Solo Balance or Imbalance

Antelokes tries to curb his visions through self-mastery

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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Balance or Imbalance

Postby Antelokes on April 12th, 2022, 12:05 am




Antelokes sat cross-legged in Syka’s tranquility center, slowly becoming more and more frustrated with the whole meditation concept. He’d come here thinking that he could get a handle on his visions, maybe stop letting them exhaust him emotionally so much. But there wasn’t anything special about meditation. He didn’t feel anything different, he was just sitting here in an uncomfortable pose doing nothing. He let out a heavy sigh.

Zayne—the local expert on this subject—heard his gesture of exasperation.

“May I help you, young Antelokes?” he asked. Antelokes opened his eyes and shook his head.

“No,” he replied, standing up and stretching away the stiffness that had built up in his muscles from holding one position for too long. “I just don’t think this is working. This is too static, all I’m getting is more frustrated. I need to be moving.” Zayne considered Antelokes’ words for a moment.

“If you merely wished to move and exhaust yourself physically, your work at the forge would surely suffice. Yet… you came here of your own volition. Why?” The man’s words were not accusatory, but soft and curious. Antelokes swallowed his annoyance with meditation and obliged him with an answer.

“I want to learn to understand myself, to control myself. These false visions I see have too much power over me. Every time they drive me to the edge. Every time they work, and throw me off balance. I don’t want them to have that power over me.”

“Nor should you,” Zayne replied quietly. “To become the master of one’s own self—body, mind, and soul—that is a worthy goal. One I have devoted no insignificant amount of time to achieving.” The Constellation looked at Antelokes and raised an eyebrow. “Would you like to learn some of what I have discovered?”

“I told you. Meditation isn’t working.” Zayne chuckled at Antelokes’ words.

“Perhaps I’ll get you to meditate better some other time. Trust me though, my skills extend to many spheres beyond that of peaceful contemplation.” Zayne stood from his own sitting position, notably rising with much more grace than Antelokes had. “Tell me young man, have you given any prior study to the martial arts?” Antelokes cocked his head.

“Martial arts? If you’re talking about fighting, then I can hold my own in a scrap. I lived in Sunberth when I was younger and it’s hard to avoid it there. I can’t say I would call it much of an art though.” Zayne smiled at the reply.

“That is an honest answer, though I hope I can persuade you to a different opinion about the nature of the art of combat. There are disciplines that I have learned that can help you understand yourself better than you have ever hoped to.” Zayne spoke in a matter-of-fact tone, and Antelokes couldn’t deny the implication was enticing. He had no particular love of violence, but martial training promised to be much more active than meditation. Plus, if Zayne spoke truth then it might help him develop in exactly the way he had been hoping to.

“Could you teach this to me?” Antelokes asked. “I am no perfect student, but this is something I want to learn.” Zayne seemed pleased at this answer.

“I can share part of what I know. Whether or not you learn is up to you.” Zayne led Antelokes to an open area on the floor that seemed to be an ideal sparring ground. There were a few staves and other simple weapons racked to the area’s side, but Zayne left them where they lay. “If you want to become master of yourself,” Zayne began, “you must understand each part of yourself. Know their intricacies and learn to control them. You work with your physical body and with your mind every day, yet most people neglect many other components of what makes them who they are.” As he spoke, Zayne began to move with wide flowing motions, slow and deliberate. It reminded Antelokes of the eddies in a river, flowing and curling around contours in the riverbed. “You have djed running through you—the source of ideas, reality and power—carrying information and strength through a thousand conduits in your body. Like breathing, you can ignore these conduits and they will continue to work just as well as they always have.”

Zayne’s motions began to grow more intricate, speeding up with skilled precision. He continued.

“However, if you understand this djed and bend it to your will, you can surpass your physical limits.” With these words Zayne turned on one leg and jumped. The force of his leap carried him far higher than Antelokes thought possible. Zayne lashed out in the air with a series of lighting fast turning kicks in the air far above Antelokes’ head before landing with catlike grace, smoothly absorbing his fall with bent legs.

“How…” Antelokes couldn’t stop himself from exclaiming in wonder.

“The same way all things are done,” replied Zayne. “Practice.”



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Last edited by Antelokes on April 12th, 2022, 3:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Balance or Imbalance

Postby Antelokes on April 12th, 2022, 12:10 am




“How do I manipulate this ‘djed?’ Is it the way you moved just now, before you jumped? Or do you do it with your thoughts?” Antelokes asked, mind racing, trying to understand.

“Basics first,” replied Zayne. “certain movements can help you focus, though they are not totally necessary. We will use them for now. Assume a combat stance.” Antelokes still had a mountain of questions he wanted to ask, but he relented and bent his knees a little, raising his fists. Zayne’s brow furrowed.

“Am I doing it wrong?” Antelokes asked, suddenly self-conscious.

“You did learn to fight in the streets, didn’t you?” replied Zayne. “Make your stance wider and bend your knees more. You can’t be quick unless your knees are bent.” Antelokes tried to follow instructions.

“This doesn’t feel right. What about my arms?”

“We’ll fix that later. The lower body comes first. You’re nothing without your roots,” Zayne said, circling Antelokes and making a few adjustments to the alignment of Antelokes’ feet and knees. “Even wider. Keep going. There. Now, keep your back straight. Perfect.” Zayne stood back to evaluate Antelokes’ stance with a critical eye. Just as he started to feel a slight burn in his legs, Zayne nodded, seeming satisfied. “Good.”

“I appreciate the help with my stance, but how does this help me do what you just showed me?” asked Antelokes.

“You have many questions,” Zayne replied. “replace half of your words with actions, and perhaps you will learn to do what I showed you. Listen and learn blacksmith. Feel your roots, the solidity of the base of your stance. Convince yourself of its strength. Do you feel it?” Antelokes frowned. He did as Zayne asked, focusing his mind on his feet, legs and hips. Holding this stance was hard, but the man was right. It was solid.

“Yes,” he said, remembering Zayne’s request about his many questions.

“Good. Think of that strength as energy, coiled and waiting. It wants to move, to flow. Like you, the energy does not like staying in one place for very long. Feel the energy build in your roots and in your core. Then, move, and let the energy flow through you like water through a river.” Zayne assumed the same stance he had shown Antelokes, then took a fluid step, striking out forward with his palm. “Strike my hand with yours. Let the energy flow freely though your body and into me.” Zayne planted himself in front of Antelokes, raising his hand as a target.

With a grunt Antelokes stepped forward, stiking as Zayne had done with all his strength. He tried to push off the ground with his leg, doing his best to let the “energy” flow through him. Zayne’s hand was firm, and barely moved when Antelokes struck it with the heel of his palm.

“Was that it?” Antelokes asked.

“No,” Zayne responded honestly. “But it was your first step to getting there. Assume the stance again.” With an internal groan, Antelokes sank back into the stance. His legs were starting to burn more now. Zayne moved behind Antelokes.

“When the djed flows, it follows certain paths. You must be aware of those paths, and cognizant of which ones you divert your energy to. If you wish to alter your body’s normal instructions, be sure that you know exactly what it is you’re asking it to do.” Zayne then prodded his fingers firmly into several spots on Antelokes’ legs, back, shoulder, and arm. He pushed just hard enough to hurt.

“The djed will flow through these points. You don’t have to force the energy into existence by flexing your muscles, its already there. Just direct it through these paths. Think about them, think about your body and how it feels as you perform the motion until you can feel the djed running through the pathway. Now, again!”



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Balance or Imbalance

Postby Antelokes on April 12th, 2022, 12:11 am




Zayne ran Antelokes through the exercise several more times, periodically correcting his form and offering metaphors to help him feel the energy. Antelokes did as instructed, but he felt nothing different.

“Stop,” Zayne commanded, after Antelokes performed the prescribed motion yet again. “What was different about how you moved that time?” Antelokes frowned. He hadn’t done anything different, had he?

“I did the same thing as before,” he replied. Zayne shook his head.

“No. Pay attention to your body. Know the exact position of each of your limbs at every given moment. What I’m teaching you is not some blind surge of strength. It is the deliberate and measured redirection of your body’s force.” Zayne sighed. “Your left foot was turned outward and your back knee was sagging. When you drill, pay attention to your own movements. Correct them as necessary. That way, when you eventually come against an opponent, you will be used to doing each movement with perfect form.” Antelokes gritted his teeth. He hadn’t noticed those errors, but now he was determined not to repeat them. Falling back into the stance, Antelokes exhaled deeply. He let his mind settle on his own body, feeling the force of the earth pressing up against his feet, the sensation of his clothes on his skin, and the soft touch of the tropical breeze.

He breathed in, feeling the strength he gained from the breath while acknowledging the sore burning in his thighs from holding this wide stance for so long. With a rhythm that practice had now made natural to him Antelokes stepped forward, turning his hips and shoulders to throw his mass behind the strike with the heel of his palm.

As he did so, he felt a shifting of more than just his weight. A surge of liquid power rushed through his limbs, passing through each of the points Zayne had pointed out earlier. Antelokes’ mind illuminated with awareness of the channels this power passed through, channels he had previously never felt.

When his palm connected with Zayne’s hand Antelokes felt the older man rock backwards, expertly absorbing the blow in a way he hadn’t needed to with any of his earlier strikes. Zayne smiled broadly. It was contagious, and Antelokes followed suit.

“Was that it?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“Yes. Yes it was.” Zayne replied. “Now do it again.”



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Balance or Imbalance

Postby Antelokes on April 12th, 2022, 12:13 am




After a several more attempts of intermittent success, Antelokes began to consistently be able to feel the djed pathways. Pleased with this result, Zayne had him switch sides, practicing strikes with the other hand now.

“Flux manipulation shifts the body out of its natural balance,” Zayne explained in between repetitions, “so the responsibility falls to the user to maintain and restore balance. Training both sides of our bodies helps us to do this.” Antelokes thought about this, trying not to let it distract him as he attempted the strike with his off hand. He failed to summon the shifting djed.

“Why teach me this discipline then?” Antelokes asked. “I would say that I am already thrown out of balance by my false visions. Adding more ways for me to be unbalanced seems counterintuitive.” Zayne appeared to consider the question as Antelokes tried again. This time he felt the djed run through the pathway and it felt like his strike possessed a modest amount of additional force. If Zayne noticed the difference, he didn’t react.

“Why do you think I’m teaching you this?” Zayne asked, answering a question with a question. Antelokes was reminded of his father’s lectures when he had been younger, when he had tried to force him to think for himself. He considered Zyane’s question. He thought about the repetitious training and the hyper-focus on self-awareness.

“You want me to get used to balancing myself. To recognize when I lose balance and be able to correct myself,” he said finally. Zayne nodded noncommittally.

“That seems like a reasonable purpose for this training. Why do you think that this is something you need to learn?” Antelokes was starting to empathize with Zayne’s earlier annoyance with his repeated questions. The query was a good one though, so he answered.

“Because of my visions.”

“You have visions, but that does not necessarily mean you need to learn what I have to teach. Look deeper. How will this help you?”

Antelokes pondered this. Every time the visions struck him, they left him distraught and exhausted. He felt drained all the time, each day seeing or hearing something that seemed deliberately designed to play with his emotions. It was like a parody of Ivak’s entrapment of him those years ago to use his emotions with a purpose. He felt as if the energy of his anger, sadness, wonder, and desperation was being wasted in extravagant displays that were not real and only he could see.

“I let the visions throw me out of balance,” he finally said. “I don’t like the control they have over me. If I learn to deliberately control myself, I can prevent them from affecting me so much.”

“Good,” Zayne replied, smiling. “See how it works? You’re becoming more aware of yourself already.”


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Balance or Imbalance

Postby Antelokes on April 12th, 2022, 12:15 am




“Don’t think this means I’m going to start liking meditation now,” Antelokes said. Zayne chuckled.

“I haven’t yet given up on winning you over on that point, but alas, for now I still have a great number of things to teach you about our current subject. Come now, I think you’ve done that strike enough times for the moment. Let us work on your footwork.” With a sigh of relief, Antelokes shook out his tired legs. The wide stance Zayne had him use was taking a toll on him.

After affording him a few seconds to stretch, Zayne spoke again.

“Alright, back into the stance.” Angtelokes suppressed a groan. Of course footwork would not offer his legs any respite. Zayne assumed an identical stance opposite him.

“With how you were asking me about ‘martial arts,’ I assumed we were going to be sparring,” said Antelokes ruefully.

“There is a time for that, but what use is there in practice if you are practicing incorrectly?” responded Zayne. “I told you before that you are nothing without your roots. That is true, but you are not a tree, so your roots will need to learn to move. Watch and follow me, so you can move without losing your base.”
Antelokes mirrored Zayne as they moved side to side, forwards, backwards, and in a few odd pivot motions. He never let his feet cross, and the movements were smooth. Well, for Zayne they were smooth. Antelokes did his best to keep up.

“Flux is not just a weapon to employ when you strike,” counseled Zayne. “Manipulating your djed to offer you greater mobility is an often overlooked advantage, and one you would do well to employ if your life is ever in danger. Let the energy flow from one leg to the other as it is needed, the djed does not like to be static.” At these words, Zayne surged forward, taking two steps in quick succession, cutting one way before dodging back the other, like a fish darting through the water.

Antelokes focused on his body, trying to feel the djed pathways. He felt the energy andwith elated enthusiasm he directed it to one leg and stepped at the same sharp angle Zayne had.

He moved just slightly faster than he had anticipated and was used to. As Antelokes planted his second foot, the angle was off, and his already sore leg slipped and collapsed under the force. Antelokes rolled to the ground with and audible thud.

“Argh!” the cry lept from his tongue unbidden. Zayne was immediately there, offering Antelokes a hand in returning to his feet.

“Don’t grow frustrated,” he warned. “To remain critical of yourself is necessary for growth, but failure is the price of progress. Bitterness will hinder your future successes.”

“Sorry,” Antelokes said. “I just haven’t fallen like that in a good while.” Zayne stared at him appraisingly.

“Perhaps it is time for you to rest then,” he said. “Return, if you wish to. I have a great many things to teach, for those who are willing to learn them.”

“I might do that,” Antelokes said, though his sore legs seemed to protest the idea. “I just might do that.”



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Balance or Imbalance

Postby Cleon on May 29th, 2022, 5:24 pm

Image





Grade Award!

Antelokes:

Skills:

Arcanology: 3
Flux: 2
Observation: 5
Meditation: 2
Socialization: 5
Unarmed: 2

Lores:

Syka: Tranquility Center - Location & Appearance
Zayne: Appearance & Mannerisms
Zayne: Using djed to do extraordinary physical feats
Djed: A part of all things
Flux: Using gestures to channel djed
Arcanology: Detecting djed paths in the body
Observation: Remaining cognizant of positioning
Flux: What it feels like to channel djed
Meditation: Becoming more aware of inner self
Flux: Djed manipulation is dynamic not static
Flux: Bouncing djed between limbs
Unarmed: Maintaining a solid base



Feel free to pm me with questions or concerns about your grade, and don’t forget to edit your grade request! :)
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