Jade Regent - 2014
Proud and Reckless Tengu Monk
Oishi has a longer stride than you’d expect. The Tengu grew up around humans and even a short human is taller than the average tengu. While Oishi is taller than most of his kin, he is still a few inches short of five feet. Between a willowy build and hollow bones, Oishi is just a hair heavier than six stones. His feathers, skin, talons and beak are all a deep blue-black, though a flash of white might be seen on his chest if conditions were to allow.
It might be debated what the most striking thing about the monk is. Some might call attention to the strikingly red, well-crafted robes that he wears, seemingly always clean. Others would point out the master-crafted katana that rests at his hip, peace-bound with copper wire.
Oishi panted as he scaled the cliff. Waves rolled in far below, slamming hard against the cliffs and reminding the monk just how the Thunder Cliffs Monastery had earned its name. He checked his Fundoshi, assuring himself that the shell still rested within, and continued his ascent.
He knelt at the feet of Master Sandā and presented the shell. The Master gently took the shell from his pupils hand and strode away, the young tengu gracefully rising to his feet and following. Master Sandā passed a large stone urn and gestured for Oishi to carry the vessel. The student obeyed and followed, preparing himself for the tasks to follow.
Dyeing the robes took hours. But the task had started a year earlier, with Oishi’s first climb. If he had fallen, that day or any other between then and now, he would have needed to start over. Many of his fellow students fell. Oishi had come close several times himself. Chodak had fallen just last week, nearly returned to the monastery. The Master himself had gone to retrieve the body. Chodak had not yet attempted the climb again.
“You are free to choose your own path. The Master of Masters has shown me one path you may take, but that decision is your own as it was your father’s before you.” The master’s words still rang in his ears as he walked through the mire known as Brinestump. His musings were quickly interrupted by demented laughter chittering from the underbrush.
Oishi quickly finished the drink that Shalelu, his savior, had purchased for him. His nerves were still frayed as he recovered from the attack. He was unsure how long it would take the burns to heal.