• It was his first day of schooling. Hiro was walking him to the bus stop. He looked around at everyone else heading to the bus stop. “Dad, why do I have to go to school? And why can’t I smell the other people. It’s like cancer.” He shivers slightly.

    “That’s because nothing here is real. You saw me make this worldlet, Leon. You know I don’t put real people into worldlets. Plus you still can’t control your bloodlust. Until you can successfully live around Humes without wanting to kill them all, you have to live in these worldlets. These people’s smell isn’t as overpowering.”

    Leon muttered to himself. “If real people can’t get in them, then how’d Mom get in?”

    “What was that?” Hiro turned sharply.

    “Nothing. I didn’t say anything.” Leon looked back at the other people, taking notice of the swords hanging on their belts.

    “I’m sending you off because you need to learn how to fight. You are twelve years old. I’ve taught you the basics, now you are going to learn from the masters. What I learned from them anyway.”

    “Well are you going to give me a sword or do I have to fight them with my hands?”

    “I wouldn’t make you do that. I have a special sword for you.” Hiro reaches into his bag and rummages around it for a while. After a few moments he pulled a Dao that was longer than anything that would appear to fit in his father’s bag. “Here. I made this myself. Although it won’t do any good once you are grown, it will be better than any other weapon for you as you are now.”

    Leon stared at the blade in admiration. “Whoa.” Looking closely at it, he could see where his father had intricately carved the wood that made up the pommel. He held it out in front of him and spun it in a circle. He could feel that the sword was made for him and nobody else. The sword grip on it was comforting. It felt so natural in his hands that, despite his hatred for the phrase, it felt like an extension of his arm. “Wow. That’s all I can say. Just, wow.”

    His father chuckled. “You know how much time I spend toward these things. Now check out the area near the pommel. You know I always name my blades.”

    Leon eagerly looked at the blade, flipping it over to see what it said. He raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Bahlem?”

    Hiro chuckled again. “Don’t recognize the language? It’s Al-Bhed.”

    Leon’s shoulders dropped as he translated the word. He stared at Hiro flatly. “Pencil. You named my sword Pencil?”

    “It seems a fitting name. After all, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ Pens have all but been replaced by pencils. Besides, it’s the only utensil you need for school.”

    “But Pencil?”

    “Call it by its name. Bahlem, not Pencil. Be careful, it will break if you are too rough with it. I didn’t have time to put that charm on it. Just in case, I have a second with me. If this one breaks, I have another that I’ll send to you when I sense yours is broken. I should have the indestructibility charmed to it by tonight. Now have fun while you are at school. I’m going to make a little bit of a disturbance in this world while you’re gone. I might as well have some fun myself.” He gave Leon a hug then left.

    Great. He left me here with a pencil made of steel. He groaned as the bus arrived.


    Leon sat at the back of the room, Bahlem slipped through a special loop on his belt. He was spacing out as Teacher, which was actually her name, was talking about sword care and other basics he had already learned with his father. He wasn’t sure how much longer boredom would go on. The only thing that kept his attention was the sword his teacher held in her hands. She had made mention to the sword. She had received it as a personalized sword when she began teaching. She named it Ruler since she would be using it to point out objects as she taught. He raised a hand slowly.

    “Yes, Master Liu?” The teacher called on him.

    Leon scowled at her when she said his ‘proper’ title. “It’s Leon. And I already know all this.”

    “I’m here to teach you. I got this job because that became my only care in life. I will teach you what I am paid to.”

    Leon stood up, placing his hand on the pommel of Bahlem. “Well I’m not much for the classroom, Teacher. Teach me if you care. I can’t pay much attention with that Ruler in your hand.”

    Teacher’s eyes narrowed behind her glasses. “Very well. Students, move the desks into a circle. It’s just time to show what we do to the students who think they are better than us.” Leon grinned as the other students snickered at him while they moved the desks into a makeshift dueling arena. Leon and Teacher met in the middle.

    Alright. Bahlem’s first fight. Heh, a ‘pencil fight.’ Here we are, Bahlem, be ready. “Break me down, Teacher. I dare you.” They crossed swords and the duel commenced.

    The duel lasted ten minutes. The observing students learned many new moves by watching Teacher, but they learned a great deal more by watching Leon. Eventually, Leon could tell that Teacher was slowing down. Seeing his advantage, he doubled his blows. After a few more parries, Teacher lost her footing and with it, her balance. Leon snapped Ruler out of Teacher’s hand and held the blade up to Teacher’s throat. With a scowl, she admitted defeat as the students stared in awe.

    “Here. It’s a transfer to the advanced classes. You start tomorrow. For the rest of the day, you are excused to your room.” Leon gladly took the transfer notice and left the classroom. Teacher looked back at the other students. “Anyone else want to try me today?” Nobody moved as much as an inch. “No? Then move those desks back! I’m trying to teach a class here!”


    Leon stood in the schoolyard where the duels were taking place among the students. They all showed less talent than he had shown when he had dueled Teacher. Old Teacher anyway. When he got to the schoolyard the new teacher introduced himself as Teacher as well. Leon challenged him to a duel as well. New Teacher simply laughed and sent him over by the swing set. Leon stood there figuring New Teacher would come to duel him in a few moments.

    Several hours passed before Leon grew restless. He called New Teacher over. “Are you going to duel me or just stand here like the coward you are?” The other students in the schoolyard froze with mortified faces.

    New Teacher turned around to face him. “Draw.” They both drew at the same time, but New Teacher had the better angle. Bahlem shattered in Leon’s hand. Leon watched in shock as he saw the pieces of Bahlem fly through the air. If it weren’t his sword being broken, he would have made a joke about graphite.

    Knowing New Teacher would continue to fight with Leon’s stub of a sword, Leon turned and ran. “Well I'm not much for the schoolyard, Teacher. Catch me if you can.” He ran and ducked behind the swing set. Teacher walked slowly towards the swing set. Leon took the time look in sorrow at Bahlem broken in his hand. He could feel the splinters of metal in his hair. He closed his eyes as he felt Hiro’s portal open up. Behind Leon’s back, another sword was placed into his hand. He held it in front of him and noticed the word Bahlem glimmering near the pommel. This was the real Bahlem.

    Leon shouted out in joy. “PENCIL FIGHT!!” Here we are, Bahlem, let’s do this once more. A Pencil Fight! “Break me down, Teacher. I dare you.” Leon darted forward, leaving New Teacher hardly any time to parry. “Oh my. It seems you aren’t so determined now.” The duel lasted only another minute. Leon was much faster than New Teacher. As Leon landed blow after blow relentlessly against New Teacher’s sword, New Teacher did his best just to block. New Teacher got caught his sword caught in a swing’s chain. Leon easily hit it out of his hands and held Bahlem to New Teacher’s throat. Overwhelmed by the strength of the twelve-year-old boy, New Teacher submitted.


    Leon spent the rest of the weekend meditating on the roof of the school as Bahlem lay across his lap. On the last day, Hiro approached his son while he meditated. “All of the parents have to pick up their kids now. Apparently the person who drives the bus was defeated in a duel and is in shock. The man’s name was Teacher. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”


    “Riiight…..” Hiro sat down next to his son. He took a deep breath. “Do you want the same words of wisdom that was given to me when I left my weekend from this school? I’ll say them, but you must figure them out yourself.”

    Leon turned to his father. “Yes. I would appreciate that very much.”

    Hiro turned and looked into the sunset. Leon turned and looked as well. "In this world no one leaves alone. For the only way we leave is in Death. And in Death, my friends, you leave with one thing, and that one thing is pride. And pride, throughout changes in time, between the sky that you love to the ground that you hate, between everything that once was your pride, now can never die."


    “Yes, Leon.”

    “Can I try?”

    Hiro chuckled. “I would say no. I’d say you weren’t strong enough.” Leon looked down. “But I think you’ve earned it.” Leon’s eyes shot up in eagerness. He jumped up and took his distance from his father. He held Bahlem in hand. Hiro stood up slowly, reaching behind his back and unhooking his greatsword from its leather straps. He held it out. He couldn’t hear it, but he knew what was going through his son’s head.

    PENCIL FIGHT!! Here we are, Bahlem! PENCIL FIGHT!! Break me down, Father. I dare you.