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  1. THE SILVER ARCHER: BOOK THREE Chapter 4: Chrysalis There was frost on the etched glass of the window where I sat, my arms wrapped around my knees, watching students hurrying through the light cold rain to classes. My stiff new uniform vest dug into the soft skin under my arms, but I didn't move, because I didn't mind. This uniform had been tailored just for me, as opposed to the straight-cut, hand-me-down uniform I was wearing; and once it softened up with use, it would be much more comfortable than what I had before. My fingers came up to touch the silver arrow pin on my right chest again. Just over a week ago, my mentor, Mistral, had teared up proudly as she pinned it on my brand-new vest and whispered "Well done". My time of study in the Temple Academy was almost complete. When I first received my powers of healing and clarity from the Silver Bow, I could only channel them to the arrows I fired from the Bow; but even though I quickly realized that the power flowed through me and I could both generate and control it, the guidance I had received from Mistral and others during my studies had greatly increased what I could do. For my final examination, I had demonstrated my understanding of my studies by creating a visual representation of the theories and practices they had taught me - all by pulling and generating the powerful light into shapes and movement that they could see. It was more than I ever dreamed I could do. And when Mistral pinned that arrow on my chest, she was finally telling me that I was ready - I was sufficiently prepared to leave the Academy and go out into the world. I hugged my knees tighter into my chest and rested my forehead on them. I had been lulled for a week into thinking this was all over - I went to the tailor in town to get my new uniform; I bought new white shirts and bloused trousers, and indulged in some new dark skirts and dresses; I spent several days lavishly buying gifts for my family, for the upcoming celebration of the King's birthday; and since I didn't have to report to my committee, I spent many of the days sleeping well past daybreak and staying up to read or play long into the night. But the truth was that my work was far from over. The list of things I had to complete before I could receive the rest of my insignia and be formally discharged was long, and many of the tasks required deep thought and many days of work. I only had three weeks left to complete them. The younger mentors who weren't far removed from the Academy themselves had warned me that it was easy to lapse into this mindset when the examination was over - and that I would regret it if I gave in. I turned my head to look out the window again, and rested my hand against the glass to watch the fog slowly puff out around it. I had no motivation to get up and go back to my room to start writing or diagramming. All I wanted was to sleep. I had been sitting that way for nearly ten minutes when a soft alarm began to rise in the back of my mind and I frowned. Something was wrong. The frost - the frost was now inside the window. But - I looked outside and it was still raining, still above freezing. The temperature in my little alcove was dropping faster than the temperature outside. With a gasp I jerked my hand back and looked at it; and sure enough, delicate traces of frost had begun curl around my fingers and etch themselves into my palm. "No!" I spun around and grabbed for my Bow, but I had left it back in my room; and sure enough, in the deserted hallway before me stood the ghostly apparition of the Dark Elf, my nemesis, Caranthir Aranwas, his white hair spilling gracefully down his back and his silvery robes cascading around his slender body. He had returned. Before I could move he had lunged across the hallway and slammed my throat to the glass with one of his graceful, ice-strong hands. "What's the matter, Eldarwen?" he murmured, his breath a wintry wind against my neck as he drew near, probing my eyes with his pale blue-white ones. I struggled against his grip but felt his power slowly locking me into place as he calmly, gently traced the edge of my face with his other hand, leaned back to gaze at my new uniform and smirked as my breath thinned to a gurgle. "You are surprised to see me in this place, my beloved? Well, you shouldn't be. When you think I'm far away in the forest I'm right beside you. I hear your thoughts as you hear mine. We are more -" he rested his other hand at my waist "- intimately connected than you admit to yourself." "What do you want?" I choked, trying to kick at him and gagging in frustration as he easily swept aside. "Why here? Why now?" "Why not now?" he arched his eyebrows and shrugged lightly. "You have completed a great feat, Eldarwen, and I commend you. But your training is not yet complete - you are not a fully fledged archer of the Movement. You are so much more vulnerable in these days than you realize. You feel safe and powerful and do not realize that you are like a fragile caterpillar in your chrysalis - changing, growing, becoming something beautiful and strong; but you aren't there yet, my beloved." He tightened his grip just a bit more so the edges of my vision began to fade. All I saw as I fought to suck for air was his long, slim face close to mine, slack and passive, but burning behind with desire and hatred. "If I take you down now, you will forever be a half-blown dream, a glimpse of greatness never realized." A bit of his apathy slipped away and a cruel smile rose to his eyes. "Come with me now, beloved. Come to the forest and let me give you rest. You've poured your soul into these silly assignments, this system with all its rules and shame, for far too long. You were born to be free, to rule, my queen. Come with me. Let all this go. Leave it behind and come, take your rest. I know you, Eldarwen, and I see the exhaustion in your eyes. I will free you from all this. Just let go, come with me, come to be my queen, as I've always wanted. Do you hear? I have always wanted you. Come with me." My consciousness was fading ... I had to ... do something ... find a way to pry his hand from my throat, I realized sluggishly, struggling to keep my eyes open. My hands were still free - yes, both of them; they were still free. I could - Thought faded but instinct took over. Clumsily I lifted a hand as if to grab his wrist; but when he feinted away, my other hand shot up and connected with his neck. He cried out in agony as the white-hot power pierced his neck and seared his flesh, stumbling backward and releasing my throat. I hung on, bringing my other hand up to hold his shoulder and support myself as I gasped for air, and summoning all my strength to pour the light into his body. He gripped my arms with his own powers but I held on despite the icy hot pain. "You have no power over me, Caranthir Aranwas," I snarled, bringing my own face close to his. "Your words will not sway me from my purpose and your seduction will not lure me from my duties. I am the Silver Archer, the Arrow-Healer. Even in this, even in these last few days between my past and my future, I am more than you will ever be and I am stronger than you will ever know. I am bound by love to protect my people, to free the helpless from your power, to bring the captives back home. I will not allow you to stop me and I will not allow my weakness to become your power. I will defeat you and I will succeed!" I let go of his neck and he sagged to the ground, bleeding, great drops of his mercury-blood splashing and sizzling to the floor. But I knew he was not vanquished, only weakened; and as he rocked back and lifted his hands to fire a blast of ice and fire at my heart, I smashed my hands against his and forced my own powers down his arms, watching his terrified face with grim satisfaction as the light illuminated him vein by vein, traveling back to his own heart. "No, stop, have mercy," he cried; but I did not stop. "When have you shown me mercy?" I cried. "When have you tried to help me? To protect me? No, Aranwas, I will assert my power over you at every turn and remind you every day of my life that you do not control me, you will not conquer me, and you will bow to my will and my mission!" With a tremendous effort, he tore his hands away from me and fell backward just before my powers reached his heart; and with a snarl and a cry, he stumbled to his feet, met my eyes for one glaring moment, then turned and vanished through the wall, leaving blood and a burning smell behind. I took a deep shivering breath and fell to my knees in the hall. The Dark Elf had returned. I was not safe. Now I could see the danger lying in wait for me during this silent, liminal time before I left the Academy. I was not free yet and I was not safe from defeat or failure. There were still powers waiting to attack me if I gave in to my fatigue and apathy. Setting my jaw, I got to my feet and went to retrieve my cloak from the windowsill. I was determined to complete this transformation and resist the temptation to sleep this time away. If I wanted to emerge prepared to take my place in the Movement, I had to keep fighting, keep practicing, keep pressing forward. I headed toward the stairs toward my room. I would not leave my Bow behind again.
  2. I am an official graduate of HANE! Woohoo!
  3. Who is looking for a job? Who is hiring? I'm going to graduate May 2016 from my MBA program (master of business administration). One of my professors made a point today about leveraging your circles of influence. Obvious interests: nerd-dom and fitness. Less obvious interests: human trafficking prevention/rescue/awareness. Mostly, anything helping people (MBAs are flexable). I have experience with Event coordinating/planning, volunteer coordinating, organization creation (I've been a part of 3 creations), Microsoft office, spreadsheets, etc. If any one is hiring or knows an organization who is hiring grads/MBAs, please let me know. Comment or message me and I'll send you/whomever my resume. Bottom line is I love you guys and this community is the coolest, most supportive conglomerate of total strangers that I have ever come across in my life. I feel like you guys (even though I don't actually know you) are my friends. Thanks!
  4. This will be my third challenge, and my first with the Rangers. It has been awhile since I have taken on a challenge as my schedule has been crazy the past couple of months. I recently completed a 30 day no chocolate and no coke challenge. Managed it really well with only a few cravings. Since that point I've been falling downhill a bit. Main Quest To become stronger, faster and happier. 1. Get Stronger I want to build up the strength in my legs and also my upper body strength Squats - 10 squats (with 6kg (13pounds) of extra weight)Push Ups - 5 good form decline push upsPull Ups - a pull upHandstands - 60 seconds of a wall handstand2. Get Faster I want to get back into playing rugby and being fast and agile are helpful when playing. Shuttle RunsRun under 10 minute mile (currently 11:03 is my fastest mile)3. Get enough sleep With all my revision that I will be doing I need to make sure I get my sleep Minimum 8 hours sleep a nightLife Quest I want to graduate with at least a 2:1 from university Spend a minimum of 6 hours revisingEvery night look over the days notes and revision cardsI've found from past challenges I need goals than I can easily track. In order to work on pull ups I will have to go to my local park as that is the only place with strong enough bars for me to use. This means with my planned revision schedule I will only be using the park for pull ups, shuttle runs and mile run once a week so I've not set my goals high. Can't think of anything else to add so I'll stop here.
  5. Back in August of 2013, I literally joined Nerd Fitness, made a single post, and then vanished. (que "Avatar: The Last Air Bender" music here). It's because I was called away to fight a different war- College Graduation. Now that I've successfully survived that encounter, I am back again to join the NF Rebellion For GOOD (and with a debt-free Bachelor's degree in hand) Since being back from my University, I have restarted both my exercise plan, and my Paleo diet. It was a GRUELING three weeks at first- but I have now successfully stopped all carb cravings, all energy dumps, etc. I've even cut down MASSIVELY on coffee (something I didn't think was possible!) And the best is still ahead of me.
  6. Motivation: I want to be healthy, to be able to walk around all day at conventions without having to try and find a space to sit down. I want to be damn sexy for my boyfriend. I want to feel like throwing all my clothes off and dancing around in the nude because why not? I want to be able to go to the beach in a bikini without shorts and not even think about whether people are staring at my jiggly-bits. Main quest: To fit into my graduation dress. I am determined to rock this awesome dress with an awesome bod (and dance the funky chicken without wussing out). Goals: ~ I will ride my bike to uni four times/week A= Four times or more B= Three times C= Two times D= One time F= Wimped out and got a lift every single day ~ I will drink no more than one fizzy/week A= One or less fizzies B= Two fizzies C= Three fizzies D= Four fizzies F= More than four fizzies ~ I will have three Paleo dinners/ week (totally 18 p-ds in 6 weeks) A= 18 or more p-ds B= 15-17 p-ds C= 11-14 p-d D= 7-10 F= Less than 6 Pictures: Dress doesn’t do up!! D: Front before pic Side before pic. Clearly the problem with doing the dress up is a combination of belly and those weird back pudgy things just under the bra line (upper love handles???). Also it would seem that I need some new underthings, seeing them in a photo really points out how daggy they are I made a nice shiny spreadsheet to fill in to keep me on track/ help with my maths, but I can't figure out how to link it yet, learning slowly bit by bit.
  7. (…because almost everything I do has a "the 13th" in it.) TL;DR version at the bottom. And so, after many months of travelling through the wilderness and scaling the Mountain of False Complacency, the 13th disciple arrived at the entrance to the Dojo of the Rebellion[1]. Like a child about to enter an amusement park, the 13th disciple's eyes widened as he laid hands on the massive gate that decorated the entrance to the dojo. Beyond the gate, he could see the hordes of veteran Nerd Fitness disciples training, most of them bearing the NF insignia on their clothing. The 13th disciple stood there for a while watching the veterans, growing more and more nervous by the minute. Someone was bound to initiate contact with him soon, and then he would see whether they'd accept him into their ranks. "Hello there, young lad. What brings you here?" The 13th disciple turned around to the direction of the voice, and froze in place. Talking to him was none other than the great Grandmaster Spezzy[2]. The 13th disciple continued staring at her for a few moments, dumbstruck (and much to his own embarrassment), then he dropped down to his knees and bowed to her. "Grandmaster, it is an honor to meet you! I am M, the 13th disciple. I hail from the far east[3], and I am eager to learn the Ways of the Rebellion![4] Please accept me as your disciple!", he pleaded. "Don't! He's far from ready yet!", another voice shouted from nowhere. The 13th disciple looked up and, to his horror, realized his mom was standing right next to Grandmaster Spezzy. "Mom! What are you doing here?!" "Quiet, kid!", the 13th disciple's mom answered. "You're nowhere near ready to be training with the NF veterans! Just look at yourself! All skin and bones, and nothing else! Why, do you even eat enough, my boy? 3 square meals a day!" "I—I—" "Aha! So you're still watching TV and reading and browsing while eating, aren't you? No wonder you're not getting quality food into your system! Son, I forbid you to work, play, watch TV, read, or browse, or anything else while you're eating! No exceptions!" "Wha—?" "Spezzy, I expect you'll make sure that he eats his 3 meals a day without any distractions, right?" "Of course, ma'am.", Grandmaster Spezzy assured the 13th disciple's mom. "Splendid.", the 13th disciple's mom answered. "Don't hesitate to, I dunno, give him a kick in the butt or something." "Mom! :-(", the 13th disciple exclaimed, exasperated.[5] "And your complexion…", his mom started, looking back at him. "Son, you look really pale. Have you been sleeping enough, my boy? Nah, I doubt it. Then I hereby order you to get enough sleep." Turning back to Spezzy, the 13th disciple's mom asked, "Spezzy, I trust that you'll make sure it's lights out by midnight? And that you'll kick him out of bed by 9am?" "Certainly, ma'am." Grandmaster Spezzy assured the 13th disciple's mom once again, while the 13th disciple himself stared disbelievingly at both of them. "My my, what have we here?", another familiar voice asked. As if the situation weren't already stressful enough, suddenly, out of nowhere, the 13th disciple's sifu[2] appeared. "The 13th disciple, I can't believe that you think you're ready to join the NF veterans! You haven't even been regularly attending to your own training! Why, until you get back into training your own martial arts for 4 days a week, you can't hope to keep up with them. Have you been attending training for 4 days a week? Have you?" He too, turning to Grandmaster Spezzy, told her, "I'm not going to let you have him before he isn't back in shape, training for 4 days a week at least!" "I wouldn't have it any other way.", Grandmaster Spezzy answered him. "Not so fast, kid!", yet another voice echoed. The 13th disciple, too tired to to be truly surprised, looked back at his university professor[2], who had just arrived on scene. "You still have to finish that Master's Thesis I asked you to send in months ago! Why have I not seen anything yet? You promised me an outstanding thesis! I expect it on my desk by September 1st!" Turning to Grandmaster Spezzy, the Professor said "I don't care about all this diet and fitness and health stuff, I just want that thesis done!" "Don't worry, Professor," Grandmaster Spezzy assured her. "I'll see to it. Diet and fitness and health isn't the only thing we teach; we do offer guidance in life goals as well." Turning to the 13th disciple, the Grandmaster finally declared: "The 13th disciple, I have now seen the work you still have to do before I can teach you the Way of the Rebellion. If you still wish to learn the Way, then I order you to fulfill the tasks given to you by the three wise men (two of which are women, btw) and return to me in 6 weeks. Fear not, for there are many others who have yet to fulfill tasks before I can teach them the Way. You shall go seek them, and help them in whatever way you can, so that they may then help you. You are also to wear this special hat, so that other seekers of the Way can find you and you can find them. I shall engrave your personal mantra onto the hat. When anyone asks you 'What is your quest?' or 'What is your main mission?', you are to stand tall and proclaim the words engraved on your hat." And with that, out of thin air, Grandmaster Spezzy pulled out a large conical paper hat, scribbled something onto the back, and handed it to the 13th disciple. The 13th disciple looked at the hat in disbelief. On the front side, printed in a colorful and comical font, were the words "NF Nooblet (Lvl 1 Rebel)", with two smiley faces in the o's of "Nooblet". On the back side, scribbled with a cheap pencil, were the words "What is your quest? To be consistent." "See you in six weeks.", Grandmaster Spezzy said, and pressed a button. At once, the floor beneath the 13th disciple gave way, and he fell along a deep chute. A minute or two of agony later, and he resurfaced at the bottom of the Mountain of False Complacency and landed in a giant haystack, not unlike the ones in the Assassin's Creed video game series. Lying there in the hay, still not sure he had understood what just happened, the 13th disciple looked toward the sky. "What the bloody hell just happened?!" [1]: "Dojo of the Rebellion" may or may not be a trademark of Steve. Uh… use at your own risk…? [2]: Apologies to the people portrayed here, for all of these tasks I'm coming up with are really my own, not forced on me by any of you. But I figure it makes the story more fun if I give you more active roles. [3]: Assuming that the Dojo of the Rebellion is located somewhere in the United States, then, since I start in Europe, and since "somewhat far east" doesn't quite have the right ring to it: "far east" it is. [4]: This may be another trademark. See [1]. [5]: Yes, the 13th disciple literally said "mom sad smiley emoticon". TL;DR version of the above My Quest: Consistency (…because I can do the 3 items below, but I never follow through.) Specifically: Eat properly. Eat 3 meals a day, without any distractions (TV, books, etc).Sleep well. Lights out by midnight, and out of bed by 9am.Train regularly. Attend martial arts training 4 times a week.Other life goal: Write a damn fine Master's thesis. It's due by Sept. 1st, and it'd better be damn fine.Success Criteria I have eaten my meal without any ongoing distractions, such as TV, reading, etc. Rule of thumb: I'm finished eating within 40 minutes.I have shut down all of my work and play by midnight. I only have to change into pj's/brush teeth/etc. before crawling into bed.I am already awake by 9am, or my alarm rang at 9am and I am awake by 9.10am.I have attended martial arts classes on 4 days per week. Rule of thumb: I attended classes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.(Thesis) Rule of thumb: I'm proud to show my Master's thesis to other people, even non-mathematicians.
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