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Anno crosses the Valley


Anno

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Hello all,  

 

New here and just finished my first challenge, so coming into this one a little late.  From the looks of it, I’ll be late to the next party too, but then I should be caught up.  Also, my first time outside the Level 1s.  The adventurers looked like a good fit for what I’m looking at, glad to meet everyone.

 

I’ve seen a few people do up their challenges as prose, and I thought that would be a fun way to go about it since this is meant to be roleplaying.  Please bear with. Hopefully, it doesn’t come across as obnoxious.  

 

---

 

Anno didn’t so much walk up the hill as progressed.  Walking was a dignity that had withered and fallen off about a mile back. He’d been limping since near the base of the hill when someone had, apparently, staked his knees with rebar. Staggering had left him when that rebar turned to salt.  

 

Now, he held his walking stick like an oar and rowed himself up the hill.  

 

In the last few paces, he saw a new, green vale reveal itself beyond the crest.  A bright river ran through the middle, opening into a blue lake down below. A village sat on the valley’s far shoulder. On the side of a mountain in the near distance, he saw the outline of a monastery.  

 

Standing there on the very top of the hill, looking down on the steep path to the valley floor, Anno threw up up his arms. He let out a loud, “Woo!†and promptly collapsed onto his side beside the path.  He let himself roll, content to simply flop down onto his back.

 

His pack, however, was happy where it was and saw no reason to make things easy on its owner.  Anno quickly found himself with his head and left arm dangling, the world sitting at an odd angle and him not giving any part of a damn to correct it.  

 

“You’re late,†a voice said behind him.  

 

Anno tried to sit up, but the pack and worn muscles firmly declared that that wasn’t happening, allowing only a groan and a weak flop. He kicked, squirmed and he tried to shimmy. He finally found and loosened the straps to his pack. He slid off the thing and onto the grass.  

 

A pull of the pack later and he was propped up, almost a sit, looking at an old man who sat on a nearby boulder.  

 

“I said, you’re late.†The old man tilted his head up to listen to birdsong in the trees. “And the birds are laughing at you.â€


 

My first challenge was largely my doing a modified Angry Birds split between two days. I plan to continue with the Angry Birds workout, now condensed to a single day to allow for more flexibility but with the same amount of exercise. 2x per week.   

 

1) Maintain

A - All workouts done. Less a grade per 2 workouts missed. (+1 Str, +1 Con, +1 Sta, +1 Cha)

 

The original called for me to reach level 3 in the workout within the six weeks.  This didn’t happen.  This time, I’ll aim to progress to at least the next level in each exercise of the first by the end of the challenge. Reducing weight on stats for this one, partly because the increases aren’t fast and partly because they’re fairly incidental. Going up a level is dne by hitting 3-star on a part twice consecutively.  

 

2) Progress

A - All five, B - 3-4, C - 2, D - 1, F - None.

(+1 Str, +1 Sta)


 

The old cleared his throat, looking back at Anno.

 

“Have you decided where you’re going?â€

 

“Not yet.â€

 

The man’s shoulders sagged. “You know, people don’t usually start up this way without some idea. Rude to make an old man wait here for you if you haven’t got any ideas.†The old man grinned. “Or did you just figure out that you don’t live in assassin country?â€

 

“How…?â€

 

“You’re not the first, kid.†The old man snickered and pointed down into the valley. “But if you’re still here, I’m guessing you still want to make something of yourself. The village always needs people, strong backs and in the forest, and the monastery’s not far off. You ever worked any of that?â€

 

“I was in the militia once, and I trained with a monk, but that…â€

 

The old man poked Anno in the gut with a stick. “A long time ago?â€

 

“...yes.â€

 

“You’ve got a ways to go, son. The Monks won’t accept new students until the Harvest Moon, but you won’t get there before then anyway. And the town needs someone a little less flabby.†He held his hand to shade his eyes as he peered off into the distance. “Still, might just be ready before you get anywhere...â€

 

3) C25K

The listed three times a week, with the option to trade one out for a hike once a week.

A - All workouts done. Less a grade per two workouts missed.

(+3 Sta, +1 Con)

 

“...and, for pity’s sake, loosen up. You move like a pregnant yak.â€

 

4) Flexibility: Eight Brocades of Silk

Stretch. Minimum 3x per week, in-class sessions during Tai Chi count.

A - All done, less a grade for each two missed.

(+2 Dex)

 

Anno sagged back against his pack and glared at the old man.

 

“Is there anything else, or can I die for a little while?â€

 

The man snickered again. “Just one more thing.†He reached behind him and pulled a very slight, straight sword from behind his rock. “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.â€

 

5) Weapon training.

Minimum 2 hours per week.

Something I’ve always wanted to get into.  Since I’m in a class for Tai Chi, I’ve recently picked up a book on a tai chi sword form.  I’ve also signed up for an archery class starting in two weeks. Either or, but a minimum of 2 hours every week.  

(+2 dex, +1 wis)

 

Anno took the sword and drew it, looking at the blade shining. The old man was gone when he looked back up.  He looked around, then down at the village. He looked at the blade again, sheathed it, and promptly flopped sideways onto the ground.  He spent enough care to set teh scabbard down and bunch up an edge of his pack for a pillow before he passed out.  

 

Above, the birdsong played through the trees as the birds kept laughing, but right then, he was too tired to care.  

 

--

 

That’s my goal this time around. It looks like a lot, and is potentially biting off more than I can chew, but realistically, I’m looking at two days of exercise on my off days from Tai Chi using a modified warm up, plus one lesson/sword study session and one hike a week.  

 

Shouldn’t be too bad.  

And, why yes, I would like some salt with my foot.

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The first day, or rather last night, of this challenge went fairly well.  I'm going to count Monday's Tai Chi class toward the Eight Brocades.  I did them again last night as a warm up before starting my first session with the C25K.  I'm surprised at how well that went, though it was remarkably humid last night so I got back more than a little damp. 

 

Moved onto the Angry Birds after before hitting the hay. 

 

Tuesday:

Back - level 2 - 20 inverted rows: 1 star

Planks - level 2 - 120 seconds (elbow): 0 star (four reps to complete)

Leg lifts - level 2 - 30: 2 star (personal addition to the workout)

Squats - level 2 - 50: 0 star (I hurt my left knee over the weekend.  Only hurts when bent low, so running's not an issue. Intentionally only doing ten until it heals. I count it towards completion, but can't level up.)

Pushups - level 2 - 20 (done on the knuckle): 2 star. 

 

Tai Chi tonight, so may have the Eight Brocades wrapped up early if we do them there. 

Level 2 Werebear Adventurer

Str: 3 | Dex: 1 | Sta: 3 | Con: 4 | Wis: 1 | Cha: 1

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We did the Eight Brocades in class last night, so I'm counting that as that part of Week One being completed.  I'll probably do them again tonight just the same before I start into the C25K session and/or Angry Birds I have set for tonight. 

 

The knee popped last night, so it's finally starting to feel better.  Still going to go light on it at least one more night, though. 

Level 2 Werebear Adventurer

Str: 3 | Dex: 1 | Sta: 3 | Con: 4 | Wis: 1 | Cha: 1

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I decided to forgo the Brocades today and started in on the C25K part since it's got a warm up built in. Second session of that and it went okay.  Getting some light pain across the front of my shins by the end, but not bad.  I'll need to be careful, just in case. 

 

Did the angry birds on getting back.  Still doing 10 squats to protect the knee, so 0-starred that.  Knee's getting better, though. 

 

Besides that:

Back - 1 star - 9,7,5

Planks - 1 star - 60,30,30

Pushups - 2 star - 14,6

Leg lifts - 2 star - 20,10

Level 2 Werebear Adventurer

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Thanks, always nice to hear, and glad you enjoyed. If I get inspired, I may think about doing weekly updates or somesuch with prose. 

 

For now, however: 

 

Nothing done on Friday due to schedule. I was hoping to get out on the trail this weekend, but the weather said no.  It threatened to rain, or was raining, pretty much the entire weekend and I wasn't keen on being over an hour from home on foot if it decided to come down. Found a time to do the C25K third session, though, so that's still on-track. 

 

Sat down with the Tai Chi Sword Form book for a while.  I made a serious mistake getting that as an ePub copy rather than physical one.  Movement principles, including their names, and the form itself are in two separate chapters.  A little thing like a physical bookmark would have made it a whole lot easier.  I am glad I'm taking Tai Chi, though, or I'd be completely lost.   I made it the two hours I promised myself before I got really frustrated.  Gave all the principles a dry-run as best as I could understand them and started in on the form.  So far, it amounts to a curtsy, a right deflection and a turn to the left. 

 

Tai Chi tonight, then possibly a run and the angry birds.  I lost my Tuesday nights for those due to the Archery class starting up tomorrow.  I am looking forward to that. 

Level 2 Werebear Adventurer

Str: 3 | Dex: 1 | Sta: 3 | Con: 4 | Wis: 1 | Cha: 1

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Been a few days, but holding to what I said with this.  Losing Tuesday is making a few things a little close to too much, but holding on.  Basically means that Monday, and likely Wednesday, are now stacked high with exercise.  Monday, I did my Tai Chi class (we didn't do the eight brocades, so I'll need to do that another time this week), the fourth session of the C25K (not a huge change from the first three, but I sure felt it), and my angry birds routine.  I figured out that putting my feet against a wall works my core better when doing planks since I'm not slipping at the toes anymore.  I actually collapsed at the tail end of the pushups (last thing I did), so I think that's more or less my limit for right now. 

 

Angry birds for Monday was:

Back - 1 star

Pushups - 0 star

Squats - 0 star (did ten.  Knee's still hurting)

Planks - 1 star

Leg lifts - 1 star

 

Went down from my normal, but I was more tired than usual. 

 

As I write this, I just got back from the archery class.  It's a tournament/Olympic style rather than a hunting style (the instructor mentioned some differences, but I only took away the sighting methods) done with recurve bows.  Worked places I didn't expect. Got the back more than the right arm on the pull and my left bicep, forearm and pec are feeling it. 

 

I also feel it in the lips, which makes me laugh.  As a consistency thing in this style, the string is drawn into the nose and lips so you can feel that each shot is identical.  Kinda have a buzz going in that spot right now. 

 

As to the music:  First and foremost a thank you for the encouragement and the offer, Emma. 

 

For how it went: pretty well, but short lived. I tried playing the ocarina and it went pretty well, all things considered.  My hands cramped up about twenty minutes in, which I'm taking as normal for a beginner.  My hands go weird in seconds trying to play a piano (I have tried, albeit briefly) so I'm assuming it wasn't an actual issue that'd prevent me from playing.  I went through the first three lessons in the book, for a total of 5 notes and some little ditties with them. 

 

I feel pretty good about it, really, and I should make a post in the mini challenges thread now that I think about it. 

 

For the offer, I really do appreciate it, but I can't think of what could be done to help aside from my getting the gumption and remembering to practice.  There's a down-the-road issue I may hit when my left little finger comes into play (no pun intended) but there is a workaround for that.  The place I got the ocarinas does two sizes: one in G and one in C.  The C ocarinas have 9 holes for some reason rather than the more standard 10 with the lowest two notes being made with different breathing. It just so happens to take out the hole that'd be played by my worst finger. 

 

I have one of each since they were a package trainer set, but the C produces a strange buzz I don't like.  I know it's due to the material and the company offers much better quality instruments for the advanced. 

 

When the time comes, I may need to upgrade and stick to the 9-hole, but we'll see what happens there. 

 

Again: thank you for the offer, though. 

Level 2 Werebear Adventurer

Str: 3 | Dex: 1 | Sta: 3 | Con: 4 | Wis: 1 | Cha: 1

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Feeling the archery in your lips? Who knew? :)

Ocarina...know nothing about playing the instrument myself. General musical type advice: Do practice everyday. What you are doing is teaching your finger muscles new ways to move and this involves building new neural pathways in your brain. Playing for even just a few minutes every day is better for reinforcing the new neural pathways than trying to do a lot of time just once a week. Not surprised that your fingers cramped after twenty minutes. It will get better as you go on. If you are also trying to learn to read music at the same time, even more brain work happening, like learning a new language. Is a whole lot of stuff going on inside your brain. Be patient and persistent :)

Good for you! Keep it up!

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Another loaded day.  I did the Eight brocades on my own, the fifth session of the C25K, the angry birds routine and then went to Tai Chi.  I'm pretty wiped right now.  I had to load today because Thursday and Friday aren't really an option for me to have time free. 

 

We didn't do the Brocades in class again today, so I need to work two of those into the rest of the week, but they're pretty light and make a good warmup for other stuff.  Shouldn't be a problem. 

 

Wednesday:

Back - 1 star

Pushups - 1 star

Planks - 1 star

Leg lifts - 2 star

Squats - 0 star (knee still, but getting better)

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I had a little time to kill, so I did the Eight Brocades and decided to have a little fun prose-wise.  


I’m behind the main curve and will be for this and the next challenges no matter what I do, but this puts me in-line for my week 2.  Looking at the weather, it’ll be another catch-a-C25K weekend rather than a hike, but I’ll take it.  


------------


Anno dropped his cloth back into his little stream and ground it hard against a flat rock until all the yellow had either rubbed off into the water or turned to black. He let himself sigh as he pulled the cloth back out, rang out as much water as he could, and laid it on the blade of the sword balanced across his knees.  


He then carefully, very carefully, gathered cloth into one hand and folded it under one edge, pinching the cloth to the flats on either side.  Only his fingertips applied any pressure; the rest of his hand was held as far from the blade as possible.  


He went back to scrubbing the blade as firmly as he dared.  


Nearby, an old book sat open. Anno had found it in his pack the day after he’d met the old man.  The list of suspects for who put it there were pretty small.  As for when? He suspected somewhere between when he’d passed out and when he’d woken up.  


This would have concerned him less if he hadn’t found it underneath his clothes.  


The book was an old, cheap thing that had been rebound at least once. The current cover had most likely started its career as pigskin. Inside, however, was a remarkably well preserved, if short, set of instructions for a basic form for the blade the old man had given him.  


What was not in the book, however, was a single line warning the owner not to use pine branches as a standin for a sparring partner. Or any note on how hard it is to get pine gum off steel without slicing your hand open.  


He’d narrowed down the reason for this oversight to three possibilities.  One: It was an object lesson and was, in fact, a very sage secret of the art. His own mistake was actually an engineered right of passage every master faced.  


Two: The book and/or the old man were evil and plotting his demise.


Or Three: That it was so painfully obvious that anyone who’d ever even seen a forest would know not to do that.  


Anno rather preferred option one.  


The last glob of resin finally snapped free of the steel and rolled up into a quickly blackening ball.  Anno wiped the blade, flat-first, across his panted thigh to remove what water remained and then set the sword and sheath on a flat rock to dry in the sun.


He held the cloth up.  It was full of little, nearly parallel cuts that grew denser toward the middle.  The rest was gummy mess made up of a mottling of black and yellow, and every shade between.  He’d be discarding that as soon as the evening’s fire was started.


A rather conspicuous pile of pine branches made the job easier.  


An hour later saw Anno sitting beside a roaring fire.  Jerky and two handfuls of fresh fiddleheads sizzled lightly on hot rocks. Some foraged rested in an upturned hat near his foot.  


In the trees above, the birds still laughed at him.  One even sat perched on an arrow that had lodged into a tree too high to be recovered.  Anno considered trying again, but his quiver was already tied shut and the bowstring was already off.  He finished disassembling the bow and put the pieces into his pack.  He’d have poultry sooner or later, but it wasn’t going to be tonight.


Past the birdsong, he could hear the steady hiss of water over rocks; more than just a valley wall stream, this was the start of a river.  A fortnight in, and a fortnight’s worth of miles without seeing the landscape for the woods, he was finally approaching the lake.  He might have fresh fish soon.  He’d expected to be there sooner.  


He leaned back, grabbed the sword, sheath and book one by one.  Sword and sheath were married and tied in their place along the side of the pack. The book he slid into one of the many pouches of his pack.  


Something brushed against his knuckle. He drew out an old flute he’d held onto for years, but never really learned to play.  


The food would be a while yet.  


The birds were going to laugh at him anyway. He figured he might as well give them a reason.  

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I also feel it in the lips, which makes me laugh.  As a consistency thing in this style, the string is drawn into the nose and lips so you can feel that each shot is identical.  Kinda have a buzz going in that spot right now.

Yeah, when I watched people do archery at the Olympics; some of them would jam that bowstring into their face.

 

Sounds like you're plugging along. Good job!

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Yeah, when I watched people do archery at the Olympics; some of them would jam that bowstring into their face.

 

Sounds like you're plugging along. Good job!

 

Thanks. I'll be heading to my next class tonight.  I'm wondering how I'll feel after.

 

 

Hi Anno! Haven't heard from you for awhile. How goes it?

 

Hi Emma.  Goes okay, but not too much to report on.  Sessions six and seven of the C25K happened Saturday and Last night respectively.  I couldn't quite finish the last section of yesterday's run, but it was close and I made it up after.  Unfortunately, it's been overcast and cloudy a lot lately, so a proper hike really hasn't been happening. 

 

Also had Tai Chi last night, so the first set of brocades are done.  It sounds silly to say it, but I figure another month or two before I actually know the full form and can start really learning it. 

 

Past that, and I can't help but chuckle, been playing the ocarina every night except Sunday; but I am getting tired of Au Clair de la Lune.

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This is turning into a very odd week for timings. Work has been nuts, so I'm more behind than I'd like to be.  I had intended to be done with the Angry Birds exercises on Wednesday for these challenges, or Thursday at the latest.  Last night was the first time I got one in this week, but that's also why I took only two per week since I know things like this can happen with my schedule. 

 

I'm still only doing ten squats because my knee is still bad.  It's much, much better now, but I can still feel it so I don't want to wrench it.

 

So:

Thursday

 

Back - 1 star

Squats - 0 star

Leg lifts - 2 star

Planks - 1 star

Pushups - 2 star

 

I had Tai Chi on Wednesday, so that's two of the three sets of the Brocades done.  I'll need to get that and my other Angry birds done on the weekend.  Preferably Saturday.  Unfortunately, Saturday looks like a little slice of sauna, so I probably won't get out on the trails yet again and Sunday's not looking much better.  I'll probably wind up doing an early morning or late evening C25K session again. 

 

Speaking of the C25K, I did my second for the week last night.  I was able to finish as presented this time, so I consider that a win. Not looking forward to the next increase, I have to say.  I also need to scout out new running paths.  My current is getting boring. 

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It's been an odd ending to an odd week, but after considering it, I'm going to call this as having completed all the exercises I set out to do. 

 

As above, work's been fun this week and pushed back my Angry Birds workout.  I got that done today after my run. I did the best so far with the inverted rows, getting a 2 star, but couldn't hold planks past 30 seconds after, so that got a 0 star. It took me five reps to hit 120, which hasn't happened in a while.  The knee's still hurting off and on, so I can't push that, and let me just say that that's getting old.

 

Sunday:

Back: 2 star

Leg lifts: 2 star

Pushups: 1 star

Squats: 0 star

Planks: 0 star.

 

I also got in my last run for the week for the C25K, but I can't consider it as complete.  My parents are off on vacation, so I'm looking after their golden. He's come with me on hikes before, but he hasn't done too well.  It's been warm and humid here this summer, and he burns out after about 5k in the wood. My runs are much more of the moment, so I haven't collected him to bring with me.  I figured he'd be okay to bring today, and that was a mistake. 

 

Turns out that the different gait I need to use while holding his leash started putting a stitch in my right side after only a minute or two, but it didn't really matter because he went a bit nuts somewhere between the one-third and halfway mark trying to get his Halti off.  I guess it was irritating him pretty badly.  I took that off and put the leash on his collar, but I couldn't control him properly because he has a habit of trying to cross in front of whoever's walking him. I gave up after nearly taking a header over him. All told, made it about halfway, then gave up and walked back home. 

 

As I said, thought about it and decided to count this as having done the exercise since most of my challenge is about getting up and doing the exercise, but not going to count today as having done the C25K for the purposes of progressing through it. 

Level 2 Werebear Adventurer

Str: 3 | Dex: 1 | Sta: 3 | Con: 4 | Wis: 1 | Cha: 1

Challenges: Past 1; Current

 

My Trip to Mordor. 

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Just got started this week, which I admit to being an issue.  Labour day got in the way, so today was my first run and Angry Birds.  Not my best showing ever. 

 

Still, Angry birds is okay, and I did do the Eight Brocades as well today.  A seconds Birds on the weekend should be easy enough to get in.  Only downside is that I'll need to run tomorrow or twice on the weekend to get in all my sessions.  I'll see what I can do there, but I may wind up taking a hit. 

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Level 2 Werebear Adventurer

Str: 3 | Dex: 1 | Sta: 3 | Con: 4 | Wis: 1 | Cha: 1

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