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Darshan and a group of like aged teens were sent to a “master” to learn a refinement of combat. He describes in detail the journey, and how frustrating it was. Time and again they became lost, could not decipher the map. A three day journey took 14 weeks.

They finally arrived at the cavern of the “combat master”. There resided an ancient dwarven grandmother, and her three daughters and six granddaughters. The group was outraged. “Where is the great combat master?” they demanded. They screamed and ranted and raved, while the grandmother sat patiently with her small family, talking and ignoring them. “We lost a member of the team to a fall off a narrow path, we starved, nearly died of thirst.” They were hurt, covered with cuts and contusions from falling, and later from fighting each other at first for leadership, then for food and water. Their armor and clothing were in tatters, their weapons, dull, dented, rusted, and their spirits beaten down. The women gave them food, water and supplies with which to patch themselves up. Eventually, the group went to sleep.

Sometime later, they awoke to the women singing a dwarven lullaby. At first they did not pay attention, they started raging against the women again. Finally, one of the females in our group stopped, got a curious look on her face, and started laughing. She laughed so hard, she fell over. “We thought she had gone mad…all the while, the women sang this incessant child’s song. We accused them of poisoning the food, charming us in some way.” Finally, the laughing female said, “Listen to the lullaby”. “We were sure she had gone insane, its just a lullaby mothers sing to their babies. And slowly it dawned on us. I was the last it dawned on, as I was the most confident, hard headed, kick ass and take names type.” The lulalby is about being patient, all things will come to you little one. Be patient, listen to your elders, and the world will be laid out before you.

“And we hadn’t…listened…at…all. The map and letter had instructions on what to take with us on the trip, we didn’t pay attention, because we didn’t need a month’s worth of rations for a 3 day trip. We didn’t follow the map, because we came to a tight fit for us, forcing us to crawl, according to the map, for 6 hours. So we took the path that ran parallel to it, and became lost. Then, instead of retracing our steps, I counseled to forge ahead.”

At that time, the ancient grandmother and her family revealed their true selves, the Ten Maidens of Battle. The “grandmother” told us we were useless if we could not follow a map, follow orders. We could be eliminated by the elves without them taking up a sword, just by letting us be stupid. We countered with threats, “Try our mettle old women. We do our talking with our weapons and aggressiveness.” The maidens then took out short pieces of rope and started fighting us with just rope as weapons. The maidens worked as a team, letting us charge, screaming curses, while they patiently let us wear ourselves out, then whipped us with the ropes, disarming us and beating us down. The Maidens made short work of us. We were humiliated, strong young dwarves, who knew better than their elders, crushed by unarmored old women with pieces of ROPE! They sent us on our way, and said, “Come back when you have discipline. We have retrieved the body of your fallen comrade. Carry him back and explain to his parents why he died. Leave us.”

“I took the burden upon myself to carry the body, as my arrogance caused this. I KNEW BETTER than the old goats that taught us. I was wrong. I met with his parents when we arrived back in three days (we followed the map) and took the blame. I begged forgiveness. They forgave me, as they had both done the same the first time they went to the “combat master”. And they lost half of their group. Patience and discipline are the keys to survival in combat, nay in the world.”

Unfortunately, as the wounds caused by the ropes healed, my arrogance returned. It was 20 years before I took these lessons of discipline and patience to heart. Soon I was back to my old, headstrong ways.


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