Training 3: 8028, 9694, 10777 - Chapter 1

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Training 3: 8028, 9694, 10777

by OddOwl

Libraries: Fantasy, Original Fiction

Published on / 1 Chapter(s) / 0 Review(s)

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Lametta stretched her wings out behind her then above her head in the glow of the full moon shining high in the evening sky, testing the muscles as she prepared for the next stage of training. She breathed deeply into the cool night air, filling her lungs with the scents of the training grounds she now called home. Dirt and sawdust and sweat and triumph. For days, the three young stryx had been running the track, testing their skills against one another to their absolute limit, driven on by their three tutors.
They had found their strengths and weaknesses. Lafayette, sandy brown tipped in black, the purple and peach of his twilighted head made him appear to be dipped in color like an Easter egg left half finished. Abrasive and snide, the gryph was the largest and strongest of the three at short distances. But his massive body burned energy quickly, lacking the stamina for long ranges.
Xochipilli was probably the most all around adept of the three. Black with white unders, the harpia’s plumage wasn’t flashy, but rather suited his straight-forward personality, the flowered garlands he preferred wearing belying a touch of whimsy. Brawny and fast, Lametta knew the harpia would be a formidable opponent in the arena… especially with his rare fire breath.
Lametta herself was the smallest and lightest of the three. Crimson smoked black at the points, with runemarks like gold filigree on her head and shoulders, the silken hawk knew she looked more at home in the show ring than the battlefield. Her slight build gave her an advantage in endurance however, and although she lost as often as she won, the hawk always gave the boys a race. 
She was tired of running though. Lametta yearned to get to the air where she knew her skills would really shine. But the time had finally come. 
“Are you ready?” a deep voice came up behind her in the shadows. Lametta shook her feathers into place, folding her wings to her back and looked up at Xochipilli.
“Can’t wait. You?”
The harpia grinned in response. “You know it. Have you seen Lafayette?”
She started shaking her head, but then spied him coming out of the barracks behind them. “Late as usual…” she muttered under her breath.
Xochipilli smiled wryly at her as Lafayette joined the group completing the trio. “Ready to eat tail feathers kids?” the gryph drawled mockingly. Lametta scowled at him. She knew he was just trying to rattle her, but she could never help letting the larger stryx get under her skin. She was about to snap back a retort when the horned harpia Marvolo flew down beside them.
“There you are children!” he exclaimed cheerfully. “We’re just about to get started, so hurry up and scooch along to the arena ring. You know how Rapscallion gets when he’s kept waiting.” 
Marvolo kept up a steady stream of chatter as he herded the three young stryx to the arena. Waiting there, Oboe, a ketucari who could shapeshift into a human, had taken up his usual languid lounge against the arena’s wall, while the frilled snow corva Rapscallion, sure enough, was flitting between the wall and ground with impatience.
“Finally!” he snapped. “This is no place for lazy lagabouts. If you’re not going to take it seriously, perhaps you’d rather go home?” 
Lametta hung her head chagrined, horrified by the thought of being sent home in disgrace. “No, sir…” she replied meekly. 
Beside her, Xochipilli added “We’d like to stay, sir.” 
Even Lafayette looked somewhat apologetic… as much as he ever did. “It was my fault. I lost track of the time, and they were waiting for me.”
Lametta stared gap jawed at the gryph in disbelief. Had he just apologized? Xochipilli caught her eye, his own surprised expression echoing hers. 
“If you’re going to send someone home, it should be me… sir.” he finished contritely.
Rapscallion glowered at the three of them before softening. “Well just don’t let it happen again. Line up you three, and hop to it.”
The three students snapped into their usual line at attention. Marvolo, clipboard in wing, called out attendance. Lametta looked on in affection at their guidance counselor. The harpia was a steady presence in their lessons. Always ready with a kind word and encouraging praise, he was their self-appointed cheerleader, keeping their spirits high in the often grueling training. Once finished he added cryptically, “Lafayette, please come see me after training.” Lafayette looked grim and nodded in acknowledgment leaving Lametta wondering what was going on. 
Rapscallion broke in on her musings. “Alright children, today we’re going to mix it up and start working on our control skills through flight.” 
“First though, you have to make it to the flight field,” Oboe added in amusement, “which means a quick run first.”
Lametta stifled a groan. She wanted to fly! And she hadn’t tied her tail feathers for a run either. 
“It won’t be too far hawkling,” the ketucari consoled, seeing her dismay. 
“I can always carry you…” Lafayette cooed sarcastically, “if you’re not strong enough…”
Lametta glared at him. “I’ll be fine,” she clipped back. Seemed like Lafayette was back to his usual jerk self.
The six of them started off at an easy jog down the path, Rapscallion leading them and Marvolo taking up the rear, and Lametta found that even with her feathers unbound, she could keep up, the high full moon bathing the darkness in its gentle light. The corva led them off a side path they hadn’t taken before that led towards the rear of the complex. Lametta surveyed the new surroundings. At the very back of the grounds, the grass and trees gave way to stone and gravel. Rapscallion led them around a boulder almost as large as Lafayette, and Lametta stared in shock. Before them, the ground gave way, dropping steeply into a deep chasm. 
“I had no idea this was here…” Xochipilli murmured as the three students gaped at their next task. 
The so-called flight field wasn’t a field at all, but was rather situated in a deep crevasse within the earth. It was fairly wide, with enough room for the three of them to fly wing to wing if needed, with boulders strewn haphazardly along the bottom, shadowed with a maze of nooks and crannies. Farther into the canyon, ropes and nets glinted in the moonlight, hammocked between its walls, creating obstacles for them to maneuver through.
“This is why we had to wait for full moon-rise,” Oboe explained. “When the moon is high, it illuminates the whole field. Once you’re all more experienced, we’ll work in darker conditions.”
“Alright kids, enough time to stare about slack-jawed later” Rapscallion ordered, bringing them all to attention. “Now it’s time to take your first flight test.” 
Lametta gulped. None of them were freshly downed chicks, of course... they had all been testing the skies since their flight feathers had come in. But none of them had ever flown more than low circles in open ground. This was something else… something treacherous. For the first time, the idea of serious injury was occurring to the young stryx, and it was a stark realization for all of them. 
“You’ll all be fine…” Marvolo said encouragingly. “It looks scarier than it is.”
“And you’ll have to learn to fly in more than just open skies if you want to be great hunters and arena fighters” Oboe added wryly. 
Rapscallion gathered Lafayette and Xochipilli to his side. “We’ll take the first run, one at a time,” he explained. “Not too far… just to that outcropping there,” he finished pointing to a jut of stone half way down the canyon wall large enough to accommodate them, “and then back again. I’ll be with you the whole time.”
Xochipilli and Lafayette waked to the edge of the chasm where the ground dropped away beneath them. “Just like usual…” Lafayette murmured to himself. He tilted his weight, opened his wings and fell forward. Lametta watched as his massive wingspan caught the air like a sail, the gryph gliding surprisingly gracefully towards the outcropping, Rapscallion right behind him. He landed heavily but solidly on the outcropping, and Lametta could see his grin to Rapscallion. He launched himself back into the air with strong wingbeats to gain altitude, overshot his landing, and circled back to land beside the other students breathing heavily. 
Rapscallion landed in front of them. “Good job,” he praised, “but watch your control. You need to land where you mean to, not where you happen to end up.” Lafayette nodded seriously. The corva turned to the harpia. “Xochipilli, you’re next!”
Xochipilli squared off towards the outcropping and threw his body into the air, catching and steadying himself in a few wingbeats. He came in a little too fast to the cropping and had to backwing to slow himself, but he too landed comfortably on the stone, Rapscallion right beside him. He made his way back and landed confidently back where he started.
“Great job, Xochipilli! Marvolo exclaimed. “A very nice landing!”
Xochipilli ducked his head in embarrassment and pleasure. Turning to Lametta, he said “The walls feel very close, but they aren’t really. Just ignore them and focus on the landing.” 
Lametta nodded briskly to him as Oboe came up beside her. “Our turn,” the changeling said quietly. “I’ll be riding Rapscallion, but we’ll be right beside you the whole way.”
The hawk started. For some reason it had never occurred to her that the boy wouldn’t be riding her. He climbed up the corva’s shoulders as quickly and gracefully as the feline he really was, seating himself behind his head, half covered by the curly feathers of the thick rough covering the bird’s neck and chest. “Ready?” he asked.
“Um, right…” she stammered nervously. She brought them to the edge of the chasm and looked down. The ground seemed very far down, and the walls felt like they were getting tighter with each breath. Oboe reached across, placing his hand on her neck reassuringly and she calmed. The hawk took a second to study the cropping and map out her landing, and then with a mighty push, she was off. 
Within heartbeats, Lametta forgot about the two tutors right beside her. The walls seemed to reach for her and she felt panic seep like ice in her bones, making her heavy and torpid. She was going to crash! The outcropping loomed before her and she reflexively threw out her legs, claws scoring at the hard surface of the rock. Her breathing came out in ragged chunks and she could feel a tremble starting when through the din of her own thundering heart she heard Oboe exclaim, “That was perfect Lametta! You're halfway there…”
The hawk looked back up at where they had started, now seeming an impossible distance above their heads. She gathered her courage and launched herself back into the air. The bouldered ground, which had seemed so far away on the way down, now seemed to be reaching up clawing at her, determined to drag her down to the shadowed depths of the chasm floor. Remembering what Xochipili had said about forgetting about the canyon around her, she closed her eyes and beat her wings harder to escape. Lametta heard Oboe and Rapscallion cry out in alarm, and opened her eyes to see Marvolo right in front of her. The horned harpia dove to the side to get out of her way as Lametta veered awkwardly before landing in a heap in a cloud of dust, with Oboe and Rapscallion grounding beside her. The ketucari dropped to the ground on his feet and stood quiet a moment as the hawk lay prone, working her way through the adrenaline coursing through her body with a shudder. 
“I closed my eyes,” she said embarrassed.
“Let’s keep them open next time, okay?” he said kindly. Lametta stood, shaking the dust from her feathers.
“Alright kids, let’s do it again!” Rapscallion ordered briskly. 
 And so, the three students spent the next few hours flying to the outcropping and back. Each time they went, Lametta got more and more used to the feeling of the claustrophobic canyon whizzing by her as she flew. She soon realized that the chasm wasn’t really steep at all, but rather more of a gentle decline, and soon all three of them could do it with ease. Once the moon slipped over the other side of the chasm, Oboe called it a night. Oboe and Rapscallion made a fire and Marvolo brought out snacks and refreshments. Tomorrow Lametta, Lafayette and Xochipilli would continue practicing harder flights through the obstacle course, but tonight, they celebrated.  
2121 Words
 Tier 3 - Control Congratulations! You've reached the middle tier, and your Draco Stryx has become highly coordinated on its feet. Now it's time to stretch out those wings and strengthen those legs! Gliding and jumping are an important skill when your Stryx is learning how to use updrafts and air currents to lift its body into the sky, or how to make swift turns and powerful leaps during a fight or hunt, and gently builds toward the strength a Stryx will need to become a competent flyer, hunter, and fighter. Draw your dragon gliding down from a hill, or rocky outcropping, toward its rider or another Stryx waiting and coaxing it from below, or leaping into the air/jumping across a stream, or over some form of obstacle. (Drawing your rider/extra Stryx is optional.) 
Extra Character:
Last training prompt for ordinaryredtail 
40/40 AP for Leygo
AP Counts:
Xochipilli 8028 / ordinaryredtail 
2121 Words: 10.5
Background: +2
Biorhythm: +1
Training: +1
Extra Stryx: +2 (Rapscallion 3635)
Flockmate: +2 (Rapscallion 3635)
Handler: +2 (What a Load of Shift- Oboe)
Total: 19.5 AP
Lafayette 9694
2121 Words: 10.5
Background: +2
Training: +1
Extra Stryx: +2 (Xochipilli 8028)
Flockmate: +2 (Xochipilli 8028)
Handler: +2 (What a Load of Shift- Oboe)
Personal: +1
Total: 20.5 AP
Lametta 10777
2121 Words: 10.5
Background: +2
Biorhythm: +1
Training: +1
Extra Stryx: +2 (Xochipilli 8028)
Flockmate: +2 (Xochipilli 8028)
Handler: +2 (What a Load of Shift- Oboe)
Personal: +1
Kirin: +1
Pet Rock: +1
Total: 21.5 AP
Rapscallion 3635
2121 Words: 10.5
Background: +2
Extra Stryx: +2 (Xochipilli 8028)
Flockmate: +2 (Xochipilli 8028)
Handler: +2 (What a Load of Shift- Oboe)
Personal: +1
Total: 19.5 AP
Marvolo 8619 / Leygo
2121 Words: 10.5
Background: +2
Extra Stryx: +2 (Xochipilli 8028)
Handler: +2 (What a Load of Shift- Oboe)
Total: 16.5 AP

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