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Saga - PT Light of Lasan (pre-Rebels; Zeb/OC romance; Lasan Series)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Super duper. I adore reading Zeb's reactions: his righteous overflowing indignation and his sweet, loving attentiveness. :D Yhazi is such a tease. ;) I am so happy, though, I think she has a plan regarding the betrothal stone. [face_thinking]
     
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  2. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    This was such a sweet chapter; though Shulma is definitely under the weather, it's a much-needed moment of rest and support for her as her friends and loved ones come together to help. (I'm very curious what Yhazi plans to do with that stone fragment...) Zeb's reactions were so very him, and it's really cathartic to see him outraged on Shulma's behalf -- though better still that he's able to calm his temper to soothe her when he sees that she needs that more right now. [face_love] Loved that she's lulled off to sleep by his voice as he's just trying to figure out what all of these too-many-syllable prophecy words are even supposed to mean.

    (Also, I think I laughed out loud at Zeb and Ormgar's oh-so-awkward meeting. :p)
     
  3. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Poor Zeb! What a news to come home to! He isn't expect poor Shulma to be stricken with such a severe affliction. But he does the right thing and goes straight to her house. Of course, he has to get past Dad to see her, but Mom has his back. And we all know it's really Mom who has the last word.

    [face_laugh] Yhazi is such a teaser. She just loves to let them have it! But in a way, she's a real blessing to Shulma. Yhazi reminds her to find joy in each day, and not just study, study, study all the time.

    FWIW, I totally got the St. Teresa reference there. Good old Catholic school upbringing. :p I love the idea of him reading to her; my own OCs have that same way of helping each other out. And his stumbling over the words is endearing. Ashla love him, the boy's trying the best he can. [face_love]

    Awwwww. So sweet! They are so twitter patted. I love how even though he is a soldier, he still has the heart of a lover. He can be strong and gentle at the same time. He has a tremendous depth to his heart, which of course is something that Shulma knows all about, and loves him for.
     
  4. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh! This continues to be such a lovely story. [face_love]

    These dears! They really are stuck in a rut of their duties and unforeseen circumstances not quite alligning to let them be everything they necessarily want to be as a couple. But the love and desire is certainly there, and with that everything else will eventually fall into place. [face_love]

    Bwaha! I loved just how relatably normal this was! With the stern, gruff father who's side eying his daughter's love interest, and -

    - the wife and mother who isn't having any of THAT well meaning nonsense. :p After all, it wasn't too long ago that he was that young man being stared down himself!

    I don't know if I mentioned it before, too, but I love your names for Shulma's parents - and all your Lasat OCs, really. :)

    Aw! I loved the romanticism of young love here. It's an intiment moment, being welcomed into Shulma's private abode, and Zeb really is acting like a young man rightly love struck around his lady love. Even he was waxing poetic worthy of Shulma's texts there! Quite a few of his thoughts ran the line of a fiance trying not to get too far ahead of himself, but he certainly conducted himself with honor. [face_love]

    I really enjoyed their dialogue here and throughout this piece. Shulma understandably can't handle any more stress or ruckuss, while Zeb is also quite understandably agrivated to find Shulma in this state and wants to fix it! But, as always, they meet in the middle for each other.

    Yhazi is a blessing! [face_rofl] I just adore that she called Zeb 'Senior Lieutenant Stripes' where he could hear her. :p

    Amen to that! :mad: Zeb is just saying what we all want to say!! And I'm glad that he isn't having Shulma's demuring to put this on her shoulders! But again, his righteous indignation not what she needs here in the moment and he calms down to realize that. (Though, later . . . [face_whistling] [face_mischief])

    And there is Yhazi again - being both an unflinching ally for Shulma and also the breath of fresh comedic relief that the situation needs to be lightened. She knows just what she's on about, and her stalwart affection really shows. [face_love]

    [face_laugh] [face_whistling]

    [face_rofl] I just ADORED the banter here! [face_love]

    That was my first thought too. But Shulma has impeccable tastes. In more ways than one! [face_love]

    Oh! [face_love] This was such a dear moment, him reading to her. On top of really juxtaposing just how earthy and literal Zeb is to Shulma's more spiritual pursuits, the love he shows through his effort, as well as Shulma appreciating his effort more than any technique-perfect reading just warmed my heart. [face_love]

    [face_rofl] [face_love] Honest to goodness, I was stuck trying to find an ajective for orange in my OTP story last week and this line popped to mind while I grumbled my way through a thesaurus! Oh, you gotta love an artist's flair for purple prose . . . :p

    Yhazi to the rescue again! I cant wait to see what she and Rishla have planned together. [face_thinking]

    Again, this was a wonderful moment full of so many fantastic, varrying emotions and character moments. I loved every word, and truly look forward to more, as always. [face_love] =D=
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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  5. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Playing catch-up...

    Part three

    Poor Shulma—stressed, overworked and without her dear Zeb—plagued by nightmares of failure and trying to keep it all inside. She’s so self critical to think that Chava would dismiss her fears. Yes, one shouldn’t let ones fears get in the way, but often confiding those fears and discussing them is the first step in banishing them. I doubt someone as compassionate and wise as Chava would simply, pooh-pooh them, and perhaps she could help Shulma see how she’s catastrophizing her fears of disgracing the Academy and the Ashla itself.

    Then, while she’s in the midst of all this inner turmoil, the consistory committee comes to evaluate her. Oh yes, there’s a familiar name there indeed, and now we see where Porfozald got all his charm. Like the 80’s PSAs, he could say “I learned it from watching you, Dad!” Wow, Rufozald is an even nastier piece of work than his son!
    No wonder Shulma feels this way and no wonder she, already nervous as she is, falters under his scrutiny. Chava and Shaman Moshvati are kind and constructive with their comments, but not old Rufo (May I call him Rufo? Never mind, I will anyway :D) First, He damns her with faint praise as a “pretty chanter”, then paints her as a flight female distracted by a “shiny toy”, her betrothal stone. Grrrr... :mad: And then Rufo outdoes even his horrible, slimy son, breaking Shulma’s stone accidentally-on-purpose (because as awful as Porfy’s actions were, they were more stupidly, obliviously selfish and ill-considered than actually malicious. Which is not an excuse...)

    I know I already said “poor Shulma”, and I meant it, but here—I wish I could reach into the story, hug her, and tell her it’s not her fault! Rufo is a creep of the highest order; she could have had every note and movement perfect and he still would have found a reason to belittle her and break her precious stone. But I understand how easy it is to blame oneself for things. Thank goodness for her friends. I hope between Chava and Zeb, Rufo will get his comeuppance the way his son did!

    Part four

    Zeb returns just in time, and as soon as Rishla gives him the news about Shulma, he’s off like a shot—not that I would have expected any less from him!

    Papa Trilasha’s a real charmer, isn’t he? Fortunately, it seems like Yokheva’s on Zeb’s side as well as Rishla and Yhazi (and it’s cool to see Yhazi here as not the flighty, flirty best friend, but a calm and competent healer). It’s cute to see how nervous Zeb is to be in Shulma’s, y’know, bedroom, where she, y’know, sleeps and wears nightgowns ;) and it’s sweet how concerned he is for her. His concern takes a Zeb-like tack as he demands to know what’s wrong (so he can fix it, probably by bashing something), and he’s hurt when she pulls back. He really just wants to take care of her; when Shulma reluctantly tells him, he reacts just about as well as you might expect. If Yhazi hadn’t interrupted to see what was gettin Shulma’s currents so worked up, he might have gone off to do some shamanic bashing! (And Yhazi is so much fun here with her little teases about “what have you been doing? No, wait...” and the Boganomicon)

    I love seeing Zeb reading prophecy to Shulma to calm her, because only for his beloved would he suffer through poetry and that fancy stuff and deal with words like ineffable and transverberate Little does he realize he’s reading about his future self and his companions (and I recognize every one of those brightly colored stars!) It relaxes Shulma to sleep and even calms Zeb’s urge to pound Rufo’s worthless posterior—but love will do that!

    As always, I love reading about these two. Shulma is definitely in my head and heart-canon for our favorite purple lug! Keep the purple prose coming!
     
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Many thanks as always to all my readers, and I'm sorry these have taken me so long. @};-

    Thanks so much, as always! :) I really enjoyed writing this chapter from Zeb's viewpoint, the previous ones having been written mainly from Shulma's (not that I don't also love writing from her point of view). His quick emotional transitions are so much a part of his character and made for a fun writing challenge. And I do believe you may be onto something about Yhazi... ')

    Thank you so much, as always! Shulma's worked herself up to a point where literally the only way she can (or feels she can) get any rest from everything she has to do is by being laid low by illness, and it's the loving efforts of her family, friends, and fiancé that ultimately help that time really be rest for her. I figured Zeb's extremely strong sense of right and honor would naturally lead to his being a little protective and righteously indignant, but at root his love for her is what's motivating the the protectiveness and indignation. I have @Raissa Baiard to thank for suggesting that he read to her to calm her—I remember being kind of stuck with this scene when first writing it, and that recommendation by her was not only what unstuck it but also so much fun to write—such a juxtaposition for Zeb! :D

    Thanks—that was a lot of fun to write, too! I'm hoping I can do more with the dynamic between Zeb and his fiancée's parents at some point; I've long been fascinated by "in-law" (or "prospective in-law") dynamics of that sort. My thinking is that much of Ormgar's protectiveness at this point is connected to the fact that his daughter is sick; most other times he'd probably take a more "enh, what're ya gonna do?" kind of attitude toward a visit from her fiancé. See more below on that...

    It is, indeed! ;) See above about Ormgar; I think, in a way, he thinks he's just doing his part to protect and take care of Shulma while she's sick. But Yokheva has a different take on the situation, and sees it as a chance to give her daughter a different kind of care. <3

    Exactly my thinking—she's the perfect foil to Shulma's workaholic tendencies, and Shulma knows it, too. :)

    I have to admit, some of those early female Christian mystics like Teresa and Hildegard are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, because my own tradition unfortunately has almost nothing similar. And your OCs, as always, are a model to us all as we craft our own—that mutual urge to help each other out is one thing I've really admired about Blue and Bree, especially now in "The General's Wife" (which I know I have to catch up on). [face_love] Zeb's a bit out of his element with the fancy, poetic prophecy writing, but he doesn't do anything half-heartedly, especially not when the people he cares for are concerned. I've enjoyed exploring that aspect of him in my stories about him.

    Aw, thanks so much! Zeb's semi-hidden inner depth is a large part of what draws me to him; it's something I've really loved exploring in the realm of fanfic in some small way, and given that you're one of this board's best writers of loving relationships I'm extra tickled that you're enjoying the results! @};- Many thanks once again.

    Thank you so much, as always, and I'm so glad you're continuing to enjoy! :)

    Yep, it's one thing after another for both of them, and hanging it over it all is that dark feeling that any downtime taken now will catch up to you later! But as you say, it's also just a matter of time, too—they'll have their chance to be together, even if it's not quite in the way originally hoped for.

    Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed Shulma's parents! I would love to do more with them sometime, especially in terms of exploring that "in-laws" dynamic mentioned earlier. Again, Ormgar is in a way just doing what he thinks is necessary to protect his daughter and take care of her during her illness, but Yokheva sees it differently—very differently.

    Thank you! I have always loved coming up with characters' names. Yokheva was inspired by Yokheved/Jochebed, the biblical mother of Moses. Ormgar was a name I thought sounded kind of grim and miner-ish, suitable for someone who spends a lot of time underground; I had already named one of Shulma's brothers Chornogar ("black mountain" in Ukrainian and I think some other Slavic languages too; also, I believe it's what the Ukrainians call Montenegro), so it was pretty easy to transfer the name suffix per our fanon Lasat custom. :)

    Glad you enjoyed this! It was a fun dynamic to write the pull between desire and honorable behavior in this scene, and of course part of the challenge was to try to get across those feelings of desire in a tasteful way and in a way appropriate to the character. Romance writing gets a bad rap in some quarters, but I have to say, it's provided me with some really thought-provoking ways to challenge myself and my own writing!

    I've always enjoyed reading "meeting in the middle" types of relationships, and that has definitely worked out to be an important aspect of this one. It takes Zeb a bit to see that this kind of very vehement, protective care—the kind that's his first impulse to give—is not the most called-for thing at this moment. Though Shulma knows him well enough to know that that's one of the ways he shows his love for her. <3

    Isn't she, though? :D She's bold that way, for sure! (And Zeb is man enough to take it. :p )

    Oh, we definitely all do want Rufozald Marballees to get his comeuppance, and that he will, you shall see! ;)

    Under Yhazi's teasy, flighty nature there's a true-hearted, caring friend, and even the teasing is ultimately a way of showing how much she cares for Shulma—and how much she (Yhazi) admires the love between Shulma and Zeb.

    Well, he is! :p

    Thanks! I had a great time writing this and giving Shulma a moment of repartee with her friend—their friendship is as important to the story as is her romance with Zeb. And Shulma's illness hasn't taken away her own sense of humor!

    Yep, can’t go wrong with Osthi of Feldspar Falls and her prophecies about the Warrior, the Child, the Fool... and the Seer! :D

    Glad you enjoyed this! That was exactly the juxtaposition that I was exploring there (and having loads of fun with, if I do say so myself). His love of her leads him to cross into this other, unfamiliar world with her, and sensing that kind of love from him is a large part of what calms her and gets her back into a natural, untroubled sleep.

    Hah! Well, "purple prose" has become a bit of a fanfic specialty of mine, I guess! :p And some of those color words, especially the "mixed" ones like "orange," can be notoriously difficult to express poetically. (Though if it helps, I know I've seen "sunfruit" used as a GFFA synonym for "orange" in other stories on these boards.)

    Oh, very soon you shall! :D

    Thank you, as always; that means a lot to me coming from you. <3

    Nerves and stress can definitely do that to a person—that is, work them up to the point where they begin doubting even the people who care for them most. I've been there—really, all of Shulma's self-doubt and self-criticism is based on things I've felt at one time or another and still sometimes do feel.

    Yes, Profozald very likely did indeed learn it all from watching his dad. And unfortunately, it only takes one bad apple to ruin a batch of otherwise good, kindly, supportive apples like Chava and Shaman Movshati and create that kind of uncomfortable, nerve-wracking atmosphere. And that would have been the case even if Rufo had just stopped at backhanded criticisms and hadn't gone on to break the betrothal stone. The fact that he did do that, maliciously and not at all by accident, was what pushed Shulma from the realm of plain old discomfort and nerves into the realm of vision shock—Zeb wasn't wrong in saying that he (Rufo) did this to her.

    I’ve definitely been in that same place with self-blame; it can be so easy to fall into that trap even when dealing with someone as clearly creepy and mean as Rufo. And when one has those feelings, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that makes such a difference as the support and care of one’s friends. Shulma’s friends, fiancé, and mentor are most definitely looking out for her, and thanks to their care Rufo will most definitely get his comeuppance very soon!

    Me neither! He certainly came in the nick of time (though, again, perhaps the Ashla doesn’t do coincidences).

    Yes, Ormgar is outnumbered, for sure. :p Of course, again, he sees his protectiveness as being the best way to take care of Shulma right now—just as Zeb, at first, sees his righteous indignation as the way to avenge her and right the wrongs that have happened to her. So they kind of have some foundational commonalities, I guess! Yhazi definitely came in at the right time there, and she does indeed know her stuff very well where both healing and her best friend are concerned. And she knows where to inject a little humor and sunshine in a stressful situation, too! (The Boganomicon was just one of those “just couldn’t resist” little touches... hey, maybe I should put it in the Lasat Fanon Post!).

    I have you to thank for the whole idea of his doing that—it was absolutely perfect and made for such a fun juxtaposition to write, as well as a way to get in a little hint of actual foreshadowing and prophecy relevant to these two themselves! ;) Of course Shulma loves hearing his deep voice, but she also (especially) loves the way he goes the extra mile for her and “meets her halfway”; it means so much to her that she can depend on that kind of love at a time of stress and illness. It’s such a Zeb thing to do to go that extra mile for those he cares for.

    Thank you so much, as always; that compliment means a lot to me coming from you, and I am glad you are enjoying these two as much as I am enjoying writing them! More purple prose to come anon... :zeb: @};-
     
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  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Five

    Rrhu’karabast’aka!

    Shulma sprang out of bed and began dressing as quickly as she could. Sunlight was now pouring relentlessly through her window, and by this time of day she was usually already at the Academy, absorbed in her studies. If she didn't get a move on, she would not be able to get in a full day's worth of studying—nor would she have time to properly rehearse her chants before her second run-through with the Consistory members, which was scheduled for that afternoon. Her reward for resting and recovering was nothing but more stress—all because she had let herself succumb to that stupid vision shock the first time.

    But what else could she do? Once dressed, she scurried frantically about the room collecting jewelry, toiletries, and study materials. She was in the process of cramming books from her desk into her satchel when Rishla burst in and took her by the shoulders.

    “Shulma! What in the Ashla’s name are you doing?!” She felt Shulma’s wrist for her pulse. “Akh kara basta, your heart’s racing again! You need to calm down or your currents are going to get all worked back up!”

    “Rishla, I can’t!” Shulma pulled free of her friend’s grip. “It’s almost 0830 and I’ve lost almost two whole days and I still haven’t gotten to the end of the Sixth Tractate and I need enough time to practice the Storm Solstice ritual before the Consistory shamans visit me this afternoon! And I still need to do my hair!”

    “Look, don’t worry about any of that! You’ll be absolutely fine. The main thing now is to keep your currents calm. You don’t want to get knocked out by those storm visions again, do you?”

    “No, but—”

    “All right, then! Now sit down.” Rishla guided her friend back to the bed and coaxed her into a sitting position. “I’ll do your hair for you.”

    Shulma had no choice but to comply. Rishla was right about her Ashla currents, of course; the last thing she needed now was another attack of vision shock, with both Storm Solstice and the First Degree examination looming so close. She breathed deeply as Rishla began to brush out her hair. It was a strangely relaxing sensation, and it put her in mind of how her mother used to do the same when she was just a kit.

    “So,” Rishla said as she began to twine Shulma’s hair at the sides. “Yhazi tells me that Zeb came to visit you the other night.”

    “Yes, he did.” Shulma smiled at the memory of that visit: his warm closeness as he bent over to rub the kamphra water on her temples...

    “That was so sweet of him.”

    “Yes, it was.” His deep voice reading those beautiful, mystical words to her—even if he did stumble over some of them...

    “You are so blessed to have him, Shulma.” Rishla sighed dreamily as she slid a hairpin into place. “I just hope that someday I’ll have someone to love me like that.”

    “You will, Rishla, you will.” Shulma’s eyes wandered to the bedside table, to the book Zeb had been reading to her. It lay at a weirdly cantilevered angle off the edge of the table, with some hairpins and a crushed throat lozenge underneath. No doubt he had slammed it down in a huff, the sweet hothead. But something was missing: the piece of red-purple stone, the remains of the betrothal stone, was no longer there.

    Shulma found herself becoming nervous again, even despite the calming effect of Rishla’s ministrations with her hair. She scanned the table and the surrounding area for the shard of stone, but it was nowhere to be seen. Had Zeb taken it with him? Had it fallen on the floor? Was it under something else? That was probably all it was. She drew another deep breath in an attempt to compose her Ashla currents before Rishla could sense that they had been ruffled yet again.

    “There! All done!” announced Rishla as she fastened the customary shamanic ring-medallion atop Shulma’s head. “You look lovely, as always. Now let’s get going before it gets too late.”

    She helped Shulma to her feet, gave her her satchel from her desk chair, and began nudging her toward the door. Shulma took one more longing glance back at the bedside table. It was a shame to lose the stone, but Rishla was right: there really was no time to hunt for it now—not if she wanted to get any studying done.

    They hurried downstairs together. It was quiet in the house; Shulma’s parents had both long since left for work. She felt a pang of sadness at not being able to kiss them goodbye as usual. But, once again, there was no time to linger, and the two young women were soon walking arm in arm through Flowstone Vale to the Mount Straga footpath.

    “So,” Rishla asked after they were out of the village. “Is Zeb walking you home again today?”

    “He always does.” Shulma felt warmth in her face as she thought ahead to her favorite time of the day: the leisurely stroll amid the flower-studded slopes, leaning on the shoulder of her betrothed, with the afternoon sun pouring down...

    “I guess his commanding officers don’t mind?”

    “I guess not.”

    “Oh, it’s so lovely that he does that!”

    “Yes, but Rishla…”

    “He loves you so much!

    “Rishla…”

    “What?”

    “You have a lot to say about Zeb this morning. What is this all about?”

    Well…” Rishla smirked slightly as she drew the word out. “When I came to relieve Yhazi the other night, she, er, gave me some advice.”

    “Oh, did she?” Shulma cocked her head. She was fairly sure she knew where this was leading.

    “Yes. ‘All right, Rishla,’ she said to me, ‘If her currents get worked up again, just start talking to her about her stripey soldierboy. It’ll calm her right down.’” Rishla turned with an even bigger smirk toward her friend. “And what do you know, it worked, if I do say so myself!”

    Stripey soldierboy?! Shulma blushed and turned away, feeling her face grow warm through the tips of her ears—and then, despite herself, burst out laughing. Dear old Yhazi! That was just the sort of thing she would say, wasn’t it?

    “Yes, it worked,” she smiled, once her laughter had died down. “Each time.”

    * * *

    Once again Shulma spent the day confined in her study chamber, trying desperately to squeeze three days’ worth of studying, reading, and chanting into one. In order to achieve this, she had bowed out of the day’s study session with Rishla and Yhazi (to which Rishla had heartily agreed, as it allowed her to go home and sleep after her long vigil at Shulma’s bedside the night before). Shulma still occasionally felt flickering storm vision sensations as she crammed her way through the ancient texts, and once in a while her subconscious would whisper the now-familiar little failure-taunts: You shouldn’t have gone home and slept, you lazy thing! What were you thinking? But most of the time she was able to dispel them with a few deep breaths, and she felt much calmer now—all thanks to the tender care of Rishla, Yhazi, and of course Zeb.

    It was now the middle of the afternoon, almost time for the meeting with Chava and the Consistory shamans. This time, Shulma would be meeting them outside on the terrace of the Academy, where there would be much more space to practice the Storm Solstice ritual. She was in the process of skimming over the chants in the large black compendium when she heard a knock at the door.

    “Come in.”

    Shulma gasped with surprise as Chava herself entered her cell and sat beside her. “Well! How is my Storm-Dreamer feeling this fine day?”

    “I am very well, thank you, Wise Chava.”

    “Good, good! Your hand, please?” asked Chava, extending her own hand. Shulma laid her hand in Chava’s as the elder shaman felt her pulse. Next Chava placed two fingers gently on Shulma’s temple, then at the base of her ear. “Oh yes, all much better indeed. And the Ashla is moving much more calmly through you, I can tell. This is very, very good.”

    “Shamans Bontai and Khefastu took very good care of me, Wise Chava. I couldn’t have recovered so quickly without them.”

    “They are dear and true friends indeed,” Chava replied. “But I think there was someone else who helped as well… wasn’t there?” She winked.

    Shulma winked playfully back. “Yes, Mama and Papa were lovely, too.”

    “I think you know whom I mean, child.”

    “Of course.” Shulma could not hold back a sigh as she glanced toward the corner of the desk where Zeb’s picture lay, no longer anchored by the beautiful red-purple crystal. Chava placed a comforting hand over hers.

    “Oh, child, child. I am so sorry about what happened the other day. Shamans Bontai and Khefastu told me everything and showed me the pieces… what’s wrong, dear one?” she asked, noticing Shulma’s averted gaze.

    “I’m so ashamed, Wise Chava… it was such—such a trivial thing and I shouldn’t have let it affect me so much… but I let my silly weakness overpower me and because of it I’ve lost two whole days of preparation… it was unworthy of a shaman of Lasan, and I—”

    “No, child! Do not speak so! How could you be wrong to react as you did? If your storm-currents were stirred, was it not because the tenderest and noblest of feelings was stirring them? And you were certainly not the one acting in a manner unworthy of a shaman of Lasan. By the Ashla, no.” Chava spoke these words through clenched teeth, gazing straight ahead of her, and Shulma thought for a moment she could see a sparklike yellow glint in her teacher’s eyes—but it disappeared just as suddenly. “Now, why don’t you get your things, and we’ll go out to the terrace and meet the others.”

    “Yes, Wise Chava.” Shulma packed the large black chant book into her satchel, along with a few others from her shelf, then went to the narrow corner closet to fetch her staff. Chava’s words had brought to mind yet another thing she still had to do: take her staff to the foundry to be altered for a focusing stone in time for Storm Solstice. Still so much to do, still so much to remember to do! Perhaps she would go there after her meeting with the elder shamans—unless, of course, she came down with another attack of vision shock courtesy of that horrible Shaman Marballees...

    Having finished packing her books, she went to the closet to retrieve her staff. She gasped at what she saw when she opened the door.

    “What is it, child?”

    “Look at this, Wise Chava, look!”

    The elder shaman came over to look. The golden ring-medallion that topped the staff was no longer empty, as was customary for the staff of an initiate or Second. Mounted inside it was the piece of red-purple crystal from her betrothal stone. Shulma removed the staff to look at it more closely; the gold-plated mounting prongs had been carefully and securely installed, and the dim glow and barely perceptible hum that now emanated from the crystal attested that it was active and resonant with the currents of the Ashla. A note was taped to the back wall of the closet, and a smile brightened Shulma’s face as she read it:

    Hi Shulma! How do you like your new focusing stone? We thought you might find it a little familiar… Hope you’re feeling all better now. Much love, Rishla

    Hey lady. Now you can think of your dreamy Lt. Beau-Rifle Zeb when you summon the light of the Ashla during Storm Solstice. Pretty sweet, huh? Love, Yhazi

    “Ah, they did it, they did it!” Chava’s voice burst in on Shulma’s happy reverie. “They asked me for permission first, of course. Now, there were some High Shamans back in the olden days who would have found such a thing slightly… irregular, you know. But how could I say no, hmm? Such loving friends! Besides, you know, kreposkolite is one of the best materials there is for holding and concentrating the sacred light. Well, child, now you’ll be able to make some proper sparks during the sun petition sequence, won’t you! Let’s head outside, shall we?”

    Oh, kreposkolite isn’t the only reason this stone is full of light… “Yes, certainly, Wise Chava,” smiled Shulma in reply, and teacher and student walked together through the halls of the Academy toward the terrace.

    “Ah, there you are, Wise Chava!”

    No sooner had they reached the door leading outside than Shaman Marballees strutted up to them. Once again Shulma felt a twinge in her head. “I shall be seeing you and your songbird momentarily.”

    Chava stopped and fixed him with a stiff glare, saying nothing. Once again Shulma noticed the yellow sparks in her eyes. “Go outside, child,” Chava instructed her student without turning to look at her. “I won’t be long.”

    “Yes, Wise Chava.” Shulma obeyed, turning back only briefly to see the tall, spindly Shaman Marballees cowering under the glare of the diminutive Chava like a full-grown gravelope cornered by a konculor cub. The Ashla is good and just indeed, thought the younger shaman to herself, gloating inwardly as she headed outside.

    The great, round terrace of the Academy of Shamans faced west, directly into the afternoon sun; its striated, pink-gray flagstones seemed to glow slightly in the sunlight. No one else was there yet. Shulma positioned herself near the terrace’s center, looking out over the mountains and holding her staff before her in the ready position. After taking a few centering breaths, she struck it on the ground.

    At once golden light coursed upward from her hands through the wooden shaft, crackled in a sparkling corona around the focusing stone, shot up into the air in a lambent, orange-gold blaze—and disappeared. Seized with awe, she struck the staff again; the same thing happened. A third time—and this time she thrust the blazing staff skyward, raising her voice in one of the climactic proclamations of the sun petition sequence:

    Rejoice, O Lasan, in the light of the Ashla that now floods you! Exult in the sovereign radiance that courses through your crust to your very core! How lovely in its coming, how glorious in its going is the effulgent splendor that now fills—

    She broke off and lowered her staff as she realized she was no longer alone. Shaman Movshati now stood on the terrace, watching her. Near her stood a second senior shaman—not Shaman Marballees but a gentle-faced male in eyeglasses who was also watching. And bustling up between them came Chava herself.

    “Carry on, child, carry on!” she exclaimed, noticing Shulma’s look of astonishment. “Don’t mind us!”

    * * *

    “All right, out with it, darlin’,” Zeb said later that afternoon as he took Shulma in his striped, muscular arms on the Mount Straga funicular platform. “Just the other day you were all sick and miserable in bed, today you’re practically walkin’ on the clouds.”

    “Yes?” Shulma beamed as she reached up to stroke his beard. “And?”

    “So what’s goin’ on, hmm? Not that it’s a bad thing my lady’s so happy…”

    “Just have patience, my love. All will be revealed at the Storm Solstice.”

    “Shamanic karkin’ secrecy again, eh?” He said it with a slight chuckle as he twirled a lock of her long, dark hair around his finger.

    “Maybe yes, maybe no.” She shrugged. “But you are one to talk about secrecy, ai Garazeb.” Her fingers caressed his konculor insignia, once again sending up little golden sparks.

    “Er… uh… well… heh heh.” He let her hair go and turned aside, smiling sheepishly. “That’ll be revealed at the Storm Solstice too.”

    “All right, then. When the holy day comes, I shall look for you when the valiant ranks of the Honor Guard are assembled on the parade grounds. It will not be difficult to find my bristlecone among the shrubs.”

    “Aw, I know I’ll spot my prongbok doe among the goats…” Zeb drew her closer so that his beard brushed her face. “Those eyes…”

    “Zeblove…”

    “That hair…” Closer…

    “Oh Zeblove!”

    “Those strrripes!” He pressed her to himself in a fiery kiss, and they stood there, wrapped in each other’s arm-stripes, for several moments beneath the lambent Lasan sun.

    to be continued

    kreposkolite: A fanon gemstone, introduced in Romance among the Stones. The name is loosely based on the Latin word crepusculum, “twilight,” after its sunset-like red-purple color.

    Bontai, Khefastu: Both surnames have Italian origins: Rishla’s from the Italian word “bontà,” meaning “goodness,” and Yhazi’s from “che fastu?,” which means “what are you doing?” in the Venetian dialect of the 1500s (and I think some other modern-day Italian regional dialects, too).

    konculor: see under “Wildlife” in the Lasat fanon post.

    “Rejoice, O Lasan…”: Shulma’s invocation borrows from the Exultet (the Easter Vigil proclamation in the traditional Western Christian liturgy) and the Hebrew hymn El adon al kol ha-ma‘asim (from the Jewish liturgy for Sabbath morning).

    “prongbok doe among the goats,” “That hair… those eyes… those strrripes”: I’m riffing here (rather unoriginally, I fear) on similar turns of phrase used by Raissa in her description of Shulma through Zeb’s eyes in chapter two of The Beginning of Honor.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
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  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I enjoyed the teasing affectionate exchange with Rishla. And [face_laugh] Yhazi's advice sure did work: talk about Zeb and Shulma'll calm right down!

    Bless Chava for her assurances and putting that smarmy Marbaleez in his place. =D=

    The focusing stone ... what a lovely, wonderful gift! :)

    Then this:

    “All right, out with it, darlin’,” Zeb said later that afternoon as he took Shulma in his striped, muscular arms on the Mount Straga funicular platform. “Just the other day you were all sick and miserable in bed, today you’re practically walkin’ on the clouds.”

    “Yes?” Shulma beamed as she reached up to stroke his beard. “And?”

    “So what’s goin’ on, hmm? Not that it’s a bad thing my lady’s so happy…”

    “Just have patience, my love. All will be revealed at the Storm Solstice.”

    “Shamanic karkin’ secrecy again, eh?” He said it with a slight chuckle as he twirled a lock of her long, dark hair around his finger.

    “Maybe yes, maybe no.” She shrugged. “But you are one to talk about secrecy, ai Garazeb.” Her fingers caressed his konculor insignia, once again sending up little golden sparks.

    “Er… uh… well… heh heh.” He let her hair go and turned aside, smiling sheepishly. “That’ll be revealed at the Storm Solstice too.”

    “All right, then. When the holy day comes, I shall look for you when the valiant ranks of the Honor Guard are assembled on the parade grounds. It will not be difficult to find my bristlecone among the shrubs.”

    “Aw, I know I’ll spot my prongbok doe among the goats…” Zeb drew her closer so that his beard brushed her face. “Those eyes…”

    “Zeblove…”

    “That hair…” Closer…

    “Oh Zeblove!”

    “Those strrripes!” He pressed her to himself in a fiery kiss, and they stood there, wrapped in each other’s arm-stripes, for several moments beneath the lambent Lasan sun.


    Melty, melty SQUEEEE!

    :D :* :*
     
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  9. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Rishla and Yhazi (and Zeb, of course! [face_love]) are the best! I love that the betrothal stone ends up as a part of Shulma's staff, and how it resonates so beautifully with her morning ritual. It's a lovely way of symbolizing how Zeb's love is a source of light and strength in her life. It's good to see her regaining her confidence a bit; the support of her Zeb, along with all the others who care for her has made a difference. (Also glad that Chava figured out that the elder Marballees was just as full of it as his son. That's that settled, hopefully.) And yes, echoing the squees over her and Zeb's meeting at the end! @};-
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you for reading and commenting, as always, and sorry I’ve been remiss on updating this story, especially as there’s just one chapter left. I haven’t forgotten about it (oh, by no means)—I just have several other RL things going on, and some other things ahead of it in the writing queue. But I figured I can at least take a bit to acknowledge my wonderful readers so far—thank you again!

    I’ll tackle both comments piecemeal, if that’s all right:

    Oh yes, indeed! It was so much fun to write Rishla and Shulma just enjoying a little moment of friendship; the whole dynamic among these three girlfriends has just been wonderful to explore. They really do go the extra mile for Shulma here, with their reclamation and repurposing of the biggest remaining piece of her betrothal stone. The support of friends and loved ones really can go a long way in helping a person heal.

    And yes, Yhazi definitely knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the way to Shulma’s heart! :D She may be a bit of a tease and a goofball sometimes, but she didn’t get to be a Shaman of the Academy by being dumb! :cool:

    Not only is Chava a good teacher who genuinely cares about her student and takes seriously her responsibility toward her—she also leverages her high rank on the Consistory in order to help her student. That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about in recent days—I have read too many stories about professors abusing their influence and authority in order to molest their students (like Marballees tries to do). So it really means a lot to me to see teachers and authority figures who use their influence for good, and I wish there were more of them.

    Thanks! That was exactly the point—this way this symbol of Zeb and Shulma’s love will live on In a new, almost transfigured form. Just as it represented the light of their love, it now will actually be able to harness the light of the Ashla. Because it’s really all one and the same light. @};-

    Aw, thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed this and that it induced some nice squeeage from you both! :D It was a bit of self-indulgence on my part, I do admit. But how could they both not be almost giddily happy about Shulma’s return to health, with the big day of the ceremony so close (and their own Big Day on the horizon, not long after that). What better way to celebrate that than a kiss beneath the lambent Lasan sun—the Light of Lasan shining in on all sides. [face_love]

    Thank you both once again for reading, commenting, and supporting! @};-
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
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  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_laugh] [face_batting] I've been MISSING this delicious fic! [face_love]
     
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  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wait no longer, for here 'tis: the sixth and final chapter, at long last! Part of me feels a little emotional coming to this point, given how long it's taken—but another part of me feels giddily excited at the same time. :D As always, my thanks to @Raissa Baiard for invaluable help in beta-reading, and to you wonderful readers for just being here. @};-


    Six

    The day—the holy day of the Storm Solstice—dawned in purple-golden splendor over the Lira Zel cliff country, bathing the rocks in mirror-like light.

    In his quarters at the Honor Guard base, the young officer rose and washed. Carefully he combed and trimmed his beard and jaw fringe, then donned his most formal ceremonial uniform and affixed his medallion and rank insignia, all polished to sparkling, in the proper order and alignment over his heart. Then he strapped on his full ceremonial armor: his chest and shoulder armor with their gleaming regalia and rank studs, his arm bracers, his knee and shin guards, his belt with the Honor Guard seal on its buckle. For the first time ever he draped the long, wine-colored cape over his shoulders and secured it. Last of all, he took down his bo-rifle, checked it over as usual (it too had already been carefully polished and cleaned), and slung it on his back before heading out to give his men (his men!) their instructions for the holy day.

    Some distance away, in the attic of the cottage in Flowstone Vale, the young shaman rose and washed. She decked herself in all her mystical finery: the gown of crimson brocade with threads of purple and gold, the embroidered cloak of crimson velvet, the finely worked golden eardrops, necklaces, cuffs, and anklets with their tiny, sparkling colored gems. She brushed out her long, dark hair, then plaited and pinned it in a formal style, finally fastening her ring-medallion at her forehead. From a drawer in her desk she took the velvet pouch containing her focusing stone; she drew out the radiant red-purple crystal and pressed it lovingly to her lips before ensconcing it in her bodice, close to her heart. Finally, taking her staff from where it leaned in the corner of the room—she had taken it home from the academy the day before—she headed downstairs and out the door, where her mother was waiting with the speeder.

    * * *​

    The midmorning sun shone high and clear over the Royal Lasat Parade Grounds. A crowd of spectators was gathered at the edge of the grounds, behind barriers, to watch the Storm Solstice ceremony that would soon be taking place. A special platform set up on a cordoned-off corner of the grounds held officials, magistrates, retired Honor Guard officers, and other honored guests. On the festooned central terrace of the Royal Palace sat the royal family of Lasan: Queen Ingruna II Argorfiros and Prince Consort Mardovek, along with the rest of their family: the Crown Prince Rendoval and his wife, then the Prince-Royal Rendovek and the Princesses-Royal Idavri and Laitha. Below, on the parade grounds, the combined ranks of the Lasan High Honor Guard stood at attention, and with a barked word of command, the parade began.

    First came the captain and his closest lieutenants, in their full regalia. Then came the music corps, their shawms and slide-horns held high and their tasselled drumsticks twirling. Next marched legions of Guards in perfect formation, sunlight glinting on their bronze-green armor, colorful regimental banners flapping and snapping in the brisk summer breeze. Above them all soared the strains of a proud, ancient war march, till at last the procession halted before the royal palace’s central terrace.

    At a command from the captain, the Guards arranged themselves into a partially staggered line, and the captain and his lieutenants, still ranged in front of them, turned to face the royal family. With bowed heads the captain, then his lieutenants, then all the assembled Guards saluted the royal family in the traditional hand-over-fist salute. The queen, then her husband, then the other members of their family returned the gesture. One drum—the commander of the drum corps—struck up a brisk roll; the captain and his honor detail marched to one end of the column of Guards, where the captain called out an order: “Bo’-ra’ prestá’i!” At this, all the assembled Guards drew their bo-rifles and held them vertically against their right shoulders.

    “Bo’-ra’ rová’i!” Click—clack—swish: the Guards unfolded their weapons into rifle mode and held them diagonally across their bodies. “Bo’-ra’ bo’atá’i!”—then into staff mode. “Bo’-ra’ kov’damá’i!”—then, with a final ratcheting clack, into the full length of the ancient ceremonial mode. The drum continued its roll as the captain walked down the line of troops to inspect them and their weapons, his wine-colored cape billowing behind him. Once finished, the captain called one more command—“Trrep’kú!”—upon which the lieutenants marched over to rejoin him, and the Guards reassembled into an angled phalanx on the west side of the parade grounds. All of them, simultaneously, turned to face eastward, and the drum roll stopped.

    For several moments all was quiet. All present noticed that the sun was visibly higher in the sky.

    Then another sound arose: the sound of distant, dulcet chanting, by mostly feminine voices, occasionally punctuated by the starlike ting of miniature cymbals. The shamans of the Academy began to process onto the parade grounds from the east, two by two. First came the initiates, guiding a festooned hoversled holding the great ceremonial sun-lens and its mounting. This they set up in the center of the grounds, then retired with the hoversled to one side. After them came the shamans of the first and second degree, clad in rich, colorful fabrics, with ring-medallions glinting in the hair of the females and on the tunic collars of the males. They all carried Ashla staves; those at the front of the line also carried crackling colored torches, and those behind them brought various other objects: incense burners, small perfume jars, flowers, colorful stones, or the small cymbals that accompanied the singing. The torch bearers arranged themselves on either side of the lens. Those behind them, still chanting, came forward two by two and laid their various offerings on the ground around the base of the mounting, then retired to the side to join the initiates in a semicircular formation, opposite the Honor Guard.

    The captain of the Honor Guard resisted the temptation to crane his neck to take a closer look at the shamans, as though looking for someone…

    After all the first- and second-degree shamans had entered, the torch bearers joined them in their formation. As the captain of the Guard called an order, causing his Guards to turn as one to face the great front doors of the palace, the shamanic voices swelled in their chant’s final chorus, and the palace doors swung open. The members of the Consistory—the eight Revered Masters who governed the Academy of Shamans and guided the spiritual welfare of all Lasan—processed solemnly onto the grounds, their own staves held before them and their own ring-medallions gleaming. Their leader, Chava Merkavitou Behanrrocha the Wise, came last, wearing robes of many shades of green and small jewels scattered throughout her hair. As she passed the assembled ranks of guards and shamans, she traced signs of the Triangle above them in blessing. By the time the chant came to its melodious close, the sun was even higher.

    All the while the captain’s eyes—and only his eyes—were scanning the group of shamans before him. Huh, that’s odd, she’s got to be there somewhere...

    And then—

    All was quiet on the parade grounds as a single figure emerged from the palace doorway: a female shaman, clad in flowing crimson and holding her staff at the ready. She took its focusing stone from the bodice of her dress and fixed it in its mounting atop the staff. As she struck the staff on the ground, a sparking golden blaze shot upward from its base, crackled around its stone, then flew upward to join the brightness of the sunlit air—and in that same moment she began her chant.

    The captain felt his heart jump beneath his medallion and insignia. He knew that voice...

    It was the ancient Storm Solstice invocation chant: arcane, solemn words that surged and swirled in equally arcane tones. The shaman—the presider of the Storm Solstice ritual—now stepped forward, now back, now to one side or the other as she performed the ritual welcoming the storm-season sun. Now she raised her staff so that its red gem caught the sunlight, now she struck it on the ground, which seemed almost to shake, thunder-like, each time the golden blaze went up. Every motion, every note, every word came in its prescribed order; there was no other sound.

    As the presider reached the great sun-lens, another shaman came alongside her, to whom she handed her staff before lifting the lens over her head to catch the sun’s gleam. Here the melody and modality of her chant shifted into that of the sun petition sequence: solemn prayers for the Ashla’s protection over Lasan during the coming dust season, and blessings for the lens that would soon send Lasan’s own light up to unite with that of its sun. While chanting the fourth and last of the petitions, she replaced the lens in its mounting, this time tilted partially upward, and took up her staff again. She struck it and raised it overhead as both its golden sparks and her climactic refrain soared heavenward:

    “Rejoice, O Lasan, in the light of the Ashla that now floods you! Exult in the sovereign radiance that courses through your crust to your very core! How lovely in its coming, how glorious in its going is the effulgent splendor that now fills all things. O shield your beloved, spirit beyond all spirits, from the violence of the dust!”

    The sun was higher still, almost at its apex in the sky.

    She was only in the captain’s peripheral vision now, and her side was to him. But as she lifted the lens he noticed the swirling arm stripes that were more beautiful than any of the jewels on her hair, neck, or wrists. And he really knew that voice...

    A cymbal tinged. An order rang across the field: “Llasa prestá’i!” The Honor Guards all raised their fully unfolded bo-rifles, the shamans their staves. Both phalanxes, shamans and guards, turned to face the lens and each other. Captain faced presider, bo-rifle faced Ashla staff in fullness of power and beauty beneath the Lasan sun...

    “Karabast,” breathed Zeb in astonishment, all military discipline suspended. There she was: his own wild mountain flower, the chosen of the shamans in all her finery. She, and no one else, was Lasan’s ambassador before the Ashla at the turning of the dust season, Lasan’s lovely voice before its sovereign spirit.

    “Rrhu’kara—” Shulma gasped and staggered backward. There he was: her own mighty bristlecone, now captain of the Lasan High Honor Guard, in all the magnificence of his rank, from his flowing cape to the little jewel-eyed konculor on his breast. He, and no one else, was Lasan’s strong protector and stalwart champion, defender against all enemies present and to come...

    A twinge shot through her head, causing her to stagger again. She did not know why: simply because he was near?

    Now the sun was directly overhead.

    And she remembered that she was supposed to give the next command...

    “Llasa haká’i!” she sang out, raising her staff. All the guards struck their bo-rifles, all the shamans their staves, all directing them toward the great lens. The parade ground became a sea of light as a thousand golden lightnings coursed across it toward the lens, which threw them sunward in a fiery column. The sun blazed forth in a lambent fireball of many colors, sign of the Ashla’s favor and protection. In that moment, all Lasan was luminous, all Lasan was light.

    And in the midst of it all, the light of two leaf-green eyes faced the light of two emerald green eyes, two staves joined their energy, two hearts beat as one.

    They were the light of Lasan.

    * * *​

    They did not get to see each other again until much later. After the ceremony was complete, Zeb had retired to base with the rest of the Honor Guard, and as the new captain his time had been consumed with professional responsibilities, from datawork and post-ceremony teardown to meetings with both his lieutenants and members of the ministry for military affairs. Shulma, meanwhile, had gone with her fellow shamans to visit the sick and bedridden in the medcenters and healing houses of Lira Zel, and to distribute the offerings from the ceremony—the flowers, stones, perfume, incense, and even some pairs of the miniature cymbals—to them as gifts. That evening, when a festive reception was held in the ballroom of the royal palace for the principal participants in the ceremony—shamans and military together—both Zeb and Shulma had been obliged to spend most of the time accepting congratulations and engaging in small talk, Zeb in particular having to continue professional conversations begun earlier that day with ministry officials.

    But now, as the festivities were finally winding down, captain and shaman had stolen out to the great lakeside terrace for a quiet walk arm in arm. It was dusk, and the sinking sun cast red-purple twilight hues over the lake and the distant cliffs.

    “Well, darlin’,” Zeb began, “er… now you know.”

    “Yes, now I do.” Shulma reached over to touch his rank pips and the jewel-eyed konculor insignia; tiny sparks went up once again from her touch.

    “I wanted it to be a special surprise for you.”

    “And it was a beautiful surprise. My Zeblove. Captain of the Honor Guard, protector of Lasan.” Shulma gestured grandiosely with one hand. “‘Savior of the remnant,’ as the old text says.”

    “Er, wha...?!” Zeb staggered back slightly. “‘Savior of the remnant’? What remnant? They never told me that was part of the job description!”

    “Oh, it’s from one of the anonymous later seers,” Shulma laughed. “It describes a Guard captain from later times who will be called ‘the savior of the remnant.’ A well-known mystery among scholars; no one is really sure what it means. Probably just a classic case of text corruption.”

    “Er… if y’say so.”

    Shulma smiled and nuzzled his shoulder at this very characteristic response, and they walked on in silence for a few moments. The sun was lower now, its glow a deeper purple-red, and there was a hint of a dusty scent in the slight breeze that blew.

    “Well, whatever it may mean, I am certain is no one more worthy to be it than my mighty bristlecone.” Shulma leaned closer. “Oh, dearest, to see you up there—my magnificent warrior, leading all the legions of Lasan, bo-rifle at the ready in the manner of the ancients—how did it feel?”

    “Aw, I don’t really know… it was all kind of a blur, and it’s still so new… I didn’t expect it in a million dust seasons, y’know. I mean, we knew Porifiros had retired and all, but other than that…” Zeb trailed off and looked absently out over the lake to the horizon, where only a sliver of purple light was left. “But there’s one thing I do know…”

    “Yes?”

    “I couldn’t’ve stood opposite a lovelier Storm Solstice shaman than my own wild mountain flower.” He leaned over to kiss her cheek. “And now I know what all that shamanic secrecy was about.”

    “Yes, of course. But, oh Zeblove, I was so nervous. I was shaking the whole time…”

    “Aw, darlin’, you were wonderful, just wonderful. Didn’t look nervous at all. All of it was just so beautiful—all the rituals and chantin’—and you were so beautiful, I just wanted t’—” He broke off, stopped, and faced her, holding her hands. “To take you in my arms and—and kiss you. Right there on the parade grounds in front of everyone.”

    “Ah, well, my mighty captain, my Garazeb…” Shulma looped one arm around his neck, then the other as she leaned up to brush his fringe with her lips. “There’s always now.”

    “Aw, karabast…” Zeb’s voice was gruff as he slid strong arms around her. “Aw, Shulma, yeah… yeah, there is…”

    And there, even in the twilight shadows, all Lasan was illumined by their kiss.

    the end

    Queen Ingruna II Argorfiros et al.: All the members of the Lasat royal family named here are fanon.

    Revered Masters: See notes to chapter 1 above.

    Chava Merkavitou Behanrrocha: Again, Chava’s full name is my own fanon. Merkavitou is a portmanteau of the Hebrew merkavah (“chariot,” used to refer to the chariot-like throne of God in the vision of chapter 1 of Ezekiel), and Manitou (the Algonquian name for the Great Spirit or God). On Behanrrocha, see notes to chapter 3 above.

    shawm: A real-life, very loud Medieval and Renaissance-era double reed instrument that comes in various sizes. I thought their raucous sound would be just the thing for the Honor Guard music corps, something like this:


    Some etymological notes on the drill commands:
    “Bo’-ra’”: contraction of “bo-rifle” (of course).
    “prestá’i”: various Romance-language words for “ready,” “quick,” “prepared” (since this is Lasat for “present arms”).
    “rová’i”: Modern Hebrew roveh, “rifle.”
    “bo’atá’i”: bo, as in the staff.
    “kov’damá’i”: The Hebrew root k-d-m, denoting concepts like “ancient,” “yore,” “origin,” and similar (also, kedmah is “east,” as in, the origin of the rising sun). The v is my addition.
    “haká’i”: The Hebrew root h-k-h, “to strike.”

    miniature cymbals: I imagine some kind of small finger cymbals like zills or tingsha.

    “Rejoice, O Lasan!”: An expansion on the prayer Shulma chants in chapter 5 above, on the terrace of the Mount Straga academy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
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  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I enjoyed the parallel details of Zeb and Shulma in preparation for the momentous ceremony, which was gloriously, lyrically described! =D=

    “Karabast,” breathed Zeb in astonishment, all military discipline suspended. There she was: his own wild mountain flower, the chosen of the shamans in all her finery. She, and no one else, was Lasan’s ambassador before the Ashla at the turning of the dust season, Lasan’s lovely voice before its sovereign spirit.

    “Rrhu’kara—” Shulma gasped and staggered backward. There he was: her own mighty bristlecone, now captain of the Lasan High Honor Guard, in all the magnificence of his rank, from his flowing cape to the little jewel-eyed konculor on his breast. He, and no one else, was Lasan’s strong protector and stalwart champion, defender against all enemies present and to come...


    Lovely!

    The parade ground became a sea of light as a thousand golden lightnings coursed across it toward the lens, which threw them sunward in a fiery column. The sun blazed forth in a lambent fireball of many colors, sign of the Ashla’s favor and protection. In that moment, all Lasan was luminous, all Lasan was light. And in the midst of it all, the light of two leaf-green eyes faced the light of two emerald green eyes, two staves joined their energy, two hearts beat as one. They were the light of Lasan.

    :) Melty melt!


    How poignant the final exchange about the "savior of the remnant" [face_thinking]

    And then there's this SQUEE!licious bit:

    “Aw, darlin’, you were wonderful, just wonderful. Didn’t look nervous at all. All of it was just so beautiful—all the rituals and chantin’—and you were so beautiful, I just wanted t’—” He broke off, stopped, and faced her, holding her hands. “To take you in my arms and—and kiss you. Right there on the parade grounds in front of everyone.”

    “Ah, well, my mighty captain, my Garazeb…” Shulma looped one arm around his neck, then the other as she leaned up to brush his fringe with her lips. “There’s always now.”

    “Aw, karabast…” Zeb’s voice was gruff as he slid strong arms around her. “Aw, Shulma, yeah… yeah, there is…”

    And there, even in the twilight shadows, all Lasan was illumined by their kiss.


    This was a splentabulous addition to the Lasan series and a superb part of the lovely story of Garashul. ^:)^

    [:D]
     
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  14. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    =D==D==D=

    Hooray! So glad to see this final chapter—not because the story is ending, but because I know how much love and effort you’ve put into bringing it to this beautiful conclusion. Zeb and Shulma have been through a lot over the course of the story—keeping secrets from each other (even if they are good ones), Zeb’s emergency with the bo-rifles, the horrible Mr. Rufozald Marballees and Shulma’s vision-shock—but at last they’ve made it to the day of the Storm Solstice. And, wow, what an incredibly vivid pageant you create!

    Like, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha , I love how you do parallel scenes of Zeb and Shulma getting ready for the ceremony and dressing in both the finery of the day and the trappings of their professions: Zeb in his immaculately polished armor and that flowing wine-colored cape that matches his handsome strrrripes, and Shulma in her crimson gown and all the jeweled adornments of a Solstice officiant. How handsome they both must have looked in the bright Lasan sunshine [face_love]

    And I love every bit of your description of the procession leading up to the ceremony. You did an incredible job of bringing it to life with all the sensory details--the sights and sounds even smells, if you count the shaman's incense! I can picture the guards marching with precision and pride, hear the roll of the drum corps (and hi there, Lt. Maranga Patithi! Nice to see you again :) ) and the clack-swish of their bo-rifles punctuated by Zeb's ringing voice. Then it's the shamans' turn and they come in their colorful finery, sparkling with jewels and tiny cymbals, their chanting at once solemn and joyful--and Shulma, the loveliest of them all, to preside over the ceremony. Of course, the ceremony is just as beautifully detailed, and here we see your knack for creating religious rituals at its best. Shulma's invocation reads like one of the Psalms.

    When Captain and Shaman see each other across the field--karabast! (and again, I totally love the fact that it's Shulma who has a wide array of of oaths, which I'm sure are all appropriate for her station, but still... [face_laugh])
    SQUEE! This is lovely, because they truly are; they embody the best of Lasan and the honor and duty their respective professions, protectors of the planet's civic and spiritual welfare. Their staves shine all the brighter for the love they bear for each other and for Lasan.

    Finally, the two of them get to come together and are able to dispense with all the shamanic karkin' secrecy and whatnot :D I really like this bit:
    because it is just so Zeb--Aw, karabast, now what...?! :zeb: And so is this:
    I wouldhave liked to have seen this, actually! I bet it would have caused quite the sensation, though perhaps it's just as well he didn't since it was, after all, a holy occassion. Shulma, as usual, has the best advice--there's always right now. And indeed there is! [face_love]

    Once again, bravissima for bringing this story to a beautifully satisfying conclusion, and as always, I look forward to seeing further installments in the Lasat Series (string of purple hearts here)!
     
  15. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Congratulations on a fantastic and beautiful ending to this story! @};- After all the worry, confusion, and uncertainty, the joy and celebration and reverence that Shulma and Zeb feel -- both during and after the ceremony -- is so moving. They had some real challenges in making it here, and there will be more in the future. But for now, what they do know is that they will be able to face those challenges one way or another, because they are always connected.

    Echoing @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Raissa Baiard, I really liked how Zeb and Shulma's preparations for the ceremony and donning all the special garb was in parallel. They are truly working together as halves of a whole, and I love how the whole ceremony kind of reflects and amplifies that. And vice versa, that they are a very real and personal side of what all the grandeur of the ceremony is meant to represent. All the vivid sights and sounds have just the right amount of detail and the overall aura of magnificence and sun-drenched brightness is marvelous. The whole feel of that sort of desert noon where everything is so bright that it feels like people and objects sort of float in space is just so perfectly evoked and I enjoy it so much (especially since I don't have to be wishing for a water bottle :p).

    Seconding everyone -- equal parts awe and squee! [face_dancing] And Shulma is prescient as ever with her "mystery among scholars" that just happens to maybe fit with Zeb -- though neither of them know how on the mark she is here. But that is worry and hope for another day, and they are definitely in the present at the finale here -- what a gorgeous moment! [face_love]

    @};-
     
  16. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh I missed commenting on the last update when I vividly remember reading and enjoying every word. How remiss of me! I will have to fix that now. :D


    Oh, Shulma!! :( Of course she's looking at her overwhemling her currents as the equivalent of taking a lazy day of relaxation (which she can honestly use, too :p) and berating herself for not meeting her own very high expectations for herself! A part of me more than understands this, but a larger part of me is wincing in sympathy. This poor dear. She's doing amazing, and I look forward to her coming to see that in herself while others validate her too. [face_love]

    Thank-you, Rishla! She took the words right out of our mouths! Her and Yhazi's warm relationship with Shulma just gave me such a smile to read; you have such a wonderful cast of OCs with how they interconnect with each other. Even if Rishla has more than earned her rest for being such a wonderful friend later! [face_laugh] [face_love]

    Bwahaha! [face_rofl] Yhazi is the best, really. She certainly knows what's what, though. Her easy joy and goofy sense of humor go hand in hand with her empathy and keen emotional insight. Laughter - and love! - really are the best medicine. [face_love]

    A THOUSAND TIMES YES AND AMEN TO THIS!!!

    Chava's relationship with Shulma was just so beautiful to read here! What a wise and nurturing mentor, both with her encouraging Shulma where encouragement was needed, and for putting that slimy old Marballees in his place. I got such a satisfying dark bit of delight out of that - which I'm glad Shulma too noticed and felt vindicated for!

    Gah! HER BEST FRIENDS REALLY ARE THE BEST HERE!!!

    I even got such a kick out of the omitted Lt. Beau Rifle. Really, again, I have nothing terribly insightful to say but that I loved their repurposing Zeb's engagement stone and had to flail about it as best I could with caps lock. Beautiful! :p :D [face_love]

    Oh! It's not the only reason the stone is full of light, indeed. [face_love]

    I know I already commented on this interaction, but I loved the imagery of the diminutive Chava staring Marballees down like prey. Both spiritually and as a sentient being, she's a giant compared to him.

    Ha! Marballees has been ousted. [face_mischief]

    But, more importantly - and just so satisfyingly after how hard Shulma has worked and applied herself - seeing her soar through her incantations with working some real sparks now, with her fabulous new focusing stone, was just heartwarming to read. Shulma deserved this moment, and it was lovely to read how her skill and dedication was validated by her seniors. [face_love]

    I had such a stupid grin on my face for reading this section - they are just young and in love and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. [face_love]

    To open part six, I really enjoyed seeing the juxtaposition of them getting ready for their big day - each in their own way, with their respective feats and accomplishments quite literally coming together to celebrate as one. [face_love]

    Then, I went to quote bits and pieces of the actual storm solstice itself but quickly couldn't find a piece that stood out from the rest, simply because no detail was left unattended. I love how rich a mental picture you were able to weave with your words - it felt like this was something I was watching onscreen, rather than just reading about, if that makes any sense - with each and every sense lushly accounted for. This was a wonderful scene of ritual and tradition, with so many rich layers to peel back and enjoy. I really can't applaud the amount of thought you put into your world-building here. Even your bits of language were so lovingly researched and built from the ground up, and it really made the reading experience that much richer. =D=

    And cue the return of my stupid grin!!! I loved how the pinnacle of the ceremony also had Zeb and Shulma cresting the highs of their own personal accomplishments - especially after keeping the other in the dark for so long. This beautiful mirrored moment of realization was perfect, just perfect.

    Even if, while Shulma will continue to be Lasan's voice in the hard years to come, then Zeb also will be -

    - gah, there it is. :( This edge of foreboding and foreshadowing honestly just made the joy all the richer to read. For now they have this moment, though. Even in the future this will undoubtedly be a memory they both turn back to when there's more shadow than light around them. =((

    They were the light of Lasan. [face_love]!!! Why yes indeed they are! :D [face_sigh]

    Bwaha! [face_laugh] Zeb's reaction here was priceless - so very Zeb, as was Shulma contemplating the minutia of prophesy and ancient texts after such a feat for the two of them. Even if its a prophesy that will have very personal meaning to them soon to come. Again, I really appreciate the foreshadowing you were able to intersperse amongst the joy. =D=

    Well, like Shulma says, there is no time like the present! :D [face_mischief] [face_love]

    Again, for fear of sounding redundant, I couldn't help but smile to see these two so happy and in love - and lighting such a light all around them through both the love they bear their people and respective traditions and each other. Beautiful. [face_love]


    Thank you for sharing this lovely read with the rest of us! I can't wait to see where this 'verse may lead your muse next. =D= [:D]
     
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all, once again. I’ve really appreciated the love this story has gotten! @};-

    Thank you! As different as they are in so many ways, Zeb and Shulma are both motivated by the same fundamental values at heart, and both want to put their best foot forward for Lasan on this special day. :)

    Thanks so much! I was going for a similar parallelism at this moment, too, with both realizing who each other is right at the climax of this important ceremony.

    Thank you again! And I kind of melted too at this moment, if I do say so myself; seems to happen a lot during Zebma stories. [face_love]

    Thanks! That “classic case of text corruption” will become all too real to them all too soon—though they don’t yet know it...

    Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed this last kiss! I felt they deserved it after all that preparation and all that buildup and the climactic events of the ceremony. That was a wonderful experience for them too, of course, but what better to round out the day than a soft epilogue together? <3

    Well, thank you, as always! Your support and enjoyment of this couple and these stories mean a lot to me. @};-

    Thank you so much, as always, and thanks once again for the role you’ve played in bringing the story to conclusion—which was no small role! <3 These two have definitely come quite a long way over the course of the story with all that’s happened, and I felt they deserved a special wonderful day—both on the public, ceremonial side of things and the private, soft, romantic side of things! :)

    Thanks! I really enjoyed writing those parallel scenes. They are indeed both putting on the finest accoutrements of their respective callings, in preparation for one of Lasan’s holiest days—it’s all part of their love for both those callings and for Lasan. (And for each other, too, ultimately!) And definitely lots to sparkle in that Lasan sunshine, which I imagine having a very unique flamelike quality that makes for a very special sunshine indeed!

    Oh, thank you so much! :) This was fun to write too—so much so that I was a bit worried I had rambled on too long with too much detail (which I’m sometimes known to do in descriptions). I’ve had it pictured in my mind for almost a couple years now—Storm Solstice was one of the first pieces of Lasat fanon I came up with, right around the time I was first creating Shulma—so to get it “down on paper” at last was a special and even kind of emotional experience! Here too I was going for the parallelism: both the Guards and the shamans are equal participants in this ritual (implying, perhaps, that there’s something sacred about the state of being an Honor Guard). And great catch on noticing Lt. Maranga Patithi! :D

    Oh, that’s one of the reasons they adore each other so much, of course! Their karabasts aren’t just any karabasts! :D

    Oh, thank you, and I’m so glad you found this squeeworthy! I’ve always believed that Zeb and Shulma’s love for their respective callings, their homeworld, and each other are all part and parcel of the same thing, so it was especial fun to be able to bring them all together in that moment. As you know, I fidgeted a bit with how to end that part of the scene, but I know the light of Lasan would be part of it somehow, because that, if I do say so myself, is what their love really is. [face_love]

    Oh, oh, little does the poor dear know how soon that “case of text corruption” will become part of his job description! =(( But until then, oh yes, he is totally Zeb-zen about it in that karabasty way! ;)

    Oh, I’m so glad you liked that ending! I knew the story just had to end with a sweet, special kiss all to themselves... though I have to say, I did seriously consider the idea of having them kiss right there on the parade grounds! Which definitely would have turned heads... but I knew I also wanted them to have some soft time together at the end, so I figured I’d save that particular best for last. ;) But they thought about it, or at least he did! :D

    Aw, well, thank you so much, as always! And that is a very special thank-you, because this series always has been and will be indebted to you and The Beginning of Honor. I’m just glad to be able to continue the great work that was started there! <3

    Thank you so much, and I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying this story! :) That is pretty much the same way I felt about wrapping up this chapter at long last—it was a long time coming, and there were challenges along the way and I just really wanted to get it right—but hey, now I know I can do it! I wanted everything to pay off for both them and me, and I am so glad to know that it came off that way. :)

    Oh, wow, thank you so much! :) From a desert dweller that (and especially that bolded bit) is such an amazing compliment to receive! <3 You described exactly what I was going for—and I won’t lie, it wasn’t always easy, because I remember worrying that I was repeating too many of the same words, images, &c. And I indeed was trying to go for the notion that that particular kind of brightness that characterizes the outward landscape of Lasan is within its people, too, and especially these particular two who have the task of representing their world (so to speak). I would imagine that everyone was a little sweaty and thirsty after it all, though! :p

    Thanks again! It is a moment that they certainly will treasure, even long after that dreadful prophecy (disguised as a text quirk) comes true.

    Right back atcha: @};- ! Couldn’t resist giving them the opportunity for that one last kiss; my mushy side coming through, I’m afraid. :p Thanks so much once again for reading and enjoying and supporting this series; it means so much to me! :)

    No worries at all! I completely understand being RL-swamped, and it’s always more than worth the wait to see you here—for that, thank you so much! <3

    Oh, I get the same way myself—it's just such an easy trap for earnest, hard-working types to fall into, especially combined with high standards like those Shulma holds for herself (and Zeb does the same thing, sometimes).

    Thanks so much! I've really been enjoying exploring the dynamics of these three best friends, the differences and similarities between them, the way they play off each other. Shulma so needs some grounding, calming influence right about now, and the kind-hearted Rishla seemed the perfect person to give it to her.

    Yes, Yhazi's humor helps calm Shulma and ground her in a very different way, too! And Yhazi really does know what she's talking about here, because she knows how much Shulma loves Zeb.

    Thank you! I loved Chava so much in "Legends of the Lasat," and in some ways she was one of the characters that spurred me to create Shulma to begin with—I knew from the start I wanted Shulma to be Chava's student. She's not called "the wise" for nothing, and she steps right in when she sees Marballees is up to no good. Touché! :p

    Aw, thanks so much, I'll take flailing! :D They do know their friend well, as both that gesture and their words to her show (right down to Yhazi's little crossout!).

    The other reason being, of course, :zeb: .

    Thanks here too! I've always imagined that although she's a caring and wise mentor to her students, she can fiercely lay down the law when necessary, as it is indeed now!

    Wah wah WAH! :p

    Thank you. :) Her confidence really is boosted a whole lot by the combination of (a) being over her vision shock, (b) her friends' sweet gesture with the stone, and (c) the reassurance that she no longer has to deal with that slimy Marballees anymore. A winning combination! :)

    Nothing hurts at all—yet! [face_worried] This is another of the moments that they both will remember even after everything goes dark and wrong.

    Again, they both want to put their best (prehensile) feet forward in honor of their respective callings, in honor of Lasan, and in honor of the day—that is the kind of Lasat both of them are. [face_love]

    Thank you so much for those compliments—I'm so glad you enjoyed this scene. :) Again, I'm glad it came off well and not too rambly or overly detailed, something I sometimes am concerned about when I write these big ritual scenes. (Though it's hard for me to resist the rambling, too!)

    They are seeing each other very literally at their best, and it's a magical moment when that happens—not just for them but for everyone around them.

    Yes, exactly: even after his homeworld is gone he will be its protector and defender. <3

    Yep, she is getting just a brief twinge of the pain to come, but even later on in that time of darkness she will indeed not forget this joy. (And I think ultimately Zeb won't either.)

    [face_love] [face_love] [face_love] , if I do say so myself!

    Thanks! It was a little hard to do: I wanted joy to be the overarching tone of this story, and yet we know what's in the future for this people and their world. =((

    Indeed not! This time the moment is right, and it'll be all theirs. [face_love]

    Thanks so much, and that indeed was the idea—and the light of the story's title! :)

    You are most welcome, as ever—always so glad to have you as a reader and commenter, and thanks so much once again! :)