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The instructors said their goodbyes and moved over to where Sifu waited. They talked softly, but Xan could just make out what they were saying. Instructor Mint, Cho and Sue exchanged pleasantries, leaving Xan to try to eavesdrop on the others.

“Sifu, I am concerned that Xan hasn’t attuned to either metal or wood,” Instructor Aer uttered softly.

“Well it doesn’t seem to have stopped him from progressing, has it?” Instructor Luli asked.

Instructor Bao said something too low for Xan to make out.

“Maybe he’s a late bloomer.” Instructor Luli offered.

Instructor Mint moved to the side of the bed, preventing him from hearing any more of the conversation. “Alright young man, let’s talk through healing. It appears you had quite the adventure and I fear it won’t be your last.”

Xan laughed ruefully, pulling his attention from the hushed conversation and focusing on the lovely Professor.

Instructor Mint looked at Cho and Sue. “You’re welcome to stay and learn. You’ll be learning to heal as a Second-year, anyway. Besides,”—she looked at Xan with a smile—“I’m sure your friend will be sharing anything I would show him with you.”

Xan looked sheepish and the other two moved chairs around to sit opposite Instructor Mint on the other side of the bed. She nodded at the students. “It is simple in theory but hard in practice,” she explained. “You need to visualize the injury is a dark spot. You will pull in Qi and use it like pouring a pitcher of water on a dirty patch. You visualize the Qi washing away the black. In this instance the analogy is perfect in that you use water infused Qi to do the work. The washing away of the dark that you visualize is you using the Qi to heal the injury.”

“Seems easy, yes?” She continued, “but the execution can be tremendously challenging. Now let us begin. Close your eyes and visualize you pulling Qi from your core and flooding it up your arm. Breath in, Cycle in more Qi through your center, and project it through your energy. Start with five minutes in the morning and evening. Work your way up to ten minutes and come see me in a week. We will check your progress then, okay? And, hopefully, that will help to rapidly speed you down the road to recovery.”

Xan mumbled his agreement. Instructor Mint smiled at him, making him go all gooey on the inside. She turned to Cho and Sue. “The visualization exercise works for anything you may have going on. You can heal a cough, a bunion, or a stiff back. It just takes concentration and aptitude. Practice and let’s see how you progress when we meet back up.”

“Thank you Instructor Mint.” Xan said, meaning every word. The other two quickly echoed him.

“Wow. That was intense.” Cho said, as she excused herself from the room.

“It definitely was. Did you hear the instructors there at the end?” Xan asked, dropping his voice low. “They aren’t happy that I haven’t attuned to another element yet.” Truthfully, Xan didn’t like that either, but their concern definitely put him on edge.

“Well, they can’t force you to attune.” Cho looked at Sue. “Does he have to attune to pass?” He asked her.

“I don’t know. I can check. I haven’t heard of anything,” she shrugged. “I guess it isn’t an issue because everyone attunes.” Sue stated.

“They are letting me… us, learn fire.” Xan said.

“True,” Sue mused absently. “Although, I know grandfather is worried about how the Sparks got corrupted.”

“I’m concerned too. You heard that we were the only ones with trouble.” Xan asked. “Do you think that grass-snake Kai Jin is the one who corrupted the Sparks?”

“Xan, I know he is tough on you, but I don’t think he is capable of doing that,” She replied, shaking her head, hair swaying from the motion. “He is pompous and arrogant. Even overly competitive. But I believe he is also a good person in his heart. You just have to get to know him.”

“No offense, but I don’t want to get to know him. He’s acted like an entitled child at every turn and even if he isn’t behind the corruption, he is definitely the one who sabotaged our bundle.” Xan said hotly.

“Why do you think that?” Sue asked.

“He laughed about it to me after the trial.” Xan tried to sit up in bed a bit and tweaked his injured arm, which caused him to cry out in pain.

The attendant arrived quickly. “Okay, visiting time is over. You can come back tomorrow,” she announced.

“Alright, we were just leaving anyway.” Cho told the attendant which seemed to mollify her.

“Please be sure that you do,” she barked stiffly before bustling out of the room to take care of her other attendant duties—though whatever those were exactly, Xan wasn’t sure.

“We’ll see you tomorrow, Xan,” Sue offered. “And we can talk more about Kain Jin then,” she said firmly.

After the two had left. Xan started working on the visualization exercise. He steadied his breathing and pictured a river of Qi flowing from his core and out his injured arm. He infused water into his Qi, but he pushed well past the five-minute mark. The truth was, he was already severely at a disadvantage and five minutes a day of healing wasn’t going to get the job done. He needed to be healed before the start of the next cycle in four weeks.

Xan gritted his teeth, focused, and projected the rest of the evening.

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About the author

MarkStallings

Bio: I’ve been in Colorado since I was a young teenager. I live in the foothills of Pikes Peak with my wife, two children and various dogs and cats. I have a crazy technology background having founded several tech companies centering around human machine interfaces before I discovered a passion for writing.

When I’m not slinging the ink and trying to get paid to fabricate tales that entertain, I like to shoot competitively, drink craft beer, ride motorcycles and play games with friends.

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