Ever since I was a child, I knew I was different. I could see further, hear sharper, run faster, and I had a sixth sense that made me clairvoyant. When the other children knew I was different, they treated me like a freak. They never included me in their games and they always teased me for my abilities. But when I got older, I did not have to face them anymore as I was sent off to a special school.
This school was high up in the mountains, and it ran along the borders of my country. I could see the vast green world beyond the wall, and the grand city behind it. There were suspension bridges that swayed gently with the breeze, and wooden houses with floorboards that never creaked.
This special school gave me the opportunity to be accepted, because everyone was like me. Since the day of my arrival, I’ve made more friends that I would have ever imagined. I was also trained in all areas of combat and weaponry. The mentors in that school told us that we were extraordinary and destined for greatness.
Despite it sounding cool, our training was not easy. There was blood, sweat and tears, but we all knew that those made us who we were. We were warriors and defenders of our country; an elite force that swore to protect at all cost. It only took me a few classes to grasps the importance of my talents and skills. And my destiny drove me to excellence.
After a few years of moving up the ranks and closing in on my graduation, I became so certain of my future. I was secretly planning to become a leader and to win countless battles, but my plans became no longer relevant at the sight of death.
It was a sunny morning. I was with a friend at a garden on one of the mountain peaks. This was my favourite training ground as the clouds were only a few feet above my head, and the air was light and thin. The two of us had decided to use our free time to train on our sword work, and we swore not to spare each other any bruises or cuts.
As our thin swords clashed, the training was starting on perfect ground. It was only until midway through that I saw a glimpse of something frightfully real. It was so quick, yet I found myself gasping for air on all fours after it was over. My friend asked me what my sixth sense had shown me, but it was impossible to speak as I could still feel the cold pain in my chest.
That night, I could not sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw it and felt it again. The dark cold blade sliding into my chest and draining my soul made me sweat at the memory of it. It was impossible to rest my body when my mind was racing for answers. And it was then that I decided to seek the counsel of my mentor the following day.
My mentor was an old warrior. The scars on his body told you that he had fought more battles than the salt you have eaten. He was very wise, and often times he left me dumbfounded. That day was no different.
When I told my mentor my vision, he said, “The branch does not support the root, Jeon-Sa, but the root supports the branch.”
I had no idea what he meant. I left with hidden anger as the pomegranate tea began drying up my mouth. Seeking his counsel did nothing to calm my nerves, instead it just confused me even more.
As the rest of the day carried on, it did not get any better for me. I ended up with more bruises than before because my mind was not with my body. I was so disastrous that my teachers sent me to my room for meditation. Of course, I didn’t do any.
Alone in my room, I laid on my rattan and stared at the lantern hanging from the ceiling. The flame and the frame were so still that I longed to have such peace. I tried to pace my breathing to the flickering of the flame, but it did not silence the voices in my head.
Soon, my body became so stiff that I felt too tired to even raise a finger. When the bell signalling for dinner echoed down the hallway, I did not even bother to get up. I stayed completely still as my classmates entered their own rooms and blew out their lanterns. Mine was the only one still alive.
I thought I was going to lay like that the whole night through, but something happened. Hours after silence swept through the hallway, there was a tremor. The ground shook so hard that the lantern swayed madly and the fire went out in a puff. That was when I snapped out of my paralyzed state.
Shooting up into a sitting position, I heard people scrambling out their rooms. Finally, an external chaos matched the one inside of me. As I reached for my blades by the side of my mat, my room door slid open and a friend shouted, “We’re under attack!”
His words ended with the loud ringing of a bell that sent me straight to my feet. At that very moment, I knew this was it. My vision was about to become reality, and today was my last day. Fear crawled up my spine and my body refused to move. When the hallways became silence once more, I forced myself out the door.
Slowly slinging my blades across my shoulders, my legs took the lead. At the far end of the hallway, the double wooden doors were flung wide open, and I could see what was coming our way.
Black dragon banners were raised among the army in black. Their horses took the lead with their riders shouting their battle cry. Then, rising from behind the army were dragons, big black fiery dragons that screeched deafeningly in the early morning sky.
My throat had dried up by then and my head was screaming for me to turn back, but my legs kept walking forward. I could not fight my own body, and by the time I reached the doors something clicked.
As the sky started to change into streaks of orange, I began to understand my mentor’s philosophical words. All these time I trusted my skills to increase my talents, when I should be trusting my talents to boost my skills.
I was in fear because I doubted my skill, and I did not understand that my real abilities lied within my talent. I should be trusting what was in me instead of what I could see in front of me.
When the root and the branch finally made sense, I was ready. No, I was not ready to die but I was ready to live to see another day. As I pulled my blades from their sheaths, I have never been more ready to live my destiny.
We all have talents, despite what we think. Some of us can draw, some of us can sing, and some of us can write. Whatever our talents are, we have to remember not to judge ourselves based on our skill and our performance.
Indeed, being able to perform and do well is a good way to gage your level and skill. But, if we constantly judge ourselves based on our skill we would find ourselves disappointed. When we are disappointed in our lacking, we tend to shrink back in fear of failure and rejection. That is quick sand to loosing your passion, dreams, and never uncovering your hidden gifting.
So, wherever you are in skill, always believe in yourself and the talent your were born with. We are all created for greatness, don’t be your own downfall when you face the dragons!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my short story. As always, let me know what you think in the comment box below!
© 2013 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)