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Studying on Mandalore

Mishka Larraq

Farmer's Daughter
Character
Mishka sat upon a thin bed of trampled yellow grass, her legs tucked under her backside and the hem of her dress spread evenly around her. A crisp breeze caressed her face and billowed her hair as the evening sun creeped ever closer to the gray mountain range to the west. The base of the mountains was a sprawling silver forest of young Galek trees, eventually giving way to rolling hills covered in tall yellow stalks of grass and wild wheat. Mishka watched the wind flow in waves down the mountain, flow through the silver canopy of the forest, and race over the hills towards her. It made Mishka think of a golden sea, and she smiled. It may not be the home she knew, but the surface of Mandalore was alive again. The air was no longer toxic and the storms had lost much of their bite. It was a new, reborn Mandalore. But one that was ever changing.

Mishka's smile turned bitter-sweet as part of her longed both for the world she had been born into, and the hellscape that had dominated this region of the planet for the past few years. Week by week, the air, the sky, and the ground itself were in a constant state of change that somehow left Mishka feeling homesick. A sigh filled her lungs as she tore her eyes from the scene before her and brought them back down to the books arranged around her. Absently, she plucked a ceramic cup from the ground and sipped at the slowly cooling tea it contained as her eyes danced from one book to another. She had the books arranged by category and aptitude, each open to a specific page with numerous strips of cloth, paper, and straw sticking from each book, marking additional specific pages. Each book was old and worn, most having been purchased second hand or ordered from the public library of Bralsin. Directly ahead of her was "Defense Against the Dark Arts: A Guide for Mando'ade", a book she had gotten from her Grandfather many years ago. It was a classic on Mandalore and was the core from which many a Mando'ade built their understanding of the tactical threat Jetii and Dar'jetii posed on and off the battlefield.

For most of the day, Mishka had sat upon this grassy hill as she studied these books. Two small meals and a number of light stacks had been brought with her, along with a pot of tea. The meals and snacks were gone and soon the tea would be too. Mishka took another sip and was thankful that the heating stone was able to keep the pot hot for as long as it had. It was a lesson she had figured out a few weeks ago when she had first began these studying sessions. Setting her teacup down, Mishka plucked up a jumbled mess of a notebook and flipped back a few pages as she tried to ignore the headache that played at her temples in spite of the wind playing with her hair and the cool breeze kissing her cheeks.
 

Mishka Larraq

Farmer's Daughter
Character
Having found the reference she needed, Mishka placed the notebook back in its place, closed her eyes, and tried to will away the headache. She hated studying the corrupt teachings of the aruetii. But like the world she sat upon, the Mando'ade were not what they once were. They were a changed people. Still proud and stubborn. But also... desperate. At least some of them were. Or so Mishka thought.

It had taken years, and the slow terraforming process was far from complete, but Mandalore was alive again and most of the Mando'ade had returned. Homelands had been reclaimed, new houses and towns had been built again upon fresh soil, and even some of the old cities were habitable again. You'd think that would be a cause for celebration. But Manda'yaim was not the same world as it had been before, and the same could be said for her people. The Mando'ade had always been a hardy people. Those that had staid on Manda'yaim had become even more so. They had endured toxic air and toxic water, acid raid and wasted soil. They had endured hurricane winds and never ending storms. They endured thunder and tornadoes, and razor winds... And then there was the ever present volcanic ash and the pin-head sized shards of razor sharp glass that came with it. Bloody eyes, bloody throats, and bloody lungs had plagued the Mando'ade who had stayed upon Manda'yaim. Mishka hated to think about how many of her people had died drowning in their own blood as it filled their lungs.

Even the Mando'ade who had fled the ravaged world were not free from suffering. Starvation, refugee ghettos... Mishka had heard of their hardships from those that traded with her family. The experience... had made them desperate. Willing to do what they would never have done before. Mishka's stomach churned at the thought of it. The returned Mando'ade were in charge. The Mand'alor was a returned. And like the rest of their kind, she had allowed her desperation to overtake her pride. She had aligned herself with the Dar'jetii. And with her, she had led the Mando'ade to the side of the Sith.

Mishka's stomach churned every time she thought about it. It was not a choice she would ever have made. Her people, the people she had been raised to become, had been proud. They stood on their own and defied both the jetii and dar'jetii on their own terms. But now... Those who had stayed on Manda'yaim. Those, like Mishka, who had endured the hellscape... well, they would just have to endure the new Manda'yaim that the returned were building.

Mishka's eyes opened again and the pit in her stomach subsided as she gazed upon the books arranged before her. She, and those like her, would endure this trial too. She would not succumb to the corruption of the dar'jetii. And somewhere within these heresies, Mishka was sure there was an answer for her people. An uncorrupted teaching hidden by time. Something that would let her craft the tools and weapons her people needed to resist the temptations of the Dar'jetii and hold fast to the Manda that was their birthright.
 

Mishka Larraq

Farmer's Daughter
Character
Clustered on her left and right were much newer books than the old and ragged one that sat ahead of her. Mishka leaned towards the cluster of books on her left and looked at the open pages of "Clan Rekali's Comprehensive Guide to Ritual Magic for the Mando'ade Novice". She had originally read the book a few months ago. It had been an interesting read and gave Mishka a fair bit of insight into the basic workings of Witch and Sith magic, enchantments, and crafting techniques. There were a few footnotes about Jedi meditation techniques that achieved similar results and an entire chapter on the similarities between Jal Shey Artifact construction as the ritual magic of the Witches of Dathomir. Mishka's eyes danced along the open pages. The current pair covered some of the basic differences between how Dathomiri Witches and Dar'jetii approach enchantments and alchemy. It had been these pages, and the knowledge that two techniques so different from each other had been able to achieve similar results that had started Mishka on her current, headache inducing, project.

Lost in thought, Mishka's left hand plucked the teacup from the ground and brought the warm liquid to her lips as her eyes moved on to one of the other books in this cluster. "Darkside Rituals for the Aspiring Knight", had been a tough read for Mishka. A lot of the concepts had been entirely foreign to Mishka and it was only with numerous trips back to the Rekali book that she had made it through. The page before her showed a diagram of a Dar'jetii ritual circle, a ceremonial bloodletting knife, and several paragraphs detailing the metaphysical properties of pain and suffering upon both flesh and inanimate objects. Mishka didn't quite get the Dar'jetii's obsession with pain, but she had been very intrigued by their assertion that strong emotions, properly harnessed, could cause specific attributes to be bound to an object. It was almost impossible for Mishka to not draw an immediate connection to bes'runi and the intense fear that flowed from the magic metal. What Mishka most wanted to understand though, was the exact nature between the design and implementation of a ritual circle and the effect it caused upon the fabric of the Manda.

Mishka's eyes darted to a third book in the cluster as she finished the last of the tea in her cup. "Jal Shey Artifacts: What are they and How do They Work?", had been a much less creepy book to read than the Dar'jetii one. The Jal Shey rune engravings were beautiful to look at, and yet were not entirely all that different from the patterns of the Dar'jetii or even the Witch ritual circles. Get a knife, chant some words, meditate with the force, focus on the object in front of you, draw a circle... and maybe sacrifice a goat or something. Mishka sat the tea cup down, picked up the tea kettle, and gently poured herself another serving of tea. As she poured, she tried to recall what had been written on the pages. Something about the relation between form and intent in the sweeping patterns of an amulet and how they subconsciously effect the latent connection all living things share with the Force. Which, to Mishka, sounded an awful lot like what the Dar'jetii had gone on about when ranting about fear and metaphysics.
 

Mishka Larraq

Farmer's Daughter
Character
Mishka sat the tea kettle back upon the heating stone and turned her attention to the fourth book in the cluster. She leaned forward and pressed a finger to the pages as her other hand plucked up the tea cup and held it aloft as she focused on the book. "Lightsaber Alternatives: Force Imbuement Self-training for Jedi Knights" was actually quite a pleasant read for Mishka. She had been unaware that some Jetii forgo their traditional mechanical weapon in favor of a... more reliable alternative. She had known that some Dar'jetii used physical blades. Usually forged with blood and human sacrifice and given all sorts of mystical properties. The results of the crafting intrigued Mishka, but their methods were... clearly tainted. The jetii technique, though, seemed far more pure. Meditate on the Force, focus on the weapon, and give a part of your soul to the weapon. At face value, the similarities seemed obvious to Mishka. Those same similarities also explaining the relative difference in power between most Dar'jetii and Jetii blades. It was simply easier to shove more soul into an object when you could use other people's souls.

<Was it really a soul though?> Mishka pondered as she took a tiny sip of her almost-too-hot tea. Mishka had yet to determine if the Jetii and Dar'jetii were using the soul itself, or the energy that connected a soul to the Manda. Kark, Mishka wasn't even sure if there would be any practical difference between the two. She knew that all things shared a connection to the Manda, and that the Manda was a part of all natural things. But that the Manda was a seperate and individual thing. All things were... simply part of the Manda, in spite of being uniquely separate of the Manda. And then there were the Runi'verd. The few gifted Mando'ade who shared a unique connection with the Manda. They could feel it and all things that were connected to it. They could even feel those things and people who had been corrupted from the Manda. Those were the Jetii, Dar'jetii, their collective artifacts, and all of the aruetii. But that begged the question... <Do the gifted have a larger soul, or do they have a stronger connection to the Manda?>

Mishka sipped her tea again and tried to force that particular metaphysical debate from her mind. She had enough of a headache already. What she really needed to know... Was what happened to an object enchanted by a Jetii or Dar'jetii. <Is the object given a soul, or is the existing connection to the Manda made stronger?> Mishka pondered.

For all their meditation, Jedi writings were remarkably lacking in clarity.
 

Mishka Larraq

Farmer's Daughter
Character
Sighing again, Mishka sat down her tea cup and leaned towards the cluster of books to her right. "Wild Power: Nature's Vigor" sat next to "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", both open to pages detailing the unique alchemical properties that could be coaxed out of Terentatek leather if processed properly, and a number of references on where and how to locate said beasts. Which... was another thing that Mishka was curious about. It took alchemy to unlock the potential of them, but the corpses of creatures with abnormally strong connections to the Manda could be made to exhibit... 'metaphysical properties'. There were other books here that touched on the unique properties of some special rocks and plants when enchanted with alchemy, and about a thousand different types of crystals. All of which were of interest to Mishka in her current endeavor. But what she needed was an uncorrupted means of unlocking the potential of these materials. Which also meant that she would need a fairly solid grasp of not only how the Jetii and Dar'jetii rituals worked, but WHY they worked.

Mishka picked up the third book in that set, "Alchemy 101", and began flipping through the pages. Chants, ritual markings, mystic stones... Mishka flipped from one marked page to the next as she searched for what she vaguely recalled being printed within the book. When she finally found it, Mishka traced the lines with her finger. "The life force of the dying creature is bound to the ritual object, infusing it with energy. The ritual marking, chanted words, and intent of the performer are used to shape and give purpose to this energy as it infuses the object, dictated which effect the newly infused object with possess." She mumbled aloud in a heavily accented Galactic Basic.

Mishka put the book back with the others and propped open with a small stone like all the others. She leaned back, propping herself up with both her arms as she held her face towards the evening sun, closed her eyes, and felt the warmth of the sun contrast the cool breeze upon her face. <Imbuement pushes your own soul into an object.> Mishka pondered quietly, trying to make sense of the different teaching in a way that worked for her. <Alchemy forces a dying soul into an object... But Jal Shey and other runic techniques do neither of these things.> Her inner voice said before pausing, contemplating how to wrap her head around it. <Pull the Manda into the object?> She questioned herself, judging how the concept felt. Deep in her core, something about the idea resonated with her. <The carvings must draw in energy from the Manda and trap it within the object.> She thought, opening her eyes to the sky and feeling that maybe she was finally understanding the source of that particular brand of magic. <And crystals...> She questioned as the turned towards another book.
 

Mishka Larraq

Farmer's Daughter
Character
Mishka picked up a much smaller book and began flipping from one bookmarker to the next until she found the section she wanted. Pressing a finger to the page and tracing the lines. "Some believe force crystals to be raw force energy condensed into a solid state," Mishka read silently from the book, her lips attempting to mumble along with her internal monologue. "While most traditional teachings claim that force crystals are simply normal crystals that formed during a time when an abnormally strong flow of force energy swept the area, infusing the base minerals with energy. As those minerals crystalized, it is believed that they trapped the abnormal concentration of energy within them. It is also theorized that the specific mineral composition and crystal lattus of each crystal is the cause of the wide range of properties that these crystals can display."

<Well that was oddly straightforward for a Jetii.> Mishka pondered as she lowered the book to her lap and held it there, open to the current page. <But it sounds the same. Materials and patterns that trap an abnormal concentration of the Manda's essence within an object. With crystals... it must be... the natural process that the other rituals mimic.> She contemplated as she rested her hands and the book upon her lap, stared at the distant mountains, and lightly bit her lip in concentration. The wind flowed down the mountain, ripples of pressure flowing first through the silver tree canopies then through the sea of golden yellow grass. Mishka couldn't help but to feel a bit of peace as she stared at the beauty of her homeworld, the pain in her head fading away from her attention in this moment. Something about it all just felt right to her. The time, the place, her spot on the hill, the books arranged around her. It felt like a thousand tiny pieces had fallen together of their own accord to complete a whole that she hadn't realized had been separate before this moment. And there was something... something about the half thought that wouldn't quite find its way to her tongue that felt the same way. Like a divine truth was being whispered into her ear by the Manda itself, but she couldn't quite hear it.

For a second, it was there... and then it was gone. She felt empty and tired and could feel the creep of her headache as it rushed to fill the void. With a sigh, Mishka closed the book in her hands and placed it upon the ground. Quickly, quietly, and with a practice that spoke of weeks of repetition, Mishka closed one book after another and stacked them up in a small wicker basket with the squares of cloth that had previously held her meals and her snacks. She placed the tea kettle and the heating stone and her ceramic mug on top of the small pile of cloth squares that rested next to the books. Her knees protested as she stood from the padded earth, bent again, and dusted broken blades of yellow grass from her dress before plucking the wicker basket from the ground. Her gaze lingered upon the distant mountain as she felt a longing for the home she once had and an appreciation for the home she did have. Taring her gaze away, Mishka turned towards the homestead and began the long walk back towards the buildings that her distant ancestors had built, the buildings that had withstood the destruction and rebirth of the world they rested upon, and the monumental machine that stood over it all like a dead god that refused to abandon the people that worshiped it.

As one foot moved before the other, Mishka felt a stronger connection with her home that she had felt the day before. Vaguely, she wondered if the buildings had a soul, or if it was just her own soul that was connected to them. Maybe she would know tomorrow... She had a lot more reading to do.
 
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