Hi again, I haven"t written in here for a few days, a lot has happened. I"ve gone through my trials and selection I got where I wanted to but not in the way I was expecting. I had to actually choose it myself. There was a big deal about some crazy prophecy and they think I have something to do with it. I don"t know how true that is but I"m sure you will be hearing a lot more about it if it is. The good thing is I"m a warrior now. I went to the smith and selected the materials for my sword and got accepted by my grandfather Drail. I don"t have the weapon yet though they are still working on it. Dad still won"t tell me how I"m supposed to know when it"s completed. Just keeps telling me I"ll know. So far nobody"s weapon has been completed yet and the other trainees haven"t figured it out either.
Anyway, all of the trainees and some of the veteran's left the town on a training mission. The trip up here was pretty uneventful but it was still pretty long and tiring. They gave us the rest of the day yesterday to rest from the journey but we are supposed to start training today. They woke us all up early to write in our records first. For once I"m glad for all those early mornings in the town or I would be seriously tired right now. Not exactly sure what we are supposed to be doing today but I hope it all goes well. I guess I had better get to it they are telling us time is up.
Xaine put down his writing utensil and closed his record book. He glanced next to it and saw the other, much larger, book on his makeshift table. It was titled "The Record of Drail". His father had given it to him the previous day. It was custom in their culture to read the record of the ancestor who accepted you. It was often said that the more you understand the record the better you will be able to use your ancestral weapon. Xaine wasn"t quite sure how that worked, but he was nonetheless excited to read about his grandfather. He knew some stories that his father had told him, but to actually read his record would be much different.
After his moment of thought Xaine moved outside his tent to join the veterans. The other trainees were also just emerging from their tent. The ones who usually picked the later jobs to help with in the town were obvious as they were still droopy eyed and yawning. Xaine had expected to wake up early, read some of his grandfather's record, then write in his own. But they had woken them all up just as Xaine was getting up from his bed in the early morning so all he had time for was writing.
The morning was still dark and chilly as the sun had yet to rise. Xaine expected another couple hours until it would. The veteran that had woken them all up was standing near the circle of stones where the fire was built. He turned to look at the four trainees standing outside of their tents stretching and yawning.
"The four of you going to get in some sort of formation today? I assume you have the ability to recall yesterday?"
The four of them rushed over to the place he had specified the day before and lined up. Each then made the salute Xaine had previously used when he greeted his father after becoming a warrior.
"Good morning trainees!" The trainees responded in kind.
"Today your training begins. We will begin your training with a test of your skills. Yes, we will be testing you again but, believe it or not, there is more to being a warrior than your combat skills. Today, and for the next few days in fact, you will be participating in a survival training exercise. This will allow us to evaluate the other areas you need help with so we can train you properly. The four of you will be on a mission together to locate a cave to the Northwest of here. Being from the town of Kreila you may have heard of this place. It"s called Kreila cave.
"After we are done here you are to immediately prepare yourself for the journey. No veterans will be with or assisting you. And, in fact, the veterans may show up at different points in your journey to hinder, mislead, or "˜test" you further. You will pack up your tent, any immediately useful belongings, and you are each allowed your water canteen. You will have to provide your own food however. For you to succeed and be allowed to return here, you must all 4 make it to the cave. You are all dismissed."
The four of them left formation gave each other a questioning look and began to pack up their gear. As their tents were in the same part of camp they eventually began to talk amongst themselves.
"So what do you guys think he meant by "˜test us further"." Xaine asked with his back still to the other 3 trainees.
The duel wielding boy, answered first "Well they didn"t take combat equipment away so maybe they mean they will fight us some more?"
"Or maybe they just want to play with our heads, ya know see if we crack under the pressure or something." The other boy answered.
"Well in any case they said we all need to make it there so maybe we should get to know each other a little more. Though until we get out there maybe we should just start with our names to save time. I thought we would be introduced a bit more earlier during getting our weapons and such but that didn"t happen. My name"s Xaine."
Xaine stood up and faced the other three briefly so they could see his face.
"I"m Corey" Said the boy with the shield.
The four shook hands and continued their work. Xaine was tying everything to Saber and checked to see if anyone else had needed help. Everyone else was essentially at the same step and Xaine turned back to his horse and continued making sure everything was secure. Xaine was tightening the last strap when Isaac came up to him.
"Hey, do you know any more about the cave? They didn"t give us much direction other than it"s northwest of here."
"No, I just kind of assumed they would tell us a little more before we left."
"That"s what we were thinking. but take a look around."
Xaine had noticed before that it had gotten quieter, but didn"t realize why until just now. The veterans were already cleared out. Somehow while focusing on preparing themselves they hadn"t noticed the other tents coming down. Xaine thought that perhaps this was the reason the trainees were at a different part of the camp than they were. So they would be able to conceal themselves like this. It also didn"t help that it was still completely dark out and everyone was working by the light of the fire.
"Guess we"re on our own;"
The four were done preparing for their journey and put out the fire. After making sure it was completely snuffed out they set out to the northwest, not sure how long they were supposed to travel or exactly where they were going. The thought to stay until at least sun up was inviting, but more than one of them had the feeling the veterans would do something about it. They decided it would be best to get a move on right away so they headed out into the thicker woods towards their destination. Or at least what they thought would be their destination.
They had decided that after they made it to their first spot for camp they would pick someone to write down their progress and keep track of their direction of travel. It took a little over an hour to figure out this was a bad idea. They had been traveling in what they thought was one direction, but nobody was too concerned at the turns they made to get to a clearer path. Little by little they had turned in a full circle and wound up where they began earlier in the day.
"Well I guess we will be traveling by daylight from the camp now."
Isaac said a little frustrated with the progress they hadn"t made. They decided that Corey should be the one to keep track of their position and make sure they kept heading in the right direction, at least until they found camp. They also tried to leave small unnatural formations where they went made out of rocks and sticks. Something that would stick out to them as odd if they had casually seen it in the woods. That way if they began to backtrack they might find their own trail again and know before they lost too much time.
As they went they talked about various things, just trying to get to know each other a little better. Xaine found out that Corey had no record of anyone in his family to Dual wield so he was just as surprised as everyone else was. They talked about when everyone had come of age to do the trials. It turned out that Xaine was the second oldest of the four and Isaac was the oldest. They also found that Kara was a pretty quiet person. She seemed to keep to herself most of the time and didn"t chat all that much with them. Xaine found this particularly strange as she seemed to be quite a skilled swordsman. He usually thought most of those people were more outgoing.
Every now and again one of them would complain about being out in the woods for so long. They knew this would be part of being a warrior, but said they didn"t like it all that much. Xaine on the other hand loved the outdoors. The smell of the woods was particularly welcome given how close he lived to the farm. He also loved the scenery of the woods especially those within a day or two from where he lived. Those like where he was now. He loved the moss covered trees and the fallen hollow trunks on the ground. He liked the crunch the foliage made and sometimes tried to walk so he made no noise when he wasn"t on his horse. When he was on his horse it was nearly impossible.
"Are you all seriously ok with the silence?!"
Isaac nearly shouted clearly annoyed making everyone but Corey look toward him. Xaine supposed it was somewhat warranted as they had spent over an hour traveling in almost complete silence.
"Sorry I"m trying to keep track of where we are going I don"t want to go in a big circle again." Replied corey.
Xaine chuckled at Isaac and replied.
"I get lost in my thoughts sometimes, I didn"t realize it bothered you."
Kara just shrugged her shoulders apparently not caring much to jump in.
"What did you want to talk about?" Xaine continued.
"I don"t know, anything, I just can"t stand walking in complete silence. Doesn"t it bother you?"
"Not really, I"m used to taking on the farm work back in town and there"s not really anyone to talk to but the animals."
"I thought you looked familiar, you"re that kid that always goes with his dad to the job nobody wants."
"Yeah, he likes to make sure everyone gets help and I figured it would be a good way to get ready for being a warrior back home. That, and I like to spend time with my father when I can."
"Well there"s a good topic, what made you all want to be a warrior?" Isaac replied.
"Well for me it kind of runs in the family, and I just feel like it"s something important. I just want to be able to help and protect people." Xaine said, then Corey actually spoke up.
"It wasn"t really that for me. Only a few people in my family"s history have done it. Which is also surprising that I got the blue on both arms. My dad did it though, and the way he talks about it just made it sound fulfilling I guess."
"Well for me it was one of the required ones I had to try. I almost requested it anyway but I left it out of my requests. I don"t mind they picked me for it though, seems pretty exciting." Isaac replied then he and Xaine turned to look at Kara who still said nothing. She looked from one to the other then made a somewhat annoyed face before finally answering.
"It"s a good skill to have. And I just wanted to do something different I guess."
She left it at that and the boys continued their conversation. The day drew on and they had finally found a place to camp. They had tied up the horses and set up their tents, though Corey asked if someone else could set up his gear so he could get some game for the night. Xaine had volunteered to help and almost regretted the decision later if not for his good nature. Corey"s things took him almost twice as long as it took to set up his own. The boy seemed to have no sense of real organization and Xaine had to constantly dig through everything to find what he needed to get his tent up and ready. All the while he felt uncomfortable as he was going through things that weren"t his own. Xaine also found it somewhat convenient that Corey returned to camp just as he was finishing up.
Isaac had gathered wood for a fire and was already trying to light it with a stone and piece of material used for sparking. Kara watched him for a few moments while he was clearly struggling. Eventually she pulled out a little object that looked to Xaine like a lantern without the surrounding glass. She turned a little knob and the wic lit. She handed it to Isaac.
"You could have said something earlier."
She only shrugged in response. He took it and lit the fire. He gave it back to her once the fire seemed like it could sustain itself. They all sat in a circle around the fire. The site they had picked for camp they picked because it had a couple fallen logs and a rocks large enough to sit on in a rough circle. This made a nice spot to clear out for the fire they were all warming by now.
"So I set some traps out there so we can hopefully catch some small game." Corey said apparently deciding to start the conversation.
"You can trap?" Isaac asked.
"Yeah my dad used to take me hunting some. He said he could teach me trapping but nothing about combat or anything. But we probably won"t get anything we can eat tonight unless we are lucky. I figured the rations we brought from town ought to get us through at least tonight and hopefully we will have something in the morning in the traps."
What he said seemed to remind everyone that they had the rations and they each went to grab the dried food they had brought. Nobody really liked the dried food, except for the meat. But they were hungry enough to put the bad taste aside. Isaac was the only one that really voiced his opinion on it. He had mentioned how he hoped they caught something soon so he could eat real food.
"So why do you think they want to test us again?" Isaac asked everyone.
"I think they were pretty straight forward with it. They said they wanted to see what need improvement on in survival and everything. Seems like they just want to know what all we need." Corey replied to him.
"Well I don"t know I kind of think we might have had a little to do with it also. They could have come with us and just had us direct everything but they put us all alone with each other. I mean, maybe they just wanted to see what we would do by ourselves but maybe they just wanted to also branch out. I mean we were kind of isolating ourselves to our family until today." Xaine added.
"That"s a good point, you"re pretty smart. I guess that"s why you had the best trial of all of us."
Xaine was a little taken aback by the comment. He was the last to be tried for the warriors, but he hadn"t thought about the idea that these people saw his run. The only one of them he saw was Kara, the other two must have gone before he arrived.
"I"m sure you all did just as well I know Kara did, her match was great."
"Uh no I don"t think so, I did barely better than the others to get in here, I was probably their last choice. And no offense to Kara, but your match was nothing like hers. We all thought you were going to win for a minute there. At least those sitting around me. But your fight was crazy, I still can"t believe you got to go against his real weapon." Isaac replied.
"Oh," was all Xaine could think of to say. He wasn"t expecting to be complimented like that and didn"t know if he should say thanks or if that would seem too vain. So he just left it at that. As the evening went on the topic switched a few times until finally they began what young men usually do around a campfire. They began telling spooky stories aiming to creep each other out. They were surprised that Kara stayed through most of the stories. And once they had begun to run out, she actually spoke up and told one of her own. By the time she was done the three boys just stared at her. Her story was by far the creepiest they"d heard all night and not one of them thought they could top it. Even Xaine had to admit he was a little creeped out by it.
It made it worse that after it was over and none of them knew what to say she just smiled and went to bed. Not long after Xaine had felt pretty tired himself and went to his own tent. As he was drifting off, he could still hear Corey and Isaac talking about different things and would occasionally mention how Kara had creeped them out.
Xaine woke after what he could only imagine was a few hours. He was drenched in sweat and tried to remove blankets as he turned over and realized they were already off. He was then aware of light creeping in from the other side of his eyelids and opened them in frustration. He could hear the crackling sounds of the fire and a sound like wind being drawn in. He was aware vaguely that the horses were unsettled as well. He sat up with a start thinking that maybe one of the others didn"t put the fire out completely before they had gone off to bed. Hoping the fire hadn"t spread from the pit they had made he rushed to get his boots on and smother it. He stepped out from his tent and turned toward the fire pit.
He immediately knew the situation was much worse than he"d ever imagined. Of all the bad things that could have happened to them out here, he was certain this was the least likely.