Training report “Maria Lagidis “

Day 12

Instructor: Andros Lagidis

Summary: Maria is making good progress. More than I hoped, and more than I feared. If she continues, her education will soon enter its next phase. Most basic patterns are now recognized and immediately met with appropriate responses.

Report: I arrived to see Maria lie on the black table in the middle of the dank temple. A quick look over the darkly gleaming walls only dimly lit by oil lamps confirmed that nothing had changed since my last visit an hour ago. It would have been an odd sight to the unititiated. Just a singular round room hewn from some forgotten black stone, a small shower cell in one corner, and in the middle a little girl, clad head to toe in flowing ceremonial whites with red stripes around the bared ankles, wrists and neck.

My little girl. Once again I asked myself whether I had any right to make her do this. But then, she had asked me to. Begged, almost. During the first three days, I asked her every “morning” whether she wanted to go on, and every time I was met with an increasingly tired yet determined nod, her lips pressed together fiercely, her eyes begging me to give her this chance.

As I stepped closer, I saw the corners of her eyes twitching a bit. Had she noticed me? She quickly fell still however, eyes closed, hands folded over her chest, breath even and controlled.

“Flowers of the raven rise gently above the tides”. At my words, her eyes immediately shot open, far away and dreamy but still unmistakably herself.

“Maria?” I tried to make my voice as gentle as possible, and she nodded.

“Yes, Pa?” Calm. Distant. Focused. She had learned well, mind just deep enough without losing herself.

“Maria, weak points single mugger, non-lethal take-down”.

“Distraction tactics. Motivate victim into action, thus turning liabilities into assets, prioritise disarming. Use fear. Get heard”. Quick, precise, flawless. As expected. As feared.

Out of one question became twenty. Then a hundred. Then two-hundred. Hour by hour went by, my own focus wavering while she kept on responding with the assured regularity of the sunrise. The entire time, she just looked at me , eyes rarely blinking as one by one answer met question, time losing meaning in the isolation of the onyx temple.

At last, it became time for a break, and I put away the deck of card depicting rough outlines of hostage situations I had been showing her for a few seconds each, each one met with exactly the right response. It was time to bring her back.

“Flowing curtains part before the sea breeze”. A shiver, her eyelids fluttering closed before opening again, her gaze still focused but much livelier.

“Hello, Papa!!” She tried getting up and I gave her a hand, helping her sit up at the edge of the black polished stone slab.

“Did I do well?! I did, didn’t I?” That sincere, eager view made my heart ache every time.

“You did. Are you sure you want to still go on? I won’t be mad or dissappointed if you stop”. That earned me a hurt -deeply hurt- stare, and I tried not to laugh and cry from it at once.

“Papa, you don’t think I can’t handle it, do you?” Her earnest indignation was what hit me the most, I think. No, I didn’t think that. If anything, it was the opposite I was afraid of. How much of herself would remain after we were done?

“No, precious, I’m just saying you are free to choose”. Not quite what I had wanted to say, but it would have to do.

“Then we can go on?!” I nooded, before going to one corner of the room to fetch another bowl of the bitter water only found here.

“It still tastes bad”. To that I could only nod. Whatever gave the liquid its special properties also made it taste like the most bitter substance in the world.

“As I said, you can stop any time you want”.

“I won’t!!”

She takes the bowl and drinks deeply, sputtering and coughing, but forcing it down anyway.

“Will you come back, Papa?” She lies down again, eyes closing.

“You know I will be”.

“Then I will wait for you”. Her lips move slowly as she recounts the rite that will put her mind back into that strange state where it worked so eerily different from her normal self. Silently, I stole myself outside, closing and locking the doors of the sanctum behind me.

She would be fine.

Ending statements: I think my pride might slowly outweigh my guilt. She is doing really well and seems to have fun. What else can a father want?

PS: I’m quite impressed with myself. Doing that fancy “report style” thing better every day. You’re really shaping up to be a true intellectual, me. Really moving up in the world, don’t you think?

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