A scruffy figure trailed along the circular pathway of the killing game’s camping grounds, smoke trailing behind them from a lit cigarette in their hands. Momoe spent the day investigating the surroundings again, going alone as she wanted nothing to do with her ‘classmates’ after the disastrous morning gathering. The smuggler had only one location left to scout out. She hadn’t yet been to the docks and its boathouse.
By the time Momoe reached it her cigarette was but a smoldering stump, one which she swiftly flicked into the dirt and left to fizzle out by itself. The girl wasn’t in the mood to bring out another one either; something else had already caught her attention. Standing on one of the piers was a certain Hamazura Ginshi. He was looking out at the still body of water. Momoe observed him as he grabbed something out of the palm of one hand and tossed it onto the surface of the water. The smuggler heard several small splashes, the distance she stood from Ginshi not factoring in due to the lack of any other sound in the area. As she raised the eyebrow of her closed eye, Momoe called out to the judo practitioner.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Even as the string of words entered his ears, that didn’t stop Ginshi from tossing a pebble that bounced gracefully along the water’s surface. Five times it bounced before finally splashing and sinking into the bottom. “Just doing a bit of rock skipping,” He turned to look at Momoe while playing with another pebble between his fingers. He didn’t mind her sudden assertion at all. In fact, the smile he gave was a welcoming one.
“While it’s a way to pass time, it’s also a way to see your own state of heart,” accompanying his words with action, Ginshi turned his forearm backwards before immediately hurling it forward. The pebble in his grasp being let loose to once again scratch at the liquid surface. “Being able to skip rocks has a certain amount of focus to it. There’s precision, strength, speed, delicacy,..all need to be in balance. Well I can talk like it’s something special, but it’s pretty common to see kids do it,” while he was speaking, the pebble continued it’s motion, before striking the water and bouncing off in an arc motion. That sort of movement repeated. Like a dolphin dancing in and out of an ocean. This went on for six cycles before it’s momentum dipped, falling quietly into the body.
Ginshi at that time, looked at his work and spoke as the ripples began to fade, “As so, a reflection of one’s own heart can be seen. Not to brag, but it was pretty graceful. It’s an indication that my heart is perfectly steady, as developed by my years of mental and physical training.” Although he tried not to brag, there was a certain small hint of confidence to his words. But that’s to be expected of the Ultimate Judo Master.
Finishing off his explanation, Ginshi knelt down, grabbed a new pebble off the grass and tossed it to Momoe. “Want to give it a shot?"
She easily caught it in her right hand, eyebrow still raised in suspicion of the martial artist.
“What is this, some kind of joke?”
Despite the hostile tone, Momoe walked towards the lake. She made sure to keep Ginshi at arm’s length before pausing in front of the water, taking her eyes off him briefly to look at it, then the pebble in her hand. She tossed it a little into the air and caught it again, observing its smooth, nearly artificial surface. It did look like it would bounce.
“Ridiculous. So I just toss it?” she asked rhetorically. The girl was, after all, already leaning her arm back to ready her throw. The release that followed was unceremonious and crude, reflected in how the pebble only flew a short distance before it sank like the rock it was. A small splash was caused by the stone’s descent into the lake, but it was far removed from a bounce. Momoe cocked her head back towards Ginshi.
“What a shame, you made it look so easy too…”
Ginshi took in Momoe’s attempt without much reaction on his usual calm demeanor. “That just comes with practice. Anything can look easy with enough of it. Well, you’re an Ultimate yourself so I’m sure you already know that,” he took his eyes away from the lake and back at Momoe. Hand on his chin, he spoke “Even so, there was a bit of insight that can be gathered from those ripples. Momoe it seems like your heart isn’t at peace,” he stated bluntly as if diagnosing something. Then again, it isn’t much of a surprise considering her talent, but Ginshi decided to keep that thought to himself.
“You should think about training your mind. I have a few daily routines I can give,” he offered a helping hand. The boy figured it wouldn’t hurt having someone else also go the same path as him. Though more importantly, it would be a good way of severely crippling the chances of there being any killing going on.
"Wait, you’re serious about this ‘reflection of the heart’ crap? Don’t humor yourself,” Momoe growled back at the boy. She turned her body towards him, her eyebrows furrowed. “Why the hell would I want to train with you anyway? Sounds like a waste of time to me.”
An amusing smile formed on Ginshi’s face as he listened to her complaints. “The reason is simple. It’s to no longer be weak,” He held his hand out as if offering something. “It’s something just about everyone wants, no matter how much they may deny it,” wanting to get stronger may have seem like something incredibly simple-minded, but it was that simple-minded nature that led to the creation of martial arts to begin with. Thinking of that, Ginshi continued to speak “Though strength comes in many shapes and forms. And I believe in order for us to survive, all of us need to strengthen our hearts,”
It was sudden, but Ginshi’s feet had spread apart and his hands moved up at an even height, with one a few inches behind the other. Palms out, facing forward. It didn’t take an expert to know that this was a fighting stance. “What say we spar, Momoe? It may be unlike me to take the initiative, but I can’t miss a chance like this. There’s an easy way of being motivated to becoming strong, and that’s by knowing how weak you are.”
Momoe’s scowl turned to a grin as soon as Ginshi took his fighting pose. “Oh? So it’s a fight now? Fine by me,” she answered. The smuggler seemed nonchalant as she stepped forward, though Ginshi’s trained eye could tell Momoe was far from off-guard. He watched her rub the back of her head as she spoke up again.
“I don’t know too much about martial arts, though… doesn’t seem like a fair fight. You just gotta knock the other guy over, right?!”
Before her sentence had even finished, Momoe was already crouching down. She kicked her legs horizontally in an attempt to sweep Ginshi off his legs. Without much effort or hostility, Ginshi used his right foot to halt the sweep in place, then in less than a second, slid his foot under her heel, and lifted it above the ground, causing her to stumble. “That’s a good point, maybe I should just use one arm then,” taking heed to his own words, the orange-haired youth, put one arm behind his own back while using the other to grab at the shirt sleeve at the girl’s shoulder, attempting to pull her back to the dirt.
“Like hell!” she shouted while narrowly avoiding the grapple by leaning backwards. She grabbed onto Ginshi’s arm and threw it back to him so she could recover and get better footing again. Unfortunately it didn’t put her any closer to knocking the judo practitioner off his feet.
“Being able to escape that,..I can’t underestimate you huh?” For a mere moment, a small amount of intensity emitted from the Martial Artist. His next movement was fluid, not just like water, but also like a snake. He had bent very low to the grass as he slid right under her guard. With his long right arm, he wrapped his hand around to the base of her back to grab onto her coat. Then, still clinging onto her, he spun around in a full circle, lifting her off her feet with the momentum before finally letting go of his grip.
She didn’t just fall onto the dirt however, no..
‘I don’t like having to embarrass someone, but I'm hoping it’ll be enough of a shock to urge her to become stronger,..’ Ginshi allowed those thoughts to fill his mind as he watched Momoe crash into the lake. The splash being of considerable height before drizzling down and lightly spraying the boy. A few seconds passed before Momoe’s head and part of her upper torso appeared again, the water just shallow enough for her to find some footing and stand in.
“Feh! Couldn’t just toss me on the floor, could you? Would’ve been preferable to getting my coat all wet,” she complained, but a wry grin betrayed her true feelings.
“Sorry, sorry, you were so formidable I got a bit too serious there,” he responded with an apologetic smile, his arm was also stretched out for her to grab onto.
“Damn right I was,” she replied before taking his hand, pulling herself back up to the pier using both Ginshi’s help and by grabbing onto the ledge with her other hand. Once the girl was somewhat stable on her feet again she cracked her neck and brushed away the sticky hairs from the front of her face. “Guess they don’t call you the Ultimate judomaster for nothing.”
“But now you see right? By keeping your heart centered, you can do some pretty amazing things,” Ginshi said that with absolute confidence, though he happened to raise an eyebrow once he saw she was now drenched wet from the water. Feeling a tad bit guilty, the Ultimate Judo Master took off the upper portion of his Judo gi uniform and tossed it at Momoe so she could use it as a towel. He figured it would be fine considering how he had spares. She caught it without much issue before staring at Ginshi’s naked upper body with a raised eyebrow.
Finished with his lesson that no one asked for, Ginshi began to head back to his cabin, “Though, sometimes we need other people to help us keep our hearts at ease. That’s fine too. So know that I've got your back” He finished with a flash of a smile and a parting wave.
“I’ll keep it in mind,” Momoe replied with suspicion in her voice while watching him walk off. The smuggler then stared at the orange-coloured gi in her hands.
(Is this meant to be a towel, or did he just want to take his shirt off...? Well, whatever. Can’t say I blame him, with those looks.)
She ran the gi through her hair in an attempt to dry it off and found it worked decently enough, though it wasn’t going to replace a real towel any time soon. Nevertheless, it was still enough to satisfy Momoe until she got to the showers.
Momoe and Ginshi grew a little closer today!