From Samriel’s Mental Journal:
20-08-54 (August 20th, 2054)
With the benevolent mercy of the Lord, I’ve had some time to focus on things besides jobs or research. I can’t even remember the last time I took a vacation; at least, a vacation where I was conscious, and not in the hospital. But God doesn’t give to us things which we cannot handle, and with time to process emotions I think I’m feeling significantly better.
After that… mess… I did indeed take a vacation. I went to Milan with Glitter for a week. She had to work for a couple of hours a day, but that wasn’t a big deal, and we did small, lovely things. We slept in and let ourselves wake naturally. I watched the motes of dust in the air shine in pale rays of evening sunlight. We took walks. We visited museums and galleries. We took in shows. Small things. Normal things. Things I’ve dearly missed. It’s amazing how a little time helps us heal. The sudden wracking sobs subsided. The nightmares got… less terrible, at least. I was healing, gradually. Glitter, somehow, didn’t seem to feel I’d lost my marbles. She seemed concerned for me, and a little sad, but she didn’t withdraw from me. God’s kindness in bringing us together never ceases to amaze me.
About a week into my vacation, the Professor called me and we arranged for transport to Portland for a few days later so that I could tell him in person about what had happened. And get checked over by him to make sure I hadn’t really just cracked. He was… surprisingly close-mouthed. He’s never talked a /lot/ granted, but I wish I knew what was going on inside his head. He said he’d get back to me on it.
Feeling much improved emotionally, I asked the Professor for a favor: the path I’ve chosen for the time being is a dangerous one, and I need to learn to defend myself. Truth be told, it was Glitter’s idea more than mine. I’ve confidence in my bindings, but Glitter worries for me, and so I promised her I would work to improve. Besides, I hate getting winded walking up a flight of stairs. I’ve never been physically imposing, but… Well, at any rate, I requested the Professor arrange for physical and combat training, and he obliged me.
I had to return to Chicago, much as the idea made my skin crawl. Like it or not, that’s where the team was, and I needed to be there should Iceman find any information for us on our latest job for The Mogul. But there I spent most of my time in the Tir Embassy. The Professor had arranged for me to train with the Embassy guardians.
How to describe the ensuing training? I worked from sundown until after sun-up each day. Imagine the common image of military training. I ran. A lot. I marched. A lot. With heavy packs. I was made to do pushups until I threw up. I was shot at. I crawled through mud on my belly like a snake. All that sort of thing. But that was only part of it. Tir Embassy guardians are very good at what they do, as befitting their status, and I was to do personal combat training with them, and me a complete novice. The first six weeks or so mostly involved me getting facial bones broken, cuts, slashes, and minor stab-wounds, at least if you don’t count the internal injuries. I spent enough time in the medical ward that I learned some about treating wounds simply through repetition. I also became very, very good at casting healing spells. After about the first six weeks, since the guards were all going very easy on me, I was able to defend myself a little bit.
A sergeant, Lorner, didn’t like me very much I think. A civilian thing maybe, or maybe he was disgusted with how weak I was, or… I don’t know yet. But he introduced me to the Se’lahan, and drilled me in it extensively, in return for helping him improve his laughable grasp of Sperethiel. It wasn’t a really a matter of personal preferences on my part, as I probably would’ve preferred the rapier. But it was what he thought I was most suited toward, and him being the expert, I trusted his judgement. A Se’lahan, of course, is a chain weapon. It consists of a chain about two meters long. At one end of the chain is a wicked, curved blade, finely-wrought and elegant. At the other end of the chain is a straight, short blade. The weapon’s quite versatile, able to slash, pierce, or entangle the enemy. The blades are fine enough to find the chinks in armor for a skilled user, and they’re manipulated by twisting, swinging, and wrapping-around of the chain. And perhaps most usefully, it’s long enough to keep the enemy from easily getting close. On the other hand, it’s miserable to learn. I can’t even tell you how many times I sliced myself open or smacked myself in the face or almost cut off something important.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about all the training was that it was helping me more than physically. My will was focused on the training, but it left my mind free and open to doing other things. Maybe the Professor knew that would be the case when he set it up for me. And it helped my confidence to deal with new situations. That first month I went to bed every day too bone-weary to think or do anything to sleep. And by the time my body started to get used to the training, I’d stopped having the night-terrors, and I was finally feeling in control again.
After about six weeks of training, I was used to it enough that I had energy for other things. So I read, and learned, about anything that would catch my fancy in the Embassy’s library or without. I learned to use the computers a little bit. And in the early mornings I started to research again, working on magics I thought would be useful. For one, I created a spell that would allow members of a team to communicate telepathically; immensely useful if I’m going to spend much of my time in astral space. And learned the basics of a couple of spells by watching the Embassy doctor. And, deciding I was used to it enough that I wouldn’t be too much of a danger to myself, I asked Greg to put in an order with his talismonger friend, for a Se’lahan weapon ranted, but even that would be immensely expensive considering the price of orichalcum.