Fable - Ask Luuruk-Hur, the Coming of Spring

Um Min-Kyung

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Then she asked, "May I try it? Your bow and the Tong-Ah and one of those little arrows? You can guide me again, you know, m-make sure I'm doing it right. I wouldn't want to damage anything or hurt myself or you, since you've been so gracious."
“Of course I’ll help you. I am new to this place and it would not be very good or polite of me to refuse help. Though I am starting to wonder who is teaching who.” He added the last bit as a joke. “First let’s try drawing without the arrow. Set the tube on the bow as I did,” he positioned her hands and helped set the tube correctly, “then pull back. When firing, you would pull the tube out as you shoot, which is how the archers paradox is avoided and allows the arrow to fly straighter than other arrows, which makes switching between a Tong-Ah arrow and a regular one something difficult to get used to, because regular arrows are always subject to the archers paradox. Though maybe the thicker arrows you say that your tribe uses might nullify it thanks to the thickness. The archers paradox is how a shot’s trajectory is changed by an arrow flexing back and forth as it flies. So maybe you’ve already found out how to avoid the archers paradox, or nullify it at least. Anyway, now let’s try with the arrow.”
 
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Though I am starting to wonder who is teaching who.

"Ohh~, that's okay! I may not know as much about bows as you do, but I know a fair bit about Epressa and Liadain, a-and a lot about Bhathairk and my tribe and Animism and the tales of legendary warriors and the heroes of old. I can tell you about anything you want to know--I don't mind! I love speaking with travelers about my culture. And it would only be fair, right?"

Then she calmed her bubbling excitement some and assumed a more engaged and receptive demeanor, eager to learn and disciplined enough to absorb his teachings without interruption or breaks in attention. Zeri shifted her stance to place her feet comfortably and firmly on the grassy ground. Allowed for Um to again manipulate her hands and her arms to slowly replicate the motions that he himself had gone through with his bow. The tip of her tongue peeked out of the corner of her mouth as she drew back the bowstring with the loaded Tong-Ah, utilizing that particular thumb grip and overdraw that Um had used.

She aimed at the same tree they had been loosing at.

Aimed.

Aimed. Carefully. A touch nervous, but comforted by Um's knowledgeable presence.

Zeri loosed the arrow, her arm and hand with the Tong-Ah strapped it smoothly flowing back in the follow-through of the release. And she gave a gasp of glee that graduated up into a full-on laughing shout of effervescent excitement as she saw her arrow hit the tree--noticeably higher up on the trunk than Um's own, but still, the same tree. She bounced up off the ground and landed on the tips of her toes and rocked back down onto her heels.

"I did it! I-I did it, Um, I did it! And that, that, that felt great! The stance and using my back more and the thumb grip and the Tong-Ah and wow did it work well! That arrow really was like a hawk!"

And she was all giddiness and smiles and overflowing elation.

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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Zeri loosed the arrow, her arm and hand with the Tong-Ah strapped it smoothly flowing back in the follow-through of the release. And she gave a gasp of glee that graduated up into a full-on laughing shout of effervescent excitement as she saw her arrow hit the tree--noticeably higher up on the trunk than Um's own, but still, the same tree. She bounced up off the ground and landed on the tips of her toes and rocked back down onto her heels.

"I did it! I-I did it, Um, I did it! And that, that, that felt great! The stance and using my back more and the thumb grip and the Tong-Ah and wow did it work well! That arrow really was like a hawk!"

And she was all giddiness and smiles and overflowing elation.
He couldn’t suppress his laughter at her giddy excitement at her success. “Well done young one. You will make a great archer. Now you show me your style of shooting.” He says with a smile.

Her shot was a good one, a very good one, especially for one so young. He held her recurve in his left hand and looked it over, it was similar in appearance to his own, though the recurve was a lot more pronounced.
 
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"Okay."

Zeri was a little nervous, of course--her simple technique paled in comparison to Um's--but she showed him anyway. Her hunting bow was very much a shortbow, smaller than Um's by a significant margin and with less draw weight. She guided him along, gently positioning his arms and his fingers. Slight bend in the left elbow, drawing the string with three fingers (the back of the arrow held between the index and middle), and pulling back to the cheek while aiming down the shaft of the arrow. Simple release after.

Zeri hitched up her shoulders some and cocked her head slightly. Said, "It got me started, d-doing it that way. Though I could have been drawing it differently, the way you showed me to use more of my back and less of my arms. My bow is really convenient though. Small and easy to walk through thick brush with. Great for hunting and traveling."

A thought, then. And she became notably quieter, her hushed tone as if she and him were sharing in some secret neither were supposed to know.

"Um, have you ever...used your bow in battle?"

Then she immediately caught herself. Held up her hands apologetically.

Said, "I-I-I'm sorry! That's a really personal question, I shouldn't have asked."

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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Zeri was a little nervous, of course--her simple technique paled in comparison to Um's--but she showed him anyway. Her hunting bow was very much a shortbow, smaller than Um's by a significant margin and with less draw weight. She guided him along, gently positioning his arms and his fingers. Slight bend in the left elbow, drawing the string with three fingers (the back of the arrow held between the index and middle), and pulling back to the cheek while aiming down the shaft of the arrow. Simple release after.
He followed her directions carefully, making sure that he was doing it correctly, thanks to it being smaller, he couldn’t draw it all the way back, and as a result wasn’t as accurate as he usually was, but he wasn’t very upset about it, and he got used to the draw before actually shooting. But he was just as happy to learn as she was, and learned quickly.

A thought, then. And she became notably quieter, her hushed tone as if she and him were sharing in some secret neither were supposed to know.

"Um, have you ever...used your bow in battle?"

Then she immediately caught herself. Held up her hands apologetically.

Said, "I-I-I'm sorry! That's a really personal question, I shouldn't have asked."
“No, no it’s quite alright, I have used it in combat before yes, though usually against bandits. Once or twice in an archer’s duel, but other than that, not really. I have trained to use this bow for all kinds of situations for the vast majority of my life, since I was five I think. Thankfully I haven’t had to use them on my fellow humans or orcs or elves or whatever other humanoids you have here, very often. It is technically a warbow.”
 
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Zeri Rekani

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At least he wasn't angry at her. Battle was often glorified in the tales and songs of Bhathairk (and elsewhere for sure) but Zeri knew that it wasn't always so simple. Even among her fellow tribesorcs, there were a few who didn't want to talk about it, let alone boast about it. Some humans were candid on the matter, some weren't. Zeri herself didn't find any comfort in talking about her experience in the battle against the Amalgamation, the gigantic Beast which had threatened her home; the field of the dead the colossal abomination had made when it trampled through the Line defending the city...still it brought her nightmares.

But Um was open about his experience. And she listened, admiring his candor.

"That's one thing I've worried about. Bandits," she said. She scratched the back of her neck. "I've...well I've been wanting to depart from my home for a time and travel. Adventure. L-Like my elder sister. I just really want to see all these different places and parts of the world I've heard and read so much about. And I know the open road and wilderness can be dangerous, oh I know it, believe me. So..."

Zeri motioned her head down at the shortbow in Um's hand.

"...I figure my old hunting bow probably just wouldn't do. I mean, I wouldn't want to kill anyone, b-but if I had to defend myself in a nasty situation like that, I'd want a powerful bow. I wouldn't really feel safe if I only had my hunting bow and my spear against bad men. Bad men in armor, at that."

Her smile returned, and she announced, "I'm going to try and make one. A bow like yours. I think it'd be good for me when I finally do go out adventuring."

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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"That's one thing I've worried about. Bandits," she said. She scratched the back of her neck. "I've...well I've been wanting to depart from my home for a time and travel. Adventure. L-Like my elder sister. I just really want to see all these different places and parts of the world I've heard and read so much about. And I know the open road and wilderness can be dangerous, oh I know it, believe me. So..."

Zeri motioned her head down at the shortbow in Um's hand.

"...I figure my old hunting bow probably just wouldn't do. I mean, I wouldn't want to kill anyone, b-but if I had to defend myself in a nasty situation like that, I'd want a powerful bow. I wouldn't really feel safe if I only had my hunting bow and my spear against bad men. Bad men in armor, at that."
“You will want some hand to hand training too, or at least know how to use a weapon, a spear is a good one to have, because more likely than not, bandits won’t be able to afford better than padded or, uh, do you have mountain-pattern armor here? Or do you use something else? Do you know what mountain-pattern is?”

Her smile returned, and she announced, "I'm going to try and make one. A bow like yours. I think it'd be good for me when I finally do go out adventuring."
“I can help you with gathering necessary materials. First, we need the horns of a water buffalo, that’s where all of the power comes from. Do you have water buffalo here? If so, we hunt for them in the morning.” He says with a broad grin. He was overjoyed to help his new friend begin her adventuring career.
 
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Hand-to-hand training. Zeri could see the use of it, but she doubted her ability to be any good in the pursuit. The tribesorcs who sparred in the rings of Bhathairk were all so big and muscular, taller and heavier and certainly stronger than her. Even if she had all the training in the world, could she possibly stand a chance against a foe like that out on the road? Humans could come in that size too, so it was fair to say she'd always be at a physical disadvantage.

Her spear would be good though. Obsidian was sharp, and the length of the spear offered her reach beyond that of a sword or axe.

"Mountain-pattern armor? No." She pondered a bit longer. "No, I don't think anyone uses that here. Hm. Well. There's hide and leather armor, padded or textile armor, chainmail, plate. But you're right, bandits probably wouldn't have those last two."

Zeri brightened up when Um said that he would help her gather the materials to craft her own bow. And how fortunate about the water buffalo!

"Y-Yes! Yes, we do! Not on this side of the Delta, but on the Steppe side. B-But that's okay! We can take the boat across the river. If we get lucky, we might even find a herd of them near the shores of the Steppe side. We could have those horns in a day!"

Zeri offered Um back his back, and would exchange it for her own. Gave a little gesture to return to camp.

"Are you hungry, Um? I'm starving. Would you mind sharing some of your Delta Zebra meat? I can help cook it, a-and I brought some spices along with me. I knew a good combination of seasonings for the taste of Zebra."

Um Min-Kyung
 

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"Mountain-pattern armor? No." She pondered a bit longer. "No, I don't think anyone uses that here. Hm. Well. There's hide and leather armor, padded or textile armor, chainmail, plate. But you're right, bandits probably wouldn't have those last two."
“Good, then more likely than not a spear or ji would suit you best. Though if things get sticky, you can use your small size to your advantage and be quick to cut them down. You can use a dagger to get in close and target weaknesses, while your small stature would make you difficult to hit and far more maneuverable. I have no doubt that you will do well.”

Zeri brightened up when Um said that he would help her gather the materials to craft her own bow. And how fortunate about the water buffalo!

"Y-Yes! Yes, we do! Not on this side of the Delta, but on the Steppe side. B-But that's okay! We can take the boat across the river. If we get lucky, we might even find a herd of them near the shores of the Steppe side. We could have those horns in a day!"

Zeri offered Um back his back, and would exchange it for her own. Gave a little gesture to return to camp.

"Are you hungry, Um? I'm starving. Would you mind sharing some of your Delta Zebra meat? I can help cook it, a-and I brought some spices along with me. I knew a good combination of seasonings for the taste of Zebra."
“Another hunt, how wonderful. I look forward to hunting with you. The string is also made from the gut of the water buffalo, so that’s two materials in one. As for cooking the Zebra, I don’t see how I could possibly eat all of that on my own, I would be happy to share with you. You are my host are you not? It would be exceedingly rude of me not to share.”
 
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Zeri Rekani

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His words were encouraging; Um was out here on an adventure himself, having come from his home far away to Epressa, so he had experience. But just thinking about using a dagger up close made her nervous, but...but if she had to, then she had to. It never hurt to have options, right? Bad men--and not to mention dangerous animals or, worse, monsters--weren't going to give her any clemency.

Still, if she built a bow like Um's and practiced and practiced, that'd be the best defense. If she had to resort to a dagger or hunting knife, then something--or a few something--had gone wrong far before that.

Zeri started walking with him. A few cooking fires had been started around the camp in the waning light of the evening. Within a half-hour the sun would be down and night will have fallen, and this would leave the camp awash in their warm orange glow.

"Thank you, Um! Ooooh, I do like Delta Zebra. A-And I can let you borrow the seasonings I brought and you can try them and I really think you're going to love them. A little spicy, and a little tangy. I barter for them all the time in the Great Bazaar! It takes a lot--they are from far away--but they're worth it."

She walked with him through the camp. Other tribesorcs were preparing supper as well, a few fletching more arrows or chopping firewood.

Back at Zeri's tent, she went inside and pulled out the cast iron wood stove. Went inside again and came out with a few small pieces of wood, some tinder, and her flint and steel. She placed the wood in the open top of the stove along with some tinder and sparked it and watched for a moment as thin tendrils of smoke rose and then the flames spread in earnest over the tinder and onto the firewood.

Zeri went once more inside and came out with the components of her cooking spit: two sets of two straight branches lashed together to form an "X" each, and a thin, carved wood skewer. A more primitive setup than her stove, to be certain. Back inside one last time and she came out with two spherical and short-necked bottles of spices, a big smile on her face.

She impaled a cut portion of Delta Zebra flank on the skewer, allowed for Um to do the same. Gave both a healthy dash from the first bottle of spices and pressed with her fingers the seasoning into the meat. Then placed the skewer on the cooking spit over the flame in the stove.

A question, as their meat began cooking, "What made you decide to leave your home and go traveling, Um? Did you just want to explore and see the world, like me?"

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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"Thank you, Um! Ooooh, I do like Delta Zebra. A-And I can let you borrow the seasonings I brought and you can try them and I really think you're going to love them. A little spicy, and a little tangy. I barter for them all the time in the Great Bazaar! It takes a lot--they are from far away--but they're worth it."

She walked with him through the camp. Other tribesorcs were preparing supper as well, a few fletching more arrows or chopping firewood.
“Don’t mention it. I’m happy to share a meal with you. Besides, I am certain that your cooking skills are far superior to mine. This meat sounds better and better the more you speak of it. I cannot wait to taste it. Perhaps you can educate me in the culinary arts?”

A question, as their meat began cooking, "What made you decide to leave your home and go traveling, Um? Did you just want to explore and see the world, like me?"
“Yes it’s as simple as that. But I also wanted to make sure that I could help prepare my fellows for their eventual journeys to the west. More and more of my countrymen have found interest and opportunity in the west, and I seek to help nullify culture shock and help prevent misunderstandings. I have a notebook, a few of them, and before I sleep tonight, I will fill in what I have learned and sketch images of orcs to help explain to my people who and what the orcs are.l
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Zeri nodded eagerly when Um expressed interest in learning about cooking. Right on cue, as it turned out, she rotated the meats on the skewer.

"Ha, ha, it's pretty easy once you get used to it! There's some good rules to follow--like when to season your meats--but a lot of it is by...feel. Not literally feeling, like touch, but just getting an idea for what works and what doesn't." Zeri smiled and shrugged, slightly sheepishly. "I had try a few different kinds of spices before I found some that went well with the taste of Zebra. I mean, I think they go well with it."

Zeri crouched down and watched the flames licking at the underside of the meat. The sun was well into its retreat, and the last light of day was fading fast, making the glow of the cooking fire more prominent by the minute.

"And I don't know about you, but I like meat two ways: raw, or cooked well." She glanced up at Um. Said cordially, "Most humans can't eat their meat raw. Well. Actually. I don't know. I don't know if can't is the right word. Can't...or maybe you just don't like to eat your meat raw? I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. All I know is that orcs have no problem with it."

Zeri listened to Um answer her question of travel, and both he and she had similarly simple motivations, it turned out. The last bit inevitably puzzled her for a moment or two--this clearly evident on her face--but she sorted out her confusion. She knew it really shouldn't have been, but she had found it a little strange that he would have to explain the Orcish race to his countrymen. Zeri just took it for granted that everybody knew of orcs; even in her imaginings of Allira and Elbion and Vel Anir, her mind's eye automatically defaulted to populating these cities with mostly orcs, despite knowing better.

She smiled. Said, "Well, if you do decide to sail with us back to Bhathairk in a few days, you'll see the culture of my people firsthand. We're celebrating a traditional holiday: Luuruk-Hur. It means 'The Coming of Spring.' That's why I was wearing that lei of flowers." She gestured to that very lei about Um's neck, and her smile became a brilliant grin. "It's part of the tradition."

More time passed, and Zeri examined the meat and her smile returned and she took the skewer off of the spit. Added a dash of her second seasonings to the meat, and then offered the skewer to Um, such that he could take the first of the two pieces.

Um Min-Kyung
 

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"Well, it depends on the meat, normally no we can't eat it raw, but fish we can eat raw, in some places raw fish is a delicacy. I don't see the appeal, I tried it once and my stomach still hasn't forgiven me." He says while paying close attention to how she cooked. He needed this knowledge. After he had his meat he withdrew a notebook, completely blank, and he began to write. If she were to look, she'd see a well drawn, realistic image of an orc, and on the page after it some basic information, average height, weight, skin eye and hair color, and he started a section to describe their culture and holidays, of which Lu'uruk Hur was the first described.

"I'll likely be consulting you for information about this place and it's peoples. I hope you have no issue with this."
 
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Oohh, interesting. Raw fish, but not always. A delicacy--like Delta Zebra--but Um didn't much care for it, even if he could eat it. Zeri enjoyed a unique position, able to eat grains and vegetables and fruits unlike her fellow orcs, and able to eat meats raw and without ill effects unlike the elves of her Pa's side--and, likewise, humans in that regard. But even though she could eat meat raw, she vastly preferred it cooked, a taste that was very much in deference to her elven side.

Zeri, only realizing just how hungry she had been once she took her first bite of the seasoned Zebra meat, ate quickly and vigorously. It was quite clear that she (not to mention her fellow tribesorcs) had little concern for any sort of etiquette, that such an idea might perhaps be foreign to them. Zeri's Pa might have used civil utensils like forks and knives when he lived in the Falwood, but in Bhathairk he ate with his hands and his fingers, like Ma--and so it was with Zeri.

Just a few bites of her dinner left in her hand, Zeri said, "I won't have any issue at all. I love sharing things about my home and my people with travelers! I do it all the time in Bhathairk. Whenever I get the chance from my housework and crafting chores, I'll go to the harbor or the Gates and..." She hitched her shoulders up in a spike of excitement, "just wait for newcomers to walk along and I'll say 'Hello' and help them out with whatever they might need. Directions, mostly, b-but it can lead to a nice conversation. Sometimes."

The sun had set, and the stars were out in their full brilliance in the night sky; as the camp shaman had predicted though, down from the north came a front of clouds, blotting out the shining dots above. The very sound of the wind rustling the trees and the drop in temperature where hints enough, but the distinct smell of an oncoming rain left little doubt. Scattered cooking fires illuminated the Delta Camp, but likely within the next hour all would be drenched and put out.

Zeri finished her Zebra meat and took a sniff of the air. Smiled. Said, "The Spirit of Air is going to bestow rain on the Delta tonight. For sure. I really like falling asleep to the sound of rain--don't you, Um?"

She left the cast iron stove outside and left the fire going; it wasn't so cold as to warrant bringing it in for the extra heat. Zeri tossed open the flap of her tent and went in and said as she did, "Come on in when you're ready. You wouldn't want your papers there to get wet."

And she sat down on her bedroll and sighed in beleaguered relief as she let the weight and fatigue of the day's journey off of her feet. She took off her moccasins and stretched out her legs and flexed her bare toes in a way that brought simple satisfaction into her smile.

Um Min-Kyung
 

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Just a few bites of her dinner left in her hand, Zeri said, "I won't have any issue at all. I love sharing things about my home and my people with travelers! I do it all the time in Bhathairk. Whenever I get the chance from my housework and crafting chores, I'll go to the harbor or the Gates and..." She hitched her shoulders up in a spike of excitement, "just wait for newcomers to walk along and I'll say 'Hello' and help them out with whatever they might need. Directions, mostly, b-but it can lead to a nice conversation. Sometimes."
"I must say that it is refreshing to have made a friend so quickly. You have no idea, the extent of my gratitude. I hope that we continue to get along as well as we have. I hope to see this Bhathairk soon, so that I might meet more of your people."


She left the cast iron stove outside and left the fire going; it wasn't so cold as to warrant bringing it in for the extra heat. Zeri tossed open the flap of her tent and went in and said as she did, "Come on in when you're ready. You wouldn't want your papers there to get wet."
He nodded and finished writing down his notes before crouching into the tent and laying down on the other side, it was extremely generous of her to allow him to sleep there, and he told her, "you are very gracious to allow me shelter here, thank you." He tried to give her as much space as possible.
 
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"You're welcome, Um!" she said, offering up another smile. "I wanted to give you a warm greeting here to Epressa. It's what I'd want if I traveled somewhere."

Zeri lay down on the bedroll and fluffed her wool blanket up and let it descend down on her. She wiggled and squirmed some as she settled into a comfortable position. Turned her head to look at Um across the tent--hard to see him, with only slivers of firelight finding their way past the tent's front flap. The dark did scare Zeri still, but...it was alright. When she was with someone else, it was alright.

"I'm glad it was me. I wouldn't want you to have an awful time arriving in an unfamiliar place. A-And you're going to love Bhathairk, I just know it! I'm just...oh gosh, I'm really..." She beamed, and finished, "I'm really glad I got to be your first impression of a new place. And that I got to speak on behalf of my people."

There's was something special about that, about being and doing both of those things. It was one reason why she so frequently went to the harbor and to the Gates to hail and meet new travelers to Bhathairk. It filled her with a unique sense of pride that she simply couldn't get doing anything else.

She shuffled her shoulders around as she sank into a deeper comfort on the bedroll. Closed her eyes. Said, "Goodnight, Um."

And, as the camp shaman had predicted and Zeri had smelled, the night's rain came soon enough. There the soft and constant patter of the rain against the outside of the tent. And the soothing sound of it put Zeri right to sleep.

* * * * *​

A dream. Where she was back in the Spine, embarked upon her first real adventure again, searching for the flower--the Urdelveogg, the Edelweiss--that the Circle of Shamans needed. Only this time, when the troll came crashing out of the mountain wood, she was armed with a bow and a Tong-Ah like Um's. Zeri and Weylin loosed their arrows into the beast as it stomped toward them. They were doing damage to it and it was slowing down but it wasn't stopping; the Tong-Ah and half-arrows were powerful, but the beast was tough.

It came closer, prepared to swat both her and Weylin, and then--in the sudden manner of dreams--Um had appeared from the side with his own bow and shot the arrow that slayed the beast. Zeri gave a cheer.

* * * * *​

And she woke up.

The early light of dawn seeped in through the front flap of the tent. The fresh smell of recent rain pervaded the air, even inside the tent's confines. Zeri drew in a sharp breath of air through her nose, sat up and cast off the wool blanket, stretched her arms and sighed when she let them fall back down to her sides. Her hair was messed up to a certain degree from turning this way and that in her sleep, but it was to be expected.

She crawled across the length of the bedroll to her pack at its foot. Rummaged around inside of it and felt for one of her combs and found the one she was looking for. She spent a few minutes working on her hair, grooming it, getting the part just right; she had it all down to feel now.

Zeri put the comb away when she was done, spared a glance to the other side of the tent, and said, "Hey Um, are you awake?"

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His sleep was dreamless, though he’d be flattered if he knew what her dream was. He was still and silent as he slept, though he was a light sleeper thanks to his years on the frontier, which meant that he woke up at the sound of her shuffling. So when she asked if he was awake, he responded with a, “yes, I am. How did you sleep?”
 
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"Good! I hope you did too."

Zeri reached for her moccasins and slipped them back onto her feet. Strapped her bow and her spear to her pack and then grabbed it and said, "Come on outside--we can see about getting that boat ride across the Delta to the Steppe side."

Zeri pushed open the flap of the tent and stepped out into the dawn, her moccasins splashing in a tiny puddle that had gathered just beyond the dryness of the tent's interior. Above, the clouds mostly hid the sky, but small bits of blue peeked through the white and gray; it was as if the rain had only stopped just an hour or so ago. Zeri dumped out the slosh of ash and water that had collected inside of the small open-top stove and set it back inside of the tent.

The other orcs of the camp were up and about, from what Zeri could see. Worrzug, the tribesorc who minded the boat, ought to be up then. They could go and see him and Zeri was sure that he would oblige them--it would hardly take half an hour, if that.

She'd start along the way from the camp to the shore once Um emerged from the tent, smiling with an irrepressible excitement all the while. And she asked him as they went, "Have you hunted water buffalo before? I-I'm not trying to be rude--I haven't hunted them myself! I just know they can be...um...aggressive and dangerous when provoked. Not like the Zebra at all."

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"Good! I hope you did too."

Zeri reached for her moccasins and slipped them back onto her feet. Strapped her bow and her spear to her pack and then grabbed it and said, "Come on outside--we can see about getting that boat ride across the Delta to the Steppe side."
"I did indeed, I slept like the dead." He says sitting up and buttoning his leather boots with their fang-buttons.

He came out with her and stretched with a deep inhale. "What wonders shall my eyes be subject to this time I wonder."

He followed the chipper young orcling through the camp, observing and taking occasional notes and making quick sketches. He was overall excited to be among a new kind of people, and to be learning about them and from them, though there was a little bit of nervousness too. Then Zeri asked if he had ever hunted Buffalo before.

"I have, horseback archery. We send our dogs in to start a stampede, them we run alongside the stampede and behind to pick off various buffalo. The Tong-Ah is particularly well-suited for this kind of hunting thanks to its tendency to ignore most of the problems normal archery faces. Once we get you one, and if you already know how to shoot from horseback, then you will be an unmatched hunter for one so young."
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Zeri blushed red with embarrassment and scratched at the back of her neck, glancing askew. Said, "Oh, ah...I've...never actually ridden a horse before. I wouldn't really know what to do. Is it easy? It seems easy, but...m-maybe I'm wrong. And shooting arrows from horseback? I know that can't be so easy, oh no. It can be difficult enough hitting something that isn't moving while you're not moving too. Are we going to be okay hunting the water buffalo without doing it on horseback?"

They crossed beyond the periphery of the camp, and only a short stretch of grassland and thin shore of the river separated them from the anchored boat. Worrzug was by it, climbing up over the side of the vessel and loading some newly acquired hides into the craft.

Um Min-Kyung
 
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Um Min-Kyung

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Zeri blushed red with embarrassment and scratched at the back of her neck, glancing askew. Said, "Oh, ah...I've...never actually ridden a horse before. I wouldn't really know what to do. Is it easy? It seems easy, but...m-maybe I'm wrong. And shooting arrows from horseback? I know that can't be so easy, oh no. It can be difficult enough hitting something that isn't moving while you're not moving too. Are we going to be okay hunting the water buffalo without doing it on horseback?"

They crossed beyond the periphery of the camp, and only a short stretch of grassland and thin shore of the river separated them from the anchored boat. Worrzug was by it, climbing up over the side of the vessel and loading some newly acquired hides into the craft.

Um Min-Kyung
"Oh it shouldn't be an issue. We can hunt on foot, though we'll have to be sneaky about it as opposed to the stampede option. But we should be fine, we only need one buffalo after all. As for horseback Archery, that can be taught. You may want a horse for your travels if you indeed go, and horseback archery is a huge advantage."
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Zeri smiled with a renewed confidence. "Sneaky it is, then."

Maybe she could aspire to owning her own horse. They were certainly more docile than the boar and wolf mounts that some orcs rode--one those might be too much for her to handle. But a horse could be good. There would be a lot of learning involved, not only in the skill of riding but in caring for the animal as well. The biggest drawback being the cost, since no one in her family knew how to break a wild horse. Still, it was a possibility to consider for when she went journeying out from Bhathairk.

* * * * *​

Zeri spoke with Worrzug, who agreed to ferry them across the river. He had initially found Um's presence to be odd, but he came around, seeing how comfortable Zeri was around him. The river was wide and deep, but the boat ride wasn't long at all. On the other side, Zeri and Worrzug agreed on him returning to pick them up by sundown.

Hopefully it would be enough time. But the Steppes were rich and vibrant with life, and the Bystrza river and the Delta attracted scores of animals. It should be fine: both Zeri and Um were experienced hunters, and Um had specifically hunted water buffalo before. And what a prize it would be! Maybe not the same kind of delicacy as Delta Zebra, but a prized kill indeed. And with those horns, she'd be one step closer to crafting a bow like Um's for herself.

Zeri stood on the shore of the Steppe side of the Delta. Pack on her back and bow in her hands. Worrzug was pulling his boat back around to sail to the Camp side, leaving them to the forested shore and further beyond that thin stretch of trees the great expansive plains of the Steppe.

Zeri nodded to Um. Eager to follow his lead.

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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"You do need to be patient though, even if we have all of the right materials, which is to say bamboo, mulberry wood, sinew, the horns and fish bladder glue. I have a manual in my bag that teaches archery from my nation as well as the bowmaking process. Let's get the horns, and while we're on that way over you can tell me if you have bamboo and mulberry trees. Those are critically important."

He was happy to help her with the gathering of the materials, but he wasn't sure that they'd be able to make a bow for her after all. Either way he was happy to help and to have met her.

"If you do have the materials, then during the year in which the how is being made, I could teach you mounted archery, you can teach me to read and write in your tongue, and we could each learn very much from the other. And if you do intend to go on a journey, I would be willing to accompany you if you'd like, I need to see the continent after all to write my book on this places peoples and cultures."
 
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Zeri Rekani

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A year? It took a whole year? Wow, she...underestimated it. By quite a lot. Her own bow, simple as it is, didn't take nearly that long. Maybe it was the treating of the wood? What did he call it? Mulberry? She had a hard time remembering if she'd heard of that type of tree or not, like a name flickering right on the edge of one's mind.

"So...I haven't seen bamboo or mulberry trees growing in the places I've traveled," Zeri said, somewhat sheepishly. "B-But that's okay! There could be people in the Great Bazaar in Bhathairk who've brought some in. Traders and merchants from afar do that all the time, a-and I never went, you know, specifically looking for bamboo or mulberry wood. So there's a chance."

Zeri walked with Um. Setting out through the forested shore of the Steppe-side, the rushing of the river at their backs.

And she smiled at his offer of companionship. "I will be leaving to go on my own journey sometime soon. I hope. I went out on one before for the Circle of Shamans, and my Ma and my Pa let me then. I...well I know they worry about me. More than my elder sister. She's a lot taller. Stronger. Like all the other orcs around the camp--you saw them. I'm..." she closed her eyes and flashed her teeth and shrugged her shoulders, "...small. For both an orc and an elf."

With a renewed confidence and optimism, she said, "But I'm not going to let that stop me!"

Um Min-Kyung
 
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