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Author Topic: Xiao Lin - Straying from the Path  (Read 3341 times)


Xiao Lin - Straying from the Path
« on: June 05, 2020, 10:35:52 pm »
Normally I meditate to work through my thoughts as I seek to make important decisions.  In this case, I find myself nearly paralyzed as I look to the possible paths ahead.  This decision is not one to be taken lightly, so I determined the best course of action would be to write my thoughts down, then return to them later.  Perhaps one course of action will emerge as the favored one, as I review my choices, which follow.

First, I can stay on my current path of training.  It has served me well in many ways, and puts me in a somewhat unique position within this realm.  As far as I know, I am as advanced in monk training as anyone else in these lands.  There is a certain appeal in continuing to advance towards perfection of oneself.  Of course, the closer one comes to that goal, the more one realizes that the goal is impossible to attain.  Ahhhh, the double-edged sword that is enlightenment.

It has become increasingly apparent to me that continuing to advance in my current mode of training serves my own vanity more than it does my fellow guild members, and other friends I travel with from time to time.  The life of a monk can be a lonely one, and I have come to discover that I actually enjoy the company of others, and cherish an existence based on relationships and camaraderie.  This leads me to my second choice.

The second choice would be to step away from the path of the monk.  My brotherhood of the Red Tiger disbanded many years ago.  I am the last of us.  Nothing I do, short of creating a new order, will change that.  I want to be a more useful member when I join others on dangerous excursions.  One choice stands out above others as a natural "fit" for me.  I have already been learning with others, such as Fehriel and Zigg, and practicing with various tools and kits, to manipulate the inner workings of traps, locks and tricks of combat. 

I realize I have only scratched the surface, though, and any meaningful progress will require study and discipline.  This is something I know I am capable of, based on my years of training in the brotherhood.  The physical skills I have honed will work well in this new field of study, as well.  If I devote myself to this new path, I can contribute to my traveling group in new and meaningful ways.

The title for this new path is Rogue, and, admittedly, it did give me pause, when I first considered this.  Over time, I have embraced the idea that there is no inherent good or evil, order or chaos in a name, or a title.  It is what someone does with their skills and training that matters.  Certainly, the band of murderous monks we have encountered demonstrates that no path or course of action ensures a purity of heart.  I would use my training to help my party, and contribute to our cause as we cleanse the lands of chaotic and evil enemies.

Of course, once I focus my attention in this new direction, it will mean bidding farewell to any chance of advancing further in my monk training.  This is not something I take lightly.  I will meditate on this and return to this journal to see if I am inspired to make a decision one way or another.


Re: Xiao Lin - Straying from the Path
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2020, 01:03:49 am »
I have taken a very important first step on this new path.  Though I hadn't fully decided one way or another, I realize that sometimes it is important to speak your intent to another, and allow for them to react to that intent.  My decision to move forward was not based on the reaction I got, of course.  It was based on my own feelings and inner response to their reaction.  I discovered that I was pleased, and was not secretly hoping someone would talk me out of this step.

Of course, I am speaking of Fehriel.  I hinted that I might want to learn more about one of the paths he has chosen for himself.  After a few prodding questions, I finally took the direct approach and asked if he would be willing to train me.  I know the expression, "when the student is ready, the teacher appears" and it seems that was the case here.  It was not a foregone conclusion, and Fehriel actually had to ensure I would be an acceptable student.  After all, what I am asking could be used in despicable ways, if put in the wrong hands.  So I was, in fact, relieved that he asked me some very direct and personal questions about why I wanted to learn his ways.  I would not want a teacher who would be willing to train someone with ill intent.

I also realize that Fehriel is the right kind of teacher for me in the physical sense.  His methods are nearly identical in some respects to what I was subjected to in my youth, yet, they are also quite different.  It is a lesson in keeping an open, beginner's mind in the face of apparent familiarity.  I can already tell that there is a certain finesse at play, and he is already training me to disarm an opponent in unconventional ways.  Some might call it sneaky and underhanded, but I see it more as misdirection used in its purest, and most lethal, form.  Every lesson will be one to raise my awareness, and not take anything for granted. 

And so, my lessons began in earnest this week.  Using candles, my training is timed, and even allows for breaks to eat.  That is an improvement over my training at the monastery, where fasting was considered an essential element, to purify the body of any needs or desires.  I recognize, though, that this new training is not about mastering the body through the mind.  Certainly, there will be elements of that.  I cannot fully express yet how this training will differ, but I know that it will broaden my horizons, and for that, I am grateful. 

I must rest my body and restore my strength now.  For, training resumes at dawn.  I will write more after my next set of lessons.


Re: Xiao Lin - Straying from the Path
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2020, 01:01:01 am »
I have just returned from some traveling, and would like to write down the experiences I have had with two very different rogues recently.  I am reminded yet again that when the student is ready, the teacher arrives.  It seems I am being granted lessons from several teachers, at the moment.  Whether that is actually the intent of each is irrelevant, for it is the wisdom I gain from my interactions with them that is of my concern.

First, I traveled with Fehriel and a few others into the Scarab Dungeon.  He had decided he would use this outing to begin to train me in the detection of traps.  I discovered that my ability to avoid traps after they have been sprung has actually worked against me, because I rarely spotted a trap, even when moving slowly, before I heard the telltale 'snick' of a spring being sprung.  Granted, I never took damage from any of the traps, but if I am traveling with a group and they are relying on me to find the traps before they inflict damage upon them, then I had better learn how to spot them more easily.

My second experience was with a very different kind of rogue.  You might say he fits most people's preconceived idea of what a rogue is.   He seems to be always looking for the angle where he can take full advantage of others, and not just in combat, to inflict the most damage, if it suits him.  I prefer to see the positive side in people, but I fear that some very hard lessons were pounded into him at an early age, and those lessons would be extremely difficult to overcome.  I can see that he is developing into someone that prove a capable ally, but I would not want to have my life in his hands if he had to choose between me and his own interests.

I believe it will be important to continue to interact with both of these gentlemen as I move forward with my training.  They will serve as sounding boards for me to use to reflect upon my own motivations, and will help me decide on the kind of rogue I choose to be.
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Re: Xiao Lin - Straying from the Path
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2020, 11:20:42 am »
Fehriel came to inform me today that he had nearly taught me all he could.  The only thing left was to share the secret language known as thieves' cant.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, I am excited to be so near the completion of my training.  On the other, I must admit I expected more extensive training from Fehriel.  Upon reflection, though, I realize that skill development as a rogue relies on real-world experience.   Feh can provide the foundation, but it is up to me to develop those skills moving forward.

The fact that he is starting to teach me the thieves' cant shows he approves of my approach to his training so far.  It has been difficult, to be sure, but my early training in the monastery helped me to prepare for what Feh put me through.  I have enjoyed getting to know him through this, and I hope that our friendship continues to develop, even though it seems our training sessions will be coming to an end.

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Re: Xiao Lin - Straying from the Path
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2020, 02:23:08 am »
I find myself with some time on my hands, sitting in a corner of a series of caverns and caves, known as The Deep to most.  Though the light is nearly non-existent here, my reflection on recent events has proven to be most illuminating. 

I have wondered why, in spite of the fact that Fehriel has informed me that my training is complete, I have yet to fully embody what that training is meant to represent.  In contrast, my training as a monk has always been very straightforward, albeit extremely difficult.  In order to progress, there were highly specific milestones and deeds to accomplish.  I was expecting different training from Feh, to be sure, but I assumed that would only be in the specific subject matter of the training.  When he informed me that he had taught me all he could, I assumed that meant my training was complete.  In hindsight, that is not what he meant at all.  His ambiguity was intentional, and the final, most important lessons were for me to figure out on my own.

One such lesson occurred on a recent trip to the Firesteep mountains.  After an arduous journey, our party decided to rest for the night in a house previously occupied by a dwarf of some renown.  His gate was locked, and I tried, without much confidence, to open it for the group.  It seemed to be beyond my capability, so Abi called upon her pixie to perform the task.  My pride was not tarnished, for I am just a fledgling in this type of task, but it still seemed to gnaw at me that night as the party slept.

In the morning, I decided I needed to meditate on these feelings a bit more, and I let the party proceed without me.  Little did I know, the gate was locked behind them as they left.  When I was finally ready to go, I found myself locked in.  I was alone, so I had no one else to turn to.  Either I figured out a way to unlock the gate, or I might have to go into a state of deep meditation until a new party arrived.  Not wanting to be rescued, I searched my mind for anything I had, anything I possessed, which could help me in this endeavor. 

Searching through my bags, I re-discovered a belt I had found years before, which granted the wearer several benefits.  The most important, in this case, was that it helped with the task of picking a lock.  I wore all the jewelry and clothing I could to enhance my manual dexterity, but it still wasn't enough.  Then, I remembered some lockpicks Abi had made for me, after I had mentioned an interest in the ways of the rogue.  I truly thought this lock was beyond me, as I still did not embody what I thought I should to call myself a novice rogue.  Still, I had learned enough, and as I focused my mind on the inner workings of the lock, my fingers took on a life of their own, and I soon heard the tell-tale "snick" as the tumblers fell into place and the gate swung free.  Perhaps I had learned more than I gave myself credit for.

It was nice that I was able to free myself, but I still have wondered if I would be able to step up if called upon in the presence of others.  That question was answered recently in these very caverns.  We made our way to the wind orb, after some very hard-won battles.    After clearing out the guardians of the orb, Feh, who had been pointing out different sneak attack strategies to me over the course of the whole trip, looked over to me and said, "This one is yours, Xiao"

I don't know the last time I have felt so nervous.  I have run into battle against hordes of enemies, the mere thought of which would induce night terrors in the hardiest of men.  My training and self-discipline have rendered me literally immune to spells which target my mind.  Yet, how does one defend themselves against their own inner fears and demons, when faced with the proposition of disappointing all their friends and allies?  I did not want to let them down.  I donned all the same items I had used to open the gate before, but I still could not seem to open the lock.  I looked at the rest of the party, and made my plea.

"I have nearly figured this lock out, but I do not have the means right now to solve it.  Does anyone have anything in their possession which will help me in this endeavor?"  Just as I was about to give up hope, Gumbo tapped me on the hip, and held an odd looking ring in his hand.  Even though it diminished the deftness I was feeling in my fingertips, I suddenly had better insight into the inner workings of this lock.  With a few subtle and inter-connected movements, the lock clicked open, and the party let out a few gasps and cheers, as well as some heavy sighs of relief.  The treasure inside turned out to be rather anti-climactic, but the experience was more than enough reward for me.

I realize now that this new journey will not have the same well-marked milestones and achievements.  Certainly, there will still be progression, but I now see that I have already learned much, and will continue to do so.  A new set of robes or a belt may not accompany my progress, but if I continue to work with the aid of my friends around me, I will be the best rogue I can possibly be.
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