Images etched into his mind, images of that day – the day they came into the woods, they day they killed his family and took him, and his sister, away. His mother’s screams still echoed in his mind some nights, his father’s viscera spilt over the ground burned in his eyes.
Himo (or Saru as he became to be known) never found out who ‘they’ were, presumably rogues selling Elven young folk as slaves, to be taken to foreign lands far, far away. As far as he remembered he wasn’t even on the same boat as Hima (his younger sister) – the journey took months, or at least seemed to, months of slopping the decks, being made to do unmentionable deeds.
Eventually reaching the destination Himo couldn’t hear Elvish or Common being spoken, the air smelled different, long tough grass grew in clumps, used as building material, it was everywhere. An elderly couple bought him, they were not cruel – but neither were they kind. He was always a tall outsider working in flooded fields picking grass and separating the grain which was dried and then cooked by boiling, it was the staple of the country. Life was harsh but he had no way to escape… But, then one-day salvation came, an orange robed figure walked up to the simple bamboo and rice paper house, Himo (who had been given the nick-name Saru by the local young folk – although he knew not what it meant) saw the figure talking to the couple. After a while he handed over a scroll, bid them farewell and turned away. Sliding the door closed the couple disappeared, yet, the figure turned and looked at Saru and then beckoned him over, Saru tried to resist but could not…
That was the day he entered the life of a follower of the ‘Way’ –living with other followers in the village at the foot of the nearby smoking volcano. Saru was taught the ‘Way’ – the way that all objects had its own ‘ki’ (energy or spirit) the way this ki was interwoven with life and the divine, the only true path, the only true way.
However, not everyone believed in the ‘Way’ – the world it seemed was full of unenlightened people. Sometimes these people tried to destroy those of the ‘Way’ – they didn’t succeed. Masters of jujutsu, disguise and charm the followers of the ‘Way’ could be very persuasive. Disbelievers who were vocally against the true path tended to disappear, disappear in some quite inventive ways, or come to realise their misguided folly. Saru was instrumental in this conversion work… But, the day had eventually come when the Soke of the ‘Way’ told him it was his time. Saru was to return to his long forgotten world to spread the word of the ‘Way’ (nicely condensed in scroll or parchment form called the ‘See-tower’). It was a heavy heart that accompanied him on his long sea journey back. But he was determined to spread the ‘Way’, he would not let his family down and perhaps, just maybe, he could find information about his young sibling and, obviously, show her the ‘Way’.