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The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny. Two guesses as to whether he succeeds or not. I sorta dropped off the face of the earth last challenge. I didn't mean to, but... yeah. The job isn't really brutal, but the hours are, and I haven't been good about getting around to you all like I wish I had. Still, things are being adjusted. I unfortunately find myself in a place between talking about the challenge and doing the challenge; unfortunately, that only ends one way. And so much has happened, just in the past week! I managed to hit the Simple requirements - 100 one-arm kettlebell swings and 10 TGUs at 70 pounds in 15:10. I swung the 53-pounder 200 times without dropping it. And then today, I managed to do clapping pull ups for the first time! What a week it's been. Makes me suspicious - like sickness is hiding somewhere in the facade of my health. And yet, here I stand on the other side of these things. I do not feel weak at all. In fact, despite the lack of sleep, it all feels mental. Put me under the bar or in the ring and the body functions just fine. I suspect it's because I've been eating a lot better lately - more food and higher quality. Good stuff. It's bearing me up. And also the fact that I spend all day sitting as opposed to intermittently lifting things. "Do you have dreams when you sleep?" Rand is having a hard time having just signed up for the whole Doomed Savior of the World bit. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. But he decides he needs to test the prophecies concerning the Dragon Reborn in one last desperate try to not be the person the Creator has decreed he must be. Like Rand, I have tests that I must pass. Passing means I did better than an 80 on both of them. DDS's idea, not mine. But to hell with it - I'll take the pass. Rand's goal is about getting to work, doing the assignments and making sure that the grades are good enough every day. "A bloody hero. Thom, if I ever look like acting the hero again, you kick me." "And what would you have done differently?" "Just kick me!" So yeah, the picture from last challenge actually takes place in this book. I forgot. Oops. Still, he's all about hard living, and he's even more about that now that he's had that pesky ailment dealt with. And me, I'm learning how to get my back unwhack and it's changing measurements and playing merry havoc with the data like I knew it would. But the goal here is about staying the course - eating well and fasting and staying in control. I got this. Really. "What is your name? If I have to share this ship with you for days yet, I can't keep calling you girl." "I call myself Mandarb. I will teach you something, farmboy. In the Old Tongue, Mandarb means 'blade'. It is a name worthy of a Hunter of the Horn." "You see that black stallion? His name is Mandarb." Oh, Perrin. You have no idea how much trouble you're about to get in. But it's cool, man. You lift. Training goals are here for this challenge. Til shade is gone, til water is gone Into the shadow with teeth bared Screaming defiance with the last breath To spit in Sightblinder’s eye on the Last Day. Yesssssss. And now we get to meet some of the badasses. They're good characters, yes, but these were the badasses who inspired me in the first place. The Aiel. The Aiel have come out of their desert homeland in search of a story - of He Who Comes With The Dawn (go on and guess who that is. Certainly not the guy who everyone swears looks like an Aiel, that's for sure). And believe it or not, they represent the reading and writing goal this time around. I have a writing challenge up in August - 40K words. With the new job forcing me into a cram session every day, my work is cut out for me. But it's going to be great, I think. I got a lot of world building done and managed to gloss over the cracks in a lot of what I was doing. Now I just need to make some scenes and everything should be good. And that does it I think. I don't know how well I'll do getting around to people this time. But I promise I'll do my best. And now let us commence the next step of the journey.