Kai the boy stood on one leg, feeling the rough grain of the wooden pole beneath his bare foot. His left elbow rested on his left raised knee and edge of his left hand was presented like a knife into the breeze, slicing it around him, not allowing it to blow him off into the river below.
“San!” Master Wei shouted, signalling the third position.
Kai hopped up, flipping the position of raised arm and leg. landing now on his right he fought not to lose his centre, and his balance!
“Excellent boys!” Wei enthused “Your nerves, your muscles, your bones, they are in harmony to keep you balanced on the poles. Balance is the key to all things… even those times when one needs to stand on a beam that life has neglected to provide. As the Fair Ones taught us, at such a time one must ask the spirits of all things to provide. Leap, and ask the spirit of the air if you may stand upon it.”
To illustrate his point Wei sprang from the bank out over the river, he stepped 3 times as if dancing up an unseen stair, and landed nimbly on an unoccupied driven pile.
“The spirits are in all things, the earth, the air, the carp. All are in harmony, in balance, in this way we may ask the spirit of air to be briefly like the spirit of earth, and tread upon it….
Focus! Breeeeath… Ki flows up from ones core and out to ones body, focus your Ki to your feet, through our Ki we touch the spirits. Focus, and step onto the air." The Master urged.
The boy Kai breathed, he focused, and he stepped!
… onto nothing, he fell, flailing, into the icy rivers below. His thoughts focused on one sure thing: no one could train themselves to do the impossible.
Kai the boy who would be a man knew what he needed to do, he did not know if he could, only that he must. His strange friend lay dying, beaten by a mob, and his friends would not die on his watch, not while he still drew breath!
Before him stood 2 men easily twice his weight and 5" his height. They knew how this went, the smaller boy, weighing a buck-fifty might have had some magic tricks earlier (hence the robes), but he didn’t get out of sword range now, alive.
Kai breathed, and stepped upon the air.
Three steps took him over his attackers head, they stood too stunned to respond. He leaped then, off the air, thanking the spirit for its support, and soared like the Red Crane, falling to earth silently behind his reptilian friend like a cherry blossom on the wind.
His hand was already in the pack tied to his staff at his back, he uncorked the healing potion with a flick of his thumb and poured the elixir down the dragonborn’s throat, willing the spirit of life not to leave him.
Kai opened his eyes, his meditations on the events of a few hours ago – over. He focused a while on the soothing melodies of Rima’s song. The chill of the night and the harshness of his surroundings found their way back through his meditative detachment. He rose slowly, silently, making his way to what remained of a window. Tips of his fore and index fingers pressed together before him, the boy-who-would-be-man Kai prepared to take the next watch, and asked the spirits to be his eyes and ears.