Hi. My name is Lili, and itís time for me to figure out what to do with my life. Iíve been a bit floundering for a little while now, and Iíve watched the disappointment on my fatherís face grow until itís unbearable to me. I want to make him proud of me, more than anything.
Heís given me so much, and I donít deserve it. But I think Iíve found a way at last. I met these two women last night, theyíre warriors! Really. Theyíre Wildcats, and they said that I could take the tests to join. Iíve got to be able to run for miles at a good pace, climb hanging ropes, and stuff. I think I can do it. They say that theyíll teach me all the rest, like how to shoot and fight. Iím going to try.
They also say things like, ďfailure is not an optionĒ and for me it really wonít be. I donít think I could bear to see my dadís face if I fail at even one more thing. This is it my last best chance to make my life something that matters.
Not to sound sexist, young lady, but most women please their fathers by finding a good marriage to a prosperous man. Why is that different for you? What makes you feel your only choice is to risk your life in war? Do others consider you homely? Do you consider yourself to be so?
Forgive me for the barrage of questions, but while I often hear of girls talking about running away to various exciting lives it's rarely a firm decision. And never do they consider it their only option.
Well, I do want to get married, maybe, someday. I just know that it would be the end of any chance for adventure. I have tried so hard to be a good little girl and do what is expected of me, but my heart cries out for more. Sometimes it seems like such a silly dream, but my heart sings at the thought of crossing swords.
I wander through the city sometimes, and watch the simple lives of those around me. We live in peace for now although there are those who would love nothing more than to destroy those lives, and take what is not theirs. I see the soldiers and the knights who come in their bright armor, they are the reason we are safe.
But I am strong too, and I love my land. If I was a boy I would gladly step into the breach to defend those I love; I just thoughtÖ well what can I do? Iím just a girl. But then I met them! Women warriors! Until I saw them, I had all but forgotten the stories I heard as a child. In my daydreams I would bind up my hair and hide in menís armor, but I know that I would be found out. Besides without training Iíd probably just get myself killed for nothing at best and at worst take others with me. No, that was just a fantasy, but this, this could be real.
The Wildcats are an elite corps made up entirely of women. The stories say that they never lose. They arenít part of the regular army, but answer directly to the King. Whatever he asks of them, wherever he sends them they are victorious. They donít fear death and they never give up. They usually operate in small numbers, highly mobile and highly versatile. They are said to be fierce like lions and tigers on the battlefield, thatís where the name comes from. There are even rumors that they use some type of special magic to actually transform. That really would be amazing, but I donít think itís true. I mean if they could then why would they need long bows and short bows, swords and armor?
[This message has been edited by Josephine Kait (edited March 29, 2011).]
Hello, my name is Minerva. Along with my Lady, I met a young kit last night named Lili. Sheís a bit starry eyed, but tall and fit. She could make for a good recruit though her trainers might have their hands full.
I donít usually talk to outsiders about Wildcat secrets but my Lady assures me that you are not enemy spies and has asked me to answer your questions about us. Iíve served the King for twelve years and have the scars on my hide to prove it.
EVOC, you asked if there was something going on. There are always battles to be fought, though no active wars at present. Still, it is our job to be ready in a moment if the King should call on us.
LDWriter2, you asked what we shoot. We train to use both long bows and short bows. We even have some crossbows, as we arm ourselves according to each mission. We strive always for versatility.
Natej11, you commented about Lili considering this her only option. She seems a bit overdramatic to me, but then some kits are at that age. The most trivial things are treated as life-or-death. Basic Training will calm that somewhat, Iíve seen it a hundred times. When taught to face actual life or death situations, recruits gain a sense of perspective that is often lacking in the young. Lili will benefit from that even if she fails to complete the training.
Hmm, just noticed something. I could have missed it some where but did you ever say if your father has money or is he a merchant? A shop owner? Or a poor woodsman or street cleaner or ??? Does he just want you to get married or marry someone to take over the business or to marry someone with more money than him?
So Lili, why now? What makes you think this moment is the time to find your place in life? And what specifically draws you to these women? Don't you find it odd that they NEVER lose? Even the best generals lose a battle now and then. Are they misrepresenting themselves, or is there more to them than there seems to be? Or does that sort of thing matter to you?
Have you ever even fought before? Hurt anybody? Killed anybody? Are you worried it might not be as glamorous a life as it seems, or is anything better than what you have now?
My father is a local magistrate, a position of some honor but small fortune. He keeps his household without difficulty although the house itself belongs to the position he holds. His fortune is not mine but has afforded me opportunity. His influence is strong and it was at his insistence that I was schooled by the Scribe, Carlon. I am educated as well any save nobility, yet still I cannot succeed my father in his post. He has been very blunt about what there will be left for me when he is gone, and while silver flecks his dark hair, thank the Gods that he is yet hale and strong.
I have known girls who married for fortune, or were married for theirs. I do not envy either. Many of my fatherís acquaintances call me a foolish romantic because I would rather make my way alone than marry absent of love. Of course that all sounds grand, except that I am not doing so well at making my own way as yet.
As for fighting, I havenít been in a real scrap since I was nine. I really hurt the boy. When it was over I was so ashamed, and my anger scared me. I havenít lost my temper since, but I feel it stir sometimes. Whenever that happens I clamp down hard and try to find some other outlet. I donít want to hurt anyone, but I think I could. To protect what matters, I think I could.
Do I think that battle is more glamorous than it really is? Probably, but I think I can deal with it. Is it better than what I have right now? AhÖ I donít know. But thatís part of the point isnít it, the adventure, the challenge. Am I equal to the task?
[This message has been edited by Josephine Kait (edited April 04, 2011).]
Minerva here. If Lili fails her training we will return her to her father, but weíre pretty good at making sure they donít fail. We donít like losing even a single recruit, although if you asked one, theyíd say we spent the whole time trying to get rid of them. Took me years to figure out that my unit wasnít the most disgraceful to ever walk the fields. Itís all part of it.
If one of those young hotshots stepped onto a real battlefield with their head full of hot air, all they would manage would be to get themselves killed. Thatís a distinct possibility anyway, but we try to give them the best chance we can. Every single minute of initial training is designed to keep those kits alive in battle. Still, we lose some, and better to lose them from training thanÖ Thank whomever you honor that youíve never had to see one of yours broken and torn in the mud.
(shakes her head as if to clear the air)
As for secrets, I havenít shared anything with her or you beyond what I am permitted. As to what I am not telling her, there are things that I have told her that she will not fully heed, like how difficult it will be. But we are volunteers all and proud of it, I would not stoop to trickery. She must be fully committed to this course or she will fail and all this will have been for naught.
I am not ďwilling to take her in so quicklyĒ, she must first pass the trials or she will get nowhere. As to why she is interesting to us, well she approached us and thatís always a good first sign. She is also bright and strong. She burns with a fire that may yet carry her to great things.
The stories may say that we never lose, and we certainly want our enemies to believe that, but the truth is a little more complicated. We typically achieve our objective regardless of cost, but we are mortal. What we donít do is give up. If we are forced to retreat from one angle we find another, and we are very good at finding solutions that our enemies do not expect.
OOC: The main Wildcat secret that Minerva would never tell you is that they do really shapechange into great cats. Most who have heard hushed stories of such dismiss it as fable. Some believe, but it all adds to the mystique and the more frightened the enemy the easier to rout. The changing is also incredibly risky because if they are injured severely they cannot shift back without making it much worse. They keep some trained lions and tigers and so forth to explain away the odd sister who canít shift until she heals. Outside of the Corps, only the King knows the full truth. Even the army generals only know what they are capable of tactically, not why.
You are, as you stated, well educated, and you seem to allow yourself to become deeply wrapped up in stories of adventure and glory. What is your favorite story, either that you have read, that you have heard, or perhaps even that you have seen performed by actors or entertainers?
Are you more into the glory and heroism, or the romantic, or the fantastical and lighthearted, or possibly even tragedies?
Minerva, I'm curious about your answer, too. As pragmatic and grounded as you seem, you must enjoy entertainment in some form, when time allows.
I love stories no matter how theyíre told. Books, ancient epics and tragedies, myths, legends, and even childrenís night stories, I love them all. But my favorites would have to be when a Bard comes to town, thereís nothing that beats hearing a true storyteller. I love listening to the old veterans at the tavern too, but nothing beats a true Bard.
I love best the stories of heroes, but I could no sooner choose among them than I could pick a favorite freckle on my nose. They are a part of me, I can even tell most of them, like how Tren the whirlwind held the bridge over the Windsong Canyon all alone for two days, or how Valiriel, Lady of Lightning, journeyed to the crystal isle, broke the spell and set all the unicorns free, or how King Demosí wild daughter, Rava Lionsmane, saved the day at the battle of the Kingís gates when the Ehrons almost took the Kingís City. That was more than two hundred years ago, and the king was so grateful and loved Rava so much that he allowed her what she wished, to remain unmarried and found the Wildcats. Then thereís the tale of the Treesword, the legend of Diamond Falls, the one-handed knight, the laughing outlaw, Queen Joraís cursed crown, the Gryphonís tears, and so many more. Maybe Iíll even have stories of my own to tell someday.
(Chin in hand, she wanders off into her daydreamsÖ)
We do get time away, a few weeks a year barring some crisis. I visit family, though things are strained so I rarely stay long. I like to run in the wilds, alone, for weeks sometimes. I prefer the spring when the days begin to warm, but snow still hides in the corners. Iím not sure thatís what you meant though. Entertainment? I love my job, why would I need to be entertained? Unless, maybe you mean sparring? That can be a lot of fun if you find the right partner. Does that answer what you wanted to know?
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@Josephine: This is one of my favorites for job interviews, of all things. I've had to conduct quite a few of those, and that question catches people off guard almost every time. So, for one, you almost always get an authentic answer from them, rather than what they think you want to hear. But secondly, it REALLY gives you insight into their character in a way you don't normally get in an interview. The world people CHOOSE to immerse themselves in says so much about not only who they are, but who they want to be. I start nearly every one of my character profiles by trying to decide what sort of stories (and which medium those stories are in) they indulge in.
I almost always enjoy the outcome of that question, especially in interviews.
**smiling my evil smile**
[This message has been edited by Corin224 (edited April 04, 2011).]
Minerva, what's looming on the horizon? Where do you see the next threat to the kingdom coming from? What special roll will the Wildcats have in that engagement? What if something comes up in the personal life of this young kit? Will she have the support of her new Wildcat sisters to deal with it? Will she be expected to leave her previous life behind and never look back?
-- OOC: I also love the "what do you read?" question. The stories we tell ourselves are (in some way) the stories we tell about ourselves.
There are always storms on the horizon, some break but most do not. Every border is drawn in blood at some point in history.
On the southern portion of our western border there are always skirmishes with the savages from the forests of rain. They rarely require the attention of my Corps, but can be beneficial for unblooded young Ďcats. It is a place of unnumbered tribes with constantly shifting allegiances, a lasting peace is unlikely ever to come about.
The highlanders along the remainder of our western border prefer to keep to their mountains and raid each other, but occasionally they mistake us for a soft target.
To the north is the sea and across the sea there are those with a mastery of unnatural fire that emboldens them to take that to which they have no right.
Our rivals to the north east and beyond are most often our allies, yet occasionally our enemies. Conquest is now commonly sought through marriage although it wasnít always so.
To their south and ours stretches a vast desert peopled only by enigmatic nomads. They attack without warning, or they are absent, sometimes for generations. They do not understand us, or we them. They butcher our ambassadors and send none of their own, but they mostly keep to their godforsaken sands. Merchant caravans travel through largely unmolested, but no one really knows why they attack some and leave others be.
The land itself has been at peace for nearly four and a half centuries, may that peace extend into eternity. Always we pray for peace, and prepare for war.
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Have you actually heard your father tell you that he is disappointed? Or is that something that you have come to believe inside yourself? Have you asked him point blank? Perhaps his opinion of you is higher than your own.
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I donít need to ask him, I can see it plain as day. If I asked him, and he said, ďNo,Ē that still wouldnít change what I know. And if he said, ďYesĒÖ Iím not sure that I could bear it. I love him so much, and he has done so much for meÖ itís high time that I do something for myself. I need a way to stand on my own. This path will give me thatÖ I think.
<squares shoulders> Well here goes, Ďcause Iím doing this. They tell me that the one irreplaceable thing that I need is determination, and that I have in spades. The one thing Iím really good at is stubborn. If Iíve found a place where thatís a good thing rather than a bad thing, then Iím home.
OOC: It is true that her fatherís opinion of her is higher than her own, right now. He does push her, but that is because he knows that she is capable of so much more. She thinks that she needs to prove something to her father, but she will discover that what she really needed was to prove it to herself.
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