The next morning, Lief wakes up groggy. He musters up the strength to look around slowly realizing that he's in a small room made of old rotting wood.
'Oh yeah, now I remember.' he slowly sits up. He looks around and calls out "Asher." though Asher is nowhere to be seen.
Lief looks down beside himself and spots a small note close by, picking it up and reading it to himself.
'Boy, you are to traverse northward through Edia swamp. Look behind you, there is a harness. You are to put it on and wear it as you venture through the swamp. I have already went ahead. Eat the rations out of the sack and just in case, bring the knife for protection against the critters. At the end, you will find a grassy hill in a clearing. This is where I await you.'
Lief turns around and spots the harness behind him. It resembles primitive armor made from brass.
'Guess he wants me to wear that thing.'
Lief gets up and examines the harness.
'Thing sure looks heavy. Then again, that's probably the point of it.'
Lief goes over to the bag and pulls out the rations. He sits down to eat, cringing with each bits.
'Eh, nasty. And to think, I had a wonderful sandwich, but no I got to eat this.'
After Lief finishes, he works to put on the harness, struggling with it's weight. As he gets it on his torso he fully feels the weight of the harness pulling him down.
'Oh my god, is he serious? How is this going to work, he wants me to travel through a swamp wearing this thing?'
Lief grabs the knife, placing it in his pocket and walks to the door wearing the heavy harness. He doesn't struggle but feels frustration as he moves about. He opens the door to look outside. There is a heavy fog throughout the area along with a light rain. Though the sun isn't shining, there is just enough pale light to illuminate the area. Lief steps outside and feels a strong cool in the air sending cold shivers through his body.
He looks around at the area. He notices the large withered trees with moss dangling from the branches. There are large pools of water scattered about with mist rolling on the surface. He hears the squawking of birds in the trees. Holding his arms together, rubbing them from the cold, Lief begins to head north as instructed by the note. He pauses briefly to get another look at the area. The atmosphere sends a deep feeling through Lief's body just as the cold, not of fear, but of what lies beyond.
'I can already tell...today's going to be a long day.'
The rain shifts and starts pouring heavily. For a while, Lief travels through the swamp. He walks through freezing knee deep water, pulling himself ashore via vines dangling in the water. He has much trouble on shore with a combination of the soggy ground and the weight of the harness. As his legs get stuck in the deep mud, he reaches down and struggles to pull himself free.
'Err, darn this!' he huffs and puffs after each pull, 'This is insane.'
After traveling for a while, mid day approaches. The rain begins to slowly calm to a light drizzle. Lief looks up, closing his eyes as the drops of rains drips off his face.
'Oh, thank god it's finally stopping.' He looks around the area before looking forward, 'Wonder how much farther I have to go.'
Lief arrives at a large hill and begins to walk up it noticing the trees starting to become few. He finds himself in a clearing on the hill. He looks down to see grass growing on the ground.
'So this must be it then, where I am to go.'
He looks up and notices that the sky is breaking, clouds dispersing to reveal blue. After a long walk up the hill, Lief sees the top. He sees a silhouette of a figure coming into view. He gets up to the top of the hill and finds Asher. Asher looking to Lief is holding a long bronze colored sword. To his right, a long rusted sword is stabbed into the ground sticking up. Lief walks up to Asher and places his hands on his knees, looking down in exhaustion.
"Ah, boy. You've arrived. For a second I thought..."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. You didn't think I was going to make it."
"No, I was going to say I though today was going to be a clear day today. Look at you, your soaking wet and dirty aren't you?"
"Yeah, I kind of am."
"You didn't take the far trail?"
"What far trail?"
"There's a relatively flat trail to the left of the shack that would had taken you straight here on a cleaner route."
Lief looks up with a frown.
"Oh now you tell me, you kind of left that out of the note!"
Asher chuckles slightly.
"Sorry about that."
Lief sits up and looks at the sword then back at Asher.
"So, I'm to train here?"
Asher takes his sword and waves it near the sword sticking from the ground.
"You see this sword here?"
"This shall be your sword."
Lief looks at the sword.
"This thing, seriously? No offense but it looks like a piece of junk."
"Don't underestimate this weapon. Such as a great weapon cannot work in the hands of a poorly trained knight, so too a poor weapon is a great weapon in the hands of a well trained knight." he walks around to the other side of the sword and faces Lief, "Now, take this weapon in hand. You pulling it out cements your determination and puts you on the path of knighthood."
Lief nods his head in response.
'I still say it's a rusty old sword.'
Lief walks over to the sword. Exhausted from the walk through the swamp and the heavy harness pulling him down, Lief trudges slowly toward the blade. He stands before the blade looking onto it's hilt. He slowly reaches up and grabs the hilt. He pauses for a moment taking in what is about to happen. Coming to, he slowly pulls the sword out of the ground. Once the triangular tip begins to appear, Lief quickly pulls out the sword. He staggers back slightly, gaining back his ground and holds the sword up with it's blade pointing to the sky. Lief marvels at the blade in his hand.
'You know...from this angle, this thing seems like a nice weapon.'
Asher takes a few steps around Lief readying his weapon. He holds his sword to his side as he approaches Lief.
"Come to boy, remember your training from earlier. Show me dusting."
Lief looks to Asher. Hearing his command, Lief lowers the sword and gets closer to Asher. Knowing exactly what Asher's demanding, he uses the sword to slash at Asher side to side with swivel motions similarly as he had done with the duster. Asher uses his sword to block Lief's strikes, countering with swipes of his own which are blocked by Lief. Asher takes a few steps back.
"Now, show me mopping."
Lief lowers the blade and swings it in circular motions as he did when he was mopping. Asher slashes downward which are all blocked by Lief. Asher hops back and holds his sword to the side.
"And now, show me painting."
As instructed, Lief slashes at Asher using the same painting techniques, holding the sword to the side and swiping up and down. Asher slashes down and from underneath, all blocked by Lief.
Asher and Lief practice well until evening, the sun sitting in the background.
"That's enough for now, boy. Good work."
"Thanks." says Lief bending over holding his knees in exhaustion. He looks over and sees the sun in the distance.
"Oh no, the sun's sitting. It's quite a ways back to the shack. We got to head back before it gets dark."
"No, we sleep out here for tonight."
"What? You mean out here in the open? But the wild animals and my stuff."
"We'll go back to the shack sometime later. I want to continue training you here for a while. I find it easier to keep you here instead of having you walk back and forth through the swamp, though that will increase your strength especially with the harness on, it will take you longer to learn the techniques that way. As for the animals, don't worry about them, for they do not come to this hill at night for some reason."
"But what about food? It will take too long for me to go look for something."
"Don't worry, I knew you would take awhile so while waiting for you I caught a rabbit in a trap and gathered some cranberries, they grow all along in the swamp."
"Hm, cranberries. Wait, you used a trap to catch a rabbit? I though I actually had to run after and catch the animals by hand."
Asher lets out a chuckle.
"You really are clueless boy. You will never be able to run up and catch something like a rabbit. I never said you couldn't use traps."
"Oh." says Lief panning over smirking his lips to the side, 'Boy do I feel dumb.'
As evening fades, Asher makes a fire and cleans the rabbit, roasting it on the fire. Once it's fully cooked, he distributes half of the rabbit to Lief. He uses a leaf to host the gathered cranberries. Together, as the sun fades, Lief and Asher share a meal together by the lit fire.
"Now remember boy. Make sure you eat all of that rabbit, including the bones or else you'll suffer from rabbit starvation."
"It's what happens if you eat too much rabbit. Rabbit meat is lean, no fat in it. If you eat too much rabbit your body begins to eat itself so when you eat a lot of rabbit you have to make sure you get it all down, bones and all."
After the two finish eating, once night sets in, Lief prepares to go to sleep on the ground. Asher sits up on the ground, briefly giving guard before he too drifts off.
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