The Apprentice: Part 1 This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It was a normal day in the village for most anybody. The people were doing their normal business; shopping for fresh mangos, bananas, coffee beans, women weaving beautiful clothes, hats and tapestry, men trying to sell anything that was at their cart, screaming at everyone who passes by “Buy this, it will make you younger and more beautiful” or “I assure you that you will never really be hungry again when I sell you this tasty and magical fruit!” In another part of the small village, the young man, Xifan, strolled through the dusty path towards his masters house. He was being apprenticed by the elderly man Laru, learning how to become a master samurai and at the martial arts. As he walked towards the house, Xifan noticed something very odd. When he walked up to the small shack-like building, he didn’t see Master Laru there greeting him with his straight and serious face. He wasn’t even behind the cherry blossom tree like Xifan was expecting him to be. “Something doesn’t feel right,” he thought. Xifan knocked on the door- no answer occurred. He went up to the window, but the view was blocked by the tattered worn out blue silk scrim. The man had no choice but to break down the door. Bang, bang, CRACK! He stepped in, the floorboards squeaked with every little step he took with his dusty sandals. Xifan checked every room, quietly saying “Uhm…Laru-san, are you there?” Finally, he checked out the last room- the bedroom. As he poked his head through the door, he saw a dim light in the far right corner. The rest of the space just seemed to fade into a dark void. He opened the door more, the screech of the rusty hinges seeming to echo throughout the shack. Xifan was horrified to what his eyes behold him. There on the ground was his sensei on his back, a puddle of red liquid dripped from his mouth and formed a puddle underneath his head. The apprentice dashed towards him, kneeling down and whispering “M-master Laru…Who did this to you?” The old man slowly opened his eyes, saying his last words “It…It was the…the misanthrope ghost…Ebisu.” His final breath slowly left his body, and that was it. His heart seemed to slow down, the skin turning warm to cold very fast. “Oh master, why has this penance been brought to you? What did you do wrong?” Tears swelled up in the boys eyes, but he knew he couldn’t cry. Xifan was rapt in every lesson that the man had taught him days on end. Just yesterday he remembered the last thing that Laru taught him: Focus your energy, never give up, even when the hard times get harder. The apprentice even gave up his past life of impropriety for his dream, which was very hard for him to do. Now, he knew that he had to take revenge for his friend and defeat Ebisu. Xifan ran out of the house and into the village to see what information he could get. From sunrise to sunset, he could get but very little and useless information. The young man finally tried one last person; the man who was older than everyone else, even Master Laru. No one knew his name so they called him Oki. It was the most useful information that the man had gotten all day. Now he said this: “The only way to get Ebisu back to the mortal world is to perform a solemnized summoning circle with the blood of his victim. After that, you must stab the katana straight in the middle and say Ebisu I call you to the village of Excrushia. Then, I must say no more. You decide how you will defeat that beast.”
There was no moon out that night, only the stars that watched over what seemed to be the small world. Xifan walked past the cherry blossom tree, again thinking of his master. There’s no turning back now. I must do this. He walked inside the small shack and into the bedroom, still finding fresh blood on the floor but strangely no body appeared. He made a perfect circle in the center of the small room, took the katana off of its stand and stabbed it right in the middle. “I call you Ebisu to our village inside my masters room! Do not act like a coward, show your self!” All of a sudden, a gust of wind and a flash of a bright white light exploded from the formation, sending the poor boy flying into the wall. As Xifan picked himself up, a specter-like demon that rose from another realm stood there- it was Ebisu. He was very hard to look at; fresh wounds and scars over one of his crystal-blue eyes and over his snarling mouth, broken chains that were latched onto his paws that rattled, red-stained teeth that spilled out from every direction, spiders that crawled from inside is torn ears and onto his white fur-covered back, his belly torn open with bits and pieces of intestines falling out. Though it was gruesome, Xifan knew what he had to do to defeat this beast. He ripped out the katana and charged towards the apparition. The thing dogged just about every move, the boy crashing into boxes, vases, the bed and even the dresser. The deepest voice you could ever imagined roared “Foolish human, you could never defeat me with my super natural dark powers.” A black luminescent ball formed in the paw and it blew through the roof, wood boards tumbling down in front of Xifan. “Not even your little master could kill me. Stupid old bat!” He laughed a hardy laugh that rumbled the house. Focus. The voice inside the young mans head echoed. Stay strong, no matter what. Gather up your energy, like I have been teaching you. He smirked under his long dark hair and said quietly “No…I will defeat you…you’re the foolish one dog.” “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU SAY YOU RUNT?!” Now he was really angry. As the beast charged at him with a smoky ball, the katana turned into an un-earthly sword- spikes shooting out of every direction, a purple-ish hue hovering around it. With a flick of the weapon, Xifan slipped the sword inside Ebisus’ gut. With a twist with the spikes, the wolf-beast roared in pain and fell to the ground, grabbing the mans shirt while whispering “I…I will be back.” The thing slowly faded away. Xifan slowly got up, breathing heavily with sweat dripping off the tips of his hair. As he walked out into the cool night, he looked to see that the moon had come out and the stars were gone. Good work, my young apprentice. “Thank you Master Laru…For teaching me everything I know.” It isn’t over yet… “Yes, I know…”





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