Welcome To Open Hand Bootcamp
— Elstrog Vorman, Master of First Year Recruits, on the first day of basic training. She gives this speech verbatim every year, with identical pace and inflection. Vorman is a tall, lithe, but muscular ishiri with blood-red streaks of ruby running along her whole body like hundreds of old battle scars. Though she is not a Channel, she is respected by comrades and feared by foes for her skill in battle and her unwavering commitment to her missions.
Salutations, recruits! Welcome to the first day of the rest of your lives. Up to this day you may have thought your life had meaning, purpose, or direction. Or perhaps you have wandered through life aimlessly only to find yourself here. However you got here, whatever convictions you entered with, they are all insignificant. From this point forward you pledge your life to a greater purpose.
When it comes down to it the Open Hand are protectors. We are renowned for our unyielding commitment to our clients who pay a hefty fee to get the best. We are bodyguards for royalty, we are escorts for priceless treasures, we are guides on dangerous expeditions, we are the impenetrable wall around the village against which hordes of Scarecrows shatter, and we are the last one standing when the enemy finally overwhelms the keep, giving our clients enough time to escape.
Over the next 6 weeks we will train your mind, body, and soul. At the end of this time, you will become an Initiate. While a large part of this training will be focused on your physical fitness, strength alone will not keep you alive. We will send you on missions where your survival will depend also on your wit, social skills, historical knowledge, and force of will. There may come a time when the mission’s success will require you to throw caution to the wind, put your life on the line, and hope for the best. I can count the number of times that I have been willing to make that sacrifice by counting the lines that cover my body. I would not give up a single line. Yes, there will be glory; there will be rewards; there will be times of of great joy and prosperity; but this all comes second to your commitment to the cause.
Why listen to me? Because I am one voice, but I speak on behalf of many. I speak for Isthar Kassir, the first Master of the Open Hand. Isthar died a proud crawn, surrounded by 100 dead foes — but the family he was charged to protect remained unharmed. He was succeeded by Tralwai the Green, a kamari woman with bright green foliage. When she laughed and her leaves shook all would smile and forget war, but her battle cry would make the fiercest foe flee in fear. She died old and content, in the great woods of the West, with a flawless record of service.
Since then, thousands have joined the cause, and now here you stand, the next to join the ranks. Again I say: however you got here, whatever convictions you entered with, they are insignificant. From this point forward you pledge your life to a greater purpose, and I tell you from my own experience, it is worth every mark that scores my skin a thousandfold.