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Warriors and Champions8
Night came when I finally decided to leave the river bank and return to town and on the way I bumped into Rayner. “There you are Ray, come with me.” I followed him into the barracks and he took me into an empty room. “You will sleep here tonight and in the morning you are going to be taught how to survive.” He left without saying another word and closed the door.
I just stood there not understanding what was going on. I wanted to go see Lizeth and try to apologize for upsetting her. But I was being forced to stay away from her. I didn’t know exactly what was going on but decided I should get some sleep since I knew Rayner woke up very early.
I looked around the room and saw a bed, a dresser with a lit candlestick on it, and a wooden chair. I walked to the dresser and saw a bag on top and inside was some clothing. I packed the clothing in the bag and got ready for bed, blew out the candle, and went to sleep.
I was rudely awakened from my peaceful and sleep and was given five minutes to get ready. With the sleep still in my eyes I got dressed, put on my weapons, and grabbed the bag right as Rayner was coming in to get me. He saw I was ready and turned sharply around and walked briskly out of the barracks. It was hard keeping up with him my breaths coming rapidly and my legs ached.
It was still dark outside but I knew that dawn was just around the corner. After two hours of walking the sun was starting to rise when we stopped. With no sign of being tired Rayner spoke with great authority, “Ray it is time for you to learn how to survive on your own. This is not about fighting but living. You need to learn how to live on your own.
“Ray you will not always have the luxury of a town or even having money to pay for stuff. But given the right skills you can survive virtually anywhere for any length of time. The first two lessons are about shelter and gathering food. We will get to hunting and fishing later but for now we will focus on the smaller things.”
Rayner then spent most of the day explaining the different kinds of vegetation including flowers, trees, and which fruits were edible and which were dangerous. He taught me which plants could be used for medicine and their different forms of applications. I learned what kinds of trees were good for fires and what kind of smell they would produce in a fire. I also learned which trees could be used for makeshift shelters and how to make shelters from them. He then taught me about the art of fire making.
I learned how to use the trees to help dissipate and thin the smoke to hide signs of my fire. I learned that small fires were best since I didn’t need a big fire to cook my meals. I also learned how to make it so the warmth of the fire would bounce back to me and not be wasted by spreading all over. Rayner made sure I knew how to make kindling and slowly grow the fire to the size I wanted. I was also instructed how to bank a fire and if I had the proper tools how to use the coals to keep my body warm while I sleep by burying them under the ground where I was to sleep.
By the time night was approaching I had been taught a lot of information. “Alright Ray while I go get some food I want you to make a shelter for the both of us and get a fire going. And with the fire make it medium size. We don’t have to worry about people finding us. And here is the one tool you need in order to survive in the wild.” He handed me what seemed to be a hunting knife and he left.
I unsheathed the knife and started on making the shelter. I was amazed at how much I remembered on shelter making. It didn’t make it easier but I knew that I was doing everything right. It took me almost half an hour to make the shelter but I got it done and started work on the fire. I got everything ready and wished I had a match to use as I was trying to get the two stones to make a spark. I finally got a spark but it wasn’t enough to light anything. I tried and tried again and soon I made a small flame. I watched it spread and soon it grew larger and larger and soon I was adding small sticks to feed the hungry flames. After another half hour I had the fire ready to go when Rayner came back with some meat.
“Well you made some mistakes Ray but not bad for your first time. You will now learn how to make a spit to cook food.” While Rayner was teaching about the spit I knew that he had given me a compliment even if it did come in the form of criticism. As I was laying down watching the night sky unfold into the beautiful sea of stars I reflected on the day’s events and tried to make sure I remembered everything I was taught. I also tried to figure out what the mistakes I made.
The morning came early again and before the dawn shone I was already tracking my meal for the next few days. “Your next lesson Ray is hunting. If you don’t hunt you starve and die. And in order to hunt you first must now the different tracks of the animals.” In the dim light Rayner drew the tracks of different animals in the dirt. And he made me draw them from memory. When I saw some deer tracks we followed them and along the way Rayner showed me more things to look for.
“You see this path Ray? This is what is known as a game trail and is called such because game are creatures of habit and will always follow the easiest path to where they feed and drink. And during the many years that the animals use the path it becomes more beaten down.”
Rayner stopped me when I almost stepped in some droppings. “This is another way to tell if you are on a fresh trail.” Rayner picked up a stick and pushed it in a dropping with ease. “See how soft and fresh it is Ray the deer passed here not long ago. The harder droppings are the longer the time has passed since an animal has been there.”
And true to his word about another fifteen minutes of trailing my quarry we came across the deer not sixty yards away. Rayner whispered very softly in my ear, “remember Ray you must stay downwind of animals or they will smell you and run away. You must make sure to make little to no noise. Watch their ears and body for they will tell you what the animal is about to do. If their ears are twitching or moving they are listening for noise. If their bodies tense up they sense danger and are about to flee. Good luck Ray and remember if you don’t make the shot we go hungry until you do.”
I was now left to myself to bring home the bacon or the meat anyway. I had my bow and arrows ready and watched the deer. I inched ever closer making sure I was in range. I could feel the sweat forming beads on my head. My body ached from being tense as I got closer. The deer suddenly jerked his head up and I froze. I saw his nostrils flare trying to smell what was around. I waited for what seemed like hours when the deer put his head back down to eat. However his body was still tensed up ready to flee at a moment’s notice.
I knew I was as close as I would ever get and I tried to remember my bow training. I slowed my breathing as I focused on the three things: me, my bow, and my target. I knew that if I released an arrow that I would be killing the deer but then I had eaten meat before and knew that someone killed the animal. I would just be cutting out the middle man so to speak.
I went back to my focus and sensed the Battle Vision enveloping me. The deer was soon all I could see and I fired an arrow. I immediately and almost instinctively fired another arrow and the deer fell. “Well done Ray you did it.” Rayner was by my side, “at first I thought you would have to chase the deer for miles but you released the other arrow just in time to make sure you took him down. Now your next lesson is to begin, the skinning.”
As we skinned the deer Rayner made sure that I knew what to do and why. He taught me that the skin would be used to wrap up the meat cuts and how to cut the meat so very little of the deer would be wasted. “You must respect nature Ray, make sure that you honor the sacrifice the deer made by not wasting its meat. Do not kill more than you are able to eat. That is why last night I only caught rabbits.”
As we worked I noticed how none of Rayner’s movements were wasted each one was for a specific purpose and set up for the next movement. It was also weird to hear him be so respectful of a kill. I thought he enjoyed killing and yet he was making sure I knew that I had to respect nature and honor its sacrifice for me.
We soon finished our work and with the skin-wrapped meat we went back to the shelter I made. I set the packs down when Rayner spoke. “Alright Ray I have taught you everything you need to know to survive for a time, now you must truly practice what you learned. You are to survive a week alone and without any assistance from me. I will return in a week.” He then left me speechless not knowing what was going on.
When I finally processed what he said I knew that he would not return until the week was up. I was truly alone in the wild. I could feel the tears starting to form in my eyes but I knew exactly where I was and where Norshire was. However I knew that Rayner would never forgive me for cheating. This was to help me learn how to survive and stay alive.
I went over everything I was taught and finally understood that Rayner was giving me more training on fighting. I was taught how to stay hidden from my enemies and how to treat wounds I receive in battle. I was taught how to forage and hunt for food while I traveled. It seemed everything Rayner taught was somehow connected to fighting or at least it seemed to me.
I realized that I still had Rayner’s knife and I took it out and looked at it. I didn’t know much about metal smithing but I knew that this knife was not made by Norshire’s blacksmith. I assumed it was his personal knife from his homeland. I looked at my makeshift shelter and began to see the mistakes I made and went to work fixing them. As I worked I noticed more mistakes and fixed them when I felt hungry.
I got a fire going when I realized that I only had the meat packs that I carried and Rayner had taken the rest. As I waited for the fire to be ready for cooking purposes I decided to practice my archery. I wanted to know how far I could actually shoot so I started at twenty yards and made all five shots and went back to thirty yards.
I did this repeatedly going back at ten yard increments. I stopped at a hundred and ten yards when it was short of the target but not by much. I had some distance to my advantage but didn’t know if the arrows had any killing power. I went back to my fire and I was a fool for there was only smoldering embers when I came back to it.
Soon the fire was ready to cook some meat. I banked the fire and went to bed. I woke up around dawn and knew that if Rayner was there he would be talking about how lazy I was getting up so late. I ate a quick breakfast and went back to my archery practice. I stood at a hundred yards and fired five arrows and went to see how far they pierced the target. As I was checking the depth I saw how closely the arrows were grouped together and knew I was getting better. I then spent the next few hours figuring out how to hold more arrows in my hand and fire them. I was finally able to make it eight arrows when it was time for dinner.
The next day I saw that I would soon need to hunt again. And I made plans to get up extra early tomorrow to hunt. With each passing day tried to increase the skills I was taught and tried to do them faster. I woke up before dawn the next day and tried to find some game. It wasn’t until the sun was going down when I found some deer grazing. I picked out a nice big buck to shoot. I did it so I wouldn’t have to go hunting again and I also knew that some of the people of Norshire would be able to use the meat when I returned in a few days.
I entered Battle Vision and shot the buck before he knew what happened. With the fading light I skinned the buck and wrapped up the meat and went back to my shelter. The stars and moon were already high in sky by the time I returned and I ate some leftover venison and went to bed.
The remaining days passed by quicker than I thought they would when Rayner walked into camp. “It seems you have made improvements here since I have been gone. You still have some mistakes but you have fixed most of them. And tomorrow we will begin part two of your training.”
“Part two? I thought I was done.” I said disbelievingly.
“I have taught you the basics of survival but now I will teach the basics of tracking humans and making sure you do not get tracked by other humans. Make sure that you are ready to move out tomorrow morning.” He then strode off and I was left to get things ready to be dismantled and packed up for the next part of my training.
© 2014 RichardBBenson