Chapter 8 – Three Types Of Children
Waking up Zax was joyful to feel his mom’s hand on his face and hearing her voice in the morning, even though the hand slapped him and the voice shouted.
“Wake up, honey. Your lunchbox is on the counter”. If she kissed him in the forehead and whispered softly Laylen was not his mother. That son of her would not wake up even during a Sun Stone storm, for him it will only be an excuse to skip school. “Get dress and go to school. I’ll see you at four”. She moved the curtain to allow light inside the room and pulled the covers off him before leaving for work.
Zax’s dad left home even earlier than his mom, so he was not able to bid him good day like he wanted to.
At the entrance to his class Zax halted before entering. “Wait!” Serah appeared running from the corner of the corridor. Behind her followed Mr. Ogler in slow steps.
“Wait for what?” Zax thought to himself and hurried inside to his sit, leaving the door to the class open for Serah.
“Good morning, Mr. Ogler!” All the students stood up and saluted as Mr. Ogler entered the class.
“Good morning. You may all sit”. Mr. Ogler nodded back and the school day began.
Ten minutes after recess, while in third period, Zax’s eyelids fell from a sudden exhaustion. He opened them and his head immediately started to spin, his vision became blurry and he felt nausea.
“Mrs. Dukreker, Zax looks like he is about to puke”. A pigtailed girl, seated left to Zax, notified Mrs. Dukreker, a young woman at the latter half of her twenties, out fear that he might puke on her.
The math teacher, Mrs. Dukreker, raised her gaze from the old computer’s screen on the teacher’s desk to check out Zax. “Oh my!” Mrs. Dukreker got up from her sit and approached Zax. She helped him straighten up and stand. “Anet, please accompany him to the nurse’s office”. She asked a blond hair green eyes girl that sat beside Zax.
Since Zax did not speak much to most of the kids in his class he and Anet were quiet all the way to the nurse’s office and merely held hands as a custom to when one student helps another by a teacher’s request.
At the nurse’s office Anet bowed slightly toward the nurse, a bald man in his thirties, and left back to class after he accepted Zax. She did tell Zax to feel well and he nodded in thanks, but he thought that she said it out of courtesy.
“Breath in, breath out…” Nurse Elwood moved the palm of his right hand over Zax’s chest and back. Threads of brown and warm steam covered the right hand and streams of energy assessed the internal parts of Zax’s body.
“Now take the deepest breath that you can, hold for two seconds and let everything out at once”. Nurse Elwood instructed and Zax complied.
When Zax released the deep breath, Nurse Elwood drew back his energy. “Everything fine with your body”. By his tone he was not definitive. As a Mist User he was level E Earth’s Core Holder. Choosing the path of medicine, as a nurse and at his current level he could only practice the basic treatment techniques and so assess the state of health of anyone below the Core Breaker level. For him to not be sure of his physical diagnosis of a nine years old coreless boy could only lead to one conclusion…
“Zax, have you practiced recently in any soul training methods?”
Nurse Elwood had big honest brown eyes, so when he frowned, Zax felt that if he will answer with anything but the truth the eyes of this good man will also sadden.
“Err…” Zax’s legs rubbed each other. It was a habit that was shown whenever he felt discomfort.
Telling the truth meant revealing his and his big sister secret, which was one for a reason. Zax was not stupid. It is well known that unsupervised soul trainings can produce permanent damage to the body, not to mention the inner part of the soul, the spirit. Zetsa knew that fact and still chose to exercise this aspect of him even though she could not be by his side most of the time and Zax never lost confidence in her. Yet, if he will lie and the Inner Spirit formation is the cause to his fatigue, then what will happen if it will get worse?
“From your file I read that your last name is ‘Zel’, am I correct?” Nurse Elwood noticed Zax’s odd facial expression and realized that something weighing on the boy because of his enquiry. He tried to approach the matter from a different angle. “’Zel’ like Miss Zetsa Zel?”
By not responding and just staring apprehensively at him, nurse Elwood received his answer. “First, you should calm down”, his gaze softened and he laid his hand on Zax’s shoulder, using his mist energy now to massage all the muscles in Zax’s body. “If there was a substantial damage to your body or soul then we wouldn’t be sitting here talking”.
Zax nodded as if it was a question. The warm energy relieved his body to the point that his eyelids closed again. Gradually he began to fall asleep. Nurse Elwood helped laid him down gently.
“Forgive me, Zax, Miss Zetsa, but it is my responsibility to inform your parents”.
Although Nurse Elwood spoke aloud, Zax could only hear the words in his mind.
“Why soul training…? Anything else would have been much simpler…” In truth, Zax already knew the answer, but was still too immature to accept and too tired to dwell on the subject.
In Kingdom Earth, for children under the age of ten who still did not receive an Earth’s Core, there are three martial schools, one in each faction, with special program that help to stimulate and foster the natural reservoir of Qi in the human’s body. Enrollment to these schools starts at the age of five years old and after a student reaches the age of ten and get an Earth’s Core, he or she are tested and if found qualified, advance to a top post Core Program.
But how these schools and their prestige programs really benefit the students? Well, in quite an amazing way actually. On the path of a Mist User one would endlessly may try and err for the sake of enlightenment, and so, a little bit more than two hundred years ago the Supreme Rulers and their close colleagues came about a peculiar realization while guiding their apprentices. In summary, if a person cultivates the innate Qi of the human body to a certain level, when an Earth’s Core would then enter the lower dantian of that person, with the help of the Qi, he or she, will be able to agitate the mist inside the Earth’s Core, regardless of its quality. By doing so two things will occur, one their Qi will merge with the escaped mist, second, they will accelerate the process of shattering the Shell, therefore, attain the distinguished Mist User C level, aka Core Breakers, much faster!
Although they are open to all classes, there are in fact only three types of children that can enroll to these schools. The first and most common are children from the upper class of Kingdom Earth. Each of the three schools would accept only a thousand students a year. Parents who want to guarantee their children’s future prospects, not to mention preserve and improve the respectable family status, are willing to pay fortunes to do so. There is no way for parents from the lower and middle class to compete with this kind of rich and mighty families, and because of this most children that enroll every year to either one of the three schools and comprise no less than ninety percent of the student body are upper class children.
The second type of children comprises eight percent of the remaining ten percent. These are also the second most gifted children among the three types because they have a genetic advantage. Simply put, these children have at least one parent that is an A level Mist User, in other words, Mist Lord. Scientific studies have found that a child of a Mist Lord is born with what has gotten the scientific term “Seed” inside their dantian. That tiny Seed is basically a compressed Qi ball that is far superior in purity to the customary innate Qi of the human body. Some even compare the Seed to a low quality Earth’s Cores. And when an Earth’s Core enters the dantian of such children, it will right away merge with the Seed and its quality will evolve by one step. In short, children of the eight percent are the fastest to reach the advanced phase of the Core Breaker level and required to pay only ten percent of the school’s annual fee. In addition, these children are not restricted by the thousand students limit.
The last two percent are children that have nothing in common with the above two types. No financial background or great genes, at the very least, these are not the things which count them in the third type. Using one word to describe these children would be “Prodigies”. Children between the ages of five and seven which all on their own were able perceive the existence of Qi in their bodies and control it without external help. Roughly twenty children every year, sixty in total among all three schools, sometimes even less. That is the number of prodigies in all three types. But how the immense talent of these prodigies is interpreted? Well, although slower to reach the Core Breaker level than those who possess a Seed, children of the third type have shown tremendous potency in learning vast amount of techniques from all kinds of complexities. For that reason alone, many experts wanted them as their apprentices and future heirs to their secret techniques. But that was not all, what truly made any child of the third type a far more formidable entity than any child of the other two types was their potential to break through the bottleneck of the advanced phase of the Mist User C level, Core Breaker, and reach the early phase of the Mist User B level, Mist Master, at a fairly young age. Children of the third type are entitled by an unwritten agreement to receive full scholarships in each of the three schools. Obviously, these children are also not restricted by the thousand students limit.
Financially, Zax’s parents could not afford sending him to anyone of these three martial schools. They were just a common F level Mist Users, the lowest Earth’s Core Holders. For them to have a daughter like Zetsa was a wonder in itself. Looking back, she was defiantly qualified to enroll to any of the three schools, but when she was thrown out at the age of nine from the very same school that Zax goes to, she refused entering the system again, even after people realized her true talent.
In comparison to his big sister, Zax was an ordinary boy, a bit more talented physically than other boys his age or a year older, that is, as long as they did not have an Earth’s Core.
To his remaining thought before he fall asleep was one and only answer… The almost none exists, fourth type of children. To progress as a Mist User, besides cultivating the mist energy, one must refine the soul of one’s self. In Kingdom Earth roughly one or two children a year will choose the difficult path of soul training whether they have affinity for it or not. To embark on this path there are only two requirements. The first is a reliable instructor who is familiar and entirely experienced with at least one form of soul refining technique. The second is a complete and total commitment to the training regime. Not just leaps and bounds more difficult than Qi training, soul training is also extremely time sensitive! It is most beneficial for coreless children, but correspondingly compels the practitioners to achieve a certain level of spirituality before allowing Earth’s Cores to enter their lower dantian; otherwise their training will be in vain.
Zax himself was never aware of the two requirements or how much the Inner Spirit formation will help him advance and benefit his soul. It was what his big sister, Zetsa, chose for him and for the most part, that was enough.
Waking up, Zax no longer was in nurse Elwood’s office, rather back in his home, lying on the living room’s sofa next to his dad.
“Honey, the little rascal has woken up”. Marco lifted his confused son and carried him to his and Laylen’s bedroom.
Laylen sat on a chair in front of a small Screen computer and was in the midst of reading the negative effects of improper soul training. She gasped and got up when she heard her husband.
“Mom?” Zax was startled by his mom’s sudden grip on his face and the follow up smothering hug she gave him. “Mom?” Zax asked again.
“Do you have any idea how dangerous what you have done?!” Laylen tried to sound stern but her emotions were out of control and her eyes moist, barely holding back the tears.
“Come, Laylen”, Marco said and passed on Zax to his wife. “We will talk in the living room”.
Sitting on a wooden chair and his parents in front of him, a few things have become clear to Zax the first five minutes they all sat together, among them that he was in big trouble!
The time now was past seven o’clock in the evening. Nurse Elwood called his dad after he fell asleep, and after he learned what happened, his dad had to pick him up with the department’s vehicle to bring him home.
“Is that what you were doing when you eagerly went out every day after school?” Zax was asked rhetorically by his mom merely for her to see how he will react.
Zax lowered his head and clenched his fists on his knees. He certainly was dishonest with his parents.
“Stop moving your legs!” His father scolded and Zax ceased rubbing his legs. “Do you know what carelessly training your soul can result to?! There is a very well and justified reason why kids with no Earth’s Core don’t practice soul refining techniques”. Marco pointed it out as if it was something that Zax already knew, and he sure did, yet persisted to clarify anyhow in simple words. “Human beings are born with a frail body and fragile soul. Soul refining techniques are ways for us to train the core of the soul which is the Spirit. If someone approaches it casually the soul can easily shatter and if that happen nor dad nor mom, neither your big sister, not even the Supreme Rulers can save you!”
“Why have you kept it a secret, Zax?” Laylen asked the moment Marco stopped talking.
Why? Because that was what Zetsa decided. But how could Zax push the blame on his big sister? She had her reasons to keep it a secret between them, most likely to not worry their parents. Now that both his mom and dad know, it is no longer a secret, just a poor decision…
“I didn’t want to worry you-”
“You didn’t want to worry us?!” Marco snapped. “Tell me, was your big sister involved in it?”
Marco, as is Laylen, grasped a significant insight for their son strange behavior in the past six months or so. They discussed it before he woke up and even used the home Caller to call Zetsa for farther explanation. Their main motive in this lecture was to clear some indisputable points to their son.
“She only wanted to help me avoid more quarrels. She is smart and capable. She trained my soul so I could be stronger and better…” Zax’s voice sounded sincere. His heart pounded inside the chest. It all started because of him, his mom and dad should not be mad at Zetsa. If she will not be allowed to guide him anymore… “Please, mom, dad, I’m sorry…”
“Wipe your nose, Zax”. Laylen brought a tissue and was about to help him clean his running nose, but Marco raised his hand to stop her. His son’s body was stiff, he needed to move a bit to release the pent up stress and then listen.
“For us to forgive you, you must show remorse for your action and understanding of who we are to you”. Marco said. “We are not you friends or teachers. We are not your neighbors or some people who live with you. WE ARE YOU PARENTS, ZAX!” Marco stood up.
Seeing his dad large physique of over a hundred and ninety three centimeters and hearing the heavy words purring out from his deep voice was like having an ice cold shower that made Zax docile.
“There is no good reason to hide anything from your parents! It is not for you to decide what worries us and what does not! We are your parents and just like we always love you we also always concerned about you… It's part of our job as parents, Zax. And it’s your part to be our son and tell us everything. For you we are the two people in the whole world that you shouldn’t keep secrets from. Anything that happens in your life is for use to know. Any decision that you want to make should be supported by our advice”.
“It’s not because that you are a child, Zax”, Laylen took over. “Even your older sister, Zetsa, as capable as she is, as you said, as strong and smart as she is… We are her parents, too. We have the same duty toward her as we have for you, and she as well must treat us with respect and acknowledge that in the whole world there is only one mom and one dad for her”.
Zax nodded slightly. He felt ashamed for betraying his parents’ trust and aware that in this particular case he took them for granted.
After a long time of silence Laylen looked at Marco and then turned to Zax. “That's enough for now. Go to your room and reflect about everything we said and you did”.
Zax did not try to protest or ask about his training. When he reached the corridor and turned right to his room his father said. “Tomorrow you will come straight home after school”.
“Yes, sir”. By his dad’s tone Zax knew that even though it was not a question, he still had to answer.
“You will do your homework and are not allowed to leave the house even if you finish. No watching the Screen, either”.
“The same thing the following day, school, homework and rest!”
“On Thursday, after returning from school and doing your homework, you can resume your training”.