Ascending Fire 13
We finally reached Champoor in the afternoon, or “home”, as i’ve started thinking of it.
The docks were abuzz with the usual shouts of fishmongers and merchants. It was a sight for sore eyes. After our adventure in Volivat, I was happy to be back.
Not quite as happy as Aster was, however. She had spotted someone as soon as we docked and had rushed off in excitement. It seems the man was named Litaka, and was Aster’s former martial arts master. He was a fair looking man. Well dressed and well spoken. He reminded me very much of Aster, but in a way that I found unsettling. Aster is a beacon of everything that is good in this world. Litaka has that same sort of presence, but I feel he lacks the empathy that I take for granted in Aster.
I could be wrong though. Aster trusts him completely, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
Together, we made our way back to the Rising Sun House. We had to pass through mauk’s gate to get there. I’m still annoyed to pay this ridiculous toll. One of these days I’m going to see about making a “Saiten’s gate”. Not today though. It’s been a long trip, and I’d rather just take it easy for a little bit.
As we approached the Rising Sun House, it became clear that Broken walls had been busy while we were away. A giant tower now stood in the center of what was our courtyard. Covered in ornate inscriptions, and gold trim, it stood at least five stories tall. An impressive sight to say the least.
Broken walls came down from the tower to greet us. I told him of our adventures in Volivat. How we were attacked at sea. How we came to find Dasadi. How Pecahan AniAni had manipulated us the entire time.
Broken Walls was as sympathetic as one could hope him to be, but offered little actual advice. Chaoxi actually chimed in when she heard MahaSuchi’s name. She knew him to be a powerful and dangerous Lunar. She advised caution if we were to run into any of his associates again.
I assured her that I would be ready for whatever was to come.
Chaoxi made dinner tonight. It wasn’t anything too fancy, but it’s familiar taste brought a smile to my lips. It’s good to be home.
Ascending fire 14
It’s good to wake up in my own bed for the first time in weeks. I mean, the beds on the revenge, and in the inns were comfortable enough, but this one was mine. My bed, in my room.
With an excited grin, I donned my leathers. I was eager to get started on my first patrol since getting back. No doubt the usual hustlers and muggers were up to no good the entire time I was gone. It was time to make it known that I had returned!
I marched down the stairs, and had my hand nearly on the door when Litaka called my name. I looked over and he was standing in the kitchen, eggs frying in a skillet. He offered me a plate and a seat, which I hesitatingly accepted. Justice shouldn’t be delivered on an empty stomach, I reasoned.
As we ate, Litaka spoke to me. He had been told of our trip to Volivat, and wished to give me some advice. He suggested that I try to learn how people speak. To learn when they are being honest, and when they are not. I know he’s right of course. If I had seen though any number of conversations in volivat, things could have been much different.
I finished eating quickly, not wanting to linger. Litaka seems like a good fellow. Still, I can’t shake that unsettling feeling from earlier.
Patrol went mostly as I expected it would. A robbery here, an assault there. I stopped those that I could see, and brought the injured back to the clinic. It seems Mara has been doing a good job in Aster’s absence. The clinic looked clean, and well stocked. She got to work on the injured as soon as I brought them in. She might not be as good as Aster, but I could tell she cared.
We had a belated birthday party in the evening. Piper and broken walls must have planned it while I was on patrol, as I was just as surprised as Aster was. When Broken walls presented Aster with the gift of a new dress, I felt equally shamed. I had spent what little money I had saved up in Volivat, so buying a gift was almost certainly out of the question. My skills at crafting also leave something to be desired. Maybe I can get her something next time…
The party itself was actually pretty fun. There was music, and dancers. Most notably, there were acrobats. Their movements were fluid and delicate. Quick, but precise. I made note of how they moved. Who knows, maybe some acrobatics could liven up my training.
Ascending fire 15
Today, Broken walls has decided to make a trip past the city wall to find the temple of Karoski, the god of farming and harvest. Seeing a chance to spend some time with Broken Walls, I offered to go with him. He gladly accepted.
I decided to run, while he rode on horse back. I won’t get faster by letting an animal do my training for me!
As we journeyed, we spoke more of the trip to Volivat. I filled him in on some of the finer details that we hadn’t mentioned before. I wish he had been able to come with. I’m sure he would have been very helpful in learning the truth behind the whole ordeal.
When we finally arrived at Coroski’s temple, we found that it was in disrepair. If there were any followers of Karoski around, they certainly didn’t care for his temple. Broken walls took it upon himself to clean the place up a bit. He went to work repairing walls while I swept the place out. By the end of the day we had the place looking somewhat respectable.
It was then when Broken walls did something unexpected. He lit his headlamp and bowed at the temple alter. A sign of respect no doubt. I did the same.
On the way back to Champoor, I decided to once again to seek Broken Walls council. Since before we left Volivat, I’ve been feeling like I reached some sort of plateau with regards to my abilities. I’m stronger, faster, and more resilient than any mortal man, but I am not a mortal man. Not anymore anyway. I want to learn more, to go beyond my limitations.
It seems Broken walls has also been feeling this. He suggests meditation and reflection. It seems to be working for him.
Ascending fire 16-22
h5. Your title here…
I spent this week with broken walls on top of his tower to the Unconquered sun. It was here, that I tried to meditate on what it meant to be a Solar. I focused my mind and body on the power within me, only to be brought out my trance by stray thoughts. Pecahan. Platon. Mom…
This wasn’t working. I had a clearer mind when I was swimming behind the revenge. Maybe meditation isn’t what I need after all. It has given me an idea though.
Ascending fire 23.
After my failed attempt at finding clarity through meditation, I sought the advice of Aster. Her suggestions had merit, but they were not the answers I had hoped for. Her ideas were more along the lines of finding a disciple, so that I might learn through teaching, or to open a gym to train at a more intense level.
Training at a more intense level did sound like it would help. And it aligned with what I had learned on the tower. But I couldn’t do it here, nor anywhere near by. I’m going to have to leave Champoor.
Ascending fire 24-28
I spent the next little while scouting the lands to the north of the city. There is a river that flows south to the dreaming sea. I followed it for a long time. 20KM at least. It was the heart of the wilderness, but I had to be sure. I continued scouting until I found my spot. It was roughly 8KM outside of Champoor.
Here, surrounded by dense forest, I built my encampment. I cleared away some trees, and made a small shelter. I was going to be here for a while.
I diverted the river a touch. More of focused it. I made a whirlpool and moved the rocks so that the strong current would flow there. Swimming against the pull of the water felt good. It felt right. I used the powers within to help, and with it I could begin to see the path before me.
Resplendent fire 1-7
My training continues to progress, but in order to go further, I have to go all out. To truly go beyond my limits, I have to truly experience them.
I punched down dozens, if not hundreds of trees and chopped them into man sized pieces. I created a dam of sorts up river. It wasn’t really a dam, as it did little to hold back the water behind it. It was more of a wall, or a series of walls to be more precise.
What it actually was, was a trap. One that would surely kill any mortal man that was caught in it’s path. Once again, I remind myself that I am not a mortal man.
When triggered, the trap sent the hundreds of man sized logs down the river and straight towards me. A wave of uncertainty washes over me, but I calm it as I began channeling my essence. My headlamp glows brightly as I get to work.
My first swing splinters and shatters the log in front of me, revealing another behind it. And another, and another. Essence builds in my fists until they are as hard as adamantine. I Punch again and again, each strike more powerful than the last. I push further. This time my body begins to glow with the brightness of the Unconquered Sun, but it is not enough. I need to go further.
The logs were relentless in their assault. For each one I shattered, there were two more that took its place. The river slowed my movements. Dodging was not an option but for a few of them. I poured more essence into my fists and continued to work away at them. That is when I felt it. I had spent so much, that I could not contain the light within me. If my mark was my headlamp, then this was my beacon. The same image that was born as I fell from palanquin emerged. A giant flaming fist took to the sky.
Unlike during the fall, this time it was brought out with purpose. I raised my fists to the air and drew the emblem into them. As I poured more of it in, I felt my fists harden once again. Harder than adamantine, as hard as orichalcum. The logs might as well have been paper at this point. They offered no more challenge, but they had done their job.
Once the assault had finished, I collapsed on the riverbank, laughing to myself. I had used every scrap of energy I had, and I was exhausted. With that exhaustion came the clarity that I sought though. I think I understand what it means to be a Solar now. At least more than I did anyway. I’m sure that as the future unfolds there will be more questions. For now however, I just laid there and smiled as my strength slowly returned.