Reading time: 8 mins
Younger generations are always eager to learn the wisdom of their elders, without having to go through the effort of experiencing it. Yanquin, a young monk, was no different. As he traveled with his teacher back to their monastery, he questioned him vigilantly.
“Shifu,” He addressed his teacher, “You are renowned across the land as a powerful healer. How did you get that way? What is the lesson has brought you the most renown?”
The teacher walked through the healthy green forest without a response. The student listened to the master’s footsteps waiting for the man to finish contemplation and answer. After five minutes of not hearing anything from the old man’s mouth, the student said, “Is it that hard of a question to answer sir?”
The monk chuckled and smiled at the boy, “No it is a simple answer, but I can not tell you, you must see it, try it, and then you will know it.”
“But sir,” The young monk began to protest. He was cut short by the sound of horses galloping on the road.
The Lord With a Need
Around the bend, a young and wealthy lord appeared followed by an entourage of soldiers and advisors. He stopped in front of the monks looking down on them. The student quickly pulled two rugs out of his little bag and placed one in front of his companion and one in front of himself. The student kneeled followed by the older man.
“Rise,” the lord said in a tone that showed he cared neither one way or the other if they listened. The two monks got to their feet their robes spotless thanks to the mats.
“What do you have to pay Lord Holstead tribute?” The lord’s soldier demanded. Paying homage to passing lords was customary in these parts.
The old monk gave a subtle shrug as the young one emptied his bag of its contents. He searched for something of value, but it was only full of necessities like bedrolls and fire starters. They didn’t even have food because they were supposed to be home by the end of the day. Finally, he produced a pair of shoes that a thankful patient had donated to the monk for his blessing. He offered it to the lord and a servant took them away. Everyone looked at the older monk expectantly.
“And what do you have to give, old man?” Lord Holstead said looking down his nose.
“I own nothing but the clothes on my back, but I can offer you blessings for safe travels sir,” the monk said.
The lord scoffed, “I do not follow your bogus religion, and I have a priest of my own to bless me. As for safe travels, my caravan of thirty men can ensure that. You must offer me something of value.”
The monk looked around then walked away from the caravan into the forest. The guards shouted out in protest. It was most disrespectful to leave a lord without being dismissed. The monk stopped a few paces into the woods, paused and returned. His hands were full of smooth and bulbous red berries, and he offered them up to the man.
“You have the gall to offer me berries? I could have my servants go out and pick the berries my self if I wanted to, these are of no value.” Then he kicked the monk’s hands and the berries scattered to the ground. “You are lucky I don’t order you to be captured or executed for your disrespect, but you are not even worth my time.” The Lord turned his horse and proceeded to march on. His company followed and as the long caravan passed the horses stomped the berries into the ground making small splatters of red stained dirt on the road.
After the company passed and the monks were alone again the student started questioning his master again. “Shifu, how are you so well known and respected if you do not respect others?” The student asked. “We must respect the lords because they are the ones who donate to our temples and keep the peace so we may practice our beliefs.”
“I cannot help someone who does not see the true value of things.” The monk replied solemnly.
“There was no value in your berries sir. I mean that with the utmost respect.”
“Did the lord look like he valued the shoes?” The master replied.
The student shook his head then replied, “But they were made of fine leather, and he may pass them along as a gift to someone else.”
The master hummed in understanding, and the holy men kept walking.
The Disillusioned Beggar
After a few hours of travel, the two men came across another traveler on the road. This man was scratched and what clothes he had were torn. “Poor beggar,” The young monk said. “How can we help you, sir? We are holy men of the nearby city.”
“Do you have food, water, or shoes?” He asked in a dry voice. “I have a long way to travel, and I’m afraid I won’t make it as I am.”
The young monk shook his head in despair. He had just drunk the last of his canteen. “I’m sorry sir, we cannot help you. But we can give you our blessings.” He began to chant a holy psalm.
While the young man was doing his prayer, the old man looked around. He disappeared into the woods, and by the time he reappeared the other monk had finished his blessing and was ready to go on his way. The monk walked to the beggar and handed him a small pile of red berries.
The beggar scoffed at the man and said, “Are you trying to poison a helpless man monk?”
The old man shook his head to disagree with the accusation. In a measured voice, he said, “These are not poisonous, I assure you.”
“You lie!” the man exclaimed. “I ate those same berries and had hallucinations for days. I wandered through these woods, lost all my supplies and cut my feet.”
The old man laughed as if the man had told the classic joke of the paladin, cleric, and druid walking into a bar. “No traveler, the berries you speak of are not the same. Those have small white seeds and curved tips. These berries are bulbous, and as you see, there are no seeds on them. Instead, their seeds are inside.” The monk bit into the berry and revealed a pit the size of a fingernail clipping. “You could eat it if you wanted to,” he informed the man, “but I never do. They get stuck in my teeth and distract me during my meditations.”
The hungry beggar, persuaded by the monk’s logic, cheer, and willingness to eat it himself gobbled up three of the berries in the man’s hands as if they were going to evaporate.
“These won’t give you cover for the road, but the health properties of the berries are immense. You will feel rehydrated and full after a few more. And it will give your blood the power to heal your sore feet as you walk. It’s not as good as shoes, but you will make it to the next town in a day or two with these.”
“Are these berries common in these parts?” The lost man asked.
The monk laughed with resonating cheer, “as common as the White Seeds. Keep an eye out for them both, and you will be fine. Safe travels young man.”
“Thank you for all your help,” the man said as he went on his way.
“I wish I had kept my pair of shoes to give him,” the young monk lamented after they had passed. “If only I had the wisdom of you to keep the shoes for the man. Did you know I would have another need for the shoes, master?”
The monk laughed, “I know as much of the future as you do young one, it is other knowledge that keeps me wise.”
“What is that sir?” He asked, “It’s what I’ve been trying to learn from you.”
“I’ve been trying to teach you, but you don’t see it yet.” The monk answered. He hummed the rest of the way back to their holy house.
Emergency In The Holy House
Days passed, and the monks settled back into their daily routine in the holy house. The young monk asked the master questions, and the master taught the stubborn young man as best he could.
One day the old monk was studying in the small library as his student rushed in and informed him that an emergency had erupted in the court yard. “Your wisdom is needed there, Shifu.” The monk packed up his fragile books methodically and was soon on his way to help.
In the courtyard, two outsiders were surrounded by other monks trying to get a hold of the situation. One man was hurt badly and was thrashing around. He was being held down by a few of the house’s brothers. The other man was a robust traveler who’s shirt was covered in blood. The cart behind him was full of crates and also stained with blood.
“We think that this man attacked the bleeding man,” the student said, “but I don’t know why he brought him here. He will not speak to anyone. We can only assume they both went mad in their travels.”
The old monk let out a soft chuckle and approached the two men. When the robust man saw the wise monk, he immediately bowed his head and produced a sealed piece of paper. The monk took the letter, broke the royal seal and read it.
Dear Holy Monk,
Firstly please excuse my messenger’s manners he is a mute. I did not have the chance to get your name, but I told him to find the oldest monk in your house. I knew your temple thanks to your holy and clean robes. Thank you for your help on my travels, to pay you back for saving my life I have sent you a gift of herbs, spices, bandages and other rare medical supplies. If there is anything else that you or your brothers may need my family will be happy to donate it to you.
Lord Loquin Dillows
The Gift’s Full Cycle
The old man folded up the letter and thanked the blood-soaked messenger. “Did this man come with you?” He asked.
The messenger shook his head no.
The old man looked at the squirming and bleeding man and vaguely recognized him. “You found him on the road.”
The messenger nodded in agreement.
“Did he have anyone with him?” The messenger shook his head.
The older monk walked up to the man that was squirming around and recognized him as Lord Holstead that they had passed on the road a few days ago. He examined the man’s condition and rantings from a safe distance. The man was reacting to things that weren’t there and had hurt himself badly in the process.
The healer looked at one of the brothers holding the Lord’s arm and said, “I believe he has ingested the White-Seed, do we have an antidote?”
The brother shook his head and explained, “no we ran out of toad’s root months ago and haven’t been able to make it since.”
The wise man looked at the bulky messenger and asked him, “Did your lord happen to send us Toad’s Root?”
The man nodded his head and walked to the back of the cart to open a crate. As he did it, the student approached his teacher. “What is going on here master?”
The old monk smiled and replied, “The value of gifts are bestowing their blessings.”
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