Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Novel - Day 19 - 1,662 / 14,602

Kiri spent a few hours training with Leste. She was shown the basics of how to move quietly and quickly without being noticed. Kiri noticed that Leste was a young woman about the same size and build as Kiri. This made it easier for Kiri to learn, she simply mimicked the style and movements of Leste, allowing Kiri to quickly pick up the skill.

“When you are training with your weapons, you must learn to keep them as quiet as you are.” Leste said. “You will find that is not as easy as it appears and you will not be able to copy someone else’s style. When Sallan trains you, he will not care how quiet you are, only if you can use and kill with the weapon.”

Leste stood Kiri in the middle of the field and blindfolded her.

“Your job is to pay attention to your senses and raise your hand when you are aware of my presence. I suggest you try your best to use all of your senses.” Leste explained.

Kiri stood trying to listen when Leste taps her in the forehead. “Quit trying to use this and instead use your whole body.”

This exercise continued for a while, Kiri started to notice Leste before she was right on top of her and slowly began to improve.

After a while, Leste left Kiri to train with Sallan.

“Remember, you are to practice your skills at all times through your training. I will be watching and testing you.” Leste said as she left.

Sallan looked over Kiri. “What is your weapon of choice?” he asked.

“What?” she replied.

“What weapons do you use?”

“Usually my rolling pin and I can throw a knife pretty well when someone is trying to skip out without paying their tab.” She said.

Sallan rolled his eyes, “I don’t know how much your training with the rolling pin will help but the knife throwing we may be able to prefect. With me, you will learn how to fight, both with and without weapons. Your training will be fast but efficient. The weapons you use will be small hand weapons and you will also learn to use anything around you as a weapon.”

“Will you be teaching me to use a sword?” Kiri asked, “Because I doubt I could lift one, let alone fight with it.”

“There are many types and designs of swords and there could be found one to suit you and your needs; but, to answer your question no, I will not be training you to use a sword. You are not ready and there is another who will train you for that.” He said.

“Who will train me for that?” Kiri asked.

“I am not at liberty to discuss that and now is not the time.” Sallan said as they walked around the hut.

Without warning, Sallan picked up a stick and swung it at Kiri, knocking her to the ground.

“What the hell was that for?” Kiri screamed.

“So that you will not forget that you must always be prepared for you never know when someone will strike at you.” Sallan explained, “Now while you are down there, look around you and tell me what you see that you could’ve defended yourself with.”

Kiri looked around hesitantly, afraid that he may strike again. “I…I could’ve used this old chair to block your stick.”

“What else?” he asked.

“I could grab a stick and block it.”

“What else?”

“I don’t know, there’s nothing else here. I don’t have anything else.” she said.

“Yes you do, now think! Use your imagination, get creative or you’ll end up dead.” Sallan said.

“I could … throw a rock at you; or dirt, I could throw dirt in your eyes. I could duck or roll towards you so you couldn’t hit me and maybe knock you down. I could stand close to the house and use it to shield me, hoping you hit the house instead of me. I could block the stick with my arm or grab it.” Kiri said, excited.

“Now you are getting the idea, all of these options when you have so little to work with. Always keep your mind open and look for options.” Sallan said, “Now get up, we are going to work with one of your ideas and expand on it. As the stick swings towards you, instead of grabbing it to stop it, just continue the action and follow through with the motion; this will cause your attacker to be thrown off balance and then half the battle is won.”

Sallan practiced with Kiri for a while showing her how to use the attacker’s momentum against themselves until she was able to grab at the stick and follow through and cause him to end up on the ground. While she was standing there proud of her accomplishment, something hit her in the forehead. She blinked and saw Leste standing in front of her.

“Always be on your guard and always aware of your surroundings.” Leste said.

Before Kiri could respond, Leste was gone in the blink of an eye; but, the lesson was learned.

Regaining her thoughts, Kiri asked Sallan, “I’m doing fine fighting with sticks but how many soldiers will be carrying sticks? I can’t grab a sword in the same way and what about a knife?”

Sallan looked at her and said, “You will learn and understand all of these things and more but, we must take one step at a time. If today is any indication, you will learn quickly.”

Over the next several days, Kiri continued her training with Sallan, learning quickly but she also made a few mistakes and had the bruises and scars to show for it. She learned how to attack quickly using both small weapons such as knives; also how to attack and defend herself when she has no weapons at all, using whatever is available. Her training with Leste also continued and improved. She could soon recognize when someone was approaching no matter how quiet they were being. She was able to do this in any situation, even when she was involved with another activity or even asleep. She also learned how to move quietly and without being noticed during the day or the night. Although she always preferred the cover of night for obvious reasons, she enjoyed the challenge of trying to move past someone during the daylight.

All was going well until the day the four of them were sitting outside eating lunch when Kiri stopped chewing and watched the woods. She put down her food and grabbed the spear which was lying close at hand. As she saw the figure emerge from the woods, she recognized the red tunic and shield of the Envahir. Kiri took off, quietly but quickly towards the lone soldier. It was a few seconds before the others realized what was happening and Sallan was right behind her. Kiri was able to launch the spear towards the soldier as Sallan tackled her to the ground. The soldier lazily raised his shield and sidestepped the spear.

“Get off of me.” Kiri yelled.

“Sorry about that Epier, we should’ve told her about you.” Sallan said

“What! You know him?” Kiri asked.

“Or you should’ve taught her to throw a spear better.” Epier joked.

“And yes, we know him.” Sallan explained, “This is Epier, he is, as you can tell one of Voler’s men. But, he is also a member of the network who has infiltrated the Envahir. More importantly, he is one your new teacher.”

“My what?” Kiri spat, “I won’t learn from him, he’s one of them.”

“No” Sallan corrected, “He is one of us who is pretending to be one of them so that we can defeat the Envahir. You will do your best to learn from him or we have no use for you and all other training and support will end.”

As Kiri sat back down and continued to finish her lunch, Creance explained how Epier became one of Voler’s men and his loyalty to the Network. As they finished eating, Kiri slowly became convinced of what they were telling her about Epier and began to accept his presence.

“So what is it you are going to teach me?” Kiri asked Epier.

“I will teach you all about the Envahir, how they work, what they believe, how they move and how best to infiltrate them. I will even teach you about Voler and his skills and how he operates. When I am finished with you, you will know more about the Envahir and their society than most of them understand.” explained Epier. “But all of this you must learn and retain in one day. I cannot be gone long before someone will realize that I am missing.”

“The first and most important rule is this: When I am in the town, I am one of the Envahir. If you see me there, I am another soldier and will act as one. If I see you I will report you. You will not get any special treatment from me. If you are captured and I am ordered to kill you, rest assured, you will be dead. Your actions and anything you say or do cannot compromise my position and I will not do anything to aid you in any way which compromises that position. My survival and that of the Network is more important than your life. Is that understood?” Epier asked.

“Yes I understand.” Kiri said.

“Good, now if you are finished with your meal, we will excuse ourselves and continue your training away from the others.”

Kiri spent the rest of the day learning all about the Envahir and how they worked. Epier would question her about why some information was important and how could she use it. Kiri paid special attention to how the guards operated, how sentries were changed and what was watched and what wasn’t.

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