The Adventures of Rothus, page 22 [D-815]

Camp of the Oracle, two years after our arrival:

I have been training with Florm and Fost for several months now. They are pretty good a hiding and sneaking around. Aeryn worships Desna. Apparently, she has discovered a new god! I don't know what to think about that. I mean, Erastil is the one who created us? Or feeds us? Or is it that he (she?) watches over our... cattle? Huh. I'll bet praying to Desna is just like praying to Erastil, anyway.

Lily writes letters to her ma and her ma writes back. She says the forge is gone, Orvani's hut is gone, the Dragon's Den Inn is gone and the Tarenvale Tavern is gone. The whole town must look totally different. I hope it all gets rebuilt by the time we return. Luckily, Father and Mother's farm is still around! I'm really glad to hear they are alright.

Joachim has been keeping the camp moving all the time. We pack up and move about every two weeks. Sometimes we are near a town, but times like now we are out in the middle of nowhere! At first I thought the movement was random, but then after about twenty different times, it all started to look familiar again. Joachim leads us in circles! I don't know if he's totally lost or what, but that's how it goes. Not everyone stays at the camp all the time. Small groups will wander off for a time and then rejoin the camp later. They must be looking for food or towns to trade in.

Everyone is doing well with their training, I think. Evan might be going a little crazy with his sparring, though. I once overheard him saying under his breath, "A man is like a sword, and a woman is like a sheath....” I didn't ask him about it, but I think he needs a rest.

I try to get the girls from the camp to hang out with me, but none of them want to climb trees or dig up worms in the dirt and hide them in people's tents. I even tried to get Lily to hang out with me and a fish I found, but she didn't want anything to do with it. Maybe I should ask Evan, since he seems to always be with one girl or another. I wonder if there is something to the whole swords and sheaths thing….

I have counted this as the tenth stop after the Tentia forest. We’ve been here about a week and the camp is back to its regular rhythm. I like training here because Florm lets me play with lots of cool toys like swords and crossbows. He also encourages me to pick locks and sneak around the camp!

Today we reviewed points of attack. Fost says that brute strength is a wasted effort. One poor strike to the neck is worth two solid strikes to the arm or leg. To test my skill up to this point, I had to spar with him. But, instead of a weapon I used a paintbrush to mark my accuracy. See, the real art of combat is to make your enemy fall with a single well-placed strike. I wonder if Evan knows that. It seems like he spends all his time trying to strike his opponents like he struck iron in the forge. I’ll have to give him some pro-tips.

After training, I enjoyed my free time wandering around camp. I do a lot of stealthing around during training, so this is my chance to walk out in the open without worrying whether or not anyone can see me. Tyler sees me right away, "Hey, Rothus. I have a great idea. I can help you aquire things. I know a great way to distract people while you come up behind them."--hey, a butterfly! I haven’t seen a butterfly with green wings like that. Where did it come from? I ask Tyler and he says, “I did that.”

“Did what? Made a green butterfly?” I ask.

“No, I distracted you.”

“Distracted me from what?” I say.

“That’s exactly my point!” he explained. I’m so confused. Then he suggests that he could distract people while I pick their pockets. That’s a genius idea! Though, I had a little task I wanted to complete today.

Florm recently showed me how to use a hand crossbow, but we didn’t practice with it today. I really want to use it some more. I wander around a bit trying to think of where I might find one. I decide that the crafter’s tent probably has a few and head over there. The tent has noise coming from inside, but I can’t see in the flap. Someone is in there, but I still might be able to sneak in.

As a move closer, the sounds get louder. The earth is soft below my feet and that the air is solid as stone. Wait, why is the air so hard right here around the tent? I push on it and my hand stops against nothing! There is some invisible force stopping me. I check to see where it extends and it goes from the ground up to as high as I can reach and continues all the way around the tent in an unbroken circle. This is pretty awesome! I want an invisible wall. I position myself so that I am leaning against the force shield at a significant angle. Then I cross my arms and see if anyone notices my amazing skills.

Tyler walks over and gives me an inquisitive look. He can’t figure out how I am able to lean against nothing, so he knocks on the air. No sound comes from the knock, but it is definitely clear there is a barrier there. “Tyler, I’ll give you a gold piece if you can get through the barrier,” I challenge.

“Show me the gold piece first,” he counters.

“It’s on the other side of the barrier, of course!” I say in my most honest voice.

He looks at me for a long moment. I don’t think he believes there is a gold piece at all. When he walks away, my belief is confirmed.

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