Jake stood up, picking himself up off the pavement carefully. He hobbled forward clutching his ribs. A bruise was flourishing around his left eye and his lip was bloody, but the real damage lay in front of him.
He surveyed his treasured uke, snapped in two and left hanging from the iron fence as a message. He knew what it meant: This was the end. Thunder Frets, the greatest ukulele ever crafted by Mishimoto, the finest ukelele craftsman of the Mountains of Enmor, was no more. The evil Nukelele Brothers had won. There was no hope of defeating them at the grand annual ukulele-off. Or of saving Lucy. Or winning the money to rebuild his fathers potato farm. It was all over. And it was all his fault.
He should never have taken up street-ukulele-fighting, he saw that now. He had been fooled by the cheap lure of excitement and the promise of so-called “real” ukulele knowledge.
As he collapsed to his knees, bereft of all hope before his broken uke, Mr Tang appeared from the swirling mist and approached him.
“Master, I’ve failed you! I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!”
“No, my excellent pupil. This is your final lesson. The power of ukulele-Fu lies not in the instrument, not even in the body. Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter.” He prodded Jake with his stick. “Remember your training, Jake. Use the… Other ukulele.”
“Master, I cannot use your uke!”
“You must! Run home at once. Go to the ukelele cabinet and take Excalilele. Great things are afoot. Fly, you fools, fly!”
Jake ran and the mist engulfed him.
Mr Tang took the broken instrument carefully from the fence. A glowing figure appeared in the mist and a voice was carried on the wind. “That boy is our last hope.”
Mr Tang looked at the broken uke cradled in his hands with a glint in his eye. “No. There is another.”