Giovanna walked in between many groups of people, many of them as excited as she was. Her purple eyes standing out from the brown, green, and blue, though she believes she saw a handful of yellows and reds. A few kids teased her long bushy hair, effectively annoying her, but far from downing her spirits. She was surprised that her hair had been chosen as the target for teasing; it was usually the beauty mark above her upper lip. Either way, it would take a lot more than a few petty insults at her appearance to put Giovanna down.
Today would be the first step in achieving her life-long dream. You really needed to try to find other eleven-year-olds with the same goal. Many teased her for it and while it did sadden her at times (especially when it came from friends or family), she was still determined to achieve her goal – and that is to be the greatest swordswoman in all of Reina.
But she did not want to achieve this task with just any ordinary sword – no – she wanted a Great Sword; a weapon known for its massive size and extreme difficulty to master. This made her an even bigger target for teasing.
She had left home, leaving only a note behind. She strongly hoped her mother would be able to forgive her someday… that she could understand. With difficulty, she got this out of her mind; she had arrived at her destination.
After long weeks of travel on her own, she finally arrived at Omise village. Here, lived one of the best and most well known teachers of recent time, Ryu Hayashi. Giovanna has never seen a picture of him; she had only heard strange rumors about him. One came from an old veteran who told her that Ryu was a hundred and sixty-seven years old. Another came from a traveller who claimed Ryu had once dueled with a mythical dragon; creatures of old legends and fairy tales.
Something she knew for a fact was that Ryu had retired from teaching long ago. This is why Giovanna is currently struggling to get through a large crowd. Ryu Hayashi, the retired legend, had made headlines when he declared and spread across the land of Halo (perhaps the other kingdoms as well) that he was coming out of retirement and was ready to teach one final time.
Giovanna pushed and squeezed her way through a jungle of legs; she even got scolded by some of the adults. She made it to a spot in the front and could finally see Ryu’s dojo. It was made of wood, but somehow looked sturdier. The backyard was covered from sight by a tall fence. In front of the dojo was a scaffold, probably for addressing the crowd.
She could not stop herself from grinning. Her plan worked perfectly. She had brought just enough money to last her until today. However, her smile faded as soon as she began to think about what would happen if Ryu did not choose her.
She shook that thought out of her head. She had to stay positive after all. But how exactly did Ryu choose his students? The thought suddenly crawled sneakily into her mind for she had been avoiding the idea since she left home.
‘’I’ll definitely be chosen,’’ gloated a dark skinned girl to her friends, ‘’mom and dad said they would give him a castle if that’s what it cost.’’ Giovanna’s stomach dropped. What if you needed money to train with him? She stared at the same girl, which had a beautiful and obviously expensive yellow dress. ‘’I’m from the coast side of Ame,’’ she said with an air of smugness to an admiring crowd. ‘’I’ve already stopped several thieves with my sword, Sparkles, and – what’s so funny?’’ she added towards a giggling Giovanna.
‘’Nothing…’’ Giovanna lied. She thought the name of the sword was a joke but judging from her reaction, it was not.
‘’That’s what I thought,’’ the girl jeered, her blue eyes narrowing, ‘’you just here to watch I presume – or is your strategy to make him feel so much pity that he chooses you – that would explain why your clothes look like they were fished out of a dumpster.’’
‘’He announced it to the entirety of Halo, so I’m sure anyone can be chosen!’’ said Giovanna hotly. She never thought she could dislike someone so quickly.
‘’Doubt it,’’ said the girl plainly. ‘’He’ll probably choose kids with experience, or he will charge a pretty large sum.’’
‘’I don’t think he’ll only choose those who’re rich,’’ said Giovanna frowning, hoping with all her might that she was right.
‘’Oh, really,’’ said the girl smiling and rolling her eyes. ‘’Everyone likes money; I doubt Ryu enjoys living in this dump.’’ The kids around her laughed.
‘’Helena, is it true you beat a Titanoboa twenty feet long?’’ asked an enthusiastic six year-old boy.
‘’Yes,’’ she jeered looking at Giovanna, ‘’I did, and I’ll tell you all about it!’’ She began telling a grand tale of how she and Sparkles defeated the alleged giant snake.
As much as Giovanna hated to admit it, Helena was right. She never found or heard how Ryu chose his students. Wild and fanciful scenes started popping in her mind. What if he hosted a large tournament and everyone had to fight to be his student? Or what if you had to defeat some giant pet of his? A lot of kids in the crowd had clearly trained before. They brought practice weapons, and some even brought real ones.
Silence spread across the entirety of the crowd. The kids to Giovanna’s right gasped along with many others. The front door to the dojo had creaked open and a man had stepped out. He had black hair that was made into a ponytail and wore a white robe. He climbed the scaffold and examined the silent crowd through his round glasses. If he really is a hundred and sixty-seven years old, then he looks fantastic for his age, thought Giovanna. He looked in his mid fifties, at most.