Dolo’s stories of his dad were famous amongst the kids of Palawa. Mythical creatures, divine beings, powerful sages, giants, every mythical creature Dolo had ever heard of ; had a place in his stories. “My father was tricked and captured by the Panga army. I vow to bring him back” he would say.
Molu his insidious friend, saw the opportunity to coax Dolo into doing something stupid again,“But you will have to become a warrior, for that. I have heard about Bolli Bolaat, your mother’s uncle. He fought in the Hallan War. He is a war veteran— they say.”
Molu almost snorted, Bolli—Molu’s neighbour— was known for his volatile temperament. This will make a fun tale he thought to himself.
Their was knocking at the door. Bolli saw a little boy waiting for him.
“What is it?” said Bolli.”I warned you kids, not to let any of your balls land in my courtyard. Rest assured— you are not going to have it back…. EVER.”
Dolo smiled back, “No! No! You get me wrong, great uncle.”
“Then what is a little boy doing at my porch?” Said Bolli. “ Do I know you?”
“I am your third cousin sister’s fourth daughter’s first and only born.” Bolli tried hard, but the math was to intimidating for him solve.
“My memory is not what it used to be,” concluded Bolli. “Oh never mind! Come on in, I haven’t had a visitor, in ages.”
He seated Dolo in a comfortable chair opposite a mantel above which an old Palawa steel sword hung in the glory of its past.
“ Tell me boy, what brings you here?”
“ I want to learn fighting and… kill those Pangadiyas, of course. I want to learn to fight like my dad who killed the mightiest giant of the Panga army” said Dolo passionately.
“What did you say, you want to learn fighting,” said the bewildered Bolli. “That’s not kids play, what bring you to such unusual need for such a tender age. And the killer of Panga giant, was Kombal your dad.”
“Yes, he is my dad.”
“Is your dad?”
” Yup! He was captured by the panga army, unfairly by a dozen men, they broke the rules. I will go and set him free.”
Bolli asked everything about Dolo’s dad and about the tales Dolo’s mother had told him and asked him to bring his mother with him the next day, with her permission the training would be scheduled to start.
Next morning, the boy was with mother at Bolli’s home. Bolli welcomed them, gave the boy coconut sweets and hot cinnamon tea to the mother. Mother was conveyed Dolo’s intent of learning the art of fighting, which surprised her but eventually after some deliberation with little Dolo, she agreed to her son’s desire.
After the arrangements was agreed upon, Bolli asked for a private conversation with Dolo’s mother, leaving Dolo with nothing to do. Dolo hid behind an old oak wood cupboard and saw his mother looking to the ground and the uncle aggressively conversing with her. All Dolo could here was “You should have told the truth”, from the old man.
When the conversation was over, they came out to find Dolo sitting as they had left him. “Okay Dolo,” said Bolli. “I will teach you from tomorrow onwards, put your best shoes on and I will take care of the rest.”
Dolo learned to fight, first lesson was improving his stance with a sword. Dolo was a fast learner, Bolli was impressed by the rapid acquisition of skills by the boy, but report of Dolo’s growing aggressiveness reached Bolli.
He would beat up weaker boys and had become a bully. Bolli did not like where this was going.
After nearly a months of practice with a wooden sword, Dolo thought he ought to be promoted a level up. During the start of a day’s session Dolo threw his wooden sword to the floor. Bolli was offended by this insolent behavior, but he thought of a plan to put some brains into the boy.
Dolo was provided with a Bolan Steel sword for training, not the best sword but good enough for training.
Bolli was exceptionally hard that day, Dolo’s muscles were screaming with furious pain. He had never been in such a rigorous drill before. He was covered with soot the strike of every blow was hard on poor Dolo.
“Should we not stop?” he pleaded with Bolli. The old man was unnaturally strong for his age, he didn’t even care to respond and the ruthless onslaught continued.”Are you conspiring to kill me uncle.”
Dolo was trying hard to concentrate but the weight of the sword, the unceasing exertion of his body and the fatigue took its toll and he collapsed.
He was yanked out of the dark, by the violent sprinkle of water on his face.
“Do you know, where your father is?” asked Bolli, when Dolo gained wits again.
“He was captured by Pangadiya, he is there in their —”
“ He drinks with the gods of war in the great halls above the sky. He died in the war, he never came back from,” said Bolli. “War must not be taken lightly, it is the playground of death and evil. If you really want to be a warrior don’t let you immature passions drive you.”
Bolli put the tip of his sword on Dolo’s palm, Dolo wasn’t even allowed time to react. Bolli was careful not to pierce the tender skin. Dolo winced at the sting. “What are you doing. Have you gone mad” snapped Dolo, while the other hand of Bolli held Dolo’s wrist keeping him from moving away.
Dolo did not know whether it was the sting or the news of the death of his father that brought tears to his eyes.
“You will get stung hundreds of times in a single day of battle and you’ll bleed, barely managing to stay on your feets. Your father bled, yet he kept fighting. He went deep into the enemy lines. He was brave, a great warrior, but foolish. Go home we will resume our training when you are old enough and wise.”
Years later Dolo gained knowledge he resumed his learning with the old man, and on trainings completion he joined the army. Soon he became a commander.
“We do not let our passions drive us, we fight with our minds to the war and care for the one next to you. We fight to win. Is that clear?” roared Dolo to his unit.
A loud unison of battlecry filled the horizon. “HOO! HOO! HOO!” In front of the group stood Molu, his HOO the loudest.