116 Smallest of Saplings Pt.1

    A loud thud was heard as a young boy fell on his backside. He grimaced.

    "Too weak."

    The boy glanced up as his opponent towered over him, his staunch frame obscuring the glare from the sun so that it cast a shadow upon his face. The young boy scrambled backward causing the taller boy to frown. "Teacher, I want a stronger sparring partner" he whined to the elderly monk behind him. "Chim is too weak."

    "I am not!" a young Jimin protested as he pushed himself up. He grasped his wooden sword with both hands. "Come at me again, I can take it!"

    The taller boy sighed as he observed Jimin's appearance. Currently, the young boy had grazed elbows and dusty amber robes from frequently landing on the dirt. His scrawny arms, though firmly grasping his sword, was quivering from the weight. He shook his head. "No," he told Jimin resolutely before turning to the monk. "I cannot spar with him any longer, Teacher. Chim is simply not on par with everyone else and I am getting tired of fighting weaklings like him." He scowled. "Teacher, how am I to improve when my opponent provides no challenge for me?"

    The monk shifted his gaze to Chim as he stroked his white and wispy beard. Seeing Chim's determined stance, he spoke softly, "Ling, you may go."

    The tall boy gratefully bowed before sauntering off to join another sparring group.

    "Teacher!" Jimin was appalled. "Why did you let him go? Our match is not over yet! I can still-"

    Suddenly, the elderly monk approached Jimin and reached for his nose. He pinched it hard.

    "Ow!" Jimin screeched. "Let go!" With as much force as he could manage, Jimin tugged at the monk's gnarly hand as he tried to break free. "Let go! It hurts!"

    "You see, Chim?" The monk spoke calmly despite Jimin's thrashing. "You cannot defeat your opponent if you leave yourself wide open."

    Eventually, he released Jimin's nose allowing the younger to create distance between them. Jimin glared at his elder with tears in his eyes. "That was an underhanded trick" he muttered while wrinkling his red nose. "I was not ready."

    The elder chuckled. "When it comes to mortal combat, there are no such things as underhandedness." He tilted his head slightly. "And you should always be ready. If it had been a dagger, what would you have done?"

    Jimin glanced down at his sword. "I would have chopped your hand off before you had the chance!"

    The elder chuckled again.

    "What is so funny?" Jimin retorted. "I am serious! I can do it! I can-!"

    "Chim, will you accompany me for a walk?" The elder interrupted. "There is something I want to show you."

    Jimin blinked. "But what about training?"

    "You may be excused for a moment. This is much more important..."
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