Warriors and Champions10

Hide and Seek Part Two

I knew that Rayner would not make it easy for me to ‘escape’ but I also knew that he would not make it impossible. The past week I had not only learned how to track but by observing Rayner I learned how to avoid detection. He had a plan all along and knew exactly where he was going and what he was going to do. And I would follow suit.

Night had fallen and I went to the stream to fill up my canteen. Rayner seemed like he was asleep but I knew better. He was just letting me know to leave. While filling my canteen I thought about where I was and where I wanted to go. I would not let Rayner have an easy time following me.

I plotted a speed course that would lead me towards several points of interest but I would not go to any of them. There was a cave I found by accident playing my campaign and I would first go there and wait.

I walked away from Rayner until I had walked about a mile southeast then I ran. I made sure to cover my trail but didn’t spend too much time on it. I wasn’t trying to hide myself but rather I was leading Rayner astray. He had taught me how to track which included thinking like the other person. He knew the regular me but when I was in my gaming zone I was a different person.

I switched back several times before I took a break. I had to make sure that I kept my strength for I had to keep Rayner from finding me for a week. And deep down I knew that it would be a long week. It would take every ounce of strength and determination I had to win this challenge.

The first night I slept for six hours and then I was up and running towards my first goal. However, I made sure to make several mistakes covering trail to hopefully force Rayner to think I was making mistakes. He had to believe that I was not doing a good job and he would soon see that I could be traveling to several different places. If I succeeded in making him pause to think on where I was going I could gain some much needed ground.

I knew that he could easily outrun me so I needed to beat him in another way. By the close of the second day I made it seem like I could go to five different locations however, I was going to none. That night I only slept for five hours and I was up and going again. But this time I made sure to give it my all to hide my trail. I stayed away from grassy areas and stayed on hard ground as much as possible.

I also tried to keep my full weight off the ground. I also found the set of trees that would help me conceal my path. I climbed the first tree being careful not to make marks of passage on the tree. I then used the branches as monkey bars on a playground traveling in the air. I finally made it to the last tree and climbed down into the river that would conceal my steps.

As the third night approached I knew that I was close to the cave. The four hours I slept was filled with dreams of me being chased and no matter what I did I was not gaining any ground. My pursuer was always just behind me always ready to catch me when I made a mistake. And when I awoke I ditched my plan of going to the cave.

I needed to change my plan of throwing Rayner off my scent. This would be even more challenging then when I received Talon’s bow in my game. That quest was child’s play compared to my current task. I had to think of a new game plan quickly for I knew that Rayner was not far behind me.

A crazy plan came to my mind suddenly but if it worked it could really give me more time. Either that or it would mean the end of my life. As I ran to the spot I rehearsed what I would do. There was a ravine that cut through the forest and a giant tree grew at the edge of the ravine. I planned to climb the tree and tie a rope to an arrow and shoot it across the ravine into another tree and swing across.

As I climbed the tree I knew that I was being stupid but need to get away was forcing all rational and sane thoughts from my head. I tied the rope around the arrow and found my target and within my Vision I knew that it was secured. I grabbed the rope on my side and I jumped from the tree.

As I felt myself swinging across the ravine I was really aware of how much of an idiot and fool I was. Nevertheless I made it across retrieved my arrow and found a place to camp for the night. I only slept for two hours and was up again. I made my way further south before I promptly turned west.

I spent very little time in this part of the forest but I remembered there being a small footbridge that was almost forgotten by time itself making safe passage back over the ravine. My body was very tired from the abuse it received but I still had a few more days until I could hopefully rest back up. I also wondered if I was not walking right into Rayner. I had no idea if he knew about the path or not. But I hoped that he would wonder if I really did cross the ravine from the tree.

Rayner would probably be able to jump from the tree and catch the other side of the ravine and climb up onto the other side but I wondered if he would think me that mad to cross the ravine. I was just hoping that it would give me some extra ground and time. In the back of my mind I knew that he was not being fooled by my trickery but it seemed like I was really forcing him to use most of his skills to find me.

I soon found the bridge and in real life looked even more risky and dangerous. It was severely cracked and weather worn. It was mostly covered in moss and covered by the forest floor. As I crossed it I wondered how many years had passed since its construction. I wondered who built it and why and where did they go. I soon made it to the other side and I froze. My Battle Vision told me that I had made a mistake and Rayner had not taken the bait.

I cursed myself for a fool. I knew it was a huge gamble to put myself into a corner. Then another idea came to my mind. I quickly went back to the bridge and lowered myself below it. As I hung there on the edge of space I heard Rayner walking towards me. I heard his steps getting louder and felt my arms getting tired.

He suddenly stopped right in front of the bridge. We were merely feet apart but from his side of the ravine the bridge was virtually hidden. I had no idea if he knew about the bridge or not but I knew that at the moment he did not know I was there.

I was beginning to understand that he did not know about the bridge’s existence but was trying to find a spot where the ravine gap was close enough for someone to merely jump it. There was one such spot but that was nearly a mile further west. I could feel sweat forming on my brow from exerting my strength to hang from the bridge. Suddenly Rayner took off and I gave him another minute or two before I climbed back onto the bridge and stepped onto the other side.

I laid down and rested for awhile and rested my arms. I grabbed some venison from my pouch and drank some water. Even though it was warm the water tasted good. I started towards a small stream when my foot sunk into the ground. After I managed to grab my boot that was still in the ground a thought came into my head. I dug into the ground and water started to seep up.

I found part of an underground seep and I dug the hole deeper and wider. I let it fill up and drank from it until it was empty. After it filled back up again I filled my canteen and took a small nap. I woke up and filled the hole up again and started on my way again. I was glad that I found the small seep since the only other water source close by was a very small stream that was in the open and Rayner would surely be there waiting for me.

I then knew where I was going to go. I traveled a short distance and slept for two hours and made my way again. This time I would not play any tricks but would use everything I was taught and would not show the way I was going. I turned my path north and once I found the outcropping of rocks I wanted I backtracked a bit. I went back several hundred yards and started hiding my trail up north.

I used braches to erase my footprints and grabbed dirt and pine needles to cover the spot. I slowly let the dirt and needles sift through my fingers letting the wind lay them down wherever they did. I did this for several yards and then ran back to the rocks and turned west. I knew that whatever extra time I had against Rayner was pretty much gone by spending so much time on disappearing myself but I knew cheap tricks would not work against him. I needed to use all of my cunning I had.

Night was soon approaching but I did not sleep but rather I toiled onward through the night and almost reached my destination. I stopped to eat and rest my body. I did not sleep even though my body was almost forcing me to sleep. I knew that if I stayed where I was I would fall asleep. I got up and turned east suddenly.

I stayed east for a mile then turned south for another two miles. Then I went northwest until I reached my destination. As the sun rose I saw the spot I wanted to be at when Rayner caught up with me. I sat down and waited for Rayner to find me.

I started to feel funny and wondered if Will felt like this during his race. I was really feeling the effects of sleep deprivation and wondered if I would soon start seeing shadow people. I didn’t have to wait long until the hallucinations started. I sought the serenity of the Vision but I could not enter it. No matter how hard I tried Battle Vision escaped my grasp.

After many attempts I found it and soon the shadow people disappeared. Within the Vision everything was clear and everything was serene. I felt like I was floating with no body no sense of direction or time of day. However I could sense everything around me and within the hour I sensed Rayner approaching. I left the Vision and got up. I had beaten the challenge and passed my training.

“You have surpassed my expectation of you Ray. You really gave it your all and even pushed me harder than I thought I would have to. There were a few times I lost your trail completely though. Like the ravine that one took me the better part of a day to find out what you did. I did not expect you to be that reckless not even I would have thought about that unless I had no choice. Although I really thought last night I had you. It took me time to find your trail after you wiped it clean.

“You really spent a lot of time cleaning it up and you made me take a lot of time trying to figure out which direction you took. But when I found your trail I wondered at where you would go. I knew you would not go to Norshire but there were still two other spots for you to go. Had I not slept I would have found you earlier but I thought you would at least sleep for a few hours like you had previously done so. I did not count on you not sleeping at all. And that is the only reason why I did not catch you.”

As I listened to Rayner I knew that not only I had beaten the challenge but I had acquired new skills and implemented them as well. I steadied my tired body, “I only followed the advice that was given in a movie about a dogsled racer winning a cross country dogsled race. But I don’t want to have to do that again if I can help it.”

“Come Ray let us go to Norshire.” As we traveled to Norshire I swelled with pride and joy in knowing that I was becoming the champion that Norshire needed me to be.

© 2014 RichardBBenson

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