KLONDIKE, CP Army Headquarters – Welcome to another edition of ‘Short Stories’. This week, I explore the story of Alderam, and his pursuit of finding meaning and purpose in one’s existence.
If you looked near the summit of the Mountains, you would find a Dojo beyond the mist of snow. It was not just a building made for display, however. Sensei resided there; everyone who entered could expect lessons on an influential art. This art was Card-Jitsu. Two contestants would compete against each other, wielding the elements of water, fire, and snow. The rules were simple: strike your opponent three times, and you win. Fire beats snow, snow beats water, and water beats fire. The art attracted many citizens of Club Penguin Island who sought an adventure of fortune. But there was a lesson beyond the brawls of nature. Sensei claimed it was a lecture about life.
A struggling individual named Alderam wanted a pathway to a better life. Therefore, he sought Sensei to teach him his wisdom. Sensei was peering outside of the dojo, viewing the landscape of Club Penguin Island. In the background, his students were sparring with one another. Alderam was making his way to the secluded building. Sensei could sense his presence growing near. “Welcome to the Dojo, fellow student,” Sensei greeted. “Come on inside, don’t be afraid.” Alderam nodded and came closer to the entrance. Sensei arose from a plush bean bag he sat in and led the student inside. Sensei progressed slowly, assisting himself with a walking cane. “I expect that you don’t mind my outrageous age,” the teacher told Alderam. “I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime.”
Alderam did not feel like questioning Sensei. Therefore, he went with what he said. “Students, may I please have your attention?” Sensei cried to the students. They stopped their sparring sessions and paid attention to the teacher. “We have a new student who wishes to learn from me,” he cleared his throat and declared. Alderam stepped forward to introduce himself. “Hello, my name is Alderam,” he said. The newcomer was rather shy around the students. “I came here to seek Sensei’s advice.” He continued. “Life has been a struggle for me lately. I want to find a pathway to the Light. That is why I came here to encounter that Light.” The students listened carefully and bowed in respect. “Students, we shall lead Alderam to the answers to his questions,” Sensei spoke. Alderam followed Sensei and the students.
“Follow me into the Garden of Wisdom,” Sensei ordered the students. “We will begin our meditation shortly.” Alderam was admiring Sensei’s garden. There was a luxurious plot of grass contoured by bushes and shrubs. The beds of flowers were a delight for butterflies wandering around. The grass and vines playfully crept along the pathway, made of granite stone. A large Puffle sculpture stood in the epicenter of the greens. The Garden of Wisdom was a harbor to pursue Sensei’s word. “Find a spot around the sculpture,” Sensei told the students. “We will now begin the meditation. Focus on your breathing as I speak to you about life.”
In the Dojo, it was a tradition for Sensei to teach his students about life. The garden is intended to be a symbol of peace and light, also standing as the answer to the questions people have had before finding the Dojo and seeking advice from its owner. “Breathe in and breathe out at a slow pace,” Sensei advised the students. “This garden is the light that you have all sought. Perhaps this light is bright just like the moon. Have you ever wondered why it comes up?” Alderam knew what Sensei was referring to.
The stars were the only dots of light during the night when there was a new moon. The fellow newcomer thought of himself to be like those stars; he felt lonely in life until the moon came around but wondered if his moon had already come or if he was still waiting. “I wonder if the moon comes up so that the stars aren’t desolate any further.” Sensei continued.
Alderam continued focusing on his breathing, just as how Sensei advised the other students. Many things were bothering the newcomer. His new job as a newly-recruited Elite Penguin Force agent had been stressing him out lately, so Gary thereby allowed Alderam to find the Dojo to seek advice on getting over the strain. Sensei was glad to have a new student come to meditate with him in the Garden of Wisdom.
“Now I would like for all of you to follow me,” Sensei ordered the students. Each one, including Alderam, got up from meditating on the ground and followed Sensei back inside to the Dojo. It seemed like a relief to some, given that they were being trapped in a mountain of snow amassing upon them due to the environment. “The next thing we will do is continue our Card Jitsu practice,” Sensei said.
The students followed the teacher back inside of the Dojo, and each positioned themselves on blue mats spread around the singular room. “Don’t worry fellow student, you just need to pay attention to how they do this. Then, we’ll let you give it a try,” Sensei told Alderam, leading him over to the middle of the room as two students on each mat faced each other in a neutral stance. “I believe we already know how Card Jitsu works, but let’s recap the simple rules,” the teacher told the students. They all chanted the rules out loud in unison with Sensei.
“Fire beats snow, snow beats water, and water beats fire. Strike your opponent three times, and you win.” The students bowed to one another and prepared for their sparring. “I will be watching closely, so do not attempt to pull a fast one. Begin!” The Sensei shouted, and the students took off in an explosion of elements.
Fire was crashing everywhere, being sprayed from bottles of hot sauce acquired from the Pizza Parlor. Water was splashed in giant waves all over the Dojo, and giant balls of snow were launched across the Dojo. The one-on-one sparring sessions had suddenly turned into a free-for-all! Sensei did nothing but watch the students, considering their planning to be impressive as they improvised their attacks. Control was being lost over the madness of the brawls, and Alderam was genuinely flabbergasted.
He was too stunned by the immaculate examples of Card Jitsu to speak. “Students! Refrain from overusing your Cards, we might just disturb the Snow Minions deep in the forest next to us!” The students didn’t listen to Sensei at all, supposedly because they couldn’t hear him over the battles that were being fought. And through the sound of elements being wielded for sparring, there was a growl that everyone heard. This noise caused the students to stop their fighting and freeze as still as a rock. “Oh my, looks like they woke up from their sleep!”
The students ran outside of the Dojo and took a sharp left where the gates to the Snow training area stood. Sure enough, the Snow Minions were visible. A giant army of snow creatures could be seen stretching from how far you could see into the forest, armed with weapons typically made of snow or even using a snow sled as a shield. “Ninjas, all of your training has come to this moment,” Sensei announced to the students, standing in shock at how large the army of Snow Minions was. “Alderam, there is something I must grant to you.”
Sensei pulled out a deck of three cards, all having symbols of fire, water, and snow. “You must use these cards for the power of good and protect the Island. These cards determine your purpose. You came here for a gift, and this is it. This is the Light,” Sensei laid the cards in Alderam’s hand. The hero could get training later, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was defeating the army.
“Don’t let a Minion reach the Dojo!” Sensei told the students as they used their cards to attack the Snow Minions. The students were jumping through the battlefield, taking out the snow creatures as they raged. Snowballs about the size of baseballs were being launched by Scraps, a type of Snow Minion that specialized in ranged attacks. “Watch out for their projectiles, they’re modified with ice inside of them!” One of the students shouted, warning the others.
Alderam sprinted into the battle, desperate to help the others any way he could. He jumped to reach towards a tree branch and swung off of it, landing into another tree to gain high ground against the Snow Minions. One of the Scraps noticed this and aimed directly at the soon-to-be hero.
It threw one of its ice balls at Alderam, who tried to dodge the attack. Bracing for impact, he felt nothing had happened except for a thud from the ice ball. Alderam looked up and saw that a shield of fire was created by his Fire Card and blocked the attack entirely. Seeing that the cards were effective, especially for somebody who was brand new to the elements of Card Jitsu, Alderam’s confidence was boosted. He felt more ready to fight for the Dojo and suddenly realized that Sensei was right about his purpose: to protect and to serve.
Alderam pulled out the Water Card and formed a Tsunami Rain, a wave of water that crashed into the front line of defending Snow Minions and took them out. The students cheered on Alderam, seeing some sort of potential within. “Keep fighting, Alderam! You can do this!” They cheered on the newcomer who seemed destined to become the master even just today. More Snow Minions kept coming and coming, but it didn’t stop the hero from pushing onward to clear a path for the students. “Get back, all of you!” Alderam cried to the army, slamming his fist into the ground to release another element from his cards, a wave of giant ice spikes struck through the Minions.
Alderam didn’t stop there. He kept pushing on until he saw Tusk at the back of the waves, letting out a toothy grin of evil. “Tusk is up ahead, move forward, and let’s finish this battle!” Alderam shouted to all the student ninjas. They roared in unison and rushed the army, overwhelming them with how many attacks were being launched upon them at once.
The rest of the Snow Minions retreated into the darkness of the forest. And then, the one leader behind them was there. The former best friend of Sensei now turned into the ultimate enemy, the walrus appeared as a powerhouse, a supreme master, and the one who caused imbalance amongst other elements. “Now is the time, fellow students,” Sensei shouted. “Our class here is to face the biggest threat to the Dojo that I’ve seen in a lifetime. Alderam, lead them on. Defeat this despicable mastermind, and restore peace and order to the elements. The fate of the Dojo and the existence of Card Jitsu is counting on all of them, and you of all people. Go, Alderam! Defeat Tusk before it’s too late!”
Alderam dashed towards the walrus, who was ready to defend against Sensei’s students. Suddenly, he launched a giant snowball towards the hero and launched him backward as the ninjas began fighting Tusk. “Give it up, kid!” Tusk roared, blocking multiple fire attacks at once. “You have no chance against winning. I am the ultimate mastermind of Snow, and you will not move me from my throne!” The walrus was destined to defeat Sensei’s class under any means necessary. With Alderam fighting on their side, how could the outcome be altered any further? “You’re entirely wrong, Tusk!” Alderam replied.
“It’s not about mastering one element. It’s about working as a team with others and doing what’s right to protect the Island, something you’re doing the opposite of.” Suddenly, Alderam came up with an idea. The hero was going to merge the cards to perform one giant attack.
“Alderam, you don’t know what you’re doing!” Sensei warned the hero. “Merging all three cards could be the most destructive thing performed in Card Jitsu. We have no idea what you would be capable of doing that!” Alderam didn’t listen to the teacher and defied any warnings not to merge the cards. He believed it would work against Tusk. Alderam pulled out each card one by one and generated the elements as they circled him in a mysterious aura. Alderam was powering up with the cards merging to perform the biggest attack ever performed in Card Jitsu. “No! What are you doing?!” Tusk tried to stop Alderam from merging the cards and launching the attack onto the villain, but he refused. “Your reign of terror ends now, Tusk!” And in that sudden instant, everything was blinding. A loud boom could be heard and the mushroom cloud could be seen from the other side of the Island.
“Shiver me timbers!” A familiar pirate named Rockhopper exclaimed, seeing the explosion near the Dojo as he stood on the Migrator. The light cleared, and everything was visible. The battlefield was now littered with snow everywhere from the explosion. The trees were blown back so much that some of them had snapped at the bottom and collapsed. There was no telling that Tusk was still standing anymore, given that a piece of rags that was tied around his neck was now hanging on one of his tusks. However, Alderam was nowhere to be seen. Had he also been defeated in the sudden battle? Everything happened so quickly that there were more questions than answers.
“Where’s Alderam?” The students asked each other, but nobody knew. Sensei walked up towards the tusk buried into the snow and stared at the rags hanging off of it, dancing in the rhythm of the wind. “Until we meet again, old friend. You always held a hatred for me and my students. Jealousy can look pretty foul when it comes down to this. But that’s just life, and people come and go,” Sensei told himself. Suddenly, there was movement in a pile of snow. Alderam was digging through the snow and climbed through. Standing on the small hill, he observed the tusk. “You did it, my fellow student,” Sensei told him. “You put an end to an enemy that has tormented my Dojo for years. I…I have no idea how to pay you back for all of this.”
Alderam nodded and acknowledged Sensei’s gratitude for his heroism. “There’s no need to pay me back. I think I know what I want to be now.” From the very beginning, Alderam was only seeking the Light. Little did he know that he would be seeking his real purpose. The heroism was something he now understood he wanted to do. The hero looked up towards the sky and saw the pink swirls in the sky as the sun began to fall on the horizon.
Now that the hero had put an end to Tusk, the students and Sensei could rest easy knowing that there was a sentinel vigilante among them. Maybe Alderam was the moon for the stars, just like what he heard in the Garden of Wisdom. The Dojo saw itself as the stars in that picture, desolate and vulnerable. But with Alderam as the moon, they were no longer alone. They felt protected. And now, the rest of the Club Penguin Island could be defended as well.
The student had become the master. Alderam was that student, going above and beyond. He looked at the nightfall one last time and spoke a few words. “I’m now just like you, dad. A hero.”