Flashback The Bare Bones of Basic Survival

In which Irriari learns Wilderness Survival from Hatred.

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While Sylira is by far the most civilized region of Mizahar, countless surprises and encounters await the traveler in its rural wilderness. Called the Wildlands, Syliran's wilderness is comprised of gradual rolling hills in the south that become deep wilderness in the north. Ruins abound throughout the wildlands, and only the well-marked roads are safe.

The Bare Bones of Basic Survival

Postby Irriari on February 13th, 2015, 7:22 am

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20th Day of Summer, 508 AV

Irriari had begged Hatred to teach her how to survive in the Wildlands for the better part of the last two years. Summer has rolled around once again and he finally agreed with an ever friendly:

“It might be hot enough to bake my balls to my wings, but at least I’m not toting you through the snow.”

While the acceptance was hardly kind, it was the way of Hatred to talk in such tones. Most of his life had been spent travelling from the colony to the Wildlands outside of the Sea of Grass. He hunted, gathered, and survived in the wild for weeks at a time and then came back with meat and bones for the clan. Rarely, Hatred unearthed something valuable or managed to pick off a lost merchant or bandit. The Elders tolerated his eccentricities and distaste for the colony life because he brought back more crafting materials in a season than the rest of the colony brought back in a year. Hatred had spent the majority of his two week tenure back in the colony avoiding Irriari. Finally, she had broken his will and he agreed, pending a few conditions that she had to meet. He had commanded her to ready her bow, quiver, and arrows. She would have to borrow flint, steel, a blanket, a canteen, and a sharp knife. Once she presented the items to him for his approval, Hatred would instruct her on how they were to set out on their journey.

Hatred awaited her at the colony exit. He began speaking as she neared him,

“I made sure you had these items because you need them all. The reasons for flint, steel, and your bow should be obvious. I sure how I don’t have to tell you why you have a quiver filled with arrows. Without a fire and a weapon you’ll starve or be forced to catch things with your bare hands. I don’t think you could manage that and you’re too fat to eat nothing but berries. The blanket will keep you warm in the winter when your fur won’t protect you from the harshness of the cold and snow. You’ll be petching happy to have it. You can also use it to start a fire if you’re away from twigs. The canteen is to hold water. When we find water you’ll drink to your fill, drink till you’re about to pop and then fill your canteen. I’m not going to have you passing out on me. I have hunting to do. Lastly, you have your knife.”

With the mention of his favorite tool, Hatred’s lips twitched. It might have been a gesture similar to a smile at some point, but Hatred didn’t really smile much in the colony and his expressions had warped to accommodate his lack of social interaction. He continued,

“Your knife is important. I guess it could work as a weapon in a pinch, but if you lose your bow you deserve to die anyways. It allows you to skin animals, cut sticks to make traps, or carve wood and bones if you get bored.”

It was no secret that many hours of Hatred’s time in the wilderness were spent carving and whittling bones and wood into various figurines. Many colony members had begged him to part with them but he was fiercely protective of his creations. The Elders even tried bargaining for some of the more ornate figurines that would trade well in Xy. The mere suggestion had sent Hatred in a rage. He didn’t return to the colony for a third of a season and when he did he brought back a single rabbit pelt as a token of his displeasure. Through gritted teeth, the Elders had apologized and promised not to touch his figurines. They needed the jerky, pelts, and crafting materials he provided and no one in the colony had volunteered to take his place.

Hatred stomped his clawed foot against the ground, rousing Irriari from her reverie.

“Get rid of one of the items. Drop it here, a slave will pick it up. It’s a good lesson. You won’t always have everything you need in the wilderness and you can’t expect that things will remain in perfect condition forever.”

The choice was simple to Irriari. She would have to choose between the comfort and fire starting properties of her wool blanket or the utility of her knife. Knowing that Hatred might skin her with the discarded knife if she refused to bring it, she dropped her tightly wound blanket onto the ground. The grouchy male in front of her nodded.

“Good. Its summer and you made a practical decision for once. There’s plenty of sticks to be found and you’ll need your canteen and blade far more than a comfy sleep aid.”

Ignoring his slight, Irriari examined his pack. A knife was tied to the side, hanging down via a thick leather strap that looped around a sheath. Rope dangled from the opposing side and a large piece of cured jerky stuck out the top. Resisting the urge to snatch it out of his pack, Irriari followed him out the exit, brimming with excitement at the thought of learning how to survive in the wild.
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The Bare Bones of Basic Survival

Postby Irriari on February 13th, 2015, 9:08 am

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The trip into the edge of the Wildlands nearly killed Irriari, or so she believed. She had given up complaining to Hatred after realizing that doing so only served as a reason to get him to increase the grueling pace he had set. Hatred cared not about her aching shoulders or the large bruises that had formed where her wings met her body. When she asked him why he was so set on getting to the Wildlands in such a short period, his answer was simple:

“The faster we get there, the faster we hunt. The faster I teach you to hunt, the faster I can drop you back at the colony and go on my own way.”

While she tried not to show it, she was hurt. Somehow, she had managed to delude herself into believing that Hatred must have liked her. He had chosen to take her on this journey, after all. The longer Irriari traveled with Hatred, the more she was sure that he was trying to kill her. He wouldn’t even have to escort her back to the colony if she died to the elements. Gritting her teeth, Irriari continued onward, fully convinced that her wings would give out before they reached the forest. After another two bells of hard flight punctuated by a few short breaks in the grasses, Irriari found the edge of the treeline that they sought coming into the edges of her vision. Speaking to Hatred was a lost cause and a waste of breath, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw him smile at the treeline. Irriari pumped her wings with more vigor as a second wind lifted her up and pushed her onward to the forest.

A bell later, they had made it to the edge of the forest. Hatred touched down first and looked around, scanning the tree line first, then the Sea of Grass behind them, then the ground at his feet. Satisfied, he motioned down for her to join him. When her feet were firmly on the ground, she closed her wings and collapsed to the ground. Every muscle ached from the exertion of travelling for days, and she wanted nothing more than to sink into a lake and allow her tense muscles to untangle. The cool soil of the forest floor was a fine substitute, and she stretched her limbs out, careless of the fact that her fur was being coated with dirt in the process. Hatred kicked her in the ribs. The hit wasn’t particularly painful – Hatred had pulled it back enough that it wouldn’t do more than jolt her to a sitting posture. She yelped and glared up at him,

“I need a break. You might be used to these excursions but I’m not. I’m going to fall apart.”

Hatred’s calm expression turned dark in an instant. Another kick connected with her ribcage and it was far more forceful than the last. Hatred breathed in twice before he was composed enough to speak.

“I don’t care if you need a break. If you fall apart it isn’t my petching problem. We are at the edge of the Sea of Grass and we aren’t stopping until we’re well hidden among the trees. Next time a pack of Akalak decide to hunt your sorry hide, you should tell them that you’re tired. I’m sure they’ll be delighted to hear that they caught a weak zith.”

The word weak was spit from his lips with the distaste that was usually reserved for the enemies of the zith that had managed to kill her kind. Recognizing that there was no way she could do anything but follow him, she stood up and walked behind Hatred. While her back and ribs ached, her legs were mostly fine. Walking wasn’t nearly as painful as flying, so long as she avoided tripping on the moss covered rocks and tree roots. Where Hatred strode through the forest uninhibited, Irriari found herself moving around obstacles and nearly hitting trees because of how focused she was on the ground. Every so often, Hatred stopped and bent down. He focused on the ground intently and would occasionally move small groups sticks or leaves. It gave her a much needed chance to catch up, so she didn’t say anything initially. After the fifth occurrence, she spoke up,

“What are you doing? What do you keep looking at?”

Hatred gestured that she come forward and threw his arm out to block her when she got close to the area he was examining.

“Do you see that? It’s a hog track. They aren’t normally this clear, but it rained a day or two ago and the soil is wet enough to hold clear imprints. We’ve been following them ever since I first spotted a track. When you’re tracking, you have to move quickly. You can’t look for every track, you have to follow the most likely path and stop every now and then to check your progress. If you take too long, you’ll lose them and the game trail.”

Irriari nodded and bent at the waist to examine the track. It was deeper than she would have imagined. The hog was either extremely heavy or bad at walking. Deciding it was the former, she turned to Hatred excitedly. Before she could even pose a question he began speaking,

“We’re not hunting the hog. In a survival situation you want to find water first. Prey need water just as much as you do so you can find them near it, if you're lucky. After you find your water, you build your firepit and find your food after. You can survive a long time without food, you’ll be fine.”

Groaning, Irriari resumed her inspection of the track. The cloven hoofed boar had stepped down firmly with the front of its foot, leaving the deepest portion of the track towards that area. Peering further, she noticed a few broken sticks in the area around where the boar had walked. A small plant that had just began blooming had been trampled as well and a bit of the stalk poked up from the other side of the track. Satisfied that she had gleaned all she could from this track, she stood up and resumed her pace behind Hatred.

Hatred began speaking casually as he walked, pointing out an edible berry here and a poisonous nettle plant there. She tried to catalogue them all in her mind but they went by too quickly. After thirty chimes, they found themselves at the edge of a small creek. The creek was only eight feet wide at the edge they found themselves at. She knelt at the edge of the creek and mimicked the way Hatred cupped his hands to drink. After drinking her fill twice and filling her canteen to the brim, Irriari looked up at Hatred, eyes alight with the possibilities of using tracks to find water in a forest.

“How did you find this so quickly? It couldn’t have been the tracks, could it?”

He gave her a withering look and said,

“I’ve been here before. I know this area. Normally you’d just try to find tracks and do your best. If the tree cover isn’t too bad, you can fly above the forest and look for water. If it is dense, you’re just going to have to walk.”

The answer was hardly reassuring.

“Now, you need to gather twigs for making a fire. Make sure you gather ones that aren’t wet or too thin.”

He grabbed a small twig off the ground and a larger one that he snapped off a nearby branch.

“They need to be in between these sizes. After you collect enough of these, we’ll look for larger pieces. Stack them up by your pack.”

With that, Irriari began the back breaking process of collecting and sorting twigs. She had never felt more like a human slave.
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The Bare Bones of Basic Survival

Postby Irriari on February 15th, 2015, 2:07 am

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Irriari gathered the sticks slowly, making sure to pay attention to the length and width of each one. If they were the correct size, she made sure that they were completely dry. ‘The more brittle, the better’, Hatred had said. It was a slow process, partly because of the pain in her ribs that surged every time she bent down and partly because there were very few dry twigs around the bank of the stream. There was no use searching here. Even if she did find twigs, they were all slightly wet or tipped with muddy soil. She walked away from the stream towards the direction that they had come from. The twigs were more plentiful here and she found small groups of them near the base of a large oak tree. Larger branches were scattered about, but she ignored those and focused solely on the tiny twigs. After gathering a half armful, she returned to Hatred and placed them all on top of a large patch of grass. It was the driest work surface they had, but she could tell by Hatred’s face that it was far from ideal.

“Okay, I gathered a stack of larger logs to keep the fire going, but we won’t need these until later tonight. For now, I’m just going to show you how to start a fire so you know the basics before it gets dark.”

With that, Hatred grabbed a third of the twigs she had gathered along with a small portion of moss that was attached to one of the larger logs he had found. In one hand, he balled the moss together until it was a tight knot. Then he started arranging the twigs around the moss bundle so that it formed a protective nest around the moss. Hatred held it out for her examination, taking care to point out the small area that was missing twigs.

“When you strike the steel against the edge of the flint, we’re going to be aiming the sparks that come off the top of the flint towards this opening. Moss burns too quickly to hold a flame, so the twigs are there to keep the fire burning while we position our fire nest on the ground. As it catches fire, you add more twigs and progressively larger sticks until you get a good fire going. From there, you just maintain it with logs.”

He paused for a moment, looking to see that she understood. When she nodded in comprehension, he pointed toward a muddy bit of ground.

“Dig out a circle there, and cover it in a layer of grass. You normally don’t want to make a fire pit in mud, but it’s what we got.”

Irriari grumbled. There was a lot of petching work that went into making a fire. She hadn’t even considered that they would need an area to confine the fire. Still, it made sense. Things were just far simpler when you could get a slave to do them. Her clawed hands made short work of the muddy ground, and after two chimes of digging and moving the resulting mud into a pile off to the side, they were left with a fire pit of sorts. It wouldn’t hold back a fire of any considerable size, but it provided a barrier that would keep the duo from setting the grass around them alight. The next part of her task was far more difficult and cumbersome. Irriari grabbed large bunches of grass from the ground and pulled. She originally tried placing them in the pit as they were, with the muddy roots still dangling. Hatred growled his disapproval. Fine. She began tearing the root structure off of the tufts of grass. Yank, rip, place, repeat. Yank, rip, place, repeat. After fifteen chimes, she was nearly done creating a small layer of grass on top of the muddy fire pit. Satisfied, she turned to Hatred, waiting for his approval. He simply nodded and tasked her with holding the fire nest. With his hands free, Hatred was free to rummage through his pack. After a few moments, he emerged with a piece of angular flint and a loop of steel. She had seen small stacks of them within the piles of goods they had stolen from the merchants, but she had never questioned their use. It was clear they weren’t weapons, so they were useless.

Hatred showed her the sharp edge of the flint and how she was to hold it in her hand.

“The flint stays steady in your right hand while you bring the steel down from your left hand. When the steel strikes the flint, small flaming bits fly off. We want those bits to hit the nest and catch flame. Go ahead and set the nest down in the middle of the fire pit.”

Irriari nodded and placed it down, watching Hatred intently. The thought of performing all these steps in winter both distracted and terrified her and Irrari wondered how she could ever create a fire in the snow. Before long she was brought back to the real world. Hatred was sitting halfway in the fire pit and half out of it. Pieces of grass clung to his furred leg, but he paid no mind. He leaned in closer, making sure the flint was at the bottom of the nest, nearly touching the earth. Hatred struck the steel against it, and small sparks jumped out in the air. For the first few strikes, the sparks simply vanished into the air, but after the fifth strike, a spark caught the moss and the moss quickly began disintegrating. After 15 seconds, the moss was all but completely burned and the fire had spread to the surrounding nest of twigs. Hatred stood up quickly as he saw the grass below the nest catching fire. Before long, all of the grass that she had worked so hard on accumulating had caught fire and burned out. Irriari glared at Hatred. He knew that it would happen and he didn’t stop it. While Irriari was unsure that there was anything he could have done to stop the fire, she still wished he had. After a prompt from Hatred, Irriari began recollecting grass to put onto the fire pit for the fire that they were to build at night. She grumbled all the while, but Hatred ignored her as he bit into the venison jerky that he had procured from his bag.

“When you finish that, we’re going to go hunting, so hurry up. Daylights burning.”
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The Bare Bones of Basic Survival

Postby Irriari on February 15th, 2015, 7:52 am

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Irriari tried to ignore her petching stomach and the smell of the dried venison. She failed at both miserably and instead distracted herself with thoughts of the hunt that was to come. Hunting in the forest would be entirely different from hunting in the Sea of Grass. Prey would be more plentiful, but also much more difficult to find. If Hatred hadn’t pointed out the hog track in the mud, she would have stumbled right on past it and probably crushed it underfoot. Without him, she would never find anything to eat in the wilds. The thought was sobering, and she reflected on how easy she had lived for the past years. The colony had spoiled her in many ways, and it was becoming more apparent that even the simple tasks were going to take bells of her time when she was in the wilds. No wonder Hatred viewed the colony with such distaste. Hatred waved at her from a distance and brought a finger to his lips signaling that she would have to be quiet.

Each step was a battle—staying quiet took the top priority but she also found herself looking for tracks and trying to spot the edible berries that Hatred had mentioned. Focusing on all of these things in the dense forest biome took time, and she found herself slipping further away from Hatred. She hastened her step in an attempt to catch up with him, placing her smaller feet in the imprints of his larger tracks. Sticks jutted out from the ground and patches of nettles threatened to shred her furred skin if she wandered too close. Hatred pointed to a branch of nettles and smiled. Irriari had no idea what he meant. Perhaps he was hoping she would fall into one? Shaking her head, she returned her gaze to ground and looked for tracks or trampled vegetation that signaled an animal’s path. After a chime of searching while following behind Hatred, she noticed that a bushy weed had been snapped in half at the midpoint of its stem. She kneeled down carefully, making sure to keep her own feet far enough away to avoid covering any potential tracks with her own. There! To the left side of the plant, under the shadowed side lay a track. Brow furrowed, the zith examined it. It was too small to be a hog track. The hoof print was entirely different from the one they had saw an hour before. The two portions of the hoof were closer together and longer. The track had been pressed down evenly, with no signal that the animal favored one section of its foot over another. Stymied as to what could had created the track, she stood back up and moved quickly to make it back to Hatred. A twig snapped loudly underfoot and he glanced back, alarm written on his features. He waved his hand in her direction using sharp motions. His intent was clear- quiet above all else. They were close to their prey.
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The Bare Bones of Basic Survival

Postby Irriari on February 15th, 2015, 7:56 am

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The zith stretched out her hearing, hoping that she could hear the prey they were stalking before they got closer to it. The sounds of nature assaulted her senses and she could make nothing out of the din. To her left, she heard birds fluttering about loudly, attempting to wrest control of a particularly prized branch. Behind her, something scuttled over dried leaves and into the grasses. To her right, Irriari heard a smaller stream and water hitting the rocks. How did Hatred make any sense of it all? There were simply too many noises, even if she managed to filter out one or two, there were constantly new sounds of varying levels of loudness that broke her focus. Hatred was only a few feet in front of her now, and he motioned that she crouch down like he was. She found herself behind the trunk of a particularly large tree. If she hadn’t been caught up in the excitement of the hunt, she would have said something to Hatred and jokes about all the things he could carve from it. He touched her bow and quiver lightly, gesturing again with his hand. As she moved the bow down from her back to her arm, he nodded. So he wanted her to shoot whatever they had been trailing. It would be damned impossible to pull an arrow from her quiver without making noise. Seeing the distress written on her face, Hatred pulled one out and handed it to her. He pointed directly at the center of the tree. Their prey was beyond it, and she should shoot it. Nodding sharply, she nocked her arrow to the bowstring and pulled it back half the distance needed.

Irriari took a moment to breathe and focused all of her attention on the feel of her short bow beneath her fingertips. She couldn’t miss. It had taken them a half bell just to find whatever was beyond the tree and she didn’t intend to repeat the process. She breathed in and out slowly, before pulling the arrow fully taut against the bowstring. Her movement was that of tree sap- slow enough to hurt. Her head was the first to clear the protection of the tree and she found a doe eating clover in a small clearing in front of them. It munched contentedly, unaware of their presence. Her right leg came next, then her left. Now she had a clear shot. She lifted the bow and the deer looked up towards her, suddenly aware of the movement in its peripheral vision. She loosed the arrow, aiming for its shoulder. The arrow flew fast and embedded itself into the flank of the deer. It wasn’t close to where she aimed, but the animal was hit. Hatred yanked at her left arm, pulling her sharply to the side and began running. The hunt was finally on.

The two zith chased the deer with reckless abandon, staring at the animal as it bounded forward in a desperate attempt to rid itself from the predators that sought to kill it. A trail of blood marked its path and made it far easier to follow. Small splashes of blood littered the tops of plants at the start of the chase. As they chased the animal further, Irriari noticed that there far more blood covering the plants and ground underfoot. The deer took a circuitous path, bounding to the left, then the right, obviously seeking the quickest way to safety. After fifteen chimes of running they found the downed deer. She laid in a patch of grass, drawing great heaves of air through lungs that had been pushed too hard. The deer kicked wildly when she saw them, but she didn’t have enough energy to get up. Hatred’s voice interrupted her inspection of the arrow that was buried in the doe.

“Finish her.”

Irriari nodded and clawed viciously at the animal’s neck, searching for the tendons and arteries that would bleed the beast out the quickest. The blood was warm and slick against her hands and she dug further, ignoring the pained bleats of the animal. It bled out in a chime and she looked upward at Hatred who was nodding to her.

“Good. It was sloppy, but it was a kill. I’m surprised you managed to actually hit it with that bow of yours, but I won’t complain.”

Hatred grabbed a knife from his boot and sliced the beasts stomach open, inviting her to eat from it.

“Don’t mess up the pelt. I want to skin this one when it’s all said and done.”

Irriari grabbed at the meat greedily, overjoyed to finally have something to fill her pained stomach. When she had her fill of the deer, Hatred gestured that she sit nearby.

“Rest for a second and then we’ll start skinning this beast. After that we’ll head back to camp and set up for the night.”

Irriari nodded wearily. She found herself absentmindedly thinking about how comfortable the grass was against her aching calves. If she learned nothing else from her experience with Hatred, the young zith learned that surviving in the wilds was not half as glamorous as Sevrai had made it o
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