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from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 129:
      The nightmare. The nightmare. It came back last night. Every time I feel happy with what my life is becoming, it creeps back. This time the beasts burning eyes contained a figure. It looked like... like... me. It was me. I was the beast, destroying the town. Is it a premonition? A fated vision of what I will become? Is it a future I can avoid? I'm scared... I don't know what to do. I... I'll talk to Faina. She needs to know now. I can't continue being dishonest with her.
      Do not be consumed by your demons. You are not defined by the pain you can cause, but the joy you can bring.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 128:
      Forty-six days ago. I first bought the ring forty-six days ago. It's taken me that long to work up the courage. But today, in front of practically the whole town, I asked her to marry me. Her response was so immediate that I was almost unprepared for when she leaped into into my arms and kissed me. Her beaming smile for the rest of the night gave me an incredible joy. She couldn't stop from staring straight at me, any chance she got, and I myself remained fixed on her as she waited tables in the tavern. One of the older women in town commented on how quick we were to fall in love, but I think we both knew very early on that we would be able to support each other.
      I sent letters to Ero and Chin telling them what I was going to do. It was the first time I had thought of them since the day I became Marshall. It was the first time in a long time that I thought about Rian, about the medallion, about the books. I locked them all in a chest in our house. Maybe one day I'll get to them, but I fear they may cause more pain than good at this point. I'm happy, for the first time in a very long time. I can feel myself becoming lighter, my problems becoming less and less...
      What we expect to make us happy in times of sorrow rarely match up to what really makes us happy. Do not discount the world around to seek something that solves only a single point of woe.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 86:
      I've been named the new town Marshall of Dherr. I thought long and hard about what my skills were and what I am able to do, and I decided that the best fit for me would be as a peace keeper. There are a number of bandit camps springing up lately, particularly along the road to Castleguard. If I can keep this town safe, this place that my brothers and I owe our lives to, then I will absolutely do so.
      "The Fall of Felsfalla' is in some ancient language. I managed to find a translator guide at the library, but work on it is going slowly. What I do know is that my medallion is from there. An eye, surrounded by the jaws and fangs of a wolf. The pattern forged into the golden surface of the medallion is the same as the kingdom's seal. I wonder what it means. Did my father come from Felsfalla? Did he visit there? Is it just a symbol, or is it something more telling? Studying these books have raised so many more questions than answers.
      A traveling merchant came into town the other day. He had with him "treasures from Rian, the finest clothing and jewels in the land.' Part of me didn't want him in the town, but I saw two items that I felt I had one chance to purchase. The first was what appeared to be just a regular black cloak, but I recognized the fabric. One thing Rian was known for was creating magical and wonderful things, and this was no different. Not only could the material change its color for the user, but it was also lighter and more protective than any other fabric on the continent. The other was a small gold band with two gemstones intertwining on the top. The white and black jewels were small, but very rare, and the amber color of the gold gave it a regal impression. This ring, in fact, belonged to my mother. As soon as I saw it, I collected myself and calmly asked to take a closer look. I was thrilled when the peddler did not even know the value of the metal or gems it was made from, and I managed to talk him down to a very low price.
      I've never spoken of my mother. Not for years. I would be the only one of us, between my brothers and me, who would be able to remember her. She passed away a few days after Ero was born. I don't remember much, either. She was caring and passionate, just like my father, but she was something else, too. She had a warmth to her, something in her smile that would let you know that she was there to protect her children and give them strength. I see that same expression towards me from Faina, but only recently have I tied it back to the memories of my early childhood. I see the warmth in her face, hear the love in her voice, and I'm almost thrown back to the Rian palace playing at my mother's feet. That deep compassion, that warmth and light that Faina shows... that's why I bought the ring. I don't know where I want to end up, but I have the same answer as her to the question. Wherever I end up I want it to be with her.
      Our memories of the past often seem far greater than the present. But we should not confuse memory with joy. Nostalgia can only keep us in a realm where we try and recreate what was good. Instead, we should constantly look forward and create new and stronger moments of happiness for ourselves.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 78:
      When we made it back to Dherr the Innkeeper greeted us with open arms. He gave one giant hug to his daughter and one giant hug to me. I think he could see as soon as we walked up that we are truly in love with each other. He didn't even bother setting up separate rooms for both of us. Part of me feels uneasy that he's so liberal about it, but at the same time it is a grand feeling to know that you have been accepted into another family through romantic involvement.
      In my spare time I've begun reading the history of the Caro Woods. There's so much that I am learning that my father never told me. Part of me is wondering if he was truly as great as I remember him to be. Did he really meet all the townspeople with respect and kindness? Was he the fair ruler he claimed to be? So many of my memories and ideas are conflicting with the ideas of the continent. I asked Faina about and she told me not to worry. There are things that might conflict with what I know, but I should consider everything and trust what I know to be true. But... I'm still so confused about everything. I guess I just need to think about it more. "The Fall of Felsfalla.' Maybe my answers are in that book.
      I haven't heard from Chin or Ero since we left Corgarand. I'm worried about them, but I know that they are more than capable to take care of themselves. Part of me is jealous, actually. As much as I like it in Dherr, it's not where I want to stay. It's not a place where I feel like I belong. I just wish I knew what that place was. I asked Faina what she wanted to do and where she wanted to end up. All she said was that she wanted to be with me wherever I end up. She's amazing most of the time, but sometimes she's a tad unhelpful.
      There haven't been any other Halla soldiers since we left. I guess the officer lost his squad in the desert and they abandoned him. He died two days after we left. I didn't know him and he probably ordered some part of the invasion on my home, but I can't help but feel sorry for him. He didn't deserve to get abandoned by his soldiers and left for dead. He deserved a much better fate.
      What is true has nothing to do with how you treat people. Everyone deserves dignity and respect, and only the people who have directly caused you harm should receive anything less.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 68:
      Izo. What can I say about that man? He is everything I want to be. His talent with a sword is indeed unparalleled. I was able to learn an abundance of information from simply listening to how he holds his own blade. I felt like his lessons were elegantly designed to take even a beginner and give them a chance to prove themselves against a professional soldier. What he allowed me to do, and what I was able to accomplish, was outstanding. I could never have imagined half the moves he taught me to execute almost flawlessly. He is still my better, and I will always be grateful for that. As a student, I am not ready to surpass my master.
      There was one thing that happened, though. It was one night where my nightmare came back. I saw the beast, felt the ash and the blood. The demon turned, and I once again saw the medallion. Only, this time, the dream didn't end. I saw the raging fire within the beast's eyes. The hell and damnation that corrupted its soul was mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time. This time when I awoke, it wasn't to a cold sweat, and I did not wake up Faina from her sleep. It was only Izo, who stared at me from my door way. He motioned me up and made a pot of tea, then he gave me a warning.
      "Do not become the beast that haunts you. Do not let your anger rule your passions. Do not be overrun by the hellfire of vengeance. This is the code of the swordsman. Without it, there would be only destruction.'
      I still don't understand. Am I the beast? Is it my father? An ancestor? Why that night, of all nights did the nightmare resurface? Why did it persist? And why did that fire feel so familiar and yet so foreign? I still refuse to tell Faina. We've come too far along to have me worry her with visions of beasts and agony. But still... can I really figure this out by myself?
      Is it beneficial to ask for help when the problem is unclear? Is it pointless to ask for help when you know the solution? Is it the job of anyone else to solve the woes of another? Perhaps the only answer is to be truthful to the one you trust the most.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 60:
      I finally had an audience with the merchant council. It happened privately, and off record as well, something I found odd for their organization. I guess they didn't think too highly of my father, but they do not condone the invasion of Rian by Halla. Apparently few people in the southern part of the continent have received news of the battle, and the council would like to keep it that way.
      "The idea that Halla wishes to wage war on the continent is simply untrue. They have their reasons for attacking both Rian and Castleguard beyond an acquisition of land. We have sent caravans to the far north countless times, and never do we hear of any ill will towards Corgarand or its people. Such a claim would not only ruin the reputation of our city as a neutral merchant town, but it would also cause a panic among a people who live in peace and prosperity within our secured borders. While we never condone the militaristic approach to diplomacy, we also have no choice but to remain who and what we always have been. Therefore, mister Jian Fang, we deny your request for aid. We will, however, support you in whatever peaceful hospitality you may require while within our fine city and port.'
      I still remember those words clear as day. And I understand, they made it perfectly clear that they are unable to help my cause. But to keep it from the people seems dishonest. Nevertheless, I have to choice but to obey their gag order.
      Ero met a doctor who's son died at sea. He told me that the doctor believed wholeheartedly that his son had returned the moment Ero stumbled through his door. After a long and emotionally invested conversation, Ero says he understood exactly what he was needed for. "This doctor can cure the sick and heal the physical ailments of the city, but there is much poverty and sadness when one starts delving deeper into the alleys. I need to give these people the hope to fight on and make something better for themselves. I need to help them any way I can.' When Ero said this to me, it was my father speaking through him. His passion and care for the common people shines through Ero everyday. That was his answer to my question, although, I already knew. I am proud that he has found a place where he can belong. I told him to send a letter to Chin about where he would be staying so that they could stay in touch. Even across countries and continents, family needs to stick together.
      Faina and I plan to leave the town in the next few days. It turns out that Izo lives on a small farm north east of the city. After a few days learning from the "Swordmaster of the South' we intend to return to Dherr. I read her one of the short pieces of advice I've been recording at then end of my stories. She tells me I should compile them into their own volume. Once I have some time, once I find my place in the world, maybe I'll do just that.
      What you may find at the end of your journey is determined by how open you are. The more you are willing to accept, the happier you will be once your life begins to slow down.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 54:
      The smith looked at my sword. He said it was the finest weapon he had ever seen crafted, and demanded to know where I got the material. The truth is, I don't know. My father claimed that he had the sword made especially for me and that one day I would use it as a beacon of hope and truth against the darkness. But, the smith seemed to believe it was crafted thousands of years ago. I have no idea which story is the truth, but I do know that I have a sword like no other. He begged me to sharpen it, which was half the reason I took it to him in the first place. He called it his "reward after a life of hard work.' I guess he was more than eager to feel passionate once more about working a new steel to perfection.
      Faina spent all day with me in the library yesterday. We lost each other in the stacks more times than I can remember, bumping into each other at the strangest of moments. There was one moment I remember quite clear, when we met in a secluded corner of the building. We kissed each other with an almost violent passion, as if we hadn't seen each other in weeks. Unlike most other times we've been alone, our hands seemed to be uncontrollable. We ran them up and down each other's bodies, underneath our clothing. Even now I can remember how soft her touch was on my skin, and how delicate she felt all over. Were it not for a falling book when we bumped a shelf, I might have been tempted to take her right there in the library.
      Such events were not the only good things to come out of the library that day. We managed to find three books worth taking a longer look at. One was a history of the Caro Woods, the forests surrounding Rian. Another was titled "The Fall of Felsfalla,' a book my father had actually forbid from Rian. The final book is a magic tome concerned with trinkets. Hopefully with these, I can get some answers as to why my home was overrun and destroyed.
      Ero has spent most of the days wandering the alleys and pathways of the city. Most of the hustle and bustle of the city is peaceful trading, so I felt safe letting him do his own thing. Every so often I'll catch him leaving a shop with a huge grin on his face, laughing away as a shop keep sees him out. Other times he's in the center of town playing his flute with some local musicians. He told me yesterday of how he met up with some children who were playing in an old alley and stumbled upon an injured cat. He helped them take care of the cat and make friends with it. That kind of selflessness gives him so much joy, it's almost amazing to see. He brings such energy to so many people around him, strangers and friends, old and young, men and women, rich and poor. He's slowly becoming an icon in the city. This morning I asked him if he wanted to stay. He didn't give an answer as he rushed out the door, but the fire I saw in his eyes was the same one I saw in Chin's. Passion, selflessness, laughter. This is the carefree nature of Ero. He's still young, two less than chin and five less than me, but I think he's found his place in the world.
      My plan is to stay here for a few more days myself. I still have yet to meet the merchant council or Izo. I sent a letter to Chin today to let him know that we're okay. I miss him badly.
      The future is never quite what we expect, but as long as we follow our dreams then it will provide us happiness.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 51:
      Even the good voyage to Corgarand took six whole days. We arrived at the inn just hours before I opened my book. Faina and Ero were exhausted and passed out almost instantly. Ero is snoring away on the smaller bed in the room, as usual, and Faina sleeps beside me. She's so beautiful when she's sleeping. Her pale cheeks gain a rosy tint between the smattering of freckles. Her hair falls softly behind her, like the calm glow of a midnight campfire. One hand rests near her chest, as though she's clutching her heart to keep it warm, and the other falls in front of her, ensuring that she's attached to solid ground. I moved the blanket up to cover her shoulder. She looked cold, and when I did so she immediately nestled into her position, satisfied by the warmth I provided her.
      The demon in my dream hasn't returned yet. I don't know whether that's because of Faina and her unyielding support, or if it was just a meaningless dream. I'm still certain that the dream was some sort of premonition.
      I can hear the music from the tavern downstairs. It's faint, but the jolly sailing tune seemed to have a hypnosis effect on Ero. Even sleeping and snoring away, he still's moving some part of his body in time with the music. They're both so innocent, and so peaceful... I feel as though they're too good for me.
      On the ship... I had a strange experience. One of the sailor's had offered to train with me on the only clear and sunny day. We fenced for some time, and he showed me a number of different moves. At one point, I had knocked him flat on his back and had my sword pointed straight down his neck. It took all of my willpower to not follow through with the next strike and plunge my steel down his throat. Even thinking of it now, I can hear the satisfying crunch of music and bone, I can feel the mist of spraying blood, and I can smell the sense of fear coming from his fading soul. Am... am I a monster? I haven't told anyone. I'm scared to. I don't want to lose someone. I don't want to lose Faina.
      Why do we lie, cheat, steal, and harm for the sake of love? If love is sprung from happiness, then chose not to cause misery to, but to simply be true to the love you wish to share and receive.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 44:
      We finally found a boat that will take us to Corgarand, although the captain seemed quite hesitant. Apparently the cape is treacherous waters, and wondering out too far can leave you blown out to sea by the wind. Most ships refuse passengers because of this danger. If we do get blown out, the navigation takes an extra week, and the captain is afraid of a food shortage. The only reason he took us on board is that we agreed to help out how we could on the ship and tend to our own meals.
      Ero and Faina have grown quite close. I'm glad that they've become friends on this journey. I guess that's what I have to call it now. At first, I didn't know what it was. We were refugees without a cause and no idea how to survive. Now... I'm not so sure what we are. But we seem to be getting into some adventures.
      I had a dream... no, more like a nightmare. A great beast stampeded through the Halla capital. The screams of women and children filled the air, and the air was thick with blood and ash. The demon turned and I could see my father's medallion, just for a glance, before I woke up in a cold and shaking sweat. I'm convinced that this was some sort of vision, but what I don't know is whether it was a warning from the past or a prediction for the future. I think that the library in Corgarand will have answers, but I'm not entirely sure. There are a number of people I wish to meet in and around the city now. The librarian, the sword smith, the merchant's court, and a man named Izo. I heard my father speak quite fondly of his swordsmanship, and I think I could benefit from some more formal lessons.
      I love Faina. I am more than certain now that I do. When I awoke in sweat, she rushed to my room. She heard my screaming through the walls, and came to see if I was okay. And then... she made sure I would sleep sound me. She climbed into my bed with me. I was so afraid to touch her and do something wrong, but she wrapped my arm around her shoulder and rested her head on my chest. Just knowing she could hear my heart excited me and calmed me down simultaneously. I slept soundly for the rest of the night.
      Whether the past or the future is in question, what is important are our actions in the present. Here and now is when things matter the most.

    • The Diary of Jian, the Philosopher

      3 years ago

      Svenphen

      Day 41 (cont...)
      Faina had been teaching Ero to use a bow. Ero became awestruck by her technique very quickly. He was also very skilled with the weapon, more than I imagined for such a gentle soul. But when I first saw him shooting targets... he took the bow like he took to his flute. He was a prodigy through and through. I asked him why he decide to take up the weapon. He told me that he wanted to fight, that he felt his songs weren't enough to inspire people with him being able to act with them. If he was going to play for people and spread his song, then he wanted to give them more than cheer. He wanted to be able to help people. I knew all too well what he was feeling, but I think his reasons are more selfless than my own.
      Faina kissed me as soon as I got back from the gate. She looked deathly worried about me. She cares very deeply about me. I'll admit, though, it was a very awkward moment. It was the first time we kissed. She felt incredible embarrassed while I was holding her and said that out loud, I almost thought she was going to slap me. But she looked so... innocent. I just had to kiss her back, and suddenly neither of us were in the real world. We sunk deeper into each other for what seem like hours... then Chin had to point out that we were standing right in the middle of town; a new point of embarrassment.
      We're leaving tomorrow, Faina, Ero, and I. Chin is settled in and ready to see us off. My plan is to go down the west peaks towards Coastkeep. Then catch a ferry south to Corgarand. The people there all seem to be well off, and their land is a good place to make fast money on some less than savory work. The port is full of sailors and bars, and the city is ruled by a number of powerful merchants. Hopefully there we can start branching out to the rest of the world in search of aid.
      When you wander, seek not for a place to belong. Seek for excitement and a chance to make a difference. You will find your place among the people you meet.

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