The sun arose, from beyond the horizon, its light reflecting in the sea, visible from the the balcony Rising Star stood on. A nice sight, that was for sure one of the main interests of that travel. He stretched, first in a usual, mundane way. And then, started to do things just as menial for him, like standing on a leg while holding the other one upwards, in the wind caused by the movement of the traveling pagoda. He then got back inside, just the time for him to take a book, holding it open in one hand while the other was performing a punch, that lasted for ten minutes. The technique to turn pages one-handed is an ancient Sideral secret. A fifteen minutes kick, and several pages later, wondering how the sight would be even less obstructed, he proceeded to get back inside again, letting the book lay upon the table, before proceeding to pay a visit to the observation tower. On his hands, of course.
"Good morning Meherii" he said, while still upside down, to the woman looking at the horizon. She was about Rising Star's height -though it was hard to tell at the moment- with short messed-up black hair, googles sticking to her forehead, ample and comfortable-looking overalls, and an utility belt filled with things ranging from a somewhat greasy handkerchief to a heartstone. Yep, pilot and repairwoman alright.
"'Morning Rising Star" she answered, before turning her head, tiling it slightly, and waving, still not used to the young man's morning exercises.
"So, how's it going ?" he then said, after a wave from the foot, proving that even powerful siderals could have the most menial conversations ever.
"Well. The weather is nice, so that's good. Not that rain and a small wind could do much to such a vehicle, they managed to make it very low-centered, and very resistant, so that helps too. But there's one little thing I haven't quite figured out..." She told him, without much worry in her voice though. At Rising Star's interrogative "Mh ?" she answered: "You see, I'll leave you out of the technical details so you won't have a bleeding headache because I'm that nice, but the Essence accumulators that make this vehicle float do so by staying near the ground, and pushing it back. It works on water too, even though we cannot fly as high as on land and there is a little wave formed under the cloud, but the thing that I didn't expect is that we're getting progressively lower, and it's not due to the dephts of the sea, as the map shows we're on the rising side of the shore."
"So, we're going to sink ?" he asked, in a relaxed tone, more curious than worried, especially considering the not-dramatic-at-all tone Meherii had.
"Depends. If that comes from a problem, I can fix it. If it's a feature, then I guess we won't be able to leave the Blessed Isles. With the exclusion of the peripheral islands, like the one we're aiming for of course. But on this run, if it doesn't suddenly worsens or break down, we'll be okay." She ended her sentance scratching the back of her head.
"Alright" he simply answered, giving her an inverted shrug.
After a few seconds of silence, he finally got back on his feet, to enjoy the view, three sides showing sea as far as eye could see, and the last one a distant-looking shore. After pondering it for a moment, he asked: "Why didn't we turned back for you to check out things and avoid the risk of crashing to the bottom of the inland see suffering horrible and wet death by the way ?" almost if it was a detail.
"Well, we could have I guess, that wouldn't have put us too late. But then I wouldn't know the extent of the problem. Of, if it was too large a problem, I wouldn't know if that thing could remain controllable underwater, or for how long. With all the possibilities, new situations would arise, so to speak." She gave him a simple smile, and he replied with a similar one:
"I guess you don't like straying from the path you set, do you ?"
"Let's just say I like to go where I want to go. If you go around a mountain, you cannot touch its peak, can you ? And if you can't reach the summits, then, the journey is somewhat duller... Oh, but you and the others must be hungry right ? I may be a long, long way to be considered a martial arts experts, being at your level or something like that even if I am older than you, but I'm the one that make this pagoda fly and your stomachs full." she said, while getting towards the stairs leading down.
"Hey, these martial arts non-experts have feelings too !" he said, with a chuckle, as she went away, then proceeding to look towards the distant shore, their destination for today's teachings.
The pagoda was now leaving the surroundings of the city, leaving its puffy white cloud behind it. Standing where they went down, Rising Star was accompanied by an impressive man, wide in many dimensions, his arms the size of legs, and his legs thankfully covered by his long deep blue buff jacket, to preserve anyone's sanity. He had long, somewhat scruffy dark blue hair, but was somehow cleanly shaved.
"So. Wanna get drunk instead ?" he asked, in his deep, somewhat gruffy voice, giving Rising Star a glance.
"Tempting, Strong Arm For Facing Adversity..." he said, quickly interrupted by: "Just call me Saffa. Or S. Or Bob."
"Okay... Bob S. Saffa.... So, tempting, but I think Sifu will question me if I don't get t he idea of that style straight." Rising Star then added, deciding to just go with that self-made nickname.
"Bah." said the imposant man, dismissing it with a motion of the hand. "It's not like he's your real Sifu anyway, it's just a name. Like Bob."
"I know... But I'm pretty sure the occasions to get drunk won't be missing on that journey, while this one is a one-time stop. I mean, I'm off Yu-Shan for a long time. I might as well use that time." he simply answered with a shrug.
Marching forward, Strong Arm For Facing Adversity then said: "You're the boss, boss" a little hint of dissapointement in his voice.
They went along a field, down a road, around a village, and finally, to the training grounds near a coast. Grounds that looked more like a farm that'd grow very heavy things... Several people were apparently training there, with ardor, but in a discipline completely different from the immaculate temple. There, a nimble-looking person was trying to move a monolith from the ground it was in. Another, small and stocky, was racing against a hare visibly. Scratching the back oh his head, Rising Star asked Saffa:
"So... Remind me, what are we here for ?"
"The Art of Relentless Persuasion. A fighting style that originated from debating. It's teached even here so close to the realm in the open, mainly to local gods as it's a celestial-level martial art. The immaculates tried to close that school, but when it went to court, the arguments of the local teachers were rather... Well defended." he said, a bit ponderous to the trainings.
"They had nothing on us anyway" said a voice, coming from behind.
The two visitors turned then to notice a broad-shouldered woman, with straight white hair, a stern heavily tattoed face (though it probably wasn't actual tatoos) and a heavy armor, with massive pauldrons. She gave somewhat painful handshake to both Saffa and Rising star, before adding: "I am this martial art's Sifu, and you are Rising Star and Strong Arm For Facing Adversity." Her tone was odd, as if she wasn't asking, and actually telling them who they were...
"Yes we are. I am honored to make your encounter master." answered politely Rising Star.
Strong Arm For Facing Adversity, whose mind seemed elsewhere for a moment, pointed with his thumb towards someone quite small pushing down a table, probably to make it sing under the hard dirt, and asked: "Mind if I do some arm-wrestling with the dude ?"
Shaking her head, the Relentless Persuasion's art left the strong man go, and started to walk, the young traveler following along her side. During the walk, she asked him: "When you're running. What makes you stop ?"
Pondering the question for a moment, he answered: "Well... Exhaustion ?"
"Wrong" she sharply replied. "You're tired I get it, but you can make just one step after this one right ? Then another one, right ? So you can keep running."
"I'm not sure..." said Rising Star, finding that idea theoricaly correct, but practicaly hard to experience...
"Well I -am- sure." she then told him, giving him a determined glance, before adding: "That's the difference between us."
Rising Star only then understood that she wasn't just telling him about the style's endurance-reinforcements techniques. She was telling him about the very philosophy of that art... But, keeping on going indefinitely just because you don't want to stop ? That seemed a bit odd to him...
Still, they passed the door inside a building, she sat at a small table, waited for Rising Star to do the same on the other side. Without a word, she then handed him a simple, unadorned plate. Seeing his visible confusion, she sighed and proceeded to tell him, with an irritated tone: "Use that to protect your face."
Nodding, though unsure to what extent this fragile-looking plate would protect him, he put it at some distance in front of his face. And then, without warning, she hit him on the nose with her palm. Letting the plate on the table, he then covered his face with the nose, saying a muffled "Ow !" When re-thinking about the scene, she saw her arm quickly going under the plate's level, in an uppercut-ish motion.
Still without much more words, she put the plate on the ground, then moved the table, handing it to him. Unsure about that, Rising Star still assumed it was the same kind of "exercise" maybe something defensive in essence... So he decided to get cover behind the table, leaving a foot against it to avoid her pushing it towards her nose, and with his arms, covered his sides... However, seconds after he thought he was set, he felt once again a painful hit upon his face... That was enough to let another "OW !" go out in the air, but then it became surprise, when he realized the table was still there in one piece, and nothing went around his arms. It was almost as if her arm went through the table without breaking it...
"What did you do ?" Rising Star asked, his face emerging from the table, his nose covered by both his hands, but his curiosity overwhelming the idea that it hurt.
"I hit you." she answered tersely, while putting the table back on a more normal position.
"Well, thank you for your answer !" started the young exalt, in a sarcastic tone. He then added, to press his point: "But, HOW ?"
"Look..." She sat back on a chair. "I wanted to hit you. So I hit you. It's that simple. My palm, your face, it's a match made in Yu-shan, and i won't let something as simple as a table get in my way."
So maybe that was the result... This philosophical principle of determination, applied with the help of essence, towards things as strong as disregarding obstacles, or physical limitations, to send the message. Impressed by the way he understood the idea, Rising Star overcame his pain and slight embarassment to respectfully bow before the sifu.
He got hit for the third time as an answer. Not that he didn't try to defend himself, but the arm just seemed to slip past his defense... When taking a step back, he asked in an irritated tone: "OW ! What was THAT for ?!"
"Proving a point" she replied, crossing her arms.
Staying now out of her reach -or so he hoped- he was about to reply that he didn't see what point that proved, besides the fact she was painful. But then, he realized she'd probably get all worked up, think that it meant he thought her arguments were baseless and worthless, and ultimately press the said point further, with more palmhits. So that was the results of the martial application of debating then ? A most interesting sight indeed...
Bowing just a little bit then, Rising Star proceeded to walk towards the exit. After all, he was confident she would stop him if she still had "points to make" but, it didn't deemed so. Outside, he found Strong Arm For Facing Adversity stretching a bit, then getting back to him, while his opponent was more or less on the ground, his right arm trembling furiously, and still, mumbling however he could: "I'm not even hurt..." though obviously thinking otherwise...
"So. How'd it go ?" said Saffa, casually, noticing the small nosebleed Rising Star tried to stop with a hand.
"She had... Striking arguments." he replied, in a way that would probably allow him to put on sunglasses and launch an opening, if he had sunglasses of course...
"Nice. So, until the twilight. Wanna get drunk ?" he asked then, getting a nod for an answer. After all, it was a way like another to diminish the pain...