Tamalain quietly moved through the heavy brush in her assigned patrol area. There had been several orcs sighted in the area and it was up to the students of the fourth year to keep an eye out for trouble when the first and second year students were being trained in wood craft. She knew she could handle a pawn, but if a centurion was seen, she would run and get the teachers and guards. As she completed her circuit and arrived back at camp, she saw a group of student bards near by. She recognized her friend Silor and called out to him.
He turned enough to see who it was that had called out to him. Seeing it was Tama, he waved back but did not have a chance to do anything else. The Bard instructor started tapping his drum lightly and they all vanished in a cloud of stirred up dust and leafs. Tama sighed and reported that her sector was clear of intruders at this time. She knew she would have to head back out in an hour so she headed to the mess tent and got a small loaf of honey bread and refilled her flask with fresh water from the spring below the city center.
After refreshing herself and visiting the latrine, she sat on a small tree stump and started checking over her gear for any new damage or wear. She first pulled out the short sword and made sure it was still polished and oiled. Once she was satisfied it would pass inspection, she pulled out her unstrung bow. She was allowed to use her own bow rather than a training bow the school supplied. She checked it over, looking for any sign of decay in the wood, making sure it was waxed and smooth. Even though she had checked it before she went out, it was best to go over her tools when given the chance.
The bow needed a little wax on the hand grip, so she took off her pack and pulled out a small ceramic jar from a padded compartment inside the pack. She opened the lid carefully so not to spill any a the liquid bee's wax. After dabbing a cotton cloth in it, she resealed the jar and put it away in its pocket. She then slowly wiped the wax onto the area in need and allowed the wax to soak into the smooth wood. Once the color and feel were right to her trained eye, she folded the cloth and returned it to the pocket it was stored in. Next she stretched out the string currently being used and saw it was still in good shape and didn't need a waxing yet. She strung her bow and gave it a few half pulls to insure the feel was right. Once she was sure it wouldn't break right then, she stood and did a full pull and held it for a count of ten. She slowly released the pressure and inspected the bow one more time before un- stringing it.
The next items she needed to check where her arrows. Most were school supplied, but one bunch of a dozen where of her own making. These she looked over, making sure the fletch was still secure, the head tight and the nock still seated. None showed any wear or damage, so she went over the poor quality school arrows. Several she set aside for repairs as the fletch had started to come loose. In another pouch she had a small tube of glue and sinew for repairs of this sort. She was able to quickly bring the arrows back up to some level of usefulness just in time for her to report in for her next patrol route.
The class instructor told her she needed to cover the north and west sector this time. "Tama, the younglings are in that area, I want you to stalk them a bit, see if they can detect you. It is part of their training this week, so go and scare them silly."
Tama smiled for second then took on a serious expression. "Yes Ma'am," was all she said turned to leave. "And Tama, no shooting them if they do find you, understand?" Tama slumped a little, then smiled again, "Yes ma'am, can I camo for this one?"
Tama headed out to the area she was to patrol muttering about the rules that didn't allow students to use their abilities to their fullest when called for. She decided to do a little extra on her school uniform on this simple mission. She had obtained a small fine meshed bird net from a merchant a few months earlier during a weekend pass. She had carefully reworked it so she could wear it like a poncho. On it she had tied strips of various green colored strips of cloth, this allowed her to blend into the brush and wood nearly as well as her camo skills. The instructor, Weria Greenwood was impressed and wanted to know were she had learned this trick from.
"A human hunter had visited the Upper Pass Village, selling his catch a few years back. He was wearing the net and I asked him about it." Tama held up one arm to show the strips hanging. "He explained how it could break up the outline of the body, making it hard to spot in the dense brush of the woods floor. I remembered it a few months ago and decide to try it since I can't use my own ability to blend in."
"That young Tama is an excellent way to make up for your skills should you ever not be able to use them."
Tama quickly followed a thin game trail in the direction she needed to go then moved into the brush as she approached the second years camp. She slowly inched her way towards the camp until she could just make out a red pennant hanging from a post in the camp center. This told any approaching what year the students were. She could hear voices nearby now and she could make out the instructor explaining the finer points of woodland tracking and concealment. As she listened, her mind wandered back to her time in this class. It had been fun for her, and educational. She found out quickly that she was not nearly as good at tracking as she thought she was. And her ability to blend in naturally was sorely lacking.
Rather than argue about it, she asked many questions, went through many demonstrations, and much early embarrassments. But she did learn and was soon as good as the instructor, and soon better. Adding the gilly net simply made it easier. As she waited, she heard the words she had been waiting for, "I have been informed we have a stalker out there somewhere. Your job is to find them before they find you." "Who," asked a boys voice. "I wasn't told which upper classman it would be this time, so I have no way of guessing."
A girls voice chimed in, "If it's her, we are so dead."
"Who might her be Minda," asked the instructor. Tama could hear the smile in his voice.
The girl sounded embarrassed when she answered, "Fourth year Arrowmark sir."
"You need not worry, all the students have been told they are not allowed to shoot you. So even she is safe enough for this day I should think." This last he said in a raised voice, letting her know she was on notice.
Tama muttered about over caution and coddling the kids now days. She had left her bow strung after servicing it and drew it from it back holder. She pulled one of the school arrows an added a small strip of green cloth to the tip. She slowly stood, almost in sight of the camp, drew back on the bow and aimed for the pole, just below the pennant. The arrow smacked solidly into the pole, the cloth waving in the breeze. All the students and instructors spun and looked at the arrow, the students cursing and the teachers silent, but open jawed.
Tama decided a game of tag was in order. "Catch me if you can kiddies, I don't bite ... MUCH!" She took off into the wood, being deliberately loud at the start then went silent and slipped off to the left, leaving almost no marking of her passage. She had left just enough that an observant tracker might be able to tell which way she had gone. Rather than stay on the ground, she climbed the trunk of a smaller tree and waited in the thick lower branches for the kids to pass her by ... Only they didn't.
High Fantasy /