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No title.
(2013-11-11 - 2013-11-12)
No description.
Jourum Seated serenely in a cavern somewhere in the Phantom Forest was Blivon Jourum. He'd isolated himself as a means of becoming more atuned to the forces of nature, without the influences of the confused mind, which he believed was the default of those who deluded many into believing there was some undeniable truth to world. The more he detached from reality, the more he became part of it, or so he postulated.

At a height of six feet and eleven inches, he was something to behold, but because the shaman was positioned on his posterior, he had considerably less stature, so that if anyone did manage to encounter him at random, he would not be a source of fear, just by the fact that a seated person was less dangerous than one on their feet, enabling immediate outlash if so desired! His staff and shield were set aside to one corner of the cavern, and his helmet was elsewhere. In spite of being in the Phantom Forest, it was unusually calm within the interior of this particular chasm, as though some spiritual ward had been dissuading ordinarily hostile undead creatures from seeking to cause him trouble.

The druid had numerous shelves with lit candles as would be evident in a monastery, while dangling from the wall was a sack filled with dried fruits and roots, for consumption at a later time. There were jars of spring-water on the other side of the room, which might perplex some; wouldn't it be more convenient, if one craved a meal, to not have to cross the entire room to fetch their water to quench thirst, if it were located adjacent to the bag filled with confectionaries? Whatever his reasons for doing what he did, he seemed to be looking over a scroll of some type, as the flames of the candles flickered, giving an eerie, ghostly luminosity to an otherwise pitch-black alcove.
Aerith The Phantom Forest is no mere maze of trees and undergrowth.

It is a deadly and foreboding place that houses all manner of spirits and undead creatures. Haunted and forsaken, it contains the worst fears a mortal could face. No one in their right mind would enter here...

...Unless of course, this person was either not in their right mind, or knew exactly what they were doing.

Aerith Gainsborough had never been here, but she knew how to properly navigate the area. All she had to do was ask the right ghost. No one else but Maira and perhaps a few others could do so, and so they could not traverse this place without getting lost.

The reason she was here of course, was up for debate, but for the most part she was seeking something. Not answers, not even advice, but training and tutelage. Of what kind, one could not say, save for her. But for her to be in such a place, she was obviously determined to go certain lengths to achieve her goal.

There were however, certain people and beings she would never ask... not even if her life depended on it.
Jourum As the proverbial 'hidden character', the holy-man had confined himself to the most remote place possible that he could think of, where few would dare venture, which would surely bring to him the most staunch of enthusiasts seeking his guidance, if they had just so happened to catch wind of his reputation, or else, someone with more lucrative ambitions; a wood as dark as the Phantom Forest surely had a few treasures and tokens lying around from many a fallen hero, or villain.

Blivon remained comfortably stationed where he was, already feeling the radiance of a newcomer not far off, and immediately, he can discern some degree of the aura she exudes, in terms of how much emotional energy is invested in her manner, or lack thereof. She is a determined one, but she is not on a mission of vengeance; she was not a zealot from Glabados, then, at the bare minimum. That was a reassuring thought, but being unobtrusive as he was, he neither advocated, or wished to discourage her approach, if she was heading towards him by incidence, or deliberation..... her actions were her choices, and he had no compulsion to apply any sort of pressure to change the hands of fate.
Aerith But of course, she discovered him as well. Granted, she didn't know it was a he, or she, or some other creature. She did know that who or whatever it was, it wasn't a Heartless or a Shadow Lord. The question then remained; why would anyone want to sit here in one place?

Right, time to find out.

Aerith followed the ping on her radar, so to speak, until she saw a cave of sorts. Needing no assistance to reach it, she advanced upon the entrance, trying her best to exude an energy that was devoid of hostile intent.

"Hello?" Her voice echoed around the walls of said cave as her eyes adjusted to the change in light.
Jourum Blivon was not a Shadow Lord, but neither was he a Keyblade Wielder, or a 'Prince(?)'ss of Heart. The shaman was something else entirely, which was mayhap the reason Aerith was about to happen across him; it was possible what she needed was something a little less conventional-- then again, perchance Blivon would be a delay in her growth. When Aerith approached the cave of the tall, long-haired hermit, he waved his hand in acknowledgement of her arrival, to signify that he was well aware that she was there.... or so it seemed!

She didn't seem like a spirit, exactly, but something about her suggested she had a foot in both the worlds of the living, and the non; as she greeted him, he reciprocated, feeling the need to implement courtesy, which was reserved for friend and enemy alike, "Salutations. Do you wish to take refuge here for a time?" His voice was gentle, and almost soothing, like that of a humble monk who wished nothing more than to bring balance to the world, while knowing that his own role's significance didn't necessarily warrant a song.
Aerith Aerith smiled at him and took a seat, her legs folding atop each other. The stone floor did not seem to bother her all that much, either. "Actually, that'd be nice. This place isn't all that friendly to outsiders." She sighed. "I had to find the right one to ask in order to even get this far."
Jourum Contentedly maintaining a soft expression, appearing to be something of a mixture of a dead-pain flat-lined pair of lips and a true grin, Blivon nodded his understanding of her words. The shaman extended a hand to her, with his palm upwards, gesturing an 'offer' of sorts, which was a culmination of his query to ensue shortly after, "Do you wish to be rendered some food, or drink? I have articles in this hovel that are capable of sustaining a human, and you appear to be something quite similar, if you are not in fact one in actuality." He retracts his hand in a non-threatening manner, just as he'd lifted it towards her briefly, and began to roll up the scroll that he'd been reading.
Aerith Aerith shook her head. "Thanks, but no. I ate before I came here. Made it a point to." She glanced around the cave. "Scented candles, or just candles? This place is actually pretty ripe for meditation of sorts, so I couldn't help but wonder."
Jourum Respectfully declining his proposition, he patiently awaited her next remark, or question; Blivon had no reason to impose upon this woman, and if she purposely chose to abstain from sustenance, who was he to condemn this choice? Glancing over at the candles, the druid rubbed his chin in consideration, "Hmm.... If they have the scent of wax, I believe. But if there is something you can detect from them that I cannot, then I welcome you to endorse what you sense." He smiled at her tranquilly, after turning back to face the woman "Would it be fair of me to ask if there is some way I may be of assistance, on this day?"
Aerith Aerith quirked an eyebrow at his manner of speech. It was unlike any pattern she'd ever heard before... but somehow it made sense. Still, he'd answered her curiosity... and perhaps he could do so again. This time it was earnest, meant for a specific outcome. "Tell me... what do you know of strategy?" Direct, to the point.
Jourum Not everyone could make hide or hair of what Blivon said, but he was all the more grateful when people could benefit from his words, even if he refused to alter his methods for the sake of any-- if one changed themselves for one, they would have to change themselves for all, to the effect that soon, one would not be who they were anymore, and the oracle would have no part in deceitfulness. Being true to his foundations and being committed to the truth was his 'way', and nothing could deter him from it, yet, he would always open his door to any stranger beseeching him, whether they harbored malice or adoration. "I know strategy is a means of reaching a goal from a starting point, using one's resources in an arguably intellectual manner. Lack of strategy would be when one reacts solely based on instinct, without conscious thought, thus, strategy could be said to stem from awareness.... But it is also awareness that can mislead one, as well. Sense of self can be beguiling, I would venture to assert. Do you agree?"
Aerith Aerith gave a nod. "But at the same time, it's a sense of self that defines who we are. Getting rid of it isn't so easy..." She shook her head. "But that's not what I came here for. You'll have to forgive me for being so forward with my questions, but I wasn't looking for a textbook definition of the word." She smiled. "I meant... what do you KNOW of it. As of now, I have an... acute lack of strategy, for lack of a better term for it."
Jourum Blivon shrugs his head, "Sense of self is a perception. But if you do not wish to discuss that, then I am perfectly complacent to delve more into the topic of strategy." With that, the druid pushed his bangs out of his face, and he no longer has to indulge in the occasional scratch on his chin, to the same caliber as previously, when he had a small bundle of facial hair known as a 'soul patch', which had been shaved off. Life was slightly more convenient with a clean countenance.... far less itchiness! "I speculate that I have enough of a working knowledge of strategy, that I will proceed to thrive until my time of passing comes, and that for the duration of that interval, I will have a considerable quality of life."

He smiles, "....And quality of life is what we all seek, ultimately, is it not?" Blivon bobbed his head side to side thoughtfully, "Oh.... there are different avenues we may all trek in an attempt to reach it, but the root desire is just that, and to reach it, we must have strategy." He closes one eye and squints at her, "I do not think you lack strategy, though. I think you lack strategy in regards to certain areas of life..... I doubt someone without strategy could have reached this cavern physically intact, in light of the prowling hellions out there, eh?" He points outside the cave, beyond which, was most certainly teeming with zombies and phantoms.
Aerith Aerith shrugged. "It's not much of a strategy, just asking someone. Strategy would entail something further-reaching. Getting here was too short." She placed a hand under her chin. "But let's not argue semantics. I think I need to explain myself a bit more, since I think I can trust you."

She took in a breath. "My name is Aerith. I'm looking around for someone to teach me how to look farther ahead than I can now, for the sake of the friends I've made, and for those I've yet to make. I'm not going to say anything else; suffice it to say that it's of great personal importance to me to get where I need to be in this regard."
Jourum Smiling, he listened to her prepare to elaborate on clarification of her intentions, now that she felt Blivon was trustworthy; it was nice to be trusted, but even if she didn't, he would take no offense. After she makes her spiel, Blivon begins to furrow his brow in contemplation of her request, still thinking her words to be a bit on the vague side-- serious extrapolation was needed. Tapping the side of his head, he followed up with an inquiry, "Are you..... hoping to do a more efficient job at forestalling the aspirations of the Forces of Ruination as a chess-player would?"

He stands up, and plucks his scroll off the ground, putting it away in storage, then returning to seat himself in front of her again, in the exact same spot as before. "That will not bring you true happiness, but if you strive to think like a logician, I can assist with this, to an extent, if you are.... patient enough to tolerate my methods. I do have a background in..... war." He says the last word almost as though trying to expunge a bad taste from his mouth.
Aerith Aerith shrugged. "Happiness will come later. I doubt anyone will have time for it when they're busy being eaten by Heartless and ruled over by those who couldn't care less about the sanctity of life." She grimaced. "I intend to stop them however I can. So yes, I can tolerate any methods you would propose."
Jourum Blivon chuckled a little bit as she made her remark about who wouldn't have time to enjoy life when they were busy being devoured, "You.... might be surprised what people can endure, while still deriving satisfaction and contentment out of life. Perhaps you will comprehend what I mean, someday, but for now, I'll try to cater to your whims." He smiled at her, and folded one arm so that his elbow was propped up by his hand, and his other hand stroked his chin in contemplation, "My methods have varied results in different people, and may stimulate change in the course of either weeks, months, or years, even if it would be unfair to call them 'mine', really, since I actually inherited them from my clan of the Bodemn Druids."

He reached over and picked up a rock, then rotated it around in the palm of his hand, "I will do what I can for you. But you are not bound to heed my words alone, and if you find multiple teachers, or someone with whom you feel a greater compatibility, you may give them precedence to me, to the degree of total exclusivity..... I do not restrain others with rules, but...." He nods, "If you listen, you may profit. If you do not, I will be speaking to nobody. Either is fine, for me. But for you, it might be prudent to try to take to heart what I say, which is why I suggested that patience is a virtue in the case of utilizing me as a resource of wisdom."

Drawing his arm back, he adopted a position ideal for throwing the rock, but he holds still in this position, and asks, "My first question: If I were to hurl this rock at you, how do you predict would you react?"
Aerith Aerith blinked for a moment. "Honestly, I'd flinch away, try to dodge. After all, being hit with a rock isn't all that pleasant. Catching the thing would be the second thing on my mind. Knocking it back would be difficult at best, with the small window I'd have."
Jourum The shaman nodded his understanding, "A response that makes sense, depending on one's objectives." He then lightly tosses the stone towards Aerith under-handedly, towards the side of her, so that it won't strike her at all, but land beside her so that she can pick it up if she chooses. "You can choose to throw this object at me, or not.... however, surmising for a moment that you elected to deliberately tried to injure my body with it, by thrusting it at me, what do you suspect I would do in response?" he tilts his head to the side, curious to hear her answer.
Aerith Aerith chuckled. "Thrusting a rock would be a very interesting way to do it... this one's unsharpened, for example. You could easily take the hit, or try to get inside the attack and counter. If I took the time to turn it into something that could actually thrust though, things would get a bit more interesting."

She shrugged. "But honestly, I don't know how you'd react, since I don't know how you think."
Jourum Blivon poked the side of his temple in the zygomatic area, as his eyes stare intensely at Aerith, as he makes his next statement, "One last question: Do you think that I believe I knew what I would've done if you'd thrusted it at me?"
Aerith Aerith blinked again. Okay, that was a bit confusing. She had to tilt her head to the right and chew on her bottom lip for a bit before answering. "That depends whether you knew I was going to use it or not. It also depends on whether you actually intended to do something about it in the first place." She shook her head. "I have no idea if you knew what you'd have done. All I can do is guess."
Jourum The oracle nodded his head, and began to stand, heading over to get one of the water-skins so that he could take a swig, silent as he went, leaving Aerith with her own thoughts for a whole half a minute while he tended to his parched throat. Returning to his Lotus position on the ground before her, he raised his finger, pointedly denoting something he felt was of significance, "....And the truth is, even if I did somehow know what you were going to do.... Even if your hand was in the process of surging forward at me, I would not have known what I would have done until I did it. No sooner."

He smirked.

Blivon wasn't sure if the woman was starting to understand him yet, or not, but he was definitely curious whether or not if the gears were churning in her mind. "You see.... The only thing I know, is that I don't know. But that which I speculate, I /do/ actually speculate. Knowing is an illusion, whereas speculation is unavoidable, for the conscious mind." He points his index finger at her, "Does that make any sense to you?"
Aerith Aerith lowered her head for a moment, eyes narrowed and brows furrowed. It was the same with her, really. She had no idea of what would happen until it happened. It was only after the fact that she could see the causes and effects, never before. "Yeah, I get it." She lifted her head and gave him a smile. "Plan all you want, but when it happens, plans go out the window. Right?"
Jourum Blivon smiled at her, with more warmth than before, realizing that some of his sentiments were already sinking in-- this was a smarter cookie than some whom he'd dealt with before, or so it seemed. Aerith had potential, in the shaman's view, but then.... maybe everyone did, if only they were introduced to the right information, at the right time.

"Planning can succeed, or it can fail. But the reality doesn't necessarily match the perception." He puts his hand in front of his eyes, separating his fingers so that he can see partially through them, but not completely, "Currently, my vision is distorted. Your head isn't connected to your torso because I cannot see your neck with my finger in the way. Your thorax is not connected to your pelvis because my finger is blocking your abdomen." The druid pulls his hand away, "But.... now that my vision is no longer clouded by obstructing variables, I see the truth for what it probably is, to the best of my capacity.... but even now...."

He glances towards one of the larger candles, "How much light is in this little alcove? Can I see that insect crawling over there in the corner of the room, that I can obviously hear if I strain to listen?" And true enough, if Aerith had adequate auditory prowess, she'd hear a clicking sound, but without some form of electroreception, or the ability to see in ultraviolet, there was nary a chance she'd be able to visually account for the source from which the sound emanated.
Aerith And indeed, she could hear the clicking of an insect. In fact, more than one. She could even sense what energy they had in them. But she couldn't see them, only sense them and hear them. "Candles aren't known for giving out that much light. So you'd really have to have someone else look at it, or go look yourself."
Jourum Blivon waved his hand mildly, and commented, "So.... What you see may not be what is, therefore, how can you 'know' what is, if you don't know that you know what information you're receiving, and not receiving? All shots in the dark." A little bit of humor, there, since they were in a rather dim-lit cavern.
Aerith Aerith chuckled. "I think I got lost in the words there, but I get the gist of it." She tilted her head to the right again. "So how do you find out what's real and what's not? I mean, if it's all just guessing, then both sides are just poking around until they touch something."
Jourum The shaman raised a brow, quizzically, "That is a good question you have asked me. But, it is a question that would be better asked of yourself, than me, I think." He bows slightly, "That is today's lesson. I am going to enter into silence for a spell, and if you wish to take seriously what I have discussed with you, then I suggest you ponder over your question until we meet again; at our next rendezvous, surely.... we will have more to converse about, and I will have more questions to ask you, until you uncover a query yet again worthy of asking yourself." He smiles, and closes his eyes, still seated, as his breathing slows in just a matter of seconds. Evidently, this is his method to which Aerith agreed.
Aerith Aerith's eyes widened. "Wait, what? You mean that's..." He fell silent, and then ceased to move entirely. Aerith chuckled. "I suppose that IS it. Okay... I'll see if I can't figure it out on my own." With that, she stood, dusted her legs off, and made her way toward the exit. He'd given her a lot to think about and consider.

He was a puzzle. She liked puzzles, and she would enjoy figuring him out. He'd spun her head right around with all that, but at least she muddled her way through it to this point. Now she had homework, which wasn't all that bad... but the question buzzed through her head again and again.

How DID one find out what was real and what wasn't?

This scene contained 30 poses. The players who were present were: Aerith, Jourum