Day 28 of 100 Word Prompts: Goal
The day had already been long, having woken up before the sunrise at the top of Amshead Mountain. Judah had been training with some of the lesser monks at the monastery for the last three months, and all he had to show for it was sore muscles, bruised wings, and a bald spot on his arm where the feathers had come out in a sparring match. Still, he pushed himself to learn from his training companions.
“Judah,” Master Zeed called as she stepped into the training hall, “Would you come with me please?”
“Of course, Master,” Judah replied, breaking away from the formation, wincing as his wings stretched to carry him faster to her side. “Is something wrong?”
“Not exactly wrong, per se,” she replied, “I just think that we need to have a talk.”
Judah nodded and walked with her in silence.
Master Zeed walked around the singing bowls at the perimeter of the platform, past the incense lit by the followers of Akadi. They arrived at the southern balcony overlooking the clouds below and past the clouds to the ocean miles lower.
“Judah, I appreciate why you came here. I can’t stress it enough that I respect and uphold all the aarakocra traditions that involve this place, but I fear that there is no training you at this time,” Master Zeed said.
“I’m trying, Master, I swear it. I train every day with the monks. I can get better. I swear!” Judah said, falling silent as Master Zeed held up a hand.
“What are your goals, Judah?” she asked.
Judah hesitated to answer. He knew what he wanted to do and what he needed to accomplish, but in the end, he opened his beak. “To become a great chief, like my father.”
“And that is why you are failing,” Master Zeed replied.
“Before you reply, think carefully on what I’ve said,” she said, holding up her hand. “I am not saying that you will not be chief, or perhaps the greatest in the history of your village. You have a lot of potential. That being said, your focus is on things beyond this monastery, which is why you can’t master the techniques taught here.”
Judah thought about her statement and found that it was true. Through all of his training, his mind was on what he should bring back to the village more than the training itself.
“I’m surprised you aren’t arguing with me on this,” Master Zeed said, watching him ponder. She motioned to the ocean below, “There is a massive world out there with which you have no experience, and experience is key to great leadership.”
“That’s correct,” Judah replied.
“So, as a favor to both of us, I will be ejecting you from this monastery,” Master Zeed said. “I will give you a day to prepare before you leave.”
“What about the lessons I can learn from you?” Judah asked.
“Is this not a lesson as well? A lesson in recognizing the potential of an individual under your charge? A lesson in identifying the needs of the people around you?” Master Zeed asked. “You’ve seen our existence on this mountain, and the care and affection we have for our Queen. Yet, your focus is out there, not here.”
“I have been focused on the next step of my journey,” Judah admitted, “Sorry, Master Zeed. Please don’t make me leave. I will do better. I swear it.”
“It’s already done,” Master Zeed said, waving off his comment. “You will be fine. This monastery is not the right place for you right now. Maybe someday, after your children take the mantle of the chief, you’ll return here and train under a different master, but for now, you need to take a different path.”
“There will be no arguing this point. I’ve already decided,” Master Zeed said. “I understand that leaving Dostra can be a very hard thing for most aarakocra. That is why I have decided to send another with you.”
“No one else should be forced to leave their home because of me,” Judah said. “My goal should not infringe on anyone else’s, ever.”
“It is not because of you, but it does involve you. I have decided that Zhen Drawl Feng will accompany you off the island. He has more world experience than you, and I’ve seen you two grow close in the time you’ve been here,” said Master Zeed as she reached up to stroke the side of Judah’s face. “I am proud of you, regardless of the outcome of your journey, just as I’m sure your father will be. You have tried hard to learn the techniques of this monastery but have fallen short only by your level of focus. Going forward, I hope that you learn your own value and that your focus be honed to the level with which you aim your bow.”
“Thank you, Master Zeed,” Judah said as he bowed to her.
“I will have Zhen waiting for you at the descent in the morning,” she said. “Prepare yourself accordingly.”
“Yes, Master Zeed,” Judah replied with a bow as she walked away, leaving him looking out over the world alone.
Judah spent a few minutes resting his hands on the banister. He looked down to the water’s surface far below where he stood and felt a jolt of fear course through him. He hadn’t imagined that his journey would take him from his homeland, not even for a second. He had heard stories from various travelers about warring tribes of orcs, mischievous bands of goblins, and the overwhelming population of humans.
“Good afternoon, Master Judah,” Zhen said, appearing at the doorway.
“I’m no master,” Judah replied without turning around.
“Perhaps not a Master of the monastery, but still a master in your own right. Master Zeed has informed me that I will be leaving with you,” Zhen said as he walked over and stood next to him. “I look forward to our trip. It has been some time since I was below.”
“Is it true? Are there entire cities of humans down there?” Judah asked.
“Oh, yes,” Zhen said with an enthusiastic nod. “There are more than one could count. Some are bad, of course, but I found that most were very kind to me.”
“I’ve never been off the island, Zhen. I’m not going to lie. I thought I would be able to finish my mission without leaving the island,” Judah admitted. “I’m a little worried about being out there.”
“Do not worry, my friend. I will be with you every step of the way. We will find what you are looking for, and then we will return,” Zhen said, placing his hand on Judah’s shoulder.
“Why a day?” Judah muttered. “Why only a day to prepare to leave. I had months before leaving my village.”
“Speaking from experience within the Teshal Dominion, sometimes we don’t have long to leave. Events around us are often the dictators of when we must act. Tomorrow makes ten years that I’ve been in Dostra, did you know that?” Zhen asked.
“I didn’t,” Judah admitted.
“Tomorrow is the best day to travel both to Dostra and from Dostra. The Floating Oasis Islands will be lined up perfectly for our trip down to Tamerton Island in the Amnet Ocean,” Zhen said.
“How far away is Teshal from Tamerton?” Judah asked.
“Months,” Zhen replied, “but I’m not sure that would be the best place for us to begin our journey.”
“Why do you say that? Aren’t you from there?” Judah asked.
“Genasi are not well received there,” Zhen admitted. “Though many people are very kind, there are many who would judge us based solely on how we look and not by the strength of our character.”
“Where should we go then? I understand there is more land to the east and west,” Judah asked.
“I don’t know, my friend. This is more your journey than mine, only you can decide,” Zhen said.
Judah fished a coin from his pocket. “Crest side up, we head west, numerical up, we go east?”
“I can not think of a better way to let fate decide,” Zhen said, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth.
Judah flipped the coin in the air. A strong gust of wind blasted past the pair of them suddenly, catching the coin and took it over the roof of the training hall.
“What do you think that means?” Zhen asked.
“I don’t know,” Judah replied, shaking his head. “I suppose we’ll find out.”
The pair walked inside to prepare for their journey together as the coin continued twirling in the wind. Unknown to either of them, it landed in the open palm of the statue of Akida on the other side of the island with one copper showing on the face of the coin. Far off, behind the divine gate, Savras and Akida looked to each other with knowing smiles.