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|Featured In||White Sand|
Khrissalla's Journal is a series of pages written by the Realmatic Scholar Duchess Krissalla of Elis on the Darkside of Taldain. Khriss uses her journal to chronicle her trip to Dayside and record her observations of Dayside society and culture, as well as her experiments with the Sand mastery.
|Aisha!||An Exclamation. "Sand!" or "Sand Lord!"|
|A'kar||High Priest and leader of the Ker'reen faith.|
|a'keldar||pl. a'keldarin||Great sand wolf. Cousin to keldar, pl. keldarin|
|ashawen||Dark, pungent Kerztian spice.|
|DaiKeen||Family group Ker'reen members join and afterward wear its symbol on their foreheads.|
|DelRak Naisha||pl. DelRakin||Deep sandling that hides underneath the sand until prey steps on it.|
|deep sand||Dangerous areas of Dayside where sandlings can grow to massive sizes and dorim vines are too far below the sand to be used for water.|
|the Diem||Profession of sand masters; also the building complex they live in.|
|DoKall||Substance that can make a sandling carapace water resistant over time.|
|dorim vines||Water-filled vines found beneath Kerla sands.|
|KaDo and Kamo||Rare Kerztian herbs and spices.|
|KaRak||pl. KaRakin||Extremely large deep sandling hunted for sport.|
|Karshad||Language of the Ker'reen priests.|
|KelThrain||Main bridge that spans the distance between Kezare proper and the kelzin district.|
|Kelzi||pl. Kelzin||Member of Lossand's upper class.|
|Ker Kedasha||Tent city, capital of Kerzta.|
|the KerKor||Ker'reen holy document.|
|Kerla||Dayside expanse where life and water can be found thriving beneath the sand.|
|Ker'Naisha||Kerztian for "Sand Lord."|
|Ker'reen||State religion of Kerzta, focusing on a strict adherence to the Sand Lord and his laws.|
|Kerzta||Largest and most technologically advanced nation on Dayside.|
|Kerztian||Relating to the nation of Kerzta or those whose heritage originates from there.|
|Kezare||Capital city of Lossand.|
|Kli||pl. Klin||Title granted by the Ker'reen church and passed from parent to child.|
|lak||Stone coins used on Dayside.|
|Lonsha||Kerztian word for a person from Darkside.|
|Lonzare||District of Kezare built by Darksiders and Lossandins in partnership.|
|Lossand||Second largest Dayside nation.|
|Los'seen||Lenient Lossandin philosophy of honoring the Sand Lord.|
|Lraezare||Port City in the south of Lossand.|
|Napthani Flame||Expensive and hard-to-obtain explosive substance.|
|Nor'Tallon||Capital city of Tallon.|
|overmaster||When a sand master dehydrates too much; leads to burning out their ability to master sand.|
|overburn||When a sand master feeds the last water and life in their body to the sand in exchange for one last powerful burst of sand mastery. Very dangerous.|
|qido||pl. qidoin||Curled, horn-like canteen.|
|Reven||King of Seevis.|
|Rim Kingdoms||Nations beyond Dayside's northwest mountains.|
|Ry'Do Ali||Kerztian for "The Vein of Cursed Waters." River that runs through the middle of Lossand.|
|Ry'Kensha||"Cursed One." Kerztian word for sand master.|
|Senior Trackt||Like a head constable or police captain. Often addressed as "Senior."|
|shalrim||Plant whose fibers can be woven into soft cloth.|
|Taisha||pl. Taishin||A member of Lossand's governing body, the Taishin Council.|
|terha||pl. terhan||Sandling larger and faster than a tonk. Favored mount of warriors. Terhan shells are impossible to dissolve in water if doused monthly with DoKall.|
|terken||adjective||Impervious to sand mastery.|
|tonk||pl. tonks||Dayside beast of burden.|
|trackt||A constable of Lossand.|
|traid'ka||Kerztian word suggesting good fortune.|
|ZaiDon||Soft, flexible jerky made from sandlings and eaten with most Dayside meals.|
|zensha||Kerztian word for traitor.|
|zinkall||pl. zinkallin||Pneumatic dart guns used on Dayside.|
|Zo'Ken||Sand master game of target practice.|
Elisian Astronomers used the movement of the stars to create a model of our planetary system. Dayside scholars relied on little more than the movement of the moon (NizhDa), which left gaping holes in their knowledge.
Despite the benefit of the stars, we Elisians are still missing huge parts of the puzzle. From what I have observed, there are at least three evidences that show other unseen forces are at work.
First, the astronomer Djodjen observed moons orbiting Ridos's Eye and learned of stable and unstable orbits.The Eye is in a stable orbit around the Dayside sun (AisDa), but Taldain is not. It's stuck in an unstable orbit Djodjen refers to as Wombear's Saddle - if you place a marble in a saddle, it will roll one way or the other. Taldain, however, is pulled along by the Eye instead of rolling off into a stable orbit. For Taldain to stay locked this way requires an outside force we don't understand yet.
Second, both Dayside and Darkside base the measurement of one "day" upon the orbital period of the moon. The particulate cloud that envelops the Eye on Darkside pulses once every seven days, to the second. Is it a coincidence that the time between pulses and seven of the moon's orbital periods match up exactly? It's almost as if it was engineered this way.
Third, Djodjen's observations of the moons orbiting the Eye demonstrate the peculiarity of the orbit of Taldain's moon. As Taldain orbits the sun, the moon's orbit should gradually change, and yet it does not. Like clockwork, the moon is in the same place in the sky at First Hour in Kezare, for example, no matter the day, month or year.
Taldain's astronomical arrangement seems completely normal to one who has lived with it their whole life. Yet, I cannot discount what these anomalies imply. More observation is needed.
Even though Dayside and Darkside both call the same duration of time a "day," their accounting of minutes and hours differ.
Dayside divides one day cycle into fifteen 90-minute hours. A Darkside day is twenty-four 60-minute hours. In other words, a 90-minute Dayside hour equals 96 Darkside minutes.
|Dayside Hour||Taishin Standard Time||Darkside Time|
|5th||Ker'reen morning prayers||6:24|
|6th||Standard work day begins||8:00|
|9th||Midday meal||12:48 PM|
|12th||Standard work day ends||5:36|
|14th||Ker'reen evening prayers||8:48|
|15th||Standard sleep time begins||10:24|
It's important to note that these hours shift depending on several things, including which nation or even neighborhood one lives in, sometimes depending upon one's Profession, or even upon local moonrise and moonset. But in general, Taishin Standard Time is becoming more common, even within the nation of Kerzta, which is often reticent to adopt anything of Lossandin origin.
Dayside coinage systems are not based upon precious metals, like in Elis and the Dynasty, where Crowns and Dynars are used respectively, but upon rare and valuable semi-precious gemstones which are sliced into round "coins" called lak.
Lak are used in all Dayside nations, to a varying degree. The Rim Kingdoms' economies rely almost exclusively on them, while the closer to Kerzta one gets, the more bartering for goods is accepted, even if lak is preferred.
I've had to get used to the Daysider habit of referring to lak by their color. If a color is not stated, then the speaker means blue lak.
|1/2 lak||1 gray lak - granite|
|1 lak||1 blue lak - blue and white marble|
|5 lak||1 green lak - jade|
|10 lak||1 red lak - tiger's eye, or red jasper and black hematite|
|20 lak||1 white lak - white marble|
|50 lak||1 gold lak - amber (or sometimes other gold-colored stones)|
|100 lak||1 silver lak - hematite, a rare Dayside stone|
The salary of a well-paid mid- to upper-class craftsperson is about 250 lak a day, which equates to 50 green lak, or 25 red lak. Metal and stone are valuable in the Kerla, where the ground lies buried under a hundred feet of sand. Both materials are much less rare now, mostly because of trading between Kerztians and Lossandins, but a small sack of steel can still turn a healthy profit.
The nation of Lossand has eight main professions, which act something like guilds, one of which is the Profession of the sand masters, also called the Diem. "The Diem" not only refers to the sand master Profession and to the body of sand masters as a whole but also to the complex of buildings that stands as the Profession's headquarters.
The Diem is located on the Ry'Do Ali's west bank, outside of the main districts of Kezare, primarily found on the main island around which the river splits.
Once a year, the Diem gathers at a secluded location at the base of Mount KraeDa to award ranks and participate in contests to show off skill and power in sand mastery.
Sand Master Robes
Made from shalrim, a plant that grows underneath the sand. One of the main things Lossandins trade for with the Kerztians.
A curled horn-like canteen. Water fuels their art, so sand masters have water on them at all times.
For carrying freshly-charged sand.
Color of sand master's sash indicates their rank within the Diem.
Two sash colors are outside the sand master ranks. Recruits seeking acceptance into the Diem wear brown robes and sashes. Acolents were the white robes of a sand master, but their sashes are also white, indicating that they have not accepted a rank yet in the Diem.
Once a sand master is awarded a rank, it is impossible to move to a higher rank. Once a sand master in training - called an acolent - has stopped being able to add more ribbons under their control, it is thought that they have reached the extent of their powers and can apply for a rank. Here's the table of sand master ranks along with roughly how many ribbons are usually controlled by a sand master of that rank.
Dayside Kerla and Sandlings
By Darksider standards, the Kerla is a desert, as there appears to be little water and vegetation. The Kerla, however, is less like a desert and more like a lake of sand. The water, vegetation, and fauna reside beneath the surface in their own ecosystem.
A desert to a Daysider is a place where there are no dorim vines and little life beneath the surface of the sand. Lossand is considered such, with its shallow sand, lack of dorim vines and its outcroppings of rocks. The plants are stumpy and short, there is little livestock, and in order to live, humans are constrained to the land along the rivers. In this one area, whereas on the Kerla, if someone knows its rules, they may live where they wish.
Deep sand differs from the Kerla in that the water table is much farther down. If the Kerla is a lake of sand, then deep sand is the ocean. It is calm on the surface, but beneath it is teeming with life. The dorim vines are so deep that human life cannot find them, and the depth of the sand allows for the fauna to grow much larger.
Sandlings Sandlings don't seem to need water. In fact, it's toxic to them, melting their carapaces. They've evolved a way to eat sand and bleed gas. Sometimes when this gas-blood reacts with air - which often carries a little moisture in it, even in the desert - the gas-blood can coalesce into something of a gooey liquid.
How the sand provides any kind of sustenance equivalent to the human need for water is anyone's guess. I must research this when I've more time to experiment
Riding a Tonk Tonks are beasts of burden that give off a faint sulfurous smell. To steer one use the riding mallet to tap the tonk's carapace just below the neck on the right or left to turn. The harder you tap, the sharper the turn. If you tap it farther up, near the head, it will speed up. Tap the carapace back near the saddle to slow it down. One hard tap in this location will signal the tonk to stop.
When a tonk is spooked, it will burrow into the sand until only the tips of its carapace are visible. Tap the unburied horns to signal to the tonk that it is safe to unbury itself.
Dayside Nations and Religions
Anciently, two siblings - Lossa and her brother Kerzt - both claimed to have been visited by the Sand Lord. The result of the visitations is up for debate.
Kerztians say Lossa had been cursed with sand mastery, and Kerzt , in his righteousness, tried to kill her to end this affront to the Sand Lord. Lossandins argue that Lossa had been blessed with the Sand Lord's own power, and Kerzt tried to kill her out of jealousy, so she fled into the desert, eventually founding the nation of Lossand.
Over the following centuries, the Kerztians, for the most part, remained ethnically pure, while the Lossandins mixed with the peoples of the Rim Kingdoms.
Ker'reen and Los'seen
It is generally assumed that all ethnic Kerztians also follow the Ker'reen religion, led by their High Priest, the A'kar. The Lossandin form of Sand Lord worship - Los'seen - is more a philosophy than a beleif system, and in fact many Lossandins are agnostic when it comes to religion. A lossandin who desires organized religion must, in most cases, convert to Ker'reen, where their heritage has traditionally cast them as second-class members.
Conversely, those of Kerztian heritage who live in Lossand are sometimes stereotyped as being less orthodox in the Ker'reen beliefs than those who live in Kerzta.
DaiKeen Every Ker'reen follower wears a symbol on their forehead - either as a tattoo, jewelry, or headband - to mark their DaiKeen, which is like a family clan that one can choose to be adopted into. Members of Ker'reen owe their loyalty to their DaiKeen, even above loyalty to their nation.
Despite the differences in Dayside beleif systems - which all ultimately worship the sun, the sand, or their avatars - one thing is hard to deny: the sun is the source of all power on Dayside. I suspect there's a connection between it, the sandlings and their ability to subsist without water.
The Taishin are the rulers of Lossand, and the country is governed by their council, which consists of eight recognized Professions. Each Taisha represents a portion of the people of Lossand. Though each profession has a headquarters, they also have chapters in other major towns and cities throughout the country.
|The Diem of the Sand Masters|
|Leader: Lord Mastrell|
|Headquarters: The Diem|
|The Hall of Judges, Trackts, and Scribes|
|Leader: High Judge|
|Headquarters: The Hall of Judgement|
|Writing, Law, Keeping the Peace|
|The Guild of Merchants|
|Leader: Lord Merchant|
|Headquarters: The Golden Market|
|Moneychangers, Lenders, and Merchants|
|The Tower of Soldiers|
|Leader: Lord General|
|Headquarters: The Tower Garrison|
|The Company of Masons|
|Leader: Lady Mason|
|Headquarters: The Mason Headquarters|
|Stone Masons, Builders, Miners;|
Some overlap with the Artisans
|The Field of Farmers|
|Leader: Lord Farmer|
|Headquarters: The Farmers Congress|
|Those who own the land (Kelzin) and those who work it|
|The Draft of Artisans|
|Leader: The Lord Artisan|
|Headquarters: The Artisan Central Studio|
|Artisans and Craftpersons|
|The Helm of Shipowners|
|Leader: The Lord Admiral|
|Headquarters: Helm's Rest|
|Despite the use of "Admiral," not military, but mercantile in purpose|
Closely related to Merchants, with whom they often feud
Governed by the Shipowners' Circle
Some of these have sub-professions, especially within the Draft of Artisans, which encompasses everything from carpentry and cobblery to medicine and painting.
The leader of the Taishin Council is often referred to by their title, preceded by the honorific "High." Currently, the High Judge leads the council, but if the leader was a Merchant, then they would be the High Merchant, and so forth.
There is an unofficial ninth Taisha, the Lord Beggar, whose power is only recognized because of the amount of influence he has among the working class and poor of Lossand's people. Since he is technically not a Taisha, he gets no vote on the Council.
In Lossand, there is an upper class called Kelzin (singular, Kelzi). This group comprises influencial Profession members, public officials, wealthy land and ship owners, and some merchants and soldiers. Among the Kerztians, there are the Klin (singular Kli), a title granted by the theocracy of the Ker'reen church and passed from parent to child, much like noble titles among Darkside nations.
Interstingly, in Kerzta, using assassins is allowed, as directed by the A'kar, for certain instances under Ker'reen law. There are even DaiKeen markings that publicly designate assassins, an announcement that would get one incarcerated or worse on Darkside, where assassination is done in the shadows and is certainly not socially acceptable, though for some reason dueling still is.
On Dayside, sending assassins is more of a personal declaration of war by an individual, family, or DaiKeen against another. The Sand Lord's will is apparently made known when either the target or the leader of the assassins is killed, ending the vendetta for at least one year.
Most assassins, warriors, soldiers, and trackts I've seen on Dayside carry zinkallin, which seem to be the preferred method of duels, battles, and self-defense, unless one is a sand master, in which case they just form knifelike ribbons or projectiles out of sand and command them toward their enemies at breakneck speed. (We must find a way to bring sand mastery to Elis.)
Zinkallin, while innovative, still lack the power of guns, or even of a standard crossbow. What they lose in power, however, they make up for in convenience to carry and ease of use.
Though they shoot arrows, zinkallin aren't used in exactly the same way as bows are. Zinkallin are generally for short range combat, to wound an opponent before engaging them with a sword. The best Kerztian warriors, however, are good enough shots to incapacitate or kill with a single arrow.
Arrows are loaded in front, and then the mechanism is pumped, making it ready to fire. With a flick of the wrist, air pressure is released, along with an arrow, which is somewhere in size between a dart and a full Darkside bolt.
Sand Mastery on Darkside?
If we can help Kenton save the Diem, he has promised the help of the sand masters in our fight against the Dynasty. But several questions remain.
Can Sand Mastery be used on Darkside? It could be as inaccessible on Darkside as our starmarks are on Dayside.
But if sand mastery can be used, then there are even more questions. Can Elisian soldiers be taught to use it, or will it be limited only to the sand masters Kenton sends? How effective will it be against Skathan's armies? Can a knifelike ribbon of sand cut through the protection of one of his warded elites in a way that bullets cannot?
I want to observe and study sand mastery more closely, but Kenton puts off my admittedly-prying questions about his art, citing that some secrets are only for members of the Diem to know.
I'm not sure Kenton - or anyone on Dayside - realizes how powerful the Dynasty is. If Elis falls, Skathan will turn his sights on Dayside, which has nowhere near the naval prowess or military technology of the Dynasty, even considering that a Starcarved army can't use their powers without access to the Eye of Ridos.
My options for observation and experimenation right now are limited, but so far I've determined that white sand turns black when liquid touches it or after it's used in sand mastery. I wonder if it can be recharged, similar to how starmarks rely on Darkside's weekly pulse. The obvious analog on Dayside is the sun. I've placed four piles of sand on ceramic plates, leaving two in sunlight and two in darkness.
After four hours, the black sand left in the sun turns white. The white sand left in the darkness turns black after twenty-four hours. There is no discernable change in the control groups. Do the results differ if I use oil instead of water?
Sand Mastery, Starmarks Connection?
What few books on sand mastery I've found in Kezare categorize it as a mystical art, its secrets closely guarded, but from my experience, even elements of the unseen can be studied and observed like other natural phenomena.
Take the color of the glow of sand mastery. Manuscripts and carvings show sand ribbons glowing yellow or orange, attempts by artists to show something undepictable with paint alone. Indeed, observed in pure daylight, sand mastery does appear a yellowish white, but a closer examination shows that it shimmers like mother of pearl, iridescent colors shifting and sliding across the mastered sand. This effect is much more prominent in darkness, something of a rarity here on Dayside. Since sand mastery rarely happens in darkness, not many have recorded observing this effect.
I can almost make out every color of starmark shifting in there. Could it be possible that the light given off by sand mastery is a composite of all colors of starmarks? If I can get hold of a prism, I might be able to verify this observation and study it further. This connection gives me hope that while the sun may charge white sand on Dayside, there might be another way to charge it back in Elis.
Further Sand-Sun Experiments
I've built upon my earlier observations of the sun's effect on white sand and found something that might be related to the unseen forces I've mentioned in earlier entries.
I've placed black sand in the sun, covering half of it. After four hours, the covered portion remains black while the portion open to the sun turns white again.
If I create a pattern with stones and remove them four hours later, the pattern remains.
I've read about a Dayside phenomenon that prisoners sometimes experience in dark dungeons when only pinpricks of direct sunlight can get through, so I placed a box over an area of black sand and created a tiny hole in the top to let in a small amount of light. After four hours, I removed the box and found this:
A perfect representation (mirrored) of the top of my building looking up from the pinhole with a face in the sky, This won't defeat Skathan, but it must be studied more. And what is that face? Humans seem to see things in clouds, but this is a bit unsettling.
What I need is more access to sand masters willing to demonstrate their abilities. This will help me know specifically how sand mastery can be used as a weapon against Skathan and will also help me understand exactly how sand mastery works. There must be connections between anomalies I've found with the planet, starmarks, and sand mastery. Just like an ecosystem is connected, intertwined, and symbiotic, could the underlying power that keeps our planet in orbit also be the underlying power that fuels - dare I call it this? - magical elements that seem outside the order of nature?
A type of soft, flexible jerky eaten with every Dayside meal. It's made by using water to melt sandlings (big or small), carapace and all, into a greenish-brown paste that is seasoned and spiced as it dries in the sun. Some varieties are thick, others thin, and they melt in your mouth as you chew them, a sensation I'm still not accustomed to.
Note: Some sandlings taste better than others, in flavors ranging from buttery to gamy and wild.
Second note: avoid ZaiDon spiced with a pungent black powder called ashawen. It's a favored Kerztian spice, but I find it nearly inedible.
Most vegetables, especially in the Kerla, are grown beneath the surface of the sand. A farm might look like a camp of shepherds guarding a sand dune.
Made from the stunted grains that grow in the sandy soil on the banks of the Ry'Do Ali. Varieties include rectangular pieces of flat bread called klam to bread cakes both sweet and savory.
ZaiDon, bread, and vegetables are often eaten with a variety of sauces, dips, chutneys and tapenades. Some of these are extremely good, like the creamy one that tastes sweet and a little garlicky. Others are made with ashawen and other peppery Kerztian spices, which I avoid as much as I can.
Served cold - almost chilled - which I must admit is refreshing, considering Dayside's constant heat. Add ZaiDon to thicken it up. Often filled with large chunks of fresh or pickled vegetables.
Water is the drink of choice on Dayside and is readily available along the Ry'Do Ali or wherever dorim vines grow.
Originally from Darkside, grapes don't grow well in extreme heat, have to be watered constantly and need portable shade tarps that are put in place every time the vines look too wilted. There are a few vineyards that produce the grapes and raisins used in wines and desserts, but even these are small and berrylike compared to the succulent fare I'm accustomed to. (I joked with Kenton that Darkside grows grapes and Dayside grows raisins. He wasn't amused)
Dayside wine is expensive and hard to find. Detha, an effervescent drink from southern Lossand, is mild and refreshing.
Bowls, plates, cups and utensils cannot be made from untreated carapace, otherwise they would melt. Most dinnerware, as you might expect in a land with no dearth of sand, is made from glass, pottery, or in rare cases, crystal.
Sand Mastery Test
Mystery surrounds the test for sand mastery, but in actuality it's quite mundane. In most cases, the Diem tests children between the ages of eight and twelve.
The recruit holds a handful of sand as a proctor encourages the recruit to concentrate, to feel every grain of sand they hold, to call out to it in their mind and offer it to drink of the water of their body. If the sand comes to life, the recruit becomes an acolent in the Diem, and the strength of the sand's reaction is usually a good indicator of how powerful a sand master the acolent might become.
Acolents who learn to control fifteen or more ribbons are watched closely and mentored by a mastrell. When an acolent has reached their full potential, meaning they stop being able to control increasingly more ribbons through the course of their development, they are allowed to petition for a rank inside the Diem. It is no surprise that those privately mentored by mastrells are usually granted that same rank.
There are no spontaneous sand masters, and only a sand master can administer the test. It's as if one has to be introduced to the power by one who already holds it, then the power itself chooses who to unlock and to what degree. This is well-documented in the Diem's records and reminds me of how Starcarved are discovered.
This knowledge makes the Kerzian massacre all the more terrifying, for if they had killed every known sand master, then theoretically, the ability would have disappeared from the sands entirely.
Occasionally, a sand master has been expelled from the Diem. Rather than allow them to leave and potentially find and train other sand masters - thus creating a rival to the Diem - these sand masters are required to be indentured to the Diem, incarcerated, or placed on strict parole. If they are considered dangerous enough, there is a proces by which the ability to master sand can be burned out of them, but as often as not, the process kills the individual.
Any sand master who goes rogue is hunted down by an elite group within the Diem, about which Kenton has been his usual tight-lipped self.
Sand Mastery Observations
A part of me is disappointed I didn't pass the test for sand mastery, but mostly I'm relieved. I'm not very likely to swear fealty to the Diem over my loyalty to Elis. (Honestly, I'd go back to Darkside whether the Lord Mastrell allowed me to or not. Then Kenton could send his secret sand masters to neutralize me. I'm a little sad to not be able to study them firsthand.)
Living temporarily in the Diem has given me a chance to observe sand masters during their daily training and practice regimens. If a supposedly weak sand master such as Kenton can create a decoy of himself out of sand, as I saw him do during one of the assassination attempts, then think of all the things sand masters are capable of if they get creative. (Now that Kenton can control more than one ribbon, I hope he doesn't loose the ingenuity only one ribbon forced upon him.)
Based on my observations, even one ribbon can do many things:
- * Launch a sand master into the air
- * Slice things like a razor
- * Propel a sand master forward
- * Create decoys from sand
- * Slip into cracks in stone and expand
- * Lift items several times heavier than the sand master
- * Throw up a protective shield
- * Deactivate other ribbons if touched head on or from the side
- * There's no end to the possibilites
|If ribbons can be razor sharp, then can sand masters fight with living sand on their arms as whips or blades, similar to how some of the Starcarved fight?|
|If one ribbon can launch a sand master, many can carry them higher. Then why don't we see more of this type of thing?|
|If ribbons can create a decoy and be used as shields, can they also be used like this, similar to the Starcarved who are impervious to our bullets?|
Though Kenton has been reticent to share too much about sand mastery, there is one thing he taught me. Sand mastery is not about how many ribbons one can control. It is an art where accuracy can sometimes beat brute force.
Indeed, a sand master might wield over twenty ribbons, but unless it's done with finesse and accuracy - both gained from years of arduous practice - then they're just moving large amounts of sand. This type of sand mastery doesn't last long before it exhausts the body's water supply.
If kept up for too long, an accomplished sand master under extreme duress can push themselves far beyond overmastery into what the Diem calls overburning. This comes when the sand master feeds the sand the last drops of water from their body and then gives up their lifeforce to the sand in exchange for one final explosive command.
On the other hand, one small razor-sharp ribbon is quick and focused, and only takes a trickle of water from the sand master's body.
There is a time for brute force and there's a time for finesse. A time for the largest war hammer, and a time for the most delicate of paintbrushes. The trick is knowing when to use each. True sand mastery, then, is more about deliberate action, forming a bond with the sand and communicating with it, listening to its subtleties, and guiding it forward. Similar to teaching young children, the best results come from friendly coaxing rather than shows of force.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the sand master sport of Zo'Ken. The secret, Kenton says, is to concentrate all effort and power into one swift ribbon.
Energy of the Unseen Worlds
Kenton has made good on his part of the bargain. I am not only carrying barrels of white sand to Elis—as much of it as I can stow in the ship I've chartered—but I'm also bringing a small group of sand masters, including Drile's sister, and I pray that the results of this expedition will bear fruit against the Dynasty.
I believe the lichen that lives on the sand and makes it white in the sun can be grown, in the right conditions, on regular Darkside sand, so my cargo of so many barrels of white sand, which will have turned black by the time I return, might be overkill. So long as the ship sails in daylight, though, I will take advantage of researching and recharging the sand as much as possible, especially while I have a whole group of sand masters to work with.
The more I study sand mastery, the more I see connections to the Starcarved of Darkside. The sun invests some kind of power into the lichen on the sand, similar to how the particulate cloud sends out a weekly pulse that invests power into our starmarks, even if only some chosen seem to be able to access that power.
Considering the connections between the two sides of our planet, I wonder if there's a corresponding curiosity on Darkside like the face I found in the pinhole image experiment. Since then, I've seen the ethereal face in the heat waves, clouds, in the eddies of water on the river, and in the ripples of sand across dunes. I'm not the only one who has experienced this. It seems this phenomenon is often documented on Dayside.
These anomalies—faces in the clouds, investiture of power, the world of the Unseen—these all pull at me like nothing else I've studied. I already have dozens of experiments planned and designs for specialized instruments to aid me in my exploration, but those notes can wait for tomorrow. Until then, I plan to remain on deck as much as possible. Soon we will enter the terminal storm, and I want to spend my remaining time on Dayside in the warmth and light of a star.