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Saga - OT Bright Sadness (Lasat OCs; Lira San introspection; various Mini-Games challenges)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman , Oct 24, 2021.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Tol Fanfic Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Bright Sadness
    Era: Saga–OT, about 3 ABY
    Characters: OCs, mention and brief appearance of Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios
    Genre: Vignette, introspection, start of a friendship
    Summary: The first encounter between a Lira San mystic and one of the prophesied Returned Ones from the destroyed colony world of Lasan.
    Notes: Part of the Lasan Series. Written to fulfill prompts from three different Mini-Games challenges:
    1. The Classical Music Roulette Challenge: Claude Debussy (1862–1918), “Clair de lune" from Suite bergamasque
    2. The OC Names Challenge: Tekakwitha (Mohawk, “she who bumps into things” or “she who puts things into place,” name of the first Native American Catholic saint)
    3. The Pretty, Dreamy, Yet Wistfully Sad Piano Challenge: Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1810–49), Nocturne No. 19 in E Minor, Op. 72. (Note that both of the musical prompts fit the profile of “pretty, dreamy, yet wistfully sad” piano pieces—I really struck gold!)
    A few preliminary explanatory notes to the story:
    1. “Lira’sat” is (in my fanon) what the Lasat of Lira San call themselves and those like them. The Lasa-Lira’sat are those from Lasan, who are of an older stock.
    2. Everything in this story that is related to Lira San, including the prophecies of the Returned Ones, is my fanon.
    3. This story takes place between parts 1 and 2 of Child of Lasan—Child of Lira San, with Shulma at a later stage of the same pregnancy mentioned in that story’s part 1.
    4. As always, I thank @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and for all her help in making this story better. @};-


    It was evening on the Central Continent of Lira San, and from one of the archways of the White Shrine of the Ashla, Tekakwitha Gahnwahgos, a mystagogue-priestess of the second rank, stood watching.

    The iridescent glint of dusk had faded from the distant white mountainsides, and now the full light of the three moons—Lin Stel, Lin Rhai, and Lin Mav’rr—gleamed from a clear, dark sky. Their beams peeked tenderly down into the main courtyard of the White Shrine and reflected in silvery ripples on the waters of the Pool of Sounds. In this pool, the centerpiece of the main courtyard, more than a hundred floating crystal bowls, of eight different sizes, sent up serenely chiming tones as gentle currents wafted them gently against each other. They were the voices of the moonlight, and they were lovely. It had been said long ago (very long ago, when the Lira’sat had been more sure of such things) that their voices transmitted the will of the Ashla to those who meditated and listened.

    But Tekakwitha heard and saw them every day, and it was not their mesmerizing drift or their bright tones that captured her attention now. Rather, her eyes and ears—the sharp eyes and ears of the Lira’sat—were turned instead on the figure that sat beside the Pool of Sounds.

    It was the younger of the two women that were among the Returned Ones: Shulma, the wife of the Voyager, Garazeb. She was a tall, graceful Lasa-Lira’sat with long, cascading dark hair and stripes the color of dark summer wine—and also very great with kit. She had a strong gift of the Ashla and had been the Lasan Colony’s equivalent of a high mystagogue-priestess. Every day since her arrival, she had met with the councils to share the wisdom of the colony world’s mystical tradition, in which the very oldest and most powerful ways of the Ashla had been preserved.

    And every evening, after those meetings were over, she would come out here to the courtyard, sit beside the Pool of Sounds, and weep.

    Tekakwitha had been among those present at these meetings of the councils, and she had been impressed by Shulma’s words and story. What a strange transformation it was to see the same woman who had just spoken so confidently of her people’s ancient lore now sitting alone and tearful in the dark. Given Shulma’s condition, Tekakwitha thought at first that it was no more than the dance of her hormones. But was it only that? Tekakwitha did not know how to probe the currents of the Lira’sat soul the way the ancients could; that power had long been lost. But the bitter tears she could see sparkling on the face of this Returned One—and the plangent counterpoint of her sobs against the chimes of the floating bowls—told of deep, raw pain lurking in her heart.

    Tekakwitha recalled what she had heard from the other Returned Ones, and especially the Voyager himself, about the unspeakable destruction wrought upon the Lasan Colony and the Lasa-Lira’sat, how they and their ancient ways had survived so long only to be brutally annihilated. The few survivors, the Voyager and Shulma among them, were scattered far across the Galaxy and wandered for many years without a homeworld, though sustained along the way by friends from other worlds. Then, at long last, the Voyager had opened the path through the Maze so that he and any others who survived could take refuge on the first homeworld of their species.

    And now they were here. The prophecy of the Returned Ones was fulfilled; the descendants of the ancient travelers were home at last, bringing with them the lore and ways that would restore Lira San to her mystical glories of old. But now, as Tekakwitha looked at Shulma’s weeping silhouette beside the Pool of Sounds, she knew that it was not the joyous, triumphant homecoming she and her fellow mystagogues had been taught to expect. These Returned Ones came wracked with sorrow, and no amount of awed reverence or joyful welcome would ever be able to heal the wounds in their hearts.

    And the kit that would soon be born would inherit those wounds. That was why Shulma wept.

    Tekakwitha still stood watching from the archway, but an uneasiness came over her that she had not felt in this place before: a feeling as if she were eavesdropping upon something that did not concern her. She had turned and was beginning to make her way back into the White Shrine when a particularly loud, bright ting from the floating bowls startled her. She spun around, not entirely knowing why.

    In the same instant, Shulma startled as well, put a hand to her belly, and looked up—directly at Tekakwitha.

    Something in the Returned One’s gaze seemed to pull at Tekakwitha’s heart. She could not turn away from the glaze of tears in those deep gem-green eyes, or from the trails of tears crossing those wisped cheek-stripes. She walked closer, then stopped. Shulma rose to her feet, her gaze remaining fixed on Tekakwitha.

    “Oh, you don’t have to stand,” Tekakwitha began, extending a hand toward Shulma. “I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

    Shulma sat again, and for a moment all was silent except the bowls. Then she spoke—softly, in a gentle Lasa-Lira’sat lilt tinged lightly with grief: “You are not intruding at all.”

    “I simply wondered if—if there’s anything you need.”

    The faintest wisp of a smile played across Shulma’s face. “That’s very kind. I think I am all right for now, thanks. But—”

    “Yes?”

    “Just—“ A sob interrupted her words. She put the corner of her shawl to her eyes, half to dry them, and half (it seemed to Tekakwitha) to conceal them. “I—I would be glad to have you sit here with me. That is, if you like.”

    “Yes, of course, certainly.” Tekakwitha felt a nervous flutter as she seated herself beside Shulma on the bench. She was honored, of course—but it felt like a strange, futile thing to do, given the depth of Shulma’s grief and the magnitude of her loss. And certainly Shulma would soon find out that this humble underpriestess could do nothing real to help heal her sorrow…

    But you already are, an inner voice seemed to say. You are sitting beside her as a friend. Your presence brightens her sadness. That’s what you are doing. That’s all you need do.

    The moments passed. The sky darkened, the triple moonlight brightened, and the women sat there together, saying nothing and needing to say nothing. The bowls kept up their plaintive, chiming song, and Tekakwitha thought she could hear them even more clearly now. Perhaps the ancients were right, she reflected—perhaps she had heard in their notes the will of the Ashla…

    Then, finally, an imposing, muscular figure emerged from the shadows of the archways into the moonlight: the Voyager, Garazeb, whose green-bronze chest armor and leaf-green eyes glinted in the moonlight. He came over to his wife, took her by the hand, and raised her gently to standing. Then they both smiled and saluted Tekakwitha in the old manner, placing hand over fist, and departed arm and arm into the shadows. Tekakwitha sat watching in their direction several moments before she, too, rose and went in.

    the end

    “Bright sadness” (Greek charmolypê) is a concept from Eastern Orthodox Christian aesthetics and theology that (among other things) is often used to describe the facial expressions in Orthodox icons, which are known for their enigmatic, striking blend of happiness and sadness (you may read more about it here). There is some of that in this story and scene, perhaps, though I’m also going for the idea of “sadness in a luminous environment” or even “sadness transfigured by a luminous environment.”

    Gahnwahgos: Inspired by the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory on the St. Lawrence River, across from Montréal—one of the regions where St. Kateri Tekakwitha lived.

    The Pool of Sounds was inspired by the Clinamen sound sculptures by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot (Clinamen v.3,2012, at SFMOMA, San Francisco; Clinamen 2013 at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne). Watch the videos at these links to get the full effect. Perhaps this is where the “bumping into things” aspect of Tekakwitha’s name manifests itself, though perhaps it also (at least slightly) can be understood as relating to the piano timbre of the two musical pieces that served as my prompts.

    “probe the currents of the Lira’sat soul”: If you have read the installments of this series that take place on Lasan, you know that this is a power that Shulma, Chava, and the other Lasan-based shamans of their ilk do indeed possess.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2021
  2. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan WIP Month Champion star 6 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    beautiful description of their world. touching insights in the beliefs of the species. And a great weaving of the melodies and name into one story
     
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha WIP Month Champion star 8 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    How absolutely touching and gorgeously detailed as to Shulma's feelings, and Tekakwitha’s empathy! Lovely and marvelous interweaving of the challenge prompts! The Pool of Sounds... I have seldom read of anything so beautiful and soothing. =D=

    This was especially heart tugging because you would hope a homecoming would be unmixed with joy.
    The prophecy of the Returned Ones was fulfilled; the descendants of the ancient travelers were home at last, bringing with them the lore and ways that would restore Lira San to her mystical glories of old. But now, as Tekakwitha looked at Shulma’s weeping silhouette beside the Pool of Sounds, she knew that it was not the joyous, triumphant homecoming she and her fellow mystagogues had been taught to expect. These Returned Ones came wracked with sorrow, and no amount of awed reverence or joyful welcome would ever be able to heal the wounds in their hearts.

    @};-

    [:D]
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
  4. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2002
    We're certainly getting a (welcome) bevy of Lasat stories this month. No complaints here. At all. :D

    It looks as though the series focus is shifting to the homeworld -- more Lasat culture to explore and some re-unification going on. Looking forward to that.

    Every place in the world should have a pool like this. It sounds very restful. I can believe the Ashla would communicate through places like this.

    I imagine many of those returning to Lira San are doing so less-than-voluntarily, so this is not surprising. There has been a great loss. Here's hoping they all find some sort of healing.

    I did a double-take when I saw both names, as I'm familiar with Kateri Tekakwitha. Her shrine is about a two-hour drive from my home.

     
  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    This was such a moving glimpse of life on Lira San for Shulma and Zeb - and Tekakwitha too! You really managed to capture the feeling of this moment, just as much as you captured the moment itself, if that makes any sense? If I'm rambling, just know that your ambiance and emotion both really struck and sank in deep. =D=

    Oh, LOVELY! [face_hypnotized]

    First: this was a great way to add your musical inspiration. Claire de Lune, indeed! And both your nocturne itself and the pretty, dreamy, yet wistfully sad aspect of the challenge really applied themselves well here.

    Then, I loved seeing a manifestation of the Force - or Ashla - in yet another one of its myriad forms! This was new and wonderful in its creativity with drawing from the RL sound sculptures as your inspiration, but not at all surprising with how aces you are with world-building and fanon as far as mysticism and fantastical religion are concerned.

    This also set such an interesting stage: Lira San being in this spiritual kind of drought, so to speak. And it's really something to see how prophesy is perceived verses fulfilled for both Shulma and the Lira'sat. [face_thinking]

    Oh Shulma! =(( [:D] Bittersweet isn't a big enough word, isn't it? A true bright sadness.

    I really like Tekakwitha already! She's perceptive and empathetic and really puts things into place. Seeing Shulma through her eyes, making this new world home and yet still grieving her own, really made the emotion of this piece just that much more poignant.

    The Ashla speaks. [face_mischief]

    It was interesting, seeing that feeling of belonging and not belonging manifesting with both Shulma and Tekakwitha, each in their own way. They're fitting into each other and their traditions of old and the promise of something new all at once, and there's pain in that process, yes, but hope too. [face_love]

    Such a beautiful moment between the two women, for all of its pain! [face_love] A grief shared really is a grief halved.

    GORGEOUS! [face_hypnotized] [face_love] =D=

    Aw! What a beautiful gesture to end such a heartfelt moment on. This really felt like a beginning, in more ways than one. [face_love]


    As always, thank you for sharing more of these characters and their world - their new world, even! I can't wait to see what stories you may have to tell from this 'verse in the future. =D= [:D]
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  6. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Mod star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Registered:
    Jun 19, 2019
    Oh, @Findswoman, your prose is always so beautifully evocative and haunting. There was definitely an introspective tone to this piece, which I loved, and also an almost fantastical sense in terms of the landscape and scenery and beneath everything an undercurrent of melancholy. You really packed so much thought and emotion into this one shot. It is incredible and brilliant.

    This passage in particular is just amazing to read. It sets the scene so well and conveys so much of the rich history of the place in so few words (so often it is hard to communicate the history of a place without it feeling like an exposition dump and I think you managed that with marvelous skill here so well done indeed!). It also has a sense of beauty and serenity to it that I love. What with the moonlight, the white mountains, and the pool with silvery ripples. It all just paints a very clear image in my mind, and I feel truly immersed in the setting and connected to this place in a powerful way. All within the first two paragraphs of the story. That is not easy, but you pulled it off masterfully!=D=

    This part was also just really beautiful and powerful.

    So, well done, and I am in awe of you and what you can write! What a one shot![:D]
     
  7. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker WIP Month Champion star 4 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Well, this was just lovely! [face_love]

    This was such a striking image! I love the idea of the bowls floating in the pool, creating a unique chiming sort of music; and then when you add the beauty of the moonlight reflected on the water... that's some of my favorite scenery right there. Your descriptions really captured the serenity of such a place.

    Another striking image, this one of contrast, the beauty of the chimes against the sorrow Shulma carries with her. And I liked the nod to other Force traditions here, as well as the differences between the two Lasat peoples in their knowledge and understanding of that tradition.

    I could see and hear this moment very vividly! And the scene works regardless, but I do wonder if this might have somehow been the Force, or the Ashla, at work? [face_thinking]

    I truly believe that sometimes this is the biggest thing you can do for someone who is grieving, to just be there with them and share that grief. Tekakwitha may think it's such a small thing to do, but as she realizes, it's really not small at all.

    I feel like this passage really summed up everything I enjoyed about this vignette. Even in darkness, there can still be light; and accepting and sharing another person's grief (rather than trying to somehow make it better) has its own beauty. Silence can often be more powerful than words, and I love the idea of the chimes - the music - being able to say what words cannot. Thanks for sharing this quiet, poignant moment with us! [face_love]
     
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Tol Fanfic Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Moderator

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all for coming by to read and comment, as always! :)

    Thank you so much, earlybird, I’m so glad you enjoyed all those aspects of the story! :) It’s not often that multiple challenge prompts harmonize well, so I count myself lucky that these ones ultimately did.

    Thanks so much, Nyota! I feel like I really struck gold on all three of these prompts, especially since they all fit so well with thoughts I was having about what Shulma might be feeling as she accustoms herself to Lira San. You can read more about the art installation that inspired for the Pool of Sounds in the “Notes” cut at the end of the story; as soon as I found out about that artwork, I knew I wanted something like it on Lira San. Its soothing sounds are a counterpoint to Shulma’s tears—or perhaps the soothing sounds are helping bring those tears forward, could be either way!

    Yes, I see this homecoming as having a definite bittersweet side to it. Even this new home is never going to be exactly like their old home. Thhat is why I, too, send them a @};- and a [:D] !

    Very glad to know, and glad you’re enjoying! :)
    Yes, some of that’s happening, though I’ve still got some pre-Siege of Lasan bunnies in reserve, so there’s more in store on that side of the timeline, too.

    I know, right? I wish I had one in my own yard, because I could use that kind of tranquility sometimes, and yes, I too believe the Ashla definitely can be perceived with especial closeness in a place like that.

    Yes, exactly. That healing will come, but will take a long time, and lot of getting used to. There has to be time to mourn, too.

    Very cool! She seems like a very interesting figure, and I felt super stoked to get her name in the Names Challenge!

    Well, thank you so much for those amazing words! Again, the best I can say is that I certainly do try. This is one of those stories that was just trying to capture a moment, a feeling, rather than move in the arc of a plot.

    Thanks so much! I love a good dreamy-wistful-melancholy aesthetic when I’m in the right mood, and the fact that both my prompt pieces were in that vein was just an amazing stroke of luck! (If I had gotten, say, the Debussy on one hand and the 1812 Overture on the other, I don’t think I would have been able to combine them quite as well! :p )

    Well, shucks, thanks yet again—I definitely do try! As I said above, I can really see places like this being places where that kind of insight or consciousness can come.

    The two societies have been separate for so long that it only made sense that they’d go different directions and that the settlers on Lasan might have preserve some older aspects longer, including some of the shamanic practices. That, and I like the idea of this homecoming fulfilling a prophecy fulfilled on the Lira’sat end as well as on the Lasa-Lira'sat end.

    If I do say so myself, she is in the perfect spot to bring all those feelings to the fore!

    Thanks so much, I’m glad you like her! I do too, again if I may say so myself. The Lira’sat have just as much to learn about the newcomers as vice versa, and by being here and being present Tekakwitha is showing she’s willing to do that learning.

    It does! And Tekakwitha listens.

    Exactly! Spot on. Hope and willingness to listen, learn, and be present will smooth the path and ease at least some of the pain.

    A huge amen to that!

    Thanks! Again, just wanted it to be all about the moment/scene/atmosphere, and of course the working of the Ashla behind it all!

    It is! It’s a new stage for Zeb and Shulma together as a couple, and not just because they’re about to become parents—it’s because of their new world, too, and this new friendship that has just been made (and that Zeb picks up on as well when he comes to get his wife).

    You are so welcome, and once again, thank you for all the love and support you’ve given my version of these characters and their world(s)! <3

    Thank you so much for those wonderful words, devil, and for your awesome comment! That all means a lot to me coming from you, since you have such a knack for creating an atmosphere and deeply exploring the interiority and emotions of the characters you write. <3

    Thank you so much! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the setup of this scene. I wanted to paint a picture of a beautiful and serene place whose outward, aesthetic beauty was reflective of an underlying spiritual beauty—I have always thought Lira San must be a very beautiful place, both inside and out, and this story is one of the places I’ve tried to bring that to expression.

    Thanks again! Piggybacking on the previous, I see the beauty of the new friendship as adding to the spiritual and aesthetic beauty of the place.

    Well, shucks, thanks again—I’m very humbled by that praise coming from you! I’m so glad you enjoyed this and really appreciate your coming by to read and comment! <3

    Well, thank you! I really appreciate that! :)

    Thanks so much, and it’s a favorite of mine, too! Moonlight on the water is so beautiful on its own, and the two piano pieces I had as prompts (especially the Debussy, of course) really were about the closest things one could imagine to what moonlight on the water might sound like, so I wanted to be sure have a sounding component to the scene as well—and those sound sculptures provided just the thing.

    Thanks again! The differences and similarities between the Lasan and Lira San mystical traditions (and they have to be different, because they’ve been separated so long) is something I’ve just begun to to work with in this series of mine, but I figure vignettes like this are a good place to start working it out. Shulma has always found solace in her own mystical tradition, and now that of this new world is there to support her, too, as best it can.

    Of course it is! That’s how it works. :)

    Amen, absolutely! The gift of presence is huge, and one of the best you can give someone who is experiencing any sort of grief.

    You are most welcome! :) The combination of the darkness, the light, the music of the chiming bowls, and the closeness of two new friends all say it better than any words can—they all add up to something greater than just the sum of their parts. Once again, thank you so much for reading, commenting, and being here—it’s appreciated so much, and it’s always great to see you! <3
     
  9. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2005
    First of all, I want to thank you for sharing that link to "Clair de lune" as played by Debussy himself. (And I'm listening to it right now as I type this response.) I have found some other recordings on youtube of Debussy playing his work, but only some time after I put together this challenge. I think this story suits the songs you received in both of my mini-challenges--and it really was uncanny how well that worked out for you--with its quiet melancholy mood, but particularly "Clair de Lune"--from the opening image of the silent silver moonlight on the water of the Pool of Sounds, and the gentle clinking of the crystal bowls. I watched the video you posted of the real life inspiration, and it sounded much like what I imagined as I was reading.

    This is one of those times when it seems that everyone else has said what I would have--especially for a story that is as much about silences than speech. (Apparently, Debussy said that "Music is the space between notes," and somehow, I feel that applies here.) But I'll try to write up a few things.

    This is the first of your Lasat stories that I have read properly, but I have lurked enough to know who the characters are. This is a new beginning for them, a "homecoming" to a world they had never seen before. It makes sense that given distance and centuries that their respective mystical traditions would have gone in different directions--and it's interesting that the Lasats of Lasan have retained traditions that those on the homeworld lost long ago--which means Tekakwitha lacks the abilities the shamans of Lasan, like Shulma and Chava, have. I think it's an interesting choice, and one I am certain Disney/Lucasfilm wouldn't ever have gone with.

    But they do still have their prophecies, and the relevant one here is that of the Returned Ones. I would find it interesting to see the prophecy in full and what the exact wording is. Prophecies are known to be vague, and (as a certain Jedi Master once said) they can therefore be misread. But I rather suspect that there was not one hint within it that when the Returned Ones came to their people's homeworld, it would be after the destruction of their own, and many years of wandering in exile. After all, the mystagogues were taught that when the Returned Ones came, it would be in joy and triumph. They weren't at all prepared for the reality.

    It must be hard for Tekakwitha to fully imagine what Shulma, and the others, are going through. She must have surely known griefs before in her life, but nothing on this scale of loss. Shulma has endured, and she is reunited with her husband after so many years, but she has still lost so much--her family, her friends, her entire world. I wonder if perhaps it is only now that she has made a safe landing, after years of focusing on surviving, that the grief of it all--and that fact that her kit will inherit this pain--just hits her. This place, and this world, are beautiful, but it must still feel like a place out of legend to her, and not really truly "home."

    Tekakwitha is certainly aware of, and emphathetic towards, the enormity of Shulma's pain. And as she realizes through her wise inner voice, she doesn't need the gifts of the Ashla to lend her support through her presence. Sometimes, when there's nothing one can really say, that's all one can do.

    Finally, thank you for writing this for my challenges!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2022
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