The Three Kings: Part 4

The next morning Terra woke up groggily to the man shaking her awake. What is your name anyways? She thought.
“Cal,” he replied tersely. “Now get up.” Cal turned and walked out the door impatiently.
She got out of bed grudgingly. She had only been in this room at the inn for a few days but it would be sad to leave, she never seemed to stay anywhere long enough for it to be home. She dressed and took a look around the room, the wood floors, small bed in the corner and the one window without any curtains. She turned and left.
The two of them walked several streets before started wondering if they were going to get horses. Where are we going anyways? How far is it? Wouldn’t it make sense to get horses for the journey?
Cal ignored her or maybe he was just thinking about other things and not reading her thoughts right now.
They left the city via the main road to the North. What is to the North? Terra started thinking of all the major cities along the North road and which one they might be headed towards. The agricultural fields would in a few hours give way to forests. There weren’t many town or cities of note far beyond the good growing field. Then past the forests were the mountain and behind them even larger mountains capped with snow even in the summer they still gleamed white. Terra was thankful it was still spring and not dry summer time when the road would turn to a dust cloud every time a horse or carriage went by.
They had walked for hours when her stomach started growling. She realized they had skipped breakfast and it was approaching noon. Are we going to stop soon to eat? Did we even bring any food with us? She realized she didn’t have any food in her bag just water.
“No,” he replied blankly.
She stopped and drank some water to fill her stomach for then hurried to catch up to him.
“So where are we going anyways?” She asked.
“I am taking you to the Academy,” he replied.
“For assassins?” she asked looking around. There was no one else on the road. “There is an Academy just for assassins? Why haven’t I heard about it?”
He looked at her condescendingly. She sighed. The answer was pretty obvious, if everyone knew where the assassins got trained, then everyone would know who they were and probably someone would try and make the school disappear. Still the lack of conversation was baffling.
They kept walking until the sun started to dip. By now the fields were far behind them and they were into the woods but not yet dense forest.
“We will stop here for the night,” he said. “You should gather firewood and find some dinner.”
“Find some dinner?” she asked dumbly. Her stomach was killing her at this point.
“Unless of course you don’t want to eat,” he shrugged. “You have an hour and then we start training.”
She gaped at him. Was he serious? They had just walked all day without eating or resting and he wanted her to train?
“Make that 59 minutes now,” he said.
She turned and scurried off. She found a creek nearby and refilled her water flask.
She picked up sticks and pieces of woods as she walked and ate berries as she found them. Is he trying to starve me to death? She saw a rabbit and froze. She slowly reached and grabbed her knife as quietly as she could and then threw it. It went right into the neck and the rabbit flopped down. She grabbed it and hurried back to the campsite. She built a fire while skinning and gutting the rabbit and then put it on then cut it into slices and skewered them on sticks. If we are not going to be taking breaks that doesn’t mean that I can’t eat and walk, she thought at him.
“Five minutes,” he said.
She grabbed one of the smaller pieces that was done and wolfed it down and then moved the rest to where they could cure and dry for later.
“Climb that tree,” he said.
She looked at him dumbly.
“Climb that tree,” he replied calmly.
She stood and looked at the tree. It didn’t seem very difficult to climb, most of the branches were spaced nicely. It was only 20 or 30 feet tall which wasn’t so bad. She started climbing quickly wanting to get this over with quickly so she could get some rest. Half way up one of the branches broke off but she caught herself and hauled herself up the rest of the way until she sat on the very highest branch that would hold her. She looked down triumphantly.
“Now what?” she crowed down at Cal.
“Now you stay there until I say you can come down,” he replied.
She stared back down at him shocked. It was going to be dark soon.
“Is this some sort of joke?” she asked.
He laughed and leaned back at a smaller tree looking up at her.
“Well if you would rather quit then feel free to climb back down now,” his smile lacked any humor.
Terra swallowed and clung to her branch not moving. She breathed a couple times and then looked around to distract herself from her aching muscles. She could see the very tops of the mountains to the North over the trees. There was a slight breeze that kept blowing the hair into her face. Her legs started cramping. She watched the sun slip away. It was getting darker and harder to see. She was exhausted and the only thing keeping her awake was the pain in her muscles and the fear of falling.
“You can come down now.”
She sighed in relief and then looked down. She couldn’t see where the branches were anymore. She moved slowly feeling her way down with each foot sliding down until she felt something solid. She got to a point where she couldn’t feel a branch without sliding both feet down. She lowered herself slowly, her muscles were screaming until her foot touched a branch. She looked down and saw the coals of the fire glowing softly. She was almost there! A few more feet.
She stepped down quickly onto the last branch and it broke and her weak muscles lost their grip on the branch they were holding and she fell awkwardly.
She screamed in pain as she felt her wrist snap. She felt the tears in her eyes as she pushed herself up one handed. She looked at Cal hoping he might help her.
“Always pay attention to your surroundings,” he said calmly. “We leave at first light again.” Then he stood up and went and curled into his sleeping mat.
She lay sobbing in pain until she final manage to drag herself to her own sleeping mat. She didn’t care about the meat hanging on sticks over the dying fire. She was in too much pain to be hungry. She didn’t sleep well either, lying stiffly in pain with tears pouring down her cheeks.

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