"I promise. I'll be back soon."
The red panda looked down at his son tiredly. The son that was close to tears at the prospect of his father leaving. After what seemed like hours of arguing, the cub nodded.
"Okay." he said, "But you have to remember I'm here!"
"I will. I will come back soon, Shifu. I promise." his father replied, and rushed off into the storm.
The rain pelted the ground, and the thunder boomed for miles.
"Remember," he called over his shoulder, "I love you, son."
"I love you too, Dad." Shifu called out. His voice was a hoarse whisper. "Please don't forget."
He sat outside the large wooden doors. As he looked up at them, he finally realised where he was. The Jade Palace. Home of several prestigious masters of Kung Fu. However, he resisted the urge to see if anyone was home, and just waited.
I'm not going anywhere, he thought. I want to be right here when he comes back. He'll be back soon, he promised.
I am staying right here.
He's on his way. I can feel it.
It wasn't until a week later that he realised he wasn't coming back. That he had broken his promise.
He actually thought he felt his heart crack.
Just as he was about to get up and leave, the huge doors creaked opeen. Shifu looked up at them, eyes wide with fear. What if he wasn't supposed to be there? He was thinking about running while he still could. But before he could actually get his legs to obey his brain, a soft voice stopped him.
"Hello, little one."
Shifu had trouble focusing on the voice of it's owner, not knowing whether it was the rain, or the tears of loss in his eyes. But once he could see properly, this is what he saw.
An elderly tortoise was standing at the doors. He had a warm, soft facial expression as he smiled at the cub. He held an old looking wooden staff in one hand.
"I'm-I'm sorry," Shifu stammered to him. "I know I shouldn't be here. I got...dropped off here...I'll go home." But, as the panda got up, the tortoise put a kind, gentle hand on his shoulder. "Stay," he said. "I don't want you to catch a cold from this storm. Come in. Please."
Shifu thought, and nodded. "Okay."
The tortoise carefully guided him into the palace, and what the red panda saw blew his mind. It was so grand, with a gold statue of a dragon above a small pool of water. Soft pink peach blossom petals danced on the surface of the water. Surrounding the main hall were several artefacts that, without even reading the plates, Shifu knew were sacred.
"What's your name?" the tortoise asked Shifu, shaking him awake from his daydreams. Shifu tilted his head, and raised an eyebrow.
"Yours first." Shifu said.
"Mine is Oogway," the torstoise said, giving him a happy grin. "What is yours, little panda?"
Shifu hesitated, before replying; "I'm Shifu."
"Shifu," Oogway repeated. Shifu nodded. "Yes. My name is Shifu. And yours is...Oogway?"
Oogway nodded. "Yes." He leaned in closer to Shifu. "Tell me," he queiried, "How did you end up at our doors?"
Shifu froze. Oogway seemed very kind, but Shifu had only just met him. He couldn't tell him. Could he?
"My father..." he began, but tears threatened to spill over, so he stopped. He didn't want to cry.
"I am sorry," Oogway whispered, crestfallen. "I am being nosy again. Forgive me."
Despite his saddness, Shifu smiled at the master. This was rare. He had scarcely smiled since he was three.
You see, his father was an incorrigible condfidence artist. In other words, a conman. As soon as Shifu could talk, he was out with his father, who used him as a shill in his work. They sold fake amulets to townspeople. Shifu always wanted to stop. The work was tiring, and it was wrong. But he didn't have a choice. It was con people, or starve.
However, in his father's eyes, he was now too old. He had no use for him. He wasn't the sweet little cub anymore.
"No, you aren't," Shifu responded. "You were curious, weren't you?"
Oogway hesitated, then nodded. "But I know it's none of my business. I should not have been so nosy."
"I don't mind telling you." Shifu said. "All you need is spare time."
So he told him everything. About how, in all of his 12 years, 9 were spent as a criminal. About how his father didn't care about him, and only used him to con people. About how his mother had passed away. Everything.