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A stirring wakes him. It's the stirring of hunger that arouses him from the tree's branch. A silver branch knot curled in behind his shoulderblade. The bright white light streaming through the clouds made it look like Spring. These Silverash trees are greatly sought after by the engineers guild. Their strength and elasticity unique. Egg was ignorant of the industries of the engineers. He merely thanked it for its shade and safety while she rested. His hunger he must thank too for it drove him to hunt to become the predator. This was the first lesson of the Hunters Guild.

 

No nodding from his peers. No rivals on his journey towards the team. No friends to waste his time with. No jeers when he fell. No hands helping him up from the dirt either. If he didn't train no one would tell him off. When he did none would praise him either. The reason he trained was lost on Aegon he drilled daily from the sun's rise to its fall. His motivation was a wellspring. His training was his life.

 

The elder would not have been pleased with this. Egg thought as she found another empty snare. The knot obviously slipped and breakfast celebrated another day of the Father's bounty. 'Egg there are only two types of thing in this world predator and prey.' The elder would spout on the rare occasions that he'd attend Egg's training sessions. 'Hunting is what makes us who we are.' Egg was running intervals from one side of the 'pitch' to the other. 'This too is part of life. Which rush will we make our snare out of today?' The elder beamed. Egg jogged towards his teacher the sheen of sweat on his pale skin reflecting the Sun's light. Egg noticed a sparkle of mischief in the elder's eye which meant only one thing. This was a test not of the first world but of the other world that of meaning, of the Father and the Mother. In one meaty paw he held a bunch of slightly yellowed bent rushes and in the other a handful of thick, straight brown rushes. He could be referring to the light, life giving side of the Father and the dark, life taking side of the Mother... No a snare is a tool of both it can't be one or the other. Maybe the straighter ones are easier to knot? No he never teaches the easy way. The thick ones look stronger and I need to get stronger.

     'The dark ones. The snare needs to be strong enough to hold my prey long enough for me to take advantage of its weakness'

      'Good thinking. Yes that's what I'm getting at Aegon'

 Oh no! He never calls me Aegon unless I've done something wrong.

       'I'm afraid these dark brown thicker rushes are no good. See?' His voice straining as he pulls the rushes apart with his bare hands. 'These are thicker but lack strength. They lack flexibility. These light coloured rushes are fine material for snares. The thick ones are bigger and might be more intimidating like The Beast, The Monster or even our Great Bear. Your youth and flexibility are your strength. Your wit and perception are your speed. Your passion and independence are your armour. Train hard for me. I must pass through the mountains. You must be prepared for when Winter comes. You may be needed.'

 

Bending balls.

Pacing himself his run was fast but in time with his short sharp breaths. Each echoed through muscles compressing, tigtening and loosing the built up tension in long strides that ate up the distance. Hopping deftly over tree roots and deadly venombriars he stepped out onto an aged plateau. He slides towards the centre circle one guarding foot pointed centre while his right foot nestles comfortably up against a ragged boarskin ball.

 

He slings a stone high into the air and waits. He relaxes. Bends his knees slightly. And waits. And waits. And waits. Until the crack of stone on granite releases him. He darts onto the pitch ball following each stride with swift taps. He ducks and sidesteps while slinging stones into the dead centre of the trees. Loosing rounded stones while running hard up and down. Up and down. Until sweat has soaked through his eyebrows and his triceps burn. He lets one two three fly in quick succession. Switching targets to keep himself on his toes never deciding which tree to attack until the moment the stone leaves its sheathe. The marks on the trees once a random scatter are now indentations focussed on five circles per tree. The scree pile at the base of each tree built up so much that Egg would sweep them after each practice.

 

He passes between the trees. Circles between them dodging in and out of the flailing shadows. Snaps the ball up again and he's off. For a final run on goal...

One tree in between him and victory...

He lifts the ball with his right foot curling it around the black barked trunk...

But the only sound he hears is the bounce of the ball going out of bounds. He drops to his knees in contained frustration. The still goalpost taunting him.

 

 

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