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Saga - PT Sparks (Lasan Series OCs; OC Revolution Summer/Fall 2019 Challenge)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Sparks
    Era: Saga—PT; about 31 BBY
    Characters: OCs from the Lasan Series
    Genre: Childhood origin story, drama
    Contents: Short multichapter: One (below) | Two | Three | Four | Five (Epilogue)
    Summary: A shy kit from a mining town on Lasan discovers powers she did not know she had while working in the mines during school break.
    Notes: Part of the Lasan Series, written for the OC Revolution Summer/Fall 2019 challenge:
    Once again, I thank @Raissa Baiard for advice, encouragement, and beta-reading. @};-



    One

    The small town of Flowstone Vale, nestled at the edge of the Gosrrallan Mountains of Lasan’s mid-northern continent some twenty-five klicks southeast of the capital of Lira Zel, was proud of its mining heritage. While by no means the largest, it was one of the planet’s oldest mining settlements, dating from the arrival of the earliest settlers from Lira San. Even after millennia the Flowstone Vale mines were among Lasan’s richest sources of copper, strontium, and quorodium ore. Virtually everyone in town was employed by the mine in one way or another, whether in the mines themselves or in mining administration or research. Even the Royal Lasat Mining Ministry boasted several high-ranking officials hailing from “the jewel of the Gosrral.”

    Even the kits of Flowstone Vale took part in their hometown’s mining industry. From the age of twelve dust seasons, every kit would spend most of the interseason school break periods working at the mine. The younger kits started with lighter tasks in the above-ground part of the complex, such as sorting and cleaning the ore or repairing miners’ tools and equipment. Older kits, once they had experience in these above-ground tasks, would assist with routine extraction and hauling underground. Although these tasks were performed by machines and droids most of the time, it was considered essential for the young Lasat of the village to learn them, both to instruct them in the fundamentals of the mining trade and to foster in them an appreciation of their local heritage. And the kits of Flowstone Vale, in turn, looked forward to their shifts each interseason: for them it was a chance to build toughness, show off their skills, and take a step toward adulthood.

    * * *​

    It was the first day of the growing season–harvest season interim. An orange-gold sun hung low in the sky, casting a flamelike glow on the buildings and headframes of the mine complex. On the terrace outside Ore Processing Unit Aurek-Two, the newest group of kits were gathering. A few were still taking their leave of their parents, who hovered nearby with instructions and reminders, but most were talking or laughing or playing loudly with each other. The unit foreman, a wiry, blue-gray-furred Lasat male in gray coveralls with a large metal whistle hanging around his neck, stood on the steps of the long, squat, metal-walled building, glancing at the regulation chronotower atop the administration office a few buildings down. Two other miners, in the same coveralls, walked about with databoards taking attendance.

    At the back of the group a slight, pretty girl-kit with lilac fur stood quietly by herself, fidgeting with one of her two long, dark braids. She had arrived before any of the others, for her father was a foreman elsewhere in the mine, and her mother worked in the mining ministry in Lira Zel. Occasionally she would glance nervously around her, at the mine buildings, the chronotower, the other kits, and the unit foreman. The foreman’s assistant stopped and eyed her quizzically as he walked by taking attendance.

    “You’re Trilasha’s daughter, aren’t ya?”

    “Yes, sir,” came the meek reply.

    “First name?”

    “Shulma.”

    “Shulma,” the assistant repeated, marking it down on his databoard, and moved on.

    Presently the electronic chimes of the chronotower began signaling 0700, and the foreman blew a shrill blast on his whistle. The kits quieted and followed him into Unit Aurek-Two; the last few parents said their goodbyes and departed. Shulma, the lilac-furred girl with the braids, still hung at the back of the group, half-hiding behind a group of tall boys. Once they had all assembled in the vestibule of the building, the foreman addressed them.

    “ALL RIGHT, LISTEN UP! Just a few things before we get started. Today you’re gonna be separating ore from the base rock and sending it over to Unit Besh-Two for crushing and cleaning. So, first thing you’re gonna do is go over there”—he gestured to a rack at one side of the room crammed with aprons and other protective gear in the same gray as his coveralls—“and put on your aprons and foot covers. Then you go inside, go to one of the stations, and the distribution belt will bring you the yield from the last extraction. Your job’s easy: use your vibrochisels to cut the ore out of the host rock, throw it in its correct collection basket, and toss the host rock into the waste cart. Now how do you know which is which?”

    The foreman tapped his databoard. A full-color, high-resolution holoprojection materialized high on the wall, showing rotating chunks of different types of ore—copper, lead, tin, strontium, quorodium. These, he said, were the metals most likely to turn up in this morning’s yield from shafts 38 and 39. He detailed the physical qualities of each, covering color, texture, hardness, and conductivity; he explained how to tell apart those that could be easily confused with others. Shulma listened closely, trying to keep it all straight in her mind as she craned her neck to see.

    “Got any questions?” the foreman asked at last.

    No one did.

    “You’re Lasat miners now. And as Lasat miners you gotta do your job right. All the ore has to go into the collection baskets, and all the host rock goes into the waste cart. An’ that means all of it. Now Trothidd, Gondrav, an’ I are gonna come around to check on you all. You better not let us see any ore pieces bigger than a claw tip in the waste cart, or any host rock pieces bigger than a claw tip in any of the baskets. And don’t you dare let us see anyone slacking off. Otherwise you’ll find yourself staying after to scrub down the counters and belts. And your parents know it. Got that?”

    Various half-hearted sounds of assent went up from the kits, including a barely audible “yes, sir” from Shulma.

    “An’ another thing. When I tell you to do somethin’, the only correct answer is ‘Yes, Foreman Novalos.’ Understood?”

    “Yes, Foreman Novalos,” chorused the kits.

    “Good! Now get your gear on and get to work!”

    * * *​

    Now suited up in their aprons and foot covers, the kits began filing into the main workspace of Ore Processing Unit Aurek-Two. At one end of the room, the old mechanical distribution apparatus hung on the wall and ceiling above a low metal rolling door. The door opened, and in trundled a large mine cart, heaped with rock chunks. At once the distribution apparatus sprang into operation, clanking and rumbling as it scooped the rock chunks from the cart onto distribution belts that took them around the room and deposited them in the collection bins on the counters that lined the room.

    The kits got to work. Shulma, feeling unsure of herself amid the noise and chaos, took a spot in the far corner of the room, farthest from the distribution apparatus and as separate as possible from any other kits. She sat on the stool that was there, took a piece of rock from her collection bin, and examined it. It was formed almost entirely of dull gray host rock except for one knobby corner of bronze-colored material—probably either quorodium ore or one of the copper ores, from what Foreman Novalos had told them. She ran her finger over it to feel its texture—

    —and twitched with a gasp as a yellow spark shot up from under her finger. She glanced quickly around; fortunately Foreman Novalos and his two assistants were in another part of the room.

    Well, Foreman Novalos had said that some ore types had a tendency to pick up a static charge under the right conditions, and it was a dry day, after all. Shulma picked up the vibrochisel and got to work, picking away at the edge of the knob of ore until it was fully and cleanly separated from the rest of the rock. Even with the sparking, she had been able to tell from its very jagged crystalline texture that it was one of the copper ores.

    Shulma picked up the ore chunk to throw it into the basket for copper. As she did, several yellow sparks shot up. She shuddered and yelped slightly as she dropped the rock back on the table, her fingers twitching with shock.

    What was happening? This wasn’t just static charge or dry air—that much Shulma could tell—but what was it? She looked at some of the other kits at the sorting counters nearby. They were all working through piles of the same kind of ore—and none of it was sparking.

    She put a fingertip on the ore piece on the table, watched another tiny glint arise, and took her finger off again. It reminded her a bit of an old fairy story her mother liked to tell her: the story of Bright Valthya, who had lightning in her touch and could command the Sacred Light from the very stones on the ground. Of course, she knew it couldn’t be anything like that. She was just little Shulma Trilasha of Flowstone Vale.

    Once again she glanced about. The foremen had still not noticed her, but they were making their rounds: Trothidd walking down the rows with his hands clasped behind him, Gondrav helping one boy hold his vibrochisel properly, Novalos berating another who had accidentally put all his tin ore in his quorodium basket. They would soon be nearby. She simply had to go on with her work.

    Quickly, but gingerly, Shulma began sorting through the collection bin for another rock piece. First she looked for one that was all or mostly host rock and tossed it in the waste cart that stood behind her, between her row of counters and the next. She found another similar piece and did the same—then another and another. After that she found no others, so she looked to see if she could find at least a different kind of ore, in case that would make a difference and not shock her. But virtually all the rocks in her bin contained the same kind of copper ore, and even as she sifted through them sparks flew up and stung her fingers.

    It was only at the very bottom of the bin that she found a rock that looked different from the others. It was large, part milky-chalky white, part brilliant, light blue crystal; she recognized it from Novalos’s introduction as strontium ore. She craned closer to admire it and take in its beauty. What Lasat did not know strontium: the mineral that flowed in their blood, that beat in their hearts, that gave the soil and mountains their hues of blue and purple! She reached for it—

    —and multiple bolts of crackling golden energy sprang up to envelop both her hands. Electric pain coursed upward through her fingers, through her arm, and through her whole body. A blinding white-gold-iridescent blaze exploded like a supernova into her vision, engulfing everything around her.

    Three Lasat-shaped figures emerged from the light: a strongman with a spear, a comical dancer leaping and laughing, a tiny kit reaching skyward. From different directions they ran toward each other, colliding and merging into a single, large, magnificent figure—

    —who had bright leaf-green eyes and the brightest, handsomest smile Shulma had ever seen—

    A searing ache shot through Shulma’s head, from one temple to the other and back again. She felt herself crying out, dropping the piece of ore, collapsing onto the counter...

    ...and then nothing.

    * * *​

    Shulma jolted awake with a shriek as rough hands shook her, pulled her from her stool, and spun her around. Foreman Novalos scowled down at her through angry amber eyes.

    “Well, well,” he growled. “Won’t Trilasha be charmed to learn how his little girl was slackin’ off on her very first shift!

    “But Foreman Novalos—please—”

    “None of your buts! You think I’m gonna listen to your silly excuses?! YOUR HEAD WAS ON THE COUNTER!”

    “Please, Foreman Novalos—”

    “You’ll be stayin’ after to scrub down those counters and belts and baskets, y’hear?!”

    “Yes, Foreman Novalos…”

    “Now get back to work!” He shook her loose. “Karkin’ incompetent lot of kits they give me!”

    He stomped off, grumbling. Shulma cast a wistful glance at the beautiful blue-purple piece of strontium ore, now lying on the floor. She didn’t dare pick it up. Instead she returned to her counter and her collection bin, her head still aching and tears welling in her eyes.

    * * *​

    Later that afternoon, all the other kits had gone home. Shulma was left all alone to clean the work surfaces in Ore Processing Unit Aurek-Two—the countertops, the distribution belts, the collection bins, the sorting baskets, and even—“for making excuses”—the large central cart that had brought the rock pieces up from the shafts, which now stood empty on its length of track at the end of the room.

    Wistful tears flowed as she worked. Her very first shift at the mine, and what a silly mess she had made of it! All because her curiosity had gotten the better of her and she had just had to mess about with that piece of strontium! Shouldn’t she just have left it alone after seeing even what just the copper ore could do to her hands? At least, she thought with bitter relief, the rock dust and dirt that remained on the counters and belts didn’t seem to be producing any unusual effects. She paused from scrubbing a collection bin to look out the window, where the sun was just beginning to sink in an orange haze behind the mountaintops. By this time she had thought she would be home like the other kits, supping with Mama and Papa and the boys and cheerfully recounting all the things that had happened on her first-ever mine shift—an occasion that was supposed to be a happy one, or at least a novel and exciting one, for a kit of Flowstone Vale.

    Every so often Novalos would come in to inspect her work (lest she be so bold as to slack off on him again). So far he had at least found nothing to complain about outright, but his scowl seemed craggier and angrier with each visit, and whenever he left he would mutter something about being kept beyond his usual quitting time. Shulma glanced up at the chrono on the wall; he would probably be coming in again soon, and as she was almost done with this row of counters. If she at least got started on the central cart, he would see that she wasn’t being lazy.

    Once she had finished the row, she rinsed the scrub brushes and cleaning cloths and returned them to either the appropriate supply bin or the soiled cloth hamper. Then, from a hook on the wall near the distribution apparatus, she took a long-handled tool with a metal-bristled suction-brush at one end and a broad, flat vibroscraper blade at the other, and brought it over to the central cart.

    The cart was immense, almost as tall as she was, and she craned over to look inside; its inner walls were coated with musty rock dust, and the bottom and lower edges of the sides were thickly crusted with gray-white mineral deposits. As Novalos had instructed her, she as to first use the vibroscraper to break up the heavier deposits, then dust the sides and clean up all the residue with the suction-brush end.

    With some difficulty, she reached the long tool into the cart with the scraper end touching the built-up mineral crust on the cart bottom, then activated the vibroscraper and began chipping away. Masses of fierce yellow sparks flew up with each strike, climbing higher and higher up the metal handle even as the crust crumbled and broke—

    —and Shulma could have sworn that the cart moved.

    Wait, that couldn’t be; wasn’t its brake set? All the brakes of all the waste carts were set; certainly this one was, too? It had to be just her imagination. Sparks or no sparks, she simply had to keep working.

    She struck at the mineral crust again, and several things happened at once.

    A fountain of yellow lightning shot up around the handle of the scraper. The cart lurched forward on its track with such violence that Shulma was pulled off her feet and thrown into it head first, directly into the golden blaze.

    And the cart continued rolling, through the open rolling door, into the shaft, picking up speed…

    “NO!” Shulma screamed. But it was too late. Cart, kit, and scraper, all suffused in masses of yellow lightning, were now careering at full speed downward into the shaft. All Shulma could do was hang onto the scraping tool for dear life as the wild motion knocked and battered her against the sides of the cart. She clenched her eyes shut against the unrelenting pain, the building brilliance—

    —for it was not a dark mine tunnel that she was hurtling through but a fiery maze of gold-orange stardust blended with blinding, color-changing light. Twisting, turning, jolting, pitching, swerving—where to?—

    —until everything crashed to a halt, to darkness and cold.

    to be continued

    Gosrrallan Mountains, the Gosrral: Fanon, the latter being both the region where the former mountain range is located and another name for the mountain range. Named after the historic mining town of Goslar in Lower Saxony, Germany, on the northwestern slopes of the Harz Mountains.

    Quorodium: Completely fictitious.

    Novalos: Named after the German Romantic poet Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, 1772–1801), whose university studies centered on mineralogy and who worked as a mining official.

    Bright Valthya: Fanon.

    Strontium ore: I’m thinking here of the bluish crystalline variety called celestine (or celestite). According to our Lasat fanon post, copper and strontium are responsible for the purplish rock and soil found in many parts of Lasan; I took a bit of a leap from that and put it in Lasat blood, too, perhaps functioning the way iron does in ours.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] Excellent to read of how Shulma inadvertently discovered her affinity for "lightning sparks". Foreman Novalos has no idea she was not slacking. :p =D=
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  3. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Aww, kit!Shulma is so sweet here, with her pretty lavender fur and braids, so shy and apprehensive about this new experience. [face_love] I can’t blame her for feeling overwhelmed in the crowd of noisy, excited kits who are all eager to do this Grownup Stuff for the first time. And on top of that, there’s a lot of strange new tools and equipment—and foot covers! Eek! (Though I kind of love the image of those big Lasat feet in paper booties [face_laugh])—and lots of RULEZ. Lots and lots of them! Foreman Novalos is a real sweetheart, isn’t he? He strikes me as the kind of person who is probably very good at his trade, and because of his knowledge has been promoted into a position he really shouldn’t be in. He seems to think that the only way to instruct the kits is to put the fear of the Ashla into them—the Ashla as personified by him, of course :p

    Little Shulma, overwhelmed though she is, really tries—of course, our girl would do no less than her best!—even after the copper ore keeps sparking and zapping her. I imagine that it was probably quite unpleasant after a while, a lot like getting repeatedly shocked by static elastic electricity, and not just the little buzzing kind of shocks, but the kind that actually hurt! And we have our first clue what’s going on when it makes Shulma think of the story of Bright Valytha—oh, kiddo, you are far more than just “little Shulma”! There’s always a grain of truth in old legends!

    As annoying as the sparks from the copper ore are, the beautiful strontium crystal has a far more potent effect on Shulma (and it’s interesting that this is the mineral that is in Lasat blood and “beat in their hearts”). She has a very familiar vision—the figures of Prophecy becoming one Lasat who embodies the Fool, Child and Warrior. Hmm...leaf green eyes, handsome smile...I wonder who that could represent? ;) (hint: :zeb:) If only Novalos would listen to her for thirty seconds instead of being all hard-nosed about things.(though something tells me he’s not much of one to give credence to mystical experiences anyway). Poor Shulma winds up getting punished for something that's not her fault. Even though she does her absolute best, Novalos still doesn't have a good word for her; in fact, he seems a bit put out that he doesn't get to yell at her anymore :mad: I feel so bad for Shulma having to clean that enormous mine cart with a tool that sounds like its about as big as she is, too. And then the vibro-chisel starts sparking and conducting the Ashla and the cart starts moving :eek: :eek: :eek: the vision she experiences here sounds a lot like what happened when the Ghost traveled through the star cluster to Lira San[face_thinking]

    You've left us with quite the cliffhanger here and I can't wait to see what actually happened to Shulma, and how she will figure out that this new, confusing and somewhat annoying ability is actually a gift. I hope that she will find someone who will listen to her!

    Bravo on this fascinating glimpse of Shulma's childhood. You really bring the town of Flowstone Vale to life with all those rich details about the mining operations and how they've shaped the community. What a great addition to our fanon world building and to the Lasan Series =D= Can't wait to see the next chapter!
     
  4. Mira_Jade

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

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh! I just absolutely adored this glimpse of Shulma's childhood and can't wait to see where it goes next from here. :D [face_love]

    &

    [face_love]!!!

    I can't tell you how much I enjoyed these glimpses of young Shulma! How precious and adorable she is here!! She's still so shy as a youngester - which she will never really lose with her naturally sweet demeanor and initial tendency for demural - as she grows into the courage and fire we all know and love from her. I could perfectly picture her standing apart from the other children, a tad bit awkward and unsure and just trying to fade into the background. [face_love]

    Your premise, descriptions of the setting, and world building were just top notch here, too. But that comes as no surprise, really! =D=

    Yes, sir, Mr. Foreman sir!

    I love where you got inspiration for his name, though. He's a perfectly brusque and stony character to match the earthiness of his surroundings - even if I can't blame Shulma for being intimidated, and maybe even a little frightened. I think I was as well, even from an outsider's POV! :p

    Wow!! I loved getting this look at Shulma's spiritual awakening!! And I especially appreciated the reference to Valthya in Shulma's mind - of course she already has a head for lore and mythicism, even at this a tender age! At first, I would have said that Shulma was something ethereal and almost too spiritual next to the heavy, coarse industry of her surroundings. But in the end it's only appropriate that it's the actual ichor of Lasan that unlocks her ability to chanel the Ashla, producing light through it's ore! How fitting for a future shaman in the making - and for a daughter of Flowstone Vale in all its history. [face_love]

    I too appreciated the more than familiar bit of her trademark humility in that last bit of the quote - even to the point of self-doubt - oh dear Shulma! You are something very special indeed, and her character is all the more endearing after seeing the inception of her life's path here! [face_love]

    What a beautifully written line, both in actual prose and thought!! I liked the inclusion of strontium being in the blood of the Lasat too. Such a perfect fanon, and so fitting with how violently touching the strontium unleashes her lambent spiritual energies!

    Gah!!!

    I love that one of her first steps into this larger world involves a more than familiar prophesy, that has so much bearing on her own future to come, in more ways than one! [face_love]:zeb:

    :oops: [face_phbbbbt] [face_waiting] Oh the injustice of this just burns!!

    I can't say I at all blame Shulma for her sad, self-depricating thoughts here - especially when she's unfairly working so hard in penance for something that's not her fault! She's definitely had a coming of age experience, to say the least, but in a vastly different way than she first anticipated. Especially with her family's background and accompanying expectations, no doubt - which in turn only feeds her gloom. :(

    Oh no!!! :eek: Dear goodness, but talk about her powers manifesting with a fervor!! Though in a moment no one's going to be taking her for a slacker, to say the least. [face_worried]

    Oh, another telling vision of the way to Lira San! Veeeery interesting, indeed. [face_thinking]

    Ouch! :oops:Poor Shulma!! I look forward to seeing the next part, and seeing this poor dear kit coming out on the other end of this bewildering, tumultuous day!! :*


    Excellent work on adding another stellar chapter to this fabulous series! I am thoroughly enjoying every word I read, as always! =D= [:D]
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  5. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Uh oh -- things really went from disheartening to scary for Shulma with the cart racing off into the depths of the mine! :eek: It sounds like this sort of work-study program for the kits has its good side (pretty cool that they get to see the mines that are their town's lifeblood and experience parts of the running of them). But Novalos isn't the best at being in charge of a bunch of little ones. (And I have to agree with those who mentioned that he may not be the type to think that mystical experiences are a thing! :rolleyes:) The descriptions of the various ores and rocks through Shulma's eyes are very intriguing. It seems really fitting that that particular ore would be some kind of catalyst.
     
  6. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Like the mining cart at the end, this story picked up speed until I smashed into the cliff-hanger barrier. I especially liked the details you provided in the spoiler section.

    A full-color, high-resolution holoprojection materialized high on the wall, showing rotating chunks of different types of ore—copper, lead, tin, strontium, quorodium.

    Oddly enough, it was this leapt that into my mental TV and brought the story into focus. I visualized the projection like what's seen in the Clone Wars or Rebels series, or (pun intended) perhaps a Jedi-Knight video game. Suddenly, the characters had distinct faces, eyes, their powerful legs; and had chipping tasks to do. Plink-plink-plink filled my ears as Shulma sparkled.
     
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and commenting. I'm glad you're enjoying this little "origin story"! :)

    Thanks so much, as always, Nyota! Oh, he had no idea indeed... and someone like him, as others have said, might not even believe the truth if he did know it. Neither he nor Shulma realize yet how important this newfound ability (as I guess we can call it) will be for her down the road!

    The image of sweet little shy Shulma among all those noisy, excited kits who Just Couldn't Wait to Do Grownup Mining Stuff was one of the first mental images that I started with in planning this story. The foot covers was something I just couldn't resist; they probably feel at least as weird about putting them on as we humans do! :p That's pretty much exactly how I imagine Novalos, too; being so draconian to the kits is maybe a manifestation of his letting his own skill go to his head, kind of.

    That was pretty much how I imagined the sensation, too. Even a "regular" little static shock can become kind of annoying and painful if it happens again and again and again, and gets bigger and more intense along the way! But there definitely always is truth in old stories, and Shulma will find out that she's more like that legendary figure than she thinks...

    This is where it all begins, and yes, it's no accident at all that it was the strontium that she reacted most strongly to (more on that below). But Novalos is too hard-nosed and shortsighted to realize, to even consider, what it is that might be happening here. To him, it's all just a Distraction that is making her Shirk Her Job. And yet you're right to point out that he takes a certain perverse pleasure in lording it over the kits and yelling at him; that's part of his shortsightedness, too. She really is doing the best she can at doing this extra work she's been assigned, even though it's extremely difficult and taxing for a young kit. Even when it does lead to this very significant new portent (whose import she barely has any idea of yet, though I figured it would be familiar you! ;) ), well, we can be sure that there, too, Novalos wouldn't take the trouble to understand what's behind it.

    I have to admit (and I'm probably not the only writer who feels this way) that there's a certain semi-perverse enjoyment in writing a good (hopefully) cliffhanger, and I guess my excuse is that this one just seemed to fit, in a way! :p But answers to all those things will definitely be coming very soon, and Shulma will finally get some caring and sympathetic attention, which will make a world of difference for her. <3

    Thank you so much, and as always, I appreciate your input so much and am thrilled that this can be part of our worldbuilding and our series! More forthcoming anon. :D

    Thanks so much, Mira, and I am so happy you're enjoying this! :)

    Well, thank you, I do try, on all counts! :) I had numerous moments like that when I was a kid, too: being easily overwhelmed by all the noise and chaos and not sure where I fit into it. And a lot of how we do things, learn things, and react to things as a child really does stay with us into adulthood, too—so even as Shulma grows in confidence and courage she'll never lose that little bit of demure sweetness (or at least that's my objective in writing her!).

    Thanks! I guess the Novalis homage turned out to be a bit ironic, in a way, because while Novalis had that poetic, mystical bent, Novalos is exactly the opposite. He really did turn out to be kind of a piece of work, didn't he ! :p

    & (hope you don't mind if I take these two together, slightly out of sequence)
    Oh yes, it all starts somewhere! ;) The stories we hear as kids really do stay with us our whole lives, in some form or another, and they definitely are among the several catalysts Shulma has in starting down the shamanic path. As to the ethereal-earthy contrast, I was wondering that same thing at first, too, and it is there—but I see there being something very elemental and grounded in the kind of magic Shulma has, too: the particular magic of Lasan, as I see it, is deeply connected to what one might call inner qualities of Lasat-ness and Lasan-ness, something that lives deep within the planet and its people. And the other side of that, of course is that just as Shulma will always be a shaman, she too will always be a daughter of Flowstone Vale and its mining tradition. She'll never be too stuck up to admit that that's part of her, too.

    And thank you so much! I couldn't help but give that deep inner quality of Lasat-ness a mineral tie-in with the strontium, given that Raissa and I already have it as an essential component of the landscape in our fanon post. It is indeed, as you so beautifully put it, the ichor of Lasan, a deep, defining building block of both its land and its people. <3

    This story is where she will juuuuust start to see that she's more than just "little Shulma," but yes, of course she never fully loses that self-effacing tendency!

    Thanks! There, too, I kind of couldn't resist. As I see it, all those things—that prophecy, Shulma's Ashla gift, her love for her people and homeworld, and her love for Zeb—are part and parcel of the very same thing.

    Oh, same here... he doesn't even try to understand what happened! He only sees that whatever happened kept her from Doing Her Work. :(

    It certainly does! =(( The first mine shift is supposed to be a big milestone for the kits of Flowstone Vale as they learn their town's native trade, and you're right that this, too, is very much a milestone for Shulma in that she's starting to discover her Ashla abilities—though it certainly doesn't feel like a milestone for her right now. (Not yet, anyway...)

    Ah, though with people like Foreman Novalos, one never knows! To him it will be All Her Fault in some form or other...

    Yes, I figured those particular colors, that particular starlight, and that particular kind of wild ride would be familiar! ;)

    Yes, it's been a wild and crazy day for her—more than any kid (or kit) should have to experience in one first day on the job! The next part is coming very soon, and you will soon see how she recovers and rebounds—and what awaits her after that.

    Thank you so much, as always, and I am always so thrilled and blessed to have you as a reader! @};-

    There definitely is a certain amount of risk that goes along with introducing the kits to their town's mining heritage, and while usually runaway mining carts aren't part of it, hard-nosed supervisors just might be, as Shulma is finding out. Though that definitely doesn't stop her from eagerly learning what she can about the ore types and trying as best she can to work with them. And yes, as mentioned above, that particular type is the one that sets it all off the most, precisely because of its deep connection to Lasan and the Lasat.

    Thank you so much, and I really appreciate your coming by and reading! And I'm glad you enjoyed the notes, too; it might partly be leftover from my background in the academy, but I always like to include some background tidbits, further references, etc. in stories.

    Thanks for this, too, and I'm so glad this little world of mine came alive for you! I do like stories that are nice and immersive in their descriptions and setting of the scene, and engaging all the senses is something I aim for in each story I write—so I'm really glad it worked well for you here! Thanks again. :)

    Chapter 2 inbound anon... :D
     
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Though I'm always grateful to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading, I'm especially indebted to her on this chapter; her helpful, detailed feedback put a lot of things in this part of the story in better perspective for me and made this a much better chapter than it otherwise would have been. Many thanks once again, Raissa! @};-


    Two

    Some time later, after a good bit of searching, Foreman Novalos found the little long-braided kit lying unconscious, bruised, and shivering in the mine cart somewhere deep in shaft 38. With a sigh and a few grumbled oaths he felt for her pulse and breath, then checked her over for bruises and fractures following the usual first-aid protocol. Nothing was broken, but there were a few bruises on her arms, feet, and face, which he treated with bacta salve from his portable medkit.

    This done, Novalos hoisted Shulma onto one shoulder and carried her back up to his office in the main ore processing plant. Then he put in a call to his colleague Over-Foreman Ormgar Trilasha of the Southern Ridge Shafts, who was already off for the day, and told him all that had happened. Since he and his family lived not too far from the mining complex, Ormgar agreed to come collect his daughter. He laid her across the back seat of the Trilasha family’s old X-29 speeder and drove her home.

    Shulma came to with a jolt during the speeder ride, trembling and aching from her recent ordeal. “You all right?” her father grunted as soon as he heard her moving around.

    “Yeah...”

    “Good. You went a long way down. I keep tellin’ the admin they need to check the brakes on those things more often.”

    “Er… I guess...” Shulma was too tired and achy to argue the point beyond that, and neither father nor daughter said anything more the rest of the ride.

    Dusk was well advanced when they arrived home. The family had already finished its evening meal, and some remnants of it had been left out on the table in case Shulma wanted anything, but she was still cold and achy and not at all hungry. As soon as they saw she had arrived, her older twin brothers—some four dust seasons her senior and already doing some work underground—ran up to her, teasing and jostling her.

    “Heard you got in trouble today, little sis.”

    “Yeah, had to scrub off the belts on your first day, did ya?”

    Shulma turned her head away, feeling too weak to reply. “You two leave her alone,” scolded Ormgar, as he shooed his sons away and took his daughter upstairs to her small attic room, straight to bed.

    Shulma pulled her covers around her. She tried to sleep, but her head still ached, her body still shook, and the world around her still seemed to swim and toss and turn. Images—perhaps snatches of dreams, she wasn’t sure—kept flitting at random across her consciousness. Every time she closed her eyes and tried to relax, something would burst in on her mind’s eye: the ore processing workroom, Foreman Novalos, the mine cart—but also her parents and brothers and other Lasats she knew, other places she had been, from the quiet streets of Flowstone Vale to the majestic purplestone cliffs and caves of the Gosrral. And those three strange figures running and colliding… the leaf-green eyes… the fiery tunnel of gold-orange light…

    And everywhere, through all of it, those golden sparks. Sparks, everywhere sparks...

    Shulma shifted and reached for the doll that lay in its own little doll bed on her bedside table. It was her favorite doll, dressed in the gown and cloak of an ancient sage-maiden, with long hair and jewel-like golden-green eyes that really opened and closed. She hugged it close and sighed.

    Just then she heard a gentle knock at the door, and a familiar voice: “May I come in?”

    “Yes, of course.”

    Shulma shifted to sitting upright as her mother entered the room. Yokheva Barzellati Trilasha, chief of operations at the Royal Lasat Mining Ministry, wore eyeglasses and a necklace of large, rough, variegated quartz beads; her black-purple hair was done up in a high bun, and a few strands of dark silver-gray wisped near her ears. She sat down on the bed beside her daughter and learned over to give her a kiss on the brow ridge.

    “How are you feeling, little gem?” she asked.

    “I don’t know… still kind of… funny. And tired.”

    Her mother stroked her cheek affectionately. “I don’t blame you,” she said. “You’ve had a long day. But please tell me: what happened, exactly?” Shulma shuddered, but Yokheva reassured her with a hand to her shoulder. “No, please don’t worry, love. You’re not in trouble.”

    “Er, all right, but—”

    “And yes, I know what the foreman said. But I don’t believe him. I’ve never known you to be lazy. So won’t you please tell me what happened? As best as you remember?”

    Shulma took a deep breath in and told her mother everything that had happened from the start. She told her of the way the sparks flew up when she first handled the copper ore, the vision of the merging figures that overtook her when she picked up the strontium, everything she saw and felt during her wild ride in the mine cart, and the pains and sparks and images that even now kept popping into her consciousness to keep her from relaxing. Yokheva listened closely to every detail, occasionally nodding. When at the end of the tale she sat silent in thought for several moments, her daughter asked:

    “Do you believe me, Mama?”

    “Yes, of course I do.”

    “Even about all the… weird stuff I saw?”

    “Even that,” Yokheva chuckled slightly.

    “Do you know… what happened? What it’s all about?”

    “Well… I have a guess. Give me a moment and I’ll be right back.”

    Yokheva kissed her daughter’s brow ridge again, then got up and left the room. She returned several moments later with a small, worn, leather-bound book in her hands, through which she paged intently as she seated herself once again on the bed. Shulma craned her head to get a better look at it, but the title embossed on its cover was in an old-fashioned script she couldn’t read.

    “What is that, Mama?” she asked.

    “Oh, it belonged to your great-great grandmother Shatha Dzenkachi, on my mother’s mother’s side,” Yokheva replied, still paging through.

    Shulma perked up, recognizing the name of a forebear her mother had spoken of many times before—one who had had the gift of the Ashla and been a shaman of Lasan. But she was puzzled, too: why look in some great-great-grandmother’s musty old books for advice on how to help a regular twelve-dust-season-old girl-kit? Weren’t there other books in the house about remedies and the like? Like, for instance, that herb guide her parents had consulted that time she had eaten a whole basket of unripe maznaberries...

    “Mama, what exactly is this book? What are you looking for?”

    Her mother looked up and leaned a little closer. “Well, Lasats who have the Ashla are sometimes prone to something called vision shock, and—”

    Ashla?!” Shulma’s eyes and mouth gaped in alarm. “But Mama, I’m not—I’m just—how can I—”

    “Hush, little gem, don’t be upset! That will only make it worse!”

    “But vision shock?! That sounds terrible! Am I going to be all right?!

    “Of course you’ll be all right!” Her mother moved closer and put an arm around her. “All it really means is that you’ve had some visions that have disturbed you and thrown your Ashla currents out of balance. That’s why you’re feeling so strange right now. Once we calm your currents back down, according to this, it should go away.”

    “But I mean, all that stuff in the ore room, and in the cart... was all that really the Ashla? As in, real visions? Like the kind the ancient prophetesses used to have?”

    Yokheva shrugged. “Why on Lasan shouldn’t it be? Great-Gran Shatha always used to say her talent was bound to come back into the family sometime. Look, let’s get you back to sleep so you can be well and energetic when you go in tomorrow.” Shulma’s face fell at this. “I know, I know it’s no fun. But for now just do your best. It’ll take some time for us to figure out what to do next, and in the meantime all we can do is carry on.”

    “All right, Mama,” her daughter sighed.

    “It says here that it can help to hear familiar sounds or voices… how about I read to you a bit? Maybe some stories from Tales of the Ancients?

    “Sure, sounds good.”

    So Shulma lay back on her pillow, snuggling down under her covers and hugging her doll close, while her mother read her tale after tale from the beloved storybook: the origin of the heavenly bodies, the birth of the gems in the mountains, the founding of Lira Zel and the contest of its four warrior-rulers, the romance of Rolmvar the Rugged and Radiant Lalma, and of course her old favorite, the story of Bright Valthya. As her mother’s warm voice and familiar words washed over her, Shulma felt herself calming, her aches and dizziness melting away. But questions and worries still crept into her mind. Did she really have Ashla powers like her great-great-grandmother did? What did that really mean? Was it dangerous? What if others found out? And would any of it even matter when she went back to work at the mine tomorrow?

    But the warmth and calm soon won out, and she fell into a peaceful sleep.

    * * *​

    The next morning found Shulma back at the counter in Ore Processing Unit Aurek-Two, clad in the regulation apron and foot covers. This time she was not in the corner of the plant, apart from the others; Novalos had placed her toward the middle of the central counter, among several other kits (“to keep an eye on ya,” he had muttered). She had pulled her collection bin close to her and was looking over its contents as closely as she could without touching them. This time there was a good deal of tin ore mixed in with the copper ore; she hadn’t had any tin ore the day before and didn’t know how it would react to her touch.

    Gingerly she picked up a piece. A few small sparks went up, and she felt a tiny, momentary shock, but nothing more. So far so good—she could work with that. She even wondered if things were getting easier for her already, after recovering from last night’s vision shock...

    To be sure, she also picked up a piece of rock streaked with veins of copper ore. Just as before, violent yellow sparks erupted, and she dropped the rock in pain back into the bin. That answered her question, of course. At least she didn’t see any strontium—or not yet. The bin was very full, and anything could be in it.

    An idea formed in Shulma’s mind. She leaned over to the kit at the neighboring station, a girl with pigtails and medium-dark purple-blue fur, who was busy cutting a large, shiny piece of copper ore from its host rock.

    “Hey, Ninqua, can I ask you something?”

    The pigtailed girl looked up from her work. “Yeah, what is it?”

    Shulma pushed her collection bin closer to her neighbor. “Would you, er, like to take my copper pieces?”

    “Um, okay, why?”

    “Er… well… they’ve been hurting my hands.”

    “Weird, are you allergic?”

    “Well, um—”

    “Back to work, you two,” barked Trothidd, who had just come alongside them in his regular rounds.

    “Y-yes, Foreman Trothidd,” said both girls almost simultaneously. Shulma breathed a sigh of relief as she picked up a rock piece and began to work on it, but no sooner was Trothidd out of earshot than Ninqua spoke again.

    “I guess it’s a lilac-fur thing. My auntie’s a lilac-fur, too.”

    “Oh...?”

    “Yeah. And she can’t wear any jewelry without breaking out in blotches.”

    “Er, sure…” replied Shulma, then, rapidly changing the subject: “And can I take your tin pieces? Because they, er, don’t hurt as much.”

    “Yeah, sure, I guess.” Ninqua moved her collection bin closer to Shulma’s. “Here, take whatever you want.”

    “Thanks, Ninqua.”

    “No problem.”

    This arrangement served them well the rest of the day. Both girls took pieces of rock from both collection bins. Shulma worked on the tin ore pieces, which gave her nothing worse than tiny sparks and mild static twinges; she always made sure to work facing partly away from Ninqua, so that the other girl wouldn’t see her hands. Ninqua, in turn, happily took all the pieces that looked like they contained copper ore. Novalos came by to inspect them as usual, side-eying Shulma hard, but ultimately passed on with a grunt when he noticed her calmly and unobtrusively at work.

    They did the same the day after and the day after, and the day after that, and all was well. This way Shulma had no more of the troublesome flare-ups or visions, and definitely no vision shock—only a few of the tiny sparks and tingles that were at least easy to hide. The foremen still came by on their regular rounds, but they didn’t seem to notice or care that the two girls were sharing bins, as long as the job was getting done. Even Novalos seemed to grudgingly acknowledge that the troublemaker of the first day might actually be turning into a productive little worker.

    At the end of each day Ormgar Trilasha would come by the ore plant after his own shift to pick up his daughter and take her home. He would ask her desultory questions about her workday and she would answer them in an equally desultory manner, never mentioning the sparks. But her mother always checked in with her later, at bedtime, when they were alone. Shulma told her everything, and she would always listen closely and take note. Yokheva further confided to her daughter that she was trying to arrange for a meeting with one of the master-shamans who governed the academy on Mount Straga, who might better be able to assess her situation. It was difficult because of their very full schedule teaching the younger shamans and being called on for spiritual purposes, but she resolved to keep trying, for Shulma’s sake. Shulma looked forward every day to that meeting, though neither she nor her mother knew when it would be.

    One day later that week, toward quitting time, when the western sky was just starting to glow a brighter, lazier purple-gold, Shulma and Ninqua were working at their stations as usual. Their collection bins were close to empty and their sorting baskets nearly full, and as usual they had pooled their supply: Shulma took everything that would be less volatile for her, and Ninqua took the rest. At the bottom of Ninqua’s bin were several chunks of a bright silver-gray crystal that looked like the tin ore Shulma had been extracting most of the day. But when she reached over to scoop them up, such a huge shock of golden lightning erupted from her hands that she shrieked and nearly fell over backward. Surprised, Ninqua dropped her vibrochisel, her eyes and mouth gaping.

    “Oh ’bast! Shulma!”

    “N-ninqua…” Shulma felt herself shaking as she realized what had happened. Those rocks were actually one of the rarer, less conspicuous forms of strontium ore—which had broken into even smaller pieces at her touch—and there was no way her neighbor could not have seen the sparks that had flown up as a result.

    “You’ve got the gift, don’t you!”

    “Shhh! N-not so loud!”

    But it was too late. Foreman Novalos was already looming over them, scowling, arms tightly crossed. “Oi! What’s all this din?!”

    “Er… um… well…” Shulma felt herself shaking more violently now. She looked down at her hands; even though she had dropped the strontium crystals, tiny sparks were still dancing at her fingertips. She clapped one hand over the other in a desperate attempt to quell or hide them, but to no effect.

    Before she could say anything coherent, Ninqua piped up. “Shulma’s got the gift, Foreman Novalos!”

    Gift?! What are you talkin’ about?!”

    “Look what she can do to the ore crystals!”

    “N-ninqua, p-please—” More trembling and harder, more sparks and brighter—and the other kits and foremen were now gathered around, watching.

    “And you been doin’ what to the crystals?!” The foreman noticed the broken rock pieces in Ninqua’s bin and spun to face Shulma with a ferocious glare. “Playin’ instead of doin’ your work, eh? An’ not even in your own—” He stopped short as his gaze fell on the yellow sparks that now crackled almost uncontrollably around her hands. “What. The Bogan. Is this?!

    He grabbed her hand to look closer—then let out a bloodcurdling screamed oath as the shock of the sparks threw him backward to stagger against the counter in a daze. Shulma shrieked and drew back, tears springing up in her eyes as she saw what had happened. Around her, the other kits were gasping and murmuring among themselves. The two assistant foremen ran up. Gondrav helped Novalos to a stool at the far end of the room, while Trothidd grabbed Shulma by the shoulder and hustled her away, trembling and weeping.

    “Please—I’m really sorry—” she sobbed. “I didn’t mean—really—”

    Trothidd snorted as he pulled her into the vestibule of Unit Aurek-Two. “You can tell that to your pa when he gets here,” he snarled.

    Just then the sound of a throat clearing made the foreman spin around. Before him, staring him unflappably down through bespectacled emerald eyes, was a distinguished-looking Lasat woman. She had lilac fur like that of the kit whose shoulder he was still gripping, and her long, brightly colored suit-dress was adorned not only with a necklace of large quartz beads but also the insignia of the Royal Lasat Mining Ministry.

    “Is there a problem?”

    to be continued

    Over-Foreman: A slightly clunky literal translation of the German title Obersteiger, one of the foreman ranks in the mining hierarchy of the pre-industrial German-speaking lands. An Obersteiger was set over several Untersteiger who each supervised workers in smaller, more restricted areas of the mine.

    X-29: Fanon. There are established X-31, X-34, and X-38 landspeeders, so this one is perhaps a generation or two older than those.

    prophetesses: To make this word feminine, we English-speakers have traditionally added a suffix (-ess), but in my headcanon, the base form of the equivalent word is feminine in the Lasat language and has to be altered in order to be made masculine.

    The Lasat tales Yokheva reads to Shulma are all fanon. The story of Rolmvar the Rugged and Radiant Lalma is also mentioned in Letter Perfect; or, The Letter under Zebby’s Pillow—perhaps Zeb’s parents read to him from the same storybook growing up!
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
    Kahara and Mira_Jade like this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I loved the supportiveness from Shulma's mom and the assurance that everyone knows she's not shirking and an appointment with the Shamans is pending. The workaround with Ninqua seemed to solve everything until ... wow!

    Just. On the edge of my seat for more! =D=
     
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  10. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Aww, dear little Shulma! She really goes through a lot for a girl that age (the same age as my own Youngling!). It’s interesting to see the varied reactions of her family members to the incident. Ormgar is a Lasat of few words, even here, but he’s not uncaring and shoos the twins away as he carries her upstairs to rest. The twin seem to be of the “we tease because we care” species of brother, but really guys, you’re 16 not 10 and your sister’s been unconscious. Maybe ease up a little on the jokes. But of course, it’s Yokheva who really shines here, a caring and concerned mother who really listens to what Shulma has to say with an open mind and heart. (I love that she calls Shulma “little gem”. Very fitting for the Lasat in general and a mining family in particular.) And it’s Yokheva who has the first inklings of what’s going on, thanks to the stories about Great-grandmother Shatha. I almost get the feeling that she’s been expecting something of the sort from Shulma, because she doesn’t seem overly surprised. It’s more like her suspicions are confirmed. She knows exactly where to find answers—and it’s interesting that the Shamans have such a manual (I have joked about various parents wishing there was some journal on raising your Force-Sensitive child).

    Shulma seems a lot more surprised that her mother is consulting this old tome instead of the usual herbal (and how exactly does one “accidentally” eat an entire basket of berries :p). I really don’t blame Shulma for being a little freaked out—little girls don’t have Ashla powers! That’s for dusty old crones like Chava! Vision shock does sound like a pretty horrible and possibly permanent affliction, but fortunately Yokheva is able to (literally)talk her through it by reading her stories—and there are more echoes of things to come here: Yokheva reads a story that is also one of Zeb’s favorites, in exactly the same way that Zeb will read the prophecies to Shulma to soothe her vision shock later.

    Happily, things improve for Shulma when she goes back to the mining complex. I’m so glad she finds a helpful and accepting friend in Ninqua. I really like how Ninqua takes Shulma’s unusual request in stride and fills in her own mundane explanation of her having a metal allergy on account of being lilac furred [face_laugh] Unfortunately Shulma’s good luck can’t last and she accidentally picks up a piece of strontium. :eek: Ninqua’s impressed by her friend’s cool abilities, but Novalos, who really shouldn’t be working with children in any capacity, just assumes Shulma’s messing around again and—OMF what’s going on with her hands?1!? He gets a good zap and that’s really got to unnerve Shulma, who didn’t realize she could do that! Unfortunately, it also unnerves the other kits, and Trothidd, who seems to be cut from the same cloth as Novalos, assumes she did it purposefully. Which, okay, it probably was scary looking, but manhandling a crying child? It’s a good thing Yokheva shows up when she does! Do not get between a mama Lasat and her kit! I’m sure she will have a few choice words for the foreman.

    Here’s hoping that Yokheva is able to get a meeting with the shamans (Chava herself, perhaps?) soon so that Shulma can get some peace and realize her abilities are really a good thing and not just an inconvenient nuisance at best. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!
     
  11. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    *pulls chin thoughtfully*
    Any relation to Brian Boru? I dunno--something for me leapt there, too.
     
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  12. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Shulma's having a rough couple of days here, poor kiddo. Thankfully someone at least figured out that she and the cart had gone missing before she could get too cold, but still!

    The glimpse of Shulma's family life is really sweet (even if her siblings are at a pesky age! :p ) and the conversation with Yokheva was really comforting. Even if Shulma feels like she's in uncharted waters, at least her mom is able to give her some assurance that this will not be as uncontrollable as it might seem when she's having pyrotechnic hiccups. :)

    Ninqua seems more curious than wary, even if her well-meaning question caused some trouble. Too bad that Novalos and company aren't on the same page; it seems like Yokheva might have been checking up on them and that was a good instinct. Being startled is understandable, but there's no call for treating a scared kid like that! :mad: At least Shulma's in the best possible hands with Yokheva's arrival.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks as always for the readership and comments, everyone! :)

    Thanks so much, as always! Those assurances mean so much to Shulma at this moment, when she's really been doubting herself and fearing there's something wrong with her. But she will learn otherwise very soon, and more will be coming your way very soon! :)

    Thanks so much! I think the twin brothers are definitely teasing partly because they really do care, but also partly because they’re a bit worried; little sis has never come home in this state before. Ormgar is a laconic type and a bit crusty (almost never seeing the daylight during a typical work day will, perhaps, do that to one), but he ultimately loves his little girl. Her mom has definitely had her eye on her, and has a guess about what’s happening based on her own distant family history. Up till now that shamans’ health guide has just been an interesting family artifact, but now Yokheva is learning perhaps the real reason she’s been holding on to it so long! (I could see the new-order Jedi developing a health guide like that, too! ;) )

    This is definitely not the last time Shulma is going to suffer from this ailment, but this also isn’t the last time someone she loves will be by her side to help her heal. The newness of it all, particularly the whole business of her potential Ashla sensitivity, makes it hit her all the harder—her head really is swimming! But there’s nothing indeed like the calming effect of a familiar voice. [face_love]

    I had fun writing Ninqua! Her happy-go-lucky streak makes for a fun foil for Shulma. She really isn’t trying to get Shulma in trouble here; it’s just that she thinks her friend’s lightning fingers are SO WIZARD!1 :D I imagine it had to be a bit awkward for the other kits to watch what happens next, and pretty unnerving for both foremen too—though not to worry, Trothidd will soon get the censure his actions deserve.

    Soon and very soon Shulma will indeed get that reassurance! Watch this space, and thanks as always for following and commenting. :)

    Maybe, maybe—perhaps a kindred spirit, at very least! ;) Thanks so much for commenting, always glad you see you here. :)

    It definitely was a scary event for her—a very literal rough ride, and to be down in that shaft for so long, all alone and unconscious... well, she was lucky indeed. <3

    The poor girl does deserve a little warmth and reassurance after going through all that, and her mom is just the person to give it, as she's probably noticed some of these tendencies early on and has been keeping an eye on them. But even those pesky twins are, once again, doing what they're doing because they love her... riiiight? :p
    Ninqua didn't mean any harm at all, of course, but it certainly was an unfortunate thing that the foremen happened to hear her. Everyone is more than a little worked up at this point from all these unusual things happening all at once, but it definitely is lucky that Shulma's mom shows up when she does! (And that it's specifically her mom that shows up, as you'll soon see.)

    Thank you all once again, and stay tuned for chapter three, to come very soon! :)
     
  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    As usual, my thanks to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and valuable feedback. @};-


    Three

    “Oh Mama—”

    Shulma crumpled into her mother’s arms, tears flowing anew. Yokheva held her close as she listened to Trothidd’s nervous account of all that had happened in the workroom. “A-and we can’t have that sort of thing on the floor, y’know,” he concluded. “We’ll probably have to report it to the company.”

    “Oh, leave that to me,” came the chill response.

    “Can you do it? Aw, thank you, ma’am!”

    “Most certainly.” Yokheva’s deep green eyes narrowed to smoldering slivers. “The company will no doubt be interested to know that some of their youth supervisors are in the habit of roughly handling kits who mean no harm.”

    “Er… yes… ma’am…” was all an extremely chagrined Trothidd could manage before turning tail and hurrying back to the workroom. Meanwhile, Yokheva stayed still, holding her daughter until she calmed.

    “Are you going to be all right, little gem?” she asked.

    “Yes, Mama.” Shulma looked up at her mother. “It was just kind of scary, that’s all.”

    “I know. And I know you never meant to hurt anyone. Now listen, you’re probably wondering why I’m here and not Papa like usual. I’ve finally gotten us a meeting with one of the shamans on Mount Straga.”

    Shulma’s face brightened. Finally a chance at some answers about all these sparks and visions—just what she’d been waiting and hoping for all week long! “Wow, that’s great, Mama!”

    “Yes! I think so, too. We’ll pick up a little supper in town and head over there. But just one thing first”—and at this her daughter cocked her head quizzically—“I think it would be a good idea for you to go back into the workroom for a moment and tell the foreman you’re sorry about what happened.”

    “Oh, but Mama, I really—I didn’t mean to—”

    “I know that, and you know that, but he doesn’t yet. Telling him so would be the honorable thing to do.”

    “But he was so mad—”

    “Yes, but he’s probably calmer now. Go ahead, it won’t take you long.”

    “All right, Mama,” Shulma sighed, then returned to the workroom. Order had more or less been restored. The kits had all returned to their stations and were back to their sorting work, though several of them looked up as Shulma entered, and a few whispered to each other. Gondrav, who was going down the rows to check on them as usual, turned to her, too. Novalos, however, still sat on the stool in the corner, his face to the wall as he rubbed an aching spot on his back. Shulma braced herself and went up to him.

    “Foreman Novalos?

    He eyed her warily as he turned to face her. “Yeah?”

    “I—I’m really sorry about—I didn’t know—I mean, I hope you’re—”

    “’S all right, ’s all right, kid, and I’m fine. Just be careful, okay?”

    “Er, yes, Foreman Novalos.”

    “Good. Now go with your ma. See you tomorrow.”

    “You too, Foreman Novalos.”

    He gave Shulma a gentle punch to her shoulder, and with relief on her face she went to rejoin her mother.

    * * *​

    After picking up a quick supper at one of their favorite eateries in central Flowstone Vale, Yokheva and Shulma headed northward, deeper into the Gosrrallan Mountains, where Mount Straga—Lasan’s holy mountain and stronghold of all her spiritual power—loomed mistily and majestically. It was a long, dizzying ride as the family speeder made its way painstakingly along the switchbacked mountain roadways. Meanwhile, dusk was falling, and gray clouds began to gather over the peaks, portending a storm. Yokheva raised the canopy of the speeder.

    At last the sacred peak towered before them. Yokheva parked the speeder at its base, and she and her daughter boarded the rattling funicular car to the top. The clouds churned darker and darker as the car clanked upward along its ancient track, and the rain now beat the windows in a steady drizzle. Shulma pressed closer to her mother and turned her eyes from the dizzying, stormy view; her heart, both eager and nervous, was now pattering like the rain. By the time she and her mother finally alighted in the academy’s round, bare stone entrance chamber with its flickering lightning-sconces, that patter—both within and without—had grown to a pounding roar.

    “Good evening.”

    Both Yokheva and Shulma turned to look. The figure that came forward to greet them was one of the most beautiful Shulma had ever seen: a tall, stately woman, with dark-lilac fur and bluish arm-stripes, who wore a long dress and cloak that reminded Shulma of her favorite doll—the woman even wore the same kind of ring-shaped silver ornament in her hair. She inclined her head slightly to the newcomers and placed hand over fist in greeting.

    “Talla Jenthai, First Prime, mistress of initiates. You are welcome to the Academy of Shamans.”

    Yokheva returned the gesture, as did her daughter. “Yokheva Barzellati Trilasha, and this is my daughter Shulma.”

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” The woman held out the palm of her hand to Yokheva, who touched it with her own. “Come this way.”

    Shulma and her mother followed her through torchlit stone corridors, vaulted atria, and an expansive library hall. The rain still sounded in the distance as they walked; Shulma thought she now heard the low growl of thunder as well. At last, at the far end of the library, the shaman led them through a pair of double doors into a smaller, more intimate book-lined room. At its center was a cushioned chaise or couch, surrounded by a few upholstered chairs, and a desk stood off to one side, holding not only assorted books and papers but also several pieces of different crystals and minerals, arranged in a row. A staff with a large ring at its top leaned against a bookcase in one corner. Shulma noticed that in this room she could no longer hear the storm outside but could feel all the more the nervous, rainlike pounding of her heart.

    “Please sit.”

    Shulma and her mother sat together on the couch, and Jenthai sat in a chair directly facing them. “So, young Shulma,” she began, “I understand that you might have an Ashla gift?”

    “Er… well… I guess…” Shulma barely looked at the shaman as she spoke. It still felt strange to her that she—a tiny, insignificant kit from Flowstone Vale—could possibly have any such thing as an Ashla gift.

    “That is what we shall find out tonight,” the shaman smiled. “May we begin by asking you some questions?”

    “Yes, Mistress Jenthai—”

    Shaman Jenthai,” corrected her mother quietly.

    “Yes, Shaman Jenthai.”

    And so the questions began. First, Shaman Jenthai asked Shulma to give basic information about herself: her full name, her age, the names of family members, her general state of health. She inquired whether any other members of the family were known to have or to have had the talent of the Ashla, to which both she and her mother answered that they knew of none except Great-Great-Gran Shatha. Next came several detailed questions about Shulma’s experiences in the ore workroom during the course of the week: what exactly she had felt and seen when she had handled the different types of ore, what had happened during her ride down the mine shaft, how she had felt afterward during her bout of vision shock. Much of it was painful for Shulma to relive, but with her mother’s gentle encouragement she was able to tell all. The shaman listened attentively and sympathetically, occasionally taking notes.

    Once this was done, Shaman Jenthai led Shulma to the desk, where the row of crystals sat, and asked her to handle each of them. Many were the same ore types that Shulma had seen while working at the mine, so she at least knew what to expect when she touched each one—though she was glad her mother was there to steady her when she picked up the pieces of blue-purple strontium ore and greenish-bronze copper ore. One brilliantly fiery purple-red crystal of a type she had never seen before brought on not only a flurry of golden sparkles but also a strange, not entirely unpleasant fluttering sensation deep within her. She put it down quickly, unsure if what she had felt was unseemly.

    All the while, Shaman Jenthai observed Shulma’s reactions closely and noted them down. Occasionally she asked her to comment on what she felt or asked her to pick up the same specimen a second time. Shulma’s hands were becoming sore from all the tingling, but she did her best to comply with everything the shaman asked her to do. Her mother reminded beside her the entire time.

    “How are you feeling, Shulma?” asked Shaman Jenthai at last, after the girl had put down the last specimen (a spiky, dusty chunk of raw quorodium) and was rubbing her hands together to soothe them.

    “I’m fine, thanks,” she answered.

    “You’re doing very well. I must say I’m impressed at how patient you’ve been—and your mother, too.” She nodded to Yokheva, who nodded back. “Now, from what I have observed, it seems indeed likely that you have some kind of connection to the Ashla.”

    Shulma drew her breath in sharply, still incredulous; her mother placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. Shaman Jenthai continued.

    “There are many different kinds of connections that the Ashla forms with us Lasat, and in order to learn more about yours I shall have to probe your currents.” Shulma cocked her head wonderingly, and the shaman explained. “First, you will relax into a dream trance so that your currents open themselves. Then I’ll trace the Ashla through them and follow it into the deeper parts of your consciousness, so that I can learn from what it has shown you and where it has led you so far.

    “This should not cause you any pain, but I have to warn you: it probably will cause some of the visions and sensations you had before to return, and there is about a half-and-half chance that it may do the same with your vision shock, too. And probing procedures like this can take some time, perhaps a few hours. So I won’t proceed until both you and your mother have given us your complete permission.”

    Shulma looked at her mother, who turned to look at her as well. “I leave this up to you, little gem.”

    The girl paused for a few moments, thinking back to all she had experienced. Some of it had been a bit odd and nothing more—like the vision of the three bright figures colliding into one. But so much of it had been troubling and painful: the hurtling ride through time and space in the mine cart, the unrelenting aches and chills and dizziness of the vision shock, the accidental shocking of Foreman Novalos. And, of course, all those painful sparks—sparks everywhere, flying up from her own tiny hands, uncontrolled and uncontrollable.

    And if she let the shaman probe her currents, she would feel all of it again. Did she like the idea of that? No—and yet—

    If she really did have some sort of connection to the Ashla, surely it was worth a little pain to find as much as she could about that connection? It seemed a shame not to, and she had already come this far, after all. And now both Shaman Jenthai and her mother were looking at her, waiting for a reply.

    “Yes,” she said finally. “I’ll do it.”

    * * *​

    So the probing procedure began. Shulma was asked to lie on the couch, with her mother sitting beside her to provide a calming touch if needed. Meanwhile, Shaman Jenthai went to fetch the staff that leaned in the corner of the room. She took one of the stone pieces from the desk—the brilliant red purple crystal, Shulma noticed—and affixed it to the pronged mounting the middle of her staff’s crowning ring-ornament. Then she stationed herself at one end of the couch, near Shulma’s head, holding the staff upright before her.

    “Now close your eyes. Breathe deeply, regularly.”

    Shulma did so. As she relaxed into the cushions surrounding her, she could hear faint, almost whispered chanting from the shaman. Then there was a sudden loud clack of wood striking the floor, followed by a strange, harmonic, thrumming zzinggg that echoed through the vault of the room and seemed to vibrate behind Shulma’s own eyes. Once again she became aware of the storm sounds that continued far away outside: rumble of thunder, whisk of wind, roar of rain. All such beautiful sounds, soothing sounds, hypnotic sounds… was this the sound of the song of the Ashla itself?

    And then—

    She was back in the gold-orange stardust-maze from the mine tunnel. But this time, instead of blazing and blinding, it glowed gently, like the sunset through the clouds—and this time she was not hurtling through at full speed but floating gently on solar zephyrs. The many-colored light was there, too, singing as it flowed around her like a stream…

    A golden spark jolted her: like those that had come from her hands on the stones, only bigger. And another and another, like Storms’ End fireworks exploding inside her consciousness. In each burst an image erupted: Novalos, Trothidd, Ninqua, Father, Mother, the boys. Burst, burst, and burst again: foremen, family, friends, others. On and on, for many minutes, in that stream of gold-orange light.

    And then, out of nowhere, bigger bursts, more like lightnings than sparks: the laughing dancer, the spear-wielding fighter, the frolicking kit with smiling leaf-green eyes. Again and again, bursting in and out, for many more minutes. With each, this time, a twinge of pain—twinges she now recognized. The gold-orange firmament churned like muddy water, and white chalk lines cut through it, almost like strange lightless lightning—

    And then BURST went the biggest spark of all, into an image she had not seen before: a lovely shaman in a dress and cloak like the one her doll wore, with piercing emerald-green eyes—that really opened and closed—

    BANG! As quickly as it had appeared, the image disappeared in a loud thunderclap. The universe shook as though from an explosion. Sparks and lightnings zigzagged ruthlessly through Shulma’s mind and body. Again the violent shaking, again the shooting pain. She felt hands holding her—she didn’t know whose—maybe shaking her, maybe steadying her. She heard voices conferring and exhorting...

    The room popped back into focus. Shulma saw her mother beside her, holding her close, and Shaman Jenthai peering down at her, but now a new face had joined them. A second shaman, elderly and very small, her white hair done up in an old-fashioned style, once again with the ring-ornament in the middle—someone Shulma knew she had seen in pictures before and at big public ceremonies in the capital like Storm Solstice…

    Chava with the long, hard-to-pronounce last name, the one everyone called Chava the Wise. Chief Shaman of the Academy, head of the Revered Masters, spiritual leader of all Lasan. Here, beside silly little Shulma Trilasha of Flowstone Vale. And she said:

    “Oh! Oh sovereign mercy, child… I’m afraid I owe you an apology!”

    to be continued

    Chava: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Chava. Her “long, hard-to-pronounce last name” is purely my own fanon. (Chava Merkavitou Behanrrocha, for those who are curious; I used it first in chapters 3 and 6 of Light of Lasan.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
  15. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    *Sits in chair, chin in palm, and revisits the dream trance; his coffee has grown cold beside him. @Findswoman, I liked this section especially and hope that the explanation of what Shulma experienced is coming. With that, and as I am experiencing the Lasan solely through your work, I was left wondering about the explosive end to the trance. Could it be Shulma broke through a barrier and touched the mind of another, extremely powerful Force-wielder (the timeless intruder)? --We don't know. Verrry nice hanger-off-the-cliff-er there.
     
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  16. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Jenthai is encouraging and helped Shulma through the probing procedure, so that the effects didn't spiral out of control. The description of the sensations and colors was lovely! =D= Eagerly curious about what Chava possibly could apologize for. [face_thinking]
     
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  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much for following and commenting, Oddly, and I'm glad you enjoyed this chapter! We definitely are close to learning a little more about the nature of Shulma's visions, and there was indeed a reason for the explosive end of the trance, which will be explained in the next chapter. Not too long now! ;)

    Thanks, as always, Nyota! It's a bit of a strange and unaccustomed process for Shulma right now, and she's in (what for her now is) an unaccustomed place, but she definitely feels and appreciates the kindness and caring she's receiving from Talla Jenthai. As for Chava's apology, well, that will all become clear in the next chapter! :D
     
  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Here's the next chapter, which is a little shorter than the previous chapters. It's basically the penultimate chapter, because the next thing that will come is an epilogue (which I'm in the process of writing). Once again, many thanks to @Raissa Baiard for beta-reading and offering helpful advice. @};-


    Four

    Startled by the appearance of this august visitor, and still achy and groggy from her mystical experience, Shulma could manage no more than a weak “huh…?”

    “Not to worry, child, not to worry. I’ll explain everything. You see, I was just walking along on the other side of the academy—on the terrace over by the Main Sanctum—when I started feeling your currents moving through the Ashla. Oh, I didn’t know they were your currents yet, of course,” Chava reassured Shulma as she gasped in surprise. “But I could tell they were strong currents, and they moved very rapidly and very violently. Like the storm we’ve been having, you know. Anyhow, I followed them, and I wondered to myself: could this be what our ancient prophetesses meant when they spoke of the storm-dreamer currents that carried them along to their visions?”

    Chava leaned closer to Shulma as she said this, peering at her earnestly through big, round golden-green eyes. The girl’s head was swimming even more now. She could barely follow the elder shaman’s garrulous words: what was all this about storm-dreamer currents and ancient prophetesses and visions? All of this was new to her. She could only nod weakly in response.

    “Well, in any case,” Chava continued, “your currents led me here, and I remembered that Talla had mentioned a prospective initiate coming today. But when I came into the room it startled you so much—even in your trance—that it upset all your currents and sent you into vision shock. And oh, child”—she placed a small, wizened hand gently on Shulma’s shoulder—“I am terribly sorry that happened, I really am. I didn’t expect it at all! Talla here must have been rather annoyed with me.” She and Shaman Jenthai turned to each other and chuckled a bit. “But that kind of sensitivity… it’s the mark of a real storm-dreamer, you know.”

    Again Chava peered at her earnestly, nodding. Shulma still didn’t know what the elder shaman meant by this storm-dreamer business, but some things seemed a little clearer to her now as she thought back to what she had seen and felt during the probing procedure. First there had been that large spark that had burst into the image of the pretty, doll-like shaman, which had then exploded with a bang into nothingness and left her with tremors and pain. Perhaps, somehow, one or both of those things had happened when Chava had entered the room—how or why Shulma didn’t understand, but it seemed like it could fit.

    But if so, didn’t that mean—

    Curiosity suddenly consumed her. She just had to ask—it was probably presumptuous and improper and her mother would probably scold her, but she had to. She inhaled deeply.

    “Er—um—Mistr—Sham—er—”

    Your Reverence,” prompted her mother.

    “Your Reverence—er—I—”

    “Yes, child?”

    “Does this mean that I have—I mean, that I can—I mean have the, er—”

    “The gift of the Ashla?” Chava finished for her. “Why, yes, child, I would definitely say so!”

    “R-really, your R-reverence?—”

    “Oh yes, really! And very much so! Wouldn’t you say so, Talla?”

    “Indeed so,” agreed Shaman Jenthai. “Even from the first look at your currents I could see that the Ashla has already given you many visions. I caught glimpses of some of them—oh no, don’t worry, young one,” she added as she saw Shulma’s look of embarrassment. “We promise to keep everything a secret. And I couldn’t reach them all, anyway—some because they’re still raw and indistinct, others because they are hidden very deeply in your consciousness and we could only feel a faint glow from them.”

    “But your consciousness wouldn’t go that deep and have those hidden parts at all if the Ashla weren’t strong in you,” Chava continued. “And it will only get stronger, you know. Your visions will get stronger, your sparks will get stronger, and you’ll have to learn how to keep them in control.” She turned to face the other shaman and Yokheva. “So, if my revered colleague agrees, and if your mother agrees, you may begin an initiateship this coming cold season.”

    Shulma’s mouth and eyes gaped. Had she heard that right, or was this another one of those weird visions? “A-an initiateship?”

    “Yes, child.”

    “Like, here, at the Academy of Shamans?”

    “Of course, child! Where else?”

    “Wow! I… er…” She shifted and turned to her mother, who smiled in confirmation. “But… well, I guess I still have to finish my mine shifts, don’t I?”

    “Yes, you do,” Yokheva spoke up. Shulma sighed, but her mother stroked her hair reassuringly. “I think you’ll be able to manage, little gem. There are only two weeks left. And I’m sure the foreman will understand once we explain everything to him.”

    “Oh, he’ll have to understand!” Chava grinned widely, her gold-green eyes glinting. “Talla, go write the usual letter, so he will have no doubt whatsoever.” The other shaman inclined her head and went over to the desk. “And you, my dear girl… your currents are still trembling. Why don’t you relax here for a little while. There now, there you go,” she said, as Shulma inhaled deeply and cuddled closer to her mother. “Be sure you get a good night’s sleep tonight.”

    “Yes, Your Reverence…”

    “And let me say”—Chava patted Shulma’s shoulder heartily and repeatedly—“I am so glad to have gotten the opportunity to meet you, child. One doesn’t come across the storm-dreamer talent every day, after all! Be proud of yourself!”

    “Er… thanks, Your Reverence.” Shulma managed a smile. Her head was still whirling, and she still had so many questions—what on Lasan was a storm-dreamer, for one thing? And yet there was something about Chava’s warmth and earnestness that gave her the assurance that those questions would someday be answered. After all, she was someday going to return to this academy as a real initiate… Just thinking of it warmed and brightened her, calming the remaining tremors.

    And a little while later, as Shulma and her mother made their way home along the mountain thoroughfares, she noticed that the sky was clear and that stars were shining.

    * * *​

    “Hmm,” grunted Novalos, his brow knit as he perused the letter the long-braided, lilac-furred girl-kit had just handed him. “Very interesting. Guess that explains a few things.”

    “Er… y-yes, Foreman Novalos.” The kit shuffled her feet, and her toes twitched nervously.

    “But don’t let it go to your head. You still gotta do your work.”

    “Of—of course, Foreman Novalos!”

    “Good. I’m countin’ on ya.” He smiled toothily and gave her a small punch in the shoulder. “Now get your gear on and get to work.”

    “Yes, Foreman Novalos.” Shulma smiled back, sighing with relief. She ran to suit up, then headed to her usual station in the workroom, where Ninqua was calling and waving to her.

    to be concluded
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    A very wonderful bit of clarifying of the reasons behind Shulma's experiences in the mine and a wonderful revelation--that her talent isn't typical even of a shaman, but extraordinary! Chava's warmth and serenity are just what Shulma needs to feel excited about what lies ahead.
     
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  20. Oddly_Salacious

    Oddly_Salacious Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2005
    "An' get this young kit some rubber gloves," the foreman said. -heh heh :D
     
  21. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you both so much for reading and commenting! Always a joy to have you here. :)

    Thanks so much! Chava’s assurance is just what Shulma needs at this point to go from regarding her talent as something scary and strange to something wonderful. There are still several unknown factors, of course, but now she knows she’ll have an entire initiateship in her near future in which to explore them. They won’t remain unknown for too long. :)

    [face_laugh] Well, she will indeed have to get through the remaining weeks of the mine job somehow! Novalos is a practical man, after all. :p But at least he’s now got some understanding mixed with that practicality.

    Again, many thanks to you both; glad you’ve been enjoying this! :) There’ll be one more chapter in this story—a brief epilogue chapter that will be on its way within the next few days.
     
  22. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Oh no, I hadn't realized HOW VERY FAR BEHIND I am in this story! It's been an insanely busy November and that's the only excuse I have. But now it's a snow day and I am taking a break between grading papers to set this right.

    Chapter 1.

    I love this look at little Shulma as a young girl. She's shy, quiet, wants desperately to please the foreman and her family.
    I can totally see her doing that, anxiously fiddling with her long dark braids, hoping nobody sees her.

    And then she experiences what I have to assume is her first vision:
    Here's my take: Shulma is at an age where she is entering maturity (age 12 dust seasons), so this would make sense. She's not a child anymore but not an adult yet either. It's time for her to ease into the mystical world. Plus, the minerals all surround her and amplify the dormant power that is just now awakening in her. So she starts with the little spark, then the stronger shocks, until it releases like a blast and rips open this ability to see visions. I wonder who the three figures are, although I have a guess as to who the handsome figure might be!

    But wait, it gets worse...
    YIKES!

    Chapter 2.

    Poor Shulma, having had such a disastrous day and only to come home to her brothers teasing her about it. She feels bad enough! At least her dad does the right thing and gives her space to recover from her ordeal.

    As I was reading I got the idea of the golden sparks being something that I have seen before in your writing - how in your diary, Shulma sees the golden orbs; how your Gand mystic Telfien also is associated with gold. Nice motif. Also, how fitting that her doll is a "sage maiden" - a foreshadowing of what she herself will someday become.

    I loved how Shulma's mom is so kind.
    Nice touch - even their terms of affection have to do with mining.

    Foreman Novolos is a bit dense, isn't he?
    Why in the world would he think that this young girl was playing with the crystals instead of working? :rolleyes:
    And I'm guessing that the intimidating lady who appears at the end of the scene is Mama?


    Chapter 3.

    Yup, that's Mama.

    The description of the mountaintop temple/monastery is beautiful. I love the details of the rooms, the sound of the rain against the windows, the sense of age and gravity to it all. Shaman Jenthai is patient and understanding, and she puts both Shulma and her mom at ease while assessing Shulma's connection to the Ashla.

    Shulma's vision and her connection to the Ashla must have been powerful indeed if the great Chava herself is there, and of all things, apologizing to Shulma!

    Chapter 4.

    So Shulma's visions are also affected by the weather? Interesting. She's so in tune with the natural surrounds, both of the earth and of the sky.
    Wow. Shulma is a rarity among even the rare of those who are in touch with the Ashla. So good that Shulma (and her mom) are finally getting some answers. She isn't defective - she's precious! Now Shulma can begin to control her powers because she finally has an idea what those powers mean.

    @};-
    I am enjoying this story so much. It's a great piece of world building in addition to showing us some of the wonderful backstory for our Shulma. In a way, though, it's bittersweet because we know what happens to Lasan, and all this is lost to her.

    Looking forward to the next chapter!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  23. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Catching up—

    Chapter 3: First of all, go, Yokheva! Obviously Trothidd doesn’t know what Shulma has done or that she has no control over it, but no one in a position of authority should ever handle a child roughly. He’s probably lucky that It was someone like Yokheva who confronted him; she seems to be one of the more even-tempered Lasat. Even so, you should clearly not mess with her kit, thank you very much.

    At last, Shulma gets to visit the Academy of Shamans, and I love the atmosphere you set up here on this “dark and stormy night”, with the long ride up the mountain, the flickering sconces outside, the ornate architecture and extensive library inside. It all has a sort of a Beast’s castle/Hogwarts feel. Then there’s Shaman Jenthai, who reminds Shulma of her favorite doll (and it’s kind of cool that shaman dolls are a thing on Lasan!), and who asks her all sorts of tedious questions about her history and health. It seems like a school entrance exam combined with a health care procedure pre-screening. :p And in a way it is kind of both, as Shulma handles each mineral and Jenthai makes notes (with thoughtful mm-hmm’ing noises, I’m sure), and probes Shulma’s Ashla currents. I don’t blame Shulma for having a moment’s trepidation, because the name doesn’t make it sound either fun or comfortable.

    Though it doesn’t sound too bad to start with, with lights and musical humming, as her visions get deeper and stronger, the sparks’ bursting becomes painful. And it all culminates in the vision of the beautiful doll-like shaman, who seems to combine elements of the doll and Shulma herself as the doll, perhaps as an avatar of the Ashla. It bursts in the biggest, most painful explosion of all, jolting Shulma from her vision and looking into the eyes of a very exalted visitor...

    Chapter 4:

    I knew Chava would show up, given her importance in Shulma’s later life, and indeed, here she is! She’s been drawn to Shulma by her unusual and unusually strong currents; you can tell how intrigued she is by them and by the possibility of having discovered a real life storm-dreamer (we knew Shulma was special). I love the chatty old-lady vibe Chava has here; she reminds me of a great aunt who wore her hair in a similarly impressive bouffant and was the same kind of sweet old lady with an iron will. :D

    Poor Shulma’s a bit in a muddle with all the talk of Ashla currents and Storm-dreamers, her head’s still in a whirl with the vision shock from being jolted from her vision by Chava. But she’s still got the presence of mind to ask the most important question: does this mean she has the Ashla talent? Chava’s delighted to confirm it and, to Shulma’s astonishment, offers her an initiateship on the spot. Which Shulma is equally delighted to accept, but—darn, she has to finish up her stint at the mine first. But all’s well, that ends well, because Shulma gets a note excusing her from the worst of it and Foreman Novalos seems to be a bit of reformed character now, too.

    What a lovely glimpse into our heroine’s youth this story has been, and I look forward to seeing how it concludes!.
     
  24. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you both for your readership and comments; always a treat to see you here. @};-

    Oh, no worries at all; things have been busy for all of us, so I totally understand (and I have egg on my face for only recently being able to catch up on several chapters of The General's Wife [face_blush]). Your comments and readership are always appreciated whenever they come! <3

    Yes, she's got the "shys" at this age, dear thing. <3 For some reason that's the kind of child hero/heroine I've always been drawn to, more than the spunky, outspoken, devil-may-care type—I think because I was more similar to the former at that age.

    I like that take very much! @};- Yes, that's pretty much what I'm going for: both her age at the edge of adulthood, and her environment there at the mine (so close to all those physical elements, the "skeleton" of her homeworld, kind of), are beginning to unlock her mystical propensities. The three figures are supposed to be the prophetic figures of the Warrior, Child, and Fool, though they're a bit indistinct (and I know I didn't make it totally clear in the story, either; my bad). I think your guess about the handsome figure they merge into is probably right, however! ;) :zeb:

    Yikes, indeed! And that's partly to do with the fact that all these powers are uncontained and uncontrolled at this early stage and can easily whirl out of control. What happened in the mine cart scene is basically an uncontrolled and very rudimentary "Journeyer's Lightning"-type technique (on which see notes to Light of Lasan chapter 2) that also happened to include a vision of Lira San and the star-cluster maze in which it is situated. A lot to take on the first day on the job! [face_relieved]

    Yep—he may be a somewhat crusty type, but under it all he loves his daughter. <3

    Ah, I guess they are kind of a motif for me by now! :D Part of it was that yellow lightning-like blazes were a major element in "Legends of the Lasat," as this is the color of light that Zeb's bo-rifle produced in ancient mode, so as I was creating fanon about the Lasat Force tradition, this is how I imagined the Force/Ashla manifesting itself in this tradition. And you're right that it ended up being a good fit for Telfien's golden eyes (which in The Bookof Gand are remarked on to be somewhat unusual) and other motifs of sparks, golden lightning, etc. from the diary. When creating Shulma's favorite doll, I had in mind some of my own favorite dolls from my childhood; I kind of imagine this doll as sort of being the Lasat version of one of the dolls from Effanbee's storybook or international line of dolls from the 80s (of which you can examples in this ebay auction), and of course its eyes really open and closed. The Effanbee Snow White and Argentina dolls were my favorites because they were brunettes, like me.

    Thanks! :) Yep, I figured that would fit in a mining town like Flowstone Vale. Even though Yokheva isn't the sort of miner who works underground—she's more of a mining official or administrator—she is very much steeped in that culture all the same. And she really cares for her daughter, too. <3

    Thinking outside the box is indeed not really this fellow's forte, nor is dealing with children—neither really come up in his job much, other than supervising the kits during this one particular stretch of the vacation period. (Of course, that's no excuse for treating her so harshly!)

    You guessed right! :)

    Thank you! I wanted to describe a place full of ancient lore and history but also warm and pleasant and tranquil in its way.

    It definitely was, and what a surprise it was to this shy kit who's been used to thinking of herself as "silly little Shulma Trilasha"! Kind of like having the pope suddenly show up when you're taking an entrance exam to a parochial school.

    Kind of... the idea is that the storm is kind of reflecting the motion of Shulma's inner currents and the chaotic, uncontrolled nature of her powers at this point (note that the sky is clear again when Shulma and her mother travel home at last). But I have always indeed regarded the Lasat Force magic as very elemental and very connected to its natural surrounds (the manifestation as lightning being one example).

    Exactly, and just knowing that she will soon be able to learn even more answers about her powers, and begin to actually control them and use them, is immensely reassuring to her at this stage. (As I'm sure it is to her mother, too!)

    Thank you so much; I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this! I've had this plot bunny in mind for a while, and as soon as I saw @TheRynJedi's prompt for this challenge I knew that would be the perfect opportunity to bring it to fruition. And of course you've hit on one of the entire points behind the whole Lasan Series—to drive home just how much beauty and richness, natural, cultural, and personal alike, was lost. =((

    Thanks again; it's just around the corner! :)

    I definitely agree that he got off very lucky indeed—what if it had been her dad, for example! :p That doesn’t mean the company won’t hear about it, though, of course.

    (Incidentally, just as a bit of trivia, I tried writing this scene with the other foreman, Gondrav, instead, who turned out to be much less harsh and more just surprised in a “what the heck did you just do?!” sort of way. I ended up going with Trothidd instead—mainly because then I could give Yokheva a more dramatic entrance—but it was an interesting exercise all the same.)

    I’m glad you enjoyed the stormy ascent and the setting! That kind of Hogwarts-type atmosphere was very much what I was going for, and of course the stormy weather has that correlation with Shulma’s own storm currents. That boldface sentence is really a spot-on way of describing the whole experience—yes, there are definitely aspects of both scholastic and (for lack of a better word) medical testing at work here. Which makes it doubly fun for poor Shulma, of course! :p

    There’s a combination of things at work: Shulma’s own raw talent, the presence of all those other talents nearby (including Chava’s), the Ashla-infused setting she’s in, the storm, the stones... all of it comes together in an experience that (although Shulma doesn’t quite know it yet) is as prophetic as it is painful and explosive. It just seemed to stand to reason (!) that someone as sensitive as Chava would be able to sense such an experience and be curious enough to come look more closely at it—and that someone as sensitive as Shulma would react when she did! Besides, it was a fun way to give Chava a kind of “dramatic entrance,” so to speak.

    I always loved the way Chava’s character combines that chatty, sweet old lady vibe with true spiritual power, so I’m glad that came through for you here! :) Chava is of course very excited to come across a Real Live Storm-Dreamer, but at the same time she sees that her almost clinical, academic interest had a rougher effect on Shulma than she’d anticipated, and sees that a gentler, more caring touch is needed too. That is essentially what she’s apologizing for at the end of chapter 3.

    Yes, the poor kit really has been given a lot to digest even in this short period of time! But knowing that an initiateship is in her future at least reassures her that answers to her questions will come, and of course they will come to someone as eager to learn as she is. And she’ll manage those last few weeks at the mine—it’s just a matter of finishing what she started (FWYS ;) ). With “the usual letter” on his hands I think Novalos has no choice but to be accepting, and he definitely can count on her to get her work done. (And Ninqua will of course still be by her side to help.)

    Thank you so much, and thank you once again for all your help and advice in bringing it to fruition! The final chapter is around the corner, and I know that definitely would not be what it ended up becoming without your help. @};-
     
  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    And here is the last (epilogue of sorts) chapter. As usual, I thank @Raissa Baiard for beta reading and good advice all along the way! @};-


    Five (Epilogue)

    Two seasons later

    It was early in Lasan’s cold season. Crisp noonday sunlight illumined the slopes of Mount Straga, glinting on the domes, spires, and jewel-glass windows of the Royal Lasat Academy of Shamans. The mood was festive within, and today all the shamans of the academy—from the Consistory of Revered Masters, to the learned shamans of the first and second degrees, to the newest initiates—were gathered in the central sanctum in honor of an auspicious occasion.

    The lightning torches at the front and back of the room were lit. Festoons of white seerflowers adorned the walls and arches, tinged jewel-like colors by the light from the windows. At the front of the sanctum—which faced southward, toward the noonday sun—sat the eight Revered Masters in an arc, their Ashla staves and chalking sticks beside them; a small pile of embroidered cushions sat at the center of their arc. The other shamans sat facing them on the east side of the room. Across from them, in the sanctum’s western half, sat a varied group of townspeople, young and old, including several miners in the attire of their trade. A few toward the front of the room wore foremen’s patches; beside one of these, a tall, stern-faced male with lilac fur, were two adolescent males of a similar color who were also clad in miners’ attire. An adolescent girl-kit with purple-blue fur carried a basket of seerflower blooms to the front of the room and scattered them around and over the cushions, then took her own place along the guests on the western side.

    At this point the High Shaman of the Consistory—Chava Merkavitou Behanrrocha, known as Chava the Wise—rose from her seat. Golden sparks flew upward as she struck her staff with an echoing clack on the stone floor. At this signal the seven other Revered Masters rose also, as did the assembled guests, and Chava spoke in a clear voice:

    “Let the postulant be brought in.”

    All eyes in the room now turned to the four figures that stood and came forward. A bespectacled adult female in a colorful dress, an older female with long silvery hair, and a very elderly female walking with a cane escorted a pretty girl-kit in a simple white dress. The girl had purple-black hair that was done up in twists at the sides but flowed long down her back, and hints of wine-colored stripes were just beginning to be visible on her lithe lilac arms. As they approached the Masters at the front of the room, the girl knelt on the cushions with head bowed, the three others standing behind her. Then Chava addressed the assembly with hand upraised.

    “Honor, greeting, and brightness to all who have come.”

    “To you honor, greeting, and brightness,” came the response—mainly from the shamans’ side of the room, though a few on the other side joined in tentatively.

    Chava gestured to them to be seated, and continued. “Finding the spark of the Ashla in the heart of youth is like finding a precious gem in a cave, or the growing season’s first bloom in the valley, or the first star in the nighttime sky. We have among us a new gem, a new flower, a new star.” With these words she gestured to the girl kneeling on the cushions, who inclined her head deeper. “Let us rejoice to welcome her, just as that cave or that valley or that sky rejoices.”

    Next she addressed the three women who had brought the girl in. “You, her foremothers, the ones through whom the sacred spark has come down to her: do you give permission for these sacred rites to be performed?”

    “We do,” came the reply from all three.

    Chava and the shamans on either side of her—one tall and graceful, the other large and stout—inclined their heads and saluted hand over fist, a gesture the three foremothers returned. The tall, graceful shaman handed them her chalking stick, and each of them used it to trace a monogram glyph on the floor beside the cushions before taking their places in the front row of the assembly.

    “And now,” Chava announced, “let our light rise to greet this new light.”

    At this, she nodded to Shaman Jenthai, who took up her chalking stick. With it she drew an elaborate pattern of flamelike or wavelike shapes on the floor, encircling the cushions where the long-haired girl knelt and the flowers strewn around them. Two of the shamans seated on the east side of the room joined her with their own chalking sticks, and the three of them began tracing long lines on the floor that radiated in all directions from the edge of the circling pattern.

    Once this was done, Chava rose and took up her Ashla staff; the other Masters did the same, as did the first two rows of shamans seated on the east side of the room. Simultaneously they struck the ends of their staves on floor, softly but deliberately. The focusing stones in the middle of each staff began to glow, and the glow moved down the staves and along the chalk lines on the floor like water through riverbeds, until it illumined the corona of flame-shapes surrounding the girl. A resonant, musical zinging sound filled the room. Chava raised one hand aloft as she declaimed this prayer:

    “Sovereign Ashla of all being, spirit beyond all spirits: this young maiden comes before you this day to be initiated into your service. The fiery sparks within her have cried out to you; bind her to you in love.”

    As she spoke, the glow along the chalk lines brightened steadily. The girl kneeling on the cushions seemed to feel the change; she shifted and shuddered slightly but kept her head bowed. Chava continued.

    “As she begins her study of your ways, let your eight strengths be near to strengthen her; let your hidden and revealed brightnesses shine forth to illumine her. May she go from wisdom to wisdom, growing joyfully in your knowledge, that she may be all her life long a light to all Lasan and a blessing to all Lasat.”

    The chalk lines now glowed bright golden-white. Chava raised her hand and her staff high into the air and called out:

    “And now, O sacred lightning, fill her, hallow her, bear witness!”

    As one, she and the other seven Revered Masters struck their staves on the ground, conjuring dancing golden lightning along their lengths, then thrust them forward toward the young postulant. The lightnings flared forth to join in a blazing fireball above her, then spread into a luminous column that surrounded her, following the outlines of the chalked flame-circle. Longer and longer, brighter and brighter, closer and closer to her it blazed; those assembled shielded their eyes. Through it all the thrumming zing still sounded, growing ever louder, ever higher—

    —and Shulma on her cushion felt ecstacy course through her along with the light and the sparks and the energy, and shivered and fell—for oh, in that moment was she not the strontium ore from which the Ashla’s own hand drew sparks?—

    Just then the room came back to focus. The column of lightning was gone, the staves and chalk lines at rest; all was as it was before. Pairs of gentle hands steadied her and raised her and placed the shamanic ring-medallion in her hair, directly above her forehead. And once more Chava’s voice rang out:

    “Rise now in the splendor and favor of the Ashla: ai Shulma ai Vizuli kh’se’-Yokheva-ghe’ Trilasha, initiate of the sacred light, shaman of Lasan!”

    the end

    The lilac-furred miner and the two boys with him are, of course, Shulma’s father, Ormgar Trilasha; and her two brothers, Chornogar and Chornozod Trilasha.

    The three women accompanying Shulma are her mother, Yokheva Barzellati Trilasha; her maternal grandmother, Magryth Ashmallak Barzellati; and her maternal-maternal great grandmother, Vizuli Dzenkachi Ashmallak (who would be the daughter of the great-great grandmother Shatha mentioned earlier). The names Ashmallak and Barzellati are both based on Hebrew words for metals: hashmal ‘electrum’ (a gold-silver alloy) and barzel ‘iron’.

    The two shamans on either side of Chava are Talla Jenthai, from the previous chapter (the “tall and graceful” one) and Memirra Movshati (the “large and stout” one), who first appeared as part of Shulma’s first-degree committee in Light of Lasan chapter 3.

    Again, Chava’s full name is my own fanon.

    ai Shulma ai Vizuli kh’se’-Yokheva-ghe’ Trilasha: The full shamanic form of Shulma’s name (cf. “ai Garazeb ai Avishai kh’sa’-Nerezeb-ga’ Orrelios” in Light of Lasan chapter 1). This story constitutes the first appearance of Shulma’s middle name, Vizuli, which is a combination of the first two letters of my own middle name with the Vodou deity Erzulie.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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