Ayanna was a kind and gentle trainer, always with a big smile on her face. Her silver eyes were constantly watching us, so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves or others. When she showed us the skills we needed to possess and the right postures, her light blue braid danced around her with such elegance, you could only watch in awe. Her connection to the nature was enchanting and her heart always open to everyone. She cared for each and every creature, big or small. Her lectures on how to tame a wild beast and make it your companion were astonishing. The level of detail was immense. She made it sound so easy and effortless. But that shouldn’t fool you. The taming of a wild animal was no small feat. It took more than a nice tasty treat and a friendly smile. For a beast to become your friend, you had to study it, know its behaviour and befriend it. Play with it, help it hunt and wait for it to come forth on its own will. If it did not, you had to back way as fast as you could or you could be its next meal.
We’ve been in training for a few months now and most of us were coming along quite nicely. But the day of the final trial was nearing swiftly. I was really nervous these days and could barely eat or sleep. I was pacing up and down my room, going over all that I have learned in the past few months. My stomach growled: “Yeah, yeah. Let’s get something to eat.” With those words I descended the tree down to the pantry and on the way down bummed into a male elf.
“Ishnu-alah1, excuse me,” I said politely.
“Ishnu-alah,” he replied with a smirk on his face. “What brings you to the pantry at this hour?”
I could see it in his eyes and posture that he was a young druid apprentice. Always standing tall and proud, having been chosen by nature itself. But I never understood what was so special about that. Each and every one of us had its own speciality. I bet he couldn’t draw a bow string if his life depended on it. But I let that thought stay where it was supposed to be; in the back of my mind. “Mostly my feet,” I replied and tried to move around him. At that point he leaned on the door frame and blocked the entry. I grunted and crossed my arms over my chest. “Is this really necessary?” I was not really in the mood for games and teasing. Don’t get me wrong, usually I would enjoy that and it would make me laugh, but not this night. I was hungry, I hadn’t slept well in days and I couldn’t stand this guy. His long green hair and a goatee in vivid green-turquoise colours didn’t match his dark, purple skin very much in my opinion. And those yellowish pointy fangs didn’t really help either. I know being a druid you spent most of your days in the woods meditating, but you still didn’t need to neglect the basic hygiene. He, on the other hand, did. But he still tried to woo every female he met.
“Now, don’t be so cold miss Silverwing,” smirking and going with his hands through his hair, “I know you want me. You’ve always wanted me, ever since I started coming here.”
“I think it is you, who has been stalking me all this time. Interrupting my studies, scaring away my attempts of taming my first saber youngling. Trampling over my garden of Peaceblooms is also your doing,” not giving into his flirtations. “Now if you would be so kind as to move away, so I could get my rations and get back to my studies.”
Like that was going to happen. Luckily he did move away from the door frame but only to pursue and pester me further. I took the chance to jump into the pantry grab two red apples and was almost out of it, when he blocked my way out. He closed the doors behind him and leaned on them.
“Why must you do this, Es’kondir?” I said with annoyance in my voice. “Why can’t you just have a civil conversation for once and not be bantallas2! It looks as if the constant shape shifting has messed up something in that head of yours. You’re acting like sabers in heat. Stop it!” It seems that comment wasn’t the best thing I should have said. He shifted into a majestic cat form. His fur was smooth and dark purplish colour. On either side of the shoulder pads you could see a mark of Moonglade. Paws had sharp claws and were ready to shred its enemy to pieces. But he was still a very cute beast. He made his move towards me. His intentions to pin me down. I panicked at first and started to back away deeper into the pantry until I hit a shelf. Nowhere to go now. ‘What should I do now? This is not the way I wish to go or let him have his way with me. That filthy cat,’ I guess the word cat brought to life a memory of the lessons we had with Ayanna. At that moment I stroke a defensive pose, one foot forward and the other one a little back. Hands outstretched and connecting at the wrists, I channelled my inner hunter ability called Fear beast. It was a few second channel that you had to be very concentrated on or it would break the spell. As a hunter you had to fully see the beast and you had to hit it right in the eyes. It mostly worked only on close encounters but it was very effective. Right before I was jumped by Es’kondir, I managed to release the spell right between his eyes. He started to run around the pantry as a lost scared cat. Bumping in all sorts of shelves and tables. I took the chance to run to the door.
“I’m really sorry that it had to come to this, but I will not allow the likes of you getting their ways. I will report this to the matriarch and to your trainers,” I didn’t even say goodbye to him. He didn’t deserve it. But it was funny seeing that my studies paid off. I opened the door, had a laugh and stepped out onto the hallway. I closed the door behind me and ascended up to the living quarters. I know I won’t be seeing him again anytime soon.
Next week we had our last lessons and the grand exam, the test of how good of a tamer we were. I dreaded this day, but it eventually came. We were tasked with taming a young saber form the nearby woods. We had 3 days to do so. If you failed, you had to undergo additional training, otherwise you were a fully-fledged hunter and could choose your own path forward. I packed my backpack with apples, dried meat and spare clothes. Equipped my quiver and arrows and strapped them over my back. Clothes were casual leather that blended well with the woods. Dark blue hair braided in a long braid and hanging loosely over my right shoulder.
“Remember what you have been taught,” Ayanna gave a quick speech before she sent us of. “Ande'thoras-ethil3!”
I didn’t even look at the other trainees. I grabbed my bow, strapped it to the quiver on my back and ran into the deep woods. The deeper I went, the darker it got. My ears adjusting to the sounds of the creatures around me in the search of the companion, whom I will spend all of my future adventures with. The really scary part was, what if I don’t find the right one. What if I cannot tame the right one. Will I be able to pass the test regardless of it? All of this was going through my head while I was running and searching the known woods for the right saber. I could hear the growling of mother saber protecting her cubs. The snorting of the wild boars was the funniest. At that moment a fellow hunter ran past me screaming with a whole pack of wolves at his heels. I jumped on the nearby tree to avoid being trampled and mauled to death. ‘I hope he’ll be ok.’
When the pack was long gone, I moved forward. I came to the small lake and stopped to take a sip and to refresh myself a bit. At that moment I saw a black saber on the other side of the lake, drinking. This was my chance to tame him. He was a young saber with little experience, so it could work in my favour. I crouched and started to approach him slowly and quietly. I took some dried meats out of my backpack and held them in my hands. He didn’t notice me yet. That was a good thing. Something startled him and he looked up. At that moment he roared and attacked.
“Crap,” was the only thing I said, turned around and started to run. He was hot on my heels. What to do now? Oh yeah feign death. I dropped to the floor and screamed as if I was just struck dead. Saber stopped in confusion. He approached slowly and sniffed the air. Touched me with his paws and then just turned around and left. I slowly sat up and dragged myself behind a tree to relax my nerves and slow my heart rate a bit. ‘Okay, I need to do this a bit differently if I don’t want to become the next meal or fail this.’ I observed the surrounding area carefully for the next few hours. Saber was now playing with some twigs in the distance, but most of the time he was just sleeping. I prepared a meal for myself and had a quick nap. As I awoke, the cat was still asleep. This is my chance to tame it. I quietly approached it and laid a trail of dried meats and sweet breads. Saber nostrils moved as he took in the scents. He yawned, stretched and started to slowly eat its way towards me. He was clearly hungry, which was in my favour. I sat crossed legged and leaning on a tree, waiting for the cat
to approach me. When he was just a few meters away from me, he stopped. He growled and stuck an attack pose. I didn’t move, I just stretched and yawned like he did before. Showing no interest in him. The curiosity got the better of him. He moved towards me and started sniffing me, observing me and generally trying his best to get my attention. I didn’t give him the satisfaction, although he was really adorable. He sat down and looked at me as if waiting to be given an order. I outstretched my arm to pet him gently, he jumped back and almost rolled down into the lake. It was really funny. The trail of squished grass he left behind was clearly visible. I started to laugh and roll on the floor. With confusion in his eyes, he approached me again slowly and carefully. But as he saw I meant no harm, he started to cuddle next to me and demanded to be scratched. We spent the next day hunting together and getting used to each other movements. I tried to teach him a few commands he should follow but that wasn’t that easy to do. We still had a long way to go. On the morning of the third day I returned back to Ayanna with my new black saber. I didn’t really give him a name. Don’t know why, but I just didn’t feel the close bond a hunter should feel to his pet. This was supposed to be natural for new hunters, rarely any feel the strong bond at the start. But we are supposed to work for the bond.
“Thero'shan4 Dragoony Silverwing, with this you have passed all the tests that were given to you in the past five years,” said Ayana, clearly proud of me.
I smiled, bowed my head with my right arm across my heart: “Shan'do5 Ayanna, , I thank you for all the knowledge you have given me and I promise to make you proud.”
She lightly touched my head and with this gesture I was no longer a student. I became a hunter, one that no longer needed to stay in the safe haven of Shadowglen.
Ishnu-alah means Good fortune to you (A greeting.)↩
bantallas means primitive in Darnassian (language of night elves)↩
Ande'thoras-ethil means May your troubles be diminished (A form of farewell.)↩
Thero'shan: Honoured student (A title and term of respect.)↩
Shan'do: Honoured Teacher (A title and term of respect.)↩