Friday 12 December 2014

Scent: Part 26

Reven rushed after Sanya with Fang in tow taking in the hustle and bustle of the camp as he went. Troops and orderlies hurried here and there, seeing to horses, taking weapons to the smith, polishing armour. There was a real buzz about the place but even so, many of the troops had enough time to cast sidelong glances at Reven as he passed. He met their gazes and if he didn't know better would have thought that they looked angry at him. He noted that the camp had been erected in a clearing in the forest. Tents were nestled around fires which were being extinguished by orderlies who had started packing the site up and placing weapon racks, cooking utensils and other camp necessities into wagons. A hundred or so troopers were preparing to move and rushed to make ready; saddling horses, sharpening blades and eating as if they may not get another meal.

Reven followed Sanya as she made her way out of the camp and into the trees of the forest. The earlier rain had stopped and the sun was starting to peak through the clouds promising a brighter afternoon. Sanya brought a small whistle she had around her neck to her lips and blew. It let out a piercing high pitch note that was greeted in moments by the distant sound of something crashing through the trees. Sanya turned to Reven and smiled whilst Fang stood rooted to the spot, his muscles bunching as he tensed. The noise continued to grow closer and Reven could at last see its source. Barrelling through the forest was the biggest creature Reven had ever seen. It was several feet taller than a cart horse and about three times as wide. It came to a halt in front of Sanya, wagging it's tail frantically as it saw Fang. 'This is Kaleth' Sanya said to Reven and Fang, 'Kaleth, meet Reven and Fang' she indicated to each of them in turn as she spoke. If Kaleth took note of Sanya's words she gave no indication. She continued to stare at Fang. Reven just stared at her; her head was the size of a large boulder and her mouth was filled with large razor sharp teeth and her body covered in rich deep brown fur. Over the fur were carefully crafted armour plates that ran down her spine and fanned across her sides. Her shoulders were completely covered in spiked plates which matched the dark metal helm that adorned her head. Kaleth was instantly the most terrifying and wondrous thing that Reven had ever encountered. He noticed that her eyes shone with the same brilliant green that Sanya's did, she was captivating. 'Offer her your hand' Sanya said, giving Reven a gentle nudge toward Kaleth as she did so. For the first time Kaleth's focus drifted from Fang and settled on Reven. With a mixture of fear and excitement Reven reached up and offered his hand to the war hound that towered over him. She bent her head down and sniffed at the proffered hand, eventually licking it and lowering her head further still so that it was within Reven's reach. Sanya nodded at him encouragingly and he lay his hand on the beasts huge snout. Kaleth's fur was short, stiff and wiry. Reven's heart raced, the hound could have bitten him in half if she wished but she stood there patiently as Reven stroked and patted her head. 'Thank you' he said to Kaleth as he drew back his hand and motioned for Fang to come forward. Reven's hound moved toward him, his lips curling into a snarl but Reven silenced him. Looking into Fang's eyes he simply said the word 'Friend' and with that Fang relaxed. Kaleth once again bowed her head and she and Fang exchanged sniffs, greeting each other as hounds do. Suddenly Fang dropped down, front legs stretched out in front of him and barked at Kaleth. The bigger hound also started barking and in no time they were both wagging their tails furiously, tongues lolling from their mouths. Fang broke into a sprint and Kaleth gave chase. They raced through the trees stopping and staring at each other before again  racing onwards. Reven and Sanya watched them disappear into the forest, playing as they did. 'She hasn't seen another war hound in many years. They'll keep each other busy for a while.'

Sanya slipped an arm over Reven's shoulder and walked him out of the forest. He couldn't help but look over his shoulder to see if Fang had returned but he wasn't there. 'They'll be fine, no need to worry. Kaleth won't let any harm come to her new friend and anyway, we need to speak before we break camp.' This gained Reven's attention immediately. Sanya guided them over to a fallen tree at the edge of the camp and sat down indicating Reven should do the same.

'Do you know why you were sent to me?' Sanya asked. 'So that you can train Fang Mistress' Reven replied. 'Hmm, and how much do you know about Fang? How did he come to be yours? she enquired. Reven went on to tell the story of the attack on Rosholt and how he and Fang became travelling companions. Sanya made some enquiries, especially surrounding the meeting between Reven and the travellers, Aisha and Reynard. 'You've bonded with your hound already. That's why you share the same eyes. It is dangerous to bond with a pup but you seemed to have suffered no ill effects. Fang is also lucky to be alive, from your description his mother wouldn't have been much older than a pup herself, I'm not surprised his brothers and sisters perished. Illegal traders will wipe the bread out, fools.' Sanya rested her hand on her chin lost in thought and then seemed to remember where she was. 'OK, here's what you need to know. You have been assigned to me and you will learn from me until I release you. You have a gift that will allow you to benefit from your association with Fang. War hounds are very hardy and heal remarkably quickly. This will apply to you also. In time you will be able to read each others thoughts and some beast masters have even been able to see through their beasts eyes. There are many benefits to your bond but it all comes down to your mastery of the gift you have been given. Whilst you are here I will train you to fight and shoot for a beast master must be skilled in both sword and bow. You are the first aspirant to have earned three badges in all the history of The Deep, sword, bow and hound. I predict great things for you Reven, expectation weighs heavy on your shoulders.' Reven opened his hand to respond but Sanya started to speak again, 'We are headed east to the coast. Raiders have been pillaging villages there and we have answered the call for assistance. We would have been away days ago if you had hurried and you may not get as warm a welcome as you would expect from some of my men as a result.', I've noticed' Reven responded looking a little embarrassed. 'As soon as raider blood starts flowing all will be forgotten. Speaking of which, you need to get rid of that practice sword. You will need a keen blade and a keener eye if you are to survive the coming months. Go and see the smith before he is completely packed up, introduce yourself and he will arm you with sword and bow. Then we'll be off.' She stood and smiled down at Reven, 'You and your hound have much to learn.'; she said in a gentle voice. 'He is still young but he'll grow to be as big, if not bigger than Kaleth. If you don't know how to be together by the time that happens you will take ruin everywhere you go.' With that she turned and walked away, shouting encouragement to her men as she did so. Reven waited for her to disappear behind a tent before racing off to the smith, grinning as he went. A new sword of his very own! He couldn't wait.

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