar families in the village lived in districts. Those that had no teshdar in their family
could live anywhere in the village. My family didn’t have a lot of teshdar, but we used to, so we still lived
in a district with all of our cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We all had separate houses though,
but we were all living in the same area.
 So far in my entire family, there were only four teshdar. Ril, our father, our cousin Isark, and I were the
only ones. Ril used demon claw knives, and Isark used a scythe blade. I had no idea what I could use or
was even interested in. Maybe a sword, but I didn’t know yet.
 Ril was waiting with Isark at a tree at the edge of the school yard. I had to try to keep my expression
happy, because they were both good at telling if something was wrong.
 “Hey Silar,” Isark said as we came over. “What’s wrong? How come you’re being carried?” I instantly
started to blush, because I had no idea what to say!
 “She was racing with the other girls and fell. Then they started teasing her because she got beat, that’s
all.” Onary sensei covered for me. She winked when no one was looking.
 “Don’t worry ‘cuz, there’ll be more races tomorrow,” Isark started laughing. “Need me to carry you?”
 “No, I can walk now,” Onary sensei set me down and I walked a few steps without wobbling from
 “Ok, see ya tomorrow Silar,” Onary sensei said and went back into the school. I waved back. She was
my favorite teacher.
 I walked beside Ril on the way back. It wasn’t far; the school was a few blocks from our house. On the
way Isark left with her team. “I have a mission to go on tonight, kid,” she smiled. “I’ll be back tomorrow,
late most likely. See you, Ril, Silar.”
 “Bye,” I called. She jumped the roof of a house and disappeared. Ril held my hand the rest of the way
 Just before we could enter the Tenra district, there was a small pond that divided it from the rest of
the village. This pond was my favorite place to play and swim, with all the beautiful fish and the lily pads.
There was a bridge that crossed over the pond into the district.
 Just as we stepped onto the bridge, Tesfor and Esnor, twins from the Sunhiy clan, almost ran into us. I
knew them very well, and they both were in my class.

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 “Hey Silar, can you come with us?” Esnor asked. She basically did all the talking for the two of them.
Tesfor was a quiet kind of guy, but I didn’t think he was shy. “Not right now guys, I hafta get home right
 “Okay, well meet us in the park in an hour. That a good time for you?”
 “Yeah, an hour is good.”
 “Ok, see you then, Silar.”
 I took off running across the bridge, my hair bouncing behind me. My aunt was sitting on her doorstep
as I ran by. I waved to her and kept going. My house was a few down from hers. I burst into the house,
kicked off my shoes, and ran into the kitchen. My stepmother was in there, fixing dinner.
 “Oh my goodness Silar, stop all the running…” she left the stove long enough to put a piece of bread
and honey in my hand and to kiss me on the cheek. “How was school?”
 My stepmother was the best one in the world if you asked me. She and my father married a little after
I was born. My actual mother had died in giving birth to me, I was told. Ril said I was indifferent, but I
treated her as if she was my actual mother, and sometimes called her ‘mom’. She was all I knew.
 “Great,” I lied. “I got an A in tekaro control. Shelleena sensei said I was excellent.”
 “And what about your shuriken throwing test?” Oh no! I was underground when that happened. Well
mom, I didn’t really take the test, but I almost got sliced in the shoulder by one, and another almost
stabbed me as it was tying me up with wire. “I did OK,” Man, if I only I had said what I was thinking.
 “Well, honey, I got this note from school today…” Oh brother, was I sunk! So Onary sensei or one of
the other teachers did report it…
 “…and it’s for you. It’s not signed or anything, which is a bit odd,” she turned the stove down some,
and then gave me a small slip of paper. On it, it said:

         You are required to come at the main northern gate precisely at 4:00

 This was stranger than ever. It had no signature at all, and I didn’t recognize the handwriting. On the
back it had the school’s name. Who wrote this note? And who from the school would send it to mom?
 “I found it on the doorstep on my way back from shopping. It was addressed to you, so I thought it was
one of your friends. But I didn’t see a name.”
 I just sat and stared at the note. Who wrote this?
 “Do you know who it is, Silar?”

8|Moon Water
 “Well, it’s almost four o’clock now. Better hurry.”
 “Boo!” My little sister said as she jumped at me from behind her little table. She was turning five in a
few months, and the family was looking forward to her birthday.
 I glanced at the clock on the wall. She was right, it was almost four. It would take me some time to get
to the main northern gate.
 The northern main get was a busy area. Traders setting shop, villagers going in and out, visitors coming
in. All was hustle and bustle, and I absolutely loved it all. Sometimes I would sit and watch them all do
their work, just for fun.
 When I arrived at the gate, there was a lot of activity going on. I jumped out of the way of a horse and
cart, its owner selling baked sweets. Next to a shop was a small clearing of grass and trees, so there I sat
on a rock and waited for four o’clock. There was nothing important or anything else going on, and I was
starting to get bored.
 “I wonder what time it is…” I thought out loud.
 “A little bit past four,” A voice came from above.
 Stunned, I hoped off the rock and looked around. “Who was that?” I yelled. There was no response for
a minute.
 “Silar, calm down, will you? People will think you’re crazy or something, they’re all looking at you.” On
the roof of the small shop next to me, sat Syi Ekana, who was most likely the voice. He was one of the
guys from my class at school. In fact, he was in all my classes. I hated his calm attitude, about how he
could be calm in every situation in which sometimes I want to freak out.
 “Syi,” I breathed. “Did you write that note using the school’s paper? If you did, you’re going to be in so
much trouble…”
 He just shook his head and lay back against the roof. “Nope, I got a note too. I’ve been here for like the
last ten minutes. I came up here a little after you did.” Satisfied, I sat back down on the rock. “What are
you doing up there? Stop acting all cool and just come down,” I rested my head in my hands.
 “Whatever, woman. And I’m not acting cool, I’m just tired of waiting,” He sat back up. “Hey look, there
goes Ustallar. You think she got a note, too?”
 I peered through all the commotion around the gate. It was Ustallar. And she was carrying a small slip

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 “Ustallar!” I called to her and started waving. She came running over. Ustallar was my best friend, and
she didn’t live far from my district. Her family had almost no teshdar at all, and she lived in the village’s
center core.
 “Syi, Silar, hey,” She sat down next to me. “You have a slip?” We showed her ours. She nodded and
showed us hers in return.
 “Well, all we have to do now is wait.” I said.
 About twenty minutes later, Syi was starting to get impatient. “It’s been too long already. 4:00 has
long past. No one ever showed up and I’m leaving,” He jumped down from the roof and began to walk
 I watched him walk a few steps and then turn around. “Are you guys going to come with me? I’m
headed to the bakery for a few snacks.”
 That sounded better than sitting on a hard rock and waiting.
 “Good show of patience there Syi. It’ll come in good handy when you’re waiting for hours on an
 This time Ustallar jumped up. I was used to surprises by now. “Up here, guys.” In the tree sat a man.
He looked about early twenties, and he was in full battle gear, with gloves, headband and claymore type
sword on his back.
 “Who, who are you?” I asked. I had never seen him at the school before. But how did he get a school
 “You are now a new three person team, and I’m your new squad leader. By tomorrow you’ll have a
new battle suit equipped especially for your new weapons,” He smiled. “Must I say more?”
 I stood waiting for him to continue. But he didn’t. “Wait, sir,” Ustallar asked. “For us to be in a three
man squad and get battle gear, won’t we have to be level 3 tykun? We haven’t leveled yet, and we
didn’t get any announcement on leveling either.”
 The guy jumped down from the tree. “Heads up ladies and gentlemen, you are now unofficially level 3
tykun. Tomorrow morning we will begin our training by finding your element and elemental weapon. I’ll
expect you three here early tomorrow morning.” He paused to scratch his arm. “Oh, and I am Hesachi
Shrikkun of the Shrikkun clan.”
 Wow! I leveled up! I was so happy I was almost tempted to start dancing. Wait till Ril heard. I was so
busy celebrating with Ustallar to realize the name. And the clan he said he was from. And what number
on the top 5 most powerful clans in the village.

10 | M o o n W a t e r
11 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 2                                                                                  Galmorat Shrikkun
 How could I live? How could I ever live again? I would never be able to walk down the street and face
another child for the rest of my life. If I did, the little girl’s face would keep appearing. When would I be
able to keep her crying face out of my head? The last time I asked Ramair, he said it would go to the
grave with you.
 I passed through the Eastern gate slowly. It was the smallest of entrances to the village, and only
needed two guards, sometimes even one. The guard there greeted me. “Galmorat sensei, welcome
back,” I smiled and said thank you.
 The village was sleeping, for I arrived back from my mission late at night. A request came from the
Takshan village for help with an opposing ambassador about rights over land. There would be fighting
involved, so our village, Kytake, decided to help. Takshan was an old ally, and not helping would be very
harmful for our future truce with them. They asked for a Rykun, so Ramair decided to send me. That was
one month ago. Since then I have fought off the ambassador and the army that came with him, and it
turns out he was from a village in the mountains, simply called the ‘mountain village’. Their generals and
most of their strongest soldiers fought atop of winged beasts, so I summoned Tardor a lot, the water
phoenix of the south.
 All the shops were either closed or closing as I passed through the village, making my way towards the
maeron, the living quarters of the Matahoshi. On the way there, I passed Shelleena’s house. I would
have stopped, but all the lights were out and not a sound came from it. She must have been sleeping. I’d
see her in the morning.
 Seeeeeeer. A hawk soared over the village, circled a few times, and came in for a landing on my
shoulder. Kawa was my messenger hawk. I had sent him ahead to the maeron to inform the officials
there that I was on my way in to report the mission.
 “Did you give them the message, boy? Or are those old hags snoring at their posts?” Kawa chirped and
I saw that he had no message in his leg pouch.
 “Good,” I muttered. I patted him on his head twice and pointed skyward. That meant he was free to
go. He took flight, and headed north. The woods were thicker the farther north you went, so he was
most likely going hunting.
 Two teshdar landed in front of me just as Kawa took off. I knew who they were as soon as they
touched the ground.

12 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Sayomi, Ayatooma,” I smiled as I greeted old comrades. “How are you guys?” Sayomi and Ayatooma
were my old teammates. When we three were first tykun, we were picked as a three man squad, and
had been together ever since.
 “Yo, Galmorat. A little late with the mission, aren’t you? You were due here a few days ago,”
Ayatooma said. She was always stern with us.
 “Ayatooma, it was a few days. Weather or something else unexpected could have happened,” Sayomi
was blind since birth. He could always partially see, but when he was young he decided he would be
better off not seeing all together. Ever since then, he always had a black bandana with the village
symbol on it. But he gained ‘sight’ after losing it. By letting a wide circumference of tekaro flow around
him, everything in that circumference he could ‘see’.
 “Well, the mountain clan was involved, and you know how they take their time doing things, so they
were already a day late. And then the villagers attacked me, along with-.” Ayatooma held up her hand to
stop me. “Enough with the lame excuses, Galmorat. They’re waiting for you at the Maeron. Ramair and
the higher council. Not to mention the Soor captains. THREAD wasn’t invited.”
 The Maeron was a large fortification in which the Matahoshi lived. It was fortified greatly, and guarded
greatly as well. It was built in the hills to the west of the village, looking over the village and far beyond it
as well.
 I sighed and slowly made my way to the Maeron with them. We were always a tight group. I
remembered back to when we were young, and Ayatooma would always yell at the other kids who
made fun of Sayomi’s blindness. Sayomi and I would just stand by and watch her beat up the other kids
within inches of their life. I quietly chuckled at the thought.
 Ayatooma looked a little worried. “What’s wrong?” I asked her.
 “We heard about Fukatun,” I looked at the ground and then to the sky. Fukatun was an evil teshdar I
had encountered on my mission. He was in a small village that I passed through on my way back to
Kytake. “I’m sorry about what you had to do. There is always one mission that will affect a teshdar’s life.
It’s bad, but this bi-mission one turned out to be that one.”
 While I was passing through that small village, more like a town, I had to kill Fukatun. Even though he
wasn’t part of my mission, he was one of the most wanted as criminal teshdar. But before I landed the
killing blow, he did something terrible…
 “I’m fine, Ayatooma. Please, I don’t want to hear about that…”
 When we entered the Maeron, we walked up a flight of stairs into the meeting room. The Matahoshi,
the five captains of the Soor guard, and the five high council members met here often. Battle plans,

13 | M o o n W a t e r
profits and the village system were discussed regularly, as well as the Triangle Alliance. The Alliance was
a peace treaty between the three villages positioned in a way that the routes between each formed a
triangle. The two villages were Utana and Sytru.
 “What’s this meeting about?” I asked quietly. I could hear the meeting going on beyond the door. It
sounded like they were locked in a heated argument.
 Sayomi answered me. “The end of the school’s first trimester. A few squads were picked already, but a
problem has arisen. Out of a squad that was picked, the three of them are of all three beasts. The
council was to split them up, but Ramair thinks they are fine together, and they will strengthen each
other’s power and heart.” He gazed at the door. “I believe they are fine together. We made it through,
didn’t we?”
 Ayatooma placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Yes, we did. But who’s to say they will?”
 “Alright, I’m going in,” I said. “I’ll tell you about my mission later,” I opened the door and stepped
 Around the long table sat the council, the Matahoshi, and two Soor captains. I stood almost unnoticed,
the argument carrying on.
 “That is not safe for the students or the village. They must be kept out if they are to be together! I see
no other solution!” Amaru yelled. He was the closest of the council members to the Matahoshi. On
either side of the Matahoshi sat the two Soor captains. He looked around the table. “Any objections?”
 Ramair held his cool posture. “I think they are eligible enough to stay as a team. After all, they do have
Hesachi Shrikkun as their squad leader.” The mention of my little brother’s name caught my attention.
“Hesachi Shrikkun?”
 Everyone turned to look at me. “Galmorat Shrikkun? Welcome,” The head of the council, Kontra,
gestured to an empty seat. Her long bony fingers pointed me next to a Soor on Ramair’s left. “Please, sit,
my boy. We were discussing your younger brother’s new team.”
 I bowed. “Thank you, council member.” I called her not by her name out of respect. She nodded to
Ramair. “Continue.”
 “Hesachi has the…necessary potential to stop the tekaro of the beasts from spreading. Even if all three
of them activate at once, he can still stop them, although that is highly unlikely. I have also positioned
two of the Village Guard to help Hesachi if they activated the second beings all at once.” The Village
Guard was a group that specialized in second beings. Each village had a guard, in case one of the
Teshdar gained too much tekaro and the second being came out. Ramair went on. “Plus, they are only

14 | M o o n W a t e r
children, not older teshdar. Their tekaro hasn’t grown enough yet for them to cause real damage. Thus, I
feel it is right for them to be a squad. It has already been pronounced earlier today.”
 Two of the council voted against, and two for. All eyes turned to the head council member for the
 She sat thinking for a moment. “As of right now, they are a squad. And law states that no squad shall
break apart unless one of the members is killed, one of them goes on the wrong path, or the leader is
killed. None of these things has happened yet.”
 Amaru went to reject instantly. “But Kontra, they are a threat to this system! Standing by and letting a
threat grow is unspeakable!”
 Kontra continued. “Yes, they pose as a threat. Yes, together they can be dangerous. But as for now,
they shall stay as a squad. At least until something comes up and we have to separate them. That is my
final judgment.”
 “This, this is madness,” Amaru looked enraged. He stood and made his way to the door. “This might be
the final judgment, but you will come to regret it. You just damned the village to hell!”
 “Amaru!” Kontra said sternly. But he was already gone.
 “Head council…Kontra….” The other members went to her to comfort her. “This is how he is. Always
mad if it doesn’t go his way. But he can’t change the law. It is final.”
 Kontra stated that the meeting was over, and one by one, the council members filed out of the
meeting room, until only the Soor, I, and Ramair were left.
 “I fear the judgment is not final, Galmorat. Amaru sensei deeply opposes it,” Ramair said as soon as we
were left alone. He signaled for the Soor to leave.
 I agreed. “He has major political influence. He may even go as far as trying to change the law,” I stared
out of a window into the dark night. “In a way, he almost could. He is part of the final decision.” Ramair
started pacing. He always did that when he was deep in thought. “Come, Galmorat, let us go to my
office.” I followed him out.
 After we were safely in his office, he began to worry. “Now he poses as a threat to Hesachi’s squad.
This isn’t good. If he makes a move on them-.”
 “It could trigger the defense system of the tekaro beast. He could be the activation of his own
problem. His own problem…” I tapped my chin. “That could be a possibility. He might just do something
to purposely set off the beast, and have it cause destruction. Then the squad would be put away for

15 | M o o n W a t e r
 “We have to protect them from that then,” Ramair said. “There is no other way…But we mustn’t jump
to conclusions. He may even leave it alone.”
 This was also true. If we made too many cautious moves, he might notice…
 “About your mission, Galmorat, it can be assessed in the morning. It is late, and I know you’ve had a
long day, as I have. Dismissed.”
 We both smiled at the last part. Ramair and I both were the same age, and went to school together
when we were young. We both leveled at the same rate, and when it came time for us, we both made
Matahoshi level. At the time, I was asked first. Being the Matahoshi really wasn’t my kinda thing. I
wasn’t into the whole ‘leadership’. After declining, he was the only other one at the level. Ayatooma and
Sayomi were still both level 15. “And one more thing, before you leave. There is a student that may be
of potential for you, silver blade.”
 Silver blade was an old nickname of mine when I was younger. I perked up at hearing this. A student
for me?
 “Raysyna Kufeu. She skipped from level 1 Tykun right into level 3 Tykun. Very skilled with blades as
well. In my eyes, you’re the best blade user in the village.”
 “Skipped a level! She must be amazing to watch performing kata.” I replied. Ramair nodded. “She is, in
fact. The school is presenting her with multiple blades. And you are the best, as far as multiple. How
many blades did u take down Harutime with in the tournament back then?”
 “Ten,” I answered absentmindedly, thinking of the name. Kufeu. It sounded very familiar. Ramair kept
going on. “Ten! Just think! If she was trained with ten blades at this young age! Remarkable!”
 It finally came to me. “The Kufeu clan was exterminated twenty years ago, right?” Ramair nodded.
“The Matahoshi of that time removed them from the village. Most of them were criminals, anyway.
They were dispersed out into the world, never to hold the name Kufeu again. But one of them, a young
woman, managed to hide among the village, marry into another clan, and hid for five years. Somehow,
she wasn’t detected. And now she ended up having a daughter, divorced, and is living by the Kufeu
name again. That was fifteen years ago. Now, through her, she is slowly restoring the clan as we speak.
Raysyna is the youngest, and two of the Kufeu are higher level sykun as well.”
 I remembered the story as he told it. “Yes, I remember now,” I saw that Ramair was going through a
stack of papers. “I’ll leave you alone to work, Ramair.” He lifted his head. “Think about my offer,
Galmorat, will you? This is a great opportunity for this village.” I nodded and left.
 Outside, the air was very crisp, and small bugs floated past lights and an animal cried out from
somewhere in the woods, proclaiming that it was a bigger predator’s dinner.

16 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Aaah,” I sighed, and decided to take a walk before heading home. On the way, I passed the northern
gate. An unlucky or lucky move, depending on how you look at it. Fight to kill, or kill to fight?
 An explosion rocked outside the northern gate. As I turned in alarm, I saw that it kicked dust at least 50
feet into the air. I launched over the gate, and towards the source of the explosion. I t was about one
hundred yards from it.
 By the time I reached it, there were about ten other teshdar with me. “What caused it?” Someone
asked. I looked around. The explosion was so large; nothing natural could have caused it in the middle of
a forest!
 “Galmorat sensei!” From the top of the smoke, two shuriken came flying out at me. My eyes
narrowed. Tearing my swords from their sheaths, I sliced them in half. I turned my senses in the
direction that the shuriken came from. Someone was up there!
 I back flipped into the tree behind me, and from there launched in the general direction. Whoever that
someone was, he was moving at a good speed. I made sure not to jump through the smoke when
chasing him, for I would be blinded by sight and the rest of my five senses, easily open for an attack.
After a moment or two bouncing around in the trees, we landed on the ground.
 I got a good look at him. He was about my height, and in a long dark blue hooded cloak. I couldn’t see
much of his face, but on the front of his cloak, before it parted down the middle, there was a symbol:

 It was in blood red, easy to see in the moonlight. The symbol was of no clan or village I had ever come
across. “Who are you?” I said. I could hear the other teshdar closing in on us.
 “You came out like bees attracted to honey. I only wanted you, Shrikkun, but the rest came willingly to
their death.”
 My eyes grew wide. The explosion was just a trap-? Apparently, I was the target. But all the other
teshdar were drawn into it!
 “Fall back!” I yelled, waving them backwards. But I knew it was too late. The tekaro vibes coming off of
this person were strong.
 “Air technique, wind!” Throwing his arms wide, a wide current of wind shot towards us at an amazing
speed. I was fast enough to bock with both of my swords. The few who weren’t fast enough to dodge or
block were cut down instantly. Blood splattered on my cloak and on the side of my face. I gritted my
teeth. My enemy was an air technique user, and my blades were air slicers. A perfect match up. But the
others were down, most likely dead from an attack like that.

17 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Fire technique, blazing storm!” Launching flame attacks from his mouth this time, I had to dodge, not
block. But most of the ones I dodged turned out to be the hitting my comrades. I had to do something
about it.
 “Water technique, torrent!” I released a wall of water that surrounded us and protected against the
fire attacks. The next best thing to do was to get word out that we needed help. Quickly, I asked any of
the surviving teshdar if any of them had messenger hawks. None of them did.
 “Earth technique-.”
 I turned to the others. “Take the wounded and get out!” I picked up two bodies and started running.
The enemy finished the technique. “Shock wave!”
 The very ground beneath our feet began to rock like waves at sea. I was thrown forward and tumbled
through the air, along with trees and other parts of nature.
 I grinded my teeth and flipped right side up before I landed. I still had one of the bodies slung across
my shoulder. The other one was lost in the shock wave.
 I breathed heavily. Only one of the teshdar on the ground were moving.
 “Fire technique, bomb!”
 My eyes grew wide. “Holy-.”
 Another flame explosion, same as the last, but only twice as large lit up the forest. The fire cut into
and burned bodies, reducing them down to pieces in one hit, exploding into blood.
 This time, I lost grip of my swords and the teshdar as the concussion knocked the air out of me and I
was thrown backward. Whoever this person was, he planned on taking several other lives than just
mine. Already, he had killed at least ten good men, and I was his target. Not them.
 Slowly, I rose to my feet, coughing in all the smoke. I tried to tell where I was by my surroundings, but
the flame and smoke diminished and deformed all that it touched. Suddenly, he was in front of me,
slamming me back against a tree. I cough out blood in surprise. He was faster than I expected.
 “As soon as we, the Soten, return, we will have you, Shrikkun.”
 I managed a smile. “What, am I too hard to kill?” He punched me in my gut. I blocked it with my right
arm, and moved to try a back fist to the side of his head. He ducked under that and side kicked me
against the tree again. I fell to the ground, stunned.
 “Galmorat! Galmorat!” I heard a voice calling from far away. I rolled over to my back, still coughing. I
wouldn’t be able to respond at all, not even talk above a whisper. Instead, I shot a pillar of water high

18 | M o o n W a t e r
into the air. Then I started using an inner body air technique to try to clear my lings of all the smoke and
fill them with oxygen.
 “Look at that!”
 “Over here!” These voices were closer than the rest. I heard footsteps getting closer until they found
 “We have Galmorat Shrikkun, but he might need some medical attention!” Two people helped me to
my feet, and assisted me till we managed to get out of the area. “Do you know if they’re any other
survivors?” One of them asked me.
 I just shook my head. I wasn’t ready to talk yet. “Not that I know of,” I coughed. They sat me down
against the village wall, near the north gate. They asked if I was using an air technique and I nodded, still
 Sayomi and Ayatooma were at the gate when I was sat down. Sayomi didn’t say much, and Ayatooma
was lecturing me again about how I shouldn’t run into things without backup. I knew I had backup with
me, but regretted it now, for all that was left of my backup were charred bodies.

19 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 3                                                                                         Ustallar Itoi
 My mind drifted. I really should be downstairs now. I really should be downstairs getting ready for the
beginning of my training. But hear I was, still lying in bed, thinking of everything else in the world.
 I sat up and leaned forward. It wouldn’t be long before my mom or brothers barged into my room and
demand me to become vertical. I wanted every second of sleep to myself. I could always say I needed as
much rest as I could get, and that would save me one less time of being called lazy.
 I tossed my sheets aside and threw my legs over the side, knowing that it would never work. My
brothers would just keep saying I was lazier than a pig. I sighed. They were so annoying. Always calling
me names and touching my stuff. After I become a full fledge teshdar, I would be able to keep them
totally away from me.
 BAM! My door was slammed open and guess who charged in. “USTAL-aaaaaaaar?!”
 Both of them charged in and ran into me. The three of us tumbled into a folded pile of clothes. I turned
on them instantly. “What the heck you guys! My door was shut for a reason! Knock next time!” They
were quiet as I went to see the damage to the clothes. Five piles of clothes, and the half hour it took to
fold them, gone. “It took me a while to fold them, too,” I sat on my bed with my face in my hands. “Get
 They sat there. “We’re sorry, sis-”
 “Just get out,” I said, pointing to the door. They were gone faster than speed.
 I started grumbling and went to refold the clothes. By the time I was done, breakfast was calling to me.
As I started for the door, something at the bottom of my bed caught my eye.
 It was a small pile of clothes I hadn’t folded. I went to pick them up, and saw that they were a brand
new set of pants and a shirt. I tried them on right then and there. The pants were red and reached just
under my knees, and had a white swirl pattern on the legs. The shirt was short sleeved, red also, and
had the same white swirl pattern on the left sleeve. It also came with a yellow and white fingerless
glove, which was left handed. There wasn’t another glove anywhere, no matter how hard I looked. So I
just pulled it on and went down to the kitchen.
 “Oh, Ustallar, glad you’re up. I was about to send the boys to go get you,” My mother was working at
the stove, fixing who-knew-what, but it sure did smell good. I peeked over her shoulder to see what it
was. Something with noodles…
 “No no no Ustallar. By the time this is done, you’ll already be gone for school.” My heart sunk. “So
what am I supposed to eat?” I sat down at the table. There was already bread on the table, so I took a
slice and poured some honey on it.

20 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Hey mom, did you get me this outfit?” I asked after I had my bread. She turned and gave me a once
over. “No, actually the school got it for you. They said it was your new battle suit since you joined a
team and leveled up.”
 We had a small celebration last night for me. Mom made a small cake and her special x-flavored
chicken, which was my favorite. No one ever really found out the x flavor. It was her secret with no
questions asked.
 “Ah, ok,” I grabbed my messenger school bag and headed out of the kitchen. “Alright mom, I’m
leaving, bye.” I walked through the living room area and into the small hallway that led to the door.
“Have a good day,” She called back to me.
 I opened the door and stepped out, and almost ran into Silar. “Whoa,” I said in surprise.
 “Hey Ustallar, I was just coming to get you. You know, just in case you forgot we were supposed to
meet at the gate.” The gate! I had forgotten. I slapped my forehead. “Heh, I did forget. I was still
thinking I was going to school.”
 “Nope, no more school Usi, let’s go,” Usi was my nickname at school. We started off down the street.
“Like your new outfit.”
 I noticed that Silar had on a new outfit as well. Usually she was in her pants and long sleeves, but not
this time. She had a short dark blue skirt that came above her knees, a few strands of decorative
bandages around her waist, and a black long sleeve shirt with only one sleeve, the left one gone. I just
had to ask about the bandages. They were wide and white, and probably meant to hold something. “Hey
Silar, what are the bandages for?”
 “I don’t know, they came with it,” She adjusted them on her waist, almost like soft white belts. “My
mom showed me how to put them on though. I was a little confused about what I was supposed to do
with them.” We laughed.
 “Have you seen Syi this morning?” I asked Silar. She shook her head. “That dumb kid probably went to
the school.”
 “Yeah,” I added. “He’ll go inside our old classroom and look for us.” We burst out laughing. I could
imagine Syi at the school right now, going ‘Silar and Ustallar are late.’
 We laughed the rest of the way. I guess we were in really good moods, because the joke didn’t need
that much laughter. When we managed to make our way to the northern gate, I guess it was considered
‘early morning’ because Hesachi sensei was already there, waiting.
 I almost was ready to burst out laughing again. Syi wasn’t here! He most likely went to the-

21 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Hey guys,” it was Syi. He was sitting a little bit behind Hesachi sensei so we couldn’t see him. “You’re
late. Again.”
 “Oh shut up,” Silar said. “We’re just late because we had to take down two of your guy friends. They
thought they could mess with us.”
 “Ha, that’s what you think, my furry friend. The only guy friends I have are very nice and smart people.
They would know better than attacking you two demons.” I could tell this would turn into an all out war
of the wills.
 Hesachi sensei looked at me. “Is this how they act normally?”
 I just nodded pitifully. “All day long, just like this.” Too bad he would have to suffer as well. Maybe I
spoke too soon.
 “Well then, we’ll have to put this to an end, wont we, Ustallar?” I laughed as he tried to break the
argument up, with little success.
 It turned into a small scuffle very fast. This was comical. A great start to my new team.
 “Ok, let’s move,” Hesachi sensei said after finally breaking Silar and Syi up, but hadn’t gotten out of it
clean. We headed out of the village and into a wooded area. This was my second time outside of the
village’s gates, and I was very excited.
 “Exactly where are we going, sensei?” Syi asked as we walked down a stone path.
 “To my old training ground when I was your age. It’s a nice spot, and one of my favorites to go to when
I feel like resting.”
 “Cool,” I said, and I almost felt like skipping. It was a great day outside! The weather was warm, the
birds were chirping, and there was a cool breeze blowing from somewhere in the south, just on our
 “Hey sensei, when do we get our weapons?” I asked, walking along a fallen tree trunk.
 “As soon as you fully graduate from the school, which will happen later today. But for right now, we’re
going to find out your element and elemental beast.”
 I almost fell off the log. “Elemental beast? What’s that?” Syi shook his head. “You don’t know what an
elemental beast is?” He looked up at sensei. “Can I explain it to her?”
 “Well, an elemental beast is the beast of your tekaro. There are three beasts. The phoenix, the wolf,
and the vor.” Vor were four legged beast with long tails, much like the tigers in the mountains, but with
black, sleek fur and longer fangs. They didn’t live around the village but farther off in the forest.

22 | M o o n W a t e r
 “They are the type of beast that you will summon if you choose to learn any of the summoning
techniques. For example, if a teshdar has the fire phoenix, then he will be able to summon a phoenix
with fire techniques. But to have the fire phoenix, you have to have the fire element.”
 Hesachi sensei clapped. “Good explanation, Syi. Couldn’t have done it better myself. But before you
can summon them, you have to be able to fight alongside of them. And to do that, your mentor would
have to summon the beast for you, so you can fight with it.” He turned off the path, and we followed
him through the trees. “Here we are,” he said.
 My eyes were fed with a glorious scene. It opened up into a large clearing, with a river not far from the
end of the forest. The clearing extended for almost a mile out, until it hit vast mountains. The river was
in between the mountains and forest, and it sparkled against the sunlight.
 “This…..was your training ground? It’s more like a vacation!” Silar yelped. The scene had me amazed as
well. Even Syi couldn’t keep his cool complexion. He gaped at the clearing with us.
 “Well yes, I was trained here when I was under Jarancho sensei. I love the view,” he smiled at us. ‘Shall
we start training now? We want to be done before the graduation. It’s nothing big, just the teachers and
your other classmates who leveled up will be there.”
  I stepped out of the forest and into this clearing. I was feeling pumped up and ready. “I’m ready, but I
don’t know about Syi. He might need to fall asleep for a while first.”
 We laughed as Syi rolled his eyes. “Let’s just do this,” he said.
 We walked out into the clearing some, and then Hesachi sensei sat down cross legged and we stood in
front of him. “Well, the first thing we have to do is summon the element pillars…”
 “What are those?”
 “The pillars will allow you to release your tekaro more freely, and that way I can identify your element
and elemental beast.” He closed his eyes and focused. “Summoning technique. Gate of the elements!”
 The ground rumbled behind us, and we all turned around to see ten pillars rising from the ground in a
circle. At the top of each pillar, facing the inside of the circle, were symbols for the ten elements. “Fire,
water, air, tekaro si, shadow, earth, ice, lightning, and illusion, also known as ghost,” Hesachi sensei said.
“These are the ten elements, and you all have one of them, or two of them,” He paused as we gazed,
confused. He answered our questions, without us bothering to ask. “Yes, some are born with two
elements, called tasarin. But that is rare, and I doubt you have two. So who is first?”
 As usual, Silar’s hand shot up. Hesachi sensei nodded. “Go and sit in the middle of the circle of pillar,
and relax. It’s as simple as that.”

23 | M o o n W a t e r
 Silar did as she was told, and sat cross legged with a straight back and face. “I’m ready,” she said.
Hesachi placed his hands together and focused again. Tekaro grew around his hands, and as he did so, a
semi-sphere of tekaro formed around the pillars. Silar stiffened when the tekaro surrounded her. She
must have thought she was trapped inside. Then suddenly, the sphere disappeared.
 “Ah, so I guessed,” On the pillar directly behind Silar, the symbol was bright white. “The shadow
element.” Silar stood and walked back to the three of us. “Shadow element…Sounds good.”
 I was about to raise my hand when Syi said, “I’m next.” And there he was, sitting in the middle of the
 The same procedure followed with Syi, and this time the lightning symbol shone bright. “Lightning,
ay,” was all his response was.
 It was my turn next. I walked slowly and sat right in the middle, just as the others did. I took a deep
breath and waited, kind of apprehensive of what was to come.
 The tekaro sphere surrounded the circle, and I felt a tingle go across my skin. Then something even
stranger happened. I could feel the tekaro moving. Well not moving, but it felt indifferent. It felt like….it
had a mind. And I felt it going over me, caressing over me.
 Good, three of them. All in one place at one time. Kasor will be happy.
 The tekaro disappeared. I blinked at the voice in my head. What was it? Maybe I should tell them…no,
they’d think I was crazy, I thought. I looked around the pillars. One of them was glowing.
 “Good, Ustallar. You have the tekaro si element, and that element will allow you to create sikanta, or si
for short. You’ll understand when you get your weapon.”
 I just nodded, having not a clue what he was talking about. He saw my confusion and tried to make it
easier. “Well, sikanta are like spells, but they aren’t magic.” This time I understood it better.
 “So what do we do now that we know our elements?” Syi asked impatiently. I could tell he was ready
to do some heavier training, if you would call what we did training.
 “Well, right now since we know your elements, I can order appropriate weapons for you, and there
isn’t anything else we can do until the graduation. If I were you, I would go home and get some rest
before then. After the graduation ceremony, we’ll come straight back here and start tekaro training.
Tekaro is the backbone, heart and soul of a teshdar. You will need to focus on that the most, and it is
even more important than your weapon.”
 We stood at attention, listening to our new master.
 “But if you’re able, Syi, we could do some training right now. As a matter of fact, you all could do a
little training right now,” Digging in his back pocket, Hesachi sensei pulled out an hour glass. He placed it

24 | M o o n W a t e r
on the ground in front of him. “Gravel!” Half of the sand on top slid down to the bottom of the glass.
“You have half an hour to hit me.”
 I blinked. “Hit you?”
 “Yes, hit me. With any style of hand to hand combat-.”
 Syi shot from next to me. He was so fast I didn’t notice he was gone. He was in front of Hesachi sensei
before I knew it. He was moving in for a punch with his left fist. There was no way he could dodge it!
 Seconds before he was hit, Hesachi sensei was gone from the spot he was sitting in. Syi was punching
empty air. “What-?”
 “It’s rude to cut someone off when they’re speaking, Syi,” Behind me! I looked over my shoulder and
saw him sitting the same way he had been when he was in front of us. “I thought you had better
manners than that.”
 Silar flew jumped at him, and tried right a roundhouse kick in mid-air. As she did this, I decided going in
on the left would give us a good shot at hitting him. He ducked Silar’s kick, and I slid along the dirt, trying
to trip him while he was low. To our amazement, he jumped up between us as we flew over and under
 “No way!” Silar screeched.
 “Got you!” Syi said. He went running towards us, and Hesachi sensei was still in the air. This time I
could tell he was going in for a side kick with his left foot. I couldn’t quite see his face, but I could
imagine that sensei was smiling. “Are you sure about that?” In a flash he whipped out his wide bladed
sword, and slammed it into the ground in between himself and Syi.
 CLANG! Syi’s foot rang against the sword with power and speed. Syi looked alarmed as he did so.
Turning his hand over the hilt, Hesachi sense spun around and planted a kick on Syi’s shoulder, which
sent him falling backward. “Oof!” he coughed.
 Then, all in one fluid motion, sensei turned in mid-air and kicked off the sword, pulling it out of the dirt
as he did so.
 “Raging plasma!” He slammed the sword down in between Silar and me, and we both rolled to the
side, the ground shaken and pushing us aside.
 I wiped dirt from my cheek and glared. How did we lose so easily?
 Hesachi smiled and rested his sword on his shoulder. “Well well well, I guess it’s over then. In what,
three, four minutes?” I was expecting the half hour to be up before you all fell.”
 Syi sat on his haunches, looking annoyed as he usually did. “Whatever. I have to rest for the latter
training, anyway. Then I’ll go all out.” I smiled at him, guessing if he went ‘all out’ already with sensei.

25 | M o o n W a t e r
Silar piped up next. “Like I’ll be outdone by someone like Syi. I’ll do better than I did now, and you can
count on that sensei.”
 I sighed and shook my head at their enthusiasm. “Then that leaves me no choice but to outdo the two
of you.”
 “That’s what I want to hear,” sensei said.

26 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 4
 I sighed. Today was a long day, and it wasn’t even noon yet. Already I was drained of physical energy
on like thirty different levels. I stared at the level one class working on the mazes I had given them.
 “Shelleena sensei, how-.”
 “Shelleena sensei, what-.”
 “Shelleena sensei, when-.”
 “Aw come on, it can’t be that bad,” Onary said, coming up beside me. “Not long before the
  She was my best friend. We both taught classes at the academy, and we had come up through the
ranks together, ever since we were level ones. We were both now level 12 rykun, although we still
taught most of our time, along with the other teachers.
 “Yeah, I know. Galmorat’s going to be coming. I haven’t seen him once since he came back from his
mission.” Galmorat was my husband. We had been married for less than a year. I had something I
desperately wanted to tell him.
 Onary danced around me, like a child. “Oh, you won’t be able to do anything here…the kids, you
know.” She smiled hard.
 I playfully hit her. “Shut up.”
 And of course, she went on. “And don’t forget about the security, too. That means no fun for you
anywhere around here, and you can’t leave the school grounds because you’re a teacher and its class
time…maybe instead he can come in and teach you a lesson…”
 I was laughing and blushing so hard I couldn’t even hit her back. Together we stumbled out the room,
laughing fit to kill. “Onary, not around the kids…”
 “Girl, that’s what I was about to tell you. By the way, did you hear about Isark’s team? They got into a
fight with something or someone. They were found mangled and bleeding pretty badly. I think ill visit
them in the hospital later sometime.”
 I shook my head. “No, I didn’t know about that. When did it happen?”
 “Last night. The same time the attack…” She paused.
 I sensed something was wrong. “What is it? What attack happened last night?” I started getting
worried. Onary was never, ever troubled by anything. Now she looked it.
 “Galmorat sensei was attacked. Scouts found him badly out of breath after many explosions and other
damage to the surrounding area. It was just outside the northern gate. There were somewhere in
between ten and twenty casualties, and the higher ups think Isark’s attack was connected with the gate

27 | M o o n W a t e r
attack. But they don’t know yet. Isark and her team are still unconscious, so they can’t get any info out
of them yet.”
 I was stunned through all of this. Why wasn’t I told? I was most likely asleep during the attack, but why
didn’t anyone inform me in the morning after?
 “I wouldn’t bring it up to you if you didn’t ask about it, Shelleena. And if I told you earlier in the day,
you wouldn’t have been paying much attention while teaching.” I nodded, understanding. She was right.
But the good thing was that he was ok.
 “He took up a student, the girl from the Kufeu clan. So he should make it.” I said. “The only injuries to
him were trouble breathing, right?”
 Onary said yes. Besides a few bruises. I was relieved. I hadn’t been home the night before. I did most
of my sleeping between working around the school.
 A bell rang and a group of kids ran past us to get to their class. Together we walked outside, and I
stared up at the sun. It was almost noon, and I was starting to get hungry. “Onary, how about my treat
at Ta’ars’? I’m hungry, and Ksora is here, so we can take a quick break.” Ta’ars’ was a restaurant that
Galmorat and I liked to go to a lot of our free time. That was where we first met.
 All of a sudden I felt undecided. Should I go check on Galmorat, or go eat? It really wasn’t hard.
“Onary, on second thought, you go eat, and I’ll pay for the bill. Tell Ksora I’ll be back in a moment. I have
to….do something.” I left before she could say anything.
 I leaped up onto a rooftop and started running along it towards the house Galmorat and I shared.
That’s where he would be if he was resting, right? He definitely wouldn’t be out training, or be on a
mission. Maybe he wouldn’t be home…
 Out of anxiety, I quickened my pace.
 Upon arriving at his house, I knocked on the door lightly. After no response, I tried the door. It was
unlocked. I poked my head in and called, “Galmorat, are you here?”
 “Yes,” A voice called back. His voice. “Who’s that?”
 My heart hit my throat and then fell down to my stomach before settling. I walked in, closing the door
behind me. “It’s me, Galmorat,” I said. The front room was dark and empty, and he was lying on his
sleeping mat, reading, in the back room. I poked my head in.
 “Hey,” he sat up and placed his book next to him. I knelt down on my knees beside him and kissed him.
“When were you going to let me know that you came back from your mission? I was worried that
something had happened since you were late.” I said.

28 | M o o n W a t e r
 He laughed and said, “There wasn’t a possibility I would wake you last night when I came back in. And
the accident last night prevented me from seeing you this morning. I plan on spending the rest of the
day resting until tomorrow. I still feel the smoke lingering in my lungs. He must have used a special fire
technique for it…”
 I hugged him tight and put my head on his shoulder. “As long as you’re ok.” He hugged me back just as
tight. “Well, just so you know, I am.”
 I sighed dreamily and let go. “Well, I have to get back to the school and prepare for the graduation.
You’ll be there, right?”
 “Yes, I have a new pupil from the school. So I’ll be there.”
 I wrapped his arm around my waist. “Ok, and afterwards treat me to diner?”
 “I’ll think about it,” he said laughing. But I knew he would anyway. “I may have a mission or two…” I
punched him in his arm. “I thought you said-.”
 “Gotcha,” he kissed my cheek. “I don’t know, it depends on how tired I am afterwards. But I’ll see if I
can. What place did you have in mind?”
 I had him now. “Maybe Ta’ars’?” I said sweetly. “I really have a taste for some good food cooked old
style. Please?”
“Ok, but I’m not making any promises. Now don’t you have to get going? As you can see I am in a real
rush to get rid of you.”
 I laughed and kissed him again. “Okay, okay, I’m gone. Don’t be late for the graduation! I know how
you are sometimes.” I walked out of the house, leaving him to his reading. I rushed back to the school to
get there a little bit before my break was up.
 Onary was waiting by the door when I arrived. “So, how did it go?” she asked with a dreamy smile. I hit
her and said, “Let’s go get the rooms ready…”

 After a few hours of childless, lesson less labor, we were ready. I wouldn’t call it a break from the kids,
but being away from them for a few hours, even if it is setting up for the small graduation, is a good
thing for me. Plus, Galmorat was going to take me out for dinner…
 “What is on your mind, Shelleena? You seem quieter than usual.” Onary asked. We were sitting in the
lobby chairs.

29 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Oh, nothing, just thinking of my students moving on,” I lied. “I’ll miss them.” That was true. I would
miss them. But it was time for them to move through the ranks. I was deeply proud of them all, and
even the ones who weren’t in my class.
  “Yeah, I’ll most likely miss them as well. But hey, what can we do about it? It’s our fault they’re so
smart and strong, right? They are advancing. Which means we do a good job at teaching them.”
 Onary had a good point.
 “Shelleena sensei, Onary sensei,” I looked up. A young boy was standing in front of us. “Which
classroom is class 5 graduating in?”
 “Classroom 2,” I answered. “Do you know someone from class 5?”
 “No, but thank you, sensei. A man wanted to know. He’s standing outside the school, and he asked
me, but I didn’t know.” The boy ran out. I looked after him.
 “Odd,” Onary said. She got up and walked to the door and looked out. I waited for her. She stood
there shaking her head. “Shelleena, come here.”
 I came over to her and followed her gaze. The boy that had asked me the question was standing across
the street, looking around, as if he lost something.
 “What does this mean, Onary?”
 “Obviously, the ‘man’ he spoke of is gone,” she said. I looked around the lobby. The few parents that
were there didn’t seem to notice anything. “Should we tell someone about this? It could prove to be a
danger to the children.” I said.
 Onary waved it off. “No, not yet. We don’t know anything about this ‘man’ or if the boy was telling the
truth. But then again, if we hesitate…”
 “Maybe I should alert security or something?” I asked. Onary looked like she couldn’t decide what to
do. But it was already too late for that. Looking at the clock on the wall, I saw what time it was. “Onary,
it’s time to get the kids ready.” I rushed the few kids that were in the lobby to their classrooms.
 “C’mon guys, it’s almost time! Hurry hurry hurry!” I started pushing them down the hall. “Onary,
where are you? I think I’ll need some help!”
 I looked back down the hall. Onary had her back to me, and she was looking out the door. Staring, was
more like it, though.
 She didn’t reply. I walked up next to her and looked at her. “Onary, what is the matter?”
 She gave one nod ahead. “Look at that.”

30 | M o o n W a t e r
 I looked in amazement. People were running down the street screaming and pointing in the direction
they were coming from.
 “You know what it is?” I asked. Without waiting for her reply, I pushed the door open and stepped out
to take a look. Two people ran into me, and they pushed past me. From the direction they were running,
there was nothing. I stopped one man. “What’s wrong? What’s going on?”
 He was babbling so fast I could not understand him. He tore away from my grip and ran away. I looked
after him in surprise. “Something’s wrong…” I whispered.
 Then I saw her.
 A girl lying in the middle of the street, in blood soaked clothes. I rushed over and knelt down beside
her. Onary was right behind me.
 She was cut up badly around her torso, and had a single large cut on her head. I checked her pulse. She
was dead.
 “God…” Onary said as I looked her over. “She’s cut up pretty bad. All this commotion, and the
graduation….it will have to be postponed for now. We have to move her-.”
 Something smashed into the ground next to us. Through the flying pebbles, I saw Galmorat. He was in
full battle gear, complete with his wide black cloak and broad brimmed hat.
 “Move!” He slung the girl over his shoulder and jumped away. I followed orders and jumped a good
distance back. Just as soon as I moved, three arrows buried themselves in the ground where we were.
My hands automatically moved for my small ninja scythe and chain blades. In my forgetfulness, I had left
them in my classroom when I went to go set up for the graduation!
 Onary was right on target though. Jumping up the building, she managed to get to him in time before
he had time to string another arrow. She took him down with ease, for he was only an archer, and she
was a well trained teshdar of Kytake. His survival rate was zero.
 She tossed the body down to us. “No way would I ever forgive scum like him. He might be the one who
killed the girl!”
 Galmorat looked over his body. I heard him mumble something.
 “What did you just say?”
 “I said ‘another one of the mountain clan’. This is the third one today that I came across. This isn’t
good at all…”

31 | M o o n W a t e r
 I turned around to see Hesachi landing behind me. He was waiting inside the whole time. “Three? You
only came across three?” We all looked at him. What in the world could he mean? I thought. Galmorat
looked skyward and frowned.
 Not wanting to wait any longer, I jumped up on the building next to Onary, and I met a peculiar sight.
Far in the distance, pillars of smoke rose from the village. There were some sort of creatures flying all
around the smoke, and it looked like there were hundreds of them. Mounted.
 Hesachi jumped up beside us. “I think the village may be under attack.”

32 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 5                                                                                           Syi Ekana

 “Where do you think he is?” Ustallar asked us. Silar, Ustallar and I were all sitting at a table, waiting for
the ceremony to begin. Ustallar was talking about Hesachi sensei. A bunch of the other students from
the school that were also graduating were sitting at other tables, talking loudly.
 “I have no clue what so ever. I don’t know when he was supposed to come, or if he is even coming. He
said he would though…” I said, looking out the door. No one was in the hallway. Odd.
 Something clicked in my head. I stood up from the table. “I’m going out to look for him, or maybe
Shelleena or Onary sensei. They’ll know where he is if I don’t see him myself.”
 Silar grabbed my arm. “Well if you’re going, I’m going with you.” Ustallar stood up as well. “And if you
two go by yourselves, something is bound to happen, so I’ll have to tag along with you.”
 I shrugged. “It doesn’t take an army, you know…” They tagged along anyway, just as I thought they
 Looking into the classrooms as we went by, I noticed no one was there. I ran into the lobby, and
smashed into Shelleena sensei.
 “Sensei!” I said, surprised. “Where is everyone?” She looked frantic, so I knew something was wrong.
She hurriedly pushed us all back into our room. “Stay here, please. Whatever you do, do not leave until I
come back for you,” She kept glancing over her shoulder down the hall, and I saw that Onary sensei
wasn’t far behind her.
 “Shelleena…..we have to go.”
 “Sensei, please tell us what’s happening.”
 She pushed the three of us back into the noisy classroom. “Stay here, guys. Do not leave this room
unless Onary, one of the teachers, or I come back and tell you to, O.K?”
 Stunned, I gave a curt nod. She touched my head. “Please keep them calm, Syi. I’m counting on you,”
She shut the door and ran down the hall.
 I stood at the door for a moment, and then went back to my chair. Moving at that moment saved my
life. Just as I sat down, an explosion threw me out of my seat and to the ground. The door to the
classroom was blown off the hinges, and it gave me a clear look at the hallway. If I had stood there
another moment, I would have been killed.
 There was a small line of flame, suspended in the air above the hallway floor. That was a technique
that had caused the explosion! For one crisp second, I saw two bodies pressed against the wall. The
clothes were torn, and their backs were to me, but I knew who they were. One of the heads turned to

33 | M o o n W a t e r
look back at me, and at that moment, the entire hall exploded in fire. Shelleena sensei nor Onary sensei
would not be coming back for us.
 All of the kids started screaming at once, and the noise almost deafened me. Silar pulled me up to my
feet. “C’mon, Syi. Shelleena said she would count on you to keep everyone calm,” She yelled. But I
barely heard her. My eyes were locked on the two burning bodies in the hall. Shelleena sensei’s dead
eyes stared at me in her death. That image would be forever burned into my mind.
 “Syi, snap out of it! It’s only fire! You’ve seen fire this close before!” She punched me in my stomach,
and that finally did it. I shook my head and pulled away from her. Silar was right. Shelleena sensei had
entrusted me with the job of keeping everyone calm.
 “You didn’t have to hit me so hard,” Quickly I analyzed the situation. Sensei had told us to stay in the
room and not go out, but now the fire was quickly spreading. The smoke was starting to come in as well.
I jumped on a table. “Everyone! We have to get out of the building. Gather in the center of the room,
hurry!” I didn’t wait to see if they were listening. I jumped down and picked up a small chair, and hurled
it at a window away from everyone. The window cracked, but didn’t give. I picked up another chair, but
Silar was quicker than me.
 “Aiiiiii!” she charged the window, spun, and planted a side kick right in the center of the crack. The
window shattered completely. Just in good time, too. Smoke was covering the top of the room now, and
getting closer.
 “Get low and head for the window!” I screamed. I dropped to my knees and stayed low by the
window, making sure everyone headed out in single file. I waited until I was last to go out. Silar and
Ustallar were just ahead of me.
 As soon as we were all out, I saw what the teachers had been so frantic about. These huge flying
creatures were flying around the village, and the creatures were shooting down some type of fire and
burning the houses and such. The Mountain Clans!
 “The village must be under attack or something,” I whispered to myself. “This is what happened in the
hall, and why they looked scared…”
 I snapped back to the present. All of the students were looking at me. “What do we do now?”
Someone asked. “Where are we going to go?”
 It caught me off guard. All of a sudden, I was their leader…?
 “Shelleena sensei said she’d count on you, Syi,” Silar said. “So from now on, until we can get to safety,
I’ll count on you.”

34 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Heh, I can’t believe Shelleena sensei trusted a guy like you,” It was Ustallar. “But, I guess I’ll have to as
 I smiled. “Whatever, Ustallar,” and then I sighed. “The safest place would have to be somewhere
underground, I guess, since the attack is being initiated by the mountain clan, and they’re attacking from
the sky. We have to somehow get underground, but I don’t know of any basement or cellar big enough
to hold all of us,” then I thought of something helpful. “We need a count of how many are with us.”
 “It’s fifteen, Syi. I counted earlier,” Ustallar said.
 “And I know of a place underground that will hold all of us, for sure,” Silar said. “And we can use it to
travel all around the village! The tunnel system!”
 “Yes!” I said. I had totally forgotten about the system. And Silar knew it well enough to navigate us out
of harm’s way. “C’mon Silar, think, where is the nearest entrance?”
 “I know where, Syi,” Hak, one of my friends who was also graduating, said. “The other side of the
school,” he and Silar said at the same time. Silar finished. “We can use it to hide for maybe a day, two at
the most. An attack on the village won’t last longer than that, will it?”
 “I doubt it will, but just in case…” Ustallar dove back into the school through the window we just broke
out of.
 “Ustallar!” I ran to go get her, but she poked back out before I could get in. “I’ll be right back, ok?
There is water in the next class over! I think I can get there before it collapses or something!” I stood
undecided. If I let her go, that could be the last time I saw her…I coughed from the smoke and got on my
knees. “Ustallar, we can survive without water for more than two days! I don’t even think we’ll be down
there that long! Get back here!” I started pulling on her arm, but she resisted me.
 “Silar, start getting everyone to the tunnel!” I shouted. And that was all Ustallar needed to pull away
from me. While I was hollering, she caught me focused on Silar and the other kids, and managed to get
away. “Ustallar, no!” I tried to grab her, but she disappeared from my sight.
 Silar stood over the manhole tunnel as everyone descended down slowly, one at a time. When she saw
me return alone, she asked “Where’s Ustallar?” I stood watching the line before I answered, because I
didn’t know exactly what to tell her. “She went back into the school to get some water. I tried to tell her
to come back, but she didn’t listen to me at all. That girl…if she dies…”
 “Let’s not try to think negative, Syi. We have to get everyone to safety remember. Ustallar will make it
out. I know she will,” I still had my doubts. “Hey, Syi, look over there,” Silar interrupted my thoughts. “It
looks like those flying beasts are getting closer!”

35 | M o o n W a t e r
 I turned around. Silar was right. Two of them in particular were headed right for us, getting closer with
every flap of their great wings.
 There were a few kids still above ground. Myself, Silar, Hak, Cestrall, and Kura. They must have noticed
 “Guys, we have to get in the tunnels, fast. The mountain clan might notice us over here and-.”
 An arrow whistled through the air and stabbed into my left thigh. I screamed, partially out of pain and
partially out of surprise, because I never saw it coming. Instinctively, I grabbed my thigh and dropped to
the ground.
 “Syi!” Silar screamed, and came rushing over. Hak helped her pull me up to my feet as more arrows
rained down around us. I started yelling now out of full pain.
 “Syi! Hold on!” Hak yelled as they half dragged me to the tunnel entrance. I gritted my teeth and tried
to stop yelling and screaming. The arrow felt like it was burning my leg, and blood was dripping around
it. “Ohhh, it hurts, hurts!” I sputtered.
 “How are we going to get him down into the tunnel?” Hak asked. We were almost to it, when I noticed
the danger of it.
 “Don’t go to the tunnel! If we try to get in there, they’ll catch us. And then they’ll capture the rest of
the guys!” I pointed to a house. “Take me in there. Their arrows won’t have much of an effect, and they
won’t chase us there,” Silar nodded, and we made for the house. The door was unlocked and the house
was empty. “No one’s here, I guess,” Hak said. He and Silar laid me across a table in the front room. I
checked my leg, and in horror, saw that my entire leg was soaked in blood just about. I started
screaming again. A few arrows hit against the house.
 “We’ll need something to clean your wound with,” Silar said. She had a little training in keeping calm
and first aid. “Hak, check the kitchen.”
 I knew it was no use. The house had been abandoned a while ago, and Hak confirmed it. He said the
kitchen was empty and the sink didn’t work.
 I looked over the grim situation quickly. “We might be stuck here for a few hours before someone
finds us. It’s too dangerous to leave here.”
 “Ustallar, she was going for water…” Silar whispered. “If she made it out, she would be instantly
attacked by the enemy. They would be right outside by now.”
 “And she wouldn’t be able to help us if she got the water,” Hak said. “The last we told her was that we
were going underground. That’s where she’ll go,” Hak then tore off one of his sleeves. “We can stop the

36 | M o o n W a t e r
bleeding, but we can’t do anything about stopping the wound from getting infected,” He tied his torn
shirt sleeve around my leg, and then with Silar’s help, pulled out the arrow. I screamed loud enough to
take out someone’s eardrums, Silar told me later.
 I sat there in pain for the next few minutes before I fell asleep or passed out. I guess it was all the
stress from the fire, seeing Onary and Shelleena sensei be burned alive, and the training with Hesachi
sensei earlier. For how long, I didn’t know. But when I woke, Silar and Hak were still in the same places.
 “You were sleep for almost three hours,” Silar said without turning around. I checked my leg. The
burning had stopped, and so had the bleeding. Hak turned and gave me a nod.
 “Thanks you guys. Without you I would probably be dead by now,” I said.
 Silar huffed and puffed. “Whatever kid,” she usually called me that even though we were the same
 Hak just nodded again. “I take it as a duty to help protect my comrades.”
 I liked that attitude. It made me feel great inside, to know that one of your friends feels as you needed
each other to survive. I grunted and sat up. “Do you know if any of the fighting has stopped?” They both
said no.
 “Not one single person has come by the house, Syi. We’ve been listening. Not once has anything
passed,” Silar said. “I think it’s time we go underground and try to find everyone. They’d be scared stiff
without us,” Silar was right. She and Hak were natural leaders in the classroom, and outside whenever a
group would get together for a game or two. Now, even so on the battlefield.
 I was trying to think the best possible action. Try to escape underground and to the others? Or stay
here and possibly be killed?
 “What do you guys think we should do?”
 “I think we should stay here for a little longer,” Hak said. He stood up and peeked out the window. “I
don’t know, Syi.”
 “I’m ready to go,” Silar said. “But we have to have enough time to get Syi out of here. He won’t be able
to move fast enough,” I felt annoyed. “I’m right here, you know. You don’t have to refer to me as ‘him’.
That’s rude.”
 “Sure thing kid. So it’s decided. We move out as soon as we can.”
 My heart skipped a beat and I swung my legs over the side of the table painfully. “I remember one
thing that Shelleena sensei told me before, about war. She told me that when in the war, the teshdar
fighting never go out recklessly to kill the enemy. And they never go out and kill the enemy for the sake
of killing them. They go out and fight for the sake of survival.”

37 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Right, Syi,” Hak mumbled. “So we fight to live. Every blow I strike from here on out is to live, not to
kill. I don’t think I could kill…so for all of us,” he paused and looked at Silar and then at me. “We will
struggle to survive. No pointless sacrifices or anything like that. Just survive.”
 Silar sat still and quiet. Hak looked out the window again. “The path from the door to the tunnel
entrance is clear, it looks like. It’s now or never, Syi. You ready?”
 I nodded. Hak cam and got under one of my arms, and Silar got under the other. “On the count of
three,” I said, staring intently ahead. “Silar, open the door, and then we go. The entrance to the tunnel
should still be open, we never closed it, so we should be able to get down in it quickly.”
 “Right!” Silar said enthusiastically. I took a deep breath and started counting. “One…two…three! Go!”
We limped forward quickly and Silar pushed open the door. The bright light blinded me for a few
seconds before I got used to it. And as soon as we stepped out, a storm of arrows fell upon us. They
were out waiting for us!
 “Keep heading for the tunnel!” Hak screamed. I felt truly scared now. There was no way we would
make it to the tunnel. It was about ten yards away, but it seemed like miles while this ocean of arrows
was still coming in for the kill.
 I heard Silar gasp and felt her pace slow. She was hit in her right arm twice. I tried to lift her up some,
but it was hard because she was too heavy for me to lift with one arm. Up ahead, an archer stood up
from a bush. Then two more joined him and they rushed at us. They would try to take us from the
ground! They tossed their bows to the side and drew knives that glinted in the sun as much as their evil
smiles. If they thought they were going to take us out easily because we were children, they were badly
mistaken. We would have no choice but to take them out. But Silar and I were both wounded. It was up
to Hak.
 Hak let go of my arm and leaped ahead of us. The closest of the archers swung his knife downward on
Hak, but a second too early. Hak was able to drop him with a quick right punch to the temples.
 “Look ahead!” Silar said to me. A fourth archer had appeared, and he still carried his bow. He strung it
up with an arrow and launched it straight at Hak. There was little space in between them for error.
 The school, still on fire, was right next to the mountain clan archer, and the part nearest to him
exploded, sending a shockwave of heat in our direction. As if in a dream, I watched as the arrow
shuddered and was thrown off course. It whistled past Hak’s head, and sailed into a bush harmlessly. I
couldn’t breathe as I watched. Finally, I let a cough of relief out. “It’s not over yet!” Hak said, looking
back at us.

38 | M o o n W a t e r
 The archers with the knives had fallen due to the explosion and were getting up as Hak ran by, straight
for the one who had shot at him. He ran around one, and then leaped over the second one struggling to
get up. Another arrow shot under Hak as he went over the downed archer. I realized the fourth archer
was up. He was up quicker than lightning, and was yet again stringing another arrow!
 Silar gasped again, and in horror, I thought she was hit again. It was just the opposite. She pulled one
of the arrows clean out of her arm. She handed it to me, the tip dripping with blood. “You have the best
aim. You have to take the archer out if Hak can’t get there!”
 She was right. I didn’t have any throwing projectiles on my belt at all, and the only thing I had was the
arrow. I decided to take my chances. If I waited to see if Hak got to him or not, it would already be too
late to react.
 I reared back my arm and took aim as I was doing so, aiming for the chest. If I was a little high or low, I
had a good chance at hitting him even then. I brought my arm forward and flicked my wrist, throwing
the arrow.
 Just as I had prepared for, the arrow fell slightly. Hak seemed like he wouldn’t make it there before the
shot, and I had a good chance of saving him. Just before the enemy archer shot, he glanced our way and
saw the arrow sliding through the air at him in a slow pace. Amazingly, he turned and shot the arrow out
of the sky!
 I moaned at our small defeat. We were so close in gaining a small victory for Kytake and our lives. Now
we might pay with our deaths…
 The archer strung up another bow and took aim at me and Silar. I stood in front of her as she sunk to
her knees again, clearly weak from blood loss.
 I closed my eyes and waited to feel the pain of another arrow going into me again. Something came
down in front of me, blocking out the sunlight. It blocked the arrow, too. The steel tip glanced off the
surface of the blade and whistled out of sight behind the school.
 “Chisa, get ready for another message. This one’s going to the Maori.”
 I looked up at the sword in front of me, planted firmly into the ground. The gray hilt and the dark blue
stripe going down the blade. I thought back to what it was called.
 ‘The Jarungian blade of plasma!’ Hesachi sensei had called it. ‘Known throughout the land as one of
the trickiest swords ever to rest in the hands of a master!’
 “Tch, look at you guys,” Hesachi sensei said. “Arrows in just about every limb. I thought I trained you
better than that…”

39 | M o o n W a t e r
 Silar coughed. “You just started training us today,” I grumbled. “That’s no fair at all, sensei.”
 The archer dropped his bow, which was in four pieces now. Then the archer followed his bow to the
ground. Galmorat sensei stood behind him, swords in hand.
 “Are you kids alright?” He asked, looking over at us first then at Hak. I felt relieved now. There was an
adult teshdar in charge.
 “Of course they’re fine,” Hesachi said, pulling his sword from the ground. “I never had a doubt that
these guys would go down easily. Even though THREAD-.”
 “Hesachi, that’s enough. Kawa,” Galmorat called for his messenger hawk. It coasted down and landed
on his gloved hand. He put a message in Kawa’s leg pouch and closed it. “To the Matahoshi’s place, now.
Maori,” the hawk called out and took off.
 “Gal-Galmorat sensei,” I squeaked out. He came over to me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“What’s the problem, boy?”
 Tears stung my face as I stared at the ground in front of me. “I saw, I saw her….them….burn…”
 He squeezed my shoulder gently. “Listen, Syi, in the future, you’ll see a lot of horrifying and bad things.
It’s one of the bad parts that come along with being a teshdar. I’ve seen a lot of bad things, and in my
years of learning, it’s best to keep it in. Telling it allowed, and you will only live that moment again.”
 I wanted to tell him badly. About Shelleena and Onary sensei. He had to know. But he was right at the
same time. If I tried to explain what I saw-. No. I don’t even think I could explain that.
 Hesachi looked toward the school. “Do you guys know if anyone’s in there? Anyone?” I tried to think
back, and with shock I remembered Ustallar. But that was a few hours ago. She would be out if she
survived, and she wouldn’t be still inside a burning building for a few hours. She was either dead or
 I shook my head. “None that I know of. We hid in the abandoned house for a few hours before we
managed to come out. That’s when you guys came. But there were ar-,” I stopped short of my sentence.
I had forgotten about the archers shooting down on us from above! But since Hesachi sensei and
Galmorat sensei had arrived, not one arrow fell upon us. I looked toward the area from where they were
shooting at us. The rooftops were bare. Somehow, just as the sensei’s had shown up, they had

40 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 6                                                                                       Silar Tenra
 “Ah!” I yelped. I pouted as the doctor poured warm water into my wound on my arm. The wound was
deeper than I thought, and it had a good chance of getting infected.
 “Hold still, darling,” she said sweetly. “I only have to patch it up now.”
 “Sure, whatever,” I mumbled. It was a day after the attack. Galmorat and Hesachi sensei had said it
was the smallest attack on a village ever. There were only about a hundred or so from the mountain
clan, and that was nothing. There wasn’t much damage done to the village, but that wasn’t the most
amazing part. Not a single soul from Kytake was killed. There were plenty wounded, of course. Even
Shelleena and Onary sensei survived from the fire at the school. They suffered minor burns all over their
bodies, but nothing life threatening.
 There was another teshdar in the room with me. He was wounded, a large cut in his chest. He was
asleep at the moment, or unconscious. He was in the bed on my left. I was in the one next to the
 “All done, Silar,” the doctor said. She finished tying a bandage around my arm. “This bandage will have
to stay on for about two days, so don’t try to do any strenuous work or put any stress on it, ok? That
way it can heal as fast as possible.”
 I nodded. She patted my leg gently and walked out of the room. I sat quietly for a few minutes,
thinking about the past events. After sensei Galmorat and Hesachi found us and placed us in a safe
environment, Hak led them underground to the tunnel. They traveled about half a mile before they
caught up with the kids in a ‘clearing’ in the tunnels. Ustallar was among them. Seems like she made it
out of the school after all. They were all calmly sitting, drinking the water Ustallar had brought them.
Typical of Ustallar to keep things under quiet control.
 “Hey kid,” The voice came from the other bed, and startled me a bit. It was quiet and hoarse, but I
knew it had to be the man. “What are your injuries?” he asked.
 “I was shot in the arm a few times,” I said. “And another one nicked my leg,” then I told him the entire
story starting from the school, leaving nothing out along the way.
 “So your assigned sensei and Master Galmorat rescued you guys? Wow, that’s amazing.”
 “Yeah. The best part is that my sensei is Galmorat sensei’s younger brother, so he’s real strong.” The
teshdar shifted his position while lying down. “Ah, so that must be Master Hesachi, right? That’s nice. He
once taught me a sword technique with a knife! He is one truly amazing Master.”
 I was starting to feel comfortable with him now. “What is your name? Mine’s Silar Tenra.”

41 | M o o n W a t e r
 “I’m Kinto Nomara.” Then he explained how a mountain clan archer had snuck up on him from above
and cut his chest with a knife. “I was just sitting under a tree, listening to all the different sounds around
me, and then I noticed him. But by then it was too late.”
 “So then someone found you and brought you here, right?”
 “Right. I woke here sometime last night. But I don’t understand why I wasn’t killed. That archer,
mountain clan guy, had me in his palm. He could have killed me easily. But somehow I am still alive, here
and living.”
 I wondered the same thing. The archers that shot me weren’t very far at all. They could have easily put
one through my chest or head, and that would have ended it.
 “I’m just glad to be alive,” I said. Then there was a knock at the door and a nurse came in. “Silar, you
have a visitor,” she said. Then she went back out into the hall.
 I sat up straighter and looked out the door. Syi walked in.
 He came and sat down at the bottom of my bed, nodding to Kinto.
 “Oh, hey Syi,” I said. I noticed he was walking around fine, but he did have something wrapped around
his lag where he was shot. “How’s your leg?”
 “It’s fine, but a little sore. How about you?”
 “I’m ok. I’ll be back maybe tomorrow. Maybe even later today. What’s Ustallar doing? Have you seen
 “Yeah, that’s why I’m here,” There was another knock at the door. Ustallar and another girl I didn’t
know walked in. She looked about a year or two older, and had short hair that didn’t come down farther
than her shoulders. She was carrying a large, long bag. Ustallar was also holding a long bag, similar to
the other girl’s.
 “Ustallar!” I said with a smile. She waved and smiled back. “When can you get out of the hospital?
Hesachi sensei got us a new training activity,” she lifted her bag some. “That’s what this is about. I’m
sure you’ll love this type of training.”
 “Why? What are we doing today?” I asked. Kinto just chuckled. “I have a feeling I know what this is
about, Silar. But don’t ask me to tell you, because I’m not.”
 I laughed. “Ok, but you’ll tell me, right, Ustallar?”
 She shook her head. “No way. I’ll show you instead,” she reached into her bag and tossed a long box at
the foot of my bed. “Whenever you get well enough to do some hard training with us, open the box.
And don’t you dare open it before then. If you do, girl I’ll kill you.” She winked and then she and the
other girl left.

42 | M o o n W a t e r
 Syi got up from the bed. “I can’t believe I’m going to be stuck with these two girls for another few
hours before you come. Dealing with them is going to be a lot easier than dealing with you, though.” I
knew it was his only way of saying he was happy I was alright.
 “Syi,” I said.
 “Who is the other girl? I think I saw her somewhere before, but I don’t know where. Do you know who
she is?”
 “Yeah, I do. She’s Raysyna. She’s in the higher classes, so that’s most likely why you can’t remember
her. But I think she’s going to train with us from now on. I overheard Hesachi sensei talking about it with
someone else. She’s twelve and graduated a day before we did, so that’s why she wasn’t with us in the
school back then.”
 “Is she nice?”
 “Oh c’mon, Silar. She just started hanging with us today. Oh yea, Hak might come with us, too. We’ll be
at the usual grounds all day, so come when you’re ready,” he left out the door.
 I stared at the box that lay at my feet. It was about five feet long and silver. I tried lifting it. It was
heavy, so I put it back down quickly. I had to let my arm rest if I was going to show up to the training
grounds later.
 “Heh, I thought temptation would get the best of you,” Kinto chuckled again.
 “No. I trust my friends that it’s good enough to wait for,” I smiled at the thought. It had to be good
enough if I was going to wait all day!
 “Seems like you have good friends, Silar,” Kinto said with a sigh as he rested his back against a pillow.
“Reminds me of when I was going through training school.”
 “I guess I do have great friends,” I said, feeling great inside. “I’m definitely getting out there later
today, for sure. I just have to rest up some more.”
 Later that day, the doctor said I was allowed to go out to the grounds, but to train lightly, and come
back afterwards for a checkup. I was ready to get out of that cramped place, but being in the same room
with Kinto wasn’t bad at all. He had many stories to tell and to be listened to.
 I carried the box in my left hand, with a little help from my right. I hadn’t even peeked inside yet, and I
was trying to keep myself from tearing it open. But Ustallar said to open it only when I was able to come
to them…
 Finally, curiosity got the best of me. I tore open a part of the top of the box. What I saw inside burned
my insides. “Great friends, huh…”

43 | M o o n W a t e r
 Inside was a bunch of small weights, and a card. On the card said: ‘Ha ha, you fell for it, Silar. You
waited all this time for nothing!’ then there was a face with the tongue sticking out.
 “I’m going to kill them all…” I ran the rest of the way to the training ground.
 When I was about ten feet away from the clearing, I stopped and decided to surprise attack them. I
jumped up into a tree. The branches reached into the clearing easily, and I crawled along them. When I
pushed the last small branch away for a clear view, my eyes popped. I couldn’t surprise attack in the
middle of this!
  Hesachi sensei and Ustallar were sitting not far from where I sat in the tree. They were watching a
battle between that Raysyna girl and Syi. No one had noticed my presence yet. So I decided to sit and
watch from the shadows.
 “Keeeeyah!” Raysyna jumped forward at Syi. As she passed, I saw sunlight glint off of her back, and I
realized what it was. Swords! She had more than one sword on her back! And one in each hand! What
was she doing?!
 She attacked Syi from a few different angles, but Syi dodged every one of them. Then I saw that Syi
was armed with a weapon as well. He jumped straight up into the air, and I saw what weapon he
 Syi had sleeves on his legs and arms. They covered from his knees to his ankles and his elbows to his
wrists. From each of these sleeves, four long straps were attached. They were about seven feet long,
and at the end of each strap was a small blade. All he would have to do to attack was swing his arms and
 And swing he did. While in the air above Raysyna, he started spinning. The straps and blades spun
excitedly around, slashing the air wildly. Raysyna had to jump back unless she was to be killed by those
sharp blades.
 Syi stopped his spinning and punched down on Raysyna. His fist was nowhere near enough to hit her,
but the four blades on his arm lanced down. The movement was so fast, Raysyna couldn’t do anything.
The blades smashed into the dirt around her. Then, without warning, the straps to those blades snapped
straight, and held Syi stationary in the air!
 I gasped. How could those fabric straps hold his weight? They were holding like pillars or something.
Syi pushed back up with his arm and swung his left around for a hook. Just as I suspected, he wasn’t
going for a punch, but his blades. They swung around and headed straight for Raysyna, who couldn’t
exactly move in the tight space between all four straps. If one of those blades hit her, it would be instant
death. What if she couldn’t block them?

44 | M o o n W a t e r
 Syi had her. He had her! There was no getting out of this one!
 Raysyna slammed one of her swords into the ground. There was no way I could expect the next move.
She jumped on top of it and from there, jumped up at Syi and drew another one of her swords. She had
two more to spare on her back, and two in her hands. She stabbed upward, trying to plant a blow in
Syi’s chest, but again he dodged. The straps under him folded again into limber fabric, and he
surrendered to gravity, falling away from Raysyna. They both landed at the same time, facing each
 “This will end the battle. Prepare yourself, Syi,” Raysyna said quietly. Syi just sat where he landed,
breathing hard. Then he spoke up. “Yes. My next move will also put this to an end. It all depends on who
is faster, doesn’t it?” he smiled and stood up. “Here it comes, Raysyna!” He yelled.
 Syi reached to his belt and threw four shuriken at Raysyna. A simple attack move, yet deadly. The one
thing I didn’t know is why Hesachi sensei let them fight with actual blades. They could seriously injure
each other, or worse. All it would take is one slip before someone died.
 The shuriken spun straight for Raysyna. She lifted her arms slightly to deflect them with her swords. As
she did this, Syi pivoted his foot some.
 “Lightning Step!” Syi looked like he took a step forward before there was a flash and he disappeared.
My eyes instinctively went to Raysyna, and just as I thought, he was a few feet in front of her. With
stunning grace and swiftness, he reached back and grabbed two of the shuriken out of the air, and
threw them away from Raysyna in opposite directions. Raysyna was forced to block the remaining two
before she could react to Syi, but again, he used Lightning Step and disappeared.
  I realized that Syi always took a step in the direction he was going to go before he disappeared, and if
you looked that way, you could almost see him moving. He continuously used ‘Lightning Step’ to bounce
around Raysyna and throw shuriken at her. She managed to deflect a few of them but most got passed
her blades and cut her. After the sixth time of using his ‘Lightning Step’ and shuriken combination, Syi
revealed the move that would put an end to the battle. “Tripled Lightning Thrust!”
 I caught my breath. Syi had made two clones! The all charged in a triangle around Raysyna, and
stabbed forward with his arm blades. They all sunk into Raysyna’s body with a sickening crunch of bone
and metal. She had zero time to react.
 “Oh!” I gasped. “He killed her!”
 “Good job, Syi,” Hesachi sensei said, standing up. “I liked the idea of using clones to confuse her.”
 I was stunned. He let Syi kill her! And the only thing he had to say was good job?!

45 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Thanks.” Syi pulled back and ripped the blades out of Raysyna’s body and sat back against a tree. His
two clones shattered like glass. “But it was hard to actually stab her like that.”
 “That’s fine Syi. The first time for me was hard, too. But you’ll get used to it after a while,” Hesachi
said. Then Raysyna’s body shattered like glass, and an unharmed, fully alive Raysyna appeared in her
 “Good fight, Syi,” she said, placing her swords in their sheaths. “You got lucky on that last combination,
though. I didn’t even think to use a tekaro attack.”
 “Ah, well,” Syi bent over to take his leg sleeve off. “I didn’t think of it until the end, anyway. Sensei, do
I have to wear these everywhere I go? They get heavy when I walk.”
 “Ah, no you don’t. But keep them with you. A teshdar never knows when he might have to do battle,”
Hesachi sensei paused and then looked over towards me. “And Silar, it’s about time you came out. Even
though I don’t know why you would hide in the first place…” He actually saw me?!
 I jumped down. “You sure have good senses,” I said. “And that fight was awesome, Syi. At first I
thought you actually killed her.”
 Syi laughed. “No. But I think she’d beat you any day, Silar.”
 I sighed and held my hands out to my sides. ‘If I only had a weapon, I kick that thought around in the
dirt. But, sadly, someone left me a box of weights.”
 Just as I finished, something smashed into the ground beside me. It was a box, identical to the first one
given to me at the hospital.
 “Ah, what’s this?” I asked. Hesachi sensei smiled and said, “A hint.”
 I sat down and opened it, and inside was something I couldn’t have guessed. I gasped.
 “Sensei, are you sure this is for me?” I looked back over my shoulder at him.
 “Yes Silar, I’m sure that it’s for you. See, the new outfits you guys received each had something to do
with your weapons. Ustallar had those circular straps around various parts of her body. Syi already wore
shorts a lot, so there was no reason to give him anything different.”
 I stared at him first, and then back into the box.
 “But you, nothing on your new suit would be able to tell you what your weapon was. That’s why it
might stun you or surprise you.”
 I understood what he was saying. I was surprised.
 I reached into the box and pulled out two of the most unique swords I had ever seen. They were light
and easy to swing. The hilts were made of some type of metal. They were jet black, and there was a
white circle around the middle of them. The guard was interesting as well. It wasn’t square, like most

46 | M o o n W a t e r
guards are. It was in a star shape, and it was pure white. The blades were covered in a white wrapping,
so I didn’t know what color they were. But then I took a good look at the white wrapping around the
blade. It matched the wrapping around my waist!
“Heh, so something about my new outfit does tell me a little about my weapon,” I laughed and stood
 “As you can guess, they fit directly into the wrap around your waist, Silar,” Hesachi sensei said. “And
they won’t be able to fall out either, even when you’re running.”
 “When can I take the wrapping off the swords?” I asked him, while sliding them down into my waist
wrapping. They fit perfectly.
 “Well, not only does it protect you from cutting yourself, but the blade is really powerful as far as
tekaro goes, so it’s also like a barrier. It will keep you from releasing that enormous power every time
you wield it. When you get strong enough to control it, then you’ll be able to take it off.”
 I didn’t understand. “Then why would you let me have it right now, if I wouldn’t be able to control it?
Wouldn’t something go wrong?”
 “That’s what the barrier is for, Silar. To keep it under control. And don’t worry, you can’t take it off the
sword. Only a master barrier teshdar would be able to.”
 This still had me slightly worried. But would I pass up a chance to wield these? Not everyone had
perfect weapons like this.
 I flipped them around in my hands a bit, and then slid them back into the wraps on my waist. I didn’t
have a belt for shuriken or any other tools, so I guessed the swords would be all I needed. In the past I
had some training with swords, so I could handle them easily without cutting myself.
 I tried walking with them. They stayed at my hip and didn’t bounce around at all! Perfect!
 “Hey Ustallar, what kind of weapon did you get?” I asked. She stood up and walked closer to me. I saw
she had something strapped to her legs, arms, and waist.
 “Spell scrolls. It’s kind of hard to explain, so I’ll just show you what they do,” Ustallar pulled one of the
scrolls off her arm. She had two on each arm, two on each hip, and two on each of her thighs, almost in
cargo style.
 “Oh c’mon, find some way to explain it,” I said.
 With her right hand, Ustallar held the end of the scroll and swung it out. The scroll started unwrapping
itself and went soaring across the clearing. In the scroll, there was an encryption of symbols and dialect
in a different language. Ustallar quickly placed her gloved hand on one of the symbols. “Water summit,
burst!” From the very dry scroll paper, a stream of water shot out in a thin wave. Ustallar guided the

47 | M o o n W a t e r
wave without touching it into a small sapling, which she cut in half instantly. “Now, how do you explain
 I clapped lightly. “Ok ok, I get it. Good move. As soon as I find out how to use tekaro with these
swords, we’ll be the best team in history.”
 “Hm, if you’re willing, I can teach you some before the day is out. And I could teach you a few forms as
well, and then we might be the best team in Kytake,” Raysyna offered in a soft voice.
 I thought it over quickly. We? “We will be the best team? You’re a part of our team now?” I asked. I
had just met the girl today, and now she was telling me we would be the best team. Ustallar, Syi and I
worked well together already.
 “Is this true, sensei? Is she with our team now?” Ustallar asked.
 “Yes, and no. Raysyna’s sensei as of now is Galmorat, and he trains her just as I train you three. But he
has no other pupils. As far as team missions and team actions, she is a part of this team, but Galmorat is
still her official sensei, so to speak.”
 For some reason, I didn’t feel happy about this. I had expected the team to be just us three, Ustallar,
Syi, and myself. It felt like Raysyna was intruding into our tight group. We had grown closer over the
course of training and surviving the attack. With Raysyna joining, would that throw us off course?
 Hesachi sensei said something under his breath. I looked up and asked, “What did you say, Hesachi
 With a whirl, he flung himself upon me, sword drawn. His swing was fast and aimed at my high waist. If
there was no move of deflection, I would be cut in two.
 I was resting my hands on the hilts of my blades at the time, so I quickly pulled them out. Before I was
halfway through with pulling them up, his sword connected.
 “Good,” Hesachi sensei murmured. “You only pulled them out enough to block my attack. A smart
tactic, not over exerting yourself to quickly pull them out the full length.” He then pulled back and
swung at my feet. I managed to jump up and over the blade as it came around, watching his waist the
entire time to see if he would shift back toward me for another swing. Instead, he turned all the way
around, facing the rest of the group, and in fluid motion, he threw three shuriken at each of them!
 Syi and Ustallar jumped over the shuriken heading for them, and Raysyna cut hers in two. I was still in
the air while he was busy throwing at them, so I took my chance there. I brought my swords down on
either side of his head.
 With an upward swing of motion, he blocked my attacks with his sword. I bounced away and stood
ready in a fighting stance.

48 | M o o n W a t e r
 The four of us surrounded Hesachi sensei, walking around him in a circle slowly. There was no way we
would lose four -to-one! Even if he was one of the Shrikkun four!
 Syi and I made eye contact, and we were standing directly across from each other. Hesachi sensei’s
back was to him, and he mouthed the words ‘at the same time.’ I nodded and grinned in Ustallar’s
  Syi stepped forward an inch, my cue to charge him. I jumped forward with my swords at my sides,
planning a double swing at the higher abdomen of Hesachi sensei. “Heeyah!” I cried out. Before I could
connect with bone or sword, Hesachi’s body disappeared. “If you four can find the two other clones out
in the forest, consider it your first successful mission.”
 I dropped out of the air with disgust. “Hm? Was that a clone, too?”
 Raysyna studied the trees around us. “It seems so. Again he has escaped and left us with a mission…”
 “He said to find the two other clones, so he must want to test our tracking and sensory skills,” Syi
mentioned. “I say we split into teams of two and search around the village at a close proximity and keep
an eye on the trees. He likes to hide in them.”
 I laughed at the joke. “Agreed. And watch out for shuriken attacks as well. Since we’re just supposed
to find them, he won’t show himself or try any close combat attacks. Any objections to the plane?”
 Everyone was silent.
 “So I guess this means it is fine to continue with this mission. And we have to complete it, too. If we
complete five missions successfully, we get to level up to level four Sykun!”
 “Yep,” Raysyna sat down on the grass for a rest. “But not for me. I have already completed three
missions alone. Galmorat sensei gave them to me, and they were small since I had to do them by myself.
But from my standpoint, I think they were a little too easy.”
 Three missions already? Alone? This girl was truly amazing. But it was almost not fair. How would she
be a part of our team and yet she already had a head start? Knowing this, I wanted to get going with this
mission.”C’mon guys, we have to start it already,” I said. “Now we split into two teams. Me and Syi on
one team, and Raysyna and Ustallar on the other. Now, who will take the north and west sides of the
village? The other team will take the south and east.”
 I think everyone else was a bit surprised about how I took command about how we would go about
this mission, but I was in a hurry to start it. And I knew for sure I didn’t want Raysyna on my team.
 “Good idea to put me on Ustallar’s team. We would need a multi-blade user on each team,” Raysyna
and Ustallar started walking off towards the north side of the village. I agreed, but that wasn’t why I put
Raysyna and Syi on opposite teams.

49 | M o o n W a t e r
 “See you on the other end, guys,” Ustallar said. We started off in opposite directions.
 We had searched along the east wall about ten minutes, and were getting closer to the south wall
when Syi finally spoke up with, “I can tell you don’t like Raysyna.”
 “What do you mean?” I played innocent as I checked another tree.
 “Really, Silar? Both Me and Ustallar can tell you don’t like her.” Syi was standing, looking at me instead
of searching. He had me in a corner.
 “Ok, you’re right, I don’t like her. She seems like a quiet show off and an intruder, not to mention she
has a haughty air. And her hair is so pretty, almost like gold and short. How is she supposed to just come
in our team like that? We were fine as three.”
 Syi nodded and said he understood. “But I don’t feel like you do. I think it’s fine if we add her to our
team, not like we have a choice. I guess it’s just girls that get jealous so easily.”
 I instantly switched to defensive mode. “No way I’m jealous. I just don’t like her, that’s all,” I walked
away and started searching for any clues of Hesachi sensei’s clones. How dare he call me jealous of her!
No way was I jealous!
 The rest of the day carried on with a gray cloud over my head. To make things better, Raysyna and
Ustallar found both of sensei’s clones before we did. Sensei then sent us home and said we had
completed our first mission. That lifted my spirits a bit, but then Syi again said I was jealous. I wanted to
hit him after that.
 After I was sure everyone had left the training grounds, I decided to go back. I absolutely loved the
scenery there, and it was so quiet and peaceful, unlike most of the village. Too many lights, noise, and
commotion going on in the village to find peace. Not to mention the fact that sunset was only about a
half hour away, and who would miss a great view of that over the mountains?
 I decided that if there was any way to get better, it would be to train with my new swords. My father
was a swordsman as well as I was now, and he would give me tips and other training ideas, I was sure of
it. But for now, I would try to work on some tekaro techniques to synchronize my swords with my
 I sat cross legged in the center of the clearing, closed my eyes and focused on controlling my
breathing. My breath started getting slower and calmer. The wind blew softly around me, and I was at
peace with myself. I felt the tekaro start to seep my bloodstream like a flow of cool water.
 I waited until I could feel it all through me before I opened my eyes. I had full control now. My
breathing returned to normal and I stood up, taking full grip upon my swords. My entire body was
tingling because of the energy.

50 | M o o n W a t e r
 Focusing on the palms of my hands, my tekaro swirled around my hands in a circular motion, and it
seeped out of my skin. This was the first time I had gotten a good look at my tekaro. Until now I haven’t
ever actually done this type of training, but was taught how to do it.
 My tekaro surprised me. The very form and color and substance of my tekaro was black, but not evil. It
felt like black would feel, and it was moving smoothly along my hands in small wisps.
 “Wow, so this is what caused Syi to do that ‘Lightning Step’ move,” I whispered. It felt great.
 I tried to move the tekaro up my arm some. That was easy. My entire body was now full of tekaro, and
moving it around my body was as easy as moving a body part.
 After a few more minutes of justifying the fact that I could move my tekaro anywhere around my
body, I decided to try to move it into my swords. I brought some of my tekaro to the palm of my hand,
and it didn’t move anywhere else from there.
 “Why won’t it go?” I tried again and again, but no matter how high my concentration level, nor the
amount of tekaro I used, it wouldn’t wrap around or even touch the sword. It would only extend as far
as the tips of my fingers. I was quickly tiring myself out by this experience, and didn’t look like it would
be long before dark.
 I wiped some sweat off my face and stood staring at the looming wall of the village in the distance over
the trees. “I have to find out how to do this…” I tried to think back to what my father taught me
whenever he was practicing with his sword.
 I think I was around the age of four or five at the time, the farthest back that I could remember
watching my father preformed several different sword forms in our special room set just for that. It had
mats all over the floor and several windows in which sunlight was constantly streaming through.
 “Heeyah!” He stabbed forward with his final blow. My eyes wide, I would watch him slip back into a
normal fighting stance. “Father, will you teach me how to do that? Please?”
 He laughed in his deep voice and tousled my hair. “Of course, Silar, when your age permits. You are
the only child of the Tenra as of now, and the art must go through each generation.”
 Then upon the age of seven, I finally was able to feel the weight of a sword in my hand. “The sword is
nothing less than an extension of your own body,” my father would tell me. “Treat it as you would your
hand or arm, and it will cut you your destiny.”
 That was it!
 I focused again on my tekaro, and felt the flow in my arms. Let the sword become nothing less than an
extension of your own body.

51 | M o o n W a t e r
 The weight of the swords diminished from my arms, and I watched as the tekaro swirled up and down
my blades. It was about time.

52 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 7                                                                                      Raysyna Kufeu
 I went quietly to my grandmother’s house. It still belonged to her, even though she had passed away
before my birth, and now my mother and I lived in it. My mother always said it was a sad house, and on
nights like this, I could see in where she was right. It looked like it was leaning to one side, and the
material on the house itself rotting away with time.
 “Raysyna,” my mother said as she met me on the porch.
 “Yes, mother?”
 “You seem tired out. Have a good workout, did you?” She hugged me and slipped a cookie into my
hand. My mother was always trying to make sure she was a part of my life and I was a part of hers. We
were all we had for each other, ever since my father left for some reason. Mother never told me why,
but she said it was important to our family. We two were the last left, if my father was dead. I never
knew him and didn’t think about him much.
 “Oh, yeah, I did. I joined my new team officially today, Ustallar, Syi and Silar are my team members,” I
said as I delicately bit the cookie. I followed her back into the sitting room, where she was mending
some of my clothes.
 “Silar, you say? Is Tenra, her family name?” She asked.
 I tried to think back through the day. Had anyone told me her family name?
 “I don’t think I was told her family name. Just her given name. Why though, do you know her?” I said
as I finished up the cookie and sat down.
 “Not her personally, just the family. I thought the name Silar was familiar, is all.”
 “Oh.” At the mention of her name, I started thinking about Silar, of how great she had it. She was able
to be with Syi and Ustallar all the time! They were very cool people in my eye. As time would go on, I
would love to make friends with the three of them. The only reason I was slightly hesitant though, was
because I didn’t think Silar liked me at all. I wanted to make friends with her as well, but it didn’t seem
like she was willing, like Syi and Ustallar were. They talked to me easily, but Silar hasn’t said a kind word
to me yet.
 Of course I didn’t tell my mother any of this; it would only make her worried. Instead I told her my
teammates were kind to me and they would be good friends. This pleased her much and she left to the
kitchen with a sigh of happy relief.
 Taking this as dismissal, I ran to my room and placed my swords next to my bed. My messenger hawk,
Turi, squawked upon my entrance. Her perch was on a small table in my room, and she was my absolute

53 | M o o n W a t e r
best friend. We ‘talked’ a lot, about anything under the stars. Sometimes these conversations lasted
hours at a time. When her training was complete, she would accompany me anywhere I went.
 The next morning I met with Galmorat sensei on the roof of the village library, where he was eating a
piece of fruit. He offered me some, and I refused.
 “Raysyna, how are you with your new team?” He asked between bites.
 “It’s good. I think I’ll like it a lot,” I said, sitting beside him and slightly stroking Kawa’s feathers. He sat
upon Galmorat sensei’s shoulder.
 “Ah, well that is good. As soon as the team levels up to a Sykun level, you will go on a mission that will
last a few weeks, at the most. But there isn’t any reason to worry about it now, it will come in about two
weeks, unless you guys level up fast,” his eyes cut over to me.
 He was cheating! He knew very well I would worry about a two-week long mission away from the
village with the others. I wouldn’t be able to control my excitement. A two-week mission with Ustallar,
Syi and Silar!
 I kept stroking Kawa’s feathers like I had not a care in the world with a straight face. “I guess we have
to work on training, then,” I said coolly. Take that sensei.
 “Ah, well that is good as well. Because you need a bit more training in your sensory details,” he
finished his fruit and gave the core to Kawa, who swallowed it in two bites.
 “Sensory?” I asked. I understood when my team and master Hesachi jumped over the library edge to
join us.
 Instantly I began to feel jumpy and hot. “H-hey guys,” I stammered horribly.
 “Hey Raysyna,” Syi answered. The other two waved.
 “Hello Raysyna,” master Hesachi replied.
 “Um, sensei, where are we going?” I asked him so that only he would hear.
 “Ah, on a two-week mission.”
 I choked on something. I didn’t remember putting anything in my mouth, though.
 Sensei started laughing. “Just kidding.” The others started giggling.
 I went red with embarrassment.
 “Alright, Galmorat, I leave them to you,” master Hesachi jumped off the roof and went away. I began
to feel uneasy again. What would they think of my sensei?
 Galmorat sensei sat where he was, and calmly drank from a bottle. He made no eye contact or
anything to show he acknowledged them at all. As expected. The rest of the team sat quietly as well. Syi
was sitting closest to me, and said “Does the hawk know you at all?” to me.

54 | M o o n W a t e r
 I nodded. But then I decided to answer it verbally. “A little. His name is Kawa and he lets me stroke his
feathers sometimes, when he isn’t on duty.”
 “Wow, even the messenger hawk can be on and off duty?” Syi smiled and went on. “When is he on
duty, then?”
 “If he’s in the middle of message transactions. That means when he is delivering messages to and fro,
and you can’t really bother him then. But if he isn’t doing anything, he’s off duty.”
 “You know so much from this bird?” Ustallar asked me. She and Silar had come closer to listen in, and
it made me slightly nervous.
 “No, not just from Kawa. I have my own messenger hawk in training. I can’t take her out with me yet,
but soon I will be able to.”
 “Is it a boy or girl?”
 “Girl. Her name is Turi…” Soon, I had begun to get comfortable with the group. Galmorat sensei just
sat and listened to us, but I never even thought of his existence in that conversation. Even Silar
contributed. Galmorat sensei gave me a small wink of encouragement, and I felt great again.
 A few minutes later, sensei interrupted us. “Well, it is clear that we’re a team now. The first thing we
need to do is register a team name. I will not be your overall team captain, no, I am only a personal
sensei to Raysyna. Hesachi will be the captain of this squad at all times, so it is up to you guys what the
name should be. I have a record of names already picked so you don’t get one of their names. I would
pick something that you all agree on, because you will be stuck with the name for the rest of your lives
as a team, understand? Good.” He scratched his head. “Any ideas?”
 A team name. I was never good at giving ideas.
 “How about Element 4?” Silar suggested slowly. “We have a team of four and we all have different
elemental attacks.”
 “No, there is a team already that’s called Elemental Three. You know, the twins? It’s kinda close to
their name,” Syi said as he stood up and paced slowly. “They told me they already picked a name.
 “Dragon Blossom sounds too girly, right?” Ustallar said with a funny grin. I laughed. “Yeah, it does. I
don’t think Syi would like it though.”
 “I like it,” Syi said.
 “And I don’t,” Silar said. What a coincidence.
 “We don’t have to pick right now, right?” I asked, ready to get on with the mission. Ustallar agreed and
said, “Yeah, let’s just do the mission first.”

55 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Ah, the mission, yes,” sensei said, scratching his head again. “This next mission is a little different than
the rest. That you’ve seen. This is something I made up, and I found it to come very useful for the
younger trainees. I call it Speed Mission.
 “The object of this mission is to race a certain long distance, usually in my case from the north side of
Kytake to the south, on foot. You can use tekaro or any obstacle along the way, just as long as you stay
on foot and don’t touch the ground. Those are the only rules of the mission. Oh, no, there is one more,”
sensei pointed at Syi. “You cannot use Lightning Step. It is a combination of using air as a cushion to
propel you forward. That’s not staying on foot. But I guess it’s not an extra rule then is it…ah, one last
thing. The entire team will receive this mission as a success, as long as you all finish, and the winner of
the race…”
 We all hovered closer.
 “Will be credited with a successful mission as well.”
 I didn’t fully understand.
 “So, for example, if I win, I will get credit for two missions?” Ustallar asked.
 “Yes, one as a team and another as an individual. Once all of the team members reach Sykun level 4,
then the team will be a Sykun level team. As you go on, the missions will get harder and you’ll have to
earn your place if you ever wish to level up any more. And only by working hard and trusting yourselves
as well as your team, will you learn your ways, and that is necessary as a teshdar.”
 Silar raised a hand. “But are isn’t walking or running to the other side of the village going to tire us out
before we even start the Speed Mission? We’re on the south side now.”
 Sensei waved a hand at the question. “We’ll get there without walking or running. We’ll take Tardor up
to the north district.”
 Tardor! The queen of the Second Water, also known as the Water phoenix of the South. A ride on
Tardor was a blessing in many ways. It definitely didn’t happen every day. And I could plainly see that no
one else knew what or who Tardor was. They would have to see for themselves. There was a saying that
my mother told me about, and a power that went along with it. She told me that before my time, not to
long after the last war, there was a male and female team. They were named throughout the world as
the Silver blade in the Water. They had another name. Galmorat Shrikkun and Tardor.
 Sensei reached to his belt and threw a small capsule high into the air. It flew up into the sky as if it was
propelled, and then it exploded into a large mass of white smoke.
 “Huh!? What was that for?” Silar stood up and held her head all the way back, until she couldn’t bring
it back any further. “Is that supposed to be Tardor?”

56 | M o o n W a t e r
 I smiled. “Yes.”
 The smoke swirled on the inside, and then sprouted great, blue wings. Her wingspan was no less than
a hundred yards, about the same length of her body, minus her tails. Then her head appeared, large
enough to swallow a human whole. She had three long, feathers reaching out from her tail, increasing
her length to another fifty yards. The great bird cried out once, twice, before flapping her wings and
reducing the smoke to nothing.
 “So this…is Tardor,” Syi said clearly, scratching the back of his hand. “I remember hearing of her
before, and she is one of the great second beings, right?”
 “Yes, she is. An amazing friend as well. She doesn’t really care for strangers riding her, so be aware of
insulting her in any way,” sensei said, sipping his water again.
 Tardor flew in a small circle as she came closer to our small group and blotted out the sun around us.
She called out again and swooped even closer. Then she stopped over us, keeping herself in the air with
the constant flapping of her wings.
 Sensei then did something I never expected of him. He poured the rest of the water out of his bottle
on the roof. This amazed me some, because I never saw him waste anything before.
 The water swirled along the roof and surrounded the group in a thin line. “Hold on,” sensei said, and
then he thrust his hand skywards. Around us, water rose and lifted us up. I caught my breath as we flew
upward, leveling with Tardor. Then, quite suddenly, the water cracked and turned into ice. The rising
water had become a sturdy ice pillar.
 “Ok, let’s go. And remember what I said about acting rowdy,” sensei told us. We all lightly jumped off
the ice pillar and onto Tardor’s back. Sensei was right behind us.
 I sat instantly down. The feathers were amazingly soft. I had expected her back to be hard from years
of war and such, but it was as soft as a cloud. I past my hand over one of the large feathers, feeling its
 I jumped up to my feet. Tardor had spoken out in her loud voice, scaring me more than anything had
before in my life. It had come so unexpectedly!
 “Who are these small ones? I never thought you would take up any pupils nor have any children,” she
flapped upward a few times and we soared into the sky.
 I laughed aloud. I could never imagine sensei having any kids. Couldn’t imagine Shelleena sensei
pregnant either, if you catch my drift.

57 | M o o n W a t e r
 I held on tightly to one of the feathers, though I didn’t need to. Tardor was moving quickly through the
air, but I felt no wind resistance or anything pushing against me. Almost reluctantly, I let go, and felt the
wind run smoothly over my arms, and felt happiness spread throughout me.
 “No no no, Tardor, these aren’t my kids or pupils. Only one of them is actually my pupil, but I’m just
hosting a mission as of now. A speed mission, actually. Can you fly us to the northern side of Kytake?
Afterwards we’ll be taking a short trip to Karum for a linear battle...”
 I figured he was talking about him and Tardor, as far as the ‘battle’, so I didn’t pay any attention to it.
Instead, I was interested in how high we were, same as the rest of my team.
 “The mission will start as soon as you touch the north wall, understand?” Sensei said. “Tardor will
swing around once she passes over the north wall, facing the south, and lower closer to the ground. You
four will drop off and land on the wall, and from there race to the southern wall.”
 I nodded and check to see if my sword-sheaths were loose. They were tight enough on my back, but I
still tightened them more. I didn’t want it to come lose when falling through the air.
 “You guys might as well give this mission up to me,” Silar said, tightening her weaves of cloth around
her waist. “I’ve been training hard since yesterday, and have a few moves up my sleeves that are ready
to be executed on the playing field.”
 Syi turned his head in her direction. “Silar, you do know that we are in our actual bodies, and that
whatever harm you inflict upon us will actually hurt us? This won’t be like the battle between me and
Raysyna, before.”
 Sensei motioned with his hand. “There aren’t any rules, Syi. She may do what she likes. And if killing
you to win is what she chooses, then so be it. The same goes for the rest of you,”
 I peeked over the edge of Tardor and saw we were turning around sharply, facing south now, and over
the northern wall. Sensei waved us away, like we were flies. “Now, start!”
 “Ok!” Tardor said, and then she turned over on her back in flight, having gravity take hold of us and
caused us to drop.
 There was no more than one or two seconds before we all safely landed on the northern wall. Instantly
I saw Silar jump forward off the wall, towards a tree. “Meet you guys at the other end!”
 I watched her to see what her ‘move’ would be. She landed in the tree and used momentum to spring
out of it. She then swung her swords out to each side of her airborne body, and I saw a flicker of tekaro
somewhere along her arms.
 “That’s it?” Syi was standing next to me. Neither he nor Ustallar had moved upon landing, eager to see
what Silar was going to do.

58 | M o o n W a t e r
 “I guess so,” I said, disappointed. I had hoped she had something spectacular on display.
 “Ha!” came the far cry from Silar. We all turned back toward her. This time, there was something to
see. Her black tekaro swirled around her arms extending all the way out to the tips of her sword blades.
It completely surrounded her arms, and it was forming into a shape.
 “I told you to watch out! Shadow flight!”
 I gasped. Her tekaro had taken the form of wings!
 “Hey, no fair!” Ustallar yelled, jumping down after her. “Flying is cheating!”
 “Gosh, cheating again? That girl…” Syi followed Ustallar. I was left sitting on the wall for a moment
before I realized I was losing the race. “Wait up guys!” I screamed.
 I decided it would be faster to jump over the large tree instead of inside of it, because I would need
speed to catch up since I was starting last. I landed hard on the building on the far side of the tree and
rolled to regain my balance and to get back on my feet. This set of buildings, about ten of them, were all
connected in a row, easily allowing me to dash along the top of them. I passed Ustallar along the way,
for she was stumbling through a tree.
 “Not so fast, Raysyna! You’re not taking my place in the race!” She called out. But I had speed on my
side, and passed her with ease.
 Syi was the next one ahead of me, and not by far. He had traveled by the same path as I was going by
now, and had passed Ustallar before me. He reached the end of the row of buildings and jumped across
to the next. I picked up my pace in attempt to catch him, passing over the fifth building. Silar was still in
front of all of us, gliding with her tekaro wings. I would have to win this! Another step closer to the next
 I picked up speed and jumped out over the road below. I was slightly unsure about the jump, but I
could now tell I was going to make it fully across. Just as I landed on the other side, Ustallar landed right
behind me! She smiled and ran ahead, with me keeping equal pace with her.
 “I’m faster than you think, Raysyna!” she was struggling to get a lead, but we stayed neck and neck.
“And I don’t think you’ll pass me again!”
 I focused on running. We were on another long strip of houses, extending a hundred yards until
another long strip. This would mark the halfway point of the race.
 The end of this strip was nearing us fast. I would be making the jump in a few seconds, and would have
to get rid of Ustallar. “No, I’m faster than you think!” I said. I pulled ahead of her slightly, and started
gaining more distance. There were only two more steps until the jump. Upon taking the first step I, I saw

59 | M o o n W a t e r
that Ustallar wasn’t running with me anymore. I looked back. She had stopped, and threw one of her
scrolls toward me! it was unraveling from her hand and the base of it was coming at me fast!
 “Waa!” I screamed, startled. I ducked her scroll, which kept unraveling over me and shot over the
 “Who’s fast now?”
 I looked up. Ustallar was running on the scroll, as if it were solid and could hold her weight.
 “This scroll is the speed summit. It’ll increase my speed tenfold, as long as I combine my tekaro with it.
See ya!” She shot across the gap in two seconds. If I was to jump, I would have made it in four. These
three people were extraordinary. I would like this team.

60 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 8                                                                                  Ayatooma Tegusa
 “There are reports that only a few people died in the attack. A man from smoke, and two children
went missing, but that’s it,” I turned my head away from him and looked toward the recovering village. I
then saw Tardor flying over head and four figures underneath her. It was Galmorat, overlooking a speed
mission. “Sayomi,” I said, keeping my eyes on the race. “Their wings have definitely grown in the past
few days, don’t you think?” I knew very well he wasn’t paying attention.
 I turned back away from the village to see what he was doing. He was petting a wild vor, talking to it in
a soothing tone. The vor stood very still, letting him pet it. Sayomi stopped and it instantly took off,
loping through the thick underbrush.
 “What did he say?” I asked intently. It would help with our recon around the village.
 “Nothing from the usual. So far this part is safe from the so-called Soten gang,” he stood up and
stretched. “And I’m about ready to get back to the village.”
 “No,” I said stubbornly. “We have to find something that will give us a lead to that one guy from Soten,
or the group he’s from. He might even be behind the recent attack on the village. If we can find
anything, anything, we can take it back to the researchers in the Soor and Class A. but if we do find
something, THREAD can’t find out about it. They’ll take the information and run with it.”
 Sayomi was quiet, listening. Some people think he’s deaf as well as blind, by the way he reacts to what
he hears. This usually confused most people, and some even walked away from him in the middle on a
conversation. But this time I knew better than to expect him to answer. He was counting the seconds, as
he always did.
 Ever since he was a kid, Sayomi had been counting seconds that passed from random points. He would
just start counting, aloud or quietly to himself, at any point of the day. Who knew why he did it. I’ve
been with him for over thirty years and I still didn’t know why.
 “Half of a mile to the right, Ayatooma,” He suddenly whispered. I turned right and tried to focus in that
direction, and felt something slightly. I jumped out of my hiding spot and charged stealthily with Sayomi
right behind me. There was definitely something there. Someone.
 “A man,” He said as we got closer. “From another village, for sure. He doesn’t carry the scent of Kytake
at all. A bunch of dirt and mud though. It’s a good cover if he’s trying to sneak in.”
 Adrenaline pumped. This might be our guy! Just ahead!
 I jumped out onto the wide road, expecting to see a warrior. Instead, I saw a runner, on his hands and
knees, breathing long, hard breaths.

61 | M o o n W a t e r
 I ran to his side and felt for any broken bones. There were none and I lifted him to his feet. “What
village are you from, and who is your message to?”
 He coughed and waved his hand in front of me. “My message is to higher officials only. Unless you
 I pulled up a flap on my arm that showed a dark green band, the sign of a message official. “Yes I am.
What is the code on the message?”
 “Code Zero.”
 I froze. Code Zero was absolutely meant for only level 15s and the Matahoshi to hear. Something
extremely dangerous was coming or something very bad had happened.
 I reached into my belt to get water for the runner, and I turned back to Sayomi. “You think another
village is under attack?”
 He put his finger to his lips and shook his head. He was right. There would be no reason to talk about
any possibilities in front of him.
 I turned my attention back to the runner. He was coughing again and sitting on his backside, struggling
for air. A blood dried wound on his side showed itself for the first time. I hadn’t noticed it before. I knelt
beside him, checking it. He pushed my hand away, still coughing.
 “I’m dying and I know it. My time in this world is close to being finished,” He cut off and continued
coughing. “But, you must…I must tell you the messa-.” He took two deep breaths.
 “My homeland village, Utana, an ally to Kytake, has died. And I will die along with it.”

 Sayomi and I moved the body to the Maeron, carefully removing the message scrawled on paper
sometime before the runner died. We left the body with a few officials and then made our way to the
Matahoshi as fast as we could.
 “Are you sure his exact words were ‘the village has died’? Not destroyed?” Ramair asked us. I agreed.
“Yes. I heard him clearly. He said ‘died’.”
 Ramair walked to the end of the table, to the window, back to the table, and then back to the window.
He finally spoke. “Saying that the village ‘died’ is a powerful word, you know. Do you know the power of
saying a village died, Ayatooma?” He turned his cold stare to me.
 I lowered my head. “I’ve only heard of villages ‘dying’, but I can only guess what it means.”

62 | M o o n W a t e r
 He nodded and looked back out the window. “I don’t need to tell you. Sayomi can tell you. He’s seen it
personally, haven’t you?” There was a hint of anger in his voice. What did he mean by it? I strained to
listen for it more, but it was gone. I could have been wrong.
 “When the entire population of a village is killed, every plant, every pet, every living being within the
walls of a village dies, and there is no sign of life. There are very few teshdar that can do it with their
second beings, and even fewer that can do it alone. Anyway, if Galmorat’s description is correct, and
that Soten man was only using one-sixteenth of a tekaro drop for every attack, then there can’t be any
other organization or village that could reduce Utana to nothingness. And if the Soten man acts alone,
then we must attack him with at least three of the stronger second beings.”
 “Yes,” I responded. “But should we take this to the council? They need to know, as well.”
 “The council…” Ramair paced to the other side of the room. “Yes, they have the right to know. After
all, they will make the decision to send out a team or not to investigate, or to find any remnants of
Utana. You two will have to be there, because you found the body.”
 He moved toward the door, opened it, and by fate ran right into council member Amaru, who was
walking in to our room.
 “Ramair!” He said, startled. “I was just coming in to have a few words with you.”
 “That is odd,” Ramair said, standing back some. “I was just leaving to tell the council something
important. Are the rest of you gathered downstairs?”
 “No, my boy. More like scattered in the wind. Kuteya is down stairs, waiting for me. Kontra and
Furishin are out to speak with Teru of Utana, to discuss the arrival of the n-.”
 Utana?! No…
 “Utana?” Ramair shook his head. “They cannot go to Utana now! We must reach them immediately so
they are brought back here safely!”
 Amaru looked confused. “What do you mean, safely? They were called out to Utana on urgent matters
this morning, and they set out as soon as they got the message. Besides, they have some of the Guard
and the Soor with them! They shouldn’t be in any danger that the Soor and the Guard can’t handle!”
Amaru stepped into the hall with Ramair at his side, and they swiftly made their way down, with Sayomi
and I right behind them. He saw Ramair looked concerned. “Unless you doubt them?”
 “No, councilor Amaru, you do not understand. I will deal with this order myself, therefore if I am
wrong, I am blamed. I had no consulting you before making my decision,” we three moved past Amaru
as he slowed down to a stop.
 “I only wish you would take it, my boy,” He said in a sad tone.

63 | M o o n W a t e r
 “You there!” Ramair called to one of the hawk carrier trainers. “I need the fastest bird you have to
track down the high council’s carriage and deliver a message. Quickly now!” Ramair instantly began to
write the message on the carrier’s note paper.
 “You think we should send one of the lightning teshdar after them instead of a messenger hawk? It
would get there much quicker,” I suggested to Sayomi. “Sending the hawk, even if it is the fastest, would
take much longer.”
 “No, that would be risky. We could just be throwing him or her straight into a danger zone.” Ramair
was finishing the note. He rolled it up and slipped it into the leg pouch of the hawk that was placed in
front of him by the trainer.
 “It is an urgent message; I need it sent at once!”
 “Y-yes, Matahoshi master,” The trainer pointed the hawk in the right direction and released it. The
bird flapped higher and higher, and then flew for the forest.
 “He is the fastest bird I have, Matahoshi,” the trainer said. “I have two faster ones, but they were
already sent off this morning.”
 “Don’t mind it. As long as this message reaches them in time, is all I care.” He motioned for us to
follow him back to his inner chambers.
 “If we can track the Soten’s records of reported attacks, we can tell which village they might be from.
It’ll be pretty clear on which villages they didn’t attack and which villages are our enemies. We can then
figure it out in maybe a few weeks.” I suggested, planting my hands on the table. “Then we can send in
THREAD or the Soor to investigate.”
 “Sending them in would be a bad idea,” said Sayomi. “If they noticed, they would attack that village,
even if it was their own. They wouldn’t cause that much damage or that many casualties, but it would
turn the attention away from their home village.”
 “Then it is final,” Ramair said. “When the head council members get back, we will take the matter
straight into their hands. We will then decide what to do with this threat.”
 I noticed in his solid confidence he never mentioned “if” they made it back. I rested upon the fact that
he said they would return.
 “Now, I have something I wish to seek your counsel about, the matter of the team of the four second
beings. I’m sure you’ve heard some word of it, yes?”
 “Of course,” Sayomi said. “We were watching them earlier today. Galmorat was taking them through
the ‘race’ mission. It was pretty interesting.”

64 | M o o n W a t e r
 “I wonder…who won?” I thought out loud. “It should be over by now. They were almost halfway when
we spotted the messenger.”
 Ramair’s eyebrows arched. “You spotted him? Or you heard him? This is critical information, you
know. It could make all the difference.”
 “Heard him, sorry, Ramair. I have to be more-.”
 Ramair waved it off. “Forget it, just forget it. There’s just way too much on my mind…” He sat down at
the head of the table. He was clearly deep in thought. After waiting, we went to leave when he stood up
and spoke.
 “The counseling will have to wait until Kontra returns. There isn’t much else we can do until then. No
one else besides the ones in this room will know of it until we hold legal counsel. And that includes
Galmorat. I hope you abide by this.”
 I grinded my teeth. I was leaving here straight to tell Galmorat.
 “I’m serious, Ayatooma. Neither you nor Sayomi will think about telling Galmorat, or anyone else for
that that matter.” He frowned at me, as if he knew what I was going to do. I turned away from him and
left the room, with Sayomi following behind. Outside the Maeron, he finally opened his mouth.
 “He knew you were going to tell Galmorat, and he doesn’t want him to know, plain and simple, and he
knew you were going to tell him,” Sayomi walked up beside me. “Besides, Galmorat would fly out right
after her, and if she’s dead, he would be dead as well. Ramair is just saving his flock as much as he can.
He would have one dead rather than two of his own.”
 There was a large rush of wind, rushing up the hills. I grabbed around my outside cloak, holding it
tightly so it wouldn’t blow away. I followed Sayomi’s face, in the direction he was “looking”, and saw
Tardor flying away, flying towards Utana. No…
 “Somehow, he manages,” Sayomi shook his head. “Somehow. That guy will end up getting us all
 Ramair came out and stood next to us, looking at Galmorat as well. “That is not who I think it is.
Ayatooma, please tell me I’m going crazy and seeing things…” He rushed back into the Maeron, barking
orders, most likely to the Soor. THREAD hadn’t been on very good terms with Ramair lately. “You two
stay here, just in-case something else happens.”
 Something clicked in my head. Something just jumped out of nowhere. You know how you’re doing
one thing, and you’re set on doing that thing, and then you end up doing something totally different?
That is exactly what happened to me, and Sayomi as well.
 And we went through with it.

65 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Sayomi, if Galmorat goes alone, who knows what might happen,” I said. “Someone’s going to have to
go with him, to protect him. The boy sometimes doesn’t think before his actions…”
 Sayomi’s mouth bent into a small frown. “Are you suggesting that you’ll go with him?”
 “I’m suggesting we go with him.”
 And just like that: “Fine.”
 We were crazy.
 Tardor had taken off from the village ground, and least a half-mile below us. They were flying some
hundred feet over the village, and picking up speed. In my time working with Galmorat, as a phoenix
second being, I learned that velocity equaled speed. The higher you were, the faster. We would need
sped to catch up with them.
  Sayomi and I launched ourselves with tekaro from the mountainside, a half-mile above them.
 The wind acceleration was intense that high up. We were flying through the air at unknown speeds,
unmatched, and headed straight for oblivion if we made a wrong move. Complete, awesome fun. I
turned around in the air and looked back down at the Maeron. I could just barely see through the dust
we kicked up from our jump, but I did get a long look at the window. Ramair stood at it, looking right at
me, with one of the Soor elite. He seemed to be staring directly at me. Then I noticed Ramair was
standing alone.
 I whipped around, facing Sayomi. We were in deep trouble! “Sayomi!” I screamed. “Incoming!” I
grabbed my weapons and turned into a defensive position. My weapons were long silver chains, ending
in sword blades with my clan symbol on it.
 The chains swirled around me and blocked the first few projectiles flung my way, and the impact threw
off my course. Sayomi extended some of his physical tekaro to deflect the attacks. Three, four, five
shuriken bounced off the tekaro, and then five Soor appeared in the air with us.
 “Under the command of the Matahoshi, you are ordered to stop.”
 I held my tongue. There wouldn’t be anything to say to them.
 “We have orders to forcefully take you into custody, unless you follow orders directly and simply.”
 We were flying over the village now, and dropping fast. Sayomi started counting his seconds again,
 “Two seconds.” Sayomi muttered.
 Darn it.

66 | M o o n W a t e r
 I flipped backwards, catching a glimpse at the fast coming rooftops, just before I continued to flip over
and just narrowly missing a tree.
 I couldn’t see, I realized perfectly too late. Fear gripped me and I froze momentarily. Stupid. What was
I going-.
 Two seconds were over.
 And maybe I was, too.

67 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 9                                                                                        Isora Kiun
 I brought my bow arm up, took a two second aim, and fired. The arrow sailed straight for thirty-two
and a half yards before dropping slightly and falling into the bulls-eye, dead center. Then the target
slowly erupted in flame. I let out a calming breath of relief.
 “Good job Ill, but you took too long to aim on that one,” Haysen, my sensei, instructed. “Ice, on this
next arrow.”
 I obeyed and nocked my next arrow. I was in massive training, along with my team. We were going on
a mission. A Sykun level 4 mission, even though we were all level threes in my team. We were all
training hard for this mission. It was the most important one of a Sykun or a Tykun’s life.
 The ‘first kill’.
 The mission was done by two teams. They would be left out in the wilderness for two hours. In that
time, we would have to kill one of the other team’s members. Of course, both of the teams would be
cloaked with the mirror technique, so that if you dealt the killing blow, it wouldn’t actually kill them, but
it would kill the mirror technique and then the mission would be over.
I thought it would be a little harsh, but it would be the only way.
 The only way to break away from the village and live with my mother in the mountain clan.
 She was exiled a few years ago, and I was sent to live with my uncle. It was said my father also lived in
the mountains. Nesokar Grekai, one of the smartest guys in the world that I knew, (he was on my team
too) said his sister was a constant traveler, and he would be able to navigate through the miles of
woods. The last member of the team, Sythar Fune, was a strategist. Our strategist. The strategist. They
somehow considered me their leader. We could make the kill, cover it up like it didn’t happen, and then
use the rest of the time to get away as far as we could form the village. But we would need the help of
the other team.
 “That is the most important piece of the plan,” Sythar said. “If one of them gets away, then the plan
would have failed. Remember, we all have to work together if we’re going to get anywhere away from
here. Without teamwork, there can’t be any unity. Without unity, there will be no plan.”
 The plan had been made two days ago, in my garden, by moonlight. It was the middle of the night, and
we had all agreed the safest place to meet was my backyard, since the boy’s had at least one teshdar
living with them. My uncle was nothing special. He wouldn’t know I was gone unless I told him, which I
wouldn’t. No way.

68 | M o o n W a t e r
 “And that’s just about it,” Sythar mumbled, trying to keep his voice low. It was cold and drizzling out.
There were puddles everywhere. We were all soaking wet, but it was worth it. “We’ll need this other
team’s support. Do you know what team we’re up against, Nesokar, Isora?”
 I nodded. “Yes, but I don’t have any info on them though. The team name was logged in as Mist Wolf
in the records. By the way, speaking of team names, we can make the plan have a name, right? So I
thought of one.”
 “Well, let’s hear it,” Sythar said impatiently. “We’re ready to get on the move. My clone won’t live
much longer at my house.”
 I stabbed a stick into one of the large puddles, and there was a single ripple in the water. The
reflection of the moon looked beautiful in the water.
 “It will be called Moon Water. And our team name! Team Shadow Walk.”
 Shadow Walk sounded epic!!
 “Shadow Walk,” Nesokar tested it out. “Sounds good. When we get to the mountain clan, we have to
be sure they’ll accept us. But we can’t let them know we’re from this village.”
 “Good. Now let’s disperse before they find us.”
 Now we were silently training for the mission, determined to get away. Trust me, I had nothing against
the village, but there were some shady parts of it. No village was perfect. And this village was far from it.
For one thing, I had information on THREAD, one of the two armies of the village. THREAD was planning
something evil, that no one knew about. If they did, someone would try to stop them. And I also found
out something disturbing. THREAD wasn’t under the command of the Matahoshi.
 I fired the ice arrow, and I triggered it to start freezing inches before it pierced the target. I was
practicing severely. I would need the ice arrow for the plan.
 “Nice, Isora. Next time, try to make the entire training ground freeze, why don’t you,” Sythar
grumbled. I snapped up from my concentration. I hadn’t noticed he was even here. He was sitting on a
rock not far to the right of my target. “You need to pay attention.”
 He was so blunt. But a little too warm…
 I fired another ice arrow, this time a little too far to the right. It slammed into the big rock and froze
the entire thing in a second or little more. He was gone by then anyway.
 “Yup, you’re messing with my concentration,” I said sweetly. “Now get out of the way before you get
 He muttered something and stepped away. Nesokar was standing by, watching. I didn’t notice either
of them.

69 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Isora,” Nesokar called. “C’mon, we’re going to the staff meeting of the training committee. It’s at the
Maeron and I got a few passes. You’re coming, because I got three of them.”
 I sighed and dropped my bow arm. Didn’t they understand that I had to work heavily if this plan was
going to succeed? Haysen sensei nodded, dismissing me. “You’ve been doing a good job, Isora, and
you’ve been training very hard recently. You need a rest from time to time, so I think this might be the
best time for it. The ‘first kill’ mission won’t start for an hour.”
 I sighed and tied my bow to my back. My quiver, the pouch that held my arrows, bounced lightly on
my hip. “I’ll go,” I started, walking over to them. “But if it gets boring, I’m leaving for sure. I don’t even
necessarily like these dumb committees. It’s all of older kids anyway…”
 “There might be useful information there,” Nesokar suggested, trying to win me over. They both new I
was a sucker for information.
 The committee was formed of all higher level and medium level Sykun. Sometimes a Rykun would be
there to gather insight on a certain situation, but never was a part of the actual committee. They
discussed the common things about training: new training grounds, new methods vs. old methods,
anything that had to do with training and training security. What fun. But they were right. I could pick up
some useful info there, so I went along with a better attitude.
 When we arrived at the Maeron, I saw that it was crowded in the main room, down below. There were
runners, hawk messengers, and higher level teshdar, as well as a few of the training committee
members I knew offhand.
 “Today they’re meeting in room two, I think.” Nesokar nodded ahead and we entered. He was right.
The committee was sitting at the table in room two, loudly in discussion. There were four other people
listening in on the discussion, sitting in a row of seats next to the table.
 “-training delay. Masters Galmorat, Ayatooma, and Sayomi have disappeared two days ago, when they
were last seen in the yard of the Maeron. The schedules are clear and they were not sent on a mission,
and haven’t given any word of their whereabouts since then. This will cause a massive…”
 I stopped listening then. Disappeared? I started thinking it over carefully. They said the three masters
in the level 15 range had disappeared and had been gone for two days, no mission and no word. The
Matahoshi must have been freaking out. That would describe all the commotion downstairs. Everyone
was going wild to find these guys. It would affect the student core because they held classes regularly. It
would also leave a big space in protection because they were part of the defense team if there was ever
a big issue, like the attack by the mountain clan a while before. And just about everything had been fixed
or restored since the attack! Now anyone could attack and maybe wipe the village clean…

70 | M o o n W a t e r
 This would only add to my need to get out. Word about the disappearance would spread quickly, even
to enemy territory. It would be the best opportunity for them. Not only that, most of the village officials
would be busy with that. Too busy to notice if three Tykun went missing. It would be a great opportunity
for us then, as well. I was even considering leaving before the mission, but that would be a failure,
because I needed the other team to accomplish this. We would fail and then sensei Haysen would catch
on to my plan. That wouldn’t be necessary. Too many complications. Waiting an extra hour would be
worth the wait.
 “Guys, we could use this to our advantage,” I whispered to the other two. “They’ll all be focused on
this, and we can make a clean escape!”
 Sythar agreed. “And this also gives us a chance maybe to pick up on anything the masters might have
left behind outside of the village. We may even get more info on them in the mountain clans. Even
though we’re leaving, we have to make sure the village is safe without us.” It sounded weird, but he was
right. The alignment of our second beings was up there with the best of them. But there was a
difference between my team and the two others in the village was that we could use ours. As in, now.
But no one in the entire village knew it. I stole into the Maeorn’s databank once. I got down there using
the codes that I found in my uncle’s house. No one found me down there or even went looking. They
were simple combination locks. Down there was the info on how to use them, just in case one of the
second being escaped into someone else’s body. I read it intensely and then at the end I found the list of
the kids and adults with the second beings. And then there was a list for the kids and adult teams that
had the alignment. We were on it.
 The village would be relentlessly looking for us and keeping us in check if they knew. I also grabbed a
bunch of other information while in the data bank, important things, some things I haven’t yet told my
team. It was important for me to keep these on a need-to-know basis, and I was the only one who
needed to know right now. The village was planning something, something big. We would have to get
out of the village as soon as possible. If we didn’t, w-.
 “No, this isn’t good,” Nesokar slowly said. “They were gone for two days, so it would be two days or
more of travel, if they are still moving. It could also mean they’re dead somewhere, which is highly
unlikely. We could come across them in any part of our travel, and they would pack us up and send us
right back here. They might be somewhere hidden in the woods around the village, or they could be
hundreds of miles away. If they used any of their second beings, then another village or settlement
would have reported it somewhere by now, since they’ve been gone for two days.

71 | M o o n W a t e r
 “If they are still traveling, then we’re fine. They could have very well stopped in the mountain villages,
you know. And if they’re there when we get there…” he let it hang there. We all knew what would
 In so many ways this plan could fail. And in one way it could succeed. Scary odds.
 I managed through the rest of the meeting trying to pay attention. There wasn’t much more to hear.
Training plans and preparations for those who had classes with the masters and what they would be
doing now and blah blah blah. When we left that place, we had little time to prepare for the mission. We
three split up and decided to meet again at the North village gate to start the mission. Haysen sensei
would be there, hopefully oblivious to everything about to go on. Team Mist Wolf would be let out a
different gate at the same time as we did, facing north as well. We would have to be faster to set up the
 I ran all the way home, ready to get out of the village and on with this mission. I burst into the house
and ran to my room, almost running into my uncle. “Whoa, Isora. What happened?”
 “Mission!” I yelled back, slamming my door. I was alone now, and he wouldn’t bother me if I was in my
room with the door shut. I grabbed a bag and filled it with rope, a set of extra arrows, and a glove. I
threw it over my shoulder and went out.
 “Goodbye,” I kissed him on his cheek and waved. “I’m off on my mission!”
 He laughed, feeling great from my perkiness. “Bye. When you pass, I’ll take you out to eat, how about
 I was sure this was the last time I would see him. I didn’t act like it. “Ok, I’m looking forward to it!”
 I walked out of my house for the last time, and looked back at it. It was a small, ugly house. I wouldn’t
miss it. I was even tempted to…no, I wasn’t that crazy.
 I ran the rest of the way to the gate. The village past by me in a blur, and as I ran by, I realized what it
was. An abomination. An outcast. The village leaders deserved to be replaced by smarter people. But at
the same time, it was my village. My village, and I was leaving it.
 Stop it, I told myself. I was leaving for a good reason. If only I could get more to go with me…
 Another plan formed almost instantly.
 I arrived at the gates and everyone was waiting for me. Sythar and Nesokar looked their regular bored
selves, but I felt myself being pumped with adrenaline and fear. It was about to happen, right here and
now, and it was starting to get to me. I was sweating hard and my heart was throbbing violently. No one
was paying any attention, so for now we were safe. A little fear before a big mission was normal, right?

72 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Alright Team Shadow Walk. You’re a go. I assume you know all the rules. There is a tekaro barrier
surrounding the limits, so try to stay inside it. You have three hours to finish the mission. If one of the
other team members is ‘killed’, then you win. If one of you are killed, then you lose.”
 Haysen sensei let go a long breath and waved toward the gate. “Well, go on! I’ll be waiting here to
congratulate you when you return from you’re mission.”
 If only he knew.
 We ran through the gate, ready to get out of there and get Moon Water in action!
 Once we were sure we were out of eyesight, I signaled four fingers. This was the sign for the start of
the plan.
  We would have to get out to the barrier quickly, and human legs wouldn’t be fast enough. Our second
beings were phoenix, wolf and vor. Sythar was the phoenix, Nesokar the wolf, and I was the vor. These
animals would be very speedy, and speed is what we need. We started to ‘use’ or second beings.
 What I learned from the databank was that the second beings were only conscious of the world
around you when it is summoned. Summoning took a lot of work, and it was beyond our abilities. The
only other way to use it is to do something called ‘conjoining’. When you conjoined with the second
being, you ‘borrowed’ some of its body parts by mixing tekaros, second being and human. To do that,
you would need to know the color of your second being.
 Man, they had everything down there.
 Phoenix was red, wolf was blue, and vor was gray. We knew our colors of tekaro and the second
beings that were in our blood. I started visualizing. My tekaro was green. Green liquid mixing together
with red…
 Amazing. I could feel my back and spine getting thinner and stronger, and I fell on all fours. My arms
and legs started to shorten some, and was covered in black, sleek, armor-like skin with claws and
sharper fangs. I stopped the conjoining. Sythar and Nesokar were on all fours, Sythar growing wings and
Nesokar growing fur. I was halfway between human and vor, and I bet I looked weird. The conjoining
took no more than ten seconds, and we were all ready.
 “Go!” I said, stretching out into a full run, with Nesokar just behind me. We would have to get out to
the designated point quickly so the plan would go smoothly. Sythar was above us, high but below tree
level. We weren’t going to be seen. There wasn’t anyone in this area or even close. People had been told
to stay away, because a mission was going on and you could be killed or hurt in the process of an
afternoon walk.

73 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Isora, just up ahead,” Nesokar said, slowing down to a trot. I stopped and could smell bags of clothes
with my powerful nose. Our bags.
 We started to reverse conjoin, and were back to full human now, at the designated spot. I ran over to
a bush and reached into it, pulling out three large bags, full of living supplies and clothes, things like
that. We would need it in case we were on our own for longer than we expected. I checked to make sure
everything was there and re-hid it.
 Sythar was busy with his knives, along with Nesokar’s cutting wire. They were setting up the second
trap. I would be the first.
 “You guys ready?” I breathed out. They nodded and I started my conjoining again. This time I allowed
my vocal cords and mouth conjoin into the vor.
 The plan was set in motion.
 I went halfway again, and I set off through the woods, looking for this ‘Team Mist Wolf’. I had learned
in my few years of training that you must never underestimate your opponent. Overestimate them, and
then hit them with all you’ve got. It’s a surefire plan. And I was overestimating them.
 It took me twenty minutes before I could clearly find them. With my vor nose I sniffed them out. There
were three people, walking in a tight group, around thirty yards or so ahead. I slowed down my running
some and jumped into a tree with low branches, and climbed a part of the way up, so I could see them.
Three seconds later I could.
 It was two girls and one boy, walking in a triangle type formation, watching all sides as they slowly
marched toward me.
 I raised my nose and let out three vor calls, telling my team how many of them there were. Then, in
the tree, I reversed the conjoining again, and went back to full human.
 They were getting closer. I silently pulled my bow from my back and strung an ice arrow. I pulled it
back and aimed for the small group. The arrow would have to miss by inches.
 I fired on them, and instantly realized my mistake that could cost us the mission.
 As soon as the arrow left the bow, I saw that there weren’t three of them, but four. There was
another, lying in wait, just waiting for someone to attack the three in front of me!
 The arrow slammed into the ground in front of the group and exploded into large ice shards, shooting
everywhere. The three on the ground scattered, and the fourth one was in the trees, a few yards to my
left. I slung my bow around my arm and brought up a small cloth with the other, and placed it over my
mouth and nose. I would have to conceal my identity for as long as possible.

74 | M o o n W a t e r
 It was a girl. She pulled out a sword and brought it down on me. I leaned backward and it struck into
the branch we were standing on. I kicked out and connected. She fell back and I used this opportunity to
continue on. I launched myself away from that tree, ready to get a little ground in between us. I heard
all three of them coming behind me. I dropped the cloth and kept running. I wouldn’t have to hide it
anymore. These three were no one I knew.
 I ran through the woods, with the other team right on my heels. I was leading them right back to the
trap site. All of the preparations were geared toward our escape, and not necessarily winning the
mission. Funny world we live in.
 I jumped out into the small clearing area and stopped, turning to face my opponents. They stopped
just ahead of me, ready to do more battle.
 “Are you Mist Wolf?” I asked, unnecessarily. This had to be them.
 “Yes,” one of the girls huffed, the one who had attacked me from before. “Are you Shadow Walk?”
 Sythar dropped down from the tree above us, and landed next to me, facing Mist Wolf.
 The girl spoke again, “Oh, so you are not alone.”
 “Here we go!” Sythar yelled, brandishing one of his knives. He cut into the dirt, stabbing into the earth
beneath our feet. Secretly, he was cutting a bit of thin wire. We got them!
 The thin wire he cut was connected to ten other wires that were tied to ten knives and placed at
various places around the clearing. All at once, the knives shot out from hiding at the team, heading for
the kill. And just as any Kytake trained team would, brandished their weapons and deflected.
 I counted the number of weapons instantly. Two swords on one girl, three swords on another. The last
girl had spell scrolls, and the boy had limb blades. Good! The knives landed clumsily around them, like
dropped toys.
 They froze for a moment, not knowing what to expect next. They weren’t expecting what happened
 Nesokar landed behind them, from another tree. Yes, we liked dropping down from trees. It worked
though. He pulled the strings on his fingers and worked them like puppets. The knives on the ground
around them were also tied to the strings tied around Nesokar’s fingers, and he pulled them nice and
tight. The knives and wire swirled around and tangled themselves on the arms and legs of Mist Wolf,
utterly confusing them and causing them to panic. They were tangled in sharp wire that was cutting into
their skin and knives were flying around on the ends of that wire. I would be scared too.

75 | M o o n W a t e r
 “No!” the boy yelled. Amazingly he untangled himself in the blink of an eye and was after me. He
moved his arms and I noticed what danger I was in. His limb blades whipped toward me. My strength
was long range, not short, but I wasn’t helpless either.
 I slung my bow onto my back and tipped my head to the left a bit as one of his blades shot past me. I
charged toward him, trying to get closer so I could actually hit him. With the long limb blades, he could
keep me at a distance for the longest time, and that was what he was trying to do.
 He jumped and spun around, kicking a leg out. I was still too far away for him to hit me with the kick,
but he was aiming to drill me with his blades. Two of them kicked straight at me, vertically in the air,
which would impale my face and stomach.
 I sidestepped out of its path quickly, and started conjoining. My arms shifted into vor, and I executed a
move I practiced a lot with Sythar’s knives. As the blades went by me, I raked my claws along it. Sparks
flew in every direction, at least twenty in all.
 Time to get him.
 My tekaro type was naturally fire, as well as the vor inside me. I reached out and grabbed a spark.
When my vor arms touched it, it grew into a larger flame. I controlled it to become longer and thinner,
more arrow-like. My kind of weapon.
 “Fire Arrow Maximum!” I threw the flame, and I was accurate. I hit him once, and then flew into speed
mode, grabbing half a dozen sparks and flinging them at him. The plan was to wound him, not to kill
him, and I was doing just that. He looked like the strong one, so he would have to be wounded so we
could deal with the other three.
 Nesokar was battling with the girl with the swords, and Sythar-.
 “Black Snake!” A shot of black tekaro flew down on me from above, and I stopped the FAM to block it
with my arms. The tekaro exploded in pressure, and hit both me and the boy. We fell away from each
 “Silar, what was that about?” the boy yelled, getting up. “You hit me!”
 Silar was still coming at me and I jumped away from her swinging blade.
 “She might have killed you in the attack, Syi,” she responded. “I just saved the mission!”
 Nesokar fell back next to me. Sythar was nowhere in sight.
 “Weren’t there three of you before? Why only two now?” the scroll girl asked. She was right. Sythar
was gone. But I wasn’t going to tell her he was supposed to be gone.
 A gray phoenix circled above us. It was getting closer and closer.
 “You have failed, all of you,” Nesokar quietly said.

76 | M o o n W a t e r
 He caught them all off guard, including me.
 “What did you say?” the one called Silar snapped. She snatched her sword from the wrapping on her
hip and took a step forward and then suddenly stopped.
 “Noaro’s Camouflage!” Nesokar said, lifting a finger. There was nothing on it, until one of his wires
slowly appeared on it. Then the rest of the wires slowly appeared. And the knives.
 There were at least a half-mile of wire lying on the ground, in a circle around Mist Wolf, and there
were hundreds of knives looped through all of it. And all was lying on the ground around them. They
were going down with this final attack.
 The phoenix was getting closer.
 Nesokar filled his chest with air and made a great sweep of his arms in opposite directions, causing the
wires and knives to whip up from the ground and move erratically, kicking up plenty of dust.
 “Cutting Whirlwind!” The wires formed a tornado shape around them, cutting them with the fast
moving wires and knives. It was spinning fast enough, and the phoenix had gotten close enough. It gave
out a scream and a human voice erupted.
 “Wind Scream!” Sythar stopped his dive and gave a powerful flap of his wings. There were three blasts
of tekaro filled air, heading right down for Mist Wolf. They slammed into them, and that’s when I shot at
the air filled, tekaro pressured, tornado, with a fire arrow.
 Nesokar dove for cover with me falling in line right behind him. Sythar beat his wings hard to gain
some height.
 There was a loud long explosion of air and fire, fueled by all the tekaro in the air. Nesokar and I kept
our heads down until we were sure there wasn’t anything lingering in the air. I hoped Sythar was high
enough to avoid anything. We would need to be in top health for the escape.
 Water splashed on my back. It scared me, and I jumped a little bit. What the heck was water doing
splashing on me? The air would be dry from the explosion. I sat up on my knees, a little bruised from the
thick bush I was ducking in. I was surprised and slightly in awe of what I saw.
 It was three-swords and the scroll girl. The two of them survived the explosion, and were standing,
facing us. They had burn and scratch marks all over them and were breathing heavily, holding their
weapons. The ground around them was soaking wet, but the trees a farther distance from them were
 They were disrupting my plan. But I had to give them credit.
 “So you made it this far,” I said, shifting the bow in my hands. “How did you do it?”

77 | M o o n W a t e r
 The scroll girl took a deep breath and said, “The tornado you ‘made’. I saw you use that fire attack on
Syi before, so I guessed you would use the fire arrow again,” she lifted one of her hands, which was
holding one of her scrolls. “Water Si. I used the tornado to keep the water swirling around us, protecting
us from the fire and knives. Don’t you know water is the top protective element?”
 She had got me. And yes, I knew water was the protective element.
 “And now, we’re going to use teamwork to break you guys down.”
 That was a threat! Sythar jumped down next to me, fully human again. Two on three. They were hurt
some, and the two others were lying behind them, unconscious or dead. We would take them!
 Sythar rushed them. We had not thought a plan for if they survived the fire arrow. We would have to
take them down as fast as we could to continue on with Moon Water.
 “Water Barrier!” The scroll girl opened the scroll fully, and the inscription lit up with light. Water shot
out of the scroll, but too late. Sythar was already on top of her. He jumped over her scroll and kicked her
in her side, sending her crashing into a tree. “You don’t get off easy for that.”
 Three-swords was still. I could tell she could barely move, and it looked like she had pushed herself too
far. Sythar went after her and she went down instantly without much resistance.
 Time to go into phase two.
 I used the rope in my bag to tie each of them to a different tree. I ordered my crew to start conjoining
while I finished. I was faster at it, since I practiced it more. They conjoined while I tied, and then we all
ran off (and flew) together.
 The tekaro barrier around the proximate fighting plain was a sensor. Anything that passed through it,
bug or human, would be felt by the teshdar who put up the barrier. So we passed through as a wolf,
phoenix, and vor, and it didn’t seem odd at all. With our bags on our backs, we ran from the village and
our enemy.

                                                  Silar Tenra
 “You know we lost because of our lack of teamwork,” Syi muttered to me. “And because you made my
kill rate easier when you hit me.” He finished un-tying me and I stretched out. Ustallar and Raysyna were

78 | M o o n W a t e r
already out and preparing themselves. We had been out for a few minutes since Shadow Walk had left
us. We were going after them for leaving us like this.
 I checked my swords and my clothes. Nothing was badly damaged. My shirt was a bit ripped from all
those knives, though.
 “Silar, are you fine?” Raysyna asked.
 “Yes. You guys ready? We’re going after them!” I started running ahead and the rest followed. As we
ran, I formulated a plan.
 “We charge the, head on into them when we get them. I was barely awake when they left, and they
went in this direction. One of them was bleeding too,” I said, pointing to a leaf with a splatter of blood
on it. “They’ll have to stop soon!”
 We ran on through the woods for another ten minutes, not really caring about the mission now. I had
seen them change into second beings. We were all on the same level, so how did they know how to do
it, and not us?
 I sensed them up ahead, about 50 yards away. They were in a tight group, most likely tending to
whoever was wounded. And just like I said, we would charge them head on.
 “Just like Hesachi sensei told us! If we have the opportunity, charge them with the team!”
 Yes, with the team.
 The little group ahead only saw, but heard nothing. What they saw was a slow, thick mist spreading
around them. I charged out of it, heading straight for the boy with the knives. The other was sitting
down and holding his side while the girl tended to his wound.
 “Black Snake,” I shouted, drawing tekaro into my swords another time. He pulled two knives and
swung at me. I spun underneath his arm and made a swing at his side. “Time to go down!” He turned his
entire body to block it, and was surprised when I shot past him toward the girl.
 “Lightning Step!”
 Syi flashed out of the mist and slammed the boy to the ground from behind him. He then quickly tied
him down with his limb blade straps.
 Ustallar jumped out of the mist next to me and came up with another scroll. “Here! Tekaro Si!” She
handed me one end of the scroll that was blank. The inscription on this one didn’t start at the end of the
scroll, a little deeper in. I gripped the blank end and stabbed my sword through it and stuck it into the
ground. All the tekaro started feeding into it, filling up the blank space with an inscription which Ustallar
was reciting:

79 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Later Motion! Preserve!”
 My tekaro mended with the inscription on the scroll, and Ustallar ran all the way around the girl and
the boy with the wound. Black tekaro shot out of the scroll and surrounded the two in a small cage, or
preserve. Raysyna jumped out of a tree. She was backup if we missed the targets with the preserve. As if
that would happen.
 It took me a few moments to realize that we had them. We had them!
 The girl was the calmest of them. The boys were looking confused and ready to fight, but they weren’t
going anywhere.
 “Why’d you leave us back there and go this way? The village is in the other direction. Not only that,
but you changed into the second beings. How? We’re the same level, and we can’t do it, but how did
 The girl was silent.
 “Tell me! NOW!”
 Raysyna hurriedly came up to me and touched my shoulder. “Silar, I don’t think she’ll answer if we
threaten her. Let me try, ok?”
 I huffed and turned my back away from the cage when it shattered.
 “I’ll tell you, but not from a cage.”
 The girl was still sitting down, but my sword was thrown to my feet. Raysyna picked up the scroll and
handed it to Ustallar, and then went over to the wounded boy.
 “Untie him, Syi,” Raysyna yelled over her back. She took the girl’s hand. “I’m Raysyna, what is your
 “Isora. They’re Nesokar and Sythar.”
 I was a little skeptical, but hey, I was meeting with another enemy/friend. Interesting.
 Within the next half-hour, they explained to us why they were leaving the village, and their plan to
carry it out. It was amazing at how Isora had formulated the plan along with the others.
 “It wasn’t all our idea,” Isora said after her long explanation. “You might not understand; you guys are
only ten, and I’m thirteen. But I was told by my mother before she left, to run away from the village
when I was able, like she did. She abandoned me, guessing I wouldn’t make it. But we’re going now, and
I’m taking anyone I can. That includes Mist Wolf.”
 The next day was tough on us. Isora had to formulate an expansion to the plan, and they couldn’t run
away just then. To start, everyone made themselves known back in the village. Alone, we of Mist Wolf
gathered our things. Isora wanted to take us out of the village, and we weren’t about to stop her from

80 | M o o n W a t e r
doing it. I was ready to explore the outside they kept from us, but I wasn’t taking a trip or anything. She
was saving us from corruption, or something of the likes. Syi and Nesokar were the best at sneaking, so
they managed to get to the back of the village via the underground tunnels. The village was surrounded
on three sides by forest, and one side by two mountains. The mountains were called the two brothers,
because it was said that the siblings of the Earth battled there, and in their enormous battle, altered the
land so much and tried to kill each other with earth techniques. They died at the same time, and helped
the geography with partially unnatural mountains. It is said that their tekaro still slithers throughout the
 The mountains weren’t very big, but on the other side of them was more forest, and then the
mountain clan. Isora calculated it for us. The trip would take two to three days, at most. It wasn’t too
hard. We would go within the next three days.
 We were ready that day.
 I didn’t know what I was starting, but little did I know, it was big.

81 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 10                                                                                 Nesokar Grekai
 “Time to go,” Isora whispered. It was two days since the plan fell through and the coming of Mist Wolf.
We were all under the village in the system of tunnels, discovered by one of the girls from Mist Wolf.
The team was dominated by girls.
 “Why are you the only boy on your team?” I asked Syi as we ran through the tunnels.
 “Because they’re the best for the team. My sensei explained it all to me, making sure I didn’t feel
different being the only boy. You wouldn’t guess it, but their records show they’re the three strongest
girls of their age in the village.”
 Records. The only records of teshdar were kept in the data bank, under the Maeron. He had access to
them as well as Isora?
 “The data bank?” I asked.
 He laughed a little and looked back at me. “You guys aren’t the only ones who have been down there. I
have once as well. My father showed me our records.”
 We continued on in silence. Up ahead was a fork in the tunnel. There was one leading straight, another
to the left, and a third to the right. Isora stopped.
 “Which way will lead to the two brothers?” She asked Silar.
 “The left,” Silar and Isora continued to lead. We encountered a few more forks and sudden turns, and
Silar led us through them all without hesitation. It was when we approached the last fork that trouble
caught up to us in the sound of extra footsteps.
 “Someone’s coming!” Sythar whispered to me. I looked at the situation. We were in a big group. If we
stayed together, we would be caught instantly. There were four paths…and one of them was occupied.
It was obvious.
 “Split!” I hissed. I jumped to the left tunnel and ran quietly. I heard someone following me. It was
dangerous splitting like this. If one of us were lost down here, it could be a long time before we got back
to the surface. We would have to retrace our steps.
 When I was deep enough into the tunnel that I wouldn’t be spotted, I stopped and checked who was
following me. It was Syi and Ustallar.
 “If we can’t get back with the others, then we have to keep going. The plan was to meet at the base of
the brothers at the checkpoint. We can wait there for them, unless they get caught. We agreed on
waiting for less than a day. If the time that they’re gone exceeds that, then we leave without them. You
all have the maps, right?”
 They checked their bags and nodded. I checked mine while I was thinking about it.

82 | M o o n W a t e r
 The footsteps got louder and then stopped at the entrance at our tunnel. I couldn’t see in the dark, but
I bet whoever was there was looking around. I twinge of fear grabbed at my chest. Did we leave
footprints? If so, we would be caught quickly…
 There was yelling and more footsteps, running this time. But they were going in the opposite direction
of us, running down what most likely would be another one of the tunnels. He wasn’t coming this way,
but he had possibly seen one of the others.
 “Let’s go,” I motioned for Syi and Ustallar to follow me as I continued deeper into the tunnel, having
no idea where I was going. It was out of the question for Silar to draw a map of this confusing
underground complex. I doubt she knew every passage under here. “We have to get as far away from
that fork as we can.”
 We silently continued on.
 “If they get caught, what will we do?” Ustallar asked. “They’ll guard that fork, so we won’t be able to
go back, but I don’t think any of them will say which way we went or if there are any more of us, but
still, we won’t be able to navigate the rest of the way, will we?”
 I had no answer for her. I just continued to stumble through the darkness.
 “All we have to do is look for landmarks…” Syi mumbled.
 We came out into a large opening. There were a few cracks up above that let light in.
 “What do you mean by landmarks?” Ustallar bumped into me from behind. I had suddenly stopped
and signaled for them to be quiet.
 There was talking.
 “…No. It’s only been a few that really matter. I mean, sure, you have to count Maryuin and Val, but
besides them, nothing…”
 “Yeah. Really.”
 I knew who the voices belonged to. And the cracks in the ‘ceiling’ above.
 They were the night guards keeping post at the southern gate. The light was coming through a sewage
grate, and there was a ladder that led up to it from our level.
 “Will we have to climb it up? I doubt we would be able to make it past the gate keepers fast enough,
but there isn’t anything else we can try.” I looked around. There wasn’t another tunnel that I could see
in the dark. We had run down a dead end. “Could this have been the way she would take us?”
 “I doubt it,” Syi said. “She would have known the night guards would be up here. If it was, she would
have had a plan to get past them.” He started walking towards the far wall.
 “Hey, who is there?”

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 The voice came from above, from the grate. I jumped back quickly into the darker, shadowy area. Syi
was already on the other side of the cavern area, and he was out of sight, hopefully, the men above only
heard us, and did not see us.
 Then, there was no sound.
 “What happened to them?” I whispered.
 “They’re gone,” Ustallar said slowly. “They disappeared, somewhere. I don’t think they ran off, or we
would have heard footsteps. But I can’t sense them anymore. It’s like they were there, and then, just
 Syi was gone too. Where did he go?
 “Syi!” Ustallar called out.
 “Up here.” Syi pulled the grate from its place above us and motioned us to the ladder. “There was a
smaller tunnel that led above ground. The guards are gone, though. They must have run.”
 Without explaining, we rushed up the ladder and into open air.
 “Are there any others up here?” Ustallar asked. She was ahead of me and I was the last to climb up
from the cavern and fix the grate back into its place. The guard post was empty and the rest of the
village was sleeping. “Where are they?”
 “Ustallar, it isn’t like you to be worried,” Syi said to her.
 “But I am! The others are supposed to meet us here, right? And they aren’t here!”
 “We wait for a few hours. If they don’t show, we hide in the forest, and wait for a few more hours. If
nothing, then we have to go without them, because they’ll most likely be caught by then. That was part
of the plan.”
 “No!” Ustallar’s eyes got big and round. “We can’t leave Silar or Raysyna!”
 “We might,” Syi said softly. “Isora explained it, didn’t she? We have to leave here as soon as we can.
And we were told to wait around the gate for no more than a few hours, and then we’ll have to leave.”
 Ustallar looked to the ground and started slowly to walk to the gate. I was thinking that she knew we
were right about it, and she also knew we might have to leave the others behind.
 “Let’s go,” Syi started pulling her along a little faster and I ran to open the gate. It was twice my size
but not very heavy, and we managed through it fine. On the other side and outside of the village, we hid
in a tree and waited for the others to show up. As I lay on the branch, I began thinking about Sythar and
Isora, stuck underground. They could very well be caught by now. It had been a good amount of time
since we last saw them. They could be on the other side of the village by now. It was dangerous,

84 | M o o n W a t e r
especially at night. The officials could even make them tell our location and where we’re headed, and
then we’d be done for. We wouldn’t be able to hide from the officials for very long.
 “We should move into a safer place, Nesokar.”
 The voice came from all around me, and it didn’t sound like Ustallar or Syi.
 “Nesokar, we have to move,” the voice said again.
 What was it? I looked around for another person.
 “Nesokar, did you just hear something?” Syi asked. He checked the surroundings as I did. I shook my
head slowly. “No.”
 “Well I did,” Ustallar said. I turned and looked at her. Her face was simple, without any emotion.
“Someone said we should move deeper into the woods, where it’s safer.”
 Syi and I stared at her as she said it so carelessly.
 “Who said it?” Syi asked, inching toward her so she would hear him better. We were all whispering, for
fear of the night guards returning to their posts and hearing us.
 “A girl’s voice said it. I’m sure I heard it before, but I can’t tell who it was exactly. I am pretty sure I
heard it before, though. It’s fuzzy, too. As if I’ve dreamt the voice before, but I just can’t match it with
anyone I’ve seen before.”
 Syi turned away as if nothing ever happened and went back to me. “Is that what happened to you just
now, Nesokar?”
 “Yes, actually. Normally when people start hearing voices, they go crazy, so part of me didn’t want to
admit I heard it, and the other part didn’t want you to think it.”
 “Complex,” Syi laughed a bit.
 “Look,” Ustallar whispered, pointing back towards the village. “There’s some movement by the gate,
coming towards us. I think there are two of them, but I’m not sure-.”
 “I found them.”
 My head snapped around. The voice was just behind us, and it was very real this time. It wasn’t the
same voice that I heard before, but it was similar, and lighter. And the voice was not one that I knew.
The face was covered by a black mask, and he was dressed in all black.
 I snapped into action, my first thought being that someone in the village had found us. And when he
said ‘I found them’, it meant we were being looked for. They knew we were out.
 I whipped my hands forward, pushing them out in front of me. My wires flipped around and circled
behind the intruder. It was a small trap I had set up just in case someone found us. They would no doubt
come up on our backs to surprise us, but I was ready for that.

85 | M o o n W a t e r
 Syi was just a second behind me, and he jumped up straight out of the tree, letting his limb blades fall
out their full length, becoming a danger in the tight space in which the intruder was in. with my wires,
and Syi’s blades flailing around, he was bound to get cut somewhere. He wasn’t going to escape the
joint attack!
 Ustallar dipped her head into her hands and screamed. She wasn’t expecting someone to be coming,
and wasn’t expecting someone to find us. The intruder must have ducked as well, because I felt nothing
with the wire. I turned around carefully, afraid of falling off the branch, but the intruder was not in the
tree anymore. He jumped up to Syi, and I noticed he was defenseless. His limb blades were aimed at the
intruder when he was on the ground, but now he was up in the air.
 “Syi!” I yelled.
 He spun backward, trying to put distance between them. He brought his leg around and it smashed
into the guy’s ribs. He fell backward and landed silently on the dirt.
 “Not bad, kid,” the intruder ripped off the mask and let her hair flow out. “But you’re up against a
team of level 9 Rykun. You can’t win.”
 “Level 9, huh?” I was surprised and amazed a bit at the same time. It was a girl. She looked about
seventeen or eighteen. They would send in a level 9 team to catch us? We were only level threes and
fours; it was overkill. Unless they knew what we were up to…a level 9 squad would be well suited for
this mission.
 “Yes, level 9. And our mission is to bring you back to the Maeron as soon as we spotted you. Now we
can either do this easily and go there now, or you can run and I can have a little fun with you, because
there is a little chance that you’ll escape from here.”
 She sounded serious, and confident. There was a little chance of us getting away, but we could try-.
 “Shock!” Syi said, triggering a technique. His blue tekaro swirled around him and charged to the max.
He had a fighter’s glare in his eyes.
 “So we’re going to do this hard,” the girl said, stepping to the side and taking out a short sword. “Well
I’m ready, boy.”
 Syi rushed her, and she stepped back once to steady herself and gain a defense stance. He punched,
and she blocked, with surprising results.
 The girl dropped her sword and caught it quickly. Syi’s punch brought an electric shock that ran
through her sword and went up her arm.
 “Hah!” Syi jumped and delivered a roundhouse to her head. I jumped into the fight as support, and
went down to clip her legs with a sweeping movement. Syi spun and brought his fist around, smashing it

86 | M o o n W a t e r
clear into her stomach as she ‘lay’ in the air horizontally. She yelled and lost her breath all at once, and
fell to the ground.
 “Here!” Ustallar whipped out one of her scrolls and reciting. From out of the scroll came a bright pink
line of tekaro, and it formed a cage around the fallen girl.
 “Nice teamwork, eh?” Syi and I slapped hands.
 “Ah!” Ustallar screamed.
 We turned around. The two others! We had forgotten about the two people we saw running towards
us just before the girl showed up. It was two boys, and one of them was holding Ustallar tight. She
wouldn’t be getting out of that lock without help.
 “Round two?” I said, moving my hands in a circular motion. The wires started spinning around me.
 “I hope you’re ready for this, Nesokar.”
 I smiled at Syi. “Are you ready?”
 We didn’t get a chance to make the first move. The guy came in on us quickly. He was fast, spinning
and swinging his staff this way and that. He got in between us and pointed an end at each of us.
 “You can surrender now, or we will be forced to capture you, and I can’t promise you your health. You
will go down, though.”
 “That’s what she said to us, too,” I motioned to the girl still trapped in the tekaro cage. “She was so
sure she would-.”
 “Did she let you charge her?”
 I gulped. He was right…
 “He’s going to charge one of us, Nesokar!” Syi called from his other side.
 “Who said anything about one of you?” The guy looked right at me as his staff lengthened and tekaro
shot towards me from the end. I realized it was happening to Syi on the other side as well.
 Taking in a quick gulp of air, I bent over backward and had the tekaro and the blade stabbed just over
my stomach. Syi jumped over instead of going under, and he landed on the staff, using his weight to
bring the staff up on my side, allowing me to spin away from the danger.
 The staff-guy swung the side Syi was standing on towards the ground, planning to slam him into the
dirt. Syi quickly bounced off the staff and landed on a low branch, still opposite of me.
 “You two are quick,” he breathed in and out slowly and heavily. His staff slid back down to its original
size, just taller than him from tip to tip. “But let’s see how fast you are.”

87 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Fast and quick are almost the same things!” Syi launched at him and lashed out with a kick. His leg
slammed into the wooden part of the staff and stopped, but his limb blades kept going. All four of them
came at him from a different direction, making the dodging sequence harder for the enemy.
 “Ha!” I jumped up and swung a hand of wires to wrap around his legs. I pulled them tight and they
sunk into his legs, cutting in deep. He wouldn’t be able to dodge Syi’s attacks.
 “Soukou, 17!”
 I sucked in air, but only to have it blown out by his Soukou. I rolled backward away from him and hit a
 The man grabbed his staff from the air and retook a battle pose. “How did you like a number 17?”
 I coughed and stood up. Soukou was a common technique the most if not all higher teshdar used. It
was a simple technique that blasted tekaro from the user’s hand or hands. Soukou was numbered from
1 to 100, 1 being the weakest power of blast and 100 being the strongest. Just about everyone could use
it, but only a few higher leveled teshdar could use Soukou 100. A direct hit from a 17 at close range
would leave a huge bruise mark on my stomach, though.
 “I thought you could do better than that, being a level 9 and all,” I spit out at him. “Or maybe that’s
your limit?”
 He smiled. “You are taunting me, I see. It still has some effect on me, though. You want to see more?
Fine. We’ll count by tens,” He pointed both of his palms at me. “Soukou 27!”
 I dodge quickly to the left. The blast was wider and taller than the first one. There was a definite
change in energy between the two blasts.
 “Soukou 37!”
 Another one! I jumped again to the left, but the blast was a bit too wide. I yelped as a few of my wires
got caught in the blast, and started to wither and crumble under the massive heat and pressure. There
was also a large crashed as a tree was cut in half. I tripped on a branch that had fallen in my path and
rolled to my knees. I gasped. He was still going!
 “Soukou 47!” He aimed right for me.
 “Lightning Step!” Syi stepped just underneath his arms, and pushed them upward from his left. He
moved swiftly from there, knowing there wasn’t much time to lay a hit down. He spun to the left and
brought his elbow into a rib, and then landed two punches and a side kick to the chest. He tried to go for
another punch, but this time the guy was ready.
 He grabbed Syi’s fist and smiled. “So we’re ready to get serious, are we? Well let’s see how real you
can get,” he threw Syi back some. “My name is Renkai. That’s all you need to know before we fight.”

88 | M o o n W a t e r
 “And I am Nesokar,” I responded. He was telling us names because he was really going to get serious.
 “What clan are you from?”
 “That’s all you need to know,” Syi smiled ruefully, and widened his stance.
 “Splendid!” Renkai clapped his hands lightly together. “You have nerve, boy. But nerve won’t help you
win in a battle. A good spirit, that’s what will help you!” He lashed forward and stabbed at Syi.
 Aren’t they almost the same thing? I thought when I jumped forward to join the battle. We would have
to free Ustallar soon. She wasn’t able to move much or counterattack from the hold she was in.
 I spun away from and attack while bringing a few wires around for an attack at the same time, and
then saw an opening that would impact the battle. I think Syi Saw it, too. At the moment Renkai turned
his face towards the man holding Ustallar, and turned our backs to the man, we turned away from
Renkai in the same moment and flung ourselves at the man in attack.

89 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 11                                                                                   Raysyna Kufeu
 We stumbled through the dark tunnel, Silar in front of me. We were the only ones in this tunnel. I had
decided to follow Silar because out of all of us, she knew these tunnels the best, and would be able to
maneuver them the best as well. But she looked disgusted that I had followed her.
 “Why did you follow me? Why didn’t you go after Isora or Syi, huh?” she muttered as we stepped
around dirty puddles.
 “Well, you know the tunnels best, right?” I said quickly. “I didn’t want to get lost down here.”
 “Sure,” she responded dryly. “I would have rather been alone.”
 I kind of knew that Silar didn’t like me a lot. She never said anything to me that wasn’t mean, she
constantly gave me dirty looks, and ignored me most of the time. She was different with Syi and
Ustallar, and it did bother me some. I tried to be nice to her often, but she would always fire a rude
remark or insult back at me. I tried to think over the things I’d done to her, but could find none since we
met. I really wanted to ask her about it, but was afraid at what she’d say.
 “There are some different creatures that live down here, right?” I asked, trying to give some noise to
the lifeless (almost) tunnel. The truth was, I was a bit scared.
 “You aren’t scared, are you?” she asked directly. “You’re older than me, and I’m not scared, am I? The
only things down here are small vor and maybe one or two wolves. Nothing big. But don’t worry. I’ll
protect you.” She sneered the last part.
 I looked to the side of the tunnel and saw an old carcass, lying against a wall. I stopped a moment to
look at it when Silar sat down and started going through her bag.
 “Raysyna,” she said. “There are two tunnels from here. One of them holds a nest of vor, and the other
is clear. I have to scout forward and make sure we take the right one, since I haven’t been here for a
little while. Stay here and make sure no one is following us, ok? I’ll be back soon.”
 I nodded, moving away from the creepy skeleton. It was a vor child, just about all bone. Silar picked up
her bag and then went off down one of the tunnels. The other tunnel was just next to it. I made note
that she went down the tunnel on the left.
 I waited for a few minutes in the tunnel-room. I was scared of being underground at night, especially
with the darkness. I haven’t experienced dark like this before. I sat in the middle of the tunnel, listening
for any movement or noise that could tell me Silar was coming back. It was slight torture, sitting and
waiting. And then I heard a noise that wasn’t Silar. It was a small rock, skidding across the ground.
 Alarmed, I jumped up and grabbed two of my swords. I left them sheathed until I could pinpoint in
which direction the noise came from. I breathed in quietly, calming myself, because the noise came

90 | M o o n W a t e r
from the right. To my left were the two tunnels, one of them being the one Silar had gone down. There
was no other movement or noise besides that.
 I sat back down quietly and started listening again. There was a stepping noise to the left. I stood up to
greet Silar, but then stepped back quickly when a vor bared his teeth and growled at me.
 I froze. The vor was normal sized, around 7 feet long from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. His
skin was dark-like, black or blue, I couldn’t tell. I could barely see it, but I could see its eyes. They were
red in color and advancing on me slowly.
 I moved my hands slowly to the hilts of my swords and started backing up at the same time. The vor
growled louder as soon as my hands fell on my swords. I stepped back on the carcass from before, the
one of the vor. I tilted my head toward it slightly, trying to look away from the living vor. I was stuck
between the living and the dead…
 There was nothing else to do. I couldn’t scare him off, so I would have to kill him. But my chest went
heavy when I realized that, for I was no killer. I could take on-.
 The vor launched itself at me, teeth bared. I ducked under him and turned, reaching for his pushed-out
muzzle. I gripped it and swung him down and slammed him into the carcass, on his back. I held him like
this and counted to twenty before his movements started to get sluggish. He was running out of air fast,
with my hands clamped over his nose and keeping his mouth shut. He passed out and I quickly let go of
him so he could get a little air.
 I whirled and almost hugged Silar, but she stopped me before I could. “What are you doing?” I quickly
recovered myself and stepped back. “I, um, the vor…” I pointed to it.
 “You killed him?” she asked.
 I shook my head. “He was down here and attacked me right when you left.”
 “Well, there most likely are more behind him, so we should get going,” Silar grabbed a small light-
stone form her bag and ran into the tunnel on the left again. “C’mon, we have to go!”
 The light was much darker in the tunnel than it was in the chamber area, and I had to follow the light-
stone instead of following Silar. I couldn’t even see her, but I kept pace.
 “Are they behind us?” Silar breathed out as we kept running. “Are they chasing us?”
 “I don’t know?!” I yelped helplessly. The dark tunnel was scaring me badly, and the thought of being
chased by hunger, savage vor scared me even worse. “I can’t see anything!”
 “We’re almost out of here. This tunnel is really short. Look! There!”

91 | M o o n W a t e r
 The night air opened up ahead of us, and with it, a small sense of relief. I ran right past Silar as she
stopped at the tunnel exit to catch her breath. I knelt over and dropped my bag into the dirt. I was out
of there, finally, and into open air. I remembered that we were running away and quickly took note of
my surroundings. We were somewhere on the outskirts, most likely still inside the city limits, but outside
of the walls.
 “Silar, where are we?”
 “The western edge, I think. We’re about a half mile away from the two brothers mountains.” She was
still breathing heavily at the edge of the tunnel.
 “Silar, are you OK?” I asked, coming over to her. She was breathing hard and coughing.
 “Yes, yes, I’m fine. Don’t you worry about me.”
 I stepped back and looked down on her, feeling helpless. It was upon her request, though.
 “Alright, let’s go,” Silar said as she stood and grabbed for her bag. “We- AHHH!”
 I jumped back as Silar screamed. “Get it off me!”
 I looked over her, and noticed with shock that a vor was clamped onto Silar’s lower leg. He looked
weak and must have been starving, to go after a human. Most vor eat little animals and some plants, but
he was going after a human!
 I snatched up my sword and lunged at him, and he let go of her and backed down some. He was
frothing at the mouth and had a crazed look in his eyes. He growled at us and then barked. Two more
vor came up behind him, looking ready to eat.
 Silar stumbled over to me and held on to my shoulder as I supported her. Three vor against a girl and a
wounded girl didn’t look like good odds. I would be forced to kill in this round, or one of us would get
terribly hurt. That wouldn’t be a good idea, since we had to leave tonight.
 And then, the rest of our lives took a turn for the worse. The vor sniffed the air, turned, and ran back
into the tunnel, yelping.
 “What?” Silar screeched. I was just too happy to have them gone. I slowly sat her down on a tree
stump to look at her bite wound.
 “It doesn’t look too bad at all, Silar,” I said. The bite only broke the skin about half an inch. I had some
ointment in my bag. “I can fix it up quickly, but it’ll sting some.”
 “They ran away quickly,” Silar said, breathing hard. “They smelled or saw something bigger than them
coming with an aggressive attitude, or they wouldn’t have run away. Raysyna, something scared them,
and is coming this way.”

92 | M o o n W a t e r
 I looked into the woodland, with no intention of seeing anything in the darkness, but I felt scared along
with the vor, and wanted to run back to my bed. But I knew at the same time that I couldn’t, and I knew
why Galmorat sensei and the other two Masters had run away, and I was running with the same reason.
Then, flocks of birds erupted in flight from the forest, and flew back in the direction of the village, the
same way as the vor had run.
 It had begun.

 Ustallar noticed as the birds had taken up in haste. Something was coming. She stood quietly behind
Syi and Nesokar.
 “You see that?” she said, pointing up. All six figures looked up into the night sky, and watched as
hundreds of birds took flight towards the village.
 “What…something is approaching from there,” Renkai said. “I wonder what it could be.” The answer
was not delayed. The ground soon began to shake, softly at first, but then slowly became larger.
 “Is it an earthquake?” Syi yelled.
 “No,” one of the other level 9s said, looking toward the horizon of the approaching threat. “Not an
earthquake at all…”
 The voices in Syi, Nesokar, and Ustallar’s heads all said the same thing at the same time.

 Isora sat glumly on the ground with her hands bound by a small rope. A Soor Guard foot soldier had
caught her down in the tunnels, where he said she “didn’t belong”. He and another were standing guard
over her in the Maeron as a runner went to inform he parents. They didn’t want her to try anything
sneaky at all, and they knew she was a teshdar, so they kept her hands tied.
 “What were you doing down there, in the middle of the night?” He said, yelling in her ear. “That is no
place for a child to play. There are vor down there, and-.”

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 Isora hated getting caught, and this was the worst time to get caught. She had devised this plan! She
was the leader! And now it was all for nothing. The others would make it out of the village maybe, but
she wouldn’t. Their life on the run might be a bit harsher, though, since she had a larger part of their
food supply. They wouldn’t starve, though.
 The Matahoshi rushed by her quickly, and into a small meeting room. He had a tired look on his face.
He had been working day and night to find out what had happened to the masters. But Isora knew all
too well. Or she had guessed why they left, at least. They could have taken her with them, though…
 The floor started to shake.
 “What-.” She fell over, face first into the leg armor of one of the foot soldiers. The windows shook and
the light-stones and candles flickered. The people in this area of the Maeron began to yell out questions
and scream. What was going on? What was making the very ground quake like this?
 A runner burst into the Maeron door, and ran into the meeting room where the Matahoshi was. It
wasn’t the same runner that had been sent out to tell Isora’s family what she had been doing. The foot
soldier helped her back up to a sitting position.
 “What is going on?” Isora asked. No one answered.
 The Matahoshi came out of the room and silenced everyone with a hard glance. The foot soldiers
stood at attention.
 “Send word to T.H.R.E.A.D and the Soor Guard,” The Matahoshi whispered to the runner who stood
beside him. The runner nodded and took off. The ground still shook.
 “We are under the second wave of attack by the Mountain Clans and her allies,” The Matahoshi said.
“Order the evacuation phase three resource commission to full, and let’s get the civilians out of here, as
soon as we can!” Upon hearing the orders, the people in charge began to move franticly. It was a lot of
commotion, and Isora used it to slip silently into the fray, cut her rope on one of her arrow heads, and

 “Oh no,” Syi moaned. He saw the oncoming disaster. The Mountain Clans! Just like before, there were
hundreds of the flying creatures, each with someone riding on its back. They weren’t very far away, and

94 | M o o n W a t e r
would be upon the small group soon. A raid in the middle of the night could only mean they were trying
to catch Kytake by surprise. This would not be the same as before at all.
 Renkai started yelling orders. “Taijo, get these kids back in the village walls and to the evacuation
point!” This he yelled to the guy that grabbed Ustallar. The girl stepped up and stood next to Renkai.
“Pysarin and I will try to fight off the first few of them!”
 “Let’s go.” Taijo ran over to us and started moving us back towards the village gates, when the first
unsuspecting wave of enemy crashed into their line of site.
 “They must have had another wave moving in just over the tree line!” Renkai screamed. The actual
first wave was already upon them, and they did not know it. The beast that they saw farther away
weren’t the first wave of attack. The shaking ground had been a result of the beast’s wings flapping just
above the ground.
 “We won’t make it!” Syi screamed. Renkai threw himself into battle, cutting with his long bladed staff
at the nearest flying enemy. The attackers had not known there was a party already in the woods
waiting for them, even though it was made of three kids and three fighters. Well, they would all be killed
here. Syi turned to face the first oncoming attacker, ready to get revenge from his arrow wound from
the first attack.
 “Here we gooooooo!”

 Silar and Raysyna jumped up and ran for the tunnel. There were flying creatures all around, and
Raysyna believed it was the Mountain Clan again. Crying, she hurled herself to the ground as the
creatures screamed into the night, calling for blood and war.
 Elsewhere around the village, the same fate was befalling others. Isark bravely swung her scythe back
and forth beside her uncle, Silar’s father in the Tenra district. They were attacking from all sides.
 “Isark, we need to fall back some!” He called to her as he cut another foot soldier down. “They are
pressing too hard here!”
 “I know!” Her left arm was burning with pain from a deep cut. There were not many more options she
had but to run, but she was no coward. Her house exploded behind her from a flame technique, and she
fell to the feet of three soldiers.

95 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Isark! No!”
 Ril was fighting his own battle near the market area. The Kytake resistance was heavier here, since the
Soor Guard station was nearby. They were beating this force of enemy teshdar back, but with winning,
came sacrifices. He had already lost one of his squad members.
 Shelleena and Onary stood back to back as ten foot soldiers surrounded them. “What are we going to
do?” Onary said, coughing. “They’re too persistent!”
 Shelleena fired out a water technique to keep them farther away, and then dodged two arrows. “We
fight, that’s what we must do! Galmorat and the others will come back soon, and they’ll help us!” She
was feeling sick inside. Galmorat was gone right when the village needed him, and she wasn’t even sure
if he would return in this time of need.
 The Matahoshi led the Soor Guard to the main north gate, where the mass of the Mountain Clans were
heading. They had already gotten through the gate, and were headed for the heart of the city. This was
a strongpoint in the village; there was not much else around the heart.
  The enemy was in sight.
 The watch towers around the Maeron began to fire the large catapults of flaming rock onto them. The
teshdar of the group jumped forward to block it all with techniques, but the Matahoshi surged into
battle to stop them. A massive battle followed.
 “Fight to your last breath!” He yelled to his men as the two armies converged. “If they seize to the
Maeron, all will be lost!” he slashed this way and that, making sure his enemy stayed down. He was
willing to give his life for the good of the people.
 Syi was lucky. He and the others had encountered mostly foot soldiers riding upon the flying creatures.
If they had been teshdar, he would have been dead already. The foot soldiers carried swords and shot
bow and arrows, but they weren’t very skilled. They all were trying to get past them and into the village,
but not many had gotten past.
 “Don’t stop kid!” Renkai ordered. “If you do, they’ll find your weak spot and get you!” he slashed
downward and cut down an archer trying to fly around him.
 Syi was tiring. They were flying in fast, and every time he knocked one into the dirt two more were
right behind him. He ducked under one as it flew just over his head, but as he stood to keep fighting,
one of the beasts hit him in the head with a wing. Syi fell back, and did not get up.
 He was fading out. The night sky seemed to be getting darker and he could not hear anything
anymore. He kept his eyes straight up and watched as one after another winged creature flew over him,
screeching and soaring high.

96 | M o o n W a t e r
 Someone roughly picked him up and dragged him to lie against a tree. Who was that? he thought
dizzily. Raysyna appeared in his field of vision next to Silar. What were they doing here? Weren’t they
still in the tunnel? Syi was confused. A wall of mud and soil built itself up and around the area. What was
happening to his head?!
 Silar dropped to her hands and knees and the ground around her rose. A huge wall surrounded our
group and shielded us from the relentless attacks.
 Renkai slumped to his knees with exhaustion. The girl, Pysarin started tending to his wounds, even
though she had great wounds of her own. Taijo lay unconscious beside the two.
 “The wall will only hold for a few more minutes before they find a way to get through,” a familiar voice
said behind them. “We had better get moving.”
 Silar whipped around to face Hesachi sensei. “Sensei! Oh, thank you. I thought we were going to die
 He laughed and shook his head. “Really? You’ll all be safe as long as you’re with me. Now, we have to
get to a safer location before they break through, so watch and learn!”
 He clasped his hands together. “Tekaro Si! Elemental transfusion and transportation!” His tekaro
leaped out of his hands and surrounded all of them, including him. The Tekaro Si seal formed in front of
him as he executed the technique. Silar blinked, and then felt a wisp of cool, wet air as she and all the
others were transported to another part of the forest. They were actually at the brink of the forest, and
two mountains began in the near landscape. The full moon shone close over the mountains.
 “Where are we?” Silar asked, rubbing her ankle. “And where is Isora? Wasn’t she with you guys?”
 “I’m here,” Isora responded, sitting on a rock. “I was actually in the village when he transported me.
We met in the village when he was on his way to get you guys. He transported me here before you
 “Are we all here?” Hesachi sensei asked.
 “I think so,” Renkai responded. “But shouldn’t we all go to the evacuation place?”
 Hesachi sensei started thinking. “Maybe, but for now, we stay here.” He looked over Syi. “This boy
sure is prone to getting attacked, isn’t he?”
 Ustallar started to laugh, but then her laugh was mixed with a scream as warm blood splashed her
face. She coughed and grabbed her head, feeling for a wound, but there was none.
 Renkai fell as a heavy sword cut across his chest. He wasn’t prepared for it, and never saw it coming.
The same sword fell upon Pysarin and Taijo as well, killing them. Silar and Raysyna started screaming
and crying. What was going on?! Where was Hesachi?!

97 | M o o n W a t e r
 Nesokar looked for Hesachi sensei, and found him holding the sword that had cut down the three level
9s with ease. It was filthy with blood, dripping with blood. He smiled as Nesokar stared in horror.
 “Sensei…?” Syi murmured, thinking that he was dreaming. He couldn’t have been. The blood on his
arm was too real. “What…why did you-.”
 “They are not supposed to see what happens next,” Hesachi said calmly. “They would not understand,
and at the same time, would want to understand, and that would be a hindrance for me.” He slammed
his sword into the ground as more tekaro started flowing around him. His cape shot out behind him as
his energy erupted and started tearing up the ground around him.
 “Earth, Tekaro Si!” He bellowed. “Swallow up these elemental beasts for their natural forms! Let their
cries be heard around the world, and let their destruction be felt upon every shadow and every bit of
sod! Let the moon be their cage and captor!”
 “That’s a-.” Ustallar was cut off. The ground shook under her feet and she stumbled. “He’s reciting a
verse from a tekaro si transcript!”
 Sythar, deep in Kytake, in the evacuation line, felt something inside of him growl. He had been caught
as well, but not as fast. He was sent to the evacuation line with little discipline. Maybe he was hungry.
But then it began to hurt, very bad. He started yelping for help and clutching at his rumbling stomach.
Then, his chest started to hurt and he coughed up blood.
 They all were facing the same type of convulsions. Silar screamed as something was protruding from
her back. Isora’s fingers lengthened and sharpen, ripping through her skin. Multiple deformities began
to erupt on each of them, changing them, all painfully.
 Syi lost himself first. His eyes turned red and he stood, bent over. He jumped and was gone. Silar saw
this. When he lumped, the moon was the only thing left in her vision. The moon would be her cage and
captor? “No…” she said, just before she passed out and lost control of her body. Hesachi was nowhere
to be seen.
 The battle was in losing favor for Kytake. Mountain Clan troops were all through the city, looting and
killing those that were left behind. They sat fire to one house, and a domino effect erupted. Half of the
village soon was in flames. The Matahoshi rashly ordered a barrage of water techniques on the fire
ravaged area. That took away too many teshdar from the battlefield, but that was not the deciding
factor in the battle. The deciding factor was the seven figures that stormed the village from behind the
Mountain Clans soldiers. They swept in and started their business; they left behind bodies and

98 | M o o n W a t e r
 The Matahoshi watched as his village crumbled, fell, and burned. He was not a happy man at all. He
had lost many men, women, and children. The casualties were not certain. He took his remaining men
and village people and traveled south, away from the mountains and toward the safety of the woodland
and remaining village of the triple alliance. The main thing he was worried about was getting what was
left of his village away from the inhuman cries that resounded throughout the valley. The noise would
haunt those that heard it, and would continue to echo till morning.

                                      End of Moon Water, Part 1

99 | M o o n W a t e r
                           Part 2
                          Sword in the Water

100 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 12                                                                                    ?????????
I slowly opened my eyes and woke. I stared upward at the ceiling, and tried not to move my body. I
couldn’t hear, or feel much. I felt sore in some places, and others, it just felt numb. My hearing soon
followed after my sight, and then stronger feeling.
 I was alive. At least I knew that much.
 “Oh. She’s awake. Latu, she’s awake!”
 Someone was in the room with me. It wasn’t a big room, just big enough to be cozy- I guess. I tilted my
head toward my feet and saw two children watching me. They had large, childish eyes.
 “H-hello,” I said, trying to smile. There was one boy and one girl.
 They sat silently, not moving, but just staring. “Can’t you talk?” I asked playfully.
 “Yes,” the girl said. Just then a woman walked in with a paper and a bottle of some liquid. She looked
startled when she looked at me. The children ran out of the room.
 “Well,” she said, breathing slowly. “Well, you’re finally awake. I was hoping you would-.”
 This all started scaring me. People kept staring and talking about waking up. “How long have I
been…asleep?” I asked.
 “Well, honey, you’ve been in a coma for some time now,” the woman said. She looked like she might
be a nurse, and then I realized I might be in a hospital. “Truly, you’ve been asleep for two years.”
 Two years.
 My heart skipped a beat. Two years, I had been in this bed?!
 I scrambled to sit up, and the nurse hurried and knelt down next to the bed. “No no, don’t try to get up
yet. Your body still is recuperating from the sleep. You’ll be a little drowsy for the rest of the day.
Tomorrow maybe, you can get up.”
 “Do I…have any family here?” I asked, feeling weird for asking. I didn’t remember anything besides
waking. “Will they come to see me?”
 “Yes, I’m sure they will,” the nurse said. “You’ll have to rest right now though, Laya.” Finally, someone
said my name. It would have felt bad to ask what it was.
 “You didn’t remember your name, did you?” The nurse asked. I laughed and said no.
 “It’s OK,” she said. “Your adoptive family will be in soon. You were found by the river bed….maybe I
should let them tell you. Rest, yes?” she left the room with a smile.
 I sat up in my bed and thought over the past few minutes. I had an adoptive family, my name was
Laya. I was in some village, but I did not know what village. My family must have been desperate about

101 | M o o n W a t e r
my health, sleeping for two years! What did I do, to fall asleep that long? I tried to remember anything
before waking up, but could not.
 The door opened slowly, and I looked for someone to come in. In they came, slowly, and looking.
When I saw the woman walk in, I knew she was my mother. I saw a flash of her face over mine, and I
started to remember her name. It started with an M.
 “M-Metyra?” I asked. Her eyes glowed. “Yes,” she said with a soft voice. “You do remember, some!”
 I sighed, feeling some sense of victory. “Yes, something,” I said. “But it makes my head hurt just trying
 She sat next to me on the bed and hugged me. “Then don’t try. Just let it come to you, and everything
will be fine.”
 I nodded and sunk into her hug. The others crowded around us. I looked around. There was a man, a
younger boy, and a girl child. The man must have been the father, the younger boy an older brother. I
tried to remember them, but couldn’t.
 “Ah, I see you don’t remember us,” the father figure said. “I’m Kallo, and this is Rika and Pikano.” He
said, motioning to himself, then the girl, and then the boy.
 “Hello, Laya,” Pikano said.
 “Hey! You’re finally awake!” Rika said, twirling in her small dress. “I thought you would never get up!”
 I laughed as the others looked at her with twisted faces. “I’m fine about it,” I said. “I’m just happy I did
get up.”
 “Yes, and so are we,” Metyra said, hugging me a little tighter. “The nurses said you would be able to
come home tomorrow. How does that sound?”
 Tomorrow. It sounded great. “Good,” I said.
 “Good,” Metyra stood up from the bed and motioned for the others to leave. “We’ll see you later on
today, because they also said you needed rest now.”
 “I don’t get why she needs rest,” Rika said, slumping as she left. “She just rested for two years…”
 I giggled at her philosophy.
 It was once again quiet. I started to collect my thoughts. How old was I? What did I look like? Where
was I? Day? Time? Year? It was all confusing.
 I sighed and looked to my right. There was a small table next to my bed. There was a box and a glass
vase of flowers on it. I reached for the box and brought it to my lap, opening it. Inside was a coin, a
single gold coin.

102 | M o o n W a t e r
 I picked it up and looked at it. There was a note under it, lying folded neatly in the bottom of the box. I
opened it, and read it:

                 There is always a cost.

 The handwriting looked familiar. It must have been written by someone I knew in the past. I was happy
to know I could still read and write and I doubt it was from one of my family. It seemed a little too harsh.
I decided to hide the coin and the note, not to worry any of them. Behind the flowers was a small glass
mirror, and I took a look at myself for the first time in two years, I guess. I had short brown hair and dark
eyes. From my judgment, I guessed I was around fourteen years old. Content, I put the mirror aside.
 The door opened and someone walked in. I tilted my head to look. A man and a woman walked in
together. They had long grey garments over their clothes. It seemed as if they brought gloom in behind
them when they entered. The air in the room seemed to get heavy and dreary.
 “Hello,” I said, trying to find something to say. “Are you…who…”
 “Sorry, if it seems a little rare that complete strangers show up to you, especially in a time like this,”
the woman said, smiling softly. “You knew us before, back before you went to sleep.”
 “Did I?” I laughed a little. “I’m so sorry. I-.”
 “Don’t be,” the man said. “No one expects you to remember…yet. You will in time, though.”
 The man shifted in his seat some. His hood tilted back and I saw that he had silvery hair and greenish
eyes. He did not look like an old man, and the hair must have just been from his family. I tried to
remember something of that sort, and I did.
 The silver hair was sitting next to me, in a ditch. He had the same type of hair as this man, but he was
much, much younger. And it was cold.
 I snapped back into the present. The man shifted, and I also noticed that he revealed a small child
hiding behind him. I caught her eye and she ducked back behind him. The man noticed that I saw her.
 “She’s a little shy,” he said. “And I am sorry that we came at this time. As you understand, we were
concerned about your health.” He stood.
 “Yes,” my eyes fell again to my bed. I found nothing to say to these strangers.
 “We used to be teachers of yours,” the woman said. “Until your accident. You were a fine student,
with lots of potential,” she trailed off. “Has anyone else been here before your family came?”
 “No,” I said, picking at the covers. “Just them, and you.”

103 | M o o n W a t e r
 “We should go,” the man said. He turned and walked out of the room, and then came back to the
door. “Thank you for your time, Laya,” then he was gone.
 “Yes, thank you,” the woman said. She turned and walked out, followed by the little girl.
 I noticed they never said their names or what kind of teacher they were to me. It didn’t matter much
to me, though. The next morning my family, entire family came to take me out of the hospital and into
my new (or old) home. I hid the small message and coin among my clothes.
 My house was big. We lived in the small district of the Hetre family, which consisted only of about four
different families. Our house was the largest of the four, being that my father was one of the elite in
battalion, a group that fought and protected the Water Village from any intruders, and my mother
worked for a branch of the council. My name was Laya Hetre. It sounded nice on my tongue. My mother
and father filled me in on everything on our walk home.
 “We live on the small island just off the mainland, called the Water Village, since our ancestors lived
off of everything that came from the sea. We’ve lived here all of our lives, and my mother as well,” my
father started off. “The island is everything I know. But your mother has a different story, am I correct?”
 “Yes,” she said, waving her hand towards the sea. “My parents moved here from the mainland when I
was younger. I grew up here and I don’t know much about the mainland, but I do know that it is teeming
with life. I’ve traveled there by boat once or twice, but only on short visits. I haven’t been there longer
than two days at a time, and mostly that’s when I’m traveling with Mistress Visetra. But when your
father and I married we decided to take in children when we learned we couldn’t have any. You three
are our entire lives.” She hugged the three of us tightly.
 “Are you going to sleep in your old room with me?” Rika asked excitedly. “We shared a big room
together. You slept right across from me before. I don’t think I’m going to get any sleep, with you being
back. I remember sleeping by myself after-.”
 “Yes, I will!” I laughed with her. “You sure are the talker of the family, aren’t you?”
 “Yes,” Rika responded, smiling. She ran ahead into the house. Pikano slowly walked along next to my
uncertain step. “You’re nervous,” he said.
 “Very. I’m trying to remember it all but it won’t come.”
 “They say it will in time, but it could take a long time. I personally think it will come sooner than later,
but I’m no doctor,” He kicked a rock as I walked up on the porch. “I hope you regain your memory. We
had good ones.”
 “I hope I do as well,” I said softly. I continued up into the house, hoping that whatever lay inside would
reveal what was stuck in my head.

104 | M o o n W a t e r
 The family room was large, but didn’t tell me anything. There was a big kitchen as well, and that had
something in store for me.
 “You were a wonderful cook, Laya. I’d imagine you’d still remember something of that, yes?” Matera
said, coming up beside me. I stood at a counter and reached for a cutting knife. “Do you?”
 I was in the forest. I clutched the knife tightly as rain fell over my head and shoulders, cold rain. The
cold, winter season was among us. I wrenched the knife from the dirt just as someone beside me cried
  I quickly put the knife back. Very little about cooking came to me. Maybe I was a cook in some
outdoor something-or-other? I would just have to shove that memory down with my coin and note, and
deal with it later.
  “Oh, it’ll be so good!” Metyra hugged me tightly again. “We’ll cook together again!”
 I barely hugged her back. I shook myself free of the memory and then turned back to present-day, and
tried to focus on what I was doing. “What was my favorite thing to cook?”
 We talked on and off for several hours about different things. I learned a little bit more about myself,
and about what happened to me.
 “You were a great student. You were always close to the best in all of your studies. It wasn’t hard for
you to learn at all…your mother left you with us when you were three, and ever since then you lived
with us, and your parents didn’t come back. Pikano and Rika were with us since they were children. They
lived together in the same foster home, and branded themselves siblings, though they do not have any
blood relation. When you came, you were accepted just as easily. You wouldn’t remember much about
your mother, and you didn’t think about it much either, before, and you knew that I and Kallo weren’t
your blood parents.
 “Two years ago, you were thirteen, Rika was nine, and Pikano was just turning fifteen. You three were
swimming in the lake. You were a great swimmer by the way. But Rika wasn’t so good. She went under a
little too long. Her pants were caught on a branch on the riverbank wall, and she was drowning. Pikano
went down to get her, and brought her back up. You swam down for her as well, and the unfortunate
happened. When you two swam up holding Rika, a small boulder loosened itself from the bank, rolled
into the river, and fell quickly onto your head. You had swallowed a lot of water and had many wounds
to your head. We thought you were dead, but instead you were stuck in a coma for almost two years.
Rika was devastated, and thought she was the cause of all of this. She hasn’t gone swimming since that
day, not once.”

105 | M o o n W a t e r
 Tears started to well up in my eyes as I listened. My family had lived on for two years why I lay in bed,
and they didn’t know if I would live or die. My blood family didn’t care, for they gave me away like a
heavy burden.
 I hugged Metyra tightly and buried my face into her bosom. She hugged me back. “Thank you, thank
you so much, for everything,” I said, meaning every word. “If it wasn’t for you all…”
 “Don’t think like that, girl,” she whispered back. “Don’t you ever think like that. You were a special
child. You would have made it through, like you always have, and still do. Through hard times or
anything else, Laya, you have always made it through.”
 We hugged tightly like this for a few more minutes, and then one of us let go. Rika, Kallo and Pikano
were watching us. I smiled and thanked them all again.
 Dinner that night was very good. Metyra and Rika and I made some sort of chicken sitting in a thin
broth. It was Metyra’s secret recipe, and she wasn’t even telling me how to make it.
 “Time for bed now,” Kallo said, standing from the table and clearing all of our plates form the table. He
placed them in the sink and started the water. “Rika and Pikano, you guys are going to start school again
tomorrow. Laya, I want you to stay home a few days and work with Metyra with your studies, to see if
you retained anything. The doctors said you might, but still…”
 Life decided to settle in really quickly. The next few days were an adventure. I stayed in the house
mostly, and worked on different studies with my mother. I looked at her as my mother, my one and only
mother. She tested me in math, language, and some history and culture. It was as if it had never left my
mind at all! They said I would be ready to attend school again in a few days.
 One afternoon when I had finished studying with Metyra, I went around the large house trying to find
the others. I had memorized the entire layout of the house, and it was big. I found Rika in the yard,
doing some work with her flowers. She said Pikano and Kallo were in the training room, down in the
basement. I went there to see what they were doing.
 I stopped at the doorway to watch them. The training room was a perfect square room, with candles in
every corner. There was a thick mat on the floor that covered the entire room. Along one wall, there
were racks that held different weapons that Kallo used. There were swords, staffs, throwing knives, and
small, fighting knives. Kallo used a staff mostly, but he trained with the other weapons as well. Pikano
used a sword.
 “Come, Pikano, attack me with the new style you said you would try,” Kallo said as he lifted his staff,
pointing it to Pikano. He stood in a battle stance, waiting for the attack. Pikano raised his sword.
 “You are ready?” Kallo asked.

106 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Yes,” Pikano replied. He threw himself forward so suddenly and with so much force and speed that
my eyes lost track of him. One moment he was standing, and the next he was charging Kallo.
 Kallo dipped his head low as Pikano’s sword swiped right over his head. He flipped his staff in the air,
and it went spinning straight up. Pikano paused in mid swing, and looked up in surprise and amazement
as Kallo’s staff twirled over his head.
 “You failed,” Kallo said, swing a punch solidly into the abdomen area. When Pikano noticed he was
distracted by the staff, he released his tekaro as a shield to parry Kallo’s frontal assault.
 “I’m not done yet!” He jeered. He gripped his sword tighter and continued his attack, swinging quickly
back and forth. Kallo kept dodging, and then snapped his hand out and grabbed his staff. In a spin, he
brought it around, a shot aimed for the head. Pikano ducked and tried to sweep Kallo with his feet, but
was easily jumped over.
 In the air, Kallo spun and swatted Pikano lightly on the top of his head with his staff. “You’d be dead if
this was a real fight, son,” He landed and helped Pikano to his feet. “Keep an eye above you at all times
when you’re fighting, and you’ll be safe.”
 I clapped lightly. “Interesting moves there. I’m impressed.”
 “Are you really?” Kallo said, sitting down to rest himself. “You used to be better than Pikano. When
you two sparred, let me tell you that was impressive.”
 I smiled. He must have been joking with me. I could fight like that?
 “You’ll remember in time, Laya. You were very good, and I hope whatever fight was in you before is
still in there somewhere, because it would be a shame to see all that talent disappear.”
 I was shocked. They were telling the truth! “Did I have tekaro?”
 “Yes, you have or had the shadow element tekaro. It was magnificent,” Kallo wiped his sweaty brow. “I
would train you with Pikano. There was a rule that we had here, and you memorized it: Train hard and
long. Get fast and strong. Because there’ll be someone out there-.”
 “With the same element as you, with the same power as you, and when you meet, you will have to
beat them.” I finished, breathing in and out. I took another look around the training room, and it all
slowly started coming back to me.
 Kallo picked me up and put me to the side. He told me to watch as green and red liquid seemed to swirl
out of his skin and move gently around him. There was a long sword on the ground next to me, and I
touched it with one finger, curious about its existence.
 “I used a sword, right?” I asked. The memory was coming back now. I used a long sword, sharp and
deadly. And my tekaro was black.

107 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Correct. I’m glad your memory returned, Laya, and I have a surprise for you,” Kallo walked over to a
drawer compartment, and opened one and reached into it. “I’ve kept this under here for a long time
now. Ever since the accident in the river, Laya, I’ve kept your sword down here, waiting until your full
memory returned. But I guess now is the best time.”
 I gasped as he brought it out from the drawer. The sword was amazing in shape. The handle was all
shiny black with a white line going around the middle, and the guard was star-shaped and white. Around
the blade was a wrapping of white cloth, and you could almost feel the weapon teeming with energy. He
came over and held the blade out to me.
 “It’s yours. I did not make this blade, or have it made on the island. No, the best sword-makers of the
mainland made this blade here, Laya. I originally took it off of a teshdar who had fallen in battle, when I
was a part of a support team to the Mountain Clans, in a battle between villages that was fought five
years ago. I assisted the Mountain Clans as well as the Resting Snow against a turning-point battle in a
village that was once known as Kytake.”
 I took it from his hands and drew back a breath.
 “It’s magnificent.”

108 | M o o n W a t e r
Chapter 13                                                                                         Laya Hetre
 For the next few weeks, life started to jump itself back into order. I started training again as soon as
my legs and arms were strong enough, and as soon as my mind was clear enough. I started going to
school again as well, and it was almost new to me. But as time carried on, I quickly became familiar with
the island and its people. It felt like I was gradually trying to remember a dream that I had when
sleeping. You remember some, and then it all comes to you when you keep thinking about it. Most of it
had come back to me.
 Most of the people on the island were of high class. The island was very wealthy and it had great ties
with some profitable villages and cities in the mainland. It had been building funds for many years, and
that allowed the people of the island to build grand houses and marketplaces, most of which you
wouldn’t find common in the mainland. The island had places of entertainment as well. There were
clubs for adults to gamble and play different card games, betting and winning money. There was also a
grand theatre that put on plays most days, and an open park for children to play and explore. Near the
center of the island, there was a gated area, where most of the villages’ council and politicians lived and
did their work. In this area did my mother work, and I visited her there many a time. Most of the people
there congratulated me on my recovery and always offered their kind hospitality. And of course, there
was water everywhere.
 “Laya, dear, please take this down to the main office for me?” Metyra asked me one day while I was in
her small office. I had been home from school for a few minutes, and had begun studying. She was
holding out a file to me. “Please make sure you get it to Yep. He’ll know what to do with it.”
  I took the file form her and made my way down the two flights to the main office. Yep was like the
head of security here in ‘The Center’. He handled most problems that occurred, but mostly stayed in the
main office downstairs. He was getting old and had been a good friend of mine since I was a child.
 “Yep, here’s a file from my mom,” I said as I crossed to his chair. “She said you would know what to do
with it.”
 “Why thank you, ma’am,” He said with a smile, nodding to me. “But I don’t know why your mother is
always telling me I’d know what to do with it…most of the time I don’t…”
 I laughed at his joke. “Sure, Yep. Tell my mother I went out to the marketplace if she looks for me.” I
grabbed my bag from the ground next to his chair and headed out.
 The marketplace had to be one of the busiest places on the island. It was always full of people, going
here and there, buying this and that, selling things, looking, or just watching all of the excitement. I liked
to buy and watch the excitement.

109 | M o o n W a t e r
  I stopped into a small armory shop. They did work on weapons, made them, and sold them. It was a
nice shop. They had almost any kind of weapon you could find anywhere, and they had great quality as
well. I trusted them enough to find out what my sword was made of.
 “Yes?” A woman behind the desk asked me. She was sitting at a stool, stringing together thin metal
 “I was wondering if you could tell me what this weapon is made of,” I said, digging into my bag and
bringing my sword out. I placed it on the counter. “How long will it take?”
 She stood up and came over to the counter, analyzing the sword. She picked it up and tested the
weight. “I can analyze the weapon and name all the material in a few minutes. Do you want the
wrapping on the blade back? It might tear when I try to get it off.”
 “You can do what you want with the wrapping. I don’t want it.”
 “Ok,” she said. “You can wait there.” She pointed over to a row of chairs. She then went into the back
part of the shop to analyze it.
 I waited for a little while before the woman returned with the sword. “Do you know what it is?” I
asked suddenly.
 “Yes…and no.”
 I was confused. “What do you mean?”
 She explained. “The handle is made from a metal called Paradium, a light but strong material that most
good sword handles are made from. The guard is made from the same. But the blade is protected by the
wrapping, and I can’t get it off at all. I’ve tried cutting through it and tearing it, but it won’t budge.
Burning it could damage the blade, so if you can find a way to get it off, come back and I’ll be able to tell
 I felt defeated. I wasn’t able to get the wrapping off myself, and Kallo said it was there for a reason. I
took the sword and was about to put it back in my bag when another younger girl came from the back of
the shop.
 “Inu, can you-.” She stopped when she saw me. “Oh, sorry to interrupt…” she trailed off and stared at
my sword. Her mouth opened some, and then she closed it quickly. “Wow, what a wonderful sword.”
 The girl stepped up to the counter and touched the handle. “It...” She next looked up to me, and
stared right in my eyes. “Where did you get such a weapon?”
 I felt a little uncomfortable with the way she was acting. “My father gave it to me-.”
 “He made it?”

110 | M o o n W a t e r
 “No, it was a spoil of war,” I responded. “He fought with the Mountain Clans of the mainland against
another village. He took this from one of the battles.”
 “Ah,” The girl was now passing her hand along the wrapping on the blade. “Excuse me, will you?” She
walked around the counter and out of the shop.
 “I’m sorry about her. She’s been a little confused or something like that lately. She doesn’t really know
a lot of people on the island, and she just moved here not too long ago, a little under a year. That
Raysyna…she’ll get used to it soon.”

 I spent the rest of the day thinking about what the girl at the armory shop was thinking of and feeling
like. She looked like she was my age, and I was told she didn’t have a lot of friends or family. If I was in
that situation, I would want as many friends as I could get. She was tall with short golden hair and
pretty, and I would figure she would have many friends.
 I decided I would try to meet with her, and become her friend. Maybe I could find out why she had
treated me the way she had.
 I asked around school and at “The Center”, but no one really knew anything about a girl named
Raysyna. When I had asked just about everyone I knew, I was ready to give up, but I had one more place
to go.
 “I’m sorry, she hasn’t come back yet,” the woman I spoke to yesterday told me. “This isn’t her day to
work, but she sometimes stops by the shop, but she hasn’t today. I’ll tell her you were looking for her if
she comes by again, OK?”
 “Sure,” I said. “Tell her Laya was asking for her.”
 I went out then. The way home would be far, and it had been raining since this morning. I started
running through the streets, looking for Raysyna. I had hoped she would be somewhere around the
armory shop. Of course, I couldn’t find her.
 “I’ll try tomorrow,” I said to the rain. “I’ll find her tomorrow, no doubt. I want to ask her why she
reacted like that to my weapon…”
 I trailed off, stopping and standing still in the rain. If Raysyna wanted a friend, she would make herself
easy to find. If she didn’t want to be found, then she wouldn’t be exactly sitting with a sign over her
head begging for people to recognize her.

111 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Fine, hide from me!” I yelled to no one.
 I made it home in a reasonable time, though soaking wet and chilled to the bone. Metyra wanted to
know what I was doing out in the rain all that time, and how I was going to get sick if I tried something
like that again. I explained that I was sorry and looking for someone. I spent the next day doing the same
thing, stopping by the shop and looking for her through most of the island. I couldn’t find her. It was as if
she disappeared.
 “Maybe she’s just a little shy,” said Rako, one of my old/new friends at school. I was telling him about
how she reacted to just seeing a sword as we were walking to the armory shop. It was early in the day,
and I was hoping I could catch Raysyna. He decided to come with me to see if she was back yet. “She
might have got embarrassed about how she acted and wants to hide now.”
 “Maybe,” I wasn’t convinced by it at all. It was so strange about how she just was gone like that! “But
who knows. Thanks for coming with me, Rako. I appreciate it.”
 “You’re welcome. I needed a break from school work though, so I’m glad you invited me to go with
 Again, we came to find that Raysyna had not been back to the shop, to our disappointment. She must
have really wanted to avoid us.
 “So have you gotten the wrapping off of your sword blade yet, Laya?” The clerk-lady asked. “I do want
to examine it if you have.”
 “No, not yet,” I said. The truth was, I really hadn’t even thought about the sword a lot. Most of my
energy the past few days had been used in looking for Raysyna. “But when I do, you’ll be the first I tell,
 She seemed to like that ideal and smiled. “Thank you, Laya.” Rako then began to ask her about
different sword and knife blades then. He wasn’t a teshdar, but he was interested in weapons. I turned
to look at a display of swords when a door caught my eye. The door was sitting in the wall some, and
was painted white like the wall, as if to hide it. I looked back to Rako and the woman, but they were
deep in a conversation. I went back to the door and got a closer look.
 Was the door was supposed to be hidden? I felt around for something, a knob or a grip to open it or
slide it to the side, but there was none. I looked down the door, and found a small slot opening upwards.
It wasn’t very wide, and it didn’t look like a keyhole.
 “Here, I’ll check and see if we have that material…” The woman turned her back to us and went to the
back of the shop. It was a perfect opportunity.
 “Rako, I think this is a door,” I said quietly, waving him over.

112 | M o o n W a t e r
 “I saw you peeking over here, so I started keeping her busy. I’ve been trying to figure out if that was a
door or not for about a week now. She’ll be busy, so now we can inspect it a little more!”
 The door literally had no way of getting to the other side. There was no lever, knob or sliding
mechanism anywhere in sight. There was only the slot.
 “There must be something…” I murmured. Rako went back over to the counter in case the woman
returned. I kept searching, but the one thing that I kept seeing was the slot.
 “If we get caught, you know we’ll pay dearly,” Rako said, making a face. “They’ll take our lives. They’ll
chain us to the wall in the basement and torture us and we’ll suffer and pay very dearly.”
 I laughed at his vivid imagination. “Sure. But there’s-.”
 The slot.
 “There’s always a cost.” I said slowly.
 I fished the coin out of my pocket. The little gold coin I had kept with me since the day I found it next
to my hospital bed. I kept it with me wherever I went, thinking of it as a small little reminder. The cost is
the coin.
 I slipped the coin into the slot and pushed it down into it deeper. The coin fell away with a small “tink”.
 “What did you do?” Rako asked.
 The door rumbled slightly and then slid to one side. I fell back with a small gasp as it moved. There was
another room on the other side! No, maybe more than one room. I would have to investigate.
 “Stay here, Rako. When the woman comes back, tell her I left the shop.”
 “Sure, but remember, you’ll pay dearly.” He flashed a smile and I stepped into the room. The door
closed behind me.
 There was a soft atmosphere to it. The floor was wooden brown and clean, with the walls pearl white.
There was a perfume in the air, one I could not place. But it was bare. To my left there was another
room, and this one was furnished. There was a desk with scrolls and paper stacked on it, along with
sitting chairs and a table. There was yet another room on the far wall. But to my surprise, the room was
not only furnished, but had people in it, who stared right back at me. My eyes locked on Raysyna, who
was sitting in one of the chairs.
 “That’s her,” She said. “That’s her.” There were two people in the room with her. There was a young
boy sitting next to her and a man standing against a wall. I recognized him! He was the man who came
to my hospital bed the first day of my waking. He said he used to be one of my former teachers.
 “So it is,” He said, looking over me. “I’m not surprised you found your way in here, Laya. You were
always interested and curious about things…”

113 | M o o n W a t e r
 “Who are you?!” I snapped. “You’re not really my teacher, are you? I never see you around the school
or school grounds at all. I’ve been to my younger sister’s school as well, and you weren’t even listed
there either! So who are you? How do you know so much about me?”
 He was quiet, and his eyes told nothing.
 “And you, Raysyna,” I turned my attention to her. “Why have you been avoiding me? I’ve been looking
all over for you!”
 Raysyna glanced at me and then got up and walked into the next room. I stood awkwardly as she
went. I told me legs to follow her, but they didn’t obey.
 “You should go talk to her, Laya,” The man/fake teacher said. “She might need to talk to you.”
 My legs moved now, and I went right into the other room. This room had even more in it than the
other, with a dinner table and chairs around it. There were more sitting chairs along the walls, and a few
windows. There were also three desks.
 No answer. I went to inspect the room a little more closely, hoping that Raysyna was hiding under the
table or one of the desks. Had she disappeared again?
 I whirled around as the door closed, and someone stood in front of it. I stood up quickly. It wasn’t
Raysyna. It wasn’t the boy from the other room, and it wasn’t the so-called teacher. It was someone
else. She stood a little taller than me, holding something at her waist. My eyes locked on her long dark
hair that reached halfway down her back, and then to the sword she had on her waist.
 “Who are you?” she asked gruffly.
 “I’m Laya,” I replied. I took another look at her sword. The black handle, the star-shaped guard, the
wrapping around the blade…I noticed with amusement that she held a sword identical to mine. I
reached into my bag and brought my sword out. “We have the same sword.”
 “No we don’t,” the girl said sharply. “You just hold my other sword. We have nothing to share with
each other. Nothing. You’re just holding my sword, the sword that doesn’t belong to you at all. And I
want it back.”
 “This can’t be yours!” I said. “My father gave this to me. He took it from a battle he fought in the
mainland. He took it from a dead teshdar. It is a spoil of war and he brought it to me!”
 The girl was quiet for a moment. “Is that what he told you?”
 “No, that’s just what happened. He didn’t exactly mean for it to be a bedtime story.”

114 | M o o n W a t e r
 The girl’s eyes went wide then. “If you won’t give me back what is mine, then I’ll just take it from you!”
She snatched her sword from her waist, it reaching out towards me. “And you’ll have to fight to keep it,
Laya.” She said my name with a sneer.
 I took my identical sword from my bag and held it out, pointing it at her. “Then I’ll fight to keep it!” I let
my black Shadow Tekaro flow out and around me. The girl let her Shadow Tekaro flow out as well, in the
shape of black wings protruding from her back. The swords started to vibrate from the energy. At the
same time, we dove at each other, the Tekaro stinging the air. Then, the girl did something that would
define everything.
 The wrapping around her sword spun off, revealing the long, pointed, dark blade. The blade was
electrified with Shadow Tekaro. It was stronger than my wrapped blade, and I realized it would be
impossible to touch her.
 But as impossible as it was, I went right through her, and shattered the mirror that stood facing me
against the door, and it all came back to me.
 My name was not Laya Hetre. My name was Silar Tenra.

115 | M o o n W a t e r

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