Once upon a time, deep in the mountains of Thyle, there was a group of large pandas. These pandas were known throughout Thyle as the Mage Pandas because when one would reach a certain age they would unite with their panda and said panda would give them strength, wisdom, and a special power.
There were two children in the village that were at their age. They were being outcast to find their panda and discover their strengths. Kale and Sam, the only two teenagers in the village, were about to embark on the adventure of their lifetime.
"Bye Kale! Bye Sam!" Chorused cries rang out from the gates of the village as the two teenagers left their childhood behind them. They relied on each other for support as they walked the well traveled path without looking back. Neither was excited about their Pandamonium, and neither thought they were ready.
"What do you hope is your gift?" Kale finally started a conversation. Sam looked at the sky, then the trees, then their dirty tennis shoes before answering.
"I hope my gift is agility and endurance," Sam finally answered, squinting to look at Kale in the sun.
Her black hair looked golden brown in the sunlight, her face tan and eyes squinted. Her long eye lashes were casting shadows under her eyes, and her cheekbones were covered in a dash of freckles.
"What about you?" He asked.
"I hope my gift is intelligence. I want to have quick thinking and know the answer to problems." Her answer was slow, but her words sounded sure.
They quieted again as the landscape started to change. The empty fields were turning into tall stalks of bamboo; the path underfoot changing from worn dirt to bent grasses. They were getting closer, and as the path starting climbing uphill, they let their footsteps slow, apprehension getting the best of them.
"Come on, we have to get there before nightfall," Sam said, starting to quicken his pace and sending rocks showering down the path behind them. Kale glared before running to catch up.
They were both panting and sweaty when they came up over the edge of the hill, but their breath caught when they saw the vast field of pandas.
The top of the mountain was a green field scattered with the large black and white creatures. Bamboo grew like a fence along the edge, just parting at the path like a gate. They stood their in the opening for what felt like hours, just watching the creatures roam around.
"Are you ever going to come in?" An old man with grey hair and smile lines said. The kids jumped.
"Where'd you come from?" Kale asked.
"It does not matter where I came from, all that matters is that I'm here."
"Ok then," Sam said with slight sarcasm. He walked in the ring slowly, still admiring the beautiful animals. Kale took a few steps forward, keeping an eye on the strange man.
"Relax young one. I am just here to take care of the pandas and help you find your panda." The man said.
Kale didn't relax, but she did remove her gaze from the man to the pandas.
"So, how do we find our panda?" Sam asked the old man.
"Come," the man said, and the two teenagers looked at each other and shrugged in agreement before following the old man.
They walked across the field, weaving in and out of pandas to a small cottage hut. Kale and Sam had to duck to enter the small door. Inside was a bed and a sink. Above the sink was a cabinet filled with food, and through the only other door was a bathroom.
"Now, you will not find your panda."
"But how.." Kale said.
"Let me finish! You will not find your panda. Your panda will find you."
Kale looked and Sam and Sam shrugged. He was so easy going. Kale was more of a reason person.
"You will spend a day in the field mingling with the pandas. When the one that is to be your panda shows, you and your panda will travel through the woods to a special place where you will bond and receive your gift."
"That's it?" Sam asked.
"Your aura seems special. Different. So we shall have to see."
"Uhh Ok," Kale said.
The guy gave her a look. "Go sit in the field."
Kale look at Sam. Sam stood up, so Kale copied. They walked out silently to the middle of the field. Immediately pandas walked close, and then one by one they would walk away.
The sun set and the moon rose yet the pandas kept coming up and walking away.
Kale sat with her arms wrapped around her knees and her chin resting on her kneecaps. Sam was laying back staring at the sky.
The only sound was the soft movement of the bears and Kale's growling stomach. The moon set and the sun rose and still no panda stayed near. There were only three left that hadn't walked by. As they made their way slowly over, Sam sat up and Kale sat criss-cross so she could see the pandas more clearly.
The first panda didn't even come near before walking away. The second sniffed Sam before leaving. The third sat down beside them. They had found their panda. But weren't they supposed to have separate pandas?
"Um, Sam? Aren't we supposed to have separate pandas?" Kale muttered, getting to her feet. Sam stood up beside her and the old man was suddenly in front of them. He gave the panda a quick glance before sitting down. Kale and Sam sighed and sat back down.
"Yes, Kale, usually you should have separate pandas. But this panda is Sky, the master Mage Panda. Do you two know anything about Thyle's history?" The man said. Kale looked at Sam and they both shook their head.
"Then, Sky, you have a lot to do," the strange man said to the panda before leaving.
"Wait! What..!?" Sam started but Kale shoved him. "What was that for?" He asked, rubbing his now sore arm.
"Shut up," Kale replied, looking at the giant panda sitting next to them. "Uhhh….hi Sky," Kale muttered. Instantly words flooded into her thoughts, "Hello young children," said a deep voice that Kale took to belong to Sky.
"How……what….wow," Sam stuttered, trying to make sense of the suddenly spinning world.
"I am Sky, leader of the Mage Pandas. I have much to teach you." There was the voice again, speaking straight into their minds.
"Ok, can you talk out loud? The voice-in-my-head-thing is starting to creep me out," Kale said, rubbing her temples.
"Well, Ok, if this is better," the Panda said, actually talking out loud. Kale wasn't sure which she liked better, hearing the voice inside her head or watching the panda talk.
"Ok, I get we have a lot to do and stuff, but can we eat first? I'm starving!" Sam said.
"No, first you must learn the history and accept your fate. Then, you can eat."
"Then teach away, I'm starving!" Kale said.
Sky started walking and the weary kids grudgingly got up and followed.
"The Mage Pandas have been friends and helpers of your people since the first year the sun rose over the mountain tops years ago. But it has not always been a peace filled relationship."
"What do you mean?" Sam asked, looking at the ground to make sure he didn't trip as they walked out of the clearing.
"About 200 years ago the stars were uneasy in their readings. The Mage Pandas began to worry about our Human companions. We were right to worry. One young person was sent to us to warn us of the danger coming our way. An uprising had occurred in the village, and over half the village was going to attempt an attack on us. We took that one villager and his few fellow believers high into the mountain tops, leaving only three Pandas behind. My Grandparents and the best warrior were left. My Grandparents were the smartest Pandas, were knowledgeable beyond comprehension. They had taught my father, the best warrior, all he and my mother knew. I was only beginning to learn. The village in Thyle attacked that night, and Moon, my father, had given his life to protect his parents. The attackers all had died.
Two weeks later my grandparents died, leaving me and my mother alone with all the knowledge. But after that, the stars resumed their normal giving of light and knowledge, pictures of the future in the sky."
They had walked off the path they had taken to the top, and were now moving along the side of the mountain at a decent pace. Kale and Sam were looking at the ground, tripping over the unfamiliar terrain. Sky began speaking again.
"I have only had three apprentices before you. As the leader of the Mage Pandas, it is very rare. But, like the Keeper of the Pandas said, you have a strange aura.""Who were your other apprentices?" Kale asked, jumping over a large tree trunk and waiting for Sky and Sam to catch up.
"The kid that warned us of danger was my first. He received the gift of intelligence, speaking out, and leadership. He became one of the best leaders of Thyle. My second and third were two twin siblings 100 years ago. One received hunting and defense skills, the other problem solving and agility."
"Oh." Kale said.
"Where are we going?" Sam said, finally looking up long enough to see they were at least 5 miles from the village, and more than two from the Panda clearing.
"The receiving clearing. Well, my receiving clearing, since there is more than one."
"Is there one for each panda mentor?" Kale asked, looking from the ground she was watching, trying not to trip, to the large panda in between her and her friend.
"No. There are three receiving clearings. One is mine, because the moon shines directly on it and the gifts that are received are hard for one to get."
"By hard for one to get, do you mean its hard for us to receive them? Or.." Sam was interrupted by Sky.
"I mean its usually painful, but the reward is extreme. The gifts you get are important to your role in your life, your village life, and all life. They match you to an animal companion that has their own abilities to help you."
"Great," Kale said, still focused on the pain part.
"Do you both accept your future, through the pain, troubles, worry, and fear?" Sky asked, stopping in the middle of the path.
"Y-yeah," Kale managed to choke out, forcing a smile on her face.
"Yes," Sam said, his voice ringing with clarity and certainty.
"Put your hand on my shoulder then, young ones, take a deep breath, and prepare to enter the magic world that lives within your own."
The two obeyed, their fingertips touching each other on Sky's back. They took the deepest breath they ever had before, and took the few steps forward with Sky into the clearing. Let the magic begin.
First story on here. PLease review.