“You need to listen to me Trevor.” Joseph told his son as they were out on the training field in the town, “A beast master, or any of their allies will not allow you to get a direct hit. You must learn to shoot fast, persist, and at moving targets. You need to keep up with them.”
“How fast can they get to?” He asked his father. Trevor had become slightly cocky in the past years.
“Faster than we know.” He said, “You need to be prepared for anything. Remember they are tricky and will resort to cheating if they half to. Always expect the unexpected.”
“So, if I expect that a beast master will come out behind be from those bushes, which would be unexpected from them, I’d be expecting it?” He asked.
His father sighed, “If you expect the unexpected, then you expect it, meaning whatever they do is not unexpected. Don’t you see?”
Trevor thought for a second, “So by expecting the unexpected, you can expect that nothing they do will be unexpected?”
“Yes.” Joseph told him, That’s it. Now you need to work on getting prise before you can get fast, once you’re fast we’ll work on moving targets. But I suggest you do whatever you can when you can, I suspect that we’ll need you here in battle soon.”
“Am I too expect that, or is it unexpected?” He asked.
Joseph sighed, this was going to take longer than he thought.
In the caves on the other hand, seven year old Crysalys and nine year old Myrth were heading out on a day adventure.
“Silver, Romona, you two stay here, okay.” Crysalys said to the two. It had been two years since she’d gotten Romona, and four since she got Silver, both had become quiet loyal to her, “We’ll be back before sunset.”
“Come on, Crysalys.” Myrth said to her, he was carrying a large sack on his back, “We need to be back before the sun sets.”
“I know.” She said, “Be good you two.”
And they took off down the mountain path to the forest below, they had both been around the forest a few times before. Their parents had taken them down to bath and do laundry in the lake. Necromancers and beast masters had taken them down to get a feel of the lay out in battle. They still had a lot to know, but the six or so miles around the entry of the cave opening they knew well.
“Here, it is.” Myrth said when they came to a large oak tree that looked like it shouldn’t be there.
“What is it?” Crysalys asked.
“It’s a hidden tree.” Myrth explained.
“It doesn’t look hidden.” She said.
He laughed lightly, “Not that kind of hidden.” He told her, “You can go inside, it’s a hiding pace really. A lot of necromancers go in here for ceremonies. I figured since there’s a lot of magic in the tree as it is, it’ll help.”
“I can’t believe we’re actually gonna do this.” She said.
“Scared?” Myrth teased.
“Only that you’ll pass out.” She retorted.
“Touche.” He said.
He finally found the hidden trigger and part of the bark of the tree opened, they stepped in and it closed behind them. Torches lit up as if on cue, the floor was rock, the ceiling was high, it was large in there.
Myrth put the sack down and pulled out some chalk, he began to draw a ceremonial circle on the rock.
“What’s that for?” Crysalys asked.
“It’s necessary for the ritual.” He told her.
She nodded and watched as he continued to draw and write spells on the rock. She had looked over a few of the spell books herself, but she couldn’t read what was written. She could however read and speak Claws, it was the beast master language, all of their ancient scrolls were written in it. And all of them required some to speak to troublesome animals.
When he was finished he stood up and turned back to the sack, he pulled out a few items placing each on a point of the diagram. The he turned to Crysalys.
“Please tell me you brought it.” He said.
She nodded and pulled out a sharp beast tooth knife from her shin armor.
“Let’s do this.” He told her.
Each took turns cutting the palm of their right hand.
“You did a good job sharpening this.” He commented, “I can’t feel it.”
She grinned and slid the tooth across her palm.
Myrth started muttering things, then he reached out for Crysalys, she knew what to do. She held his hand, he kept muttering words she had no idea what they were. White light started emanating from the diagrams below them. This is what Myrth told her would happen, so Crysalys wasn’t scared.
All of a sudden Myrth stopped, not two seconds later, blue light came from Myrth, and green came from Crysalys. It stopped after what seemed like forever. And then they both passed out. on the rock floor of the tree.
Back in the town, father and son, Joseph and Trevor finally understood what the other was trying to say.
“Well now that we have that cleared up,” Joseph said, “Aim and fire when ready.”
Trevor took the pistol in both his hands and aimed at the target. It took about thirty seconds, then he pulled the trigger. He hit the side of the bulls eye.
“Not good enough.” His father said, “If you hit like that all the time it wont do anything. Black mages and necromancers will be able to transport to front lines and transport them back to the healers who’ll treat them. You need a bulls eye.
Trevor sighed, slightly frustrated with his father, nothing was ever good enough for him. It wasn’t bad for his first shot, but he knew he could do better than that too.
He took aim again, landing right in the bulls eye. He kept doing that, each line up taking about thirty or so seconds. He reloaded his gun fast, and continued. He knew he had to get good before he could get fast.
Get good. he told himself, once you’re good get fast, once you’re fast get better, once you’re better get faster. And when you’ve gotten faster, work on moving targets, get better with moving targets, get faster with moving targets, once you’re faster be better. You know what you have to do.
Trevor wanted to make his father proud, he wanted to protect his mother and sisters. But he needed to prove he was good enough to himself first.
Back in the tree in the forest, Crysalys was just waking up. Opening her eyes and looking around she remembered everything. The diagrams, the light, the blood, and Myrth. She looked over to him and sat up quickly.
“Myrth.” She said shaking him awake, “Myrth, wake up.”
“What time is it?” He asked groggily.
“I don’t know.” She said slightly scared, “But remember, we’re not supposed to be out of the cave after dark.”
“Oh no,” He said, Myrth had a bad feeling about this.
“What are we gonna do?” He asked, “We can’t tell what time it is in here. It might still be daylight and we don’t even know it.”
“Clean up the stuff.” She told him grabbing her knife and putting it back in her shin armor, “We’re gonna have to take our chances.”
“You really are the beast princess, aren’t you?” He asked.
She shrugged, “I just don’t want mama to worry.”
He nodded and quickly gathered everything up. Then opened the passage, both froze when it did. The moon was full, it was night. They were late, and they didn’t want to find out what it was that their parents were trying to protect them from.
“Follow me.” Crysalys whispered, her eye sight was better at night.
“Okay.” Myrth said and grabbed her belt, his eyes weren’t the best at night, Crysalys didn’t mind.
They stayed low to the ground, hoping to stay out of sight of whatever it was they didn’t want to know about.
Crysalys groped around for familiar bushed and roots, she knew this well from blind training. Beast masters had to know this forest like the back of their hands. So the older beast masters would walk them through the forest a few times, then they had to navigate blindly, watching out for animals, harming plants, the older beast masters, and others in training. This was easy for her.
They came to the mountain, staying as close as they could to it. Crysalys saw a light up ahead, but not coming from the cave, they were still a ways away from it. She pushed Myrth up against the wall of the mountain, in a small crack between two rocks, it was big enough for them to fit.
“I thought I heard something over here.” A man said he and a partner passed where they were hiding.
“It was probably just the wind.” The other man said.
They were standing about three feet from where they were.
“”You’re probably right.” The first man said, “Let’s keep looking.”
“I still wanna know why the head’s so concerned with these beast masters?” The second man said, “He said it himself, these guys are nothing more than savages, they resort to trickery, and cheating, they hide behind animals to do their work. I still don’t get it.”
Crysalys forced herself to hold back a growl.
“It’s this beast princess person.” The first man said, “He’s afraid that she’s back now. I guess he doesn’t want her to over throw him. You know haw he is with women and their place. They belong in a kitchen, or doing laundry, or birthing boys. This girl better be something.”
“I wonder just how hot she is?” The second one said.
“Maybe we could see before we brought her in.” The first one said suggesting something more.
Crysalys wanted to know more but they walked away, it was a good thing too. Myrth was getting scared.
“We shouldn’t be here.” He whispered to her.
“Shh.” She said back, she looked around the corner. It looked clear.
She grabbed his hand again and they were off, quick and quiet.
They came to the path and hurried up.
When they got through the cavern a sword was instantly put in each of their faces. Myrth gasped.
A warrior sighed in frustration and relief.
“Oh thank the heavens.” Lilly said with Issa as they ran to hug their children.
“We thought something happened.” Lilly said bringing them further into the cave near a fire that had food ready for them.
“What’s a savage?” Crysalys asked after Romona and Silver were nuzzled up next to her.
“A savage?” Lilly questioned wondering if she had heard her right.
“A savage is a gunner.” Garther told them picking up a leg of mutton, “They call us them, but it’s them.”
“What is a savage? How would you explain it?” She asked.
“A savage.” Issa started, “Is defined as someone who is different then you or I. Someone who knows or does something that you or I aren’t accustomed to. They have a different raising, and morals, they don’t see things the same as we do. They’re strange. And because of that, we fear them, and because of that we call them savages.”
She nodded, “So, people like gunners, they’re savages to us. But people like us, we’re savages to people like gunners.”
Lilly nodded, “Something like that. Now what happened to you two?” She asked handing each of them some warm pork stew.
“I promised I’d protect her.” Myrth said, “I wanted to make sure no matter what I can.”
“You didn’t.” Garther said almost sneering at his son.
“I did.” He said.
“We did.” Crysalys corrected.
“You two are idiots.” He spat, “You realize you two are now bound together in faith until the day one of you dies.”
“I know.” Myrth told him, “I told Crysalys that too, we both agreed.”
“Why would you do that?” Issa asked them.
“I swore I’d protect her, the day she was born, I knew what she was. And, well, I was afraid you’d all end up hating her, and I didn’t want her to be alone.” Myrth said.
“I promised him, that no matter what happens down the road, we’ll still be best friends.” Crysalys admitted, “And this is our vow.”
“You two have no idea what you just did to each other.” Garther threatened.
“We know.” Crysalys said, “We’ll be able to read each other’s thoughts if we look each other in the eye, when we’re separated we’ll be able to communicate with telepathy. However most people who attempt this end up dying after about two days. But that’s not gonna be us.”
“What makes you two so sure?” Garther almost hissed.
“We have promises to keep.” Myrth said.
“Destinies to follow.” Crysalys told them.
“And lives to live.” They said together.
“And stupid spell’s gonna stop us.” Myrth said.
“We’re too strong for.” Crysalys added.
“Or just to stupid.” Colis said to them.
“You knew what the risks were, but you still did it. What if we lost the beast princess, Myrth? She’s our hope at restoring the land to what is should be.” He sneered.
“What ever happened to you hating me?” She asked him.
He looked away,”I realized your importance, and I actually wanna be able to leave the cave at night.”
She giggled knowing exactly what he meant. Crysalys was good at reading between the lines. She knew that Colis would never admit that he’s grown fond of her. He would also never admit that in the near or distant future he may or may not wish to have her hand in marriage.
Crysalys was content with that. At least he would never say things about runts anymore, it’s been proven that they are just as good as anyone. Crysalys would make sure that any and all runts that were born were treated fairly, everyone had to respect her for it. She kicked the holly hell out of Tia’s boy in the next sparing match they had. Everyone then knew she was to be the strongest, and not to be messed with.