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Saga - PT Saga - OT [DDC 2018] Shaman, Traveler, Oracle: Journal of an Exile of Lasan (OC; Lasan Series)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I keep thanking you all for reading and commenting, and perhaps it gets a little much, but I really do mean it, I promise. @};-
    It most certainly shall—just wait and see! I love the various Force traditions of the GFFA, and it was so much fun to even just quickly attempt to bring two of them into dialogue with each other here.
    I kind of was, too, as I was writing this, and at one point was thinking of trying to squeeze some visions in! But then again she’s had so much occupying her mind with all these new adjustments and this new living situation lately. It might not be a bad thing that her mystical senses are taking a break for a bit; they’ll have plenty of time to come back once she’s more settled in.
    Yep, those silly Gand and their dagnabbed cultural reticence! :D Thanks as always for reading and sticking with this story. :)
    No worries, that happens to me all the time, too!
    Wonderful insights there—I have not much more to add. She pretty much has to be adaptable now, given what the universe has handed her. (In a way she’s reacting in the opposite way to the way we know her husband does, with his cantankerous and hotheaded tendencies.)
    Hah, yes, they definitely have formed a little space!family of sorts already! :D Now here’s the thing, though: this isn’t obvious in the story, I know, but I have in mind that Glockel is actually a little younger than Telfien, like a year or two, and that they’re both in the equivalent of early 20s—while Shulma is early to mid 30s by now. (Glockel and Telfien have been traveling together a while already, too; Telfien joined up with her after the Empire’s invasion of Gand, but they had met previously to that too—that’s another story that isn’t yet posted.) But they are definitely all a sisterhood now, and Lua’s definitely the auntie! It’ll take some getting used to for all of them.
    This will be quite a moment from them—they are about to learn new things from the Force from each other, as well as new things about each other. It will definitely open up a new world, but again, adjusting to new worlds of one kind or another is something Shulma’s become very skilled at by now. At least this time she will be doing so with a knowledgeable friend by her side, and a friend with whom she shares a bond with the spirit of the universe. Thanks, as always, for reading and for your wonderful insights! :)
    That is definitely one of the perks of being big and tall! :p
    Especially bugs with cultural reticence. :p
    And as we’ve seen, that mystical talent does serve her well—we’ll see more of that in the next chapter!
    Agreed; she’s experiencing self-doubts again, as she often does, but we sure know nothing could really make her forget her home and her love. And indeed, now that things are calmer and less precarious for her, it gives her mystical senses a much-needed chance to rest.
    Two shamans certainly are different than one, and arguably more than the sum of their parts!
    Thanks! And you shall find out all about that very soon. :)
    Yep, definitely; this big, mystical giantess probably became a little less scary when she was the one to come up and open the conversation, and that in gentle and civil tones. With all the important commonalities these characters have, it was bound to happen, and this way they will get to learn for sure how sincere their concern for each other really is.
    It definitely will be something for her to get used to, and that will take time for her to fully understand, just because it is such a different approach. Again, it was really fun to play around a little with these two differing traditions’ approaches to the Force and to meditation. Each character will bring her own talents and strengths to the endeavor.
    (Also, I’m guessing Telfien and other Findsfolk might not see it as “directing” the Force per se: more like actively working along with it in order to discover the hidden answer to a question. Or some such. :p )
    That Gand ethic of constant humility is another thing remaining for her to get used to, and no small thing! I love the Gand dearly, but I always thought their constant professions of humility/apology/unworthiness/etc. might start to grate on non-Gand interlocutors after a bit.
    Totally agreed there—see my response to Vek above. :)
    Yes, plus this again is Shulma feeling that “well, everything is going to be different and unexpected for me now—what use is there in resisting?”—as per my response to divapilot above. She has taken that approach enough times now to know that there really is no harm in trying—and that “nothing ventured” is often “nothing gained.” And it helps that she knows for certain now that she has a true friend in this strange little insectoid. :D
    Thank you, as always, for all your support and insight, and you find out very, very soon! :)
     
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  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks again to @Raissa Baiard for beta-reading on short notice! @};-


    18.

    Telfien and I finished our joint meditation about an hour ago. I am resting in bed as I write; it was an immensely taxing experience, both physically and spiritually, and I still do not fully know what to make of it. In some ways it was like the tandem rituals from my Lasan days—having to be so completely attentive and attuned to the other’s currents, for example—but in some ways it was completely different.

    We sat in the gunners’ seats facing each other. Before we began, I asked leave to chalk some preparatory glyphs, to which Telfien agreed. She watched intently as I drew the Flames of Contemplation on the ceiling surrounding the area where the two seats hung, and even complimented me on their beauty. I also asked her, on a whim, if there was any insight for which I could petition the Ashla on her behalf. “That is for the Mists to determine,” was her response to me, and I felt a momentary wistful pull in the Ashla at those words.

    We readied ourselves, holding our focusing objects before us. Telfien’s appeared to be some kind of small, ornate box, though I never got a good look at it. Then we began. I initiated a level-four trance, which seemed the closest thing to the techniques she had described before. She closed her eyes and began her trance as well.

    At first all went as expected with my trance. As the moments slipped into minutes and the minutes into hours, I felt my stone begin to spark with the sacred light, and I became aware of my own currents moving through the luminous fabric of the Ashla. I followed their flow, contemplating the patterns they made and the shapes into which they formed themselves: places, things, beings. Lasan’s cliffs, Svivren’s gray streets. Friends, family, locals, and of course my love. But then new images began to creep in among them, like ink diffusing through water or mists filtering in at evening. I saw places I didn’t know: a humble home, a humble garden, a marketplace, a temple on a mountaintop. Mists filled everything. I saw beings I didn’t know—beings like Telfien, with large bright faceted insect’s eyes and wearing long, solemn robes, trooping and milling in solemn patterns. But there was one who stood still, gazing and staring with piercing silver eyes—like the orbs I had seen in my earlier visions, only much colder. And in one sudden instant he (for so I knew it was, somehow) turned his back on all the other beings that were there, and disappeared—and I saw the huge, gray wedges of Imperial capital ships piercing and scattering the surrounding mists—and there was nothing but sorrow and cold, blank light.

    But then the scene shifted again, and I saw a dingy, foggy, seedy place filled with dingy, foggy, seedy beings—a bit like some of the more sordid neighborhoods of Wrils, though it wasn’t Wrils—and there was that other silver-eyed Gand, walking, no, prowling among them, with some strange sort of double-barreled blaster rifle drawn. A droid walked at his side, humanoid-shaped but also somehow with insect’s eyes. Both of them disappeared into the seedy shadows, and all went dark.

    I realized what I had seen: a glimpse of my new friend’s own losses and sorrows. Someone she missed, someone she wished she could find. I may even have stumbled upon some small clue about what he was doing or where to find him. In any case, all of it was more vivid than anything I have ever seen before in a level-four trance, and my currents are still reeling. But I am now resolved more than ever to help her, too, find what she has lost.

    One thing I noticed: Telfien came out of her meditation before I did, and she jumped, startled, when I opened my eyes and came out of mine, and avoided my gaze when she asked me how my meditation went. I haven’t told her everything yet, but I wonder if she knew what I had seen—and I wonder if I was not supposed to see what I had seen.

    But that is something I must ponder later, for now I hear the siren signaling our return to realspace.

    The scenes from Telfien’s story that Shulma sees come from various earlier stories, most notably The Book of Gand, “Dearest Delphine!”,
    Box of Visions, and
    Between the Porch and the Altar.

    Telfien’s “focusing object” is the music box from Box of Visions.

    You may recognize the male Gand and the insect-eyed droid as Zuckuss and 4-LOM.
     
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  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb entry. =D= Very very promising as they accentuated one another's connections. I wonder what Telfien glimpsed relating to Shulma's experiences? Shulma seems to have found clues about Telfien's experiences and personal quest. [face_thinking]
     
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  4. Vek Talis

    Vek Talis Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2018
    and I saw the huge, gray wedges of Imperial capital ships piercing and scattering the surrounding mists

    Huh, [face_thinking] sounds like this particular bug betrayed his own people to the Imps.

    but I wonder if she knew what I had seen—and I wonder if I was not supposed to see what I had seen.

    Yeah. That really makes me wonder about the cold, silver-eyed bug face with a droid. Maybe an old 'friend' of Telfien who sold out the Gand Force users to Palpatine.

    What they really need is a giant rolled up newspaper to smush him with. :D

    Good stuff; keep it coming! :)
     
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  5. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Our two mystics finally have the chance to work together in their joint meditation. It seems to be a fruitful session—if nothing else they’ve learned that they can work together. Their styles of meditation may be different, but they’re not incompatible. Telfien’s cultural reticence (thank you for that phrase, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha :)) is still strong here. Even though she’s overcome her initial trepidation of the purple giantess of her visions, she’s still reluctant impose on Shulma by posing a question to the Mists/Ashla. From that wistful tug in the Ashla, it’s clear that she’s got something—or someone—on her mind. Shulma gets a hint of it at the end of her vision when she sees the silver-eyed Gand prowling through the seedy neighborhood with his Gand-like droid. She realizes this is someone dear to Telfien and that it may have a clue to finding him. I find it quite interesting that Shulma feels that Telfien may somehow know what she saw, and that she would rather her not have seen it (More reticence, or something else?) It makes me wonder iif Telfien’s visions could have “bled over” to Shulma, and it also makes me wonder, if Shulma saw Zuckuss, does that mean Telfien saw Zeb? [face_thinking]

    I love your descriptions of Shulma’s experiences while she’s meditating; as always they’re so lyrical and full of vivid sensory details. I particularly enjoyed this line:
    because I could picture this, like watercolor painting in a way (and I see what you did there with “mists”). Of course, I recognize Telfien’s home and parents from “What She Saw” and the temple from “The Book of Gand” and your other wonderful Gand stories [face_love]

    Despite Telfien’s reluctance to share her thoughts with Shulma, she’s determined to help her new friends with her troubles—of course; i’d expect no less of Shulma! [face_love] These two seem to make a good team, since Shulma’s visions were especially vivid this time around. With a little practice, they may become quite a dynamic duo, and help each other in ways neither of them could have anticipated!
     
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  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Once again, my warmest thanks to you all. @};-
    That's a very good question! In a way, it could really have been anything Shulma has already written about. In particular, Telfien almost certainly saw some of Shulma's experiences from the Siege of Lasan, and given that Telfien's own planet was occupied by the Empire as well (though not nearly with such catastrophic results) that certainly must give her a whole new dimension of sympathy and mutual understanding with her. But it's gone both ways, of course. (A lot of those details are borrowed from my earlier Gand stories, of course, though several of them still need to be elaborated on in future stories.)
    Addressing both of these at once, since they're closely related. That's not a bad guess, though it's (going to be) kind of more along the lines of
    when the Imps showed off, he could have helped his people but instead broke with them and went his own way.
    It's a story that hasn't been fully written at this point, but there are hints of it in some of the stories linked in the notes to this chapter.
    Ah, they can try, they can certainly try, but they won't find it easy! :p
    Thank you, as always, and I certainly shall! :)
    Several different things may be going on here. Telfien's reticence is one of them, of course; as a very secretive sort, she could feel understandably uncomfortable about the possibility that Shulma, who's still a relatively new acquaintance, saw so deeply into her thoughts and feelings (though she'll learn that this purple giantess can be trusted). Telfien may feel chary about being beholden to Shulma, as if Shulma's knowledge of these aspects of Telfien's story puts her in a position of power over Telfien. Or Telfien also may just not have expected Shulma to see so much; she may have underestimated Shulma's strength in the Ashla. I've kind of left it up to the interpretation of the reader, I guess. :p But yes, given the way the two consciousnesses filter into each other in this kind of meditation (more on that below), I definitely think it likely that Telfien saw Shulma's thoughts about Zeb. (Again, though, she's so close-lipped, or rather close-mandibled, about things that we'll probably never know for sure, but it seems likely.)
    Thanks so much! I am so glad those passages came off well to you, because with those kinds of mystical and meditative scenes I'm always afraid of them sounding the same, or sounding repetitive, after a while. I wanted to capture the way the characters' two mystical consciousnesses are gradually filtering and blending into each other; perhaps that kind of motion is a large part of why the Gand perceive mystical consciousness as mists in the first place (well, aside from the fact that they're a notable characteristic of their homeworld... but I still think it all goes together). And yes, Shulma is seeing, through the Ashla, bits and pieces of those same stories. The two women's stories are being tied together here, in a way: both have suffered dire loss and sorrow, in part for similar reasons.
    Shulma would definitely do all in her power to help Telfien find this dear old friend of hers, though it partly depends on whether Telfien would let her; that may be a story of its own. But this won't be the last time within this story that these two meditate together, learn about each other, and help each other, as you definitely will see! Thanks again for everything, as always. :)
     
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    As I post this next chapter, just a quick note of gratitude to all who voted for Shaman, Traveler, Oracle in the July–December Half-Marathon category of the 2018 Dear Diary Challenge, in which category it won first place. Thank you all so much for your continued support, readership, and patience. @};- And big congratulations to the other winners of the 2018 DDC for their fantastic work and for making this challenge a joy to be part of! =D=


    19.

    Back in hyperspace again! I suppose this is the life of a semi-independent scout, or whatever it is Glockel calls herself—though for me it is taking some getting used to. If it weren’t for the space-sickness tablets in the ’fresher cabinet (whose tube proclaims them a “PATENTED HOMEOPATHIC BLEND FROM MONIRON”), I would probably not be well enough to write this.

    Earlier today we docked on Mayno-Mayzee, in the Kanson-Wiss sector, just widdershins of the Centrality. Glockel and Telfien were off conferring with some contact of theirs in the culture ministry there. Meanwhile, Rika stayed with the ship, and Lua and I went for a stroll in the lush parklands outside the embassy, with their magnificent arboray tree groves. We talked of this and that: life on board the Rose Evergreen, things we missed about our homeworlds, things we missed about Svivren (and I was surprised to realize that there were several—I suppose there is some truth to the adage that we mortals don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone), and of course the situation with the Empire. I reflected that they now had forced Lua from her livelihood twice, once on Pipada and once on Svivren. She shrugged—I can hardly believe how stoical she is about this!—and said that at least now she knows that something is being done about it. That was when she mentioned her son again. (I confessed that I couldn’t recall his name; she told me what it was, and when I looked bewildered she said, “that okay, you JUST CALL him Pao.”)

    It seems he had indeed come to visit her that time—the time about a month before Telfien witnessed my Storm Solstice ceremony, when I had heard a second Drabatan voice conversing with her in her apartment. During that visit he had told her then that he was on his way to join some kind of much larger alliance or rebellion that was fighting the Empire (Lua glanced cautiously around as she said this, as if to make sure no one else could hear our conversation). He could not tell her exactly what this organization was, or where he was going, or even whether he’d ever see her again. She was (and is) naturally very worried for him, even as she was proud of him for continuing the fight. It was the first I had heard of this, and I expressed my amazement: first, that such a rebellion existed, and second, that Lua had been able to go on from day to day with something like this on her heart. Ah, but she didn’t want me to worry about him too, she said, what with all the other griefs and troubles weighing on my own mind. Besides, she went on to point out, this was one good thing about traveling through the Outer Rim with two semi-independent scouts: she now has some small chance of finding out where he has gone, and perhaps of joining him.

    So that makes three of us who are looking for someone lost: Telfien, Lua, and myself. I wonder if Glockel is too; she hasn’t said anything, of course. Though am I really looking anymore? There may no longer be anyone for me to look for. And yet Telfien was right in saying that time that “the Mists alone know”: the Ashla alone knows. And now, on top of all that, to learn of this rebellion or alliance fighting the Empire… ah, so many questions for the Ashla next time Telfien and I meditate together! (If she agrees; I fear I caused her some distress last time we did.)

    At any rate, when Lua and I returned to the ship, we found Glockel and Telfien in the common area, where Rika was playing back for them a holographic message that had arrived while we were all away. The sender seemed to be either Human or near-Human, and even though the transmission as very indistinct and garbled it was clearly urgent in tone. I heard something about a temple, a code downloaded to Rika, and reporting to someone on a private frequency.

    Glockel explained it all afterward. It was the culture minister of the neighboring planet of Khorassan, one Ardyse Goldfleck-Straz, and she was urging Glockel and Telfien and Rika to take one of her world’s treasures—a set of jewels used in one of the planet’s major festivals, I think it was?—into safe keeping and out of the reach of the local Imperial moff, by the name of Waddsley, who is apparently en route to claim them. Further, it seems that Goldfleck-Straz knows their employer, Bonvika the Hutt, and had heard from her Mayno-Mayzeean colleague (Mayno-Mayzat? Mayno-Mayzite? I have never understood demonyms in Basic) that Bonvika’s agents were in the sector. And it was a legitimate message: Rika was able to confirm the originating frequency and everything. “Now, you don’t have to come with us if you don’t want to,” she said very pointedly to me and Lua (G.’s drum corps commander was a little like that when I first met her). I simply looked her in the eye and said that I very much intended to come along and to help in any way that I could. Telfien’s expression is always inscrutable, of course, but the clicks I heard from behind her mask seemed to bespeak approval, and I shall never forget the way she looked squarely at her colleague and said, “You will be glad to have her beside you, Glockel Sternenkranz.”

    Lua of course agreed to come as well: “I HELP best I CAN, even if it mean just put bacta PADS on YOU THREE.”

    So, now, off to Khorassan. I don’t know what will await us, or what a moff wants so badly with festival jewels, though I suppose the sheer length and breadth of Imperial avarice should no longer surprise me. For my own part, it is time for another PATENTED HOMEOPATHIC space-sickness tablet. Then perhaps to ask Telfien if she would agree to a second joint meditation.

    * * *​

    She asked me first! It was as though she could tell I was about to ask her something as I approached her in the common area. I suppose given the way she can query the Ashla directly for answers, it stands to reason that she would be attuned to the way it moves around those with questions. Thankfully the whole experience was less tiring this time, now that I know better what to expect.

    We went to the lower gunner’s turret again. Each of us held our focusing objects on our laps, and once again I chalked the Flames of Contemplation on the ceiling. It started much the same way as it had the first time, with the images of familiar beings and places, then the new ones filtering in—though this time I saw the young Drabatan, Pao, as well as the silver-eyed Gand. And then I saw all of the shadowy visions turn their gaze as a new, unfamiliar scene appeared: two immense pyramidal towers, as of some ancient temple or palace, rising like majestic sentinels above a vast, lush jungle at dawn. Those towers were full of beings of all sentient species who waved cheerfully down at the other shadowy beings around them, and saluted them… were they the ones who were fighting the Empire, the ones Pao had joined? Were they somehow the key to finding those we had lost? Where were they?

    I still don’t know, and I have a dark feeling that I won’t have a chance to ponder it much further until we are back from our errand on Khorassan.

    Moniron: A fanon planet created by @earlybird-obi-wan, homeworld of her fanon species the Dunai and Dunai-Elder (see her fanon entry). The patented homeopathic space sickness remedy from there was created by me for Two Girls and a Man in Red, which also features some of earlybird’s Dunai fanon.

    The planet of Mayno-Mayzee is my own fanon creation. It and the arboray tree grove strolled in by Shulma and Lua were introduced in A Lesson under the Arboray Trees?. It is also mentioned in The Jewels of . . . WHAT?!, where it is identified for the first time as being in the equally fanon Kanson-Wiss Sector (named, incidentally, by @Raissa Baiard).

    Arboray trees: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Arboray_tree

    Centrality: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Centrality

    widdershins: A term I learned from my old friend Beedo. Its real-life meaning is “counterclockwise” or “opposite in direction to the sun’s apparent motion,” but he used it in SW stories to mean “opposite to the direction of the Galaxy’s rotation,” with its opposite being “turnwise.”

    Khorassan, jewels used in festival, culture minister: All introduced in The Jewels of . . . WHAT?!, though this is the first time the culture minister is given a name. Khorassan is a neighbor planet of Mayno-Mayzee in the Kanson-Wiss Sector.

    “G.’s drum corps commander”: A reference to Mid. Lt. Maranga Patithi from Romance among the Stones. In that story she was just part of the Honor Guard Drum Corps, but she became its commander later and served in that capacity during Zeb’s captaincy.

    “two immense pyramidal towers, as of some ancient temple or palace… above a vast, lush jungle at dawn”: She is, of course, seeing the Massassi Temple on Yavin IV—headquarters of the Rebellion at this period, as we all know. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
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  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Lua is a darling, so courageous and considerate of others' feelings after all she's been through.
    Fascinating message they got and I had to :p and :rolleyes: at Glockel's "big hint" ... "You don't have to come if you don't want to." [face_laugh]

    Well, more clues came from this second joint session with Telfien: a mixture of past, present, and future encounters... [face_thinking]

    On a side note, I adore all the mixing and merging of fanon elements. :cool:
     
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  9. Vek Talis

    Vek Talis Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2018
    we mortals don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone

    So true.


    I reflected that they now had forced Lua from her livelihood twice,

    As they've also ousted Shulma twice: once from Lasan, then from Svivren.


    Nice update. The contacting the Force part was good too. Hopefully, they're on the right track to finding the Rebel Alliance. :)
     
  10. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    18. Such frightening visions that Shumla saw! and to think they are from Telfien's own experiences! I wonder if Shulma is far stronger in the Force/Ashla than she believes. This would perhaps be connected to your new story, where Chava the Wise has such faith in her -- because Chava knows that Shulma is prodigiously powerful.

    Perhaps Telfien and Shulma amplify each other. Instead of simply having powers in parallel or even doubling their powers, they feed into each other and create an even more substantial connection, like a powerful booster signal.

    19. Interesting that Pao is entering the story here. Perhaps his mother's plight has influenced him to join the rebellion, even though it is a terribly dangerous thing to do. Even Lua knows that this is the sort of thing that one does not speak of in public. Which brings me to this:
    Perhaps she is seeing what will become of dear Pao on Scarif. :( At least she will have some answers for Lua. Although news of his (eventual) death will be devastating to her, I can't imagine how horrible it would be to never know. It's interesting that the mists are showing her about Telfien, and now about Lua, but nothing - nothing! - so far about dear Zeb!

    I wonder what is going on with the escapades with the jewels. At least Shulma can be useful to Glockel and not just a passenger on her ship. That must make Shulma feel more comfortable about being there.
     
  11. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Ah, the life of the semi-independent scout, complete with too-small cabins and space-sickness!:p Definitely a new experience for Shulma, one that takes a lot of adjusting and PATENTED HOMEOPATHIC TABLETS. I love how you’re bringing bits of your fanon universe together here, with the space-sickness tablets, the arboray trees on Mayno-Mayzee, and those very special jewels from the festival on Khorassan. Intertextuality most definitely roxx!

    How lovely that Shulma and Lua have some time to stroll through the park, appreciate the beauty of the setting, and just talk about “this and that”. I’m not surprised that there are things Shulma misses about Svivren. It was a refuge for her when she sorely needed one, perhaps not her heart’s home but a home nevertheless. Shulma’s so attuned to the beauty and goodness around her, I think she’d be hard pressed to find someplace that she couldn’t find something good about. And dear, brave Lua, so good at carrying on from day to day, even after she’s lost her home and livelihood twice (as indeed has Shulma)and despite the fact that she doesn’t know where her son is or if he’ll return. I would, however, reprove her (gently) for not talking to Shulma about Pao before this.Yes, she has problems of her own, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t want to know of yours. A burden shared is a burden lightened—but at least Shulma knows now, which is good, given what we, the readers, know about Pao’s fate:( The conversation gives Shulma a lot to think about—the existence of the Rebel Alliance, her friends’ losses, and yes, Shulma, you know you’re still looking for Zeb. You’ll never really stop [face_love]

    And then it’s on to the next mission to save the Jewels of ...What?!?:D I remember the good Minister Goldfleck-Straz and her unique sense of style from that story; she’s got a capable team to help her against the nefarious Moff Waddlsley—What is it with these Moffs, anyway? (And I love Shulma’s reflections on demonyms. Sometimes they do get a little crazy ). Oh, but Shulma doesn’t have to come—like she wouldn’t want to help. Glockel is a lot like good old Maranga, with her insistence that this is Not Going to Be Easy, might want to Give Up Now. *snort* Neither of them had seen Shulma using Ash;a sparks or making the ground shake when she stomps her foot. She’s more than a match for most opponents; Telfien has it exactly right when she says Glockel will be glad to have her on her side. And stoical Lua is in, too, with such optimism: it’s okay, I’ll just patch you lot up afterwards;)

    Another joint meditation, fortunately not as overwhelming this time. Shulma sees Zuckuss and Pao and a host of other shadowy beings in a place she doesn’t recognize, but we do: the Massassi temples on Yavin IV, the headquarters of the Rebellion. Shulma’s right wonder about all those beings and the setting, because if Zeb isn’t there yet, he will be soon. But first, an adventure awaits on Khorassan, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when two mystics walk into a Force nexus (and no, that’s not the beginning of a bad joke)!
     
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  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all, once again. :)

    Yes, a bit of an adventure is in store for our group of ladies! And Glockel can be excused at least a little, since she hasn’t seen Shulma’s bravery and skills in action yet. :p

    Yes, as well as a mix of the present story, past ones, and perhaps future ones... [face_thinking] Many thanks as always for commenting and continuing to follow this story! :)

    Thanks so much! :) I love incorporating fanon into any story, of course, but I'm finding I especially love the way the diary form gives a particularly unique opportunity to experience fanon through the narrator character's eyes.

    Yes, definitely one of those universals of sentient life. I imagine just about every sentient species and culture has an aphorism to this effect.

    You’re right, it’s just as true of her, too. Though she’s the sort who will stuff her own feelings in favor of empathizing with someone else’s.

    Thanks so much, and thanks so much as always for sticking with this story! :) They’re getting there, getting there, all in the fullness of time, as you’ll see in chapters to come… ;)

    She certainly is, and she herself underestimates that fact often—indeed, one of the points being made in Light of Lasan is that her tendency to do that goes all the way back to her early years. But all those who have come into contact with Shulma’s abilities know she’s more powerful than she gives herself credit for—from her beloved old teacher Chava, to her shaman friends on Lasan, to her husband, to this newer friend and ally of hers.

    Yes, that pretty much is exactly how I see these joint meditations of their working. :cool: Something equally surprising and powerful may be happening on Telfien’s end of the connection, too, but she is so secretive that we may never hear about it from her—only in the form of this quick glimpse of her reaction...

    I’m certain (in my fanon kind of way) that Pao had his mother in mind in making that decision. Pablo Hidalgo has said that Pao was "an engineer who felt he had to do something about the Empire,” and I wanted to build on that a little by bringing into the picture someone dear to him who had suffered and harm and loss at the Empire’s hands—namely, his mother. And Lua does understand the magnitude of the risk her son is taking even in telling her the little that he is.

    My thought (or one of them… this scene’s really pretty open to interpretation) is that she’s seeing that there really is a bigger movement at work, and becoming aware of the connections of her friends’ dear ones to that bigger movement: Pao who has joined it already, and Zuckuss who will later on (I stick with the interpretation of the Tales of the Bounty Hunters story on this subject :p). That they’re showing up so strongly here, even to the point where Shulma’s not seeing Zeb, partly is due to Shulma’s own strength in the Ashla, mentioned above: the mystical connection between her and Telfien is amplifying her perception so much in this moment that it causes her to perceive others’ mystical consciousnesses more strongly than her own. If that makes any odd sort of sense; I’m ashamed to admit this is the time I’ve really thought through the process in detail. [face_blush]

    Glockel and Telfien will indeed both be glad to have Shulma’s help on this mission, as you’ll soon see! Everyone will play a role.

    Yes, this spacefaring life is a huge adjustment even compared to all the changes Shulma’s had to experience in recent memory! But as with the others, her innate resilience and ability to find good wherever she goes will stand her in good stead. One thing I’m finding with this whole diary format is that it really lends itself well to bringing all sorts of fanon elements together, because the narrator character sort of serves as a focal point for them, and in turn we get a new look at those elements through the character’s eyes.

    You’ll get no argument from me there! :p

    Thanks! I enjoyed giving that little moment just talking and reminiscing together, comparing notes about their experiences. Lua definitely is way more stoic than she needs to be about everything that has happened to her; it’s a bit of a survival mechanism, in a way. But she won’t be sorry that she shared this with Shulma, and likewise Shulma will value the larger perspective it’s given her on the Rebellion and on each of her new friends.

    Yeah, indeed, what is it about moffs! :p I guess the power really goes to your head something awful once you’re made the military governor of an entire sector. If the Empire is in the picture, it definitely is Not Going to Be Easy (and good catch of the reference to Maranga!), but that doesn’t mean that these ladies won’t do their utmost. Shulma is definitely not to be underestimated, if I do say so myself—but don’t take my word for it, because Telfien can attest to it too! :D And, you know, Lua really isn’t to be underestimated either—she’ll find her own way to make her mark on this mission, even if it’s a quiet way. [face_love]

    In a way, what she sees in this meditation is meant to generate more questions than answers (which I guess is part of why my attempt at explaining it, in my response to diva above, is so clumsy :p). If Zeb isn’t there, perhaps it is the Ashla’s way of prompting Shulma as to which questions she should be asking the Ashla about him, if that makes sense. But she’ll have ample time to ponder it all as she prepares for this new adventure. Which I definitely hope won’t be a bad joke, and may indeed eve be able to provide her with a new perspective on the matter… [face_whistling]

    More coming right up! Thank you all, as always. @};-
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    By way of a heads-up, this entry is a bit longer than most: around 2300 words. Once again I thank @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and advice. @};-


    20.

    It is done. O sovereign Ashla, your mercy is great: the festival jewels are safe, but more importantly, Culture Minister Goldfleck-Straz is safe, and so are we. And yet I still have so many questions—or, rather, one large question…

    But later. For now I shall do my best to recount all that has happened.

    It was mid-morning when we docked in the Khorassani capital, called Khorassograd. (The Ashla alone knows why Humans are so pedestrian in their choice of place names; the capital of Mayno-Mayzee was Mayzopolis.) Following the instructions Culture Minister Goldfleck-Straz had provided in her transmission, we went first to the large temple outside town to retrieve the festival jewels. The Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina, they call it—it is one of the planet’s foremost historical sites, dating from the First Rakatan Period, and it is used nowadays chiefly as the venue of the culminating ceremonies of Khorassan’s annual Days of Love and Light festival. The jewels apparently belong to the regalia worn by the Queen of Love and Light and her court of dancers and attendants, and are kept in their own storage area in the temple’s lower levels. (We learned all this from a quick comb of local databanks before setting out.)

    The temple is a massive black stone structure with spear-like spires at each of its four corners. (It was not the temple from my vision during the hyperspace journey, as I quickly saw: the shape was wrong, and the surrounding terrain was wrong.) There was a security droid on duty, which opened the gigantic rune-carved doors for us once Rika supplied the access code.

    O gracious Ashla, few times before have I been in a place so active with your presence! How I could feel your spark and flow at every moment, crackling, twinging, overwashing my whole being! How the visions crowded around me—the ghostlike forms of lost friends and loved ones and even the slightest, most disconnected acquaintances pressing so closely around me that I could barely see where I was going, and as a result I still cannot reliably describe how the interior of the place looked (though later Lua said it was just the same plain black stone everywhere anyway). Short, bright pangs danced in my head all the while. Telfien seemed affected by the place too; she was unsteady as she walked.

    Once we came to the stairs leading up (apparently in order to get to the lower level one had to go up the altar stairs first, and then down the other side), both of us staggered and fell almost simultaneously. Fortunately it was not from too high up, but it left me at least so disoriented that I had to remain sitting for some moments, disregarding Glockel’s laughing rebuke of “Oh, honestly, you two!” as she went on ahead. (I don’t actually blame her; someone had to.) And that was when—O sovereign spirit, I can barely write of it—

    I turned and saw G. sitting beside me, clear as life, leaning toward me with concern. And this time he spoke to me—and I remember what he said: “Aw, darlin’, what’s the matter?”

    And I blinked, and he was gone.

    I’m not sure how long I sat there in a daze. It was the first time any of my apparitions had ever spoken to me, real words that I could hear. And once again he was so clear and lifelike—lir’Ashla’ka, could that possibly mean—

    How I wished I could have meditated on it further, there amid your million fiery sparks, O spirit of the universe! But there wasn’t time. The others soon found the jewels and took them out of their storage cabinet downstairs. (I felt rather bad for being so useless, especially after Telfien had recommended me to Glockel, but both of them insisted that it was all right; “it just a GREAT BIG BOX,” according to Lua.) They showed them to me: aurodium breastplates and necklaces set with delicate pink-white ultima pearls and small white solari crystals, and, most magnificent of all, a tiara set with a single, large blush-green solari crystal that fairly blazed with the Ashla’s own lightning. I recall the sparks that shot through me when I touched it; I thought I could even feel my own humble kreposkolite stone, hidden deep in my satchel, thrumming in resonance. Only for a moment, though: we had to be on our way. We locked the tiara and necklaces inside Rika for safekeeping, stashed some of the breastplates in my satchel and some more inside Telfien’s cloak, and started back toward town.

    Back aboard the Rose Evergreen, Rika locked the jewels in the ship’s safe, and Telfien and Glockel opened a comm channel to the culture minister’s private frequency, just as she had requested of us once everything had been safely retrieved. But there was no answer there, nor was there one at the regular frequency for the culture ministry. At last we hurried to the ministry offices—thankfully we were docked at the governmental complex, so they were not too far off.

    There was a barely functional secretary droid at the front desk that looked like he had taken a blaster shot. Rika did her best to arc-weld his frazzled circuits back together, while Telfien asked him if he had heard anything from Culture Minister Goldfleck-Straz. What he told us filled us with consternation: Goldfleck-Straz had been escorted away by Moff Waddsley and her guards just a few hours before. One of the guards shot him when he protested. Once Rika got his circuits more or less reconnected, he thanked us and announced his intention of heading to the on-site droid shop for further repairs. Lua walked there with him, just to be safe.

    We had to think for a moment about what to do next. We would be no match for the Imperial authorities—but it felt wrong simply to leave without trying to do anything to help the culture minister. At very least, though, we could try to find out more about where she was and why. The sector’s Imperial headquarters was back on Mayno-Mayzee, some three hundred klicks south of the capital; Glockel said she and Rika might be able to slice into their computer system if we moved closer.

    So we returned there, docked in an open field at a safe distance from the headquarters (a large domed building), and Glockel and Rika got to work. It took them just under two hours to enter the Imperial system, and another three-quarters of an hour to slice into the prisoner records—only to find that there was no record of an Ardyse Goldfleck-Straz anywhere in the system. Lua was worried that she had been terminated, but Telfien pointed out how unlikely that would be if the moff’s objective was to get her to reveal the location of the jewels. So Glockel continued rummaging in the computer system for clues. I remember how we were all hunched around her at the Rose Evergreen’s main terminal, eyes all squinting at the viewscreen’s white-blue glow for what felt like hours. Little by little she managed to pull up various pieces of information on the moff: her first name (Melvadora), her appointment calendar (full of upscale social events), her home address (in a posh suburb of Mayzopolis), and various routine files and records—including several payments to expensive fashion and wig boutiques on her official Imperial expense account. Still nothing about Goldfleck-Straz, however. Telfien offered to “consult the Mists”—I presume that meant performing one of her Findswoman’s meditations—but Glockel expressed the concern that there wouldn’t be enough time (even our joint meditations had taken upward of three hours). At last we decided to try our luck looking for clues at the moff’s own residence; we figured we had some time, as the appointment calendar had her away all evening at the “Vanderbleck Station Gala Mixer” (whatever that was). In the off chance it would come in handy, we downloaded all the information we found onto my datapad.

    We arrived in Moff Waddsley’s neighborhood close to sundown. Her house was one of those shoddy mass-produced mansions crowded with absurdly shaped spires and dormers—there had been neighborhoods full of them outside Wrils, too. Naturally we scanned the area from orbit first to ensure there were no security systems or anything to hinder us. There was one, it turned out, but after some investigation Rika found one third-floor dormer window on the house’s west side that was just out of reach of the electronic eye. We agreed that Telfien and I would go: Telfien because of the stealth and tracking techniques she knew as a Findswoman, and I because I had feet that could climb walls. (Logical, no?) Everyone else would remain aboard the Rose Evergreen and keep it ready for a swift departure if necessary.

    “If you can walk, you can climb,” my people always used to say. I suppose I am now living proof of that, though I barely know how I managed, given that it had been more than a decade and a half since these toe pads had gripped any kind of vertical surface. There were several false starts, more than several slips, and a terrible moment when Telfien’s respirator hose got tangled in my arm. We finally made it up to that window, but I shall go on record to say that that diminutive Gand was much heavier than she looked. (Her exoskeleton, no doubt, combined with all that respirator gear.)

    The window belonged to a large, luxurious dressing room. Apparently this Moff Waddsley fancied herself quite the fashion plate; a gigantic semicircular walk-in closet dominated one side of the room, a large and rather cluttered dressing table lined the other, and between the two stood a lighted display shelf full of wigs resting on mannequins. Mirrors were almost everywhere, covering much of the remaining wall space as well as some of the ceiling. We searched the room for some time but found nothing relating to the missing culture minister. At one point Telfien noticed something in the closet, on a rack of scarves, that she took out and looked at carefully—a long green sash with embroidered designs. “So this is where it went,” she said, pocketing it inside her cloak. (She explained everything later; it used to be part of her ceremonial attire and had been taken from her during the Imperial occupation of her planet, probably by stormtroopers while she was unconscious.)

    Telfien left the room to continue the search, and I was about to follow when one of the wigs caught my eye. It was clearly made of Lasat hair, the same color and texture as my own, though styled into an large, exaggerated cascade of ringlets that no self-respecting daughter of Lasan would even think of wearing. A dreadful thought filled my mind and was confirmed when I turned the wig over and read the label inside: TRISHÉ D’S WIG BOUTIQUE, WRILS, SVIVREN.

    I knew what I was going to do, and told Telfien to wait for me a moment. As the Ashla lived, no Imperial was going to have any part of Shulma Trilasha Orrelios as a trophy…

    I inhaled and clenched my fists, concentrating the sacred lightning within me. I struck my foot to propel it upward. Then I thrust out my hands to send it flying at those pretty, cascading ringlets, not stopping until each one of them was fried to a black crisp. It was eminently satisfying.

    That done, I joined Telfien in the hallway, and we continued our search. There really is not much to say besides that we used up a great deal of time searching and not finding, fearing all the while that the moff might turn up at any moment. (Though we did come across the security system controls in one of the spare rooms, and disabled them—that is, blasted them.) Sometimes Telfien seemed to have her eyes closed as she walked, with one hand extended queryingly before her; I wondered if that had something to do with her tracking techniques. I too was keeping my senses out for the distinctive ripples that sentient life sends through the Ashla.

    At long last we caught something and followed it up a narrow spiral staircase in one of the kitchen closets. There was a locked door at the top, at which we knocked. A middle-aged Human female voice answered: “You already know my answer, Mel.” “Not her but Telfien and Shulma, from Bonvika,” Telfien replied, at which the voice behind the door apologized that she couldn’t let us in—the door was locked on the outside. We simply blasted it, of course, and went inside.

    We found ourselves in a small, dingy servant’s room with no furnishings except a table, a chair, and a rather ratty sofa. A Human woman, probably equivalent in age to about fifty dust seasons, was sitting on the sofa and rose as we entered. Even for her species, she was not tall—but she certainly was quite distinctive looking, with short, spiky pink hair (a color I have never seen before on Humans), large silver ear-hoops, a crystal necklace, and a pantsuit of pearlescent blue-grayish material that would have met with Mama’s approval. “You got them, right?” she asked first, and we answered in the affirmative. “Brilliant. I’m ready to go when you are.”

    As quickly as we could, we made our way down the spiral stairs, through the kitchen, through the parlor and the library to the side entrance—only come face to face with a tall, haughty-faced Human woman in an excessively puffy electric-blue evening gown—Moff Waddsley herself, with two security droids in tow. “And where do you think you’re going, little Ardy Goldfleck?!” Goldfleck-Straz retorted with something, then Waddsley retorted with something, and so on back and forth till Waddsley said something like, “Never mind, go ahead. I’ll be back for you, sometime when your cute little bug and your big dumb beast aren’t around to protect you.”

    My blood boiled at this, of course, and in that moment I gladly would have thrown the full strength of the sacred lightning at her. But Waddsley was right, of course. Even if we had left with Goldfleck-Straz, there would have been nothing to stop the moff from coming back to give her more trouble later—no matter that the jewels were out of her reach. Nor would it actually have been wise to try anything in the presence of those security droids. We were stuck, it seemed.

    That was when Telfien spoke—not to Waddsley but to me: “The datapad. The expenses. Show her.”

    I understood. I took out the datapad and showed her the financial records Glockel had found while slicing into the Imperial systems back on the Rose Evergreen—explaining all the while, in the most genteel and civil tones possible for a big dumb beast, how delighted the Grand Moff would not be to learn that one of his sector governors was spending the Empire’s funds on dresses and wigs. And know he would, if Waddsley gave Goldfleck-Straz or the Khorassani government any trouble, about festival jewels or anything else, ever again.

    I swear Moff Waddsley turned four or five different shades of red within the space of as many seconds. She puffed and sniffed like an overheated bantha, eyes tearing up, fists balling up, lower lip quivering. Finally she sniveled at us to get lost. We were only too glad to oblige.

    So we are en route back to Khorassan now. Culture Minister Goldfleck-Straz is engaged in a cheerful game of galactic tiles with Lua, and the jewels from the temple remain securely locked in the safe. I can feel their ping and spark, and I think my focusing stone can too: it has been vibrating with the strangest, most haunting tone this entire trip.

    And all of this is giving me an idea, and once we arrive there is a favor I would like to ask of both Telfien and the culture minister…

    Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina, Days of Love and Light, Queen of Love and Light, jewels, etc.: Again, introduced in The Jewels of . . . WHAT?!

    “much heavier than she looked”: Zeb levels the same accusation at Kallus when carrying him out of the pit in “The Honorable Ones.”

    “by stormtroopers while she was unconscious”: This is exactly what happens at the end of Between the Porch and the Altar.

    “TRISHÉ D’S WIG BOUTIQUE, WRILS, SVIVREN”: See entry 7, entry 8, and Three Strands.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Great action and more teamwork with Shulma and Telfien -- [face_dancing] on the clearer indications of Zeb being "somewhere" :)
     
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  15. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Wow, what an eventful entry! There’s so much going on here—mystical temples, surprising visions, breaking and entering, greedy moffs.... and Action Hero Shulma! We always knew she had it in her, but here she gets a chance to put all of her strengths together: her Lasat climbing skills, her talent in the Ashla, her intellect, her dry wit. If the women of the Rose Evergreen didn’t realize before how incredible she is, they will now!

    What a treat to return to the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina, setting of the very clever and rollicking story “The Jewels of ...WHAT?!?” And we get to see exactly what happens when Two Mystics Walk Into a Force Nexus—:eek: How disconcerting it must have been for Shulma to have all the visions crowding in on her like that ,surrounded by apparitions. In a way, it reminds me of something out of a myth or fairytale, where the hero has to venture through the netherworld and must only look ahead even as she is beset by unquiet spirits. The closer she gets to the Heart of Mak-Gu-Fina, the more overwhelmed she and Telfien get, until they both stumble. And then her vision of Zeb, who not only appears, but speaks to her! (I like to think that since this is a Force ne us, there’s some sort of channel between them—perhaps Zeb is dreaming of her at that very moment[face_love])

    She doesn’t have time to ponder it, though, because it’s straight on to the Action-Adventure sequence! Minister Goldfleck-Straz has been kidnapped by the nefarious Moff Waddsley (Melvadora...snerk! You are the queen of pretentious names!) Glockel puts her mad slicer skills to use and finds out that the Moff will be at the Vanderbleck Station Gala Mixer (more pretentiousness :D The name reminds me of a combination of Vanderbeek and ooblek) The perfect time for the Ocean’s Eleven—er, ladies of the Rose Evergreen to investigate. And the Mission Impossible theme song starts to play in my head as Shulma scales the Moff’s McMansion carrying Telfien. In the process of searching for clues, they each find something precious of theirs—Telfien’s scarf and the wig made of Shulma’s hair. And what an immensely satisfying process it must have been for Shulma to crisp every tiny ringlet rather than let an Imperial have it!

    At last they find the minister, but, oh no! The Moff has returned from her pretentious social event, wearing what sounds like the most hideous 1980s prom gown imaginable (Hey, Mel, as long as you’re embezzling, why not buy something classy? :p) Not only is Waddsley greedy and tacky, she’s rude and stupid as well. “Where do you think you’re going, little Ardy Goldfleck?” Really? Did it not occur to you that you’re outnumbered and that “big dumb beast” could easily bash you and dump you in an alley somewhere? Shulma may be big, but she is no wise dumb; she understands Telfien’s suggestion instantly and I can just hear her as she very civilly, but in great detail, explains what they will do with the evidence of Waddsley’s fiscal misdeeds should she be any further trouble. Ooh, and the Moff turns out to be a sniveling coward as well—must be part of the job description.

    So, day saved thanks to all our brave and resourceful ladies! You go girls! Meanwhile, Shulma can still feel the Jewels pinging and sparking—and I have an idea what favor she might ask [face_thinking] Bravo on this jam-packed chapter! Can’t wait to see what’s next!
     
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  16. Vek Talis

    Vek Talis Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2018
    Wonderful update @Findswoman! Too much good stuff to nail down. But blackmailing a Moff? Pretty awesome. Glad it's all worked out and even happier Shulma had a very vivid vision of Zeb. Hopefully it won't be too long now before they're reunited. [face_mischief]
     
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much, as always! This was a really fun chapter to write; they do make a pretty good team, if I do say so myself. :D And some answers are definitely around the corner in re Zeb... [face_batting]
    Thanks so much! :) I’ve been looking forward to writing this scene for a while, with two quietly badass mystics teamed up and in action together. With Shulma’s various skills, she most certainly IS someone the RE crew is glad to have alongside them, as Telfien said, and they definitely can see it now.
    That is pretty much exactly the way I envisioned that scene of the crowding visions—there’s a scene like that in Ingmar Bergmann's film version of The Magic Flute where Tamino and Pamina (the prince and princess main characters) go through a scene like that as one of their trials, guided by the magic flute of the title. Given the way it affects them, it’s a good thing they have non-mystics with them who are not affected by such things and for whom the quest to get the jewels is actually pretty easy one! :p In a way, Shulma’s time in the temple is part of a different quest altogether, as we see from her vision of her husband. And I love LOVE the idea of Zeb dreaming of her at the same time! [face_love] (Part of me is envisioning a tiny vignette of that now… :D :zeb: )
    All the gals play a role in this mission! I couldn’t help it with the pretentious names surrounding a pretentious moff (who works for a pretentious Empire)—I’ll say too that the Potterverse has been a real inspiration here, with its Mundunguses and Nymphadoras. :D “Oobleck” was indeed one the the things I had in mind when naming the Vanderbleck Station Gala Mixer—that and a totally different early Dr. Seuss work, beginning with “Mrs. Van Bleck of the Newport Van Blecks…” (I won’t quote the rest, as it’s rather off-color. :p )
    Thanks! This was a really fun sequence to write; I had been really eager to get these gals in action for a while, and in particular I’ve had the wig-frying scene in my head for a very long time! :D I originally thought the finding of the wig and the sash would end up in a separate story, so I was extra chuffed to come up with a way to incorporate them in this one, especially given Shulma’s Svivren experiences earlier—she gets some small bit of closure this way.
    Waddsley is a bit of a piece of work, isn’t she? Kind of fun to write, in a way—unsavory without quite reaching Belphagor levels of unsavoriness, though I agree that unsavoriness of some kind (as well as being a sniveling coward) does seem to be part of the job description. She definitely underestimated her two alien interlocutors bigtime; it was fun having Shulma school her so thoroughly and civilly without having to resort to violence, though she definitely could have pulled a Belphagor on her has things escalated to that point. [face_devil] (I believe it was you who first suggested the blackmail idea, and it was the perfect thing, so thank you! :D )
    They did it! And your guess is probably right... you shall see more very soon. :) As always, thanks so much!
    Thanks so much, Vek! So glad you enjoyed this. :) I remember getting a little stuck at first in the scene where they confront the moff (or she confronts them) and gave Raissa to thank for helping me get unstuck; she was the one who suggested the blackmail as a possibility. As to how long... well, I’m afraid this is just chapter 20 out of 29 right now, so... :p All in good time, though. :D (The details of the reunion will likely get their own story.)

    Thanks again to all, and do stay tuned for more...
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    NB: As of this entry, I am going to a biweekly schedule, posting on Sundays and Thursdays, so my next post after this will be on... Valentine's Day! :D Then Sunday 2/17, then Thursday 2/21, and so on; I'm going to give this a try for at least a week or two and see how it goes. As always, I thank @Raissa Baiard for beta-reading. @};-


    21.

    We are on Khorassan now. As guests of the planetary government, we have been given accommodations at the finest hotel in Khorassograd (though Telfien still must stay in her quarters on the Rose Evergreen because of the ammonia). Yesterday evening the culture ministry hosted a reception in our honor. I noted that Telfien wore over her robes the sash that she had taken from Moff Waddsley’s closet, and for my own part I was glad of another chance to wear the lovely brocade dress Lua made for me. The others looked quite nice as well; Lua wore a beautifully tailored dark green suit, and Glockel’s dress had an embroidered bodice and numerous colorful ribbons. (Nor should I forget Rika, whose paint was touched up for the occasion.) It was a most pleasant evening, and we were greatly touched by the hospitality and kindness shown us by our Khorassani hosts. (As one older gentleman said with a shrug, “It’s the Love and Light spirit.”)

    Ardyse (as she has kindly invited us to call her) told us some of the history of her difficulties with Moff Waddsley. It turns out they were classmates at one of Khorassograd’s finest prep schools, and every summer they would go with a group of friends to the Days of Love and Light festival. They went separate ways after school: Melvadora (who has not given us leave to address her by her given name, but I don’t care) to the Imperial academy on Carida, and Ardyse to Khorassograd University, where she studied business administration and arts management. Both were successful in their careers; seven years ago Ardyse was appointed culture minister of Khorassan, and it was two years afterward that Melvadora was made governor of the Kanson-Wiss sector.

    Now, here is where things enter the realm of conjecture. As part of her duties as culture minister, Ardyse is coordinator of the Days of Love and Light and keeper of the jewels used in its ceremonies. She thus knows of their mystical properties, and those of the temple where the ceremonies take place, though she confesses she doesn’t fully understand them. But she has heard rumors that certain branches of the Imperial authority have an interest in anything that may have mystical properties of that type—and that would certainly explain Melvadora’s almost obsessive interest in the jewels, which she no doubt remembered from their festival visits together long ago. Naturally, Ardyse did not relish the idea of turning over her homeworld’s ancient treasures to the Empire—but since Bonvika the Hutt has long been an enthusiastic supporter and generous sponsor of the Days of Love and Light, Ardyse knew she could trust Bonvika’s agents (namely Telfien, Glockel, and Rika) to take the jewels into safekeeping and out of the Empire’s reach. It turns out—and she asked me to keep this a secret—there is also a set of decoy jewels, made out of regular quartz and freshwater pearls, that the culture minister keeps on hand in case anything happens to the originals. Thus Khorassan’s most famous festival will at least be able to go on.

    I have been thinking about our time in the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina, and of the sparks and currents and visions that filled the place: most especially the vision of my Zeblove who spoke to me, and how very alive he seemed in that moment. I wonder if Ardyse would allow me to visit the temple again, to see what other omens might bloom in such a place. Better yet, perhaps Telfien and I could go there together, to directly query the Ashla (or Mists, as she says) in a joint meditation—and that might finally bring an answer to the question that has been plaguing me all these years...

    I brought it up to Telfien earlier today. She seemed to be expecting me to, and naturally she immediately guessed what I wished to ask of the Ashla. (Ah, Shulma, you’re becoming predictable, aren’t you!) She readily agreed, though she warned me that such a meditation might be longer and more difficult than our previous ones. Apparently it is a tricky business meditating on whether someone is alive or dead, particularly when the being in question has been absent for so long: the mystical signature or presence by then is so attenuated that it may be spread out over a large portion of the universe, and as a result the sparks or wisps take longer to return to the one searching. Telfien asked if I had anything that belonged to my husband, which could at least act as a focal point for reuniting those sparks or wisps. I of course have his knife from the Honor Guard; she said that would do admirably. This evening we shall see Ardyse and ask her if we might visit the temple once more.

    * * *​

    Success! Ardyse has given her permission; she says we may use the access code we already have. We go tomorrow, at daybreak.

    “the Love and Light spirit”: I imagine the Khorassani ethic of hospitality and mutual kindness to be akin to the Aloha Spirit of Hawai‘i. The first time I heard of it was from a custom framer in Oakland, himself of Hawaiian origin, who had just gone above and beyond in fulfilling my framing order in some way. I thanked him for his generosity, and he said pretty much what the man at the reception says: “It’s just the Aloha Spirit.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh they're JUST about to discover something wonderful I can tell! [face_dancing] How lovely to have such a warm and welcoming time with the Khorissani after the recent harrowing adventures. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  20. Vek Talis

    Vek Talis Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2018
    Melvadora (who has not given us leave to address her by her given name, but I don’t care)
    :p

    Another excellent update. Can't wait to hear what the Ashla tells them in the Temple of Aqua-Fina.
     
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  21. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    What a lovely interlude for Shulma and the other ladies of the Rose Evergreen: luxurious accommodations, an official reception and effusive hospitality! It’s well deserved and a pleasant respite for all of them, but especially for Shulma and Lua who have so recently lost everything—again. It’s interesting to hear them story of Ardyse and Melvadora (like Shulma, I shall call her that whether she approves or not :D). What a contrast between the two women. Though they come from similar backgrounds and grew up together, and though both of them have rather unique styles and eventually went into careers in the public sector, they couldn’t be more different. Ardyse’s style is more artistic and eclectic, and it seems that she has chosen her career out of sincere love of the arts and respect for the traditions of her world. You can tell that she takes the festival and the Spirit of Light and Love to,heart. Melvadora, on the other hand—well, perhaps she went into government with the best of intentions (we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt) but it sounds like it quickly became more about power, fame and credits—and a means of supporting her ostentatious style. (Nothing against Trishé as an artist or Shulma’s hair, but that wig sounded completely over the top :p) Mel is willing to sell out one of the biggest of her world’s traditions to get ahead in the Empire. :mad:

    Shulma’s idea—yep, I had an idea where she was headed with it! I don’t know that she’s predictable, per se. I think the same idea must have occurred to Telfien, though naturally she’d never be the first one to bring it up. I’m not surprised that Ardyse was amenable to the suggestion, out of her respect for her rescuers and the Spirit of Light and Love. I’m sure that given the strength of the visions they’ve already experienced just being in the Temple that a focused joint meditation will produce some impressive results!

    Looking forward to seeing what happens for our two mystics! [face_love]
     
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  22. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I think you're right about that! ;) And they definitely couldn't have a warmer reception and thank-you after all those adventures (and after losing home and livelihood yet again). That's the Love and Light Spirit for you! :D

    Yes, I too stick my tongue out in her general direction! :p

    Soon and very soon, and many thanks as always! ;)

    Thanks! Agreed that they definitely deserved this after all that's happened; it's always nice to know that you're appreciated and to feel that gratitude coming your way. Which are things the Khorassani are very good at, because those things, too, are part of the Love and Light Spirit!

    That is pretty much exactly it for these two. I keep coming back to that "mismatched friendships" theme in my stories, it seems, though Ardyse and Melvadora are an example of what can happen when mismatched friendships go wrong. And probably each of them, in her own way, feel that their friendship went wrong and wish it hadn't happened that way. If only silly, idealistic little Ardy had seen sense and joined up with the Empire! If only Mel hadn't let power and credits go to her head! (And yes, indeed, the wig was meant to be completely over the top—completely over the top and exceedingly un-Lasat. But consistent with the aesthetic of the puffy electric-blue evening dress... :p )

    Anyone at this point who has knows anything about Shulma's story is going to know that she's anxious to hear whatever news she can of her husband. Telfien may be secretive and reticent and impassive, but she's a good friend with a good heart under it all and truly does want to help Shulma, because she too knows what it's like to be displaced from someone she loves.

    As to how the joint meditation will go in that immensely powerful venue, well, that chapter is right around the corner! [face_whistling] To all of you, thanks as always for the readership, comments, and support. :)
     
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  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is another longer-than-usual entry, and for this one I am pleased to have the help and collaboration of an awesome guest writer. It will be clear where the guest-written portion of the entry begins; perhaps you will be able to guess who wrote it, and who the characters (also OCs) might be. ;)


    22.

    O ASHLA SOVEREIGN AND SUBLIME O SPIRIT BEYOND ALL SPIRITS what is this you have told me? Can it be, can it really be?

    But it must be—for you tell no lies, O Life of the universe—

    You, my love, my mate, my mighty bristlecone—crown of all Lasan’s warriors and her prophesied Last Warrior—oh, do I dare write it?

    Oh, how my whole being is a storm! Thunder and lightning fill me! My head—and oh, my currents—

    But I must not let them overcome me now. I must collect myself and tell all.

    Day was just dawning as Telfien and I arrived at the Temple of Mak-Gu-Fina. Rika was not with us this time but had the loaded the security code onto a data chip for us beforehand, which we presented to the security droid for access. Once again the Ashla twinged and sparked all about me in constant activity; once again the visions and ghosts crowded and hounded me. I am almost surprised I made it to the top of the altar stairs without stumbling.

    The altar itself was not large: a simple stone cube about a half meter on each side, sitting at the center of a large, flat, equally simple stone surface. The Ashla seemed to move more calmly there for some reason—thankfully, as the rapidly shifting visions were becoming oppressive. We positioned ourselves on either side of the stone cube, facing each other, and with our focusing objects set before us; Telfien had me place G.’s knife atop the cube, in its center. I chalked the Flames of Contemplation in a circle around us, this time adding the Four Protecting Cloaks on each of the four sides. Telfien, meanwhile, opened the lacquer box sitting before her—a music box that filled the vaulted space with eerily sparkling melody.

    O merciful Ashla, I thought that this time I would be prepared—I thought this time I knew what to do and how everything would go. But nothing went as before. This time the images and visions did not filter in gently, as they did the first two times. Instead, they overwhelmed me like a gigantic wave, and they were all swirled together so that I could not tell which of them originated with me, which with Telfien, and which elsewhere. G. morphing into a Gand morphing into Moff Belphagor into who knew whom else…

    The sparks of my answer (Telfien had taught me how to identify them) were there, caught up in it all, near-imperceptible in the mad rush. Whether or not they were the right sparks I could not yet tell, but they were there. I strained with every wisp of my powers to catch them, but too often the flood of visions would wash over me again, buffeting them from my grasp and swallowing them back up, and I would be forced to strain and search for them once again—and again and again. For hours and hours and hours I battled that mystical maelstrom to grasp at those sparks—and yet those that I held formed no image, no answer. I felt tears, I felt gasps, I felt cries of pain. The ache in my head grew, flashing lights danced in my eyes. Through it all I still heard the music box, now joined by another high-pitched metallic droning sound. Was it the knife? My stone? Both?

    All went dark. I felt myself collapse in exhaustion against the stone cube, dissolving in tears of failure and guilt. Surely I had ruined the meditation, and we would need to begin the whole lengthy process again. One of my hands gripped my focusing stone till its sharp edges dug into me. The other grasped upward toward the knife simply because it needed something to grasp—

    —and as soon as I touched it was when I saw him, once again clear and lifelike and magnificent. But not alone: there were several others around him, though no one I recognized. There were two women, strong, queenly leaders whose heads were crowned with graceful tentacles or tails, though of different shapes and colors. There were several Humans, male and female, various ages. An older man in armor with a bald head, a young woman in armor with brightly colored hair of blue and orange. A bearded man with a sword made of light; a boy with a sword made of light, who looked up at the bearded man as to a teacher and at my love as to an older brother. A droid—two droids, one short and one tall. And still others appeared around them, shining in and out like twinkling stars: friends, allies, brothers- and sisters-in-arms. And the music still sounded.

    And he spoke to me: “Here I am, darlin’.”

    He held out his hand to me, and I placed mine in his—

    —and just then all the sacred lightnings burst forth at once in a whitegold blaze and the Ashla itself and the entire universe proclaimed YES—YES HE IS—YES HE LIVES and in return my whole being said YES and my whole being was YES—Ai rrhu’khu’ Ashla’ka lira y-khi rrhava—

    I came to in my bunk on the Rose Evergreen, my head filled with blinding pain and my heart with mortal ecstasy. I am still there now. My currents still rage within me; the lightnings assail me on all sides. Welcome back, vision shock, my old friend...

    But now the purpose of my existence is to find you, my mighty bristlecone, my Gara z e b

    [The writing trails off here, and another hand begins.]

    My Friend Shulma, please forgive me for intruding on your privacy. Our friend Telfien gave me your journal in the hopes that I might find in it some clues to what ails you. With the aid of a translation program, I have been able to somewhat decipher your language and have skimmed through much of your writing. You have been through much, my friend.

    I have been able to stabilize your fever, and heal the injuries to your hands, but there is great discord surrounding your Force song, your presence in the Ashla, as you call it here in this journal. It is going to require some deep mental delving to calm it, I think. I believe I can do it, though I have never really done something quite like this. I will be handing this journal off to my—well, were I still a Jedi, he would be called a Padawan. I find myself using that term often, but ‘apprentice’ is probably the correct (and safer) word for what my cousin’s son is to me. He will be taking my dictation as I continue.

    Let us hope, for both our sakes, friend, that we emerge unscathed from this.

    [Handwriting changes.]

    On my initial examination, the patient presented with a high fever, body tremors, and was unresponsive to her name being called. Ay, listen to me, I sound like I am dictating to a droid in the Temple Medical wing, old habits resurface at odd times.

    Shulma did react, however, when she was touched. She mumbled, and shouted, phrases in what I assume was Lasat. Then she swung a hand towards me, as if swatting away an insect. Thank the Stars Above I am nimble enough to move when the Force warns me, or I would have been knocked head over tail. Her people are obviously quite strong.

    A Force soothing, combined with a mild sedative that works well for similar species (administered via hypospray) was able to calm her physically. I was able to heal the small cuts on her hands and bring down the fever by tapping into and influencing her body systems directly.

    Her song—her presence in the Force—however, remains extremely turbulent.

    From what I have learned from Telfien and been able to translate from the journal, Shulma was engaged in a ritual to locate her husband. The ritual resulted in intense, overwhelming visions. They seem to be continuing to overwhelm her even now. I am going to attempt to reach her mind, and perhaps together we can sort through and calm the discord.

    (She is taking a seat in a chair by the patient's bedside, holding her kyber crystal in one hand and resting her other hand on the patient's head.)

    So much chaos here, it is causing her physical pain. There are so many, many notes. They clash and jumble together, difficult to differentiate. I am having trouble touching her mind directly, there is too much noise.

    Though… If I focus on a particular tone… I can see accompanying images. People, places, things that may be important, but there are just too many to be taken in all at once.

    This one, a person, a human adolescent. Hm, interesting, if I focus on that note deeply, it becomes a full chord, even a snatch of a song—of the boy's Force presence. It’s a strong one, he is Force sensitive. Interesting, but not particularly useful to you right now, Shulma, my friend. Perhaps if I try to quiet this note. Shh, peace…

    It’s working. That note has faded, it is not blaring quite so loudly. If I can lower it further… Ah, good, it’s gone. Let’s try another one. Golden orbs, faceted, ah, it’s Telfien, at the edge of a grove of trees. Fade now, shh...

    This seems to be working, I have to touch each note, calm it, turn it down so that it fades into the Force's quiet symphony again.

    This may take some time. Perhaps multiple sessions of work like this.

    Ah, I know this song. A friend I have not seen in person for many years, though I have spoken with her more recently. Ah, If your beloved is near her, Shulma, he will face danger, but he will survive just about anything. The Force protects that woman fiercely.

    (My mother's cousin has been quiet for over an hour now, save for occasional humming or quiet murmurs of song that I cannot hear clearly. She tends to hum like that when focused on something in the Force. Though, to be honest, I do it too, it is difficult not to sing along when the Force is filling you with songs.)

    (Another hour has passed.)

    I think I have cleared as many of the stray notes as I can right now.

    (She sighs. She sounds exhausted.)

    I believe I am beginning to hear her own song, it is not so buried anymore. Thank the Stars, the Force, and the Ashla, she is still in there. Shh, rest now, my friend.

    She is sleeping peacefully, now. Come, Candun, let’s let her rest. Ay, I need some rest. She’s going to need some food and drink when she wakes, her body has been through a lot. Let’s go tell her friends. Oy, quit writing and move your tail, Padawan, I need a hand, or I’m going to fall over.

    (Notes end.)

    [The other hands end here.]

    “her prophesied Last Warrior”: See the prophecy that Shulma recalls at the end of chapter 1 of Romance among the Stones, after Zeb nearly falls from the Warrior: “the last warrior to scale the Warrior is the last warrior of Lasan.”

    “my whole being said YES and my whole being was YES”: Just a little bit of an homage to the famous words at the very end of James Joyce’s Ulysses: “yes I said yes I will Yes.” Though in no way do I mean by this to suggest that Zeb and Shulma are in any way like Leopold and Molly Bloom (other than being, respectively, male and female). :p
     
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] That was EXQUISITE! And I too am saying YES, YES, YES! [face_love] [face_love]
     
  25. TheRynJedi

    TheRynJedi Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2018
    He lives, she has seen him!
    Now she just needs to survive this illness and she can start searching for him. Hopefully her new friends can help her.