An idyllic scene:
The beautiful woodlands stretch off into the distance in all directions, a small muddy cart-track meandering off towards the rest of civilisation.
A selection of... mostly-human individuals, sitting or crouching by a sparkling stream flanked with a profusion of bluebells, panning the water for something - not gold, something more precious than gold, something more magic...
All of them have some slightly non-human features - prominent green veins, or patches of bark, or vines and flowers growing amongst the hair, or thorns jutting awkwardly through the skin. All of them have at least one prominent tattoo, a variation on the theme of a twining thorned branch; some have many more.
A few children running here and there, not tattooed, fetching and carrying and dancing and playing. Some are a little green-veined, some with scabs of bark from inevitable childhood accidents.
In general, a peaceful and Prosperous place, if a little light on infrastructure and facilities; some wooden structures cling to the forest's edge above the brook, haphazard shelters built with love and energy and not very much in the way of skill and patience.
An idyllic scene:
The three competitors look at each other, then nod and with a cheery, "We'll bring them out here for you," bustle off to acquire separate components of breakfast.
Shortly, there is bread and a little ceramic jar of butter and a blunt butter knife, with warm bacon, on a plate; a pear surrounded by dried apricots on its own plate; and a jug of apple juice. They offer to bring them over to the tent, or just leave them on the table if she doesn't want to be crowded.
DZ will bring them in herself, yes; she thanks all three before doing so.
After another hour or so, Deskyl comes out to stretch and do some katas, attempting to ignore the onlookers while she does.
Onlookers? What onlookers? There are only these burningly curious people who happen to be going about their ordinary day within sight of the tent and sneaking glances when they think they can get away with it, that's all.
Once the katas start there are some more obvious onlookers: some of the older teenagers are trying to follow along.
Once she's run through her whole set she repeats the first kata much more slowly - she could just be focusing on perfecting her form, right, the teenagers don't necessarily have anything to do with it - and then sits at the table for a while.
One of the teenagers shyly approaches. "Uh, hi," she says, "I know you're recovering and stuff, but can you let us know when you're going to do more of those exercises? And, like, if you can tell us anything about them?"
DZ is on her way out of the tent by the time the teenager stops talking: "She can't hear you, ma'am, one moment."
(Sign sign sign sign sign sign sign.)
"She says she doesn't expect to be able to do katas regularly until she's more recovered, but she'll do them after breakfast more often than not. They're practice exercises for the type of swordsmanship she knows, which she isn't going to teach; it's not safe to try to wield a lightsaber without the kinds of powers she has. But most of the skills the exercises teach are also useful in other ways, too, so it's still good to learn them, if you'd like."
"Thank you! We'll be back tomorrow... Maybe once we've seen it a couple of times she can watch us and tell us if we're doing it right?
It's just noone here is doing any kind of military training - almost noone has been in an army at all except Allegra and she just says it was too long ago - and with the Synod declaration and the new army forming up, well..."
She trails off, as if she wants to gauge the mood before continuing. She is a whirlwind of mixed emotions, hope and joy and fear and a fierce pride, with potential embarrassment lurking in wait.
"She can teach you the basics, yes ma'am. And she says that Master Allegra might be able to help you now, too, if what Master Deskyl knows is enough to remind her of what she was taught, if you'd like to invite her to come and watch as well."
"She's not much for mornings, but we'll see!" There is apparently something highly amusing about calling her Master Allegra, but the girl doesn't show this on the surface which is all cheery. "Is there a good time to show her what we picked up this morning? I don't want to presume..."
"Now is fine, ma'am."
The girl excitedly calls the others over. There's half a dozen eager teenagers, a couple of slightly older youths, and one extremely determined eight year old girl. They have a... Wide range of competence.
She'll have them show off what they've picked up one at a time, offering some words and a telekinetic nudge or two to each to explain what they most need to work on. She also shows the ones who need it a couple of more beginner-friendly katas, explaining how the forms in them teach the skills they'll need for the more advanced one. (She started when she was older than most of them, and used the beginner forms when she did, she mentions.)
The first one she touches with telekinesis doesn't really seem to notice, just moves in the way she wants.
The second one springs away from her like a startled cat and lands in a ready to fight or run position with two previously concealed daggers drawn, a survival instinct filled with terror she just set off, although it's already fading into embarrassment with an undertone of apprehension about how she's going to take it.
Nobody else seems especially surprised by this.
She nods approvingly.
"That's a good instinct, ma'am."
"Sorry, she gets jumpy about things," explains one of the other teenagers. The one who reacted puts the daggers away, but the expected embarrassment has been replaced with confusion - that's not a good instinct, right?
As this is playing out, Allegra turns a corner and gets line of sight on the tableau, and her faded emotions spring into a mix of concern and skepticism and worry, although it doesn't show on her physically at all; possibly she picks up the pace a little.
"It's all right. She can explain later, if you'd like, ma'am."
Deskyl glances at Allegra before signing a bit more: "Would you like to take a short break and try again?"
"Sorry, I thought I felt something touch me," the jumpy girl explains. "I'll be alright in a minute."
Allegra makes her way over, attempts a fake smile, and asks, "Getting on alright?" From her emotional tone, she is clearly weighting up whether interrupting whatever is going on more insistently is worth it or not.
"Yes ma'am. They saw Master Deskyl doing some exercises and asked her to teach them, so she is, and she startled Master - I'm sorry, I don't have your name - by accident, just now. She did touch you, she says," the droid directs at the teen, "with her telekinesis, but she can figure out a different way of showing you things in the future if you'd prefer."
"With her what now?" asks one of the teenagers.
"I don't mind if I get some warning," mumbles the jumpy girl, "it was just a surprise, that's all."
Having taken in the scene, Allegra's conflicting emotions head firmly towards resignation. What's happening is happening; making a scene about it will just make it happen more.
"Well, if you're all enjoying yourselves," she says. Someone over at the stream is waving at her to get her attention. "Excuse me, it seems like I need to see to another problem," she concludes, starting to heading off towards them. The tone is very polite but Deskyl can feel a strain of bitterness under it, with a strong implication that the visitors are now a problem.
Deskyl signs to DZ and then turns her attention to the group by the stream while the droid relays her message; whatever's going on over there could be about her crystal collecting last night, and she might want to head over.
"She has telekinesis, yes; it's a Force power - a type of magic, basically - that she can use to touch or move things without physically touching them.
The person by the stream that she's talking to seems quite agitated, a mix of upset over broken routine and worry for her personal future; Allegra is still giving off deepening resignation, now with an undertone of sympathy.
After the initial exchanges, they head off towards one of the outbuildings over behind the main Steading.
The stream does seem to be currently entirely depleted of crystals, although with the potential for more to grow intact.
Yeah, she should go deal with that. She sighs and signs a few words to DZ before heading in that direction.
"I'm sorry, everyone, Master Deskyl will be back in a few minutes." The droid hurries after her.
The outbuilding is basically just a small square building with shelves; it's within view of anyone who might be guarding the road entrance and a couple of people are sat nearby with small craft projects and spears in grabbing range.
Allegra and the person from the stream are inside the building by the time Deskyl and DZ get there. The nearby people with spears look up and make it clear they've seen the new arrivals, but don't immediately leap up or try to do anything about it, although they maintain a heightened sense of alertness (with an undertone of worry about whether they could do anything useful if they needed to).
The person from the stream is showing Allegra last night's crystal collection with some incredulity (and an undertone of outrage and fear). "Just, look at it!"
Deskyl stops just outside the doorway - it would be cramped at best with all four of them inside - and waits to see how this is going to play out.
"There's more in there than we pull out in a season!" continues the upset person.
"I mean," says Allegra, somewhat uncertain, "good? I don't think we can damage the site by extracting too much from it? It might be a few days before it's worth looking for any more, if you wanted to let people know to take the time off."
"If this carries on... Do we have... I mean, I'm sure _I_ can find something else useful to do..."
"I don't think she's going to be around forever," replies Allegra, who has clearly noticed Deskyl approaching but is deliberately not calling attention to this while the other woman hasn't, "and if it does become a problem, we can start up the charm forge again - maybe with a different pattern - or get supplies for better quality walls that will need mixing, or establish a herb garden, or... all kinds of things."
The woman seems a little mollified, or at least has realised she is making a bit of a scene and isn't going to get what she wants this way.
"But what should everyone do today?" she tries.
"Let's put these back away and go ask them?" suggests Allegra.