TGJ: The Dungeon of Creativity by Marty Callahan
Tiger’s Great Journey Continued…
An Adventure Story for Youth Who Want to Make the World a Better Place
In this place, Tiger was alone and in complete darkness. He became aware of this like a
person waking from a deep sleep, slowly, one detail at a time. There was no light, and he sat
against a cold, hard, lumpy surface. “Was he sitting on cobblestones?” he wondered. Slowly he unfolded his arms from around his legs and stretched out. He placed his hands on the floor and began to feel around. The floor wasn’t warm and it wasn’t cold, so he reasoned that he must be inside. “But where was he?” he asked himself.
Tiger stood up to explore his surroundings by touching surfaces with his hands. It was
pitch black. He felt stone walls, a corner, another stone wall, another corner, another stone wall, another corner, and now more stone wall and finally a door.
He felt around the door. It was made of heavy timber, about three feet wide. He thumped on it with his fist. It was solid, unyielding.
Then he realized where he was—in a jail cell.
“I’m a prisoner!” he gasped “But where exactly am I, and how did I get here?”
Tiger stopped and listened. At first he couldn’t hear a thing, but then the little sounds and
sensations we hardly ever pay attention to came into his awareness. A slight movement of air, a drip of water, then another drip, and a few seconds later another drip.
“I’m underground,” he realized.
“I wish there was some light,” he said. And with that, a candle on the wall to his left sputtered to life. The light was dim, but because he’d been in complete darkness, it nearly
blinded him. He quickly looked away and closed his eyes, then slowly opened them as they adjusted to the light.
He looked around and saw that his guess was right. He was in a cell, a dungeon to be
“But why did the candle light when I wished for light?”, he thought to himself.
He looked up and saw an air shaft. It appeared that he could crawl through it if he had to, but it was eight feet off the ground—too high for him to reach.
He put his ear to the door. At first he could hear nothing, but then he became aware of a
muffled sound. A few seconds later, he heard footsteps of several people who were coming his way. Tiger tensed up as he considered what these people might want from him.
They stopped outside his door, and he heard them unlocking the cell. He stepped back, and three hooded figures in black robes stepped inside as the door opened, their faces invisible in the dim light. Two of them held short lances, and one of them carried a torch. The one in front tossed a soft package wrapped in white paper at Tiger, who stepped to the side and let it fall to the floor. The lead captor hissed and waved his hand at the candle putting it out. They turned and slammed and the heavy door, locking it as they left.
Tiger waited, and after a few minutes, he dared to try his trick again. “I need light,” he
said, and with that the candle sputtered back to life. Tiger stared at it and marveled at what had
He looked at the package on the floor near his feet and then picked it up. It felt like food so he brought it up to his nose. It smelled really good. When he opened it, he found a chunk of
cheese with some dried meat. Tiger thought about whether he should eat it, and decided that if his mysterious captors wanted him dead, they would have already done it.
He took a small bite of the cheese and was satisfied that it was good. He was ravenous, but he reminded himself to eat slowly. This made Tiger think of his dad, who was a stickler for
chewing each bite thoroughly. He wished his dad were here to get him out of this place. The food made him thirsty, so Tiger thought to say the word “water” as he cupped his hands. As he did, his hands filled with water.
He drank his fill, sat back, and pondered this mysterious power he appeared to have.
“Key,” he said, but nothing happened.
“Food,” but again nothing happened.
“There must be rules,” Tiger thought.
“Light out,” he said, and the dungeon went pitch black. “Light,” he said, and the candle
came to life.
Tiger looked at the paper wrapping from his meal and said “Fire!” and the ball of paper burst into flames. He watched it for a moment and then said, “Out.” He didn’t want to waste a resource. He may need it to get out.
Then he thought about the Black Belt Shoka Leadership Trait of creativity and realized that if he were going to get out, he would need to create an escape plan. He tore off a small piece
of paper from the food wrapper and concentrated on it. “Fire,” he said, and it burst into flames.
He smiled. When his captors arrived, he was going to be ready.
Tiger sat very close to the door, listening intently. He knew that the success of his plan would depend in large part on his first move. Finally he heard the footsteps. They seemed to
come from the right side of the door. Tiger pressed himself into the corner near the edge of the door and waited. He looked at the candle and wished it out.
The footsteps stopped. He heard a bolt drawback, but it wasn’t his door. He heard voices and a shout. “Leave me alone!”
Tiger’s heart jumped. Was that Blake? He wondered.
Tiger heard the door close and then footsteps coming his way. He calmed himself and
emptied his mind. The bolt on his door drew back, and then the door swung open.
As his captors came into his cell, he threw the wad of paper at them and yelled, “Fire!”
The paper burst into flames in mid-air.
His captors jumped back in fear, and before they realized what was happening, Tiger was
out the door and running.
He raced down a long corridor. His captors had recovered from their initial surprise and were in hot pursuit. The hall was lit with torches, and as Tiger passed the first one, he yelled
“Out!” and the torch died. As he came to a corner, he saw steps leading up to a passageway. He quickly bolted up the stairs. “Out!” he said, as he passed another torch, and out it went.
At the top of the stairs the hallway split left and right. Tiger paused for a moment and felt a slight breeze coming from the right, so he turned that way. Behind him his pursuers were
making their way up the stairs.
“Out!” Tiger said, as he passed another torch. Out it went.
The hall had made several turns, and now ahead he could see a door. He ran up to it and
stopped to listen. He heard voices coming from inside. He could also hear his captors scrambling behind him trying to figure out which way he’d went.
He turned the knob slowly and pushed the door in. He saw the backs of three guards
sitting at a table. On the wall close to the door was a torch. Next to the torch were cloaks hanging on a wall. He stepped inside and slid behind the cloaks.
“Out,” he whispered, and the room went black.
“Where is he?” a voice hissed as the torch was re-lit.
“Where is who?” another answered.
Tiger looked down at his feet and tried to remember if the cloaks went all the way down to the floor, but he couldn’t recall.
“The boy, you fool.” Hisser, the head guard, said, “Where is the boy that ran in here?”
“We didn’t see a boy. The lights went out. He must have run through in the dark.”
“After him now!” Hisser shouted.
The guards jumped to their feet and flew out the door.
Tiger carefully peered out from behind the cloak that covered him. One guard had remained behind and was slowly turning and surveying the room. Tiger pulled the cloak back around him and waited, willing his pounding heart to be still. Then he heard the door open and
slam shut. The guard had left.
Tiger peeked from behind the cloaks once more and found the room empty.
It won’t take them long to send someone back, he thought. I have to act quickly.
Tiger grabbed a cloak and put it on. It easily concealed his white gi. He saw a length of rope lying in the corner and went to grab it. There was a knife on the table. He grabbed that too.
He eyed the other weapons: lances, short swords, long swords, and some armor, but
thought that they would be too hard to conceal and too noisy. He turned towards the door and spied one last item, which might prove useful. In the commotion someone had dropped their keys. He picked them up off the floor and stashed them in his gi under the robe.
Tiger thought about Blake and headed out the door to find him.
Out in the hall Tiger stopped at the top of the stairs. He emptied his mind and heard the faint movement of air, dripping water, and voices. He decided it was safe enough to proceed
down the stairs.
At the bottom, he turned to go back towards his cell, knowing that Blake was being held
in a cell nearby.
Moving quickly, Tiger remained steady and balanced. He remembered Sensei saying, “You can’t think correctly if you’re scared or panicked.” As Tiger approached the cells, he
looked around for places to hide. He shuddered when he saw an alcove with rings, chains and shackles attached to the wall. There was another dark passageway that he had not seen before.
Tiger moved cautiously towards his former cell to try to find where Blake was being held. He listened very carefully for a clue and heard muffled voices. He crept over to that door
and peered through the keyhole. He saw Blake sitting in a chair facing the door. Tiger could
make out at least one person standing, talking to Blake with his back to the door.
“How can I take advantage of this? I need to know the layout of the room.”
Tiger looked back down the passage and saw a torch. He went to get it but couldn’t reach
it, since it was mounted high on the wall. He looked further down the passage and saw another torch that he thought he could reach if he stood on the stair and stretched out.
He was extending his arm up to grab the torch when he heard a door open. He retreated
quickly back down the passage and into the dark corridor. A figure in a black robe came into
view and stopped at the door to Blake’s cell. He pulled out a set of keys and unlocked it. Tiger pressed back as new light filled the passage where he stood. A woman on the inside of the cell appeared at the door and spoke to the man.
“He has escaped,” Hisser said.
“How is that possible?” she replied sharply and motioned him to follow her. They walked out of Blake’s cell but turned around to keep an eye on Blake, as they whispered to each other in angry hisses about five feet from where Tiger was hiding.
“I don’t know. He was able to command fire; he surprised us and fled to the guard room. Those imbeciles let him run right past them after he had extinguished their torches.”
“Incompetents! I will deal with them in time. Have you searched the whole area? Did he
reach the cave exit?”
“We have looked and are starting the search over. We don’t know if he made it out. It also appears that there are items missing from the guard room; one of the fools lost his keys.”
Anger streaked across her face. “Did the boy get them?”
“It’s possible. If he did, he could be hiding somewhere.”
“Does he know of his friend?”
“I don’t know. We did not speak to him as you instructed. When we found them sleeping at the cave entrance, it appeared that they were just seeking shelter from the cold for the night.
We put them in the cells and they did seem to sleep as if in a trance or under a sleeping spell.”
“What of these strange uniforms? The symbol they wore upon their chests? What does the wizard say?”
“It appears that they belong to some guild we’re not aware of.”
“Find the boy!” she growled. “Tell those fools that if he isn’t back by the time I finish here, they will wish they had escaped with him. We don’t know how they got here or if more are
coming. Now it’s time to press the second boy for answers, being nice doesn’t seem to be
Tiger thought he could see fire burning in her eyes as she looked in his direction briefly before walking back to Blake’s cell. She slammed the door shut. The lock clanked and then
sudden silence fell.
Hisser turned and left.
Tiger knew that the time for action had arrived. He grabbed the torch, took it down,
moved quickly and quietly to Blake’s door, and went to work. Slowly Tiger worked the torch
back and forth along the bottom edge of the door. At first the old wood resisted the flame, but after a while it turned black, and then started to char and smoke. Tiger smiled to himself—his plan was working. He wasn’t sure how much smoke was going into the room, but he knew it would be enough.
Tiger could hear that the woman’s voice had elevated and become very shrill. He heard what sounded like a slap but couldn’t be sure.
Events unfolded rapidly. The bolt snapped back. Tiger barely had enough time to move before the door was jerked open. Tiger saw the woman at the same time she saw him. She drew her hand back to strike him when he tossed the torch at her feet and dove forward. As he did, the woman stumbled backwards and fell over Blake’s outstretched foot. She landed hard and didn’t move.
Tiger pulled the knife from his robe and cut Blake’s hands free. Blake stood up and thanked Tiger who said, “There’s no time. We’ve got to get out of here.”
Tiger pulled out the key ring out from under his robes. “See if one of these fit the door.”
Blake started trying the keys. The third one worked.
“Keep the key ready; we need to move quickly. But first I’m going to tie her up, so she can’t follow us.”
Tiger quickly bound the woman’s hands and feet with the rope he had found in the guard room. Then he picked up the torch, and he and Blake left quickly, with Blake locking the door behind them. As they moved toward the stairs, Tiger paused and reached out from the step to return the torch to its place on the wall. He said, “Light!” and it sprung to life.
“Cool!” Blake said. “How’d you do that?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t had the time to figure it out,” Tiger replied.
It was time to leave. Tiger knew that it wouldn’t take long for the guards to figure out something was wrong. He knew that he had to get creative again.
He looked at Blake. “You’re my prisoner,” he said.
Blake looked a little doubtful.
Tiger explained, “I took this robe from the guard room. I should be just tall enough to pull off being a guard. When I was in there, I saw a door that went out into the hall on the other
side. We’re going to walk right into that room and out the other side.”
They walked back up to the door to the guard room. Tiger whispered to Blake to hold his arms behind his back with his wrists crossed like his hands were tied. “Act as if you are scared,” he said. “It will make it more believable.”
Blake whispered back, “I am scared for real.”
Tiger nodded. “Me, too.” He was relieved to see that the door to the guard room was slightly ajar. He knew if he had to try several keys, they’d be on to him. He pushed open the door
with his left foot, while holding tight to Blake.
One of the two guards looked up at Tiger and asked, “What are you doing?”
Tiger tried to make his voice sound like a grown man, “The other guards spotted the boy down below. She told me to move his friend up to the top floor, because he’s trying to break out. You’re supposed to go down and help.”
Tiger had both guards’ full attention now. He continued to move Blake across the room.
“Why are you alone?” the second guard asked. “We’re supposed to work in teams.”
Four more steps to the second door of the guard room.
“She told me to go and kept my partner to help look. They just saw him; you should hurry.”
The guard closest to them was putting on his cloak while the second guard was walking
toward the cloak-rack, but Tiger had the feeling he wasn’t buying the story.
“You should wait here. You can lock him in here and come with us,” said the first guard.
“I’ve got to go,” Tiger said. As he reached out for the knob of the door, his cloak caught on Blake’s hand. The sleeve pulled back, revealing just enough of his gi for the guards to see.
“HEY!” shouted the second guard.
Tiger jerked the door open, pushed himself and Blake through, and slammed it shut. The
guards grabbed the door handle from the inside, and pulled. Tiger pulled from the outside with all his strength.
“Lock it,” he cried to Blake.
But the guards were much too strong. Tiger quickly let go of the handle and with that, the
door flew open and the guards fell back inside the room. Tiger grabbed the door again, pulled it shut, and at the same time Blake locked it tight.
“Watch out!” Tiger said. He used the butt of the knife to break off the key into the lock.
“Good work, Tiger,” Blake said.
“I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Tiger pulled the cloak off over his head, “This will only hold me back,” he said, as he threw it to the floor.
The two boys turned and moved rapidly up the corridor. As they rounded the corner they
entered a vast chamber and found themselves face to face with Hisser.
“Now you’re mine,” Hisser said as he pulled his cloak off in one motion revealing a black gi with a red dragon across the chest. “I’ve had enough of you two.”
He bowed to Tiger.
Tiger started to bow back but thought better of it. He remembered Sensei telling him to be aware at all times. Sure enough, Hisser tried an attack at that moment.
It was a savage kick to Tiger’s belly, but he shifted left and blocked it with his right arm.
Tiger circled to Hisser’s blind side, intending to create advantage. But Hisser turned and
lashed out with a wicked punch to Tiger’s chest.
Tiger didn’t see the punch in time to totally avoid it. Fortunately, Tiger turned his hips right at that moment and the blow only grazed him. It hurt but not as bad as it could have.
Tiger spun and back kicked Hisser in the chest. Hisser was jolted, but he kept his composure and countered with a quick powerful step-in punch.
Tiger threw his arm up and barely avoided getting hit hard. It was a last-chance reaction
that wasn’t elegant, but it did the job.
At that moment Tiger saw his chance. Hisser had lost his balance and Tiger reacted with
a devastating front thrust kick that caught him in the lower abdomen. Hisser flew back, hitting the stone floor.
Tiger looked around. In the midst of this battle, other guards had charged into the room. They had stayed to the back to give Hisser room to move. Now they were staring at him in
disbelief, shocked to see their leader in a heap on the floor.
Tiger gave Blake a look that said RUN and they both bolted from the hall.
The guards reacted, but too slowly. Before they knew what was happening Tiger and Blake were out the door and racing towards the exit.
The two boys saw daylight emanating from a large door at the far end of the hall. It was unguarded. Tiger assumed the guards who ran into the room with Hisser must have abandoned their post here.
After flying out the door, the boys saw there was only one way to go. Unfortunately, it led to a ledge requiring a long jump, because to get to the other side, they had to cross a chasm that dropped hundreds of feet down. If they didn’t jump far enough forward, they would fall to their death.
Tiger yelled, “We can make it!” He backed up and then ran straight towards the edge. Blake did the same. Both boys leaped high in the air.
As Tiger soared across, he remembered thinking this is a long, long jump! He then opened his eyes and found himself sitting safely on his bed at home.
Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will, too.