Most issues between Ecrion and Techie Lou could be resolved in Master Lee’s Mountain Dojo, their second home. At least two hours a day were spent in this compound, perched miles above their hometown of Rokki Valley (Master Lee had granted them unlimited access, since they were his most favored students back at The Academy).
The two had been sparring since they shared a crib as infants, so every bout was something of an unfinished chess match.
That’s how Master Lee told them to see it.
One day he sat in the middle of the dojo, oddly stacking stones atop each other to look as if they’d been hovering there for eternity.
With an aged growl he told them, “You must now spar.”
Before allowing his students to proceed, he pointed at the stones.
“Knock down the structure, and we all lose.”
To make things harder, Master Lee put a ring of rope about the structure, a small radius all the way around. “No exit,” he said, “You exit, we all lose.”
So they danced within the boundaries given – and it really was more like a dance than a fight, but tiring nonetheless.
The purpose was to achieve immaculate finesse, to push each other there, tit-for-tat. Ecrion and Techie Lou were already seasoned enough to take the fight into the next day. Stalemate after stalemate, the structure never collapsed. They were too light on their feet (of course, Ecrion’s hovering worked to his advantage).
It was late when Master Lee retired to his quarters; Techie Lou and Ecrion paused for air. The full moon shined through some bamboo shutters, and they could see bits of their town at the bottom, looking like a city for dolls.
“Hold on,” Techie said, catching her breath. “See how beautiful the city is at night.”
Ecrion looked. It made him sigh, and that’s when she socked him in the face.
“Cheap!” said Ecrion, launching his razor-like body in her direction, spinning. He finally got her in a headlock and, with a clenched fist, commenced a most ancient maneuver so vicious it was often discouraged by their teacher:
Ecrion gave her a noogie.
“Say I win,” he said.
“Fire! Outside! Look!”
“I won’t fall for it!”
“No, really, something’s happening! Look outside!”
Indeed, there was a blaze outside their compound, a heavy forest fire, accompanied by a noise – a roar so distinct they felt they remembered hearing it before, or never at all.
And then it spoke:
“EC – REE – ON,” it said.
“WHAT – THE – CRAP!” said Ecrion.
The voice then revealed itself. A dragon, bright red, about as big as the biggest elephant you can imagine (and they’re always a little bigger than we imagine them), but breathing thick, hot yellow flame in all directions.
It spoke slowly, with a conniving smile.
A burst of flame entered the window. The dragon collapsed the ceiling of the dojo, fire and wood and dust all around.
Ecrion was speechless. He could hardly move. So in the time Ecrion was paralyzed, the beast was able to snatch up his sister.
“NO!” shouted Ecrion.
He chased the dragon into the sky, stretching out his palms to emit sizzling blue light beams – they did critical damage – the dragon moaned, and over it you could hear Techie Lou, snug in its talons, shouting, “Dragons are sooo cliché!”
Ecrion got close, but a flap of the dragon’s wing sent him flailing back into the dojo. He fell through the ceiling and landed right back in the ring. He groaned, in pain, scuffed and bruised in all the ways a robo-man can be.
Looking around, the dojo was in shambles. He was discouraged.
But then he saw the rocks. Perfectly intact.
There was his second wind. He resolved to do everything in his power to track down his new foe – that overused stock-myth…Ecrion would save his sister from its unoriginal grasp.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in our special Ecrion Halloween series, and find out what happens to Techie Lou!