Time passes quickly for those with much to do. The Ri, the single year a new Hin is given to learn the ways of their people, passed with shocking alacrity. Each mentor was patient in his own way, and each student receptive. The lessons the teacher wished to impart were not always what the pupil wished to learn, but were learned none the less. While each Mandarin had his or her time with each of their disciplines during this year, clear favorites were shown. Even Banner, who suffered at the hands of his Asian tormentors far worse than most received special attention from a select few.
Nakajima Shinchi spent the majority of his time with the Korean, Heinjin. It was logical; the had a similar taste in fashion, after all, and likely a comparable mortal experience. What excess time Shinchi had not devoted to the Korean was divided up among the beautiful Acharapawn and the equally alluring (if exotically so) Soon Bi. While all the lessons were valuable, he was especially attentive to those revolving around Portents, Meditation and Drinking. It was most likely that this would be a great spiritual adviser to the Wu as it shaped itself.
Konda, the aging monk with no memory of his mortal existence spent the majority of his time with Goree Gen Kee, selecting one of the youngest of the mentors present to be his teacher for most things. Often times, they would leave alone for days at a time, only returning to speak of nothing of their lessons. Konda’s excess time was oddly spent among the other members of the Wu; whenever they had a free moment, they would turn to find the odd monk observing them and asking after their lessons. It was… disconcerting for several. Of all the lessons he was offered, the complex Blood Shintai was praised above all others.
Morimoto Takeshi spent most of his time with the fearsome Lord Hiyabashi, comparing the cultural differences between the caste’d Samurai and the Yakuza whose organization was born to combat the power of the warriors. When not pursuing those lessons, he was being instructed in various arts by the enigmatic Chen Long, fabled to be the greatest martial artist alive. The Taoist took many lessons from these gatherings, but praised his growing mastery of Martial Arts above all others.
Johnny O’Connor predictably spent the majority of his time with the warlord Khubla Kasashe, soaking in the rarely spoken warriors lessons with rapture. The controlled Devil conducted himself in many ways the young one found enviable. When not holding lessons on combat and torture and tactics with the Mongolian, he spent a vast amount of time with the lovely Acharapawn. From the Indian he learned of religion, castes, spiritual advisement and the application of subtle murder. While he attempted to avoid Trang, the fellow seemed to inherently know this and stuck to him through many a lesson with either, the vulgar drunkard with the leering grin never letting up for a moment. Of all the lessons the budding Hindu took from his mentors, those of Torture and Meditation were most highly praised.
As the year grew to a close, the month of the Dragon was upon them. The 23rd day approached quicker than any would have liked. While the lessons were cruel and their mentors strict, there was a strange sort of comfort to be had from their proximity. But, alas, all things must come to an end in their own time, and this was no exception.
The party was elegant. It was vast. It was life-threatening. Coming from all corners of the globe, the guests surged in. Mortals of every color and creed. Some related to the Mandarins directly, others not at all. The tension was palpable as the made-up Mandarins came into the square with their chosen pupil following. Each was dressed to pay homage to their past or nature. The blue-skinned goddess stood shoulder to shoulder with the oni faced samurai. Their pupils were dressed in similar prose, flavored to accentuate their mentors and mark their own place in society. But the festivity was not to be lax and soon they were expected to display their mastery of the supernatural and the mundane before the crowd of gathered mortals.
Takeshi began by boldly performing the energetic dance of a Thrashing Dragon; invoking Yang Prana and displaying many acts of martial skills. The chi flowed through him and into the crowd and the Mandarin’s were pleased.
Johnny stepped forward next, approaching the oldest, most revered of the cherry trees. Taking a moment to perform the balancing kata, he drew his sword and became a blurred of controlled, precise movements, striking from each of the blossoms a single petal while disturbing the rest of the tree not at all.
Konda came forward next. As the cherry petals billowed and fell, he selected seemingly at random lithe figured from the crowd. The dance they performed was moving and elegant, turning the shower of petals from something beautiful to something awe-inspiring.
Shinchi came into the dance as well, displaying the meditative stance of the slow and lovely martial stances, bringing grounding to his own mind as well as those of the people watching.
The Mandarins were pleased. The guests were spellbound. The party continued without death for the time being. The pupils given a moment to collect their thoughts before given to display their next tasks.
Shinchi discretely left the party and found an area of the grotto so tainted by humans as to be unapproachable. Over the next several hours, he cleaned the area, pouring in his will and chi as sacrifices to the spirits of the area. The statues became refined once more and pure, and the very land itself seemed to breath with contentment at the treatment.
Takeshi swam through the crowd until she found a woman marked with loss and pain. After speaking with her and learning of her plight, he searched the crowd to find an appropriate match to soothe her loss. A young soldier and a young widow were paired before the keen eyes of the Mandarins and a young ghost turned away to return to the Cycle.
Konda collected from the crowd various masters and instructors of esoteric yoga and hosted an impromptu saloon. The masters spoke of their schools and displayed their craft, and each was enriched in turn by the others. The differences of their schools were not seen as a threat with Konda serving tea, but rather as things to be praised and revered.
Johnny took an unexpected turn and pulled a Wallstreet Journal from his back pocket and began collecting investors. His was not the path of charm, but rather direct and brutal intellect. First from the Japanese mob, then the Hindi businessmen, and finally the Hong Kong bankers. Each in turn was seduced with the raw power of money, giving to the young Devil an impressive sum to play with before the eyes of the Mandarins he had hoped to impress. Heinjin too particular note of the display and was greatly pleased.
As the party came to a close, the mortals left. The predawn cast the area in eerie, dangerous light. It was revealed that they were blessed and the rights of the Wu were to be cast upon them. They had all passed, save one. Banner had been abducted during the party, and the Bone Flower had failed to appear, mentors and all. It was a sad, happy day, but a victory not to be ignored.
The party was given the night to contemplate their nushi and to meditate on their future. When night fell again, they would be given their tasks towards enlightenment under the mandate of Heaven. They would be given the freedom to depart the mortal world. They would be Disciplines. They would be Running Monkeys; and the world would tremble in their wake.