The First Journey
The teachings of a Macaque - 1
Those words were the first and last she’d heard as her heart practically drummed in her ears as she worked to keep a steady pace, all the while hauling ass through the woods she was in right now.
She could practically feel the shadows bearing down on her, looking back might as well have been her end as she kept her gaze ahead. Leaping bounds across streams and swinging under branches low enough to give her any push.
But of course she’d never make it to the boundary, even with that sliver of promised green at the end.
Because she knew,
In that you can’t outrun your shadow.
Suddenly something snared her ankle and caused her to clash and tumble against the ground, rolling down a slope until she hit the trunk of a thick tree where she finally came to a stop.
A pained cry escaped her as she tried to make sense of her rattled brain, all the while something flared up her leg, forcing her to come to a lot quicker than she’d like.
Something snapped nearby and her breath hitched, that adrenaline still in her veins as she tried to drag herself up. Only to cry out again as her foot twisted from under her, forcing her down again. A small whimper escaped her as the white spots in her eyes danced along the grove she’d been trying to reach. So close yet so far…
Another noise, a shift in the shadows, and her heart quickened.
‘Move, MOVE!! MOVE!!!’
That instinct of flight and fear overtook her mind as she tried to push herself ahead. Going so far as to drag herself onto her knuckles and limp on all fours, anything to reach that boundary.
Of course if it had been that easy she wouldn’t have made the mad dash there in the first place and left herself such a ragged mess. It was never that easy, especially not when he was involved.
Macaque always did like to take his time after all…
Just as it seemed like she’d almost made it, her goal within reach by a few feet, something collided with her back and sent her right back into the earth. And she was left to struggle under the weight with a frantic cry, trying to push them off but to no avail.
“Gotta be faster than that kid.” They tsk’d. Sounding disappointed.
How dare he...she was the fastest cloud racer in the west!! She’d soared past plenty before, how dare he mock her for trying to escape the very thing no other possibly could but him???
“N-not..fair..” She grunted, wheezing and spitting out dirt.
“Hoh? Not fair??” Something pressed into the dip between her back, forcing another cry out of her as something shoved her head into the ground as they reared their ugly mug close to her’s.
“Life’s never fair lil peach..you should’ve learned that by now.”
Tears pricked her eyes as she let out a small whine. Bracing for the inevitable conclusion that would come from it all. It was a long time coming after all, especially after how she’d fought him before...it had left quite a brittle bridge between them, burnt and cracked with very little to repair. Smashed by her hand of course, as he had pushed her to…
That night had been one she’d never forget, having summoned a spark of her Dharma for the very first time in order to defend against Macaque and save her father from that horrid demon prison he had ensnared Wukong in through her kidnapping.
The look on Macaque’s face had been priceless to her as she’d beat him at his own game of surprises. Even as she screamed with rage over his betrayal to her trust, all the while watching him slink back into the shadows while her father consoled her...it hadn’t felt anywhere satisfying to her having lost what little connection she’d had to her Uncle Maca that day.
Never again however had she looked back across that bridge he’d clearly wanted no part of owning his share of…
And yet here he was, back to finish the job she never did.
“Just make it quick…” She didn’t have the boldness like her father did to stare her executioner in the eye. Then again there were many things she didn’t have of his. The strength to lift mountains and carry the weight of many on his shoulders, all the while speeding across the lands at a moment's notice. No hesitation, no fear, just the spirit of a warrior who knew how to finish a fight faster than start one.
She was nowhere near those things...strong and quick, but not as much as one needed to be to avoid the wraith of a vengeful Macaque.
Just as she’d been anticipating the strike to do her in, a chuckle escaped her captor, and a flutter of something she couldn’t quite grasp squirmed restless in her heart.
“Now why would I go and do that?~ When I’d much rather take it slow…” He laughed.
Suddenly that weight pinning her down removed itself and she found herself staring up at that same face that had once stared up at her.
“You’re never going to become strong if you keep to the path you’re on right now...look at you..can barely limp to save your life.” His golden gaze still held that embedded fury in it. It practically made her shrink with it bearing down on her.
“How much longer do you think it will be until someone stronger comes along and takes you down huh?” He squatted himself down to her level, squinting. “You call yourself a hero but you can’t even save half the people you want to…”
That got a rise out of her, flashbacks to villages swallowed into the flames of greedy pillagers and demons alike. Where she was but all able to save a small handful of people from the wraith while doing all she could to defend herself from it all…
“You’re never going to become his successor if you keep on that peaceful little path he raised you on…” He sneered, “You want power...you need to learn it from someone who won’t dance around you with a mercy coated fist. Your old man might be strong, but he never taught you how the real world works. Just how to sit around and pick the seeds out of fruit.”
Macaque to her had always been a grungy old monkey who kept to himself and just messed with her because he had nothing better to do. Sometimes he offered up little tales of the past, even told a few mean spirited jokes but she’d seen him almost as family despite the way he shielded himself from the world.
“And you can?...” Fang glanced up at him, unsure in her tone. The two exchanged a brief bout of silence before he was the first to look away and stand himself up.
“If that’s something you think you can handle..” He quirked a brow down at her.
Now she understood. The taunts, the occasional bouts of sparring whenever her father wasn’t around. Even when he’d stolen her away at the sake of getting back at her dad…
He was just testing her, just like he was now.
Only now her dad wasn’t around for her to say no.
Right then he seemed to turn away, not waiting for her answer anymore as he began to pace off elsewhere. And she realized her chance was fleeting, “W-wait!..” She called, trying to pick herself up to follow, but her ankle forced her to stumble and lag.
“It’s just a twisted ankle, walk it off. Unless you’d rather be left behind…” He warned.
And that was the first lesson she learned.
That it was every monkey for themselves when it came to the wilds.