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Shaori Warden's Personal Journal - Torine Expedition Excerpts

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Day 35

Neria and I have arrived at Blademother's Refuge. I didn't realize our short trip was meant to be one way. But it's nice for a change of scenery. This settlement looks to be much more devoted to training, practically a war camp. I feel sorry for anyone who stumbles on this place by accident. Judging by some of the bones in the forest as we approach, very few have. Either that or the most recent visitors haven't been hauled off by the local wildlife.

Speaking of Neria, she is preparing to undergo the trials to become a Deathbringer. A prestigious, if frighteningly named, honor as I understand it. The Deathbringers bear the responsibility in destroying things that have strayed from the balance of life. The counterparts to the Lifecallers. While I'm delighted that she has invited me to witness her journey to becoming a Deathbringer, it is unfortunate that I am forbidden from documenting any of what transpires. I expect it will not be an easy trial for her. All I can do is offer her support from the sidelines. When I'm not busy with my own training.

I meet with my new instructor and team tomorrow. For tonight, we are going to have a nice meal with her sisters. I wonder if I should call them our sisters? I'm not inducted, I'm just an observer, but I can feel a certain kinship with them. Maybe it's just the bond I feel with Neria. She's become a valued friend. And there's something about the way she laughs....
Posted Aug 4, 17 · OP
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Day 39

They weren't joking when they said the training would be harder here. If anything, I fear it was severely understated. The most surprising thing about it though is how I feel I'm actually keeping up....kinda. I'm not quite as strong or fast as them, but I'm not dropping out. I'm finishing all of the tasks and I've gotten quite a bit better at holding my own during sparring. I dare say I may actually win one round some day.

I had always thought of a sword as a weapon. They treat it as an extension. Torine, Sword, Pumera....they are all inseparable extensions of one another. Each must be in harmony with the other to attain the strength necessary to fight. I still don't fully understand it. I understand the words and the meanings and even the intent behind it. But I haven't experienced it yet. And true understanding comes from experience. Only through our accumulated experiences do we grow stronger.

As hard as they've been on me, they've been many times harder on Neria. With the responsibility that comes with being a Deathbringer, I can understand why they would require such trials. I wish I could say more than that. Despite the rigors, she seems to thrive. The harder they push her, the more she shines like a diamond. I know she'll make it through the trials. She may be the strongest person I've ever met. Guess it's a good thing she found me when she did. Or I might never have had this opportunity. Or met her.
Posted Aug 4, 17 · OP
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Day 50

Ten days out in the jungle. For those ten days I wasn't just some trainee, but an actual part of the group, helping to hunt, gather, and fight off enemies. I may not have been the best contributor, but I did contribute. Maybe I even changed a few minds. Ok, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself there. At least nobody had to come rescue me or aid me in my tasks. Even if they were the easy ones. I'm definitely becoming stronger.

What I lacked in muscle, I made up for in entertainment. While they have some interesting stories, they're all so practiced. Like a ritual history. Tales of hunts are a bit better, but it just doesn't compare to a drunken Granok. So it fell on me to bring in new tales, sharing the changes that have happened in the galaxy since their departure from it.

I haven't seen Neria since I got back. When I ask about her, they only tell me that her trials have begun. I wish she could have been with us on our time in the jungle. Her support has meant the world to me. Truthfully, just her company means a lot to me. And I haven't felt like that since I lost Richard. I really hope she's okay. Hang in there Neria. You can make it through your trials, I know you can.
Posted Aug 4, 17 · OP
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Day 53

Neria finally came back today. She was not in good shape at all. I don't think I've ever seen a Torine in such an injured state before. I guess it's a sobering reminder that even the strongest of us aren't invincible. They would not tell me whether she passed or failed her trials. Hopefully she'll be able to tell me when she comes to. What I don't understand is why the Lifecallers are refusing to tend to her injuries.

They won't even let me do anything to try and help her. They were even less happy when I started to argue the decision with them. I originally thought that it was because an outsider was questioning their way. But thinking on it more, it could be the opposite. Perhaps they are thinking of me more as one of their own now. And no Torine would question the ruling of a superior once it had been laid down. I guess it reminded them that I'm not one of them. It certainly reminded me.
Posted Aug 8, 17 · OP
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Day 55

Neria regained consciousness late last night. I'm glad to see that she's up and about again, despite my very stern insistence that she be neither up nor about. With the way she's been today, it's like she had never been injured at all. Physically, I can still see the scars from whatever it was she was doing out there. She refused to answer and I don't want to press the matter. She's alive, that's good enough for me.

My own training has grown noticeably more difficult since my outburst at the Lifecaller. A form of punishment or just their way of trying to force me out? Well, I'm not about to quit. A Warden never gives up, after all.
Posted Aug 10, 17 · OP
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Day 62

Tomorrow we're going back out to the jungle again. One of the pumeras was killed a few days ago during a patrol. It was the first time I've seen a Torine look sad. But I suppose anyone would be sad when their pet died, or worse was killed. Pet isn't quite accurate though. Pumeras are more than pets, they are companions. It's an incredibly deep bond between them. I don't know if the mourning she displayed was personal or ritual, but I've put it in my official findings. I actually feel kind of bad about that. It's her sorrow and grief and I'm sitting here just...writing it all down like some kind of twisted voyeur.

On the other hand, I've never been bothered by death rituals before. Death is a natural part of the cycle of life (even if the Torine are sidestepping it somewhat) and every society has their own way of responding to it. But this is the first time it really feels....personal. I never met the warrior or her pumera. But I feel strongly for her loss.
Posted Aug 15, 17 · OP
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Day 71

A lot happened in the jungle.

Going out in search of a pumera was actually a fascinating experience. Monitoring the packs (is pack the right word?) traveling through the woods, stalking their habits, patterns, movements. You don't just grab a pumera and wrestle it into submission. There's a matter of finding the right one. After a few days of observation and tracking, we found a lone kitten (again, right word?). Despite being alone, it proved quite ferocious. I think that only encouraged her. With some coaxing and careful feeding, she was able to win it over. But it didn't end there.

We figured out fairly quickly that it wasn't something of the jungle that orphaned that kitten. It was poachers. Careful, and very difficult, observation determined that a small band of Draken had been hunting through here recently. Our group agreed, unanimously I might add, to track them down. And so we did. They were difficult to find. But we had the superior numbers and knowledge. It could have been over swiftly. For most of them it was. For all but one.

They circled the remaining Draken, he stood fiercely defiant, ready to fight off the whole team. But they sent me in. Told him they would let him go free if he bested me. I was not ready for such a thing. But just the sight of that Draken made my blood boil. The way he promised to take my head back to the Dominion filled me with rage. I could feel the hatred in my heart swelling in my very soul. All those thoughts of Richard and Arboria came rushing back to me. I could see that dark haze obscuring my vision. I remained aware, but I was not in control. The fight that happened was savage. That I am writing this at all proves my victory, but it was not an easy one. My wounds are still healing.

But what I did to that Draken....I don't want to remember. I wish I had blacked out. And it sadly proves those rumors from Arboria true. I didn't just kill him to survive. Even after he was dead I continued to strike, butchering his body so that nothing would remain for his people to take back but shattered bone fragments. It disgusts me to think that I'm capable of such a thing. I don't want to do that ever again. Not even the Dominion, as vile as they are, deserve such a thing.

Neria has promised to help me. That I fought through the haze was important, she said. I needed to see what that rage would do to me. Tomorrow, she will start training me personally.
Posted Aug 15, 17 · OP
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Day 79

Neria and I went on something of a spiritual retreat. A place of peace and tranquility. Another sacred site I was not permitted to write about. But it was absolutely beautiful. It was a week of bearing our souls, mostly mine. And she provoked me. A lot. Prodding at my weaknesses, seeking to incite me time and time again to bring back that haze. And there were times she succeeded. I guess I can't help getting angry when people threaten or mock the ones I love.

I know she didn't mean it, but it was still difficult. And I understand the purpose, I can't go flying off the handle like that in a fight. Anger doesn't bring strength, but recklessness. Profound. Especially coming from a group of women who look like they're perpetually pissed at outsiders. Not that I blame them.

Despite all the anger, all the provocations, we formed a deeper bond in that week. I haven't been this close to anyone in a long time. Maybe even too close.
Posted Aug 16, 17 · OP
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Day 91

Three months have passed since I set out into the jungles. A lot has changed in those three months. Not just in physical capabilities, though I have grown much more proficient in my swordplay. Particularly in these past couple weeks I've started to feel a tranquility that I haven't felt since before Richard's death. Maybe I'm finally becoming at peace with it. Or at least I'm handling it better.

And then there's Neria. I don't know what's going on between us. I'm grateful for everything she's taught me. But it's getting complicated. Very complicated. She's gone back to resume her Deathbringer trials and her absence is, well, it affects me. Far more than it should.

There's been a lot of stirring around the settlement since she left, too. Something is happening here. Hopefully someone will tell me what it is.
Posted Aug 22, 17 · OP
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Day 93

From the look of things and the buzz, it looks like some sort of celebration is being prepared. Living up to their tightlipped reputation, they haven't told me what it is for yet. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother asking. And other times they are completely open with me. Maybe it's just time to accept that they'll tell me what they want to tell me when they're ready to tell it. The XAS might not like that position, but they don't really have a say in the matter. I certainly don't.

Neria still hasn't come back yet. Considering how she was the last time she vanished for her trials, I'm really worried for her safety. I know, she's strong, brave, and cunning, but there's a gentle side to her, too. A side that laughs so sweetly and smiles so brightly. A side that guides me when I'm lost and comforts me when I'm hurt. How can such different identities exist in such harmony? I'm no stranger to the gentle soldier, but this is something far beyond. It's a divorcing of once side completely when it is not needed. Perhaps this is part of keeping the balance. Life and death. Kindness and cruelty.

I wonder if that's what she's trying to get me to do....
Posted Aug 22, 17 · OP
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