A dark castle.
A stone castle.
On a hill.
A massive hill.
A daunting hill.
In the night.
A black as death night.
A starless night.
There was no telling where I'd land, but it doesn't really matter. The Ingits are everywhere; we Lymphs have nowhere to hide. No matter how many times my eyes suspiciously dart around me, I can never convince myself that I am alone. That nobody is crouching behind my back, watching my every step, observing each ragged breath I take. Prepared to pounce. As discreet as a whisper, I fish out a creased page of scrawled handwriting. My instructions, as expensive as dirt; however, my whole life relies on them. I scan them hurriedly, my eyes straining to adjust to the dim light:
1. Gather weapons,
2. Find shelter,
3. Collect food/water,
4. Keep your eyes open,
5. Await further instructions,
Remember, this is not rehearsal; this is the real thing. Watch your back and don't let your guard down.
Aiman Tillis is the leader of the Lymphs. His face reminds one of a monkey, with crinkled eyes and light stubble. He fits all the qualities of a warrior: He is tremendously courageous, has extreme stamina and knows all about everything. To many of us Lymphs, he is a hero; our only glimmer of hope in this raging war. Aiman Tillis is respected by all of the tribe.
I gulp as I take in the warrior's advice. He is right, this is not rehearsal- this is not a game anymore. One tiny mistake could cost me my life.
1. Gather weapons,
Before I set off, my team and I were supplied with a pouch full of lethal items. Each pouch contained different articles and it was against our orders to open then until we'd landed. But I've landed now. Creating no noise, I unhook the leather sack from my belt and pull it open. I stare at the contents inside...
A minute dagger. I draw it out. The blade glints in the moonlight. It fits snugly in my hand and the handle seems to morph to fit the shape of the inside of my palm- like dough. This could come in useful for many things. Close up combat, killing animals, sawing through things... I toss it a few times in my palm before sliding it back into the pouch.
A rubber glove. Well, rubber at first sight. I slip it over my frozen hands and immediately my fingertips turn as hot as the sun, blending oddly with the coldness of my palm. They turn as light as the sun too. In fact, the tops of my digits appear to be filled with glowing balls of amber light. Curious, I clench my hand into a fist before gingerly directing it at the emerald grass. Omigosh. I watch as a beam of vertical light shoots from the glove, drilling an immaculate hole into the ground. I feel the warmth as well as the light drain from my fingers. Hurriedly, I point the glove into the air, not wanting to damage anything. But the moment seems to be over. A faint trickle of shimmering white dissolves into the air before I descend into darkness once more. I peel of the glove as if it has teeth and fling it back into the bag.
A pot of prickly needles. Carefully, I pinch one and hold it up in the moonlight. The end is a glowing green. A deadly green. Somehow, I register that these are not to be messed with- for what could a normal pack of tiny needles do? Next to nothing. A rabbit darts over my boot, but I am too quick. With on swipe, I inject the sharp object into its fur. Before the needles even half the way in, the bunny flops onto the grass. Dead. Good, dinner. Pulling out the pin, I examine the rabbit's fur. Except from a dot, which could be mistaken for anything, and would not be noticed if one did not know what they were searching for- the prick leaves no traces. Perfect. Keeping the pin well away from any part of my body except for my fingers, I drop it into the pot which I screw the lid on firmly and drop into the pouch.
A helmet. But not just any old helmet, this one isn't big and bulky- it's as smooth as silk and fits over my head faultlessly. I wait for a few seconds while tapping it, testing the strength. It seems pretty untouchable to me. I doubt even the dagger could create even the merest scratch on it. The only thing is, it only covers my head- leaving the rest of my body unprotected. Well fair enough, the brain is one of the most important organs in my body. There is no need to clip anything around my neck as the helmet fits perfectly. I make up my mind that on no circumstances will I remove this from my head- even in my sleep. Especially in my sleep.
Some matches. A rope. These are probably the least helpful items -compared to the others- in my pack. Matches of course will come in use for burning things, but nothing much else. The rope is marginally more useful. It is relatively long but not very strong, I could easily tear it in two if I cared to try. But throughout training I have learnt that you must never underestimate things. It is always good to think positive. Now- a rope could come in handy for tying knots and climbing. Enough said. I place these two objects back into the pouch.
Considering stories told from previous warriors, I have a pretty good haul. The only thing I crave is some kind of healing item. What if, I receive a wound which could so simply be healed back at home but here, become fatal? I will just have to keep my head down and hope that doesn't happen.
2. Find shelter.
Well the castle obviously isn't an option. No matter how vulnerable I feel hiding below it, it could be swarming with Ingits. Only an idiot would venture into there. I cannot climb a tree to save my life unless it has at least ten branches within half a meter off the ground. I stare around, hopelessness washing over me. I'll skip this instruction and worry about it in a minute.
3. Collect food/water.
The rabbit still lolls against my boot. Problem solved. But I can't survive on rabbit forever; there must be other food sources in this place. So I begin to look around. Water's easy. It's common sense that every castle has a moat running around it. It would be silly to get water directly from the moat, but small rivers curve off in different directions. Nevertheless, I must be careful. I'm glad to be wearing black though- for any other colour would appear florescent in the pitch black. I drop down to the grass and begin to crawl through the weeds to a curve of rushing water. The rumble of it should disguise any noise that I happen to make. Without caring, I dunk my head into the cool liquid. Hastily, I gulp it down. Who knows how long it will be before I taste it again? Of course the helmet is waterproof. It's firmer than an ant's body for goodness sake! After drinking my fill- I return to crawling through the grass over to a vast tree, which looks slightly eerie when captured by the moonlight. Sharp berries dot the branches along with nuts. Perfect. I won't be able to climb it but a few large stick have fallen to the ground. Picking them up, I lunge at the tree- causing birds to flutter angrily from their nests. But it doesn't matter. More nuts and berries come cascading down.
Soon I am lazing against the tree, cracking open nuts with the dagger and berries with my tongue. I remember from rehearsal that these berries are safe to eat. It is only after standing up that I notice the gaping hole in the tree trunk. Before I had stood on them, crackling leaves had obscured it from my vision. Gathering up my belongings, I peer curiously inside. All I see is bumpy bark and wood, no signs of life. A hollow tree! I dislike sticking my head through while the rest of my frame lies outside, anyone could come and kill me right now. The gaps just large enough for me to fit through. I need to make a decision right now. Shall I creep in? Or crawl back outside? The prospect of being tucked up between rocks of soft wood seems quite inviting compared to the wide openness. I slowly edge my way inside...
4. Keep your eyes open
Well there open now- although it's hard to tell as the hollow trunk is so dark. Surely I can rest, because I am full and content but am on the verge of nodding off.
5. Await further instructions.
I am waiting here, in this cosy space. And I will await here for the rest of the night...