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So it begins

Posted on Mon Jan 4th, 2021 @ 1:41am by Captain Rhenora Kaylen

Mission: Healing of Minds
Location: Bajor

The Brotherhood was nestled deep within the hillside. Simple buildings of stone with thatched roofs emphasised the simple way of life. A simple bell stood in the centre of a small courtyard, a worn rope of a hemplike fibre hanging along one of the support posts.

Her room much like everything in this place was simple. A basic bed that proved uncomfortable to even look at, a small desk with sacred texts in a bound volume upon its worn surface, and a small shrine against the back wall. A simple tunic in the colours of the earth lay neatly on the bed. There was no footwear present. Separated from Remal it was disconcerting when a female member of the order entered with a knock.

"It is time for the cleansing to begin. Please, follow me" she stepped forward,picking up the tunic and headed back out the door, indicating Rhenora to follow her. A communal bathroom was nestled behind the dormitories, open to the elements and yet private with high stone walls and a thatched roof.

"Please, disrobe and shower" the woman who still remained nameless instructed, showing no intention of leaving. "Vanity is not one with the Prophets, you must move beyond such illusions." She did however turn her back, allowing a modicum of privacy.

Unable to even sigh in humiliation Kaylen did as she was instructed, removing her uniform and placing it in a neat pile along with her boots and communicator out of the way. The water was cold, a deliberate move undoubtedly. Warm water would be considered a luxury. She showered as quickly as she could, her blonde hair cascading over her shoulders as she scrubbed it with the rudimentary soap. Once finished the un-named attendant offered a towel and then the tunic. A practical and yet almost completely androgenous. A woven cord cinched it in the middle, the only thing that would emphasise her womanly shape. She regarded the long strands of blonde and silver hair as it hung limply around her shoulders. When had it gotten so grey? Had she completely lost track of the years or just not noticed the little things?
No footwear was offered and so her feet, unaccustomed to not having shoes or boots padded silently towards the door.

"Prayers begin in 5 minutes, follow me" the woman turned and headed along a pebbled path towards a large building. As they walked the bell rang three times, drawing all from their duties to gather in prayer. Rhenora grimaced as her feet protested against the uneven pebbles. They were not by any means sharp, but feet softened by years of boots were unaccustomed to such a feeling. As a youngster shoes were a luxury rarely afforded, she spent the majority of those years barefoot. When had she grown so soft?

Once inside the Brotherhood were knelt on simple mats, eyes closed as traditional verses were sung in measured voices. Sermons and verses followed and Rhenora tried hard to remain focused and not let her mind wander. Unused to this lifestyle she struggled. After verses a prolonged meditation occured. The position caused her legs to cramp from the lack of movement, however she internalised the torment, focusing instead of her breathing and calming her protesting muscles.

After an eternity the bell was rung once more, signalling the end of prayers. Silently the Brotherhood rose from their mats, placed them in a neat pile along the side wall and filed out of the building towards their next tasks. Some went to the kitchens to start preparation for the next meal, some to cleaning duties, and the rest to the fields. Rhenora was grateful to be back on her feet, her calves reminding her that tomorrow was going to be painful.

"You have been assigned Kata and breath training, then field work before evening prayer" the still unnamed woman instructed.

"Kata?" Rhenora echoed, raising an eyebrow. She had no idea what that meant.

"The joining of Pagh, body and breath"

Kaylen nodded, willing to undertake whatever was necessary.

The next two hours comprised of slow moving martial arts stances that flowed with the breath. Her legs burned from the exhibition and her shoulders promised the coming day to be a painful one. Lactic acid burned.

"Inhale rise and extend, exhale lower and fold, inhale rise and extend, exhale lower into the legs" the sequence was repeated for what felt like forever.

By the end her legs were shaking, perspiration dripped from her brow, dampening her scalp and hair.

"Now we tend the fields until evening prayers" the woman announced, allowing Rhenora a breather if only for a moment. They descended the stone stairs and walked towards the working fields. From the look of it they were preparing for planting. The rows were ploughed by hand, tilled with a selection of ancient hand tools that looked like they had been around for centuries. She looked around for Remal but couldn't pick him in the dozen or so that were in the fields. Perhaps he had been given a different assignment. Her heart pinged for a few moments and despite those around her she felt very alone. He was her rock, her strength, her breath. She wasn't sure she could do this without him.

Time seemed to drag endlessly by. She was exhausted from the physical activity and lack of sustenance. Another method of conditioning she was sure. Hard labour and lack of food seemed to strip any notion of seniority or authority from a person very quickly. Her stomach ached and growled, her hands became blistered and her mind wished for it all to be over. It was necessary she knew but it didn't make it any easier. She missed Remal's quiet confidence and his wise counsel. She missed the Liberty and Savar, Anna and Aurora.

After what seemed like an eternity the bell rang once more, tired beyond measure Rhenora followed the others from the field, still looking for Remal amongst the tunic clad Brotherhood. Tools were carefully placed in a storage shed and hands were washed in a large basin with soap. The Brotherhood filed into the showers, rinsing the dirt from their bodies and dressing in clean tunics for evening meal and prayers. Rhenora followed suit, rinsing the sweat from her hair and scrubbing the dirt from her feet. Every fibre of her being ached to the point she was almost brought to tears. Subconsciously she knew exactly what was going on - one had to be completely broken down and hit rock bottom before one could be rebuilt according to whatever image was desired. Consciously it sucked big time.

After showering the evening meal was served, a simple affair of produce from the fields. A large cauldron sat at the head of the dining room, steaming away as it simmered over a ring of flame. On a table next to it sat numerous small metal bowls and a large basket of freshly baked bread pieces. She lined up with the rest of them, eyes half lidded in her tiredness. She must have been a sight. The soup was ladled and the bread placed on a small plate. Wordlessly the Brotherhood consumed their meal and returned the bowls and plates for cleaning. Evening prayers were held afterwards followed by another period of meditation and contemplation. Rhenora could barely keep her mind awake and focused as it longed for sleep after finally eating a meal. Some time later the Brotherhood once again packed up their mats and headed back to the dorms for contemplation and sleep. Feeling more alone that ever she followed silently back to her room, missing Remal more than than she thought possible. Was he getting the same program and treatment as she had been, or had they discerned his needs as different and thus being treated accordingly?

The sacred texts were left untouched as she dragged herself over to the bed - a simple affair of woven fibres to form a rudimentary mattress. a single woollen type blanket sat at the foot for warmth. She laid down, eyes closing the instant her body was no longer vertical. Silently she cried herself to sleep.


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