The Silver Shadow

by Oberon Snowcat

I woke up in the morning and looked at my clock, which was sitting on my desk opposite my bed before I pulled myself out of bed. It was then that I recalled what Misha had told me back more than a month ago.

“When you get back from your much needed vacation you will report to the Long House for a tour so that you know where you are going to be spending a good deal of your time later on.” He had also told me that when I finished my vacation I was to report directly to him in regards to any future assignments. That would mean that I would no longer report to my friend George when I got back from some assignment or another. I quickly got dressed in my standard clothes, black vest, black and red kilt, black and red cloak, swordbelt with both the Claw of the Dragon, a short-sword, and dagger hanging openly from it with three throwing knives concealed on the other side. As an afterthought I grabbed my most recent necklace, the one with twenty lutin thumbs and one ogre thumb on it and strung it around my neck. Just before I left my apartment I made a point of grabbing the set of weapons that I had just recently finished for Caroline.

After breakfast I made my way to the Long House with a little trepidation. Mainly because I had never been there before. When I reached the door of the Long House two guards accosted me and asked me what my business was.

“I’m here to deliver some special weapons to Caroline Hardy, as well as receive a tour from Misha Brightleaf.”

“And who are you?” The lead guard asked, his spear in his hand was held at the ready.

“My name is Adòn Naharél, but they both know me by my other name Oberon.”

“All right. Wait here.” The guard vanished from sight, but returned a minute later. “Enter. But be warned, you are being watched.” The tall door to the Long House opened and I stepped inside, being careful to keep my right hand well away from the Claw of the Dragon. These were probably very touchy people who would notice if I even used my one of my hands to prop my own swords up. I found myself standing in a large, well-decorated hall; the walls were covered in tapestries.

Standing in front of me was Caroline. “Welcome to the Long House Oberon.”

“Hello Caroline I have something here for you.” I replied as I looked around at the tasteful decorations in the hall.

“You like the Long Hall?” She replied “And you brought me a gift?” the otter morph chirped.”

“This place is amazing Caroline. How long has it been here?”

Caroline shrugged. “No idea, but Misha thinks it’s as old as the keep itself. Certainly Kyia isn’t revealing any secrets.”

“Kyia?” I asked her in a puzzled tone

“You’ve never heard of her? Kyia is the Spirit of the Keep itself!”

“I have heard of her but I wasn’t sure what she really is. Is she similar to a demi-god?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “No one is really sure. She could be.”

“Anyways I have something for you, as soon as you finish paying for it. I’m sorry but business is business and I can’t just give these things away. After all my supplies cost money.”

“Nothing wrong with that.” She reached into her belt and pulled out a handful of coins. “Here you are.”

I counted out the coins before I put them in my belt pouch. Once I had the coins away and handed her the weapons belt with the attached short-sword with by-knife, and dagger. “Here you go Caroline. I hope that you enjoy using them, they are meant to be used after all.”

Caroline took the weapons from my hands and looked at them superficially before she said, “Thank you!” She reached out and hugged me tightly. “This is beautiful.”

“I only make the best Caroline, I don’t do second rate work.”

“So I see.” She drew the sword and held up the blade. “Very nice indeed.”

“I hope that you enjoy it Caroline. It should serve you well for many years.” Then I grinned at her at her and asked “Could you be nice enough to show me around this wonderful place?”

“Sure! We are in the Long Hall; it seems to be THE main hall in the Long House. The Long House is self contained; the door you came in is the only way in or out and is heavily guarded at all times.”

“A good defensive strategy, but it does make it so that anyone fighting in here is basically fighting with their backs against the wall.”

She nodded her head. “I know but this is a place of last resort, the final stand...” She hesitated for a moment.

“What is it? Was there something like a defensive last stand here at some point in the past that you are remembering?”

“It’s nothing for certain,” She said slowly. “But the rumour is that the Long House is meant to protect and guard something.”

“Oh what would that be?”

She shrugged her shoulders “No one knows, there is a rumour that it’s something so terrible that God himself hid it away from the world.”

“Which one?”

She laughed. “Does it matter? Do you want any part of something that a god fears?”

“Not really but there are some gods that don’t really have much in the way of fear. For instance Baatal or Chéletor are both without really much in the way of fear.” I made a gesture of spitting at the mention of the Forsaken One.

She shrugged again. “It is just a rumour. I prefer not to think about it too much.”

“A good policy, I tend to let the gods figure their own way through the universe, though I do pray to Chéletor, Savnator, and Malanor from time to time.”

“Let me show you some more. The Long House has everything, barracks, a kitchen, mess hall, apartments, and even an armoury.”

“An armoury.” I said feeling my ears perk forward at the mention of a place with weapons, since I was a connoisseur of weapons of all types.

“We don’t have an armourer – yet.” She angles towards one of the door at the end of the Long Hall. We walked past a pair of soldiers guarding the door and she opened it revealing what was beyond. A large room filled with racks and racks of weapons and armour.

“This is very impressive.” I said as I went over to one of the racks and took down an unusual weapon that was comprised of a wooden shaft with a strange hook and spear point on the end of it.

“I honestly thing that there is one of every type of weapon in existence in here.” She said.

I replaced the weapon that I was looking and looked down the files of racks before I grinned and went over and pulled off a particular weapon. It was a Kelmar Shedatz war staff. “I believe you now, this is a shedatz war staff.”

She looked at the fearsome weapon in my hands. The wooden shaft of the weapon was relatively short but on either end of the shaft was a pair of long leaf type spear blades that each had the characteristic Kelmar watermarks on the blades. “Impressive thing. I did tell you that this place has EVERYTHING!”

“This I LIKE.” I indicated the weapon in my hands. “Trust me if anyone here was trained how to use one the lutins would be very afraid of you indeed.”

“The lutins are already afraid of you Oberon, you’re so damn big that you tower over them like a thundercloud, and more over they are absolutely terrified of us Long Scouts.”

“Terrified is good, but evidently they aren’t yet scared enough to not try and come here.”

“They NEVER get that scared. No matter how may we kill there are always others to take their place and raid here.”

“I guess that is what you and I are here for, to make sure that they don’t overrun the place.”

She nodded slowly “We are here to keep back the tide.”

I nodded as well, noticing the sombre change of her tone and spun the weapon in my hands idly before I paused to look at the maker’s mark before my jaw dropped and the weapon fell from my hands and clattered to the floor. After several moments I managed to ask Caroline “How did you manage to get this?”

“It really belongs to Kyia – she seems to use this place as a sort of museum. No idea just how long it’s been here, could be centuries old.”

“Well according to the makers mark on the right hand blade of that weapon it was forged roughly five hundred years ago by the Gold Bladelord Syfanous Naharél. He’s one of the most famous people in the history of my clan, and incidentally one of my ancestors as well.”

Caroline shrugged. “Nothing in this place amazes me anymore. Kyia might want you to have it.”

I stood there considering what she had said while I caressed the beautifully grained hardwood shaft of the weapon before I placed it back on the rack and said, “I’ll leave it here until such time as I am free to come in here and utilize it when I want to. After all it’s only polite to the others in the Long Scouts to be able to chose any weapon that they desire, even if they aren’t sure quite how to use it.”

“You never fail to surprise me Oberon. You are always showing a side of yourself that I never expect.”

I grinned at her and winked before I picked up a distinct scent of a canine on a wafting breeze from some other part of the Long House. I looked over at Caroline and asked, “Am I mistaken or did I just smell a dog in here?”

“Dog? Do you mean the wolves?” She asked me. “We don’t have a dog but we do have a pack of dire wolves living here in the Long House.”

“Dire Wolves?” I replied with my own question “What in the name of Savnator is a Dire Wolf?”

“It’s a giant wolf. Something about the size of a small horse. But why don’t I show you them instead of trying to describe them.”

“What are they like?” I asked her as she led the way out of the armoury.

“You need to remain calm and NOT do anything rash or unpredictable.” She warned me as we headed back into the Long Hall.

There I noticed several large shapes moving towards us “And here they are.” I looked at the shapes and within moments I was able to make out an exceptionally large wolf looking at with his bright golden eyes before he turned back to his pack mates. “Are they always like this?” I asked her softly in the barest of whispers.

“Yes,” She said as a dozen of the large wolves approached us. One of the animals was as tall, at the shoulder as Caroline was. I looked over the pack of about a dozen animals. Each one was a lot larger than I thought a wolf could possibly get by at least a dozen times. In their golden eyes I could see the sparkle of intelligence, these were no ordinary animals, and they looked much, much smarter. The largest one came over to where I was standing and sniffed my face, exhaling a large breath almost into my nose; it definitely was the breath of a carnivore. I didn’t really mind all that much, since I was a carnivore myself, but I knew that any herbivores would probably be heading for the nearest exit after being this close to a predator of this size.

“They are actually quite gentle, so long as you are gentle to them, and they seem to know, instinctively the difference between a keeper and an animal that they can eat.” Caroline said from where she was standing beside me

“How do I greet them?”

“Hold out your hand and stand still. Let them come to you.”

“Are they able to communicate?”

“No they can’t speak, they aren’t quite that smart. However, they can easily understand you.”

I kept my mouth firmly shut; knowing that bared teeth among predators was viewed as a threat, and held out my right hand.

“Don’t over stress Oberon. They won’t attack you on sight.”

“I’m not stressed, I just know that certain things that I could do as a human are no longer welcome anymore. For instance if I grinned broadly to any of my old friends in the mercenary trade now they would take on look at me and run like their hair was on fire and their breeches were catching.”

She laughed. “With those teeth just speaking would scare most normal people.”

I nodded ruefully; my four main fangs were each roughly five and half inches long and very sharp. If that wasn’t bad enough the teeth at the very front of my mouth were also sharply pointed. “You’re right on that point Caroline.”

“They like you Oberon, it seems cats and dogs can get along.”

I chuckled as one of the large wolves put his head under my hand as if asking for a scratch on the neck. After a moment I asked her “Caroline is there a way that I could communicate with these wolves so that both of us could understand one another? After all we might end up getting mixed signals if we simply rely on body language. The reason for that is because feline body language is very different from canine body language.”

She shrugged. “You can try gestures. Misha and Arla have better luck communicating with them then most people, but then they are canines as well so the body language comes naturally to them.”

“There are a lot of humans who speak the same language and yet they still can’t understand each other!”

“Trust me, I’ve met more than a few of them.” I replied as I gave the big wolf who’d inserted himself under my right hand a gentle scratch behind the ear, being careful not to extend my finger claws much beyond the tips of my fingers. After all I didn’t want to hurt the big guy.

“Everyone enjoys a good scratch behind the ears. Even me.” Caroline piped up.

I laughed as I heard that and we were both interrupted by a loud whine of pleasure from the wolf at my side.

“I think the wolves have really taken a liking to you. Especially the one that you are giving the ear scratch to.”

“That is a relief. I would hate to be their enemy.”

“They are good creatures to have on our side. Very fierce fighters.”

I looked at the wolf at my side. “I could definitely understand that they would be fierce fighters. Where are they from originally?”

“They were once all over the Midlands but now they are only able to survive in the Giantdowns.”

“So that means that they come from out in the lands where the lutins live, why don’t they get rid of the lutins for us? Since the lutins are living in their natural territory.”

“There are only a few of these wolves and MANY, many lutins. Some lutin tribes actually befriend them!”

“Why are they so rare? Such magnificent predators should be able to dominate all those around it.” I said looking down at the silver black wolf at my side, to see him looking up at me with his beautiful golden eyes. In so many ways he reminded me so much of the Snow Tigers that were native to my homeland, large, powerful and so beautiful. She shrugged

“No telling. They just don’t do as well as the smaller wolves do.”

“That’s a pity. Back home our Snow Tigers are treated with a great deal of respect and reverence, especially the Royal Snow Tigers. They are the masters of the North Forests, even a Kelmar Ranger goes into those forests at their own risk.”

“They are respected here but in the wild the only respect is survival. It takes a lot of meat to fill that massive belly.” She said pointing at the large black wolf’s belly. I nodded slowly and then said

“You think it would be any easier for an adult male Snow Tiger? They weigh on average between 600 and 900 pounds.”

“I honestly don’t know, all I do know is that they are not doing well in the wild. They are slower than their smaller cousins.”

I shook my head softly and said, “It would be a real disaster for this world to loose such a magnificent animal” As I ran my fingers through the black wolf’s thick neck ruff.

“We’re doing all that we can to help them survive.” She answered “And Kyia seems to agree too since they’re allowed to roam at will.”

“Have they every been out of the Keep on a patrol before?”

“No, but they do occasionally hunt in the wood by themselves, but we’ve never had them on patrol.”

“I was thinking that they would do well on a patrol, if you permitted them to come with you.”

“It’s not really up to me. It’s up to the wolves really.” She answered.

The wolf at my side whined and nudged my side with his large body.

She laughed before she pointed out “I think that answers your question.”

“Are you trying to tell me that he wants me to take him on my next patrol?” Just as I finished saying that there was a deep bell toned woof from the wolf at my side.

“I think that answers your question,” Caroline commented

“In that case what’s his name?”

“We really haven’t thought of giving them all names.” She answered

“Why not?”

She shrugged. “We haven’t been rather busy, and they can’t tell us what to call them.”

I looked down at the silver-black wolf before I finally asked him and Caroline at the same time. “How does Tcukendra sound to you? It means Moonshadow in Kelmarhastarat.”

“An impressive and appropriate name for him.” She looked down at him before she went on “He seems to like it as well.”

I looked down again and he was looking up at me. He licked my hand. “So what’s next on this whirlwind tour?”

“How about the kitchen?” She said before leading me down a small hallway.

I followed her, right beside me Tcukendra matched our pace step for step. “Do you have anything that I could nibble on, I haven’t eaten for a little while and I have to fill the cave every so often.”

She guided us into a good-sized kitchen. She led us through another door into a very large storage room that was filled with all kinds of food. “Choose what you want. It’s all here.”

I looked at each of the shelves before I saw a good-sized piece of uncooked roast and picked it off of the shelf.

“This’ll make a nice little snack.” I said before I took a large bite out of the meat using my teeth to cut off a large chunk of meat.

She laughed. “We try and keep enough food on hand to feed three hundred people for a year, just in case.” There was a whine from Tcukendra as he looked at the meat in my hands.

“Looks like he wants something to eat.”

“Of course,” She led us past a large pile of grain sacks to another door. When she opened the large door a blast of cold air blew out of the door and ruffled our fur.

I sighed at the feeling of the cold breeze. Inside of the room there was meat – several tonnes of the stuff. Tcukendra wagged his tail and then looked up at me, a question clearly visible in his eyes.

“What can he have, I don’t think that you want him eating Misha’s lunch now do you?”

“He can have enough to fill himself. Most of this meat is meant for the wolves anyway. A body as big as his eats a LOT of meat.”

I nodded my head at Tcukendra and he dashed over to a large side of meat and began to tear it apart and eat in a manner that was very familiar. “I was doing that four days ago when I was out enjoying the wild in my four legged form.”

Caroline nodded. “I enjoy spending time in my full form too. It’s so liberating!”

“It would’ve been very relaxing if it hadn’t been for those dumb lutins.”

“Nothing that a white tiger of your size cannot get rid of with a few swipes of the your paws.”

“Oh I had some fun with them. By the time that I left the bush to come back here there was yet another pyramid of heads by that trail.”

She shook her head. “You remind me of Misha and all of those ears that he collects.”

I grinned and pulled at my necklace of thumbs, “You mean things like this.”

She shook her head again “It’s a male thing, it MUST be a male thing.”

“I only have about a hundred and ten thumbs so far, but my collection will get bigger.”

“You have a long way to go to catch up with Misha and his ears.”

“I’ve only been here for four months, and I’ve only been collecting thumbs for roughly a month so you can cut me a little slack. By the way do you want to stand here in the cold room watching Tcukendra eating or do we have some other places that we haven’t been yet?”

“Sure. How about the archery range?” She asked. A short trip down another hall led us to a long, narrow room. “We have our own indoor archery range.”

“Too bad I don’t have my own bow with me right now.”

“Would you like to try on of ours?” She asked before pointing to a rack of bows on one wall.

“Is there anything more in my strength category?” I asked after I looked at the bows on the rack. Even from where I was standing I could see that they were all in the eighty to one hundred and fifty pound category of pull.

“What strength?

“Oh about two hundred pounds, two-fifty if you have something like that.” She removed one bow from the rack.

“This is around one hundred and ninety, its the strongest one that we have available.” I looked at the weapon and then went over to a bucket of arrows, selected one and nocked it before I drew the bow to its limit. I let it go, only to have the arrow go about two feet before landing on the ground. I had forgotten that I didn’t have my special glove on, so as a result my finger-claws had severed the string neatly with a musical twang.

“Those claws of yours are a real problem sometimes.” She remarked as she dug around in a pouch at her waist before she held out a new bowstring.

“Do you have a claw glove handy?” I asked her as I quickly re-strung the weapon with ease.

From a small drawer she produced several gloves of all different sizes. “One of these should fit.”

I picked the biggest one, and it still was a little tight, but I could manage. As soon as it was on my hand I went over to the bucket of arrows and began to shoot. I went through four arrows before I managed to look over at her.

“What do you think?”

“They’re just practice arrows, but they should all be in pretty good shape. Just go easy on that bow.”

I nodded slowly and then handed back the bow, “Next time I’m down here I’ll bring my own bow.”

“You’re always welcome to try the range here.” She answered.

“Thank you Caroline. Is there anything else that I should see before I got talk to Misha?”

“You haven’t seen the library yet have you?” She took my hand and led me from the archery range and down a corridor.

“What’s this library like? Is it as comprehensive as the one in the main part of the keep?”

“Not as big, but still quite impressive to see.” She opened the door at the end of the hall. The room beyond was impressive but at the same time it seemed like it had been grown out of a tree. The walls were lined with shelves, which were filled with thousands of scrolls.

“I guess that this place has its own librarian kind of like Mael-Murie under normal circumstances.”

“Fox Cutter is usually here but he is busy in the main Keep Library today.”

“You mean that he’s helping Mael-Murie today?”

“Cutter was THE Keep Librarian before the Yule Attack, but he is helping her get settled into her position at the Library.”

“He’ll probably have as much fun as she does trying to sort the few scrolls in there that are written in my own native language.”

“True! He certainly does enjoy being a librarian. Misha got him to come here to this special library. It has so many special scrolls and books that aren’t in the main collection.” After a few minutes of looking around at the shelves of scrolls that lined the shelves in the walls I turned and said.

“I can’t really make all that much sense of this library.”

“Cutter has special glasses that let him read any language. If you ask him nicely he might even let you borrow them some day.”

“You mean that they would make your chicken scratch of a language easier for me to read, by shifting it so that they would read like runic Kelmarhastarat.”

“They can translate anything!” She answered. “Although Cutter can already read many languages without them.”

“I can read your language but this,” I pulled my notebook out of my belt-pouch and handed it to her “, is my native written language.”

She took my book and flipped it open and examined the writing therein for a moment before she handed it back. “I can’t read that, aside from you I doubt that anyone in this part of the world would be able to read it without magic.”

“Well here I wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to read it, and for you that might be a good thing because if you can’t read it I doubt that the lutins would be able to make heads or tails of it.”

“Most lutins can’t read anything!” She exclaimed “But you do have a point. That little book is something that I doubt that any human who isn’t from your homeland would be able to read either; even Nasoj would probably have some difficulty with it.”

“When did Misha want to see me today?” I asked her as the black and silver form of Tcukendra returned to my side and looked up at me with his fearfully intelligent golden eyes.

“You don’t know?” She asked me as we walked along the hallway away from the library. “I’d best let him tell you.” She stopped in front of a door and turned to face me.

I stood in front of her before she turned and walked through the door, leaving me and Tcukendra standing there waiting for her to return.

“Well,” Came a very familiar voice from other side of the door. “Are you coming in or are you just going to stand there collecting dust?”

I laughed at the voice of my friend Misha as it came out of the room. I quickly stepped into the office beyond, it was similar to George’s, but on a greater scale for some reason. “Lieutenant Adòn Naharél reporting as ordered sir.” I said before I snapped him a perfect salute by brining my right fist over my heart and bowing my head.

“Relax Oberon.” Misha answered. “You’re among friends, and please take a seat.”

“Sir when I engaged in a meeting of an official nature I tend to prefer to keep things businesslike, though I will take a seat.” I followed my own words by selecting a chair and sitting down in it, to the squeaking sounds of stressed wood. “I hope that this chair is sturdier then the ones in George’s office. They sometimes collapse under me.”

“We have a brown bear here in the Longs so the furniture is built strong enough to support him.”

“Ok I was just worried by the sounds that this chair was making sir. Now why do you need to see me today sir?” He suddenly leaned forward with a serious expression on his face

“Have you ever heard of the Long Scouts? he asked quietly.

“Yes I have heard some tales in the scout units that I operated in, or with in the past four months since I arrived at the Keep. As well as some not so subtle hints that you and George dropped during that same amount of time.”

Misha laughed. “Have you thought about the Longs? We are considering asking you to join the Longs.”

“I would be honoured sir to join you, though I don’t know the requirements to join, or if I even posses those requirements.”

“You already possess most of the requirements, but before you join we need to test you a little.” I looked over as Caroline shot Misha a hard glance. “All right – we’re going to test you a LOT!”

“What do you want me to do, go out there into the wilds and destroy yet some more lutin encampments?”

“We already know that you’re good at killing things.” He explained. “What we need to do is to find out if you know when to NOT kill. If you know how to track and survive in the wild alone.”

I grinned at him with most of my teeth showing before I replied, “Misha I’ve probably been doing scouting and recon work for all sorts of clients since before you were an adolescent. I think that I can be stealthy when I want to.”

“You’ll have to prove those skills my friend, and you have a lot to learn as a Long Scout. Firstly you’ll need to learn the sign language that we all use.”

“I guess that there are still some things that I have to learn.” There was a deep woof from my side and I looked over at Tcukendra as he stood there looking at both me and Misha.

“The wolves like you, even though you aren’t a canine. You could learn a lot from them, they are strong silent killers, but they do know when to back off and retreat.”

I nodded before I unbuckled the Claw of the Dragon from my belt, placed it on his desk, slid off of the chair, and said, “I will swear to serve you and the Keep if you so desire it sir, and none can divert me from my orders after that but death itself.”

Misha stood up. “Good! Do not misunderstand me. What we do in the Longs is extremely dangerous. Welcome to the Long Scouts Oberon.”

I nodded and then stood up slowly and reached up to the medallions on my shoulder that marked me as a scout lieutenant and pulled them off leaving that space bare once more. With that simple change I was again, a simple foot soldier. With that done I picked my sword off of Misha’s desk and replaced it at my side. “What are my first orders sir?”

“We’ll start your training with a little run. We’ll run you around the Keep a few dozen times. Then we’ll see how well you swim.”

“Sir I learned to swim when I was four, I don’t think that I’ll have a problem with that.”

“Good! Then this won’t be very hard at all for you. After that we’ll do some more running and then some practice combat.”

“Combat, just my kind of thing. Though I’m not a huge fan of flat out running.”

“The reason for the running is to test your endurance. I want to know how long you can keep going before you drop from exhaustion.”

“I’ll do the best that I can sir.”

“That’s all I ask.” Misha answered

“When do we start?”

“Twenty minutes. Drop off all of you equipment in your quarters except for a pair of pants and a dagger. Be back here in that amount of time.”

“Do you have any way to make it so that those guards at the door will recognize me when I come back?”

“No need. Once you said yes to our offer your apartment was connected to the Long House. The door to your rooms should be just down the hall from here.”

I saluted him once more and headed out of his office and down the hall. To my delight what he said was true. Once inside my rooms I divested myself of most of my heavy equipment, and clothing other than a light exercise kilt and my double baldric. Attached to the baldric was the Claw of the Dragon, slung across my back, and two daggers. Other than that I made sure that my collar remained attached because I didn’t want to get overheated outside. Considering the fact that it was quite warm outside today. Once I was sure that I was ready I took several swallows of water and made my way back to Misha’s office.

“You’re two minutes early.” Misha commented calmly when I got back. “Now let’s get going. You have a lot of running to do.”

“Yes sir.” I said as I matched his pace with an easy lope, this was a sort of gait that I could keep up for hours on end.

As the sun was setting I sat down with my back to the wall panting and looked over at Misha, who was also panting. I was proud of the fact that I had somehow managed to wear him out while he was trying to wear my out.

“How are you feeling Misha? Tired?” I looked over to where he was leaning against the wall just before he replied

“A little. You?”

“I’m just about ready to collapse into bed; the last time that I was this tired was when running from an enemy army for two days straight.” He laughed,

“Then get some sleep. I’ll see YOU tomorrow morning at 4:30 AM.”

“Yes sir. By the way where’s the nearest mess hall, I need lots of meat to feed this cave that I call a stomach.” Misha pointed down the hall.

“We have our own, remember? Don’t over eat though.”

“I won’t, the only time that I’ll eat to repletion is after I’ve come under the influence of the Kelmar Blood Rage.”

“Good! And NO alcohol! None till your training is over.”

“Yes sir, the only thing that I’ve found that has any major effect on this body is that concoction that Donnie makes, and I can assure you that I won’t be spending a lot of time there if all of this training is all this hard.”

“Good. Besides you’re going to be too tired to go to the Mule.”

“Well if you don’t mind I’ll be heading home now Misha, I really must get to bed or you’ll find me curled up with my nose in my tall somewhere in the hallway.”

Misha laughed, “Go get some food and then some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning!”

I nodded in thanks and headed down the hall to the Long’s own mess hall where I could get something to eat before going to my own apartment and crashing for the night. I hoped that everything wasn’t quite this hard tomorrow, but in my heart I knew that this was just the beginning.