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[Training] Visualization Practice Thread
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#VPT110 – Valley of Life

Feedback Notes:
All previous notes have been incorporated to the best of my ability.

I recommend you do these in order, so go back and start from the beginning if you haven’t followed along.

Relax, find a quiet space, get comfortable and don't forget to read the first post of this thread for instructions. Remember to be mindful of what your partner is doing. I think this one has a kinda shorter feel, so take your time. It starts in the mid-morning, you feel well fed and rested. You find yourself staring at a trail marker with only one direction indicated: “Valley of Life -->”.

Your mind is still swimming from the last few hours, you have an odd sense that you knew how to fly, which is preposterous of course since you’re wearing hiking gear and you’re not about to sprout wings under your packs; so walking it is.

Honestly, at this point you would probably want to go home and you’re happy that Johanna’s letter said as much.  You crest the hill at the back of the castle and the valley opens below you. It’s lush and green, with meadows dotted among the thick forest. The glint of ponds and a small stream meanders at its root. The sky is bright and the sun is warm and you feel energized to keep moving. So you turn to your partner and smile.

What does your partner do in response? Take a good look at the valley, see the trees and rocks, the shape of the mountains as they root in that valley. Do you see anything unusual? What do you hear? What do you smell? Look down at your path, what is the condition?

“Hey!” you hear behind you. A not so unfamiliar voice. “you can’t go home now, there’s more to see!”

You turn to see a catgirl, standing at the base of a tree with deep red hair and a devilishly whipping tail. Her impish grin doesn’t give you the warmest feeling. She’s poised and ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. It’s Ren, of course.

What do you say to her? What does your partner say?

Whatever it is you said, she was seemingly tickled by it and offers a choice, “You can follow the Valley of Life, but you’re not getting home that way anyway. Of course you can’t go back either, the trail is washed out unless you like climbing through dense trees.” You get the sense it doesn’t bother her.

You ask what her proposal is and she smiles in kind, “Well, at the end of the valley is the coast, but you’ll then have to walk along the coast for days before you make it back to town and that’s only possible on very low tide, and only if you can avoid the wolves, so it’ll take twice as long. Follow me to the temple instead, it’s way quicker.” With that she zips off up a lesser used trail seemingly further up the valley instead of down. In a moment she’s off with an enviable speed and determination. Before you can even make chase, she’s completely out of sight.

What are your thoughts? What does your partner want to do?

Ultimately you decide to follow up the less beaten path, perhaps just for today, and only if the trail holds out. However, the moment you step onto that path, you swear you hear giggling, but the source is indeterminable. You yell out, but no one responds.

The walk is slow but steady. The trail is old but passable. You find wolf, rabbit, and raccoon tracks, but then as you go, patches of soft sand have small human footprints. You suspect Ren immediately and continue on, perhaps even ready to have more words with her if you should find her again.

Take a moment to rest, look around, feel the air that rushes through the path, look up through open canopy and note the slight sway of the trees, set to rocking by some unseen breeze. See something, say something, hear something, feel something.

You continue and there’s a light sweet scent on the breeze, it’s like strawberry blossoms and cinnamon with a slightly meaty note. It’s quite divine actually, and it gives you a warm sense of comfort. As you walk, you hear the occasional rustle, a twig snap, or the shaking of leaves. You never see anything but you suspect you’re being tracked. In fact, the hubris of this unseen tracker is evident, to give away such cues would almost make you think they mean to let you know you’re being tracked.

You hear a sound up ahead, like the misstep of a certain catgirl that may have lost her grip on a tree. There’s a small “yip” and a thump. You’re certain it’s just a few meters off the trail so you rush to it. If nothing else but to give aid.

You see the flattened moss below a rather large tree, evidence that something had indeed landed here, but there’s no other traces.

Look around, see something, smell something, hear something.

The creaking of wood catches your attention and when you turn to go back to the trail, you’re stumped. Though you only traveled a dozen meters at most, the way you thought you came is completely blocked by trees and bushes. In fact, the only way forward is seemingly away from the trail and further up the slope of the mountain again.

There’s a twig snap. Unsure of any other option you chase the sound, then another, and the rustling of bushes. You’re determined to find that catgirl if it’s the last thing you do. The scent is unmistakable, that same strawberry scent, and that alone might compel you to follow. Suddenly you hear bushes rattling, only, it’s in two directions simultaneously. You stop and suddenly the forest is dead quiet. Neither the chirping of birds sing, nor the canopy sway, even the wind is conspiring to this absolute quiet.

A giggle, an unmistakable giggle, then a shush. You’re absolutely sure, if you’re sure of anything anymore, someone giggled and someone shushed the giggler.

What do you do now?

Honestly, what can you do? You’re hopelessly lost and surrounded in this cat and mouse game. It becomes painfully clear that you’re at the mercy of some unseen gigglers.

There’s a huff, like the exasperated sigh of a deer, or the short sneeze of a small dog. You and your partner turn and behold someone there. Not Ren, but close, she’s small, she’s not fully human, and her little raccoon ears perk at your sudden stare. It’s a raccoon girl, covered by no more than her long fine hair and some strategically placed moss. She’s staring at you just as you stare at her.

Then there’s another huff to break the silence. You glance to your left, and to your right, little raccoon ears and wide-eyed scantily-clad wild girls are surrounding you.

For a few moments, you’re caught in this cute stalemate amidst an almost overpowering, yet heavenly, scent of strawberry blossoms, cinnamon, and meat. You hear wood creaking behind you. As you turn, you notice a path has opened up with a clear straight view up the mountain to a clearing.

You turn back to find the little faces have all disappeared again, and no passable way out but one, that convenient path up the mountain.

So what choice do you have really?

Did you ever really have a choice? Did it seem like this wonderland was toying with you the whole time, forcing you to make one-sided decisions?

The moment you step toward that path, you could swear you heard giggling again, but the swaying of the canopy and a sudden fresh breeze down your path has conspired to prevent you from being sure.

The path is oddly free from weeds and underbrush; it’s pristine packed soil and rock. As you continue up, the random rocks seem to be well placed, further up they’re almost shaped in an unnatural way into steps of a sort, making the path that much more easily traveled. You aren’t sure when the transition occurred, but the next time you glance down at the path it’s most certainly mossy carved stone. Ancient steps to some unknown mountain retreat.

See something, examine the rocks and steps, hear something, did the twig snaps and leaf rustling continue? Are you still being followed?

As you reach the clearing, the path turns up along the ridge and continues on to what seems to be a stone structure.

You reach a natural clearing and there’s a small mountain spring. The water runs clear from the aquifer and a small stone bridge covers the stream which cascades to a small waterfall back down through the thick forest to the valley below. Surrounding this spring are glyphs and pictographs in seven cut rectangular panes on the smooth cut walls that seem to have been naturally formed by runoff from rains.

Irresistibly you’re drawn to the ancient writings. Your partner and you do your best to decipher the stylized pictures.

Trees… raccoon people… lightning… doorway… fear, torture or warning… return or head back… and the last one is undecipherable. The best you can tell it is two spheres, one about a quarter the size of the other, and a star shape with a reticule on the smaller sphere.

It’s enough to make you reconsider your options, especially the pane with the torture-like scene. 

You rest and your eyes drift to the valley, a small stream flows down its center, following that to its end, maybe 20 kilometers in the distance, you see the glint of open ocean on the horizon. Looking down the wooded sides of the valley, the path would be as simple as trekking downhill until you met up with the stream, but with the locals here pressuring you to go ever higher, you doubt that’s much of an option.

Looking up the path, a partially obscured, immense, grey stone structure looms.

1. Realness %0 being nothing, 100% being perfect reality.
2. What did you say to Ren?
3. Did you see anything unusual?
4. Was there any sense of adventure left to go on the less beaten path?
5. Was there any sense that you weren't just following Ren?
6. What did you think of the raccoon girls?
7. What did you think you were going to do when you realized there was more than just one person tracking you?
8. What do you suspect this looming structure is?
9. Were you surprised by anything?
10. Try to remember something fun about this exercise?
11. What did you feel in this one, anything particularly memorable?
12. How good are the memories of this one?

(0% what memories? To 100% you mean that wasn't real?)

Ideally, you would now take a few moments to jot down what you remember of your adventure. I'd love to read that! If you share, make sure it's hidden.

You don’t need to answer any of the questions on paper, it’s not a test, just answer them to yourself, but feel free to answer any of them in hidden form in the comments or PM me, I’d be happy to review them. Also, PM me with corrections or suggestions for improvement.

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