Warrior and Champions9
Hide and Seek Part One
With dawn just barely touching the sky we were already ten miles from the camp I was left for the past week. We stopped and I was allowed to rest a bit. “Alright Ray today I am going to teach you some more tracking skills. I taught you a little bit about tracking when I taught you how to hunt. But tracking humans is different than animals. But the basics still apply.
“When tracking you must learn to look all around you for any clues. Such as a boot scuff on a rock, material caught on a tree or bush. All things will tell you what they know if you know how to observe. If the vegetation is pointing one direction like someone cut through it is pointing where they went.
“However humans are trickier than animals because they can erase their tracks and do all they can to make you lose their trail. However, if you can get inside their head and think as they do you will find them. The key to tracking is observance if you observe you will find your quarry.
“The same thing is true when you are trying to lose someone that is tracking you. Tracking goes both ways you can learn how to hide and track by doing the same things. And for the next week I am going to show some tricks and about tracking and hiding your own trail. At the end of the week you will have another week to find me. At the end of the week you will have a week to track me and test your skills against me.”
I knew that this would be one of the hardest things for me to learn but I had to do it. I could sense something changing inside me. By being forced to sink or swim per se my self-doubts were slowly dissolving. I couldn’t get myself to face my doubt about killing but everything else was disappearing. I felt a stronger desire to learn and new sense of courage. It was as if I was becoming my character slowly learning everything he knew and a sense of purpose.
The teaching was very grueling and tiresome my eyes just wanted to close for a long time but I forced them to stay open and forced my mind to focus. Most of what I was being taught was observing my surroundings. I had read a few westerns that talked about how an expert tracker could just by looking at a battlefield could tell exactly what happened there and the side that had won. And being taught by Rayner I knew that there was truth to what I had read although I was no expert.
Each day we woke up early and didn’t camp until the sun was down. Almost every waking minute was spent teaching me how to track and not be seen by others. The days past quickly and it tomorrow would be the day that I would be tested at how well I could remain hidden and undetected. “That is enough training Ray. You should rest up for tomorrow since that will truly test your body and mind. But remember that during a war sleeping and eating will be rare so make sure that you eat and sleep when you can. You must make sure that you know your limit when it comes to fatigue and you must surpass it. Your enemy will not take pity and allow you to rest but he will always press his advantage and once he senses a weakness he will prey upon and attack it. When you awaken tomorrow I will not be in camp so every second that you waste staying in one place gives me more time to run.”
Morning came quickly and I was up even earlier than normal during my training but Rayner was already gone. I guessed that he left as soon as I was asleep. I thought that he would have left a sign that would be easy to spot in the direction he left. I was wrong and knew that he wouldn’t be so easy on me. He would push me to my limits and go beyond them. I could feel frustration swelling within me but I pushed it back down and focused on the task at hand.
I knew that Rayner would not slow down nor would he wait for me to catch up. Time was against me and I would have to quicken my pace if I wanted to succeed in tracking him down. There were no trees that he could climb and make his escape so I knew that he had to travel on the ground. Just as dawn was breaking I found a small indentation where he stepped in some drying mud.
Rayner took to a game trail and spent some time at a small stream. I saw where he had laid down to rest a bit. It looked like he had been gone for several hours by the time I had arrived. I took a drink and filled my canteen and picked his trail up again.
On the second day I was still no closer to my quarry. It seemed like no matter how fast I followed I could never catch up. The anger and frustration was almost too much. I wanted to scream out but didn’t dare do it. I knew that if I did the sound would travel far so I kept it all in which was a mistake.
Mistake after mistake I got more frustrated. I kept making mistakes until I just sat down and inwardly screamed and screamed. For a half hour I just sat there recollecting my thoughts and regaining composure. I finally got up and knew that he was now hours and hours ahead of me but I kept my cool and finally found which direction he had turned.
By the close of day I had regained the lost ground I had created but was still no closer to Rayner. As the stars appeared in the sky I realized why I was still so far away from him. I had remembered to observe my surroundings and look for clues but I did not think the person I was pursuing. I was not using my head and tried to think like Rayner.
As I pondered on him and the route he was taking I realized that he did not have a canteen with him. He was always stopping by water every few hours to drink. I also realized that I knew these lands very well with all time I spent playing my game. As sleep started to take me I realized where I was in the land.
When I awoke I thought about the direction Rayner had taken and what water was around this part of the forest. I then knew where he would next go. I tried to recollect the best route to take that would allow me to reach the water before Rayner did. I ran as fast as I could go as long as I could. It took me the better half of the day but I made it to the pond.
I looked around and found no trace of Rayner and realized I had beaten him here. I had him! All I had to do was wait for him. I took a drink of water and found a hiding spot to catch Rayner by surprise. The wind was blowing and the gentle breeze felt nice on my skin and I felt my eyes drooping.
I woke up with a start and wondered at how long I was asleep. The sky was starting to darken and I realized that I had slept a long time. I went around the pond and saw where Rayner had taken a drink. I let my fatigue get the better of me and now I was behind him again.
When I took a closer look at his imprint it seemed like he had made it to the pond about an hour to two hours after I had arrived. I shook off my frustration and decided to not let it get me down. I had made a mistake but I could redeem myself. I followed after Rayner and after five hours of pursuing him I stopped.
I had just thought about the direction he was taking. Rayner was heading into the part of the forest that had no water in it for many miles. He had a canteen with him all along and was just playing with me. He had to have been toying with me unless he was pushing me in another way. Maybe he was seeing at how well I would do without water for a time. But now I had no idea what he was planning. I could no longer see what he was thinking I had one chance to get inside his head and I had messed it up.
I laid down and went to sleep. As dawn arose I woke up and knew that I had only two days left to catch Rayner. As I stretched my hand rubbed my neck and the quiver touched the back of my hand. A thought came into my head that was just mad enough to work. I wondered if my Battle Vision could help.
I got three arrows out and soon I was in Battle Vision. I scanned the area and quickly I picked up Rayner’s trail. During the close of the fifth day I had gained a lot of ground and I knew that I was the closest to Rayner as I had ever been. I slept only for three hours and I was up again tracking Rayner.
Before noon hit I was less than two hours behind Rayner and it seemed like he knew that I was close. He ran even faster and took more care in hiding his tracks. He even used tricks that I had not been taught. But within Battle Vision I could see his tracks plain as day and could almost see into his mind.
He knew that I had somehow caught up very quickly and was gaining on him. He couldn’t believe that he had to try so hard but he knew that his training was finally sinking in. I was slowly closing the gap and soon would catch him. I had not been in Battle Vision this long and I no longer thought the same as I once did. It was if I was a new person but the old me was on the outside looking in.
The sixth day I was only a half hour behind Rayner. There were a few times I could see him and then he would disappear into the horizon. I remembered this part of the land and knew that he was about to hit the base off a sheer rock wall. At that point there he would have only three options. He could turn left or right or go back.
If he had a canteen it would be almost empty like mine and if he didn’t have one Rayner would be very thirsty. By turning right he would be going towards a stream and turning left he would be going away from any source of water for days. Going back was out of the question because he would run right into me. I took off to the stream and I would not let fatigue get the best of me.
Within Battle Vision I could sense everything around me. Before a breeze hit my face I could sense it coming. Before I stepped on a twig I could change my course and step around it so I made no noise. Battle Vision was a lot more than just seeing around me with my eyes. It was a way I could ‘see’ everything around me and gain the advantage over my enemy. And my Vision told me that Rayner was indeed coming towards the stream.
I reached the stream and I found a tree that could conceal me until Rayner arrived. For nearly an hour I waited then I saw him top the rise. His hair flowed freely around neck as the wind blew. He moved like cat every step cautious and deadly. I was amazed at his stealth and speed and I knew that any unlucky soul that dared to sneak up on him would be dead before they knew what happened.
He was now five hundred yards away from me. He suddenly stopped and tested the air. It seemed like he would bolt like a deer but I knew that he could not smell me. He disappeared but he could not hide from my Vision and even though I could not physically see him I knew where he was. He was so close to me I could spit on him.
He inched ever closer to the water his muscles tensed ready to sprint if need arise. He was soon at the water’s edge and he cupped his hand and scooped water to drink. His muscles relaxed and he laid down to rest. “You might as well get out of the tree Ray you must be tired.”
I was so shocked that he knew where I was that I was forced out of Battle Vision and almost fell out of the tree. “How did you know?”
“Well when you saw me tense up when I was on the rise did it not seem suspicious? When I topped the rise I thought I sensed you just like when you tried to catch me off guard at the pond. But this time you did not let fatigue win. I knew that you had finally figured out the one trick I purposefully left out so you could find out on your own. When I realized that you were using Battle Vision I knew that the time was up and you had learned what I wanted you to learn. There was no more reason to go on. So tomorrow you will have a week to see if you can hide from me. And Ray good job on tracking me down.”
© 2014 RichardBBenson